“Miss Whitney says you aren’t eating. Want to tell me why?” he asked.
Allison had dropped her chin to her chest. “Not hungry.”
“Does your stomach hurt?” he asked.
She shook her head.
“No?” he said. Allison stopped talking and hoped he would, too.
“Have you ever seen the ocean?” he asked her. That was not the question she’d been expecting.
“You know what it looks like?”
“I saw pictures,” she said.
“We can do better than that.” That’s when he plucked her off the counter and set her on her feet. He took her by the hand and led her out to the back porch. There was nothing back there but a slab of concrete where a few old chairs sat looking at a yard of scrubby dirt backed by a hill of scrubby dirt. Everywhere she looked out there she saw nothing but scrubby dirt.
“See all that?” the doctor said, pointing from one end of the hill to the other.
“I see dirt,” she said.
“Okay. Now imagine everything you see is water,” he said.
Allison’s eyes went wide. She stared at the dirt and in her mind’s eye it started to change color from brown to gray to blue. The hills turned to waves, the raw wind became an ocean breeze and the concrete slab they stood on became a raft, bobbing and floating on an endless sea.
“I see it,” she said, grinning up at him.
“That’s the ocean,” he said.
“It’s lovely,” she said.
“Lovely? Yes, it is lovely, isn’t it?” he said, laughing. “That’s where I live, you know. On the ocean.”
“In a boat?”
He laughed again. “No, in a house. But the house is right on the beach and you can see the ocean from almost all the rooms.”
Allison couldn’t imagine that. She never even looked out the windows in this house. Nothing to see but dirt out the back windows and other sand-colored houses out the front.
“Can you swim in it?”
He stroked his beard. “You can swim in it. Might not want to. It’s kind of cold, but my son swims in it a lot.”
“You have a son?”
“I have two sons,” he said, smiling with pride. “And a daughter. They’re all kids like you. Some bad things happened in their lives so now they live with me in my house by the ocean.”
“Is it pretty?”
“If I told you it looked like a dragon, would you believe me?”
“No,” she said, laughing. That was the silliest thing she ever heard. “Dragons have wings. They have fire in their noses.”
“I promise it looks like a dragon.”
“I’m not,” he said, and looked hurt. Then he grinned. She liked him so much when he smiled like that. “It’s a sea monster, I swear.”
“I know a water poem,” she said. “Do you want to hear it?”
“I want to hear your poem. Go for it.”
Allison recited for him.
“The sun was shining on the sea,
Shining with all his might:
He did his very best to make
The billows smooth and bright—
And that was odd because it was
The middle of the night.”
The man laughed heartily, a Santa Claus laugh, though he didn’t have a Santa Claus belly.
“That’s wonderful, Allison. Did you learn that in school?”
“I taught it to myself,” she said. That was true but she didn’t tell him why she’d taught it to herself. He’d probably laugh at her. “Can I come to your house and see the ocean for real?”
He squatted down low again so they were the same height, and while he wasn’t smiling with his mouth, he was smiling with his eyes.
“I would take you to see it,” he said, “but we have a rule at my house—everybody has to eat every single day.”
She gave that a good long think and then made up her mind.
“If I could see the ocean, I would eat,” she said.
“Every single day?”
“Every single day.”
“Good,” he said. He stood up again. “It’s a deal. Let’s go get you packed.”
“You mean it?” She couldn’t believe it, but she couldn’t believe this smiling man who wore pajamas to work would lie to her, either.
“I mean it.”
She raced to her room and found her suitcase. She didn’t have much to pack but one suitcase of her clothes and one bag of her books. Miss Whitney hugged her for a long time and kissed her cheek and told her she was a lucky little girl, because she was going to a wonderful home. Over Allison’s shoulder, Miss Whitney winked at Dr. Capello. When Allison started out the door, her small hand in Dr. Capello’s big strong hand, the other girls did nothing but wave half-heartedly from the couch where they sat playing a dumb video game on a too-small television.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
They called themselves “the lucky ones.” They were seven children either orphaned or abandoned by their parents and chosen by legendary philanthropist and brain surgeon Dr. Vincent Capello to live in The Dragon, his almost magical beach house on the Oregon Coast. Allison was the youngest of the lucky ones living an idyllic life with her newfound family…until the night she almost died, and was then whisked away from the house and her adopted family forever.
Now, thirteen years later, Allison receives a letter from Roland, Dr. Capello’s oldest son, warning her that their father is ill and in his final days. Allison determines she must go home again and confront the ghosts of her past. She's determined to find out what really happened that fateful night--was it an accident or, as she's always suspected, did one of her beloved family members try to kill her?
But digging into the past can reveal horrific truths, and when Allison pieces together the story of her life, she'll learns the terrible secret at the heart of the family she once loved but never really knew.
A vivid and suspenseful tale of family, grief, love—and the dark secrets that bind everything together—Tiffany Reisz’s latest is enthralling to the final page.
About the Author: Tiffany Reisz is the author of the internationally bestselling and award-winning Original Sinners series for Mira Books (Harlequin/Mills & Boon). Tiffany's books inhabit a sexy shadowy world where romance, erotica and literature meet and do immoral and possibly illegal things to each other. She describes her genre as "literary friction," a term she stole from her main character, who gets in trouble almost as often as the author herself. She lives in Lexington, Kentucky with her husband, author Andrew Shaffer, and two cats. If she couldn't write, she would die.
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