With a sigh of relief Angelia pulled into her driveway, glad to finally be home. After leaving Caroline’s she’d spent several months wandering through Alaska and Canada visiting old friends and older haunts. Than instead of going home, she’d taken the scenic route from Monticello, Maine through Holton and on into Bangor.
She’d spent a month in Bangor, visiting with old friends, before leaving to drop another friend’s niece off at her residence in Watertown, New York. She had then headed to Niagara Falls, for a week’s stay in the same hotel room Cage and she had honey-mooned in fifty five years earlier, before heading home.
For the past twelve years, Angelia had spent from February to May, in Alaska. This year’s visit had started out no different than all her other visits, until she had brought up the subject of Caroline returning to Gilfords Falls with her.
Caroline had replied, “I really should take a trip back home just to say hi. I don’t know about moving back to the Manor, because of all the painful memories I left behind when I moved here.”
“Oh poo!” retorted Angelia! ”You’re moving to Alaska, hasn’t changed a thing! Your memories, whether good or bad will always be with you! You of all people should know that!”
“Really!” retorted Caroline, “That’s where Maggie, Karen and their husbands were murdered! Our Grandbabies and their friends vanished from there, never to be seen again! Both our husbands died while living on the estate! Now you want me to move back there?” she said, dabbing at tears that had suddenly formed in her eyes.
“Get over it, Caroline!” said Angelia. “Your tenants need you. We need you. The manor house needs your attention, and you need us!”
“Oh!” said Caroline, “I forgot to tell you! I spoke to Henry, this past January. He informed me that the Manor House was falling apart from neglect! I guess I really should hire someone to do some of the major repairs. I’ll tell you what, give me a few months to discuss it with my banker. I’ll call you with all the details if I decide to visit or do anything major on the place.
“You just do that, my friend,” said Angelia, “and while you’re at it think about coming home.”
“I just don’t know, so many memories haunt me every time I think about moving back to Gilfords Falls,” she said.
“Besides, I don’t understand why they haven’t caught those responsible for my Maggie’s and your Karen’s death. I’ve spent a fortune trying to find the girls and those responsible for their disappearance as well.”
“Caroline! You can’t possibly think they’re still alive!” Gasped Angelia in surprise. “The detectives’ you hired have supposedly been looking for them going on twelve long years. All they’ve found so far is one dead end after another, and you’re still paying them? For what?”
“I have to believe they’re still alive wherever they are.” Caroline said, between soul shaking sobs. “If I give up all hope of finding them alive, what would I have to live for? What good is the Gilfords’ fortune or the estate if there’s no one with whom to share it?”
“Angelia, I had a reason for asking you to come to Alaska a few weeks earlier than usual. I want to relieve you of your promise to watch over things for me in Gilfords Falls. I want you to move here, to Alaska and be my personal live in companion. Detective Jedidiah Morrison has asked me to be his wife. He insists we marry as soon as possible, even though I told him no several times, before telling him I’d think about it! Now he insists that we marry within the next few months!”
“He what?” exclaimed a flabbergasted Angelia. “Why that man’s at least thirty years younger than you, and he has the audacity to ask you what? For heaven’s sake, Caroline! Why would you even consider doing such an outlandish thing as to marry that man?”
“I know you neither like nor trust Jedidiah, but he says, I must move on with my life. It’s been years since they sent everyone but me that ransom letter. I never should have let the FBI talk me out of paying the ransom money, Angelia!”
“There’s no guarantees any of the children would have been released if you had paid them.” Said Angelia.
“Maybe,” said Caroline, “but now we’ll never know, will we? Jedidiah was the only one who thought I should have paid the ransom. He thinks the minute we refused to give the kidnapper’s the money, they disposed of them.”
“If they were alive don’t you think they would have found at least one clue as to their whereabouts by now? After all they have been missing for over twelve years,” said Caroline, dabbing at the tears in her eyes.
“Jedidiah says we can’t change the past, but we can look toward the future,” said Caroline shaking several assorted pills into her hand, than washing them down with the rest of the coffee in her cup.
“I have to agree with Jedidiah. It feels as though my heart breaks a little more every day the children are missing. I don’t know how I’d make it through the days and nights without these!”
Angelia was shocked to see Caroline taking so many pills at one time, and from bottles that had neither a doctor’s nor a medical name on them.
“Caroline, aren’t you taking an awful lot of medicine all mixed together?” Angelia asked.
Caroline just shrugged and said, “Jedidiah’s brother, who just happens to be a doctor, gave him the prescriptions for me. I told him I was fine without it, but Jedidiah angrily accused me of not trusting him, so to keep the peace I take the medicine.”
Angelia was astonished at how fast Caroline’s personality change the minute she’d swallowed the handful of pills! Her friendly outgoing nature seemed to instantly wither as a paranoid, hostile personality emerged and she became another person entirely. A person that for some unknown reason, was absolutely terrified of disobeying Jedidiah Morrison!
Before starting her long drive home, Angelia had finally talked Caroline into thinking about visiting the estate sometime in the near future. She’d also talked Caroline into thinking long and hard about making any decisions where Jedidiah was concerned.
Caroline had than promised to wait only until the New Year before deciding whether or not to marry Jedidiah. She had also given Angelia an ultimatum, move to Alaska or vacate the estate by winters end!
During her many talks with Caroline, Angelia had often gotten the uncomfortable feeling that it wasn’t Caroline talking, but Jedidiah’s words being parroted, the moment Caroline swallowed that blasted medication Jedidiah insisted she take.
To Angelia’s way of thinking, the relationship between Caroline and Jedidiah, was more like that of a jailor and his prisoner, and not that of a man infatuated with a rich old lady, which was exactly what Caroline was!
It’s as if he’s medicating Caroline so he can bend her to his will. Angelia told herself grimly. I have this sinking feeling that man has ulterior motives for what he’s doing! Like forcing Caroline to marry him, then claiming she’s mentally incompetent, so he can grab control of her vast fortune and estate.
She had never liked Jedidiah and had never trusted him. Her skin crawled every time she thought about, or heard his name. She could hardly believe that after twelve years of excuses Caroline hadn‘t fired the man. Why is Caroline still listening to him, let alone contemplating marrying him? She asked herself over and over again.
Angelia was about ninety-five miles from home when the lightly falling rain turned to sleet, making driving difficult. The wind was a howling banshee as it whipped around her, almost blowing her off the road, as she slowed her car to a crawl.
Breathing a sigh of relief Angelia pulled into the Patterson’s driveway for coffee and the latest gossip. Hours later, Angelia, having declined Myrtle’s offered guest room, had collected her keys and mail. She’d been away for more than seven months and although the weather had worsened, she was anxious to get home. She didn’t know why the sudden urge to return tonight. She just knew that for some strange, unexplainable reason, tomorrow would be too late.