Summer at Lake Haven by RaeAnne Thayne

CHAPTER ONE


            TWO STRANGE CHILDREN were playing on her dock.

            Frowning with concern, Samantha Fremont looked out the window of the house she had lived in all of her twenty-eight years, on the shore of Lake Haven in the small, picturesque town of Haven Point, Idaho.

            She didn’t recognize them. Who were they and what were they doing on her property? From here, she could see the trespassers looked to be a girl of about eight and a boy a few years younger. They were dressed in summer wear that even from here Sam could tell was costly, even designer quality. A sundress for the girl of a pale peach cotton dotted with white flowers, and khaki shorts and a blue striped shirt for the boy.

            She looked out at the water and then back at the dock. The children were still there. Not a mirage, then, induced by a combination of too much work and too much time spent hunched over her sewing machine or looking at fashion magazines.

            Most likely, they were renting the house next door and didn’t realize the dock stretching twenty feet out into Lake Haven belonged to her house, not theirs.

            Her mother would have had a fit. Linda had hated that the house next door had been turned into a vacation rental after the previous owner, a kindly older woman, passed away. She had complained to anyone who would listen about the noise level, strange people coming and going at all hours of the day and night, the lack of respect she claimed the short-term tenants showed for the established neighborhood.

            If she had been here to see those two children out on the dock without any sign of supervision, Linda would have marched out there, grabbed them both firmly by the hand and trotted off in search of their absentee parents. Once she found them, she probably would have spent the next half hour haranguing said parents about the importance of teaching children to respect the property of others and the dangers inherent in allowing children to play next to a large body of water without adequate supervision.

            But her mother wasn’t here anymore.

            The little spasm of hurt in her chest was as familiar to her now as her favorite pair of scissors. For all her mother’s crankiness, the house didn’t feel the same without her. Five months had passed since Linda Fremont died of a massive heart attack in her sleep. Five months without her tart tongue or her pessimism or her dire prognostications.

            Sam wouldn’t have believed it possible but she still missed her mother.

            Betsey whined and she looked at the large pen where three puppies were crawling all over the little Yorkie/shih tzu cross lying on her side.

            Her mother would have had a fit about the dog, too. Despite pleading, cajoling and, okay, even a few outright tantrums, Sam had never been allowed to have a dog. Or a pet of any sort, really. Linda would never budge.

            Dogs were too much of a bother, her mother had always said, and cats were too sneaky. As Sam wasn’t a fan of reptiles or rodents, she had contented herself as a child with pretending her stuffed animals were real or that her friends’ dogs were really hers.

            Months after her mother’s death she had still been lost and grieving in that weird irrational place where the world didn’t seem quite right when she had made an after-work visit to the grocery store for more TV dinners. Outside, she encountered a young couple who looked like ski bums holding up a sign claiming they had a dog for sale.

            “Betsey is the sweetest thing,” the woman, little older than a teenager, had assured her. “We love her and it will break our hearts to lose her. It’s just that now the ski season is over, we have new jobs on the Big Island and it’s a real pain to take a dog over there.”

            “Plus, you know, we’re really not pet people,” the young man had said in an apologetic voice, his eyes sorrowful beneath his dreadlocks.