50 Harbor Street Page 2

“The type of people I dealt with weren’t subtle. If they wanted revenge, they wouldn’t bother with postcards.”

“A relative of some criminal you sent to jail? Or…a victim?” That was a possibility she’d entertained more than once.

He raised his shoulders in a slight shrug. “Could be.”

“What are we supposed to do now?” It was this constantly being on guard, not knowing what to expect, that had driven Corrie to such an emotional extreme.

“We do nothing.”

“Nothing?” This wasn’t what she wanted to hear. “How can we?”

“We have to, for now, until they make a mistake. That’ll happen, sweetheart, I promise you, and once it does, this nightmare will be over.”

“You promise?” she repeated.

Roy’s expression softened and he nodded. Offering her further reassurance, he extended his arm across the desk. Corrie reached for his hand and laced her fingers through his. Her husband gazed deep into her eyes. She felt his love, his comfort, and for now it was enough. For today, for this morning at least, she would be fine. Her problem, Corrie decided, was that she was just so tired. Everything would seem less frightening if she could get even one decent night’s sleep.

The front door to the office opened, and Roy abruptly released her and stood. From his years of police work he was always on the alert, never more so than now.

“Mom, Dad?” Their daughter’s voice rang from the outer office where Corrie’s desk was situated.

“Linnette,” Corrie cried eagerly, although her enthusiasm might have seemed a little strained. “We’re in here.”

Their daughter came into the room, then paused, an uncertain expression on her face. She was petite like Corrie, with dark hair and eyes. Also like Corrie, Linnette had excelled in school, and because she was the daughter of a policeman, she’d always been sheltered. Her studies had kept her from pursuing much of a social life, but Corrie hoped that would change now. Linnette had never had a serious boyfriend.

“I’m not interrupting anything, am I?” Linnette glanced suspiciously from Corrie to Roy and back again. “Is everything all right?”

“It’s fine,” Corrie assured her in a rush. “Why shouldn’t it be?”

Their daughter was far too intuitive to be easily fooled, but thankfully she let it pass. “I’ve found an apartment,” Linnette announced and did a small jig around the office.

“Where?” Corrie asked, hoping it was in town. Linnette had been hired by the new Cedar Cove Medical Clinic as a Physician’s Assistant, and Corrie was thrilled to have her closer.

“It’s on the cove, just down from the Waterfront Park,” Linnette explained. “The complex next to the Holiday Inn Express.”

Corrie knew the apartment building, since she passed it nearly every day when she went for her afternoon walk. The building was close to the marina and a short distance from the library. The two-story complex had a fabulous water view of the cove and lighthouse, with the Bremerton shipyard in the distance. As far as Corrie was concerned, this was perfect.

“I hope they aren’t charging you an arm and a leg,” Roy cautioned, but Corrie could tell he was pleased.

“The rent, compared to what I was paying in Seattle, is a bargain.”


Roy was still protective of his little girl. Unfortunately, he had a difficult time expressing his feelings for his children—especially their son. Mack and his father were constantly at odds. In Corrie’s opinion, they were too much alike. Mack seemed to know exactly what to say to irritate Roy. And Roy wasn’t blameless, either; he seemed to go out of his way to find fault with their son. Because of the tension between them, they generally avoided each other. Corrie didn’t like it. Most of the time, she felt trapped in the middle. Thankfully that wasn’t the case with Linnette, who was two years older than her brother.

Linnette was talking about the apartment and the move-in date and her job at the clinic. Corrie nodded at the appropriate moments but only listened with half an ear. Roy returned to his work while Corrie walked back to her desk, Linnette following her.

“Mom,” Linnette said as soon as they were in the other room. She lowered her voice, and her face was thoughtful. Concerned. “Are you sure everything’s all right between you and Dad?”

“Of course! What makes you ask?”

Her daughter hesitated. “Just now, when I came into the office, it looked like you were ready to cry, and Dad…he—his eyes were so…hard. I’ve never seen him that intense. I didn’t know what to think.”

“You’re imagining things,” Corrie insisted.

“No, I’m not.”

“It’s nothing. We’ll talk about it later.” Her daughter could be obstinate, definitely a trait she’d inherited from Roy. The last person Corrie intended to share her worries with was Linnette. Eventually, perhaps, once this was all settled, they could laugh about it over lunch. But for now, these postcards were no laughing matter.

“You dropped a piece of mail,” Linnette said, gesturing toward the desk.

Corrie froze. “I did?”

“Yes, there was a postcard on the floor when I came in. I put it on your desk.”

Roy must have heard because he came out of the other office. His eyes met Corrie’s. “Give it to me,” he instructed.

A small protest rose from her throat as she walked over to retrieve the card. Carefully she turned it over and read the message before handing it to Roy.

It said in large block letters: ARE YOU THINKING YET?

“Mom,” Linnette demanded. “You’d better tell me what’s going on.”


Charlotte Jefferson Rhodes worked cheerfully in her kitchen, baking a large batch of cinnamon rolls, Ben’s favorite. After nearly sixty years as Charlotte Jefferson, she had to think twice to remember that she and Ben were actually married. A woman her age didn’t expect to find love this late in life. Like so much else in the past few years, romance had come as a very nice surprise.

“It sure smells good in there,” Ben called out from the living room where he sat, feet propped up on the ottoman. The Bremerton morning newspaper was folded over as he completed the New York Times crossword puzzle. Charlotte was impressed by his skill with words and his wide general knowledge. She also liked his lack of arrogance—he used a pencil to fill it in.

“The first batch will be out of the oven soon,” she promised. She enjoyed baking, especially when there was someone who appreciated her homemade treats. Ben certainly did, but he preferred his cinnamon rolls without raisins. She liked the raisins and Jack, her rascal of a son-in-law, did too. The solution was easy enough; she simply split the batch in half.

Her husband of little more than a month was a handsome man, a Cesar Romero look alike and a few years younger than Charlotte. Their age difference of four years didn’t bother him and it didn’t bother her, either. Charlotte was a young seventy-seven. While still in her teens, she’d married Clyde Jefferson; that was toward the end of the Second World War. Women married much younger back in those days, she reflected. Together Clyde and Charlotte had raised their children in Cedar Cove. Olivia, her daughter, was a family court judge and still lived here. Her son, Will, had moved to Atlanta.

Cedar Cove, where she’d lived for most of her life, was situated on the Kitsap Peninsula across Puget Sound from Seattle, and it was a thriving community. With a population of little over seven thousand, the town was small enough to be friendly, but large enough to have its own medical facility.

The new Cedar Cove Medical Clinic was due to officially open in the middle of November. Charlotte beamed with pride, knowing that without her and Ben and her friends from the Senior Center, there wouldn’t be a clinic.

Even Olivia, her own daughter, hadn’t seen the need for one, since the hospital in Bremerton was less than half an hour away, and there were good doctors in town. All of that was true, but Charlotte felt Cedar Cove should have a more complete medical facility, where emergencies could be handled. Half an hour was a long time to wait if you were having a heart attack! It could make the difference between life and death. Ben had felt the same way, and the cause had bonded them, especially when they were arrested for their peaceful demonstration. That rankled even now, but nearly the entire town had showed up to support her, Ben and their comrades in court. Just remembering how her friends had gathered around them was enough to make Charlotte’s eyes fill with tears.

But, she reminded herself, that was neither here nor there; the clinic had been built and the staff hired, including the McAfees’ daughter, Linnette, a Physician’s Assistant.

The phone rang, and Charlotte glanced at the kitchen clock, slightly annoyed that anyone would be phoning so early on a Saturday morning. To her astonishment, it was nearly ten.

“I’ll get it.” As she reached for the telephone, she noticed that Harry, her black cat, was curled up in Ben’s lap. Now this was progress. Harry was Charlotte’s protector and he wasn’t fond of visitors. It had taken him half of this first month to get accustomed to Ben’s presence and that long again to have anything to do with him.

“Good morning,” she said cheerfully into the receiver. Clyde used to say that Charlotte was born in a good mood. She had a natural inclination toward happiness; while some looked at the world as a place of gloom and sadness, she saw the positive things in life, even though she, too, had experienced great sorrows.

“Is my father there?” a rather pleasant male voice asked. Then, as if to clarify the point, he added, “Ben Rhodes.”

“Yes, of course. Is this Stephen?”

Her question was followed by an awkward laugh. “No, it’s David. I’m calling from California.”

“Hello, David,” Charlotte said warmly. “I’m so sorry you weren’t able to make it to our wedding. You were missed.”

Ben’s youngest son seemed taken aback by her friendliness. “I wish I could’ve been there, but I’m sure Dad explained that I got tied up with a work situation.”

Ben hadn’t said anything about either son’s absence, and Charlotte hadn’t pressured him with questions. She wasn’t sure what kind of relationship Ben had with his children. He rarely mentioned them and avoided the topic whenever she brought it up. And yet this young man seemed so likable and polite.

“I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to meeting you, David.”

“I’m eager to meet you, too, Charlotte. My father’s a sly old fox. First he moves to Cedar Cove, when he could just as well have moved closer to either Stephen or me, and then he marries again. I don’t mind telling you that was a real surprise for the family. A most delightful surprise, of course.”

“I was thrilled when your father came into my life,” Charlotte said, charmed by David Rhodes. When neither David nor Stephen made it to the wedding, she feared there must be some problem between Ben and his sons—a fear reinforced by Ben’s apparent unwillingness to talk about them. Maybe there was no problem, after all. David certainly appeared to be an agreeable young man.

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