The Walled Cat

A house that whispers. A mummified cat. Two bodies in the basement. A creep for a neighbor and a murder mystery 70 years in the making.

Walled Cover Draft

At the edge of the Atlantic Ocean and in the tatters of her marriage and emotions, Rielle Barnaby finds comfort in buying a forlorn and abandoned old Victorian to renovate into a Bed & Breakfast. Hoping the project will make her forget her old life and heal her heart, she throws herself into the fray.

In the midst of her personal crisis, she has to deal with a creepy handyman living on the property, a petrified cat, two dead bodies in the basement that have been there for seventy years, and the lost fortune of the previous owner, weird old Mina Rhoades.

The handsome young estate lawyer who helps her buy the house just might be the best thing about Old Saybrook, CT, and her new life. Rielle sorely wants Sam Bennett to pull her out of her doldrums caused by her ex but she is afraid to open herself up again to the pain. Can she let her ex go and allow Sam to love her or will she end up like the bodies in the basement when she finds the long lost treasure?

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Excerpt

“Where are we going today?” Rielle asked Sam the next Saturday morning. This time she was ready for him since he’d warned her he’d be back and she should dress in old jeans and tennis shoes.

“Canoeing.”

“Canoeing?”

“You make it sound like I am pulling out your fingernails,” he said as he pulled up to the launching spot under the Baldwin Bridge on Ferry Road.

Rielle eyed the steel canoes sitting by the shore. Several groups of people were busily preparing for a day on the lower Connecticut River.

“Do you know how to paddle one of these things?”

“I grew up here. The water and I are one.” Sam closed his eyes, made circles with his thumb and middle finger, and then made Zen sounds.

“Uh, huh. This I gotta see.”

“Oh, ye of little faith.”

“Fine, river boy. Let’s get your canoe on.”

“You know, I think Mack is wearing off on you. Maybe I should start calling you Miss Priss.”

“You do and you’ll be missing body parts soon.”

“Bring it on, baby. Bring it on,” he smiled, dazzling her with his ultra-white teeth.

Sam handed her a life jacket and a paddle before locking the car. He walked to the nearest canoe and put his backpack in the middle.

Soon, they headed into the hidden beauty of coves, creeks and marshes.

The peace of the place washed over Rielle as she relaxed and let the rhythmic paddling strike a restful beat into her veins. Sam always seemed to know what she needed just when she needed it. The stress of renovating a mansion soon left her as the sounds of the river poured into her soul.

A river otter’s playful sounds brought her out of her reverie to pay more attention to the life around her. She pointed him out to Sam. “Isn’t he cute!”

“Until he tries to bite your fingers off.”

“Oh, look! A great blue heron. Isn’t he a beauty.”

“You know your birds, I see.”

“I was studying marine biology before…”

“Before marriage,” Sam gently finished for her.

She sighed. She didn’t break into tears anymore but she still ached. “Before marriage.”

“You quit school for a guy.”

“Yeah, dumb I know.” No one in Old Saybrook knew she’d left behind four children, ripped from her breast as if the devil had reached into her chest and yanked out her heart. She finished quickly to hide her angst. “I only had one more year left.”

“Maybe you could go back,” he prompted.

Back to her children? Rielle had no greater desire. Back to college? Maybe it would also help to keep her mind on something else besides Ben’s betrayal and her great loss. “Once the B&B is running smoothly, that is a fine idea.”

“There are a lot of on-line courses these days.”

“I know, but I was to the point of doing field work. Old Saybrook would be the perfect place to do field work. See, there is a snowy egret.”

“Another bird. They look the same to me.”

“Well, one writ looks like another writ to me.”

Touché, my dear. You stick to bird watching, and I will stick to lawyering.”

“Deal.”

They paddled some more in silence.

“See that osprey perched in that tree eating its catch?” Rielle finally said to break the quiet she now didn’t want.

“Writ, writ, writ.”

“Okay, I will stop torturing you.”