She was safe.
As Meg pulled up to the ramshackle gate in the stonewall blocking the dirt path, she looked once again at the address the realtor had given her. Two-seventeen Beach Road. She stopped the car and got out, the wind from the Maine surf whipping her auburn hair across her face, the ocean spray misting her skin.
Ahead of her, the road dipped down and far in the distance she could see the roofline of a large building. To her right and below her was the ocean. Waves pounded the surf and a rocky cove provided a small private beach. To her left were rolling hills.
Not a person in sight, and not likely to be either. It was just what she needed, and her first step toward bravery.
Because only a brave person could start over from scratch. Only someone with courage could start over by herself, out of the way of anyone to help her. Only someone with mettle would try again.
Pulling open the gate, she made sure it wouldn’t close on her car, drove through, and closed it behind her. Following the road down the dip, she came upon a small house on her left with a For Rent sign in front. The carriage house. Hers for the three months, with an option to continue to rent it afterwards. Light blue weathered shingles covered the outside of the house, with white shutters and door. Stopping the car again, she walked up the stone pathway. She smiled—plenty of room in front for a garden if she wanted. And she did want. Gardening was soothing. Plants made her happy. And the activity would keep her busy.
Tucked inside the front door was an envelope. Inside the envelope was a key and a poorly scrawled note. She squinted to read it and after several attempts, managed to make out the words:
Heat, electricity and water are turned on. If you need anything, call the number and leave a message.
Not particularly friendly, but that was fine with her. The realtor had said the owner kept to himself. And from the state of the handwriting, he was probably an old man. She wasn’t planning to make friends with anyone but herself.
Returning to her car, she pulled out her suitcase and unlocked the front door. Inside, the cottage was dark and musty smelling. She opened the windows to let in the ocean breeze and smiled. The place wasn’t fancy, but it was clean. The front door opened into a sitting room with a brown leather sofa and two chairs anchored around a glass table and stone fireplace. Beyond the sitting room was a small kitchen with a breakfast nook. A bedroom with a canopy queen-sized bed and a full bathroom completed the tiny but cozy home. It was perfect.
A loud noise made her jump and her heart raced as she looked around for a way to escape. There were no footsteps and no voices, so she peeked out the bedroom door and her shoulders sagged in relief. The wind had blown a vase over from the coffee table. Closing the window a little and righting the vase, she took a deep breath.
She was brave. She was starting over. And she was safe.