Home > 19 Yellow Moon Road (Sisterhood #33)

19 Yellow Moon Road (Sisterhood #33)
Author: Fern Michaels

 


Prologue

Present Day

Dade County, Florida

 

 

Gabby knew that if she kept looking back over her shoulder, it would slow her down. Why were The Haven’s Guardians following her? The Guardians, known as “the Gs,” were members of the organization—the organization where one resided in search of a higher meaning and a more spiritual life. They were an elite group of individuals assigned to accompany the Pledges when they went outside The Haven’s compound, unless the Pledges had obtained special permission to do so, which did not happen very often. Their purpose, the Pledges had been told, was to protect members from harassment, but some thought it was a method of intimidation.

Gabby was supposed to be boarding a flight to Minneapolis to visit her mother in the hospital. But when she arrived at the security checkpoint at Miami International Airport, she discovered that her ticket and passport were missing from her backpack. She knew she had put them in there. She had checked several times. Her wallet was also missing. The only thing she had was the fifty-dollar prepaid debit card she had tucked in the pocket of her jeans.

Liam, the supreme guru of the organization, and his brother Noah, the general manager, had given her permission to travel, something not normally granted to a Pledge. One had to have been a member for at least a year and pass a series of tests before one could leave The Haven unaccompanied. But Liam had taken a special liking to Gabby and wanted her to be happy and content—and Noah wanted her content long enough for The Haven to gain access to the principal of the trust fund she would come into when she turned thirty-five. There were only a few months to go.

Trying to dodge the Gs, Gabby frantically weaved in and out of hustling, oncoming passengers. She could feel the heat on the back of her neck. Why am I panicking? She couldn’t quite put her finger on it, but her inner voice was telling her to run.

 

 

Present Day

Washington, D. C.

Office of the Post

 

 

Maggie Spritzer stared at the phone sitting on her desk. The call had come in through the newspaper’s toll-free line and went to Maggie’s voice mail while she was conducting an interview on the latest political scandal. The message was from her former college friend, Gabriella (Gabby) Richardson. They were journalism students together and met when Maggie was a junior and Gabby a freshman. They say opposites attract. Maggie was outspoken, witty, and had an enormous appetite for food. Gabby was demure and often shy, and tried to maintain a vegetarian diet. Gabby’s father had been in the diplomatic service, which had caused the family to uproot often, even as her mother tried to maintain her position as a college professor. The frustration her mother experienced moving from one country to the next, forcing her to leave one prestigious learning institution after another, became too much. She had finally filed for divorce when Gabby was a teen. When Gabby entered college, she was feeling displaced once again and was drawn in by Maggie’s vivacious personality. Maggie hit the REPLAY button on her phone again:

 

Maggie, it’s Gabby. I’m at a flower shop in Miami. I was trying to get on a plane to see my mom, but something happened to my ticket and my passport. I think some people are following me. I didn’t know who else to call. Please call back on this number: 305-555-7416.

 

 

The last Maggie heard was that Gabby had been on a soul-searching mission and joined an organization that sounded like an ashram or spiritual retreat Maggie couldn’t remember the exact name of the place. As she was drumming her fingers on her desk she thought, Spiritual retreat, okay, fine. I get it. But who would be following her? And why?

 

 

Chapter One

2004

 

 

Liam and Noah had been raised in a house on Sheridan Road, the upscale area of Wilmette, a suburb of Chicago. Their father, Sidney Westlake, had a seat on the Chicago Board of Trade, and had parlayed a modest stake into a large fortune. Their mother, Eleanor Adams Westlake, was aloof. A debutante when she was in her teens, she had picked her friends according to their socioeconomic status and continued to do so throughout her marriage. Only the wealthiest people in town were invited to the opulent parties hosted by “the Ice Queen,” the name Liam and Noah would mutter when she dismissed her sons from a room. Any room. To describe her as cold would be like describing Warren Buffett as well-off. Even the sting of dry ice would be warmer than her personality. She could be most charming, but only bothered when being scrutinized by her peers. She was a perfectionist at maintaining a façade of grace and hospitality.

The brothers had attended boarding school from the time they were eligible. Prior to that, they were constantly under the tutelage and care of not one but two nannies. They rarely saw their mother, even when they were home.

Truth be told, Eleanor hated children. If it hadn’t been for the pressure from her family, she would have skipped the revolting process by which they came into the world, but someone had to inherit her share of her father’s estate. Her father had been a bit of a prig. He wanted an heir. An heir as in a male. As far as he was concerned, neither Eleanor nor her sister, Dorothy, qualified. They were women. He was adamant that the legacy would be handed down to Eleanor’s and Dorothy’s male children. Dorothy was still single, so it was up to Eleanor to do the heavy lifting, something Eleanor abhorred.

A few short months after they were married, Eleanor was with child. Not one but two. Twins. She despised being pregnant and refused to breastfeed the infants once they were born. Her disdain went beyond breastfeeding. She barely held them. She was thrilled that she had gotten all the dirty work out of the way in one fell swoop. The only time she exhibited any sort of emotion was when she discovered she was having twin boys. She would produce two heirs to the family fortune. Besides, she dreaded the thought of having a girl. Not only would a girl not be an heir, so she would have to go through the disgusting process all over again, but a girl would expect some kind of female bonding. Not Eleanor.

She couldn’t bond with anyone even if she used Gorilla Glue. Eleanor was people-proof. The only reason she had a long list of social acquaintances was for everyone else’s opportunity to mingle and network with other socialites. She knew it, but she didn’t care. She only cared about all the accolades she would get in the lifestyle section of the newspapers—print and online. When it came to human feelings, Eleanor had only one: self-absorption. She was the ultimate narcissist.

On the surface, her marriage to Sidney appeared normal, with the exception of Eleanor’s conspicuous consumption of goods, parties, and extravagant trips. Perhaps it was her way of dealing with the numerous extramarital relationships Sidney had had over the years. His dalliances were common knowledge, and most people secretly felt it was more her frigid personality than anything else that caused him to stray. But everyone looked the other way, since they reaped the benefits of association with the wealthy and entitled. It was a price everyone in her circle was prepared to pay.

Even with his money and influence, Sidney could never divorce Eleanor. He was always discreet as well as generous to the women with whom he had his dalliances. Also, many of the women were married, which meant that discretion was even more important. The affairs were casual, and he would show his gratitude with gifts. But he never took it to the point that could warrant his being accused of having “a kept woman.” No, Sidney was careful. He couldn’t afford a scandal, much less a divorce. Eleanor would take him to the cleaners and stick a hanger up his butt.

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