Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Disappearing in Plain Sight by Francis L Guenette

Chapter One


Lisa-Marie woke to the sound of voices and the reflection of the lake rippling and running like melted butter along the sloped, cedar-planked ceiling above her bed. With all the agility of her sixteen years she sprang from the built-in futon. She barely avoided a knock on the head as she ducked along the edge of the window frame to peek out.

“Hi, Miss Shannon . . . how’s everything going?”

“Oh good, Justin, good . . . just waiting to get the second batch of bread in the pans.” Her Aunt Bethany was standing in the doorway to the bakery shed, drinking a cup of coffee. “It’s going to be hot again today, hey? Don’t let Izzy work you too hard.”

“Oh ya, no way, I’ll tell her you said that.” Justin waved as he moved past the A-Frame to the trail that disappeared into the trees.

Lisa-Marie drank in the sight of Justin as if she were dying of thirst. He had glanced casually up at the window, tossing his long, honey-coloured hair out of his eyes. His white T-shirt clung to his lanky, muscular body and his slouchy work jeans hung on barely-there hips.

She flopped back onto the bed with her breath whooshing out in a sigh of intense longing.

She had been here two days and the high point so far was meeting Justin. She flew from Ontario to BC and boarded a further short-hop flight to the southern end of Vancouver Island. The flights were followed by an endless bus trip in which it seemed the aging coach stopped at every small town, gas station and even roadside mailbox. She was finally jolted awake by the grinding of the bus gears as the driver turned off the highway and bumped to a stop. Lisa-Marie stumbled off the Greyhound in the parking lot of the Dearborn hotel – a two-story, run-down building with a faded sign that advertised all-you-can-eat hot wings every Wednesday night in the pub.

With a shrug, she grabbed her heavy duffel bag and scanned the few vehicles lined up on the side of the parking lot. She spotted the red pickup her aunt had told her to look for.

Lisa-Marie saw a tall, thin woman leaning casually against the passenger door of the truck. She was dressed in jeans, the old-fashioned kind that came right up to the waist. A tucked in shirt glanced over a mostly non-existent bust. Steel wool-coloured hair stuck up in short spikes on her head.

Lisa-Marie hadn’t been expecting a marching band or anything, but still . . . she paused to steal another quick look at the woman who was pushing herself to attention beside the truck. Would a smile crack that sour-puss face? Didn’t the occasion warrant at least a small wave of recognition? It wasn’t like there could be any doubt about who Lisa-Marie was. The only other person to get off the bus was an old man – probably pushing a hundred – who made a bee-line for the double-wooden doors under the pub sign the minute his shuffling feet hit the pavement.

Lisa-Marie decided that pleasantries on her part would be a waste of time. She walked straight up to the woman and said, “First things first. How am I supposed to say, B-E-U-L-A-H?” She had seen this name in letters from her Auntie Beth but she was never able to figure out how to pronounce it. Now that she was meeting the person attached to this odd combination of letters, Lisa-Marie’s inability to pronounce the woman’s name really pissed her off.

The woman was silent for a moment, seeming to take Lisa-Marie’s measure. Then she relaxed the grim lines of her mouth to allow a slight twitch to play around the corners of her lips. Lisa-Marie was unable to tell whether her look was the beginning of a smile or a sneer. The woman repeated her own name out loud, twice for good measure, in a tone and volume well-suited to an army drill sergeant.

During the silence that followed, Lisa-Marie flung her long, brown hair out of her face and stood with her hands on her hips. “Let me get this straight; Beu sort of rhyming with phew, like phew-wee something smells bad around here and then la, like la, la, la? Beulah?”

Beulah nodded her head while gesturing toward the back seat of the truck. Lisa-Marie understood she was to stow her duffle bag. She had just struggled to pull it across the parking lot and it was clear that she could expect no assistance from Beulah.

The quick drive through the town revealed little of interest – a harbour jammed with fishing boats, a few restaurants, a post office, a grocery store and a large Petro-Canada station near the turn onto the highway. Dearborn was a small-town, crap place at the end of what had seemed, if she was to go by the view from the bus window, miles of nothing but trees.

Slouched down in the front seat of the truck she felt stowed into the old Ford in much the same way as her bag. Beulah paid no more attention to her sitting in the passenger seat than she would have given a duffel bag. A sharp turn off the highway and they were on a gravel road. The drive seemed to go on forever and at just about the moment when Lisa-Marie thought she couldn’t handle the silence or the bumping along a second longer, the truck stopped at a pull-out across from a large building. The whirling and screaming sound of a saw broke into the quiet of the warm afternoon.

Lisa-Marie then suffered the indignity of climbing onto a green ATV behind her aunt’s partner. She clutched her arms around Beulah’s bony waist as they careened down the steep, narrow drive. Beulah took the bumps and corners like she thought she was competing for a million-dollar prize in some type of downhill race. Lisa-Marie arrived in the small, turn-around drive at the back of the A-Frame cabin with her heart thumping and her backside aching. But on the up side, she arrived just in time to be introduced to Justin Roberts. If timing is everything in life then maybe her luck was turning around because one look at Justin convinced her that there could be no better place on the planet to end up than here at Crater Lake.

Bethany had hurried out of the A-Frame, the screen door slamming as she rushed down the stairs and across the distance that separated her from Lisa-Marie. Two large dogs bounded out behind her. Wrapping her arms around Lisa-Marie, she hugged her close for a moment before standing back at arm’s length, “Let me get a look at you.” She twirled Lisa-Marie around. “You’re so grown-up. I can’t believe you’re really here.” She pulled Lisa-Marie into another hug while the dogs ran circles around them both, barking, wagging their tails and licking at the hand Lisa-Marie stretched out to them.

“Gertrude, Alice . . . give it a break . . . OK . . . for God’s sake . . . get in the cabin.” Beulah pushed the two German Shepherds ahead of her toward the cabin door before tossing Lisa-Marie’s duffel bag up onto the porch with a loud grunt, “Jesus H. Christ, what did you pack in here . . . bricks?”

“Justin, this is my niece – Lisa-Marie. She’s visiting from Ontario for the whole summer.” Bethany squeezed Lisa-Marie closer, “It’s going to be so good to have her here.” As Justin stepped forward, Bethany added, “Justin lives at Micah Camp and he works next door at Izzy’s.”

Justin shaded his eyes from the slanting sun and looked at Lisa-Marie with a relaxed and easy comfort. When he reached out his hand to shake hers she felt a tingle run up her arm and plant itself right in her chest where the thudding of fear from the ATV ride was replaced with a different type of thud. There was something about Justin that was hard to describe. From the moment she laid eyes on him all Lisa-Marie wanted to do was step forward into whatever it was he had and wrap it tightly around herself – like the fuzzy blanket she’d curl up in when she used to lie on her grannie’s old sofa.


Sixteen-year-old Lisa-Marie has been packed off to spend the summer with her aunt on the isolated shores of Crater Lake. She is drawn to Izzy Montgomery, a gifted trauma counsellor who is struggling through personal and professional challenges.

Lisa-Marie also befriends Liam Collins, a man who goes quietly about his life trying to deal with his own secrets and guilt. The arrival of a summer renter for Izzy’s guest cabin is the catalyst for change amongst Crater Lake’s tight knit community. People are forced to grapple with the realities of grief and desire to discover that there are no easy choices – only shades of grey.

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Genre - Contemporary Fiction / Literary Romance

Rating – PG13

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