ShadowlandsI’m Cabel Evans’ housekeeper, just like I was for his grandparents. Not for his parents, though. St. Joe, Michigan isn’t sophisticated enough for them, so they summer with their fancy friends in Wisconsin. That’s okay with me; I never really liked them anyway.

Poor Cabel is a mess right now. His father pushed him to be an officer for the American Expeditionary Force and fight in the Great War. Edward Evans’ just wanted his son to put Kaiser Wilhelm in his place and come home a hero so he could brag about it. Cabel did come home, thank the lord, but I think he brought a lot of the war back with him. I didn’t see him then; I just know that he was running the family business until something happened, something bad. After that the boy took off to who knows where. A few years later his grandmother died, leaving him this big house on the bluff above Lake Michigan.

It was December of last year, 1926, when he showed up on the doorstep with almost nothing but the clothes on his back. His hands were rough so I know he was doing some hard labor job somewhere, but he won’t talk about that. He won’t talk about anything. For most of the winter he sat in the room he used as a boy, coming downstairs only to eat or to walk to the Whitcomb Hotel to buy a newspaper. As soon as it was warm enough he moved out on the back porch with the paper and his thoughts. It’s July now, and the yard is beautiful, but I don’t think that’s what he sees when he stares over the porch railing.

Cabel wants to be left alone. He’s made this perfectly clear. And I’ve let him be, until now. When a veteran from his former regiment came to visit I couldn’t turn him away, despite Cabel’s wishes. I mean enough is enough. The poor man – Walter Arledge is his name – well, his oldest daughter drowned at the boat dock along the St. Joseph River. He came to Cabel for help. He thinks his daughter was murdered and the police are covering it up. He wants Cabel to find the truth. I was sure he would go away empty handed and I’d get an earful later. Imagine my surprise when Cabel agreed to do it. I don’t know what they talked about, I don’t listen to other people’s conversations, but I would give away my secret recipe for molasses cookies to know how Mr. Arledge convinced Cabel to help him.

I know a sixteen-year-old girl died and that is a tragedy, but in an odd way it has been a good thing for Cabel, something to occupy his mind rather than remembrances of the war. He left the house to see the coroner, the first time he’d gone out to see anyone since he came back. Later he went down to the Silver Beach Amusement Park and their new Shadowland Ballroom. I haven’t seen the ballroom yet myself, but I hear it’s beautiful. Maybe my husband Jorge will take me when one of the bands from Chicago comes to play there.

That’s where Cabel’s from, Chicago; it’s where his family still lives. It’s sixty two miles across the lake from here to there as the crow flies, but I think it’s more than the water that keeps them apart. Just a few days ago he came inside with his face all pale. I thought he had taken ill, but no, he decided he needed to go to Chicago, that he might find some answers over there about the girl’s death. I could tell he didn’t want to go, but felt he had to. He had given Mr. Arledge his word and I was proud that he would face such a fear to keep his promise. Still, I worry. Mr. Al Capone lives in Chicago and so do a lot of other gangsters. I prayed that Cabel would be safe.

He came home from Chicago sometime last night. I found his bag by the front door and I unpacked his clothes so I could wash them. I found a box of matches in one of the pockets with the name “The Charades Club” written across it in swirly letters. I can’t help but wonder if the place is a speakeasy, but I don’t think Cabel will tell me.

He hasn’t found out who killed the girl, but I know he’ll keep trying. At first I thought this was a good thing, this “quest,” as he calls it, has drawn him back into the world. I didn’t think anything serious would come of it, but now I’m not so sure. Cabel is looking for a killer, which to my mind is a dangerous occupation. I don’t think he should risk his life just to keep a promise. He won’t mind me, though. Cabel will keep searching for the truth no matter what the cost. I can’t help him with that, but I do what I can. My days are filled with dusting and sweeping, cooking and baking. Once a week I do the laundry in the big tub in the backyard and peg it on the line. And I watch him heal, bit by bit.

You can read more about Marta and Cabel in Shadowlands. Erin is working on the sequel to Shadowlands.

Meet the author
I have a business and a law degree but currently spend my days writing, teaching art classes (metal clay) and taking care of my family, which includes my husband, daughter, three cats, two guinea pigs and two fish. I grew up in the small town of Berrien Springs, Michigan lived in Chicago for many years before moving to Roswell, Georgia, which is just north of Atlanta. I love to travel had have been fortunate enough over the years to visit many states as well as go to Paris, France, Salzburg, Austria, Munich, Germany and Venice, Italy. I’ve also been to parts of Belgium and Slavania. Together my husband and I climbed to the top of Kilimanjaro in Kenya and later traveled to China to adopt our daughter.

Visit Erin at

Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

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