Just a few months ago, I was living happily ever after in a charming suburban New York apartment, working as a middle school science teacher, and spending every free moment with the loves of my life: my husband Sam and our little boy Max.
Maybe it’s a blessing that I never saw it coming. Had I been psychic—if I believed in such things, which I don’t–I might have realized that I could, that I would, lose everything. I might not have been caught off guard. I might have spent my days dreading instead of just. . .living.
In the midst of our living, Sam—my beloved, invincible Sam–was suddenly dying.
He lost his battle. But mine is just beginning.
Our apartment house was sold and the new owner won’t renew our lease. My job was eliminated to budget cuts, so I have no income.
Here I am, an unemployed homeless widow with a little boy who needs me to make everything okay. I’m determined to do just that—even if it means driving halfway across the country to Chicago to stay with Maleficent. Okay, her real name is Millicent—thought trust me, my private nickname for my mother-in-law suits her. But she’s wealthy, and she’s family, and she’s all we’ve got.
On this beautiful late June day, though our old car has developed an ominous rattle, we’ve made it all the way across New York State without incident—until a very pregnant cat sits herself down in our path and refuses to budge. It’s the most peculiar thing I’ve ever seen. We discover that her name is Chance and her owner, Leona Gatto, lives in a nearby lakeside summer cottage community called Lily Dale. When we can’t reach her, we decide to return the cat in person—and thus begins our crazy adventure.
It turns out Leona runs a guesthouse in Lily Dale, a spiritualist community entirely populated by psychic mediums—people who claim they can talk to the dead. It also turns out Leona is now among them—the dead, I mean.
Odelia, the friendly, if wacky, medium next door, insists that we spend the night at the empty inn. A storm is raging, our car is having engine trouble, we’re flat broke–and Chance the cat is about to deliver a litter of kittens. One night can’t hurt, right?
Here’s the strange thing: I may not believe in spiritualism, but tucked in under that sturdy, century-old roof, I feel as though Max and I were meant to be here. It’s as if we’ve unexpectedly made a soft landing in a safe, familiar place—though Lily Dale is anything but.
It’s the strangest town I’ve ever visited. The ramshackle cottages have painted wooden signs that advertise the occupant’s spiritualist specialty, from clairvoyance to healing to past life regression. There’s a daily schedule of workshops, speakers, and message services. Visitors roam the narrow, rutted lanes, drawn to the Dale because they’re ill, or at an emotional crossroads, or grieving a lost loved one and hope to make contact here.
I get it. What I wouldn’t give to hear from my husband one last time. But if there were a way to reach me, he would—it’s as simple as that. So I don’t dare allow myself to think even for a moment that it’s possible. The only way for me to heal is to keep moving forward.
Unfortunately, that can’t happen just yet. Max and I appear to be stuck here until our car is repaired and we can find someone to care for Chance and her fragile kittens. Somehow, I don’t mind as much as I should—and Max thrilled. He’s bonding with the kitties and befriended a neighbor kid named Jiffy. Plus, the local mediums are a loveable but eccentric bunch. Sometimes, though. . .Sometimes I just wonder if they’re so busy seeing things no one else can see, and talking to people who aren’t there, that they fail to notice the obvious. I’m not convinced Leona’s so-called accident was an accident—and I suspect her killer might be here among us.
You can read more about Bella in Nine Lives, the first book in the NEW “Lily Dale” mystery series, published by Crooked Lane Books.
About Nine Lives
In this warm and witty series debut from New York Times bestseller Wendy Corsi Staub, a widowed young mom plans a fresh start in Chicago–but instead finds her way to a quirky lakeside village that just happens to be populated by mediums.
When reluctant road trippers Bella Jordan and her son Max detour to Lily Dale, New York, they’re planning to deliver a lost cat to its home and then move on, searching for one of their own. But the footloose feline’s owner Leona Gatto has unexpectedly passed away, leaving behind a pregnant pet without a mistress, a busy inn without a keeper–and a lovable circle of neighbors who chat with dead people.
After agreeing to help out temporarily, sensible Bella doesn’t need psychic gifts to figure out that a houseful of tourists and a litter of kittens lie in her immediate future–or that Leona was murdered. It’s up to her to solve the case so that she and Max can leave town, but their new home–like Leona’s killer–might just lurk where she least expects it.
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About the author
New York Times bestseller Wendy Corsi Staub is the award-winning author of more than eighty novels, best known for the single title psychological suspense novels she writes under her own name. She has three releases in 2015: The Black Widow (February, HarperCollins); Blood Red (September, HarperCollins); and Nine Lives (October, Crooked Lane). Her novel Hello, It’s Me (Grand Central Publishing), aired as a television movie in September. She lives in New York.
Visit Wendy at www.wendycorsistaub.com