What She Left Behind…
Everyone in Savannah, Georgia knows the Remington estate. The rambling old house bears blatant testimony not just to the esteemed family's vast wealth, but to unbearable tragedy and whispered secrets. Soon, the Remingtons will all come home to this secluded plantation nestled deep in the shadow of moss-covered trees. Then they will have to die…one by one…
Hasn’t Just Come Back To Haunt Her…
For Charlotte Remington Maitland, the past five years have been a haze of pain and loss. Now, with her new husband and teenaged daughter, she’s found a second chance at happiness—until the moment her grandfather’s will is read. As the sole beneficiary of the vast Remington estate, Charlotte will get everything that’s coming to her. A killer will make sure of that—no matter who has to die…
It’s Come Back To Kill Her.
Trapped in a house of lies, searching for answers to deadly questions, Charlotte has never been more afraid. Someone knows her family's deepest secrets. Someone who will take Charlotte to the edge of sanity and the dark heart of her greatest fear in order to make her…
The Final Victim
It took two years for her to come back to the beach.
Two years, the divorce, and the realization that life
must go on.
Charlotte Remington, who took back her maiden
name after her husband left, has no choice but to keep
getting up in the morning, keep moving, keep breathing...if only for her remaining child’s sake.
How many times during the initial shock did she
have to remind herself to do just that?
Breathe, Charlotte. In and out. Just breathe. Keep breathing, even though your chest is constricted and your heart is
breaking; even though you want to stop breathing...
Even though you want to die.
Charlotte Remington thought she had everything:
loyal husband, loving son, happy-go-lucky daughter,
Now they’re all gone.
Now there is only Charlotte, haunted and bereft; and
a sad-eyed little girl who watched her big brother drown
on a beautiful July day, just yards from the shoreline.
But it happened a long time ago; a lifetime ago.
The first time, afterward, that Charlotte returned to
the southeastern shore of Achoco Island to inhale brackish air, feel sand beneath her feet, and gaze again over
the sea, she wanted to flee.
But she forced herself to stay.
Breathe. Just keep breathing.
And she forced herself to keep coming back, all
through that first summer without Adam. And again
the following year. And the one after that . . .
It’s been five years now.
Five years and seven weeks, to be exact.
Here she sits amidst the Labor Day weekend crowd,
the day after a lavish family wedding. She has a pounding headache, though not from overindulging last night:
the wedding was dry. Grandaddy, a fiercely dedicated
teetotaler, won’t allow liquor to cross his threshold. But
there was a band, and a crowd, and Charlotte danced too
much, and stayed up far too late chatting with people she
hadn’t seen in years.
It was fun. She has few regrets about last night as she
lounges in her blue and white striped canvas sand chair
with her woven sweetgrass hat on her aching head, a romance novel in her hands, and her daughter at her
Lianna never goes into the water. Not here. Not anywhere. Not even a pool.
The other parents in Charlotte’s bereavement support group back in Savannah have experienced similar
reactions in their surviving children. One, who lost a
teenager in a traffic accident, said his younger son had
panic attacks for months every time they got into the
car. Another, whose toddler succumbed to a rare stomach disease, said the older sibling eventually developed
anorexia, afraid to eat lest she somehow “catch” what
her little sister had.
Perhaps Lianna will never venture into the water
again. Then again, maybe she will. The child psychiatrist she’s been seeing since the tragedy told Charlotte
not to push her.
So she doesn’t.
She just brings her to the island beach on beautiful
summer days, where they sit companionably side by side
with their books, and they breathe salt air.
The beach is postcard-perfection on this, the last official weekend of summer.
Down beyond the dunes, where sea oats sway in the
warm salt breeze, bright-colored blankets and umbrellas dot powdery sand. Crisp white sails skim the horizon. The ocean air is rife with the sounds of gleeful
children splashing in the surf, the incessant roar of
the waves, the squawking of circling gulls, the hum of
banner-toting planes cruising the coast.
Largely unpopulated until the last decade or so,
Achoco Island lies off the coast of Georgia, about midway between Tybee and the Golden Isles; nowhere near
the tourist hub of either. The entire northern end,
above the longer of the two mainland causeways, consists of a wetland wildlife refuge and what remains of
the Remington family’s private estate.
But the island’s southeastern shore is teeming with
activity on this cloudless September afternoon. A steady
stream of beach traffic snakes from the boardwalk beyond the dunes to both the north and south causeways,
and no doubt all the way back to the mainland highway
to Interstate 95.
That’s why this day was chosen. Because of all the people.
The holiday crowd surpasses every expectation and
will serve its purpose. Nobody pays the least bit of attention to the lone occupant of a blanket carefully
spread a strategic distance from any of the three lifeguard towers.
Nobody suspects that this idyllic holiday weekend is
about to give way to chaos—and tragedy—the likes of
which this beach hasn’t seen in five years.
Or, to be more precise, five years and seven weeks.
“Well, look at you! If it isn’t Mimi Gaspar, all grown
up and gorgeous!”
Perched high above the sun-baked sand on the
wooden lifeguard tower, Mimi—nee Martha Maude—
Gaspar doesn’t allow her gaze to leave the surf for even
a split second.
The waters off Georgia’s crowded island beach are
choppy today, courtesy of a new tropical depression
churning six hundred miles southeast in the Caribbean.
Anyway, she can identify the speaker by his voice
alone, though it’s been a few years since she heard Gib
Remington’s trademark low-pitched, lazy drawl. A fake
drawl, as far as Mimi is concerned.
He didn’t even grow up in the South—he was raised
in Rhode Island, where his mother’s family lived. After
he was kicked out of his boarding school there, he was
sent to Telfair Academy, his father’s and grandfather’s
alma mater down here, presumably where his stern
Grandaddy could keep an eye on him. A lot of good
“What’s the matter, you’re still not speaking to me?”
“I figured y’all were back for your sister’s wedding
yesterday,” Mimi says at last.
The beautiful Phyllida Remington might be living
among the movie stars in California’s Beverly Hills—
with hopes of becoming one herself—but she chose to
marry at the family’s nineteenth-century mansion right
here in the Low Country. The wedding was the social
event of the summer for the hundreds who were invited.
Mimi was not among them. She doubts she’d have
been welcome even if she was still dating Gib. He never
did bring her home to meet his family.
“I’m only here till tomorrow. I’m flying back up to
Boston first thing in the morning,” Gib informs her importantly. “The fall semester starts Wednesday.”
Law school. Some fancy one in New England, maybe
Ivy League. She doesn’t know for certain, and she doesn’t
“What about yours?” Gib asks.
“My what?” She skims the whitecaps for the pale
head of a surfer who just took a harrowing tumble off
his board. It’s one of the Tinkston brothers, probably
Kevin, the youngest of the four notorious local hell-raisers.
Down at the water’s edge, two fellow lifeguards stand at
the ready with orange rescue tubes.
“Your fall semester.”
Once upon a time, her future was promising. She had
been a full-scholarship student at Telfair Academy—live
out, of course—and followed up her high school career
with another free ride at Georgia Southern. She was
working on a degree in international studies, dreaming
of one day moving abroad.
But that was before Daddy, a fisherman and heavy
smoker, was diagnosed with lung disease.
Now, as beach season draws to a close and her pals
prepare to head back to dormitories and lecture halls,
she’ll be peddling her meager resume around Savannah.
She has to get a regular job and help her parents make
ends meet—never an easy task for them, but nearly impossible now.
“Let’s hook up tonight and catch up,” Gib suggests,
undaunted by her failure to respond to his last question. “What time are you off duty?”
Ignoring that as well, Mimi watches the Tinkston boy
resurface among the breakers and promptly paddle
back out with his board in tow, resilient, she thinks, as
her ex-boyfriend here at the base of the lifeguard tower.
Gib seems to have forgotten that the last time they saw
each other she informed him she never wanted to see
Technically, she still hasn’t. Seen him, that is.
But curiosity gets the best of her now. She flicks her
gaze downward to catch a glimpse of him.