Behind Closed Doors

By: Sherri Hayes

The Daniels Brothers, Book 1

Chapter 1

Elizabeth Marshall drove her red Honda Civic into the little town of Springfield, Ohio. The simple name was one of the things that attracted her. It wasn’t complicated, and that was exactly what she needed in her life right now: no complications.

She wanted a fresh start, far away from all the memories of the city she’d left behind. Away from the person everyone thought she was. A person she’d really never been, before or after. At the age of twenty-seven, she would be reborn. Reborn into someone she could be proud of again. Someone who didn’t pretend to be something she wasn’t. Someone her parents could be proud of.

Springfield was big enough to have all the basic necessities without any of the flashy extras you’d find in larger cities. It was just over an hour away from the place she’d called home for the last ten years. Far enough away that she didn’t think anyone here would recognize her, but near enough that she could visit her parents’ graves whenever she wanted. In some ways she was glad they couldn’t see her now. Yes, she missed them, but they’d also missed the mess her life had become. She felt moisture pool in her eyes as she thought of them, and knew that if she didn’t redirect her thoughts soon she’d be a bawling mess by the time she arrived at her destination.

Her destination. As she wove through the side streets, she focused on her surroundings. Springfield felt like a completely different world. No longer would she have to attend cocktail parties or ladies’ teas. Her hair and makeup didn’t have to be perfect before going outside to retrieve the morning paper. Here she could just be herself.

In her search for the perfect place to start this new chapter in her life, she’d stumbled upon an old home that had been turned into apartments. When she’d received the e-mail back from Mrs. Weaver, her new landlady, she knew this was the place for her. The three-story building had been around for over one hundred years, but it looked to be in good repair. She loved old buildings. It was one of the few things she’d enjoyed about where she’d called home for the past five years. In her new home, Mrs. Weaver occupied the bottom level, and Elizabeth would be on the second floor. The third floor had an occupant as well, although she hadn’t thought to ask for details.

She felt good about having her own space. I need my independence, she reminded herself.

Even with that mantra, it was hard to block out what had led her to this small town surrounded by corn and soybean fields, but there was a new life waiting for her in Springfield, she just knew it.

With a few more turns, she found the road she was looking for and followed it, as the houses once again became farther and farther apart. There was a line of trees to her right and a soybean field on her left when a mailbox came into view. Sitting back off the road, the large Victorian house was tucked between two soybean fields and surrounded by a small grove of trees.

As she drove up the long gravel driveway, she noticed someone looking out the first-story window.

“You can do this,” she said to herself, figuring if she said it enough she could make it true.

Pulling her loose button-down shirt tighter around her, she got out of the car and went to the trunk. There wasn’t much to retrieve, just two bags. That was all her life consisted of now. All she had chosen to bring with her. The rest of her old life was either in storage or had been donated to Goodwill. She didn’t need reminders. She had enough of those all on her own.

A woman with salt-and-pepper hair met her at the door and opened it wide. She looked to be in her mid to late sixties, old enough to be Elizabeth’s mother if she were still alive.

“Hello, my dear. You must be Elizabeth,” she said, reaching out to take one of her bags.

“It’s okay, I’ve got it. They’re not that heavy.” You could also use the exercise, her inner voice chastised.

The woman waved her concerns away and took the bag. “Nonsense. I may be old, but I’m not completely useless. Not yet anyway.” Extending her hand, she introduced herself. “I’m Janice Weaver, but you can call me Jan. Everybody does.”

Taking the offered hand, Elizabeth said, “It’s nice to meet you.”