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On some level she was aware that an elderly woman had come out of the darkness and put her arms around her. Meredith heard her say that everything would be all right. But on another, more conscious level, the one where all of her senses saw, felt, processed and recorded what was happening, Meredith watched two black body bags being loaded into the back of an ambulance. Then she watched the ambulance turn around and drive off in the opposite direction. Her long, tumbling mass of blond curls hung loosely over her face, shielding it. For Beth, the reality of what had taken place would come later. But Meredith had seen what had happened and understood. That knowledge was now seeping through every pore of her body.
Seventeen-year-old Meredith and her four-year-old stepsister, Beth, face the numbing reality of suddenly losing their parents in a freak accident. With no other family, they are taken from their mobile home in Georgia to go live with a grandmother they have never met in a mansion in Palm Beach, Florida. Beth soon adjusts to her new environment; but Meredith withdraws from everyone and everything, unable to blot out the image of the horrible crash that killed her parents. It is only when she reaches out to a homeless woman that Meredith is finally able to find herself and face her demons. With the help of her grandmother’s long-employed staff, a family doctor, a museum curator, an attorney who is more than just her grandmother’s legal advisor, and, of course, her conniving grandmother who is dealing with her own guilt for having been estranged from her son and his wife (Meredith’s and Beth’s parents), Meredith is able to pull herself from the depths of despair into a life filled with faith, hope, and generosity.
Slightest in the House is a contemporary novel with strong, interesting characters from different walks of life, brought together because of life’s difficult and often unexpected circumstances, and bonded together by their faith and belief that everything works out as it should.
Read an Excerpt
After saying goodbye to Meredith, Ellen walked back toward the ocean hoping to find Matt on her bench. Much to her disappointment, no one was there and the wind was blowing so hard she couldn’t stay. With nowhere else to go, she walked back to the parking deck and the public restroom. By now it was raining hard again, and this time it didn’t let up.
The streets were practically disserted, and the parking deck was empty of all but a couple of cars. Ellen waited in the restroom until her watch said 4:45 p.m. Then, after refastening her straw hat and cinching the strap of her tapestry bag a little tighter, she fought her way down the street through the gale-force wind and driving rain toward Chapel Hall. “Surely Matt will be there,” she repeated over and over. But even as she said this, she knew something was seriously wrong.
There was no line of people waiting when Ellen finally got to Chapel Hall. In fact, there was no one around at all. She walked up the steps to the front door. Her dress was clinging to her legs, and her wet feet sloshed inside her open-toed shoes. She tried to open the door, but it was locked. Then she saw a note someone had tacked inside a glass frame on the side of the wall: No meals served until further notice due to hurricane.
Ellen was stunned. She had heard of hurricanes, of course, but she had never been in one before. If only she could find Matt. Matt would know what to do. She began to shiver. One thing was certain, she couldn’t just stand there. She had to find shelter.
She started walking back the way she had come—back toward the parking deck. This time the wind was to her face. Blowing sand pelted her bare skin, and the noise of the pounding waves of the ocean nearby was almost deafening. It was completely dark. Even the street lights were blackened by the amount of rain falling from the sky.
Slowly Ellen forced her way back to the parking deck. This time she climbed to the second level where she and Matt had slept the night before. Even holding onto the guard rail, it was a struggle, the pavement was so slick. Twice she fell, scraping her knees and bruising her arm. When she at last got to the second level, she was horrified. The concrete wall that had made a safe buffer for Matt’s bags the night before was now a natural rain gutter. As Ellen stood clutching her tapestry bag to her body, ankle-deep water gushed down the deck like a small river.
About the Author:Barbara Casey is the author of over two dozen award-winning novels and book-length works of nonfiction for both adults and young adults, and numerous articles, poems, and short stories. Several of her books have been optioned for major films and television series.
In addition to her own writing, Barbara is an editorial consultant and president of the Barbara Casey Agency. Established in 1995, she represents authors throughout the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and Japan.
In 2018 Barbara received the prestigious Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award and Top Professional Award for her extensive experience and notable accomplishments in the field of publishing and other areas.
Barbara lives on a mountain in Georgia with three cats who adopted her: Homer, a Southern coon cat; Reese, a black cat; and Earl Gray, a gray cat and Reese’s best friend.
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