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Glass Beach

Glass Beach

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Even paradise demands a price for love and happiness . . .
Widowed Elizabeth Bennett believes her troubles are over. Her loveless marriage is at an end. The death of her husband leaves her free to raise their daughter, Hadley, alone on her beautiful Hawaiian ranch . . . until the handsome Spence Laamea, her husband’s heir and illegitimate son from a liaison with a native woman, arrives. Spence takes the estate—and Elizabeth’s fate—under his control.
Despite her distrust and against a backdrop of disapproval among the island’s strict nineteenth-century white society, passions erupt between them. Elizabeth and Spence struggle to build a life for themselves and her daughter. When a deadly hurricane bears down on the island, it tests the bonds of love and loyalty they've tried to deny.
Even paradise demands a price for love and happiness . . .
Widowed Elizabeth Bennett believes her troubles are over. Her loveless marriage is at an end. The death of her husband leaves her free to raise their daughter, Hadley, alone on her beautiful Hawaiian ranch . . . until the handsome Spence Laamea, her husband’s heir and illegitimate son from a liaison with a native woman, arrives. Spence takes the estate—and Elizabeth’s fate—under his control.
Despite her distrust and against a backdrop of disapproval among the island’s strict nineteenth-century white society, passions erupt between them. Elizabeth and Spence struggle to build a life for themselves and her daughter. When a deadly hurricane bears down on the island, it tests the bonds of love and loyalty they've tried to deny.

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Published by: BelleBooks Publishing House on May 13, 2014
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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05/13/2014

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Prologue
Mauna Noe Ranch
Kaua‘i, Hawai‘i, 1888 
 
 A YOUNG BLOND woman with haunted blue eyes stood alone at the edge of the cliff, staring at the waves that battered the black rocks below with nightmarish force. Trade winds buffeted her from behind, coaxing her long fair hair free of the tight knot at the nape of her neck, teasing the hem of her worn and outmoded burgundy gown until it rose and tangled about her ankles and calves. Behind her, open pastureland rose gently, caressed the foothills that bordered lush green mountains etched with silver ribbons of falling water and crowns of mist. Situated between the mountains and the sea, a rambling ranch house stood surrounded by lush tropical gardens. A whitewashed fence protected the profusion of blooms and greenery from the cattle scattered across the land. The house had been designed to face both the sea and the mountains. A wide, shaded veranda, called a lanai by the natives, wrapped all the way around the structure. Anyone inside the house or on the lanai could see her, could watch what she was about to do. If anyone was watching, she did not care. Elizabeth Rodrick Bennett took a deep breath, inhaling the humid air tinged with the smell of salt and sea and the underlying musty scent that invariably comes from dampness lodged in shadowed corners. She captured a wayward strand of hair, tried to tuck it back into her chignon, but  when the wind only loosed more, she let it go. She had learned the hard way that one did not fight that which was stronger. She had learned to disappear behind doors and walls and prudent silence. To wait, to be patient, to bide her time. Stacks of cobalt-blue-and-white Staffordshire were piled beside her in the grass. Depicting
scenes that glorified America‟s independence, the pottery‟s artwork sang of heroes and battles,
landscapes and architecture, all surrounded by flowers, ribbons, stars, banners. There were dinner plates, bread and butter plates, salad and dessert dishes, tea cups and saucers, covered serving bowls.  A platter. Even a gravy boat. Enough pieces to serve twenty. In style.  When she had directed the young Mauna Noe foreman, Duke Makakani, to load all the blue-and-white pottery into a wagon and cart it out to the cliff, his dark Polynesian eyes had peered out from beneath the brim of his woven hat, shouting all that he did not say. Even as he carefully stacked the pieces on the grass with his square, work-calloused hands, even when he finished with a shrug and a smile, he lingered, waiting for her to change her mind and have him load it up again.  When she told him to go back to work, he did not comment on her odd behavior. How could he? With her husband dead, she was finally in charge
 — 
not only of Mauna Noe but, more important, of her own life. Elation over her new freedom and independence rushed through her, stirred her heartbeat, almost, but not quite, coaxing a smile to her lips. She closed her eyes and tamped down the unfamiliar lightness in her soul, afraid she might never recover from such a heady surge of joy. It was time to let her dreams soar, time to take them out of the darkness and give them new life.  The billowing white sails of a clipper ship on the far horizon caught her eye. Trapped between the white-capped azure sea and a pale-blue sky patched with scudding clouds, the freedom of the sailing vessel paralleled her new status. She watched the ship make progress, moving unimpeded under full sail. Soon she would be like that ship, sailing unfettered, able to carve out a place for
 
herself here in the islands. A real home. A wonderful legacy for her precious child. No more would she wear a mantle of shame. She would never have to depend on a man or be betrayed by one again. At long last sanity and a new beginning were within her grasp. Right now, she would content herself with this symbolic task. Her hands itching to begin, she reached down and picked up a dinner plate, ran her fingertip around its decorative, scalloped edge.  The heat of the sun, playing hide-and-seek behind drifting clouds, had seeped into the pottery until it was warm to the touch. She gripped the edge of the plate and drew her arm across her midriff. With a swift outward arc and a flick of the wrist, she released the disk and watched it sail through the air and then plummet over the edge of the cliff.  The roar of the waves overwhelmed the sound of shattering Staffordshire, but the thrill that shivered through her was no less grand. She grabbed another plate and then another, tossed them high and away, sent them sailing through the air to crash onto the rocks below. She began to move faster. Her body stretched and swayed with the rhythm of the task as she bent, straightened, and then hurled the fragile pieces into the sea.  The rapid pace kept her mind from wandering back to the beginning, to the time and circumstances that had brought her here, to this island in the middle of the ocean. She refused to let herself dwell on the past. Not with the future unfurled so bright and promising at long last.  Another platter sailed over the cliff. Then a pitcher decorated with a scene commemorating the opening of the Grand Erie Canal. Then the domed lid of a vegetable dish. Finally the stacks dwindled to one last piece. Slowly, as carefully as if it were the greatest treasure on earth, Elizabeth lifted the broken teacup. She stared at the jagged ends that had once anchored a handle and noticed that her hand was trembling as she reached up and touched a pale scar that slashed through her left eyebrow. She had not been married even a full day before she was treated to her first encounter with her
husband‟s cruelty.
 She shook off the lurking threat of all the dark memories closeted in the secret corners of her mind. How long would it be before the things of this place stopped reminding her of Franklin? How long before her breath stopped catching whenever she thought she heard the sound of his voice?  The tread of his feet upon the wooden floors? How long would it be before she realized that Franklin Bennett was no longer a threat to her or her child? Praise God, the man was dead. Dead and buried and finally burning in hell.  As she tightened her grip on the last piece of Staffordshire, Elizabeth searched the horizon. The ship had sailed out of sight. As she hurled the broken teacup over the cliff, saw it disappear forever, she vowed that from this day forward, she would never let lust lead her astray, nor would she find herself in such dire circumstances that she would be forced to surrender her independence to any man.  When her private celebration of freedom was over, she turned to go back to the house. Walking across the bluff, she realized she had expected a more buoyant sense of elation. But, for now, it was enough to know that she had destroyed something Franklin had valued so highly.

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