The house, a stately brick Colonial, stood at the peak of a grassy hill, the slope of its great rolling lawn dotted with graceful elms and sycamores, on the easterly side of the tiny seaside town of Kent Crossing, on the North Shore of Massachusetts.
Perched on high as it was, overlooking the beach on one side and the quiet and compact Main Street on the other, it gave the impression of omniscience, as though it were guarding something.
No wonder, Larisa thought. She hadn’t told anyone yet, but she’d come to prepare the house for sale. She’d taken the train up from Boston that day, Saturday, arriving early afternoon and walking with purpose through the center of town—Main Street being the only street that really constituted “downtown”— past Duffy’s Hardware, Antonio’s Italian Bakery, and Sunshine Cleaners on the left; St. John’s Episcopal, Shea’s Tavern, and the Little French Bridal Shop on the right, leading on to the two-pump service station, just before the rise in the road that led to Elmhurst.
Clutching the key the estate lawyer had sent her by FedEx, she had lingered for a moment in front of the trussed-up window of the bridal shop, taking in the puffed-up skirt and ivory satin corset of the showpiece dress, a mannequin’s hand splayed out to the side, her head tilted slightly up and back in a pose of effortless elegance…