Have you ever wanted to change your life? Not just the paint on the walls or change the color of your hair but your entire life?
To become someone entirely new and different?
Drusilla Montgomery wanted to.
More than any other dream, she wanted not only to simply change her life but to become someone entirely new and different, like a butterfly breaking free of its cocoon. In her humdrum life on an oak shaded street in a small town in Marin County, California, it wasn’t likely to happen…but in the pages of her books, the tomes she snuck into the house on Clark Lane, she became whoever she wanted, whenever she wanted. With the turn of each page she became someone new and exciting who lived far away from Clark Lane.
She wanted to wake up one morning and find herself with a whole new life.
Then one night, her life did change.
An Awe-Struck Release
From earliest childhood Regan was an avid reader and upon discovering Alexander Dumas and Charles Dickens she was hooked on books that carried the reader away to a different time and place. Preferring the quiet of her room and a good book to spending time with people she traveled far beyond those four walls.
Her first foray into writing, aside from tedious English assignments in high school and college, were two non-fictions intended to be of assistance to people with disabilities. Both books were completed, they made their way to the population that would benefit the most from them and she moved on or back to her reading roots.
It was while working as a police dispatcher, first for the California Highway Patrol and then her local police department, she began to write fiction, primarily time travels and romantic suspense. In the spring of 2009 she returned to the day job she always liked best, working as a legal secretary. Although, curled up in her bunny slippers with her furfaced children, Mel, Missy and Bogie, while writing is one of her most favorite things to do.
Dashing out of work promptly at 5 p.m., Drusilla Montgomery hurried to her car, her very practical gray Honda Civic with a simple AM radio. It was the car her mother, Martha, chose for her and never one to dispute, at least outwardly, what Martha wanted or suggested, Dru complied. Martha would have flipped if she knew where her otherwise obedient daughter was off to tonight.
But Martha could no longer object to or interfere with anything her daughter wanted. This was now Dru’s life and only Dru’s.
Carefully turning on her turn signal, Dru pulled out of the Midland Savings & Loan parking lot and headed toward the 101 freeway. With glee she pushed down on the gas pedal and let the car hit its cruising speed in seconds. She drew in a deep breath, closed her eyes for a moment and gave into the spark of imagination that it wasn’t a dark, hard plastic steering wheel in her hands but the throttle of a spaceship taking her to another world, another life. One where all her dreams would come true.
It would darken soon on this crisp, late fall night but before then the sky would be painted in the vivid violets and blues she so loved. Tonight the green of the hills of Marin melded with that pallet of color, creating an array of color any artist would envy.
Fog, like a thick, downy, white comforter, greeted her as she approached the Golden Gate Bridge. When she pulled out of the Waldo Tunnel, Dru laughed to herself, “Well the old saying certainly is true… Don’t like the weather? Wait five minutes. It’ll change. Well I’ll take that as an omen. My life is going to change tonight. It is definitely going to change. I just know it.”
Racing across the Golden Gate Bridge, she drank in the sight of the fog as it sat like a silent sentinel over the ocean with its fairy-like tendrils reaching into the avenues. Letting that bit of her imagination out, the part she kept hidden from her mother for so long, Dru wondered if somehow, beyond the fog, something wonderful awaited.
Off the coast, beneath the rocky cliffs of San Francisco’s Seaside neighborhood, Mile Rocks appeared to hang in the clouds, miles above the earth, rather than being an offshore beacon meant to warn ships of danger as they passed under the Golden Gate on their journey into the Bay. Looking out over the railing of the bridge, she likened the fog to the fabric that is San Francisco. Like magic, its damp grayness cast a spell over all that enter the City by the Bay. By land, sea or air, it greeted each visitor, wrapped them in its damp caress before its tentacles dug in and held on long after you have moved on. Like the detectives of old, the fictional Sam Spade and those of his ilk, anyone who has walked the City’s streets when the fog is low to the ground, threading itself around their ankles, it entrances them with its promise. No one can deny its pull.
Then, in the blink of an eye, it dissipates, leaving all in the stark light of day, only to return when it is ready. Then, and only then—when it is ready—does it come again. Like a living thing, the fog becomes one with those who venture into its fold.
San Francisco’s fog can be bone-chilling cold. The kind of cold that you never quite warm up from. Not quite the cold sterility of death. No, something else, something more, yet at the same time, indefinable. It is part icy blast that chills to the very marrow of your soul and part safe cocoon.
The fog does that. The fog and the silent toll of the bell at a lighthouse. Sterile, cold, like an ice tomb. Yet at the same time, there is a security to its depths. A feeling of safety in the anonymity its gray embrace can give you.
Her heart beating a tad faster in anticipation of what was to come, Dru headed along Park Presidio toward Golden Gate Park and into the Haight where Gabrielle George’s Victorian sat. A full moon rose above the clouds casting a mystical glow to the ground below. It cast the park in a surreal aspect and she half expected to see a vampire or werewolf peek out from the trees flanking the street. The lights from the Asian Art Museum filtered through, giving the area an alien-like landscape. Rather than scare Dru, it mesmerized her. The tendrils of fog surrounding her car were akin to bathing it and marking her for something new and exciting.
“Okay, Drusilla Montgomery, time to reign in that imagination of yours and get your clear-thinking head in place because you really want this job.”
A few minutes later she pulled in front of the rather imposing Victorian owned by her most favorite author of all time, Gabrielle George. Wow, plenty of parking out front here. How odd is that? Not wanting to look a gift horse…or parking space…in the mouth, she parked right in front of Gabrielle George’s Painted Lady. Moonlight winked in and out between the trees as Dru exited the car. A chilled breeze came up and traveled up her legs, caressing them. “Definitely the makings of a scary gothic romance,” she muttered to herself.
She double-checked the address and walked along the knee-high, black, wrought iron fence to the gate leading into the yard. As she pushed it open, it squeaked as if no one had passed through it for many years. Without warning, the moon disappeared behind a wall of fog creating a scene that only San Franciscans can appreciate—dense fog on one side of the street; blue-gray moonlight on the other.
A dry, dead leaf bounced along the walk momentarily startling her. It scraped on the pavement, unnaturally loud, in the otherwise quiet evening. She glanced up and down the street, surprised that not another soul was out and about. No cars drove by, no birds chirped in nearby trees. It was as if time had stopped the moment she crossed the boundary past the creaking gate.
She paused at the foot of the Victorian’s dark wooden steps, painted to a gloss so high you could see each rung despite the darkness, and gazed up at the front door. Dim light filtered out of the entry hallway inside the house. Framing either side were stained glass mosaics of purple and blue flowers nestled among dark green leaves. At the inner corners were the likenesses of fluffy black cats with orange eyes. Potted plants sat on either side of the door, just inside the frame created by the stained glass.
Above the door was another breathtaking piece of stained glass. This one depicted a full moon looming over yet another black cat.
Dru jumped at a scraping sound skittering up the pathway. Relieved to see it was only another leaf traveling on its way, she released the breath she didn’t know she’d been holding. Oddly, still no cars traversed the street. Aside from the leaf’s scraping and the slight whistle of wind, not a sound was to be heard.
She tilted her head back to take in the entire form of the Victorian with its Gingerbread trim. In the dim light she saw a woman sitting at an upper window, gazing out. Was that Gabrielle George? Gazing out the garret window waiting for her interviewee’s arrival?
She stepped back to take a better look and in that instant, the woman in the window disappeared, like a ghost, leaving Dru to doubt if she’d seen her at all. Well, she’d be meeting the famed author soon.
Drawing in a deep breath, she started up the stairs and reached for the bell.
Before she could even touch it, the heavy wooden door creaked partway open and revealed a dark, gaping hallway.
She peered in. “Hello?”
“Hello? Is anyone there?”