Rumer Haven is probably the most social recluse you could ever meet. When she’s not babbling her fool head off among friends and family, she’s pacified with a good story that she’s reading, writing, or revising—or binge-watching something on Netflix. A former teacher hailing from Chicago, she presently lives in London with her husband and probably a ghost or two. Rumer has always had a penchant for the past and paranormal, which inspires her writing to explore dimensions of time, love, and the soul. She debuted in 2014 with Seven for a Secret (a contemporary/historical romance set in Y2K and 1920s Chicago). Her next novel, What the Clocks Know (a paranormal women’s fiction set in modern and Victorian London), is due for release by Crooked Cat Publishing in early 2016.
It’s the year 2000, and twenty-four-year-old Kate moves into a new apartment to find a new state of independence in a new millennium. A former 1920s hotel, Camden Court has housed many lonely lives over the decades—and is where a number of them have come to die. They’re not all resting in peace, however, including ninety-year-old Olive, who dropped dead in Kate’s apartment and continues to make her presence known. For Olive has a secret she’s dying to tell, one linking her to the sex, scandal, and sacrifice of a young dreamer named Lon. As the past haunts the present, Kate’s modern-day love life becomes entwined with Lon’s Jazz Age tragedy.
In the 1920s storyline of Seven for a Secret, two Chicago socialites (Lon Ashby and Eva Hughes) struggle to find love and identity in their opulent, oppressive world. This scene follows Eva as she continues to go through the motions of her milieu after marrying Finlay Redcliffe.
Silver spoons clanked against delicate white china as Eva’s luncheon party cooled their tea in the secluded Palm Court lobby of the Drake Hotel.
The harpist’s flourishing notes helped drown out some of the dull murmuring surrounding her on this All Saint’s Day, but it couldn’t quite cancel out her own little group: her mother, sister, and mother- and sister-in-law.
Virgie, Finlay’s older sister, had a high nasally voice and the terrible tendency to end every laugh with a loud hum, serving as some sort of bridge to return her pitch from high to low. Mrs. Redcliffe—the other Mrs. Redcliffe, Finlay’s mother—was similarly affected with the need to place emphasis on the fourth word of every sentence she spoke. Eva sat with impeccable posture, stirring her tea and observing the effect her mother-in-law had on Eva’s own mother, who’d taken to crafting her responses with emphasis on the second word of nearly every sentence.
Ollie, on the other hand, just sat mutely munching through all the cucumber finger sandwiches, back hunched and feet swinging under the table even though she had to lift her knees to keep from skimming the floor. She’d already kicked Virgie once, which Eva hoped was accidental. Nonetheless, Eva touched a white-gloved hand to Ollie’s lap now and then as a signal to rein in her spastic limbs.
“I had the most divine tea last week at the Walnut Room,” Mrs. Redcliffe tittered on. “The cake was exquisite. I am positively certain the recipe still includes brandy.”
“That does sound decadent,” Mrs. Hughes replied. “We must make a point to go down to Marshall Field’s this week, Evie, before the masses descend at Christmastime. It’s most hospitable with its tea rooms.”
“Yes, Mother,” Eva said, playing a private game of stressing the first word of her sentences, confident they’d never notice. “I agree. It is the last word in accommodating gentlewomen in this city. Positively charming.”
“Indeed, you are quite right there,” said Mrs. Redcliffe.
“I couldn’t agree more,” said Mrs. Hughes.
“Quite unequivocally true,” said Eva.
Ollie chomped on watercress, mentally checked out of the lofty lounge and, Eva knew, roaming the landscape of her even richer imaginary life.
As Virgie told her story, Eva tapped her spoon at the edge of her teacup, watching it flick creamy drops off its egg-shaped bowl. It reflected the glittering lights of the crystal chandeliers overhead, gleaming just like the silver spoons everyone in that room had held in their mouths since birth. Eva wanted to choke on hers.
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Why not visit Rumer at her website: www.rumerhaven.com