Glinhaven by Deborah O'Toole is a traditional gothic fiction novel similar in style to classic 1970s paperbacks written by Dorothy Daniels, Marilyn Harris, Victoria Holt, Marilyn Ross (aka Dan Curtis), and Phyllis Whitney.


Piper Hunt leaves Boston to take over her grandfather's unique curio shop in Glinhaven. While adjusting to life in the quaint seaside village, she uncovers dark secrets hidden at the forbidding Glinhaven Monastery which may unlock mysteries from her past.

From Chapter Eight

"ANOTHER DREARY DAY," PIPER OBSERVED as they drove toward the Glinhaven mansion that afternoon in Cam's dark blue van. For the outing, she had chosen to wear a long brown skirt, knee-length soft brown boots and a belt, along with a long-sleeved brown and white polka dot blouse and dark brown neck scarf. Her ensemble was complete with a dark cream-colored pillbox hat.

"Maybe it won't be so bad," Cam said, trying to cheer her. "Somehow or other, I have the feeling Audrey or Neal alerted Lady G. to the fact that you found out about their collective friendships. Perhaps having you to tea is her way of finding out."

"And mine," Piper replied with a grim smile. "Although I find it hard to believe Audrey would be loyal to that lethal old woman over me."

"I doubt that's the case," Cam tried to reassure her. "It's probably just like Neal said. Lady G. is human after all, and she's just lonely in her sunset years."

"It doesn't gel with her personality as I know it."

"I agree, but people can change. Even one as advanced in years as Lady Glinhaven."

"We'll see," Piper conceded as the Glinhaven mansion came into view.

It was then Piper noticed the figure of Brother Albert hurrying across the circular driveway. He did not look right or left, but went straight ahead without a glance in their direction. Within seconds, he disappeared into a copse of trees that Piper knew contained a path to the monastery.

"Did you see him?" she asked Cam as he pulled in front of the mansion.

He nodded. "Yes. I wonder what's afoot?"

"It's no secret that Lady G. is a big supporter of the monastery," Piper noted as they alighted from the car. "Maybe Brother Albert's visit was in connection to that."

"Could be," Cam granted as they came to the front doors. "Maybe you should ask Lady Glinhaven about it. She's certainly not shy about being blunt with you, so I suppose it's all fair game."

Roxby opened the doors just seconds after Cam knocked. He regarded the couple passively, his coal dark eyes expressionless.

"Lady Glinhaven is expecting us for tea," Piper said pointedly. Her eyes went to the large, brown mole perched over his upper lip, unable to help herself.

Roxby nodded slightly, aware of her perusal as he met her eyes. "Yes, of course. Her Ladyship is waiting for you in the drawing room. Please follow me."

Lady Glinhaven was in her usual place, sitting in a wheelchair in front of the tall fireplace, hands folded in her lap. The fire burned brightly, spreading an uncomfortable warmth into the drawing room. Piper noted the older woman was wearing a mauve chiffon dress, her white hair in a tight yet elegant bun. Black-framed spectacles were perched on her nose, the dark eyes watching the couple with avid yet somehow detached interest. Neil Keith stood by her side, his hands folded behind his back. Piper nodded his way in greeting, and he graced her with a slight smile. She noticed he was neatly dressed in black wool slacks and a dark maroon pullover sweater. Even in the confines of Lady Glinhaven's home, he managed to appear dapper.

"Thank you for coming," Lady Glinhaven spoke graciously, gesturing to the cream and navy-colored brocaded settee near the fireplace. "Please, have a seat. Roxby will bring tea momentarily." She glanced at Cam. "Nice to see you again, Mr. MacDevitt."

Cam looked in her direction as he sat down. "Likewise, Mrs. Glinhaven. Thanks for letting me tag along."

"My pleasure. As Mr. Keith has told me many times, the more the merrier."

Piper crossed her legs, placing her hands on her lap. "I saw Brother Albert leaving as we arrived. Cam recently started ordering baked goods from the monastery to sell in his bookshop."

Lady Glinhaven cleared her throat. "It's a good thing for our little community, buying local. Brother Albert often visits me to discuss business to do with the monastery. I donate quite a bit of money to the holy order, mainly to see to their basic needs."

"That's very kind of you," Piper ventured. She wasn't sure how to respond to the older woman's admission to acts of charity.

Before the older woman could continue, Roxby appeared in the drawing room, slowly pushing a two-tiered wooden tea trolley laden with a large silver teapot, several cups, a pitcher of milk, a white bowl full of quartered lemons, sugar, and several plates adorned with foodstuff. Neal stepped forward to help the butler serve tea, and then sat in a high-backed chair near the fireplace, which gave him a view of the entire room.

"Please help yourself to the goodies," Lady Glinhaven gestured to the tea trolley. "These are some of my favorites: Tichenilles, an Italian creation also known as pepper biscotti, cucumber sandwiches, potted shrimp, and still warm Irish soda bread with butter. For the sweet tooth, we have pumpkin coffee cake, Aussie Lamingtons, Russian tea balls and Scottish shortbread, the latter of which was made from a recipe that has been in my husband's family for generations."

Piper snagged a piece of pumpkin coffee cake, while Cam filled a plate with the tiny, crust-less cucumber sandwiches. After they had eaten in silence for a few minutes, Lady Glinhaven spoke again.

"How are Duncan's cats faring without him?" she asked, looking at Piper over the rim of her tea cup as she took a sip of the hot brew.

"They've been great company for me," Piper admitted. "Moggy seems to miss my grandfather the most. Sometimes I find her walking around the curio shop, as if she is looking for him, and her favorite place to sleep is on his bed. Sith, on the other hand . . ." She shrugged with a slight smile. "Sith is just Sith. Goofy and uncoordinated as ever."

"Your grandfather always had cats," Lady Glinhaven responded, her tone almost wistful. "Years ago," she gestured to her wheelchair. "Before I became a slave to this contraption, I used to see Duncan walking down Main Street in the village, a cat trotting after him on the sidewalk. It was a big, gray feline with yellow eyes. I think its name was Marnie, if I'm not mistaken."

Piper smiled. "I remember Marnie. She lived to be almost twenty-one years old, when I was all of ten."

"I noticed there are several Scottish Folds living at the monastery," Cam spoke up, sipping his tea. "Is that a long-standing tradition as well?"

The older woman nodded. "Yes, indeed. Monks have been rearing and keeping the cats for many years, for as long as I can remember." Her eyes suddenly clouded over. "I kept cats my entire married life, too. But shortly after my husband died, my beloved fold Queen passed away. She was beautiful, white and cream in color with large blue eyes, and such a gentle and loving creature." She dabbed at her eyes with a handkerchief quickly provided by Neal. "I haven't had a cat since then. I couldn't bring myself to replace Queen."

Piper listened to Lady Glinhaven speak, almost touched by the woman's words. If she didn't know better, Piper might believe her sincerity and sense of loss. But doubt and suspicion continued to nag at her, keeping her alert for signs of a change in the matriarch's demeanor. It did not take long to resurface.

Just as Cam and Piper finished their tea, Lady Glinhaven cleared her throat. Her voice took on a decidedly sterner edge. "I know you're wondering why I asked you to tea," she began, her eyes focused on Piper. "My main objective is to become better acquainted with you, Piper. I knew your grandfather for so many years, meeting him after I arrived in Glinhaven in 1946. Duncan was a genuine, no-nonsense soul, one of a kind. Just like a precious gem." She smiled thinly. "That being said, I would like to reiterate my offer to buy The Thistle from you, one last time. I understand you now wish to remain in Glinhaven and the shop would be your sole source of income, but I'm willing to make one final offer for the place that will see you financially comfortable for the rest of your life."

Piper drew in her breath quietly. There it was, the old woman's true purpose for today's get-together and final declaration to snag The Thistle. Piper was surprised it had taken Lady Glinhaven so long to get to the point. Cam reached over and took her hand, giving it a light squeeze of reassurance. She glanced over and noticed Neal staring at her expectantly. He was anxious for her answer, too, although he concealed it better than his employer did.

Silence lengthened in the room as Piper met Lady Glinhaven's expressionless eyes. The older woman broke the stare by brushing imaginary lint from the lap of her dress.

"I'm not selling The Thistle," Piper finally returned in a calm, measured voice. "Not now, and certainly not in the future."

Lady Glinhaven smiled tightly. "So be it, my dear. And I do respect your decision."

Piper's eyes flew to Neal Keith. He looked saddened, somehow defeated, as if his last hope had just fled. She wasn't sure what to make of his dismal expression. What did he really care, anyway, if Lady Glinhaven acquired The Thistle or not? He was probably paid the same, regardless.

"Thank you," Piper replied.

"But if you do change your mind someday, do know that my offer still stands."

"Of course," Piper said graciously.

Lady Glinhaven's brief smile did not reach her eyes.

"I'm the new kid on the block here," Cam said with a smile. "I don't know about any of the people you're talking about, apart from Audrey."

The older woman looked at Cam with a warm smile. "If you remain in Glinhaven, it will all become clear in time."

Cam stood and returned his empty tea cup to the trolley. "Thank you for the wonderful repast, Ma'am. It was enjoyable, and I hope we can do it again soon."

Piper also stood, taking the queue that Cam was ready to leave. "Yes, thank you. We really need to get back to our respective shops, but hope to see you again."

"You're welcome," the older woman nodded her head in their direction. "And don't worry, you will see me again. Sooner rather than later, I'm sure."

Neal also stood as Piper and Cam took their leave, watching as they made their way from the drawing room. Piper wasn't sure, but she thought she detected a look of longing in the dapper man's eyes as they departed.

Roxby saw them to the front doors, bidding them good day. It wasn't until they reached Cam's van that Piper spoke again. As he pulled the vehicle away from the mansion, Piper turned and observed his profile. There was a slight smile on his face.

"Why are you smiling?" she asked him.

"All in all, it was a nice afternoon. I quite enjoyed myself." He glanced at her as he drove the van onto North Shore Road. "What did you think of Lady Glinhaven's sudden lurch of memory? Seems out of character for her."

"It is out of character," Piper agreed. "And it made me wonder if she was putting on an act for our benefit."

"But why? To what end?"

Piper shrugged. "Who knows why the old woman does anything?" She sighed. "One thing I sense, for sure, is that she will never give up trying to get The Thistle from me. Despite her words, I think she will still try to find a way to obtain my grandfather's shop." She shook her head. "And it's still beyond me as to why she wants it so badly."

"It's your shop now," he corrected her gently.

"True," she smiled at him. "At first, I didn't want to take it on. I liked my life in Boston. Then it was sort of a guilt thing, of not wanting to let my grandfather down."

"And now?" he prodded.

"Now I truly want to stay here," she told him. "I want to spend the rest of my life in Glinhaven, to carry on my family's legacy with The Thistle. It's as if I've come full circle in a way, coming back to where I'm from. And I hope someday to have children who will also want to carry on the legacy."

Cam entered the village, guiding the car toward their shops on Main Street. "And I hope I'm part of all of that, with you." His voice was husky, but full of the newfound love she knew he felt for her.

"Me too."

A few minutes later, Cam parked in front of their shops. Being Sunday, they were not open for business during the winter months. The excuse to leave the Glinhaven mansion was not altogether flimsy, however, as both Cam and Piper had work to do tidying their establishments and stocking the shelves.

He kissed her as they alighted onto the sidewalk. "I'll come over later, and we can think about doing something for dinner."

"Sounds good," she said, returning his kiss with a light in her eyes."See you soon."

Cam went on his way, and Piper approached the front of the curio shop. She glanced toward the display window and saw Sith sitting near the glass, looking at her and making "meow" motions with his mouth. His eyes were wide and urgent, seeming an even brighter yellow in their intensity. Then he raised on his haunches slightly, and began pawing the glass.

She chuckled, assuming Sith was hungry and wanted attention. "I'm coming," she said, more to herself, as she unlocked the door. She stepped inside and shut the door behind her, reaching over to flip the light switch on. Sith came darting from the display window and began making circle eights around her ankles, his purr audible in the quiet room.

Piper stood stock still, her mouth slightly agape as she surveyed the inside of the curio shop. Books were thrown to the floor in front of their respective shelves, and several knick-knacks were scattered or completely destroyed: two garden gnomes with heads removed lay on their sides in front of the counter, cat and raven bookends looked as if they had been smashed against the floor and were now in several large pieces, tankards had been similarly tossed about, leaving fragments of glass in their wake; shiny tarot cards had been scattered throughout the shop and nearly covered the floor, and a pair of black widow shoes had been placed upright at the bottom of the stairs leading to her apartment.

Her eyes went to the staircase, and then she saw Moggy Malone on the top step, glaring down at her balefully. Piper bent over and placed Sith in her arms, kissing him gently on the top of his head. "At least the two of you are unharmed," she murmured, tears rolling down her face. "I wish you could both speak and tell me what went on here. And who did this?"

Sith meowed loudly, licking her face.

Piper approached the counter, Sith still in her arms. She avoided the headless gnomes and made her way around, coming to stand at the cash register. One of the stray tarot cards had made its way to the counter, or had been deliberately placed there. She glanced down and drew in her breath.

It was the Death card. The image depicted a skeleton in a suit of armor, riding a horse.

Piper backed away slowly, coming out from behind the counter and standing at the bottom of the stairs. She set Sith on the bottom step. Moggy Malone was still glaring at her from the top. If the shop was a mess, there was no telling what state her apartment was in. She was terrified, and not foolish enough to go upstairs alone. She needed Cam, and she needed the police.

Turning on her heel, Piper fled the shop.


GLINHAVEN ©Deborah O'Toole. All rights reserved.

"Glinhaven" may not be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission from the author. "Glinhaven" is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is purely coincidental.