Bed & Breakfast Next to the Pink Roses Hotel (Chapter 1, page 1 of 2)

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Chapter 1

NO ONE ASKED, SO NO ONE WAS TOLD, WHAT MARY ANNE SLOAN'S LAST words had been. Only one person knew, and she was about to leave the house with the unshared information.

"I see you're packed," Dr. Cameron said, entering the bedroom. "Are you not going to spend the night here?"

"No," Kathy replied. "I don't think I should stay any longer."

The doctor looked sympathetically into the young woman's eyes. He had seen her at the hospital, overwhelmed by Mrs. Sloan's collapse and eventual death.

"Had Mary Anne told you about her illness?" asked the doctor.

"No… No. I had no idea. She never mentioned it. And she looked so lively."

"Oh, she was. She was. Never seemed to find time to give that feeble heart of hers a rest."

Mrs. Sloan's sister, Frances, then knocked on the open door.

"Can I come in?"

"Of course, Mrs. Martin. In fact, I was about to go look for you. To pay my last respects and say goodbye."

Mrs. Martin understood that Kathy was firmly resolved to leave, so she didn't attempt to convince her to stay, which would only uselessly delay the young woman's plans for a couple of probably uncomfortable days among strangers. Nevertheless, she did want Kathy to know that they, Mary Anne Sloan's family, were happy to have her there.

"I wanted to thank you, Katherine, for all that you've done. For being a good friend to my sister, for calling us and preparing the house for us. Taking care of the first arrangements for the funeral. And, especially, and most greatly, for being with Mary Anne when she… in her last moments.

"It was the least I could do," answered Kathy, gently touching the lady's shoulder when the memory of her sister made her voice trail off. "You see, I may have known Mrs. Sloan for a very short time, but I can assure you that she is the best friend I've ever had."

Frances Martin took this as a compliment and held Kathy's hands in a gesture of gratitude, unaware of the fact that the young woman's comment conveyed a much greater sentiment and a deeper meaning.

"I've no doubt she thought highly of you too."

"Oh, I can certify that, Mrs. Martin," said Dr. Cameron. "In one of our last conversations, your sister told me how delighted she was with her guest."

"She said she felt you were family," he added, looking at Kathy.

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