The Gate House

Тема

Аннотация: #1 New York Times bestselling author Nelson DeMille delivers the long-awaited follow-up to his classic novel The Gold Coast.

When John Sutter’s aristocratic wife killed her mafia don lover, John left America and set out in his sailboat on a three-year journey around the world, eventually settling in London. Now, ten years later, he has come home to the Gold Coast, that stretch of land on the North Shore of Long Island that once held the greatest concentration of wealth and power in America, to attend the imminent funeral of an old family servant. Taking up temporary residence in the gatehouse of Stanhope Hall, John finds himself living only a quarter of a mile from Susan who has also returned to Long Island. But Susan isn’t the only person from John’s past who has re-emerged: Though Frank Bellarosa, infamous Mafia don and Susan’s ex-lover, is long dead, his son, Anthony, is alive and well, and intent on two missions: Drawing John back into the violent world of the Bellarosa family, and exacting revenge on his father’s murderer – Susan Sutter. At the same time, John and Susan’s mutual attraction resurfaces and old passions begin to reignite, and John finds himself pulled deeper into a familiar web of seduction and betrayal. In THE GATE HOUSE, acclaimed author Nelson Demille brings us back to that fabled spot on the North Shore – a place where past, present, and future collides with often unexpected results.

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Nelson DeMille

The second book in the John Sutter series

This book is for James Nelson DeMille, a new chapter in my life.

PROLOGUE

How beauteous is this garden; where the flowers of the earth vie with the stars of heaven.

What can compare with the vase of yon alabaster fountain filled with crystal water?

Nothing but the moon in her fulness, shining in the midst of an unclouded sky!

– Inscription on a wall of Alhambra Castle, Granada, Spain From Washington Irving,The Alhambra

I t is a warm summer evening, and by the light of a full white moon, I, John Whitman Sutter, am watching my wife, Susan Stanhope Sutter, as she rides her horse Zanzibar across the quiet acres of Stanhope Hall, her ancestral estate.

The rising moon is eerily bright, and it illuminates the landscape with an unearthly glow, which transforms all color into silvery shades of blue and white.

Susan passes through a line of tall pines and enters a neighboring estate called Alhambra, and I wonder why she has trespassed on this property, and I hope she has gotten permission from Alhambra ’s new owner, a Mafia don named Frank Bellarosa.

Majestic trees cast long moon shadows over the grassy fields, and in the distance I can see the huge stucco villa, which is dark except for a light from the closed glass doors of a second-story balcony. That balcony, I know, leads to the library where Frank Bellarosa sits in his leather armchair.

Susan draws near to the house, then dismounts and tethers Zanzibar to a tree. She walks to the edge of a long marble reflecting pool set in a classical garden of mock Roman ruins.

At the far end of the pool is a statue of Neptune, holding aloft his trident, and at his feet, stone fish spout water from their gaping mouths into a large alabaster seashell, which overflows into the pool.

At the opposite end of the pool, closest to me, is a statue of the Virgin Mary, which is new, and which I know was put there by Bellarosa’s wife as a counterbalance to the half-naked pagan god.

A soft, balmy breeze moves the cypress trees, and night birds begin their song. It is a beautiful evening, and Susan seems entranced by the moonlight and the enchanted garden. I, too, am mesmerized by this magical evening.

As I turn my attention back to Susan, she begins to take off her clothes, and she drapes each piece over the statue of the Virgin, which surprises and bothers me.

Susan moves to the edge of the pool, her red hair billowing in the breeze, and she is gazing down at her naked reflection in the water.

I want to take off my clothes and join her, but I notice that the light from the library has gone out, and the doors of the balcony are now open, though no one is there, and this gives me an uneasy feeling, so I stay where I am in the shadows.

Then I see a man silhouetted against the white walls of Alhambra, and he is moving in long, powerful strides toward the pool. As he comes closer, I see that it is Bellarosa, and he is wearing a black robe. He is now standing beside Neptune, and his face looks unnatural in the moonlight. I want to call out to Susan, but I can’t.

Susan does not seem to see him, and she continues to stare down at her reflection, but Bellarosa’s stare is fixed on Susan. I am incensed that this man is looking at my wife’s naked body.

This scene stays frozen, Susan and Frank as motionless as the statues beside them, and I, too, am frozen, powerless to intervene, though I need to protect Susan.

Then I see that she has become aware of Bellarosa’s presence, but she does not react. I don’t understand this; she should not be standing naked in front of this man. I’m angry at her, and at him, and a stream of rage races through my mind, but I can’t put this rage into words or sounds.

As I stare at Susan, she turns her back to the pool, and to Bellarosa, and I think she is going to leave. Then she turns her head in my direction, as though she’s heard a sound. I make a move toward her, but suddenly she lifts her arms and springs backward into the pool, and in long, powerful strides, she moves naked through the moonlit water toward Frank Bellarosa. I look at him, and I see that he is now naked, standing with his arms folded across his chest. He is a large, powerfully built man, and in the moonlight he appears as imposing and menacing as the naked stone god beside him.

I want to shout out to Susan, to warn her to come back, but something tells me to stay silent – to see what happens.

Susan reaches the far end of the pool and lifts herself into the water-filled seashell, where she stands near the towering statue of Neptune. She is looking up at Bellarosa, who has not moved from the edge of the pool, except to turn his face toward her.

They stare at each other, unnaturally motionless, then Bellarosa steps into the shallow water of the seashell where he stands in front of Susan.

They are speaking, but all I can hear is the rushing sound of the spouting water.

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