The Summer House by James Patterson Read Online (FREE)
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INSIDE THIS DUMP of a home in rural Sullivan, Georgia, Lillian Zachary’s rescue mission to save her younger sister and niece isn’t going well. Only because of her parents’ pleadings did she make the three-hour drive this warm evening from the safety of her Atlanta condo to liberate Gina and her daughter, Polly, from this place.
She nervously eyes the guns that are on open display, their promise of violence making her uneasy. A pump-action shotgun is leaning near the sole door leading outside, a hunting rifle is up against the wall on the other side of the old home, and two black semiautomatic pistols are on the cluttered kitchen counter, next to three sets of scales and plastic bags full of marijuana. Antique oak cabinets and porcelain-lined sinks and metal faucets are on the opposite side of the room.
Lillian is in a part of the home laughingly called a “living room,” and there’s nothing in here worth living for, save her sister and her sister’s two-year-old girl. The place is foul, with empty beer cans, two-liter bottles of Mountain Dew, crumpled-up McDonald’s bags, and crushed pizza cartons strewn across a wooden floor worn and gouged from a century of wear.
Built in the small plantation-plain style and named The Summer House, the place was once the getaway destination of a rich Savannah family fleeing city smells and sounds generations before the invention of air-conditioning. Now, decades later, the rich family has fallen on hard times, and their grandly named Summer House is a decaying rental property fit only for this group of lowlifes.
Lillian wonders if the ghosts of the old Savannah family are horrified to see how decayed and worn their perfect summer escape home has become.
Lillian is perched on the armrest of a black vinyl couch kept together with scrap lumber and duct tape, and Gina is sitting next to her, shaking a footless rag doll in front of little Polly, who’s on the carpeted floor before her mother, giggling.
Lillian says, “Gina, c’mon, can we get going?”
Her sister shakes her head. “No, not yet,” she says. “Polly’s laughing. I love it when Polly laughs. Don’t you?”
Lillian isn’t married, doesn’t seem to have that maternal urge to bear children, but something about the bright-blue eyes and innocent face of the chubby little girl in a pink corduroy jumper stirs her. Her little niece, trapped here with her single mom, in a crappy house in a crappy part of the state.
At the other end of the room is another couch in front of a large-screen television—no doubt stolen, she thinks—and three other people who live here are playing some stupid shoot-’em-up fantasy video game where fire-breathing dragons and knights do battle armed with machine guns. She’s already forgotten the names of the two lanky, long-haired boys and their woman friend. Shirley? Or Sally. Whatever. And Randy. Yeah. That’s one of the losers’ names.