Title: Miranda Bay
Author: Susan Tarr
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Miranda, a strong-minded and lovable young woman, splurges her inheritance on the old Miranda Bay Sanatorium in the sub-tropical Bay of Islands, New Zealand, simply because it bears her name. She knows little about running a business and depends heavily on loyal cousin Pansy’s expertise.
In her frantic drive for success Miranda hires a local character to get cracking on the property. Hamilton, her lascivious financial advisor, seizes the opportunity to undermine her. But now with paying guests expected, she must make some serious decisions.
So the guests trickle in – hardly the sophisticates Miranda has envisaged.
At the brink of despair, she experiences deepening depression and manic behavior. She contrives an outlandish economic solution to the problem. What follow is intrigue and terror, and an emotional and tender unfolding of events in the face of financial ruin.
“Witty and wicked, scandalous and scary, this is a story to make you laugh and cry.”
The catwalk stretched briefly into the ebbing tide. The backdrop was black calico, not the wooden flats used in real catwalks for real fashion shows because Miranda was on a tight budget. When Mihi, first down the ramp wearing a column of white, twirled one time too many, she was gone. The girl twirled herself right off the stage! A two-meter drop, she plunged straight into the water beneath. Miranda gasped!
Because no one was really taking any notice the show went right on.
Along came another of Mere’s nieces and, believe it or not, the girl did the same thing. She was completing a full turn, when hello! She was gone. Straight off the end of the walkway, plunging into the water alongside Mihi.
“For goodness sakes, how many kilometers do they need?” Miranda muttered.
So the runway was too short—the girls were plopping right off the end. She got Neville to organize an additional meter. Now Miriama was so nervous about her big chance she was throwing up over the side of the jetty, in full sight of everyone.
Since there were not a lot of models, they’d practiced some pretty fast maneuvers this past week. When it was time for Melissa, Miranda gesticulated cautiously for her to twirl and turn, twirl and turn until the others swam ashore, flicked their hair back, toweled off and changed into swimsuits.
She’d overspent with this modelling idea, but with good reason—Hamilton hinted strongly that her business didn’t stand a chance, said he’d reassessed her accounts. He also said she might be better off selling and moving back down to the city—where he could keep a closer eye on her. As a friend, of course. Her solution was to pour money into the resort.
Her cheeks were flushed, her tongue loose and colorful and she sold, sold, sold. Those items not snatched up were hung back on the rack and brought right out again for the next show.
Her unflagging energy was bringing in the dollars. She purred, a wine glass dangling from her left hand, gesturing toward Mimi in Moschino. She knew her clothes were stunning but distanced herself from them now the money was coming in.
Pansy exchanged Miranda’s empty glass for a full one, all the while shoving girls into outfits.
This night, she took refuge in the dank darkness of the spa room where the windows were misted over and there was not a trace of light or movement within. Yet Hamilton was there with his door-tapping and knob-turning. Rigid with inordinate fear, she stifled a high panicky cry with her fist shoved in her mouth.
And as he stood outside the door, for the first time since all the crazy stuff started happening, she felt she was in the presence of pure evil.
The spa room was clammy, almost airless, and from the deep shadows inside, she could hear labored breathing. She shivered uncontrollably. Evil was not that tangible. Evil was a thing of the soul, self-contained, not pervasive.
In the ensuing silence, the sound of the knob turning had her belly barreling into her ribs. A scrunching of feet as he shifted his weight. Then she watched frozen in fear as a hand moved back and forth across the steamy window in an attempt to clear a space, his face pressed close to the glass, peering, trying to see her in the gloom. As her senses reached out into the darkness she forgot to breathe, resuming abruptly with a gasp. She had flattened herself down into the water, waiting motionlessly. The silence went on for a long time, and in the tepid fugue of the chlorinated water she shivered. Fear brushed the walls in her chest.
Her hair was hanging in cold locks against her shoulders, her teeth chattered and her lips were quivering.
But now her bladder pressed heavily. Silently, and very slowly so as not to ripple the water, she slid the foam cover back across the pool until only the top of her head was showing. Then, as she peeked over the top, Hamilton wiped a hand across the window once more, and pressed his bloated face against the glass, his ghostly white, flattened cheek devoid of shape. The pressure on her bladder was intolerable.
At what seemed like midnight but was probably much earlier, she heard Hamilton’s uneven gait as he made his way from the fern garden edging the spa room and back to his suite. Just an insignificant little man with no power over me. Her waterlogged brain chimed in, Of course, he has. He’s got lots of power over you. Success or failure. Yours. What if he hasn’t gone? What if it is all a trick, something elaborate and terrible?
She retreated into herself, consoling herself. In the morning she would unlock the door and walk out into the safety of a bright new day. Meanwhile, in the cool water, she dozed fitfully.
A hand shook the door handle, jerking and straining at it.
She screamed. She struggled toward wakefulness through a morass of dreams, fighting to breathe, her mouth doughy with sleep and dread.
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Susan Tarr has been writing for 25 years, drawing on her international travels, work within the NZ tourism industry, and her work in various psychiatric hospitals within New Zealand.
She lived in Kenya, East Africa, for some years where she began her family.
Although she writes from personal experience, she also uses anecdotal information from conversations and other peoples’ stories, resulting in her characters taking on a life of their own and becoming larger than life. She enjoys a wide variety of personalities.
Susan says, “As I write their stories, my characters will often lead me to places I couldn’t imagine. So I relax and let them form as they will. I am passionate about my writing and I usually have three books on the go at any one time.”
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