SATURDAY SPOTLIGHT: Imaginary Brightness by Sheila Myers


imaginary brightness

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This saga re-imagines the lives of an American railroad tycoon Thomas Durant and his family, clawing their way back from the brink of bankruptcy after the Panic of 1873. Will the Durant pioneering spirit prevail? Or will the artistic-leanings and ill-fated love interests of the Durant offspring derail their father’s ambitions to pioneer the American wilderness? Set at the dawn of the glamorous Gilded Age, this story unfolds the inner-turmoil of a family that once had all the trappings of money, and will do anything to get it back.



“So tell me, Poultney, what’ve you been doing without me these past several weeks? It must be pure torture not receiving my poems so you can tear them apart,” Ella teased as they went for a walk in the woods later that day.

“Actually, I read ‘Raquette’. You did a brilliant job describing the place. ‘Here in the depths, Oh Lethean Lake! We drop our griefs, our vain regret! As from an evil dream we wake, tasting health’s sweetness, learning at last life’s completeness.’” Poultney swooned.

“My, my, you’ve memorized my work. And you’re complimenting it! How unusual for you.”

“Not really, my dear. If I spent too much time praising you, you’d never like me. You’re all about the challenge. Besides, the poem shows you’re finally getting over your lost love in England, or Scotland, or wherever he was from. That makes me happy.”

“Don’t be too happy just yet, Poultney.” Ella smiled. “I may be over him, but I’m not head over heels for you. You play cat and mouse with me too much for my liking. I don’t want to be batted around like a plaything for your amusement,” Ella said with a slight smile.

Poultney threw his head back and let out a hearty guffaw. “Ella,” he said, “you are more than a mouse to my cat-like cravings.”

They walked the shoreline path that led away from Pine Knot and before too long found themselves in front of the hunting cabin.

Ella had not seen it since the summer before when she was on the boat with William. It was much improved. There was a porch and glass windows that faced the lake. They went inside.

Two rooms split the front of the cabin; one was a small bedroom with two cots, the other a parlor. Behind the small bedroom was a kitchen and behind the parlor was a master bedroom.

The two could not squelch their curiosity — they went to the master bedroom. And there it was: a bed the likes of which neither had ever seen before. Similar furniture was scattered throughout Pine Knot but this bed was a piece of art. It was sculpted out of wood with ornate geometric patterns of inlaid woods decking the headboard.

“My God, it’s a marriage bed!” Poultney said.

Ella saw William’s Swiss chalet music box, the one he had intended to give to Florence, on the dresser and felt the need to get out of there. Ella was embarrassed for William and their intrusion on what must be his private lair.

Poultney turned to her, his eyes full of desire. Ella caught her breath.

“Should we try it out?” he asked.

“Poultney,” Ella was flustered by his proposal, “don’t jest with me.”

He put his arms around her waist and kissed her passionately. Then he reached for her bodice. “You’re not wearing a corset are you?” He breathed on her neck.

She blushed, aroused, and scared to death of his presence. She kissed him back. “No, I never do,” she whispered. “Not here anyway.”

He started to untie her bodice so he could see what was underneath her blouse. As surprised as she was, Ella didn’t stop him.

Just then they heard voices in the woods. It was William and Louise, walking toward to the cabin to rest for a short while before the afternoon’s events. If they went through the front they would be found out. This was one situation that Ella would not be able to talk her way out of.

Ella and Poultney looked for an escape and saw the door leading out of the master bedroom.

An easy exit, how had they missed it before? They stifled their laughter until they were a safe distance from the cabin and then exhaled in the woods. Ella finally composed herself so she could put her bodice back in place. She was shocked at how quickly and easily she had responded to his desire. Still giggling, they took each other’s hand and walked back to Pine Knot.



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Sheila MyersSheila Myers is an Associate Professor at a college in Upstate NY. She began researching and writing about the Durant family after staying in the cabin where William West Durant supposedly kept his mistress Minnie in the Adirondack wilderness. She has traveled to numerous museums, libraries, and places where the Durant family lived and vacationed to research the family saga. What began as a love story has turned into an epic trilogy. Imaginary Brightness is the first book, the second – Castles in the Air will be published in late spring 2016. – See more at


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