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Bill Staniforth is being harassed by a former colleague he once counseled, Miriam. What starts as an embarrassing annoyance for a man in an upwardly mobile neighborhood - hang up phone calls at all hours, his answering machine clogged with love messages - adds stress to his already tense marriage. For Bill's wife Holly has her own discontentments as she struggles to find meaning in work that is often uninspiring. Working at a struggling feminist publication that can barely afford to pay her she finds she's doing more busy work than she wants, and far less writing than she'd like. In her frustration she wants someone or something to blame. She decides that Miriam must have been Bill's lover, and that's why she can't leave him alone.
With Bill too preoccupied to give her the attention she needs Holly pours out her woes a neighbor. A sympathetic ear becomes something more insidious, and soon the flirtation becomes an affair. Miriam, busy spying on Bill, discovers this and decides that the only way she can liberate Bill from his marriage is by blackmailing his wife.
Miriam spends more and more time stalking Bill and doing New Age Druid rituals to bring him to her until her ex-husband, incensed by her neglect of their children, argues with her and strikes her. She recoils, hits her head on a door frame, and later that evening slips into a coma. The police are called in and they consider it attempted murder. They search Miriam's apartment, find the photographs she was using in her blackmail attempt, and Bill is arrested as a suspect. In jail, abandoned by wife and friends, and able to hire a decent lawyer only at the cost of bankrupting himself, Bill is forced to reasses every aspect of his life. Fighting off a rape attempt by two fellow inmates, Bill is reduced to thinking only about his day to day survival.
When Miriam recovers consciousness Bill's innocence is established and he is released. He returns to his empty house. Holly has left him, he's lost his job, and he has to sell the house to pay his legal costs. His next door neighbor, Sue, takes him in. This is when he begins to learn personally about healing, about compassion, and about love.
Miriam comes to claim Bill, believing they were lovers in a previous incarnation. When he refuses her she makes a final bid to win him. In the middle of the night she uses a Druid fire ceremony to release him from his other attachments, placing candles and oil lamps all around the house. The breeze blows over several lamps and the flames get out of hand. Bill awakes to find the house on fire.
He manages to get everyone out of the house but is badly burned. Miriam is confined to an asylum, and Bill recovers to marry Sue.
- Xlibris US, November 2000
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