Eliza Layton grew up in Clarity, a small town in Western New York. Clarity wasn’t just small, it was miniscule with a population of just under 2,000 souls.
Eliza was gifted. She was beautiful with eyes as wide as the ocean and bluer than the sky. She had creamy smooth skin and lips that formed a natural pout. Her hair was as white as snow.
In addition to her beauty, she was highly intelligent. Wonderfully athletic. Most of all, she was a kind and loving spirit with a strong faith in God. All her life, her daddy told Eliza that she was meant for something bigger.
“Eliza my dear,” he would say. “You have the brains of a doctor, the looks of a movie star, the grace of a ballerina and the soul of a saint. You are blessed beyond belief.”
And so, Eliza’s daddy encouraged her in any interests she had but never pushed her for he wanted her to discover her own way. That was his belief but it was also his wife’s belief. On her death bed, he promised to raise their daughter in a manner that allowed her to find her way. He held firm to that promise.
Eliza’s mommy died when Eliza was four. She barely remembered her, but Eliza’s dad made sure she knew what kind of person her mom was. Oftentimes, Eliza would ask her daddy to tell her a bedtime story about her mommy and he would regale her with tales of how they were high school sweethearts and other amazing things they did before and after they were married.
As Eliza got older, she pressed her daddy for more details about how her mother died and he had to tell her. Jennifer Layton died of a rare cancer. There was something else though that her father would not tell her. She could tell by the way he spoke that he was leaving something out.
She could not put a finger on it, but one thing was obvious. Whatever it was, frightened her father.