Discovering that the beloved mother she had thought dead is actually still alive, Melody Logan tries to deny her suspicions about her mother's hostility and seeks to unlock the truth about her own past
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One of the most popular authors of all time, V.C. Andrews has been a bestselling phenomenon since the publication of Flowers in the Attic, first in the renowned Dollanganger family series which includes Petals on the Wind, If There Be Thorns, Seeds of Yesterday, and Garden of Shadows. The family saga continues with Christopher’s Diary: Secrets of Foxworth, Christopher’s Diary: Echoes of Dollanganger, and Secret Brother. V.C. Andrews has written more than seventy novels, which have sold more than 106 million copies worldwide and been translated into twenty-five foreign languages. Join the conversation about the world of V.C. Andrews at Facebook.com/OfficialVCAndrews.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
The New York City skyline took my breath away. As Holly and I approached the sparkling city, I reflected on the rush of events that had brought me all this way. Too excited to rest yet too tired to talk with Holly, I decided to write Alice Morgan and thank her for sending the picture that had catapulted me into this odyssey, this journey to find my past.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for sending me that clothing catalogue with the picture of the model who looked just like my mother. Kenneth and I agreed with you, and Kenneth contacted the catalogue company and they gave him the name of the model, Gina Simon, and her address. And you'll never guess where I'm headed right this very minute as I write this letter. Los Angeles! Hollywood! Well, actually, I'm in New York City now (or driving through it at least -- we just passed the Empire State Building!). Kenneth's friend Holly offered to drive me to New York, and then Holly's sister Dorothy and her husband, Peter, have volunteered to let me stay with them in Beverly Hills. Can you believe it?
I'm a little scared to be traveling so far on a dream, though. What if this Gina Simon just turns out to be a woman who looks a lot like Mommy? Or maybe even worse, what if she is my mother? What does that mean? Then who is buried in her grave in Provincetown? And why hasn't she let me know that she's okay, that she really didn't die in that car crash? Maybe she got sick and lost her memory. If Mommy has amnesia she might need me now more than ever. I just have to go. I have to have the answers to all these questions.
You would think that with all the excitement Of finding a clue about my mother I would be happier. But leaving Provincetown almost broke my heart. I know when I last wrote you I told you that I was lonely, and that Grandma Olivia was giving me a hard time, and that certainly hasn't changed, but Cary and I have grown so close that it was painful to leave him. And to watch little May cry as she waved good-bye was just awful. They really have become like family to me. And Cary, of course, has become much more. I'll have to tell you all about it when we talk.
Well, Alice, I hope to have news for you soon, and I hope you are enjoying life back in Sewell. I really do miss West Virginia. And you of course! Say hi to everyone at school and keep your fingers crossed!
Chapter 1: A Glimpse into the Future
Holly's crystal shop looked small inside because every available space was utilized. The air reeked of incense and there was some kind of Far Eastern music playing. Large crystals, all shiny and jagged, stood on antique tables at the center of the shop and tall oak bookshelves lined the side walls. I turned my gaze to the books alongside me and noticed that the shelves were filled with titles describing meditation practices, astrology, faith healing, the afterlife and paraphysical wonders, whatever they were.
Along the back wall was a long glass case crowded with birth stones, as well as amethyst, blue topaz, citrine, garnet and other minerals set in earrings. On the shelves behind the glass case were boxes of incense, teas, Tarot cards and herbal medicines. The ceiling was covered with charts of the constellations, along with posters explaining the powers of various stones. Above the cash register, framed in flowers, was a photograph of a man Holly said was the Buddhist guru who had taught her about meditation. A curtain of multicolored beads hung in the doorway that led to the rooms in back of the shop.
We'd only been in the shop a few moments when a young man in a wheelchair, whom I knew had to be Billy Maxwell, parted the curtain and appeared. He had silky ebony hair that reached his shoulders and framed his face, a face that had an angelic glow because of his rich, almost alabaster complexion. As soon as he saw us, his light green eyes brightened and a gentle smile appeared on his face. Perhaps because of his disability and dependence upon his arms and shoulders, his upper body was firm, muscular, obvious even in his loose, light blue shirt. He wore a pair of dark jeans, white socks and sneakers. There was a large, round gem in a gold casing dangling on a gold chain around his neck and his right ear was pierced and filled with a turquoise stone earring.
"Hi, Billy," Holly said as he wheeled himself closer, his eyes fixed on me.
"Hi. You got here earlier than I expected. How was your trip?" he asked her, while still concentrating on me.
"Good. This is Melody."
"Pleased to meet you," Billy said, extending his hand. He had long, soft fingers and a palm that was warm against mine.
"Hi," I said. There seemed to be such peacefulness in his face, a calmness that helped me feel at home.
"So you're on a big journey," he said, sitting back.
"Yes," I answered, unable to hide my nervousness.
"The Chinese say a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step and you've taken that single step. That's usually the hardest," he added. "Now the momentum will take over and carry you to where you have to go."
I nodded and then glanced at Holly, not sure what I should say or do. She laughed.
"You'll get some good advice here, Melody. Billy's the best tour guide in our galaxy."
Billy smiled but kept his eyes on me. It was strange having him look at me so intently, but I didn't feel intimidated or self-conscious. I felt his sincerity, his concern and it was as if he and I had known each other for years instead of minutes.
"What's been happening here?" Holly asked before we started across the shop.
"Well, Mrs. Hadron's daughter gave birth prematurely early this morning, but the baby is doing well. She stopped by to thank us for the smoky quartz -- it really helped her daughter get through the crisis. And Mr. Brul was here this morning to tell you that the variscite helped him recall a past life. He had vivid details to share."
"Past life?" I asked.
"Yes. He saw himself in England, mid-nineteenth century. He said he was a bookkeeper, which made sense to him. He's an accountant now."
"You mean you believe we all have former lives?" I asked, looking from him to Holly and then back to him.
"Yes," Billy said smiling. "I have no doubt."
"Well, for now we'll have to concentrate on her present life," Holly said. "This way, honey."
"I'm sorry I can't help with your bags," Billy apologized.
"We'll be fine," Holly replied. "See you in a few minutes."
"Welcome again, Melody, and don't worry. There is good energy surrounding you." His eyes grew small. "Things will work out for you," he said with confidence. It was as if he really could look into the future.
"Thank you," I said.
The door chimes rang as two elderly women entered the shop. While Billy attended to them, Holly led me through the curtain of beads to the living quarters at the rear of the shop.
"Our rooms are right back here," she explained. I followed her through the doorway to a short hallway. There was a small living room on the right with a sofa, a smaller settee, two easy chairs, a glass table and two standing lamps.
"This is Billy's bedroom," she said nodding at the first door on the left. "It makes it easier for him to be closest to the shop. I have the next room and you can take this room across the hall," she said opening the door.
It was a very small room with one window that opened on the rear of the building. There wasn't much to look at: just a driveway that provided access to garbage trucks and a small, fenced in area for someone's dog. The dog was in its doghouse at the moment, with just its large black paws visible. The window had light brown cotton curtains and a window shade with a quarter moon and a star painted on it. There was a large ball-shaped mauve candle on the nightstand. The dark pine bed had a light brown comforter and matching pillows. It looked comfortable. Actually, the room was cozy with its tan carpet, its dark pink walls, lamp, rocking chair, table and matching dark pine dresser. A set of chimes dangled in the corner above the chair, barely moving at the moment.
"This room gets a lot of use," Holly explained. "Many people who belong to our network of friends pass through New York going one way or another and stop over for a short visit. I know it's small but..."
"It's fine, Holly. Thank you."
"Why don't you just settle in. The bathroom's at the end of the hallway. Freshen up. I'll do the same and call my sister. Then we'll have some dinner. Billy does all the cooking, you know."
"And he's quite the gourmet."
"I forgot what you told me about why he's in a wheelchair. Did you say he was shot?"
"Mugged, about five years ago not that far from here. He ran and the mugger shot at him and shattered Billy's spinal cord."
"How horrible, but I'm glad you told me. I didn't want to say anything wrong."
"Don't worry about that. Billy is quite at peace with himself and his condition. Because of his spirituality, he pities more people than pity him. I can't think of a moment when he was depressed these past few years. Anyone who comes in here feeling the least bit sorry for himself usually leaves feeling ashamed of his own selfpity after they talk to Billy. And he's a wonderful poet, published in many literary magazines. We'll get him to read you something later."
Holly put her arm around my shoulders and squeezed.
"Just like Billy said, everything's going to turn out fine, Melody."
I nodded. The discoveries, the quick decision to make the journey and the ride to New York, as well as how overwhelming the city was, suddenly filled me with a deep fatigue. I felt my body sink, my legs soften, my eyelids turn to lead.
"Take a rest," Holly wisely advised. As soon as she left me I lay down and dropped my head to the pillow.
A tinkle, like the sound of glasses being jiggled in a dishwasher tray, woke me. For a few seconds, I didn't know where I was. The sun had gone down and the room was filled with shadows. Someone had come in while I was asleep and turned on the small lamp by the rocking chair. I sat up to grind the sleep out of my eyes. The window was slightly open and the breeze that passed through made the chimes hanging from the ceiling tap, which solved the mystery of the sound.
I heard a gentle knock at the door.
Holly, dressed in one of her bright yellow dresses with a yellow and green headband, her silver crystal earrings dangling down to her shoulders, poked her head through the open door.
"You've been sleeping quite a while. Getting hungry?"
"Yes," I said.
"Good. I spoke to my sister Dorothy and everything is set. As soon as we know when your flight arrives, I'll call her and she and her driver will meet you at the airport. My friend is working on the ticket now and promises to call within the hour. Billy's been preparing a feast. Freshen up and come out when you're ready," she said.
"Thank you, Holly."
"You're welcome sweetheart. Oh," she said before closing the door again, "I spoke to Kenneth. He sends his regards and his best wishes," she added, but I picked up a change in her tone.
"Was something wrong?"
"He just sounded a little down. Maybe he misses us. Misses you, especially," she offered.
"He's probably working twenty hours a day."
"Twenty? More like twenty-two," she said with a small laugh. Then she closed the door and I got up and opened my suitcase to pick out something to wear. After I had washed up, fixed my hair, and changed, I went out to the kitchen. The aroma of the food was tantalizing and made my stomach churn. Billy, bent over a table obviously built lower to accommodate him in his wheelchair, turned as I entered. Holly was in the shop with a customer.
"Hi. How are you doing?" Billy asked.
"I feel better after my nap. Looks like I slept longer than I thought I would. Can I help?"
"Everything's done," he said nodding at the table he had set. "Holly will close the shop in about ten minutes and we'll have dinner. Oh, let me light the candles," he said. "I like to dim the room when we eat. It heightens the sense of taste when you diminish the power of the other senses. Did you know that?"
"It's true," he said, laughing at my skepticism. "Didn't you ever notice that food tastes better in the dark? Assuming it's good food, that is." He lit each candle and then returned to his work table.
"How long have you been cooking?"
"Since I became a vegetarian. It's just a lot easier to cook for yourself and besides, preparing good food is an art and very self-satisfying. Most people today think it's an ordeal, but that's because they don't take pride in what they do. They don't look for the essence, the inner rewards. Life for them is full of burdens. They're never at ease and they rarely enjoy their own accomplishments. Their days are full of stress and negative energy."
He turned back to me.
"I don't mean to bore you with a lecture. Holly says once I get started, I'm like a clock that won't wind down."
"No, really, I don't mind," I said. "Why are you a vegetarian?"
Billy paused in his food preparation and turned his chair so he could face me.
"I follow many Buddhist traditions and consider all animal life sacred, but other religious groups practice vegetarianism as well. In the Roman Catholic Church, for example, it has been practiced monastically by Trappists since 1666 and among Protestants by Seventh Day Adventists. I believe that the killing of animals is unnecessary and cruel and can conceivably lead to disregard for human life. It's also a healthier way to live, as long as you don't neglect your protein."
"Now you think I'm some sort of kook, right?"
"No," I said, "but I know a lot of people in Cape Cod who would be unhappy if people stopped eating fish."
"Oh, well, for that I make an exception," he said with a wink. "I'll eat net-caught fish on occasion, as long as I know there are no chemicals added."
"Something smells very good," I admitted.
"Tonight's menu," Billy announced, sitting up straighter in his chair. "We shall begin with chilled okra yogurt soup, then an orange, walnut and romaine salad, followed by rice, carrot, mushroom and pecan burgers on toasted seven-grain bread. For dessert, I have prepared a carob cake with carob ricotta icing. Something special in celebration of your arrival," he added.
My silence brought laughter to his lips.
"Don't know what you're in for, huh?" he said.
"It sounds...interesting," I said, and he laughed harder.
"What's going on in here?" Holly asked as she entered the room.
"I just described the menu to Melody and she was speechless. Then she said it was interesting. How's that for diplomacy?"
"Oh. Don't worry, Melody. You're in for a delightful surprise," Holly promised.
"Did you close up?" Billy asked. She nodded.
"Then let the feast begin," he declared, slapping his hands together.
Once again I asked to help, but Billy insisted I was the guest of honor. It amazed me how quickly he could move about the kitchen, spinning himself on the wheels of his chair. Holly turned the lights down and took her seat.
The soup was delicious and refreshing. The salad was very good, but I was most surprised by the vegetable burgers because they did resemble meat in their texture and even their flavor.
"How do you do this?" I asked, munching away.
"He has magic hands," Holly said.
Billy asked questions about Cape Cod, my li...
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Book Description Book Condition: Very Good. Bookseller Inventory # SKU-3029766