Secret Whispers (Heavenstone)

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9781439154984: Secret Whispers (Heavenstone)

THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME...

On the eve of her graduation from an exclusive private school, shy wallflower Semantha Heavenstone is caught in a whirl of scandal and betrayal. Now, she's returned to the grand Kentucky mansion where painful memories of her mother and her older sister, Cassie, are as potent as newly mown bluegrass. It seems no matter where she goes, Semantha is haunted by a voice from the grave -- spiteful, domineering Cassie, whose taunts and manipulations seem as real as when she was alive.

...AND NO END TO THE NIGHTMARE

Soon her father will remarry, new memories -- and a new stepmother -- will replace the past...and Semantha herself has a chance at a bright future with a career inside the Heavenstone empire and handsome Ethan Hunter by her side. But someone will see to it that Semantha never forgets the tragedies of yesterday. Will Cassie's ghostly hold on Semantha destroy her hope and drive her to madness?

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About the Author:

One of the most popular authors of all time, V.C. Andrews has been a bestselling phenomenon since the publication of the spellbinding classic Flowers in the Attic. That blockbuster novel began the renowned Dollanganger family saga, which includes Petals on the Wind, If There Be Thorns, Seeds of Yesterday, and Garden of Shadows. Since then, readers have been captivated by more than sixty novels in nearly twenty bestselling series. V.C. Andrews’s novels have sold more than 106 million copies and have been translated into twenty-two foreign languages.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:


Birthday

“SEMANTHA! WHAT THE hell are you doing on the floor?” my dorm roommate, Ellie Patton, asked. She stood in our bathroom doorway with her hands on her hips, gaping at me with her black pearl eyes so enlarged that she resembled someone with serious thyroid problems. I realized she must have been standing there for a while calling to me and was getting upset at my not responding.

I was surprised she was up so early. Everything about her was usually frantic and last-minute. We had been together at Collier for my three years of private high school, but this was the first time she had caught me doing it.

For the last three years, I woke up on the morning of my daughter’s birthday and secretly lit a candle. I would hear my sister, Cassie, whispering in my ear, reminding me of the date as well, not that I needed her to do that. Lately, however, I was even seeing her stepping out of a shadow or smiling back at me in a mirror.

Usually, I was home on my daughter’s birthday because it occurred during a spring break. However, this year, the break occurred two days after her birthday, so I was still at Collier, a private high school for girls just south of Albany, New York.

I hadn’t expected to be sent to a private high school outside Kentucky, but Daddy had chosen Collier for me because it was so exclusive, which really meant very expensive and well supervised. My therapist in Kentucky, Dr. Ryan, had recommended it. It had a small but beautifully maintained campus. The main building was neoclassical and resembled a government office building, something you might expect to find in Washington, D.C. There were three dormitory buildings that looked like anything but dormitory buildings because of their elaborate landscaping and porticos. They looked more like private estates.

Our dormitory housed only twenty girls, and none of our classes had more than fifteen students in it. Some of my public-school classes had had nearly forty in them. It was impossible here to avoid being called on to answer a question or have your homework checked. Every teacher was well acquainted with all of his or her students, their work histories, and their families. The story circulated was that they had reports on us that rivaled FBI reports on terror suspects.

The school had a beautiful, technologically modern theater; two playfields, one for field hockey and one for softball; and a spanking-new gymnasium. The library was stocked with computers and had a separate audiovisual room for viewing information or listening to music. Our cafeteria reminded me of an upscale restaurant. The chairs were large and cushioned, and the tables were polished, rich, hard walnut.

Once a month, the school held a formal dinner for us during which the dean of students, Mrs. Hathaway, delivered a report concerning the student body’s overall performance and her expectations for the weeks to come. Attendance was mandatory. Every violation, whether of rules or of the property, was described, and the violators were sometimes publicly chastised. Contrary to what she hoped, however, making it onto what the students called Hathaway’s Hit List was viewed as some sort of accomplishment, a respected act of defiance. I had yet to make the list.

Few private schools gave their students as much personal attention, which meant there were more eyes on us all day and all night than in most other private schools. The restrictions on our comings and goings were also far stricter than at other schools. Our privileges were directly tied to our grades and our on-campus behavior, as at other schools, but at Collier, there was a hair trigger on punishment. It wouldn’t take much to put one of us in a cage, and, of course, smoking, drinking alcohol, or doing any drugs were reasons for immediate expulsion and forfeiting all of the money your parents had spent, and they had spent a great deal.

There was even a rumor that our rooms were bugged and our phone calls monitored. Supposedly, our parents received weekly reports about our behavior and our work. Some even thought it was a daily report. Most of the girls believed the rumors, because almost all of them had given their parents cause to worry about them. It was almost a requirement for admittance that we were not to be trusted or believed. The game played with incoming first-year girls was how quickly one of us could get them to reveal their embarrassing secrets, something that explained why their parents would want to pay so much more money for them to attend Collier.

The secret I revealed was probably the most boring for them. Ellie told me I was one of the longest holdouts, one of the most difficult to break, because I wasn’t as desperate for their friendship. Finally, I revealed that I had been seeing a therapist regularly because of family tragedies and there was concern that I could have a nervous breakdown. Or, as my father put it to Mrs. Hathaway, “She’s as fragile as a blue-jay egg.”

Of course, nothing was ever said about my pregnancy and my giving birth, but when some people my age hear that you have deep-seated psychological issues serious enough to require regular therapy and you’re on the edge of falling into a nervous breakdown, they look at you as if you have leprosy. I felt confident, however, that many of the others had been sent for counseling at one time or another as well. One or two looked and acted as if they had recently been released from a clinic, in fact. But unlike me, they felt that secret was too sensitive to reveal. They probably invented something else or told only part of their story. Ironically, they’d admit to getting pregnant and having an abortion before they’d admit to having been in psychological counseling for years, but that was not true for me. The Cassie living inside me wouldn’t let me do that.

Even while I had attended my private high school, I’d had periodic sessions with Dr. Ryan, when I was home for either an extended weekend or on holiday. It was really my father’s younger brother, my uncle Perry, who insisted that my father arrange that in the first place.

“After all she has gone through, she has way too much emotional and psychological damage, Teddy,” he told him right in front of me. “You can’t just send her off to live in an unfamiliar environment with strangers. She needs support, professional support, and we both know you’re too busy to provide it.”

Of course, Uncle Perry had been right, and if it hadn’t been for Dr. Ryan, I probably wouldn’t have been this close to finishing high school, even one as insulated and protective as Collier. I certainly would never have had the strength to go off to college, not that I thought I would. I avoided filling out applications, but to satisfy my curious classmates, I pretended I had already been admitted to an expensive small college in Kentucky. They believed it. For the most part, everyone believed whatever I said because I said it with such conviction and nonchalance. I think that was because I made myself believe it first.

Even though I didn’t see a therapist on a regular basis here, I had many informal sessions with Mrs. Hathaway. She obviously knew when I had a long break between classes and either casually came by my room at the dormitory or caught me walking on campus and invited me to her office for a cup of tea.

Her questions were always the same. “How are you getting along with your roommate, your classmates, and your teachers? Why aren’t you participating in any activities like the drama club, chorus, or one of the athletic teams? You’ve got to expand your interests, explore, experiment, Semantha. Doesn’t anything we offer interest you?”

Almost always, she’d tilt her head and smile softly before asking, “Have you met any nice boys at our social events?”

All of the girls thought little of Collier’s social events. There were so many chaperones, and the security personnel hovered outside every entrance like killer bees ready to sting anyone for the smallest indiscretion. It was nearly impossible to go off and do something we considered more exciting. It was like being brought up in the mid-forties, when there were actually rules about how many inches apart a boy and a girl had to be when they danced together. And of course, if you wore anything Mrs. Hathaway considered inappropriate, you weren’t even permitted to enter the auditorium for one of the official socials.

In general, the boys we met at these highly controlled gatherings came from brother schools for boys or nearby parochial schools. On very rare occasions, boys from one of the area public schools were invited, but they were usually what Mrs. Hathaway would call the crÉme de la crÉme, the honor students. Davina Bernstein said they were rented from Geeks R Us and at midnight would turn into laptops.

I told Mrs. Hathaway that I hadn’t met any boy who remotely interested me or whom I interested. None of my answers to any of her questions really pleased her, but she wasn’t pushy. Like most of the people my father had spoken to about me, she tiptoed and whispered and showed great patience and understanding. I was so tired of this so-called tender loving care that I wanted to scream, but instead, I turned myself into a sponge, absorbed what I had to absorb, and then squeezed it out of myself as soon as I was alone again or when Ellie was on the phone or out in the hallway talking to other girls.

Right now, she continued to stand in the bathroom doorway, impatiently waiting for an explanation for the lit candle and my sitting cross-legged on the bathroom floor talking to myself.

When I was at home on my daughter’s birthday, I lit the candle in my bathroom with the windows wide open so no one would smell the wax melting. Softly, under my breath, I would sing “Happy Birthday” to her and pretend she was there, now almost four years old, sitting on the floor with me...

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Book Description SIMON SCHUSTER, United States, 2010. Hardback. Book Condition: New. 216 x 144 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. THERE S NO PLACE LIKE HOME. On the eve of her graduation from an exclusive private school, shy wallflower Semantha Heavenstone is caught in a whirl of scandal and betrayal. Now, she s returned to the grand Kentucky mansion where painful memories of her mother and her older sister, Cassie, are as potent as newly mown bluegrass. It seems no matter where she goes, Semantha is haunted by a voice from the grave -- spiteful, domineering Cassie, whose taunts and manipulations seem as real as when she was alive. .AND NO END TO THE NIGHTMARE Soon her father will remarry, new memories -- and a new stepmother -- will replace the past.and Semantha herself has a chance at a bright future with a career inside the Heavenstone empire and handsome Ethan Hunter by her side. But someone will see to it that Semantha never forgets the tragedies of yesterday. Will Cassie s ghostly hold on Semantha destroy her hope and drive her to madness?. Bookseller Inventory # FLT9781439154984

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Book Description SIMON SCHUSTER, United States, 2010. Hardback. Book Condition: New. 216 x 144 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. THERE S NO PLACE LIKE HOME. On the eve of her graduation from an exclusive private school, shy wallflower Semantha Heavenstone is caught in a whirl of scandal and betrayal. Now, she s returned to the grand Kentucky mansion where painful memories of her mother and her older sister, Cassie, are as potent as newly mown bluegrass. It seems no matter where she goes, Semantha is haunted by a voice from the grave -- spiteful, domineering Cassie, whose taunts and manipulations seem as real as when she was alive. .AND NO END TO THE NIGHTMARE Soon her father will remarry, new memories -- and a new stepmother -- will replace the past.and Semantha herself has a chance at a bright future with a career inside the Heavenstone empire and handsome Ethan Hunter by her side. But someone will see to it that Semantha never forgets the tragedies of yesterday. Will Cassie s ghostly hold on Semantha destroy her hope and drive her to madness?. Bookseller Inventory # FLT9781439154984

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