n my heart, I knew not to pursue Valentin, and yet I continued to daydream about him in school.
“Danielle, where are you?” my English teacher asked.
“Jupiter,” I mumbled.
The other students roared with laughter, and the teacher smirked. “Danielle, would you like to write a thousand-word composition on why you should not be so sarcastic?”
“I’ll write two thousand.”
He couldn’t resist joining the laughter, but he held tough. “Okay, do two thousand words.”
I didn’t care.
I drove to the library on Main Street after school that day and spent the first half hour searching for poetry books by John Keats. Skimming through one volume, I came across “The Eve of St. Agnes” poem.
An odd memory surfaced.
“Mommy, I want to choose Agnes for my confirmation name.”
I was nine years old.
“Agnes?” My mother had winced. “Why Agnes?”
“St. Agnes had so much courage,” I said. “Did you know that a man looked at her like he wanted to do bad things to her, and he was blinded then lay dead?”
I explained how she supposedly used her long hair to hide her body from the heathens who’d stripped her, how they’d killed her with a sword and cut off her head, and how she was just a girl and had died a virgin because that was what she wanted. Nothing anyone threatened her with could change her mind.
“I know,” my mother had said. “The lamb is her symbol—the symbol of innocence. Why don’t you choose Elizabeth? Danielle Grace Elizabeth is a beautiful name.”
I chose Agnes after the fourth century martyr. Her story, whether true or not, still haunted me.
Reading the poem now, I found no connection to the story, but I enjoyed it. I then read “Ode to a Nightingale” several times and decided I would check out two books, Letters of John Keats and The Complete Poems of John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley. I wanted to ask about another poet Valentin had mentioned, but all I could remember was Gustavo Adolfo, a Spanish poet.
“Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer,” the librarian said. “I’m surprised to have someone looking for Bécquer. It’s more popular in Madrid, where I come from.”
At the time, the coincidence made quite an impression on me.
“My friend told me to read his letters and prose,” I divulged. “He mentioned Leyendas?”
“Ah, Leyendas. It’s very fun, excellent, especially if you like fantasy and medieval times.”
She found the book for me. One short poem, “Know If Someday,” had a line that translated to, “The soul that can speak through the eyes can also kiss with a gaze.” It melted me, and, in the moment, I saw Valentin’s eyes with all their compelling allure. They were the same eyes that lit with endearing warmth when he laughed or smiled.
It was five when I got home and already dark. I figured my mother and grandmother had gotten home by then or would be pulling up at any moment. The lights were out, except for a flicker from the living room, which seemed odd. The lights would have been on if my mother were home, and she’d be in the kitchen making dinner. I heard noise. Always imagining the worst, my heart raced, and what I heard next was my mother’s voice. It seemed every bit as strange as the darkness.
She looked in my direction when I entered and, for a second, seemed unfazed. It appeared she hadn’t heard me come in the front door, and that she had been lost to her chanting—or whatever it was she was doing. Before I could utter a word, she smiled— her charming smile.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
Moving closer, I could see two antique brass candleholders, inside of which she had lit a couple of red, bell-top taper candles. She was so radiant in their glow that it took another moment for me to notice something between the candles. They were photographs, and she removed them now in a furtive sort of way.
I turned the lights on.
“They are photos of Robbie,” she explained, as though I had asked. “I was praying for him.” She blew out the candles and stood. “You said you were going to the library. I thought Angie was with you at the library, and you went over to Zuza’s after that. Your grandmother is over there—at Zuza’s. She’s going to eat with them, and Dominic’s going to drive her home …”
I wasn’t about to let her distract me with chatter. “If that’s some spell you’re doing, don’t mess around,” I said. “This stuff can be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re getting into.”
She looked curiously at me. “How do you know that?”
“I don’t know,” I replied. “It’s my instinct. It’s what my gut says, and what makes sense to me. I know your motives are good, and I suppose, if someone with the right intentions fully understands what they’re doing, that’s a whole different thing, but to do something blindly that someone tells you to do—”
She interrupted with the stern look I knew well from childhood. “Who told you someone told me to do it?”
“Well, wasn’t it that psychic you go to?”
“You know about him?”
“I’ve known for some time.”
“You’re right,” she said, surprising me. “I raised a smart girl.”
“So you’re going to stop with this stuff?”
“Yes, come on.” Her hand was on my shoulder, as she led me gently from the room. “I’m making hamburgers.”
The Saturday after Thanksgiving, Farran, Angie, and I had a few intense moments outside the Cove.
“What is it, Dani?” Farran asked. “You seem more and more uptight coming here.”
Angie’s gaze was upon me, too.
I told them about the recurring dream—content to call it a dream anyway—though I wasn’t sure.
Angie’s eyes were wider than I’d ever seen them. She seemed at a loss for words.
“Let me ask you,” Farran said. “Do you feel right with God?”
What a loaded question that was. I didn’t feel right, period. God was another matter. My trust in Him, my faith, had been strong. At least, I’d thought so. Did I feel that He’d betrayed me, or that I’d betrayed Him? I couldn’t say. There was this guilt, this shame, this feeling that I didn’t deserve anything good—not anymore anyway.
“Because it’s in the Bible,” she went on. “Demons can prey on you and try to influence you if you’re not firm in your faith. They do the devil’s bidding, and they can possess you.”
“Stop it!” Angie said. “Just stop.”
“Well she’s into the occult, and so is her mother, from what she’s told us.”
“My aunt Grace is a really good person,” Angie told her. “So is Dani. God would protect them. Dani’s just having bad dreams. They’re upsetting to her, and you’re judging. That’s not right.”
“I was trying to help,” Farran replied, “but forget it.”
Angie asked Farran for a cigarette now, and it seemed to surprise Farran as much as it did me. “Just this once,” Angie promised. “I have an urge.”
Farran handed her the cigarette and lit it for her. “You all right?”
“Not really,” Angie replied. “I’m keyed up, and I felt dizzy before.”
I offered to take a walk with her.
“Sure, if you want.” She took a drag of the cigarette and coughed.
Farran glanced at me and then shifted her gaze to Angie. “I’ll be inside if you need me. Don’t be too long, or I’ll have to come looking for you.”
The moment the Cove door closed behind her, Tommy pulled up in a blue Ford truck. He came to greet us and asked who was around. He mentioned something about Lynx members avoiding this place.
“Yeah, it’s been a while since I’ve seen Valentin,” I said.“Three weeks maybe?”
“He’s been busy,” Tommy replied.
“Aw, I do miss him.” The words seemed to leave my lips without any thought “Tell him he’s breaking my heart.”
I felt the weight of Tommy’s gaze. “You seriously want me to tell him that? I’m not responsible for how he takes it if I do.”
“How would he take it?” I smiled. “We’re friends. Ask him. He helped me get a good deal on my car. I helped him with Katharine.”
“Not sure that’s a good thing, about Katharine,” he said. “Nobody should help him with Katharine. So you drove here?”
“Yes.” I felt empowered by that, not needing anyone to take me where I needed to go or bring me back home. It was a reason to stay sober, as well. “When Farran starts working on campus, we’re going to take turns. She’ll be able to use her mom’s car again.”
He nodded. “Where is she?”
“Inside,” Angie told him, now biting her nails.
“All right, catch you guys later.” He went into the bar.
I turned to Angie, wringing my hands. “Why did I say that? Now he probably thinks I want to be a notch on Valentin’s belt. I was kidding around. I mean, I do miss him, but … I just hope Tommy doesn’t say anything.”
“This is Tommy we’re talking about,” Angie reminded me. “If he thinks anything needs saying, you can count on him to say it. It’s not like it was said in confidence or anything.”
“Then I hope Valentin doesn’t take it the wrong way. We really did become friends, not intentionally. It just happened.”
“Do you feel guilty?”
“Why, Dani? You like him. He likes you.”
“And it’s innocent.”
“Even it wasn’t, who could blame you?”
“He’s trying to get out of that relationship.”
“I still feel bad, though. She loves him, and, don’t forget, Farran loves him.”
“Okay,” she said. “Well, I love Nico. Every time we come here, I’m hoping to run into him. I feel guilty for having these feelings because Shannon loves him so much, and I can’t blame her. I’m not one for dirty tricks and coming between people, but no one has a right to stake any claim to Valentin right now. I love Farran, but she wouldn’t think twice if the situation were reversed. I just want you to be happy, and we should want each other to be happy. Life is short, you know?” It was the most she had said in a long time.
I gave her a tight hug.
“Dani, I remember,” she said then, hugging back. When she let go, she looked away. “It took a while, but I remember it all.”
“You mean what happened with Sergio and Phil?”
“Yes.” She looked down. “I’m sorry I didn’t believe you, and for all the trouble I caused.”
“You didn’t cause any trouble,” I said. “We can still talk about it.”
“I’m not ready to do that yet, but eventually, yeah.”
“Angie, look at me.”
“Promise me we’ll talk about it. Promise me you will talk about anything that’s bothering you any time you need or want to.”
She blushed, smiling. “I will. I promise.”
Deadly Veils Book One: Shattering Truths was originally published as Deadly Veils: Book One: Provenance of Bondage copyright © October 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon. The revised edition, Deadly Veils: Book One: Shattering Truths was published in December 2016. Cover design by KH Koehler Design.