Novelist and Poet

Posts tagged ‘new adult’

DEADLY VEILS BOOK ONE: SHATTERING TRUTHS – 11

Chapter Eleven 

Paul Catalano was shorter and pudgier than his brother, Tommy, was. He had a broad face, similar light brown eyes, lighter hair, and a prepossessing smile. He’d kissed me in a garage during a game of hide-and-seek when I was nine. It was a forceful peck on the side of my mouth. After a brief delay, I opened my mouth once or twice to say something and then dashed right out of there. In my daunted state, it was like fleeing the accursed grip of a murky tomb into the glare of the blinding sun. 

In September of fifth grade, he walked up to me in school and hugged me. I didn’t know what to do with my arms. Another morning, I felt something at my back when I exited the coatroom, a mere graze, but it tickled me and caused me to jerk and jiggle, twisting as I turned. It was Paul trying to feel for my bra strap from the outside of my blouse. He smiled, and I noticed then that other boys had been watching. I hastened to my seat, humiliated, but the expressions on their faces surprised me. They were somewhat in awe. 

Not a week later, at the end of class, I was about to slip my arms through my coat sleeves when Paul came to me. He grinned before hugging me, burying his head in my chest, and rolling it from side to side as though savoring the moment. Other boys watched, wide-eyed. I saw their smiles and heard their laughter as I pushed Paul back with all the strength I could muster. In a trancelike state, I slipped my arms through my coat sleeves and maneuvered the buttons. Paul and his friends were still watching, smiling, and laughing, their eyes sparkling with admiration. 

It confused me. I neither wanted to be a victim of ridicule nor a target of desire. If I could have chosen the middle ground of being invisible, I would have. 

Years later, Robbie seemed horrified when his friends liked me, leered at me, or told him I was cute. He hung around at Addison Park, as Joey sometimes did. Tommy Catalano made the occasional appearance as well—until his mother died, and he moved with Paul and his father to Bridgeport. Angie and I rode up on our bikes, like many of the other kids. Some lived outside of Glastonbury, including Farran. She walked to Addison Park from her little house on Timber Trail in East Hartford. 

Upon introduction, the first thing Farran said to me was, “I love your brothers, man. They are awesome.” Of course, I agreed. By then, I thought everybody was awesome but me. My brothers were outgoing charmers who made people laugh. Boys liked them. Girls adored them. Joey had achieved something of a teen idol status. 

I was another story, in Jordache or Bonjour jeans, with long, oversized tops and my Keds, my hair in either a loose bun or ponytail, always neatly fastened with a barrette. Angie and I sat by the courts, on the bleachers, or on the grass. We watched people play baseball or basketball. When the ice-cream truck came, we rushed over to buy cones and then sat on a bench to relish every gluttonous lick. 

Robbie never wanted me there. He would tell me to go home. Joey would tell Robbie to keep an eye on me. 

Addison Park was where I saw Mike McGrath for the first time, and where I’d dreamily noticed his blond hair and cornflower blue eyes. He was walking with his jacket over his arm, and something fell out of the pocket. He kept walking. I went to pick it up—this tiny prayer book. On my way to returning it to him, Farran raced over. She introduced us, and, after he’d left, I realized I hadn’t given him the prayer book. Angie and I were talking about it later. I showed it to her and then accidentally dropped it into a nearby trash receptacle. Shannon came along while I was trying to retrieve it. 

I approached her, book in hand. 

“You’re Mike’s sister, right?” 

“Yes,” she said. 

“Um, this is his.” I tried wiping off the book with my hand, embarrassed. “I dropped it. I mean, he dropped it first, and then I … I didn’t mean to drop it, but …” 

She laughed and took the book for him. 

When Mike came to the park, he liked to sit on a table or perched on top of a bench. He and his friends would drink beer they concealed in a brown paper bag. Every sighting of him had me in a hopeless state of thrill and panic. Angie seemed to think I had caught his attention—that he was checking me out whenever he passed with his friends. 

He did ask me out. He invited me to his house. I rode my bike there, feeling great until something splashed on my head—something cold and squishy. Shannon was headed my way, and the moment she reached me, I told her, in a panicked state, what I’d suspected had happened. 

She leaned forward to examine my head. “Yep,” she said. “You have pigeon shit in your hair.” With an effervescent chuckle, she tapped my arm. “Come with me. We’ll wash it out, and he’ll never know what happened. We just have to work fast.” 

She took me to a small bathroom at her neighbor’s house, where I sat on the toilet while she washed out the green goo. She styled my hair into a side ponytail. I must have thanked her a hundred times, and the smile rarely disappeared from her face. Before going her merry way, she told me a pigeon crapping on my head was good luck. Feeling nervous, I went to the house, climbed the steps, and rang the doorbell. Billy came to the door. He seemed big, with a strong build, and handsome. 

His wide grin put me at ease. 

“Is Mike here?” It was all I could think of to say. 

“Aw.” He said that loudly, as if tickled and amused him. “Ay, Mike!” he yelled. “Your little girlfriend is here.” He shook his head and stepped to his left, smiling. “Come on in and sit down. He’ll be down any minute.” As I entered, he motioned for me to have a seat and then chuckled before barreling up the stairway. 

When Mike came down, he was sweet and shy and such a gentleman. I met Tully that day, too. Mike introduced him. 

The first time Mike and I kissed, he had to suggest, politely, that I open my mouth. A year later, we hadn’t gone beyond holding hands, hugging, and tongue kissing. 

Farran said, “You know, I hate to break it to ya, but guys get tired of kissing. Sooner or later, he’s gonna want more. He’s fifteen, for goodness’ sake! I’m surprised he’s waited this long. He must really care for you.” 

“What would he expect me to do?” I asked. 

Farran laughed. “Well, he’ll wanna at least touch the merchandise.” 

“Eww.” I winced. 

“Are you normal?” 

“I’m not even in high school yet!” 

“You will be in September.” 

“Well, if that’s what he wants, he’ll have to get it somewhere else, because I’m not doing it.” 

“Why?” she asked. “You have a nice body. If I had your body, I’d have done it with him already. You’ve got the chest they all lust after.” 

I didn’t get that—why the size of my breasts seemed inordinately important, not only to the male species but to females as well. At times, I’d have gladly given back my embarrassment of riches. 

Images of touching and nakedness did disgust me then. Everything to do with sex evoked shame. The subject was taboo in our home. My parents were modest and never talked about it. No one did, except priests behind the podium who said sex outside of marriage was wrong, and that the thought of it alone was a sin. One of them had repeatedly emphasized that we were already tarnished with sin and unworthy. Like we had inherited shame. Anything to do with premarital sex could only bring more shame—unbearable shame, along with the shame of every other incident where one came across as pathetic and unworthy. 

Of course, I had developed a curiosity about sex. Still, I voiced my concerns to Mike. 

“It’s only natural I would want more,” he said, “but I’d wait until you are ready.” 

That was nice, but it also meant he expected me to be ready at some point. “What if I’m never ready?” I asked. 

“It doesn’t matter,” he said. 

I didn’t believe him. 

Then there was Paul. He had kept a respectable distance for years, and now, in eighth grade, he cornered me on the stairway as we exited the school building. 

“I bet you think you’re a whore now, hanging around Addison Park with McGrath,” he said. 

I was sure I’d misheard. “What?” 

“You think I buy your nice little girl act?” 

I walked away, trying to make sense of something that unequivocally made no sense. It was then I became familiar with the ingrained concept—you had to be a good girl or a bad girl. Your outward appearance could determine which one. If people who believed in this concept wanted you to be a bad girl, they were hell-bent on transporting you to the dark side. I was upset and more resolved than ever that I would not yield. It was the reason I chose to go to Catholic high school instead of Glastonbury High, where my brothers had gone. 

I wrote Mike’s name surrounded by hearts all over my notebook and wore his high school ring on a chain. We were together every day after school and on weekends. Soon enough, I wore an anklet he had given me for my birthday, and then a nameplate he bought me for Christmas. I kissed him with rosy cheeks in my soft, fluffy angora sweaters, but I had yet to give him anything more in exchange for his generosity. 

He began to try when I was babysitting—while we were alone in some stranger’s house with their child fast asleep. There was a point when I didn’t want to stop him, but I did. 

We fought, too. My mother once showed me a song I had written about him at the time. I couldn’t believe she had kept it tucked away. 

This part made me wince in later years: 

I may be nasty, I may be mean, but you gotta remember, I’m only thirteen. 

When my mother read it to me, she couldn’t seem to stop laughing. She said she intended to keep it forever. I don’t know if I ever gave that to him. Poor guy—he gave me the loveliest things, and all I could come up with was that. 

He wanted to be with me always, and sometimes I needed to be without him. I felt restless, curious. I had big plans. Publishing a book would be the stepping-stone for other career paths like singing and acting. I planned to work toward and achieve every goal without depending on anyone but myself. 

While many of my classmates had already had sex by sophomore year, I focused on those goals. The girls discussed doing things sexually that I’d never heard of or thought about doing, things they had to explain to me. I was fifteen and could never have fathomed how much all of this would change in the following year thanks to Sergio and Phil. It seemed a cruel joke—one I didn’t wish on anyone and felt no one deserved, sexually experienced or not. 

In my room now, thinking about all of this, the scenes began to play out in my head. 

Sergio had taken me to the kitchen for a drink of water because I felt sick. It was right after the forced oral sex, and I wanted to hurl. Phil walked in naked, and it made me sicker. He was boasting to Sergio, “If he does that, I’ll just make one phone call. I know people, and they got my back anytime. Getting him iced would be a gift to this town.” 

“Iced? You’re getting him iced?” Sergio asked. “And who do you know that’s gonna burn him?” 

“I know plenty of people,” Phil said. “I can have it done within twenty-four hours.” 

“Oh, well, if you have connections, yeah.” 

“You know I have connections.” 

They didn’t seem to care that I was listening. 

“I want to go home,” I told Sergio. 

He held out his hand. “Come back inside.” 

I wanted to trust him. I had to. 

He took me to the bathroom because I said I had to throw up, and he waited outside the door. I tried vomiting over the toilet but couldn’t.  

Next, I was in a different bedroom, a smaller one. At some point, Phil was there. He sauntered into the room, closed the door, and fiddled with the lock. I shut my eyes tightly now, remembering I’d been trapped in there with both of them for what seemed like hours, and much of it was a haze. 

“Where is Angie?” I had asked, trying to get up. 

Phil pushed me back down. “She’s fine,” he said.“She’s in the other room, waiting for me.” 

“Angie!” I screamed her name at the top of my lungs, but it faded like in a dream. “Where is she?” I asked, sounding exhausted. 

Phil was lying on one side of me, Sergio on the other. 

I tried to get up a couple of times, wanting to look for her, but they threw me back down. I feared she was dead, and that I could be next. 

Phil brushed my cheek with his hand. “If you’d relax, you’d enjoy it.” 

“No, no, please.” I was crying. 

“You have a pinup’s body with an angel’s face,” he said. 

I thought I heard her moaning. She sounded so far away. I wondered if she was dying, but I was too weak to get up. 

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.

DEADLY VEILS BOOK ONE: SHATTERING TRUTHS – 10

Chapter Ten 

Tully was bartending. I’d met him one time and so spotted him easily, a mostly bald man with bits of white hair at the sides of his head. We presented our IDs, and he shook his head, offering sodas in an endearing Irish brogue. He did look sympathetic with his softhearted smile. He had a dear face—a lovable face. His weary eyes had a mystical charm. 

We went along with the sodas, as would be the case whenever Tully was there, and I lectured Farran about Valentin. “Look, if he shows up, just try to keep in mind that he’s older, and he’s experienced. Don’t give him any ideas. You’ll be sorry.” 

“Uh, no. If that guy gets ideas about me, I will not be sorry,” she said. “I need to hit the gym first and work off some of the junk I’ve been scarfing down, but I’ll turn that head of his.” 

Angie laughed. 

“You’re not fat,” I told her. “There’s nothing wrong with you.” 

Despite my concern for her, I loved the self-deprecating humor she shared with Angie. However, when she pointed out these flaws she believed she had, it triggered my feelings of inadequacy. It was as if I didn’t want to alert anyone to the fact that the world had stopped laughing at me. Well, it had seemed like the world, when, primarily, the culprit was Tommy Catalano. He had been my adversary for nearly a decade, doling out misery without mercy in those awkward childhood years, and now there seemed to be no end to the world’s cruelty, for there he was. He breezed in as if on cue, like he owned the place—or like a bad dream. 

My heart sank, as I felt the heat from the blazing torch of shame I had carried since childhood. It permeated my body. I felt as if a dam had burst and flooded my brain with an unyielding gush of emotion. The world was too small, I told myself. Entirely too small. 

His face hadn’t changed much, but how strange: He looked small now. He was maybe five-foot-eight with a medium build, but he’d been a giant to me for so long. 

Farran was agape. “Last I saw of him, he enlisted in the military after high school.” 

I noted that he had kept the short hair. 

“He lost his mom too young,” she went on. “That was only three years ago. Then, last year, his brother shot himself in the head. A couple of months ago, his father got killed. My heart goes out to him.” 

“How awful,” Angie lamented. 

He staggered in our direction, and the feeling of dread overwhelmed me. After leaning this way and that, he zeroed in on me. “Hey, beautiful …” 

Beautiful … did he have any idea? Well, I could see he was drunk. 

“Long time no see,” I replied, catching him with my arm as he tipped forward. Many tattoos were visible with the tight, short-sleeved T-shirt he wore. 

“You know me?” 

“Um, yeah, Tommy, you know me, too. I’m Danielle DeCorso.” 

“Little Danielle DeCorso? I don’t believe it!” 

“You know my cousin, Angie.” 

She was biting her thumbnail when he looked at her. 

“I remember her. Seen Joe last night. I heard Robbie’s down in Florida.” 

“Yeah, he’s going to college there.” 

He eyed me suspiciously. “If you’re Danielle DeCorso, you’re probably still in high school. Do your parents know you’re in a bar?” 

“Do they know? You’re kidding me, right?” 

“I’m serious. Do your brothers know you’re in a bar?” 

“Shush!” That was Farran. “Come on, Tommy, you can’t be more than twenty-one yourself. Give me a break.” 

He shifted his eyes to her. “You look familiar.” 

“I’m Farran Chapin. You probably saw me at Addison Park many moons ago. You hang out here?” 

“Here and sometimes Déjà Vu in Manhattan—on the Upper West Side. What are you all doing here at the Cove?” He looked at me. “Do your brothers know you’re going to bars and drinking alcohol?” 

“This is the first bar I’ve been to,” I said. 

He didn’t let up. “So, right now, your parents have no idea where you are or what you’re doing.” He was staring me down. I thought those golden eyes of his eyes conveyed deep pain and sadness, with a touch of bitterness that seemed to attest to too much wisdom. “If you were my daughter, I’d want to know where you were. I’d want to know who you were with and what you were doing. I’d still be taking you out for ice cream. I wouldn’t want you hanging out in a bar with a motorcycle gang. Not that we are a bad motorcycle gang …” He smiled then, a rascally smile. He still had that fierce tiger face. 

Farran asked the predictable question. “Are you one of the Lynx?” 

“Yeah. You didn’t know that?” He walked off before she could reply. 

“He’s cute,” Farran said. “He’s looking good.” 

“Well, he was a bully to Danielle,” Angie reminded her. 

“And I won’t forget his prejudice toward my family,” I said. “There’s so much hate in this world.” 

“It’s not necessarily hate,” Farran argued. “People like to stick with their own. It’s what they know. Boys can be jerks. Everybody knows that. Tommy has grown up. He was nice to you, and he did make friends with your brothers eventually, so he’s obviously gotten over it.” 

I rolled my eyes. “Well I’m glad he’s gotten over it.” 

I admit I had become as intolerant of him as he’d been of me all those years ago. Though a pattern had begun, I no longer wanted to be a victim—his or anyone else’s. 

“He sacrificed to enlist in the military,” Farran said. “He deserves our respect.” 

The conversation ended there, because Valentin showed up, and whenever he did, it was like a torrent of wind. He walked briskly, whole-souled and energized, providing kisses, handshakes, and chatter. He had a way of flitting around like lightning with a fast-paced whirl here and there. He shined, appearing comfortable and confident. 

This night, he had someone with him—someone with the same chiseled cheekbones, albeit two inches shorter and with a weighty batch of very dark, curly hair to his shoulders. They were stopping at tables and talking with various people, including Shannon. 

Shannon called me over. “This is my boyfriend, Nico Castel,” she gushed about the one who’d arrived with Valentin. “Nico, this is Joey’s sister, Danielle.” 

I could swear Nico’s eyes were coal black. He had a chiseled jawline, sensuous lips, and the nose of a Greek God. When he nodded and smiled, the gleam was white radiance and dimpled perfection. He was ruggedly robust, dressed casually in a sweater with jeans and boots. 

“Pleased to meet you,” he said. 

“Pleased to meet you as well,” I replied. 

Shannon drew Valentin into the circle, saying, “Valentin, you remember Joey’s sister, Danielle.” 

I tried not to stare at people or watch them too intently when they spoke to me, but it was hard—especially with this bunch. At the same time, I easily avoided the many admiring eyes upon me—patrons throughout the bar. I wasn’t comfortable being the focus. 

Valentin leaned forward and clasped my hand. “Joey tells me your father is Italian, and your mom is from Brazil.” 

“Yes,” I said. “Actually, my maternal grandfather purchased farmland in Paraíba and moved the family there when my mom was only three, but they are originally from Spain.” 

He perked up. “Where in Spain?” 

“The Extremadura region of Cáceres.” 

He smiled. “An incredible place.” 

“You’ve been there?” 

“Yes, I went to school in Spain for four years.” 

“I’ve never been there.” 

“Never?” It seemed to surprise him. “You have to go. It’s a very medieval old town with a lot of Gothic and Italian Renaissance architecture. It’s amazing.” 

In that moment, he was familiar to me. I didn’t want him to be, yet I had this feeling I already knew him, that we had met in another life, and I had always known him, in every life that I’d lived. The feeling was corny and bizarre but strong. 

“The weird thing is, my mother speaks a lot more Spanish than Portuguese,” I told him. “Even when we went to Brazil, they were all talking Spanish. And she makes only one Portuguese dish—arroz de pato. It’s like rice with duck.” 

Farran came over, and, I must admit, I had almost forgotten about her and Angie, whom she was pulling along. 

Shannon introduced them to Nico, and Farran asked which brother was older. 

Nico pointed a thumb toward Valentin. “He’s going to be twenty-three soon. I’ll be twenty-two in December.” His accent was not much different from my own, though I heard a faint inner city blend. I figured that was the reason Farran had to inquire about their ethnicity. 

“Spanish, French, Russian, and even some Romanian blood,” Valentin told her. “Our maternal grandmother was from Craiova.” 

“Is that near Transylvania?” I had to ask. 

Valentin laughed and then turned to Nico. “Ah, she likes vampires.” 

Nico responded with a smile. 

“Well, they fascinate me,” I said. “I mean, the subject fascinates me.” 

“Me as well,” Valentin replied.“But to answer your question, Craiova is in the southern part of the country. It’s the Wallachia region, where Vlad the Impaler ruled as a Wallachian prince. Transylvania is in the central part of the country. It’s a four or five-hour drive.” 

Farran clamored for center stage again. “Do any of you, by chance, have a cigarette?” 

Shannon pulled a pack of cigarettes from her jacket and gave one to Farran, who lit the cigarette, took a long puff, and seemed to exaggerate the exhale. 

Katharine Jaeger arrived then and sauntered in our direction. She slipped her arm through Valentin’s while Shannon made the introductions. 

“I vaguely remember seeing you somewhere,” she said to me. “Farran I remember.” 

She was, perhaps, five-foot-six, with a lovely figure and a nice chest, dressed casually in knee-high boots. Her light, natural blonde hair, straight and fine, fell a few inches past her shoulders. If she wore any makeup, I couldn’t tell, but her baby blue eyes were incredible. They held an ingenuous gaze—a blend of naïveté and raw honesty. To look at her, I never would have thought of her as a married woman, let alone a mother. I did see her as an older woman, which is quite funny, as she was barely twenty at the time. 

She kissed Valentin before gracing us with a childlike grin of appreciable size, aseptic, stainless teeth beaming. He held her close. 

“We have to go, or we’ll miss part of the movie,” Shannon said, adjusting the bag over her shoulder. “Oh, Danielle, it was so nice to see you again.” She gave me another hug. “I hope to see you soon.” She hugged Farran and Angie. 

Valentin wished us all a good night. “Ten cuidado,” he said, looking directly at me. 

“Always,” I assured him with a good-natured grin. 

He put his arm around Katharine and gently led her forward. 

“Good night, girls,” Nico said. 

I saw Tommy intercept them at the doorway. He was horsing around with Valentin and then followed them out the door. 

Farran began her inquisition immediately. “What was all that with you and Valentin? Shannon took you over there and ignored Angie and me.” 

I tensed. “I don’t think she meant to exclude you. She was excited for me to meet Nico.” 

“I am more concerned with your bonding with Valentin over Spain and all this other crap. Are you trying to make it harder for Angie and me?” Before I could get angry with her, she flashed a smile. “Damn, you got enough guys here drooling over you. Leave some for us.” 

Her concern that Valentin would become interested in me romantically—or any of us, for that matter—surprised me. 

“So what’d he say to you in Spanish?” she asked. 

“He told me to be careful. He was being polite. It’s normal for people to find common ground. I mean, he was with his wife!” 

Her eyes narrowed. “Valentin can do better. So can Nico.” 

“It doesn’t matter,” I argued. “Valentin is with Katharine. Nico’s with Shannon. And I doubt they want to play tea party with a bunch of teenagers.” 

Farran was defiant. “I’ll play tea party with Valentin anytime he wants, or whatever the hell else he wants to play.” 

I wondered if she had any grasp on the reality of what she was saying. At the time, every male signaled danger to me. I knew what could happen if I let my guard down, even for a moment, and I wasn’t going to do that. I didn’t want Farran or Angie to do it either. I felt like their mother (not to mention, a broken record) saying things like, “You can get pregnant. You can get a bad reputation.” What I didn’t say was, “You can get into a situation where you are forced to do something you really don’t want to do.” And that’s what I wanted to say most of all. 

Running into Tommy had worried me, too. I brought it up at the dinner table on Saturday night when it was just my parents and me. I didn’t mention that I saw him, but I asked if they remembered his dad and the accident that had killed him over the summer in Bridgeport. 

“That was no accident,” my father divulged. 

My mother seemed taken aback. “Why would you say that? He was crossing the street outside a bar and got hit by a car.” 

“Eh, why do I say that …? He was run over twice, Grace. The car ran him over, backed up, and ran over him again. That’s why I say that.” 

She shook her head. “I don’t know what that means.” 

“Heh! Means they wanted to make sure he didn’t survive.” 

My eyes widened. “You think that was a mob hit? Like an execution-style murder?” 

My mother clenched her teeth. “Like he was there.” 

“I wasn’t there, but I heard about it,” he said. 

I was intrigued. “So Tommy’s father was in the mob?” 

“Of course. That bar is a bookie joint run by the mob. Just like when they lived here, the guy was hanging around in a mafia-run bookie joint.” 

“What’s a bookie joint?” I asked. 

“They play the numbers,” he said. “They’re involved with all kinds of gambling and who knows what else.” 

My mother seemed confused. “Why would they kill him?” 

“Why? We have a saying for it in Italy, but they say the same thing here. Loose lips sink ships. He drank too much, and he had a big mouth. For sure, somebody didn’t like it. Somebody did away with him. Just like Kennedy. Who do you think killed Kennedy? That was the mob, too.” 

“Stop,” my mother said. 

“You say nothing to nobody,” he told us. “You know nothing. I know nothing. That’s all. The guy was no goddamn good anyway. The wife wanted to leave him for years, but the church wouldn’t allow it. What kind of bullshit is that? She had to put up with his shit ‘til she dropped dead.” 

“They had problems,” my mother said. “That doesn’t mean he was bad.” 

He waved, dismissing her. “You didn’t sleep with him. She did. Who knew better than her? Same bullshit with my mother and father—they were young, their parents arranged everything. My father was never happy. My mother was never happy.” 

“That was the way they did things then.” 

“I understand that, Grace,” he said. “What, because people do it, that means it’s a good idea? People jump off the bridge, and that makes it a good idea? What gets me is, you got all kinds of guys of all kinds of nationalities in the mob, but it’s always Italian, Italian. In the movies, they’re Italian. If you’re Italian, they want to know if you’re in the mob.” 

I laughed. My mother did, too. 

“Well, this guy was Italian,” she quipped. 

The look on his face was priceless. It had my mother and me laughing again. 

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.

DEADLY VEILS BOOK ONE: SHATTERING TRUTHS – 9

Chapter Nine 

A few weeks into the fall ‘87 semester, Robbie finally called. Delighted to hear from him, I sprawled across my bed with the phone and settled in for a long, cozy chat. We talked about school and his new campus life before revisiting his last night at home. 

“So, what baby were you dreaming about?” I asked. “You said you killed the baby.” 

“No idea,” he responded. “I have a lot of bad dreams. How could I not in that house?” He began venting about my father. “He was always talking about how we should go to college. I got a scholarship for a fucking ABET-accredited aerospace engineering program at Florida State, and now it’s not good. People who graduate from college are dumb. That’s all his bitterness because he didn’t go to college.” 

“No, he’s proud of you, Robbie,” I said. “They’re both proud of you and very happy for you. I’m proud of you, too. You’ve come such a long way.” 

“Thanks, Dan. Don’t forget, I was supposed to be a doctor—after he failed to make a doctor out of Joey.” 

“He was devastated when Joey dropped out of high school.” 

“Yep … he wasn’t happy when Joey worked in the bakery either, or the pizza place, or as a trucking company dispatcher. He wasn’t happy when Joey took the firefighter exam and managed to get on the list. That’s the only reason Joe’s doing this elevator technician thing and working with Uncle Dom. Honestly, it would be nice if our father tried to find out what we might actually like. Just do this, do that. Fuck him. At my fucking grade school graduation, he tells me I should work on becoming a doctor. I didn’t even get to high school yet!” 

“Yeah, well, I was not even good enough to push along the medical path.” I laughed, but it hurt. “He says to me, ‘Do you know how hard it is to become successful at writing or singing? Are you kidding me, Danielle? You’re better off learning some kind of trade.’” The realization that he didn’t believe in me stung. I would fluctuate between wanting to prove he was wrong and wanting to be gone from the world. 

“Right,” Robbie agreed. “He was sure Joey and me could be doctors, and we don’t even wanna be doctors, but he knows you can’t be a writer even though you love to write.” 

“It’s okay,” I said. “He has no patience with me, no faith in my ability. Like when he was teaching me how to drive—what a disaster! But he always had so much faith in you and Joey.” 

“Not really, and, no, it’s not okay!” he said. “None of this is okay. He split your head open, the crazy fuck.” 

It was true. I was twelve at the time. My father had been raging about Robbie breaking curfew and being asleep at one in the afternoon. He called him a goddamn stupid bastard then went into a rant about one of Robbie’s friends being black. 

I first defended Robbie. 

My father yelled, “What are you, his lawyer?” 

I went on to defend the black kid and black people, and he continued to assail me with generalizations. 

“You don’t know all the black people, Daddy,” I said. “You probably don’t know any!” 

Not that he was alone in his concern about race and ethnicity. I saw it all around me. What I rarely saw was a black person. Neighbors didn’t think we belonged there either. It hadn’t escaped me that people mocked and ridiculed anyone perceived as different in any way. They didn’t know what else to do with people who didn’t fit their perception of what normal should be. I was tired of witnessing all the rejection. Granted, I loved my grandmother, but she would ask people flat out what they were in terms of ethnicity. My mother told me she had wanted my father to marry an Italian girl. 

“Who cares how white or dark anyone is, or what part of the world they were born in?” I raged on that day. I rose from the table, making no effort to conceal my vehement disgust. 

“Where are you going?” my mother asked. “We’re gonna eat now.” 

“Wake up your brother!” my father roared. 

I stormed off to my room and locked the door. 

I heard the clinking of glasses and utensils downstairs and the plunk of each plate upon the hard surface of the dining room table. My father called me to come and eat, twice. I didn’t budge. Instead, I looked longingly at the jewelry box with the pink flowers on my dresser. My grandmother had given that to me. I opened it, wanting to hear the music and watch the ballerina dance. I was ready to wind it when I heard him yelling. It scared me enough to take my hands off the jewelry box, rise, and head for the door. I hastened down the stairs. We met in a narrow corridor, in the little alcove where the desk used to be before he put it in my room.  

He slammed my head against the wall. 

I felt nothing. I could see everyone around the dining room table as I walked inches ahead of him. There was the ravioli, the plate of meatballs, beef braciole, artichokes, boned rabbit, and sausages in sauce. I saw salad with black olives, olive oil, and homemade vinegar. There was the red table wine my father made with Uncle Dom. All eyes were upon me—shocked faces. 

My mother’s chair swung back, and she sprang to her feet. She screamed at my father. “You beast!” Next thing I knew, she was rushing me over to the sink. I watched it fill with the blood gushing from my head. 

My father paced. 

“Get a towel!” she hollered at him. “Hurry up!” 

He got the towel and wrapped it tightly around my head. 

“You have to take her to the hospital!” she yelled.  

I felt dizzy going down the outside stairs. “I’m so sorry, Daddy,” I sobbed on the way to the car. 

He had a cold, faraway look in his eyes. I couldn’t decide whether it was anger and hatred for me, or his eyes had simply died. I sensed he was angrier with himself, dealing with the torment of his guilt, and I wanted to comfort him. 

“I’m so sorry, Daddy,” I said again. “I should have come when you called me.” 

He didn’t respond or look at me. He focused on the road with many glimpses into the rearview mirror. 

I apologized all the way to the emergency room. 

He pulled into the parking lot of Manchester Memorial, took the key from the ignition, and spoke with his eyes on the wheel. “I am the one who is sorry, okay? You have nothing to be sorry about.” I’d never heard him speak in such a shaky, fractured voice. 

“I love you, Daddy,” I assured him. 

An awkward silence ensued. 

“I feel like you don’t love me anymore.” 

“Danielle, it has nothing to do with whether I love you or don’t love you. You’re my daughter, okay? What happened should never have happened. You didn’t deserve that. Now, let’s go. We need to get you checked out.” He got out of the car, helped me out, and hurried me along through the entrance. 

“I think he told the doctor I walked into a wall,” I said to Robbie now. “I remember him asking how long it would be, and the doctor telling him I was going to need a few stitches, but that I would be fine. He seemed relieved. The doctor said he could come back, that he’d just be outside in the crowded waiting room, and there was no point. It was true; they did have a lot of injured patients. They needed a place to sit. I told Daddy to go eat. I remember he smiled at me and told me to call him when I was done, that he’d come get me.” 

“Wow,” was all Robbie managed. 

“Yeah, I figured it was easy enough to find a phone booth, but when I was ready to go, I realized I didn’t have the money to call. I didn’t have anything. I went to a phone booth, and I was pressing the receiver up and down to see if I could get the operator, but, for whatever reason, it didn’t work. I was going to ask a nurse or someone to call, then a man from one of the shops at Glast Center recognized me and offered to drive me, so I went. He asked what happened, and I said it was an accident.” 

“We were stunned when you came through the door.” 

“Yeah, Mommy came over and hugged me. Daddy was asking how I got there, and why I didn’t call. He kept going on that I said I would call, asking why I didn’t, why I didn’t say I had no money, why I didn’t have the doctor get a hold of him.” 

“You told him you were fine, and I had to laugh. It was so absurd … that you could be fine after that.” 

“He felt bad. He was rushing around, filling my plate and my glass, and Mommy helping him. I saw you and Joey looking at each other like what the hell—?” 

“Joey asked them, ‘Aren’t you gonna heat that up?’ He said, ‘It’s probably ice cold by now.’ They insisted it wasn’t. I also remember Joe asking you if you were okay, and you said you were. You told me later you didn’t want to upset Joey.” 

“I felt bad for causing all that.” 

“Causing what?” 

“The accident.” 

“What accident?” 

“He hit my head, and it bounced against the wall.” 

“Dani!” 

“What?” 

“He slammed it against the wall!” 

“I know, but he didn’t mean to. He was as shocked as everyone else.” 

“He couldn’t even wait for you! He didn’t make sure you had money for the fucking phone. You had to risk accepting a ride from some stranger that nobody knew you were with!” 

“That was stupid of me. I could have asked someone at the hospital to call.” 

“You were a child, Dan! It didn’t occur to them to warm up your food, when it occurred to Joey and me. I got the blame for all of it, you know. Mommy told me it was my fault, and when I said it wasn’t, she slapped me. I told her, ‘I’m not the one who slammed her head against the wall or the one who was fighting with him.’ I told her, ‘This is sick. Who do you think’s gonna eat all this crap after that?’ I felt physically sick.” 

“I’m sorry she blamed you.” 

“Will you stop saying you’re sorry? None of that was your fault! He was drinking before it happened. And you were worrying about Joey, too. You were worried about the people in the emergency room not having a place to sit. Stop worrying about everyone but yourself. Stop making excuses for Daddy. You always make excuses for him.” 

I couldn’t help it. I felt the profound suffering deep inside him that had started long ago, the little boy heartache along with the pain of a soldier who’d never spoken about the war. I had watched him fight with Robbie, plead with him—desperate to find the underlying cause of Robbie’s troubles. He had no idea what to do. Convinced he was a terrible father, he blamed himself. I had caught him crying one New Year’s Eve when he’d had too much to drink. It was as if I lived in his heart during those moments and could feel what he was feeling—like his pain was my pain. It was hard to fathom at the time that he could never feel mine.  

I once took it upon myself to reassure him that he was a wonderful father, writing a poem to that effect, which I wanted to read to him. 

“I’m busy,” he had said, focusing on his newspaper at the dining room table. 

“It’s not long,” I said. 

“Go ahead,” he growled. 

Seeing that he was holding his place in the newspaper with his finger and not looking at me, I read with a trembling voice and a lump swelling in my throat. 

He said, “Thank you,” when I’d finished and then went on reading his news. 

My mother had been smiling the whole time. She looked proud of me, and hopeful that this tribute would move him. “Beautiful,” she’d praised me. “Very nice.” 

Yet I felt diminished and dismissed by my father.  

I knew, too, that when Robbie broke curfew, as he often did, my mother wouldn’t sit down or go to bed. She continued wiping kitchen countertops long after dinner and dessert. She moved on to the stovetop, to the range, to the hood, to the cabinets, and every one of their knobs. She cleaned the sheathed cloth of the breakfast table. She wiped down the three upholstered chairs, and, every once in a while, wandered into the dining room and stole a glimpse out the window, her dishrag clenched tightly in her fist. With her free hand, she separated the drapes, magnifying the intensity of the darkness. I could see her forlorn gaze as she watched for her son. At times, I went to her and stood helplessly at her side. For what seemed an eternity, there would be nothing but twinkling stars and a beautiful moon over the vast, blackened earth. I felt her weariness and anguish. 

“Sit down, Grace,” my father would call to her from the dining room table. He might as well have been invisible. She barely saw him anymore. I bore witness to my father’s dejected expression, and I believe her rejection marked the beginning of their marital woes. 

Robbie would come home and apologize profusely to avoid punishment, but my father did beat him once. 

Another time, I followed Robbie from the house to confront him about his behavior, and he walked faster to ditch me. 

“Leave me alone!” he yelled, turning around. “Go home!” 

“You know, Robbie, I idolized you since I was a child,” I shot back. “How dare you do this! You are destroying yourself, and, because of that, Mommy and Daddy are heartbroken. I worshipped you! I wanted to be like you. But now I don’t ever want to be like you. You are the last person on earth I’d want to be like!” 

I saw a glimpse of the Robbie I thought I knew in that moment, but he turned from me and took off. 

I reminded him of it now. 

“That got to me,” he admitted. “It was the moment I’d always remember when I knew I was going down, and it was the moment I remembered when I finally decided to get clean and sober.” 

It took a while for that to sink in. “If that’s the case, I’m glad I said it. I never meant to hurt you.” 

“I know. I don’t blame you. I blame them. They live in their own little worlds, getting ripped on their wine and martinis.” 

It was true they were oblivious to most of the troubles we’d had and knew nothing of the pressures we’d felt. We didn’t tell them. I would ask if I could babysit, and they’d say yes without a thought. They never asked for whom or for a phone number. They had confidence in the way they’d raised me. They wanted me to feel trusted, since, as far as they knew, I’d done nothing to betray their trust. When I thought of all the things they didn’t know I’d done, I felt guilty. 

Another thought occurred to me. “Let me ask you something.” 

“What?” 

“When we were talking about Daddy snapping and killing the whole family, it surprised you that I thought he was capable of that. After everything, why is it so hard for you and Joey to believe that could happen?” 

“Oh, he has snapped plenty of times,” Robbie said. “It’s interesting that you think he would go that far. I never thought of that. My gut says we’ve seen the worst of it.” 

“But how do you know?” I asked. “How do you know when somebody’s reached their limit? When they’ve taken all they can take and can’t take anymore?” 

After a brief silence, he answered, “You don’t.” 

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.

DEADLY VEILS BOOK ONE: SHATTERING TRUTHS – 8

Chapter Eight 

It was dark when I turned up Cricket Lane. A thin level of fog had developed with the cooling air. There was nothing to light the wooded path except the sun’s golden gleam reflected by a waxing gibbous moon. I’d been walking fast or running. I kept looking over my shoulder. 

Passing the little white church, I could see a group of teenagers inside the cemetery—three standing and one slumped over a tombstone. 

“Get up, DeCorso,” someone urged. “Your sister’s here.” 

I moved forward. 

I could see it was Robbie. He jerked his head and tried to rise but fell back over the stone. He couldn’t open his eyes. 

“What did he take?” I demanded. 

No one spoke immediately. They appeared stunned that an eleven-year-old girl would come here alone in search of her brother. 

“Tuinals,” the one female answered at last.“Maybe five …” 

“Oh, God … Robbie?” I shook him. “Are you guys just going to stand there? Help me get him out of here!” 

The two males flanked him and made a bungling attempt to pull him along. 

“Danielle?” Robbie called out to me in a faint voice. He stumbled, nearly dropping to the ground. 

His hair was in a shaggy style back then that had bangs swept off to the side. Those bangs now hung over his eyes. 

I reached for him as his handlers tightened their grip. “I’m taking him home.” There was an authoritative air in my tone, mingled with impatience. 

“I don’t think so,” the girl responded. “If your parents see him, he’ll be screwed.” 

“My parents are not home yet.” 

“We’ll take him somewhere to sleep it off.” It was the guy on Robbie’s left talking.  

“You can’t!” I yelled. “If you do that, he’ll die!” 

I don’t know where that notion came from, but I believed it and evidently convinced him as well. He offered to help. We anchored Robbie by his arms across our shoulders. All the way home, Robbie kept mumbling, stumbling, and calling my name. 

“I’m here,” I answered him. 

We dragged him along, passing familiar homes decorated with pumpkins, skeletons, and tombstones. My mom had decorated our house, too, and I could see the lights on when we got there. Joey appeared in the doorway, likely worried about not finding me home, and ready to go looking for me. 

“Help him up!” I shouted. “I’m calling 911.” 

Joey hastened down the stairs and took my side of Robbie as I ran ahead. They brought Robbie to my grandmother’s room and laid him down to rest on her bed. 

I nervously rattled off the details to a dispatcher and hung up the phone. 

“Don’t sleep,” I beseeched him upon my return. 

“Why can’t I sleep?” Robbie slurred. 

I could see the concern in Joey’s eyes. He stood close to the bed now, trusting my instincts. 

“Where’d his friend go?” I asked. 

“He took off, but he told me about the pills,” Joey said. “Where’d you find him?” 

“A bunch of kids … I didn’t recognize them, but they knew him. They knew me. They told me they saw him heading toward the cemetery with two guys holding him up, and he was in bad shape.” 

“You went to the cemetery?” 

“I was five minutes away, halfway down Angie’s block.” 

I normally left Angie’s house before it got dark, but we got busy creating a scrapbook of our teen idols, and I hadn’t noticed the time. 

He shook his head disapprovingly. “What’s his problem, man?” 

Robbie’s breathing was slow. He seemed oblivious to his surroundings, barely hanging onto consciousness. Rosary beads dangled over one side of the headboard. A nativity scene on a plaque loomed above. I sat on the bed. “Robbie told me a funny story about this one day in church, during Benediction, when he thought he was getting that calling to be a priest. Right, Rob? See, it was the fumes from the incense making your head all fuzzy. They would never call you to be a priest.” 

He was fading fast, so I sat him upright, holding onto him. 

“Stay awake!” I yelled. 

“Stay awake, Rob,” Joey echoed, shaking his shoulders. 

“Don’t fall asleep,” I told him. “Talk to me.” 

“About what, Dan?” 

I heard sirens. It wasn’t long before the emergency technicians descended upon him. 

“What did he take?” The paramedic who asked this question was the only black man—a hulking figure with a warm voice and the sweetest, most caring, eyes. 

“Tuinals,” I told him, “maybe five.” 

“Has he done this before?” 

“Not that I know of.” 

“Are you all siblings?” 

“Yeah.” 

“What’s his name?” 

“Robbie DeCorso.” 

He spoke to my brother. “Robbie? What’s going on? Do you know where you are?” 

I watched as they examined him. I saw them shine a light into both of his eyes. 

“Yes,” my brother said. 

“And where’s that?” 

He fell silent, and they hoisted his leaden body onto a stretcher. 

“I didn’t think he should sleep,” I told the kind man. 

“Well, you did a good job. He took an overdose. If he had gone to sleep, he would not have awakened.” 

“You mean …?” 

“He could have lapsed into a coma. He could have died. You can’t be messing around like that.” 

I looked at Joey, and he shook his head. 

“How old is he?” the man asked. 

“Thirteen,” I replied. 

“Where are your parents?” 

Joey answered that. “Some two hundred-year-old lady died, and they all went running off—some friend of my grandmother’s.” 

“I think you better get a hold of them.” 

Joey wrote a note for my parents and grabbed my mom’s car keys off the dining room table. We left for the hospital. He wasn’t supposed to be driving without supervision, but I knew he’d get us there safely. 

“The woman was ninety,” I told him. 

“What woman?” 

“Grandma’s friend who died.” 

“Whatever.” 

“What’d you write in the note?” 

“That Robbie’s okay but in the hospital.” 

“He is going to be okay, right?” 

“I hope so.” 

He hugged me in the waiting room. I hugged him tight in return, afraid to let go. 

My father showed up at the hospital sooner than I had expected. 

“Where’s Mommy?” I inquired. 

“Where do you think? She’s home, cooking. She was worried sick, your mother. She wanted to come. I told her to stay there. So what happened?” His gaze shifted from Joey to me and then back again.“Is he all right?” My father began walking in circles. “Where is he?” He approached an emergency room physician who’d been walking toward us. “I’m the father,” he said. “What happened?” 

The doctor smiled politely. “I’ll fill you in on what happened, but your son is fine. He had his stomach pumped, so he may be feeling some pain. He may be fatigued. Let him rest.” 

The ER staff released Robbie in an improved state, but he continued to stumble around with his eyes closed. My father held him by the arm then assisted him into the passenger seat of his car—the Pontiac Bonneville he drove then. 

“Geez, I know none of us are saints,” he mused on the way home. “I did a lot of things when I was a kid to make my father mad. He would get so mad at me, he wanted to kill me. My mother would say, ‘Wait until you grow up and have kids of your own. You’ll see.’ She was right.” 

“I’m sorry, Dad,” a groggy Robbie replied. 

“Well, I hope you learned your lesson.” 

“I did.” 

My mother was wringing her hands when we helped Robbie through the door. She looked flustered and pale. I couldn’t tell if she wanted to hug Robbie or kill him. 

“What the hell is the matter with you?” she screamed. 

Robbie said nothing in response. My father and Joey helped him upstairs to bed. 

“What’s going on with him?” she asked me. 

I told her what had happened. 

She clenched her teeth and then went about setting the dining room table. 

I helped minimally, distracted by my concerns about Robbie. Did he know he could die? Did he want to die, or did he simply not care if he lived or died? 

We sat down to dinner without him. My grandmother asked what had happened, and my father spent the next five minutes talking to her in Italian. She made the sign of the cross, tears streaming.  

“And don’t go blabbing to Zuza and everyone else, Mom!” he bellowed. “It’s nobody’s goddamn business.” 

Grandma denied she would say anything while nervously grazing her fingers across her forehead. Her hair was up and tightly bound, as always—hair she would say was the color of coffee beans, except for the dusting of silver. I could see her sad little brown eyes behind the lenses of her glasses.  

We ate with no further talk about Robbie. Everyone assisted my mother in cleaning up. She prepared demitasse. We all had a piece of Entenmann’s cake. 

I checked on Robbie in his blissful sleep and then joined my grandmother in her room. 

She was sitting on the bed where Robbie had been earlier, the tufted chenille bedspread in pure ivory pulled up to the headboard, as though nothing had happened. The dimly lit sanctuary was quiet and safe again, a simple place of walnut-crafted furnishings, eggshell walls, and wood floors. All of it had faded away—Robbie, the sirens that had brought heroes to my door, and all the day’s events. For a few moments, we remained silent and in a comforting womb of peace. 

I looked around the room at her wooden crosses of Jesus and her pictures of the pope. There were many pictures of the pope. One might have imagined he shared the room with her. He hung amid family wedding photos. She’d tucked another photo of him in one side of the annual calendar she got from our neighborhood dry cleaner. Every year, on Palm Sunday, she brought a palm home from church, shaped it into a crucifix, and tucked it behind the same calendar. 

She’d hung two paintings of birds in this room, one a pair of bluebirds perched on a tree branch adorned with large leaves and tiny flowers. The other featured a white heron amid blossoming trees. She loved birds, as I did. 

“Oh, Dio…” She was calling to God. She looked at me. “The way you know?” It was how she talked, yet I understood. 

I explained how I’d found Robbie and what had happened next. 

“The way you know?” she repeated. 

“I didn’t know anything. I didn’t think about it.” 

“God knows—and the angels.” She reached for my hand and squeezed it. “God bless. God bless … you good girl.” 

I could feel her pain profoundly, just as I could with the other members of my family. Every one of them suffered immensely. 

I gave her a hug and then stood, making my way over to her lace-lined dresser adorned with resin statues of prayer plaques, angels, and the Blessed Mother. Our Holy Communion portraits were there in gold frames. I opened the musical jewelry box she’d brought from Italy, and, with my fingers, traced the gold satin lining the hardwood. I knew she shared a piece of my joy, taking notice of what I admired. It was the reason she’d made certain I always had a musical jewelry box with a dancing ballerina. I’d notice new things right away, like the bluebird song box in handcrafted porcelain and the floral trinket boxes. 

“Here,” she was saying. 

I turned to see her reaching for a small tulle pouch on a low wall shelf. Bomboniere is what she called it. Brides gave it as a wedding souvenir. She was untying the ribbons. She would eat the sugared almonds inside when she felt like it, unlike my mother and Zuza, who kept theirs intact. She put two in my hand and popped one in her mouth. 

I smiled and began eating the almonds. “These are the only gifts you ever like.” 

She smiled back. “Ah! I’m old, honey. I no need anything.” 

The woman rarely smiled, but, when she did, it went to my heart.  

She did go over to Zuza’s in the morning. She told them everything. I knew, because Angie rushed over and wrapped me in a hug. 

My involvement in all the Robbie madness, however, didn’t end there. 

Not a week later, I was in the family room recliner watching television. Robbie showed up with some friends. They cranked up the music, since no one was home, then put paper towels inside brown paper bags and soaked the paper with glue. Robbie handed one of the bags to me. 

“Hold it up to your nose and then breathe in and out,” he said. 

I can’t remember if I even asked why. 

The surge to my head was like a magnetic recharge, and all I could hear was AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long.” An explosion in my brain unleashed an outpouring of dazed, rapturous sensations. Light prickles and tremors trickled through every fiber of my being. I reveled in the light-headed euphoria. A prevailing illusion of calm and peace washed over me. Everyone, everything, faded away. In that moment, nothing was better than this high. My love for these sensations was more powerful and more enslaving than my love for anything or anyone else I knew. 

We inhaled ourselves into oblivion. The pillow top of the recliner felt so soft on my back, and I closed my eyes, drifting off to sleep with the bag on my nose. I awakened with a sense of the paneled walls encasing me. My first vague awareness was of the crouched porcelain tiger lamp resting atop the television set. I could see the fireplace my mother had decorated with sculptures—a cherubic angel with wings and a pair of praying hands. Photos in ornate gold frames, depicting all of us in our younger years, adorned the television top and the end tables. When I looked to my left and to my right, my brother and his friend were still there. I stood, dizzy, nearly losing my balance as I tried to position myself. There was laughter, howling, and cackling, all sounding far off. I felt giddy, uninhibited, and excited. I was unable to say or do anything without laughter and smiles. 

Yes, fantasy was better than reality for me, and I welcomed any escape from the latter. I kept trying to bond with Robbie, too—going on “shopping” sprees with him and his friends. We rode the bus to neighborhood department stores and returned with stolen merchandise. I stole plastic bangles in different colors, earrings, T-shirts, and pants. 

“You’re good,” a friend of his marveled.“A master thief and con artist.” 

“Well, she has the face of an angel,” said another. “Who’d suspect her?” 

I had ripped the lining out of my puffer jacket, so I could slide things around to the back. 

“Where did you get this?” my mother would ask, regarding our new acquisitions. 

We’d say a friend gave them to us, and, though she didn’t seem comfortable with the idea, she never pressed the issue. If it had been Robbie alone, and, possibly Joey, she might have, but she evidently couldn’t fathom her sweet little girl lying or stealing. 

It was an unsettling time of strange and constant shifting between the uncorrupted purity of youth and the recklessness of a demoralizing coming-of-age. A choice seemed to continually surface, bittersweet reality or sweet imagination, child or grown-up, right or wrong. I kept searching for the in-between, but I couldn’t find it. I felt a rebellious joy as well as a distant sadness. 

I began to see a parallel between life and roller coaster rides at amusement parks, even if I could not have explained it. We went barreling along on the formidable journey, propelled by some overpowering entity. There were uncomfortable moments. In other moments, we would be elated. There’d be mirth and amusement, just as there would be treacherous, spine-chilling turns. We twisted this way, that way, down many paths, and we hung on. We whirled backward, then forward then backward again. The times of gentle rolling on the track made the unexpected dark tunnels an intriguing mystery fraught with peril. We had to hold on, and we laughed a lot. It did seem uncertain, on various declines, that one was truly safe in the midst of it all, but everything was linked together toward the final destination—a higher purpose and greater good. At the same time, I weaved an intricate ball of yarn that would take a lifetime to untangle.  

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.

DEADLY VEILS BOOK ONE: SHATTERING TRUTHS – 7

Chapter Seven 

I hated this place and every place like it—uniformity, mediocrity, everything so black and white, cold, and clinical. It had taken me a while to work up the nerve to make an appointment, but, according to the phone book listing, the initial intake was free. 

A woman called me in. It’s a face I can’t remember—except to say she looked average and seemed normal. She asked me to tell her about myself. She wanted to know what had prompted me to seek psychotherapy. 

My mind seemed to have emptied itself, leaving only an uncomfortable notion that I was uniquely unacceptable. I told her my name and my age, and then paused before speaking again. 

“I’m too honest,” I said. “I always tell people the truth even when I shouldn’t. If I don’t like something, and someone asks me if I like it, I can’t say I do, and I can’t talk to people I don’t like unless I really have to.” 

She smiled. “I see nothing wrong with that. It’s not uncommon for a young person to be blatantly honest. You’re becoming more and more aware of your feelings, and you want to make them known.” 

“I don’t think people like that honesty… or me,” I confessed. 

“Why?” she asked. 

“I don’t tell them what they want to hear.” 

“You will outgrow that. Or, rather, you will sort out what is appropriate and what isn’t and find a more comfortable way of dealing with people.” 

“I don’t know how to be myself.” 

That was true. All my life, people had referred to me as Joey’s sister, Robbie’s sister, or “one of those DeCorso kids.” By eighth grade, my classmates considered me a tough girl, though I didn’t fight. My brothers did. Once they were in high school, and I was still in middle school, a different Danielle emerged. I became a popular, gregarious type—in school, anyway. I enjoyed making others laugh. By the time I got to high school, I was befriending classmates the popular crowd shunned, perhaps because I knew a thing or two about being on the opposite end of that spectrum. If anyone knew the hearts of those quiet, fearful souls, it was me, and I wanted to use what power I had to put them at ease. 

I told the therapist about that, how I would invite them to eat with me, thinking I could end up an outcast, too, but it had the opposite effect. The others subsequently welcomed my new friends. While I had never expected that, I was glad. 

A different structure existed within the family dynamic. Whatever flaws I saw in those I held dear paled in comparison with their goodness, but I did not extend the same courtesy to myself. My flaws erased everything else about me. 

Quite possibly, it began with my barbaric entry into the world. I had arrived with my fists tightly clenched, looking more like a boxer than a baby, more like a boy than a girl, and ready to fight, rupturing membranes, and necessitating a C-section. A priest had administered Last Rites to my mother—Extreme Unction, as they called it, the Roman ritual that meant you were doomed. 

My first recollection is of lying face up in my playpen. I could see shadows. One seemed small, compared to the others, yet it signaled danger and instilled fear. The moment I became aware of its presence, hands assailed me … pulling, hitting, and hurting. A larger shadow would appear, scolding, “You were told to leave her alone.” 

It was as if I were witnessing my life from another plane. 

Years later, I asked my mother if Robbie or Joey had harassed me when I was a baby, though I felt strongly it was Robbie. I asked if she had scolded him and pulled him away. She said I’d imagined it all. 

“Sounds to me like you are a good person,” the therapist was saying. 

“Then I don’t need help?” 

“You do if you think you do, but something prompted you to come here today. You took a big step in doing that. Is there something else bothering you that you wanted to talk about?” 

“I don’t think so.” 

“Do you have hopes, Danielle? Dreams? Future plans?” 

“Yes,” I said. 

“Tell me about that.” 

I told her about my writing and my singing. 

She flashed a grin then said something nice and encouraging. That impressed me, so I tried to convey how those dreams kept me alive and how terrified I was that through the continuous horror and chaos that was life, those dreams might fade away. 

“You’re so young,” she said. “What’s the hurry?” 

Good thing I didn’t tell her I had initially hoped to achieve all of my goals before my seventeenth birthday—that, at one time, I vowed to kill myself if that didn’t happen. I don’t think I ever intended to do that, really, but I must have figured if it took much longer than that, I would be too old to enjoy my success. Where these absurd notions came from, I could only guess. I was drowning in my oblivion, and I thought these accomplishments would save me. 

What I did say was, “I think I’ll be writing until they decide to take the typewriter away from me and lay me to rest in my grave.” 

“Who are ‘they?’” she asked. 

I grew more nervous and lowered my eyes. “You know, I thought I was … I mean, I felt … I just get so … I don’t know. I seem to be fine now. I felt something was wrong. I get very depressed sometimes. This is so stupid. I shouldn’t have come here. There are enough people out there who know what’s wrong with them, and here I am. I don’t know what’s wrong, and I don’t even know what to say.” 

“Tell me about your family.” 

Something inside me caved. I had butterflies but not the happy sort. It was panic. I hesitated before saying, “There’s my mother, my father …” My eyes filled with tears. “I have two brothers.” I hesitated again. “Joey and …” A lump swelling in my throat made it difficult to speak. 

“Is there someone else?” 

I shook my head. 

“Take a deep breath.” 

I did and then broke down crying. “Robbie,” I said, “Oh, God, Robbie …” 

Deep concern filled the woman’s eyes now—and pity. It made me uncomfortable. 

“I think you should schedule an appointment for regular sessions,” she said. “Although, because you are a minor, you would need parental consent. I’d have to give you a form, and you’d have them sign it, then we can begin.” 

“No, I can’t do that.” I stood. 

“Unfortunately, we don’t have a choice.” 

“They think you only go to a shrink if you’re crazy or want to find out who’s to blame for your problems and, deep down, they’ll think whatever’s wrong with me is their fault. No, they can’t know. Isn’t there a way you can bend the rules? Or is there something I can sign to say I take full responsibility? I’m going to get a job, and I can pay myself …” 

She looked sympathetic while shaking her head. “I’ll give you my card. Please think about it, and if you decide to go ahead with their consent, give us a call. I think it would be a mistake if you didn’t.” 

I took the card knowing I would not call. It angered me that I was not entitled to help unless my parents agreed. All the relationships I had nurtured thus far in my life meant the world to me, and I cherished them in the only way I knew how. Oh, my … how I cherished them! It was a big part of why I worried so much. I felt unworthy of their love and feared losing them all. My instinct was always to take care of them, as if their needs were more important than my own. I fantasized about being rich and famous and buying them whatever they wanted, I suppose as some way to compensate for my inadequacy. 

Oddly enough, not once throughout the course of that therapy session did I mention what had happened with Phil and Sergio. I didn’t think about it. There was a little girl within me whose wails I ignored. On the surface, I was a DeCorso who would rather rebel and defy than admit defeat. People seemed to prefer that, anyway—that I bury it. It worked better for Farran, better for Angie. Maybe it worked for countless women who’d lived in places and times where you simply didn’t talk about those things. You picked yourself up, dusted yourself off, and trudged on. Except I was certain, at this point, that I was not okay. I felt lost. I didn’t like myself. I wanted nothing more than to be okay again and to feel normal. 

I had a dream that night. I was plummeting to the depths of something. It was a smooth, effortless decline in total blackness until I could feel a surface beneath me. People were talking to me. I smiled, wanting them to know I was okay and could hear them. In a subsequent dream, I saw angry eyes that changed from dark to light and then red, before flames began to burn in them with a fury. The eyes had no face or body. Though I didn’t recognize them, I wondered if they were a reflection of my parents when angered—or Robbie. They may have been the eyes of others who were angry with me. It may also have been me, I suppose, angry at the world. 

When I woke, however, all I could think about was Robbie. 

He was the brother who had looked for ladybugs and caterpillars with me in our yard. He watched me chase butterflies and elusive dandelion puffs that floated through the air. 

“They’re wish nicks,” he had explained. “You’re supposed to catch one in your hand and make a wish, then blow it away.” 

It felt like holding on to nothing, yet it saddened me to open my hand and watch it float farther and farther from my view. I didn’t want Robbie to be like that wish nick. It was a familiar longing I had. There seemed to be an ongoing risk of losing him in my life, resulting in this need I had to cling to him. 

Everything changed between Robbie and me after the wish nick phase, and it seemed to begin with a boy named Tommy Catalano. There was more to it, of course, but I knew Tommy was trouble the first time I laid eyes on him. 

I was four years old at the time, returning from the hospital with a black patch over my left eye, clutching my mother’s hand as we emerged from the car. We began our ascent up the staircase. Tommy headed toward us. He must have been eight or nine at the time. He passed and, after a few paces, turned around for another glance. It was a foreboding glare, and it chilled me to my core. 

“Come on,” my mother encouraged me. She shot him a fierce look and moved me along. 

When she wasn’t around, he made fun of my eye patch. He got other neighborhood kids to make fun of me, too. 

Admittedly, he was a good-looking kid, with his dark brown hair in a regulation school cut, his downward-slanting eyes an unusual light golden brown. The fierceness in his face always reminded me of a tiger. I sensed, however, that although he acted tough, it was some sort of camouflage—an omnipotent, unshakable external facade masking something dangerously fragile. Perhaps something had distorted his countenance, stripped him of his humanity. When he laughed, he looked pained. I would see anger in his amusement. 

He used to say my brothers and I should go back to wherever we came from with our spic mother. Robbie had told him at the time that we were born here and then called him a jackass. 

When, after numerous eye examinations, I was able to trade the dreadful patch for a pair of glasses, Tommy called me “Four Eyes.” 

Robbie had defended me, saying, “The doctors fixed Danielle’s eyes.” 

But Tommy said I was still ugly, and he taunted me until tears blinded me, something collapsed inside me, and I could no longer hear him. In retrospect, it seemed such a pitiful waste of energy and emotion—the extent of my humiliation perpetuated by some bully who likely harbored his own feelings of worthlessness. 

“He doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about,” my father said when I told him. “He’s a stupid jerk. Your eyes are straight, perfect, beautiful. When somebody like that says something to you, let it go in one ear and out the other.” 

“Don’t pay any attention,” my mother agreed. 

Joey told them Tommy never said anything when he was there, or he would have beaten the crap out of him. 

But all I wanted to know was why I had to wear glasses in the first place. 

My father looked at my mother, and Robbie’s eyes shifted from one face to the next. 

“You had what they call a lazy eye,” my mother said. “A lazy muscle in the left eye.” It didn’t escape me that both she and my father looked away, like they felt guilty or embarrassed. 

“Didn’t the surgery work?” Joey asked. 

My curious gaze shifted to him and then back to my mother again. 

“Of course,” she said, “but the doctor said there are no guarantees. She wants you to wear glasses to keep the eye straight, so it doesn’t go back or more in. If you don’t, your eyesight might get worse instead of better.” 

“I only have to wear them for a while, right? Like the patch?” 

“You have to wear them until the doctor says you don’t have to, and if she says you have to wear them all the time, then you wear them all the time.” 

“Forever?” 

“Whatever it is, it is.” 

“No!” I screamed. With a vigorous pull, the glasses were off. I heaved them upon the patterned linoleum and stomped on them until they’d shattered. 

I can’t forget the look of pain in my father’s eyes. 

Robbie shrieked, “Oh, my God, she broke them!” 

My father rose from his chair. He picked up all the pieces and set them aside, then moved toward the china cabinet. “I’m going to show you something,” he said. He opened a side drawer. There was another tiny pair of glasses in there. “Those are yours,” he revealed. “We bought them, just in case. But I’m not gonna make you wear them. I’m not gonna force you. They will be right here in this drawer.” He lifted them to show me, and then placed them down again. “If you don’t wanna wear them, you don’t touch them. Okay?” 

I nodded, tears streaming. 

Robbie seemed shocked. “But she has to wear them!” 

My father clenched his teeth. “And how’s she gonna wear them if she breaks them again?” 

“The doctor said it’s like water,” my mother said. “If you’re thirsty, you’ll drink. Or like medicine: If you need it, you’ll take it.” 

It surprised me that the decision was up to me, but, for the moment, I was satisfied with my choice. 

“You know if you don’t take your medicine, you get sick and die,” Robbie hounded me. 

“So? I’m not sick.” 

“You’re supposed to be wearing your glasses!” 

“So?” 

“So the doctor said you’re gonna go blind if you don’t.” 

“I am not.” 

“Are too!” 

“Am not!” 

Now, I don’t know when exactly it happened, but Robbie went from defending my honor to laughing at me alongside Tommy Catalano. It was as if he’d reached inside of me and ripped my heart out, along with the rest of my insides, leaving a mere hollow cave behind. He had set about trying to convince others that something was wrong with me. In all fairness, I think he believed that to be true. 

At seven and eight, I’d spent hours drawing pictures, mostly of children. I’d cut them out, so that each one was an individual on a rectangular slip of paper, and I named each one. 

“She’s drawing her little girls again,” my father would say to my mother. 

“They are not all girls,” I told him. “There are boys, too, and some of them are teachers.” 

“She puts them in rows like school, and she talks to them,” Robbie tattled. “She thinks she’s the teacher, and they are her class.” 

He seemed ashamed of me, and I got the feeling my behavior was worrisome to my parents as well. 

“That makes it easier for me to study and do my homework,” I explained. It was a strategy I had devised to break the monotony of giving my attention to something I didn’t enjoy. Otherwise, it bored me to a level I couldn’t bear. 

My pretend game worked with buttons, too. I collected them from my aunt Zuza and my grandmother. Concentrating on mundane tasks never got easier, but I would learn to devise other strategies. 

My brothers, on the other hand, broke the monotony of life by fighting with other kids. It was par for the course to see one of them throwing someone into a pile of bushes or up against a wall. Adults told their kids that my brothers were crazy, and to keep away from them. I often hid on them myself. 

As far as Robbie was concerned, I was the crazy one. I think he had a sense that I relished fantasy far more than reality, and that it was not merely an extended phase but very much a part of my nature. He would tell the other kids, “Oh, she’s retarded.” There were times he summoned friends, siblings, and cousins to his room and locked the door. They would be in there talking and laughing, and I would be on the other side, wondering how I’d managed to get myself placed outside the sphere of acceptability. 

When Robbie was nice, he was irresistible. Though I could never interest him in all the writing I did, he praised my singing voice. We would listen to albums on the stereo in his room. We played a game where we took turns singing and acting out songs. I was ten and beginning to realize that music had an incredible power to lift me. Over the years, I grew to love Bach right along with Led Zeppelin. Christmas hymns during the holidays moved me to tears now, while, year round, I enjoyed gothic rock bands like the Cure, Bauhaus, and Christian Death. 

At age eleven, I continued to play with dolls. Angie and I often sat on the rug in my room or hers with our Barbie dolls and their dream houses. 

Robbie would wander in bellowing, “God, are you ever going to grow up?” 

It broke my heart to think I might have to let my dolls go in exchange for more complicated things, but that’s exactly what happened in the fall of ‘82.

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.

DEADLY VEILS BOOK ONE: SHATTERING TRUTHS – 6

Chapter Six 

It was Friday—the end of our first school week. Angie and I were officially seniors. Farran was unequivocally a college girl, and she insisted we celebrate by going to Marauders Cove. She borrowed her mom’s old Fairmont Futura, and, by 7:30 p.m., we were on our way to New Haven—a fifty-minute drive on I-91 South. 

Marauder’s Cove was near the harbor on the north side of the Long Island Sound, where a powerful glow enduringly beckoned from a lighthouse on Southwest Ledge, about a mile offshore. Through the fog and mist, and through many torrential downpours, that monumental structure seemed to beam in all of its glory. For me, it was a symbol of hope. 

After parking in the lot, we peeked through the pub’s large window, which provided a view of patrons on corner stools at the end of a long bar. You could see who was at the front end or at any of the small tables parallel to the bar. We went inside, turning one head after another. 

Chocolate-colored paneled walls and wood-plank flooring gave the place a cozy cabin ambiance. There were tables parallel to the bar and more in the back, where framed baseball teams and logo prints lined the walls, and a large anchor hung in their midst. The kitchen was at the farthest end, and I could smell yummy burgers on the grill. 

To be honest, I wanted to drink myself into oblivion, if there was such a state, and wash away every lingering bit of mortification. My plan, however, was to have one or two, and that would keep me on guard. 

The first person we ran into was Billy McGrath. He was alone at the bowling machine, drinking beer. It was hard not to recognize him—all clean-cut and as preppy as in his high school glory days, his light brown hair in a classic taper cut. He had to be about twenty-two. His body looked admirably compact in its five-foot-nine-inch frame. 

We went over to say hello. Farran asked a million questions. We learned he had a job installing security alarm systems and a nice one-bedroom apartment in North Branford. She asked about his family. 

He said everyone was doing well, and then his pale blue eyes were on me. “I know you.” He bowled an easy strike and leaned back. 

I figured he would. “I’m Joey’s sister, Danielle.” 

“You were dating my little brother, Mike, a couple of years back.” 

“How is he?” I asked longingly. “Last I heard, he was captain of the football team.” 

“Yup, and made the local paper.” Billy knocked down eight pins with his next turn. “He’s living down south with his wife and kid. They’re with her folks in Tennessee, trying to cut costs.” 

Crushed as I was by this news, I knew I had broken Mike’s heart. I hadn’t even started high school when we were a thing, and I felt suffocated, so I ended it. 

Farran spoke up. “You won’t blow our covers, Billy, will you?” She told him she had proof for twenty-one. 

He glanced in the direction of the bar. “My Uncle Tully owns this place. He’s not here now, but when he’s here, man … he won’t serve any of you.” 

“What about the guy who’s on duty?” she asked. 

My gaze followed hers to the middle-aged man with dark, slicked-back hair who stood behind the bar.  

“That’s Steve,” Billy said. “To be honest, I don’t know if he would or not.” 

Farran motioned for Angie and me to accompany her. Steve checked our ID’s and served us without hesitation. On a whim, I paid for the drinks.  

Another McGrath headed in our direction—Shannon. She did a double take when I called her name. “Oh, my goodness … Danielle!” 

I remembered Shannon McGrath as a fresh-faced, freckled, and ginger-haired girl with a joyous, melodious laugh. She was twenty now, and she evidently labored to tease her shoulder-skimming, layered cut for the big hair effect. The sculpted brows were new, like the makeup she wore to dramatize her grayish blue eyes. Despite these efforts, she had porcelain skin and cherubic cheeks that betrayed her youth. She towered over me in her high heels, appearing confident and comfortable in tight clothes that accentuated her curvy form. When she reached out for a hug, I hugged back. 

Stepping away, she marveled. “God, look at you, you’re gorgeous! You have this exotic look with the high cheekbones, and look at this amazing figure! Jesus, what do you eat?” 

Angie replied on my behalf. “She has an apple and a can of Diet Pepsi for lunch every day.” 

“Are you serious?” Shannon’s smile was infectious. 

“I bring a tuna fish sandwich on Fridays,” I divulged, “and I more than make up for it at dinner.” 

“Oh, well, thank goodness! I’m glad.” She laughed, shaking her head. “Well, you’re fine. You should eat.” 

“You remember Angie, right?” I wasn’t sure. 

“Yes, I do!” She hugged her as well, then Farran, and zeroed in again on me. “It’s so nice to see you all! Tell me everything! The last time I saw you was years ago, back in the old neighborhood. You told me you wrote fairy tales.” 

“Yeah, when I was eight.” I blushed, I’m sure. 

Angie glanced at me, smiling.“I remember that! And now she wrote a book.” 

Shannon appeared lost in amazement. “A book!” 

Farran redirected the conversation. “Shannon, how do you like living in New Haven, compared to East Hartford?” 

“I live in East Haven,” she said.“I have for the last couple of years, but I waitress nights at a club around here.” 

She waved for us to follow her and then urged us to join Billy in his bowling game. Along with the McGrath siblings, I was on a lucky streak and bowling strikes, so I was happy, animated, and jumping up and down. Then Billy started going on about some gang called the “Lynx” and Shannon’s romantic involvement with one of them. 

Farran asked who the Lynx were, and his small, never-fluctuating eyes fell upon me. “Ask her brother.” 

“My brother?” I was confused. 

“Your brother will be one soon, if he’s not already. He’s in tight with the Castel brothers.” 

I savored every swallow of my drink. It loosened me up, and it felt good. It made all the humiliation, all the pain, go away. “What kind of gang?” 

“He’s talking about their biker gang,” Shannon replied. 

“Aptly named, since Lynx are wildcats,” Billy added. He looked at Angie. “Your turn.” 

Angie cracked up. “My turn! I’m in last place. I don’t know why I bother going at all.” 

We all laughed. 

“So who are members of the Lynx?” Farran asked. “Tell me.” 

“Hang around. You’ll see.” Billy took a hearty swig of his beer. “Man, they’re not fucking gods to me. Excuse the language. You always gotta watch what you say about them and who you say it to. If any of the Lynx is in trouble, they’re all there. They stick together. What, I should be grateful I get a nod from them while most of the patrons, regular customers for years, are ignored?” He took another swig and looked toward the door. “Speak of the devils … here comes the leader of the pack.” 

We followed his gaze to a tall figure bustling confidently through the crowd. The guy looked more like a glam metal rock star than a biker and was clad in a sleeveless, black-studded vest, tight jeans, and boots, his magnificent head of dark hair falling two inches below his shoulders. I thought I’d have to pick up Farran’s jaw—and Angie’s. 

Farran was salivating. “Damn! Is he drop-dead gorgeous or what?” 

“Enough to make you forget Dave Navarro and every single one of The Lost Boys,” Angie concurred.“I mean, those cheekbones, too—like they were sculpted to perfection!” 

He was svelte more than herculean, with a well-toned physique that included muscular biceps adorned with tattoos. I figured him to be six-foot-one, and in his early twenties. 

“Wait,” Farran said, glancing at Shannon. “Is that the guy you’re seeing?” 

“Who, Valentin?” Shannon giggled. “Uh, wait a minute. Come with me.” 

Farran, Angie, and I followed as she led us to Valentin and hugged him. 

He hugged her tight in return. 

“This is Valentin,” she said.“I go out with his brother, Nico, but he and I are close friends.” During the subsequent introductions, she provided my full name. 

“Ah, Joey’s sister,” he acknowledged. 

I could see the tattoo on his left arm was a dragon. On his upper right arm, he had what appeared to be a king cobra amid a myriad of roses and flames. 

“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” I said. 

“The pleasure is mine,” he returned. 

His dark eyes drew me in with their formidable intensity. I felt a chill in their power to seduce without effort. It was as if his soul was burning, and I could see its fire through the darkness. It forced me to look away. 

Ironically, turning to Shannon, he remarked, “She has the most beautiful eyes.” I thought he spoke with an accent—a hint of Spanish, but I detected other undecipherable influences. 

He exchanged cordialities with Angie and Farran, minus the compliment, and turned to Shannon again. “What’s your darling cousin up to?” 

“She’s missing you,” Shannon replied. “Give her a call or stop by to see her.” 

He said he would, and then made his way over to the jukebox. I didn’t know where Shannon went then, but Farran made a beeline for the jukebox. It was close enough that I could hear their exchange. 

Using the sweet, Southern-accented voice she could turn on and off at will, she asked him to play Gregory Abbott’s “Shake You Down.” Well, she was from Biloxi, Mississippi before her family moved to Florida—Fort Walton Beach. 

I knew Valentin had obliged when the song came on. 

“Are you in a band?”she asked him. 

He seemed preoccupied, looking at the song titles. “No, I’m not.” 

“You look like you are.” 

He glanced at her and laughed, then walked off. 

Passing Angie and me, he flashed a polite smile—white, warm, and gracious, with a small chip on the front left incisor. I couldn’t help noticing a studded and spiked leather wrap and silver jewelry—a pendant and a bracelet. 

Farran returned and resumed gushing over him. “Oh, man, look at his ass in those jeans. Perfect shape, and so tight.” 

“Will you stop?” I had to say it. 

“He smells great, too,” she went on. “I think he wears Antaeus. Do you think he likes me? I mean, do you think he found me attractive?” 

“I don’t see why he wouldn’t,” I replied, “but for all you know, he could be married. He could even be gay.” 

“Bite your tongue! That man is not gay, and he’s too young to be married.” 

“No, he’s a few years older than Mike, and before I knew Mike was married, the only married people I knew were related to me or my teachers.” 

“He’s got a hell of a package down there, too.” 

“I can’t believe you!” I had to contain myself so I wouldn’t shout. “What … did you bring a measuring tape?” 

Angie laughed her ass off, but I was mortified, wondering if any of the guys in the bar noticed Farran looking at Valentin’s various parts. I barely had the nerve to look below their chins or at their hands for a ring. It would never have occurred to me to look below their belts. 

“You’re insane!” I said. 

As for Valentin, he was alone all of three minutes before a trio of women crowded him. They obviously knew him but seemed brazenly flirtatious in clamoring for his attention. I caught a glimpse of Billy watching and shaking his head. One of the women ran her fingers through Valentin’s hair. Her gesture exhibited a peculiar reverence. She gazed into his eyes with such longing that he looked sympathetic, as if wanting to comfort her. After a few moments, he looked away. Perhaps he remembered something, or something else caught his attention. He left soon after that. In fact, Joey had arrived as he was leaving, and they interacted briefly in the doorway. 

I wrote the script in my mind. Valentin could have taken advantage of the woman who seemed to adore him. I imagined she ached for him so pathetically that she would have allowed him to destroy her in every conceivable way. He was used to the attention and adulation but not quite sure how to handle it. I was certain of that, and I could relate. 

Billy approached us. “Be careful of Lord Hades,” he warned. “He can be very charming.” 

Farran raised a brow. “Lord Hades?” 

“Yes, that’s my name for Valentin. He’s the king of the underworld, as in hell. Don’t let him fool you. He’s another hothead like the rest of his band of brothers.” 

“Oh, bullshit!” The remark came from Joey, who had unexpectedly joined our circle. 

Billy didn’t back down. “No? Take a look at the jewelry he wears.” 

“You mean the Celtic bracelets?”That was Shannon, who now greeted my brother with a hug and a kiss. 

“All the tribal gothic shit. I’m waiting for the skulls and bat heads.” 

“I didn’t see skulls or bat heads,” Angie said innocently. “I did see a cross—” 

“Yeah, probably the Viking Wolf Cross. Don’t think it’s any kind of representation of Christ, because, according to him, he’s a pagan.” 

“What do you do, McGrath, study him?” Joey was smiling. 

“I absolutely do not study him,” Billy replied, “but I have learned a lot about him—being that he knocked up my cousin, Katharine, and will leave her heart in pieces. Katharine, by the way, is married to Valentin. He’s got two kids now. And here’s the best part. He wants out. He wants out of the marriage, yet he lets her pal around with him out of the goodness of his heart, I suppose, or so she’ll never get over him. You’ll notice she wears the ring. He doesn’t.” 

“You know, there’s a thing called minding your own business,” Joey said. 

“Wait, why would Valentin have to represent Christ if he’s not a Christian?” Angie asked. 

Billy shook his head. “Well, I don’t care what he claims to be. In my opinion, if he’s not on God’s team, there’s only one other team.” 

Joey laughed loudly. “So you’re saying Valentin’s on Satan’s team?” 

“Laugh all you want,” Billy maintained, “but what he wears—occultism is being represented.” 

Shannon tried to make peace. “Why do you all have to fight? Billy, there are a lot of people in this world who are not Christian. It doesn’t mean they’re not good people.” 

Billy shook his head. “He has you and God knows how many others jumping to defend his agenda, whatever that may be.” 

“And what is yours, McGrath?” Joey asked. “Character assassination?” 

“All I see of Valentin is a kind person,” Farran said. 

“You see what he wants you to see.” Billy walked off. 

Joey eyed us now, one by one. “Now for the million-dollar question. What the hell are you three doing here?” 

“Visiting you,” I teased. 

“I don’t think I like you being here.” His eyes were on me then shot to Angie. “Or you …” 

“They’ll be fine,” Farran assured him. 

“Do you trust me?” I asked. 

“I do trust you.” He looked at Farran and flashed an enormous grin that encompassed everything from guileless youth to mischievous lad. “Hey, Farran, don’t be corrupting my innocent cousin or my sister.” 

“If you are worried about anyone corrupting them, worry about your Lynx buddies,” Billy quipped, passing by again. 

“Me?” Farran looked surprised. 

“You got ideas,” Joey said.“Just remember—whatever you three do, I’ll be watching. As for you, McGrath, shut the fuck up.” 

“Don’t press your luck, DeCorso,” Billy snapped. “I can get you all barred, and you know it. Stop fucking with me.” 

Joey laughed. 

We didn’t stay long after that, but during the long ride home, Farran wouldn’t shut up about Valentin. “So Katharine Jaeger is his wife? I can’t believe it.” 

We’d met Katharine back in the early eighties. She was a blonde beauty who seemed to fascinate every male in sight. 

“Yeah,” Angie said, “and just when you want to ask, does he have a brother? The brother is with Shannon. That pretty much sucks, but she’s happy and deserves to be. I’m happy about that.” 

“And Shannon’s not even a pretty girl,” Farran replied. “I mean, her face isn’t that pretty. Her front teeth stick out a little. Oh, I can see how she’s attractive. I mean she has those big tatas, and that’s partly because she’s a tad overweight. Then, she just has this personality that’s larger than life—” 

“She is pretty.” I said, “She looks great. But you should be careful throwing yourself at Valentin. He’s still married, and besides that, he could be dangerous.” 

“Dangerous!” Farran laughed. 

“Well, you don’t know him.” 

“Darling, nobody knows anybody until they do,” she said. “Life is about taking chances. You win some, you lose some, but if you don’t play, you get zip, nada, and may as well be dead.” 

I kind of felt like I was. 

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.

DEADLY VEILS BOOK ONE: SHATTERING TRUTHS – 3

Chapter Three 

Our house was an antique colonial nestled in the hills—all muted gray and charcoal, even the brickwork. It was a marvel of rusticated stonework. We had a spacious garden, a well on our expansive lawn, and a private wooded lot. The steep staircase had the look of stone and slate, and only those of us under the age of twenty-one managed to hear the bell by the arched gray door. My grandmother would embroider pillows for the seat of the wrought iron bench on the porch, where she liked to sit. She would cut flowers from the perennial gardens and arrange them in vases on the windowsill. 

Tsk,” I heard now. “Get away from the window.” 

I turned as my mother approached. There was no need to ask whether her concern was about me putting smudges on the glass or what the neighbors might think. I’m sure it was both, although I couldn’t imagine what she thought the neighbors would think: A girl is looking out the window—oh, no! Something is not right in that house. Surely, her mother is to blame

Friends told us she had an exotic accent—northeast Brazilian; I’d suppose—but we didn’t hear it any more than we heard our father’s Italian accent. 

I relinquished my hold on the drapery and turned from the window. “You look nice.” 

She did, indeed. No one would believe the woman was forty. Nor, in my estimation, could anyone sufficiently praise her beauty. Her dark chocolate hair reached her shoulders. Long mascara-laden lashes enhanced her dark eyes. I noted the familiar beauty mark next to her round, pouty lips, the red lipstick, and the hint of blush on her fair skin. The dainty summer dress she was wearing for another day of work at my Aunt Zuza’s dress shop complemented her well-proportioned figure. Pearls glistened around her neck, and tiny diamonds sparkled from the bracelet on her wrist. She had elevated her five-foot frame with high heel sandals. 

It was hard to fathom that this delicate creature was the same woman who became enraged during her Saturday cleaning, as I had witnessed throughout my childhood. She would go on and on about “these people.” 

“All these people do is make a mess. These people don’t give a damn about nobody.” 

Like she was referring to people we didn’t know, or who weren’t there, and she hated these people. 

The anger seemed to consume her. She would say she wished she’d never had kids, and that we had ruined her life. 

I thought I should help at the time, but the energy flowing around us had an incapacitating effect. We sat on the couch, watching cartoons and movies, while she cleaned around us like a robotic toy gone mad. 

Back then, she frightened me. Not that she harmed anyone physically. Aside from tossing her tiny slippers at us from a distance, she merely scolded or resigned us to sitting in separate corners of the dining room. 

She grilled me now. “What are you going to do? It’s a beautiful day. You should go out, take a walk somewhere.” What a paradox she was—loving one minute, and then preoccupied and oblivious the next. I didn’t feel as connected to her as I once had. 

“Maybe later,” I said. “I’m just going to write.” 

She smiled, and, of course, to me, there was nothing in the world prettier than or as gracious as my mother’s dimpled smile. It soothed me now, and then she was gone. 

I went upstairs to my room. My father had recently furnished it with an old wooden desk and a six-foot-tall bookcase to accommodate my collection of books. When I was eight, he bought me a journal to write in. Five years later, he’d allowed me to take a home correspondence course for writing. We bought a series of books, which I read cover to cover. Now he seemed to think I was wasting my time. 

It made little difference that I’d completed a novel, or that I had gone ahead and contacted a literary agent. Given a rare opportunity, I traveled to Westport, hours on the bus with my five-hundred-page manuscript bound in a three-ring binder, holding it close to my heart, as if it were everything in the world I owned and as precious as a child from my womb. I was excited, full of confidence. The agent I had spoken with on the phone seemed eager to introduce me to her colleagues, all of whom were in awe. They must have thought it was cute, me traveling all that way, novel in hand—a novel about everything I had witnessed in my sixteen years of existence. They saw my passion and hope and wanted only to do right by me. I thought we needed people like that in the world, and happily left that copy of my book with them. 

While awaiting their response, I dusted and polished my office furniture daily with a pitiful Cinderella kind of hope. The bookcase, like the desk, was solid wood with a mahogany finish, and displayed volumes of classic literature, poetry, and philosophy books, as well as books on writing. More recently, I’d begun collecting books on astrology, occult history, and witchcraft, in part due to my thirst for knowledge and my boundless curiosity. Perhaps I needed to believe, as many do, that there were other miraculous realms beyond our comprehension providing infinite hope, and that anything was possible. I needed to believe that now more than ever. 

Anyway, I was alone—something I’d come to dislike intensely, despite my tendency to isolate myself. Working at my desk, every noise distracted me, compelling me to rise and investigate. I don’t know if I expected the two men who’d been circling my house or some unknown intruder, but I was afraid. That fear had to coexist unnaturally with my passion and drive, which it did, right up until I heard the vigorous thunder of a motorcycle. Certain it was Joey, I went downstairs and ventured out the door. 

He was in the driveway, perched on his black Harley, wearing no helmet. The sun was blinding after a day of symbolically dark isolation, and I struggled to transition from my fictional world to reality. 

I knew why Joey had foregone the helmet. He used plenty of mousse and pomade on that cropped blondish hair of his, perfecting the textured, tousled style. 

“Daddy didn’t want you to get that bike because you have no protection, if you get hit,” I said. “If he sees you riding without a helmet, you’re going to get another lecture. He doesn’t know why you had to sell the Camaro.” 

Joey’s prominent green eyes glared. “Do I ask him why he insists on driving a Buick Regal that seats more people than he’ll ever like in his lifetime?” He pursed the lips Farran gushed about—the lush “Mick Jagger lips,” as she would say, proclaiming they could tempt her to the fires of hell. She would lavish praise upon him. Joey was so cute. Joey was adorable. Joey was a hunk. I got it. His devotion to hitting the gym on a regular basis had rewarded his five-foot-ten-inch frame with a ripped body. He looked like a rebel these days—tight denim jeans, a cutoff jean jacket with an American flag emblem on the back, a new tattoo covering his left bicep, and a tiny hoop earring in his pierced left ear. 

I laughed at his remark about my dad. “Nobody’s here yet,” I told him, “but since Robbie’s leaving for Florida Sunday morning, Mommy’s going to make his favorite tonight.” 

“Yeah, spaghetti,” he said. “She told me when she invited me.” 

My mom drove up now in her taupe-colored Toyota Corolla, flashing a sweet smile before hugging Joey and then me. We went inside. She was quick to change and get down to the business of dinner, while Joey and I sat at the square kitchen table she had draped in a dainty floral tablecloth. The sun continued to brighten the room through ruffled Priscilla curtains. 

My father arrived next, earlier than usual, in what seemed a good mood. Considering how handsome he was, he could have been a movie star. He stood five-foot-ten with a solid build and a wavy batch of chestnut brown hair. He wore it slightly longer than average, while sporting a painter’s brush moustache and goatee. His thick eyebrows curved inward toward the bridge of his nose, framing his compelling green eyes. 

Joey grabbed an apple and a knife to cut it. We moved to the dining room table, where my father eventually sat to read his newspaper. 

Despite the elegant beauty of the baroque furnishings and a crystal chandelier, the dining room had always come across as spiritless to me. Nothing was to be imperfect or out of place. Under the relentless overhead lighting, things had a tendency to become tense without warning. 

“Why are you eating that now?” my father asked Joey. “We’re gonna eat.” 

“It’s an apple,” Joey said, “not a three-course meal.” 

“Be careful with that knife.” 

“I’m just cutting the apple.” 

“You could have used the apple slicer in the kitchen and brought it here in a dish.” 

Joey ignored him. We kept talking. 

My father looked up from his paper again. “Joe, you’re gonna cut the tablecloth.” 

“I’m not cutting the tablecloth!” he bellowed. “I’m cutting the apple.” 

We resumed our conversation. Another moment or two passed before my father jumped up. “Joey, goddamn it! You’re gonna cut the tablecloth, and I’m gonna kill you!” He was livid, screaming at the top of his lungs. I noted the clenched fists and saw his cheeks flush with the increased flow of blood. His eyes were terrifying! Perhaps it was attributable to the bulging blue veins, but from my perspective, they seemed to have turned purple, transforming him into a creature I barely recognized. 

He lunged at Joey, who remained calm and seated. I sprang up and got behind my father, ready to jump on his back to restrain him, as if I could. In that instant, I believed he might kill Joey if I didn’t intercede. 

He turned around so fast that he startled me. “What do you want?” he yelled. 

Joey laughed. “I told you I wasn’t cutting the tablecloth. I’m not an idiot.” 

They argued, and I ran to the bathroom. In a state of panic, I locked myself in. I believed my heart would continue to pound at this furious pace until it exploded and killed me. 

Moments later, Joey came knocking on the door. “Dan?” 

I came out, and he hugged me. 

“Don’t be scared.” 

“When he gets like that, I think he fits the profile of one of those guys who snaps one day and kills his whole family,” I said. 

“Nah, he’s just barking. What did you think you were gonna do, anyway, sneaking up on ‘im?” He laughed. 

“I don’t know. I just wanted to keep him from hurting you.” 

“He ain’t gonna hurt me. I could take ‘im.” 

“But if he went and got his guns …” 

“Oh, come on, don’t worry. He’s not gonna kill anybody.” 

It seemed odd to have these feelings about my dad. For the most part, he was the kind father who would pay us fifty cents to eat a dinner we didn’t like. When Robbie and Joey said they could eat an entire box of chocolate-coated ice-cream bars, he dared them to do it for five dollars. A couple of times, he brought all three of us to work with him. There, I had seen how the name Luca DeCorso had garnered respect. He was gone by 7:30 a.m. six days a week and returned twelve hours later. He never called in sick and rarely took a vacation. 

He had come to the U.S., learned English, and taken a minimum wage job. Shortly afterward, he went to aviation maintenance training school, earned his licenses, and became a successful avionics/electrical technician with a high level of expertise. Now he held a senior-level position at Gulfstream in Westfield, Massachusetts. I couldn’t make heads or tails of the blueprints and schematic diagrams in his briefcase, but seeing them made me proud. In my eyes, he was a responsible and reliable role model who never left home without his trusty Omega watch or the three-stone band of gold with faceted diamonds around his ring finger. 

How was it then that I could see a monster in him as easily as I could see his dignity, his integrity, and his charm? I had learned over the years that he held everything in for as long as he could. When he reached his limit, unrelated incidents could unleash that pent-up anger to an unprecedented degree. My mother once complained, at the wrong moment, about my grandmother putting one of her pots back in the wrong place so she couldn’t find it. My father got so mad he broke the handles off every one of her pots. He was in a blind rage. My mother had gone to her room and shut the door. When she returned, I could see she’d been crying. It wasn’t long before he apologized and bought her a new set of pots. 

I returned to the dining room with Joey. 

My father was still reading the newspaper, and Robbie was there after working his last day as a cashier at the local market. 

Robbie was handsome, too, of course—a slim five-foot-eleven with sparkling hazel eyes. He wore his wavy, dark brown hair in a traditional medium-length cut, and his defined cheekbones were identical to mine. I had often seen that smile of his light a room with its brilliance, although that was a rare sight while he was under this roof. 

He took a seat and made small talk before introducing the topic of college. I announced that I wanted to go to NYU or to Amherst in Massachusetts. 

“Forget about New York,” my father said. “When I was young, you could walk around there any time of day or night, but not now. You can’t even go to Central Park anymore. And Amherst is too far.” 

“I would live in a dorm,” I told him. “Those are great schools for an English major, and I would love to be in New York. It’s where I belong. You can’t believe everything you read in the paper, Dad.” 

“You don’t have to live in no dorm,” he said.“I told you—apply for a scholarship to Yale. It’s right here, and it’s a better school.” 

Robbie looked both stunned and annoyed. “She won’t get into Yale! And if she’s not allowed to live in a dorm, she’ll still have to drive an hour back and forth every day!” 

My father chugged down some wine. After setting the glass down, he took a different approach. “You know, everybody’s talking about college, but the best thing to do is join the military. I’ll tell you, it was wonderful.” 

“Oh yeah, wonderful,” Robbie quipped. 

“I’m not talking about what goes on in combat,” my father said. “What I’m saying is, it’s a good experience for anyone. They teach you to grow up. All of you should go. It’s an honor and a privilege, if you want to know, and if your country needs you …” 

“I’m not good at killing things,” I said. “If they made me go, I wouldn’t shoot anyone.” 

“And you’ll be killed.” 

Joey laughed but kept mum. 

“I don’t care.” 

“You’ll care.” He nodded. “You would not only shoot to protect yourself, but to protect your comrades.” He went back to reading his paper, but he had piqued my curiosity. 

“You were in Vietnam, Daddy, right?” 

He didn’t look up. “Mm-hmm … frontline infantry battalion.” 

“I remember the day we found your old army uniform in the drawers of the china cabinet,” I said. “Did you have to go?” 

He held his place in the newspaper with an index finger, but his eyes didn’t shift from the page. “I didn’t have to, no. I enlisted.” 

“Why?” I asked. “Weren’t you scared?” 

His eyes began to deviate from the page, but he kept the finger there, marking his place. “Danielle, when you’re that young, you’re not scared of much.” 

“But why did you go if you didn’t have to?” 

“Hah! Why?” He released the paper and looked up without meeting my gaze. “I came here to become a citizen. I wanted to learn the language. I wanted to work. It was an honor to serve.” 

My mother entered, drying her hands with a dishtowel. “He was a sergeant,” she stated with obvious pride. “Sergeant, First Class.” 

“They move you up quickly when you’re on the frontline,” he interjected.“Anyway, that was almost twenty years ago.” 

“He came home with a Purple Heart,” she said. “It’s something to be proud of, but he never wants to talk about it.” 

He dismissed it with a wave of his hand. “I told you I got it, didn’t I? You get it in the line of duty. I’m not the only one who ever got it.” 

She shook her head. “You did something to deserve that honor.” 

“And that’s why I got an honorable discharge. Grace, you don’t go over there to get praise or a pat on the back. You go to serve your country and do your duty. Anyway, I’m sure your pasta’s been boiling for ten minutes over there. We gonna take the spaghetti out or what?” 

He got up to drain the pasta for her. My grandmother shuffled out of her room. I removed the faux fruit from the long rectangular table and wiped the plastic shielding of the tablecloth. My dad poured the wine. Ordinarily, he’d wash everything down with beer in his favorite mug while he watched the news on the dining room television set, silencing us whenever we spoke. Now, he resumed the discussion about college. 

“If you want to know the truth, all they teach you about in college is sex.” He was drinking his wine. “I got college people working for me that are dumber than a box of rocks. I don’t know what they teach them, but they can’t figure out the simplest things.” 

Robbie clenched his teeth and got up from the table. 

“Where you go?” my grandmother asked in her broken English. “Stay. Eat.” 

“I’m done eating,” he said. 

“Have more,” my mother urged. “You like this.” 

“I had two bowls.” 

“Your mother’s got cake,” my father said. 

“Yeah, shut up and have cake!” Joey bellowed. 

The two of them left not long after dessert. 

I helped my mother and grandmother clean up until Farran called. We talked a while, but I didn’t want to go anywhere or do anything. By the time I returned to the kitchen, my father and grandmother had retreated to the family room. 

“Where did you go before dinner?” my mother asked. “When your father was upset?” 

I told her I hid in the bathroom. 

“Ah …” She looked sympathetic. “That Joey likes to push and push. You don’t do that with your father.” 

“Do you ever feel afraid of him?” 

“No. I know how to handle him,” she said. “I know when to keep my mouth shut and when to walk away.” 

I was glad, because, despite all my fear, he had easily become my hero. I loved him desperately and had worried about him throughout my childhood—mostly that he wouldn’t come home. Out of the blue, I would fear someone might hurt or kill him, and I prayed to keep him safe. The obsession went on for years, though he was a strong man who could take care of himself. He always turned up smiling, and whenever he arrived, all was well with the world. 

The seeds of loyalty to my family, planted long ago, had created a blind and unlimited devotion. I became increasingly willing to go to great lengths to protect them from harm. Thus, telling any one of them what had happened to Angie and me wasn’t an option. Aside from the shame, I could never have added to their burdens or caused further disappointment. 

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.

THE TRUTH CAN BE DEVASTATING, FRIGHTENING, AND DEADLY!

Some truths can be deadly.

Danielle isn’t mopey or filled with teenage angst. Danielle and her cousin were abducted, drugged, and raped. But her cousin doesn’t remember, and her best friend won’t believe her. Now, her predators have returned, stalking her, harassing her at every turn. Nightmares plague her sleep, pushing her to the brink of exhaustion. Isolated, terrified, and grief-stricken, Danielle is paralyzed, unable to face the unmerciful world around her. Can she awaken her spirit and blossom into a woman of defiance and courage before the darkness eclipses her sanity?

Shattering Truths, the first volume in the Deadly Veils series, is a haunting and heartbreaking coming of age story. In the tradition of Judy Blume, and following in the footsteps of Thirteen Reasons Why, author Kyrian Lyndon doesn’t shy away from exploring the darker side of life that every teenage girl fears. Filled with suspense, a heart wrenching emotional journey, and twists that will leave you breathless, Shattering Truths will take hold of you on page one and never let go.

YOU CAN DOWNLOAD THIS KINDLE BOOK FOR FREE ON AMAZON.COM BETWEEN MARCH 15 AND MARCH 19!! SEE LINK BELOW. READ SAMPLE CHAPTER, REVIEWS, AND MORE!!!

Chapter One:

Glastonbury, Connecticut, 1987

There was no blood. I was dead inside, but not bleeding. Zipping my shorts in a daze, I focused on the brown and gold hues of the wall tiles. I washed my hands over the sink, avoiding my reflection. The hexagon-shaped mirror was antique and gilded. I now felt debased in its presence as well as in these familiar surroundings. After turning off the faucet, I stood there for a moment, and then hastened to my room.

The brass bed, dressed in white eyelet sheets and frilly pink bedding, was an update of my choosing. The nativity scene plaque on the wall above it had been there throughout my childhood—Mother Mary in a protective stance over Baby Jesus. I suppose the intention was to comfort and protect me. Still, I lined the bed with stuffed teddy bears and kept a sixteen-inch porcelain doll with golden hair and dark blue eyes on my white dresser. She wore a pink Victorian dress with lace trim and glimmering beads and a hat to match. I picked her up now and held her tightly to my chest. A tear fell as I snuggled her to me for as long as I could. After setting her down, I approached the window.

I could see far from these foothills. A woodlot of mixed forest surrounded our home. In one direction, I saw the Hartford skyline—in another, steep, rolling hills in their divine and blissful glory. My room faced the direction of Old Buckingham, not half a mile away. The ancient cemetery was set back from the road, just beyond a fortress of trees. We heard stories of weeping spirits, distant cries of agony, and diaphanous circles of white light floating above and between the tombstones. I never knew whether people convinced themselves of these things or merely embellished the truth. One thing I knew did happen: Fierce hurricane winds had nearly destroyed the little church on its grounds.

Much as I loved this house, it was an eerie place to grow up. That had little to do with ghost stories. I would lie awake in my bed at night, listening to the sounds of darkness—imagining that the hoarse caw of the crows warned of impending doom. I got this sense of urgency from yapping dogs, yelping coyotes, and the ear-piercing whistles of the woodchucks. Some nights, even the benign chirping of crickets grew louder and more intense with each moment.

I prayed, always.

Watching from the window now, I felt like some reclusive old person who got all the neighbors whispering. I watched for a dusty black Cutlass Supreme, needing to make certain it was nowhere in sight.

The phone rang, and I panicked. My father had mounted it to the wall between my room and the master bedroom, so I had to leave the room to answer it.

“Hello, Danielle,” the voice cooed.

Sickened to my core, I hung up.

It rang again, the innocuous ivory phone that seemed suddenly possessed. I wanted to rip it off the wall.

I lifted the receiver.

“Don’t hang up.” It was the other guy.

“Stop calling here!” I ended the call with a slam.

They had the gall to utter my name! They sounded so casual, so elated—as if the atrocity I had endured earlier that day had been mutually rewarding. Granted, it could have been worse, and yet a part of me had died. More unsettling still, they knew where to find me.

Available now on:

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REVIEWS

“I find it difficult to express the depth to which she pierces emotional barriers in order to share the struggles the characters in the book were required to face. I was literally brought to tears on a couple of occasions. Her profound understanding of human emotion and spirituality are evident in her poetry as well. Basically, a brilliantly written novel by a brilliant writer. I can’t wait to read more from her.” – Reservoirguy

“Deeply nostalgic and full of the dark, seething pressures of youth, combined with the colorful background of the late 1980s, Kyrian Lyndon’s first book in her Dead Veils series will transport you to another place where secrets can kill…or set a lost soul free. An amazing literary journey!” –K. H. Koehler

“A gripping and emotional story about trauma and abuse…” – Elizabeth Greschner

“A dark, alluring and fascinating book about a girl trying to crawl out of the darkness and despair and grow in strength and spirit.” –Books Are Love

“While this is a young adult, I know both teens and adults will enjoy this book. Fans of 13 Reasons Why will devour this book!” –N.N. Light

“An emotional roller coaster…” –Love Books

“A startlingly intense look into the lives of the young teens in present-day America!” –Deepak Menon

“It was truly a novel I will always cherish and always remember.” –Chelsea Girard

*Shattering Truths was originally published in January of 2016 under the title Provenance of Bondage. The re-release has a lot of new material but is a bit shorter than the original.

Author’s Note: Deadly Veils Book Two is well underway! It tells the story of Valentin, a character that  intrigued many readers in the first book. Danielle will appear again, but readers will see her only through Valentin’s eyes.

I can tell you, too; this second installment will include plenty of romance and excitement.

Related links:

My review of Thirteen Reasons Why and thoughts about the issue.

Listen to the Shattering Truths’ story playlist on YouTube.

Connect with Kyrian Lyndon:

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© Copyright January 30, 2017 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

Cover Design (feature photo) by KH Koehler Design

THE TRUTH CAN BE DEVASTATING, FRIGHTENING, AND DEADLY!

shattering_truths_front_for_amazon_bn_kobo

Young/New Adult-Dark Suspense-Literary Fiction

She was left fighting her demons alone . . .

For sixteen-year-old Danielle DeCorso, the old house in Glastonbury was an eerie place to grow up. Coping with mental health challenges exacerbated by a traumatic family dynamic, Danielle watches from the window for two men in a dusty black sedan who keep circling the house and harassing her with phone calls. The two predators drugged her and her cousin, Angie, and then lured them from Pleasure Beach in Bridgeport to a secluded cottage on Long Beach West. She remembers feeling dizzy, the room spinning. She recalls screaming, crying, fighting, and then slipping in and out of consciousness. Angie, however, has no recollection of the incident.

When Danielle attempts to jog Angie’s memory and convince their best friend, Farran, that the two strangers had victimized them, no one seems to believe her. Alone in her pain, Danielle remains guarded, obsessed, and withdrawn. Soon she is sinking deeper into a tumultuous world of adolescent isolation and change. Grief, guilt, and anger send her spiraling into an even darker place.

Tormented by terrifying nightmares, she fears she will lose her sanity, or possibly her soul. Is she having post-traumatic stress hallucinations, as one of her friends suggest, or are her recurring nightmares as real as they seem? Trapped in an unyielding emotional bondage, Danielle continues the fight to reclaim her power. Startling revelations awaken her newfound spirit, inspiring a once naïve girl to grow into a woman of defiance and courage.

“A dark, alluring and fascinating book about a girl trying to crawl out of the darkness and despair and grow in strength and spirit.” –Books Are Love

“A gripping and emotional story about trauma and abuse…” – Elizabeth Greschner

“…an emotional roller coaster…” –Love Books

“…a startingly intense look into the lives of the young teens in present day America!” –Deepak Menon

“This book will catch you right in from the start.” –Peggy

“…a powerful story right from the start.” –Joanne Dore

“I can’t wait for her next book because now I’m hooked!” –Lori Stanley

“I’m looking forward to reading more from this author.” –Denise Buttino Terrell

Available on:

Amazon
(If you buy the paperback on Amazon, you can get the $2.99 Kindle edition for $.99.)

Barnes & Noble
(for paperback & Nook versions)

iTunes
(for iBooks on your Mac or iOS device)

Free review copies are also available. If you’d like to review this book, please contact me for your complimentary copy.

Here is a preview of the first chapter:

CHAPTER ONE
Connecticut, Summer of 1987

There was no blood. I was dead inside, but not bleeding. Zipping my shorts in a daze, I focused on the brown and gold hues of the wall tiles. I washed my hands over the sink, avoiding my reflection. The hexagon-shaped mirror was antique and gilded. I now felt debased in its presence as well as in these familiar surroundings. After turning off the faucet, I stood there for a moment, and then hastened to my room.
The brass bed, dressed in white eyelet sheets and frilly pink bedding, was an update of my choosing. The nativity scene plaque on the wall above it had been there throughout my childhood—Mother Mary in a protective stance over Baby Jesus. I suppose the intention was to comfort and protect me. Still, I lined the bed with stuffed teddy bears and kept a sixteen-inch porcelain doll with golden hair and dark blue eyes on my white dresser. She wore a pink Victorian dress with lace trim and glimmering beads and a hat to match. I picked her up now and held her tightly to my chest. A tear fell as I snuggled her to me for as long as I could. After setting her down, I approached the window.
I could see far from these foothills. A woodlot of mixed forest surrounded our home. In one direction, I saw the Hartford skyline—in another, steep, rolling hills in their divine and blissful glory. My room faced the direction of Old Buckingham, not half a mile away. The ancient cemetery was set back from the road, just beyond a fortress of trees. We heard stories of weeping spirits, distant cries of agony, and diaphanous circles of white light floating above and between the tombstones. I never knew whether people convinced themselves of these things or merely embellished the truth. One thing I knew did happen: Fierce hurricane winds had nearly destroyed the little church on its grounds.
Much as I loved this house, it was an eerie place to grow up. That had little to do with ghost stories. I would lie awake in my bed at night, listening to the sounds of darkness—imagining that the hoarse caw of the crows warned of impending doom. I got this sense of urgency from yapping dogs, yelping coyotes, and the ear-piercing whistles of the woodchucks. Some nights, even the benign chirping of crickets grew louder and more intense with each moment.
I prayed, always.
Watching from the window now, I felt like some reclusive old person who got all the neighbors whispering. I watched for a dusty black Cutlass Supreme, needing to make certain it was nowhere in sight.
The phone rang, and I panicked. My father had mounted it to the wall between my room and the master bedroom, so I had to leave the room to answer it.
“Hello, Danielle,” the voice cooed.
Sickened to my core, I hung up.
It rang again, the innocuous ivory phone that seemed suddenly possessed. I wanted to rip it off the wall.
I lifted the receiver.
“Don’t hang up.” It was the other guy.
“Stop calling here!” I ended the call with a slam.
They had the gall to utter my name! They sounded so casual, so elated—as if the atrocity I had endured earlier that day had been mutually rewarding. Granted, it could have been worse, and yet a part of me had died. More unsettling still, they knew where to find me.

***

Shattering Truths, was originally published in January of 2016 under the title Provenance of Bondage. The re-release has a lot of new material but is a bit shorter than the original, since I decided to cut some of it as well. I’m very happy with the new version, and I think readers will be, too!

***

© Copyright January 30, 2017 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

Shattering Truths Cover by KH Koehler Design

SO EXCITED ABOUT REVEALING THIS SPECTACULAR NEW COVER!

This beautiful cover is by KH Koehler Design. I highly recommend both her editing and book design services. KH is uniquely talented, honest, knowledgeable, and reliable. Her rates are affordable. Her work is excellent. She is considerate, professional, supportive, and kind. I can’t say enough in singing her praises, and I could not have been more pleased.

This book, Shattering Truths, was originally published in January of 2016 under the title Provenance of Bondage. The re-release has a lot of new material but is a bit shorter than the original, since I decided to cut some of it as well. I’m very happy with the new version, and I think readers will be, too!

So why the title change you ask? The original title alluded to emotional or psychological bondage, but many, despite the book’s description, took it to suggest BDSM like Fifty Shades of Grey.

Here is the book’s updated description:

She was left fighting her demons alone . . .

For sixteen-year-old Danielle DeCorso, the old house in Glastonbury was an eerie place to grow up. Coping with mental health challenges exacerbated by a traumatic family dynamic, Danielle watches from the window for two men in a dusty black sedan who keep circling the house and harassing her with phone calls. The two predators drugged her and her cousin, Angie, and then lured them from Pleasure Beach in Bridgeport to a secluded cottage on Long Beach West. She remembers feeling dizzy, the room spinning. She recalls screaming, crying, fighting, and then slipping in and out of consciousness. Angie, however, has no recollection of the incident.

When Danielle attempts to jog Angie’s memory and convince their best friend, Farran, that the two strangers had victimized them, no one seems to believe her. Alone in her pain, Danielle remains guarded, obsessed, and withdrawn. Soon she is sinking deeper into a tumultuous world of adolescent isolation and change. Grief, guilt, and anger send her spiraling into an even darker place.

Tormented by terrifying nightmares, she fears she will lose her sanity, or possibly her soul. Is she having post-traumatic stress hallucinations, as one of her friends suggest, or are her recurring nightmares as real as they seem? Trapped in an unyielding emotional bondage, Danielle continues the fight to reclaim her power. Startling revelations awaken her newfound spirit, inspiring a once naïve girl to grow into a woman of defiance and courage.

***

The new version should be available soon, and I’ll have free copies for people who’d like to read and review the book. Please let me know if you want a free copy for that purpose. I will also have the links available for anyone wishing to purchase the book.

Here are just a few lines from the previous edition’s reviews:

“A dark, alluring and fascinating book about a girl trying to crawl out of the darkness and despair and grow in strength and spirit.” –Books Are Love

“A gripping and emotional story about trauma and abuse…” – Elizabeth Greschner

“…an emotional roller coaster…” –Love Books

“…a startlingly intense look into the lives of the young teens in present day America!” –Deepak Menon

“This book will catch you right in from the start.” –Peggy

“…a powerful story right from the start.” –Joanne Dore

“I can’t wait for her next book because now I’m hooked!” –Lori Stanley

“I’m looking forward to reading more from this author.” –Denise Buttino Terrell

And if you care to read on, here is the first chapter:

CHAPTER ONE
Connecticut, Summer of 1987

There was no blood. I was dead inside, but not bleeding. Zipping my shorts in a daze, I focused on the brown and gold hues of the wall tiles. I washed my hands over the sink, avoiding my reflection. The hexagon-shaped mirror was antique and gilded. I now felt debased in its presence as well as in these familiar surroundings. After turning off the faucet, I stood there for a moment, and then hastened to my room.
The brass bed, dressed in white eyelet sheets and frilly pink bedding, was an update of my choosing. The nativity scene plaque on the wall above it had been there throughout my childhood—Mother Mary in a protective stance over Baby Jesus. I suppose the intention was to comfort and protect me. Still, I lined the bed with stuffed teddy bears and kept a sixteen-inch porcelain doll with golden hair and dark blue eyes on my white dresser. She wore a pink Victorian dress with lace trim and glimmering beads and a hat to match. I picked her up now and held her tightly to my chest. A tear fell as I snuggled her to me for as long as I could. After setting her down, I approached the window.
I could see far from these foothills. A woodlot of mixed forest surrounded our home. In one direction, I saw the Hartford skyline—in another, steep, rolling hills in their divine and blissful glory. My room faced the direction of Old Buckingham, not half a mile away. The ancient cemetery was set back from the road, just beyond a fortress of trees. We heard stories of weeping spirits, distant cries of agony, and diaphanous circles of white light floating above and between the tombstones. I never knew whether people convinced themselves of these things or merely embellished the truth. One thing I knew did happen: Fierce hurricane winds had nearly destroyed the little church on its grounds.
Much as I loved this house, it was an eerie place to grow up. That had little to do with ghost stories. I would lie awake in my bed at night, listening to the sounds of darkness—imagining that the hoarse caw of the crows warned of impending doom. I got this sense of urgency from yapping dogs, yelping coyotes, and the ear-piercing whistles of the woodchucks. Some nights, even the benign chirping of crickets grew louder and more intense with each moment.
I prayed, always.
Watching from the window now, I felt like some reclusive old person who got all the neighbors whispering. I watched for a dusty black Cutlass Supreme, needing to make certain it was nowhere in sight.
The phone rang, and I panicked. My father had mounted it to the wall between my room and the master bedroom, so I had to leave the room to answer it.
“Hello, Danielle,” the voice cooed.
Sickened to my core, I hung up.
It rang again, the innocuous ivory phone that seemed suddenly possessed. I wanted to rip it off the wall.
I lifted the receiver.
“Don’t hang up.” It was the other guy.
“Stop calling here!” I ended the call with a slam.
They had the gall to utter my name! They sounded so casual, so elated—as if the atrocity I had endured earlier that day had been mutually rewarding. Granted, it could have been worse, and yet a part of me had died. More unsettling still, they knew where to find me.

I hope you enjoyed this blog, and I thank you for reading!

© Copyright January 24, 2016 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

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