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DEADLY VEILS BOOK ONE: SHATTERING TRUTHS – 34

Chapter Thirty-four

here’d been no sign of trouble, no drama, since the fiasco at the Inn and getting home that night, so I’d begun to relax some. Home became my safe haven. After a week of this gratifying peace, however, Joey called with devastating news. Evidently, Gianni had found Tommy unconscious after a heroin overdose. He started CPR immediately but lost him within minutes. 

The news stunned me since, aside from the angel dust episode, I’d never seen Tommy high on drugs. If there had been any sign of him using, I’d missed it. It seemed unfair. It always seems unfair. He was twenty-one, for God’s sake, and had lost so much. 

“Yeah, he had problems with it in the past,” Joey told me. “I didn’t know until he started again recently. I can’t believe it, man.” 

After hanging up the phone, I sat on my bed with my face in my hands, wishing someone would say this was all one never-ending nightmare. 

At the wake, I approached Gianni before anyone else. His eyes were downcast. When he looked up, he seemed to look through me, as if he didn’t recognize me. 

I touched his arm lightly. “Gianni, I’m so sorry for your loss.” 

There was no trace of the smitten Gianni as I pulled him into a hug. He looked battle-weary and bewildered. 

“Good of you to come, pretty lady,” he said. “I appreciate it.” 

“Of course I would come.” 

“He died in my arms, you know.” 

“I’m so sorry.” 

“Yeah, me, too. Thanks, doll.” 

I expressed my condolences to the family members, which included the Lynx gang, and then I knelt before Tommy to say my silent prayer for his soul. Even in the suit they’d dressed him in, he looked too young. I pictured his eyes in all their sincerity, the golden eyes—my fierce little tiger. My heart bled for him, and I could never express to him how sorry I was for his pain. 

As I turned away from the casket, I nearly walked into Liz, donning her smart suit and mid-heel pumps. 

“I forget now,” she said. “Which one are you?” 

I had no doubt she knew exactly who I was. “It’s Danielle. I know you and Tommy were very close. I’m sorry for your loss.” As emotional as I was feeling, I almost wanted to apologize to her for Gianni’s behavior as well. 

“Thank you,” she said smugly. “He was a good-hearted person.” 

“Yes, he was.” 

She looked down now, as if studying my shoes. “Gianni and I broke up months ago—on New Year’s Eve.”She looked up at me again. “I found someone who thinks the world of me, Danielle, and I’d never settle for less. There are no hard feelings with Gianni. He wanted that for me—for me to be happy.” 

I smiled. “That’s great. You deserve that.” 

“Thanks,” she said. “Listen, their aunt just arrived. I need to go over and say hello. You take care now.” 

An arm slipped around me then, someone who had come up from behind—Valentin. 

“I didn’t mean to startle you,” he said when I turned. 

“Oh, no, you didn’t. Are you okay? I know poor Gianni found him …” 

“Yes, I was there. I called 911 while he started CPR.” 

“I’m so sorry.” Aware of the fluttery feeling inside of me , I nervously scraped a hand through my hair. “Can I ask you something?” 

“Of course,” he replied. 

“It was an accident, right?” 

“Yes, it was.” 

Was it better that Tommy didn’t intend to die? Maybe, maybe not, but at least I knew that much, whereas, with Angie, I continued to wonder. 

“Billy was here,” Valentin said. “That made the reality hit.” 

I sympathized. “That must have been hard.” 

“Not harder than anything else. I’d like to make amends to him—not now but eventually.” 

“But you were leaving the bar, after you defended Katharine, and he …” 

“I lost control, Danielle. I’m not proud of it. Anyway, I have to make the rounds here.” 

It was odd how every conversation I had that day seemed to resolve something for me, even the one I had with Joey as he walked me to my car. 

“Everything seems to be falling apart,” I said. “What happens with the Lynx gang now?” 

Joey shrugged. “I don’t know. I doubt there will be a Lynx gang after this. Valentin’s busy. Gianni’s becoming a cop, and now that Nico and I aren’t friends—doesn’t look very promising. But no one else is mad at me besides Nico.” 

“You were pretty mad at him, too,” I recalled. “It sounded like he was accusing you of something.” 

“Something that never happened.” 

“Does he think it did?” 

“Nah, he’s just being a dickhead. I was always close with Shannon. It never bothered him before.” 

“Not until he found out she was keeping that secret about Valentin’s kid. Nico was defending Valentin.” 

“And himself. He doesn’t trust easy. I think it scared him that he was falling for Shannon, caring more than he wanted to. Then give him a reason to think he’s gonna end up getting played, and he wants out.” 

“Okay, so how is that different from what you did to Farran? You didn’t trust Farran, but you used her and then humiliated her. At least Nico trusted Shannon for the time he stayed with her.” 

“Farran teases.” he said. “Did you know she cornered Valentin not long ago and begged him to take advantage of her? Yeah, I’m not supposed to know about that, but Nico told me. She acts like she’s not afraid, but she can’t make up her mind from one minute to the next. I don’t blame her for that, but, by the end of it, she was acting like a child, and I was all out of restraint. I didn’t want to push her, so I kicked her out. I wish I could say I waited for her to powder her nose and escorted her back to her friends, because, really, I wish I could have done that. I wish I was a more patient person, but I’m not. She wasn’t far from the Cove. I knew she’d be all right, but I’m your brother, and you thought the worst of me in this situation. You felt the need to come to her rescue against me. How ‘bout you take your friend and find someplace else to hang out where you’re not in over your little heads?” 

“You don’t have to worry about that,” I shot back.“I don’t have any more friends, and I won’t be hanging out wherever you do.” 

“You’re not friends with Farran?” 

“Are you kidding?” 

“Good,” he said.“Because I can’t stand her.” 

Frustrated, I sighed heavily. “I still think treating her like that just because she changed her mind is wrong, and I hope you realize that.” 

“I walked away!” he shouted. “Maybe I didn’t do it like a gentleman would, but I walked away!” 

“Okay, but if you knew she wasn’t my friend, and she was trashing me, why were you fooling around with her in the first place?” 

“I didn’t know she was trashing you.” His voice was still loud and intimidating.“I just knew I didn’t trust her as far as you were concerned. Tommy felt the same way, and the first time she trashed you to him, he ended things with her! Look, I’m sorry any of it happened. If I could change it, I would.” 

“I believe you,” I said, fighting back tears. My instinct was to hug him, and he hugged back tight, as he always did. 

***

When I arrived at the funeral, Joey was with Gianni, Valentin, and Nico. The four of them, along with two other pallbearers, carried Tommy’s flag-draped casket into the church. It began the swell of emotion in me. Gianni was in his marine uniform. 

Farran already had a seat in the pews when I entered. 

At different points, they played “Morning Has Broken” by Cat Stevens, then “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon and Garfunkel. The songbird and lyricist in me wept from my soul. 

Gianni delivered the eulogy. Liz did a reading, and, lastly, during an operatic rendition of Schubert’s “Ave Maria,” the pallbearers carried the casket out of the church. 

Farran and I spoke briefly outside. We hugged, crying. She had to go to work, but I followed the limos and motorcycles to the burial site. 

A procession of bikers arrived ahead of the flag-draped casket. It was a clear day, like most days that March. I heard the ever-present crows, and watched the honor guards’ salute before they carried Tommy’s casket to his grave. An honor guard lifted the flag and held it over the casket. There was another salute before, “Attention. Ready. Aim.” I heard three shots and then “Taps,” followed by a salute from the bugler. The honor guard folded the flag, carrying out every detail of the ceremony with amazing precision and dedication. One of them held the folded flag over his heart, and then all of them touched it before another gave the salute. An officer knelt before Gianni and a woman I knew to be both Tommy and Gianni’s grandmother. He said something about presenting the flag on behalf of the Department of the Air Force and a grateful nation for Tommy’s faithful and dedicated service. 

I’d always had an impassioned awe for pomp and circumstance, but this ceremony stirred me profoundly. I was a soldier’s daughter with such a deep, complicated love for my father. I had also become the unlikely friend of another soldier who’d endeared himself to me at a critical time in my life.  

Wiping my tears now, I could feel Valentin’s eyes on me. At the end, he came and hugged me, and I squeezed him tighter than I’d ever had. 

“At some point, I need to talk to you,” I said. 

The timing seemed all wrong, but he had offered to lend an ear after Angie had died. I knew he was also in pain, and I wanted to do the same for him. Besides all of that, we had something to resolve. It might have been my last chance, since it was possible that I’d never see him again. 

He glanced around. “Gianni’s having a very small gathering for friends and relatives. I need to be there.” 

“Oh, of course,” I said, feeling foolish. 

He looked at me. “What are you doing later?” 

I wished I could silence my heart with its tumultuous pounding. 

We agreed to meet at 6:00 p.m. and settled on a spot in East Haven near the beach. Still paranoid about my stalkers, I told Joey what I had planned and asked if I could stay at his house that night. I knew he’d be home, watching a game, and that he lived ten minutes away from the designated meeting place. 

“Of course you can,” Joey said. “But if, for any reason, you decide you’re not coming, call me.” 

I smiled. “What reason would that be?” 

“Never mind,” he said. “I trust him to do the right thing, whatever that is.” 

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 – 33

Chapter Thirty-three

t was about the third week in March when Farran told me she’d come close to losing her virginity to Tommy. She said they ended up arguing over something unrelated, so it didn’t happen. 

When I pulled into the Cove parking lot that night, Tommy and Nico sped in on their bikes and pulled up alongside me. They invited us to the Meadowside Inn and led the way as I followed. 

The Inn was beautifully eerie, and the nearby beach looked inviting. It was dark and chilly, but we had seen the last of the winter snow. The streets had cleared, and spring was days away.  

Valentin was behind the bar when we walked in. Farran rushed to hug and squeeze the stuffing out of him, leaving him to smile affectionately like a pet had ambushed him or a child. 

After kissing me hello, he held my hands together in his. “How are you doing?” he asked. 

I told him I had taken on writing and editing our senior newspaper, as well as contributing poems for every edition. It was true. I needed the focus. 

He said that was great, along with whatever else I asked him. Daytona was great. The kids were great. He and Katharine had separated, and he was sharing a place in Greenwich with Nico and another guy. He also said he hadn’t picked up a drink since the night of the fight with Billy, though he was bartending one or two nights a week. 

“Is it wise for you to be pouring drinks?” I had to ask. “Aren’t you tempted?” 

The question seemed to amuse him. “Sometimes,” he said, “but it strengthens my resolve. It’s not something I would recommend to anyone I sponsor down the road, but it’s been therapeutic. I see the other side of it, and it’s a powerful reminder.” He asked what we wanted, and I ordered a soda. Farran tried for a Gin Rickey and got a soda as well. 

“God, I love him!” Farran gushed as we settled in a booth with our drinks. “I think he’s wearing Creed. It’s scrumptious on him. I’m making my move on him tonight, just going for it. I’m telling you, that man is a god.” Her eyes sparkled, and her grin was as wide as her face. “Hey, you know, I ran into someone from my church this morning, and she said the world was going to end today. Not kidding. She really believes that, and, whether it’s true or not, I ain’t wasting time.” She laughed. 

Tommy slipped into the seat next to me. “‘Sup?” he said. 

It was as if they all descended upon us. Gianni surfaced from the pool table in the back, ready to sit beside Farran, and she stood to let him slide in. 

Nico shoved at Gianni. “Move over.” 

Farran sat down next to Nico. 

“Yeah, have a seat,” I told them all. “The world’s going to end tonight. Farran’s church friend told her.” 

Nico said, “They’ve been saying that since the beginning of time.” Our eyes met, and he held my gaze, looking intrigued and maybe a bit curious. It could have been my imagination, but I think he was wondering if I had meant what I’d said to him. 

Gianni shouted over to Valentin at the bar. “V, sit down, man, the world is gonna end tonight.” When Valentin looked over, Gianni said, “Oh, if I know Valentin, he knew about this already.” 

Tommy laughed. “He got a psychic revelation.” 

“Better serve those drinks up a little faster,” Nico said. “And seek deliverance!” 

I think Farran was the only one who didn’t get the deliverance part, but she laughed with us. 

I saw Valentin laughing, too. He said, “I don’t know what the hell you guys are talking about, but, by all means, enjoy the end.” 

It made them laugh more. 

Tommy continued to joke. “How does this church lady know? Memo from God? It would have been in the paper.” 

“How is it going to end?” Nico asked. “We need the details.” 

“Maybe it’ll just blow up,” I said. 

Nico winked at me, dazzling me with a smile. “It’s good to see you’re okay.” 

I felt embarrassed and thanked him for what he’d done. 

“I did nothing,” he replied. 

Gianni looked at me. “Hey, if this world’s gonna blow, you can come home with me tonight. It won’t matter, and we won’t have another chance.” 

I couldn’t stop laughing. I did ask him where Liz was, and he shrugged. I felt Valentin’s eyes on me, but when I looked back, he shifted his gaze and walked down the bar to tend to a customer. 

That’s when things began to get crazy. 

Joey came in with Katharine and Shannon. Though the greetings all around seemed polite enough, I could see Nico wasn’t happy that Katharine and Shannon were there. I caught a glimpse of Valentin, and while he may not have been thrilled, he seemed to take it in stride. 

Joey spent the next half hour playing pool and drinking beer with Shannon while Katharine lingered at the bar. At some point, Joey came over with his beer. He pulled the material of Farran’s plunging neckline and poured the beer down her top. 

She jumped up and began screaming at him. “Joey!” 

It seemed Tommy was trying not to laugh. 

Gianni yelled, “Hey!” 

Nico shook his head, and Valentin came over with napkins. 

“Why’d he do that?” Farran asked, wiping herself with the napkins. 

Valentin brushed her cheek with his hand. She collapsed into his arms and clung to him. 

“Why did you do that?” Valentin asked Joey as he held Farran. 

Joey did not answer or even flash a smile. 

Valentin looked at Nico. “What’s with him?” 

“No clue,” Nico replied. 

Everyone was standing around now. Shannon and Gianni began chastising Joey. 

“Why can’t you leave her alone?” I asked my brother. 

“I don’t know why you’re mad at me!” he bellowed. “She’s a bitch to you.” 

“You’re calling my friend a bitch now?” 

“She’s not your friend,” he replied. 

“What’s that supposed to mean?” 

“I don’t trust her.” 

Tommy said, “He did that for you.” 

My eyes widened. “For me? Please don’t do things like that for me.” 

Farran backed away from Valentin, in tears now. “What have I done to Danielle? I said some things when I was mad, just as I’m sure everyone does when they’re upset.” 

“That’s not all you’ve done,” Tommy said. “Try being there when your friend needs you and not bad rap her every chance you get.” He looked at me. “She’s jealous of you.” 

“Jealous? Why would I be jealous?” Farran’s tone was bitter now. “I have no reason to be jealous of her. Jealousy isn’t the only reason women are put off by each other, but, of course, that’s what you guys would think. Come on, it’s not like she’s Cindy Crawford.” 

“Okay, this ends here,” Valentin said. “Joey, you need to leave—and Tommy, I love you, man, but if you can’t let this go, you’re going to have to leave, too.” 

“Oh, and by the way, Danielle’s been very sneaky,” Farran went on. “She’s great at playing Little Miss Innocent. Meanwhile, she turned out to be the backstabber.” She looked at me. “I know exactly who you’re after. Just don’t come off like this innocent little prude.” 

My head was spinning, my heart pounding. “What the hell is your problem?” I shouted. 

“Maybe I’ve just outgrown you, Danielle,” she said.“Or maybe this town just ain’t big enough for the both of us.” 

That prompted a mirthless laugh from me. “What’s next? Leave town before sundown or else? I’m not going anywhere, so maybe you should start packing.” I couldn’t believe she actually said that—that the town wasn’t big enough for both of us. 

The others laughed at the absurdity, but none of it was funny to me. 

“She should make you walk back to Hartford,” Joey said to Farran.“Or you could always hitch.” 

Nico spoke up. “I will say this, Joey: You need to have some respect. Whatever’s going on with these two girls, that’s between them. Besides, this is Valentin’s space not Billy’s—our place of refuge—since they barred him from the Cove. You know better than to come here with those two.” 

“Shannon has friends here,” Joey argued, “including me.” 

“We just came to say hello,” Shannon interjected in the gentlest tone. “I miss you, Nico. I think about you. Is that a crime?” 

I could see how Nico stiffened then, how the light disappeared from his eyes. “Really? It seems your boy toy here provided you with plenty of comfort. You chose to cozy up to my friend, so live with it. If there was ever any hope of reconciliation, it’s gone now.” 

“Bullshit!” Joey shouted. “You did not want to reconcile with her. You had no intention of doing that, and you know it.” 

“Joey, you’re not helping,” Katharine said with a smile, pushing him back gently with her hand. 

“And why do you know these things?” Nico asked. “Because you were a brother, and you betrayed me. You wanted her, now you got her.” 

“It ain’t like that,” Joey replied. 

Tommy said, “Is there a bad moon rising or full moon or something like that?” 

Shannon’s only concern seemed to be Nico. “If I had known you wanted to reconcile …” 

Nico clenched his teeth. “Lies. You still believed we could reconcile. You believe it now. Well, it ain’t gonna happen.” 

“It was never gonna happen,” Joey barked. 

Shannon went to grab Nico’s arm, but he recoiled from her like she disgusted him. 

Joey got a grip on him. Nico threw his arms up, freeing himself from Joey’s grip like it was child’s play. 

Valentin intervened now. “Okay, this party’s over. Put down the horns and balloons and get your goody bags at the door.” He looked at me. “Dani, if you are not comfortable driving Farran home, I’ll get someone to take her. Anyone else hell-bent on fighting needs to leave.” 

“I’ll take Farran home,” I said aloud. “Unless she’d rather walk.” 

Valentin laughed then shifted his gaze to her. “Would you rather walk?” 

“No,” she said. “Thanks, Dani.” 

“I’m leaving,” Joey announced. He pointed a finger at Nico. “I do love you like a brother, man, but Shannon’s a really good person. She never deserved the way you treated her.” 

“Maybe not,” Nico responded, “but many of her actions showed a blatant disregard for me.” 

“Oh, boohoo!” Katharine replied. “She swallowed her pride, apologized to you, begged you, I don’t know how many times, and she loves you more than you deserve, Nico! You watched her cry her eyes out and walked away with not an ounce of sympathy. That’s not how you treat the woman you claim to love.” 

He glared at Katharine, his eyes cold. “She loves me more than I deserve? She had no problem lying to me that she didn’t know Valentin was the father of that little girl until Valentin and I knew—months after my niece was born. If you hadn’t told my brother the truth, she never would have told me.” 

Katharine yelled, “My family threatened to take my daughter away from me if either of us told! I ended up telling Valentin anyway, because I love him. He understands that, so what’s it to you?” 

“What’s it to me?” Nico seemed furious. “My brother’s child. My niece. Up until December, your cousin here was still telling me she found out when I did. Once the truth was out, I asked her how long she knew. She looked right into my eyes and lied. Now she keeps calling my house, coming to my door. She charges at Valentin every time she sees him to ask where I am. I moved on. And she needs to do the same.” 

Shannon shook her head and then turned to me, her eyes glistening with tears. “Are you okay, hon?” 

I nodded, and she gave me a tight hug before leaving with Katharine and Joey. 

Tommy pulled me aside and handed me a slip of paper with the license plate number of Phil’s Cutlass. “Been getting the 411 on those two,” he said. “If you see them anywhere, give it to the cops. Otherwise, they’re holding you hostage, man.” 

I promised I would, then slipped the piece of paper into my bag and thanked him. 

“Doll, I care about you,” he said. “I didn’t mean to come down so hard on Farran, but that’s the reason. I care more than you know. You’re a special lady, and that’s all I’m gonna say.” He looked sincere and perhaps vulnerable. 

“Same here,” I replied. “You’ve become special to me, too.” I hugged him. 

Farran apologized to me on the way to the car. 

“I’m sorry, too,” I told her. “I wasn’t honest about Valentin. All is not fair in love and war after all, is it? None of this is fair. I had no control over how I felt. I felt guilty, and it would have turned out to be a mess no matter what I did or didn’t do.” 

She said nothing, and all was quiet as we got in the car and fastened our seatbelts. Then I questioned why she claimed to love Valentin yet wanted to stake her claim to every cute guy. 

“It’s easy for you,” she said. “You show up, and you could have any one of them. I just want a chance at something! As for Valentin, yes, I do love him. I’d give up anything and anyone for him in a heartbeat. Doesn’t matter, though. I hate to say it, and I can’t believe I’m going to, but I’ve seen the connection between you and him from the start.” 

I pulled out of the parking lot, shaking my head. 

“Well, he’s clearly more interested in you than me—or anybody, for that matter,” she said. 

“No, he isn’t,” I told her. “He needed a friend like I’ve needed a friend.” 

“Well, he has friends. You both have friends. Something tells me it ain’t over—for you, anyway. I don’t think I’d ever be welcomed back at the Inn, and, even if I were, I don’t know if I could face them.” 

“Let me ask you something, though. After all this, would you still want to sleep with Joey or Tommy?” 

“Well, before tonight, if I had another chance, yeah,” she said.“But I’m done with all of this, Dani, and I don’t blame anyone. Joey loves you. He’s protective of you. Tommy—that boy is just on overload, and when he cares about someone and thinks someone’s trying to harm them, he comes out guns blazing. I do worry about him. I think he’s had a hard time being strong about his dad, his brother, and everything. He’s been through a lot. To be perfectly honest, I think they’re all on overload. Nico could have ripped your brother to shreds back there, though I can’t say who would have won. They all have their demons, and Valentin may be the only one winning that battle right now, but they seem like they’re at a point in their lives where they’ve just about had it, young as they are. I feel like my life’s just beginning. Yours, too. I mean, you have a bright future to look forward to, with or without V.” After a brief silence, she added, “You know, there’s this place in East Hartford we could go to.” 

I knew two things in that moment: I was never going to be a patron at the Cove or the Inn again, and I wasn’t going to this place in East Hartford. It was enough drama already, enough jealousy and competition, enough fighting and craziness. Farran had it in her to be a good friend; I’d seen that. Deep down, she was a kind person who’d grown up needing to be strong and having to prove herself. We didn’t see eye to eye on everything, and maybe she’d never liked me as much as I’d liked her, but that wasn’t entirely her fault. I had yet to begin liking myself, and maybe I was on overload, too. There was an unrelenting anguish in the realization that I had lost her—if I’d ever had her at all. I wouldn’t call her anymore. I promised myself that. When she called, wanting to go somewhere, I’d make up excuses until she got tired of asking. 

As for my dear Valentin, my heart ached, but there wasn’t a damned thing I could do about it. 

The long ride home seemed absurd now. We had ventured out of our way all these months, and the result was pain and humiliation. The goodbye at Farran’s house was awkward, and once alone in the dark, I was a bundle of nerves. This night seemed darker than past nights along these roads. It was clear, with a sliver of a moon. When I passed Addison Park, a place of innocent love for me, I saw merely a place where crickets chirped and strangers loitered—no longer familiar or mine. After three miles on CT-94 E, along Hebron, I passed Angie’s house, and I knew I didn’t want to wallow in this misery. The lights were still on, a warm and comforting reminder of Zuza and my uncle Dom likely dozing off watching TV. It reminded me, too; I had been the lucky one. I’d learned some lessons and was free to move on, start over, and make my dreams come true. 

I turned onto the final isolated, tree-lined road, and there was the black Cutlass parked on the side of the street. I saw Sergio and Phil in the car and made the startling conclusion that my tendency to panic would be the death of me in any crisis. They are just guys, I told myself. Cowardly guys. You could even get out of the car and tell them to fuck off, and they won’t do shit. And what can they do to you if you don’t get out of the car? Nothing. You can drive to the end of the long road where your house is and make a run for the door, screaming, or stay in the car and honk the horn like a maniac. What could they do? I knew there was good reason to fear strangers in the dark, and there was a particular reason to fear these men, but my perception had become so distorted that I no longer trusted my instincts. Nor was I clear on what people might consider a normal reaction. I had this bizarre idea that they could turn out to be monsters after all—homicidal maniacs ready to kill my whole family. 

Fear paralyzed me. It was enough already. Tommy was right. I needed an end to this madness. 

I turned the car around and drove to the police station. They followed, passing me once, and then they switched lanes, ending up behind me again. I had a shaky grasp on the wheel. My heart pounded predictably. I couldn’t believe I had chosen this option when I was closer to home, but it felt right in that moment. 

Three cops were outside the station when I pulled over. Phil had turned down another street. I got out of the car and approached the police officers, bracing myself for the typical male reaction of seeing an attractive girl. I told them about the stalking, the calls, and that I feared for my safety. They looked me up and down a number of times and asked a lot of questions, including why I was out alone at night, where I’d been, how I knew these guys, and how they’d gotten my address and phone number. 

“Did they get out of the car any of the times you saw them?” one officer asked. “Did either of them roll the window down, say anything? What do you think they were planning to do?” 

I had to admit they did nothing, but I believed they were waiting for an opportunity to grab me. 

After giving them the license plate information, one of the cops made a crack that I’d probably just had a tiff with my boyfriend. Another told me, in a fatherly manner, to be careful and travel with at least one other girl when going out at night. 

They kindly offered to follow me back to my house and said they’d look around for the car. I thought about telling them the whole story, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized how crazy it all sounded. I felt crazy, like someone had been gaslighting me. 

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 – 32

Chapter Thirty-two

t was hard to contain my anger at times. Singing in my room was a great release. When I went shopping at the mall, I couldn’t look at all the people or deal with their energy. I felt caged and like I needed to bolt. 

Robbie and I talked about it on the phone. 

“Wear shades to the mall,” he said. “It helps.” 

He had spent half of spring break in Orlando. Joey had gone to see him, and they were together at Disney World. Joey was staying in Orlando with plans to meet up with the Lynx gang in Daytona for Bike Week. I was picking Robbie up at Bradley Airport to bring him home for a few days. On the way, we talked about his visit with Joey. He said it was great the first couple of days, but then they started getting on each other’s nerves. 

Later that day, while we were sitting on the bed in my room, I told him about the uncovered movie clip where he was seen attacking me in my playpen. 

He said, “What was I, two, when that happened?” 

“I know. The thing that surprised me was her saying it never happened.” 

He shook his head. “So they had no clue how to prepare one kid for another kid. They leave them unsupervised, and then smack the older baby for hitting the new baby. That’s the thing that gets me—all the secrecy and the lies. Like, for them, the natural thing to do is cover things up, lock things, deny things. Why?” 

“You’re going to think I’m crazy,” I said, “but you know what I think?” 

“What?” 

“They don’t do that because they’re hiding dead bodies or anything like that. They are ashamed of who they are, especially her, and they’re ashamed of getting things wrong, being seen as wrong or bad.” 

I brought up something I hadn’t thought about in years—my hospital stay when I was four years old. I had begun the conversation innocently, though some gut feeling may have prompted it. 

“I couldn’t have been there a week, but it seemed like forever,” I recalled. “They brought me a Furga doll, Little Adrianna, and I kept her with me every minute. Even when I was sleeping, I held her.” 

It all came back to me. The old hospital building with its dramatic baroque exterior looked like an entire kingdom to me, dwarfing the beautifully landscaped flowers and the trees in its midst. Through the lens of my childhood eyes, it was a symbol of power and magnificence. I had developed a love for that type of design, but an aversion to everything I’d found beyond those doors. 

“We gotta leave you here,” my father had said in the gentlest of tones. “The nurses and doctors will take care of you. We’ll come back for you.” 

“Where are you going?” I asked. 

“We’re going to buy candy.” He winked. 

“Why can’t I go with you?” 

“You have to stay here,” my mother said. “Wait for us.” 

I knew something was wrong. Her skin was pale. When I reached for her hand, it was trembling. She seemed reluctant to walk away. 

My father took her arm. 

“Please, Mommy, Daddy, no!” I screamed, tears clouding my vision. “Don’t leave me here. Please don’t leave me!” 

My mother turned, and I saw she also had tears. My father steered her onward. I cannot imagine the agony they’d endured, as they continued to disappear from my view. They turned back only one time to wave goodbye to me. 

I would not go willingly with the nurses. I wanted to wait for my parents right there in that spot. They tried taking hold of my arm, but I pulled it away. I became hysterical. They could not calm or console me. They lifted me from the floor and injected me with a needle. I had little time to react to the sting of this jolting ambush. The nurse who carried it out hurled me into a bed with bars around it. She sounded mean. I continued to cry hysterically, and, within seconds, I was asleep. 

I awoke to a sea of beds and lab coats as white as the walls. The uncompromising uniformity and blinding fluorescents would remain etched in my memory for a lifetime. The atmosphere was purely clinical—no color, no vibrancy, and with an abhorrent stench of metallic odors, bitter antiseptics, and foods with unpleasant aromas. It was noisy, too—loud voices, rolling carts, the clanging and clamor from the streets of Manhattan’s Lower East Side. 

I remember calling out for my parents. 

A nurse delivered my meal tray, lowering the guardrails. “Your Mommy and Daddy are not here,” she said. “I’m sure they’ll be visiting soon.” 

If there was anything other than a cup of tea on that tray, I didn’t see it. Rage blinded me. 

“It would be good for you to drink a little,” the nurse coaxed. I refused to look at her. 

“I don’t like tea,” I scoffed. Why wasn’t it good for me to drink orange juice the way I normally did? In my attempt to push the tray away, I knocked over the teacup. 

She scolded me while cleaning the spill. 

I raised my knees and rested my chin on them, at the same time clasping them tight to my chest. I held on to my defiance a moment longer, and then rocked vigorously back and forth in an effort to drown out her voice. Whatever I dreamt about in that place, I woke screaming. 

In the hospital playroom, another child’s plate of food ended up on the floor. I was responsible. They isolated and sedated me again. Later, a nurse offered to take me to the bathroom, but I refused. The bandaging over my left eye made it difficult to see, and I was afraid. I sat coloring in my chair, as best I could with one eye. 

“I see we ate all our vegetables today,” a cheerful, friendly voice announced. I hadn’t heard that voice before. When I looked up, a tall black man sat on the edge of my bed. I can’t remember anything we talked about, but I dropped my guard. 

“I have to go to the bathroom,” I said. 

“Come on.” He held out his hand. “I’ll walk down there with you and wait right outside.” 

I reached for his hand and held it as I stood. 

With the bandaged eye, it seemed as if we were taking a long walk through a darkened passageway. Of course, the walk was not long, and we were under the glare of the brightest fluorescents. Once in the bathroom, I hurried, afraid he might disappear if I took very long. Upon opening the door, I was relieved to find he was still there. He brought me back to my room. 

He might have been a nurse or a doctor; I don’t know, but he was especially kind to me throughout my stay, and he gave me hope in a traumatic time. Funny, he would never know that, and I would never know his name. 

“When Mommy and Daddy visited with Grandma, they said Zuza was taking care of you and Joey,” I told Robbie now. “I wanted to know when I was going home. Mommy said you and Joey were asking her the same thing every day—especially you.” 

“I prayed for you every night,” he said. 

“Yeah, Mommy told me that.” I smiled. 

“When they told me you were going into the hospital, they wouldn’t say why. They made it seem like a big, dark secret, and they seemed so ashamed. I was terrified you were never coming home. I thought something was seriously wrong with you, and I thought it was my fault.” 

“Your fault? How could it be your fault? I had a problem with my eyes. I needed surgery.” 

“You had a problem with your eyes after you fell down the stairs. I think you were unconscious. They called for help and were told not to move you. You went to another hospital first, in an ambulance.” 

I had a weird flashback of blinking lights in my eyes, which could have been any number of things. 

“Grandma said you had seizures.” 

My eyes widened. “You were there when I fell? Where was Joey?” 

“I was there. Joey was in the house, but he wasn’t at the scene.” 

“Why didn’t you ever tell me? Why didn’t Joey?” 

“They said not to say anything, to leave it alone, since you never remembered. I didn’t know what would happen if I told you. They made it seem like it was the worst thing in the world we could do. Do you see why I hate this lying shit?” 

“I have to ask them about it.” 

“Don’t say I told you.” 

“What am I supposed to say, then?” 

“I don’t know, that you remembered.” 

“Do you think one of them was responsible for making me fall and feels guilty?” 

“No. I caused it. I didn’t want a baby sister. I wanted to be the baby.” 

I clenched my teeth. “You were a kid, and one thing had nothing to do with the other.” 

“No, I was mad at her for hitting me and being so mean to me because she was always protecting you. She would get so mad with that evil hate in her eyes. It was me, Dani. I held you over the banister, and I pushed you over it. I can still picture your face in that moment, how scared you were. I watched you fall, and I saw our mother’s eyes go dead. She blinked like she had checked out for a minute and then came back again. She started screaming.” 

To an extent, I had grown accustomed to outlandish revelations and witnessing the bizarre, but I believe on some level, I already knew this. 

“I thought you were dead,” he said, “that I killed you. Dad said there was a minute you weren’t breathing.” 

“You were a child—a little boy in your first years of school.” 

“I’m so sorry.” He hugged me. 

“It was obvious you didn’t want me around,” I told him. “Even after all that, to be honest, you seemed more accepting of Tommy’s vision of me. When I met your friends, you didn’t seem too happy that they didn’t find me to be ‘retarded,’ as you once put it, or repulsive, or weird. It upset you that they thought I was cute.” 

“No, I was relieved that you were normal, that you seemed normal to them.” 

“You didn’t seem relieved.” 

“I was. Believe me. I may have been confused, but I knew that was a good thing.” 

“And Joey knew about all this?” 

“Not at first. He knew you fell, but up until a year ago, he thought it was an accident. I told him the truth.” 

“What’d he say?” 

“Not much. He was shocked. I don’t think he knew what to do with it. He still doesn’t, and our parents will always blame me.” 

“They don’t blame you, Robbie. They love you! She hid that movie, just like they hid the truth about what happened because, in her own weird way, she was protecting you. They were both protecting you. They all were, really, even Grandma, and I’m sure if Grandma knows, Dom and Zuza know. Did Angie know, too?” 

“No, not Angie. Grandma blamed our mother because it was even possible for that to happen. It’s another reason why she hates her.” 

“Well, it’s over! I loved you then. I love you now. I will always love you and be here for you.” 

He smiled. “I love you, too, Dan, and I’ll make it up to you. I’ll always help you in any way I can.” 

“Hey, you already helped me,” I said. “Thanks for the tip about the shades.” I grabbed my Ray-Bans from the dresser and put them on. 

We laughed. 

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 – 31

Chapter Thirty-one 

his chilly February morning, I awakened to bright sunshine and chirping birds outside my window. Except it wasn’t my window. It was Joey’s place in New Haven—his bedroom— where New York Yankees pennants, hats, and collectibles lined the four walls, and where his Nintendo hooked up to the TV, a stuffed armchair in front of it. He had a stereo with huge speakers, a dresser with no mirror, and a telephone. The bed I’d been sleeping in had warm comforters but no headboard. 

It seemed, at first, I’d been dreaming. 

I remembered drinking tequila at the Cove the night before—and Farran making eyes at Joey, flirting with him, and doing shots with him at the bar. They left, with Farran promising she would be right back. 

My nerves had been on edge. Earlier in the day, I’d spotted the black Cutlass Supreme outside my bedroom window. Nobody was home, and I had just come home from school. Seeing Phil’s car unnerved me to the point where I considered grabbing the phone to call for help, but he peeled away and didn’t return. 

In the bar now, Tommy came over to me. “Insensitive of her,” he said. “You’re hurting for your cousin.” 

“So is she,” I said. 

“Yeah … more like she’s itching to sow her wild oats. One day it’s him, one day it’s me, and every day she wants V.” 

“Maybe you should tell her that instead of telling me,” I replied, taking a swig of my drink. 

He maintained strong eye contact, exuding calm. “I wanna talk to you.” 

“Why?” 

“You look like you need a friend.” 

I laughed. “Would that be you?” 

“It could be me.” 

He had changed somewhat since we’d first reconnected. For one thing, his hair had grown out. In the past, he never would have worn it middle-length with a carefree edge. I liked it. He also seemed more youthfully lean now rather than fit, but he looked good. 

“Right now, I just want to get out of here,” I said, setting my empty glass down on the bar. “But she’s driving.” 

He asked if I wanted to take a ride. He had his bike, and though it was cold for a bike ride, I agreed with a halfhearted shrug. 

It was windy as we strolled through the parking lot. A February snowstorm had dropped almost a foot of snow across Connecticut’s northwest hills, but there had been only a dusting in New Haven. 

I shivered beside him. “So what is all this friendship stuff? Is it to make up for all that crap you said to me when I was a kid?” 

He was looking at something up ahead. “What crap?” 

“What crap? Come on, you were so mean! You terrified me! When I saw you coming, I wanted to hide. You told me I was ugly, called me Four Eyes. You hated me.” 

“If I did all that to you, I was an ass.” 

“You did do it! You told me my family should go back to wherever the hell we came from, that we were spics and not welcome!” 

“I don’t remember that, but I’m embarrassed,” he said. “I’m sorry. I was a bully back then, young and stupid. I learned all that is bunk. People are people.” 

His words softened me. Besides feeling validated after many years, I became emotional. 

“I’m sorry again for your loss,” he said. 

“You went through a lot of loss yourself.” 

“Yup. My pops got killed right on Fairfield Avenue near Pacanow Street, walking home from a bar, drunk. He knew he’d be drunk, so he didn’t take his car. He messed around with the wrong people, owed them more money than he could ever repay.” 

It had occurred to me that when Tommy was a boy back in Glastonbury, he was often on a mission to locate his dad. It was common knowledge that if he didn’t find him asleep in his car, he’d head over on his bicycle to the nearest bar. Some days, Mr. Catalano would come to get Tommy or Paul and drag one or the other home by the ear. 

“I’m sorry,” I told him now, “about your father, about Paul. I always meant to tell you that. I should have. Paul was so young.” 

“He was manic depressive,” Tommy divulged. “No one heard the cries for help. I didn’t know. One day he lost it, went up to his room with my dad’s shotgun, put it up to his head, and pulled the trigger. For the first time, I was glad my mother had passed. She didn’t have to live through that. I was in Libya. I didn’t know how I’d go home to face that, or how I’d get through it, but I did. And you will, too.” 

When we got to his motorcycle, he instructed me on what to do and what not to do on the back of his bike, but I already knew. 

“I have to explain,” he said. “I never know what to expect with you girls. Shannon grabs the handlebars when she gets scared. She did it to Nico all the time and then to me. You’re all crazy.” 

The funny thing about riding with Tommy was I felt safer than I had with Gianni or even my own brother. He was cautious, alert, and very much in control. 

We stopped at another bar because he said he needed to talk to someone. I suspected he enjoyed the attention I got and the assumption that we were a couple. I didn’t mind. I enjoyed walking alongside him, helmet in hand, playing the biker girl. Someone had given him a joint, and I called him on it when we left. 

“Guy said it’s angel dust,” he told me. “I haven’t smoked that shit in years, man.” 

Up until this point, I hadn’t thought much about my past drug use. I’d gone from drinking beer and wine with Angie at age twelve to smoking pot with Mike at thirteen. I didn’t like pot but wouldn’t turn down hash, and I began popping pills—amphetamines in particular. Mike wasn’t into any of that and didn’t like that I was, but, at the time, no one could stop me. I didn’t know how to be myself and would ask Farran or Robbie how they managed to be themselves. They never understood the question. I ultimately figured out that you couldn’t be yourself until you found out who you were. It wasn’t rocket science, but it had me stumped for years. 

“I tried it once,” I said, “about two years ago.” 

“Really?” He looked at me. “Who got you started with that shit?” 

“Robbie gave me pills and stuff, but I did the dust with Angie and Farran. We bought it from someone.” 

“Figures, because I know Joey wouldn’t let you do drugs.” 

“No way. Joey frisked me a couple of times like a freaking cop. When we hung out at Addison Park, I’d see him coming with his battalion of comrades, and I wanted to run. Like whenever I saw you.” 

Tsk.” His eyes were downcast. “Aw, I’m sorry, man.” 

“You probably don’t remember this,” I went on, “but I didn’t want to wear my glasses because you made fun of them.” 

“Jesus.” 

“Well, wait, there’s a good story here.” My hand lightly grazed his shoulder. “See, according to my mom, St. Lucy was the patron saint of eyes. She explained to us that St. Lucy carried her eyes in a cup. My father was like, ‘You don’t call that a cup, Grace. They call it a chalice.’ And Robbie was horrified, wanting to know how St. Lucy’s eyes got into the cup in the first place. Supposedly, she gouged her eyes out, and, at some point, God restored her vision, and it was a miracle.” 

Tommy gripped the sides of his head as if to cover his ears. “Holy shit. Who tells a kid these stories? Here’s this saint who gouged out her eyes, but she can still see you.” 

“Well, you went to Catholic school,” I said, laughing at his reaction. “And, yes, so when I was in second grade, she wanted me to be St. Lucy for Halloween—eyeballs in a cup and all. She said the way St. Lucy walked with her eyes in that cup meant she was proud, not ashamed, that she stood straight and tall, like she was carrying gold, and that I should be that way, too. But all I could think of was, What if I run into Tommy Catalano?” 

“Please tell me I wasn’t throwing eggs at this saint with no eyes.” 

I laughed hysterically.“No, no, well you did have eggs. I was trick-or-treating with Angie, and you were walking toward us with your friends, but I kept my erect posture and dignity like my mother said. You freaked out a little about the eyes in the cup, but when your friends wanted to bomb us with eggs, you gave the wave to let us pass.” 

“Mighty genteel of me.” He shook his head. “So what happened with the glasses?” 

“My next eye examination, the doctor told me I had twenty-twenty vision in both eyes. Of course, my mother says that was a miracle, too. They celebrated by getting a piano and paying for my lessons.” 

“You play piano?” 

“I lost interest by the time I was eight, but yeah. Then no one else wanted to learn, so they gave it away. Now I wish I had it.” 

“Wow, that’s cool,” he said. “I just bought a Strat. I’m learning to play. I wanted to play guitar ever since I was a kid—blues rock like Jimmy Page, David Gilmour, Stevie Ray Vaughan. Those are my idols.” 

It occurred to me that although I’d known Tommy all of my life, I’d never really known him. He was becoming more human to me. 

We were back in the Cove parking lot when he asked if I wanted to smoke that joint with him. I think it was a momentary lapse of judgment on his part and mine. I hadn’t touched any of that stuff in over a year, but I was desperate for an escape. 

He lit up, took a few tokes, and then handed it to me. I did the same, but I began coughing and couldn’t stop. I had a hazy awareness of falling, and he caught me before my head hit the ground. 

“Oh, shit,” I heard him say. “Hold on. I’ll get help.” 

No, don’t go. Please don’t go. Don’t leave me. I was thinking that, but I couldn’t speak. 

I heard another voice. “Oh, my God, Danielle. Oh, God, can you hear me? Wake up!” 

A blurred figure was shaking me. 

“What day is this?” I asked. 

“It’s Friday night. You waited all week for this night.” 

“Farran?” 

“Yes.” 

“Didn’t I help you write a term paper?” 

“Yes, weeks ago.” 

“I bought two boxes of chocolates in a heart for Valentine’s Day for my mom, in case I’m tempted to eat one.” 

“I know you did, darlin’. I just got back. Tommy went inside to get help.” 

Someone else was there now, another blurred figure that sounded like Billy. “Take my arm,” he said. 

I grabbed his hand, and he lifted me. 

I heard a bike pull up and wondered if it was Valentin, but it was an irate Nico castigating Tommy. “What the hell’s the matter with you? Stupid shithead, I should bash your head in. If anything happens to this little girl, you’re responsible. She’s a child, for God’s sake.” Next thing I knew, he was on one side of me, and Tommy was on the other, but I couldn’t see them. They held my arms, led me along, and stopped me from falling whenever my knees gave way. Farran walked alongside us. 

“Damn, I’m an idiot. I’m so sorry, man,” Tommy was saying. “We started smoking a joint, and then she passed out.” 

“A joint of what?” Nico yelled. “She’s out of it.” 

“It was dust,” Tommy confessed. 

“Could have been laced with something,” Billy said. I determined by his voice that he was now behind me. 

Farran explained to everyone that I’d also had a few drinks at the Cove. “Could that have affected her? I mean, Tommy’s fine. Maybe stress because of Angie? Anyway, Joey’s home. We can take her there.” 

We left the Cove’s bright spark for a house shrouded in darkness. I could barely see it when we arrived, although I was cognizant of its monumental size and the seemingly endless climb to its door. Fieldstone walls framed the stairway, so there was nothing to grip but Tommy and Nico. 

“What the fuck happened, man?” That was Joey when he opened the door, though he was a faceless silhouette. 

We passed through a massive space of old hardwood flooring that creaked. Nico and Tommy took me into the living room. Nico asked everyone to sit on the rug, and then he took off my coat, lifted me up in his arms, and carried me to the sofa, placing me on my side. When he draped a blanket over me, I wanted to hug him. 

Farran asked why they couldn’t put me in Joey’s room. 

“We need to keep an eye on her,” Nico replied. 

The room was lamplit, with an additional light coming from the kitchen. The bodies began to take shape. It was Billy, Tommy, Farran, and Joey on the floor, along with a few other guys who shared the place with Joey. I felt like an illustrious centerpiece—Cleopatra on her regal palanquin—except nothing about my predicament was imperially impressive. It wasn’t romantic, and it sure wasn’t pretty. More pertinently, my demise was on display, as Angie’s had been. My mourners appeared to be talking among themselves as if I were dead. I was merely hogging the sofa. I could sense Tommy was beside himself and didn’t know what to do. Nico came over to check on me, looking worried. He seemed to be going in and out of the kitchen. I saw Joey walk out of there and take a seat on the rug. He seemed mad at me or embarrassed. In that moment, I felt like I would die, or I wanted to, as the realization of what had happened began to sink in. I didn’t understand how I could have let it happen after everything. 

I saw Angie then. Had I fallen asleep, or was she there? Her face was such a comfort. 

“I’m freaking out,” I told her. 

“Nah, you’ll be all right,” she said. “I’m right here beside you.” 

I don’t know how much time had elapsed before the image of her seated beside me had faded. 

Nico crouched before me. “Are you okay?” His smile was gentle and sweet. “Would you like another blanket?” 

I shook my head. “Am I dreaming?” 

“I don’t think so,” he replied. 

“I love you,” I said to him. He was just so cute, I couldn’t help myself. I meant it, too, as he had been kinder than I ever would have expected. 

The revelation seemed to stun him. His eyes filled with compassion and concern. He went back to the kitchen and returned with a cup of water. “Think you can sit up and drink this?” He set the cup down and helped me up. “I’ll hold it for you.” 

Tommy was apologizing again to Joey, who said, “You didn’t know that would happen, but that’s why I don’t mess with any of that shit. I’ve heard one horror story after another.” 

“I need to go home,” I said, after taking sips from the cup. “I have to.” 

“I’m not sure you’re all right to go home yet,” Nico said. 

I felt terrible having caused all this fuss. I was ashamed. “I’m much better,” I insisted. “I swear.” 

“Well, hang on.” He called Joey. 

“You can stay here,” Joey said, approaching me. “I’ll call and tell them you’re here. You can sleep in my room. I’ll sleep on the couch.” 

I stood in protest. My head was spinning, and I fell forward. Nico was quick to catch me, and, for a moment, just held me in his arms. 

“I have whatever you need—even an extra toothbrush, unopened,” Joey went on. “And there’s a washer and dryer downstairs.” 

Billy was on his way out the door, and Nico said he had to leave. 

“I think you should stay,” Nico told me before he departed. 

Farran left soon after that, and I could tell she wasn’t happy. 

I sat on the rug with Tommy. Joey went to get extra blankets. 

“I messed up,” Tommy said. “We were laughing together. Got swept up in the moment … I apologize.” 

I told him it wasn’t his fault. I didn’t feel deserving of so much fuss, and my old nemesis was beating himself up on my behalf. 

He let out a sigh. “I care about you, Dani. We all do. I’m supposed to be one of the guys looking out for you here, protecting you.” 

His admission brought tears, and I lost it. I tried wiping each tear that fell, but they kept coming. 

He said, “Talk to me, doll.” 

I told him about Phil and Sergio. I somehow blurted it out, what had happened to Angie and me, as if I could no longer contain it. 

He was shaking his head. “I didn’t know. Do your brothers know?” 

“Robbie does, but not Joey.” 

“Why not Joey?” 

“I want to tell him. I will. I’m scared, I guess.” 

Joey returned and, for once, looked so innocent. 

Perhaps the shock had worn off, but it pained me to talk about Phil and Sergio now. I don’t remember how I said it, but I managed to tell him what I had told Tommy. 

He sat on the couch, his eyes wide. I hadn’t seen him that shocked since the day Robbie overdosed. His response was, “Farran, too?” 

I suppose he asked that somewhere between shock and denial, not knowing what else to say in such an uncomfortable moment. 

“She wasn’t with us that day, but I told her,” I said. “She didn’t believe me.” 

“How could you not believe your friends?” Tommy asked. “You’re not a liar. Man …” 

Joey asked if our parents or Robbie knew, and he appeared surprised by the revelations. “And then you told Tommy.” 

I interpreted that as, Why in the world would you tell Tommy? His eyes suggested the realization that I had trusted Robbie, Farran, and now Tommy before trusting him. With both of them staring at me, I was at a loss to explain. I can only surmise, in retrospect, that with Tommy, I saw the open window or, perhaps, an open heart—the invitation to divulge in a space that welcomed me. I had felt safe in the moment. 

Joey’s eyes remained focused on me. “Are you okay?” 

I told them both about the calls and about seeing Phil and Sergio in the car that day. 

“Bastards,” Joey said. “Who are they? Do I know them?” 

“Hire Gianni,” Tommy suggested. “He’s certified in Personal Protection and Intelligence. He has a concealed gun permit, and he’s licensed to carry a firearm, a concealed tactical shotgun, and a handgun in a holster. Whatever he has is registered.” 

“To do what, guard me?” I knew Phil and Sergio were not going to do anything unless they could get me to take their drugs again, and that was never going to happen. “I do think these two guys are cowards. They were talking like they were mobsters or something.” 

“What’d they look like?” Tommy asked. “Do you know their names? They probably didn’t use their real names.” 

I provided whatever details I could, and when I mentioned their names, Tommy said he thought he knew them. “If it’s who I’m thinking, and I’m pretty sure it is, Sergio went to school with Gianni’s older cousin on his mom’s side. Has to be. He hangs out with a guy named Phil. The descriptions match.” 

Joey was shaking his head as if in disbelief. “So they’re from Bridgeport?” 

“I don’t know where they’re living now,” Tommy said, “but I can find out. They’re both drug-dealin’ burnouts—and poseurs; I’m sure, with the gangster talk.” 

I told him I didn’t want anyone I cared about to go after them and get hurt or end up in jail. 

Tommy nodded. “Promise me, if they come by again, you’ll talk to the police or Gianni.” 

“If I thought I had the slightest chance of getting them put away, I would have so they couldn’t do it to someone else,” I said, “but I heard the odds are slim even with way more evidence than I have.” 

“I understand what you’re sayin’,” Tommy replied. “I had a friend who went through that—someone who meant a lot to me. It sucks.” Before he left, he hugged me gently and gave me a goodnight kiss on the cheek. 

So here I was now, still at Joey’s, though it seemed oddly quiet for a place shared by four guys. Grabbing a robe that hung on the door, I ventured into the living room. 

“I thought I was gonna have to call an ambulance for you last night!” Joey bellowed. Of course, he was up, getting ready for work. 

I shushed him. “Stop yelling.” 

“Who’s yelling?” 

“It just feels like I had the most bizarre dream.” 

“It was no dream.” 

I winced. “Look, I used to do stupid stuff as a kid—” 

“You’re still a kid.” 

“Okay, but I learned my lesson. I’m sorry about last night.” 

“Let’s just not do that again, and I’ll be happy.” 

“I won’t,” I promised. 

But the moment he stepped out of view, the wheels began turning in my head. Was I losing my mind? Considering all that had happened, it seemed possible. I’d been terrified of anything that could further along the crippling of my spirit. On the other hand, I thought the worst that could happen was something was so burdensome, that I didn’t want to live anymore. I soothed myself with the conclusion that I didn’t have to, that there was, ultimately, a way out of all of the misery. 

Wanting to both pacify and punish myself had created a vicious cycle that had led me to hate myself more and respect myself less. There was a danger in shutting down the way Angie had. I certainly didn’t want to die, but I could have just as easily, and the threat still hung over me. 

I wished I could be a different person—wiser and more comfortable in my own skin but always in control—carefree and uninhibited, rather than painfully aware, hyper-vigilant, and afraid. At the same time, I didn’t want to lose the part of me that cared about everything and everyone on a level that surpassed the anger in me. Above all, I wasn’t going down without a fight. 

***

Farran came to pick me up after Joey had gone. Her stern voice was sobering as she confirmed much of what I remembered. “You told Nico Castel that you loved him. Did you know that? I was standing right there.” 

I knew then that all of it was true. 

She rambled on. “Do you realize you scared the crap out of me? I mean, you lecture me about getting into trouble, and then you do this. Dammit, Dani, we just lost Angie.” 

I apologized. 

The nurturer in her seemed to take over. “Are you hungry? We can stop in Dunkin’ Donuts and get some breakfast, if you want.” 

“Sure,” I said. 

She grinned. “So did you and Tommy fool around?” 

“Of course not.” 

“I wish I could say the same about Joey and me. Oh, wait, no, I don’t.” She laughed. “Man, he was wild last night. We made out in his Maserati. I didn’t exactly stop his hands from wandering.” 

“I really don’t want to hear this,” I said. 

She laughed again. “Why? Aw, come on. Damn, girl, I have to tell someone. I’m about to bust.” 

My hand was on my forehead. 

“We went to his room. We were doing pretty much the same thing, but my top was off, then he unbuttoned my pants, but I got scared. I tried to sit up, but he pushed me back down.” 

A feeling of dread coursed through me. “What?” 

“Well, wait, it wasn’t rape. I don’t want you to start saying it was rape or anything. He got my pants open, but I said, ‘No, Joey, don’t!’ That’s when he said, ‘I knew you were a tease.’ He got up and made me leave! Yep, he kicked me out. So I went back to the Cove and found you laid out in the parking lot.” 

I was all over the place trying to juggle my emotions. “I’m relieved he didn’t force you, but I can’t believe he kicked you out of his house and made you walk back to the Cove alone and freezing in the dark.” 

“It wasn’t that far, and he wasn’t physically forceful in kicking me out or anything. He tossed me my coat and my bag and told me to get out. I got dressed real fast. He walked me to the door and slammed it behind me. It was embarrassing but totally my fault. I don’t blame him.” 

“I do!” I was mad. “I will never forgive him for this.” 

“Think he’ll tell Valentin?” 

“Why? Do you want him to?” I couldn’t believe her. I would have been devastated if someone had treated me that way. Once again, Farran and I were in two different places, because she seemed to be enjoying this dangerous game. 

“I don’t know. It might convince Valentin I’m not a little girl.” 

“Is that why you’re doing this? 

“Nah, I have a huge crush on Joey that goes way, way back. I’m not in love with him like Valentin, but he drives me nuts, and, girl, I don’t do anything I don’t wanna do. He was mad that I came back to the house with you. He didn’t want me there.” 

You were the one who should have been upset.” 

She shrugged. 

We got coffee and a couple of donuts, but I didn’t enjoy it much. 

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 – 30

Chapter Thirty

anuary of ‘88 was so freaking cold. The harsh, wintry weather was only a part of the glumness, just as the days of rain and fog merely enhanced the gloom. I almost understood Angie’s pain over losing her twin. She was my karmic soul and wound mate, and, together, we had experienced a life-altering and game-changing trauma. I prayed she had found peace, but I was content to remain tortured. I never wanted to see the roof of my home again, nor the attic, and yet I continued to see her eyes and her smile. I couldn’t bear not to. She was forever young now, and eternally innocent, like Saint Agnes—the girl I had wanted to be. 

On a positive note, my dad changed our phone number—my dad who hated to change anything. I managed to convince him that some obsessed lunatic had gotten hold of our number. It was true enough. 

Trips to and from the Cove triggered my anxiety, since Angie was no longer beside me for the return trip. I hated that, and I hated how different everything seemed. The additional time it took to drop Farran off had never bothered me before, but it bothered me a lot now. She got an on-campus job making calls for the college’s fundraising office, so she drove her mother’s car to the Cove Friday nights, and I drove on Saturdays, but I wanted to stay home both nights. Seeing how she was always determined to make that trip with or without me, I did accompany her most of the time, rewarding myself with tequila shots and margaritas. 

I knew Valentin wouldn’t be there. Tommy showed up now and then, and, when he did, Farran either made out with him at the bar or disappeared with him for an hour or so. I spent that time chatting with Billy and the non-Lynx regulars. Nico and Joey waltzed in every so often, dressed to the nines—Nico with his Trussardi Uomo cologne and Joey with his Drakkar Noir. At times, they had women with them. Either way, they left soon after they arrived. They’d go to The Anthrax in Norwalk or The Devil’s Nest in the Bronx. 

One night, Joey pulled up outside the Cove in a new black Maserati. We’d had more than half a foot of snow that day, and he called Farran over, though he had three girls in the car with him. 

“What?” she yelled, climbing over the snow bank at the curb. “It’s freezing out here.” 

“Come ‘ere,” he said. “Give me a kiss hello.” 

I didn’t know what had gotten into him, or who he thought he was. 

She approached the car, and, when she leaned in to kiss him, he closed the window in her face and laughed. Then he drove away like a maniac, with his car door swinging open. He drove two blocks before closing the door, waving the whole time. I questioned whether he might have been drunk, though I had never known him to drive drunk or recklessly. 

“I’m so sorry,” I said to Farran. “I don’t know what’s gotten into him.” 

“Oh, he’s just teasing,” she replied. “Acting out. We’re all grieving and in shock.” 

Another night, Gianni was singing my praises in front of everyone. 

I winced when he solicited Tommy’s endorsement. “Am I right?” 

“She’s the bomb,” Tommy said. 

Nico shook his head, fake-coughed, and laughed. 

Gianni looked at him. “Hey, don’t tell me you haven’t noticed.” 

“I’m not blind,” Nico said. “But I prefer not to eat my dinner behind bars.” 

Billy was there, watching football at the bar and having a beer. He weighed in, as I figured he would. “Nico has the right idea,” he said. “These two young ladies are probably still virgins.” 

Farran’s face was red, and I could tell Billy was drunk. “If it’s true that you girls are virgins, I think it’s awesome,” he went on, “but, goddamn, how do you do it, man?” He laughed, and the other guys laughed with him for a change. 

“It’s not easy,” I replied. 

My answer seemed to surprise and delight Nico, while further embarrassing Farran. 

“I mean, it’s not easy, because guys are bugging you from the time you are ten,” I explained. 

Nico’s brilliant smile lingered. “Stick to your guns, doll,” he said. “You’re doing the right thing.” 

When we walked away, Farran punched me in the arm. “It’s not easy? Oh, my God, I can’t believe you said that. Now they’ll feel sorry for us and more obligated not to come on to us.” 

She pissed me off. “And maybe that’s good, Farran, you know? Ever think you might get in over your head? I know what that’s like.” 

“What are you talking about?” She laughed. “You haven’t been in over your head. You’re such a prude. You’re afraid to do anything. Aside from Gianni, I’ve seen Nico checking you out, and if you really pushed it, you could probably get him to cave. I would let Valentin do me in a heartbeat. Damn, I’m nineteen years old! I want to experience life, not hide in the background. Then maybe we’ll be invited somewhere for a change. Trust me, that’s what these guys are used to, and it’s what they want. If you keep acting like a baby, you will always be a baby to your brother and his friends.” 

She continued to flirt with guys and ask everyone about Valentin. It was depressing. Everything was depressing. Every place, every situation, had become less familiar. 

I returned to work after a week’s absence, and Quinton was first to express his sympathy. We were at the elevator, and he told me to stop by his post when I could. 

His office was tiny, barely able to accommodate the old desk he shared with the other guard. There were two swivel stools, and, thankfully, I stopped in at the right time—when the other guy was away. I sat in his chair. 

“The desk’s a little messy,” Quinton said. “I got in a bit late this morning, and I’m catching up. I had a busy weekend, took the grandkids to the zoo.” 

“Grandkids!” I gasped. 

“Yeah, my daughter has a three-year-old boy and a two-year-old girl. I tell ya, it’s not easy for an old man to keep up with the wee ones. They wear me out, but I love every minute of it.” 

He pressed for details about Angie’s death, and I expected the bizarre explanation to shock him, but he just said he was sorry again. 

“It was all so devastating,” I told him, “and then seeing my Uncle Dom and my Aunt Zuza have to endure the loss of another child. How do you endure that even once? I can’t imagine.” 

“It’s hard, I’m sure,” he said. “Look, you don’t have to answer this if you don’t want to, but was there a precursor to all of this? I’m sure there was.” 

Instead of answering the question, I told him about the dream I’d had of her. “I think she was sending me a message,” I’d decided. “Or maybe I was sending a message to myself and just assigned her the role of angelic messenger because, deep down, I know the answers.” 

He didn’t come out and say I never answered his question, but I read it in his eyes. 

“You wonder what you should have said or done, you know?” I let out a sigh. “Her life was so short. I just want to know she’s okay.” 

“She was telling you that in the dream,” he said. “She’s okay and looking after you.” 

That prompted me to tell him about his presence in the next sequence, and it seemed to amuse him. “Wonder what I was doing at about that time,” he joked. 

It felt safe enough to tell him the rest—about all of the bad dreams. 

“Dreams like that can happen when a person is still shell-shocked over something and reliving the trauma and fear, whatever helplessness they felt,” he said. “Hey, I’m no shrink, but I had friends who suffered from PTSD. They had dream hallucinations, something similar to what they endured on the battlefield.” 

“Yeah, but this is different. My feeling about that one dream is that it’s a dark entity of some kind that’s preying on me. Hey, at this point, nothing would shock me.” 

“About entities, I’ve only heard stories,” he said, “but there were a few roaming spirits at my aunt’s old house on Magnolia Street in LaFayette. I’d say, though, since your dreams are so vivid, it could very well be just a dream.” 

“But I have no problem interpreting dreams,” I insisted. “The meanings have always seemed obvious. If it’s a dream, I’m missing something that’s deeper than anything I can see. Fear is a part of it, yes, even though I’m less afraid now, having shared it with you. I have to admit, too, I’m drawn to the paranormal, the unexplained. I feel like it’s my job to explore everything—to pass through every forbidden door. It’s like I have a logical mind that says things like numerology and astrology can’t be valid, but I know Scorpio eyes when I see them.” 

“Scorpio eyes, huh?” He chuckled. “Well, I just have these old crab eyes then, since I’m a Cancer, but I do agree, there is so much we don’t know, and, of course, I don’t know what you’ve been through. What I do know is, darkness is something we all confront at some point in time, and it ultimately leads to the light.” 

My pulse increased with intrigue. “Did I tell you that Lord Byron’s ‘Darkness’ poem is one of my favorites?” I smiled. “All so fascinating, and, hey, if darkness leads to the light, I’m all in.” 

“Oh, yes, that’s an excellent piece,” he agreed, again seeming to notice how I’d deflected. 

“Thanks so much, Quinton,” I said now. “I’ve really come to treasure your friendship.” 

“I treasure yours as well,” he replied. “That’s why I gotta tell ya, get back to your desk. Much as I enjoy talking to you, I don’t want to get you in trouble.” 

I smiled and waved goodbye. 

My inbox was full of work left in my absence. As I was rummaging through the papers, Trish stopped by to offer her condolences. She asked if I was okay. 

I shrugged. “Maybe I should quit this job, take Adderall, and focus on nothing but writing.” 

She shook her head, smiling. “Okay, I know you’re having a tough time right now, chicky, but I’m not about to recommend getting hooked on pills.” 

“Fine,” I said. “But I really would like to hide for a while.” 

She smirked. “Just don’t ask me to help you get Adderall, because I can’t say no to you. You know that. And don’t leave, because I’d miss you, and you’d miss your friends here. I know you would.” 

I laughed. “I’m not asking, and I’m not leaving—not yet anyway.” 

Not an hour later, I bolted into the ladies’ room holding Xeroxed copies I had made for a supervisor. With a casual glance at the mirror on my right, I noted my reflection was hideous. I placed the copies on a countertop corner and moved to the center of the mirror. It confirmed what I believed I saw, an ugly girl—not merely an ugly girl, but one who had managed to convince everyone that she was beautiful. It struck me that I needed to look beautiful. It was my image now, however deceptive, and I had to cultivate this image without deviating. People expected it. 

Someone came into the ladies’ room after me—one of two secretaries who sat alongside me in a small pool of desks but who worked in another department. She smiled, said hello. We had a normal exchange of lighthearted chitchat, and she went into a stall. 

I touched up my makeup, but it wasn’t enough. My hair was all wrong. I brushed it this way and that, but no matter where I parted it or what I did, the face looking back at me was repulsive. I hated it. I hated her. I had no idea who she was. 

My coworker came out of the stall within minutes and made more small talk while she washed her hands. She seemed less comfortable, possibly wondering why I was in no obvious hurry, and whether I was hiding or avoiding something. We exchanged pleasant goodbyes as if she was leaving my home. I was happy when she’d gone. 

I couldn’t think any more about her. I couldn’t think about anything except what I was doing, though I had no idea what that was. It didn’t matter that nobody wanted to be in this place  any longer than necessary—a purely functional vault of stalls, basins, and unpleasant odors—everything white or eggshell white except for the gray paper towel holder and dizzying little square tiles on the floor. I couldn’t afford to feel guilty or embarrassed. 

My heart pounded, and I brushed my hair until my head hurt. Then everything blurred. I couldn’t see that horrid face anymore. I set the brush down and tried closing my eyes then opening them again. I had to turn away from the mirror and not look at it for a few minutes. It seemed to have beguiled or bewitched me. When I faced it again, my image was no longer blurred or particularly unattractive. It was okay, albeit rather plain, and I was able to fix that with a few minor adjustments. 

Alas, I saw what I wanted to see—the beauty I figured they wanted. I was good enough to walk out the door, my heart still pounding. 

I had no idea what just happened. 

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 – 29

Chapter Twenty-nine 

uza invited the family and a few friends to the house for something to eat. Of course, her home—a small Colonial nestled under a hulking black willow—was as familiar to me as my own. They had their Black Hills spruce lit for Christmas, a sad and yet glorious sight amid the purple crape myrtle shrubs. The witch hazel bush on the other side had bloomed in early fall, but only a few of its bright and fragrant yellow flowers lingered on the branches. It reminded me of Angie, as I’d expected everything would, especially in a place I had held dear since childhood. The lightly wooded lot behind her home was a place where we had picked the prettiest blue forget-me-nots that bloomed in springtime. 

Everyone filed in through the back now, through the garden, which in six months would be full of flowers, including a wall of apricot roses that lined the side pathway to the yard. Angie would have picked the yellow gerbera daisies from the garden, her favorite, and then arrange them in vases. They’d have calla lilies in white and gold, irises in a bluish purple with flecks of yellow gold, and shrubs of blue hydrangea. This yard had always been a peaceful place—rapture for the birds who visited the little barnwood birdhouse. We had all played here while my father sat on the gated metal bench near the back kitchen door, chatting with my Uncle Dom. Ordinarily, there was an aroma of something delicious cooking or baking when you entered the house. The kitchen was a cozy, sun-filled room with wide floor planks of tan hickory hardwood. 

We gathered in the living room now, where a real pine tree heralded the occasion. It was always a real tree at Zuza’s, with a candlelit angel at the top. The angel’s shimmering dress and feathered wings managed to shine with more mesmerizing beauty than the star on top of our tree. 

It was a comfortable place—everything from the upholstered floral sofa with the embroidered pillows to the padded rocker always draped with the softest fleece blanket. It was alive with plants in urns. Zuza loved red roses. I had given them to her on special occasions, and I’d watch with deep admiration as she rushed to fill a teardrop vase with water, looking happy and contented as she arranged them. My mother said plants and flowers were for dead people, and my grandmother agreed. Here, Angie had decorated the cast stone fireplace with a mound of pinecones. I knew because I had walked with her through piles of leaves to gather them. 

My favorite little birds lived here, a set of song canaries that were a combination of yellow and green. There was a gray-and-white tabby, too, and, of course, the dog—Angie’s German Shepherd puppy. This place was alive with critters, while I had always wondered what it would be like to have a dog. My father would have loved it, but not my mom. I felt sad for Angie’s dog now, knowing how much he would miss her. 

My fond memories of this place included Christmas mornings when Zuza made zeppole and holiday cookies. Uncle Dom had played the same Christmas songs we’d play at home, and we were all happy and excited to exchange gifts. 

I could still hear my Uncle Dom asking back then, “How’s your singing? I know you love to sing.” 

“She writes songs!” Angie had told him. 

His smile was wide. In his eyes, I saw mirth and captivation. “No kidding!” 

“She’s going to be a famous writer, singer, and actress,” Angie would say. 

“Wonderful!” he’d respond. 

“I hope you will remember us,” Zuza gushed. “You’ll still come visit me, I hope. I’m gonna be so proud of you always.” 

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I’d felt safe here, and loved seeing myself through my godparents’ eyes—just a normal, appropriate, and acceptable child who could easily make people laugh and smile. Granted, they didn’t have the responsibility of molding me into a person who could lead a normal life and be happy, as Zuza had said, but their genuine interest in me touched my heart. I felt welcomed in their home, truly cherished, as if I was, perhaps, the most loved little girl in the world. It was unfair that they had lost their son, and now their daughter. Nothing anyone could say would help me understand or accept that. 

“There’s food on the dining room table,” Uncle Dom told everyone now. “Come, eat!” 

They had inserted the leaf in the long cherry wood table where there were six Queen Anne chairs. People had brought fruit, pastries, and casseroles. In addition, there were platters of cold cuts, along with potato salad, rolls, and condiments. 

I went to Angie’s room for one more gaze at her cherry wood sleigh bed dressed in her favorite quilt, and I touched the things she’d loved—stuffed bears and a furry white kitty holding a big red heart that said I love you, which I had given to her on her birthday. Then I sat on her bed and I cried. 

Zuza came in and sat beside me. “Do you remember when Dom Jr. died?” she asked. “You told me you were sorry I’d lost my baby.” 

I nodded, the tears falling. 

“He was crazy about cars,” she mused. “On the way to school, he noticed every car, what make, what model it was, and he’d stop. I’d have to say, ‘Come on, Dominic, we’re going to be late!’ And he loved Grandma. He wanted to go see her all the time. Angie loved your grandmother, too, you know, and your mother. Most of all, she loved you.” She clasped my hand in hers. “I just can’t believe it. I can’t believe we lost her.” She gave my hand a squeeze. “My little Dominic will take care of her now. And she was my little girl—my baby girl. I don’t know what it’s gonna be like without her, but we’ll face it together. Somehow we’ll manage.” 

Snowflakes fell, as if from the Heavens, that day and the next. It didn’t amount to much, but Angie would have liked it. 

On the morning of her funeral, we rode in limos, heading north on Sturgeon River Road and proceeding along Hebron until we turned left onto Sycamore Street, then left again onto New London Turnpike. There was something beautiful about this morbid procession, the celebration of life and death. I felt a sense of pride in being part of this entourage, but I’d have given anything to make it all go away and have Angie as she was before all the terrible things had happened.  

I kept thinking about her—how easy it was to make her laugh, and then all I had to do was look at her, and she would laugh again. Her smile was sweet and shy—guileless, vulnerable, endearing. If anyone sought to hurt her in any way, I wanted to fight for her. I felt it was my duty to protect her, and I had failed. I thought now about her advice to me, about following my heart. It made me smile because I could picture her floating above in a big bubble like Glinda in The Wizard of Oz waving her glittery wand. 

There was beauty in the ritual of walking forward as a family now, nestled close to one another, arm in arm, with people reaching out from the pews, the sorrow and compassion in everyone’s eyes, the smiles of recognition, and mourners sobbing or silently tearful. At some point, I heard bells ringing and then the priest’s bellowing voice. “When Jesus saw this, he became indignant and said to them, ‘Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.’” 

My eyes fell upon the casket with its spray of daisies, roses, lilies, carnations, and larkspur. 

“This celebration is to welcome Angela home into the loving arms of her father,” he said. 

There were faint sounds of weeping. I saw Zuza lower her head to cry and Uncle Dom’s arm slip around her. I heard agony and anguish when my grandmother cried. At one point, my father escorted her from the church, likely to console her. 

An hour later, we prayed over what was to be Angie’s grave. A red-tailed hawk soared above, weeping in the form of an ear-piercing cry—a bitter lament. Crows and ravens circled overhead. Sparrows and blue jays perched in trees. There were herons from along the coast. Squirrels and pigeons loomed on rafters, in steeples and eaves, or frolicked between the graves. So much life and so much death, and, as such, we had gathered. Angie would have an oval gray, granite gravestone with an engraved cross, and she would be buried alongside Dom Jr. The funeral director handed us daisies and lilies to toss on the casket, now covered in white and gold cloth, and we said goodbye. 

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 – 28

Chapter Twenty-eight 

“O 

nly seventeen years old,” a woman behind me said. “God bless. She was a baby.” 

I knelt, made the sign of the cross, and folded my hands. Angie looked tiny indeed inside the fancy box lined with satin—my precious cousin and friend. They had draped rosary beads over her lifeless hands, and her skin was ghostly white. It was hard to fathom; this was someone who had amused, delighted, and amazed me. She’d made me laugh and smile even in my sadness, and I loved making her laugh. Well, she was free of her pain now, and that was a good thing. She no longer needed protection from me or anyone else. 

Zuza had to feel gutted. Who could blame her? She broke down and cried several times, but she was strong, so brave. I could tell she was fighting to accept that Angie was with God, and if there was anyone on earth who excelled at unrelenting faith and acceptance, it was Zuza. She reminisced about Angie already, as she did about Dominic Jr. 

I hugged her desperately. 

When she released me, I met my uncle Dom’s gaze. A grim countenance replaced his usual grin. I went to him immediately and hugged him. “She was my best friend,” I said. 

He hugged tighter. “Thank you, Danielle.” When he let go, he gave my hand a squeeze. 

My parents hugged Dom and Zuza. My grandmother was hollering and crying. For the life of me, I couldn’t understand how paying respects to a loved one at a funeral home was a comforting thing. All these bodies occupying that small space—I felt trapped and suffocated. The lines of folding chairs looked absurd—front row seats for a show where the top-billed, center-stage entertainer slept, drained of blood and life, in a shell that was not her but a mere representation of who she’d once been. The room wasn’t large enough to contain all the sadness, and the smell nauseated me. 

Joey arrived, looking visibly shaken. I watched the exchange of handshakes and hugs until it was my turn to hug him, and I did so with all my might. Amid all the chatter, he was uncharacteristically reserved, though he seemed calm. We spoke briefly before he went up to the casket. 

I looked around at all the Italian relatives, the neighbors. Zuza’s nephew had come from Italy. He’d been attending a seminary in Rome for the past year. I was glad he was there, because Zuza had always said he was like a son to her. I knew she wrote to him all the time, and his presence would help her get through this. 

As for me, I couldn’t shake the feeling of dread that something awful would happen at any moment, and that there was no safe place to hide from it anywhere on earth. 

Robbie was heading out the door, and he yanked at my arm. “Going out for a cigarette. Want to walk?” 

“Sure,” I said. 

We strolled across the lawn and then along Douglas Road. It was mild for December but windy. 

“How are you, Dan?” he asked. 

I told him about Angie’s sleepwalking. “I didn’t know anything about it,” I said. “I didn’t know she would think to go to the attic or up to the roof, or that someone sleepwalking could climb.” 

“From the way she was talking, something really bad happened to her,” he said. “I think she was raped.” 

“She was, and it didn’t only happen to her. We were together. They drugged us.” 

His eyes widened. “Oh, wow.” I think, for once, words didn’t come easily for him. 

“I guess I was stupid to trust them. I mean, I know people have to take risks trusting others, or nobody would ever get together, but they were a lot older—too old for us.” 

“So, they were the older ones who knew better,” he said bitterly, avoiding my eyes. “If anything, you probably had more trust in them because they were older, and it was easy for them to betray that. You do have some daddy issues.” 

“Yeah, well, I tried to get Angie to talk about it. She kept shutting me down. I feel like there was something I should have done or could have done. I didn’t do enough. I didn’t want to push her, but maybe if I had … Who else could have helped her?” 

“You can’t blame yourself. This was how she chose to deal with it, Dan.” 

“That seems so harsh, though. She couldn’t handle it. I don’t think she really wanted to die. She fell …” 

“It’s like when someone doesn’t mean to do damage, hitting someone. They create the circumstances for that to happen.” 

“You sound angry at her.” 

“I’m not angry at her,” he replied. “I’m angry that this happened to her. I’m angry that I wasn’t there to protect you both. I’m angry that protecting you guys always falls to Joey and me, since none of the adults in our lives have any clue what’s going on. You know what they say, it takes a village.” 

His innate perception of people and things never ceased to amaze me. Listening to him now brought back a fond memory of how he had coached me with a bully when I was in eighth grade. The girl had wanted to fight me, and I’d never had a fight in my life. She picked the time and place, then cancelled for a dental appointment and said she’d get back to me. 

“I don’t want to do this,” I’d told Robbie when I got home. 

“Neither does she,” he replied. “You really believe she had a dental appointment? Walk up to her tomorrow morning and say, ‘This is your last chance. Meet me at Addison Park Saturday, 1:00 p.m. sharp.’ Ride up on your bike at exactly that time. If she’s not there, leave immediately. Then, when you see her at school Monday, go right up to her and say, loudly, ‘Where the fuck were you?’ Trust me, she’ll back down completely.” 

“And what if she’s there?” I asked. 

He shrugged. “Then you fight.” 

I groaned. 

“She’s not gonna be there.” 

She wasn’t. She apologized profusely on Monday morning, concluding with, “Maybe we shouldn’t fight.” 

I didn’t think it was possible for me to idolize my brother more than I did that day. 

We returned to the morbid funeral parlor now. In the next half hour, we had visitors I never would have expected—Shannon and Billy followed by Tully and Mike. Yes, it was Mike! All at once, at my ripe old age of seventeen, I missed the good old days. 

Those cornflower blue eyes entranced me once more. I noted that he was a bit taller and leaner than Billy. His blond hair had darkened to a sandy shade, as it always did in the winter months. I’d forgotten how cute he was, and about the trust he invited with his eyes and his smile. 

We all hugged, and I would have imagined a hug from Mike McGrath would have been the most comforting thing at a time like this. It was, and it wasn’t. Happy as I was to see him, it seemed painfully obvious that our relationship wasn’t the same. He was different. We both were, and he was not my boyfriend. He was someone’s husband—some woman I had never met—and he was some little boy’s father. 

“How are you doing?” he asked. “I sent a mass card. We all did.” 

“Yeah, he was here for the holidays,” Shannon said, her hand on Mike’s shoulder. “They’re staying until New Year’s, so he wanted to come.” 

“He brought the whole clan,” Billy added. “They’re back at the house—my mom’s.” 

“How are they?” I looked at Mike and then the others. “How are your parents?” 

“Everyone’s good,” Tully answered for him. “I am so terribly sorry for your loss.” 

Shannon, Billy, and Mike echoed his sentiments. 

While they mingled with my family, it seemed inevitable that I would remember things about Mike that I had forgotten—how sociable he was, how he loved people. I could see he was as curious and concerned about others as his sister was. 

While Farran was busy chatting with Billy, Shannon took me aside and sat with me on a set of cushioned chairs in the vestibule, where an electric fireplace beckoned and a pretty wreath hovered above it as if to bring cheer. She asked how I was holding up, and she held my hand as I tried to explain what I couldn’t—that the events of the past several months had simply broken me. I tried to determine at what point it had all gone wrong and realized I had never gotten it right to begin with. I decided to ask how she was doing instead, and how things were going with her and Nico. She became teary-eyed at once. 

“We broke up,” she said. “Long story, but he won’t take my calls. I’ve gone to his house. He won’t see me, wants nothing to do with me.” She patted my leg. “I’m so sorry. You’re in mourning, and I’m troubling you.” 

“You’re not,” I assured her. 

She held my hand. “I’m sorry again for your loss. If you need anything, I’m here.” 

I hugged her, and, when she let go, Mike was standing there. 

Shannon stood. “Let me go see how Joey is doing. I’m sure he’s devastated.” She walked away, and Mike sat down in her place. 

“I missed you,” he said. 

“I missed you, too,” I returned. 

“Spent a few days at Bill’s house when I first came up. Nice place! Makes me proud he’s doing well. I’m a little worried about my sister, though. She got her heart broken. Feel bad for you, too, and your family, having to go through this.” 

“I’ll be okay.” I forced a smile. 

“Yeah, well, a little spark’s gone out of your pretty eyes.” He sat quietly a moment before speaking again. “What have you been up to the past couple of years?” 

“Busy with work, school. I’m still writing. So much has happened, I wouldn’t know where to begin.” 

“Tell me, babe, I’m here for you—always was, always will be.” 

“No, you’re not. You can’t be, but that’s okay.” 

He leaned back and looked down at his shoes. “I guess that’s true in a way. She didn’t want me to come. She’s jealous of you.” 

That prompted an eye roll. Being single had to be better than being on either end of that, I supposed. Insecure as I was, I couldn’t relate to these people with their jealousy and competitiveness. Life was hard enough. I was beginning to feel I couldn’t relate to people, period. 

“It’s okay,” I told him. “Thank you for coming.” 

“I wanted to.” 

“Your wife and child are your priority these days. I understand that.” 

“It’s a rocky road, babe.” 

“Yeah, one of the many reasons I never want to get married.” 

“Really?” His eyes widened as he focused again upon me. “They say it’s every little girl’s dream.” 

“It was never mine. In fact, I remember worrying about it and telling my mother I didn’t want to ever. She kept saying it was because I was still a little girl, and that when I grew up, I’d feel differently. I remember thinking, no, I won’t. Marriage would just complicate everything. I told her it would ruin all the plans I made for my future, and, besides that, I’d be too busy.” I laughed at the memory now. 

He laughed with me. “I hear ya, but I’m trying to make it work out for my son. Don’t get me wrong. She’s a good woman—a very good woman. I should be happy.” 

“But you’re not.” I shook my head. “See, that’s another thing. Is anyone ever happy in marriage—or together? It doesn’t seem like it.” 

“I miss the simple times,” he admitted.“Me working on a farm in Glast, loading and unloading the trucks. I thought I had so much responsibility then, which is funny when you think about it. Everything was so uncomplicated.” 

“The old days were not exactly uncomplicated for me.” 

“Oh, yeah, your pops—and you guys having to eat a three-course dinner before coming to the beach on Sunday.” 

“Ha! We weren’t allowed to leave before that traditional Sunday meal.” 

“And then you’d come to the beach wearing long pants in ninety-degree weather. You’d never wear shorts. I didn’t know what you were hidin’.” 

“I was shy.” 

“Shy! You said that about singing, too, but you have a hell of a voice. Remember that time you and Angie got sloshed, and you were walking all through the neighborhood, singing and staggering? I said, man, she’s good.” 

I laughed. “That was the time Robbie dragged me home by my ear.” I reflected a bit. “I do miss those days. Remember when we used to go horseback riding? And when you took me to all your hangouts in Hartford? Everybody knew you. I was so impressed.” 

You were impressed? Whenever I got back from seeing you, my dad would go, ‘Are you back from Buckingham Palace? Did you see the princess?’ He called you the Glastonbury Princess. You were like my uptown girl. Ha! Remember that fight you got into on your fourteenth birthday? You came to me all crying and shit, saying it was the first fight you ever had in your life, and she was hitting you over the head with an umbrella.” He laughed. 

“Oh, God! Yeah, that was my first and last actual fight. She was trying to pick a fight with me for weeks. I had no idea why. Someone said she was jealous of me. How stupid is that?” 

“Yeah, well, people are stupid, but you are very beautiful.” 

“I’m not beautiful.” I meant that. “How can I be beautiful?” 

“What do you mean, how can you be? You are. You look incredible. Why be so down on yourself? Back then, you were hidin’, and you’re still hidin’. You got it—show it.” 

Of course, we didn’t talk about our break-up, though it did cross my mind how relieved I’d been at the time to be free. By the time the summer had come around, however, I was having second thoughts. Mike looked better than ever then, driving around in his blue Chevy Sprint with his sleeveless shirts and hair grown out to mid-length. He seemed to have plenty of female admirers. Gone were the days of him having eyes only for me. He had moved on, and I’d missed him terribly. 

“You had big dreams,” I said now. “You wanted to be an actor.” 

His wistful smile spoke volumes. “I wanted a lot of things, babe. I wanted you, too. And the wonderful thing about life is—you can want all you want. You just can’t have it.” He laughed heartily at that. 

“You’re quite the philosopher,” I said, laughing with him. 

“I know, right? That’s like one of those things you say after you smoke a few J’s, and you think it’s brilliant.” He flashed the ear-to-ear grin that had charmed me so often in the past, and it was easy to love him, to want him, but it was easy, too, to resist. I supposed then that I had also moved on. 

“Well, just so you know, I haven’t given up the acting dream,” he said. “I hope to move back when I can afford it and give it a shot. I’ll probably move to New York. But I’m not gonna lie, babe. I have regrets. I still think about you—what might have been. Hell, what’s done is done. This marriage may work out, or it may not, but I have to try.” 

“Yes, you do.” 

“I’d still like to be able to just sit and talk with you somewhere, nothing more. We can meet up—grab a bite. Whatever you need, man.” 

My eyes clouded with tears. “I don’t think that’s a good idea.” 

“Probably not,” he admitted. “You’re right, and I respect that.” 

The other McGraths gathered around, and we stood. 

Tully slipped an arm around Mike. “You can help us at the pub tonight,” he said with a wink. “Billy’ll give ya a crash course.” 

“Definitely,” Mike replied. 

“Thanks, man.” Billy responded with a fist bump for Mike. “Can’t let that charm go to waste.” 

Gianni, Tommy, and Liz arrived as the McGraths were leaving, creating an awkward moment. Tully and Billy gave polite nods. Shannon extended a greeting, and Mike went a step further, shaking hands, and asking how they all were. The McGraths said goodbye, and, just like that, my reunion with Mike was over. I went inside with the Lynx gang. 

Robbie and Tommy talked. My mother gave Tommy a side hug and said he was a nice boy and nice-looking. 

I could have sworn he blushed. “Thank you, ma’am,” he said. “Your daughter is a good girl.” 

He and Gianni had both impressed her with the ma’am bit, I could tell. 

Gianni said if there was anything I needed, anything he could do, I shouldn’t hesitate to ask. Liz was nodding behind him. They all had a moment before the casket and then remained with Joey. Farran was in that circle. 

I found myself sitting alone in one of the side chairs as I tried to process my memories of Angie. 

I saw us as children—skating, horseback riding, riding bicycles, playing video games, making scrapbooks, watching movies. I could hear the rhymes we’d chant on the sunny days we had played jump rope. She’d wanted everything my brothers and I had had, whether it was the King Kong Colorforms Playset or the Atari 2600. I had always wanted a sister, never realizing that I’d had one, if only for a while. 

The previous year, Zuza had taken us to Radio City Music Hall in New York to see Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. Angie and I bought a bag of chocolate at a candy store in Manhattan, and we’d eaten so much chocolate I was sure I had gained five pounds. Angie was happy. We’d laughed a lot. I would remember it always as a day that I had all I needed—a Dickens tale, chocolate, New York City, my aunt Zuza, and my dear, sweet Angie. 

I was tempted to tell people who she had been—that she had tried to do everything right by society’s standards, including going to church and hanging on to her virginity. She’d never had a boyfriend! It was her dream to fall in love one day, have a big family, a nice house, and plenty of rescued pets. None of that would ever happen for her. 

Surprisingly, my reflection on our friendship made me feel selfish. I realized I hadn’t thought much about Angie’s longings for Nico or anyone else. I hadn’t encouraged her much or thought much about how inferior she had seemed to feel. Cute as she was, she seemed invisible at times, between my physical presence and Farran’s strong personality. It occurred to me that few people had gotten to know Angie, and even I hadn’t known her like I’d thought I had. It had never sunk in—the isolation she must have felt as an only sibling when she had once been a twin, or that she’d never had much to say. It was all terribly sad. 

Engrossed in these thoughts, I didn’t notice my father until he sat beside me. He grazed my arm lightly. “Everything okay?” The earnest look on his face was endearing. 

We talked. He answered some questions I’d had about my grandfather. I’m not sure why I brought him up. Perhaps it was because he was also dead. I learned he had been a clockmaker at one time. He’d worked in a shop, making and fixing clocks. After that, he worked in a train yard. That was all before he began working on the docks in Red Hook. He’d lived in Astoria—in New York—before buying the house in Glastonbury. 

“What was he like?” I asked. 

“Quiet-like,” my father said. “He liked to read the paper. Sometimes he’d put his two cents in while we were talking because he got mad or he was being a wise guy. He fought with my mother. He yelled if the kids made a lot of noise. I remember he didn’t look you in the eye.” 

I asked how he’d died, and my Uncle Dom, who had joined us, said it was from a gastrointestinal hemorrhage and cirrhosis of the liver. 

“We used to have a cat who acted very strange after he passed away,” my father told me. “They say the animals sense spirits. Who knows?” 

Another unexpected visit put an end to our chat, and this one made my heart skip a beat. It was Valentin, with Nico at his side. His presence heartened me more than it should have, I suppose, and brought a comfort I could not have explained. When he expressed his sympathy, I thanked him and asked how he was. I told him I’d been worried. 

“I’m okay,” he said. “I’m sorry I caused you and others to worry.” 

I reveled in his hug, and even Nico’s. Both Castel brothers adhered to proper etiquette and good manners. 

My mother smiled at Valentin and gave his arm a squeeze. “Such a handsome guy,” she affirmed, “and very nice.” 

I didn’t get to talk to him much. He was chatting with everyone, and Farran was in his face half the time. She told him that Tully barring him from the Cove was a shame, but he said he didn’t blame Tully, and that if he’d been in Tully’s place, he would have done the same thing. 

At one point, he took me aside. “How are you doing?” he asked. 

I shrugged, fighting back tears. 

“I can’t imagine,” he said. “Listen, if you need an ear, a shoulder, I’m here.” 

I thanked him. 

The Lynx gang didn’t stay long, and when they left, I lingered at the registry where they had all signed their names. It seemed to provide further evidence that this was a done deal. Angie was gone. 

I went up to the front and sat with my godparents, often crying. Robbie sat beside me. He hugged me a couple of times and cried with me. 

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 – 27

Chapter Twenty-seven 

side from the usual predatory demon, I had other chilling dreams that night. 

In the first, a barely audible voice in my head kept telling me I needed to wake up. In my hazy vision, I could see I was in my room, and yet I was desperate to get out of it and find the others. An omnipotent force pulled my body quickly through the air. I couldn’t control it. 

“Mom?” I called. 

There was no response. 

I followed the sound of a radio playing. It led me to a closed door, but when I gave it a push, there was no one inside. 

“Mom? My head hurts,” I said. 

Now I was merely a ghost of a child, and what lay beyond the door was off-limits to me. I felt ready to faint or fade into oblivion. The silence and emptiness of the large house seemed to pose a threat. Was I dead? The thought pained me. I floated toward a banister in the corridor and gazed down the stairway, then gripped my aching head. It seemed like if someone didn’t reach out to me, I was sure to fall and keep falling. 

In the next dream, I was in some desert with golden brown sand dunes but no rocks, no boulders, and no sign of life until a horned lark flew by. Seagulls followed it, landing to scavenge in the sand. The squawking of the gulls turned to harsh wails of distress. I thought they were dying, and the moment I noticed that, they lay dead in the sand, every one of them. I could see their bones. Then the lark took an unexpected dive, continuing to descend until all I could see were its black wings in the sand. Now the person on the beach was not me. It was my mother. I could see her eyes, and they looked normal, as if she didn’t notice the lark, the dead seagulls, or the bones left in their wake. Finally, I was myself again, looking up as dark clouds hovered, worrying that it would be dark soon. 

It appeared someone had left me in this place tangled up in barbed wire. The sand was gone, and darkness surrounded me as I fell into an abyss, no longer tangled in the wire. It was hard to tell if someone had thrown me there, or if I had escaped, but when I looked up, there was an opening above all the blackness where I could see swirling clouds that were black, grey and gold covering a grey sky with just a hint of the sun’s light. Angie was there! She seemed calm now, in a white gown, a crown of flowers in her hair—yellow gerbera daisies, white jasmine, and black calla lilies; I was sure of it, though she was far away. Beyond her was the backdrop of a wintry scene with snow-covered trees and a glowing lamppost, just like a Christmas card I’d once seen—one she would have loved. 

She tossed something down to me. As it got close, I couldn’t move, couldn’t grasp it, and I was in tears. It was nothing more than a blank piece of paper, but a sense of relief came when I realized it didn’t matter if I caught the page; I saw it. 

“It’s okay, Dani,” she said, her voice distant. “I told you. It will be okay.” 

After that, it was night, and I was with Quinton under the moon and stars, sitting on what seemed to be a high concrete wall in the middle of nowhere. There wasn’t a doubt in my mind it was Quinton, though I didn’t picture him. We talked. God knows about what, but we were aware that I was also asleep in my bed. It felt like an out-of-body experience. 

The feeling of Angie’s presence lessened but never faded that night. Even after Quinton and the wall, I felt she was still there as I slept, watching over me like the angel she was. 

When I woke, I had to process every detail. What I derived from the dreams was that fear had me trapped with many obstacles to overcome, and I was punishing myself, avoiding reality, allowing people and things to keep me down. Part of me continued to lament my loss of innocence, my fall from grace, and I was stuck in the past, afraid to move forward. I was angry, grieving, drowning in guilt, and seething over betrayals, lost, desperate, and confused. At the same time, I was healing and becoming cleansed, seeing a light in the distance and fighting to break through to the other side of this misery and helplessness. There was a protective hand of love reaching out to me, urging me on, and I knew inner peace was attainable if I could manage to grasp it. 

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 – 26

Chapter Twenty-six

he had said she would sleep in Joey’s room but must have changed her mind. She was beside me now, asleep, with an arm around my waist. For a while, it was peaceful. Then she began twisting, turning, mumbling. I couldn’t understand what she was saying. 

“Angie …” I whispered to her. 

She stopped moving and fell silent. Seconds later, she sprang up and gasped. I switched the lamp on and saw her hand over her heart, her eyes wide with fear, and beads of sweat trickling down her forehead. 

“Angie, what’s wrong?” I asked. 

She didn’t answer or look in my direction. Then she went back to sleep. 

I was half-asleep myself, drained by all the emotions of the day, so I, too, went back to sleep, leaving the lamp on. I felt her moving again—releasing the arm she had once more wrapped around me. I heard the bedsprings as she rose. Licorice meowed from his spot at the corner of the bed. I sat up. 

She walked at a frenetic pace around the room—almost in circles, as if the room was on fire and she wanted to get out but didn’t know how. In her pure white nightgown, she had an ethereal aura about her. The gown was ankle-length, with long sleeves, and revealed little more than her tiny bare feet. She looked like a Victorian doll or, more aptly, a centuries-old ghost. I considered whether all of it was a dream, as I was not fully awake. 

“Angie!” I called to her. 

She didn’t turn or acknowledge me. 

I threw the covers off and approached her, grazing her shoulder. When she turned to me, her vacant stare—so disengaged and expressionless—chilled me to the bone. 

“Angie, wake up!” I pleaded, gently shaking her shoulders. 

She became enraged. I could see the fury in her eyes. She was far from the sweet, fragile Angie I knew, and she pushed me away with such violent force that it flung me hard against my bookcase, causing one of the hardcover books to fall on my head. I caught a glimpse of her bolting from the room before everything went dark, and I could feel my body sinking. You have to get up, I kept telling myself. You have to find her. But my head hurt. My back hurt. And I was out. 

It would have been the typical nightmare for me—except it wasn’t a dream. 

I couldn’t have been on the floor more than five minutes before I frantically awakened everyone. Bruised and in some pain, I threw a coat on over my pajamas and slipped on a pair of boots. The day was dawning, but it was still mostly dark, and there was no trace of Angie. My mother and grandmother huddled in the doorway, looking anxious and afraid, as my father, Robbie, and I headed for the driveway. 

An impulsive glance at the sky halted me in my tracks, or perhaps I sensed it. The omnipotent gold of the sun was rising against a backdrop an artist might have painted—ominous charcoal gray, flames of orange, nuances of blue, and an invigorating, most passionate, purple. In that exquisite hour, when hope reigned with the promise of a new day, I saw her— as if a divine force had illuminated her. She was on the roof in that virginal white gown, her dark hair blowing behind her like a child lost. My heart pounded. I made a dash for the stairs with Robbie close behind. 

We raced up three flights to the gloomy old attic door with its dark, rustic stain and antique handle. It was slightly ajar, and I could feel the draft now. The first streak of sunlight in that murky chamber came from the small window and the open roof hatch. We hurried along the creaking floors, beneath the angled ceiling, through the room dusty with cobwebs. A scissor stairway led to the horizontally placed roof hatch. 

Angie was at the edge when we got there. Her back was turned, but she heard us and turned. I thought it was possible she could hear the beating of my heart that was thumping so violently. 

Robbie looked panicked. “Should I grab her?” 

I pulled his arm. “Don’t scare her.” 

“What’s going on with her?” 

“I don’t know if she’s awake.” 

“What?” 

I held my hand out to her. 

I saw the vacant stare turn to confusion. “Dani?” She blinked. 

“Come inside, Angie,” I coaxed gently. “It’s cold out here.” I took a step forward. “Just walk toward me.” 

“I remember sitting in the attic, crying,” she said. “Then I saw the stairs.” 

“It’s okay,” Robbie told her. “You’ll be fine.” 

My parents and grandmother were there now. I moved closer to Angie.  

She began to cry. “I tried to hang on. I tried hard. My parents deserve that. They lost Dom. They can’t lose me, and my dog needs me. My parents do criticize me a lot, you know, and they may talk too much sometimes, but they love me. I know they do. They’ve been great parents to me, and you’ve been a great cousin and friend.” 

“It’s not over,” Robbie said. 

“I thought about talking to my mom about what happened,” she went on, “but I couldn’t. They deserve better than that, than me. You’re stronger than I ever could be, Dani. You always were. You can do this. I can’t. I don’t know how.” 

“No one’s better than you,” I told her, “and I’ll help you to be strong. I’ll show you.” 

I went to grab her, and, at the same time, Robbie moved in closer. I saw a glimmer of hope in her eyes, and then I saw fear. She shook her head then turned suddenly and quickly, backing up. I don’t know if she lost her balance or intentionally let go, but she fell. 

I let out a blood-curdling scream. 

She landed on the right side of the lawn, a couple of feet from the front of our house. Robbie went to call an ambulance, and I rushed downstairs to her side. I pressed my head to her chest. She was still breathing, and her heart seemed to be beating as fast as my own. 

“Can you hear me, Angie?” It was my voice posing the question, but I barely recognized it. 

My mother placed her fingers upon Angie’s wrist. “It’s weak,” she said, “but she should be okay. The grass is soft.” Yet she looked so deeply saddened and wiped away a tear, saying, “This will break Zuza’s heart.” 

I lost it when Dom and Zuza arrived. The pain I imagined they felt only heightened my own. 

“Wake up, my little girl,” Zuza cooed, kneeling over her daughter. “Mommy’s here.” She caressed Angie’s face and kissed her head. 

My heart bled. 

My father tried to explain it to a baffled Uncle Dom, apologizing for not having locked the attic door. 

“That has nothing to do with anything,” my godfather told him. He cursed in Italian. 

“Pray,” Zuza told him. “Pray for your daughter.” 

Emergency responders and neighbors came from every direction. As paramedics examined and assessed her, I gathered what information I could. They said she had landed headfirst, with progressive contact to the spine. They opened an airway to assist her breathing, which they documented as rapid and shallow. They noted dilated pupils, an irregular heart rate. They said she was in shock. I watched them look at the cuts and scrapes on her legs. They provided her with oxygen, immobilized her spine, and elevated her legs. At some point, they recorded a decrease in blood pressure. Then she went into cardiac arrest, and they could not revive her. She died at the scene. 

Amid the hysteria, I felt dizzy, nauseated, and disoriented. I would have fainted if my father hadn’t caught me. Paramedics offered to treat me for shock, and I refused at first, not wanting to leave Angie. When I acceded, they had me lie down on my grandmother’s bed. They removed my coat and boots. I kept asking for Angie. They were kind and tried to soothe me, saying things like, “Sorry about your friend,” and “You’re going to be okay.” They took my vitals, covered me with a blanket, and monitored me. 

In the whirlwind of the next day, Zuza passed along what the doctors had reported about Angie’s condition—prolonged shock, fractured ribs, dislocated shoulder, her spine fractured in two places. Her head had snapped back. She had a concussion and the wind knocked out of her. 

At breakfast, my grandmother said, more than once, that the angels had come for Angie, and that she was home with her brother and grandfather. “God—he wants another angel in heaven,” she reasoned with a shrug. 

My father’s eyes widened in horror. “So he throws a girl off a roof?” 

My mother tried to shush him. 

He didn’t let it go. “You want to talk about God? Okay, my sister has the biggest heart of anyone I know. She is always praying and going to church, and he robbed her of two kids.” 

“Nobody knows what God’s reason is,” my mother said. “Maybe he has a good reason that we don’t understand.” 

“A good reason for a little boy to die like that, so young, so innocent, and to suffer so much? A good reason for a young girl, seventeen years old, to be killed falling off my roof? For my sister to go through all that hell?” His voice was shaking. “They brainwash you to think that! Ah, what’s the use?” He cried then. It wasn’t for long, and we all reached out to comfort him. He rebuffed us. 

I wasn’t sure when he had lost his faith in God, but I was convinced it had happened way before this. I remember in grade school, telling him what the priest had said during Mass. 

“He’s full of shit!” he bellowed, waving his hand in disgust. “They’re all full of shit.” 

My mother would clench her teeth and admonish him. “Stop,” she’d say. “It’s not for you to question. That’s the wine talking, and whatever you say, the kids will repeat.” 

My grandmother went to church every Sunday and hounded him to go. He wouldn’t, so she went with Zuza. 

“Angie and Dom Jr. are with God,” I said to him now. “He’s taking good care of them.” 

“I hope so,” my father replied. “I really hope so.” 

About an hour after that, I went to see Farran, half expecting her not to believe the sequence of events. I could easily convince myself that it had never happened, if not for the pain in my tailbone and back. 

Sitting beside her on her bed, I blamed myself. “I shouldn’t have awakened her,” I said. I made ridiculous assertions: I should have barricaded the door before confronting her. I should have grabbed her sooner. 

“How could you know what to do?” Farran asked repeatedly. She assured me she would have done the same thing. 

We cried together. 

“She wanted the memory of what happened to stay buried,” I said. 

“But deep down, she knew,” Farran replied. “She couldn’t remember it if it didn’t happen. If we’d known she was hell bent on self-destruction, we could have done something, but she didn’t want us to know. God bless and love her.” 

“The doctor mentioned her cutting.” 

Farran grabbed a couple of tissues from a box on her dresser. She handed one to me and used the other. “Did your aunt and uncle ever suspect?” 

“No idea. I had her purse, you know. I had to go through it. She carried a razor blade.” 

“Jesus …you think you know someone,” she said. “I wish I had paid more attention.” 

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 – 25

Chapter Twenty-five 

he phone calls had begun again. I’d answer, and there’d be silence on the other end. Sometimes, I heard breathing or noise in the background, and, within minutes, there was a dial tone. I realized it could be anyone, but I suspected Phil or Sergio. It frightened me when I was alone. 

Another problem had developed—Angie was cutting. 

We had gone up to my room to exchange gifts on Christmas Eve. She tried on a shawl scarf Farran had given her, catching the material on her silver studded wristband. 

“What’s that on your arm?” Farran had asked as she carefully disjoined the material from the bracelet. She had grazed Angie’s forearm with her hand. “Your cat was never that feisty.” 

Angie told us her dad liked to get him riled up. 

During dinner, Zuza chided Angie for eating so little. It was our traditional meal of seven fishes. My mother had prepared most of it, along with spaghetti in marinara sauce. Everyone praised the meal, especially Farran and her mother, who had joined us. 

Farran’s watchful eyes seemed focused on Uncle Dom when he interacted gently and affectionately with Licorice. “Is she calmer than your cat?” Farran asked. 

“Nah, they’re both calm, very nice,” he replied. 

It occurred to me, as I suspected it did Farran, that Uncle Dom had the gentlest nature. 

There was another conversation about Angie never being in a hurry, as if she had all day. “Over an hour in the bathroom,” Zuza divulged. “Then she’s taking out the garbage from the bathroom because she complains it’s too full, that I don’t empty it enough. That’s not true. And I tell her take the other garbage, too, and she says she can’t because she’s late.” 

Farran grabbed hold of Angie and me outside of the kitchen after dinner and asked if we could go outside. She said she needed a cigarette. We grabbed our jackets, headed out the door, and gathered in the lot. 

Farran got right to the point. “Angie, I know what you’ve been doing.” 

Angie’s eyes filled with innocence and surprise. “What am I doing?” 

“Cutting.” 

“What? No …” 

I had no idea what they were talking about, since cutting hadn’t been a widespread concern at the time. 

“A friend at school did it, a very troubled girl,” Farran explained. “She’d make cuts on her arms and legs. It’s an endorphin rush, and they get addicted real quick.” 

Angie shook her head. 

“Those were not scratches from your cat,” Farran said, “and I’m betting there’s more. It’s what you’ve been doing in the bathroom at home.” 

I hadn’t seen Angie in short sleeves since summer, which was normal, but I realized she’d been keeping her sweater on in school, where we wore half-sleeve blouses. 

“Is it true?” I asked. 

“It’s not,” she replied, averting her eyes. 

Farran grabbed her coat sleeve. “Let’s see your arms.” 

Angie pulled away. “It’s so cold. I’m not taking my coat off!” 

“Tell the truth, or I swear I’ll take it off you,” Farran said. 

Angie looked guilty and then ashamed. “Okay, look, I swore it would be one time, but it was very soothing, and I did it again. It’s not a big deal. It’s not dangerous. I’m not gonna accidentally slit my wrist or something.” 

“How long have you been doing it?” I asked. 

“A couple of months,” she replied.“About ten times.” 

Despite being the one to uncover it all, Farran looked shocked by the admission. “Damn, this is breaking my heart,” she said. “What would make you do this? Is it Nico? I know you’ve been upset about Nico.” 

“You can talk to us about anything that’s bothering you,” I told Angie, “and I mean anything. You know we love you, and we’d do anything to help you.” 

She teared up. “I love you guys, too.” 

I hugged her as tight as I could. 

“You need to promise you’re not gonna do this again,” Farran said, hugging her next. “I’ll kick your ass. I’m serious. I don’t want to lose either one of you.” 

Angie promised, and I had renewed hope that she would soon be ready to face what had happened. Until then, I didn’t want to tell either of them about the phone calls. 

On Christmas morning, I labored to get in as much writing as I could before Robbie’s arrival. The ideas kept coming—at work, in bed, and in the shower. Still, when I heard his voice from the top of our two-story foyer, I couldn’t get down there fast enough. We hugged with exuberance. He looked healthy, and he had grown his first thin mustache. 

We ate dinner at two—lasagna and then coffee and pastries. It was just the immediate family. Robbie shared news that he’d begun working nights as a desk clerk at an inn near the campus. He planned to work summers as a camp counselor. He also said he had met a nice girl. After dessert, my mother brought out the board games. Joey encouraged my father to play and got a dismissive wave in response. 

“He won’t because I always beat him,” my mother said. “He doesn’t like to lose. The minute he starts losing, he knocks the whole board over, then he says it was an accident.” 

My father shook his head. “She’s making up stories. I grew up listening to all my mother’s stories, and now she makes up stories, too.” 

Robbie’s eyes widened. “What kind of stories did Grandma tell you?” 

We already knew my grandfather had abandoned his wife and kids when he left Italy for America. He was gone six years before they joined him in the States. My father revealed that, at the time, Grandma was always crying, and she was deathly afraid of witches and vampires. 

It sounded absurd to me, but my grandmother was there, nodding her head. 

I had to ask. “You believe in witches and vampires?” 

“Not me,” my father said. 

It saddened me to think that while my father had suffered the pain of his father’s abandonment, the one person there to comfort him had probably frightened him instead. I felt for my grandmother, too. 

Joey asked about our grandfather’s alleged ghost. 

“I never saw or heard anything,” my father replied. 

Grandma was nodding again. 

Robbie said, “I heard a door slam once in the basement when nobody was near any doors.” 

My mother shook her head. “That’s not true. How would you know there was nobody near any of the doors on three floors when you can only be in one place at a time?” 

So, this was impossible, but a man disappearing after a lightning strike was somehow probable? It boggled the mind. 

I realized that she, too, had raised her children while being terribly afraid, maybe not of witches and vampires, but of other things. Thunderstorms seemed to rattle her far more than they did the average person. When we were kids, she would keep us all together in the dining room until the storm passed. 

We played a round of Parcheesi now, which she won, but if we had played Trivial Pursuit, we’d have left her in the dust. 

Joey, Robbie, and I went to the Cove after that. Joey had taken his bike, and Robbie came with me. We joked that it was a “foggy” Christmas. 

I asked Robbie if he thought my father knew about the psychic my mother had consulted or about the witchcraft. 

“No,” he replied. “The psychic specifically told her not to tell him or you.” 

“Me?” 

“Yep.” 

“Hmmm, maybe because I have all those books, including the one on witchcraft, and she knows I’ll know what she’s doing,” I said. 

“Think so?” 

“I don’t know. I haven’t read that book cover to cover, just skimmed through. It’s a bunch of different spells.” 

We picked up Angie and then Farran. 

Tully was on duty. Gianni stopped in briefly with Liz, barely acknowledging us. I couldn’t help feeling slighted, though I had wanted it this way. 

Farran talked about the fight between Billy and Valentin. “Dani was absolutely terrified,” she told my brothers. There was that word again—three generations of terrified. “Poor thing, she looked so upset.” 

Robbie said, “I think when you grow up in a house where there’s a constant threat of violence, you either get used to it or constantly fear it.” 

This declaration surprised me, and I could tell it seemed odd to Angie as well. When I thought of a violent home, I pictured tortured, abused children cowering in the corner while their father beat their mother, but he was right. Even if incidents of physical abuse in our home seemed isolated, and there was evident remorse, violence was violence. 

Farran responded with, “I’m really glad Billy didn’t press charges.” She looked at Joey. “I heard Valentin disappeared, though. The latest rumor is he’s in Florida.” 

“Oh, no, he’s back,” Joey divulged. “He’s barred from the Cove.” 

Farran’s eyes widened. Her lips parted slightly, and there was that questioning gaze. “Have you been in touch with him? Is he okay?” 

“I’ve been in touch with him,” Joey replied. “He’s fine.” He got up from our table and went to the bar. Robbie soon joined him. 

“You know, as far as all this fighting and brawling goes, it doesn’t matter if it’s common or expected,” I said to Farran. “I don’t have to be okay with it. And, to be honest, I’m not sure why we were ever comfortable coming to this place.” 

“I knew you weren’t,” Angie replied. “I think you wanted to be comfortable, and you tried to be, but I can always tell when you’re uncomfortable.” 

Farran said, “Maybe the times you had enough drinks, you were. Anyway, how much you wanna bet Joey will meet up somewhere with Gianni and the others? Why aren’t we invited anywhere? I feel like total shit.” 

Angie sighed. “They think we’re too young.” 

Farran got teary-eyed. “I’m not, and I’m tired of being left behind in life.” 

“I understand,” Angie said. “I feel that way about my brother dying, like he left me here, and I lost a part of me. I know it was long ago, and Dom and I were little, but we were like one. I miss him every day.” 

An old, familiar feeling resurfaced—that of being a misfit who could never seem to figure out where she belonged. From the time I could walk, I merely followed my brothers. It seemed, too, that in the months after Phil and Sergio, I had become little more than a spectator in life’s drama. I had yearnings that hadn’t been there before—a hunger I didn’t understand. I felt drawn to the Lynx. Part of my hunger had me wanting to become a part of them, even if only in the fantasy realm. I was at a loss to explain how I missed them now, how I ached. Our fates seemed intertwined, and the heartbreak was excruciating. 

“Well, we do have each other, no matter what,” I said. “And I will be rich and famous.” The bit of hope in that dream was enough, and all I needed. Perhaps I wanted it to be all that I needed. I had no idea at the time what a long road it would be. 

Farran laughed, saying, “Oh, yes, any day now, your yacht will dwarf Gianni’s boat at Meig’s Point in Hammonasset. You’ll coast that sucker right up alongside his.” 

Ignoring her, I thought about Valentin. I still felt that pull toward him. The desire for him hadn’t ceased, nor the aching. But that last time I saw him, I had feared him, and, yes, the violent recklessness was, in itself, disturbing, but there was that effortless seduction I’d found hard to resist. I might have granted him that power in fantasy, but, in reality, I thought I should run the other way. In truth, I was uncomfortable enough with the fantasy now.  

Joey left, having said his goodbyes to everyone with one last Merry Christmas hug and kiss. 

Robbie came back to our table. “I could have gone with him, but he can’t take me back tomorrow,” he said. “He has to work.” 

I remember thinking if Joey had invited us, I could have taken Robbie back. 

Robbie may have sensed the tension, as he took me aside in a possible attempt to distract me. “I liked seeing Farran,” he said with a smile. “She’s really sweet, and she looks great.” 

“Yeah, she is. She does,” I said. “By the way, Angie’s sleeping over tonight, so you’ll get to spend more time with her, too.” 

He laughed. “Angie barely talks! I am serious, Dan. She has so little to say. That’s strange for a cousin you’ve known all your life. I asked her what she wants to do, her plans for college. She doesn’t know or seem to care. She has no ambition at all, no dreams.” 

“I think she’d love to work with animals.” 

“She didn’t even say that, though. She’s like an empty shell. I can’t even get a grip on who she is or what she’s about.” 

“Maybe she’s a little down.” 

“How can you tell?” He laughed again. “She seems like she’s on Valium 24/7.” 

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.

SO, WHAT’S NEW? HERE’S MY EXCITING UPDATE! 😊

I’ve been shut down and holed up here in my little world, feeling very disconnected. It’s like I activated my “off button” and can’t seem to switch it back on for long. I wonder how many of you need to do that now and then. I also had a sinus infection and then a pinky toe stress fracture, which I still have.

Last Friday, I went to have blood work done—all ready to do the people thing. The nurse drawing the blood didn’t have a printout for the thyroid part of the order. She told me to go to the front desk and ask them to print out that order. When I did that, they printed the same one she already had, and the nurse told me to go back again and tell them it wasn’t the correct printout. So, the woman at the front desk got all flustered. She complained to someone on the phone that this was “really stressing her out.” I have to walk back and forth with one sneaker and one shoe cast s to get printouts that should be in the lab, and she’s stressed out. Then she keeps repeating into the phone, “I know. I know, right?”

At one time in my life, I would have had to say something to her, but I just wanted to achieve what I was there to accomplish and get out of there. I explained politely, remaining calm, and someone eventually took care of it. I mean, have your little hissy fit, just give me what I need, and I’m gone. These little things are not worth my peace anymore. 

Anyway, during the healing process, I have been writing a lot. My new poetry book is almost complete. A paranormal fantasy book is underway, along with the sequels to Shattering Truths

The idea I had for a non-fiction book has turned into something else entirely—a somewhat shocking recovery memoir. It’s not fiction like Shattering Truths, so, for me, it is a huge deal. I’ve written most of it already, and I hope I don’t change my mind about publishing it. I believe it can, at the very least, be helpful to someone. 

I’ll be looking for beta readers who’d like to read along and give input for any of these projects.

Of course, I’ve been reading a lot of books, too. Right now, I have a few lined up that are about Edinburgh detectives. It’s what I’m into right now, reading about Scotland and these mystery thrillers.

I watched a lot of the heartbreaking Derek Chauvin trial, and I’ve read about all these shootings across the country (including a recent one in my county on Long Island). For quite a while now, this whole world has needed a reset button. I always thought if there is a divine message for us, it would be, “Start over, people. You can do way better than that.”

Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

On a lighter note, I’ve also been watching:

Netflix – Bridgerton, Lucifer, and the 100.

Prime -Dark Shadows, Mad Men, and Suits.

Network TV – I love Good Girls and Manifest. 

 I am such a fan of the 100. I love Suits, and Dark Shadows is one of my all-time favorites. Lucifer is hilarious, and I like Bridgerton, but I’m still waiting to see what all the fuss is about.

(It takes me a long time to get through a series because I may watch one show a night.)

What about you? What are you watching? Let me know in the comments, and, stay safe and well! ❤️

DEADLY VEILS BOOK ONE: SHATTERING TRUTHS – 18

Chapter Eighteen 

It was about four when I arrived at the dress shop. The Versailles curtains in the display windows changed with the seasons. In winter, they were heavyweight opaque in a platinum shade. Zuza would herald the arrival of spring with bead-trimmed, crushed fabric in sage, which remained throughout the summer. Chenille in taupe was the fall look. By Thanksgiving, she had replaced it with plush velvet draping in gold. 

The familiar bells jingled as I passed through the door. Zuza was at the register, chatting on the phone. I hung my coat on the rack. My mind conjured memories from a decade ago—all of us children prancing around the reception room. Since our early kindergarten days, Zuza and my mom had taken turns transporting us to and from school. When Zuza picked us up, we waited here for my mother.

I’d be thrilled to arrive and see the latest dresses displayed on the mannequins, one in each window, and two in the reception area against a backdrop of pale blue walls. We often slumped on the floral sofa beside the floor lamp that had a fringe shade of broadcloth. The center table surrounding the sofa offered past and present editions of Harper’s Bazaar, until Angie and I convinced Zuza to add Cosmo and Seventeen

Display counters that once exhibited handcrafted fabric dolls and plush, hand-stitched bears made by employees, including my grandmother, now displayed brooches, pendants, chains, and hand-dyed silk scarves. None of the women had time to make dolls anymore. I missed the dolls. I thought immediately of Sweet Cookie, a store-bought doll Zuza had given to me on my fifth birthday. 

How I missed that innocent time! All of us kids would stampede to the workroom in back like a herd of cattle. Depending on when you visited, it could be a quiet place with people working or abuzz with the chatter of visitors. Zuza kept coffee brewing on a table against the wall. People brought cookies she would set out there. Beyond the table, as far in the back as you could go, there was a tiny desk where Uncle Dom would sit to do the books. I always looked to see if he was there, though he usually wasn’t on a weekday. He owned a popular barbershop back then where my dad liked to go. It was a hangout for some of the locals. 

Zuza hung up the phone now and smiled. “Here’s my beautiful godchild!” Her eyes radiated warmth, caring, kindness, and much love. 

We went to the back, where my mother sat cutting and trimming at the long table—the same table where we’d sat coloring during childhood, with the cushioned armchairs and chintz-covered stools and many braided baskets filled with patterns and supplies. My grandmother was at one of the sewing machines, doing alterations, while another worker stood a few feet away, hand-pressing a gown. 

Oh, the wonderful memories I had of this place! 

Uncle Dom had been so kind when we’d visited on the Saturday after my eye surgery all those years ago. 

“I only have to keep the patch for a little while,” I recall telling him. 

“Don’t worry,” he had said, “when they take it off, you’re gonna find a princess under that patch.” 

“Me?” 

“That’s right. And, one day, I’m gonna take you to Pozzilli with me. They have beautiful castles there. You’re gonna see.” 

“Real castles?” 

“Oh, yeah, they are huge! I’m telling you, the way they are now is the way they were hundreds of years ago. You’re gonna be the Princess of Pozzilli there, and you’re not gonna believe it.” 

I couldn’t help giggling. 

“It’s funny?” he asked. “Why do you find it funny?” 

“Princess of Pozzilli is a funny name.” 

“What, you would rather be Queen of Pozzilli?” 

I nodded and then tugged on his sleeve. “Did you bring the dummy?” 

I was referring to a wooden doll he sometimes brought with him for his ventriloquist routine. He made everyone laugh, though no one laughed harder than Grandma. 

“Next time,” he promised with a wink. 

No matter where Uncle Dom was, he appeared more than willing to deliver the impromptu magic tricks, particularly with bills, coins, and cigarettes he would pull from his pockets. Seeing him laugh after he made us laugh was part of the treat. I felt blessed that my parents had chosen him and Zuza for my godparents. 

Zuza took my measurements that day, just as she had years ago before creating the costume for my first grade play. For that—my acting debut—she transformed brown moiré fabric into a tunic, seaming the sides, traced a white clock face, cut it out, and drew Roman numerals with a black marker. She glued toy mice to the tunic and headpiece, and, in the final phases, added gold cords and cut out the hands. I had no more to do than tilt my head from left to right, chiming, “Tick-tock. Tick-tock,” but everyone marveled. 

I had looked forward to that, but this modeling gig, not so much. 

“When you come Saturday to model, bring two pairs of shoes,” she said, “one with maybe a three-inch heel, another with four. I know you must have them, and if you have a strapless bra, bring it. It’s better if it’s beige, that way you can’t see through—and if you have the seamless panties, that would be perfect.” 

When Saturday arrived, I gathered all of those things and stuffed them in a backpack. Then I put the backpack aside and took some time to study my books on writing. I looked over Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style—my bible long before The Chicago Manual of Style. Then, hoping it would seal the information in my brain and make a quick, easy guide, I typed a booklet of notes, including notes from the literary agent’s critique. 

As I slipped the booklet into a binder I had pulled from my bookcase, a somewhat tattered page fell out. It was an article I had cut out of a magazine: “What to Do With Your First Million.” It might have been from Writer’s Digest or Money Magazine. I subscribed to both. Now, in my mind, seeing this article at precisely that moment seemed like a sign from God. Still, it amused me. Yes, Danielle, God wants you on the French Riviera, wearing a string bikini, shades, and a floppy hat, sipping margaritas and snapping your fingers at cabana boys. Nonetheless, it reinforced my determination. 

Along with the college courses I would take to further my literary pursuits, I vowed to sign up for acting classes and voice lessons. Perhaps a desire to prove my worth was one motivating factor, but my interests were genuine. 

By one o’clock, I was at the dress shop. 

“You’re just going to put on a sample and see how it looks and feels when you move around, when you go to sit down, and when you walk,” Zuza explained. “That way, we can take a look and see how better to fix it. After that, it can be made any size.” 

I followed her to the back where Angie was walking around filling a scrap bag with discarded materials. My mother and grandmother usually took Saturdays off, but they were there now working. After the usual greetings and casual conversation, I passed through the louver doors of the fitting room with Zuza’s dress in hand. There was no escaping my reflection in the well-lit room. There were large mirrors with unique etching and pink swags at the top. I didn’t like what I saw in those mirrors. Zuza poked her head in to ask whether I was having a hard time getting the dress on and if the zipper was okay. I said it was all good. I used the bench to put the first pair of heels on and walked out to model

My grandmother and another worker showered me with praise in Italian. 

“Yes, she’s like her mother,” Zuza acknowledged. “Grace always looks beautiful.” 

My mother smiled, thanking her. She told me I looked great. 

My grandmother remained silent about Zuza’s compliment to my mother, as she always did. 

Angie’s grin was one of approval, but something was off with her, I could tell. Even before her dog got sick, she would sometimes be like her old self, and then, other times, she seemed almost too guarded or lost. 

In our junior year of high school, we had laughed so much in class that a teacher had asked us if we were on some type of drug. We weren’t, so that made us laugh more. Angie seemed to love how funny I was at school. She was coming out of her shell, like I had, but I could see only a fragment of that girl now. Ordinarily, I could comfort her about her dog, a fight with her parents or anything. All she did now was pull away. 

These were my thoughts as Zuza pinned my dress, did her marking, and scribbled notes in a small pad. The prodding felt a bit intrusive, but I knew she was accustomed to working with a dress form. Countless times, I had watched her bone a bodice on that form. She was the ultimate pro. 

“How does it feel?” she asked. “If it’s uncomfortable anywhere, let me know.” 

She had me walk around the shop and then pretend to be dancing. 

We all had a good laugh over that—including Angie. 

An hour into this, Angie demanded to leave, lamenting that she’d been at the shop all day, and her dog was alone. The other worker had finished for the day. She offered Angie a ride, and they left. 

I was there a couple more hours, trying on other garments and combinations. 

Zuza offered to pay me, but I refused. I felt guilty enough having to tell her I could do it only a few more times, or every now and then. The truth was, I didn’t mind taking off here and there on a beautiful day, going for a walk or a trip to the mall, but I reserved much of the weekend for writing. 

She seemed to understand, and she shared something with me. “Did you know I almost named this place Vaccaro’s?” 

I didn’t. 

“Yes, I figured I was Mrs. Dominic Vaccaro. It made sense. But it didn’t really make sense. You know why?” 

I shook my head. 

“Because that was my dream for so long—to have a dress shop. It was not Dominic’s dream. We decided to use my name, and since Zuza wouldn’t have sounded so good, we used my given name—Lucrezia. That’s how we came up with Romance Designs by Lucrezia. You love to write, Danielle. That’s your dream, and I don’t blame you. You keep writing.” 

As tightly as I hugged her, it was not sufficient in expressing how dear she was to me. 

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 – 17

Chapter Seventeen 

t had to be a dream, but I could have sworn I wasn’t alone. Something or someone was behind me. Not a mortal being, I decided. It was clear he had not entered and would not exit through that bedroom door. 

How did I know it was a he? Yet, I did. No other possibilities seemed worth considering—not even the equivocal it

Swarms of glittering lights flashed on and off inside of me whenever he departed or returned as if warning me of his presence. From head to toe, I could feel the fire, as if my insides were ablaze. 

Lying on my stomach, my cheek against the pillow, I felt his hard, scaly skin caressing my neck and shoulders. He entered me, and all I could do was shudder—my chest tingling, my heart racing. 

At one point, there was the sound of footsteps outside the door—my mother passing. I didn’t dare turn around, but he seemed to know who was there and what would ensue. 

“She will see me,” he said. 

“Can she?” I seemed to think he could dematerialize. 

“She can see me,” he stated with certainty. 

Either I managed to hide him, or he hid himself. I tried calling to my mother for help, but I merely struggled, gasping for breath. No words came until she was gone. 

“How can she see you?” I asked in a haze. 

“She can see me,” he said. 

I supposed that, like me, she would see no more than a shadow in the darkness. 

“Who are you?” I asked. 

He didn’t reply. 

Once I was surely awake, I sprang from the bed. Struggling to steady my quivering limbs, I scrambled for the light. 

I sat on the edge of the bed, my head bowed and resting in my trembling hands. The alarm clock buzzed, startling me. Angrily, I slammed it quiet and glanced at the towering mirror atop my chest of drawers. Sweat trickled from my brow. It had seemed so real, and, for the moment, silence prevailed. No one was in the room except me. Nothing had changed. There remained only the conception of innocence with my frilly pink bedding, my Victorian rose table lamp, the sweet teddy bears, and my cherished doll. The old nativity plaque of the Blessed Virgin with Joseph and baby Jesus seemed frozen in time. 

Proceeding to the bathroom, and, subsequently, downstairs to the kitchen, I switched on any light switch I passed. In a weird hypnotic state, I grabbed what I needed from the refrigerator and prepared a breakfast of coffee and toast. Before returning to the upstairs bathroom, I checked the locks on the front doors. I checked the stove. It occurred to me, I had developed some odd new habits to ensure my safety, and the safety of those around me. I knew no one had come in or gone out the door in the middle of the night, just as I knew I hadn’t used the stove, that no one else had overnight, and that my mother had made sure all was well, tidy, and clean before she went to bed. 

Undressing now, I stepped from the brown and gold floor tiles to the Moroccan brown scatter rug and into the bath. Every now and then, I interrupted my shower to slide open the glass doors just enough to peek out, and my heart pounded.  

Hours later, I took my road test. 

The license examiner must have felt sorry for me, since I’d been too nervous to make a proper U-turn. He passed me anyway. I had taken the day off from school and work—to get plates and take care of other car business—all before a visit to Zuza’s dress shop, so that she could take my measurements. 

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.

HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT BETA READERS AND LOVE THE PROCESS

My brilliant beta readers are the best that I could hope for, as a writer. I have the utmost respect and appreciation for them!

You see, they’re not afraid to tell me what they do or don’t like and what does or doesn’t work in my story. Thankfully, they don’t mind having to answer more questions once their work is complete. They see it as an ongoing project they’re helping to shape. They not only provide feedback, but they’ll also catch the occasional typo or inconsistency, and let me know when a transition didn’t go as smoothly as it should have. And, believe it or not, they do this for free!

What I’ve gotten in the way of beta readers has been ideal, I’ll admit, but there are guidelines that help in choosing the right beta readers. And while most of them don’t charge, you’re entitled to have higher expectations if they do.

What’s important to note is, you’re not hiring a beta reader simply to proofread. You can hire an actual proofreader for that. I have several people look over the work for that purpose, including my editor.

You’re not hiring a beta reader to edit your work either. You absolutely need a professional editor for that, no matter how good of an editor you are or how qualified your beta reader may be in suggesting edits.

You don’t want a beta reader who will come back with, “I like it. Everything’s good.” A sentence or a small paragraph of feedback is not going to help much.

Writers are sometimes to blame for that. Many of them get pissed at beta readers for giving their honest opinions, but if you think you can do no wrong, you will get nowhere. We’re not perfect. Mastering our craft is an ongoing thing, and if we’re doing it right, then we continue to grow as writers. Some may say, “But I am the writer, and they are just readers.” Forget that word “just.” Readers are everything! It is the reader you want to appeal to, and it’s their feedback you are requesting. We always benefit by listening and learning. There are a lot of great writers out there. We can’t kid ourselves, thinking we are beyond any competition.

Yeah, we can get a little stubborn about certain things. I’ve found that I can be stubborn, too, so it helps if I give myself time to process what my beta reader is saying. Ultimately, I’ll be able to see their point and let go of what I’d been holding onto so tenaciously. We can be biased, and, no matter what, it’s personal, and so we can have tunnel vision. We need to ask ourselves, “Why is this so important to me? What’s going on here?” Sometimes I engage in a debate with the beta reader, and he or she will convince me that it needs to be a certain way. It may turn out that they see my point, or that it results in a compromise, but we have to be open to omitting or changing things. It’s good to have people who are not going to get upset with you or you with them. It takes a level of maturity on both parts and an ability to set ego aside.

On the other hand, if you’re hiring someone just to validate that you wrote a perfect book, that’s a different thing entirely.

As for me, in searching for the right beta, I also look for people who may be particularly helpful for what I’m writing. I do a ton of research (probably too much), but for my current work-in-progress, I’m interested in cops, detectives, veterans, people who’ve lived in or traveled to Spain, and people who grew up in the Bronx. I like to have both male and female readers because I love appealing to both audiences. I have three beta readers now and can take on one or two more.

Your beta readers are part of your team. At the very least, I like to thank them in the published book’s acknowledgements section and provide them a free signed copy.

My beta readers help me write a better story, and that’s what you always want—a better story.

ANNOUNCEMENT! NEW MAGAZINE!

Brave Wings is a new online magazine that focuses on the human condition—whatever we experience in life that helps us learn, grow, and evolve. Sharing perspectives about healing and empowerment can be exciting and helpful, but we also want to provide entertainment and fun while sharing the beauty of creativity.

Some of the topics we will cover:

Adversity, anxiety, artist(s), authors, books, writing (editing tips and experiences), childhood, classic literature, codependency, compassion, creativity, depression, dreams, ego, evolving, feeling unworthy, fiction pieces and excerpts, fun, giving back, gratitude, grief, growing, healing, hope, humanity, humility, humor, inspiration, interviews, judgment, learning, letting go, life, loss, love, mental health, narcissism, oppression, panic attacks, parenting, passion, poetry, politics, prejudice, reading and reviews, recovery from addiction and trauma, relationships, religion, romance, sadness, self-sabotage, self-care and self-love, shame, stigma, stress, and tolerance.

For entertainment, we are interested in short stories and book series (all genres). We’re interested in humor.

For creativity, we may be interested in photos, handmade products, something that showcases your talent.

Content for submission will include blogs, videos, audios, slideshows, and photographs. Please see the submissions page for instructions on how to submit!

We will not pay for submissions at this time. However, we will always share your work on our social media sites, and we encourage all contributors to share magazine contents submitted by others on their social media sites. Helping one another with exposure is what will make this site work.

In addition, we will provide the following for all contributors to the magazine:

A listing in the contributor section, where more information (links, etc.) will be added with each contribution. The most frequent contributors may also have a few of their books, products, or recommendations in the listing.

The opportunity by contributors to submit news that provides opportunities for artistic communities, as well as their own business events and significant personal news, all of which we will share on our social media sites.

Access to the chat room (as a moderator, if they prefer), and the ability to hold monitored topic meetings to promote their talent/business.

For those privileges, you must be a regulator contributor. There are no deadlines. However, you must have contributed at least twice with acceptance and publication.

We do intend to have a community that includes a discussion forum and chat room where we can present topics hosted by contributors.

Our Announcement page will provide news of available opportunities within the artistic communities, including contests and contributor events.

We will post book reviews that are submitted by contributors, but we don’t assign books for review.

We will post interviews by our contributors if they are relative to our platform. If you feel you are a good candidate for an interview, contact us at submissions@bravewingsmag.com.

If this venture is a success, we may eventually monetize and pay for content.

For those interested in getting involved, we may also need editors, site moderators, group moderators, page moderators, etc. who will have contributor status. Those most involved will be given domain e-mail addresses for the magazine. We have four more available, so if you love this idea, the opportunity is there to get as involved as you’d like.

Another thing I’m tossing around is whether we’ll have a group or newsletter for interested parties, so please, please, weigh in with your thoughts about everything! All suggestions are welcome!

Please visit our site at Bravewings.mag.com, and feel free to follow or subscribe.

Please like us on Facebook and connect with us on Twitter!

Photo by KH Koehler Design

The SockKids Book Blast for Friends of Kids With Cancer!

It is my honor and privilege to offer a blog spot for this book tour because I truly love this series! Kids will, too! You’ll want to read it to your children and grandchildren. The illustrations in this book are beautiful and as colorful as the characters. You will love the sweet, heartfelt and poignant messages. It’s just adorable and will make you smile ear-to-ear! 🙂

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BeachBoundBooks is pleased to be coordinating a Book Blast for Author Michael John Sullivan and the SockKids. The SockKids are partners with Friends of Kids With Cancer, a non-profit organization that helps kids be kids during their cancer treatments. We are honored to help out with YOUR help too. The blast will run from April 30 – May 14, 2018.

SockKids Book Blast


The Socks

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The Socks are available for purchase at http://thesockkids.storenvy.com/.
Sale of the Socks will benefit Friends of Kids with Cancer.

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About the Book

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The SockKids – Solving The Mystery Of Your Missing Socks! Where do our missing socks go? Readers find out in our children’s series, The SOCKKIDS. We follow the Socker family through many adventures; from encountering the slobbery mouth of the family dog to meeting Santa as he comes down the chimney on Christmas Eve to helping a fireman save a baby to the most shy Socker going to the school dance for the first time. Thanks to the time-travel opportunities afforded by the spin cycle of the washer, they learn about some of the most important humans in the world. Children two and up and their parents will be drawn to the diversity of the family and the universal and timeless lessons they teach: don’t be afraid of new experiences, treat others as you would like to be treated, and of course, beware of the spin cycle!

SockKidsMeetBenFranklin Cover 1

Where Do Our Missing Socks Go? We tell you! Readers find out in our children’s series — The SOCKKIDS. We follow the Socker family through many adventures, from encountering the slobbery mouth of the family dog to meeting Santa as he comes down the chimney to helping a fireman save a baby to the most sky sock going to the school dance for the first time. Thanks to the time-travel opportunities afforded by the spin cycle of the washer, the Sockers learn about some of the most important humans in the world. Children two and up and their parents will be drawn to the journeys of the family and the universal and timeless lessons they teach: don’t be afraid of new experiences, treat others as you would like to be treated, and of course beware of the spin cycle! In this book’s story, we read about Sudsy landing on the foot of inventor Ben Franklin. Sudsy, the bug-playing boy sock, discovers with Ben Franklin the wonders and dangers of electricity. The book includes safety rules and discussion questions put together by an experienced classroom teacher in helping parents and children respect the power of electricity.

Sockkidssaynotobullyingcover The SockKids focus on educating children and adults how bullying affects us all and what we can do about it.

Do you know where your socks go when they go missing in the washing machine? Well, the SockKids know! The SockKids are a mismatched family of socks that sometimes time travel through the spin cycle, teaching universal lessons of love and kindness, and focusing on creating a greater awareness of the many social issues that children are faced with today. The SockKids help to educate and encourage children from 2 to 92 to find solutions in helping to make this a better world.

In this story, Sudsy and Wooly discover their human is being bullied at school and team up against bullies with Ethan’s newest friend, Olivia. They discover bullying hurts everyone and staying silent is not an option.

More Inside! Children’s counselor and licensed therapist, Jamie Ross, gives adults and children guidelines on how to handle bullies.

Book available at http://thesockkids.storenvy.com

About the Author

MikeDIMichael John Sullivan is the creator of the SockKids. Constantly searching for his socks, he wondered whether the missing foot comforters had found another pair of feet to warm. So he searched and searched, until he discovered these elusive socks likely time traveled. Before his interest in socks, Michael started writing his first novel while homeless, riding a NYC subway train at night. After being rescued off the train, he spent much of the past two decades helping raise two daughters while working at home in New York.

Michael eventually returned to his subway notes in 2007 and began writing Necessary Heartbreak: A Novel of Faith and Forgiveness (Simon & Schuster, Gallery Books imprint). Library Journal named Necessary Heartbreakone of the year’s best in 2010. His second novel, Everybody’s Daughter (Fiction Studio Books, 2012) was named one of the best books of 2012 by TheExaminer.com. He completed the trilogy by having The Greatest Gift published by The Story Plant in 2015.

Michael has written articles about the plight of homelessness for CNN.com, The Washington Post.com, Beliefnet.com, the Huffington Post, and America Online’s Patch.com service. He is a former board member of the Long Island Coalition For the Homeless.

Facebook ~ Website ~ Twitter

About the Illustrators

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Shelley Larkin performs many tasks for the SockKids. She develops ideas, co-writes books, and is the marketing and promotions director. She has spent a lifetime of wondering where her missing socks go. The SockKids are grateful to finally solve this mystery for her.

She loves that children and their parents are drawn to the diversity of the SockKids family and the universal and timeless lessons they teach: don’t be afraid of new experiences; treat others as you would like to be treated, and of course, beware of the spin cycle! In addition, she is dedicated to finding the right soap for Sudsy.

Shelley is also a passionate child advocate, working with a variety of cause-driven organizations such as Destination Imagination, Up & At It!, Child Abuse Prevention Council, 3 Strands, the International Bullying Prevention Center, and Big Brothers, Big Sisters Youth Organization. Shelley has developed a keen sense of awareness of what children experience today in dealing with such important issues including bullying and recognizes the importance of putting into place the type of value-added programs that will effectively strike a nerve in preventing our youth from losing their way to a safe and productive future.

In her spare time, she is an event planner and resides in California.

SusanPetroneSusan Petrone lives in Cleveland, Ohio with her husband, her daughter, and two silly dogs. When she isn’t writing SockKids stories, she writes novels and short stories (her work has been published in Glimmer Train, Featherproof Books, The Cleveland Review, Muse, Conclave, and Whiskey Island) writes about her beloved Cleveland Indians at ItsPronouncedLajaway.com for ESPN.com’s SweetSpot network. Her most recently, Throw Like A Woman, was published by The Story Plant in 2015.

SugarSnail

Alexandra /SugarSnail dreamed of becoming an illustrator since childhood, even though she didn’t know the profession actually existed. She later graduated from college with an MFA in graphic design.

She never gave up on her dream, so she decided to do what she loved best – become a children’s illustrator. SugarSnail’s beautiful artwork can be seen in many children’s books.

To reach Alexandra Gold/SugarSnail, follow her on Facebook.

Book Blast Giveaway

Prize: One winner will receive a $50 Amazon gift card or $50 PayPal cash prize, winner’s choice and a second winner will receive One pair of SockKids Socks
Giveaway ends: May 14, 11:59 pm, 2018
Open to: Internationally
How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.
Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Michael John Sullivan and is hosted and managed by Stacie from BeachBoundBooks. If you have any additional questions feel free to send an email to stacie@BeachBoundBooks.com.

a Rafflecopter giveaway ($50 Amazon Gift Card)

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THE THIRTEEN REASONS WHY BACKLASH: MY THOUGHTS AND BOOK REVIEW

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*WARNING- SPOILER ALERT*

If you’re planning to read the book, Thirteen Reasons Why, or watch the Netflix series, you may not want to read further. This blog does contain a few spoilers.

***

I became interested in the book, Thirteen Reasons Why, when a reviewer of my book, Shattering Truths, said that fans of Thirteen Reasons Why would absolutely love Shattering Truths.

It is true that we explore similar topics, even though the premises are different.

In Thirteen Reasons Why, Hannah Baker takes her life and leaves behind cassette tapes that retrace her steps and explain her reasons.

In case you haven’t heard, the backlash over Thirteen Reasons Why is the perception that the book glamorizes suicide.

Romanticizing suicide in art isn’t new. Did people want to ban Shakespeare? I’ve listened to Don McClean’s Starry Starry Night and Chord Overstreet’s Hold On song tributes to suicide victims that inspire hauntingly beautiful imagery, and their lyrics have moved me to tears. Maybe there is something about giving up that most of us can relate to—the notion that if worse comes to worse, no one can make us stay here. At the same time, we are also filled with profound sadness over the depth of another human being’s despair.

Interestingly enough, I once wrote my own book about the aftermath of a protagonist’s suicide— not Shattering Truths but an earlier workI was nineteen at the time. The editor I submitted it to felt readers would not find this character sympathetic because, as a suicide, he’d be considered psychotic. That bothered me more than anything else—the distressing mentality—the heartbreaking reality—that even in these modern times, people are uncomfortable with any mental instability and quick to reject it. I submitted it anyway. The publisher said they would be interested only if I changed the ending and had my character survive. I wouldn’t do that. My whole point in telling the story was that the guy died, and he shouldn’t have. I shelved the project.

At the time, I did romanticize my character’s suicide. I hoisted the guy up on a posthumous pedestal and became obsessed with his life and death. But I didn’t want to die.

Sorry (and not so sorry) to say, that as a poet, a writer, and an artist, I embrace all of it—the good, the bad, the pretty, the ugly, the dark, the light and the scary.

But I am also an adult who realizes that death is not pretty, and it’s likely to be quite lonely and painful. Nothing about Thirteen Reasons Why gave me the impression that it would be anything but lonely and painful. There was never a moment I envied Hannah Baker or wanted to be her—before, during, or after. What happened to her seemed anything but glamorous.

I’d go so far as to say the story makes it clear that taking your life is not the solution; that there is always hope. A few minutes, days, or weeks could make all the difference in the world. That hope is extinguished when your light goes out for good.

I also happen to think that people who hurt you don’t deserve to take anything more from you!

From my perspective, the book actually provides clear examples of how not to behave, how not to treat others. It brings to light how little thought teens give to how their behavior may affect someone else, although, this is also sadly true of adults. Some will live their whole lives hurting and punishing others without thinking it through, without ever trying to understand the people they target.

That’s one of the messages in Thirteen Reasons Why. We need to be kinder to each other.

No doubt, some people will read this book and see it all differently. They’ll see that Hannah is talked about more and with more sensitivity after her death. They’ll see that people feel guilty. They may think that would bring satisfaction, but true bullies who destroy other human beings are not usually the ones who feel guilty. They don’t have consciences.

To a lesser degree, Hannah Baker herself lacks empathy in this story and is rather self-absorbed. That’s okay. Victims don’t need to be depicted as saints. A character can be tragically flawed in fact, and still not deserve the torment. It is normal for a trauma survivor to go through a period of victimhood that includes a great deal of introspection and a degree of self-pity. She has a human response to a rude and painful awakening. Yes, trauma does quite a number on the psyche. It changes a person, causing behavior that won’t make sense even to the survivor. The point is, what happened to Hannah Baker should not have happened to anyone. It’s sad that she’ll never have the chance to heal and evolve beyond what she became, so it’s a story worth telling and worth telling right.

I’m willing to bet that most of us can make a list of at least thirteen people who screwed us over and/or possibly scarred us for life. Some of the reasons might be the same or worse than what Hannah Baker experienced, but, for most of us, suicide was never an option we considered.

We are all different. We have varying degrees of ability to cope, and those who are coping well may be at less challenging stages of the healing process. To some of us, a burden is a challenge, and we push back. No matter what happens, we keep pushing. But not everyone can do that. It’s not weakness, and it’s not for lack of trying. We are where we are. None of us have control over the circumstances we are born into or everything that happens after that. We can’t be sure why we take the paths we take or what we need to learn. Healing begins when we are ready. It’s a long, grueling process that, unfortunately, some people will never begin.

I think it’s safe to say that Thirteen Reasons Why will be triggering for certain people and not others.

There’s always a chance that any one of us will find something we read, see, hear, or experience to be triggering. But that doesn’t mean we should censor ourselves, as writers, or as artists. We can’t. We can’t shy away from controversial subjects or prevent others from having those important conversations. For those wanting to sue and to ban, do we really want to set that precedent? Where would we draw the line? Would we have to stop talking about rape, about murder, about mental issues, and about everything that could be triggering? I hope not!

A common complaint people have made is that the book doesn’t delve into the mental illness factor when it comes to suicide. No, it doesn’t. Thirteen Reasons Why focuses on raising the level of awareness for bullying/harassment/character assassination, etc. and depicting how the victim feels—how a suicide victim feels. Hannah, in my opinion, sought to educate the culprits. She may have wanted them to feel her pain, too, but more for their benefit, I think, than in retaliation. As a trauma survivor, I can relate to wanting to raise the level of awareness. Even if the people who need to hear it most are not listening, someone is. And making a difference to anyone at all is a great start.

It doesn’t mean we should ignore the mental illness factor in our conversations about this topic. According to the University of Washington’s School of Social Work, “Of those who die from suicide, more than 90% have a diagnosable mental disorder.

Mental Health America states that “substance abuse may be involved in half of all suicide cases with 20% involving people with alcohol problems”.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse claims that drug abuse is a mental illness.

Sadly, families often have a difficult time acknowledging and accepting mental illness in a loved one. There is rejection, ridicule, even mind-boggling cruelty. For the person with issues, it leads to a social ineptness that only results in more ridicule and cruelty. The damage is hard to shake, and it’s heartbreaking because, with acceptance and unconditional love, a lot of the issues can be minimized or managed.

Shame is a key word here. Many parents and siblings are more concerned about what others may think. Are we sending a message of, I will not love you unless you are normal by my standards and anything less will be ridiculed and rejected? Are we teaching our “normal” kids to ridicule and reject?

The truth is, we have dangerous psychopathic narcissists running amok in this world, and they are considered normal by many. Meanwhile, people who struggle with things like autism, Asperger’s, bipolar, anxiety, etc. are met with skepticism.

I’ll admit, due to lack of acknowledgment/acceptance in my own life, it took me quite a while to realize and understand the problems I had with anxiety, OCD, and possibly other afflictions. I may never have realized if I hadn’t met some of the people I met along the way, people who had the same problems and steered me in the right direction. Awareness is key, and it helps to learn as much as you can about what you’re dealing with. It is a lifetime struggle with good days and bad, but it can keep getting better.

So, in light of all I’ve stated above, I believe Thirteen Reasons Why, is a profound experience for the reader. I felt like a part of the story, swept right in and completely absorbed, turning page after page. I loved the powerful descriptions of how the characters felt in critical moments. The book, written straight from the heart, shows compassion in abundance, and it brought me to tears.

Co-protagonist, Clay Jensen, in fact, shows considerable empathy while listening to Hannah’s tapes. He wants to understand what happened to Hannah. He not only forces himself to listen to every excruciatingly painful word—he follows her instructions, putting himself in her place and allowing himself to feel what she felt.

Imagine living in a world where everyone sought to understand one another like that! That would be beautiful indeed!

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© Copyright July 24, 2017 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without proper attribution.

THE DICKENS SPIRIT, NOW AND ALWAYS


Among my favorite teachers was one of the two male teachers in an all-girl high school. He taught English, my favorite subject. In junior year, he took our class to see the Christmas show at Radio City Music Hall. The original black and white version of A Christmas Carol featuring Alastair Sim was part of their holiday spectacular.

Though I saw the movie decades after its original release, I found this old 1951 trailer for the film rather interesting.

Dickens painted Ebenezer Scrooge sympathetically and quite vividly. I fell in love with the spirited imagination of Dickens in all of its brilliance, his extraordinary larger-than-life characters, and the potent messages behind every one of his tales. My love of 19th-century British literature began, along with an ongoing yen for England. I was sixteen years old.

It may have been Oliver Twist that I read next. I recall being shocked by the harshness of this child’s reality.

By the time I turned 25, my love for Dickens knew no bounds. I named one of the two dwarf parrots I owned “Pip” after Philip Pirrip, the protagonist in Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations. I named the other one Nicholas after the character in Nicholas Nickleby. I had a fish tank I called “Copperfield Gardens” in homage to the hero of the Dickens’ book I loved most, David Copperfield. David, with his courage, strength and beautiful, benevolent heart, triumphed through one heartbreak after another. In this version, below, he was portrayed by a very young Daniel Radcliffe, better known to all as Harry Potter.

The same year I got the dwarf parrots, a precious friend from England gave me a miniature book of Dickens’ life story as a Christmas gift. I moved several times over the years, and this little book has always made it back onto my bookshelf. I loved reading about the man behind the fascinating tales.

Charles Dickens was already famous when he helped injured passengers in England during the 1865 Staplehurst train crash.

I saw, in Dickens, true heroism in the face of disaster and everyday heroism, as he was a tireless champion for the oppressed.

This final video is fitting in wrapping up my tribute. It’s my favorite song from the 1970 musical version of A Christmas Carol with Albert Finney in the role of Scrooge. In future visions foretold by the third visiting ghost, a town celebrated Scrooge’s passing singing, “Thank You Very Much.”

I also thank my beloved Dickens for his incredible contribution to the world, for all the inspiration, and for truly enriching my life.


Some of my favorite Charles Dickens quotes:

“Not knowing how he lost himself, or how he recovered himself, he may never feel certain of not losing himself again.” ― A Tale of Two Cities

“I wear the chain I forged in life….I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it.” ― A Christmas Carol

“I have been bent and broken, but – I hope – into a better shape.”

“A day wasted on others is not wasted on one’s self.” ― A Tale of Two Cities

“Give me a moment, because I like to cry for joy. It’s so delicious, John dear, to cry for joy.” ― Our Mutual Friend

“I hope that real love and truth are stronger in the end than any evil or misfortune in the world.”

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”

“Have a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts.”

“Never,” said my aunt, “be mean in anything; never be false; never be cruel. Avoid those three vices, Trot, and I can always be hopeful of you.” ― David Copperfield
 

More About Charles Dickens:

Charles Dickens Info

 

© Copyright December 20, 2014 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

TREASURES

old-books

As I read Peter Cottontail to my son for the third or fourth time, feeling a bit tired, I bungled a line.

He said, “No, mommy, he lost one shoe amongst the cabbages and the other shoe amongst the potatoes.”

Yes, that is important! I hugged him dearly for that.

It was quite an improvement from six months earlier when he ripped Alice in Wonderland to shreds.

I wanted to be a relaxed, nurturing parent. I did not want to raise my son in a palace of dangers. I childproofed. I permitted him to take books from the bookshelves, sit in a pile of them and explore. When he tore up the book, that party was over. I had to tell him only once, because he knew already, I was reasonable and always for him, on his side. I taught him, we love books. We respect books. We read them. We enjoy them. We never destroy them, and we never crush the spirit of their creators.

The love affair with books began in my own childhood. I fell in love, first, with writing and reading. Writing is still the love of my life.

The fantasy genre inspired me – Wizard of Oz, Pinocchio, fairy tales. It provided me with a much-needed escape from reality.

As I grew, the books I cherished most fit into the category of literary fiction, which is reality-based and generally more profound and philosophical. However, I never heard the term ‘literary fiction’ or all this talk about genres. Many people are still confused about it and have no idea what literary fiction is. I was confused myself.

I struggled to categorize my work. Yes, there is a love story. There are quite a few. There is a psychologically thrilling mystery. There are many of those. Yes, it is dark and intense with elements of gothic fiction and quite a bit of horror, but the ongoing saga does not revolve around any particular theme. Do you know why? It is literary fiction.

Literary fiction is pretentiously termed ‘serious’ fiction, though that could be misleading. It indicates a profound work with literary merit, a celebration of language, a critically acclaimed classic. However, genre fiction can also be poetry in motion and a work of art worthy of acclaim.

If I have to answer as to whether I am working on ‘serious’ fiction, well if it means painstaking torture, yes, I am quite serious, and this is as serious as it gets.

bella-i-write-literary-fiction

The well-constructed plot in literary fiction should be riveting, but it is not the focus. Literary fiction has a slower pace with many rewards for your patience along the way.

It is character driven with well-developed, introspective characters. The story is about the character’s journey. We become emotionally involved in his or her reality, the struggle, the challenges, the losses and triumphs. We glimpse into the character’s psyche, experiencing the love, the hate, the joy, and the pain. Works of literary fiction are good human-interest stories that move and inspire those of us fascinated by the human condition. Genre novelists can create deep characterization, but this is the hallmark of literary fiction.

Literary fiction defines some of the best books ever written: Wuthering Heights, Pride and Prejudice, David Copperfield, Frankenstein, Dracula, The Iliad, The Odyssey, Rebecca, Little Women, 1984, Brave New World, Anna Karenina and many Shakespeare tales. The list goes on. My favorite authors, including Charles Dickens and the Bronte sisters, wrote literary fiction in classic Victorian-style, which I love with all my heart.

I believe creative work in every category has potential for greatness. I have yet to find a genre unworthy of respect. I don’t think we should make fun of people for enjoying some nonsense book or series where the writing isn’t up to par. As professionals and critics, we may seek a certain quality, but I am of the opinion, if there is a mass audience for a book or series, and it made scores of people happy, it has earned its place in the world of literature. I am simply another writer in an endless sea of writers and one of billions of readers. It doesn’t matter whether I like it. Readers, by consensus, have the final word.

Here is the bottom line for those of us who share this passion: books are a treasure. I feel fortunate in a world of books. I am infinitely grateful. I am giddy with delight. This is our inspiration, our high, our bond. There is plenty of room for everyone, and I am beyond thrilled to be on this journey.

I would love to hear from you about what you love to read or write. In the meantime, enjoy these videos as part of my celebration of literary fiction with an appreciative nod to all genres.

 

© Copyright August 2014 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction of text permitted without permission.

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