Novelist and Poet

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DEADLY VEILS BOOK ONE: SHATTERING TRUTHS – 7

Chapter Seven 

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Why?” she asked. 

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

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

“I don’t know how to be myself.” 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Then I don’t need help?” 

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

“I don’t think so.” 

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

“Yes,” I said. 

“Tell me about that.” 

I told her about my writing and my singing. 

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

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

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

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

“Who are ‘they?’” she asked. 

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

“Tell me about your family.” 

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

“Is there someone else?” 

I shook my head. 

“Take a deep breath.” 

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

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

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

“No, I can’t do that.” I stood. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Forever?” 

“Whatever it is, it is.” 

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

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

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

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

I nodded, tears streaming. 

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

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

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

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

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

“So? I’m not sick.” 

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

“So?” 

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

“I am not.” 

“Are too!” 

“Am not!” 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deadly Veils Book One: Shattering Truths was originally published as Deadly Veils: Book One: Provenance of Bondage copyright © October 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon. The revised edition, Deadly Veils: Book One: Shattering Truths was published in December 2016. Cover design by KH Koehler Design.

DEADLY VEILS BOOK ONE: SHATTERING TRUTHS – 6

Chapter Six 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shannon appeared lost in amazement. “A book!” 

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

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

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

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

“My brother?” I was confused. 

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

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

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

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

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

We all laughed. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He hugged her tight in return. 

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

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

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

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

“The pleasure is mine,” he returned. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

I knew Valentin had obliged when the song came on. 

“Are you in a band?”she asked him. 

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

“You look like you are.” 

He glanced at her and laughed, then walked off. 

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

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

“Will you stop?” I had to say it. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You’re insane!” I said. 

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

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

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

Farran raised a brow. “Lord Hades?” 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Visiting you,” I teased. 

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

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

“Do you trust me?” I asked. 

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

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

“Me?” Farran looked surprised. 

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

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

Joey laughed. 

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

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

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

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

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

“Dangerous!” Farran laughed. 

“Well, you don’t know him.” 

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

I kind of felt like I was. 

Deadly Veils Book One: Shattering Truths was originally published as Deadly Veils: Book One: Provenance of Bondage copyright © October 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon. The revised edition, Deadly Veils: Book One: Shattering Truths was published in December 2016. Cover design by KH Koehler Design.

DEADLY VEILS BOOK ONE: SHATTERING TRUTHS – 5

Chapter Five 

Glastonbury, on the banks of the Connecticut River, was a heartwarming sight whatever the season. It often managed to console my anguish and somewhat ease my discomfort. 

On this day, however, during the five-minute walk to Angie’s house, I glanced several times over my shoulder, fearing that those two creeps could show up anywhere. Their black sedan had circled my house a few times, but not in the past half hour. They continued to call. 

The fear subsided as I reached Hebron Avenue and caught sight of Angie moseying toward me. We waved at each other, smiling. Whatever I had felt before now changed to invigorating hope and giddy delight. The new school year would soon begin. Beginnings were important in constituting an end, and I needed an end to that summer of 1987. With Angie by my side, I could easily embrace another glorious New England fall—changing colors, falling leaves, and farms brimming with apples, pumpkins, and cornstalks. Christmas wouldn’t be far behind, and in that wondrous season, trees, wreaths, and apple cider would replace the early fall offerings at the farm stands. 

We walked along Hebron, turning down Manchester Road, and then onto Brook Street, near the bog. I told her everything that had happened with Robbie, with my dad, and with Joey the night before. She sympathized. 

It was hard not to monopolize the conversation with Angie, as she seemed to prefer listening. If I tried to keep an even flow, there would be many lulls. My questions, asked often out of guilt, weren’t likely to elicit a loquacious reply, and, aside from that, I needed to talk. Admittedly, there was this desperate madness at times—wanting to get it all out. The impetus of the moment was what had happened with Sergio and Phil. She shut the discussion down, asking about my book. 

“The agent sent me a six-page critique,” I told her. “It came in the mail today.” 

“Is that good?” she asked. 

“Well, I have a lot of work to do,” I said, “but they were encouraging.” 

Our leisurely stroll continued to a place we had loved since the days of our childhood. It was home to the ruins of a wool factory that had existed in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The surrounding woodlands were full of towering hemlock, white pine, and oak. We took the longer trail along the west side of the brook. Wind bustled lustily through the trees, and I could hear the rushing water of the brook up ahead. The brook, like a purposeful rainstorm, awakened my ears and silenced my soul. It was as alive as the singing birds. Its steady flow created an illusion of abundance, infinite beauty … eternal good. It didn’t matter that hikers and lovers passed, or that families strolled along the same paths. It was the enchanted forest of my dreams. 

We did a lot of walking and climbing on rocks and then poked around the partial gray brick structures of the stone ruins, where a broken window hung. 

“It helps to talk,” I said. “You can talk to me about anything.” 

“I know I can,” she replied without looking at me. 

We walked through the door of the structure. 

“Are you all right?” I asked. 

She continued to look away. “Yeah … are you?” 

“Sometimes.” 

“Everything’s going to be okay, Dani.” 

We sat on the remnants of the dam wall—on the rocks overlooking the marshes—and watched the ducks in the stream. 

Angie started to cry. 

As I turned and hugged her, we both cried. We held each other in that state for several minutes. 

“I was terrified, Angie,” I said. 

She let go. “Dani—” 

“Most of the time, I didn’t know where you were.” 

“I don’t remember.” 

“I don’t remember everything either, but—” 

“No, I don’t remember a nightmare experience or fighting anyone. I remember going to the beach in their car, walking around Pleasure Beach, having fun, and then we went home. They drove us.” 

My heart sank. It ached and pounded in such a way that it terrified me. 

I had gone over it in my mind many times, the parts I could remember. 

The room was a blur. Sergio had lifted me in his arms and carried me to the bedroom. It felt like a dream. I was present and then not present, slipping in and out of consciousness. Screaming and crying, I fought, but I visualized someone else fighting, as if I had separated myself from my body, and the person lying there was not me. Other times, it appeared I had surrendered while the terror, chaos, and confusion continued to swirl violently in the inner recesses of my mind. I fought so hard that I was sure my hymen remained intact—having seen no blood after all. Maybe I made it too difficult for them, or perhaps they felt sorry for me. Either way, I held on to that with all of my heart. 

My father often talked about incidents of rape on the news. He had lamented, more than once, that pressing charges would put the girl on trial and not the guilty person. He said the lawyers tried to make her look like a tramp so the bastard would get off. 

I struggled now with what to say to Angie. 

“Remember when they went to the concession stand at the pavilion, and we were waiting for them?” 

“Yeah …” 

“They got soda for themselves and us, too.” 

“I remember that.” 

“When they gave us the sodas, the cans were open, and they wiped the tops. I thought they were trying to be gentlemen, but they must have put something in the sodas.” 

“I only remember walking around the beach and having a great time.” 

A great time on the beach—these words stung. My mind’s association with beach days had shifted from joyful, carefree memories to regret. I fully realized that Angie and I felt empathy where others could not, but it never occurred to me that we were so naïve. My sinking heart shattered. 

“I’m not crazy.” 

“No, no, I know you’re not.” 

“If you don’t remember what I remember, why are you crying?” 

“I don’t know!” She wiped a tear. “I want to help. I don’t know how. You remember things no one else can remember, like from when you were little, just a baby. You remember all these details from a long time ago—astonishing details about every room you’re in, every person you meet, and I believe what you say. I know you. I trust you. You’re not just a cousin to me. You’re like my sister.” 

My lips parted to answer, but a lump swelled in my throat. I wondered how I could shield her from harm, how I could save her from any and all pain. Something told me to say no more, yet I often wished that I had. 

Confused as I was, I, too, wanted to forget. I wanted the voices of those two predators out of my head, as I did not intend to relinquish anything further for their gratification. 

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 – 4

Chapter Four 

When I went to bed that night, disconcerting thoughts and concerns had led to what seemed a foreboding nightmare. 

Though the light was off, my room remained lit in the dream as I slept. Opening my bleary eyes, I noticed water stains on the ceiling. They were ugly stains—the color of urine—and I thought I should see if they were wet, indicating a leak somewhere. A ladder was there for my convenience. As I scaled its rungs, I heard the distant voice of a woman calling my name. I didn’t recognize the voice, but it echoed like we were in a cave. She called again. Her tone seemed neutral, and yet reeked of deception. Disregarding her, I continued my climb, reaching the second highest rung. The water stains I had observed were now splashes of blood. As I turned slightly to climb down, the ceiling began to crack. My heart pounded, and I stumbled, attempting to decline. An unsightly hand reached through the crack and grabbed me. Hard as I tried, I couldn’t shake its tenacious grip on my arm. I told myself it was over. It seemed evident that I’d lost whatever battle this was. 

Awake now, I tried to sort out what the dream meant. In my interpretation, confusion prevailed as to what was real and what wasn’t. When the world around me was light, it appeared dark. It was light when I sought to fade into darkness. Something had tarnished me—something ugly. I bled anguish. People reached out, offering the nurturing I craved, but then yanked it away. Locked in this unyielding fear, there was a sense that no one could intervene, and that no one ever would. I felt defeated in my struggle to rise from despair, thwarted at every turn. In that frightful moment of my nightmare, I was alone, same as I felt these days while fully awake. 

I managed to drift off to sleep again, only to awaken once more to the sound of Robbie’s voice. 

“I killed the baby,” he was saying. “It happened so fast.” 

Oh, my dear Robbie … it had only been a few years since that night he’d woke me up, insisting there were naked people climbing all over the walls in his room. He said they were beckoning him. 

Joey had lived here at the time and had rushed into Robbie’s room. 

“Robbie’s having a bad dream,” I told him. 

“It’s not a dream!” Robbie swore to it. 

“You think they’re real, but they’re not. Look, you’re gonna wake everyone up.” 

“Maybe we should wake everyone up,” Joey said. 

“They’re still there,” Robbie maintained. 

Joey told him no one was there, but he didn’t believe it, so I offered to lie beside him and talk to him until he fell asleep. We were up most of the night. Joey came in several times to check on us. In the morning, I glimpsed Robbie’s face as he slept. It was the face of pure innocence, as though none of it had ever happened, and as if everything bad had faded with the darkness. 

I hurried to his room now, aware that his chatter about killing a baby was not part of my nightmare or any past recollection. His mattress was smoldering, and when I flipped on the light, he was standing there as if in a trance. 

“I thought I killed the baby,” he said. 

I raced to get a bucket and fill it with water. “Help me,” I beseeched him as I dumped the contents of the bucket onto the mattress. I made several trips back and forth before he snapped out of it and began to assist me. 

“What happened?” I asked. “Were you smoking in bed?” 

I urged him to help me get the scorched mattress down the stairs and out of the house. How I thought we would manage the situation without my father’s help, I’ll never know, but I feared that man’s wrath. 

He came out of his room, my mother trailing, holding her robe closed. 

“I smell smoke!” my father bellowed. 

I thought of the “fee-fi-fo-fum” giant in “Jack and the Beanstalk” who smelled the Englishman’s blood. 

After I explained, my father took charge, dragging the mattress to the woodlot.  

“I’ll deal with that thing in the morning,” he said upon his return. He yelled at Robbie. “Where the hell would you get the crazy idea to smoke in bed? Did you ever see anyone here do such a stupid thing? Do you think I’m buying you a new mattress?” 

“It’s okay,” Robbie said. “I’m leaving for Florida Sunday.” 

“You can go right now and go burn down the whole goddamn state of Florida, for all I care. Robert, you’re eighteen years old. If you don’t know better by now, when will you?” 

“I’m sorry,” he said. “When I get a job in Florida, I’ll send you money for the mattress. I can sleep on the couch tonight.” 

“No, you will not!” my father shouted. “Go stay at a hotel or sleep in the street or go sleep outside on the mattress you ruined!” 

“Come on, it was an accident,” my mother pleaded. 

My dad shifted his gaze to her. “And how’s he supposed to learn?” He looked at Robbie again. “All right then, give me the cigarettes and go sleep in the basement. There’s an old sleeping bag in one of the closets there.” 

“Are you serious?” Robbie asked. “What is the point of that? That makes no sense.” 

I gave him a gentle push toward the curved, carpeted stairway. “I’ll help him find the sleeping bag,” I said. 

I had always dreaded going down to that basement alone, and I surely wouldn’t have slept there. Most of the rooms in our house had a refined, almost imperial, look with their dark-paneled walls, vaulted ceilings, and crown moldings. The basement door seemed to bar us from a contrasting world. 

The switch at the top of the stairs cast only a dim light upon the stairwell. When I was alone, I’d descend with a frantic urgency to pull the switch near the bottom of the stairs. It would cast only another dim light. 

“Don’t worry, I’ll stay with you until we think of something,” I said as we descended. 

Robbie clenched his teeth.“He’s out of his fucking mind.” 

“You’re lucky,” I told him. “He had his explosion before you got here.” I shivered, as it was cold down there, always, despite the paneled walls. An antique marble fireplace that had all the elaborate gilding my mother loved was the first thing we saw, but it was fake and purely for ambiance. 

Robbie’s curious eyes widened. “What are you talking about, Dan? What did he explode about?” 

“He got mad at Joey for cutting an apple. He thought he was going to cut the tablecloth, and he went nuts.” 

“Oh.” 

“Yeah, it’s probably why you’re still alive.” 

Robbie laughed. “You think he would kill me?” 

“I don’t know.” I told him the rest of the story, and he agreed with Joey that my father wouldn’t likely kill anyone. 

He evidently had a bigger concern. “Does he really think I’m gonna sleep in this dungeon?” 

With its many ominous doors, it did look like a dungeon. “Yeah, I always feel like someone’s watching me here.” 

I glanced at the long extension table. My father once told us that my grandfather liked to sit there alone in the dark, drinking wine from a goblet, smoking, and making weird whistling noises. My grandmother maintained he still did. 

In old home movies and photographs, my grandfather was a silver-haired, clean-shaven image of my father with a broader face, deeper lines, and wrinkles. Joey told me he’d been a dockworker in Brooklyn who’d had a bunch of mob friends in New York. Joey always believed he’d gotten involved in some of their shady dealings, come into some money, and then bought the house in Glastonbury. He died weeks before I was born. 

“Grandma hears footsteps when she’s down here,” Robbie said now, “and they don’t come from upstairs. She thinks they’re Grandpa’s footsteps. She hears floors creaking when she’s alone in the house, and all this rapping and banging. She says she hears music, too, and Grandpa calling her.” 

“I think she just misses him.” 

“Are you kidding? Who would miss that monster?” 

“Shush!” I hushed him. 

“Why? Do you think he’ll hear?” He laughed. 

“How come it’s not happening while we’re down here?” 

He shrugged. “Maybe he’s waiting until you’re all by yourself like he waits for Grandma to be by herself. I heard he was really mean. He abused Grandma. He was always yelling at her, making fun of her, calling her names. The old geezer was even locked up in Cedarcrest for a while.” 

I shook my head. I had never been sure what the deal was with Cedarcrest. It was in Newington, an old place in the woods left in ruins. Robbie insisted it was an insane asylum. I read that it had been a psychiatric facility, but not until years after my grandfather died. My father told us it was initially a sanatorium for treating patients with tuberculosis and other incurable illnesses. 

“Remember the spookhouse events we held in this creepy cellar?” Robbie asked. 

“Yeah, the ones we’d set up down here with no adult permission or supervision.” 

“I was always hoping that ghoulish fiend would make an appearance.” 

“Oh yeah, I bet you were.” I rolled my eyes. 

It was odd, since we’d had parties down here for the first several years of my life. There was a paneled bar across from the table that had seemed alive with guests on the New Year’s Eves of my early childhood. Left dark now, it looked like an abandoned old relic. 

Robbie wandered into the small basement kitchen now, and I followed. He sat on top of the retro dining table, and though there were three folding chairs around it, I sat in the spindle rocking chair with the puffy back cushion and held one of its fringe throw pillows in my arms as I rocked. It reminded me of Robbie’s bizarre childhood game, where one person would sit in the chair, and another would get behind the chair and rock it, singing “Rock-a-bye Baby,” drawing the chair farther back until he or she let it drop to the floor. I suppose, if there had been a bed of nails somewhere, we’d have been on it. 

Uncle Dom had walked in on us one afternoon. He was on his way to the wine cellar to take home a bottle of wine. Robbie had let go of the chair in that instant, and I plummeted to the wood floor. 

“Whoa!” Uncle Dom had hollered. “What the hell’s the matter with you?” He was looking at Robbie, and then shifted his gaze to me, clearly disconcerted. “Are you okay?” 

His genuine concern had melted me. He didn’t have my father’s screen idol looks, but he was this old world gent with cheerful brown eyes and a sweet, handsome face. Despite a few gray hairs, he hadn’t changed much over the years. 

“I’m okay,” I’d assured him. “It didn’t hurt.” 

“You sure?” 

“I’m fine.” 

The entrance to the wine cellar was a few feet away, and he had gone in there. It was a separate room, where rows of jugs filled with wine lined the stone walls. There was a pull light for the front section, but all you could see beyond the barrels was darkness. My dad made the wine in that cellar with Uncle Dom, but when they were around, the place was somehow cheery. 

“Good thing you didn’t crack your skull,” Uncle Dom had said when he came back with his wine. He looked at Robbie. “Don’t do that anymore! I’m going to talk to your father, and you’re gonna get it.” He motioned a spanking with his hand. “This is not the way for kids to play. Let’s go upstairs.” 

My parents had given us a stern lecture, mostly directed at Robbie. 

I never knew whether to feel happy or sad about these memories. I recalled them with giddy delight and underlying disbelief. 

I reminded Robbie of the game now. 

“How would you know if I’m responsible for anything that happens in this house of horrors?” he asked. 

“Are you gonna tell me it’s Grandpa?” 

“I saw Mommy walking around just before I went to bed tonight.” 

“She did not start that fire.” 

“I’m not saying she did, but I never told you this. It started a couple of years ago. She came in my room and asked for a lock of my hair. Then she told me to put these coins under my pillow.” 

“That’s witchcraft.” 

“Really?” 

“Uh … yeah?” 

“You say that so casually, like you’re not even shocked.” 

“I read a little about it.” 

“She goes to see a psychic, Dan. She told me not to tell anyone about it. She asked the psychic for help straightening me out.” 

“She’s desperate to help you and is getting taken for her money.” 

“She’s also desperate to save her marriage.” 

I knew what he was talking about, since Robbie and I had listened with cups to the wall whenever my parents fought. 

“You were there,” I’d heard my mother say to my dad. “I hired a detective to follow you. Your car was there. He saw everything.” 

“Look who’s talking,” my father had replied. 

“You’re a liar,” she’d shot back. “There’s never been anyone.” 

“No, I’m not a liar. Someone saw you come out of a car a block away.” 

“Who saw me?” 

“I’m not gonna say.” 

“Because you’re making it up.” 

“I’m not making it up. This has been going on for years. You want this guy or you want me? You better decide.” 

She’d begun to cry. “If you’re going to make up stories and not believe what I say, I might as well get a divorce.” 

I could hear a breaking down in his voice as well. “If you want a divorce, we’ll get a divorce.” 

“She said the psychic doesn’t charge her anything,” Robbie continued. “She can make a donation if she wants, but it’s all free. Don’t tell her I told you.” 

“I won’t, but I have to get upstairs before they come down here looking for me.” 

“Fuck this,” he said. “I’m not staying here.” 

“Why don’t you go to Joey’s?” 

“And drive all the way to New Haven? I don’t want to do that. I have a friend I can call. Let’s go up, and I’ll get some of the things I need. I can come back for the rest.” 

My father had gone to bed. My mother asked Robbie questions about where he would go, what he would do, and he assured her he would be fine. 

He did come back the next day to say goodbye to my parents. They were kind to him. My father wanted to feed him, advise him, help him. My mother had tears. 

I walked him to the door and cried when I hugged him. “You know, I’m really going to miss you.” 

“I’ll miss you, too, Dan,” he said, “but this is the best thing for me. I don’t feel safe in this house. I never did.” 

“I understand.” I kind of did, and I kind of didn’t. I found the house strangely soothing despite many moments of fear. 

He said he would see us at Christmas. 

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 – 2

Chapter TWO

It might have been a glorious beach day. Horned larks looked happy among the plum and bayberry shrubs, yellow sunflowers, and purple roses. The blue waters of the Long Island Sound were as beguiling as the landscape. Young men were perched on railings that glistened under the glare of the sun—ogling, whistling, and confessing their undying love. I witnessed this phenomenon whenever I walked to and from the bus stop in my school uniform, and came to realize I could easily disrupt traffic and possibly cause a collision. 

I had never achieved a placid familiarity with the horn-honking and people clamoring for my attention. I had spent many years feeling like the ugly duckling muddling haplessly through the dark green marsh. If I had advanced from there at all, it was to become the tiniest winged critter, never able to keep up with the flock, and never certain I wanted to. 

My metamorphosis was magical. I had the same golden brown hair—by then almost waist length—the same hazel eyes, coveted high cheekbones, enviable skin, and ravishing lips as before, but it had all become relevant! I believed I had willed and constructed this change. More accurately, I’d grown into my beauty, and my painstaking efforts to straighten my thick, wavy tresses made no difference. People looked mostly at my chest. I was a busty girl of five-foot-four who kept herself trim and toned with exercise. 

Pain hindered my walking that day. 

“We should rent a summer beach house here—or a cabin,” Farran said. “You met those two older guys here the other day, didn’t you? The ones you made a date with?” 

“Yeah, one of them was thirty,” my cousin Angie chimed in. “The other guy was twenty-nine.” Her angelic voice was a touch above a whisper.  

“Well, they knew you were both sixteen, didn’t they?” 

“Yes, they knew,” I replied. 

Mental images intruded—gold crucifix chains upon masculine chests. I had noticed those chains from the moment the men approached us on the beach. Perhaps I had an ingrained trust in that sacred symbol. I shouldn’t have. People wore things for different reasons. We adorned our arms with plastic jelly bracelets in neon colors because Madonna wore them, and she was the most fussed-about pop star. She also wore crucifix chains, which Angie and I had displayed with devotion since childhood. 

We spread out our blankets in the middle of the beach. All eyes were on me when I stripped down to my halter-style swim top. In light of the ensuing commotion, I decided to keep the shorts on. 

“With you around, I get no respect for my B-cup,” Farran complained. I saw the twinkle in her electric blue eyes when she smiled. Her high-cut one-piece elongated her pretty legs and flattered her figure. She was taller than me, with a nice head of light brown, shoulder-length hair that she often wore in a ponytail or chignon. 

“What about me? I have nothing,” Angie lamented. She left her shorts on as well, with a skimpy bandeau top. 

Angie and I had grown up together in Glastonbury. We’d been in the same classes since kindergarten. In a couple of weeks, we’d be seniors at the same high school. She was an inch shorter than I was, and always in sneakers, jellies, or flip-flops. Her dark hair was past shoulder length, framing a heart-shaped face and prominent brown eyes. 

All three of us wanted admiration and, yes, adoration—from males, especially. When it became uncomfortable, I figured I wasn’t used to it. At the same time, I preferred being uncomfortable to being ridiculed and shamed. 

I don’t recall which of the two men that day had asked what country I was from, insisting he detected a trace of European, and possibly Latin, in my New England accent. This extravagant attention to every detail did more than flatter me—I felt like it validated my existence. I’m certain I had blushed when I assured him I was a Connecticut native from Glastonbury. 

“The whole thing was a nightmare,” I blurted out, as if Farran and Angie had been following my thoughts. 

“A nightmare! Why?” Farran looked at Angie, probably to gauge her reaction. “Wait, I thought it was a date you all went on yesterday? I mean, you were both there, right? Angie said she liked the guy.” 

Yes, Angie had liked Phil, the muscular, tattooed one with the mustache and short blond curls. When she’d unexpectedly begun kissing him, I had wanted to pull her away and shout, “What the hell has gotten into you?” She had always been painfully shy, but while surrendering to Phil’s embrace, there were moans coming out of that girl that she would not likely have emitted in private, let alone in a room with three other people. 

I remembered how horrified we’d both been in seventh grade when a group of boys from our class began following girls to the bus stop. They would wait for an opportunity to grab a girl, and then pull her into the bushes or woods. They did whatever they could get away with before she broke free. Angie and I had had to walk, sometimes run, in a different direction, and wait until they were gone before we could return to our bus stop. They never caught us. When I told my brothers, they made it stop. 

Angie and I had clung to our perception of that sacrosanct bequest—being “saved” for the right person. Our parents had never talked to us about defiled reputations or unwanted pregnancies, but in school, there were proclamations that only bad girls welcomed attention from boys. I didn’t think Angie had intended to go beyond kissing, but these men could not have known that. She had this tranquilizing humility, and though she kept her composure now, I could see a trace of fear in her large, haunted eyes. Could Farran not see it, or was I wrong about that, too? 

“It was supposed to be a date, just to Pleasure Beach,” I explained. We sat on the blanket. I used some of Angie’s lotion on my already bronzed skin. 

Farran applied sunblock. “Pleasure Beach … my parents used to go there back in the fifties.” 

Things came to me in shadowy flashes. Phil had carried Angie away, and I was alone with the other guy. Sergio was his name. Though I did think he was cute with his close-cropped brown hair, brown eyes, and pencil-thin mustache, I was not attracted to him. I had felt dizzy trying to stand. The room spun, and I fell back on the sofa with only a blurred impression of the room. Sergio’s voice sounded like it was a distance away. I couldn’t see his face. 

“They told us they’d forgotten their camera and wanted to stop and get it, since it wasn’t far,” I explained. “It might have been one of the beach cottages on Long Beach West. I had to fight them …” 

Yet I remembered them driving us home. Angie was in the front seat, talking to Phil, who was driving. She appeared to be okay. Sergio was in the back with me. I had slept most of the time, with my head resting on his shoulder. We’d gone over that rickety bridge. 

“Come on, Dani!” Farran’s smile was ingenuous. “Sounds like you had some wild experience that maybe got out of control, and you’re feeling guilty. You shouldn’t. Guys would be celebrating! I mean, you can’t take it back. It sounds like that’s what you’re trying to do. Maybe it’s time you grew up. I’m serious! Don’t be such a baby!” She laughed. 

Farran was generous with smiles and laughter, right down to the wrinkling of her nose and an occasional wink. I imagined those eyes would shine until her dying day, and she would forever be as lovable and sweet as she was. I adored her. With her self-deprecating humor, people liked her in an instant. I expected boys to be falling all over her. What I didn’t understand was their interest in me. My assets were merely the luck of the draw. 

“It was horrible,” I insisted. “I thought about going to the police.” 

She looked dumbfounded, and that solidified for me the idea that going to the police would be futile. 

I looked to Angie, and she didn’t avert her eyes. Those dark pools were now an ocean, with depths I couldn’t fathom. I saw her concern for me. Farran seemed to latch onto how Angie hadn’t confirmed any of it, but she ignored that Angie never denied it. Still, I backed down. My sense of reality had been undermined, but I didn’t doubt what I’d recalled, not for a moment. 

Farran grabbed her radio, reminding me of how she and I would sing at the beach. When she turned up the volume, I looked away. 

I thought about my family. 

My dad had liked this beach when we were kids. It was Hammonasset in Madison, a two-mile stretch from Tom Creek on the western end to the Hammonasset River and Clinton Harbor on the east. He used to take us to West Beach. We were on East Beach now, which we preferred. It was quieter, with fewer kids. 

The waves were no more than one or two feet, and I liked the gentle breeze. I loved watching the birds—osprey, piping plovers, sandpipers, willets, snowy egrets, and all the amazing herons. Birds resonated with me. 

Innocent singing on the beach was a pleasant memory, as were family days when we searched for shells and copper scraps, marveling at starfish. Joey liked big-clawed hermit crabs and breaking rocks on the pier to find garnets. Uncle Dom usually brought a kite to fly—Angie’s favorite thing. Joey and Robbie played Frisbee. There were coolers with food and drinks. When the adults had had enough sun, we packed up and moved over to a picnic table in the shade. We could spend hours at the beach and still not want to go home—until Robbie had about had it with the stinging black flies that came up from the marshes. By his reaction, you would have thought they targeted him alone. 

“Are you okay, Dani?” Angie was searching my eyes. 

“She’s fine,” Farran assured her. 

I held back tears. “They keep calling me. They called me five times when I got back from the so-called date and a few more times this morning.” 

“Well, tell ‘em to call me,” Farran quipped. 

“I don’t want them calling!” 

“Dani?” Angie called out. 

“I’m okay.” I didn’t know what else to say. 

Her wide-stretched lips eased into a smile, endearing her to me, as always. 

Farran, however, was off on another tangent. “Hey, we’re not far from Marauders Cove. It’s about twenty minutes from here. Isn’t that where your brother, Joey, hangs out? And doesn’t he live only two blocks from there?” 

“He hangs out with bikers,” I reminded her. 

“I know.” She beamed. 

“Besides, you have to be twenty-one.” 

“Well, Joey’s not twenty-one.” 

“He will be in a couple of months.” 

She waved if off, flashing an ear-to-ear grin. “Danielle, Marauders Cove is an old-fashioned pub owned by the McGrath family. I practically grew up with them.” 

Yes, and the McGrath family included Mike McGrath, my first and only love—someone I had always been able to trust. The mention of his name now evoked a twinge of melancholia that fanned the flames of my anguish. 

“I’m sure your brother will be looking after you anyway, and so will his friends,” she went on. “I can get us phony proof. Hey, I’m starting college in the fall! It’s a rite of passage!” 

This behavior was typical of Farran. She thought nothing of suggesting we hitchhike to the beach if we didn’t have a ride. Thankfully, a neighbor of hers had given us a ride that day. The plan was to meet up with the woman by three-thirty at Joshua Rock, just to the east of the park entrance. 

“I’m not sure we should be barhopping,” I said. 

“Oh, please.” She lit a cigarette, took a long drag, and exhaled. “You are always so uptight, Dani. You have to live a little.” 

I wanted to address the absurdity of that second statement, but I didn’t know where to begin. 

“School starts in a couple of weeks. It’s probably our last beach day. We gotta do something for excitement—like meet up with people. Maybe if I were a total knockout, I could sit home and wait for them to beat down my door, but that ain’t gonna happen.” She laughed. “Hey, I’m surprised you didn’t bring one of your car magazines. Still looking for a Nissan?” She was making nice, I could see, piling on the sugar. 

“Yeah. I’m hoping by my birthday I will finally pass the road test.” 

“Third time’s the charm, right?” 

Angie laughed, a gentle laughter, but I saw the change in her. She looked more fragile 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 – I

Chapter ONE

Connecticut, Summer of 1987 

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

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

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

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

I prayed, always. 

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

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

“Hello, Danielle,” the voice cooed. 

Sickened to my core, I hung up. 

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

I lifted the receiver. 

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

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

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

Deadly Veils Book One: Shattering Truths was originally published as Deadly Veils: Book One: Provenance of Bondage copyright © October 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon. The revised edition, Deadly Veils: Book One: Shattering Truths was published in December 2016. Cover design by KH Koehler Design.

THE TRUTH CAN BE DEVASTATING, FRIGHTENING, AND DEADLY!

Some truths can be deadly.

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

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

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

Chapter One:

Glastonbury, Connecticut, 1987

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

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

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

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

I prayed, always.

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

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

“Hello, Danielle,” the voice cooed.

Sickened to my core, I hung up.

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

I lifted the receiver.

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

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

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

Available now on:

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Amazon.co.uk

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iTunes

REVIEWS

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

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

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

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

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

“An emotional roller coaster…” –Love Books

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

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

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

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

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

Related links:

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

Listen to the Shattering Truths’ story playlist on YouTube.

Connect with Kyrian Lyndon:

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Amazon.com

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

Cover Design (feature photo) by KH Koehler Design

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