e rode in on his bike just as I pulled into the parking lot. He parked, chained the bike, and removed his helmet. I emerged from the car.
The quick kiss hello was the same as always.
“How are you?” I asked.
He shrugged. “I was going to ask you the same question.”
“Not great, but I know how upset you must be.”
“Don’t worry about me,” he said. “I told you I’m here if you need anything.”
We walked through the parking lot and strolled along the boardwalk. “Beach closes at sunset,” he said.
That was happening already. The sky above the waters had a dramatic splash of bright orange with nuances of salmon and gold, making the sun appear almost white with a luminous golden shield. I could see a sailboat in the distance. Valentin said it was a breathtaking sunset, and I must admit, I felt a secret thrill being alone with him. I was nervous, too, which must have been obvious.
“Relax,” he said. “You know, Captain Kidd buried his treasure somewhere around here. Want to look for it?”
“Well, it’s actually Charles Island where he’s said to have buried it, but then he seemed to have buried his treasure all over the place, or, more likely, nowhere. Of course, that was close to three hundred years ago.” He looked at me. “Why are you laughing?”
“I like seeing the adventurous boy in you.”
“He’s always there.”
“Oh, well, speaking of adventures in childhood … I’m sure you heard about the angel dust episode.”
“Yeah, it concerned me.”
“Okay, the truth is, I tried just about everything except heroin in my early teens, but that ended years ago. Something pulled me back there for a minute, but I learned my lesson. I know it sounds crazy, but, at the time, it didn’t scare me. Maybe because it never seemed to scare Robbie, I don’t know. I’d do acid and go on roller coaster rides with Angie, or inside haunted houses. I thought it was a blast.”
“Oh, come on. You never did any of those drugs?”
“Not even pot?”
“I must be the opposite of you, then, because I never had a drinking problem.”
“Quick—name your five favorite drinks.”
“Margarita, Tequila Sunrise, Brandy Alexander, Bailey’s Irish Crème, Singapore Sling.”
“Well, okay, listen up,” I said. “There’s a Nietzsche quote I heard: ‘One must still have chaos within oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star.’ Hmm …what book is that from? I forget.”
“I don’t know…perhaps Thus Spoke Zarathustra,” he said. “But I have a favorite of my own: ‘The preponderance of pain over pleasure is the cause of our fictitious morality and religion.’ Think about that one for a while.”
Now I laughed. “If anyone had told me I’d be hearing all this from that rock star biker dude with the beautiful tattoos and all, making all the women sigh—”
He looked to the heavens and then from side to side, as if to dramatically emphasize his confusion. “Why would you question that there is much more beneath the surface of things?” he asked. “Even the tattoos have meaning.”
“So what does the dragon mean?”
“Remember Agamemnon in the Iliad, with the blue dragon on his sword belt and the three-headed dragon on his breast plate?”
“Uh, no …” I was shaking my head, amused.
He explained that it represented the supernatural and the infinite and symbolized such things as mastery, energy, insight, clarity, and courage. “It’s a reminder to believe in yourself, fuel your inner fire, trust your inner voice, overcome obstacles, and focus on the positive. It’s about balance, peace, and compassion.”
“Very nice,” I said, “but I need to set you straight on something. You said I was confused.”
“When I made a joke about you flying past my window.”
“Oh, yes. I remember now.”
“Well, I know you can’t fly.”
“But we were imagining that I could.”
“I was joking!”
“Would it help if I say I believe you?”
“I choose to trust you. You’ve given me no reason not to.”
“Are you going to start giving me some answers?”
“What answers would you want from me?”
“How about what you really want, for starters, and then all these secrets you are dying to confess.”
“What do I really want … hmmm. What do you really want?”
I hesitated. “You know, at first, I was going to say it’s not fair for you to throw that back at me, but the reality is, you try to do the right thing. I make it difficult for you by telling one of your best friends I miss you, and you’re breaking my heart.”
“Wrong,” he said. “Don’t ever blame yourself for these things. Maybe it was difficult, hearing that you missed me, but it was not because you made it so.”
“You were trying to tell me something about yourself, and I wouldn’t let you. You were upset then, and I’m sure you’re upset now. You lost a friend who was like a brother to you, and I’m still arguing with you about the window and trying to explain it.”
“I don’t think you need to explain it.”
“Okay, then, if you were to let me in your window, where would I be?”
“How would I know? You didn’t say which window or what side of the house.”
“You know. Where would you be? What window would I have to fly through to find you?”
“I’d be asleep in my bed.”
“So, I’d be in your bedroom.”
My heart raced. “Damn, how do you do that? Just like when you asked if I would let you in. I never had to say yes. Do you hypnotize people or something? How did you get me to say that? How do you get me to tell you things I don’t want you to know?”
“But you do want me to know these things, or you wouldn’t tell me under any circumstances.”
“Nope, you have dark powers,” I teased.
“Power isn’t necessarily a manifestation or property of what you refer to as darkness or some Machiavellian plan,” he explained. “It’s the individuals who decide what sort of power they wield, the same way you decide what God you serve.” I doubted he realized how naturally seductive his tone was. “But to answer your initial question, there is no hex on you. I don’t practice spellwork or any other kind of magic. I’m merely a witness to and collaborator of the extraordinary everyday magic of the universe.”
“Don’t damn me.”
“Fine. Are you happy then, that you enticed me to say I’d let you into my room?”
“I am flattered.”
“Hah! I would resist you anyway. I would fight it with every fiber of my being, and I’d win.”
“Why is that good?”
“Because I’m still a selfish bastard. I’d be lying if I said otherwise.”
“Yeah, yeah …”
He spun around quickly, causing me to stop short. He was so close to me I could melt into him. “You’d love me to be dangerous,” he said, “and to corrupt you while you fight me.” Those eyes of his were spellbinding gems that held me captive. I saw the glint of his Viking Wolf Cross, and the silver of his crescent moon pentacle. I was too stunned to speak.
“You don’t want to play that game with me,” he said. “I won’t stop until I have your soul.”
This notion excited me every bit as much as it startled me.
I wondered if he was aware of it—his power and my sudden urge to see that power lorded over me—to see his glorious hair dangling over his shoulders while he danced assiduously inside of me like an untamed savage. I longed to see the tiny spherules of sweat glistening on his bare chest while he took labored, panting breaths, grinding against my body, warming every crevice like the ultimate sex god who knew how to soothe you just a little when the heat of the flames seared your soul.
I met those seductive eyes with fierce defiance. “You are so dramatic.”
“I guess I am that symbol of innocence to you.”
“Yes and no,” he said. “When I look at you, I see me, and I lost my innocence a lifetime ago.”
I felt that twinge of emotion, like something swelling inside me. I asked if he knew about Angie and me.
“What happened?” he asked.
I gave him the gist of it. “Well, you told me you lost your innocence, too,” I said. “How did you lose yours?”
“Life. Seeing people suffer tragic fates, among other things, like it seems you have … but what happened with those two guys, Danielle?”
The words wouldn’t come.
His hand grazed my arm. “Come, let’s sit.”
We sat on a wooden bench facing the water. It was quiet and the air was crisp. The wind was a gentle caress. I focused on the waves, a reminder of nature’s beauty and force. Colorful shards glistened in the sand, as if suggesting to me that I could either fade in the darkness or begin to shine in my light.
“Well, it was after 5:00 p.m.,” I began, “and we were dancing around on the sand, singing along with the boom box, laughing. Guys were checking us out, but that always happens. Phil and Sergio were up on the boardwalk. They never took their eyes off us. They eventually came down from the boardwalk to say hello. Talking to guys who were attractive and interesting was fun to me at the time, as long as they were not aggressive and seemed nice. I didn’t mind. I liked meeting people and felt no obligation to do anything other than talk, tempted or not—and, in this instance, I was not tempted.”
“Everything you described is normal,” he said, “but it sounds like it was very confusing for you.”
“Yeah, because I was aware of how they were looking at us. I was not quite used to it. I’m still not. They gave us so many compliments. We were flattered to have all this attention and admiration from these two older men. They invited us on a date to Pleasure Beach, and it sounded like fun, so we gave them our phone numbers.”
I recalled the wooden swing bridge we took to the island. It led to a parking lot littered with crack vials. I didn’t know what they were, but Angie had asked Phil.
“They showed us the old structure of the wooden carousel and the playhouse. I loved it, so Phil said he wished they’d brought cameras to take pictures for us. I thought that was really sweet. I never once felt there was a reason to be suspicious. I still had no idea people were not necessarily what they seemed, that they could lie so easily and convincingly. I’ve seen evidence of that since childhood, but it didn’t sink in. They said they were five minutes away and could go get the camera. We could have done without it, but it didn’t sound like a big deal. Why was I so naïve?”
“You were a kid.”
Lovely and innocent things like the scent of southern sea lavender and walking on rocks along the beach would remain forever entwined with the memories.
“On the way back, they wanted to stop at the snack bar,” I continued. “They asked what we wanted. We said yes to sodas. Phil came back with the drinks and handed them out. He had already poked straws through the holes in the tops. We went back to the parking lot. We got in the car and drank our sodas while they drove. They took us to one of the beach cottages. Angie got out and followed them, so I went, too.” I pictured myself sitting on the couch and glancing around, noting that it was a tidy place with a reasonable amount of sunlight and a few thriving plants. “I was terrified that Phil had carted Angie off. I was trying to get up and kept falling back. Sergio was running his fingers through my hair, and telling me I needed to relax. He had a soothing voice, but I was afraid. I tried to get away, but I was lightheaded and stumbled. He caught me. He tried to kiss me then, but I didn’t want to. Then he was carrying me to the bedroom.”
I explained to Valentin that I was in and out of consciousness, that I’d fought when I was awake, but felt like I was watching someone else fight or listening to someone else cry. I told him how they’d trapped me in a room for hours; how I was screaming, crying, begging, and how I had feared that Angie was dead. I said, “When they took turns trying to force themselves on me, the pain was excruciating.”
He hugged me for a long time, and I clung to him desperately.
It was cruel enough—being violated, the fear of not knowing what the ultimate outcome would be, and feeling helpless, not being in control of your mind or your actions. We weren’t able to think clearly, defend ourselves, or get away, but there was more.
“They could have killed us,” I said. “The drugs alone could have killed us.”
Valentin released me but held on to my hand.“Their behavior was deplorable,” he said. “There is no excuse or justification for any of it, and you mustn’t blame yourself. Tell me. Was this the reason Angie took her life?”
I said it was, at the very least, a big part of it.
“Tommy and Joey knew. One of the reasons they got so mad at Farran was they knew she didn’t believe me about what happened.”
“Ah, it all makes sense,” he said. “I don’t condone their behavior that night, but I have wondered about her integrity from time to time.”
“Well, she thought I would have gone to the cops if it was true. Angie wasn’t cooperating, and I knew there wouldn’t be evidence if they examined me.”
“Why would there not have been evidence?”
“I fought so hard. They never succeeded in taking my virginity.”
“Except they did.”
“If you were locked in a room all that time with two guys—drugged and often unconscious—there is no way you got out of that place with your virginity intact, no matter how hard you fought them.”
“But there was no blood.”
“Okay, listen. For lack of a better way to say this, virgins don’t always bleed, and you can’t be sure there wasn’t bleeding at the time. You were out of it.”
“Then why did I always believe they didn’t? All these months …”
“You handled the parts you could handle.”
“Like Angie did.” I shook my head. “And all this time, I’ve been claiming I’m still a virgin.”
“Consensually, you are.”
“I never even went to the doctor! I don’t even have that kind of doctor yet.” It was hard not to be angry with myself or feel like an idiot. I was angry with my mother, too, for not talking to me about anything to do with sex, for the subject having been taboo throughout my existence.
“God, I have to be examined,” I realized.
“Yes, doll, and tested.”
I knew what tests he meant. There was much to process, and I hadn’t begun to do that yet, but I would. I’d seen the price of denial, and I couldn’t afford it.
“Scary as it may be, it’ll give you peace of mind,” he said.
I began shivering, so he removed his jacket and put it on me. It was as if someone lit a log fire. He warmed my soul.
“Have you ever met anyone who saw colors?” he asked. “I’m talking about colors that obstruct someone’s view when they appear. They move to different spots. They fade, and then they disappear.”
I told him I had never heard of that.
“When I was a child, I thought they were spirits,” he said. “I could still see them with my eyes closed or with my hand shielding my eyes. Nico could never see them. My mother would ask me where they were, and I’d point to them. She took me to a shrink who said it was a kid thing, hallucinating. Not a good shrink. It continued for years.”
“What was it?”
“I think it blocked out painful memories.”
“Of another life?”
“I never thought of it that way, but the point is, people do what they have to do so they can get through things in life—even if that’s just to survive.”
“Wow.” I shook my head, amazed. “You know, you and I have some kind of spiritual bond.”
“Maybe we do.”
“But then you act like it’s easy to resist what’s going on here. You tell me my words flatter you. Tsk.”
He stood and put his hand out, and when I slipped my hand into his, he pulled me up gently and faced me. “It is more than flattery,” he said. “I’m honored.”
“Honored now …”
He laughed. “If I have your permission to elaborate—”
“I’m not immune to your beauty or your charm, Danielle. I have an appreciation of you that grows with every new thing I notice about you. You are a jewel among women. What man would not want you to belong to him completely? You strike me as someone I could lie down with for hours and do nothing but talk. I could hug you all night, laugh with you, and just be happy you’re close. You know what that means to me?”
“It means we are friends, and that’s more important to me than you realize. I have no doubt anything beyond friendship with you would be amazing, and you may be an old soul, but in this world, you are very young. Besides that, I’m dealing with a difficult situation and working on my issues.” He put his arms around me and kissed my cheek. He seemed to drink me in, every inch of me, with a broad smile, and he let out a sigh.
An intense desire warmed and titillated me like nothing I had experienced in my young life. I wondered if he was equally tortured, experiencing the same agony. I didn’t want him to release me in that moment, but he did.
“I never really knew why my instinct was to tell you to be careful,” he said, “but it’s becoming clearer to me.”
“Yes. I know when I told you that, you said you were being careful. It was the second time we spoke.”
That surprised me. “You remember what I said in our second conversation?”
“Yes, and everything you’ve said to me in every conversation since. My first instinct was to protect you, and I’m beginning to understand why.”
“You sensed what happened to me?”
“No, I think I sensed that you needed something I’ve needed myself for the longest time—someone to comfort you. I’ve learned since, that it is easily confused with other things, the same way this whole fantasy of me being this dark supernatural being becomes entangled with your innate understanding of who I am. There’s a lot we both have to work through. Take time to heal. Get to know yourself. Love yourself again. And, yes, be careful. Your heart is precious. What you want after you heal may be completely different than what you want now.”
“I don’t think so.”
“We’re both Scorpios,” he said. “We are doomed.”
I laughed. “I know you’re kidding when you say that, because you’re not completely sold on the astrology thing, and you don’t like being doomed or damned.”
“No, I don’t like it at all.” He laughed.
That hearty laughter seemed to meld with the glorious approval of the crashing waves. It took every bit of restraint in me to resist kissing him then, the way I wanted to kiss him. I wished I could stay right there in his arms for an eternity, or, at least, until sunrise.
Instead, he walked me back to my car. I gave him his jacket back, wishing I could keep it. I knew the last hug and kiss was goodbye.
“Adiós, mi amor,” he said to me. “We will meet again.”
I opened my mouth to speak, and then shook my head. “Be careful.”
“Always,” he said.
I wanted to tell him I was completely in love with him, but it would not have been fair to either of us.
Driving past the Cove again, it wasn’t as familiar as it had once been, though ghosts lingered. I’d never imagined nostalgia could be painful, let alone painful to this degree, and at only seventeen. Metaphorically, the actors had taken their final bows. The curtains had closed, and the stage had gone dark. The absences, the betrayals, and the deaths were history. I might have believed it had all been a dream, if not for the way I ached, and for the fact that I was not the same person I’d been seven months ago. Walking away, ending this chapter of my existence, wouldn’t be easy. I was sure I’d play all the old songs we used to hear on the Cove jukebox and cry for a while. But the Cove era had served me well as a distraction from something I hadn’t wanted to face, and I’d created the heroes I’d needed. Perhaps I had become my own hero, too.
Nonetheless, this group of guys—the Lynx—had unwittingly given me hope at a time when I had lost hope and faith with regard to men. Whatever their flaws, they had consciences. I did idealize them. When they fell, it was hard to absorb and accept. They had seemed so much older, but they were young men trying to grow up in a confusing world—learning, like me. Perhaps all of us were healing and helping one another heal along the way, but I would never forget them, any of them. They would always be special in my heart, helping me to keep hope alive.
Then there was that lighthouse on the ledge—still anchored a mile off in the New Haven harbor. It continued to shine its formidable light. I could see it now. Perhaps it was telling me something.
Above all, I needed to face the truth and allow the healing process to begin. Maybe one day I’d see Valentin again, but, for now, I had to restore the peace in my soul, like he was trying to do for himself. He’d been telling me that all along.
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.