Authors: V. C. Andrews
I looked into Logan's eyes and whispered, "I do."
"Who has the rings?" Reverend Wise asked.
Fanny sashayed forward. "Why, Reverend, ah do," she smirked as she lifted her hands, palm up-- each held a ring. Then she bent forward, displaying her full cleavage for the Reverend's eyes, checking to make sure he was looking, and handed Logan and me our rings.
Logan smiled at me, the gentlest of smiles, as he slipped the diamond-encrusted wedding band on my wedding finger. "With this ring I thee wed," he said.
I then did the same.
"By the powers invested in me by God and our Savior Jesus Christ," Reverend Wise intoned, "I now pronounce you man and wife. What God has brought together, let no man tear asunder. You may now kiss your bride, Logan."
Logan kissed me with more passion than he ever had before. Then we walked arm in ai In back up the aisle. When we reached the door, Reverend Wise called out, "Ladies and gentlemen, come greet Mr. and Mrs. Logan Stonewall."
Everyone was around us at once, especially the townspeople. It was as though the service, the pronouncement of the words, the wearing of the rings confirmed me as one of them.
Outside the church the Longchamps had started playing a lilting waltz. After everyone had greeted us in the receiving line, Logan and I were expected to dance first. I saw the hill folk hanging back, insecure and uncertain. I felt their nervousness as they filed through that proper ceremonial reception line. I kissed Logan on the cheek and said, "Hang on, honey," Then I went up to the violinist, one of the greatest hill fiddlers ever, and I said, "Play me some country footstompin' music." As he began to play, I could hear all around me the sound of the hill folk clappin' and tappin'. I took my husband around the waist, the memories of my hill days flooding back to me, and I broke out into the Willies' swing.
The town folk stood back as one by one the hill folks came forward to cut in on our dance. Logan was spun away by a pretty student of mine as my old neighbor Race McGee twirled me away. Then the hill folk began to pull the town folk into the dance. Never had I been so happy. Everyone was laughing, clapping, whirling around. At last the Willies and Winnerow were one.
Suddenly I saw Fanny in her skin-tight blue dress slink across the dance floor and tap Logan's partner on the shoulder. "Make way for the sista-inlore, for the best lady!" Fanny shouted for all to hear. She threw her arms around Logan's neck and pressed her bosom into his chest, placed her hands on his buttocks and began whirling my astonished Logan across the dance floor. When the music stopped, she announced, "I guess it's time to kiss the husband, this time," and with that I saw her tongue slither out between her lips and thrust itself into Logan's mouth.
Finally Logan yanked himself away from her grasp, but Fanny's laugh rang out above the music, tolling its alarm to warn me. I listened, and I heard. But this was my day and I wasn't going to let Fanny, or anyone or anything, spoil it.
LOGAN AND I WALKED OFF THE PLANE RAMP AND INTO THE Boston airport giggling like schoolchildren. We were both so filled with
excitement that the flight attendants immediately remarked that we looked like newlyweds.
"Oh?" Logan said, teasing. "And how should newlyweds look?"
"Full of hope and laughter, their love for each other so obvious even the most insensitive person would look at them and smile to himself," the stewardess recited as if from her own lifelong dream.
"That's us," Logan replied. We had been like that throughout the plane trip, hugging, kissing, giggling, and sighing at each other. Every time the flight attendants walked by, they smiled or laughed.
Now we hurried down the long airport corridor, hand in hand, eager to get on with our visit, Tony's wedding reception for us, and our honeymoon. As we came around a corner in the corridor, I spotted Tony standing by the gate. He was dressed in one of his dark blue, double-breasted silk suits, a folded
Wall Street Journal
in his hand. He lifted it to signal me as we appeared. "There's Tony." I waved back. "I expected he would simply have Miles, the chauffeur, here to greet us."
"That would have been no way to treat newlyweds," Logan quipped.
"You're right," I said, but I paused and tightened my fingers around Logan's hand, knowing all that he would never know. Perhaps it was because I had been away from Tony so long, or perhaps it was the heart's way of reminding the mind that our true selves were revealed more in our eyes than in our words; whatever the reason, I felt the magnetism of Tony's eyes, drawing me back, as I had feared they would.
Strands of gray hair had increased around Tony's temples, but that only added to his dignified demeanor. As we drew closer, his sharp, penetrating gaze transformed into a look of shock.
"Leigh?" he almost whispered. Then
immediately he regained his composure. "Heaven!" He stepped forward to greet us. "Heaven, welcome home. You changed your hair to the same color as your mother's. Blond . ." His voice drifted off, as if kidnapped by the past.
"Oh, yes, I forgot, Tony," I said quickly. "I told her she looks better with her natural brunette," Logan quickly interjected as he stretched out a hand toward the surprised Tony.
"Tony, this is my husband, Logan." I introduced them as they shook hands. I could see Tony already sizing up Logan, taking his measure, scrutinizing his face for traces of his weaknesses and vulnerabilities to see where and how Tony might manipulate him to his will.
"Welcome, Logan," Tony said at last. Then he turned his eyes on me, and I could feel his stare almost drinking me in. "I am so happy to see you back here again, Heaven. I've missed you terribly . . ." He paused and his voice grew misty. "It's uncanny how much you look like her now. I wonder . . ." Then he seemed to grasp hold of himself and quickly turned back to Logan. "And I'm happy to have you here as well, son."
"Thank you, sir."
"Oh, please, call me Tony." His blue eyes lightened. "I have enough people calling me sir around here. Did you have a good flight?"
"Wonderful. But, of course, going anywhere, being anywhere with Heaven makes it wonderful," Logan said. He put his arm around my shoulders and hugged me for emphasis. Tony nodded with a look of amusement.
"That's good. Behaving as a pair of newlyweds should. I'm glad you've begun your honeymoon at Farthy. The car's just outside. Don't worry about your baggage. I have a man looking after it. Let's get to Farthy, where you can relax and we can get to know one another quickly," he told Logan.
He turned to me again, his blue eyes now calm and unreadable. He had gotten hold of himself in his usual inimitable manner and was once again the man in complete control.
"How is Jillian?" I asked softly.
"You'll see for yourself," he said. "Let's not let anything put a damper on the joy of your arrival. I have a wonderful reception planned and the weather promises to be perfect," he said as we continued on through the airport. "My servants have been working like little beavers to sharpen up the grounds. Farthy never looked as proud or as majestic, but she rarely had as good a reason to look so."
"Can't wait to see all of it," Logan said. Tony threw a self-satisfied smile back at me as we emerged from the airport. His long black limousine was at the curbside. Miles stood beside it, holding the car door open for us.
"Miles." I rushed to hug him.
"Good to see you again, Miss Heaven. Everyone's really happy about your visit."
"Thank you, Miles. This is my husband, Logan Stonewall."
"Pleased to meet you, sir."
"Thank you," Logan said and we all got into the rear of the black limousine. "This is the way to travel," Logan said, stretching out his legs and leaning back against the rich leather seat. Then he leaned forward quickly. "Is this a bar?"
"Yes. Would you like a drink?" Tony offered.
"I think I would," Logan replied, which surprised me. He didn't drink alcoholic beverages very often. Tony pulled out the liquor cabinet and Logan asked for a highball.
"No, thank you, Tony. Right now it would put me to sleep," I said. Tony made Logan his drink as we raced down the crowded highway.
Tony looked at me. His smile was small and tight . . . amused. I felt my heartbeat quicken. The scenery outside flashed by quickly, but everything-- sounds, shapes, colors--was vibrant, electric.
"Is Curtis still the butler and Rye Whiskey still the cook?" I asked Tony.
"Of course. Farthy wouldn't be Farthy without them."
"Rye Whiskey?" Logan laughed.
"His real name is Rye Williams, but everyone calls him Rye Whisky."
"Not everyone," Tony said. "I still maintain some semblance of dignity when it comes to my servants."
I turned to look out the window. I wanted to come upon Farthinggale Manor just the way I had that first time. I wanted to feel the same excitement, the same sense of newness. I remembered being impressed with a home that had a name, and now I thought I rightly should have been, for Farthy was like a living thing to me; it had its own personality, it housed its memories and its past just like some dowager queen, sitting back, still reigning supreme. Despite my reluctance to admit it, I was coming home, returning to a part of myself I had hoped I had overcome by marrying Logan.
We were heading north, away from the city. Soon the roadside was bordered by large, gracious shade trees and sprawling green lawns. It was a bright summer day and the foliage was in full glory. It was a day in which to hope, a day in which to begin a new life.
"You know," Logan said as we drove on, "I never realized it before, but New England looks a lot like the Willies, only without the mountains and the shacks. These homes are far from shacks, huh, Heaven?"
"Yes," I said. "But the Willies wouldn't be the Willies without them," I added softly.
"We're going to live in Winnerow," Logan explained quickly. "We're staying at the cabin for the time being, but we plan to build something substantial relatively soon."
"Is that right?" Tony asked, turning toward Logan and narrowing his steady gaze. I could practically hear his thoughts. He was reconsidering his original opinion of Logan, sensing something unexpected. "Well, you're about to see something very substantial here," he added. "Farthy was built by my great-great-great- grandfather, and every first son who takes it over improves it."
"Really?" Logan said, his eyes widening. He turned to look at me, the excitement so vivid in his face that for a moment he reminded me of a little boy about to be presented with a fabulous new toy.
"It's just coming up," Tony announced. Logan leaned forward to watch for the break in the trees. Miles made the turn onto the long, narrow private drive marked by high, wrought-iron gates that arched overhead and spelled out with ornate embellishments
"I rode past this gate once," Logan said wistfully, "trying to get up enough nerve to go in to see Heaven."
"Oh? Looks like your patience and persistence paid off," Tony said and winked at me. I pressed my face to the window and watched the balsam, fir, and pine trees whiz by as we approached the circular drive. The great gray stone house loomed before us. The red roof rose high into the sky, a magnificent silhouette against the cobalt blue. It amazed me how it could still take my breath away. When I looked at Logan, I saw he was impressed.
"It does look like a castle," he said.
"And the princess is coming home," Tony added, putting his hand over mine and smiling
Miles pulled the limo up to the wide steps in front of the hand-carved, arched entrance door.
"And so the tour begins," Tony announced. I could feel Logan's enthusiasm and excitement as he gulped down the remainder of his drink and hurried to get out of the car. I emerged far more slowly, suddenly feeling a little terrified. I looked quickly at the great hedges that formed the English maze. At the other end of those passages lay Troy's little cottage. Despite the bright sunshine and the clear blue sky, it looked to me as if a mist lingered about those hedges, securing their mystery.
Logan didn't know where the maze led, but he knew how much I had once cared for Troy. He even knew about our short and tragic engagement. He had learned all when he had taken care of me when I went into a fever delirium and he nursed me back to health at the cabin. It was Troy I called for, Troy I even thought I saw when I opened my fevered eyes and gazed upon Logan's concerned face. I remembered how hurt he was.
"Why can't you trust me?" he had asked when he thought me asleep, his voice tender, his hands gentle as he smoothed back the damp fringe of hair from my forehead. "I saw you with that Cal Dennison and I wanted to shove him through the wall. I saw you once with that Troy you keep calling for, and I hated him. I've been a fool, Heaven, a damned fool, and now I've lost you."
But he hadn't lost me after all, and now I felt guilty even gazing at the maze and thinking of Troy and the love that was lost when he took his life. I couldn't help the way those memories tore at my heart and brought tears to my eyes. I hid my face from Logan, knowing how unfair it was for me to think about another may I had loved, even if I thought about him only for a few seconds.
"Incredible," Logan said, his hands on his hips. His head bobbed as he surveyed the grounds before him.
"We'll go inside; you'll freshen up, and then I'll show you about ... or would you rather do it, Heaven?" Tony asked me quickly.
"What? No, no, that's all right. I suppose I should go to see Jillian," I said, looking at the dark, high, and wide windows behind which my maternal grandmother had imprisoned herself.
"Of course," Tony said and led us to the front doors that Curtis opened perfectly on cue. He stood back smiling and I went forward quickly to greet him.
"Welcome home, miss," he said and I blushed. When I looked at Tony, I saw an expression of satisfaction. I half suspected he had told Curtis to say that. I introduced Logan, who gave him a quick, perfunctory greeting and moved farther into the house.
Once inside, Logan turned in slow circles, looking more like one of the hill people being brought down from the mountains for the first time. It made me remember, nostalgically, my own first aweinspiring sight of Farthy. How long ago it seemed. How quickly I'd grown used to its riches.
I peered into the enormous living room and stared at the grand piano that Troy used to play whenever he came to the great house. For a moment I thought I could once again hear the lilt of Chopin, the kind of romantic melody that could charm and thrill me. I imagined Troy seated there, his long, slender fingers rippling over the keyboard. I trembled in the archway.
"What?" I turned slowly to look at bOth Logan and Tony.
"Talk about being in a daze," Logan said.
"I'm sorry, what did you say?"
"I was telling Logan that I had your old rooms prepared; I thought you'd be most comfortable there," Tony said.
"Oh, of course. Thank you, Tony. We'll go right up."
"Your bags have arrived and are being taken up now," he added. We started for the marble stairway.
"I've never seen so many murals in one room," Logan said, looking into the music room. "It's like a museum." Tony laughed. "My wife used to be an illustrator for children's books. That was before she went mad . . ." Tony fumbled around the word, obviously wishing to take it back. He cleared his throat. "I'm afraid I let her get a bit carried away in there."
Logan strained to look over the domed ceiling with its painted sky, its flying birds, a man riding a magic carpet, and a mystical castle half-hidden by clouds.
"Kids would love it in here," Logan said.
"I agree," Tony said quickly. "I hope someday there will be some to enjoy it." Once again he narrowed his gaze at me. "Why don't you two lovebirds go upstairs and freshen up now? I'm sure you'd like to be alone before dinner "
But Logan continued his study of the ceiling, as if he hadn't heard Tony.
"Logan," I said, "I would like to take a shower. I started up the stairs. "Logan?"
"What? Oh, yeah, sure."
Logan hurried up after me and we went to my old rooms. "Jeez, what a suite," he said when we passed through the wide double doors. The servants had brought up our bags and one of the maids was already hanging up our clothing in the bedroom closets.
Bright afternoon sunlight poured through the pale ivory sheets to make the sitting room look even warmer than usual. The green, violets, and blues in the delicate ivory silk wall covering were more vibrant than ever. It was as if the room had come to life, using all its charm and beauty to woo me back. Logan had seen only a small part of it, but he was already charmed, drunk, intoxicated by Farthy's majestic size and beauty. He dropped himself into one of the two small sofas and stretched out his arms.
"You did live like a princess," he said. "I can't believe you gave all this up to live in a cabin in the Willies."
"Well, I did," I said. "And you should be very happy that I did. Otherwise, we might not have ever found each other again." Then I softened my voice. "I am so happy to be your bride, Mr. Stonewall."
Impetuously I leaned over and kissed him.
"Heaven, darling," he said, "I don't know what I would have done without you. . . . If you hadn't . ." He held me by the shoulders. "I would have lost you forever." We started to kiss again when I realized the maid was standing in the bedroom doorway.
"Will there be anything else, Mrs. Stonewall?" she asked. She was new, a woman probably in her early forties, a little too stiff and proper for my taste, but probably an excellent servant, I thought.
"No, I think not. Your name is?"
"Thank you, Donna. How long have you been at Farthy?"
"Just a week, ma'am."