Read Casteel 03 Fallen Hearts Online

Authors: V. C. Andrews

Tags: #Horror

Casteel 03 Fallen Hearts (33 page)

BOOK: Casteel 03 Fallen Hearts
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"So what?" Her black eyes flashed again. "Ya don't think I kin care for them properly?"
"I didn't say that, but if Randall does leave you, it will make things hard. What about your financial situation? It can't be too good."
"My lawya says ya still got to send me money to support the baby that's comin'. He says no matter what fancy lawya ya hire, ya can't get outta it."
"Maybe. Still, we're not talking about a whole lot of money for you anyway, are we, Fanny?" She didn't reply; she simply glared at me, her black eyes narrowing.
"What did ya come here to tell me, Heaven? It wasn't that. What is it?"
"I came to make you an offer, Fanny "
"What kinda offa?"
"I'm going to offer you one million dollars if you will agree to give me custody of Drake."
I could see that it took a moment for the meaning of what I was saying to register in Fanny's mind. She blinked and then edged herself toward the couch. Then she smiled, but I saw immediately that this was a different smile from any other of Fanny's smiles. It was a calculating smile that sent a chill through me. She sat down, never taking her eyes off me for a moment.
"Well, be. Fancy this. Ya come here ta buy Drake jist the way the reverend came ta buy me. Jist the way Cal and Kitty came ta buy you. Ya want me ta do jist what Pa did: sell a child. But yer really no betta than all them people who came ta buy us Casteels, and that was somethin' ya said ya hated. Ya hated Pa fer doin' it and made him feel guilty till the day he died, didn't ya? Didn't ya!" she shouted.
I looked down. I couldn't keep the tears from streaming down my face.
"So there's finally somethin' ya want so much ya'd even do somethin' ya thought was so terrible ya went ta get revenge fer it and caused Tom's death."
"Fanny . ." My heart was beating so hard and so fast, I couldn't breathe.
"Don't say nothin'," she said, turning away. And then suddenly she started to cry, to cry what I was sure were real tears. She spoke without looking at me. "Sure I want a million dollars so I kin live high and mighty like you do." She turned to me, her eyes full of anger and pain. "But don'cha think I want somethin' else you always had and somethin' ya have now? Don'cha think I want love?" She shook her head. "I'd neva had it like ya did, neva, Heaven. You were the one who had the nice boyfriend when we was jist kids."
"But Fanny, you were so loose, no nice boy wanted to be with you," I protested.
"I was jist tryin' ta get one ta love me and care 'bout me. I thought that was how I could get one ta do it. And then I went ta live with the reverend and I thought now I got someone who wants ta love me, so I didn't complain when he started ta come inta my room and touch me. I even thought he would love me becuz I was havin' his child, but all he wanted ta do was pay me off and get me outta his house.
"Then I went ta Nashville, but it was always the same. Men didn't want ta love me, not like they love you, Heaven. My brothas and sistas never wanted nothin' to do with me. Ya didn't. Don't say ya did jist because ya came ta see me once and sent me some money. I even called Luke a couple times, but ya know what?" she said, her tears flowing freely now. "He only asked 'bout you. Yes, jist 'bout you. I was hopin' he'd a wanted me ta come live with him and his new wife, but he neva said nothin' like that.
"So I married Ole Mallory, but he was too old ta love me like a man should love a woman. Afterward, there were a lotta men around all the time, but I neva had a steady beaux I liked until I found sweet Randall. Now he's somewhere thinkin"bout it jus"cause I lied to him. No one loves me like men love you.
"Even Drake, even now, likes ya more than he likes me, no matter what things I tell him. I kin see it."
She turned away again and we were both silent, except for the sound of our sobbing.
"You can't force people to love you, Fanny," I said through my tears. "You try too hard; you demand it before they have a chance to give it. You've got to have more trust and let it happen naturally."
She shook her head.
"You have a child coming, just like I do," I said, swallowing the tightness out of my throat. "And no one's going to take this one away from you. You'll have a chance to love your baby and your baby will love you. You'll learn from that, Fanny. You'll see that love develops slowly, and that the love that does develop slowly is a stronger love.
"But keeping Drake and trying to force him to love you just so you'll have someone love you more than he loves me is not going to make you happy. You'll see. I'm sorry," I added almost under my breath. "I'm sorry for a lot of things. I'm sorry I didn't fight harder for Darcy; I'm sorry I left you in Nashville and ignored you so long, and I'm sorry for what it has all done to you and for what you have become."
I stood up, but she didn't look at me.
"Good-bye, Fanny," I cried and started for the front door.
I turned slowly, wiping my tears away with a small handkerchief.
"I'll take the million and you can have Drake," she said.
Drake was sitting on his bed in Fanny's house, his little hands folded in his lap. He looked up when I came to the doorway, and I saw that although his face was filled with confusion, he was happy to see me. There was a warmth in his eyes that betrayed his inner feelings.
"Hi, Drake. Can I take you home with me again?" I smiled through my tears. He didn't answer right away; he leaned over to see if Fanny was standing right behind me. "I know that you've gone through a confusing time here, but it's all over now. You'll come back to Hasbrouck House and your room and your toys. Logan's waiting for us," I added, when he didn't move. "And all the new friends you've made and Mr. Appleberry ."
"Fanny said you hated my daddy," he said, his face tightening with hesitation.
"I didn't hate him, Drake. I loved him, only I never thought he loved me. We had a very hard life when we were your age." I knelt down beside him and took his hands into mine. "Sometimes, it's not easy to love someone even though you want to very much."
"Why?" He looked skeptical, but his curiosity beyond his years made me smile I thought about Luke and I thought about Troy and I thought about Tony, and how their love for me and my love for them had gotten twisted and lost.
"Because they don't let you love them. They're afraid of it or they're afraid of their own feelings. I hope it will be easy for you to love, Drake. I know it's going to be easy for me to love you."
He studied me for a long moment. I could almost hear his little mind working.
"Why is it so hard?" he asked, shrugging his little shoulders. I laughed and hugged him.
"Oh, it shouldn't be hard. You're right, honey. It should be easy to love and hard to hate. Let's make it that way forever and ever between us, okay?"
He nodded and I stood up, still holding his hand.
"Are we going now?" he asked.
"Yes, honey."
We walked out to the living room, where Fanny sat curled up on her couch. Drake stared at her in
"Yer goin' ta go live with Heaven after all, Drake, honey. She's got a bigger house and servants and kin take better care a ya, but I'll still see ya from time ta time. Jus' be a good boy and don't fergit yer sista Fanny," she added and held out her arms. Drake looked up at me before going to her and I nodded.
Fanny embraced him and then quickly kissed him and released him.
"So long, Fanny." She stared at me and then she turned away to gaze out her window. Once again she was to be alone. Perhaps Randall would return, I thought, especially when he found out how much money Fanny was going to have. Only that didn't make me feel better for her. "Don't let your lawyer take advantage of you, Fanny," I advised. She nodded without turning my way. "Okay, Drake," I said and we started out.
I looked back after I got Drake into the car and saw her face pressed against the window, framed in the frost, a portrait of loneliness. She would be rich, rich enough to feel she had caught up with me, but she would be so poor.
Drake was silent in the car as we rode back to the Hasbrouck House, but when we pulled into the driveway, I saw his face light up like a Christmas tree.
"My fire engine still there?" he asked.
"Of course it is, honey. All of your toys are still here."
He opened his door and ran around the car. I followed him to the door. As soon as we entered the house, Logan came out of the study and his face brightened instantly.
"Hey, champ," he said, "welcome back."
I nearly cried again when Logan rushed forward and took Drake into his arms, covering his cheek with kisses.
"He hasn't had any supper yet, Logan."
"Oh, no? Good, because Roland's made a roast. A big beautiful roast. How do you like that, champ?" Drake smiled and then thought.
"I love roast beef, it's my favorite meal. That's what I always got on my birthday. Is today my birthday?"
Both Logan and I laughed hard. It felt so good, I didn't want to stop. Our outburst puzzled Drake, who finally smiled and then laughed himself.
He was really home, and in that moment I saw that we already were a real family.

NINETEEN The Music Box

THANKSGIVING WAS TRULY A FEAST OF THANKS THAT YEAR, with Logan and Drake and Logan's parents, and my baby growing inside me. By Christmas I began to feel its little kicks, as if life both inside and outside of me were dancing in celebration. Drake loved to put his warm little hands on my burgeoning belly and feel the baby moving inside me. For the first time in my life, I had my own home, my own family, my own happiness.

Logan never asked me what I had offered Fanny to have her give up custody of Drake. I never told him that I had telephoned Steine to contact Tony and ask that he transfer one million dollars to Fanny. I knew Tony would do it; I knew he still hoped he could buy my affection again. But I had neither thanked him nor even acknowledged his compliance. That would come another time, when old wounds were better healed.

One night before bed Logan smiled and said, "Drake's a wonderful little boy. I'm glad we've got him back."

"Oh, Logan. Thank you." I hugged him. "Thank me? For what?"
"For loving us as much as you do," I sobbed. It

made him laugh.
"Couldn't stop that if I tried." He kissed me
softly on the forehead.
A few days later Logan returned from the
factory to tell me he had heard Randall had left Fanny
and gone back to college, but Fa ny wasn't very upset
about it.
"Some of my employees were jabbering about
her during lunch. Seems Randall told some people
how she treated him. She said," Logan continued,
imitating Fanny, "now that I'm rich as Heaven, I don't
want ya ta come back. Well, I got more money than I
kin spend and lots a handsome young men will be
knockin' on ma door. So don't come back here later on
with yer tail between yer legs and 'spect me ta go
runnin' inta yer arms." He paused and looked at me
expectantly. "Where did Fanny get the money,
I told him the truth and he listened without a
word of judgment. He didn't tell me that I had done
the same thing to Fanny that Tony had done to Luke,
he didn't chastise me. He only smiled and said, "Well,
I'll just have to work that much harder to make the Willies factory a huge success and pay all that money
back to Tony, so we'll never owe him anything again." I embraced him and gave him a hundred kisses
for being the best husband in the world.
We went about our lives, hearing stories about
Fanny from time to time, the things she bought, the
people she associated with. Occasionally, she came
around to see Drake. He was always very polite to
her, but I could see he was afraid she would try to take
him away again. Every time she came and left, I
reassured him that wouldn't happen.
The winter flew by, and one day spring burst
forth in all its glory. It was as if God had unwrapped a
gift of flowers and green grass and warm blue-sky
days. The whispering in the leaves, the songs of the
wind in the grass, the wild flowers that scented the air
with sweet perfume filled us with hope and made the
days of sadness retreat with the chill of winter.
Sunlight was everywhere.
Appleberry pruned and planted and our home
blossomed like a great flower itself. Drake's
melancholy moods thinned until they were hardly ever
there, although once in a while he would become
pensive and thoughtful and wonder about his mother
and father.
The factory got off to a wonderful start. Logan
surprised me with his insight into marketing. He
traveled all over the country, setting up outlets, finding markets. It wasn't long before he was expanding
the work force at the factory, and people in Winnerow
were even prouder of the enterprise.
One morning, just after breakfast, the phone
rang and I answered it. "Ya'll betta get ya husband
right ova here," Fanny crooned. "Ma water done
"Who is it?" Logan asked.
"It's Fanny," I said. "You'd better warm up the
car. Her water just broke and she needs someone to
take her to the hospital."
"Heaven, I can't leave you now. You're
expecting any minute, too," he said. He tried to take
the phone out of my hand, but I covered the receiver
with my palm.
"Darling, despite all Fanny has done, she is my
sister and she has no one else."
"All right," Logan finally agreed, "but you're
coming with me. I don't want you left alone with only
the servants to rush you to the hospital. Besides," he
said, grinning, "all those hours in that Lamaze class
would be wasted. . . get your suitcase. You tell Mr. Appleberry to watch Drake. He always thinks it's a
party when Mr. Appleberry plays with him." "We'll be right over," I told Fanny.
"Well, ya better be, 'cause I'm about to pop any
minute now. An I ain't gonna have ma baby en route.
Ya tell Logan ta get here quick, ya hear?"
Fanny was waiting for us on her front porch
with two gigantic suitcases.
"Ya put them in the trunk, Logan," Fanny said,
spying me through the window. "Hey, Heaven, ya
come to see how it's done?"
Logan was struggling with the suitcase. "Fanny,
what on earth do you have in here?"
"All ma clothes and new slippers and . .Ya'll
expect me to dress common now that I got me all this
money?" Fanny said. Then she winced and grabbed
hold of Logan's arm. "We betta hurry," she
Logan sped to the hospital and pulled into the
lane where the ambulances normally pull in. Fanny
was yelling and carrying on in the backseat.
"I'm gonna die from the pain!" she screamed.
gonna die! Get me some of those knock-out drugs
quick! I wanna be put ta sleep!"
A couple of orderlies brought a gurney out and laid Fanny on top of it, covering her with a white sheet. She was still screaming when the automatic doors burst open and they rushed her down the
"Give me somethin' to put me ta sleep!"
Logan turned to me, putting his arm around me.
"How are you doing, darling?"
"I don't think my coming along with you and
Fanny was a wasted trip," I said, smiling.
"What?!" Logan stammered.
"The baby's on its way," I said.
"Oh, my God, I'll run and get a stretcher. I'll--" "I don't think that will be necessary," I said,
laughing. "I can walk just fine."
Logan paced back and forth, back and forth, as
we waited for a labor room. The contractions had
begun, but the pain wasn't bad, not bad at all.
Sometime many hours later, with my sweet Logan at
my side, counting my breathing and the minutes
between my now painful contractions, the nurse came
in to tell us that Fanny had given birth to a little boy.
Early in the evening my own baby came into the
world, screaming with two healthy lungs.
"It's a girl!" the doctor said.
A nurse quickly cleaned her and wrapped her up and laid her carefully on my chest. I folded down the blanket. She had my cornflower blue eyes, but dark brown hair, Troy's hair, hair that even curled at the back like his did. I gently counted her toes and fingers, and saw that her tiny fingers were shaped like Troy's, Tatterton fingers, fingers that might one day craft miniature people and houses. Logan didn't seem to notice any of that. He was so thrilled and taken
with our child.
"Would you like to hold her, Logan?" I asked.
"I'm afraid I might break her, she's so small," he said. "Darling, you're the gentlest man I know.
Here's your daughter," I said, lifting her to him. He carefully cradled the baby's head and drew
the bundle to his chest. "Heaven," he said, staring
enchanted into the infant's face, "all my life I thought
you were the most beautiful girl on earth, but now I
know our love has created a child even more
"Logan, I'd like to call her Annie, after my
"Annie," Logan whispered to his daughter. She
burst into furious screams.
We both started to laugh. "I guess she knows
her name," Logan said, handing me my beautiful
baby. Soon the nurse came to insist that Logan go
home to get some rest and let me rest. She took the
baby into the nursery and I slept for a few hours. I
dreamed of my baby, of Logan and of Troy, and
awoke with Annie's name on my lips. Oh, I was
certain, I just knew she was Troy's baby, and I vowed
Logan would never know--her love for him, and my
love for him, would make it all up to him.
I painfully scooted myself out of bed and
slowly walked down the hall to the glassed-in nursery.
A raucous voice greeted me from the end of the hall.
"Well, looky who's finally up and about."
Fanny was sitting in a wheelchair being pushed
by a private nurse.
"Which one's your little boy?" I asked. "Luke? I named him after Pa. Luke's there, the
handsomest one in the row," she said. I could see her
filled with genuine love and pride.
"He is a beautiful baby," I agreed.
"I knew ya would think so, Heaven. Ya married
his fatha and he looks just like 'im. Where's yer little
I pointed out Annie She was howling.
"Are ya sure, Heaven? Why, she don't look like
no one around here."
That sent a chill through me. Fanny could never
know, never suspect the truth. I pasted a smile on my
face. "Why, Fanny," I teased her, "with her wailing
like that, she looks a little like you did last night." Even Fanny had to laugh.
"I'll be seein' ya, sista," she said. Then she had
her nurse push her back to her room. "An' don't go too
fast! I wanna peek inta all the rooms," Fanny
instructed her. "It's just like General Hospital in here." Ten days after we brought Annie home, I was
upstairs in my bed nursing her when Logan arrived
from the factory. He was so excited about our child
that he would often leave the factory to make what he
called "baby visits." He would rush in, hold the baby
in his arms or watch her sleep for a while, and then go
back to the factory.
This particular afternoon when he came
upstairs, he carried a box in his arms. It was marked
"What is it?" I asked, shifting the baby in my
arm so I could sit up straighter.
"I don't know," Logan said. "It was just
delivered." He opened it and carefully lifted out its
contents, placing it at my side on the bed.
It was a perfectly rendered miniature of Troy's
cottage. Everything was there, even the maze behind
"Well, I'll be darned," Logan said. "Look at
this. The roof lifts off."
He removed it and tinkling chimes played
Troy's favorite Chopin prelude. Within the cottage a
man who looked just like Troy rested on the floor, his
hands behind his head. At his side sat a girl who
looked very much like me when I had first come to
Farthy. Everything was just as it had been: the tiny
furniture, tiny dishes, even tiny tools to make toys. Only Troy could have made this Only Troy. He
knew. He knew she was his. And he wanted me to
know he knew. This was his way of telling me, his
way of claiming his daughter. Oh, Troy, how I wished
things could have been different. And she was perfect!
So perfect!
"I don't see a card," Logan broke into my
reverie. "Isn't that silly? One of our craftsmen made
you this amazing present and forgot to put in a card.
How can we thank him? I'll have to have some of my
men see if they can find out who made this. It's
spectacular, isn't it, Heaven? Such attention to detail.
I'll bet," Logan said suddenly, "that Tony had someone do this. Maybe it's his way of apologizing,
"Yes," I whispered. I could barely talk, so overwhelmed was I by this token of Troy's forever abiding
love. Logan thought it was because I was so taken
with the beauty of the gift. "Could you put Annie back
in her crib?" I whispered hoarsely.
"Sure," he said.
He took the baby from my arms and placed her
gently in her crib. "I'll take this downstairs," he said,
reaching for the tiny cottage.
"No, that's all right, Logan. Leave it. I want to
look at it for a while."
"Sure. Well, I've got to get back to the factory.
I'll talk to you later, okay?"
He kissed me on the cheek and rushed out. Again I opened the roof and the magical
tinkling music filled the room. A cloud that had been
blocking the sun moved off and the warm light came
streaming through the window to caress the tiny
The door to one of the closets of my memory
opened and once again I heard the soft piano notes.
The melody grew louder and then seemed to get caught up in the breeze that made the curtains on my bedroom window dance lightly against the glass. I looked out at the blue sky as if I could see the music find its way home, and then I put the roof back on the
I would put the toy on a shelf in Annie's room
until one day, many years from now, I would tell her
what this cottage meant. I was sure that when I did,
she would understand why I had to do as I've done.
Because I would always tell her the truth, the truth
that was me. And the truth always heals.

BOOK: Casteel 03 Fallen Hearts
8.06Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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