Read Casteel 03 Fallen Hearts Online

Authors: V. C. Andrews

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Casteel 03 Fallen Hearts (6 page)

BOOK: Casteel 03 Fallen Hearts
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"Sure, sure, I understand how you feel," he said. "It's a lot to take in at o ce, but big and important decisions always are."
"That sounds more like something Tony would say."
"He did."
"I thought so," I said. "Where is he anyway?" I looked to the doorway again.
"He had to see about some of the arrangements for our reception."
"How convenient," I said. "He knows what he's doing sending you to convince me."
"He didn't send me, Heaven. I insisted he let me speak to you first."
I shook my head, befuddled, not knowing whether I was being manipulated or presented with an opportunity of a lifetime. I always felt that way when Tony involved me in his desires.
"Men like Tony always get what they want," I muttered.
"Really, Heaven," Logan said. "What's wrong with that?" I looked up at him. I understood Logan's excitement and his ambition, but I didn't like the change that had already come over him. He was too infatuated with Tony and with all that money could buy. Logan had never been one to be interested in power and wealth. It amazed me how convincing and how influential a man like Tony could be.
"It's all right to get what you want," I said, "as long as other people aren't hurt in the process."
"Who will be hurt here? People will only be helped, Heaven," he said, taking a calmer tone of voice. "Sooner or later something like this would have come up. Whether you like it or not, you are the heir to the Tatterton empire and fortune. There simply isn't anyone else. Funderstand Tony's feelings, his reasons for being so determined to make us a part of it. How can you blame him for that?"
"I know," I said in a tired voice. "I don't blame him."
"Well, then?"
What could I say? If only I had grown up like a normal girl with a mother and a father who were with me and my brothers and sisters all our young lives, instead of being tossed from one abusive family to another, I wouldn't be so pained by such crises and decisions, I thought. Was I the Tatterton Tony wanted me to be or was I the Casteel I had been thought to be most of my life? Was I still running away from my true identity? I had hoped that by becoming Mrs. Logan Stonewall I would have put those problems behind me. I would simply be Logan's wife and we would raise our own family with no ties to the past. Now, looking up at Logan, seeing the excitement in his face, I realized that was a foolish dream.
"Let me just think, Logan. Please."
"Of course." He slapped his hands together. "And to enable you to do just that calmly and quietly, here's what I suggest--I suggest we cancel our reservations for Virginia Beach and continue our honeymoon here at Farthy."
"What?" I looked up quickly. Was it going to be one surprise after another?
"Sure. Think about it. We have everything anyone could have at a resort. Why, we have more. We have our own private beach. We don't have to mingle with the tourists. At night we can be driven into Boston in the limo and see some shows and shop, go to fine restaurants, and during the day we can go horseback riding here and lie around on the beach, or picnic. No one will bother us. Tony will be at work; your grandmother stays in her rooms. We'll have the place all to ourselves. What do you say?"
"I don't know. I . ." I looked around. Everything was happening so quickly.
"At the end of the week we'll return to Winnerow and tell my parents our decision."
"Our decision? But . . there are so Many things to decide. For example, where will we live?"
"You'll live here, of course," Tony said. He materialized in the office doorway so quickly, he was like a spirit that had instantly taken shape. "Sorry to interrupt, but I came in to get something and just overheard your last question."
"Here?" I looked at Logan. He was smiling like a Cheshire cat. "What does he mean?"
"We were saving that as a final surprise," Logan said.
We? I thought.
were saving that as a final surprise? He was already thinking and acting like Tony's partner.
"What final surprise?" They looked at each other like two conspirators. Did Tony just happen to arrive at the right moment or had he been standing outside the office door throughout our conversation waiting for his
I wondered.
"If you'l1 just follow along," Tony said, "I'll show you." Logan reached down and took my hand.
"Come on, silly. Let's see what he has to show us. Come on." He smiled at me.
I rose slowly, reluctantly, knowing I was being led to a view of my own future. We would all-be filled with trepidation if we could suddenly see the rest of our lives, I thought Right now I was being swept along, carried by a momentum that was not my own Like a marionette, I
held Logan's hand and we followed Tony up the marble staircase.
"You remember these rooms on the south wing," Tony explained as he turned right at the top of the stairway. "We never even opened them for guests. My grandfather and grandmother lived on this side of Farthy. I always wanted these rooms to remain something special." He turned and looked at me. "I hope you feel that way, too, Heaven."
"I don't understand what you mean, Tony," I said. He simply smiled and a light sprang into his pale blue eyes, bright like the golden flame of an oil lamp burning securely in its clear glass globe. Then he went to the large mahogany doors that were usually kept closed and opened them with a grand flourish, thrusting them back and stepping away to let me see.
"The suite of Mr. and Mrs. Logan Stonewall," he announced.
"What?" I folded my arms across my body protectively and turned to Logan. He stood there, still smiling like a Cheshire cat. "What is this?" I walked forward and entered the suite.
Nearly everything had been redecorated. The French Provincial furniture in the sitting room had been reupholstered in a striped silk cloth in my favorite color: wine red. A large Persian rug had been placed over the hardwood floor. The walls had been done in a floral-patterned cloth paper, the colors in the petals picking up on the reds and whites in the upholstery and rug. Over the two large windows hung antique silk drapes, behind which were sheer curtains.
Tony moved ahead and opened the bedroom doors. Even the oversized king-size bed looked lost in the enormous room, the floors of which were covered with a thick, beige carpet so soft to the step it felt as though I were walking over marshmallows. The windows on either side of the bed had been
redesigned, making them longer and wider, thus providing the room with a great deal of sunlight and making it look bright and lively.
The light oak posts of the bed with their handcarved threads rose to support a milk-white and apricot canopy. There was a matching bedspread with frilly edges, and rust-colored throw pillows had been placed at the center. To the right of the entry was a white marble vanity table, resting in the middle of a marble counter that ran nearly the length of the room. Under the counter were drawers framed in wood the shade of the marble counter. Above it was a wall of mirror, the edges of which were trimmed in gold.
The entrance to what would be my bathroom began at the end of the counter. This additional bathroom had obviously been added recently, too. The fixtures were modern and plush, with the whirlpool tub set in a caramel-tinted tile floor. All the knobs and faucets were gold-plated. There were mirrors everywhere, which made the bathroom look larger than it was, although it was, in and of itself, one of the largest bathrooms I had ever seen. Even Jillian's seemed small in comparison.
I turned from the bathroom and went to the immediate right of the bedroom door, where there was one enormous walk-in closet so deep and so long I thought it had as much space as our entire cabin in the Willies. There were even new garments hanging on the racks, dresses and skirts and suits of the latest fashion. I turned to Tony in amazement.
"Went on a buying spree one day. Whatever you don't like, we'll send back. Don't worry about it." He smiled.
"I don't believe this," I said. There were even pairs of matching new shoes displayed on the bottom shelves. Tony always wanted to control everything-- even to the clothes I wore, the way I dressed and put on makeup.
But the one thing that caught my attention the most was the painting hung above the bed, just under the canopy. It was an oil capturing a scene in the Willies with a shack set in the belly of a small hill Two small figures sat in rocking chairs on the porch of the shack, looking remarkably like Granny and Grandpa.
"Of course, you can change anything you want," Tony said.
I stared at him a moment and then shook my head. Obviously, so much redecoration and
renovation had to have begun some time ago. Tony had been planning this, hoping or expecting that Logan and I would live here. I wanted to be angry, to despise him for always getting his way, but the brightness and the richness of the rooms, rooms obviously built to cater to my taste, rooms created to make me feel happy and at home, tempered my indignation and smothered the sparks of my anger.
I looked at Logan, who stood beside Tony, beaming. For a moment another, more frightening thought occurred to me. Could he have known about this all along, even before we came to Farthy? Did he always know that Tony would offer him a vicepresidency and did he simply pretend his amazement and excitement? Was he capable of such deception? I didn't think so, but under Tony's guidance, anything was possible.
"How did you know we would even consider doing this?" I asked Tony. He shrugged. "It makes no difference. If you weren't going to live in this suite, it would still serve a purpose--it would be your personal guest suite, available only to you whenever you wanted to use it. I hardly think it was a financial gamble," he added, smiling. Logan laughed.
"I wasn't concerned about your money," I said. His blue eyes narrowed, but he kept his smile small and tight. I looked at the painting again. "Who did that painting?"
"One of my artisans at the plant. I sent him to the Willies and he returned with that. Rather good, I thought. What do you think?"
"It's wonderful," I admitted. I embraced myself again. It was a wonderful painting. Every time I looked at it, it would fill my heart with warmth and my mind with memories, I could almost hear the rocking chairs squeaking.
"So?" he said.
I looked at both of them again. Logan had begun to imitate Tony's posture, Tony's smile.
"I don't know. I feel like someone being swept along. I've got to think . . about a great many things."
"Fine," Tony said. "Well, I'd better check on things outside." He looked at his watch. "With the reception coming up tomorrow, we haven't that much longer." He started out and then stopped in the bedroom doorway to turn back to me. "Don't be angry with me, Heaven, for caring about you and wanting you to be happy," he said and left before I could respond.
"Logan Stonewall," I said, spinning around quickly to confront him, "did you know anything about this before we came to Farthy? Tell me the truth," I demanded quickly.
"What . of course not . . how could I?" He lifted his arms to plead his innocence. I studied him a moment and concluded he was telling the truth. "Why are you so upset, anyway? Look around you. This place is beautiful."
"I know that, but remember what I said downstairs about men like Tony getting what they want. Don't you understand? He had to have begun this some time back; he had to have always planned for us to come here, for you to work for him."
"I don't believe that," Logan said. "How could he?"
"I do," I said. "But maybe it doesn't matter anyway; maybe it's all part of what's destined to be." I looked over the rooms again. "Come," I said, "let's get ready for dinner,"
Logan, shaking his head in confusion, followed me out. How could I expect him to understand the forces at work at Farthy, the power of the ghosts and the shadows that Rye Whiskey feared, the mystery and the magic of the large house and its grounds, when I, myself, a blood descendant of the Tattertons, receptive to the voices from the past, did not comprehend the full extent of the power they had over me?
I should flee this place, I thought. I should rush out of here and return to the Willies, where I felt safe and snug in Grandpa's cabin. But the echo of that thought died quickly and was replaced by the echoes of Logan's and my footsteps as we hurried down the corridor.
Like a leaf in the wind, I felt myself being swept along, carried away by forces far stronger than I was.

FOUR The Grand Reception

THE ROAD TO FARTHINGGALE MANOR HOSTED A PARADE OF limousines, Cadillacs and Lincolns, Rolls-Royces and Mercedes. Tony had pulled out all stops; he had invited every influential businessman and politician and socialite within a hundred-mile radius. I knew that all he had done to impress Logan and me up until now would p
afe beside what he was about to present.

Every girl dreams of a wonderful wedding reception, but to see something like this, an
extravaganza beyond my wildest imaginings, suddenly made all my dark thoughts about Tony and his manipulations disappear and made me realize how incredibly lucky I was. I did have a great deal to be thankful for. To know that all this splendor, all these well-dressed people in expensive cars were gathering because of Logan and me filled me with an
excitement almost impossible to contain.

Suddenly, stepping out of one of the sleek black limousines, I spotted Our Jane and Keith. I ran toward them, my arms outstretched. Our Jane had grown into a stunning eighteen-year-old. Only an inch or so shorter than I was, Jane had developed a fuller figure. Her fiery red-gold hair flamed about her small oval face, highlighted by a pair of turquoise eyes so soft and vulnerable they could turn the hardest, most cynical man into a blubbering schoolboy.

"Heaven!" she cried. "Oh, Heaven,. I'm so happy for you."
Keith looked his part as well. As tall as Pa, his auburn hair deep and rich,, his brown eyes bright, he looked tanned, rich, and quite the Harvard man, dressed in a light white-and-blue-striped cotton sweater and dark blue slacks.
"Congratulations, big sister." He grinned, then replaced his pipe in his mouth. What a handsome, self-confident young man Keith had become! I knew he was an excellent student, a member of the prestigious rowing team as well as the highly successful debate team.
Looking at them now, it was hard to believe that they had once clung to me like two little monkeys, their faces pale with shadowed hollows beneath their eyes. It was almost impossible to resurrect the memory, of their thin, little voices crying, "Hey-lee, Hey- lee" as they begged for something more substantial to eat during those days after Pa had deserted us and Tom and I were left to be both mother and father to them.
Maybe it was good I had a hard time
remembering all that, I thought. Maybe it was best. I wished I had just as hard a time recalling other troubled memories as well.
"I just knew you two would marry some day," Jane said. "It's all so romantic. You two were just made for each other. Heaven, I. . . I'm just so happy for you. I'll bet the whole town of Winnerow went crazy when they heard the news."
"How is Winnerow?" Keith asked, a slight smirk in his face. His memories weren't fond ones, so he had no burning desire to return, even for a short visit.
"It's about the same," Logan said, suddenly appearing at my side. He looked so handsome in his tuxedo, his hair combed back, a white carnation in his lapel.
"Logan Stonewall!" Our Jane shouted. "How handsome you look."
"And how grown up and beautiful you look, Our Jane," he replied.
"No one calls me that anymore," she said, blushing.
Logan turned to Keith. "You certainly have grown sitce I last saw you. Heaven keeps me up to date on all your college success. She's very proud of you. Proud of you both. We're going to need young men like you in Winnerow now. There will be some significa it changes there soon."
"Oh?" Keith said.
"We'll talk about it later," Logan said. "Right now, I'm going to get some champagne and something to eat, okay, Heaven?"
I kissed him and he went off, leaving me to chat with Keith and Our Jane.
"What a wonderful party this is going to be!" Jane exclaimed. The music down by the pool had just begun and the guests were beginning to dance.
"We must catch up on everything, Our Jane. . . I mean Jane. It's going to be so hard for me to remember not to call you that," I said, hugging her once again.
"You can call me Our Jane if you like, Heaven. I'm just so happy to see you!" She clapped her hands together, like she used to as a little girl when she was excited. "Oh, Heaven, I can barely stand still. Do you mind if I wander around? I don't mean to go off so fast, but look at all those flower arrangements, the pool, and -"
"You kids run off and have a good time, the time of your lives. We'll catch up later," I said.
They walked away together arm in arm. I stood for a while, watching them laughing with each other, whispering in each other's ear, joking and giggling. They were still very close, sensitive to each other's feelings and moods. In my secret and putaway heart, I couldn't help being envious of their relationship. Once, Tom and I had had similarly strong ties. Just seeing them together suddenly made me feel small and lonely.
Would I always feel an orphan? Would I never feel I truly belonged anywhere? But I had to scold myself. Look at all this that Tony had done for me. Perhaps it was Farthy after all to which I belonged.
My eyes searched for Logan. I wanted him to stand by my side, to put his arm through mine, to be my husband always with me at our wedding reception, but wherever I spied Logan, there was Tony, dragging him from business acquaintance to business acquaintance, gallantly introducing Logan to the whir and flash of Boston society.
Feeling a little sad, I left Logan with Tony and turned toward the pool patio. Tony hated rock and roll, so the band he hired played only classics and easy listening music. It didn't have the spirit of the Longchamps, but the melodies were gay and upbeat and created the right atmosphere. Guests were jitterbugging to "In the Mood." Others were sitting at the small tables, shaded by colorful umbrellas, eating, while others wandered about from group to group, exchanging gossip.
Tony had hired two dozen additional servants for the reception. Waiters and waitresses dressed in red and white uniforms circled about the grounds, carrying trays of champagne in long-stemmed glasses and silver and gold trays of hors d'oeuvres. At least four hundred people had arrived, all richly dressed, modeling the latest fashions, originals by Saint Laurent and Chanel, Pierre Cardin and Adolfo. The warm breeze carried their laughter and conversation over the manicured grounds.
Some of the people I had met before, although I really recalled few. Despite their attempts at individuality, there was a sameness in their style of conversation, in the way they greeted one another. After my second glass of champagne, I giggled at the idea that a small army of mannequins had become animated and escaped from the windows of the most elegant Boston shops.
Suddenly I spotted Tony whispering something into the bandleader's ear.
"Ladies and gentlemen," the band leader boomed into the microphone, "before we continue with our festivities, I have been asked to play a special number. Would you all turn your attention to our lovely bride and to your wonderful host, Mr. Tony Tatterton."
The bandleader lifted his baton and the orchestra began a rendition of "You Are the Sunshine of My Life." Tony walked across the dance floor to me and held out his hand.
"This dance, princess."
I took his hand and he pulled me to him gently. "Happy?" Tony asked, his face against my hair. "Oh, yes, yes. It's a wonderful party." And it was. I truly appreciated how much Tony was doing to make me feel I belonged here.
"I hope you're really happy, Heaven," Tony said. "I don't mean to do anything but please you."
"I'm happy, Tony. Thank you."
"Having all of this is meaningless unless you have someone you love with whom to share it. Will you share it with me, Heaven?"
I looked at Logan, laughing and waving at me as he made one new rich friend after another. I looked at Farthy, the grand house looming above the party, its windows filled with the reflection of blue sky and soft cotton white clouds.
"Yes, Tony," I said.
He kissed me on the cheek and hugged me to him tightly, too tightly. I inhaled the strong, sweet aroma of his aftershave and felt his strong fingers pressed against my back. His lips grazed my cheek again, coming very close to mine, and for a moment, only a moment, a chilling sense of fear knifed through my heart.
"It's all just beginning," he whispered. "Just beginning. I want to do so much more for you, Heaven. If you'll only let me."
I didn't respond. He was holding me so closely and tightly, I could feel his need to have me with him always, a need that made me feel claustrophobic, a need so great it frightened me.
Midway into the dance, others began to join in. When the song ended, Tony excused himself to mingle with the guests. I stood simply gaping at everything. My heart was pounding so hard in my ears that for a moment all other sound was drowned out. I didn't hear the laughter, the music, or the
conversations. I felt as if I were alone on the vast grounds, the sea of blue sky above, the breeze whispering around me like a warning. It took me a few moments to realize that Logan was at my side.
"Are you all right?" he asked.
"You look lost."
"Oh, yes." I laughed to cover my trepidations, the pressure of Tony's arms still lingering on my b ck. "I was just in a daze. This is so overwhelming." Just then Jane and Keith walked over and kissed me.
"You looked absolutely radiant out there," Jane said.
"You did look beautiful, Sis," Keith agreed.
Logan took me in his arms. "You and Tony did make a splendid couple on the dance floor. He's quite a dancer for an older man."
"I suppose," I said a little coldly, hoping that somehow Logan would sense that something was wrong. But he saw only what he wanted to see, his bride, the start of a new life, the promise of a perfect future.
"I almost forgot, they asked me to get you and go down to the stage by the pool," Logan said. "There's about to be a presentation."
He shrugged.
"I know just as little as you do," he said, smiling, but it was such a self-satisfied smile that I doubted him.
Tony stepped onto the stage and walked up to the microphone. His eyes roved over the crowd until he spied Logan and me strolling toward him.
"Ladies and gentlemen," he began, "a special toast to our bride and groom." He held his glass up. "To a bright and wonderful future--"
He suddenly stopped. The crowd began turning their heads, trying to follow his line of vision. Jillian was stepping out onto the dance floor. A wave of astonishment rippled through the large sea of guests. Jillian continued drifting toward the stage, Martha Goodman scurrying like a duck behind her
Jillian was dressed in her wedding gown. She had always had a beautiful, slim, and graceful figure. Even in her state of madness, she had no trouble fitting into it as perfectly as she had the day of her marriage to Tony. Her golden hair, bleached to the point where it looked like a mop of straw, was brushed down the sides of her face and the back of her head in stiff strands that curled at the ends. There were two blotches of dark pink rouge on the crowns of her cheekbones, and her lipstick, now the color of dried blood, was just as caked as it had been the first day I saw her in her suite.
She stopped at the bottom step of the stage and turned to look at the crowd of gawkers.
"Thank you all for coming. Thank you," she said. "This is the happiest day of my life, the day I'm to marry Mr. Anthony Tatterton. I'm so happy so many of you chose to share it with me. Please, please enjoy yourselves."
For a moment no one moved or said anything. Then Martha whispered something in her ear.
"This is my wedding, this is
my special day,"
Jillian said, turning to Martha with a ferocious look. She brushed back a strand of her wild, strawlike hair.
"These people came to see me! They came to be witness to my wedding, to my everlasting devotion to Tony Tatterton . .
and I know," she said, her voice almost a whisper now, "I know that his love for me will always remain true." All the strength suddenly drained from her posture and she had to lean on Martha as on a crutch.
"Miss Jillian," Martha said tenderly, leading her back to her seat.
The crowd was dumbstruck. Tony regained his composure and stepped back up to the microphone as though nothing peculiar at all had occurred.
"Ladies and gentlemen," he began again, "a toast to Mr. and Mrs. Logan Stonewall."
"Hear hear," the men in the crowd chorused, trying to hide their embarrassment, and over four hundred people drank to our happiness and good health.
"Heaven, Logan, I wish you long life and happiness and as a token of that wish, I present you with this - "
He raised his free hand to signal and the audience and Logan and I all looked toward where he pointed: a brand-new silver Rolls-Royce with ribbons wrapped around appeared. The crowd uttered one unilateral sigh of appreciation as it drove toward us. I looked up at Tony and saw the determination on his face.
There was no limit to what he would do to win my heart and devotion, I thought. His love for me was both ruthless and overwhelming. Once again that pang of fear I had felt on the dance floor returned. For a moment my handsome secret father looked like the Devil incarnate. I felt helpless before such power and wealth, such unyielding love.
I turned to Logan to see his reaction. His face was filled with happiness, his cheeks crimson, his eyes lit, his mouth opened in an expression of utter awe. He squeezed my hand, then dropped it and stepped forward to admire Tony's gleaming, extraordinary gift. I followed behind. Logan turned to me, his face so filled with happiness he nearly brought me to tears.
"Oh, Heaven," he said, "I don't think it's possible to be any happier than I am at this moment."
"I hope so, Logan," I said. "I hope so." His face was beaming so. How easy he was to please and make happy, I thought. His happiness was never clouded by dark suspicions as mine was. How I needed a man like him. I wanted to cuddle in his arms forever.
"Oh, Logan, I love you. Love me forever and ever like you do now," I pleaded as I fell into his arms.
"I will. I promise," he said.
When we kissed we were almost oblivious to everyone and everything around us. Then the crowd of well-wishers cheered again and the party continued. Logan and his new young companions inspected the Rolls-Royce and I turned to thank Tony as the music was begun again. Before he reached me though, Jillian got up fro her seat and ran to him.
"Oh, Tony," she cried, "you do love me! Wasn't it a wonderful ceremony."
People stopped to stare and listen.
"Yes, Jillian." He put his arm around her to turn her back to her table. She leaned back and, looking over her shoulder, called to everyone nearby.
"Enjoy yourselves," she commanded. "Please, everyone, continue to enjoy yourselves."
I watched as Tony seated Jillian again and had Martha Goodman bring her something to eat. Then he started toward me. I couldn't help feeling sorry for Jillian, for the way people were looking at her and whispering.
"Why did you permit this to happen?" I demanded as soon as he was close to me and I could direct him to a place where we couldn't be overheard. "Don't you find it embarrassing?"
"Embarrassing?" He looked back in Jillian's direction as if he, himself, were back in time and hadn't realized what was going on in the present. "Yes, it's embarrassing, but it's more tragic to me than embarrassing."
"Then why permit her to come out here like that? In front of all these people. Most are surely laughing at her."
"She doesn't see it that way," he said, his face approximating a smile. I couldn't understand it. "In her eyes, mad eyes, she sees them all as having a good time at her wedding reception. "
"But . ."
"But what?" he said, his lips compressing into a tight thin line. "Whose embarrassment are you worried about, hers or yours? Should I shut her up in her suite like some crazed animal? Should I let her pine away within four walls? Or let her go crashing down the deep dry well of her memories until she finds herself on the bottom, alone, in the dark, forgotten?

BOOK: Casteel 03 Fallen Hearts
9.41Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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