Read Casteel 03 Fallen Hearts Online

Authors: V. C. Andrews

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Casteel 03 Fallen Hearts (8 page)

BOOK: Casteel 03 Fallen Hearts
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"Never mind my look. What are you doing standing here half naked?" I looked at Logan.
"She came claiming her plumbing broke and she wanted to take a shower in the cabin. Claimed she didn't know we were here."
"Well, I didn't, Heaven. You don't even have the courtesy to call ta tell me you're in town. How's I ta know you and Logan's livin' here?"
"We're not living here; we're just here for a day or two and then we're returning to Farthinggale Manor to live. But that doesn't explain why you're standing like that in front of my husband."
"I was only comin' out ta get a towel. I realized I forgot it and didn't want to embarrass Logan none by askin' him to bring one inta me."
"Didn't want to embarrass him? What do you suppose you're doing right now?"
"He don't look embarrassed," she said, smiling at Logan.
"Fanny!" I stepped toward her. "Get in that bathroom and take your shower properly."
"Sure, Heaven honey. Be only a few moments. Then we kin all have a nice little chat."
She reached down to open the bathroom door, exposing herself as she did so. After she went in, Logan shook his head and sat down. His face was flushed.
"Glad you came," he said. "She was getting impossible."
"You shouldn't have let her in."
"I couldn't keep her out of the cabin, Heaven. How was I supposed to do that?"
He was right; it was wrong to place any blame on him. Fanny was Fanny. She was the way she always was. She always had a need to take from me anything I really wanted for myself. This was just like the time years ago when Logan was waiting for me by the riverbank and Fanny showed up before I did and took off her dress and taunted him to catch her. Then he was just as embarrassed and as upset as he looked right now. He told me he didn't want a girl as loose and with as little inhibitions as Fanny He told me I was his type. He liked his girls shy, beautiful, and sweet.
"You're right," I said. "No one but Fanny can be blamed for the things Fanny does. Your father told me you came up_here looking for some papers."
"Yes, I wanted to close that checking account. I found where you put them in the dresser drawer and was actually just about to leave when Fanny showed up."
"I found a wonderful location for the factory, Logan I want to take you to it later today."
"Why don't you take your papers down to the bank and meet you at the drugstore in an hour. I'll stay here and see Fanny," I said. He looked back at the bathroom and nodded.
"Okay." He kissed me and then left. I waited for Fanny on the porch.
"Where's Logan?" she asked as soon as she emerged. She was wearing a bright red peasant dress, the top pulled down as far as it could be off her shoulders. It didn't surprise me that she wasn't wearing a bra and that half her bosom was revealed. I had to admit that Fanny was very attractive. Despite her wild life, she always had a rich complexion and the combination of her jet black hair and dark blue eyes made for a stunning appearance. "He's finishing off some business in town. What you did in there was horrible, Fanny," I said. I wouldn't let her put me off my purpose. "You're not a teenager anymore. Those kind of antics can't be excused. Logan is my husband now and you are not to behave like that in front of him againd'
"Well, now," she said, her hands on her hips, her head cocked to the side, "I suppose ya think ya jus' gonna take ole Logan outta the Willies and make him one of ya Beantown dandies."
"He's not going to do anything he doesn't want to do."
She stared at me a moment, the anger in her face turning into sorrow. Only Fanny could change emotions instantly, the way you might turn faucets on a sink.
"Sure. Ya two is gonna go live high on the hog and leave me here with the pigs as usual."
"You decided to come back here to live, Fanny. You bought that house with the money from your exhusband."
"But I thought I was gonna get my baby back. I thought ya was gonna help me do it, Heaven. Instead, that lowdown Reverend and his fallow wife still got her. What have I got? I don't have a family; I don't have respect. 'hy, ya didn't even invite me ta the reception at Farthy, but ya invited Keith and Jane ins' cause they're goin' ta some fancy college and look and dress like yer people."
"They're not my people," I said, but I realized she was right. I didn't want her at that party; I didn't want to risk the embarrassment, knowing the kinds of things she might say and do to deliberately humiliate me.
"I wanna come live at Farthy, too, then," she whined. "Why shouldn't I meet all those rich, frustrated old men and find me a sugar daddy like you did, Heaven.?'
"I didn't find any sugar daddy, Fanny." I shook my head. It was so frustrating talking to her sometimes. "And I can't just invite you to come live at Farthy so you can hunt for a rich man to marry "
"Ya always tried ta leave me behind. Ya still owe me, Heaven Leigh Casteel. Yeah, Casteel. I don't care what name ya take, ya still Heaven Leigh Casteel, a girl from the Willies, jus' like me, ya hear? When Ma left us, ya promised ta look after me and care for me, but ya didn't stop Pa from sellin' me ta that lustful Reverend, and when I asked ya ta help me get back ma baby, ya didn't do it. All ya had to do was offa him more money;but ya didn't do it. Ya didn't do it!"
"You're not the motherly type, Fanny. You'll never be."
"Is that so? Don't be so sure 'bout me, Heaven. Don' go around bein' so sure 'bout everyone else but yerself."
"I'm not sure about myself, Fanny But we can never see ourselves as well as others can see us and you just don't want to see yourself for what you are. I'm sorry to have to say that, but it's true. Now, I have some business to tend to in Winnerow and then--"
"You jus' don' want me ta be near Logan. That's it, isn't it? Ya don' trust him."
"I have full confidence in my husband, Fanny. But you're right. I'm not happy to see you near him just because of the kind of thing you pulled in the cabin. I was hoping that all the things that have happened to you in your life would have helped you grow up some, but I see you still have a ways to go."
"Is that so? Well, let me tell you somethin', Miss Prim and Proper. Logan was enjoyin' ma little show up until ya drove up. I asked him ta get me the towel and he told me ta come out and get it maself. He changed his tune when he heard yer car."
"That's a lie, a terrible lie!" I yelled at her. Fanny always knew how to send me into a rage. "You're just saying these things now to hurt me."
She shrugged.
"Believe what ya want, but if ya believe in any man, yer a bigger fool than I think ya are, Heaven, and yer the one's got growin' up ta do." She pointed her finger at me and then put her hands on her hips and stood up straight and arrogant. I stared at her a moment.
"I have to go now," I said. "I can't waste any more time."
"Can't ya?" She laughed. I started toward my car. "Ya jus' can't go off and live in yer castle and leave me behind, Heaven. I ain't gonna fade into the Willies like ya'd like me ta. You and me ain't finished yet."
"I said I have to go." I hurried into my car and started the engine.
"We ain't finished yet," she called, coming down toward the car. I started away, watching her in my rearview mirror.
Despite her threats and her insinuations, I couldn't help but feel sorry for her. Jealousy was a sickness for her. I imagine it made her suffer a great deal. Right from the beginning, when Logan and I were sweethearts, she tried to take him from me, yet when Logan was no longer with me, she didn't pursue him She didn't want him as long as I didn't have him
How she must suffer in my shadow, I thought.
Would she ever love a man for himself and want him not because she thought he was someone I wanted or would want, but because he was someone who loved her and whom she loved truly, honestly? Perhaps Fanny wasn't capable of that kind of love. Maybe that was what she inherited from our hard life in the Willies.

FIVE Ghosts

IN A PRETTY GLADE IN THE FOREST, A CLEARING WHERE bright wildflowers grew, I found the perfect site for the Tatterton Toy Factory. I had remembered the place because, when Tom and I were children, we would sometimes walk by it after school and lie in the sun sharing our dreams. "Heaven," Tom would say, "if I ever make enough money, I'm going to build us a home here, with the biggest picture window you ever saw."

Logan loved the site. "It will be perfect for the new factory," he said, "with its proximity to power lines and roadways." I watched him step out the land and laughed to myself as he framed the building in his mind's eye by holding up his hands, the tip of his thumbs pressed against each other, to form the foundation of this imaginary building. Suddenly he had become a full-fledged entrepreneur, an overnight corporate executive. I didn't let him see me laugh because I knew how seriously he was taking himself. He wrote down some figures on a pad, drew a rough map of the site, and then drove us back into Winnerow to see a local attorney, Barton Wilcox.

There was no better way to spread the news of the upcoming economic investment in Winnerow than to start the negotiations for land. Before Logan and I left Mr. Wilcox's office I made sure I'd told a couple of secretaries, who in turn told their friends, and soon the Winnerow phone lines were buzzing with interest and excitement. Logan called Tony to tell him about the site and Tony wired a large sum of money into an account in the Winnerow National Bank. It was then that Logan felt a real sense of power and authority, for he had control over all that money. Tony couldn't have expressed his confidence in him and won his loyalty forever in any better way.

A meeting was set up in Barton Wilcox's office between Logan and the owner of the land, who practically swooned when Logan made his initial offer. Such sums of money rarely, if ever, were discussed in relation to anything in Winnerow. After a quick conference, Logan added an additional five thousand dollars to sweeten the deal and the negotiations Were concluded. We had our factory site.

"Tony's going to be very happy with me!" Logan exclaimed afterward. He straightened his posture, standing tall and proud and with a flourish fluffed the monogrammed handkerchief in his breast pocket. "I think I fit into all this, Heaven. I really do. I have a real feel for it." He turned to me and smiled. "This is going to be wonderful," he said, taking my hand into his. "Together we are going to build the best dream this town has ever known. We're going to fill people with pride for Winnerow and put it on the map. And think of all the people we will help, people from the Willies who had no future and no hope at all before this."

I smiled at him. He was so excited. Sometimes I thought he could have enough excitement for both of us.

"You made a great decision when you decided we should live at Farthy and do this, Heaven. Really."
"I hope so, Logan." Despite his optimism, I couldn't help trembling every time I thought about our living at Farthy. The Willies still called to me. I almost felt as though I truly belonged there, despite my true heritage, that something was wrong with letting Tony change my dream. But I wasn't going to dwell on my fears. I was going to make this my dream, not Tony's. "We have a lot to do yet. What about the construction of the building?"
"Tony's bringing us to see an architect in Boston. He wants your input on that, as well as mine. Says you and I should best know what the people of Winnerow want and need. But after the factory is designed, we will use only local labor and buy materials locally. Good business sense."
"And the artisans?" I asked.
"I'll be back a number of times to search the hills for people with natural abilities. Of course, there will be a number of other jobs associated with the enter prise; there will be opportunities for many people. Just the way you envisioned, Heaven."
"I'm glad, Logan," I said. We drove back to the cabin so I could pack the rest of the things I wanted to have with me at Farthy, and Logan returned to his parents' house to gather up some of his things. At his parents' request we had dinner at their house and spent the night there. In the morning we started back to Farthinggale, both of us feeling our trip to Winnerow had been very successful. The only thing that left a bitter taste in my mouth was Fanny's lewd display. I expected it would fade away and be placed on the shelf of my memory, alongside other painful and unhappy moments. Let it stay there, I thought, and forever gather dust.
Tony was waiting for us at Farthy when we arrived. He sent the servants out to get our things and he, Logan, and I went into his office to discuss our trip and the plans for the factory.
"Logan and I will fly back to Winnerow the day after tomorrow with the architect," he said after hearing all the details. "Then, in about a week or so, we'll go over the first draft specs together. I imagine a good many of the local people got wind of our project."
"Oh, yes," Logan said. "News travels fast in small towns like Winnerow. My own parents probably spread most of it."
"I take it then they were happy with your decision to become part of Tatterton Toys."
"Very," Logan said. Tony turned to me, a self satisfied expression on his face. How could Logan's parents not have been happy? I thought Look how much Tony had showered on him already.
"You did very well, Logan. Very well I think you're going to work in wonderfully here," Tony said. Logan was absolutely ecstatic. He sat back, his head held arrogantly high. "Tomorrow, let me take you into Boston to my tailor and get you fitted for some decent suits. A man with your responsibilities has to look the part."
"That sounds neat, thank you," Logan said and looked to me for my agreement. I wasn't sure I liked what Tony was doing. In a way he was making Logan over into his own image, and Logan, so infatuated with Tony and with himself, too, by now, was easy clay to ply and mold.
"How's Jillian?" I asked, eager to change the subject.
"The same," Tony said quickly.
"I'll stop in to see her. You two probably have more to discuss, but I'm going up for a rest."
"You all right, Heaven honey?" Logan asked. He heard the irritation in my voice.
"Yes, Logan. I'm just tired from the trip. Don't worry about me."
I left him in Tony's hands and went upstairs, stopping first at Jillian's suite. I found that Martha Goodman was not her usual unflappable self. I saw immediately that she was trouble and agitated.
"I'm so glad you've returned, Mrs. Stonewall," she said quickly, almost secretively.
"What's wrong, Martha?" Martha looked back at Jillian's closed bedroom door as if to be sure she wasn't there watching and listening to what she was about to say.
"She's been quite disturbed these past few days, quite different."
"How so?" I hesitated before opening Jillian's bedroom door.
"Well, you know how she's been living in the past, imagining herself young and beautiful again, talking about people long gone and making references to events that have long since passed."
"She hasn't been doing that these past few days and she hasn't made one attempt to put makeup on her face."
"But Tony. . . Mr. Tatterton just told me she was no different from what she was before we left for Winnerow."
"I'm afraid he hasn't really been here since you left, Mrs. Stonewall. He was out of town for three days and not here much when he was in town."
"Well, what does she do, then, if she doesn't act like she's in the past?"
"It's more frightening . . she says the dead are coming back."
"Because she thought I was my mother, Martha," I said, smiling. "It's my hair color. I'm thinking of going back to my natural color and--"
"Yes, Mrs. Stonewall," Martha said,
interrupting. "But before this, she was always in the same time period. She looked at you and saw you as your mother, but she saw herself as she was when your mother was alive. She was back in the past with you. Now she's in the present, but she swears the people who died in the past have returned. I can't explain it well, I know, but wait until you talk to her. She's very calm, very sensible, but terrified, like someone who has really seen a ghost. She really is somewhat in shock. I must say, Mrs. Stonewall, this is the first time I can remember being unnerved about taking care of your grandmother."
"But Martha--"
"And Mr. Rye Whiskey doesn't help things much, talking about ghosts and spirits all the time. All the servants are a little spooked." She looked down as if ashamed.
"I can see there's more, Martha," I said quickly. "Go on, tell me the rest of it."
"It's just silly, Mrs. Stonewall. I know it's because of all that's going on around me."
"What is it, Martha? Please, don't be afraid to tell me."
"Well, I woke up late the other night and . . ."
"I heard music, piano music."
I stared at her, my body growing so cold, I thought I had lost all feeling in it. For a moment I couldn't speak.
"You must have been imagining it," I said, practically whispering.
"I know, Mrs. Stonewall. I didn't even mention it to anyone before now. But don't you see, it's all part of what's been happening to your grandmother. I don't like it. She looks at me differently and she spends hours staring out the window, looking toward the maze."
"The maze!"
Martha nodded slowly.
"That's what she's doing right now," she said and stepped back. I looked at the bedroom door and then back at her. The woman looked sincerely disturbed. How could Tony not realize what was happening here? Was he so deliberately oblivious to it? He was about to lose the services of Martha Goodman.
"Perhaps if I talk to her, Martha. I'll get her to come to her senses."
"Oh, I hope so, Mrs. Stonewall, because in my opinion it might just be better for her to be somewhere where she can get more professional assistance."
I turned the handle on the bedroom door slowly, then entered Jillian's bedroom. She was right where Martha said she would be--sitting by the window, staring out toward the maze.
The heavy scent of her jasmine perfume reached me immediately and I thought, yes, yes, that was what was so different about her in her madness. She spent hours before an empty mirror frame overdoing makeup, but she hadn't put on her favorite perfume, the scent I remembered so well. Now she had.
Unlike the other times I had seen her, she wasn't wearing one of her fancy nightgowns. She sat calmly, dressed in a black chiffon blouse and a black skirt When she heard me and turned my way, she wasn't wearing any makeup at all, and her hair, although still overbleached, was brushed down rather neatly, the sides pinned back.
"So," she said. "You, too, have returned." She followed it with an efficient little laugh.
"Jillian . ."
"From that hillbilly town. Only something like this would bring you back, I know. You ran out of here, gave all this up, to become a teacher in a backward school. And now you're sorry, sorry for what you lost."
She knew who I was! She wasn't looking at me and thinking she was looking at my mother. She turned back to the window to stare out.
Martha was right--she was very different. The tone of her voice was different; the look in her eyes was different. Just the way she sat there and held herself was different. Gone was the flightiness, the mad laughter, the strange ethereal way she moved her hands and flittered about her room. It was as though she had been given shock treatment and had come crashing back into reality.
"What are you looking for, Jillian? Why do you sit at the window all day and stare out at the maze?"
She spun around. Two small bright tears shone in the corners of her cornflower-blue eyes, eyes so much like my own they made me shudder.
"Everyone hates me," she said. "Everyone's turned against me, blaming me for all the bad things." She brought her lace handkerchief to her face and delicately touched her eyes. This was the Jillian I knew, acting, performing, playing her emotions like a musician would play an instrument. Her song was "Pity me, poor me. Poor Jillian."
I sighed. "Why does everyone hate you, Jillian? What have you done?" I asked in a tired voice.
"They said I chased your mother from this house. The servants used to whisper. Oh, I knew what they said. I used to hear them. They said I was too cold to Tony, living and sleeping apart from him, not permitting him to make love to me as often as he would have liked just so I could protect my youth and beauty. I wouldn't become worn and tired just to satisfy a man's hunger for sexual satisfaction, his need to prove his masculinity."
"Why should the servants have cared?" I asked, thinking that it might be best to humor her. She smiled, but so coldly I felt the chill overtake me.
"Why do you think? They adored Tony. They still do. They think he's some sort of God walking around here. He can't be blamed for anything; nothing's his fault. When your mother threw herself at him and he didn't reject her, they thought it was because of the way I treated him. Don't you see? Everything's my fault. Everything. Even Troy's death."
"Troy's death!" I stepped closer to her.
"Yes, Troy's death. For what horse did he choose to ride? As though it were my fault that he chose it."
"Abdulla Bar," I said, repeating lines
memorized ages ago.
"Abdulla Bar." She nodded. "My horse, the horse no one but I could ride. And so, it was my fault. Don't you see? My fault," she repeated, waving her handkerchief at me and turning back to the window. "And now they're all coming back to haunt me, to punish me."
"Jillian," I said, realizing now what she meant.
"That's silly; that's foolish. Ghosts and spirits don't exist, they're merely the creations of uneducated and superstitious minds. People like Rye Whiskey rattle or such silly stories to entertain themselves. There's nothing out there, nothing but reality, hard and true. Please," I said, going to her and taking her hand into mine. She looked at me and I knelt beside her and looked into those troubled blue eyes, willing with all my might that she would hear and see me and understand, willing with all my might that I could be significant in her eyes, that for once I could be her granddaughter and we could share our deepest feelings with each other. "Please. Don't torment yourself. You're suffering enough as it is."
Suddenly she smiled and with her free hand she stroked my hair. It was the first time she had ever really touched me with any sign of affection.
"Thank you, Heaven. Thank you for caring. But," she said, turning away, "it's too late, too late."
Jillian," I repeated. "Grandmother." She didn't turn back. She was locked in a gaze now, locked in her maddening stare. I stood up and looked out the window, too, down at the maze.
A mist had blown in from the ocean. It looked as though the clouds had fallen from the sky to swallow up the secret and dark passageways. The sky was becoming overcast quickly. We were soon to have a summer thunderstorm. The darkness seemed appropriate.
I stood there by the window with my mentally tormented maternal grandmother and looked out at a continually evolving world below as if I, too, expected the spirits she thought were haunting her to come forth. It wasn 't until Martha came to the door to see what had transpired that I realized how long I had been standing there, staring. I had been holding Jillian's hand the whole time. When I released her, she put her hand on her lap, and I went to Martha.
"You're right," I said in a low voice. "She is quite different." Martha nodded softly and looked at her, the sadness making her eyes heavy.
"I think she might become catatonic eventually, Mrs. Stonewall."
"I agree, Martha. have to get Mr. Tatterton to send for her doctor."
"Oh, I'm glad you agree, Mrs. Stonewall," Martha said. "I mentioned the changes to Mr. Tatterton just a few hours ago and he said he would stop by, but he hasn't yet."
"He will. I'll see to it," I assured her.
"Thank you," Martha said. We both turned and looked at Jillian once more. She hadn't moved an eyelash.
"Guilt is one of the most difficult weights for the mind to endure," I said, almost in a whisper, more for myself than for Martha, but she overheard and quickly agreed.
I left the suite and rushed to ours. I didn't want any of the servants to see the tears of terror that had come into my own eyes. I knew that the things that Jillian had said, the things she felt people blamed her for and she had obviously come to blame herself for, had always been somewhere at the bottom of her thoughts, seemingly asleep, but merely waiting for the opportunity to rise and wield their power of destruction on the rest of her mind.
The same thing was true for me. Up until now I had been relatively successful in keeping those thoughts buried, but after seeing and hearing Jillian, I couldn't help but wonder when they would rise to haunt me, when I, like Jillian, would see a ghost as well .
Troy's ghost. I should have done more to keep him from despair. Surely I shouldn't have left him and gone traveling about while he lingered here at Farthy, living in that cottage that had been our love nest, the site of so many happy hours for us.
How many nights had he lain awake thinking of me in that cottage, believing I had put him aside, believing I had accepted our fate? I knew how sensitive and prone to despair he could be. How easy it was for him to suffer, and yet I left him to endure the greatest pain of all . . a broken heart. I left him without hope, thinking that all the dark thoughts he had had his whole life were meant to be.

BOOK: Casteel 03 Fallen Hearts
4.16Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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