Authors: Audrey Godwin
Chyna Marsh surrounds herself with men. Perfect men. Dark, blond, tall, muscled or dimpled, she loves them all. Being a romance writer, she creates perfect men for a living. But when her dashing paper hero steps from between the scorching pages of her latest novel, she thinks the rush of the big city is getting to her and relocates to a slow-moving coastal town.
It's here that she meets two men. Quinn Grayson is dark and devilishly handsome, but his brother Kirk has a severely scarred face and hides deep in the mansion's cellar. Even though she has been warned to stay away from him, Chyna is helplessly drawn into the midnight shadows where he lurks.
What is there about this elusive phantom that fascinates her--this sinister silhouette whose glowing eyes burn with hunger when they look at her--this hulking creature she has come to know as--Frankenstein!
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E-book ISBN: 1-60601-032-8
First E-book Publication: October 2008
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I’d like to dedicate this book to my mother who has been gone now for several years. I sometimes think back to the day I accidentally found a diary lying on her dresser. Stupid little adolescent that I was, I didn’t realize it was private and began reading. I was absolutely and totally surprised. Not at what she wrote, but how she wrote it. My mother was a typical country girl who wore feed sack dresses and got married at the age of fifteen to my father who was fifteen years older than she was. The closest she came to living her dream was expressing her thoughts and feelings in an old, worn out diary. I’m so sorry that she didn’t have the opportunity that I had of letting her imagination soar while creating other worlds and then seeing them come to life in a published book. I do hope that wherever she is, she can still have that joy, for you see, out of four children who went in other directions, she left that fabulous gift with me. Thank you. Mom!
Copyright © 2008
Storm clouds hovered low, and rain battered against the windshield.
Kirk squinted through the downpour trying to keep the car in a straight line. Taking a chance, he cut through the traffic, and felt a jarring bump, sending the car into a fishtail. He frantically turned the steering wheel to straighten it up, but lost control. The next thing he knew the car was careening across the freeway at breakneck speed.
“Oh, God!” he shouted when he saw a cement wall rising up before him. He stomped on the brakes, but it was too late. A crashing jolt tossed him around while the horrible sound of tearing metal filled his ears. It was accompanied by a loud sound—like a bomb bursting—and his windshield shattered sending knife-like shards of glass toward him. Kirk screamed in torment as the glass particles cut a slashing trail across his face, the hot, searing tear of his flesh so painful he passed out. When he finally awoke, his heavy lids blinked against the curtain of rain and blood as it gushed freely into his eyes.
Within seconds two squad cars screeched to a grinding halt, their flashing blue and red lights reflecting on the wet pavement. Car doors slammed, and running feet splashed through puddles to get to the demolished car. An ambulance bumped up alongside the pile of metal, its screaming siren giving way to shouting orders being issued from uniformed officers. The white-clad ME's pulled a gurney from the ambulance. Moving swiftly, they pried the car door open and saw gushing blood and hanging flesh, making their stomachs heave.
Somewhere, through the pain and haze were the words, “I’m sorry, Mr. Grayson, but your parents didn’t make it.” These horrible words pushed Kirk over the brink, and he sank into a deep depression making it impossible for him to withstand extensive surgery on his face at this time. Having no choice, he accepted the punishment of a grotesque face, and the darkness of a living grave.
Kirk Grayson’s essence was ebbing low when he peered out an open window of the dark basement and looked into the silver rays of an icy moon.
“God,” he agonized, his soul troubled, and his heart breaking. “I…I’m no damned good…hell, I know that, but if…if you’d just hear me this one time…” His voice broke, being silenced by a surge of choking tears. After a few deep, gritty sobs, his rasp continued. “God, I…I…need…something…someone. I…I’m going crazy in this hole day after day…nothing…no life.”
His breathing became loud, labored, and as his fingers brushed at the tears, he could feel the ugly mass of jagged scars zigzagging horribly across his face. “I know what you’re thinkin’. You’re thinkin’ I have some nerve. Why…why would anyone…my face… Hell,” he argued, his voice a tormented growl. “I know what it looks…I’m just sayin’ if there’s a way…a way that I could somehow get out of this hole, I…”
A feeling of hopelessness gnawed at his insides, and he stopped abruptly and looked up, his voice lowering to a desperate rumble. “God,” he prayed, “hear me now, and hear me good, because if I have to stay here, then I…I don’t want to live. Hell…send a bolt of lightning, anything…b-but kill me.” He hesitated, fresh tears creeping down over his hideous face. “Because God—” He hesitated, his choking sobs filling the darkness, “—I…I’m afraid…I’m afraid…if you don’t do it…I will.”
He became silent for a moment, then lifted his gaze, stared out into the night sky, and spoke as if looking into God’s face. “Hey, I know it’s wrong, but who would miss me, huh? My sister, my brother…hell no. They’d be free at last. F-Free to live. It’s because of me they’re still here, trapped in this place just as surely as I am. They need a life the same as I do. Maybe more. It’s unfair, what I’ve done to them. I’ve tied them to this miserable mansion long enough. Maybe I deserve this hole. Hell, maybe I deserve anything You give me, but they don’t.”
He was silent for a moment as if listening for the voice of God. When all remained silent, his misty gaze stabbed the skies as if trying to penetrate the heavens, and the sound of his voice became a croaking roar. “God! Do you hear me? Where the hell are You? Are You out there?” A force of anger surged through him, and he kicked the furniture, slicing his arm across a bureau, and tearing pictures from the walls. When he finally became exhausted by his outburst, a sense of shame filled him, and fresh tears fell down his horribly disfigured face as he stared out into the night. “I don’t know how much longer I can take it, God. I don’t—”
A crash of thunder took his words, and a blaze of lightning revealed something in the mist. He ran to the window and grasped its edges while his gaze speared the darkness like a scorching arrow. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing. He squinted, stared, making sure what he saw really was—
* * * *
Chyna dozed in her own bed until the toasty warmth she enjoyed turned to a chilly wind and woke her up. She slowly opened her eyes to a cold darkness, the wind rushing around her, making her aware that she was dressed in nothing but a thin, short nightgown of lace and satin. She looked around, wondering where she was, and how she got here. She hugged herself, rubbing her arms and feeling a hard, cold ground full of sharp rocks beneath her bare feet.
And then a vague outline came uninvited out of the mist.
Her eyes narrowed, trying to see through the murky haze at a sinister structure as it loomed forebodingly against the raging ocean. Curling, snake-like tendrils crept around her feet, then up the gnarled trunks of the weeping willows whose branches hung almost to the ground. Hearing the slurping sounds of the ocean, she moved her eyes to a strip of beach, and then to a lighthouse. A small flame undulated eerily in the window. The vaporous night softened the sharp edges of the light that revolved at the top of the tower, piercing the mist while searching for lost ships in the night. Chyna shuddered in her sleep when the drifting fog took the shape of ghosts dancing on the water’s surface. The scene was so chilling it caused a tingling sensation of damp, cold fingers to caress her neck.
Her eyes shifted back toward the mansion, and a slice of dim light that seemed to come from deep within a cave-like structure beneath the mansion. At that very moment a loud crash of thunder ripped across the sky, and a blaze of flickering lightning illuminated a hideous face that seemed to float in the darkness. She gasped, not at the shocking face, but at what she saw within the scorching intensity of those eyes.
The agonizing existence of a trapped animal, that knows if he doesn’t escape—he will die.
Suddenly she was caught up in a whirling wind spinning about wildly, becoming dizzy and disoriented, then she fell—
She lunged forward in her bed, the freezing fear still caught in her throat. Her chest heaved as she took several deep breaths, then she glanced down at her thin nightgown noticing tiny droplets of mist covering her breasts. Her trembling hands caught the lace of her gown and examined its dampness curiously. It seemed as if something was pushing its way into her memory.
She recognized it as the dark place of her dream.
She lifted her head, remembering the crashing thunder, a blaze of lightning and the flickering horror of a floating face, and then—
a pair of eyes—scorching eyes.
She lowered her head and clawed at her hair, wanting nothing more than to drive the picture out of her mind, but it was too late. Already icy chills were creeping along her spine—
like the cold, scampering feet of a grave mouse.
Still being haunted by the mysterious flood of nightmares, Chyna stood at the big front window of a local market, rubbing the bridge of her nose and silently willing her headache to go away. The pain was jarring. It hit her with the power of a steam engine, and speared through her head like a burning javelin. She closed her eyes, thinking back to when the strange dreams had started, and got a mental picture of her latest book,
Rogue of Love
. It had just hit the stands. Night after night she would find herself wrapped in a velvety cocoon of sleep, only to have it cruelly ripped away by a chilling nightmare. She’d tried to deal with it for a while, even considered seeing a therapist, but finally decided the fast pace of the big city was getting to her. That’s when she made the decision to relocate to this little island getaway.