Read Temptation Road Online

Authors: Kimball Lee

Tags: #romance, #paranormal romance, #young adult, #fantasy romance, #ya, #vampire romance, #romance fantasy, #contemporary romance, #d, #scifi romance, #ya romance, #college romance, #young adult paranormal romance, #witch romance, #womens contemporary fiction, #ya fantasy romance, #romance magical, #romance with witches, #womens comtemporary romance

Temptation Road

BOOK: Temptation Road
13.24Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Temptation Road

The new and last Mary…





Kimball Lee





Copyright 2013 Kimball Lee





The house on the bend of Temptation Road came
to be Reagan’s quite by chance, or by destiny, perhaps. If she
hadn’t overheard a location scout telling her soon to be ex-husband
about the Victorian confection he just couldn’t get out of his
head, she might not ever have known about Seven Devils, North
Carolina. But the young man was captivated by the rambling,
crumbling, curly-cued good witch’s house, and he felt that it had
to be immortalized on film. She was at a wrap party for Carlo, the
brilliant director’s latest movie, another block-buster without a
doubt. Carlo was her husband, and he wasn’t listening at all, he
simply peered over the young man’s head. His gaze lingered on his
soon-to-be-next-wife lounging poolside, wearing nothing more than a
body-paint bikini and a desperate look. But Reagan stepped up and
listened to the story of the Mary’s house and packed her Louis
Vuitton luggage that very night. She introduced herself to the
location scout and asked about the house and the town with the
frightful name.

“Oh, not frightful at all!” he gushed,
“entrancing, captivating!”

That was all she needed to hear, she set out
to find that ruin of a house as she left her ruin of a marriage
without shedding a single tear. She boarded a flight at LAX and
flew across the country, toward anything auspicious.

When she landed in Knoxville it seemed she’d
only just boarded the plane. Had she slept or even blinked in so
short a time? Maybe she’d entered a time warp or traveled through a
wormhole, it seemed she’d dreamed she was flying and suddenly she
had arrived. Such happenings would become commonplace once she
inhabited the Mary’s house, things that were beguiling and
whispered of love and magic and enchantment. But all of that was
yet to come.

She called her mother and then her best
friend, Alana, from the Crowne Plaza, it wasn’t the type of hotel
she preferred, but it was the best the city had to offer. She told
them she was flushing her cell phone down the toilet along with the
last ten years of her life and she’d let them know her new number
as soon as she had one. She said she could no longer stand the
sight of Carlo, or to be loved by Sean, and that she didn’t want to
be admired by the world. She was disappearing into the mountains,
to a different life, to something that was still hidden from her
but she was certain it would make itself known. She didn’t flush
the phone, she just let it swim for a while in the pristine white
potty, then fished it out and crushed it beneath the heel of her
Hermes boot.

Both her mother and Alana were concerned over
her abrupt flight from Los Angeles, but they were glad she’d left
Carlo. Reagan assured them she could feel happiness and meaning
beginning to grow and take shape in her soul by the minute, so they
were glad for her, in spite of their concern.

She bought a pearl white Yukon SUV the next
morning and paid for it with her titanium American Express card,
then she drove into the Blue Ridge Mountains. She wound up and
around and into banks of fog that threatened to engulf the SUV and
her along with it, she was, it seemed, vanishing into oblivion. The
road was so narrow in some places and the visibility so poor, that
she wondered what on earth had possessed her to run away. Why had
she wandered into this remote part of the world, what had drawn her
so urgently? Several times she nearly slipped off the edge of the
road, the car’s tires spinning and sending small rocks tumbling
down the mountainside.

When she came to a scenic overlook and pulled
over, she stared ahead at the most beautiful cloud-shrouded
mountain vista she could ever have hoped for. She started to get
out then noticed a large black bear rustling through a trash bin,
it looked her way and made a mewling cry. She locked the doors as
if the creature might dare to climb in with her, she began to shake
violently with fear of wild things and her future, as she inched
along the perilous road. She pulled into the first motel whose sign
caught her headlights and rested her cheek against the steering
wheel before going into the office. At the front desk she asked how
far she was from Seven Devils and if there had been any incidence
of bears wandering the motel property.

Housekeeping woke her early in the morning,
banging on the cheap metal door. She peeked out and told the maid
to give her half an hour. When she stepped into the world outside,
it was dazzling sunlight with an electric blue sky and a hundred
shades of green and pine trees that pierced the roving clouds then
reached to heaven and beyond. The mountain world was sharply green,
not only as a color but as an all-encompassing smell. It inundated
the senses, a saturated aroma of pine bark and sap and needles and
fallen cones, sprightly and scintillating. It spoke to something
locked inside her, something as old as the beginning of the very
particles she was made of. Whispering its secrets softly, beckoning
and calling wordlessly, “rest in me, here is where we all began,
come into me and exist.”


She drove down the main street of Seven
Devils and along the few side roads. It was a
‘drawing-in-a-children’s-book’ kind of town, with old storefronts,
a wee little grocery store and a café/bar called the “Snakebite.”
There was a clapboard church, signs for the Everclear Ski Area, and
more and more sky piercingly tall trees. Hydrangea bushes bent over
split-rail fences with enormous blue flower heads against shiny
foliage, yet another shade of green. The wind blew leaves and
fallen petals and old newspaper pages along the streets and
sidewalks as if in slow motion, and even though the sun was still
high, owls hooted, hidden among the tree branches.

The Blue Ridge Mountains rose up all around
the little town and multi-colored valleys dipped and rolled down
and away. On a side street she crossed a rickety wooden bridge over
a shallow creek that was so clear she could see the lustrous
pebbles lining the bottom. The Yukon’s tires crackled on the gravel
drive that wound past a wishing well to an old log building. The
sign over the porch was a single, rough wooden plank. The painted
letters were faded and she could barely make them out. She stood on
the first porch step and peered up, her hand shielding her eyes
from the sun. The sign must have been colorful once and the letters
said, “Wander Inn.”

The porch overflowed with ferns and ivy’s
that tumbled out of cheap plastic pots and had as many dead leaves
as living. An army of skinny cats with patchy fur skittered away
from the front door and the only redeeming fixture was an inviting
porch swing made of bent willow branches and piled with cushy

A woman in her mid-forties leaned against the
front desk reading a magazine, she was harsh looking in the way
that Reagan’s mother had once been. She had a hardened, artificial
look about her, as if she’d been too wild for too long and was
paying for it now.

“Good lord above, you’re the DeLuca girl, I’d
know you anywhere,” she said.

Reagan handed over her driver’s license and a
credit card and said she needed a room.

“Doesn’t matter what your ID says, you’re
her, alright. There’s a picture of you in this magazine right here,
see? You’re all dolled up and going to some fancy-shmancy somethin’
or other out in Los Angeles. I got a friend who thinks the sun
rises and sets with that face of yours, he don’t say so, but
everybody knows he thinks it. I’m Dody Watts and that’s my girl
Coco, over there. You want our best room? Hell, I’m gonna go ahead
and put you in it, I’m not expecting nobody else this week. You’ll
like the view from the little deck up there; it looks out toward
Grandfather Mountain.”

“I may need the room for several weeks, will
that be alright?” Reagan asked.

“Sure thing, it’s real quiet this time of
year, before the snow skiers come. My girl and I live right down
here on the first floor. Mr. Campion, he owns the place, he fixed
us up a handy little apartment. It’ll be nice to have somebody else
in the house, maybe we can visit if you have the time.”

Reagan picked up a few of her bags and
climbed the split-log stairs and when she was nearly at the top
Dody called after her.

“You’re even prettier in person, softer
looking and so fresh and young. Can I ask what you’re doing way up
in these mountains and it’s not even ski season yet?”

Reagan set her bags on the top step and said,
“I’m looking for a house to buy, a certain house. It’s an elaborate
Victorian on Temptation Road, do you know the one?”

“Oh sure, the Mary’s house. It’s a big old
mess, but I suppose you got all the money in the world to pour into
somethin’ like that.”

“Could I talk to you about it, the house, I
mean? Let me just put these bags in the room and I’ll come right
back down, if that’s alright?”

“Sure,” Dody said. “I gotta tell my friend
about this, I swear he’s gonna think I’m full of it! He won’t begin
to believe you’re here in town and that you wanna buy that old
house. Hell, it might get him to talking after all these years from
the shock of it!”

There was a tiny bar set up on top of a
wooden barrel in the Inn’s public room. Reagan sat on a worn
leather sofa with Dody and sipped from a glass of cheap wine as the
little girl painted all their finger and toe nails. Reagan looked
around the room and felt like she had stumbled into a lost episode
of Little House on the Prairie, and a bad one at that. It was
sparsely furnished with faded checkered curtains at the windows and
threadbare rugs on the floor, the room and the Inn had definitely
seen better days.

“Tell me about the house,” Reagan said, “why
is it called the Mary’s house and where is it, exactly? I’m anxious
to see it, and I’m not going to be the DeLuca girl any longer so
try to forget about that.”

“Oh honey, you’ll always be the DeLuca girl,
can’t nobody outrun somethin’ like that, it’s a big deal, and why
would you want to anyway? I’m always reading about you and seeing
you on the Entertainment Channel, if you’re gonna give that life up
then give it to me for a day! Anyway,” Dody went on, “it’s called
the Mary’s house because of the sisters who lived there since
before anyone can remember, and all of them named Mary this or Mary
that. Go to the end of the driveway and turn right on the other
side of the creek, that’s Temptation Road. Follow it up along the
tree line for a couple miles, when it makes a sharp left you’ll see
a big old house right there at the bend of the road. It’s set back
a ways in a clearing, there’s a patch of garden that goes from the
side yard to the forest. You can’t miss it, but if you go too far
you’ll see the signs that say you’re in the National Forest, just
turn around and come back a ways. The fog gets thick that high up
on the mountain in the evenings and once in a while you’ll run
across a bear so you ought not to go alone. Miss Bess Lamar knows
everything there is to know about that house, and she knew the last
Mary’s, too. Go over to the grocery store later on, her son runs it
so she’s always there. How come you’re buying that old place?
There’s stories about it, you know, so I keep my distance, anytime
I leave this driveway I turn left, I don’t never go up that way.
You just wanting a house in the mountains, is that it? Is your
husband gonna be coming up here sometimes? Lord, I’m a fool for all
his movies.”


That night Reagan lay in bed with her eyes
wide open, excitement had replaced her fear and she couldn’t wait
to set foot in the house. What Dody said about not being able to
out run her DeLuca girl image rang in her head. The new ad campaign
was scheduled to start in a couple of months and she wanted out of
her contract but she hated to let Alana down on such short notice.
She stepped through the French doors that led from her room out
onto the balcony, across the dark lawn a beam of moonlight
illuminated a man and woman.

The woman was Dody and the bright moonlight
made her short hair glow a garish shade of neon yellow and her
lined and aging face looked frightening. She was crying as she
leaned toward the man trying to wrap her arms around him. Then she
dropped to her knees and her hands fumbled at the front of his
jeans before he backed away from her so that she covered her face
as she sobbed.

Reagan stepped backward feeling like an
intruder and knocked over a small table, the sound was like a
gunshot in the still night, and the two people caught in the pool
of moonlight stared up at her.

The man was about Reagan’s age with hair that
hung past his chin and he had wide, enormous dark eyes. He walked
away from Dody, and she begged him not to go, but he left her
there, kneeling and untouched. Reagan felt her face grow hot, as if
she’d witnessed something terribly intimate. She stumbled into her
room and drew the curtains.

BOOK: Temptation Road
13.24Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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