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Authors: Michelle Figley

The Saints of the Cross

BOOK: The Saints of the Cross
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Table of Contents

Copyright

“The Saints of the Cross” copyright © 2012 Michelle A. Figley. All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. No part of this publication may be reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of the author. For information regarding permissions, email
[email protected]
.

Summary: Seventeen year-old Evangeline Sweeney is devastated when she learns she must move from her beloved Spain to Washington, DC thanks to her father’s job promotion. However, once back in the States, the accidental discovery of dark secrets held by her loved ones are what turn her life upside down and compel her to seek the truth with the help of a handsome, intriguing classmate from her new school, The Holy Cross Preparatory Academy.

Cover art and design by Najla Qamber, Qamber Designs.

Edited by Janet Green, thewordverve

Published and designed by VelveTeen Books

ISBN 13: 978-0-9884954-2-5           ISBN 10: 0988495422

First edition e-book, October 2012

This novel is a work of fiction. Any similarity to places, events, and people, living or deceased, is coincidental and entirely unintended by the author.

Dedication

For Jade, my inspiration in every thing I do.

And for Jason, who always believed in me.

PROLOGUE

I met him five months ago in line at the Las Flores Café, by the beach in Cádiz—a tall, raven-haired boy with a motorcycle helmet tucked under his arm. He wore faded jeans, a white t-shirt, and vintage Doc Martens boots. When he removed his mirrored aviators and looked directly at me, my knees went weak from the weight of his stare. As I gawked, his lips turned up in a mischievous, dimple-punctuated grin. His five-o’clock shadow indicated he was no mere high school boy, very unlike the boys I knew.

“May I buy you a coffee?” he whispered over my shoulder as he moved behind me in line. His speech was infused with only the slightest Castilian accent, which suggested that he had been speaking English for quite some time, maybe even having lived or studied abroad at length.

“Who? Me?” I looked around, seriously wondering if he was addressing someone else. I noticed a small group of middle-aged ladies staring at us curiously, with raised brows.

“Yes, you,” he laughed, tilting his chin up, and drawing my eyes to the line of his square jaw.

“Oh sure . . . why not?” Blood rushed to my cheeks, as it always did when any guy showed me the slightest bit of attention. In that moment, I hated my fair complexion and auburn hair even more than usual. Knowing that my face was crimson and my skin was splotched down to my chest made me feel even more self-conscious. If there had been a hole in the ground within a hundred feet, I would have jumped head-first into it to escape the burning humiliation. Or maybe I could have just run outside and buried my head in the sand. The thought brought a smile to my lips, and I felt myself relaxing.

“Well, I hope you know, I do expect you to sit with me while you drink it,” he said, cocking his head to the side and raising a dark brow.

“Well, I have to—” I began. But the pleading look on his face stopped me, mid-excuse. “Okay . . . fine, and thank you for the coffee.”

After the handsome stranger paid, he carried both drinks to a small table next to a window overlooking the beach. I followed, taking note of his long limbs and the way his t-shirt accentuated his golden Mediterranean skin.

“I’m Javier,” he said as he pulled out the cast-iron chair for me. 

“Thanks.” I plopped less than elegantly into the chair. “I’m Evangeline, but everyone calls me Evie.” I extended my hand to shake his.

“Eva, mucho gusto,” Javier said with a kind smile, holding my hand a moment longer than a customary hand shake. I smiled back, liking the way he pronounced my name. He said, “An American, huh?”

“Am I that obvious?” I cringed.

“You have an American accent.” Javier shrugged. Funny, but I’d never thought of myself as having an accent of
any
kind. He moved his chair closer to mine. “So, what brings you to my lovely country, Eva?”

“I’ve lived here for four years with my family. My dad’s a captain in the US Navy, and we’re stationed at Rota.” I timidly sipped the drink, still not accustomed to the strong, bitter Spanish coffee.

“You mean you’ve lived here for four years, and I’m just now meeting you?” Javier flashed a comical, faux-shocked expression.

“I guess so,” I laughed.

“Well, then, it is fate that we meet here today,” he replied nonchalantly. He leaned back in the chair and studied me as if I were some unknown creature in need of classification.

“How so?” I was a little confused by his mention of fate. Plus, the way he was staring at me with those intense, black eyes made me apprehensive.

“I was planning to travel to Italy tomorrow to stay with my mother,” he replied.

“Oh.” I tried not to appear as disappointed as I felt. If we were fated to meet, then why hadn’t we met sooner?

“But I’m going to put that off a while. My mother will not mind.”

“Why would you do that—change your plans?” I only suspected where he was going with this.

“Because I want to get to know you better, of course.” Javier smiled the most devastating smile I’d ever seen in my life, his teeth gleaming against his golden skin. “What are you doing tonight? I want to take you dancing.”

“Dancing?” I gulped. I wasn’t such a great dancer; okay, I was terrible. As a matter of fact, I had tried out for the junior high dance team back home in the States, but I made a laughing stock out of myself when I twisted my feet together attempting a pirouette and face-planted into a pile of pom-poms. Luckily for me, our family moved to Spain that summer when, by the grace of God, Dad was transferred with a promotion. I was spared the inevitable teasing that fall from the mean girls at school. I hadn’t danced since.

“Yes, flamenco dancing, actually.” His grin widened as if he were sensing my panic—and enjoying it.

“I’ve never done that in my life. I—I don’t know how,” I stammered, as sheer terror rose up from the pit of my stomach.

“Well, now is the time to learn. I can show you,” he said calmly, taking a sip of his coffee. “I can’t believe you haven’t flamenco danced yet. You can’t leave Spain never having danced flamenco. It would be a sin, a
Cardinal
sin, actually.”

“Well, since you put it that way. I don’t want a one-way ticket to hell over flamenco dancing,” I sighed. “Where and when is this happening?”

“Seville, at nine thirty.” His tone was indifferent, but his expression told me that he was gauging how I’d react. He traced the cusp of the mug with his index finger as he awaited my response.

“Seville?” I’m sure the shock was obvious on my face. Javier simply nodded, watching me over his coffee mug as he took another sip. He placed the cup back down on the table and sat up straight in his chair, squaring his shoulders. As his eyes met mine, his face took on a look of determination.

“Of course. Seville, it is
the
place for flamenco. You are not truly dancing flamenco unless you are within la ciudad Seville.” He was looking at me as if I’d just insulted his nation.

Well, this trip wasn’t going to fly with my dad. It was a school night, and Seville was too far away.

“I don’t know. I don’t think I can stay out that late. It would take at least an hour to drive back.”

“I have an apartment in Seville. You are welcome to stay there for the night. I could sleep on the couch.” He shrugged, the corner of his mouth turning up ever-so-slightly. I had the strange feeling that he was testing me. I gave him a severe
yeah right
look. He laughed, throwing his hands up defensively in front of him, “I’m kidding. I can have you home by midnight.”

“Just like Cinderella, huh?”

“No, you are much more beautiful than Cinderella,” he said giving me a contemplative once-over. His eyebrows arched, indicating his approval, and I felt the blood burning in my cheeks again. “Besides, I do not have a pumpkin to turn into a carriage.”

“How do I know you’re not a serial killer or something?” I laughed nervously, only half-joking.

“Now, do I
look
like a serial killer?” he said, spreading out his arms.

“No, but then again, neither did Ted Bundy or Jeffrey Dahmer.”

“Good point.” Javier smiled, and I knew no one with eyes as kind as his could ever harm anyone. “But you have to admit, Dahmer
was
creepy-looking in a redneck kind of way.”

I laughed and nodded in agreement.

“I guess you are just going to have to trust me,” he continued.

“Guess so.” I took another sip of coffee and considered my options, the most likely being that I would have to tell Dad that I was over at Coralea’s house studying for an exam. There was no possible way he would agree to allow me to travel to Seville with a strange man I’d just met the same day in a café.

However, if Dad were to talk with Coralea’s father, Bill, then Dad would surely discover that I had lied. I’d never been dishonest with my father before, and the repercussions could be severe. My eyes absently wandered to the dark, churning Atlantic beyond the café window. When I glanced back to Javier, he was eyeing me curiously, a mischievous grin brightening his face. His magnetism was undeniable; and in that instant, I knew I’d be willing to face the consequences just to get to know him.

“Fine, I could meet you here, say, at seven. Is that enough time to get us to Seville and back by midnight?”

“Absolutely,” Javier replied. “Trust me.”

For some reason I did, and I’ve never regretted it.

CHAPTER 1

I’ve been having bad dreams lately. Really horrible dreams. The kind that leave you feeling uneasy for the rest of the day, but you can’t remember exactly why. The kind of nightmares that come back, night after night, no matter how hard you force yourself to think only of rainbows and puppies before you drift off to sleep. In my case, the dream always ends just as my mother, her black eyes at once wild and hollow, stabs me through the heart and I awake in a cold sweat, my pulse pounding in my ears. I don’t dare tell anyone about these dreams—not my father, not my Grandma Winnie, and most definitely not my younger siblings, Ethan and Emma. I can’t even tell my most trusted confidant, my best friend Coralea, or my boyfriend, Javier. I don’t tell any of them, because I’m worried that they’ll think I’m insane. I know they’d think I’m crazy because my mother—the woman who haunts my dreams, the woman who hunts me in my dreams—is dead, and she has been for a long time.

My conscious memories of my mother are sweet and cherished. But for some reason, my subconscious twists these memories and presents her as a soulless, homicidal monster in my dreams. I don’t understand it, nor do I want to. I want to dwell on the memory of my mother as the loving, charismatic woman she was before she was killed in that horrible car crash when I was just seven years old.

I’m driving my convertible down a deserted stretch of highway between Rota and Cádiz. Even though the high-noon Spanish sun is beating a hot path down on me and the air rushing around me could roast me in my seat, I shudder against the ghost of last night’s dream. I manage to shake off the memory of the nightmare, but I know it will be back tonight. It always comes back. I’ve not had a night’s sleep in which my mother did not try to kill me in my dreams since our family moved here four years ago, the summer before my eighth-grade year. That’s when the dreams started, and that’s when I started to question my sanity.

My relationship with Javier has me pondering my sanity as well. I do things and feel things with him that I never thought I’d do or feel for anyone. For instance, today I skipped the second half of school to meet up with him in Cádiz—I just took off at lunch time. This indiscretion—one I’d like to believe is completely uncharacteristic, but has become the norm for me lately—all came about because my father decided to call an emergency family meeting tonight. He has something very important that he wants to tell us, and we must all be home by five sharp—no exceptions! I know enough about Captain Nash Sweeney’s infamous Irish temper not to keep him waiting. Besides, I know Dad wouldn’t have insisted on meeting if it weren’t something urgent.

“Be here at five, Evangeline. I mean it,” Dad warned as I ran out of the house this morning, late for school again.

So at noon, when I was sure the rent-a-cop was snoozing in his guard shack, I jumped into my white Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet convertible, lowered the tan soft-top, and sped out of the American School’s parking lot, Weezer’s
Green
album blaring on the CD player. I’ve arrived at the Las Flores Café in less than thirty minutes, thanks to the unusually light traffic. I throw the gearshift into neutral before pressing the clutch, causing the manual transmission to choke and die. Sadly, I still haven’t become proficient at driving the stick shift, and my precious little car is suffering the consequences.

BOOK: The Saints of the Cross
13.41Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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