By Kathleen Valentine
SHE DREAMED ABOUT HIM AGAIN. EVEN AFTER ALL THESE YEARS, Audrey dreamed about Raven more than she could bear. She both loved the dreams when she was lost in them, and hated them when she awoke and remembered, yet again, that they were just dreams. On this night she dreamed they were on the beach below the cliff where the beach roses grew out of every nook and crevice. A narrow strip of sand divided the rocks from the surf, and the day was one of those lovely end-of-summer days when most of the petals had fallen away leaving behind the bright orange hips that the island women gathered to simmer with lemons and green apples for beach rose marmalade. It was late afternoon, with long shadows and that scent of coming cold in the air. They told her mother that they were going to gather rose hips and maybe find a few sea urchins for dinner, but they hadn’t wasted precious time. He was all over her, devouring her even before they reached the beach. In days, he would be going back to school – that fancy school in Boston – and she would be alone for the winter without him. He wouldn’t be there for Christmas, he’d told her. His grandfather was taking him and his sister to London. Damn him, she thought, damn him. It was always something.
She was on top of him, head thrown back, wild with wanting him, the waves exploding against the jetty, and the gulls screeching. Her toes dug hard into the sand and she screamed. He laughed, his head burrowing back in the sand, the incoming tide lapping at their thighs and hips. She screamed again, louder, out of sheer joy. Her scream was answered by another, but it was not his. They both looked up.
Damn damn, damn, she thought, that stupid sister of his. Why couldn’t she leave them alone?
But he pushed her off of himself, leaped up and ran, graceful and sleek as the dancer he was, his sun-bronzed body lustrous in the late afternoon sun.
“Let her go,” she screamed but he couldn’t, or wouldn’t, hear her.
“Rachel,” he called, “wait, Rachel!”
“Forget her,” she screamed, and bolted upright, breaking the dream.
Moonlight bathed the sheet that covered her, and she could hear the gulls squawking, and the steady putter of the first fishing boats headed out of the harbor into the morning darkness.
“Damn,” she repeated. “Damn.” And she buried her face in her hands and wept.
She knew she wouldn’t go back to sleep now. Might as well go downstairs and put some coffee on. That woman from the museum would be coming today. She had no idea why.
She wrapped a robe around herself and thought maybe she would sit by the east-facing window until the sun came up. She unhooked the iron latch, pushed the window outward and leaned into the cool air to dry her tears and clear her brain. She both wanted the dreams to stop and to go back to sleep, and find a way to slip into them forever. She didn’t know which she wanted more.Out of the corner of her eye she caught the movement of a small red light below her, off to the seaward side of the house. He was standing on the terrace below, smoking a cigarette in the dark. It was the one bad habit he brought with him from prison. She looked down, sure that he had not seen her. She should have known he’d be standing there smoking – he always was at night. He seemed to never sleep.
Good, she thought. Good that he can’t sleep, the murdering bastard. He’s up to something.
He has no business being here, she thought. The house should have been Raven’s. Hers and Raven’s. But he’d destroyed any hope of that. He wouldn’t get away with it, she thought, not while she had breath in her body he wouldn’t.
She turned back into the room and began her day.
About Depraved Heart
2013 eFestival of Words WINNER: Best Mystery/Suspense Novel and The Harvey Award for Book We Would Most Like to See Made Into A Movie
Growing up in Salem, Massachusetts, art curator Tempest Hobbs was surrounded by metaphysical practitioners but considers her own empathic powers a curse. The feelings that assault her became so terrible that she was confined to a psychiatric hospital. Upon her return home, badly shaken and weak, she discovers a letter from Hathor, the mysterious mansion of the Ravenscroft family.
Located on the island of Hephzibah Regrets just off the coast, Hathor is said to be filled with fabulous art and “fairy retreats” where lavish parties are held. But sixteen years ago, during one of those parties, the distinguished dancer and Ravenscroft heir, Raven Silver, was shot and killed. His sister Rachel’s husband Syd Jupiter, a powerful NFL fullback, was convicted of the depraved heart murder of his brother-in-law and sentenced to twenty-five years in prison.
The letter is from Syd Jupiter, now paroled and living at Hathor. Wyatt Ravenscroft is dead and has left his entire estate to Anjelica, Syd and Rachel’s fifteen-year-old daughter. Syd offers Tempest the opportunity to live at Hathor for the summer while cataloging the vast art collection. She welcomes the chance to be away from the constant pressures of life in society.
Tempest is dazzled by the art she finds but is soon aware that there are secrets and lies all around her. Hathor’s housekeeper, Audrey, hates Syd and was once, Tempest discovers, Raven’s lover. Miles Wainwright, a local fisherman and the only witness to the murder, is hiding something, and Anjelica lives in fear that Syd will be sent back to prison. And then there is Syd’s mother, Marie-Isobel, the owner of a Santeria shop in New Orleans’ French Quarter, who joins them for the summer with her candles and cleansing rituals.
In the fishing village on Hephzibah Regrets, the locals gather every night in the Riptide where men drink and talk fishing, women spin and knit, and everyone relishes the rumors about Hathor. They tell stories of Will Silver, the father Raven and Rachel never knew, and of wild Rosalind, their beautiful mother who died in an insane asylum. As the heat of summer intensifies Tempest discovers more about the secrets, deceptions, love affairs, madness, and mysterious deaths of Hathor’s residents. And about Syd Jupiter who is as enigmatic as he is alluring.
You can find Depraved Heart on Amazon.
About Kathleen Valentine
Kathleen Valentine was born and grew up in the Allegheny Highlands of Pennsylvania. She graduated from Penn State with a degree in The Arts and worked for over twenty years in the art/marketing departments of high-tech corporations. Since 2003 she has run her own design business, Valentine-Design.com. She is the author of “Fry Bacon. Add Onions”, a cookbook/memoir of growing up
Pennsylvania Dutch, as well as 4 novels, several novelettes and short story collections, and knitting instruction books. She has been listed as an Amazon Top 100 Author in Horror. Her novellas, “The Crazy Old Lady in the Attic” and “Ghosts of a Beach Town in Winter” were Amazon Top Ten Best Sellers in Horror and Ghost Stories for over 20 weeks.
Her blog at KathleenValentineBlog.com has been read by thousands of readers since its beginning in July 2005. She currently lives in Gloucester, Massachusetts, America’s oldest seaport, and is writing every day.
And follow her on Twitter @Kathleen01930