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by C. L. Scholey
Description: In the blink of an eye, eight-year-old Chloe's world changes. A car explodes in her midst, killing her father and leaving her mother to battle insanity. After a late night wandering, the child is soon privy to frightening information better left unsaid. Returning home for good eighteen years later, Chloe confronts the man responsible for murdering her father. A beloved man who has cared for her as if his own, supposedly wanted her as if his own. After a turn of serious events causes Chloe to lose her eyesight in a violent assault, she wonders just how loving the man really is. It grows increasingly obvious, amidst the massive house Chloe had thought to find refuge in, someone wants her demise. When the bomb doesn't kill her, the knife to her throat hesitates. The knock to her head and a fall down the stairs doesn't kill her, either, and Chloe wonders at the swirling deception. Damien, a powerful known assassin in his circle and Chloe's childhood sweetheart, declares his love, and Chloe is dragged into the house of deceptions reluctantly. Her love of the man, the man's love for her, possesses him to step into the role of the right-hand man, securing her safety from his powerful, wealthy Mafia family when he demands a wedding. But will it come to fruition? Dangerous intrigue, passionate sex, and wanton deception swirl amidst powerful players in this unique daring drama about a sensuous, strong woman, men, and life taken to wild heated extremes. You can't run for your life when your life depends on your suspicious, relenting, unwilling but reluctant compliance? for the moment.
eBook Publisher: Whispers Publishing, 2011
eBookwise Release Date: November 2011
1 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [339 KB]
Reading time: 211-295 min.
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Chloe lifted her hand and moved back the long vines of the willow tree; the vines lay touching the overgrown, dark green grass. As always, she ventured forth, enthralled. Her little home had the most beautiful tree for miles around, amidst a huge backyard. Sheltered under it was a cast iron table and chairs, meant for the very young. A tiny doll buggy and ancient toys that her mother had once played with found sanctuary under the tree.
Granny had taken Chloe aside one day a few years ago and told her of the magic that lay within. Chloe had been awestruck. In order to get to the magic, you traversed an enchanted stream, filled with goldfish Granny swore could speak--if you listened closely enough.
Small pirate boats floated around or lay sunk within the sand below; armed, eye-patched, wary pirates kept vigil. The stepping stones must be carefully maneuvered. One small slip and the adventure would be over before it began; the trolls would get you first. They would turn you into an adult, in a world where magic no longer existed.
Chloe was too smart for the trolls. She knew the steps; she had practiced her entire life, all eight hard years. You must stay away from the ones covered with black pitch paint. Granny had taught her well. With childish delight, she approached the hard table. She glided her hand over it in a loving gesture.
The doll in the carriage laughed on a whispered breeze, encouraging her forward. Chloe dipped her hands into the carriage and withdrew the ancient, one-eyed doll with the hardened face; the one Granny claimed was in need of protection, the one called Salvare; to save. The limbs were stiff as always, hard to move and position for their endless tea parties.
One glass eye was a cloudy blue, but no matter. The doll was beautiful and always listened to her. Granny had once more made her pink clothing from the wonderful yarn she could knit with flowing ease, quick fingers that danced along the silver needles. Chloe hugged the doll to her breast fiercely, not at all minding when the hard limbs pressed into her tender skin.
"You will never fail me. You are always here for me," Chloe whispered. She laid her head on top of the doll's hard, cold, hairless head.
Wincing, Chloe could hear the yelling in the background. Her father was screaming at her mother in the front yard. She squeezed her eyes shut as he raised his voice even higher. The names he screamed at her mother made her recoil. She shook upon hearing the hard slap.
She knew he would leave soon. The door to the car would slam. The tires would spin, and he would be gone. Silence would follow. Her mother would try not to cry, though her tears would mix with blood to drip from her quivering chin and bruised lips and cheek. Her anguished eyes would beg he once more love her, and return to them soon. Granny's face would seem carved in stone as she watched her son-in-law abandon them again. At least this time Chloe had been spared a brutal assault.
Chloe listened as her predictions played out. Yet this time when her father raced from the driveway, there was a horrendous explosion. There were screams all around. Frightened, Chloe raced from the seclusion and safety of the willow tree, dropping her doll to the ground, where it landed on the soft grass with a gentle bounce.
She rounded the corner of the backyard to the long driveway and was horrified to see her father's car engulfed in billowing flames. Her mother was screaming, thrashing, being held back by her neighbor, Mr. James Flare.
Chloe stopped halfway down the driveway; she stared, transfixed by the roaring flames of the fire. They billowed about, as though dancing a morbid death dance with their helpless victim. She became aware that Mr. Flare's son, Dirk, was crouched before her. Everything seemed to move in slow motion.
She looked into the man's blue eyes, mesmerized with the compassion they held for her. She had known this man her entire life. His brother, Damien, her very best friend, often played with her. Though she and Damien were an entire two years apart, he seemed just as smitten with the magic of the willow tree, at ten. Especially when Chloe named him Salvator; one who saves.
Dirk was older. He was already a grown man of twenty-two and even bigger than her father. Dirk had told Chloe her granny was wise and that Chloe should listen to her whenever she ventured to their home to play, which was often enough. Dirk had held her when she cried her sorrow every time her parents fought. He told her to give them time. For years she had given them time. Now it seemed their time had run out. Her father was dead.
"Why, Dirk? What did I do wrong?" Chloe whimpered. She pressed her small head to his broad shoulder and clung to him in desperation.
"You didn't do anything, honey. None of this is your fault."
"Who killed my daddy? Who took him away from me?"
"It doesn't matter, honey. It's over now. Your daddy is at peace."
Dirk lifted her into his arms. Chloe could see her mother in James Flare's embrace. He was whispering urgently in her ear. Her mother nodded. To Chloe she looked somewhat relieved, and then even more frightened.
Chloe wondered at that. James was always very kind to her and her mother; he was her daddy's boss. He often bought Chloe toys or clothes she needed. He let them stay in this house, rent free. He took care of her better than her father did, as most of her father's money went to drinking and gambling. Never once had James frightened or harmed either of them in any way. Chloe loved him.
Dirk was carrying Chloe towards his car. She knew he was taking her to his father's home. She heard sirens in the distance. Her mother and grandmother were huddled next to James and a few of his men. Men Chloe had met and thought were kind. Men who took the time to play ball with her and Damien, men who gave her piggyback rides. She was dismayed when her mother suddenly collapsed into James' arms. He picked her up and headed off with her into the house.
"I want my mommy," Chloe whimpered, as Dirk settled her into the front seat beside himself.
"Your mommy will come for you tomorrow, sweetheart. My father will take care of her and your granny, don't worry. My father will take care of everything."