As I continue this journey of submitting my manuscript I thought I’d share another chapter of my first novel, “Goddess of Legend.” All feedback is appreciated.
He materialized as she drove by. The wind whipped at his hair. She was angry and from the high rate of speed she was going, she didn’t care who got in her way. He smiled remembering the look of determination on her face. Her beauty amazed him, but the strength of her heart was even more beautiful. He’d been watching her for longer than he dared to admit out loud, but he couldn’t help himself. He was captivated. Her long ebony hair and smoky silver eyes drew him in deeper every time he set his eyes on her. Patience he told himself. Their worlds were soon about to collide, and he couldn’t wait for the day he’d become one with Cameryn Kane.
Cameryn pulled into the parking lot of Saint Peter’s Orphanage. The city had foreclosed on the place many years ago. Old, mottled vines grew everywhere, engulfing half of the old, rotting building. There was no telling what was living inside. Killing the ignition and exiting the Hummer, she moved quickly through the yard. The pull was stronger now as she moved past the building and into the backyard. A small wooden shed stood in front of an enclave of red oak trees. Sandy Adams was here.
Hearing footsteps approaching, she half turned. Jake, Officer Drake, Officer Reynolds and Donna and Dylan Phillips were less than nine feet away from her. Dylan Phillips was shifting about and pulling at his collar. Sweat coated his forehead.
“In here Jake,” Cameryn said pointing to the wooden shed.
She backed away from the door. Jake kicked it open and went inside. A sick smell blew in the breeze. Jake re-emerged. His jaw was tense and there was fury in his eyes.
“No! No! Not my baby!” Donna Phillips screamed as she broke down sobbing.
When she made a move to enter the shed, Officer Drake grabbed her and held her as she cried. Dylan Phillips stood rotted in place, making no attempt to console his heartbroken wife. Pathetic piece of shit. Cameryn walked over to Donna Phillips. Now it was time for the hardest part of her job.
“I’m so sorry Mrs. Phillips. My heart breaks for you. I know we can’t bring Sandy back, but there may be one last thing we can still do for her.”
“We can’t do anything. My baby’s gone,” Donna wailed.
“She’s not gone yet. She’s waiting for us to set her spirit free.”
Donna Phillips looked at her as if she was foaming from the mouth. Cameryn didn’t flinch. She was used to the stares by now. Closing her eyes, she shifted her focus.
“Sandy,” she called out.
A warm breeze rustled her hair. She heard the gasps of those assembled behind her. Opening her eyes, Sandy Adams stood in front of her. The girl’s form was ethereal, but she was still the same sweet girl in the photograph.
“Mom,” Sandy called out.
“Angel. What happened to you? Who did this?” Donna asked between sobs.
There was a moment of shocked silence.
“Son of a bitch,” Jake said, breaking the stillness.
“Dylan? I don’t understand,” Donna said looking around in confusion.
Poor thing. She had no idea she was married to a pedophile, thought Cameryn.
“He told me he wanted me. He said I was pretty and that we should be together. He did things to me. I told him to stop but he wouldn’t. When I threatened to tell, he told me he’d hurt you if I said anything so I kept quiet. When I came home from school, he said we were going for a ride. He brought me here and when he started touching me again, I fought him. He put his hands around my neck and started choking me.”
“No! It can’t be! Dylan say something,” Donna said turning towards her husband.
Dylan Phillips ran. Officer Reynolds tackled him before he’d gone three feet. Dylan was yanked to his feet and handcuffed.
“You bastard! You sick twisted monster! How could you do this to my baby?” Donna screamed, attacking him with fists and feet.
Officer Drake gently pulled her away.
“Donna, it’s time to say goodbye,” Cameryn said softly, bringing the attention back to Sandy.
“I have to go now mom. I love you. Tell dad I love him too.”
“Baby please don’t leave. I’m sorry. It’s all my fault.”
“No it’s not. You couldn’t protect her from a threat you knew nothing about. Don’t blame yourself Donna. Sandy’s spirit is free now. Her murderer has been found. It’s time for her to be at rest. Let her go,” said Cameryn.
With tears in her eyes, Donna looked at Cameryn and nodded her head in understanding.
“I love you angel. Go on,” Donna said.
Sandy waved to her mother, and smiling brightly at everyone, she was gone. Another case solved. Another lost soul freed from wandering. Cameryn finally allowed herself to cry the tears she’d been holding in. This job was so emotionally heavy. Sometimes crying was the only way to release the pain. Cameryn turned away from Donna as her tears fell heavily.
“You okay Cam?” Jake asked touching her shoulder.
“I’ll be alright. Just give me a minute, okay,” she said wiping her face.
“I’m here if you need me,” Jake said before walking over to Dylan Phillips.
Cameryn didn’t flinch as Jake whacked him across the face.
“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in the court of law…”
Obviously Dylan Phillips had really gotten under Jake’s skin. It’s not like him to be slapping around a suspect. Hell, he should whack him again for good measure. Cameryn tuned out Jake telling Dylan Phillips his Miranda rights. Feeling a gentle touch on her arm, she turned and faced Donna Phillips. Her face was still puffy and red, but there was a peace about her that hadn’t been there before.
“Thank you for what you did. I would’ve never known the truth. Now my baby can rest in peace.”
“There’s no thanks necessary ma’am. I was just trying to help. Please excuse me.”
God I hate it when they do that. Don’t thank me. How can you? Your child is dead. I don’t deserve your thanks. It was tough for her to deal with gratitude, especially when the child was dead. Every dead body added to her grief and sense of failure. What use is this damn gift if you couldn’t save anybody? She cursed under her breath and walked back to her car.
Cameryn climbed into her Hummer and headed back towards the highway. She caught a glimpse of Jake loading Dylan Phillips into the back of his squad car. God I hope he rots. Why do maggots like him continue to exist when innocents like Sandy die every day? It isn’t fair.
Cameryn had to be honest with herself. This job was really starting to get to her. There was only so much disappointment one person could take. Maybe she needed some time. Maybe she needed a vacation. Some time away from death, loss and the worst of humanity would do her spirit some good. Maybe she could convince her sister to join her for a sister’s retreat. If Cameryn was going to make her lunch date with Deena, then she needed to drive a lot faster. Deena hated to be kept waiting. Cameryn smirked. Punctuality had never been Cameryn’s strong suit. Her sister on the other hand, never had a problem being on time.
Deena was a photojournalist who frequently traveled the world covering the next big story. Punctuality was a must in her profession. Deena’s work always ensured that she was up for some kind of journalism award. Deena’s life was one of excitement. It also meant that the two sisters didn’t see each other as much as they would’ve liked.
Cameryn missed having her older sister around, but sometimes it wasn’t all bad. With Deena always gone, she wasn’t constantly reminded that her own life as a private investigator who talked to spirits was far from the wild excitement of Deena’s life. But then Deena had always been the more successful sibling. Deena Kane was the all-American girl. In school, she’d always been the popular girl with an endless line of friends and boyfriends. It didn’t hurt that she was every guy’s blonde-hair, blue-eyed fantasy. Cameryn, on the other hand had lived in the shadows.
Deena had no idea what it was like to constantly be compared to another and found lacking. She had no idea what it was to feel like you were a ghost no one could see. There had never been a hard day in Deena’s life. Every day for her was filled with roses and butterflies. But none of that truly mattered. Deena had been not only a wonderful sister to her but an even better friend. Anything Deena was doing always included Cameryn, from rollerblading with friends to sleepovers with friends. Cameryn clearly remembered when she was ten and Deena had dragged her along to Tilly Swanson’s sleepover against her will. When Tilly had berated Deena for bringing her “weird loser sister,” Deena had promptly told Tilly that she was a mean spirited bully and no one was going to talk about her sister like that. Deena had called their mother and they’d left immediately.
Cameryn couldn’t have been prouder of her sister. It would’ve been so easy for Deena to ostracize her like everyone else did, but her sister always stuck by her no matter what. Through the years they’d shared many laughs and happy memories. Growing up, Deena loved to tease her about secretly being a werewolf because of her silver eyes. She couldn’t help laughing at the memory.
No one would ever know offhand that Cameryn was adopted into the Kane family, but she knew. Aside from the fact that no one in her family had eyes like hers, Cameryn had always felt like she was different. But maybe that was just how every adopted child felt. Cameryn had come to live with the Kanes when she was three after an emergency hysterectomy left Dean and his wife Kyrie unable to have more children. She had no idea who her birth parents were. All she knew was that she’d been left on the Kanes doorstep. Anything else didn’t matter. For all intents and purposes, Kyrie and Dean were her parents and Deena was her sister. It would be good to spend time detoxing with her sister. After the stress of the morning, she needed it.
He watched her walk into the restaurant. She’d had a tough morning, but despite the tragic circumstances, she’d handled it well. Her strength amazed him. The work she did would be enough to break a lesser woman, but not her. She was perfect. Beautiful. Strong. Compassionate. Fearless. She was everything he’d ever dreamed of. Their time together couldn’t come fast enough, but he knew more about patience than anyone. For her, he didn’t mind waiting a little longer. He’d already waited an eternity.
“Late as usual,” Deena said when Cameryn sat down in the booth across from her.
“Nice to see you too sis,” Cameryn said sarcastically.
“You know I can’t help teasing you. You never could be on time for anything.”
“I was on a job.”
“Define luck. Did I find the missing child? Yes. Was she alive? No.”
“Oh Cam, I’m sorry,” Deena said reaching for her sister’s hand across the table.
“So am I. Another child molested and murdered by someone she knew. Will the cycle ever end?”
“One day it will, but until that time, the work you do is more important than ever. You’re stronger than you know. I could never have the strength to do what you do.”
“I don’t know. Every day the pain goes a little deeper. Sometimes I feel like what I’m doing doesn’t matter. The children are still gone and nothing can bring them back.”
“But you give the parents a measure of peace. Because of you, at least they know what happened to their child. They don’t have to spend their whole lives wondering. Don’t ever think what you do isn’t important sis. You have no idea how proud of you we all are.”
“Thanks D. You always know just what to say to lift my spirits.”
“That’s what big sisters are for,” Deena said smiling.
Cameryn mulled over her sister’s words as a waiter approached their table. If only Deena knew the truth about what I really go through. There was no point in dwelling on the events of this morning. Even as close as she and her sister were, she’d never felt comfortable telling Deena about her gift. She didn’t want to take any chances on her family freaking out about her weird talent so she never told them. Some secrets were better left buried.
“What can I get for you ladies?”
“I’ll have a Jack and Coke, the ribeye steak medium well and the bacon and cheese mashed potatoes,” Cameryn said handing the menu back to the waiter.
“And I’ll have a bottle of Evian and the Chinese Chicken Salad.”
When the waiter was gone, Cameryn couldn’t resist teasing her sister.
“Rabbit food again, huh? It’s a wonder the wind doesn’t blow you away.”
“We can’t all be carnivores like you who never gain a pound,” Deena smirked back.
“Last time I checked I was a couple of sizes bigger than you sis, but anyway, tell me what’s new with you,” Cameryn pressed.
“The usual. I’m going away in two weeks on another story.”
“Deena it’s not safe over there.”
“Of course it is Cam. I’m reporting on the withdrawal of troops. How it’s going to affect not only us but the Afghans as well.”
“I don’t like it. Tell them to send someone else.”
“I will not. This could be the story of a lifetime,” Deena said stubbornly.
The waiter appeared with their order, and Cameryn held back her retort as she attacked her food. When her hunger subsided, she started on Deena again, desperate to get her point across.
“Would you rather have a life to live or be the story? You know there are still terror cells over there that have it in for us. I know your job means a lot to you, but I can’t help worrying.”
“Cam, I’ll be fine. Other journalists have been there and nothing happened. Have a little faith.”
The two women grew quiet as they finished their meals. Cameryn could feel herself relaxing after sipping the last of her Jack and Coke.
“I’ve got some news to tell you.”
“What is it?” Cameryn asked sitting up straighter.
“I’m engaged! Matt asked me to marry him, and I said yes!” Deena said excitedly, holding out her hand so Cameryn could see her ring.
The ring was a pink diamond cut into the shape of a heart, surrounded by white princess-cut diamonds. The heart-shaped pink diamond had to be at least ten carats. Damn. Matt must have a sugar mama Deena doesn’t know about to afford something like this. Last time I checked college professors weren’t millionaires. Cameryn leaned across the table and kissed Deena’s cheek.
“Congratulations sis! When did he pop the question?”
“This morning and you are the first person I’ve told.”
“Why didn’t you tell mom first?”
“Because I knew you’d need advance warning so you could prepare yourself to be my Maid of Honor.”
“Yes you. Who else would it be?”
“One of your bubble headed friends like Meagan or Tori.”
“Cam stop arguing. You’re it, and I am not taking no for an answer.”
“Fine Deena. I’ll be more than happy to be your Maid of Honor,” Cameryn acquiesced, smiling widely.
“Perfect. Now we have to get started with the wedding planning. You’re not off the hook with that either.”
“Deena give me a break. Let mom help with that. I’ll just show up on the big day.”
“Not happening. Now I hate to rush off, but I have so much to do. I’ll call you soon,” Deena said rising and putting money on the table.
“Wait Deena,” Cameryn said rising.
“What is it sis?”
Cameryn grabbed Deena and hugged her hard.
“I know I may fuss and grumble about all this girly stuff, but I really am happy for you. You’re a wonderful woman and Matt has no idea how lucky he is to have you. He’d better treat you right or daddy and I are going to break his kneecaps,” Cameryn said wiping away a stray tear as she looked at her sister.
“Don’t cry Cam! Now you’re making me get all teary,” Deena said as she wiped the tears from her sister’s face.
“I don’t cry often. Allow me this small moment,” Cameryn said returning her sister’s gesture and wiping Deena’s tears.
“Okay. Now I’ve gotta go. I love you,” Deena said kissing her sister’s cheek, before rushing off.
“I love you too sis,” Cameryn called after her.
Cameryn smiled as she threw a few extra dollars for tip and motioned their water over to collect the money. Deena was getting married. It was just another chapter in her sister’s fairytale life. She wasn’t bitter. A little jealous? Absolutely. No one could deny that Deena was a wonderful, considerate human being who deserved love and happiness, but Cameryn couldn’t help but wonder when someone would finally feel that way about her. Cameryn’s love life was nonexistent and it didn’t look like it was going to change anytime soon, leaving her once again in her sister’s shadow.