The Embrace

( 13 )

Overview

With an extraordinary talent for staring evil dead in the eye, New York Times bestselling author and journalist Aphrodite Jones plunges readers into the front lines of a modern nightmare.

On November 25, 1996, in their home in the lakeside community of Eustis, Florida, Rick and Ruth Wendorf were savagely beaten to death with a tire iron. The Wendorfs' new Ford Explorer was stolen, but this was no routine robbery gone bad. This was a crime carried out by one Roderick Ferrell, a ...

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Overview

With an extraordinary talent for staring evil dead in the eye, New York Times bestselling author and journalist Aphrodite Jones plunges readers into the front lines of a modern nightmare.

On November 25, 1996, in their home in the lakeside community of Eustis, Florida, Rick and Ruth Wendorf were savagely beaten to death with a tire iron. The Wendorfs' new Ford Explorer was stolen, but this was no routine robbery gone bad. This was a crime carried out by one Roderick Ferrell, a sixteen-year-old self-avowed Antichrist. His human sacrifice was a testament to the unique and sinister bond of four brainwashed teens. Heather Wendorf was a straight "A" student, a petite blonde with wide-set brown eyes. Yet she had been heard to wish her parents "off the face of the planet." Heather never dreamed that when she joined her friends for a joyride one fall evening, her wish had already come true.

Including exclusive interviews with every living character involved in the case, The Embrace will forever change the way we look at one of the fastest-growing religious movements in the country, and its most vulnerable fold: our children.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Denver Rocky Mountain News Frank and frightening....

Denver Rocky Mountain News Parents of teens may want to read The Embrace just to heed the warning signs.

Kirkus Reviews Readers...will get some sense of the shadowy fantasy lives of "kids fallen through life's crack."

Sun-Sentinel (Ft. Lauderdale, FL) Jones reports the story carefully....She has obviously done her research....The writing is smoothly competent....For those who question the true story behind the horrific headlines, Jones provides a clear understanding of what moves a "strawberry blond, normal-looking kid, to being this dark figure lurking in the night." Parents would be wise to see The Embrace as a cautionary tale: take an active part in raising your child, and know about his or her friends. It may someday save your life.

Publishers Weekly Jones provides a good overview of the facts surrounding voyeuristic intensity.

Denver Rocky Mountain News
Frank and frightening...
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781451607574
  • Publisher: Gallery Books
  • Publication date: 6/1/2010
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 1,153,035
  • Product dimensions: 1.01 (w) x 5.00 (h) x 8.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Aphrodite Jones is the author of the New York Times bestseller Cruel Sacrifice; the bestseller The FBI Killer, which was made into an ABC-TV movie titled Betrayed by Love, starring Patricia Arquette; All She Wanted; and Della's Web. She began her professional writing career at age twenty-one, with a nationally syndicated column for United Feature Syndicate. A published journalist for more than twenty years, she has also worked as a radio news director, lectured about writing as an assistant professor of English, and, for the last decade, has devoted herself to human interest and hard-news stories. Born in Chicago, raised in New York, and schooled in Los Angeles, Jones now works from her home in West Hollywood. Visit her Web site at www.aphroditejones.com.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Roderick said he had been asleep for five centuries, that he had been tired of the great adventure called life, but, cursed with immortality, he had grown restless. Somehow, he found himself clawing his way from the depths of the earth, back to the mortal universe and a thing called society. Suddenly, he found himself staring in a mirror, shaving part of the hair on his head, and putting on the grunge dress of a teen at the end of the twentieth century.

In the 1400s, he would confide, Roderick had known the power and privilege of the aristocracy in France. Naturally, the idea of living among the bourgeoisie disgusted him; Roderick had the strongest dislike for peasants. He wondered if he had made the right choice, allowing himself to dwell among the lower classes in a strange, transient place known as Florida, where people wore white and played games in the sun.

During the five hundred years of his slumber, Roderick claimed, he had become accustomed to being a spirit, to calling on "the Elders" in a vast darkness. Roderick loved to roam his phantom cities, the ancient worlds of the Arabians, the Egyptians, the Greeks. But now, Roderick had decided to rematerialize in the flesh. He had decided it was time for Rod to emerge.

Guised as the ultimate rebel, he would cloak himself as an American teen. Roderick, used to being one of the most idolized entities in the world, regarded himself as an equal to God and felt it was fitting for him to choose America. Because of their sins, their greed and corruption, ugly Americans threatened to destroy the planet. Called upon by Lucifer, Rod decided he had to take matters into his own hands. He decided to collect himself an army of American youth.

At first, Heather Wendorf didn't know what to make of him, this Rod Ferrell character. Before they were introduced, she had heard stories around Eustis that Roderick was supposedly a vampire — some of her girlfriends had talked about that. Of course, Heather was curious, but she was too busy with her artwork and piano lessons; besides, she was interested in the boys who played on the football team.

When Rod first approached her, the guy seemed odd. Even though he was only sixteen, he was some kind of egomaniac. He seemed to have a need to conquer the universe. Rod had an arrogant way about him that never made sense, especially to Heather. She was the type who enjoyed a rather upscale existence without ever having to brag about it. She was without an ego.

Heather didn't know when she started to become attracted to him, but Rod seemed more sensitive than other guys. She found his voice appealing. She thought she understood his talk about the end of the world. He spoke of mass destruction and was well versed about people like Saddam Hussein, who he claimed was the fourth Anti-christ. The guy seemed to be light-years ahead of her. She was becoming smitten.

Physically, Heather found Rod unappealing. He had a long, narrow nose and pale skin, but there was something very sensual about him. In part, it was his flowing black hair, shoulder-length and silky, which was usually tied back into a ponytail. And there was something about the way he expressed his emotions that grabbed her. Rod was enchanting, with his wisdom about good and evil, with his proclamations that he was a fallen angel . . .

Rod was, without a doubt, the embodiment of insanity, but yet, there was something vampiric about him. Perhaps it was his piercing eyes, his long nails, his paper-thin body; whatever the reason, Heather felt he cast off some kind of mystical eroticism. At first, Heather thought it was because she had been reading too much Anne Rice; she didn't really know why she found herself becoming attracted to the idea of drinking human blood.

Rod had turned her on to The Big Book of Death, a tome that explored different ways of dying, which Heather needed because she intended to wipe herself out before the year 2000. Heather made no more pretenses about religion. She didn't believe Christ could save her. The only thing she seemed driven by was death, and the grim world Rod offered. When he spoke, it was as if he cast a spell over her. She wanted to die. She wanted to be undead. The word vampire didn't matter. Heather didn't care what Rod was. She knew Rod wasn't any Dracula or strange prince from Transylvania.

Rod filled her void. He was an ancient soul, a space traveler who could come into her dreams and help her transcend time. That's all Heather cared about. She didn't want to be a mortal teenager, trapped in a cookie-cutter existence.

"Lest mortals destroy themselves with their own hate and greed," Rod insisted, "I have been cast on this land. I am the devil's child, walking with earthly feet."

"What do you mean?" Heather asked. "Are you saying you worship the devil?"

"Don't say that," he howled, "that's blasphemy, and if you even think it, then none of us can be released from hell."

Rod would tell Heather these things, yet his manner would be very casual. When they first met, the two of them would just be sitting off by themselves, looking very normal, hanging out in the Eustis High cafeteria. Until she hooked up with Rod, Heather had been somewhat of a loner; she hadn't found too many people she felt connected to.

But then, Rod seemed worthy of her time. He was a newcomer to town, someone who quickly gathered friends, and Heather dropped whatever few buddies she had, so she could absorb him. Before she knew it, she and Rod were becoming inseparable.

"What if you and I were deemed rulers of the world?" Rod asked half-jokingly.

"I don't know, Rod," Heather teased, "I've always wondered when that might happen."

"Do you think you would fit my purposes?"

"Perfectly."

"I'm not mortal," Rod said, poking her in the side.

"Okay," she said, smiling, "you will be given a chance to prove that."

But Rod would just start laughing whenever Heather expected a real answer. After school, it had become her habit to agree to meet him at the cemetery. It was a place where time seemed to stand still and Heather liked it that way. She preferred being a part of Rod's world, even if it was just pretend. She thought it was fantastic, the way Rod would comment about the "brutal barbarism" around them. He found the naked and horrible realities of life in the United States to be unbearable — the ugly American golfers, the petty little tourists — they were quite a shocking difference from the elite world he had been used to, living as a gentleman in France.

All the while, Heather's parents were under the impression she was staying after school to watch her sister, Jeni, during cheerleading practice. The Wendorfs trusted their daughter, they never questioned her, so Heather had herself a foolproof setup. After a couple of hours with Rod, she would bounce over behind the bleachers and meet her mom for a ride home with Jeni.

As time moved on, even though Heather's parents noticed some minor changes in her appearance — there were some new ear piercings, there were some black Gothic outfits — the Wendorfs never hounded her about it. Heather was an artist. She needed to expand her individuality.

Of course, Rick Wendorf would have preferred Heather to be another cheerleader, like Jeni, but then his wife always stressed the importance of creativity. Ruth Wendorf encouraged Heather to explore her inner self. If Heather was into New Age, Ruth thought there was nothing wrong with that. Things like healing crystals, or the belief in prophecy, just couldn't be dismissed.

*
• *

During their cemetery talks, Rod had taken his time about confiding things to his fledgling. He was leery about telling Heather anything, but eventually began talking about his assumption of God-forms. Through the power of imagination, Rod explained, he could re-create himself into the shape of any god. Eventually, Rod promised, he could teach Heather to meditate on simple symbols so she could penetrate their secret meanings and rise on the planes. Rod vowed he would help Heather take her first astral journey, but first she would have to learn to use spiritual energy, she would have to build up her astral body.

Heather cherished this notion. She so wanted to escape the mundane, she'd go home and lock herself in her room to practice meditation with candles. At times, she'd work with various spells, trying to test Rod's authenticity, but she was unable to travel without his guidance. Of course, Heather had never actually experienced Rod's astral projection.

But Rod wanted Heather to be patient. He said she wasn't ready to leave normal consciousness just yet. Rod called Heather a prophet who could "sense spirits" that were not physically present. Having the cemetery right across from Eustis High School was a blessing, he said, because it gave him a chance to teach her the principles of "spirit meditation."

Of course, the first time Heather witnessed Rod in a trance state, she was scared to death because Rod became violent, tearing at his own flesh with his teeth. But after a minute, everything became calm.

To Heather, Rod's consciousness seemed delusional but majestic. She would listen to him ramble about the Hundred Years' War, about the peasants' revolution, about life in fifteenth-century France. He would rant about his "union with the Lord," when he was a boy adorned in magnificent brocades of silk, and would describe himself as a creature similar, in spirit, to Joan of Arc.

Rod claimed he had visions of Heather being burned at the stake. He told her they had both been reincarnated, had been brought back from a life together centuries before, and Heather started to believe him. She started to think she had been "chosen" to live forever.

Copyright © 1999 by Aphrodite Jones

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First Chapter

Chapter One Roderick said he had been asleep for five centuries, that he had been tired of the great adventure called life, but, cursed with immortality, he had grown restless. Somehow, he found himself clawing his way from the depths of the earth, back to the mortal universe and a thing called society. Suddenly, he found himself staring in a mirror, shaving part of the hair on his head, and putting on the grunge dress of a teen at the end of the twentieth century.

In the 1400s, he would confide, Roderick had known the power and privilege of the aristocracy in France. Naturally, the idea of living among the bourgeoisie disgusted him; Roderick had the strongest dislike for peasants. He wondered if he had made the right choice, allowing himself to dwell among the lower classes in a strange, transient place known as Florida, where people wore white and played games in the sun.

During the five hundred years of his slumber, Roderick claimed, he had become accustomed to being a spirit, to calling on "the Elders" in a vast darkness. Roderick loved to roam his phantom cities, the ancient worlds of the Arabians, the Egyptians, the Greeks. But now, Roderick had decided to rematerialize in the flesh. He had decided it was time for Rod to emerge.

Guised as the ultimate rebel, he would cloak himself as an American teen. Roderick, used to being one of the most idolized entities in the world, regarded himself as an equal to God and felt it was fitting for him to choose America. Because of their sins, their greed and corruption, ugly Americans threatened to destroy the planet. Called upon by Lucifer, Rod decided he had to take matters into his ownhands. He decided to collect himself an army of American youth.


At first, Heather Wendorf didn't know what to make of him, this Rod Ferrell character. Before they were introduced, she had heard stories around Eustis that Roderick was supposedly a vampire -- some of her girlfriends had talked about that. Of course, Heather was curious, but she was too busy with her artwork and piano lessons; besides, she was interested in the boys who played on the football team.

When Rod first approached her, the guy seemed odd. Even though he was only sixteen, he was some kind of egomaniac. He seemed to have a need to conquer the universe. Rod had an arrogant way about him that never made sense, especially to Heather. She was the type who enjoyed a rather upscale existence without ever having to brag about it. She was without an ego.

Heather didn't know when she started to become attracted to him, but Rod seemed more sensitive than other guys. She found his voice appealing. She thought she understood his talk about the end of the world. He spoke of mass destruction and was well versed about people like Saddam Hussein, who he claimed was the fourth Anti-christ. The guy seemed to be light-years ahead of her. She was becoming smitten.

Physically, Heather found Rod unappealing. He had a long, narrow nose and pale skin, but there was something very sensual about him. In part, it was his flowing black hair, shoulder-length and silky, which was usually tied back into a ponytail. And there was something about the way he expressed his emotions that grabbed her. Rod was enchanting, with his wisdom about good and evil, with his proclamations that he was a fallen angel . . .

Rod was, without a doubt, the embodiment of insanity, but yet, there was something vampiric about him. Perhaps it was his piercing eyes, his long nails, his paper-thin body; whatever the reason, Heather felt he cast off some kind of mystical eroticism. At first, Heather thought it was because she had been reading too much Anne Rice; she didn't really know why she found herself becoming attracted to the idea of drinking human blood.

Rod had turned her on to The Big Book of Death, a tome that explored different ways of dying, which Heather needed because she intended to wipe herself out before the year 2000. Heather made no more pretenses about religion. She didn't believe Christ could save her. The only thing she seemed driven by was death, and the grim world Rod offered. When he spoke, it was as if he cast a spell over her. She wanted to die. She wanted to be undead. The word vampire didn't matter. Heather didn't care what Rod was. She knew Rod wasn't any Dracula or strange prince from Transylvania.

Rod filled her void. He was an ancient soul, a space traveler who could come into her dreams and help her transcend time. That's all Heather cared about. She didn't want to be a mortal teenager, trapped in a cookie-cutter existence.

"Lest mortals destroy themselves with their own hate and greed," Rod insisted, "I have been cast on this land. I am the devil's child, walking with earthly feet."

"What do you mean?" Heather asked. "Are you saying you worship the devil?"

"Don't say that," he howled, "that's blasphemy, and if you even think it, then none of us can be released from hell."

Rod would tell Heather these things, yet his manner would be very casual. When they first met, the two of them would just be sitting off by themselves, looking very normal, hanging out in the Eustis High cafeteria. Until she hooked up with Rod, Heather had been somewhat of a loner; she hadn't found too many people she felt connected to.

But then, Rod seemed worthy of her time. He was a newcomer to town, someone who quickly gathered friends, and Heather dropped whatever few buddies she had, so she could absorb him. Before she knew it, she and Rod were becoming inseparable.

"What if you and I were deemed rulers of the world?" Rod asked half-jokingly.

"I don't know, Rod," Heather teased, "I've always wondered when that might happen."

"Do you think you would fit my purposes?"

"Perfectly."

"I'm not mortal," Rod said, poking her in the side.

"Okay," she said, smiling, "you will be given a chance to prove that."

But Rod would just start laughing whenever Heather expected a real answer. After school, it had become her habit to agree to meet him at the cemetery. It was a place where time seemed to stand still and Heather liked it that way. She preferred being a part of Rod's world, even if it was just pretend. She thought it was fantastic, the way Rod would comment about the "brutal barbarism" around them. He found the naked and horrible realities of life in the United States to be unbearable -- the ugly American golfers, the petty little tourists -- they were quite a shocking difference from the elite world he had been used to, living as a gentleman in France.

All the while, Heather's parents were under the impression she was staying after school to watch her sister, Jeni, during cheerleading practice. The Wendorfs trusted their daughter, they never questioned her, so Heather had herself a foolproof setup. After a couple of hours with Rod, she would bounce over behind the bleachers and meet her mom for a ride home with Jeni.

As time moved on, even though Heather's parents noticed some minor changes in her appearance -- there were some new ear piercings, there were some black Gothic outfits -- the Wendorfs never hounded her about it. Heather was an artist. She needed to expand her individuality.

Of course, Rick Wendorf would have preferred Heather to be another cheerleader, like Jeni, but then his wife always stressed the importance of creativity. Ruth Wendorf encouraged Heather to explore her inner self. If Heather was into New Age, Ruth thought there was nothing wrong with that. Things like healing crystals, or the belief in prophecy, just couldn't be dismissed.

* * *

During their cemetery talks, Rod had taken his time about confiding things to his fledgling. He was leery about telling Heather anything, but eventually began talking about his assumption of God-forms. Through the power of imagination, Rod explained, he could re-create himself into the shape of any god. Eventually, Rod promised, he could teach Heather to meditate on simple symbols so she could penetrate their secret meanings and rise on the planes. Rod vowed he would help Heather take her first astral journey, but first she would have to learn to use spiritual energy, she would have to build up her astral body.

Heather cherished this notion. She so wanted to escape the mundane, she'd go home and lock herself in her room to practice meditation with candles. At times, she'd work with various spells, trying to test Rod's authenticity, but she was unable to travel without his guidance. Of course, Heather had never actually experienced Rod's astral projection.

But Rod wanted Heather to be patient. He said she wasn't ready to leave normal consciousness just yet. Rod called Heather a prophet who could "sense spirits" that were not physically present. Having the cemetery right across from Eustis High School was a blessing, he said, because it gave him a chance to teach her the principles of "spirit meditation."

Of course, the first time Heather witnessed Rod in a trance state, she was scared to death because Rod became violent, tearing at his own flesh with his teeth. But after a minute, everything became calm.

To Heather, Rod's consciousness seemed delusional but majestic. She would listen to him ramble about the Hundred Years' War, about the peasants' revolution, about life in fifteenth-century France. He would rant about his "union with the Lord," when he was a boy adorned in magnificent brocades of silk, and would describe himself as a creature similar, in spirit, to Joan of Arc.

Rod claimed he had visions of Heather being burned at the stake. He told her they had both been reincarnated, had been brought back from a life together centuries before, and Heather started to believe him. She started to think she had been "chosen" to live forever.

Copyright © 1999 by Aphrodite Jones

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 13 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2007

    Pretty good

    The book itself is detailed and enjoyable to read. My only problem with it is that it's not very objective. It's clear that the author strongly sympathizes with Heather Wendorf.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2003

    From the Inside

    As a part of this vampiric 'underground scene' and big fan of Rod Ferrell I think The Embrace is a great book. I was very pulled into the pages, I connected to it so deeply. I want to believe in Rod's fantasy world, though I know it isn't completely true. But the best thing is that Rod is a real person, material. He's such an amazing person in my eyes and many others'. I've read the book twice and plan on reading it again.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2002

    Wonderful Book

    I really enjoyed the book. I couldn't put it down as well. I have watched the documentary on this story and was intriugued. I loved the book but felt there were some parts of the story left out. The opinion that I drew from the show was quite different from the one on the book. If you are more interested in this story I suggest you look into it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2002

    Misunderstood

    The subculture that is picked apart in this book gets a bad rap through media and fiction. Not everyone that has a belief in the occult or pagan beliefs is a 'monster' as the media portrays.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2001

    Awsome

    This is the best book I ever read. Once you start you cant stop. IT's not those boring books that make you zzzzz. very exciting. I recondmend ya to read it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2001

    Wonderfully Frightening.

    I'm reading it right now, and I can't stop! Knowing that these were real events and people makes the story more compelling.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2001

    Excellent Read

    I loved this book, it's one of the best that I have ever read. I just couldn't put it down, I had it finished in less than a week. I read another book about this incident, but it wasn't even close as to this one was with details and such. It not only tells the story of the murders and how they went about, but also about Rod's vampiric lifestyle. This book makes it seem like you're in Rod's head thinking as he does. I think anyone interested in vampires and such should definitely read this.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2001

    Very Chilling!

    An excellent book displaying the continuing decline of the youth of america, it showed a lack of self-worth and direction that is prominent in the teenage culture of america, who use their own over blown imagination to supplement otherwise hollow and empty lives. Then to spread the blame and not take responsibilty for their own crude actions. It's an eye opener into how important it is to instill values and respect into children at a young age so such crimes are not commited. And if they do i believe they should be punished justly for such crimes! No lenancy should be shown for such blanatant disregard for human life, why show mercy when none was given????

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2000

    Freaky!

    Once you start reading, there's no stopping. Very cruel crime.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2000

    Scott's Fiancee

    As the fiancee of Howard Scott Anderson,aka 'the geeky one' I must say that this book gave me insight to Scott's personality as well as Rod's and Charity's. It was a very chilling story. Told much better than 'The Vampire Killers'

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2000

    From a Fiancee's Point of View

    I am not at all into the occult or vampirism but I am however the fiancee of Howard Scott Anderson, described as the geeky one. This book gave me a lot more insight into the case than the other book did.Its frightening how easy it is for young minds to be manipulated.A very chilling case.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2000

    Rod Ferrell : A Great Subject For a Book

    i think that the reason the book was so interesting is because Rod Ferrell is an intersting person. he is eccentric, intelligent, cool. i love him and would read anything about him. the embrace was better than the other book i read about Rod, though.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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