Heavenstone Secrets [NOOK Book]

Overview

SECRETS ARE AT HOME HERE . . .

The Heavenstone sisters live with their mother and father in a grand old mansion in bluegrass Kentucky. Semantha, the younger and prettier one, is afraid of so many things— darkness, strange noises, mysterious whispers in the night. But nothing frightens her more than her sister, Cassie. She is older and wiser, and always telling Semantha what to do, what to wear, and how to behave around those wicked boys at ...
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Heavenstone Secrets

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Overview

SECRETS ARE AT HOME HERE . . .

The Heavenstone sisters live with their mother and father in a grand old mansion in bluegrass Kentucky. Semantha, the younger and prettier one, is afraid of so many things— darkness, strange noises, mysterious whispers in the night. But nothing frightens her more than her sister, Cassie. She is older and wiser, and always telling Semantha what to do, what to wear, and how to behave around those wicked boys at school. Semantha has her eye on one special guy—but Cassie has other plans for her. In the Heavenstone house, big sister knows best.

. . . AND THERE’S NO ESCAPE.

When tragedy strikes like a lightning bolt from heaven, Semantha’s life becomes a living hell. Under Cassie’s constant, watchful eye, she feels like a prisoner—a helpless pawn in her sister’s cruel game. When Cassie begins wearing their mother’s clothes and vying for their father’s affections, Semantha realizes she must bring their twisted sibling rivalry to an end . . . before a new generation is born.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781439166826
  • Publisher: Pocket Books
  • Publication date: 12/29/2009
  • Series: Heavenstone Series
  • Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 464
  • Sales rank: 100,327
  • File size: 4 MB

Meet the Author

V. C. Andrews
One of the most popular authors of all time, V.C. Andrews has been a bestselling phenomenon since the publication of the spellbinding classic Flowers in the Attic. That blockbuster novel began the renowned Dollanganger family saga, which includes Petals on the Wind, If There Be Thorns, Seeds of Yesterday, and Garden of Shadows. Since then, readers have been captivated by more than seventy novels in nearly twenty bestselling series. V.C. Andrews’s novels have sold more than 106 million copies and have been translated into twenty-two foreign languages.

Biography

"The face of fear I display in my novels is not the pale specter from the sunken grave, nor is it the thing that goes bump in the night," V. C. Andrews once told Douglas E. Winter. "Mine are the deep-seated fears established when we are children, and they never quite go away: the fear of being helpless, the fear of being trapped, the fear of being out of control."

Andrews's novel Flowers in the Attic launched the popular genre sometimes dubbed "children in jeopardy" -- stories about young people abused, lied to, and preyed upon by their evil guardians. The author's own childhood was not nearly so lurid, though it did have an element of tragedy: As a teenager she had a bad fall, which resulted in the development of bone spurs. A botched surgery, combined with arthritis, forced her to use a wheelchair or crutches for the rest of her life.

Andrews lived with her mother and worked as a commercial artist until the 1970s, when she began to write in earnest. Most of her early stories and novels went unpublished (one exception was "I Slept with My Uncle on My Wedding Night," which appeared in a pulp confession magazine). Finally, in 1979, Flowers in the Attic made it into print. The book soared to No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list and was followed by two equally successful sequels, Petals on the Wind and If There Be Thorns. Critics weren't always kind -- a Washington Post reviewer wrote that Flowers in the Attic "may well be the worst book I have ever read" -- but that didn't matter to millions of Andrews's readers, who devoured her gruesome fairy tales as fast as she could pen them.

As E. D. Huntley points out in V. C. Andrews: A Critical Companion, Andrews's novels fit neatly into the "female Gothic" tradition, in which an innocent young woman is trapped in an isolated mansion and persecuted by a villain. Andrews's own contribution was to take some of the themes implicit in early Gothic novels -- incest, sexual jealousy, and obsession -- and make them sensationally explicit in her works.

As most of her fans know by now, V. C. Andrews died in 1986, but new V. C. Andrews books keep popping up on the bestseller lists. That's because the Andrews estate hired a ghost writer, Andrew Neiderman, to continue writing books in the late author's style. Andrews's heirs have been cagey about just how much unfinished work she left behind when she died, but testimony during a 1993 tax case suggested that Andrews had only completed a portion of Garden of Shadows, the eighth book (out of more than 50) published under her name.

Still, even if the vast majority of "V. C. Andrews" books weren't actually written by V. C. Andrews, many of her fans are happy to have her tradition carried on. Neiderman has drawn on Andrews's novels, notebooks, and drawings for inspiration. "Don't make this sound weird," he once said in a Washington Post interview, "but sometimes I do feel possessed." To the original V. C. Andrews, who believed in precognition and reincarnation, it probably wouldn't sound weird at all.

Good To Know

Andrews wrote nine novels before Flowers in the Attic, including a science fantasy titled The Gods of the Green Mountain. Later, when she was a bestselling novelist, she wanted to try her hand at different kinds of fiction, but her publisher discouraged her. "I am supposed to stay in this niche, whatever it is, because there is so much money in it," she told Douglas Winter. "I mean, I have tapped a gold mine and they don't want to let go of it. I don't like that, because I want to branch out."

Though V. C. Andrews went by the name Virginia, her birth name was Cleo Virginia Andrews, not Virginia Cleo Andrews. She had planned to publish her books under the name Virginia Andrews, but her first publisher printed Flowers in the Atticas the work of "V. C. Andrews" in hopes that the gender-neutral name would make the book appealing to male readers.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Cleo Virginia Andrews
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 6, 1923
    2. Place of Birth:
      Portsmouth, Virginia
    1. Date of Death:
      December 19, 1986
    2. Place of Death:
      Virginia Beach, Virginia

Read an Excerpt

1
An Announcement

When I was just fourteen years old, my world began to sink in and collapse like a punctured balloon. Whatever happiness I enjoyed slowly leaked out and disappeared. It took me a while to notice and realize it. I was just like someone who, gazing at his car one day, saw that he had a flat tire. When did that begin to happen? he might wonder. I knew when it had begun to happen for me.

One night at dinner a week after my birthday, Daddy put down his knife and fork, folded his hands, and cleared his throat. Cassie and I believed that whatever he was about to say had nothing whatsoever to do with his business or his finances. There was a rule at our table that none of that would be discussed at dinner. And that was true even if Daddy had something wonderful about the business to announce to us, such as a large increase in the profits of one of our stores or our stores beating out the famous chain stores nearby. Whatever the good business news was, he wouldn't say a word about it until after dinner or maybe not until breakfast the following day. For some reason, breakfast was not as sacred a meal as dinner. Of course, dinner was more elegant, with our expensive china and silverware, linen napkins, and the imported tablecloth that Mother had bought on one of their European trips.

My responsibility was to set the table, light the candles in the gold candle holders, and after dinner put everything away or in the dishwasher and washing machine. Cassie helped Mother prepare the food, and I helped both of them serve it. Mother was an excellent cook, always coming up with new and interesting recipes, and Cassie was a quick study. She could replicate almost anything Mother had made a day after she had made it. Twice when Mother was sick with the flu, Cassie "leaped to the helm," as Daddy would say, and created dinners that were as wonderful as what Mother made. Even I had to admit it, although Cassie was far more interested in Daddy's opinion.

At the beginning of dinner, we were to lower our heads while Daddy recited a prayer, but Cassie never lowered her head. I knew both of my parents were aware of it, just as they were in church, but neither forced her to do it. It suggested to me that maybe they were as afraid of her as I was, which, of course, made no sense. How could parents be afraid of their own daughter?

"Your mother and I have an announcement to make," Daddy began this particular evening, and then he stroked his perfectly trimmed and groomed rust-brown goatee. It was a gesture that was always followed by a very serious pronouncement. Another sign was the way his emerald-green eyes brightened. At forty-eight, he was by anyone's measure still a very handsome man, with a perfectly proportioned straight nose and firm lips. He kept his hair a little longer than most businessmen his age, but it was always trim and neatly brushed. Even though he didn't work outdoors, he had a robust complexion, and because he was six feet two inches tall with wide shoulders, he looked fit and strong. Mother always said that when he was wearing jeans and a short-sleeved shirt instead of his suit, he looked like a lumberjack.

His father had named him Teddy after Teddy Roosevelt and, according to family history, made sure he understood that he had to be as courageous, as loyal to the truth and to what was right, and as strong in body and mind. He was fond of telling Daddy, "Charge up that hill! And no matter what, never surrender!"

Daddy's pausing made what he was about to tell us even more important. I held my breath and glanced at Cassie, who sat with a smirk on her lips. She looked as if she knew what he was about to say and already did not approve.

"Your mother," Daddy continued, reaching to his right to take her hand, "is pregnant."

I know my mouth widened with surprise, and I was sure my eyes swelled, but Cassie's smirk only grew deeper. She leaned slightly forward, folding her hands on the table the way Daddy folded his before a serious pronouncement.

"Is that wise at your age, Mother?" she asked very calmly. "You're forty-two."

"Women in their forties are having children. Your mother is in perfect health, Cassie, and Dr. Moffet is very optimistic about her having a healthy and successful pregnancy," Daddy replied before Mother could.

"Of course, Dr. Moffet would say that. We're good customers."

Daddy sat back, displeased with her, which was very unusual to see.

"Doctors don't have customers, Cassie. They have patients, and a good doctor is not motivated by profit the way a businessman should be."

"Then there are no good doctors," Cassie said.

Cassie never backed down from what she said or believed. When she was very little and she was reprimanded or forbidden to do something, she would hold her breath until her face reddened so that Mother would relent or to get Daddy to compromise. She once went two days without eating a morsel because she was in a sulk.

"I was hoping you girls would be as happy about this as we are," Mother said, battling back the disappointment I could see she felt.

"I am," I said, perhaps too quickly.

Cassie glared at me for a moment and then formed her smile mask. "Of course, we're happy, but naturally, we're worried, too, Mother."

"Don't be," Mother said firmly. "I'll be fine. It will all be fine."

"We hope so," Cassie said, but the way she said it made it clear that she was full of skepticism. She always managed to speak for me, saying "we" whenever she was going to offer an opinion about something that could have an effect on us both.

"In any case," Daddy continued, "I would like both of you to take this into consideration and do whatever you can to make things easier for your mother during the next seven months. I know you both already do quite a lot, but..."

"Then you are already two months pregnant?" Cassie asked quickly.

"Yes, Cassie, I am."

"Why didn't you tell us earlier?" she followed sharply, her eyes narrowing. "There are so many ways to confirm a pregnancy earlier."

I suddenly felt as if the table had been spun around, and Cassie was the mother and Mother was the daughter. When Mother didn't answer, Cassie continued, "Why didn't you let us know you were both thinking of having another child?"

Mother looked at Daddy. They both seemed flustered.

"We weren't...it wasn't something we were sure we...what difference does that make?" Daddy shouted. "We're telling you how things are now."

"Obviously," Cassie replied. "But why didn't you decide to do this years ago?"

"The truth is, Cassie, I've been trying to get pregnant for some time now. I've been to see fertility doctors and specialists, and finally, something has worked," Mother told her softly. She smiled. "With the two of you young adult women now, things will actually be much easier. You can help me take good care of the new baby, be like two little nannies. When you're able and free, of course," she added.

"Why shouldn't we be able and free?" Cassie retorted.

"Oh, you both will have your own busy lives, I'm sure. Actually, I'm not worried about it. It's a good time for me. I look forward to it," Mother added. She smiled at Daddy and took his hand again. "Of course, we're hoping...we'll soon know whether or not...if..."

"If it's a boy," Daddy said, smiling. He turned to Mother, and they looked at each other as if they were alone and both twenty years younger.

"We've already decided we will name him Asa. Nothing would please your father more," she told us.

They continued to look at each other with such love and gratitude that it brought tears to my eyes. I glanced at Cassie. She looked as if she would set the house on fire. She jerked her eyes toward me and I looked down quickly. Later, she told me our parents had no idea what they were getting themselves into, what they were getting us all into.

"I don't understand," I said. "Why do you say that?"

"This world we're in will be turned topsy-turvy," she said, "so get ready to stand on your head."

Then she marched off to her room and shut the door.

Which reminded me of Cassie's Third Commandment: Don't ever do anything to make her unhappy.

However, Cassie wasn't wrong. No matter what I thought about her and what I think about her now, she really wasn't wrong very often. Our house and our lives did start to change, but I didn't think they went topsy-turvy. On the contrary, to me, it was as if a brand-new sunlight was streaming in through our windows, lighting up the dullest corners, brightening colors, and making furniture and artifacts sparkle. I think Mother thought that, too, because she went about the grand house as if she were seeing it for the first time. During the next two months, she changed the arrangement of some furniture and worked harder at polishing and vacuuming and having Cassie and me polish and vacuum. She had window cleaners and rug cleaners, painters doing touch-ups. She bought new lamps and even some new kitchen appliances, and took more interest in our landscaping.

"Why is all of this suddenly so important? She acts as if the new Messiah is coming," Cassie muttered.

I nodded, not because I, too, saw it as being over the top but because I saw it as wonderful. Cassie looked at my face and added, "She's being ridiculous, behaving like some newlywed. If all of these things had to be done, why weren't they done for us as well?"

"Maybe they were," I dared to suggest. She pursed her lips and pulled back her head. "I mean, right before you were born and then right before I was."

"Nothing was changed then, Semantha. Daddy used to think this house was as sacred as a church. You know how he feels about our family's history. Most of it is exactly as it has been for nearly eighty years. No new bride, no matter how she was supposedly loved, would dare interfere with that. We are the Heavenstones!" she declared, as if that explained everything.

"Oh," I said.

Of course, I thought then, Why is Daddy permitting her to do all of this now? But I didn't dare ask. I didn't have to ask. Cassie was prepared to give me an explanation.

"Men," she continued in one of her loud whispers, "can suddenly become boys so easily and quickly that it would make your head spin. Their wisdom evaporates," she added with such confidence. It was as if she really was older than our parents, growing up so quickly that she had passed them by years ago. "They get so infatuated with their women that they'll fall over themselves trying to please them. Women are stronger when it comes to that sort of thing," she said, nodding. "You don't see as many making fools of themselves when they're older. There are some who do, of course, but not as often as men."

How do you know all this? I wanted to ask her. You never go out on a date. You've never had a boyfriend or, as far as I know, even had a crush on a boy. Did you learn it all from books? I didn't ask these questions, because I was sure she would see it as some disagreement, and I didn't want to do anything that would bring unhappiness into our home right now. Even I, who didn't know half as much as Cassie knew about the emotional and physical changes a woman goes through when she is pregnant, could see that Mother was often on the verge of tears for what looked to be no real reason whatsoever.

"We simply have to hope Daddy comes to his senses and reins in this wastefulness and unnecessary expense," Cassie concluded, but everything went contrary to what she hoped, especially when Mother and Daddy were told there was no questions about it: she was going to have a boy.

When they came home that day, it was as if they had won the biggest lottery. Daddy was practically floating, and Mother's face was so radiant she really did look twenty years younger. They talked about having a party to celebrate but agreed to be cautious and wait.

However, they now decided they were going to renovate one of the upstairs bedrooms to create Asa's nursery. Not only were carpenters, electricians, and plumbers brought in, but Mother decided, with Daddy's approval, of course, to hire an interior decorator.

"An interior decorator for a baby's nursery!" Cassie cried when she heard about it. She came rushing into my bedroom one Saturday morning to tell me.

I was seated at my vanity table, brushing my hair and thinking about Kent Pearson, who was in all of my ninth-grade classes except home economics. We had been classmates since the seventh grade, but suddenly, one day, when I looked at him, I saw him differently. He seemed to have become this handsome young man behind my back. He caught me looking at him with interest and blushed, but since that day, he had begun to pay more attention to me, finding every opportunity he could to talk or walk with me.

This caused me to wonder more deeply what it was that actually happened between a boy and a girl. Was it something magical, mysterious, or was it, as Cassie would probably say, simply the burst of hormones? If that were true, however, I'd have feelings like this for almost any boy, but I didn't. I thought only of Kent, dreamed only of Kent, and was excited to be only with Kent. Were we too young to have experienced love at first sight, even though it wasn't really our first sighting of each other?

"Did you hear what I said?" Cassie continued. She stood beside me with her arms folded under her breasts, her shoulders back.

Although Cassie was only two years older than I, she was nearly five inches taller and had what I had heard referred to as a full figure. She wasn't at all matronly-looking, even though she often acted as if there was not even a foot left in her journey to maturity. However, no one simply seeing her would think of her as anything but a pretty teenage girl. She didn't spend as much time on her hair and makeup, nor did she care as much for what was in fashion, as I did, but she never looked unkempt, and she did have our mother's perfect facial features, with the same exotic speckled green-blue eyes and light brown hair that glistened golden in the sunlight. She kept her hair shorter than mine and Mother's and wasn't fond of wearing earrings. She didn't want to pierce her ears, but when she heard Daddy compliment Mother on a pair of pierced earrings, she went ahead and had hers pierced and now always wore earrings.

"What?"

"What? What? How can you sit there for hours and look at yourself? The way you brush your hair makes me think you're in some kind of a trance."

"I'm not sitting here for hours. Mother brushes hers this way and this much every day."

"Whatever. That's hardly important. Didn't you hear me? I said they've hired an interior decorator for the nursery. All they really have to do is put a crib and some other things in the bedroom, but now they're going to change the wallpaper, the floor, maybe even the ceiling, and definitely all the lighting fixtures. I heard them say that they may even replace the windows to make the room brighter! That means busting out walls!"

I nodded. I didn't know what to say. It all sounded fine with me.

"You know how much all that will cost? They'll spend more money on this nursery than most people spend redoing a whole house. Before our brother is even born, they're doting on him, spoiling him. You can just imagine what's going to happen when he is born."

I couldn't help but wonder if this was the sibling rivalry Mother had told me Cassie had had when I was born. If it was that, why didn't I have it, too?

"They're both so happy about it," I said.

She stared at me and then shook her head. "Listen to me, Semantha. Read my lips if you have to, but listen. Sure, they're happy now," she said, "but wait until they have to go through all that parents go through with infants, waking up all hours of the night, changing diapers, fighting baby rashes, worrying over every possible infant illness, doctor visits, on and on and on."

"They went through it with us," I reminded her.

"Are you a total zero, Semantha? They were both sixteen years younger then. They're so used to their own time and interests now, especially Mother. She, especially, will be overwhelmed. What it means is I'm going to have to do more, and so will you.

"Don't you realize what the age difference between Asa and us will be?" she continued so intensely that I could see the veins in her temples. "By the time he's ten, we'll both be well into our twenties, maybe going to graduate school or married. Why, people might even think he's my son and not my brother. They could even think it of you!"

"Oh, yes. I never thought of that," I said, and she calmed a little.

"In any case, who will be here to help raise him?" she added, nodding.

"They won't need us for that by then, will they?"

"Of course, they will. It's harder when children get older. You know what Daddy says: little children, little problems, big children...understand?"

I nodded, again not looking sufficiently upset for her.

"Okay. Just wait," she said. "You'll see."

She paused and looked at me in the mirror and squinted as if it was a window and not a mirror and she was looking at someone else some distance away.

"There's something different about you these days. What is it?" she demanded.

I raised my eyebrows and shrugged. "What?"

"I don't know. You're acting flighty, like you're always thinking about something else. I see the way you float through the halls and up and down the stairs like you're in some kind of a movie hearing your own theme music." She paused and narrowed her eyes again. "Are you interested in some boy? Is that it? Do you think you're in love? Well?"

"No," I said weakly. She smirked.

"Who is it? C'mon, out with it," she said. "Who is this love of your life?"

"I'm not in love."

"Semantha Heavenstone. This is your sister, Cassie, who's talking and to whom you're talking. You know we're too close for you to hide any secrets very long from me. Your forehead's like a neon sign flashing your thoughts. Well? Who?"

"Kent Pearson has been paying a lot of attention to me lately," I confessed. Just as she said, it was impossible for me to hide things from her.

"Kent Pearson," she repeated, chewing over her knowledge of him. "Yes, I know who he is. He has an older brother a year ahead of me, Brody. He's a very poor student. I heard he might not even graduate. As I recall, the Pearsons aren't very well off, either, so there's no money for tutors."

"Kent's very smart," I said. "He won't need a tutor."

"Um...be careful," she said. "Don't give him the impression that you like him too much."

"Why not?"

"You might as well get used to the idea, Semantha. There will be many boys after you, hoping to get into this family and this wealth. That means you have to be extra, extra cautious."

"Is that why you don't have a boyfriend?" I asked, maybe too quickly.

"I haven't seen or heard anyone worthy of my interest yet," she replied without skipping a beat.

I wanted to ask her more about the boys in her class and the classes above hers. How could there be absolutely no one worth her interest? There were many boys from well-to-do families, families as respectable as ours, but before we could continue the discussion, we heard Mother calling on the intercom to tell us Uncle Perry had arrived.

"Great," Cassie said, dropping the corners of her lips. "He's here."

She was not nearly as fond of Uncle Perry as I was, and he knew it. I knew he was flamboyant and quite different from Daddy, but I enjoyed him, enjoyed what Mother called his joie de vivre. I couldn't remember a time when he had been unhappy or depressed. He always dressed in bright colors and wore glittering gold rings, bracelets, and necklaces. He often teased Daddy about his stuffy clothing, calling him too conservative, boring. Daddy merely shook his head, as if any comments Uncle Perry made were simply full of air.

I had to agree that he took after their mother more in his looks than he did their father. He was good-looking but in a pretty-boy sort of way, concerned about his complexion (he went to tanning salons), his hair (never out of style), and his nails (always manicured). He had eyelashes any woman would envy, a nose a little too small and dainty for a man, and thinner lips than Daddy's. Cassie and I had visited him in his townhouse in Lexington only twice, but both times, we were impressed with how neat and organized everything was. He paid great attention to the slightest detail. When Cassie looked at something such as a vase or a small statue and put it down just a few inches from where it had been, he immediately returned it to that place.

The second visit had occurred only a little more than a year ago, but when we left, Cassie leaned over in the limousine hired to take us and whispered, "I don't think he lives alone."

"What does that mean?"

"When I was in his bathroom, I looked in the cabinet and saw two different toothbrushes and different men's colognes. There were other clues," she added.

"Men's colognes? Don't you mean perfume if it's someone else?"

She smirked. "Hardly. Uncle Perry is gay, Semantha."

My face was surely awash in astonishment. That had never occurred to me, and I had never heard either Daddy or Mother say such a thing, even suggest it.

"But..."

"Why do you think he has never brought a girlfriend to our house or even mentioned someone? Why is he still unmarried?"

"I thought he was simply a bachelor."

"Christmas trees, Semantha, you're so naive for your age, especially nowadays. Sometimes I wonder if Mother faked your birth and you were left on the doorstep. I suppose you've never noticed his pierced ear."

"What? No."

"He doesn't always wear it when he comes to our house, but next time we see him somewhere else, look at his right ear. The left is not pierced. Duh."

I shook my head, still amazed. "Wouldn't Daddy be upset?"

"Who says he isn't? He has simply chosen to ignore it, and Uncle Perry has the sense not to flaunt his homosexuality in Daddy's presence. It's a forbidden topic in our house, so don't dare mention it. You'd only upset Daddy."

"No, I would never..."

I remember thinking how slow I really was in comparison to Cassie. Was it simply her two additional years of age? Maybe I really had been left on the doorstep.

Regardless of what she had told me, I couldn't be any less warm to Uncle Perry. I thought he was truly a very creative man. He was in charge of the Heavenstone Department Stores' publicity and promotion as well as designing an entire line of Heavenstone fashions for both men and women and, lately, even children. The line was very successful.

We both went downstairs to join him, Daddy, and Mother. He had come for lunch but had also brought a portfolio of new fashion ideas for teenage girls and wanted our opinions. The three of them were in the living room, and Uncle Perry had his portfolio opened on the large glass coffee table. Mother was looking down at it, and Daddy was sitting in his favorite easy chair, puffing on his meerschaum pipe, which had been his father's.

Uncle Perry was wearing a bright blue blazer and light blue slacks with blue boat shoes. He wore a cravat and looked as if he had just stepped off the cover of a fashion magazine himself. The moment we entered, he brightened, but I felt he was looking mainly at me.

"Ah, the infamous Heavenstone sisters," he declared. Mother laughed. "Just in time, girls. I'd love for you to peruse my new creations. Your father has yet to groan or moan, which usually means I'm right on track or, as he would say, still in the black."

"Lucky is all you are," Daddy said.

"What difference does it make if the bottom line is where you want it, Teddy?"

Now Daddy grunted.

We both looked at the portfolio. Uncle Perry stepped back, and Cassie began to turn the pages. I thought everything looked terrific and couldn't wait for some of it.

"They look sloppy to me," Cassie said coldly.

"Sloppy is in, Cassie. You should know that better than I," Uncle Perry said, turning his attention to me. "Besides, it's not really sloppy. It looks like it's sloppy, but everything is coordinated, all the layered clothing, the shoes, the hats."

I nodded. "The girls in my class would love it all," I said. He beamed.

"She's right. The girls in her class would," Cassie said.

"Well, they are the ones with the discretionary income, according to our marketing analysis, Cassie," Uncle Perry said softly.

"I wouldn't buy them."

Uncle Perry held his smile, but I could see the pain in his eyes.

Cassie looked at Daddy and added, "But I don't follow the flock, so I'm not really a good judge when it comes to what will and won't sell. I'm sure all this will do fine."

"Thank you, Cassie. That's almost a compliment," Uncle Perry said, and Mother laughed.

Cassie was not one to blush or redden, but she did this time. It made my heart thump. Would she say something nasty? Uncle Perry turned back to me.

"In two months, you can start wearing some of this, Sam."

Sam was the nickname Uncle Perry had given me from the very first day he learned my name was Semantha. Mother thought it was cute. Daddy never told him not to call me that. In fact, I sometimes felt he wished he had come up with it first. Cassie hated it. Now that she had exposed Uncle Perry's sexual preferences, she would whisper later on, "He likes to turn everything into his way of seeing the world. Sam is more of a man's name. Get it?"

I shook my head.

"You will," she promised, and left it at that.

Later, at lunch, Uncle Perry talked about his upcoming vacation. He was going on a Caribbean cruise. He loved traveling and had gone to far more places than Daddy and Mother. Mother had many questions about his trip, but Daddy seemed reluctant to ask or hear any answers.

Cassie leaned over to whisper, "It's probably a gay men's cruise."

I nearly choked on my salmon.

"So," Uncle Perry said after Mother and Cassie had brought out coffee and some Danish for dessert, "how do you girls feel about having a new little brother?"

"How should we feel?" Cassie replied. The way she looked at him made it seem she really wanted to hear his answer. I could see it threw him off. He looked at Daddy and then smiled.

"I would imagine excited," he said.

"Well, of course," Cassie said. "And we're happy for our parents, too."

Uncle Perry nodded. He drank his coffee, glanced at me, and looked now as if he couldn't wait to be on his way. After lunch, however, Daddy took him to his office to discuss some business. Later, after we helped Mother clean up, Cassie told me to follow her up to her bedroom. Even though she closed the door behind us and we were far from anyone who could hear us, she still whispered.

"Now you should have no trouble understanding why Daddy wanted Mother to get pregnant so much."

"What do you mean?"

"Christmas trees, Semantha. Figure it out. Who will take over the Heavenstone Corporation in years to come? Not me, and certainly not you."

When I didn't respond, she raised her voice. "Uncle Perry will never have a son, much less a daughter, unless he adopts one, and that child won't have any Heavenstone blood in him!"

"Oh."

"Yes, oooooh." She flopped on her bed. "Every generation of Heavenstones has always had a male to take control of what had been built by his father and his father's father. Daddy must have nightmares about it. He's not happy with the prospect of some other, bigger corporation taking us over, but without a son, what else could happen? You see what Uncle Perry is like. Even if he outlived Daddy by years and years, he couldn't handle the responsibilities. He knows nothing about real business."

"But why couldn't you run the company someday, Cassie? You're the smartest girl I know."

"I don't want to," she replied sharply and slowly. "I'm more like...like a wife. Goodness knows, I do half of Mother's work here, don't I? Well? Don't I?"

"Yes, but I thought..."

"Don't think."

She sighed and then looked at me harder. She nodded to herself.

"What?" I asked.

"I suppose you could, with great care and guidance, someday find the right man to marry, a man who might be able to be work in our corporation. But," she added, shaking her head, "I have grave doubts about your taste when it comes to the opposite sex. I see how infatuated you are with Kent Pearson. Don't deny it. He'll be lucky to attend a state university and probably won't have a head for business anyway, if he's anything like his brother. Therefore, even if you have a boy, he might not have the wherewithal to inherit control of our empire."

"Empire?"

"Don't you see?" she cried. She actually pounded her own leg for emphasis, so hard it made me wince. "You can't just go flouting about with anyone who pees standing up."

"What?" I started to smile.

"Any boy, Semantha. You have to realize your responsibility to our heritage."

"What about you, Cassie? You might find the right man if I don't."

She looked away for a long moment. I thought she might have nothing else to say.

And then she whispered as if she were talking to herself, "I can't possibly leave Daddy, especially now."

Before I could ask her what she meant, we heard Mother calling us in the hallway. I went to the door.

"What, Mother?"

"Your uncle Perry's leaving, girls. I just showed him Asa's nursery and some of the renovations."

I looked back at Cassie. "Uncle Perry's leaving."

"I'm devastated. Go say good-bye for me," she told me. Then she rose and went into her bathroom.

Her whispered words seemed stuck in my ears: "I can't possibly leave Daddy, especially now."

I would hear them often in my mind.

And I would struggle to understand them as if my life depended on it.

Little did I know that it actually did.

Copyright © 2010 by the Vanda General Partnership

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 38 )
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(21)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 38 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2013

    Great Book!!!

    This is VC Andrews at its best! If you liked, "flowers in the attic," you'll love this book! It's a page turner the whole way through!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2012

    Pretty good.

    Good book, looking forward to the next one that i will be purchasing as soon as i finish this reveiw. Just never understood how so many people could of been so afraid of one person (cassie).

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2012

    Best book ever to read

    This is the kind of books you've been waiting for!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2011

    Read if you want

    This first book of the Heavenstones was really weird. The older sister was really jealous of both the younger sister and the mother. She got her just reward somewhat in the end, just not all the way.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2011

    Is it

    Is this the firat book of the series

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2013

    I read this book

    And was surprised by what happened. Why did Clarisse do that to her mother and sister!

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

    Posted December 9, 2012

    A girls dog

    So amazing love it!by Sandra and Araceli

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 5, 2011

    Not bad

    I am a big fan of VC Andrews novels and this one really harkens back to the old series like Dollenganger and Casteel. I didnt see the end coming. Can't. imagine what the next one has in store.

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

    Posted November 11, 2010

    It's good but story is same old

    I love love vc Andrew books..... Read them all but sometimes they all seem to have the same story lines. I liked the book and will always read anything with va Andrew as the author!

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  • Posted June 22, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    HAHA LOVE IT!

    This book was absolute trash and that's why I liked reading it LOL! It's to be expected really when you pick up a V.C. Andrews book written in the last ten years(she's been dead for a while but they still have other people writing as ghost writers using her name) I was in the mood for a trashy book and knew what I was getting into. I will admit sometimes trashy books are guilty pleasures of mine LOL!!!!! The book is a fast read and very predictable but it helped pass some time so I read it. Most books I hate, I hate because people make them out to be wonderful, in reality they really aren't. You don't get that with modern V.C. Andrews books,you know it's gonna be trashy the moment you pick it up! Semantha Heavanstone(and no I didn't misspell it,they wrote it like that all through the book) is a 9th grader who has a perfect older sister Cassie who bosses her around all the time. Semantha never really sticks up for herself, and her family is super rich. Her mother finds out she is pregnant with a son and so it sets things into motion with Cassie caring for her,but soon she has a miscarriage and dies herself not too long after. You get this weird feeling about Cassie because she love her dad a lil too much(made me a lil uncomfortable at times,don't worry there's no incest in this V.C.Andrews book)Basically Cassie is someone who does anything in her power to look perfect in her dad's eyes.She soon tries to take her mother's place from cooking to even dressing in her mom's old clothes,jewelry, and makeup after she dies. Read it for yourself if you want to know more(I left quite a bit out just for the fun of it).

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 24, 2010

    good stuff

    i have been a big fan of v.c. Andrews. this series was really good. personally i couldn't pick a favorite cause they are all good.they catch you into it and you don't even want to put the book down. so if you have lots of responsibilities i wouldn't pick up one of her books cause you wont be able to put it down.

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  • Posted April 16, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Well

    To be honest when i started this book it took a little bit to get into. I am a big V.C. Andrews fan and have read every book that has been published under her name. I say it that way because if your a true fan then you know she has passed away awhile back and now the family has someone finishing the novels she never had the chance to finish. so if the books seem to be falling for your liking then that is most likely the reason. The second and final book of the series was good. I wont give anything away but it seems that blood will always be thicker then water, dont mess with the Heavenstones lol!

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  • Posted March 10, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    The Title "Heavenstone Secrets", is a perfect title for this book.

    The characters in this novel are very real to me. Although I'm only half way through the book, I can't seem to put it down until I am so sleepy I can't see the words. As other books like this one, I worry that there isn't going to be another one. I don't read a lot of books that hold my attention, except the ones written by this author. Although it is not very romantically inclined there is a hint of romance. It is intriguing, and will keep you guessing about the next exciting chapter. "Heavenstone Secrets", is definitly a good title. As the secrets unfold the more interesting the book becomes.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 12, 2010

    This book was horrible!!!

    I am a HUGE fan of V.C. Andrews and had to force myself to finish this book. I thought this book was written with one of the most predictable plots. The family drama dragged on and on with no true resolve. Due to the lack of suspense and predictablility, you knew what was going to happen to the characters before the end of the story. Also, the drama between betwen the sisters was annoying and too much. Since I am such dire hard fan, I will buy the second book in hopes of restoring my love of V.C. Andrew books.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 31, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A good tale

    The two Heavenstone sisters live with their parents in an old Kentucky mansion. The older sibling Cassie is the perfect Heavenstone as she behaves properly everywhere. The younger sister Semantha is prettier, but somehow pales next to her accomplished older sibling.

    It is hard to live up to the perfect definition of her parents when everything frightens you which is what Semantha feels. Her biggest fear is that of Cassie who always orders her around when their parents are not there to see the other side. When mother becomes ill and hospitalized, Cassie takes over her role in the household. She scares Semantha even more as the younger Heavenstone feels like a criminal under interrogation by her sibling and fears what her sister is doing to her and her father even as she conceals something that will be obvious in a few months.

    The concept of good seed bad seed has been a round a long time (Bette Davis in Dead Ringer, Whatever happened to Baby Jane? and Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte). However, V.C. Andrews keeps it fresh due to Cassie as the perfect teen Machiavellian manipulator though it helps that her pathetic parents prefer not to dig below the surface. Semantha overkills the victim defense as much of the story line she whimpers about her fear of her sister and just about everything else. Although entertaining as readers will wonder if hormones running wild will bring a backbone to Semantha The Heavenstone Secrets contains no Flowers in the Attic.

    Harriet Klausner

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    V.C. Andrews brings sibling rivalry into a whole new light

    Semantha's sister Cassie is the picture of perfection. Perfect grades, perfect behavior-a perfect Heavenstone.
    Semantha is the "pretty one". Always living under Cassie's constant shadow. But when tragedy strikes, Semantha's finite courage is put to the test. And now, she realizes that Cassie, may not be as perfect as she appears.

    The Heavenstone Secrets is a dramatic look into the life of the rich and powerful that will have you reeling for more. This book has me dying to get my hands on the next in the series...Secret Whispers!

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

    Posted April 18, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 38 Customer Reviews

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