Sixteen-year-old Carrie Reed once led a charmed life, with her three siblings and loving parents. Then, her father seemingly went mad and murdered her mother. Suddenly, life was empty of love and joy. The Reed children were sent to live with their Aunt Tanya and Uncle Charlie. Things improved, but Carrie had trouble understanding what had happened to her parents. When had their love gone wrong? How could her father have done such a thing?
On her birthday, her aunt and uncle bought her an antique sapphire ring. Sapphire was Carrie's birthstone, and she adored her gift. Even so, Carrie had learned from her grandmother that certain objects retain the memories and feelings of the past owner. With the death of a distant relative named Irene, Carrie comes to realize that the ring may have been in her family for decades-and it might be cursed.
Strange things begin to happen to the Reed family, especially when the children get involved in witchcraft. Carrie is fascinated with the idea of the afterlife. She must find out what happens after death-but she doesn't realize that communing with the dead can lead to tragedy in life. The curse of the ring has come back with a vengeance, and this time it has Carrie in its sights.
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By Ruth Parker Riddle
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2012 Ruth Parker Riddle
All right reserved.
Chapter OneIt had been an unseasonably warm day that October in the small town of Sea Crest, North Carolina, in 1988. Carrie rode alone in the backseat as her Uncle Charlie drove down the highway heading towards what was now an unfamiliar area from her distant past. Her shoulder length golden-blonde hair was windblown, because she insisted on having her window rolled down all the way. She felt the warm breeze blowing in her face, and she could smell the pungent aroma of the briny marsh. The wind howling in her ears faded out the sound of her aunt and uncle talking about the events of the day.
Carrie reminisced about the last time she had taken that same road long ago, only this time they were traveling in the opposite direction. It had been eight years since her father was transferred out west to the coastal town of Port Hueneme, California. Her father, Allen, was serving in the Navy, and they had moved several times over the years. So, they were always eager to embark on a new adventure. If they had only known that things would turn out so terrible.
She still remembered how cozy and warm she felt with her siblings sitting in the back of their 1978 blue Dodge Station Wagon. Tears came to her eyes as she thought of her mother sitting in the front seat, smiling and singing along to, Heaven Must Have Sent You on the radio. How she missed her mother; she was always so patient and kind. Carrie never could bring herself to forgive her father, even if he was having a mental breakdown; that was no excuse for him to take the life of their beautiful mother. Beth was not only a good mother, but she was a good friend to her children. She was a lot like a child herself, usually involved in all the children's activities. It seemed like Beth's only purpose in life was to make her four young children happy.
Carrie remembered how much her mother loved their house on Tidal Point Road. She always said that living out in the country would be the perfect place to raise her growing family. It was a big new home, with a bright country kitchen. There was a wooden swing hanging from a big oak tree in the back yard surrounded by tall pines and huge azalea bushes. The honeysuckles gave off a sweet aroma attracting hummingbirds, which were her mother's favorite birds. Clover grew abundantly in the thick green grass. Carrie could still recall the excited look on her mother's face when she found two four leaf clovers in the same day, when nobody else could find one.
As they drove down the dirt road through the thick brush, she thought of the day they first discovered that cemetery. It was when they had gone out into the woods to find a place to bury their family pet. Their beloved first dog was a yellow lab named Sonny. He had been in the family since he was just a little puppy. When they moved there he was an old dog but still very protective of the children. He had never been an outside dog before, so they thought it was strange when he refused to go inside the house.
One day when the children were playing in the yard, Sonny just ignored them. He just lay on the side of the house sleeping all afternoon. When their father came home from work later that day, the family was shocked to hear him announce that the dog was dead. He said it so bluntly without any consideration for their feelings. That was just the way he was about animals. He was indifferent to the emotional bond people have with their pets. That was their first experience with death, but as luck seems to happen by chance, it wouldn't be their only experience with death that year.
Uncle Charlie interrupted Carrie's thoughts when he loudly announced, "We're here!" Then he quickly pulled over to the side of the road where they exited the car and headed down the footpath through the woods. They came to a clearing and found the few friends that had gathered to pay their last respects to their cousin Irene.
Irene never had children of her own making Uncle Charlie the only blood relative she had left. At the age of eighty-two she had outlived most of her family and friends. Although she knew she had cousins she hadn't made any effort to keep in touch with them. Her parents died when she was just a little girl. Therefore, she was raised by her mother's sister, Helen, who knew very little about her brother-in-law's family.
Irene and Ivan had been born on the family estate known as Tidal Home. It was a Victorian style house that caught fire nearly seventy-five years before. Later, it was sold and eventually torn down to make way for new homes, but the family cemetery in the woods behind the house had been left untouched. Uncle Charlie decided Irene's final resting place should be there beside her twin brother Ivan.
Carrie's parents never knew their ancestors had lived on that very same property. It was just a strange coincidence that they had rented a home built on that very same plot of ground when Carrie was just eight years old. Her sister Lisa was ten. Her brother Tyler was four, and their brother Cole was just two- years-old, when they moved to the home on Tidal Point Road.
Uncle Charlie directed everyone to the gravesite and spoke, "We have gathered together today for this, I might say, very informal memorial service in loving memory of a dear friend and family member. Irene lived a long and happy life working for many years as a bookkeeper for First Federal Savings and Loan Association. She had so much tragedy early in her life. Her twin brother died of pneumonia when he was just six years old, and her parents passed away just a short time later. Her father died after having a heart attack, and it was said that her mother then died of a broken heart. Luckily Irene's Aunt Helen took her in and raised her in a loving home. Irene never married nor had children of her own and outlived most of those who were close to her. She will always be remembered for her kindness and generosity. God rest her soul."
The preacher asked for everyone to bow their heads as he began to recite, the Lord's Prayer. Then the small coffin shaped box containing Irene's ashes was lowered into the ground. It was buried at the site next to the weathered marker that had already been there for more than three quarters of a century. The gravestones were engraved with the words:
Ivan Reed Irene Reed 1906-1912 1906-1988 Eternal Twin of Irene Twin sister of Ivan Born to be an Angel Eternal Twins forever
After the service Uncle Charlie and Aunt Tanya went over to talk with some of the other mourners. Carrie set out by herself to explore the area. While she was looking at the other gravesites she felt a chill, and the hair stood up on the back of her neck. She could feel someone standing close behind her, so she quickly turned around, but to her surprise nobody was there. Then she heard a hissing sound and turned back to see a black cat with huge yellow eyes sitting on a nearby tombstone. "Where did you come from?" she asked the cat. It growled at her and ran off into the thicket. Carrie then noticed a man and woman standing at the edge of the woods staring at her. She nodded to them and feeling uneasy, she quickly started walking back towards her aunt and uncle. Then she remembered that she wanted to see the house where her family had once lived. So, she began searching for the path in the woods that would lead her to the farmhouses. Carrie soon found the familiar trail and headed towards her former home. She could see it off into the distance and felt a tinge of excitement as memories filled her with nostalgia. When she got close enough to see it clearly, she was very disappointed. The home that her mother had once loved was now in such a poor state of repair and had taken on a deserted look. The beautiful trees were dead, and the once green grass was now brown and full of weeds. When she went to the front of the house she saw that it had pieces of yellow crime scene tape hanging in the withered bushes. It appeared that the house had been partially burned on one side. The structure was crumbling, with holes in the walls so big, she could see inside the moldy dark rooms. It made her sick to her stomach that her mother's beloved home had been so neglected. She was startled when she thought she saw a little girl peering out the front window. She had long light colored hair and was holding a baby doll. Carrie realized the child reminded her of herself, since she was about that same size when she was living there. Suddenly, that same black cat jumped out of the bushes and ran towards the house. Carrie watched it slip inside the front entry door, which had been partially left open. Curious, she followed the cat. Carrie could barely discern the small red handprints that were visible on the front window, when she stopped to read the notice that stated:
Do not enter! This home has been condemned By authority of Jefferson County
She ignored the notice and went inside anyway. She noticed a rancid ash smell that made her feel nauseated. She didn't see a little girl, but saw a ladder with a drop cloth over it, and realized that her imagination was just playing tricks on her. She felt sad as she looked around and tried to remember her life living in that home with her family. The memories of long ago began filling her heart with pain. It was agonizing for her to recall the past as she searched each room, stepping through the trash and debris that had been left behind. She stopped to gaze into the fireplace and thought about the times she and her siblings roasted marshmallows over the open flame, using a wire coat hanger. She remembered the Christmas her father decided to burn the scrap wrapping paper in the fireplace and had inadvertently thrown her paper dolls into the fire.
Carrie stepped into her old bedroom. It all came rushing back, and she was eight years old again. She thought of all the time she had spent in there playing with her dolls. It made her think of the twin dolls that she was given on her eighth birthday. She remembered pushing them around in her pink baby carriage. How happy she was living there with her family, thinking that her parents would always be in her life. She had always thought that her family would live in that house forever. She planned on buying the house next door and envisioned her whole family living there happily ever after. Things had changed so much from how she imagined it would be. Carrie felt overwhelmed with a sense of sadness, because she didn't have the ability to change their destinies. The future she had once dreamed about was now lost in the past.
She thought she heard a creaking sound, so she tiptoed quietly back towards the living room. She didn't see anything, and then suddenly the garage door slammed shut. Carrie let out a high-pitched shriek and scrambled back outside. She ran as fast as she could towards the path that led back to the cemetery.
Chapter TwoCarrie was running so fast she couldn't breathe. When she came to the barn she stopped to rest. She could smell the pungent odor of old moldy hay. There was a large black pentagram painted on one side of the stable. It gave her an eerie feeling. Then she noticed some melted black candles. So she decided that at one time, the barn must have been used by a coven of witches. She looked around and noticed that the red paint was peeling, some of the boards were missing, and the roof was falling off. The hay loft was leaning to one side and looked like it was about ready to fall down any minute. Seeing the barn again brought back happy memories of the day her parents lined up the children and walked them to the freshly painted red barn. Her mother was giddy with excitement when she opened the barn door and announced that they had bought a Shetland pony. She was a chestnut mare; they named her Ginger. Beth told them she had always wanted a horse when she was a child, but her parents told her they couldn't afford the five dollar per month boarding fee.
Carrie was always amazed at her mother's fondness of animals. She would take in a stray, and care for it like it was one of her very own babies. She actually seemed more excited about getting the kids a little horse, than they were about getting one. Ginger was so stubborn that she would rear, whenever you asked her to go forward. Carrie was very afraid of her, because she bit and kicked. One day at a 4-H class a boy tried to teach the pony a lesson. Every time she reared, the boy would hit her on top of her head with a stick. After that, Ginger would get a strange look in her eyes and whinny whenever anyone approached her. If anyone ever managed to get on her back she would put her head down and start kicking and bucking in circles, until the rider was thrown off. Her parents never knew why Ginger had gotten so mean. Carrie never had the courage to tell her momma that someone hit her adorable little pony on the head.
Suddenly the wind blew a loose shingle off the roof, startling her from her thoughts. She realized she had lost track of time and quickly headed to the path and returned to the cemetery. She saw her Uncle Charlie walking towards her. "There you are! I was just looking for you. I hope you didn't miss the memorial service," he said, with a worried expression on his face.
"I was there for the service and I listened to your speech. I was just looking at our old house over there," Carrie told him, with hesitation in her voice as she pointed in the home's direction.
"You shouldn't wander off without telling anyone where you're going. Well, let's get back to your Aunt Tanya, before she notices you've been missing," Uncle Charlie told her.
Carrie and Uncle Charlie made their way back to Aunt Tanya. When Carrie noticed her furrowed eyebrows and stubborn chin, she thought that she appeared to be upset. She knew that she had been out of her sight for awhile, so at first she thought that her aunt had been worried about her. She soon realized that her Aunt Tanya hadn't noticed her disappearance at all. She had been so involved in an in-depth conversation with a couple of impeccably dressed ladies that Carrie had never seen before. When Carrie walked up to them, they all turned their attention to her. Uncle Charlie spoke up and began introducing them, "Hey Carrie, these are some of my long lost relatives. This is my half sister Donna; notice we have the same shade of red hair. Mine is a little shorter," he smiled as he rubbed the top of his balding head. "And this is her mother Ruby. They live in Pineview, South Carolina. It's not too far from here, just right across the border from North Carolina."
Ruby smiled at Carrie as she pushed back a wisp of gray hair, which had fallen loose from her French twist.
Aunt Tanya spoke up by saying, "I met Donna when we were roommates in the hospital, back when I was giving birth to my twins."
"That was more than two years ago. We had no idea we were related at the time," said Donna. "I wish you had of brought your twins with you."
"I wish you had of brought your baby too," said Aunt Tanya.
"I almost did, but my daughter Mandy volunteered to stay home and baby-sit. She's only eleven years old, but very mature for her age."
Ruby's dark eyes widened in surprise; she gasped and then pointed at the platinum ring on Carrie's finger. "Where...'d you get that ring?" she stammered.
Carrie held it up to Ruby's face so she could get a better look. "It was a gift! I just got it for my sixteenth birthday. Sapphire is my birthstone."
"It looks just like Irene's antique ring. Your cousin was one of my best friends at Riverview Manor. I took the ring off her finger after she died, and I hid it in my pocket," Ruby admitted.
Excerpted from ETERNAL TWINS by Ruth Parker Riddle Copyright © 2012 by Ruth Parker Riddle. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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