Something dark and dangerous had long shadowed Skye Dearborn’s life. She had seen the fear of it in her mother’s eyes. It was there, locked in her memories of blood spilling across a gleaming floor. In the sound of her own screams. And in the terror she’d felt the night her mother disappeared.
Then fortune smiled on Skye. With help she was able to put the horror behind her and look to the future.
But now that same fortune is leading her into the arms of dangerand back into the nightmare of her past. For the evil that has haunted her dreams has a human forma man obsessed with Skye since her birth. A man who alone knows who Skye Dearborn really is.
And now that he has found her, he will do anything to keep her.
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About the Author
No matter how innocent the story being relayed to me is, I can twist it into something pretty damn frightening. I've learned the real trick is not sharing these versions with those relaying the story. It tends to make people avoid me.” ~ Erica Spindler
A New York Times and International bestselling author, Erica Spindler's skill for crafting engrossing plots and compelling characters has earned both critical praise and legions of fans. Published in 25 countries, her stories have been lauded as “thrill-packed page turners, white- knuckle rides and edge-of-your-seat whodunits.”
Raised in Rockford, Illinois, Erica had planned on being an artist, earning a BFA from Delta State University and an MFA from the University of New Orleans in the visual arts. In June of 1982, in bed with a cold, she picked up a romance novel for relief from daytime television. She was immediately hooked, and soon decided to try to write one herself. She leaped from romance to suspense in 1996 with her novel Forbidden Fruit, and found her true calling.
Her novel Bone Cold won the prestigious Daphne du Maurier Award for excellence. A Romance Writers of America Honor Roll member, she received a Kiss of Death Award for her novels Forbidden Fruit and Dead Run and was a three-time RITA® Award finalist. Publishers Weekly awarded the audio version of her novel Shocking Pink a Listen Up Award, naming it one of the best audio mystery books of 1998.
Erica lives just outside New Orleans, Louisiana, with her husband and two sons and is busy at work on her next thriller.
Read an Excerpt
By Erica Spindler
MIRACopyright © 2005 Erica Spindler
All right reserved.
Chicago, Illinois, 1971
Sunlight spilled through the nursery's floor-to-ceiling stained-glass window, painting the floor the color of rubies, emeralds and sapphires. Installed in 1909 to herald the first Monarch baby to occupy the Astor Street mansion, the window depicted a hovering angel, golden wings spread, her expression beatific as she guarded the children below.
Since that first Monarch baby, the angel had protected sad few children. One tragedy after another had befallen this family, a family desperate for daughters, one seemingly doomed to watch bitterly as other families grew and multiplied.
Two weeks ago that had changed. Two weeks ago Grace Elizabeth Monarch had been born and come home, to this nursery and its waiting angel, to this desperate family. She had changed everyone's life forever.
But no one's more than her mother's.
Madeline Monarch slipped into the nursery and crossed to the cradle and her sleeping daughter. She gazed down at her, love and a sense of wonder welling inside her. She reached out and stroked her baby's velvety cheek, and the infant stirred and turned her head toward Madeline's finger, sucking in her sleep, looking for a nipple.
A lump formed in Madeline's throat. She was so beautiful, so incredibly...perfect. She still couldn't quite believe Grace was hers. Madeline bent her head close to her daughter's and breathed in her baby-soft scent. It filled her head, and she squeezed her eyes shut, nearly drowning in its sweetness.
What had she done to deserve her? Madeline wondered. Why had she been singled out for such a stroke of good fortune? Even Grace's birth had been like a miracle. She had rocketed into the world, nearly painlessly and at a speed that had taken even Madeline's veteran obstetrician by surprise. Madeline's water had broken and less than an hour later there had been Grace, howling and red-faced but unbelievably, incredibly perfect.
Madeline shook her head slightly, unable to fully trust her sudden luck. But how could she? She had never done anything well, or easily, before. No, Madeline was one of those people destined to make mistakes, to choose poorly and to be hurt time and again.
In truth, the moment before the nurse laid Grace in her arms, Madeline hadn't believed that anything in her life would ever be easy, or painless, or without flaw. She hadn't believed that she was worthy of true love, of real devotion; she had thought she would go through life reaching for that elusive emotion but always coming back empty-handed.
The next moment had changed all that. Grace had changed it. Madeline loved her daughter almost more than she could bear. And Grace loved her back, the same way. Unconditionally. Completely.
Madeline threaded her fingers through her daughter's silky dark hair. Grace needed her. Grace loved her. Madeline found that truth to be heady and shattering, but absolutely, positively the best feeling in the whole world. She would do anything, battle anyone or any evil, to protect her daughter.
If necessary, she would give her own life.
Madeline heard a sound at the nursery door and turned. Her six-year-old stepson, Griffen, stood there, his gaze fixed intently on the cradle, his expression strange, at once fascinated and wary, drawn and repelled. She breathed deeply though her nose, fighting back a feeling of resentment at his intrusion. Fighting back the distaste that left her longing for a drink of clean, sweet water.
She scolded herself for both her thoughts and her reaction to him. Griffen needed her, too. She had to remember that.
Yet even as the thought ran through her head, she acknowledged that something about her husband's son unsettled her, something about him affected her like an icy hand to her back; it had from the first.
It wasn't his appearance or demeanor. He was an uncommonly beautiful child. Bright, polite, at times even sweet. He didn't seem to affect anyone else the way he did her. So why, when she looked into his eyes, couldn't she suppress a shudder?
Madeline knew why. Because she was different; because she saw in a way others didn't. All her life she had been troubled by uncannily accurate "feelings" and "visions" -- about people, about events to come and about ones past. For as long as she could remember, she had been embarrassed by her ability. She had learned to manage the visions by ignoring them. Over time they had become less frequent and less vivid.
No longer. Like everything else in her life, pregnancy and motherhood had changed that. Grace had changed it. Now her sixth sense, if that was even what she should call it, neither rested nor would be ignored, as if the hormones raging through her body had kicked on a switch she didn't know how to turn off.
And her extra sense warned her that there was something wrong with Griffen Monarch. Something terribly wrong.
Madeline chastised herself. Maybe she was the one with the problem as her husband and Adam Monarch, her fatherin-law, insisted; maybe all those hormones were affecting her judgment, her sense of reality and balance.
She swept her gaze over Griffen, guilt pinching at her. His own mother was dead three years now, the victim of an "accidental" overdose of sleeping pills and booze. Madeline knew it couldn't have been easy for him, growing up with a grandfather obsessed with having a female heir, a grandmother driven to the point of near madness by seven late-term miscarriages and a father who hadn't the understanding or the patience for the needs of a young child. Then, as if those things hadn't been enough, she had been introduced into the mix.
And now he had a sibling to deal with, a sibling who had stolen whatever attention and affection this austere household had to offer.
Poor child, Madeline thought, mustering resolve if not warmth. She would try harder. She would be a good stepmother to the boy. She would learn to care for him.
Madeline smiled and motioned him into the room. "Come in, Griffen. But quietly. Grace is sleeping."
He nodded, and without a word to her, tiptoed into the room. He crossed to stand beside her and gazed silently at his half sister.
Madeline studied him a moment, then returned her gaze to Grace. In the past eighteen months, Madeline had come to understand just how deeply troubled a family she had married into. In fact, she had begun to fear that marrying Pierce Monarch had been another of her mistakes. He was not the man she had thought him to be -- he was withdrawn, inflexible and, she had discovered, mean-spirited. So meanspirited that she had wondered how she could not have seen it before.
Madeline frowned. She wasn't being truthful with herself. She knew why she hadn't seen it. She had been blinded by the Monarch name. By their wealth, their status in Chicago. She had been awed by Monarch Design and Retail, the jewelry-design firm started in 1887 by Anna and Marcus Monarch with the money they had inherited from their parents. Within a matter of only a few years, the brother and sister team had created a firm whose works rivaled Tiffany's in beauty, quality and originality.
Excerpted from Fortune by Erica Spindler Copyright © 2005 by Erica Spindler.
Excerpted by permission.
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