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Hearts On Fire Books
Kelly Abell Books
Kelly Abell Books
Destiny Dove is the only survivor of a tragic car crash that killed her parents and baby brother. A teen uprooted from her home, she is forced to live with her eccentric grandmother whom Destiny has been taught her whole life to fear. She must start her life over living with an old woman who is not only a stranger to her, but just strange. All Destiny wants is to fit in with kids like her and begin to pull her life back together.
But Destiny soon discovers she is not like the other teens at all. She has developed the family gift of being able to see and talk to ghosts and her estranged grandmother will be the one person who can help her understand what the fates have dealt her…a haunted destiny. Being the town freak does not put Destiny high on the potential friends list, but Jake Turner sees something in her that the other teens from Blake High don’t. Destiny is actually able to put her unique talent to use and help Jake communicate with his recently deceased sister forming a bond between them that no one else can share or know about. In an extraordinary twist of events, Jake’s girlfriend Amy receives some furniture with some frightening ghostly spirits attached to it, and Jake turns to Destiny for help.
Now Destiny must struggle with a force she is unprepared to handle. When a party at Amy’s becomes a showdown between good and evil will Destiny have what it takes to save Amy and the others? Will the help of her grandmother, two resident ghosts and a surprise visitor be enough to rid the Morgan family of the evil possessing them and allow Destiny to finally gain the acceptance she so desperately wants? Or will the ancient evil destroy them all?
Frosthaven, Connecticut 1857
Enya awoke gasping and coughing. She opened her eyes but the smoke was so thick she couldn’t see. Each breath she took drew more acrid black smoke into her lungs as she fought to breathe. Confused she slipped from her bed and yelped as the hot floor burned the soles of her bare feet. Her house was on fire. She squinted and tried to see through the smoke but it burned her eyes causing them to fill with tears.
There was a pounding on her door. “Enya! Open the door.”
It was her father and she could tell by the slurring of his words that he was drunk, again. Oh Dear Lord, what had he done? Where was her mother and baby brother?
“I can’t get to the door, Father. The floor is too hot.” She coughed as the smoke grew thicker in the room. She had to get out but she didn’t know how. She had to get to her mother and brother. “Where are Mother and Shane?”
Her father pounded on the door again. “Let me in, you wench. I can’t get to you through a locked door.”
After a short pause Enya heard her father slam his body into the door trying to break in but the latch held firm. There was no way he could get in. Her thoughts came rushing at her all at once, fear chilling her in spite of the heat. She processed his words as she’d done so many times before. He did not say “get you out”, he said, “Get to you”. Her heart hammered in her chest. His folly with drink had finally come to demand its recompense. It didn’t matter that her father, the Honorable Judge Frost, was one of the most prominent men in town. When the drink took over he was as mean and low as any of the criminals he put behind bars.
She had to get to Shane and her mother. This thought moved Enya to action. . Even though the floor was hot and would burn her she had to get down below the smoke and get to the door. Bracing for the burning pain she dropped to the floor on her hands and knees and scrambled to the door. Her long wool nightgown protected her knees from the sticky varnish coating heating up on the floor boards, but not her hands. She left pieces of skin behind on her fast trek to the door. Without thinking, Enya reached up and grabbed the copper doorknob. The searing of her flesh ripped a scream from her parched throat drawing even more smoke into her lungs. Cradling her hand she sat down hard on the floor.
“I can’t open it,” she cried. “It’s too hot. Father, what have you done?” She coughed uncontrollably. She was unable to open the door from inside and her father couldn’t break it in. She didn’t know if she was relieved or terrified. What was worse? Letting her father in, or burning to death. If it weren’t for her mother and brother, Enya would jump out the window. Breaking a leg would be far better than being on fire and far better still than facing her father’s wrath. How many times had she done that and borne the bruises to show for it?
Her mother, a poor Irish immigrant maid, had felt honored to be chosen by the wealthy Judge as his second wife after his first wife died in an accident. Enya wondered how honored her mother felt now, after years of torture and abuse, at the hands of this horrible man.
Poor Shane, he was just a baby. Enya had to find them. Where were they? Were they already safe? How long could they last in this smoke and heat? As if summoned by her thoughts, an angry storm of the thick black smoke rolled under the door reminding Enya that she was out of time.
“Get Shane and Mother,” she shouted above the roar of the flames she could now hear on the other side of the door. “I’ll try to get out the window and jump down.”
“I’ve already taken care of them, open the damn door; I’m going to burn to death out here.” His voice was so angry that it struck fresh terror in Enya’s heart. What did he mean, taken care of them?
She glanced around her room looking for another way out. She spotted the little angels carved in the French Rococo mirror on her dresser. “Oh little angels, spare our souls,” Enya offered up in prayer.
She didn’t want to, but she saw no other choice. She was going to have to open the door. She could hardly breathe and if he could get her out of the house then she had to try. Wrapping her nightgown around her already burned hand she yanked back the bolt and turned the white hot knob. The door burst inward along with an enormous back draft of flames fed by the oxygen left in the room. Her father was engulfed in flames as he stumbled through the door.
Enya screamed at the site of the burning man and turned to run toward the window. He grabbed the edge of her nightgown preventing her escape. She looked over her shoulder, shocked. Her father was on fire yet not a single scream escaped his blistered lips. He pulled her close, singing her hair with the flames that licked around his clothes. She screamed again, kicking and fighting with all the strength she had left. With every scream she sucked in more acrid black smoke.
“Let me go!” She was burning. The hem of her gown was on fire burning her legs. She kicked and scratched but still he would not release her.
“Finally I have you, you Irish witch. You were always trouble.” Her father croaked out the menacing words. “The first mistake I made was marrying an Irish maid. I should have known she would produce Irish brats. I thought being half English would spare you, but no. Irish through and through you are and for years you’ve been spreading wicked lies about me all over town. Your witchery has everyone thinking I’m a drunkard, cruel and abusive.
I will never sit on another Judges bench again because of you. The second mistake I made was to leave you alive. I should have drowned you the day you were born. It’s alright now though; you are going to pay. With your mother and brother gone, you have no one left to save and you and I are going straight to hell.”
Enya shrieked again yanking and pulling to get away from the burning man. The scorching pain burned through to her very soul. He only held her tighter to him and dragged them both to the face the mirror. She was paralyzed with fear.
“Look at yourself, Enya. Are you proud now? You’ve killed your mother and brother and now you and I will spend eternity together forever in a fiery grave.”
“NO!” Enya turned her head from the horrifying site of her and her father standing in the middle of the room being swallowed by the crimson and orange blaze.
He yanked her hair and twisted her head back to the mirror. Her prayers to the angels wouldn’t be answered tonight. “You know your end is ironic. I bet you don’t even know what your name means in Gaelic. It means Fire! So watch, you witch,” he growled. “Watch while we burn.”
Enya did watch and what she saw in that mirror was more terrifying than the flames scorching her skin. Her father began to change. Boney protrusions began piercing the skin on his forehead and the hands that held her formed into black hooves with sharp talons at the back. The talons pierced the skin in her arms keeping her anchored to his morphing body. His face, oh dear sweet lord, his face formed into a twisted combination of goat and bull with jagged teeth. The last thing Enya experienced in her short innocent life was the sulfurous stench of his breath as he laughed his demonic laugh.
Arcadia, Florida 2008
Destiny woke screaming and fighting the covers. She clawed at the sheets like a wild animal fighting to free itself from a trap. Sweat poured from her brow as she sat panting in the middle of the narrow bed. Her elbow hurt and she cradled it with her other hand as she waited for the nightmare to fade. Where was she? The dark room didn’t feel familiar and she blinked trying to help her eyes adjust to the darkness.
The moonlight shining through the small window directly on her right gave her enough light to see the tiny room. Her bed was flush to the wall which explained the banged elbow. The nightstand connected to the bed was directly under the window. The pretty lavender and white floral print quilt was tangled around her legs. White sheets, damp with sweat, were in knots around her. Gradually her upper body relaxed and she took deep breaths focusing on the horizontally striped pattern on the cheap wallboard. She was in her grandmother’s mobile home.
“Destiny?” Her grandmother rushed into the tiny bedroom and swiftly sat on the edge of the bed. She reached for Destiny and pulled the teenager’s trembling body into her arms. “You were screaming. Was it the nightmare again, Darling? There. There.”
She felt the girl stiffen as her gnarled arthritic hands stroked Destiny’s back, rocking her back and forth. When would this girl ever take comfort from her?
“I just keep seeing it over and over, Grams. It’s like a horror movie that just keeps playing in my mind. I wake up fighting to get out of the seat belt and trying to get to Elijah and the car is upside down. He’s screaming and I can’t get to him. Mom and Dad aren’t even in the car. It’s just horrible.”
Tears rolled down the old lady’s wrinkled cheeks. Grief and pain tore at her heart as she and her granddaughter Destiny suffered together. Rose Donaldson lost her son-in-law, daughter, and baby grandson a little less than a week ago leaving Destiny an orphan.
Destiny was crying harder now. “I keep seeing Mom’s severed head lying in the street looking at me like she wants me to do something to help her and I can’t. I can’t get out of the seat belt and then her head starts screaming at me to get to Elijah and I can’t. Mom’s head keeps screaming, and…”
“Quiet now, Destiny. It was just a dream. Your mother’s head wasn’t really screaming at you, it just seems that way in the dream. Dreams can be so real, can’t they?” She lifted the sobbing teen’s face to her own. “There was nothing you could have done to save your mother, father, or Elijah. They barely got you out of the car before it caught fire. I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am that they did!”
Destiny blinked her tears away and gazed up at her grandmother with wet emerald eyes. “I just can’t believe they’re gone. I miss them so much.”
Rose pressed Destiny’s head to her breast and held on tighter. “I know you do, Sweetheart, so do I. We will just need to find a way to move through each day one step at a time. It’s not easy but if you let me I can help you through this. Do you think you can rest now?” Rose knew the girl would not go back to sleep. Destiny hadn’t slept a full night since the accident. When Rose picked her up at the hospital on that dreadful night she wasn’t sure Destiny would ever come to trust her. The girl wasn’t exactly hostile but she was wary. Rose and her daughter Teresa had parted ways many years ago over the way Rose chose to earn her living. Rose felt that Teresa was denying her own destiny and Teresa thought Rose was crazy. It had created a chasm between them that not even the birth of grandchildren could bridge.
The day after the accident was the first time Rose and Destiny saw each other. No telling what Teresa filled the child’s head with over the years, but Rose was sure it was not the picture of a rosy cheeked grandmother sitting in her rocker with her knitting. The portrait Teresa painted of her own mother was probably closer to the Wicked Witch in the Wizard of Oz. Rose only prayed she could undo the damage in Destiny’s mind.
Destiny nodded and pushed herself from her grandmother’s arms. She lay back down on the small bed as Rose straightened the sheets and blankets. She stood and looked down at the lovely girl. “You look so much like my Teresa, raven hair and eyes the color of the ocean. We may not have agreed on many things, but I’m glad she left such a wonderful piece of her behind. You get some rest now.” Smiling with tears in her faded blue eyes she backed out of the room and softly closed the door behind her.
Destiny rolled onto her side and tucked her pillow under her head. Her elbow still ached from where she slammed it into the wall during her nightmare. The single wide trailer’s second bedroom was not much bigger than a broom closet, and Destiny was constantly bumping various body parts into the furniture. She couldn’t think of it as her room yet. It was a far cry from what she was used to and the adjustment was just one more thing to have to cope with.
Here she was stuck with the woman that her mother referred to as the old crone, the biddy, the bat, and many other unflattering names of the witch vernacular. Destiny never really understood the feud between her mother and grandmother, but it must have been serious for her mother to have stayed away for over 15 years. Grams, doesn’t seem all that bad, Destiny thought. Oh sure, she was a little strange, okay - really strange, and she couldn’t think of one of her friends whose grandmother was the town palm reader and ran The Mystic Cat, a mystic gift shop and book store, but she felt the old woman meant well. She certainly had smothered her with affection since she got here. She didn’t want to seem ungrateful for her grandmother’s charity but nothing was the same anymore.
It happened suddenly on a rainy afternoon in south Florida. Her parents were driving her and her little brother Elijah to Orlando for a trip to Disney World. They were all excited, singing songs in the car, laughing. Elijah was not old enough to know the words to the songs but he would sing anyway in his precious baby voice.
The rain came down in sheets drowning away all visibility on Interstate 75 and the slapping of the windshield wipers was the last sound Destiny remembered hearing before her mother’s sweet singing voice turned into a scream. The car careened out of control and flipped over three times. Destiny rubbed her hand across the purple bruise on her chest she received while hanging upside down from the seat belt. It was only a few minutes but it felt like hours as she hung there listening to her baby brother screaming from his suspended car seat.
The oily smell of smoke mixed with rain penetrated her rattled senses and she knew she needed to get to Elijah. She struggled to reach the seat belt buckle and when she pressed the button she dropped to the roof of the van with a thump. She still had the bruises on her palms and knees from that as well. The latch on Elijah’s car seat was jammed and terror sliced through her because she couldn’t free him. She had screamed and tugged at the belt until she was exhausted but the latch wouldn’t budge. The buckle was crushed flat. She was still struggling with it when the police officer pulled her from the car. She screamed, clawing the air for him when the gas tank exploded.
Destiny curled tighter into a ball as the vision of her mother’s severed head lying in the road about six feet away pierced her memory. She couldn’t see the rest of her mother’s body and she didn’t know where her father was. When the rescue workers got there they bundled her up in a blanket and sat her in the ambulance while they looked for her parents. The police officer who’d pulled her from the car eventually returned to the ambulance and told her they were thrown from the car when it rolled. Destiny flinched remembering the look of pity and sympathy on that officer’s face.
Except for her grandmother Destiny was all alone now. Two weeks after the accident she moved into her grandmother’s trailer home in Arcadia, Florida, a small community east of Sarasota. The trailer sat on the back of a large property belonging to the local town doctor, Jeff Morgan. The Morgan’s owned the mansion and the farm along with several horses on the property. These weren’t the rolling hills and bright green grass of a Kentucky horse farm, but this place had its own beauty. The mansion was built in the Georgian style of the plantations of South Carolina. It didn’t have the same modern look of the new construction Destiny was used to in Florida. The wide porch and columns made her think of the movie Gone with the Wind.
The pastures went on and on into the horizon and the soft sandy soil would fly up behind the horses’ hooves as they pranced and played, chasing each other across the fields. Wild palms stood tall and dotted the landscape along with their smaller scrubby partners. The grass was parched in the pastureland because of the dry spring, but sprinklers kept the lawn around the mansion bright green. It set a soft green stage for the stark white house.
Destiny wondered why her grandmother wanted to live in a trailer home that sat like a boil on the smooth skin of such a wonderful property instead of in one of the many senior citizen parks that she could have chosen. It seemed to her that it would be less embarrassing. This was one of the many things Destiny did not understand about her new life with her grandmother. All she knew was she’d lost everything that was important to her. She squeezed her eyes shut and clutched the pillow closer.
She was going to have to start over in this hick town that was so different from where she’d lived in Naples. She was starting a new school in a few months and would have to make new friends. Her stomach clinched at the thought of it. She didn’t make new friends easily. Destiny knew she wouldn’t fit in here. She was used to the finer things in life and had enjoyed going to the high end malls and Starbucks with her friends. She hadn’t even been able to bring all of her clothes with her because this bedroom just wasn’t big enough to hold them all. The nearest mall to this dump of a town was at least an hour away.
Running her fingers through her layered black hair Destiny worried that she wouldn’t find anyone around here who knew how to cut it. They didn’t even sell the expensive brand of make-up she used in the local Walgreens. Everything that she liked to do was foreign to these kids. How could they enjoy the same things? Most of these kids spent their time riding horses or tipping cows, or whatever it is you do in a farm community. She missed her friends, her school, and her old house. This sucked.
Destiny buried her face in her pillow and cried until dawn.