A brand new Coming of age paranormal romance......
Here is a little sneaky peek...
“Angus!!” screamed the voice.
She woke up startled, the voice once more cried out. She slowly got out of bed, crept out of her door and down the hall towards her Grandmothers room.
“Angus.” It wasn't a scream any more, sounded more like a cry. She opened the door and a figure was rocking in the darkness. She switched the light on and there her Grandmother stood rocking from side to side in front of the window.
“Angus?” She asked, turning round to look at Tammy; her eyes lost and the only expression on her fragile face was confusion.
Tammy felt a pang of sadness for her Grandmother, she was now just a shell of the woman she once was. It seemed in the last few months her dementia had gotten worse; to the point Tammy didn't recognize the woman before her. Tammy walked over to her Grandmother and guided her back to bed.
“Where's Angus?” Her voice full of distress.
“I don't know, Gran” Tammy replied, beginning to tuck her Grandmother into bed as if she was a young child. “Who's Angus?” She perched on the end of the bed and moved a strand of brown hair from her Grandmothers forehead. It was normal for her Grandmother to ask of the where a bouts of people. Normally it was her Grandfather, who had died a few years back. Or she would ask for her baby, which of course her mother was no longer a baby. But Angus? She had never heard of such a person.
She watched as her Gran's eyes widen. “It's beginning,” she growled. “It's awakening.... Just like Angus did....”
Tammy leaned froward and gave her Gran a kiss on the forehead. She didn't know what any of that meant. “Get some sleep” she smiled as she slowly got up and left the room. Tammy walked back into her room and climbed into bed. Her Grandmother was getting worse and there was nothing she could do to stop anything. Her family couldn't even afford any treatment or care. Tammy hated being poor, she couldn't even afford college, so there was no chance she would gain qualifications to make money.
Her father had been made redundant when they closed the steel factory a few months ago. They were all trying to survive on Tammy's and her mothers earnings. Tammy worked in the only book store in Ashville. Even though it didn't pay very much she got to spend her days lost in books. Her mother worked as a cleaner working very long hours. Her father now remained mainly at home to take care of her Grandmother.
Life was dull, glum and lonely. Tammy did have a few friends, but they all seemed too busy to even bother with her. Like she cared , she wasn't ready to get married like Rose or Jenna. In fact, she wasn't really a typical twenty-one year old. Men, in her opinion , were trouble and too time consuming. She would take a dull,glum and lonely life over being controlled by a man.
Tammy closed her eyes, tomorrow she would ask her mother who Angus was? That way when her Grandmother asked for him again, she would be able to give a more detailed answer. Finally, she drifted off into a deep sleep.
Morning seemed to come round too quickly for Tammy's liking. She made her way down to the kitchen and began to prepare breakfast. Her mother was sat at the table staring at a mug of coffee. She looked tired and defeated, but in spite of everything she was strong willed and wouldn't allow anything to knock her down. Tammy figured that's where she had got it from.
She placed two slices of bread into the toaster, leaning on the counter she turned to her Mum. “Gran was talking again last night” her words broke her mother's concentration.
“Yeah,” she gave a smile but it never met her eyes. Tammy studied the black circles which seemed to be getting darker each day. “What did she say?”
“Calling out for Angus” Tammy folded her arms. “Do you know who this Angus is?”
Even her own mother looked confused. “No,” she sighed. “I've never heard of her speak of him before.”
“She also said it's beginning, It's awakening.... Just like Angus did....”
“That's strange” she shrugged her shoulders and stood up from the table. “I have no idea what she talks about any more.” She bowed her head and quickly restored herself. “Right, no rest for the wicked. I'll see you tonight” she grabbed her bag and was out of the door.
The toast popped up from the toaster and made Tammy jump. Her Grandmothers words had actually intrigued her. To top it all her mother didn't know what any of that meant. Maybe after work she would sit down with her Grandmother and find out.
The shop was quiet—as always. Tammy was sitting on the sofa next to the shop window reading a book. She was in complete charge this afternoon as her boss Mrs Waters had needed to go out of town till tomorrow.
Tammy loved reading, she loved all the Bronte classics. However, she loved re-reading Emma and Little Women. It was a shame she would never get to visit where these masterpieces had been written.
It sucked being poor, Tammy had a funny feeling she would never actually leave Ashville. She would end up like her mother and one day, maybe like her Grandmother. This wasn't a life. She felt she was just excising, maybe that's why she loved to get lost in her books.
The shop door bell rang and Tammy jumped. Her eyes looked over at the man standing in the doorway. His tall lean frame gracefully walking in, her eyes looked up to his face. He was beautiful, breath taking beautiful; His strong jaw, sculptured cheek bones and nose. Pink full lips and a mass of jet black hair.
Tammy slowly got up off the sofa. “Can I help you?” She managed to say, her eyes still fixated on the perfect stranger.
He looked over at her. “No” he snorted. “Wrong store!” With that he turned on his heel and matched out of the bookshop. Tammy quickly ran to the door to watch the stranger walk down the street. Who was he? He was new that she was sure of. Tammy doubted very much she would see him again. He was just passing through, like many others did.
The stranger had now vanished and her eyes turned to the house which sat up on the hills looking down on the town square of Ashville. The people who lived there were like the royal family of Ashville. But yet, no one knew exactly who they were. They didn't mix with anyone, they just handed out donations to local causes.
The house intrigued her, she wondered why they would hide away from everyone. There had to be a secret and Tammy would love to find it out. She shook her head and stepped back into book shop, back over to the sofa and carried on reading her book.
That night she got in from work and headed straight to her Gran's room. Her Gran was sat in her chair staring out of her window. She had a perfect view of Ashville's countryside.
“Hey, Gran” Tammy smiled, crouching down on the floor next to her Gran's feet. “I was just wondering who Angus is?”
Her Gran's head whipped round in Tammy's direction. “Angus?” She whispered, her eyes went wild. “They are back!” She stood up and glared at Tammy. “Their boy has awoken with age.”
Tammy stood up and grabbed hold of her Grandmother's hand. “What?” She laughed, none of this made any sense. “Gran, what are you trying to say?”
“Angus...He died” she started bursting out into tears. “He died.”
Tammy felt really bad now for even asking anything. She pulled her Grandmother into her and hugged her hard. Tammy vowed she would never ask her Grandmother about this Angus any more. The whole thing had filled her inquisitive mind. What was all this awakening of age? Although, there was a chance this was all in her Gran's imagination.
Tammy made her way downstairs after making sure her Grandmother had calmed down. Her father was in the kitchen sorting out dinner. Obviously, her mother was working late again.
“Something came for you today” her Dad pointed to an envelope sitting on the side.
“Really?” Tammy said surprised as no one ever wrote to her. She picked up the ivory envelope and began to study it. The hand writing was neat.. Miss T. Miller.
Tammy stuffed the envelope into her jeans back pocket and decided she would read it later. The sun was still out, so she decided to grab a blanket, sit outside and do some more reading before dinner.
The sun beamed down on her pale skin and she tried to get lost in her book. The envelope felt like it was burning in her pocket and she was now itching to read what was inside. She placed her book down and retrieved the ivory envelope, she quickly tore it open and pulled out the white card.
It was an invitation. An invitation to the Ashville manor--- the house on the hills. She jumped up and ran inside the house.
“Dad!” She yelled, she waved the the card in the air. Her Mother had now returned from work and was sitting at her favourite place at the table. “Mum, look!” She slammed the card down in front of her Mother. “They have invited me to their home?”
“Who?” Her Mother began to read the card.
“Why would strangers invite me to their home? No one ever sees them.” She thought out loud.
“Like I said,” a ghostly voice appeared in the kitchen, Tammy's eyes fell on her Grandmother standing in the doorway. “The boy has awoken of age....”
According to her Grandmother awakening of age occurred to boys when they reached twenty-one. After that she didn't say any more. So, Tammy had been invited to 21st birthday party for a complete stranger that didn't even mix with anyone.
She was curious that was sure, but more curious to see who lived in the house and what it looked like inside. Her mother had obviously told her to dismiss anything her Grandmother had told her. There was no way Tammy was going to turn down the invitation, this was the first excitement she'd had in her whole life. How was she going to get through the next few days? Saturday felt like a long time to wait.
Her boss Mrs Waters had been shocked by the invitation. She had lived in Ashville for over 50 years and not once had she seen something like this. This only in fuelled Tammy more.. She wondered who else had been invited and wondered what this boy looked liked. If he looked an inch like the perfect stranger, she would be in her element.
Thankfully, the tiny amount of money she'd managed to save paid for a new dress. She had thought about buying a card and present, but had no idea what to get. So, she had decided she would explain this at the party. Surely no one would take offence. What do you buy someone you have never met?
This whole thing is a waste of time, he thought as he stared out of the window. He watched as the cars pulled up and girls wearing their finest dresses entered his home. All of them smiling and itching to take a look at the strangers who lived here. If only they knew the real reason behind their spontaneous invites. All of them would go screaming for the hills.
He turned to leave the room, it was time to host his gathering. He made his way to the banquet hall, his parents had gone over the top. Of course, it had been decades since one of them had to do this degrading event. All their hopes and dreams laid at his feet, like he would be able to change centuries of hell. His own father couldn't do it and his Uncle had died trying. There was no ending to this hell, why couldn't they see it?
He entered the banquet hall, the girls were all in awe of the antique furniture and the grand paintings. The smell of them burned his nose and he could feel himself flinch. This was painful – just like his father had described. At the end of the day, this was how his father had met his mother. So, it couldn't all be bad.
He grabbed a glass of wine off a waiter and downed it. He started to scan the room-- who's first? He thought. His eyes moving from one girl to the other. None of them seemed interesting to him.
His eyes fell on a dainty girl dressed in a blue dress, her brown hair in a loose ponytail. He had seen her somewhere before. Ah, yes, the book shop. He started to study her, her pale skin was flawless and she was staring at a portrait of his Uncle. Her dress didn't look very expensive and her shoes were falling apart. Poor thing! He would leave her for last.
“Well,” his father placed a hand on his shoulder. “Anyone?”
“Please!” He snarled. “You make this sound like an easy thing to do. It's taking all my strength to not drain the room.”
His fathers eyes narrowed. “Keep your voice down” he hissed. “None of them should know our secret until one has been chosen.” He rubbed his brow in frustration. “Do you not remember what happened to your uncle? One slip up and we will all be danger!”
“Yes!” he hissed back. “I have heard the story a million times.”
“Good,” his father now patted his back. “Do what you have to do... Let's get this over with quickly. Your mother is relying on you, Dante. Don't let her down!”
He handed his father the empty wine glass. “Fine” he snapped abruptly. “I'll do this quickly” he gave a sly grin and matched over to the bookshop girl. As he passed a few girls would stop mid- sentence and stare at him. Dumb girls! He thought, he was designed to do that. He hated being watched and made to feel like nothing. The girl was still looking at the painting, surely by now there was nothing more to look at. He gave a cough and the girl turned to face him, her tiny face taking him in; just like she had done the last time they had met. It had made him feel uncomfortable then too.
He held out his hand, “hello” he smiled. “I am Dante Renaldo,” her mouth opened but no words emerged. “I believe we have met before.. You are?”
“Tammy” she mumbled, her eyes never moving from him. “Yes, we have met before in the shop I work in.”
“I gathered that” he looked round the room. The party was over, he'd had enough now. His eyes looked back to Tammy. “Well, we don't have to get to know each other now.” A little smile hit his lips. “We have plenty of time for that.” He added, backing away slightly from her. Her eyes were wide with wonder. “Enjoy!” He turned on his heel and matched back to his Father. “Her” he grunted.
A massive smile appeared on his Dad's face. “Good,” he sounded pleased. “I'll deal with it.”
Before Dante disappeared from the room, he looked back over his shoulder and at Tammy. Yes, she will do. She wasn't bad looking herself and her smell didn't burn his nose-- that was exactly what he was looking for!
Tammy walked home from the party, well if you could it a party. Tammy stopped outside her run down little house, a car she'd never seen before was parked outside. She pulled her keys out of her bag and walked up the steps to her front door and let herself in. A few voices were coming from the living room and she was pretty sure she could hear her mother crying.
Sat down next to the stairs were a couple of tired looking suitcase. Was someone leaving or someone staying?
Tammy made her way into the living room, her mother sat on the sofa in floods of tears, her father by her side trying to give her some comfort.
Tammy could feel someone standing behind her. She slowly turned round, a tall well built man with the exact same features as Dante with thick black hair was smiling at her.
“Mr and Mrs Miller” his voice low and slightly husky. “I'll be waiting in my car.” He slowly made his way out of the room.
Both her parents eyes were on her now. Tammy was getting the feeling she wasn't about to like what she was told. “Who was he?”
Her father stood up. “Look, we had no idea this was going to happen.” He was speaking very fast and Tammy began to feel very uneasy. “He has come here to ask for your hand in marriage.”
Tammy burst out laughing. “What? Him? Ha, I do not think so.” This was a joke and a very good one. Tammy shook her head, she was dying to get out of this dress. “I'm going to my room.”
“Tammy,” it was now her mother that spoke. “Not him... His son! And your father agreed. You leave tonight to go and stay in Ashville manor.”
Tammy froze on the spot, the suit cases! Her mother in flood of tears! “No!” she cried, her anger targeted at her father. “You don't have the right to do this!” Her father hung his head down in shame. “Who does this? You can't just walk into someone's home and make these demands.”
“He's paid us!” Her father yelled.
Tammy felt like someone had punched her in the chest. Her body physically shaking and her mind racing with fear.
Her father had sold her to strangers? For all she knew they could be cold killers. Her father had put money over his own flesh and blood.
They were poor, she knew that, but this was going a little too extreme.
“The money will help with Gran” her mother continued. “We will be able to get her treatment and care.” Tammy's jaw dropped in shock, that was the reason. Even her own Gran wouldn't allow this. This was wrong on so many levels. Her mothers tears had now dried up and they were both waiting for Tammy's reaction.
“Tammy,” her dad said. “Sir Renaldo has promised us he will look after you and keep you safe.” Tammy didn't reply, right now she hated her father. “I'll take your things to the car.”
The minute he left the room. Tammy raced over to her mother, falling on to her knees. “Please, please, please” she begged, clutching on to her mothers hands. “You can't let this happen.. Stop it please!”
Her mother's hand reached out and touched Tammy on the face. “Don't you see” she gave a slight smiled. “This is your chance.”
“My chance of what? Death? Rape?” She spat. “We don't know anything about these people. Normal people don't pay people to marry their children. You have to do something” she demanded.
“Tammy, sweetie... These people are rich. You'll be marrying into money. So, you never love this boy, but at least you won't have to endure this life any more. Anything is better than this.”
Tammy narrowed her eyes, had those words actually come from her own mothers mouth? She wanted her gone too. Why was everything about money? Her life wasn't that bad, not bad enough that she had to agree to this weird occurrence.
“Go and do this for me, please” it was a plea. Her mother was begging her to go and do this. Tammy looked into her mother eyes, there was no fear in her face. Sadness, yes, but she didn't look scared.
Tammy gave her mother a hug, slowly rose to her feet and made her way out of the house. She couldn't believe she was doing this. She hadn't even said goodbye to her Gran. She didn't want to spend another minute in a house where she didn't belong. This was nothing to do with her parents--she hated them. This was for her Grandmother, if her doing this made her Gran's last days of life easier, then it was worth it. As she got into the back of the car she made a conscience decision never to come back to this house again and she would never speak another word to her parents. As from now, they were both dead to her!
“Here is your room” Sir Renaldo said as he opened the door for Tammy. Tammy stepped inside, she didn't care to take in the room. She didn't want to be here, now she had no choice after the decision she'd made. She walked over to the bed and sat down. She watched as Sir Renaldo put down the cases.
“It's okay, Dad” said a voice. “I'll take it from here.”
Tammy looked up and Dante had now appeared in the room. So, here was her husband to be. Tammy glared at what was once her perfect stranger. Had his party been a hoax? Was that the only way he was able to meet women. What had happened to courting? Tammy took her eyes off him and stared down at the floor. This was wrong...
“Tammy,” Dante's voice was smooth and crisp. Any other girl would of probably got chills from it. Tammy cringed at the thought of him being anywhere near her. “I am glad you agreed to this.”
“What is this about?” Tammy snapped.
“It's been a long day” Dante said, ignoring Tammy's question. “Maybe you should sleep.”
Tammy looked up and narrowed her eyes. He was already trying to control her, which made Tammy cross. This was exactly why she had tried to avoid marriage. “Tell me” she ordered. “What is this all about?”
Their eyes locked, he took in a deep breath and suddenly Tammy felt funny, as if something was being pulled away from her. Her eyes began to get heavy and her body felt drained. She tried to keep her eyes open but failed. She felt hands lay her down on the bed.
“See, I said you were tired” chuckled a cold voice. “I'll explain in the morning.”
The darkness set in and Tammy was fast asleep.
He heard her feet stomp down the wooden staircase. She appeared in the doorway of the kitchen, still dressed in the blue dress from yesterday.
“Morning,” he mumbled sitting at the breakfast table. “My mother went to the trouble of making you breakfast” he waved his hand over the table. As per usual, his mother had gone over the top. She didn't speak, just glared at him. He felt his lips twitch, she was not going to be easy to deal with. “Come! Eat!” Tammy slowly walked over to the table, she sat down and folded her arms. Her eyes still burning into him. “Sleep well?” He laughed at his private joke.
“Better than I wanted too” she quickly replied. In fact, she had no idea what had happened last night. She didn't even remember laying down and closing her eyes. She was just putting it down to trauma. She looked over the table at all the food, there was enough here to feed her family for at least a month. These people liked to flash their money about. Her eyes looked back at Dante, his eyes still staring. She wondered what he was thinking about.
“You not going to eat?” He pushed a box of cereal in her direction.
He tilted his head to the side and gave a amused smile. Like he knew something she didn't and she was dying to know. “I have already eaten” he smirked.
Tammy rolled her eyes and poured some cereal into a bowl. “Where are your parents?” She asked as she poured in the milk. His staring was beginning to make her feel uneasy, there was something not right with him. His eyes were a much brighter shade of brown than they were yesterday. He didn't look as dark and dangerous as he did at their first encounter. Tammy shook her head and dismissed the idea. She was starting to sound like a crazy person, no one's eyes changed colour. She started to eat her cereal.
“They have gone away for five days” Tammy stopped eating and looked at him shocked. “It's tradition” he added.
“Tradition?” Tammy replied, “None of this is tradition. What happened to courtship, stolen kisses and the getting down on one knee.” She focused back on her cereal.
“An old romantic” Dante laughed. “Can't you just be grateful that my family have taken you away from your miserable life.”
“My life was not miserable... Hard, maybe... But not miserable!”
He rested his elbows on the table and scowled at the ungrateful girl. “Can't you see this as a win-win situation” his voice low. She was starting to bug him and he had no idea how he was going to make her warm to him. Five days didn't seem enough time.
Tammy raised an eyebrow and swallowed what was in her mouth. “Why do I get the feeling this is something more than you gaining a wife.” Something chilled inside her, she couldn't explain what that feeling was.
“You're quick,” he smiled, that breath taking smile. Tammy felt herself lower in her chair, now he had her intrigued. He quickly jumped up and ran a hand through his black hair. “I'm going for a swim... I expect you to join me.” Tammy just stared at him dumb struck. “You may go and change” he hissed. “My mother left a few things in your bathroom.”
Tammy dropped her spoon in her unfinished breakfast. She had lost her appetite anyway, she rose up and left the kitchen. She ran upstairs and into room she was staying. She closed the door and rested up against it. Her heart racing and her breathing erratic. What was going on? With her and this whole weird situation.
She entered the bathroom connected to the room, sitting on the black marble counter was a black swimming suit.
The bathroom was bigger than her bedroom at home, Tammy felt a pang of sadness. She could no longer call it home, after all her father had sold her to the one who was making her heart race and dragging her into some crazy world.
Tammy liked the pure white rolled down bath, she could use that as a swimming pool, it was massive. She picked up the swimming suit and cringed, she had been swimming but it had been a while. Also, she couldn't just slip it on and be done. She had a lot of prep work to do.
She caught her reflection in the large mirror. Now she was here there was no point dwelling on what had happened. There was a dark part of her fascinated with the mystery with what was going on.
A little smile appeared on her pale little face. She could have her own fun, have her own game plan, find out all of Dante's dark secrets.
Even if they did get married, she was never going to love him. He was very attractive and there was something different about him. Something that called out to her, maybe she should take his words for it-- Why couldn't she see it as a win-win situation?
Although, she would be winning wealth.. What was Dante getting out of this?Tammy stopped her thoughts in their tracks, she had to get ready for her swim and get this game rolling.
What the hell is she doing? Dante thought to himself as he sat on the pool's edge. Surely changing into a swimming suit didn't take this long. She had to be taught not to keep him waiting. He could feel his teeth grit in anger. She hadn't even thanked his mother for the breakfast she had prepared. She was ungrateful and asked too many questions. He would have to teach her not to speak unless she was spoken too.
“What took you so long?” He growled when she finally did grace him with her presence. The swimming suit fitted her slender body perfectly. Her brown hair pulled back in a ponytail, it was her eyes that caught his attention the most. They were far too big for her tiny doll featured face. In fact, everything about her reminded him of a little pale doll.
Tammy shrugged and sat down next to him at the pool's edge. “Sometimes a girl just needs time.”
Dante let out a groan of annoyance. “Time is something we do not have. We only have five days to get to know each other.” His eyes turned to look at hers. “Maybe you should remember that!”
Tammy gave a little chuckle and Dante's expression hardened. “Five days? You can't get to know someone in five days!”
“Do not laugh at my family's traditions. After all, no one forced you to my house yesterday” he hissed. “You came just like all the others did-- to find out who the freaks were!”
Tammy's jaw opened in shock. Okay, she did come to see who lived here but she hadn't thought of them as freaks. She shook her head and folded her arms. Dante rolled his eyes, everything about her screamed child.
“I actually came because I thought I was invited to a 21st birthday” She turned her nose up. “It looks like I was doped.”
It was now Dante's turn to laugh, she really did have a vivid imagination. “21? I am 27.” He tilted his head to the side and the sadness flooded through him. “I was late awakening. My parents had hoped it had missed me completely.”
Tammy looked over at him curious, his tone had softened and he was just staring out at the water. There was that word, the same word her Gran had kept saying. “What had missed you?” The hairs on her arms stood on end. A chill ran through her blood as she remembered everything her Grandmother had said.
“The curse” he shrugged his shoulders and dropped himself into the pool. “You coming?”
Tammy stared at him. “Are you not going to tell me any more?” Feeling intense disappointment in the pit of her stomach.
“No,” Dante snarled. “Not until I can trust you.” He was about to swim off but froze turning back round to look at Tammy. His tall lean but yet muscular figure commanding every inch of the water. Tammy felt herself swallowing hard, he was very mesmerizing. “I will tell you something...”
Tammy climbed in the pool and swam so she was directly in front him. He had her full attention, one of his masculine fingers ran down her cheek. Tammy gasped as an electric current shot through her and at the gentleness of his touch.
“I am drawn to you” he slowly said, a hint of deep husk to his voice. He gave a slight smile and swam away.
Tammy stood frozen in the pool, what did this all mean? She was starting to get dizzy from his weird mood changes. He was drawn to her.. What did that mean? Tammy had only one choice, she had to gained Dante's trust and then she would know the real reason why she was here with this perfect dark and dangerous stranger.