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↘ Format Kindle Read [ Christopher's Diary: Echoes of Dollanganger (The Diaries Series Book 2) (English Edition) ] ⇻ By V.C Andrews ∘

↘  Format Kindle Read [ Christopher's Diary: Echoes of Dollanganger (The Diaries Series Book 2) (English Edition) ] ⇻ By V.C Andrews ∘ ↘ Format Kindle Read [ Christopher's Diary: Echoes of Dollanganger (The Diaries Series Book 2) (English Edition) ] ⇻ By V.C Andrews ∘ Christophers Diary Echoes of Dollanganger Becoming Christopher and Cathy The shorter days of approaching winter darkened the corners of my attic earlier and earlier every afternoon Usually, when you think of yourself ascending, whether its hiking up a mountain, flying in an airplane, or walking to the top floor of your house, you imagine moving into brighter light But as my boyfriend, Kane Hill, and I walked up the attic stairway for the first time together, I could almost feel the shadows growing and opening like Venus flytraps to welcome us The stairs creaked the way they always had, but it sounded like a warning this time, each squeak a groan of frantic admonition Our attic didnt have an unpleasant odor, but it did have the scent of old things that hadnt seen the light of day for years furniture, lamps, and trunks stuffed with old clothing too out of fashion to care about or throw away when the previous owners left They were still good enough for someone else to use All of it had been accumulated by what my father called pack rats, but he also admitted to being one himself Our garage was neat but jammed with his old tools and boxes of sample building materials, my first tricycle, various hoses, and plumbing fittings he might find use for someday The attic floor was a dark brown hardwood that had worn well and, according to my father, was as solid as the day it was laid He looked in once in a while, but I would go up regularly to dust a bit, get rid of spiderwebs, and clean the two small windows, spotted with small flies and other tiny bugs who thought they had died outside I felt I had to maintain the attic mostly because my father kept my mothers things in an old wardrobe there, walnut with embossed cherubs on the doors, another antique Even after nearly nine years, my father couldnt get himself to throw out or give away any of her things shoes and slippers, purses, dresses, blouses, nightgowns, coats, and sweaters Just like in the Foxworth attic that Christopher had described in his diary, there were other larger items that previous occupants had left, including brass and pewter tables and standing lamps, a dark oak magazine rack with some old copies of Life and Time, some black and silver metal trunks that had once worn their travel labels proudly, bragging about Paris, London, and Madrid, and other pieces of furniture that had lost their places in the living room and the bedrooms when the decor was changed Despite being thought useless and relegated to this vault, to my father, they were almost a part of the house now He said that their having been there so long gave them squatters rights It really didnt matter whether they had been there long or whether they would find another home, fulfill another purpose Memories, no matter whose they were, were sacred to him Things werent ever simply things Old toys were once cherished by the children who owned them, and family heirlooms possessed history, whether or not you knew exactly what that history was It didnt surprise me that a man who built and restored homes had such respect for what was in them I just hadnt paid much attention to any of it until now I was still not convinced that what Kane Hill had suggested the day he discovered Christophers diary under my pillow was a good idea At first, I suspected that he might be playing with me, humoring me, when he said he would read it aloud to me, pretending to be Christopher Dollanganger, the oldest of the four children who had been incarcerated in Foxworth Hall than fifty years ago I didnt want to diminish the diarys historical importance for Charlottesville or in any way make fun of it He had assured me that he wouldnt do that And then he had added, To get into it, really get into it, well read it up in your attic The Foxworth attic was where the four Dollanganger children had spent most of their time for years, there and in a small bedroom below According to what I knew and how Christopher had described it, the attic was a long, rambling loft that they had turned into their imaginary world because they had been shut out of the real one for so long The idea of reading Christophers thoughts and descriptions aloud in a similar environment both fascinated and frightened me We would no longer be simply observers In a sense, by playing the roles of Christopher and Cathy, we would empathize, and not just sympathize, with them As soon as he had said it, Kane saw the indecision in my face and went on to explain that it would be like acting on a movie set Movie sets in studios were suggestions of what really was or had been, werent they This is no different, Kristin, Kane said I pointed out that my attic was much smaller than the one in Foxworth, but he insisted that it was an attic, a place where we could pretend to be imprisoned and better understand what Christopher and Cathy had experienced He thought wed get a realistic sense of it It will be like reading Moby Dick while youre on a ship on the ocean This way, youll appreciate what happens to the older sister , and Ill appreciate Christophers words , Im sure Of course, I had found myself empathizing with Cathy often when I read Christophers diary anyway, but not to the extent he was suggesting It was like putting on her clothes and stepping into her shoes In moments, I would lose myself completely and for a while become her Maybe I did have to be in an attic for that However, what frightened me about pretending to be her in front of someone else was the possibility that I would be exposing my own vulnerabilities, my own fears and fantasies Everyone knew the Dollanganger children were distant cousins of mine What if I was like her than I imagined The leather bound book suddenly loomed larger than some historical discovery It was almost as though the diary had the power to unmask me and cause me to reveal my own secrets, deeply personal ones I had yet to share with anyone, even my father There would inevitably be questions about Cathys feelings and how they were the same as or different from mine, especially when it came to her physical and emotional maturing Like most girls my age, I was both excited and confused at times by changes in my body and my feelings I wasnt comfortable chatting about them with other girls, even best friends And here I was confronting it all with Kane intimately than I had with anyone We hadnt been dating that long There was still so much about each other we had to learn, with or without Christophers diary Was I rushing headlong into something I would regret, all because of the diary, because of how it made me feel about myself and my own new feelings So much of what we do and who we draw closer to ourselves makes us see deeper into ourselves Sometimes I felt surrounded by mirrors Yet I had to admit that Kane sounded as enthusiastic about and as genuinely interested in what Christopher was revealing in his diary as I was He was as excited as I had been that day when I realized what it was Since we could safely assume that no one else had read it, Kane made the point that only he and I would know what really had occurred at Foxworth Hall The legend, the exaggerations, and the misinformation would all be shed, and we would know the truth about the mysteries that were thought to have gone up in flames and assumed to have been lost in the darkness of fading memories Kanes eyes were dazzled with excitement when he spoke about it He looked like a little boy on Christmas morning who knew what was in the package he was about to unwrap In his mind, perhaps, and certainly in mine, it was like opening a forbidden door, an entrance that led us back into the dark past, through the shadows, up the narrow stairway, and into a world now like the subject for Halloween stories Would the door slam shut behind us Would we trap ourselves in someone elses nightmare Would what we read and did in my attic haunt us forever because of how intimate the revelations were, both Christopher Dollangangers and our own I never anticipated that Id be in such a quandary, but after Kane had discovered the diary while he was waiting for me in my room, he was naturally very curious about it He had only read a page However, it was enough to force me to reveal what it was When I explained it to him and told him that my father wasnt happy that I was reading it, his curiosity grew Nothing makes anything desirable than declaring it forbidden Kane said he couldnt wait to catch up to where I was in the diary so that we could go forward together He sounded like a child about to begin an adventure he had imagined for a long time I felt his excitement enliven my own and thought maybe it was a good thing he had found the diary under my pillow Maybe it was meant to be I even fantasized that it had the power to capture anyone who came close to it I shouldnt have been so surprised at his finding it and being drawn to it And yet I had gone to sleep that night afraid that I had given my trust too easily I thought that yes, right now, he honestly might be interested in and genuinely excited about what the diary was going to reveal, and for a while, he might find reading it aloud to me in my attic somehow as satisfying as being in a play or a movie, but what if he became bored or thought it had been stupid to start with and then mentioned it to someone at school, who mentioned it to someone else, until I was surrounded with demands and questions As my father was fond of saying, Loose lips sink ships In this case, it would be my ship that had sunk, even before it had much of a chance to sail Would I feel like a fool Would I feel as betrayed as Christopher would be by revealing to strangers how Cathy obviously felt at this point in his diary I could appreciate how horrible it was for her and maybe even for him When people whom you cared about and who cared about you seriously disappointed you, it was truly like digging farther down into a wound, sending the pain through your very being Your heart would close around itself You would feel naked, lost, deceived by anything and everything afterward, and you would know that from then on, you would not have faith in anyone again You would be unable to give your trust, even to those you loved How much alone could you be than that Surely, that was what had happened to the Dollanganger children And maybe that would happen to me And all because I was reading the diary secretly Was it possible for a diary to be too dangerous to open, a Pandoras box Was that why my father had told me not to read it Wasnt it silly to ascribe such powers to an old leather bound book full of some teenage boys personal thoughts and descriptions However, I reminded myself that there were forbidden books Books had influence on their readers Schools kept certain books out of their libraries, and parents forbade their children to read them Governments forbade books Religions forbade books they thought had been written by witches, even the devil Whatever had happened at the original Foxworth Hall, it still had an atmosphere of mystery and horror around it It had been kept alive through fantastic theories printed in the local newspaper and discussed around the date of the famous first fire and always on Halloween The diary could carry that same aura Touch it, open the cover, read the pages, and you could be carried away in the same ugly shadows and cold wind that had carried away those children I had tossed and turned all night debating these thoughts and worries in my mind Sometimes I believe we all really do have two people living inside us arguing often One has conscience, and the other doesnt Everyone talks to himself or herself They would all have to admit that Well, who were they all talking to Who is the himself or herself The following morning, one side of me seemed to have won the argument I was determined to tell Kane to forget it I was even working up a good story, a fabrication, something that would end his idea completely I thought I might tell him that my father had found me reading the diary into the early hours and was so angry that he had seized it right out of my hands He had said he was going to burn it, and I had watched him throw it into an old oilcan in our backyard It had gone up in a puff of black smoke But I changed my mind the moment I set eyes on my father at breakfast and saw how happy he was with how well his work was going rebuilding a new, modern mansion on the Foxworth property He was getting along with Arthur Johnson, who didnt seem as difficult apparently as other customers he had worked for That made my father even sweet and loving to me I regretted even thinking of using him to deceive someone by making him sound unreasonable and angry I couldnt do it However, I felt trapped because I was disobeying his wishes by permitting someone else to know about the diary I comforted myself by telling myself in this case, he would understand and forgive me But the questions and the doubts about what I had agreed to do wouldnt be still Really, I had thought, what if Kane should betray me and, in a real sense, betray Christopher Go through with this or not, Kristin I had asked myself while I had dressed to go down to breakfast I was tottering between yes and no I could easily go in either direction I looked at the clock It wasnt much longer before I would have to make a definite decision Kane was going to pick me up to take me to school again, and I knew he would be talking about nothing else When I had told my father that Kane was coming, he paused in making our breakfast Picking you up again Were considerably out of his way, especially with morning traffic He has to be getting himself up and out much earlier Oh, please He doesnt care about that, Daddy, I said, making it sound like he was just another parent who didnt understand what was and wasnt a priority for teenagers like us He shrugged To meyou excluded, of courseit seems young people dont want to make compromises or sacrifices too easily They dont naturally go out of their way Its the please me now generation You can exclude Kane, too, from that conclusion Besides, youd have driven as far as another state to pick up Mommy, wouldnt you He turned and squinted at me, deepening the folds in his forehead I see Getting a little serious in this first romance of yours he asked I was a bit surprised myself at how quickly I had come to Kanes defense, but I had also compared us to my father and mother, who I knew had loved each other intensely That comparison was a bit over the top, at least for now And my father was right to characterize my dating Kane as my first real romance I had gone out on dates, met other boys at parties and dances, but none of that ever became much than one follow up call or a few days of some additional hanging out together Until now, those budding romances always seemed to drift away with the softening of a grip on my hand, until my dates fingers cooled into icicles and finally slipped out to find a different hand to hold More often than not, however, it was my hand that began to avoid theirs You cant help but think at first that its your fault, that maybe theres something wrong with you, especially if it happened than once or twice Most of my girlfriends had a similar reaction to their failed little affairs of the heart I always felt I should have been sorrier about it My indifference surprised me Was I capable of having deep feelings for anyone besides my own father Maybe youre too picky, too sensitive, or too afraid of having a relationship, I told myself Your standards are too highimpossible, in fact No relationship will ever be satisfying, and its mostly your own fault The insecurity rocks you for a while and makes you so timid that you dont even want to look at another boy and encourage what might be another flop Why try Failure was inevitable no matter how promising it was when it started It was as if the moment I returned a smile, joined a conversation with a new boy, and then went on a date, magnifying glasses dropped over my eyes, and I could see all of my prospective boyfriends weaknesses and faults The only comfort I had was watching other couples fail It was always good to have friends close enough to support me and sympathize, especially because they had been through the same challenges, similar experiences I was an amateur psychiatrist, especially when it came to myself, and I came up with a theory, which I told no one, especially not my father Maybe because of how involved I was with my fathers loss of his one great love, I was afraid of ever finding one of my own People end up alone for many reasons Many are just too selfish to share or compromise or are just too cynical They believe love brings too many expectations that can never be fulfilled And because youve invested so much of yourself in it, your emotions are bankrupt when it fails, and unlike with any other bankruptcy, you cant reorganize those feelings and begin again However, right from the beginning, I could sense that something different from any of those brief little romances was happening between Kane and me We were looking at each other with intensity, holding our gazes longer, smiling at each other often, and rushing toward every opportunity to be together It was happening whether or not either of us wanted it to happen Every time we saw each other in the school hallways, there was almost a surge of electricity in the air Everyone around us began to fade away, their voices drifting off, their questions lingering unanswered I had to believe there was something special between us, and whatever that was, it helped me relax my resistance and permit myself to believe something magical could be happening After all, that was how it was supposed to work, wasnt it It was finally happening to me I felt relief about myself, as if going seventeen years without having a serious romance was close to tragic, abnormal, an indication of troubled relationships to come I worked on convincing myself that whatever happened between Kane and me would support and justify my faith in his promises, but especially when it came to the diary, because he could see how important it was to me Of course, he wouldnt betray me He couldnt, I thought Why was I even debating with myself about it He cared for me too much He knew I wouldnt forgive him and that everything we had would burn out as fast as a meteor falling to earth That buoyed my confidence and sent me back to yes, but then, almost immediately, I wondered if I was becoming another one of those ostriches my father often pointed out to me, people who wouldnt face unpleasant realities or admit to weaknesses in themselves or others they trusted You cant simply will things to happen the way you want them to, Kristin, my dad had warned me The night owl knows sunrise is coming, and there is nothing he can do to stop it, no matter how much he enjoys the darkness Wisdom often dripped from his lips like honey, always kindly, always sweet Right now, I had to answer him truthfully about Kane Yes, Daddy Its a little serious between Kane and me, I replied He nodded and then, turning away, added, Let me know if a little turns into a lot Why I demanded with a little fervor than I had intended Was he already suspicious about what I was going to share with Kane Would he be upset if I had strong feelings for someone besides him Im just kidding, Kristin I dont expect you to run off and elope or anything Uh oh, he added, putting up his hands to surrender when I didnt respond Then he hummed the theme from Jaws as if a big shark was approaching a swimmer, and he stepped back What I think I just entered that world Ive been warned about What world The world of sensitive teenage girls, otherwise known as bedlam Very funny, Daddy The world of teenage boys is dysfunctional, if you ask me Probably so He returned his attention to the pancakes on the stove But at least thats waters Ive swum in myself I know what to expect and when to expect it Teenage girls are like an earthquake He flipped a pancake Right after being in the navy, where he got into cooking, he had been a short order cook in a diner type restaurant off I 95 This was before he met my mother and got into the construction business When I was little, he actually would juggle a couple of pancakes with two spatulas It made my mother and me laugh He would flip one so it fell perfectly on my plate Somehow all that juggling made them even delicious And so for me, with a teenage daughter, he said, bringing over my pancakes, it does feel like swimming in shark infested waters I promise, Ill warn you ahead of time before I bite, I said as he poured out just the right amount of maple syrup and added banana, which he had sliced for me He would do all that even when I was married and had children of my own, I thought Ill appreciate the warning Oh, by the way, I might be running late every afternoon this week, he said, sitting across from me Scheduling all these building inspectors, dealing with different contractors, meeting with the architect This owner is taking a very detailed interest in all the construction, too Hes a nice guy, but lately, now that this is really happening, it feels like hes breathing down my neck sometimes He slips in behind me like a ghost stepping back into the world Dont most new homeowners take that sort of interest in what youre doing Not like this, he said Sometimes I get the feeling someones looking over Arthur Johnsons shoulder, too What do you know about him I told you he ran a hedge fund and made a lot of money I know as much about him as I have to, I guess But between you and me, I think its ridiculous for a man that young to retire, even if he can Hes married to a woman about twelve years younger I picked that up Her mother apparently worked for his father I sort of got the impression that He suddenly clamped his lips together and scrunched his nose the way he would when he was about to utter a secret or a nasty comment about something or someone in front of me and stopped himself What He looked at me oddly, obviously hesitant to tell me what he was thinking Im not a child any, Dad You dont have to worry about offending my innocent little ears Yeah, I have to keep reminding myself Anyway, youve heard worse and read worse, Im sure, he added, raising his eyebrows Worse than what I picked up that Arthur Johnsons father got romantically involved with Arthurs mother in law after her husband died Right after, he added I guess I didnt react enough, so he said, Minutes after Understand Oh She might have picked up with him a little before her husband had died I asked He nodded And maybe not just a little before His wife had died just a year or so earlier, not that her still being alive might have stopped him anyway The disapproval on his face was blatant I knew he was thinking of his own tragedy and wondering how much in love with his wife Arthur Johnsons father had been if he could move on to another woman so quickly And wondering about it even so when he learned about Arthur Johnsons mother in law For many reasons, a line from Shakespeares Hamlet never drifted too far from my memory after we had read it in English class A second time I kill my husband dead, when second husband kisses me in bed It was only natural for me to wonder if my father would fall in love with someone again When would he be ready, if ever, to kiss another woman in his bed It was painful for me to think about it, but I didnt want to wish him endless loneliness, and I was especially worried about what his life would be like when I was out of the house I had been filling out applications for college An acceptance would come soon and ring a bell in this house I wondered how often he thought about that I knew he did Maybe he had his own timetable for when he would fall in love again, and it would start when that bell rang or maybe he was determined never to love again Maybe he knew that line in Tennysons poem Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all Anyway, he continued, now that he had committed to revealing the story, afterward, Arthur Johnson met and spent time with his future wife because of their parents relationship, and both parents were pleased when they became engaged Then they decided to do the same thing, get engaged and get married It was a double wedding His father married his wifes mother at the same ceremony To save money Maybe, he said, smiling When you question why someone rich looks for bargains, he always tells you thats how he became rich The women shopped for gowns together, and the men bought tuxedos together They probably did get deals They even bought similar wedding rings from the same jeweler He gave away his son at the altar, and she gave away her daughter, and then vice versa It was a ceremony conducted in mirrors Must have looked weird with them switching places and all I would think so, but he seemed proud of it when he talked about it I got a new mother, and she got a new father the same time we got each other, he told me Families replacing families instantly, he said, shaking his head Goes on a lot these days People accept almost everything when it comes to relationships, exes marrying exes of friends, widows marrying widowed husbands of best friends, stepbrothers marrying stepsisters Anything goes, it seems Have you seen her Who Arthur Johnsons young wife Yeah, once Pretty girl I shouldnt say girl They have a fourteen year old son and a twelve year old daughter Both attend a private school in another state and live in dormitories Maybe theyre just not built to raise children More bird in them Bird You know Hatching the eggs is one thing, getting them out of the nest as soon as possible is another Bird, I repeated, and shook my head You are a character, Dad He shrugged I call it like I see it And if you ask me, you can learn a lot about people by watching and observing so called lower animals I guess you learn a lot about the people you build or redo houses for Nothing reveals as much about people as the home they live in, he said And their children are products of all that, too, often through no fault of their own I wanted to ask, What if you were brought up in a mansion with parents from hell like Corrine Foxworth Would that excuse her behavior after her husband died But I didnt I started to clear off the table Only odd thing, Dad added, sounding like he was talking to himself than to me What Huh Oh The only odd thing was the feeling I got that both Johnson and his wifeher names Shannonthat both knew a lot about both the original and the restored Foxworth Hall than Johnson first revealed How do you mean Knew what What it looked like in detail, inside and out He makes references to it from time to time Where windows were and what they looked out on, stuff like that Although its a different architecture, with all sorts of technological updates, he wants to be sure some things are the same Well, there have been pictures of it Whats the surprise No It was as if they had been there when it was in its heyday He thought a moment and then shook his head Probably just my imagination Anyway, dont let my blabbering make you late for school I had been late once before because of reading the diary late into the night and then oversleeping One time was a warning, two was a detention and a demerit, and with my pursuit of class valedictorian, any misbehavior could affect a close decision if my final grades and someone elses were practically the same, which, right now, was the case But it wasnt just that Ever since my mother had died of a cerebral aneurism and my father and I were the only immediate family we had, disappointing him in any way, even with something as relatively minor as a tardiness demerit, was abhorrent to me It was as if since my mothers death, both he and I felt things , especially sad and disappointing things I once heard my father say that the death of someone as close as a wife or a husband strips away the bark The rain, even a sharp breeze, stings I wont be late I have someone making sure of it, remember Oh, right Okay I left a meat loaf in the fridge You just have to warm it up Dont wait dinner on me, he said, and gave me a kiss He held on to me just a few seconds longer than usual Dont worry about this bird Im not leaving the nest so quickly, Dad, I said, and he laughed Have a good day, Kristin You, too, Dad I turned back to the sink but paused to think What had my father meant by people accepting when it came to relationships these days Would they easily accept Christophers father and mother marrying even though he was her half uncle According to Christopher Jr., thats what Corrine had finally revealed, making it sound so romantic and inevitable that she expected her children would accept it There was a time when parents actually wanted their children to marry within the family, marry cousins, believing it kept their blood purer or something, and no one thought of it as incest back then I glanced at the clock and finished cleaning up quickly By the time I had my hands wiped, Kane was sounding his horn One long beep and two short beeps, like he was sending Morse code or a spy message Why are we all so dramatic at our age I thought When we were older, would we look back and laugh at the little things that made us cry or laugh, sad or happy When had I become so damn analytical Maybe because of the way Christopher described Cathy, I was thinking about everything I did I was finding myself blaming of what I thought and felt on my reading of the diary Was that a bad omen I scooped up my books, flicked my dark blue hooded jacket off the hanger in the entryway, and shot out the door as if I was being chased I slammed it behind me, the echo reverberating like a gunshot It jerked me out of my deep thoughts as effectively as a slap on my face Kane was laughing at me as I hurried to the driveway, putting my jacket on as I went What I asked, getting in You should see me when I get up in the morning and stumble into the kitchen for some breakfast I have to feel my way to the table You look so alert, so ready to go, he said, and he gazed at the front of the house for a few seconds to see if my father might be looking out the window, then leaned over to kiss me quickly Hi Im not raring to go Dont remind me how tired I am, I said I didnt sleep that well Why not I just didnt He carefully backed out of the driveway It was a mostly cloudy day Before this, I had barely noticed the chill in the air If it had ever smelled like snow was on the way, it did this morning Already I missed the songbirds and the sweet scent of freshly cut grass Our short Indian summer was gone The leafless trees looked stunned The surrounding woods had become the sleeping forest, hibernating, and the fields of dry grass looked like faded yellowish green carpets, corpses of hay With the weather so unpredictable, it was difficult to know confidently what it would be like tomorrow, much less next week or next month Normally, we didnt have heavy snowfalls this early, but there were also many Christmases without snow at all Kane was only in a long sleeved khaki shirt and jeans despite the cool air Sometimes I thought he must have ice in his veins He could be indifferent about the weather I thought he was that way about almost everything Whenever Id complain about something, hed simply nod, shrug, and give me that whats the difference smile Whats the difference what I wear, what I say, even what I think Just move along, and if anything, just laugh Laugh at the changes in the weather, laugh at the nervousness before exams, laugh at the school rules, and especially laugh at the drama of growing older and closer to being totally responsible for yourself Just laugh Did you read any of the diary without me he asked as we drove off to school He narrowed his eyes with suspicion when he turned to me Is that why you didnt sleep well I didnt answer him I was still thinking about reading the diary in the attic, with him playing Christopher and me being Cathy He was so casual about everything Why should I believe hed take the diary as seriously as I did This is too big a risk, I told myself Youll regret it Whats wrong His hazel eyes darkened with concern Did you read something that bothered you, something terrible I really want to do it with you You havent changed your mind, have you He looked about as sincere as he ever was about anything This was it, I thought I would either deliver my fabrication and end the diary reading or go on with it I had to take that big risk I had to believe in someone else besides my father, didnt I Otherwise, Id lock myself in a different kind of attic, but it would still be avoiding the world I had to go on with it I really wasnt a good liar, anyway I was often compared to a fish in a bowl, with all my thoughts visibly swimming about My father bragged about that, telling people, Deceits not comfortable sitting on her face That was certainly not true for Corrine Dollanganger, I thought If anything, she was certainly a good liar Were selfish people naturally better liars Nothings wrong I didnt read any of the diary Good That gives me a chance to catch up What about this afternoon What time does your father usually come home How much time will we have Hes going to be late today, maybe the rest of the week Perfect Isnt it he asked when I didnt say anything Are you sure you want to do this, Kane, really sure What How can you ask Absolutely I couldnt stop thinking about it last night Im excited Besides, I remembered that I always thought my father might know about what happened at that original Foxworth Hall fire than he admits Hes learned lots of things about Malcolm Foxworth and his family from his older customers I just never cared much about it until now Did you tell him about the diary I asked, my voice on the verge of panic No, no I promised I would tell no one, and thats that I wont What do you mean, your father might know than he admits I asked, sitting up What does he know How do you know its Easy, he said, smiling My father and mother know we went up to Foxworth to have that picnic So He asked me about the site, what your father was doing, and I asked him what he really knew about the original fire This was before you told me about the diary He said what he heard was that the first fire definitely wasnt accidentally caused by a servant or some electrical malfunction or gas leak He said that the story of how it happened that some firemen describe was right Which story The one about the daughter deliberately setting the fire She had gone mad and deliberately set the fire He said she was whisked away before anyone could ask any questions and apparently put in an insane asylum or something He definitely said the daughter He believes that to be true Yes Did you ask him her name I didnt want to ask him too many questions and get him suspicious That was probably a good idea Why would she have done that Who knows Considering how long ago that was, Im not surprised there are so many theories and so few facts He said no one really cared that much about them or what had happened to them He said from what old timers told him, Malcolm and Olivia Foxworth werent particularly liked and were considered rich, raving, religious maniacs It was easy to believe they were capable of doing weird things to their children and grandchildren Thats why what you found is so exciting, Kristin Well know the truth Well learn all the secrets, secrets than fifty years old Im not really sure we should jump to conclusions about anything in the diary We cant treat it as gospel What do you mean You said it was found on the property Its the diary of the boy who was imprisoned there, Christopher, right Right, but we are getting the story from Christopher Maybe maybe hes not telling the truth My father once suggested that after I had begun to read it Kane thought a moment and then nodded Ill know pretty quickly once I get into it, he said confidently But people dont usually lie in a diary, anyway Thats why I never kept one I dont want to be caught telling the truth He gave me that James Dean smile and shrug that he had become famous for in our school That I believe So how will you know so quickly if hes lying or not I have a built in lie detector A buzzer goes off in my head, so dont try to fool me Maybe Ive fooled you already He laughed Youre good, angel, youre real good, he said My father uses that line on my mother It comes from some old Humphrey Bogart movie Too bad Christopher Dollanganger didnt have that built in buzzer of yours to know when he was being told the truth and when he wasnt Im sure he and his brother and sisters wouldnt have suffered so much Ill have to catch up to see what you mean by suffering so much, but dont tell me any I want to be objective and come to my own conclusions I know thats what you want, too, right I nodded, and Kane made the turn into the school parking lot Others were racing not to be late, the cooler air putting energy into their strides, because, like Kane, most were underdressed Even though they looked like they were on treadmills going five or six miles an hour and looked as comical as silent movie stars, some boys thought it was macho to freeze After Kane parked and shut off the engine, he sat there for a moment What I asked, seeing that he was still in deep thought Their mother brought them there, right Yes, youll read about how and why So So maybe he rationalized a lot Maybe he did know, Kristin Did know what Maybe he knew when he was being lied to but put up with it and lied to himself, and thats what well read So your father could be at least half right Why would he lie to himself All of us are willing to forgive the ones we love, Kristin, he replied, even for their lies That was a perceptive thing to say, I thought, but what was going on in Kanes life that brought him to that conclusion, a conclusion he was willing to share I was impressed with him every time we were together The sensitivity he revealed was a nice surprise My father always said that getting to know someone, someone you cared very much to know, was like peeling an onion It took time and patience Sometimes you peeled away too much and regretted it I didnt think I would regret it when it came to Kane At least, I hoped I wouldnt I got out of the car, but I was still thinking about what he had said All of us are willing to forgive the ones we love Even for lies I hope so, I thought I hope that in the end, my father will forgive me A big secret changes you in ways you dont realize immediately, especially if you share that secret with someone and hope he or she is keeping it safe The bigger the secret, the vulnerable and in danger you feel Sometimes it shows right on your face, like splattered egg yolk, especially a face like mine Practically every moment outside of class, I expected someone to rush over to me and declare, You have the diary You know what really happened at the original Foxworth Hall Every time I heard one of my friends call my name, an electric chill would rush up my spine Everyone has little secrets In our world, that was what made you interesting But this was very different Anyone who found out what we had would surely pounce, and not just my classmates Newspapers, radio, television people would haunt us The phone wouldnt stop ringing, nor would the doorbell People would accuse us of always having had it and deliberately hoarding the truth because it was embarrassing for our family My mother was a distant cousin of Malcolm Foxworth, so the children were distant cousins of mine My father would feel terrible for calling me over that day to watch him open the locked metal box at the bottom of some debris in the remains of the restored Foxworth Hall The restoration had used the same basement walls My father thought the builders were just not very meticulous when it came to cleaning away the original debris His colleagues would tease him about it Some might even be nasty and make him angry He would hate to go anywhere, except to work and right back home Just going to the supermarket would become a big deal I couldnt even imagine what coming to my high school graduation would be like for him He might lose business He might want to sell our house and move away I didnt want to imagine any of it It was like having a nightmare while awake Thats what it was starting to feel like at school Physically, I was walking about with my books embraced tightly against my breasts, as if I were protecting something precious inside the covers, or perhaps really inside me Emotionally, I felt clogged, as if my feelings were twisted into figure eight knots The weight of our secret slowed my pace, no matter what I was doing I could feel my eyes widen in expectation every time I was asked a question, no matter how innocent the question might seem Had I revealed anything accidentally Had I whetted anyones interest Had Kane inadvertently given something away already, and others were testing me I was taking on real paranoia This was triggered especially when one of my close friends, Kyra Skewer, asked me about Kane picking me up every morning and taking me home after school Does he hang out at your house, or do you go to his or what afterward she wanted to know She asked in front of Suzette, Missy Meyer, and Theresa Flowman, and all four of them gave me their full attention, their ears perked up like extraterrestrial antennae It varies with my mood, I said cryptically Huh Whatever, I said Its spontaneous You and your vocabulary, Kyra complained She had a grimace that made her look like she was being burned at the stake whenever she complained about anything Spontaneous Please Thats not a hard word to define, Kyra I know what it means I just never heard it used like that, she said When youre in love, everything is spontaneous, Suzette said, and then giggled and turned her shoulders inward, which made her breasts bulge in the deep V neck of her light blue sweater I knew she often did that deliberately just to see where the gaze of the boy she was talking to went Whether its a kiss or something , she added Then every day is spontaneous for you, Kyra said Every month, you fall into a desperate love that lasts as long as your period Everyone laughed I smiled It wasnt all that much of an exaggeration when it came to Suzette Recently, she had gotten blond highlights in her dark brown hair because Tommy Clark liked blond highlights, and soon after that, she let us all know she had pierced her navel In fact, she let everyone know, especially Greg Storm, who had his nose pierced It did seem like she remade herself weekly to attract some new boy she fancied Id rather go to Kanes house Youd have privacy, Missy Meyer said, getting serious again I mean, you have a nice house Its just that The way the house is laid out, her father might hear what goes on in her bedroom Suzette suggested, her silver blue eyes brightening like two diamonds of promiscuous excitement Didnt your younger brother hear what went on in yours when you brought Dylan Marks home one afternoon she asked Kyra She embraced herself and mimicked groans and moans Shut up Well, no matter where you go after school, Kristin, he cant help you with your homework If anything, hell distract you, Theresa Flowman said in her nasal voice She was hoping for that result, hoping Kane would distract me enough to lower my grades After the last marking period, Theresa and I were neck and neck for valedictorian Please, Theresa, distract her Kyra said What you need is a lot distraction Any distraction, come to think of it, she added, flashing a sly smile at me Suzette and Missy laughed Theresa turned crimson, glared at her, and walked off All that girl knows about sex is that its a three letter word, Suzette said And what do you know Kyra teased I know Steve Cooper would like to practice the missionary position with you in his basement, she retorted, and the three of them laughed again Steves parents had let him move into their basement, which felt like a private apartment because it had a separate entrance Lately, it had acquired a nickname Steves Sex Pit They looked at me, noticing I wasnt laughing this time The chitchat had reminded me of Christopher and Cathy talking about sex, and for a moment, I was back in the attic, thinking about an older brother being a young girls only source for information about her maturing body Even though Christopher was coldly scientific, he was still her brother and not her mother or older sister Any young girl would still be sensitive about asking him questions about sex, but especially a sister I recalled how hard it had been for my father to talk to me about any of it He finally had to ask his sister, my aunt Barbara, to speak with me about my own emerging hormones clamoring to be recognized She had made a special trip from New York to do it Who would make a special trip for Cathy It didnt look like her mother would take the time to do it She certainly wouldnt take her out of the room to have a private conversation, one of those mother daughter talks that my girlfriends satirized They didnt realize how envious of them I was There were so many little things that had become big things for all of us, but especially for children locked away like that, I thought, children locked in a room and an attic and left to their own imagination to amuse and educate themselves Christopher would do fine, but Cathy how would it end up for her Did I really want to know Would both Kane and I regret turning those pages in the diary Anything wrong Kyra said Hello, earth to Kristin What She looked at Suzette We were both talking to you, and you didnt hear us Youve been acting weird all day You didnt miss a period, did you Suzette asked She would The three of them looked at me with one face, mouths slightly open, eyes anticipating She hasnt been going with him long enough, has she Kyra asked We really dont know how long shes been seeing him, Suzette said, enjoying the implication as she kept her eyes on me And guess what It doesnt take that long to get pregnant Some sperm are faster than a speeding bullet, right, Kristin Get outta here, I said, playfully nudging her You have a one track mind, I added, and then spotted Kane coming around the hallway corner Later, I muttered, and hurried to join him Hey, he said, putting his arm around my shoulders You all right He looked back at my girlfriends, who were staring at us and giggling Someone say something about us No They dont bother me I think I screwed up on a math quiz Does the CIA know yet Im serious I should have aced it, Kane All right Sorry What happened he asked as we walked to our next classes I dont know My mind just went blank or something Everyone has a day like that I never did, I said So now youre normal Relax Youll do better the next time, he insisted He shrugged Isnt that why there are erasers on pencils I stopped and smiled Thats exactly what my father says when I complain about something Ive done wrong My father doesnt say it my mother does My father doesnt believe in mistakes He claims its not in his religion What religion is that Perfection, he replied, then laughed and gave me a quick kiss on the lips, which at least twenty other students saw, their eyes blinking like the lenses of paparazzi cameras And then he hurried off to beat the late bell for his class Most of my classes were advanced placement classes now He turned and waved and then pretended he had been grabbed and pulled into a room I laughed He could have entertained everyone on the Titanic What a mixture of emotions I was feeling I was excited about being with him I really did love every minute, and I loved how we were like everyones perfect couple, but I was feeling a little numb, confused, very tentative about myself because of the plan we had made for reading the diary together I kept coming back to it all day, and sometimes Id be trembling Why was I so nervous about it Did I really think the diary had some evil magical power because it had been buried so long in the rubble of the original Foxworth Hall Was opening it like opening Pandoras box Did my father get me thinking like this by his wishing so strongly that I wouldnt read it My father always had this weird attitude about the original Foxworth Hall, never really wanting to talk about it or what had happened there, even though I was related to them on my mothers side Maybe he didnt want to talk about it precisely because of that When I was younger and even now, some of my classmates wondered if I had inherited any of the Foxworth madness It got so even I began to wonder Finally, I decided I was just being stupid thinking all these weird things and pushed it all out of my mind by concentrating hard on my schoolwork However, as soon as the bell rang to end our final class of the day, I felt my heart begin to beat faster in anticipation of what Kane and I were going to begin doing My girlfriends, especially Suzette, continued to tease me about being with Kane before and after school, filling up every free moment with him I thought they were just jealous Will we ever see you again Suzette joked Will you ever answer the phone when we call Kyra followed I shut them out, their laughter falling behind me like pebbles falling from a speeding, bouncing dump truck, and hurried to meet him He was already at the exit waiting for me He put his arm around me quickly and turned us to the door I lucked out Not much homework tonight, he said I can spend time reading I have my usual ton He opened the door, and we walked out quickly to the parking lot and his car Practically every classmate of mine smiled licentiously at us as they passed us, some walking faster just to do that Kane seemed oblivious to it We had known each other a long time, even though we had just started going out together I was still trying to understand him Was he indifferent to most of the things that captured everyone elses interest because he was just plain arrogant, or did he simply not care Perhaps our experience with Christophers diary would peel that onion faster when it came to him Don and Ryan were driving me crazy to go skeet shooting with them this afternoon, he said after we got into the car I forgot I had made plans to do that You want to I asked, welcoming the reprieve We can postpone this Hell no As you know, Ive got reading to do, and with your father coming home late, we have a good opportunity to get into a lot of it, he said He started the engine and drove us to my house I could never imagine Kane Hill nervous about anything, but until we turned into my driveway, he talked continually, describing the most inconsequential things that had happened during the day It was almost like someone dictating Facebook or Twitter posts His desk in math class wobbled too much His math teacher, Mr Brizel, broke his green chalk, the one he used to underline answers on the blackboard when he was frustrated with class responses It was too cool in shop class because Mr Primack left a window open too much and no one had the nerve to complain I was half listening, anyway I was thinking that I should call my father just to be sure he was going to be late for dinner and wouldnt arrive earlier than I expected and discover us in my room reading the diary When we entered the house, I went right to the phone in the kitchen Kane glanced at the stairway and looked at me expectantly Go on up ahead of me and start, I said I have to call my father He shot up the stairs, taking two at a time, and turned to my room before I even entered the kitchen He really was into this, I thought, but that still wasnt making me feel confident about it now I called my father Hey, whats up he asked Anything wrong No Just checking to be sure you will be late for dinner Yeah, sorry I know you dont like to eat alone I might invite Kane, I said You made enough for at least five people, I added quickly Oh, so hes there Yes Were doing homework together Sounds romantic Should I be worried He hummed the shark theme again, just what I had been anticipating when I thought about calling him from Kanes car Dad Stop Okay Is it all right to have him stay for dinner Absolutely Later are you going to brag that your father won over your new boyfriend with his cooking No, I said He laughed Enjoy, he said, and shouted to someone just before he hung up I stood there for a moment thinking about it all and then walked slowly up the stairs Kane was on my bed, his shoes off, the diary in his hands You want to stay for dinner My fathers definitely going to be late, I said Whats for dinner Its his meat loaf, my mashed potatoes, and string beans Sure I love meat loaf, he replied, and then returned to the diary as if his eyes were pulled to it beyond his control I put my books on my desk and, after looking at him again, began to attack my homework Even though I glanced at him from time to time, neither of us spoke for a good hour or so Finally, I heard him sigh deeply, and I turned and saw that he had sat up and was holding his hands over his face What I asked This was one bright kid, this Christopher Dollanganger He writes well, but he sounds like hes afraid of his own emotions, afraid that hes going to explode or something I get the feeling he was walking around holding his breath most of the time, especially after they were brought to the mansion And how about that grandmother Shed give Norman Bates from Psycho nightmares Hes putting up with a lot than I would, even at that age Yes Hes doing a great deal for his little brother and sister and for Cathy, and he has to keep the lid on I cant wait to see if he does Cathy sounds difficult than the twins She has a lot to be unhappy about, Kane Shes cut off from all her friends, everything that once made her life exciting, and look at the new responsibilities dropped on her It wasnt fair He nodded Makes sense So you like her Why not Its not her fault that they are where they are You sound very defensive Maybe theres Cathy in you than either of us knows What He smiled and picked up the diary again Are you going to catch up to me in one day I asked, sounding a bit annoyed now You bet What about your homework I told you, I dont have that much, and besides, Ill do it when I get home I looked at my watch Im going down to start on dinner Well eat in about a half hour I hope you can tear yourself away Youre not bringing it to the dinner table, I warned He didnt respond He was already back into the diary so much that he didnt hear me I paused in the doorway and looked at him, with the book up and his face blocked I thought of Cathy, bored in that attic, looking at Christopher and seeing him deep in one of his science books, in his own world That was probably his only escape, but it had to be frustrating for her She had no one else to talk to but the twins I didnt know why exactly, but Kanes attraction to the diary was making me irritable Anyone might think I was jealous of how passionate he had become about it It was as though he appreciated it than I did or something I banged things around a bit than necessary and mumbled under my breath as I set the table Kane came down exactly thirty minutes later I turned, surprised Wow You could break away, after all Smelled the aroma and got hungry, he said How can I help Take this jug of water to the table Everything else is done, I told him I began to bring in the food It looks terrific, he said I began to serve him Then I served myself and sat How did you like how their grandmother fed them he said It was like leaving crumbs out for birds I think the servants knew what was going on, or at least one or two did Why Think about it Shes making food, putting together food, and taking it to them She doesnt strike me as the sort of person who would slink about If any of them saw her, she would tell them to buzz off I hadnt thought about that Maybe it was good to have someone else reading it at the same time after all I started eating and so did he This meat loaf is the best Ive ever had, he said My father will be happy to hear it I tried making it a few times, but its never as good He has little secrets he keeps even from me He promises hell reveal all when I get married Kane paused and looked thoughtful again What There were so many secrets going on in that mansion that its a wonder it didnt explode before it burned down Whats really going on between Corrine and her parents Christopher is limited in what he can write, so we might not discover that He doesnt really know whats happening in the rest of the mansion Hes never even seen the grandfather Who knows if the old goat is really that sick You think their mother deliberately lied about that Why I dont know He was thoughtful for a few moments and then said, The jurys not in on it, and maybe it will never be As you said, were getting it from Christopher only Even with only what Ive read until now, I cant imagine him ever calling his mother a liar And not only because hes a respectful, obedient kid Id like to read her diary That would be a page turner, I bet Wed learn a lot if we could compare I do have one other source of information, I said He looked up sharply What Your father No, especially not him I told you, he doesnt like me reading it, and he doesnt like talking about it So Its my uncle Tommy, my fathers younger brother He met someone who claimed he had known a servant who worked at the original Foxworth Hall No kidding And He said this man told him the servant claimed their grandfather knew they were up there See Like I said, the servants probably saw the old hag carrying food and told the old man, or maybe he and the Friday the Thirteenth grandmother plotted together He thought a moment and then brightened and asked, Did your uncle say Corrine knew that her father knew He didnt say, and back then, I didnt know enough to ask many questions I wasnt old enough to appreciate the answers anyway, and because of how my father was about it, I didnt want to think about it Kane sat back and nodded Theres a lot to discover I like mysteries Im not going home tonight until I catch up to you, he declared I want to emphasize that I dont want my father to know about this I wonder whats making him so uptight about it Did you ever come right out and ask him No And were not going to ask, I said firmly He smiled Dont worry about it I dont want to get him even slightly mad at me I was about to smile, thinking he meant that would risk his being with me, but then he went for another forkful of meat loaf and added, I might not get any of his home cooking I laughed Maybe my father was right Maybe I would win Kane through his cooking Kane skipped dessert so he could get back up to my room He offered to clear the table and help in the kitchen, but I told him just to go back to the diary Hed only rush and break something He didnt need to be told twice While I was finishing up, my father came home Wheres Kane he asked immediately when he entered the kitchen I see his cars still here Oh, hes up in my room doing homework Enjoy the dinner You have a devoted fan Didnt offer to help with the dishes He offered, I said Lets just say hes not used to working in a kitchen, and like you always say, when someone who doesnt know what hes doing assists you, it makes for twice the work Not surprised hes unaccustomed to KP duty, but Im surprised he left you alone He could have at least watched Hes that into his homework He had than I did tonight We dont have the same classes Hows everything at the building site Get him talking about the project quickly, I told myself I hated coming up with all these white lies I was with Huckleberry Finn Why tell the truth and hurt someone Usual bureaucratic delays with inspectors, but were muddling through I wiped my hands Everythings hot and ready for you Go sit, and Ill bring it in Im not ready yet I want to shower and change first, baby You better get back to that homework, he added with a bit of an impish smile I threw the dish towel at him and hurried up the stairs Break out your textbooks, I warned Kane My fathers here He nodded and slipped the diary under my pillow By the time my father knocked on the door, Kane was doing his math Smells like a library in here, my father joked when he saw us both into our textbooks Hi, Mr Masterwood Fantastic meat loaf Thanks Glad you enjoyed it Ill get changed so I can eat it myself and see if youre giving me a false compliment, my father said, and then he winked and left us Kane closed his textbook Gotta confession, he said What I caught up to you What How could you Youre not even half through it, you know, and I read fast when Im really interested in what Im reading I nodded, thinking about how I did labor over some sentences and events, always trying to imagine how Cathy was feeling I guess so And I read another page before I realized it Ill reread it tomorrow aloud Up in the attic, he added, and closed his textbook Id better get going I forgot to call my mother to tell her I wasnt coming home for dinner, he said Dont worry Ive done it before, and its never a big shock, anyway Tell your father good night for me He gave me a very quick kiss on the cheek and a playful pat on the top of my head I was expecting him to kiss me before he left, but not like a brother I had been nervous while Kane was reading the diary to catch up with me, so I hadnt done my homework as quickly as I could I had some left to complete Nevertheless, I went down to sit with my father while he ate He was surprised Kane had left so early Maybe he really was here just to do homework, he playfully suggested Did the new owner come around again I asked, again looking to change the topic quickly He did I could see that he was into one of his deep thoughts again because of my question, a thought he wasnt eager to reveal to me What I asked You still reading that diary I was surprised he asked He had told me recently that he wouldnt inquire about it any and that when I was finished, he wanted me to give it back to him I had the feeling he really would burn it, so I was debating whether I ever would give it to him On and off, I said, as nonchalantly as I could The words almost got stuck in my throat Has there been any mention of anyone else in the house I mean other than their mother, grandmother, and grandfather Well, servants are mentioned but not by name, I said No one specifically, then Not yet as far as I have read Why Who do you think was there Someone from town knew about them Its not important, he said, and continued eating If it wasnt important, you wouldnt mention it, I said He shook his head I swear, Kristin, if I closed my eyes when you were talking sometimes, Id think your mother was sitting there Whenever he said anything like that, making comparisons between my mother and me to point out how much I was like her, I felt the struggle between two conflicting emotions, happiness and sadness I loved the idea that I was anything like her, but just the reference to her stirred the well of tears that would forever be there, ready to rise and overflow before I could do anything to stop them If I cried in front of my father, he would cry all night, I thought, and turned away He didnt say anything else about it, and I didnt pursue it Dont bring up the diary, I told myself In fact, dont bring up Foxworth Hall if you can help it until you and Kane are finished reading the diary I cleared away his dishes and did everything that had to be done in the kitchen before I returned to my room to finish my homework I knew I wasnt giving it my best I was rushing now, because I didnt want him to know how distracted I had been He knew how responsible I was and how dedicated I was to getting my schoolwork done and done well He would never suspect the diary, especially because Kane was there He would think it was because of something else, obviously something that had to do with my private time with Kane I was confident that he wouldnt come right out and ask, Did you guys spend all your time doing assignments from your teachers, or did you come up with your own homework He could tease a little, skirt around it by asking me to tell him how serious we were becoming, but making reference to something explicitly sexual just wasnt something my father would do He wasnt a prude He was just a shy man who was left to do and worry about things my mother was supposed to handle The irony was that we had done nothing my girlfriends were suspecting we did All the girls believed that Kane was not timid about making love, and wed been alone in my bedroom Not only them but any parent would suspect intimacy All my girlfriends talked about the suspicions their parents had Suzette went so far as to tell us her mother had given up on her, telling her not to expect her to come rushing in to rescue her Youre old enough to know better, shed said My father would never say such a thing, no matter what I did, I thought Before I went to sleep, I went down to wake him up and tell him it was time to go to sleep It was a constant joke between us Hed watch television and drift off I would turn it off, and hed wake up surprised Then he would kiss me and go to his room to sleep with his memories I got into bed and lowered my head to the pillow, Christophers words rambling on under it, below me in the forbidden diary And Kanes questions and thoughts rambling right along with them Kane amazed me the following day He was so excited about what he had read and what we were going to do that I thought for sure he would be talking about nothing else, but from the first moment he set eyes on me in the morning, he seemed to know that to keep me from having any anxiety, especially while we were at school, the diary should remain under my pillow, physically and mentally Neither of us would mention it To show me I could rely on him for that, he talked about everything and anything else on our way to school and during the day He went on and on about a party Tina Kennedy was planning I knew she was always chasing him, and he enjoyed teasing me about it He was so good at ignoring the diary, in fact, that it felt like I had dreamed the entire thinghis discovering the diary under my pillow and our plans for where and how to read it together However, it couldnt be completely ignored until the moment we took it out from under my pillow again For one thing, just like Christopher at this point in his diary, we were a week away from Thanksgiving Finally, on the way to my house after school, Kane mentioned that Quite a coincidence that the time period coincides, he said Neither of us had to say it, but we both thought that was a little eerie Why had the diary been discovered now And how coincidental was it that my father would be the one to locate the locked metal box after all these years Other people, young people, searched in the debris because there were so many rumors and stories about hidden wealth at Foxworth Hall Malcolm was supposed to be a miser, spending his money mainly on church or some religious charity The story was that he distrusted everyone, especially bankers, and was one of those people who literally kept money buried somewhere, yet no one had managed to uncover the metal box that contained Christophers diaryno one until my father was sent to evaluate the foundation for a new prospective buyer I cant imagine what hell write about their Thanksgiving shut up like that If the legendary story about them is true, they spent than one Thanksgiving and Christmas in that attic and than one birthday Weve got thirty five people coming for dinner at our house, he continued when I didnt comment My parents dont do much Theres a full kitchen staff, waiters, and a bartender Its like a party than a family gathering, even though two of my uncles and aunts are there with their children, who I dont see very much Thats a good thing Their pictures are right beside the word brat in the dictionary Im glad Darlena comes home from college, though What about you What goes on in your house As you can imagine, my father fixes quite a dinner He has a sweet potato pudding to die for Just the two of you No My aunt Barbara, my fathers sister, has come occasionally and might come this time, but my father always invites his chief assistant, Todd Winston, and his wife and their two children, and Mrs Osterhouse, who does his bookkeeping and would like to do for him, and I dont mean at work Shes a widow who has been with him for a long time Ah Do you like her Yes, shes nice Nice enough to be a new mother Ill never have another mother, Kane Even a saint couldnt step into her shoes Yeah Im sorry I put it that way What about your father Any interest Has he dated her No Hes polite to her, but I think she tries too hard Like Tina Kennedy when it comes to yours truly No, not quite as obvious as that, I said, and he laughed But my father likes subtlety when it comes to women Hes not so subtle when it comes to you No, I said, smiling, and Im not when it comes to him, either I like your father He seems comfortable in his own skin He never puts on airs, if thats what you mean Im proud of him You should be He paused and added, I think Im like him than I am like my own father Why do you say that My fathers always striving to do , get bigger, and is quite obvious about it Thats why hes on edge so much Everythings got to come out just the way he planned Its always the bottom line, no matter what it is He wants to make a profit on everything, even relationships More than once, Ive overheard my mother accuse him of marrying her for her family money Do you think thats true He gave me a look that said, You have to ask So youre not coming out just the way he planned, his bottom line for a son I asked He smiled Not exactly Why not You do well in school They say youre the best baseball pitcher the schools ever had You dont get in trouble, and youre passably good looking Passably Maybe a little , I kidded Im not as ambitious as hed like, and he thinks I waste time on too many unprofitable ventures He never stops complaining about my enthusiasm when it comes to my future He thinks I should be just as aggressive and ambitious as he was at my age He never misses an opportunity to say it His favorite expression is Youth is wasted on the young Thats what most parents say Not like he does But from what my relatives say, he wasnt always this intense Hes like someone who wins the lottery and turns from Jekyll to Hyde Dont quote me, especially in front of my father or my mother, but money changes you and not always for the best I fear Christopher might come to that same conclusion, even though thats all theyre dreaming about in that attic, lots of money Well know soon enough, Kane said, smiling, as he pulled into my driveway Now that we were about to start, I really wasnt sure how we were going to do this Was he going to read it like a bedtime story Were we going to stop to discuss things the way we might when we were studying a book in school Was I just going to sit there and listen the whole time, or was I supposed to take over and read to him I headed for the kitchen first What are you doing Lets get started, he said, practically leaping at the stairway I thought Id get us something to drink and eat first Dont you want a snack I have Just water, he said Nothing else Thats all they had most of the time Weve got to try to replicate their situation to really appreciate what he writes when I read it I felt a flush come over me It wasnt excitement, exactly It was as if he really believed we could do it, that we really could become Christopher and Cathy while we were up in my attic He saw the look on my face Didnt you ever hear the expression stay in character Thats all Im saying Okay I poured two glasses of cold water, handed him one, and led him up the stairs to my room After I plucked the diary out from under my pillow, I looked at him Now that we were about to do it, I half expected him to start laughing and say it was all just a joke, a reason to get me alone with him after school, but he stepped back instead to let me pass I led the way to the attic stairs When we reached the door, I hesitated Those creaking steps, those dark shadows, everything made it seem as if I was opening this door for the first time It wasnt simply a door to an attic it was a door to the past When I did step in, I paused as if I was expecting to see the four Dollanganger children waiting for us Perfect, Kane whispered, coming up beside me Theres furniture and old things It really is a miniature Foxworth Not quite, I said, looking at my mothers wardrobe Its not all other peoples leftovers and such My mothers clothing is in here, I told him, putting my hand on the wardrobe Oh He looked guilty suddenly I didnt know You didnt say anything Maybe I shouldnt have suggested we come up here Its all right Ive been up here often I even wore one of her dresses, remember That was the night you took me to the River House Oh Right But everything else here Nothing with any real memories for me, and the rest of it is stuff left by the original occupants He went over to the small windows and looked out Should I open one of these A little, but lets not forget to close it before we leave, I said He opened one and then turned and sat on the sofa Come on, he said, obviously even excited now Lets begin He held his hand out for the diary I gave it to him and sat beside him He thought a moment and then got up and moved to the chair across from the sofa Why did you do that Better this way, he said I smiled at him Why Its like when Christopher read to them or something Dont worry Youll understand after we get started, he said, as if he already knew about the Dollanganger children than I did He opened the diary I sat back I had no idea what to expect or what would happen next, but I couldnt help being eager to find out He didnt change his voice, exactly, but as he read, I could see him trying to pronounce every word perfectly and speak like a young boy who thought he was much intelligent than anyone else around him, including, of course, his mother and grandmother Kane even changed his posture, assuming that Christopher would never slouch To play along, I sat back and tried to remember what I was like when I was Cathy Dollangangers age, when every new little discovery about myself was earth shattering and when, like her, I needed my mother so much, a mother neither of us had And as he read, I could feel myself slipping out of this world and into theirs I think the realization that it was almost Thanksgiving shocked me as much as if not than it shocked Cathy I did my best to act surprised when Cathy mentioned it, acting almost carefree about it I knew how dramatic she could be, and I was afraid of what that would do to the twins I put on a face that said, So its almost Thanksgiving, so what She didnt have to tell me The what in so what was that Thanksgivings were always wonderful in our house when my father was alive To him, it was pre Christmas, so he always had little novelty presents for us a challenging mental puzzle for me, a small toy car for Cory, and fake jewelry or combs for Carrie and Cathy It wasnt much, just little surprises at the dinner table He didnt do anything resembling a novelty for Momma He never gave her anything that wasnt very special Any occasion was good for a new piece of jewelry When you find your soul mate, he told me, always treat her like a princess Women love jewelry Just before Daddy was killed, it got so that Cory used to think a pair of diamond earrings could multiply somehow into a diamond necklace, too, or a bracelet by Christmas They werent large diamonds Maybe they werent even real diamonds, but Momma was always excited and happy to get gifts, no matter what the occasion and especially if there was no occasion If he came home with something for her after work, it meant he was thinking about her Oh, look, children she would cry Your father was thinking of me even when he was at work Im always thinking of you, Corrine, he would say It made her buoyant and beautiful, especially at Thanksgiving, because he would always begin by telling us how thankful he was for our mother Maybe because of that than anything, she was eager to make our Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners special She was never the greatest cook, but she did a good job on the Thanksgiving turkey with all the trimmings, some of which were smuggled in by Mrs Wheeler, who also made our pies I was carefree and indifferent about it now, because I was afraid Momma would forget to do something about Thanksgiving for us, but she surprised me when she came into the attic with some decorations for our table and announced that they were for our Thanksgiving dinner, which she promised would be hot and wonderful, as wonderful as any How could it be as wonderful Cathy whispered We dont have Daddy But we still have each other, I replied Well always have each other She looked at me with grateful eyes I always seemed to come up with the right answers for her Sometimes, though, I thought she was sorry I had She wanted me to be of an ally, impatient and disgusted with everything One thing that did bother both Cathy and me was that Carrie had completely forgotten what Thanksgiving was She had been old enough to appreciate what we once had, but so much about our lives was beginning to fade and get lost in the fog of what had happened so quickly and where we were now When the door was shut and locked, it seemed to cut off our ties with our own past, slamming down on our happier memories My second pleasant surprise, however, was how wholeheartedly Cathy decided to get into it, fixing the table with the dishes and place settings that she had the twins help her create She was almost frantic about making our table joyful I tried to go along with the same enthusiasm, but I was worried about her She acted as if she was convinced that this dinner would be than a typical Thanksgiving celebration it would be the dinner celebrating our escape into a new life I have to admit that the way Momma described it and how happy she seemed certainly gave us that impression She promised all sorts of wonderful food from the party our grandparents were having and described the festivities just the way she would before Daddy died All of this was going to come to a quick end and a new beginning Mommas promises were alive and well However, that day, the hour for our participating in the wonderful foods and desserts came and went Every minute, every hour, was like another whiplash Every creak in the floor or the walls turned our eyes to the door expectantly, but there was only silence and disappointment We were all getting ravenously hungry in anticipation Momma had done such a good job of describing it all The twins were especially irritable as time passed Cathy tried to calm them with whatever we had to nibble on, but it wasnt working I felt I was slipping myself, losing my control I wanted to start screaming and pounding on the door, shouting, Where are you Wheres our wonderful dinner Wheres our Thanksgiving Finally, hours after she was supposed to be here, Momma arrived There was the Thanksgiving food she had promised, but by now, it was cold, and the twins wouldnt eat any, and worst of all, Momma couldnt stay with us What kind of a family dinner was this Nevertheless, I was ravenous and couldnt get those pieces of turkey into my mouth fast enough The twins moaned and complained than ever They wouldnt touch a thing Desperate to have them eat something, Cathy prepared peanut butter sandwiches Afterward, Cathy didnt have to say a word to convince me I sat staring at the plates and thinking how miserable we really were Kane paused and looked at me I guess I know what well both be thinking about at our own Thanksgiving feasts, he said How would you like eating alone with only your younger brother and sisters in an attic No music, no conversations, nobody telling jokes, nothing but cold turkey and potatoes Ill never complain about our Thanksgivings again Thats for sure I nodded He was right How cruel As if he knew what would follow in the diary, he put up his hand before I could speak and began again, his voice firmer, the words now colored with anger so visible his face turned a shade of crimson It riled up my sense of outrage, too Kane had been right It was different, effective, to read Christophers diary with someone else and see his reaction I sat back, and he began again But the misery was yet to start The following morning, Cory came down with a very bad cold Two days later, Carrie was just as sick These were very bad colds, like flu Momma came to treat them with aspirin and soup and juice, our grandmother following right behind her like some dark shadow cast by Death looking to get his hands on our little brother and sister She hovered over Cory and Carrie and shook her head at the way we were making a big deal over their illness She ridiculed whatever I suggested Some doctor youll be, she said, and insisted they just had to tough it out like any other children I was surprised Momma had told her what my ambitions were, but now I was upset she had I glanced at Cathy, who would always come to my defense I shook my head so shed understand not to do or say anything nasty now The twins were too sick At one point, Cory had a very high fever, but nothing impressed our grandmother, and Momma, to my great disappointment, didnt challenge her To impress us with how serious she thought it was, however, she claimed she had taken off from secretarial school just to care for them I never told Cathy this, but I always suspected that Momma never went to any secretarial school I couldnt even begin to imagine her doing that sort of work, and logically, why would she bring us here and put us through all this if we werent going to live here but instead live in some apartment supported by her secretarial job Of course, Cathy never thought of these things, and I wasnt going to say anything that would diminish her hope The twins illness went on and on for nearly three weeks Finally, they began to recuperate, but the illness had drained them They were lethargic, wisps of themselves, sleeping than usual, and difficult to get excited about any game or food I told Momma, and she decided that all we needed were vitamins The words were barely out of her mouth before Cathy exploded, shouting at her to get us out or at least take the twins into the fresh air She stomped her feet and raged The twins were wide eyed at her tantrum They wanted to cry, but they were too frightened to utter a sound She was making so much noise that I thought if no one else really knew we were here, they surely knew now Momma pleaded with Cathy to calm down, telling her she couldnt risk taking the twins out and having us all discovered and revealed to her father She insisted we were so close Cathy continued to rage Close, close, thats all we hear is that hes close she cried At one point, Momma cried back, What do you want me to do, kill him Tears were streaming down her face At that moment, I felt terrible for her There are eight servants working here, she muttered Theyre like spies, watching me all the time, especially that John Amos I never liked him Hes like a puppet Hell do anything my parents tell him to do The air seemed to go out of Cathy finally She just glared at Momma, full of frustration and emotionally exhausted You must be patient, Momma added before she left, like fled Before Cathy could start, I thought I had better attack her, because I felt just like she felt, but I couldnt show it Of course, I wanted the twins out in the fresh air We all needed it, but I told Cathy to stop picking on Momma, especially with her incessant questions, not one, by the way, that I hadnt thought of myself But what could I do I had to be stronger If I fell apart, it would all be lost, all this suffering for nothing Kane paused and dropped his arms to his sides, staring ahead for a moment He looked different Those impish eyes were suddenly dark and troubled He sat with a posture I thought was stiff, even uncomfortable for him Then he turned and looked at me with such a cold, impersonal expression I had to hold my breath What I asked in a whisper Why did you stop reading What do you think of me You Christopher, I mean Do you hate him You have to hate him for defending her, regardless of the reason From what I read up to here, hes always defending her, no matter what I dont know I dont hate him for that, but I would imagine Cathy has to be angry at him for taking Corrines side all the time, especially now However, she doesnt understand the danger, the risks involved with what shes asking her mother to do Its complicated, Kane Yes, he said, nodding My answer seemed to please him, although he didnt smile The pleasure was all in his eyes, the tiny movement at the corners of his mouth Of course, youre right She cant understand the way Christopher can Shes too young Hes unselfish, thats all He can see the bigger picture He has the vision He paused and looked like he was struggling with troubling thoughts again Although Although what He seems like he would forgive his mother for anything She risked the health of the twins for three weeks, and yet he was kind of calm about that His little brother and sister suffered unnecessarily Kids that age need their mothers around the clock when theyre sick, and they needed to be in the sunshine What good will all the money in the world do them if theyre physically and emotionally damaged He knows that Dont you think he knows that Yes but He shook his head I dont know, Kristin At times, I feel like he almost worships her Maybe its even than that What do you mean by You suspect an Oedipus complex Maybe Yes But thats not the full explanation He wants to believe Corrine is doing the right thing for them so much he will avoid reality And then sometimes I think he really believes her lies I mean, come on The old mans about to die, but he can attend a Thanksgiving dinner Whats with that I know I wondered about that, too Actually, now that I give it thought, Christophers pretty gullible for someone who is supposed to be so bright that he can become a doctor I want to be on his side, but he bugs me with his understanding and forgiveness Sorry if I show it when I read aloud Its getting to you, I said, nodding It has gotten to me I didnt want to say anything this morning when you told me you hadnt slept well I had all sorts of nightmares after reading to catch up, especially after I read that part about Cory accidentally getting locked in that trunk Im not claustrophobic, but I dont think I ever get into an elevator without wondering what Id do if it broke down He looked at the diary in his hands Maybe you should be the one reading it aloud Oh, no, Kane, you read the diary well, I said, and I smiled You even read Cathy well Maybe you should go out for the spring play Mr Madeo would love you in the drama club, Im sure No thanks This is the only stage I want to be on right now, and with only you as an audience He laughed If any of my buddies knew what I was doing Which theyll never know, I said sharply Not from me Thats for sure He stood up and looked around the attic with his shoulders up, embracing himself, and for the moment looking like someone who really was imprisoned, diminished by the small space and crawling into himself He continued to look around, turning his head slowly and pausing at the windows Even convicts in real prisons get time outside, he muttered His gaze stopped when he reached me It was as if he had forgotten that I was up here with him He stared for a moment, and then his body seemed to fall back into the Kane I knew, his shoulders just a little slumped, his face framing that impish, offbeat smile that was so sexy Speaking of spending time in an attic, however, I wouldnt mind being locked in here with you for a while, he said He sounded like himself again He started toward me, his eyes full of passion I held up my hand like a traffic cop But Im your sister, I said, and he stopped Up here, as long as were up here, Im your sister We behave toward each other like they do otherwise, your whole theory of why were here is lost I wasnt saying it to be impish or defensive I really believed it now I could see his mind spinning with conflicting desires Was this it Would he give up reading the diary in my attic Or reading it at all Is that what I wanted, what I hoped to hear Was it unfair of me to tease him with the promise that it would be different once we left the attic Right, he said He stepped back, looking insulted, taking on Christophers posture again What kind of a brother do you think I am You sound like you believe what the grandmother from hell believes about us I started to laugh He was so convincing, but then I decided to get right into it and be just as convincing Sorry Oh, I moaned as dramatically as I could, Im so sorry for doubting you, Christopher Right You should be sorry We Dollangangers, Foxworths, whatever we are, need to stick together Desperately, I said I was expecting him to laugh, but he didnt He nodded instead and returned to his chair, looking even determined I guess well have to wait to see what kind of a brother you really are Wont we I teased, but that didnt bring a smile, either He picked up the diary, glared at me defiantly, snapped his arms out firmly, and began to read again Christmas Eve now loomed on our horizon, but not like Christmas Eves before This threatened to be dark and horrible, a pending electric storm of broken promises and memories dangling like broken tree ornaments When Cathy muttered one night that it would soon be Christmas and reminded me that we had been here just about five months, I felt panic rise through me Five months One look at the twins, who were still so fragile and so subdued since their stubborn colds, and I knew I had to come up with something that would stave off any sadness and disappointment Well make them gifts, I declared It seemed to distract her, which was my purpose, and then one night, I came up with the idea that we should even make our grandmother a Christmas present Why would we do that Cathy asked To win her over Shes still our grandmother, I told her, even though the words nearly choked me She stared at me Was she going to scream or laugh I saw her giving it serious thought Then she smiled, realizing I was suggesting we do something to manipulate her for a change You really think that might work I shrugged Why not try Daddy used to say, You can get with honey than vinegar Maybe that was underhanded, quoting Daddy for this, but I knew it would move Cathy to cooperate, and cooperate she did She decided that whatever we made, it had to be perfect Well show her, she said, and I smiled to myself My plan, at least for now, was working She came up with the idea to bond tan linen to a stretcher frame and glue on a variety of colored stones with gold and brown cording She worked on it intensely than she had ever worked on anything, telling me our grandmother was obviously a perfectionist and would only appreciate this if it was perfect Whatever, I thought At least it was keeping her occupied and not thinking about the rest of it And then Momma justified the faith I had in her One afternoon, she came with a live Christmas tree in a small wooden tub She helped us trim the tree and hang miniature ornaments For a while, it was as though we were back home again, being the family we were She gave us four hanging stockings and promised that next year at this time, we would be living in our own home Cathy was still skeptical, especially since Thanksgiving, but amazingly, we woke up on Christmas morning and found the stockings stuffed and gifts under the tree After we unwrapped our gifts, Cathy looked at me with eyes drowning in tears I knew why She was sorry she had ever doubted Momma Its all right, I told her, and kissed her forehead The main thing is, she cares as much about us as ever Later, our grandmother arrived with a picnic basket She said nothing, not Merry Christmas or anything, but I nodded at Cathy, and she approached her and handed her our gift I held my breath Would this be a wonderful Christmas after all Would everything finally change Grandmother Olivia looked at us and at the gift, then handed it back to Cathy without a word and left I was stunned by her insensitivity, but Cathy went wild She stomped on the gift, smashing it and screaming about how horrid our grandmother was and how angry she was at Momma for leaving us in this place at the mercy of that monster Her rage brought tears I had to calm her down, embrace her, and rock her like a child, assuring her that we had done the right thing Our grandmother was the one in the wrong And you cant blame Momma, Cathy Its not Mommas fault that she has a mother like that Now we can understand why she was so eager to leave with Daddy and give up inheriting a fortune, I told her That seemed to make sense to her Cathy saw how the twins were taking her outburst and my trying to calm her She nodded Youre right, she whispered, then flicked away her tears and went to them I watched her calm them and cheer them up again, just the way a mother would do It wasnt a perfect Christmas it was a Christmas, however, and Christmas always made you hopeful Miraculously, just at the right time, Momma returned with gifts, one being a large dollhouse that she said had been hers It was done in amazing detail, with furniture and little servants The twins were fascinated, as was I I was sure Momma was right It was a very expensive toy Cathy was still very down, though, and when Momma asked why, I told her about the way our grandmother had reacted to our gift Oh, you have to ignore her, she told me Shes always been hard to please Shes not a happy woman Shell never be a happy woman, even with all the wealth She doesnt know how to use it to bring happiness, but believe me, I do, and I will In fact Suddenly, she burst into a new smile, hurried out, and then returned with a small television set She told us that for now, it would be our window on the world But even this didnt please Cathy Finally, Momma embraced both of us, gave us each a hug, and announced that the end was near This is my real Christmas gift, she said My plan is working My father has called for a lawyer to put me back in his will Step one, she declared with happy tears, has been accomplished, and youre all just as responsible for my success as I am I couldnt help it I almost burst into tears of happiness myself I looked at Cathy When she was little, she didnt want me to always be right, but this time, she looked grateful, maybe than grateful I think she was looking at me and thinking I was really quite brilliant And she was happier than ever that I was her brother I couldnt hope to replace the father we had lost, but I was so grateful that I was able to get as close to that as possible For both our sakes Kane set the diary on the small table beside his chair and took a deep breath He had read it with such intensity, the intensity of someone who had been there He was wiping a few tears off his cheeks I was emotionally frozen for a moment, from both what he had read and how he was reacting Phew, he said, shaking his head That was intense Do you realize how often Christopher is on the verge of exploding, pounding on that door, and demanding an end to it all I cant imagine how he sleeps at night and how he holds himself together, seeing whats happening to his brother and sisters I dont care how much faith he has in his mother or whatever Christopher How about Cathy Shes always exploding, he said He laid his head back and closed his eyes I never expected him to react this way Many times when I was reading the diary alone in my room, I would find myself as deeply emotionally involved as he looked like he was now, but I just assumed it was a girl thing, especially because of how closely I identified with Cathy I realized that no one knew this side of Kane Hill, his sensitivity, maybe not even his parents Whenever I had an emotional reaction to something in the diary, I realized that whatever it was, it resonated because of something similar, some similar fear or sadness in my own life What was Kane finding similar to his own life, which everyone at school, including me, saw as about as perfect and privileged as life for someone our age could be Thats enough for today, Kane, I said, standing I really want to get to my homework before my father comes home He looked up at me with what I thought was both anger and disappointment in his face I mean, we dont have to rush through it, do we Its better if we take our time so we wont miss something important He thought a moment and then nodded and stood up Of course Youre right Lets get at some homework, and then how about my taking you to have some pizza or something Well go to the Italian Stallion Ill have to call my father and see what hes doing for dinner later, I said We left the attic, and Kane paused in the doorway to look back as though he had forgotten something I had taken the diary from him There was nothing else I looked at him quizzically, and he hurried past me and down the stairs Wait I called He stopped You want to keep going No You opened the window, remember I told you we always have to remember to leave things as they were Oh He started up Ill do it, I said He waited for me on the stairway Sorry I wont forget next time I nodded, and we headed for my room I slipped the diary under my pillow and went to my phone while he took his books out of his book bag Whats up my father said, but not until after the third ring Id been preparing to leave a message Are you busy Debating with the building inspector, which is par for the course So Youre not coming home in time for dinner, right Right I might have a bite with Mr Johnson His architect suggested some changes that will create new issues I dont know where some of these ideas are coming from What ideas Never mind Why are you asking about dinner Theres that roast chicken I prepared and Kane wants to take me for pizza at the Italian Stallion He was silent for a few moments Dad Sure Have a good time Ill spend some time with you afterward That is, if you have your homework done, he added almost sarcastically, which was a real change for him Something was bothering him, I thought Ill have it done, I said, then added, Dont be a worrywart, which was another one of his favorite expressions Okay Gotta go, he said My torturer is getting impatient Everything all right Kane asked as soon as I hung up Yes Just some of the usual complications involved in building a house, I said, as if I really knew He nodded and returned to his homework I dug in to mine, and nearly an hour later, I heard him slap his history book closed Im starving, he said Okay I can handle what I have left later Let me freshen up a bit first, I said, and went into the bathroom While I was brushing my hair, I heard him on the phone talking to his mother I had yet to spend any real time with his parents He really hadnt spent any quality time with my father, either It wasnt as if we were on the verge of getting engaged or anything, but some of the parents of my friends made a big thing about meeting people they dated and getting to know them better It was important to my father but so far not a big thing for Kanes parents Parents wanting to get to know people you went out with seemed to be truer for girls than for boys If some of them only knew how their daughters could be a lot worse It wasnt my intention to eavesdrop on Kane, but something his mother had said seemed to have irritated him, and he raised his voice Yes, Im at her house I plan on being here a lot Dont worry about it, he said sharply It got quiet, so I imagined he had ended the call, but when I stepped out, he was still on my phone, listening Youre lucky shes even coming home, he finally said, and ended the call Everything all right at home Just the usual turmoil I have to hear my mother rant about my sister, Darlena, because my father refuses to listen to any of it Whats the problem Darlena wants to bring her boyfriend home for Thanksgiving And your mother doesnt like him Lets just say shes reluctant about it He has a bit of Hispanic heritage What Whats a bit His mother is from Chile, he said with a smile And that matters Shell never come out and say it My mother was brought up to be a princess My parents met on some billionaires yacht, you know Anyway, he said, smiling, you should hear how fluently Darlena speaks Spanish now I think she does it just to drive my mother nuts Whats your father say about it If he can make a lot of money, it wont matter if hes half Eskimo My father is an equal opportunity capitalist Sometimes you sound like you dont like your parents, Kane, I said I was back to peeling that onion again We were both uncovering and about ourselves, and I couldnt help being interested in him after seeing how he reacted to what Christopher had written in his diary He looked at me Probably so What I was shocked at his candor We can love them, but we dont have to like them, he said Dont look so surprised Lots of kids, maybe even most, dont want to be replicas of their parents Doesnt mean they dont like them They dont like enough of them, and they want to be different, right I guess so But not for me, I added quickly Yeah, but maybe thats what eventually happened to Christopher and Cathy when it came to their mother Maybe they still loved her but they didnt like her I dont like her, he added Even if Christopher does But you really dont like your own mother He shrugged Lets put it this way, Kristin I dont have trouble imagining her locking me away in an attic if it meant shed inherit a fortune You dont mean that He smiled Wait until you get to know her better, he said When she lets her hair down Sometimes my mother reminds me of Lady Macbeth He made me think I had been at the homes of many of my friends, eaten dinner with their families, watched television with them, and slept over, but did I really know what their family life was like How much of it was a show for me, the nearly orphaned girl Dont let her see any family problems Be grateful youre not in her situation The neighbors the Dollangangers had before Christopher Sr was killed probably thought of them as a precious little family full of love and beauty Could any of those neighbors and friends, any who had been waiting for Christopher Sr at his birthday party that fateful night, ever have imagined those children locked away by their own mother and grandmother for years We left for the restaurant Promise me you wont read the diary without me, Kane said after we had sat in a booth at the Italian Stallion and ordered our pizza To make this real for us, we have to make the discoveries together I wont I can tell from the expression on your face if you do, he warned You want me to make your famous blood oath I asked Maybe, he said, and then he laughed We talked a lot about events in the earlier part of the diary Kane found it hard to believe that Christopher Sr had left his family so destitute The man has no life insurance He had four children Theres something odd about it, about the way they behaved together, anyway It was like a family of children They lived in a bubble, and the bubble burst They thought all they had to do was change their name to Dollanganger, and they could make the past disappear You know what I think I think by the time we get to the end, Christopher Jr.s going to think his parents were just plain irresponsible You saw the way he began to doubt his father, thinking he might have been some kind of dreamer who talked a good game but never had his grasp of anything substantial Even his job might have been all fluff You were supposed to be the objective pair of eyes here, Kane, I said No preconceptions Wait until we get to the end before making judgments I know, I know I get frustrated too easily But youll keep my feet on the ground, he added, reaching for my hand Just the way in the end Cathy will keep Christophers Thats a bet We stared at each other, but I felt as if we were looking through each other, looking at our visions of Christopher and Cathy rather than ourselves I still have some work to do, I said, and Id like to spend some time with my father before I go to sleep Sure He signaled for our check When we pulled into my driveway, I could see my father was home His cherished pickup, Black Beauty, was parked there He treated it like some revered old friend, full of mechanical arthritis but still ambulatory Sometimes I would catch him just looking at it and stroking it affectionately, lost in some memory that involved it or perhaps thinking about my mother sitting beside him Maybe I could get your dad a good deal on a new truck, Kane said Ill talk to my father Dont bother Even if you brought one over for free, hed drive his He says they grew on each other He even named it Black Beauty Kane laughed Tell him people like him will put my father out of business I will, I said He kissed me softly I would have preferred being the older child in my family, he said I kind of like the idea of looking after someone the way Christopher is doing, without the situation, of course You will someday, with your own children, I said He nodded, but I could see he meant something else See you in the morning You sure I mean, I could drive myself and Absolutely not Im looking after you as if there was no one else, he said As if we had no one but each other It sounded like something I should appreciate, but it followed me all the way to the front door, the way something eerie and haunting might He backed out, waved, and drove off I gazed up at my bedroom window In my wild imagination, I saw Christopher Dollanganger peering out between the curtains The image disappeared as quickly as it had come, but a night that had begun with a warm, cozy feeling suddenly had a chill I didnt hear the television when I entered It was too early for my father to go to bed, and he wasnt at the desk he used in the den for his paperwork at home Dad I called Either he hadnt heard me or he was in the bathroom Nevertheless, I went into the living room and saw him sitting in his chair, staring at the television It wasnt on Dad He turned slowly Oh, Kristin I didnt hear you come in Have a good time Yes Whats happening Why are you just sitting here practically in the dark I asked He had turned on only a small lamp next to the sofa Oh, I must have nodded off a little Arent you feeling well I asked, not hiding my nervousness Ever since my mothers sudden illness and death, I would practically panic when my father complained about an ache, developed a cough and cold, or just looked exhausted His health actually was very good I couldnt recall a time when he had missed work or even gone in late, but for that matter, I couldnt recall my mother ever showing signs of any serious illness before she had her cerebral aneurism Like most young children, I took it for granted that my parents would always be there, would live forever Many nights I woke up crying for her It took months for me to get past expecting her to be sitting where she always sat, standing where she stood in the kitchen, hearing her footsteps in the hallway or her voice somewhere in the house I kept pushing the reality of her death away, thinking of it as only a bad dream For Christopher, Cathy, and even Corrine, the appearance of those policemen who had come to report their fathers fatal accident surely became the basis of nightmares that would follow them into every sleep, perhaps for the rest of their lives Cory and Carrie were still young enough to fail to grasp the impact of the tragedy Every day, just like I expected to see my mother miraculously appear, they expected to see their father come through that front door, calling for them, eager to embrace them, and maybe, even though they didnt say it according to Christopher, they were hoping he would come and take them away from Foxworth Hall, too The younger you were, the longer it took for death to find its way completely inside you But they all felt lost, vulnerable, and frightened, even Christopher, who portrayed himself as older and mature No wonder they were so willing in the end to do what Corrine demanded They could rage, throw tantrums, cry, and moan, but in the end, they would tolerate far than ever, because they had only her now Maybe Kane ascribed other motives to Christopher because he didnt understand this, never having lost a parent Yeah, Im fine, my father said, but he rose as if he had aged years in hours You didnt hurt yourself today Oh, no Somethings up, I said I reached back into myself, perhaps into that part of me that was my mother, to sound firm and demanding What is it, Dad He looked at me and instantly knew he couldnt get by with some lame excuse He took a deep breath and tried anyway Things just got a little complicated at the site, thats all, he said I stood my ground Why Its probably nothing Im just a stickler for perfection, for everything I do being clean and straight Dad, I said, and I put my hands on my hips, something he would do when he wanted to get to the bottom of things Its really nothing youll be interested in, Kristin Which means it is, I said He sighed deeply and sat again I came around and stood in front of him, my arms crossed over my breasts He looked up at me and smiled What You look just like her doing that Whenever I tried to keep something from her, she would plant herself in front of me and fold her arms, practically singing, I will not be moved You even hold your head the same way And you told her what it was Always, he said So Okay I had occasion to look at the paperwork on the property late this afternoon Not the architecture or materials, none of that What, then The title, who owns it I dont understand I sat on the sofa I thought Arthur Johnson owned it So did I Turns out it was bought by a trust, and the trustees are not revealed What does that mean Im not sure Im not even sure Arthur Johnson and his wife will live there But you said he was so involvedhaunting you, I believe, was the way you put it Yes, thats true So I dont know Thats what irks me Maybe Im just spooking myself Like I said, its not anything to talk about As long as Im paid, I guess It still matters to you, and theres some reason for that I just dont like mysteries involving something Im doing Especially on that property, he muttered What could it be Who would want to keep the fact that they had bought and were building on Foxworth a secret I dont know Someone from Charlottesville Maybe Look, Im tired, Kristin, he said, getting up again It was a longer day than usual Well talk about it some other time, maybe when I find out Okay He did look tired I didnt want to keep nagging him and making it all worse Youre right to think its weird, I said sharply, then turned and went upstairs How much of this should I tell Kane, or should I tell him anything about it at all What could it possibly have to do with Christophers diary I stood staring at my bed and thinking about the diary Should I do what I had promised and not read it until Kane and I could read it together Or should I read ahead and be prepared for what happened Would Kane realize it, as he claimed he would Probably, I thought, and then he might be the one who felt betrayed, and who knew what would happen then No, despite the temptation, I would have to wait Nevertheless, I went to sleep thinking that maybe including him in reading the diary would turn out to be a big mistake in the end for many reasons, some unforeseen My father looked surprised the following morning when I told him that Kane was picking me up again He was thoughtful a moment, and then he smiled Well, I guess well save a lot on gas and tires, he joked He didnt seem as bothered by what he had discovered yesterday, so I didnt bring it up again Let me know when I should sell your car Like I would, I said Ever He laughed Im going to get down to business about Thanksgiving, he said, changing his tone Its only days away I reserved a fourteen pound turkey Sounds bigger than last year Just in case we have another guest or two, he replied, his eyebrows up in expectation Not Kane, I said quickly His family has a big Thanksgiving with lots of relatives He has to be there He nodded I was sorry that the way I had said it made it sound like I was unhappy with our small group Your aunt Barbara might still come She was invited to her bosss home, but she might still come Whatever Well have the best dinner for miles around, I told him It brought a weak smile to his face Did I ever tell you about your mothers and my first Thanksgiving together He had, but I shook my head I was still at the diner, and I made a six pound turkey just for the two of us We ate late, after the crowd had gone We ate in the kitchen It was the best Thanksgiving we had until you were born and could sit at the table with us She was the one who said, No matter how good the food is, its better when you share it with people you love Otherwise, its just good food Sounds like it should be on a greeting card, huh Yes He was thoughtful for a moment and then snapped back quickly Shed sure bawl me out for doing or saying anything to diminish ours You didnt, and you wont, I said Besides, youre with someone you love and who loves you I got up and kissed him I heard Kanes horn Hes early Eager to get to school and learn, I said, and left him laughing as I rushed out the door Kane put up his hand as soon as I got into his car What We dont talk about the diary ever until were up in the attic from now on Well, I agree, for reasons Ive said I dont want us to talk about it in school in case someone overhears, but when were alone, too Whats brought you to that conclusion I thought about it a lot last night Weve got to give it authenticity, and that will come only when were in it, when we can feel it on us I dont want to make this into some school project You know, like were studying a book in English class or for an exam Do you No, but So good Good, he said, and backed out He looked up at the attic before driving off It doesnt exist except up there, he added firmly At first, I thought his attitude was a bit extreme Of course, I liked the idea that it would be kept an even better and tighter secret, but there was still something about it that bothered me It didnt frighten me or anything, and I certainly agreed about not turning it into some extra credit book report Like him, I wanted to step away from that sort of thinking There was nothing personal about that Maybe what bothered me was what had begun to bother me from the start Kane seemed even into this than I was, and I had far reason to be As distant as the relationship was, the Dollanganger children were still related to me through my mother And it was my father who was working on the property and who had found the diary What got me thinking harder about it was wondering why Kane was so into it What was he bringing to it that I had never expected or could have known At times, he seemed to be very critical of Christopher, but then he would suddenly embrace him Our English teacher, Mr Madeo, who also directed the school plays, once told us that an actor has to find something with which he can identify in a character he plays, even if he plays a villain What was it that Kane found in Christopher and the whole Dollanganger situation that enabled him to get so into it Maybe there were some resemblances to his own family The Dollangangers were a loving family at the start of the diary, but it was clear that with the loss of their father, the children were drifting away from their mother They were almost like orphans Kane did admit that he didnt like his mother hed said he loved her like a child should love a mother, but he didnt particularly like the person she was Even though I never spent any time with Kane and his sister together, I could tell that he had a very good relationship with her Was she as critical of their parents as he was Did they complain about them to each other She surely must be complaining to him about her mothers attitude toward her boyfriend In how many families that I knew only on the surface were the children allied against their own parents Even if I had a brother or a sister, I couldnt imagine the two of us being adversaries of our parents, especially my father How ironic this was all becoming In the beginning, I was afraid that I would be the one who revealed too much about herself, but it was starting to look like it might be Kane who did that Was I ready for the revelations Did I want to know them What sort of a Pandoras box had I opened by agreeing to read the diary with him Of course, I didnt bring up any of this, even after the school day had ended and we were on our way to my home All day, I had tried to distract myself from these heavy thoughts The girls were all talking about Tina Kennedys party the coming weekend Unlike Kanes recent party at his home when his parents had gone on a trip, Tinas party was promising to be wild Her father owned lots of real estate, and one of the properties was an adult bar outside of Charlottesville, so everyone imagined there would be a good supply of booze, and Tina had an older brother in his third year of college who seemed to have an endless supply of mood enhancing drugs Lately, she had practically dared me not to attend In her effort to win Kanes attention, she was portraying me as the class goody goody, who was capable of turning states evidence when it came to whatever my girlfriends and the boys did She didnt want me to be trusted I complained to Kane about it, but he didnt want to take any of it seriously That was beginning to annoy me To counter her insinuations, my closer friends, like Suzette and Kyra, were telling everyone that Kane and I were really getting it on at my home after school almost daily I wasnt happy about any of that and was even a little irritated at Kanes indifference to the chatter Until now, that was his charm, his coolness, as most girls put it, but I had seen him be quite the opposite in the attic I suggested that he and I boycott the party Why give her the satisfaction he said We can handle it Dont worry We both had a light load of homework that day, which Kane took to mean we could spend time on the diary Well order in Chinese or something, okay he asked Sure, I said He drove a little faster than usual Neither of us said anything until we entered my house and went up to my room to get the diary I just want to freshen up a bit, I said when he turned to the door Go to the bathroom Just freshen up Go on ahead if you want, I said, and to my surprise, he did just that I was even surprised at what he had done by the time I got up there He had moved furniture around so it resembled the Foxworth Hall attic as much as possible Gives a better idea, he said when I just stood there looking at it all Okay We have to move it back before we leave Oh, absolutely No problem He got into the chair and looked at me I moved to the sofa He began Momma had told us about the grand Christmas party her parents were having, and Cathy pleaded and pleaded for us to be able to see it How can I let you do that Well hide and watch Well be careful Please, she pleaded Momma looked at me I knew she was hoping I would disagree with Cathy or help her explain why it wasnt possible, but I was just as tired of being confined and seeing nothing beautiful and fun She read it in my face, thought for a moment, and then pulled us aside so the twins wouldnt hear us Okay I know a place where you can hide and watch Just the two of you The twins wouldnt be able to contain themselves, and they would give us all away Promise not to tell them, and promise to wait until they are fast asleep We did, and she promised to come get us and take us to where we could watch the party unseen I thought Cathy would be ecstatic about it, but the moment Momma left, she took on a long face What She wont come back It will be like our wonderful Thanksgiving dinner Something will prevent her Give her a chance, I said, but in my heart, I bore the same skepticism Momma was good at making promises and then finding explanations for why they were broken But that was something I thought I would never tell Cathy Fortunately, this time, I didnt have to consider it Momma showed up looking beautiful than ever She looked like a princess, a movie star, in her formal gown, which showed cleavage than I expected, especially in this house with our grandmother I couldnt take my eyes off her Even when I was younger, but not too young to appreciate a naked woman, I wasnt as moved, even when she had paraded nude in front of us Maybe it was because it was so long since I had seen her so bright, the crests of her breasts so crimson with excitement, her eyes as dazzling as her diamond and emerald earrings, that I found myself so taken It was easy for me to imagine how my father had been so smitten with her beauty and impervious to any suspicions of incest I could feel my own sexuality stirring, and I was admittedly ashamed How could I have these thoughts and feelings about my own mother Kane paused and looked at me with a strange expression of guilt on his face In fact, he seemed to cringe in the chair What I asked Why did you stop reading I expected him to go into his theory of the Oedipus complex again, but he surprised me I remember when I first had a similar feeling What similar feeling Feelings about my mother Ive never told anyone Ive read about it, of course I dont have an Oedipus complex, he added firmly The jurys still out on whether that even exists I didnt know what to say I just stared at him I was just a little than twelve For the previous year or so, my mother had become very careful about undressing in front of me or appearing undressed where I could see She always closed her door, but one time, she didnt, and You saw her naked Worse She and my father were on the verge Oh I couldnt help becoming aroused Sometimes you just cant help it, he quickly added It just happens, especially for boys Understand Yes It never happened again, he said He looked angry now Im sure its quite normal, especially at that age, when you were just Breaking out, he said Then he smiled, which gave me an instant sense of relief And not just with pimples His expression changed again, returned to a cross between anger and guilt He looked around the attic and nodded to himself What I asked What was he thinking now This is our special place now, Kristin, our attic of secrets, right Of course We both took blood oaths Im serious I am, too I was the first to demand that, Kane And I would never repeat anything we say to each other up here, especially because of the diary He nodded, looking satisfied Im sorry I just Ive never been so honest with anyone else, even my parents or my sister Then Im flattered, I said, and his smile returned Youre very special, Kristin I mean it Im happy you trusted me with this I know what that means to you He looked down at the diary in his hands Go on, I said Its all right You havent done or said anything that would change my mind I told him that, but I wasnt as confident about it as I made it sound Nevertheless, he nodded, smiled, and began again Momma smiled at me as if she knew how intoxicatingly beautiful I thought she was Why should I be surprised She was always good at reading my thoughts She warned us not to stay out for than an hour, as the twins might waken, and then she took us to a place she said used to be her own hiding place from which to spy on adults, a massive oblong table with cabinet doors underneath There was barely enough room for Cathy and me to crawl under, but through the fine mesh screen, we could see the grand ballroom below, all lit with candles The elegantly dressed men and women, the women with glittering jewels, the huge Christmas tree with what looked like hundreds of lights and ornaments, the dozens of servants serving champagne, the display of foods being served by chefs, and the music made it the greatest display of wealth we had ever seen Momma hadnt lied about this They were rich, very rich She hadnt exaggerated about that I looked at Cathy Her face was so full of wonder it brought tears to my eyes All these months of boredom and depression, sickness and cold, and reams and reams of cruel words spewed at us, all of it paled at this moment A curtain had been lifted and showed us what could one day be ours, too Oh, how worth it our struggle has been, I thought I looked at my sister and smiled at the way she was dazzled before my eyes She could easily grow into one of those beautiful women below, as beautiful as Momma, I thought We watched Momma, who was talking to a man about my fathers height Suddenly, he took her hand and kissed it I felt like an arrow of ice had just been shot into my chest Cathy nudged me Did you see that, what she let that man do Of course I had, but instead of talking about it, I talked about what our parties would be like when we were finally accepted and living in this grand mansion I thought we had seen all we would that would shock and amaze us, but suddenly, our grandmother from hell appeared, only now she looked as elegantly dressed as any of the other women Cathy was astonished, too, but could only remark about her size Somehow, among other women, she looked even taller than when she loomed as she stood above us And then the most astonishing thing of all happened Our grandfather was brought in, in his wheelchair Its him Cathy muttered He paused and slowly raised his head and looked up in our direction I was positive he was smiling Instinctively, I pulled back, but Cathy remained staring down at him He looks like Daddy, only older, she said Why wouldnt he Hes Daddys half brother But Shh, I said There were two people nearby talking, a man and a woman They talked about our mother The woman was uncomplimentary, but the man, whom she called Albert Donne, raved about Momma and wished she was his instead of belonging to someone named Bartholomew Winslow They confirmed that Momma was once adored by her father and would inherit the fortune, but neither was happy for her They drifted off Whos Bartholomew Winslow Lets go, I said, instead of trying to come up with an answer I knew it had to be the man who had kissed her hand and was paying so much attention to her at the party The twins might have woken up Cathy wanted to stay longer, but I made her leave and return to our little bedroom The twins were still fast asleep Both of us stood there looking at them, stunned and dazzled by all we had seen and heard Is Momma going to marry this Bartholomew Winslow Is that what those people meant How do I know I snapped back at her I shouldnt have, but I couldnt help it The woman I had seen below at that grand party was different from the woman who had brought us to Foxworth Hall, and I was afraid of what that difference might mean Suddenly, I felt defiant and excited about a new idea Why not take advantage of this opportunity to explore the house and really understand where we were Momma was occupied, I told Cathy, and the door was unlocked We wouldnt get a better opportunity She was worried that our grandmother would find out and whip us, but I thought I would go up to the attic, find some clothes to use for a disguise, and then go out I found an old dark suit that fit well Cathy stared in amazement as I paraded boldly before her, pretending to be some old gent Ill never be recognized, I declared She still looked quite terrified but told me to go explore She made me promise I wouldnt be too long I pretended to be a hero about to embark on a dangerous venture to save us both by learning the secrets of the mansion She smiled when I swept her up in my arms, and for a moment, inhaling the sweet scent of her freshly washed hair and feeling the smoothness of her skin and the closeness of her body naked beneath her new nightgown, I felt a rush of passion, heat rising from my thighs, through my body, and into my face I kissed her cheek, and the kiss was such a surprise to both of us that we stood motionless for a moment Then I forced a laugh and, pretending to be a knight in armor, rushed out of the room and into the mansion of secrets Kane paused, looked at me, and then jumped up and came over to kiss me Why did you do that I asked, smiling Christopher kissed his sister You said we had to do what they do when they do it I didnt mean literally, I said Maybe you did and you didnt realize it He returned to his chair You hear anything that surprised you Dont try to be a teacher, Kane Remember, this is supposed to be different from a school assignment He laughed Sorry Okay You heard how the old man looked up at them and smiled Christopher said he thought it looked like that He wasnt sure The old man knew they were there, Kane said, nodding Your uncles contact was right, I bet Okay, Ill play along What do you think it all means He sat back, looking like a junior Sherlock Holmes, full of self confidence Im thinking the old lady told him right from the start, and he approved of keeping them under lock and key They both believed the children were the devils children or something, didnt they Maybe they thought theyd grow horns and tails and confirm their nutty ideas But what about Corrine I admit that what shes doing, what shes permitting, most mothers wouldnt, but I really believe she thinks she can pull it off, dont you He shrugged Maybe they played her, too Played her You know, conned her into believing the plan had a chance Granny told her she was keeping the kids a secret from the old coot until he kicked the bucket She forced Corrine to do the things she did, convincing her that was the case All the while, she kept the old man in the loop But why would he do it He gets his slow revenge for her running off with Christopher Sr He puts her through all this hell first It doesnt sound like shes going through hell now Yeah, not now Now shes back to being Daddys little girl Shes been whipped and made to do what they want her to do with the children Hes letting out the leash little by little, her own car, money, clothes, and jewelry He keeps her obedient, and that keeps the children locked up Shes all hes got left, with the brothers dead He sounds to me like someone who wants his legacy Hes probably got too much of an ego to see the end of the Foxworths Her return, molding her into the woman he wants her to be, is satisfying, maybe even keeping him alive at this point, he continued, obviously thinking it through as he spoke Maybe, I said What he was saying did make some sense, at least with what we knew now But I still think we shouldnt jump to any conclusions He smiled Thats okay Keep your options open One of us should always be challenging what the other thinks, anyway Cathys really challenging Christophers theories most of the time, isnt she You challenge mine Yes, but So lets keep going I want to see what he discovers Its still early I checked the time Okay Pleased, he returned to the diary As he began, I thought again about what I had considered might happen, how by reading the diary and putting ourselves as best we could in Christophers and Cathys place, we might expose things about ourselves that wed told no one He had already done it Soon it would be my turn, I was sure Would this all make us closer, or, in the end, would it drive us apart As quietly as I could, I opened the door and slipped into the room, but when I turned to look for Cathy, there was Momma I had never seen such rage in her face Her whole body looked swollen with it Before I could speak, she slapped me hard on the left cheek, and when I recuperated, she slapped me even harder on my right Stunned, I stood there, my face stinging Where were you Where did you go If you ever do anything like this againshe practically spit at meIll whip you Ill whip you both the way I was whipped Do you hear Do you I couldnt speak Was this the mother who had so often embraced me, petted me, and covered my face with kisses, telling me how much she needed and depended on me and how like my father I was to her in almost every way Was this the mother who looked to me to help her get through this crisis, because she believed I was an adult than a child and I could understand her and what she needed perhaps than someone her age Who was this woman now standing before me with such fury in her eyes For a long moment, it was so quiet we could hear the walls and floors creak Then my mothers expression changed so quickly it took my breath away It was as if she had been possessed by some demon and, realizing what had happened, driven him out Im sorry Im sorry she cried Forgive me, please Forgive me She reached forward with soft hands now and cupped my face as she stepped toward me, muttering how I shouldnt be so frightened or afraid of her, how her threat to whip us as she had been whipped was, of course, ridiculous She flooded my stinging face with quick kisses, apologizing, embracing me, and bringing my face, my lips, down to the warmth of her breasts, my lips pressing to them, drawing out the warmth and love I always thought she kept safely there for me She released me, and I stepped back, but then she kissed me again, but this time, she kissed me on the lips the way I had seen her kiss my father so many times It wasnt simply a smack on the lips it was a kiss that cried for forgiveness When she pulled away, she stroked my hair and smiled that soft, loving smile I had known so well all my life Will you forgive me Will you Yes, Momma, I said I forgive you She burst into a wide, ecstatic smile and reached for Cathys hand I could see that Cathy was trembling with fear She had never seen our mother like she was moments ago, either She looked at me, her face slowly hardening now into anger than surprise or fear I gave her a look of reassurance, but she wasnt ready to accept any Momma could see that, too Momma told us she had overreacted because everything was finally going our way That perked up Cathy How Cathy asked Tell us how its going our way I cant right now, Momma said Ive got to get back Perhaps Ill have time to tell you everything tomorrow Forgive me, Christopher, she said, and kissed me again before going to the door And then, before she walked out, she said something that sounded out of place, even stupid Merry Christmas She closed and locked the door Cathy turned to me For a while there, I thought our grandmother from hell had gotten into her body, she said, and then, slowly, she gazed at all the presents Suddenly, everything looked out of place for both of usthese gifts, being locked away, us being our little sister and brothers parents, and a grandmother threatening us with a rainstorm of hell if we broke any of her ridiculous rules Merry Christmas, Cathy said bitterly She didnt mean it, Cathy She got frightened when I wasnt here She thought I had been discovered and it was all over, I told her She moved quietly, silently, looking like her tongue had hardened into stone in her mouth, and then she got back into bed with Carrie I got undressed quickly and decided to lie beside her for a while Without a word, she rested her head on my chest, and I slipped my arm around her To my surprise, Kane lowered the diary and looked at me He had been reading so well and was so into it that I truly felt as if I was there alongside Christopher I hated for him to stop We still had plenty of time What That sofa youre on What about it Its a pull out So He rose Lets do it, he said I sat looking up at him Re create the scene, he added, and held out his hand I took it, and he helped me up and then removed the cushions and lifted out the sofa bed There was a cloud of dust We waved our hands in front of our faces We should clean up this place a bit They cleaned up their attic, he said Just what I need, housework Ill help He looked around and went to one of the trunks, opened it, and took out an old comforter This will work for now, he said, and spread it on the sofa bed Then he put the pillows back on the bed Ta daaaa What are we doing Were Christopher and Cathy lying on that mattress He picked up the diary Come on, he said, and lay down on the sofa bed I remember thinking that maybe we were going too far with this, but it also intrigued me I did what he asked He sat up, pulled off his shirt, and lay back again, patting his chest I knew what he wanted and laid my head against him He held up the diary to begin reading again, his right arm slipping comfortably around my shoulders Wait, he said What Youve got to get into it, get closer to the way Cathy was at this point I dont exactly have a nightgown up here, Kane He looked at my mothers wardrobe Maybe theres something in there I hesitated Im overdressed, too, he said, and sat up to take off his pants My heart began to race I could feel a warm sensation of excitement building in the pit of my stomach and spreading like tepid water just beneath my skin, into my thighs I rose quickly and went to the wardrobe Two nightgowns were hung on the right I plucked one out and began to undress He was in his underwear, lying back, watching me and waiting With my back to him, I went down to my panties and slipped the nightgown over my head Smoothing it down, I returned to the sofa bed and lay beside him, placing my head on his chest He ran his fingers through my hair and then began to read There was no longer a doubt in my mind We were in the Foxworth Hall attic In the short silence that passed between us, I felt my sisters warmth in a way I never had felt it Its difficult to explain, but perhaps because of our circumstances, all that had happened, the emotional roller coaster we were on, I wasnt thinking of her as my sister I was sensing her as a girl, young, of course, somewhat frightened, but also desperate for my touch, my warmth It aroused me in ways I hadnt expected I started babbling about everything, defending Momma again, and talking about how we had all changed She perked up, now interested in how I thought she had changed It was on the tip of my tongue to tell her she was mature, she was even prettier, but something kept me from saying it I was afraid to say it Instead, I started to talk about what I had discovered when I had snuck out I told her I heard the party winding down and went to spy on them and that many of them looked drunk I saw the nurse wheel out our grandfather Moments after, I saw Momma come up the stairs with Bartholomew Winslow, who asked to see her special bed I thought it was just a clever way to get into her room with her I hesitated to tell Cathy any , but she insisted I had to tell her about how they kissed and how he touched Momma I knew it would make her angry but not angrier than it made me I told her how he still insisted on seeing the famous swan bed, which I had overheard had been our great grandmothers To get off the topic, I described wandering into a trophy room with dozens of animal heads on the walls and the portrait of our grandfather, Malcolm Neal Foxworth She didnt want to hear any of that Again, I hesitated, but I had promised I would tell her everything I saw, so I couldnt leave it out, even though I knew it was going to disturb her I described what I had seen of Mommas suite of rooms, with that enormous swan bed, when the door opened There was no way not to say it it was the bedroom of a princess Momma was living in luxury, while we were wallowing in a small room and an attic full of antiques, dust, and no sunshine The air was stale We were shut away and drawing closer to each other daily to find the comfort and the hope anyone our ages should have the moment he or she opens his or her eyes Maybe legally we werent orphans, but the only thing that separated us from them was a second death certificateour mothers Darkness was never darker silence was never deeper We were in a world where it was futile even to cry Who would hear us Who would wipe away our tears How different we were already from the children who had been brought here We were frightened, and we were unhappy, but we had been dressed in hope Mommas voice had been so full of promise Really Where else could we have gone but to her to find a reason to continue, to grow, to dream again of any future for ourselves Kane stopped reading and turned to me If I were really there with her in that bed, I would say, More and , its looking like were going to have only each other, Cathy Their mother does seem so deceptive, complaining about how difficult it is for her and telling them how patient they have to be I think Christopher knows that but cant say a word You can understand how alone they must feel, locked away I can see a mother unconcerned about them in the interim, but those two little ones Yes I could feel the tears coming into my eyes, and he could see them He leaned toward me and gently kissed my eyes, his lips feeling like slightly damp tissues Then he kissed my cheeks with small pecks, as if he was exploring and finding his way to my lips I wasnt terribly experienced at it, but I could sense that Kane was a very good kisser He pressed just so hard and held his lips on mine just long enough to keep the tingling lingering after we parted And we can understand why they would need from each other, comfort, love, he whispered, his lips just under my ear and just close enough to graze the peach fuzz on my cheek He caressed my breasts, lifting my left breast gently, and with his left hand, he reached down to get under the hem of my mothers nightgown, sliding it softly but quickly up my thigh to my waist and turning me to him for another long and passionate kiss that seemed to draw the last drops of resistance from me When he started to draw back, I was the one who pursued, bringing my lips back to his Then I stiffened when his hand reached my breasts, naked under the nightgown His fingers nudged my nipple as he lowered his mouth to my neck I was surprised at how I suddenly stiffened and pulled back I could feel myself sliding down that dangerous slope my aunt Barbara had described, when she had come to visit and play the role of a mother educating her daughter about her own sexuality Its all right, Kane said, kissing my forehead and trying again to bring his fingers to my erect nipples, but I moved back even farther They wouldnt do this, I told him I knew it was a strange thing to say the second after I said it He smiled Right, right Well continue this downstairs I think weve done enough today, anyway, he said, and rose He looked down at me to see if I would follow, if I wanted to continue The candles he had lit inside me were still flickering and did not go out So many places on my body still longed to be touched Now it felt like I had suffered sunburn My skin tingled I nodded and started to get up As he dressed and then began to put everything back to the way it was, I dressed, too, and rehung my mothers nightgown I closed the windows, and then we left the attic, both of us pausing first to look back at it, me to be sure it didnt reveal what had been happening in it and him looking back with the expression of someone who was remembering having been there for years and finally leaving He took my hand The passion that had blossomed between us was still as heavy as honey on our lips My body still tingled, and both of us were as flushed as the moment we had touched and caressed Neither of us spoke We were hurrying down to my bedroom, where I was almost certain now I would do what my girlfriends and I jokingly referred to as crossing the Rio Grande We had just gotten down the stairs and started toward my room when I heard the front door open and close We both froze for a moment Without speaking, I hurried him to my room Does anyone else have the key to your house he asked No It has to be my father, I said, slipping the diary under the pillow and flopping onto the bed with my history text open to where I was actually supposed to be reading Obviously frustrated, Kane reluctantly took his books out of his bag and slapped his math text onto my desk If theres anything that could keep you from feeling romantic, its studying math, he muttered We could hear my father coming up the stairs I brushed back my hair and gave my clothes a once over just before he knocked Hey, I called, and he opened the door He peered in at us Kane turned as if he hadnt heard him coming because he had been so entranced with his intermediate algebra If this keeps up, youll both be competing for valedictorian, my father said I could tell from the look in his eyes, the way he tightened his lips and moved his ears slightly back, that he really didnt believe what he was seeing I imagined we looked too perfect, too innocuous, or perhaps our faces were still flushed We hadnt had time to throw cold water on them He didnt look angry as much as he looked a little concerned this time Seeing the knowing expression on his face made me wonder why any teenager, boy or girl, believed he or she could completely fool parents, anyway My father wouldnt tell me, Im sure, but in his youth, he was surely in some similar circumstance Yes, teenagers today were probably sexually active than they were in my dads time, I thought Eighth graders were getting pregnant The attitude about virginity seemed completely upside down Once, a girl could be proud she had held out until she met the man she loved and who loved her, but now, girls even considered carrying virginity into their late teens to be some sort of failure My father worked hard He didnt socialize as much as everyone elses parents did, but he wasnt oblivious to the way things were today Just because he trusted me not to get into trouble, that didnt mean he would never worry that I would, maybe especially now that I was dating a boy as carefree and privileged as Kane Hill Hey, Mr Masterwood, Kane said No worries Kristin is so far above me in grade point average, I need a telescope to see her scores Dad smiled I bet What are you doing home so early I thought you said you would be late all week, I said I have to change and put on some formal duds Ive been invited to dinner at Spencers Spencers Trs top notch, Kane said My father goes there to close deals Dad nodded Who invited you I asked him Mr Johnson He wants me to meet someone, he added I knew he didnt want to say any in front of Kane Your blue suit was dry cleaned a month ago, I said Its on the right side in your closet I was thinking about that Good And wear the light blue shirt with that tie I bought you last Christmas, I added as he started to back up He glanced at Kane, a little embarrassed, but nodded and backed out, closing the door softly The look on Kanes face made me laugh Yes He shook his head You really take care of him, dont you We take care of each other, Kane He looked very sad for a moment and then turned back to his math homework Let me know when youre hungry, he said Ill order and go pick it up I can just throw something together here, but you had better remember to call home and tell your mother this time, I warned Stay on your homework Ill be back, I told him, and went down to see what I could make us for dinner I was pretty good at pasta with olive oil, cheese, and some eggplant Everything was there, so I started I heard someone coming down the stairs about twenty minutes later and saw my father standing in the doorway Well he asked, gesturing like a six year old boy waiting for his mothers approval You look very handsome, Dad I walked over to him and brushed his hair back a little before kissing him on the cheek I always feel a little awkward in a jacket and tie, especially after a day in the field He looked back at the stairway Staying for dinner, I see, he added, glancing at my preparations Yes, I thought Id do a nice pasta, some salad Defrost and heat up that Italian bread we have in the freezer Nothing fancy Youll probably eat better than I will I dont like dinner meetings Everyone waits for the right pause in chewing and drinking to say the important things after the mandatory small talk You and Uncle Tommy are really different, from the sound of how he runs his business He says the better the deal, the better the restaurant, or vice versa He was spoiled from the get go So who is going to be at this dinner I asked, and then held my breath to see if he would tell me Someone who flew in just for it, apparently I dont know whether to be flattered or nervous You dont know his name I was simply told it was a major stockholder in the trust involved Im beginning to think Im deep in some tax avoidance scheme I was starting to suspect that this whole sweet deal was too good to be true Anyway, dont worry about it It will all work out You used to say it would come out in the wash Yeah, but no ones doing any washing in particular right now Enjoy your dinner, he said, then kissed me and started out He did look handsome, as handsome as I could ever remember him being, but I didnt have to be a sophisticated, mature older woman to realize there was still something very important missing There was a light, that joie de vivre that a truly happy man had He had carried his sorrow too long It had lost no weight and still put darkness in places where there should be none It kept his enthusiasm for almost everything contained, chained to a sense of guilt, perhaps How could he be happy without her The moment he laughed, felt a smile break out on his face, let something exciting quicken his pace, he felt his loss, remembered she wasnt there beside him to share in the joy Every laugh, every smile, gave birth to another tear He went to sleep apologizing for being alive I knew all this, and it broke my heart Right now, it made me feel even guiltier about what Kane and I were doing I had never kept anything this serious a secret from him How was I going to explain it to him afterward My fear was that I would not only hate myself for having done it but also hate Kane for encouraging me with his own obvious interest and excitement Could I explain this to him and stop Had we gone too far to stop And would the effect on our relationship be the same Would he now feel betrayed Already, he had confided in me about himself and his family than he had confided in anyone else I returned to preparing dinner, these thoughts like little pinpricks on my heart I cut some onions for our salad, but the tears that came to my eyes were not a result of that I tried to pull myself together when I heard Kane descending You didnt come back up, he said I thought I had better get started on dinner Im hungry, arent you Yeah, for lots of things I smirked, and he smiled I left a message on my mothers cell and a message with Martha, the maid who looks after her things, which include me, he added Your father left Yes He hates business dinners My father has business breakfasts, lunches, and dinners He once even had a business New Years, he said, and leaned against the doorjamb Oh, cmon He raised his right hand I kid you not He invited all these car company executives and their wives to our home on New Years Eve, and they talked about business right up to the clock striking twelve I was only eleven at the time, but I remember it well, because my sister and I were spying on the party just the way Christopher and Cathy were spying on their grandparents gala We got bored, however, and returned to our own rooms I remember thinking that if thats what adults did to celebrate, I was going to remain a kid And you have, I said He laughed Ill set the table this time I looked at him, surprised Hey, Im not spoiled Im corrupted but not spoiled, he said I think I was two when my mother had me instructed on how to place silverware, fold a napkin, and organize the wine and water glasses Not two Well, close to it I had to live up to being a prince, didnt I He went for the dishes and silverware, and I continued preparing our meal Occasionally, we gave each other a look that reminded us of the passion that had just passed through us, but neither of us said anything It was just dinner now and discussion about what we had read of the diary I really have to get to my homework this time, I said, when we were cleaning up I have a test in history and a quiz in English tomorrow Dont throw me out I promise I wont touch you, he said Ill just work on my own Why is it I get the impression youre in no rush to go home ever Maybe because I make it so obvious, he said We returned to my room, and we did do our homework Close to nine oclock, he closed his books and declared that I was turning him into a better student He couldnt stand it any longer We both laughed, and I let him kiss me, but he could feel that we were going no further I was anticipating my father returning any moment, anyway Im off, he said Ill be in your driveway waiting for you in the morning Im going to forget how to drive If you would agree to bring the diary to my house No, I said sharply He put up his hands and then, with that cute smirk on his face, began to back up toward the doorway Dont shoot Im going, Im going He threw me a kiss and disappeared I went to the window and watched him leave Literally seconds later, I saw my father pull into the driveway I could tell from the way he came into the house and started up the stairs that he was tired I stepped out to greet him in the hallway Hey, I said How was your dinner It was okay The steak was a little overdone for me I dont mean the food, Dad, I said He stood there looking at me So Remember how I once told you that getting to know someone is like peeling an onion Yes Well, getting to know whats behind the building of a new mansion on the foundation of Foxworth Hall is like peeling an onion, too I thought he was going to leave it at that, but it was just a long pause as he put his own thoughts about it together I waited The man I met tonight still isnt the man behind the project Arthur Johnson was one layer of onion, and the man I met tonight is another You know how I feel about navigating through mazes Who did you meet tonight A Dr Martin West, he said I saw that he was waiting to see if I knew that name from reading the diary I shook my head What kind of a doctor is he Hes a psychiatrist Again, he waited for my reaction Again, I shook my head How is he involved in all this He didnt come right out and say it, but Im sure he worked in the clinic Corrine Foxworth was taken to after the fire here, he said Corrine was his patient My guess is thats how Arthur Johnson and his wife know so much about the interior of Foxworth Hall Dr West knew it all from what she told him during whatever they call that treatment psychiatrists do You know, patient on a couch or something, babbling So Arthur Johnson works for this psychiatrist Not exactly I mean, hes not on the title document As Ive told you, its a trust, and the owners or partners, or whatever they call them, arent mentioned But the doctor is a wealthy man I dont know if hes the one whos wealthy Although he didnt say it, I had the feeling he was working for someone else, someone whos a major investor in Johnsons hedge fund Thats all I can tell you My heads spinning with all the intrigue Im going to sleep, he said Are you upset about it I asked quickly Upset He thought a moment Im not sure if upset is the right word Im confused about it, but maybe, if I just stick to what I have to do to build this turkey, Ill be fine Which reminds me Mrs Osterhouse is going to pick up the turkey I ordered Ive given her a list of what I need to prepare it When does your holiday start Next Wednesday We usually pick it up and do the extra shopping I know, but she wanted to do something Sometimes being generous means letting someone do something for you It doesnt sound like it makes sense, but it does You and I will get the rest of it on Sunday along with our weekly food, okay Yes I understand, I said I didnt want to elaborate and reveal that I knew Mrs Osterhouse was working so hard to become a member of our family, but it was one of those times when my father knew what I was thinking He left it dangling in the air Right He started to turn away and then stopped Oh So how was your dinner Pretty tip top, I told him, which finally brought a smile to his face I bet, he said Youre a chip off the old block Get to sleep I watched him walk to his room, and I hated how old he suddenly looked, his shoulders slumped now with the fatigue of work, along with the weight of the deep and enduring sorrow he carried plus the weight of worrying that he was doing what he could and should do for me.Picking up where Christophers Diary Secrets of Foxworth leaves off, Kristin Masterwood and her boyfriend up the anteby going into her attic to re enact scenes described in Christopher Dollangangers journal.Jealousy, tragedy, survival, and revengethe discovery of Christophers diary in the ruins of Foxworth Hall brings new secrets of the Dollanganger family to light and obsesses a new generation With Flowers in the Attic and Petals on the Wind both now major Lifetime TV events, the first new Dollanganger stories in nearly thirty years is a timely look at the events in the atticfrom teenage Christophers point of view Christopher Dollanganger was fourteen when he and his younger siblingsCathy and the twins, Cory and Carriewere locked away in the attic of Foxworth Hall, prisoners of their mothers greedy inheritance scheme For three long years he kept hope alive for the sake of the others But the shocking truth about how their ordeal affected him was always kept hiddenuntil now Seventeen year old Kristin Masterwood is thrilled when her fathers construction company is hired to inspect the Foxworth property for a prospective buyer The once grand Southern mansion still sparks legends and half truths about the four innocent Dollanganger children, even all these decades later Foxworth holds a special fascination for Kristin, who was too young when her mother died to learn much about her distant blood tie to the notorious family Accompanying her dad to the forbidden territory, they find a leather bound book, its yellowed pages filled with the neat script of Christopher Dollanganger himself Her father grows increasingly uneasy about her reading it, but as she devours the teens story page by page, his shattering account of temptation, heartache, courage, and betrayal overtakes Kristins every thought And soon her obsession with the doomed boy crosses a dangerous line Christopher s Diary Secrets of Foxworth The Diaries One the most popular authors all time, VC Andrews has been a bestselling phenomenon since publication Flowers in Attic, first renowned Dollanganger family series, which includes Petals on Wind, If There Be Thorns, Seeds Yesterday, and Garden ShadowsThe saga continues with Christopher Foxworth, Echoes Wikipedia is English version Europe wide name derived from Greek ChristforosThe constituent parts are Christs , Christ or Anointed, frein bear bearer Note not native word it comes Latin verb fere meaning listed above V C Cleo Virginia June December better known as V Andrews, was an American novelistShe born Portsmouth, VirginiaAndrews died breast cancer at age novels combine Gothic horror saga, revolving around secrets forbidden love frequently involving themes consensual incest, often All Around Town by Mary Higgins Clark, Paperback New York Times author Clark written thirty seven suspense novels, four collections short stories, historical novel, memoir, two children booksWith her daughter Carol she coauthored five also wrote Cinderella Murder, All Dressed White, Sleeping Beauty Killer, Every Breath You Take Virginia Wikipdia Clo ne le juin Portsmouth en Virginie, est une romancire amricaineUn accident survenu l ge de quinze ans la condamne vivre dans un fauteuil roulant Portraitiste et dessinatrice mode, elle publie son premier livre Lisbeth Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Dear Mrs just quick note I received RANSOM Valentine gift and, needless to say, what great started reading that same night couldn t put down finished morning once again wanted so much be able meet these characters laugh smile them uvres principales Srie Fleurs captives modifier Virginie amricaine Un Mais c avec qu connat We would like show you description here but site won allow us The Ghost Of Life, Death, And Afterlife had dead for years no one seemed notice After while gets little unnerving, said writer Andrew Neiderman over lunch restaurant Palm Springs, recalling Flowers Attic FREE shipping qualifying offers A major Lifetime movie event novel captured world imagination earned fiercely devoted fanbase Book Family series At top stairs there hidden AndrewsIt book Series, followed Shadows, Secret BrotherThe person, Delia Heart Fulfillment FBA service we offer sellers lets store their products fulfillment centers, directly pack, ship, provide customer Juni Virginia, Vereinigte Staaten Dezember besser bekannt als war eine US amerikanische SchriftstellerinIhr bekanntester Roman ist Blumen der Nacht dem vier Kinder dreieinhalb Jahre lang auf einen Dachboden gesperrt werden Ihre Geschichten wurden erfolgreich, dass nach ihrem Tod ein Fantastic Fiction famous beloved fiction today, popularity soar than million copies books print, they have translated into twenty languages Genres Young Adult Fantasy, Mystery, Paranormal Romance, Romantic Suspense Christopher's Diary: Echoes of Dollanganger (The Diaries Series Book 2) (English Edition)

 

    • Christopher's Diary: Echoes of Dollanganger (The Diaries Series Book 2) (English Edition)
    • 2.3
    • 146
    • Format Kindle
    • 385 pages
    • V.C Andrews
    • Anglais
    • 25 February 2016

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