Perennial bestselling author V.C. Andrews introduces her leagues of fans to the Logan family. After losing her beloved father, Melody Logan is abruptly abandoned by her mother at the home of her paternal grandparents. Lost in a sea of grief and confusion, Melody soon learns the true story of her parents' courtship and amrriage--a sad, shocking tale that only puzzles her more.
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Witherspoon holds a BA in English from UCLA and an MFA in Flute Performance from California Institute of Arts.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
I think as soon as I was old enough to understand that Mommy and Daddy were having serious arguments, I felt like an outsider, for if I appeared while they were having one, both of them would stop immediately. It made me feel as if I lived in a house with secrets woven into the walls.
One day, I imagined, I would unravel one of those secrets and the whole house would come down around me.
Just a thought.
But that is exactly what happened.
Chapter 1: The Love Trap
When I was a little girl, I believed that people could get what they wished for if they wished hard enough and long enough and were good enough, and although I'm fifteen now and long ago stopped believing in things like the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus, and the Easter Bunny, I never completely stopped believing there was something magical in the world around us. Somewhere, there were angels watching over us, considering our wishes and dreams and occasionally, when the time was right and we were deserving, they granted us a wish.
Daddy taught me this. When I was still small enough to sit comfortably on his muscular right forearm and be carried around like a little princess, he would tell me to close my eyes really tight and wish until I saw my angel nearby, her wings fluttering like a bumble bee.
Daddy said everyone had an angel assigned to him or her at birth, and the angels did all they could to get humans to believe. He told me that when we are very little it's much easier to believe in things that grown-ups would call imagination. That's why, when we're little, angels will appear before us sometimes. I think some of us hold on a little longer or a little harder to that world of make believe. Some of us are not afraid to admit we dream even though we're older. We really do make a wish when we break a chicken bone or blow out our birthday candles or see a shooting star, and we wait and hope, even expect that it will come true.
I did so much wishing as I grew up, I was sure my angel was overworked. I couldn't help it. I always wished my daddy didn't have to go down into the coal mines miles under the earth, away from the sun in damp, dark caverns of dust. Just like every other coal miner's child, I had played in the openings of the deserted old mines, and I couldn't begin to understand what it would be like going down deep and spending a whole day below the fresh air. But poor Daddy had to do it.
As long as I could remember, I wished we lived in a real house instead of a trailer, even though right next to us, living in their trailer, were Papa George and Mama Arlene, both of whom I loved dearly. When I wished for a house, I just added a little more and wished they would live in the house next to ours. We would both have real backyards and lawns and there would be big maple and oak trees. Papa George would help me with my fiddling. And when it rained hard, I wouldn't feel as if I were living in a tin drum. When the wind blew, I wouldn't fear being turned over and over while asleep in my bed.
My wish list went on and on. I imagined that if I ever took the time and wrote all the wishes down, the paper would stretch from one end of our trailer to the other.
I wished hard that Mommy wasn't so unhappy all the time. She complained about having to work in Francine's Salon, washing other women's hair and doing perms, even though everyone said she was an excellent hairdresser. She did enjoy the gossip and loved to listen to the wealthy women talk about their trips and the things they had bought. But she was like a little girl who could only look in the window at beautiful things, one who never got to buy any of them herself.
Even when she was sad, Mommy was beautiful. One of my most frequent wishes was that I would be as pretty as she was when I grew up. When I was younger, I would perch in her bedroom and watch her at her dressing table meticulously applying her makeup and brushing her hair. As she did so, she preached about the importance of beauty care and told me about all the women she knew who were attractive but neglected themselves and looked simply awful. She told me if you were born pretty, you had an obligation to look pretty whenever you were in public.
"That's why I spend so much time on my hair and my nails, and that's why I have to spend so much money on these special skin creams," she explained. She was always bringing home samples of shampoo and hair conditioners for me to use as well.
She brought home perfumed bath oils and would soak in our small tub for over an hour. I would wash her back or, when I was old enough to be trusted, polish her toenails while she manicured her fingernails. Occasionally, she did my toenails and styled my hair.
People said we looked more like sisters than mother and daughter. I had inherited her small facial features, especially her button nose, but my hair was a lighter shade of brown, hair the color of hay. Once, I asked her to dye my hair the same shade as hers, but she shook her head and told me to leave it be, that it was a pretty color. But I wasn't as confident about my looks as she was about hers, even though Daddy told me he rushed home from work because now he had two beautiful women at home waiting for him.
My daddy stood six foot three and weighed nearly one hundred and ninety pounds, all muscle from working in the mines so many years. Although there were times when he returned home after a very long day in the mines aching, and moving slowly, he didn't complain. When he set eyes on me, his face always burst out with happiness. No matter how tired those strong arms of his were, I could run into them and he'd lift me with ease into the air.
When I was little, I would anxiously wait for the sight of him lumbering up the chipped and cracked macadam that led from the mines to our home in Mineral Acres trailer park. Suddenly, his six feet three inches of height would lift that shock of light brown hair over the ridge and I would see him taking strides with those long legs. His face and hands would be streaked with coal dust. He looked like a soldier home from battle. Under his right arm, clutched like a football, was his lunch basket. He made his own sandwiches early in the morning because Mommy was always still asleep when he woke and got ready for work.
Sometimes, even before he reached the Mineral Acres gate after work, Daddy would lift his head and see me waving. Our trailer was close to the entrance and our front yard faced the road from Sewell. If he saw me, Daddy would speed up, swinging his coal miner's helmet like a flag. Until I was about twelve, I had to wait close to Papa George and Mama Arlene's trailer, because Mommy was usually not home from work yet herself. Many times, she would go someplace and not make it home in time for dinner. Usually, she went to Frankie's Bar and Grill with her co-workers and friends and listened to the juke box music. But Daddy was a very good cook and I got so I could do a lot of the cooking myself, too. He and I ended up eating alone more times than not.
Daddy didn't complain about Mommy's not being there. If I did, he urged me to be more understanding. "Your mother and I got married too young, Melody," he told me.
"But weren't you terribly in love, Daddy?" I had read Romeo and Juliet and knew that if you were desperately in love, age didn't make a difference.
I told my best friend Alice Morgan that I would never marry anyone until I was so head-over-heels in love I couldn't breathe. She thought that was an exaggeration and I would probably fall in love many times before I was married.
Daddy's voice was wistful. "We were, but we didn't listen to older, wiser heads. We just ran off and eloped without thinking about the consequences. We were both very excited about it and didn't think hard about the future. It was easier for me. I was always more settled, but your mother soon felt she had missed out on things. She works in that beauty parlor and hears the rich ladies talking about their trips and their homes and she gets frustrated. We got to let her have some freedom so she doesn't feel trapped by all our love for her."
"How can love trap someone, Daddy?" I asked.
He smiled his wide, soft smile. When he did that, his green eyes always got a hazy, faraway glint. He'd lift his gaze from my face to a window or sometimes just a wall as if he were seeing images from the mysterious past float by. "Well...if you love someone as much as we love Mommy, you want her around you all the time. It's like having a beautiful bird in a cage. You're afraid to let the bird free and yet you know, it would sing a sweeter song if it were."
"Why doesn't she love us that much, too?" I demanded.
"She does, in her own way." He smiled. "Your mother's the prettiest woman in this town -- for miles and miles around it too -- and I know she feels wasted sometimes. That's a hard thing to live with, Melody. People are always coming up to her and telling her she should be in the movies or on television or a model. She thinks time's flying by and soon it will be too late for her to be anything else but my wife and your mother."
"I don't want her to be anything else, Daddy."
"I know. She's enough for us. We're grateful, but she's always been restless and impulsive. She still has big dreams and one thing you never want to do to someone you love is kill her dreams.
"Of course," he continued, smiling, "I have every reason to believe you're going to be the celebrity in this family. Look how well Papa George has taught you to play the fiddle! And you can sing, too. You're growing into a beautiful young woman. Some talent scout's going to snap you up."
"Oh Daddy, that's silly. No talent scouts come to the mining towns looking for stars."
"So you'll go to college in New York City or in California," he predicted. "That's my dream. So don't go dumping dirt on top of it, Melody."
I laughed. I was too afraid to have such dreams for myself yet; I was too afraid of being frustrated and trapped like Mommy thought she now was.
I wondered why Daddy didn't feel trapped. No matter how hard things were, he would grin and bear it, and he never joined the other miners to drown his sorrows at the bar. He walked to and from work alone because the other miners lived in the shanties in town.
We lived in Sewell, which was a village born from the mine and built by the mining company in the lap of a small valley. Its main street had a church, a post office, a half dozen stores, two restaurants, a mortuary, and a movie theater open only on the weekends. The shanty homes were all the same pale brown color, built with board-and-batten siding and tar-paper roofs, but at least there were children my age there.
There were no other children near my age living in Mineral Acres trailer park. How I wished I had a brother or a sister to keep me company! When I told Mommy about that wish once, she grimaced and moaned that she was only a child herself when she had me.
"Barely nineteen! And it's not easy to bring children into the world. It's hard on your body and you have to worry about them getting sick and having enough to eat and having proper clothing, not to mention getting them an education. I rushed into motherhood. I should have waited."
"Then I would never have been born!" I complained.
"Of course you would have been born, but you would have been born when things were better and not so hard for us. We were right in the middle of a major change in our lives. It was very difficult."
Sometimes, she sounded as if she blamed me just for being born. It was as if she thought babies just floated around waiting to be conceived, and occasionally they got impatient and encouraged their parents to create them. That's what I had done.
I knew we had moved from Provincetown, Cape Cod, to Sewell in Monongalia County, West Virginia, before I was born, and we didn't have much at the time. Mommy did tell me that when they first arrived in Sewell as poor as they were, she was determined not to live in a shanty, so she and Daddy rented a mobile home in Mineral Acres, even though it was mostly populated by retired people like Papa George.
Papa George wasn't really my grandfather and Mama Arlene wasn't my real grandmother, but they were still like grandparents to me. Mama Arlene had often looked after me when I was a little girl. Papa George had been a coal miner and had retired on disability. He was suffering from black lung, which Daddy said was aggravated by his refusal to give up smoking. His illness made him look much older than his sixty-two years. His shoulders slumped, the lines in his pale, tired face were cut deep, and he was so thin Mama Arlene claimed she could weigh him down with a cable-knit sweater. Still, Papa George and I had the greatest of times when he helped teach me the fiddle.
He complained that it was Mama Arlene's nagging that wore him down. They always seemed to be bickering, but I didn't know any other two people as dedicated to each other as they were. Their arguments were never really mean either. They always ended up laughing.
Daddy loved talking with Papa George. On weekends especially, the two could often be found sitting in the rocking chairs on the cement patio under the metal awning, quietly discussing politics and the mining industry. Papa George was in Sewell during the violent times when the mining unions were being formed and he had lots of stories, which, according to Mama Arlene, were not fit for my ears.
"Why not?" he would protest. "She oughta know the truth about this place and the people who run it."
"She got plenty of time to learn about the ugly things in this world, George O'Neil, without you rushing her into it. Hush up!"
He did, mumbling under his breath until she turned her fiery blue eyes on him, making him swallow the rest of his angry words.
But Daddy agreed with Papa George: the miners were being exploited. This was no life for anyone.
I never understood why Daddy, who was brought up on Cape Cod in a fisherman's family, ended up working in a place where he was shut away from the sun and the sky all day. I knew he missed the ocean, yet we never returned to the Cape and we had nothing to do with Daddy's family. I didn't even know how many cousins I had, or their names, and I had never met or spoken to my grandparents. All I had ever seen was a faded black and white photograph of them with Daddy's father seated and his mother standing beside his father, both looking unhappy about being photographed. His father had a beard and looked as big as Daddy is now. His mother was wispy looking, but with hard, cold eyes.
The family in Provincetown was something Daddy didn't discuss. He would always change the subject, just saying, "We just had differences. It's better we're apart. It's easier this way."
I couldn't imagine why it was easier, but I saw it was painful for him to talk about it. Mommy never wanted to talk about it either. Just bringing up the family caused her to start crying and complaining to me that Daddy's family always thought little of her because she'd bee...
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