To my husband, James Rhodes, you are the wind beneath my wings!
To my mother, Rozzie Lee Jackson, I've found my gift and learned how to use it. Rest in Peace.
To my daughter, Jamie Lynne Rhodes, thank you for all the times you read
and acted out the roles with me!
To my son, James Rhodes, Jr., thank you for your consideration and sacrifices during the time I needed to write.
To my grandfather, Robert Lee Jackson, I love you Daddy. I always have!
To my mother-in-law, Susan Hackett, I consider you a treasure. Thank you for being a blessing. And for leading Jimmy and me to the water! Hallelujah!
To my dad, John Shannon, thank you for your support during the promotion of my book
I very much appreciate it. Much love!
To a very special person, Linda Lepp, truly I could never say enough so let me keep it simple and just say, May the Lord Bless You!
A very special and heartwarming thanks to Karen Thomas, my editor, thank you for always preserving my voice. I love you for that!
A very special and heartwarming thanks to:
Robert G. (Bob) Diforio, my agent; Laurie Parkin, vice president; Nicole
Bruce, editorial assistant; Jessica McLean-Ricketts, national sales rep;
Kristine Mills-Noble, for another fine cover; Joan Schulhafer, director of publicity; Mary Pomponio, publicist; Lydia Stein, production editor; and last, but most certainly not least, Steven Zacharius, CEO of Kensington Publishing.
To all of you who are in the publishing chain from reading to editing to production to warehousing, to selling, to distribution it warms my heart to think of you. Thanks for sharing in making my dream a reality.
I thank you all for your contribution to my literary journey. Much love!
And to my readers, I wish you an extra special blessing. Many of you have written to me and you can never know what a blessing that is! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for supporting my stories. Godspeed!
To All Who Know Me I Remain, Standing in The Spirit!
Newark, New Jersey
ow and forever, Evelyn,” Quentin's words were spoken hauntingly, softly into her ear. “Do you know what those two words mean?”
Hungrily and with total authority he pulled her closer to him.
“Umm.” Evelyn moaned as she molded her body closer, tighter against his firm masculinity. She loved the absolute feel of him.
“They mean exactly what they say, now and forever. For you specifically they mean you will never escape.”
The words hung in the air menacingly.
Something was very wrong.
The rain splashed over them. The wind blew her hair. It was the most sensual moment of her life, until the whispered words of a madman sounded in her ear. Their vibe and meaning slowly seeped through to her brain.
The night was soft, black and velvety. A torrential downpour soaked the streets of Newark, New Jersey, cleansing the gutters of the city's core. Ridding it of some of the trash but not all.
The street was deserted. Quentin and Evelyn stood in the park, in romantic isolation, a block away from Evelyn's house.
They had taken a walk after a great dinner. Suddenly the sky had let loose with a fury and so had Quentin. Evelyn was totally confused.
She had been enjoying his company. He had elegant manners as well as sophistication. She thought she might come to care deeply for him. She had spent some deeply moving time with him. Then he flipped on her. Like a light switch that someone had flicked off.
She stood on tiptoe in her bare feet. She had removed her sandals in the heat of the smoldering rainy sexuality that had her body awash. As she pressed her body against Quentin's, a subtle change took place without a hint of warning.
Quentin was crazy. He was threatening her. What did he mean she was never going to escape? Warning signals ignited in her head. A cold fear seized her body clashing with the hot, sexy heat rising from her womanhood.
Her thoughts rippled, like pebbles skipping across the water. Her brain was suddenly in total chaos. She tried to order her thoughts into something that made sense. It was no use. Her thoughts were running rampant.
One thing she did know. She couldn't have anything more to do with him. Something was wrong with him. He was like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Evelyn pulled back. She stared at Quentin Curry as though he'd lost his mind. “Let go of me.” A clammy foreboding crawled up and down her skin. She shivered. Goose bumps began to sprout on her arms.
Quentin gripped her tighter. The force of his fingers left imprints in her skin. “Can't do that, Evelyn. Didn't you hear me? I said now and forever.” He laughed at the bewilderment and utter lack of comprehension that flashed across her face.
A sense of unreality dug its clutches into Evelyn. Quentin's once expressive eyes were now only twin holes of black nothingness. Gone were any traces of the warmth and compassion that had embraced her earlier.
“You're crazy,” she stuttered. “ I want you out of my life. Let go of me”
Quentin shook his head. “What you want and what you get are two different things, Evelyn. You're never going to leave me. And I'm never going to leave you. Don't you get it? I said there will never be an escape for you. I always say what I mean. And, I always,
, mean what I say.”
“No. You're a maniac. Let go of me!” she screamed. Her words blew away on the fury of the winds of the rain, as though a great sea was carrying them away.
Looking into his face, a wave of senselessness rushed over her. She spat a rush of words in his face. “I changed my mind about being with you. You're not who I thought you were.”
“You changed your mind?”
Quentin looked up at the stormy skies. “Did you say you changed your mind? You don't change your mind Evelyn, unless I change it for you understood?” Quentin words were cold and precise. His voice never raised by a note.
Now, Evelyn knew two things: real fear and the fact that she needed to get away from him.
A surge of strength rose up in her. It was a strength born out of desperation. She wrenched her body free from Quentin's hold and ran wildly down the street. Her legs and feet were bare. Her sandals were long forgotten. Long wet strands of hair clung to her head and face.
The echo of her bare feet striking the wet pavement provided her with the rhythmic chaos that spurred her on. Evelyn blew the hair out of her eyes. She willed her legs to pump harder, faster as a numbness clawed at her body.
No way could she stop.
She looked briefly behind her. She panted as she picked up her pace, sprinting toward safety, which loomed not far in the distance.
Quentin Curry was a powerful, arrogant, and magnetic man. He was at the height of his physicality. His limbs were long and lithe. His carriage was tall and erect. He possessed a demeanor that indicated fierce pride.
He watched Evelyn run down the street. He was not at all concerned about her temporary escape. In fact, he wasn't the least bit perturbed.
Quentin was a man of many layers with a sadistic streak a mile long. His extreme confidence bordered on a God-like level. He was a man who knew his own power and one who had come into power by refusing to obey any boundaries but his own. Accustomed to getting his own way, he knew he had time.
Lazily, a sardonic smile crept across his face. His was a face that could have been sculpted by one of the masters. His face was masterful in the pure architecture of it, in the chiseled lines that outlined his features. It was a face with many textures and layers that he used at will.
Quentin wondered why people didn't realize they couldn't run from their fate.
He studied the picture that was Evelyn. He knew he had chosen carefully, oh, ever so carefully. Evelyn was the only child of deceased parents who left her with enough money that she would never have to worry about it in her lifetime.
She was a loner. Very isolated for one so young, always preferring her own company to that of others. She spent most of her time rummaging in bookstores and in the dusty corners of various libraries. The single link that connected her to the world was her writing.
Ah yes, her writing; perhaps a most useful tool.
She didn't have any real friends. All of her friends, imaginary to be sure, and relationships resided between the pages of books. Her friends were in the notes of the music she loved so much. That was the extent of it.
Evelyn stumbled in the wet street. She threw her hands out in front of her body to regain her balance. Her legs ached, throbbed actually with pain.
Or was it with fear?
She didn't know. “Legs, please don't fail me now,” she whispered desperately. She had never been so scared in her life.
A stray cat ran out from its shelter into the rain. He caused Evelyn to practically jump out of her skin. She turned to look behind her, finding no sign of Quentin. She took a deep breath to quell her quivering body and kept running. She looked around the deserted street. There was no sign of life on the street, just her. “Somebody help,” she whispered. “Somebody. Please help.” There was no one to hear her.
Quentin lounged in the park contemplating his plan. He knew Evelyn thought he was behind her, chasing her. That was enough to keep her where he wanted her. He was a chaser, though not in the way she would expect. He could chase her without moving a muscle, just as effectively, more in fact, as if he had run after her.
Anyway he knew there would be no prying into the changes she was about to undergo. He thought about the Reverend Erwin Jackson, but quickly dismissed the thought as being of little consequence.
Reverend Erwin Jackson was Evelyn's minister. His was the one relationship she seemed to foster. The reverend's presence might lend a bit of an edge to the game.
Breeding was important and Evelyn's lineage showed good breeding. He'd done his checklist centuries in advance. He'd been waiting for her, for her arrival, for her birth. Now it was time. He'd been watching. Watching was what he did. Watching and observing were part of his highly honed and sharpened skills.
He knew her womb was young and untouched. She was pure. This was very necessary to his plan. He could not funnel through tainted goods.
He smiled. He was satisfied with the wisdom of his choice. One had to create his own opportunities. And he had certainly created his. In his supreme arrogance, he settled on a single thought: The girl is in for the treat of her life and she's running from me. Quentin shook his head in amazement.
He dropped his cigarette lighter. He reached to pick it up. Tattooed in the back of his right hand was an “X.” He lit a cigarette as the mist of the rainy night shrouded him.
The predator in him inched its way to the forefront. The pull of it tingled through his body. The sleek black panther of spirit he possessed was now on the prowl. It was lurking just beneath the surface.
Evelyn heaved air in great gulps as she raced up the steps of the Victorian house she had inherited from her parents. It was one of the last of its kind left in the Newark neighborhood.
The house carried a certain presence. It had an ominous, yet old elegant air about it. It was wrapped in an air of quiet dignity. In the dark of this night, it was possessed with a spirit of stillness.
Evelyn fumbled with her keys looking wildly behind her. She tried to jam the key in the lock. She fumbled again. The wet keys slipped from her shaking fingers and dropped to the porch floor. She picked them up. She worked at steadying herself. She tried again. The lock clicked. She bolted through the front door. She slammed it shut and locked it behind her.
Evelyn raced into the solarium. She locked that door too. She stood trembling as little pools of water formed on the floor from her bare wet feet.
She was completely unaware of the youth, sensual beauty and vitality that radiated from her. Evelyn was a petite young woman with several feet of dark, thick black locks of hair. She had beautiful translucent brown eyes. And, flawless coffee-colored skin with dimpled cheeks. She ran her hands up and down her arms, grappling with a terror the likes of which she had never known.
Quentin lay splayed on the skylight of the solarium. His gaze was hypnotic as it devoured the sensual Evelyn Jordan-Wells. He reveled in her image, enjoying the feel of the hunt.
His loins ached with the thought of having her, possessing her. A groan of pleasure escaped his lips. Evelyn's fear was a tangible thing to him. He breathed it in.
Quentin's eyes were liquid pools of midnight black as he stared through the glass at Evelyn.
Evelyn, sensing his presence, looked up. Her gaze riveted on Quentin. She shook like a leaf on a tree.
Abruptly, torrential rain, wind and shattering glass engulfed her as Quentin crashed through into the solarium.
Evelyn hyperventilated in her fear. But Quentin's hypnotic stare changed the very rhythm of her breathing. Slowly her labored breathing broke into an even pattern.
Seductively sweet and with a hint of red-hot passion, Quentin touched Evelyn, ever so lightly. “Evelyn Jordan-Wells,” he said. Her name rolled off his tongue like sweet licorice candy.
“Hide and seek. You think you can hide from me? Umm, a game. I like games, Evelyn. I created them you know.” Evelyn shrank back from him. Quentin allowed it for the time being.
He continued speaking as though there had been no physical interruption. “I especially like games that change the course of history. Games that upset the balance of power. Sensual, sexual and exquisite games, Evelyn. You and I will play. You do want to play with me. Don't you?” His voice had a languid purr to it. It held the promise of a lullaby.
He grabbed her, pulling her to him. He put his lips close to her ear. A deep rage settled over him. He turned his head. It twisted around like rubber. His eyes produced a laser glow that destroyed everything in its path.
“Come on, dance with me, Evelyn,” Quentin purred.
The beautiful greenery and antiques that endowed the solarium room ripped right out of the floor at the force of Quentin's gaze.
His gaze swept around the room. The walls exploded. The windows blew out. Evelyn broke loose. She backed away from Quentin. A scream erupted from her throat as if a volcano had burst forth.
She crouched and cowered in the face of an evil that was so tangible she could reach out and touch it. Nothing in her sheltered life had prepared her for the darkness that had breached her world. In its face, she was completely helpless.