Authors: Jennifer St. Giles
Tags: #phantom, #jennifer st. giles, #wizard of oz, #Paranormal, #vampire, #Romance, #erotic
Tales from Mysteria Falls are about a magical place where happy endings are found no matter what obstacles my hero and heroine face. It’s a place where fantasies take flight, dreams come true, and love’s promise is fulfilled in mind, body, and spirit. So forget reality for a few short minutes and imagine a place of endless possibilities where everyone finds their heart’s desire. There’ll be more happy endings to come.
I hope you enjoy the journey
Jennifer St. Giles
Love is space and time measured by the heart.
~ Marcel Proust
he’d been here before.
The winding drive lined with thick pines. The formal gardens filled with lush blooms. The sparkling fountains cascading to a small lake, where white swans swam through the morning mists. The air of mystery that blanketed the cathedral-like building. She knew it all. Though Krisana Delacourt had never stepped foot in the town of Mysteria Falls, Virginia before, she’d been here.
For years, this place had played a vivid part of her nights. In her dreams—and sometimes—nightmares, she’d lived bits and pieces of a life here. Tender moments of laughter with a faceless dark-haired lover, and nightmares of panic, that left her haunted and shivering in the dark.
Memories of a life that wasn’t hers. At least not her current life.
She’d searched the world obsessively for this stained glass Victorian opera house to the point that her friends and family had questioned her sanity. Even she had doubted it herself. To finally find it in Frederick County, a
two-hour drive from her Washington D.C home, was maddening.
There wasn’t a shred of information about this place on the Internet. And the owner did not have this place listed as an opera house or theater in the state records. Otherwise, she would have found it years ago. Instead, it was known simply as Evermore Estate.
Fingers cramped from her white-knuckled grip on the steering wheel, she stopped the Mercedes and stared at the building. Her heart raced and her chest burned for air that she forgot to breathe.
Seven years ago, on her eighteenth birthday, she’d received the first half of an opera score titled,
Come Back to Me,
and a hundred roses from an anonymous person. That night, her dreams of this place had begun.
She’d been unable to discover who had sent them. It was a mystery that went unsolved. And since no anonymous gifts reoccurred, the event never became a threat in her mind. The unpublished score had been hauntingly beautiful. She’d sung parts of it, wondering who’d written it and why they’d sent it to her. Life went on and she tucked the incident away in her mind, but she never forgot the music. This morning, she’d received another hundred roses and the end of
Come Back to Me
, with documents stating she would inherit half of this property on her twenty-fifth birthday, which was tomorrow, February 14
. This time, the gifts had been accompanied with a business card for an attorney here in Mysteria Falls, a Mr. Phineas Cruz.
Krisana shook her head and sucked in air, wondering what it all meant.
She had always been sensitive to the spirits hovering between this world and the next. She’d known when her parents were killed in a plane crash, even before reports of the tragedy had reached her. Their ghosts had come to her to say good-bye and tell her how much they loved her. With that in mind, she’d prayed often to find this place, believing that once she did, she could bring peace to the ghosts that haunted her dreams.
She kept her ghost encounters secret. Anyone with a career in the spotlight couldn’t afford the gossip. The media was a cruel judge when it came to the personal lives of the people who kept them in business. But she had chosen the life of a classical singer. From her earliest memories, all she had ever wanted was to sing. Her parents had gone the extra mile to make that happen for her, but to also give her a life as normal as is possible for a child prodigy.
Her journey had begun at the age of three. In the middle of her church’s Christmas show, she’d marched to the front of the stage, pulled down the tall microphone, and belted out the song with perfect pitch and rhythm. When she finished that song, she hadn’t wanted to give up the spotlight, and proceeded to sing every song in the program without musical accompaniment. From that point on, she’d pursued singing with a passion and had lived a fairly happy, successful life until her eighteenth birthday.
Stomach clenching, she exited her car before she could turn around and run. The scents of wood smoke, roses, and pine laced the cool, Blue Ridge Mountain air. Drawing in several deep breaths, she searched for calm as she waded through the morning mists to the opera house steps. Rich, red brick made the walls while granite, marble, and brass adorned the entrance. The place was elegant and simple, with stained glass windows of famous lovers crowning its beauty in vibrant gold, reds, violets, and blues. Romeo and Juliet graced the front. Without looking, Krisana knew the other windows were of Lancelot and Guinevere, Cleopatra and Mark Antony, Aphrodite and Adonis, Orpheus and Eurydice, and Odysseus and Penelope.
The place was picture perfect. So why did her heels clicking on the stone steps sound like warning gunshots? Either heaven or hell lay ahead, but there was no turning back now. The moment she’d turned up the drive and had seen the opera house, she’d crossed into the realm of the unexplained and unforgettable. For better or worse, she had to see this impossible reality through to its fated end.
“Happy Valentine-Birthday to me,” she whispered.
Suddenly, a loud screech cut through the air. Krisana jumped back as a large raven dive-bombed her head. Heart beating hard, she cried out, swatting at it with her arm. She’d seen Alfred Hitchcock’s
and for a moment, the line between unlikely fiction and reality blurred.
After frightening her, the bird settled on a brass handrail at the top of the stairs and glared at her. She glanced around for a nest it might be protecting, but didn’t see any place in the surrounding brick where one could be. Her sense of unease grew.
Giving the raven a wide berth and keeping a wary eye out, she hurried up the stairs to the entry and the long row of gilded bronze doors. Similar to Lorenzo Ghiberti’s masterpieces at the Baptistery of the Florence Cathedral, scenes of Tristan and Isolde’s tragic love story were carved into the three sets of doors. Even before her dreams of this place had begun, Wagner’s composition of the lovers had been one of her favorite pieces. It bothered her that every great love seemingly ended in tragedy, though. Why didn’t any of these couples have a happy ending? She yearned to know a great passion, but she wanted more than desperation and heartache in the end.
Just to the right of the doors, she saw a marble plaque embedded in the brick. It wasn’t anything she remembered from her dreams. Moving closer, she read the inscription,
Anya. Now and Forever. James. 1949.
Her fingers trembled as she traced the words and tears stung her eyes. She finally had names for her ghosts. The man and woman in her dreams had to be James and Anya.
Eager to learn more, she tried opening the doors, but they were locked, as she expected it would be. Still disappointment rippled through her. She wanted to know if everything inside here matched her dreams. Especially the room she’d shared with her dream-lover. No, the room
had shared with James.
Before leaving, she touched the door carving of Tristan kissing Isolde, closing her eyes and imagining a happy ending for them. The door panel suddenly turned burning hot and an overwhelming sense of terror grabbed her. She snatched her hand back and studied the door. It appeared normal, and when she touched it again, nothing happened. The panel was reassuringly cool, with no accompanying sense of doom. Surely, she had imagined it, but decided not to linger. As she passed the raven’s perch, it squawked at her again. When it followed her, hovering almost unnaturally in the air above her, she had to force herself to walk rather than run back to her car.
It was time she got some answers.
’m sorry, Mr. Cruz,
can you repeat that?” Krisana shook her head, grappling to make sense of what the attorney had said. She’d assumed she’d inherited the property by being the beneficiary of an unknown person’s will, but that wasn’t the case.
Shares of the opera house had been placed into a trust in her name for over the past twenty-five years, totaling fifty percent of the building’s worth. She would gain control of the trust tomorrow, on her birthday. When she asked why, the lawyer said her benefactor was a patron of the classical arts and had been impressed with her voice.
“Please, call me Phineas.” In his mid-forties, with graying temples, dark hair, and sharp green eyes, the man’s indulgent smile made her feel like a child having her hand patted. “I understand this is a lot to take in all at once. Why don’t we meet for lunch after you’ve settled in and I can answer any further questions? Then if you want, you can consider seeing your benefactor—”
“Settled in?” she asked, wondering if there was more he hadn’t told her. Did the trust stipulate she live in Mysteria Falls?
“My apologies. After hearing your voicemail this morning, I assumed you’d be staying at least the night to see the property and to sign the papers for the trust tomorrow. So, I took the liberty of booking you a room at the bed and breakfast across the street. With the summer art festival starting today, rooms in the area will fill up fast.”
She shifted in her seat. She appreciated Phineas’ forethought and consideration, but when she wasn’t on tour, she wanted to be the one arranging her agenda.
More importantly, she didn’t want to wait until later to see her benefactor. She wanted answers now. “Thank you. Let me think about the bed and breakfast offer. First, I’d like to meet the man who is behind all of this. You’ve yet to tell me his name and how I may contact him.”
Cruz hesitated, then picked up an envelope and a set of keys from the corner of his desk. He handed them to her. “The letter is from Lord Daniels, your benefactor. You will find a map to his nearby estate in the envelope and these are the keys to the opera house.”
Lord Daniels? Did that mean the man was from England? And what? Titled. Hands trembling, she opened the letter.
Thank you for coming. I anxiously look forward to our meeting and will explain everything then.
That’s it? That’s all he wrote? Why had the man done this? Was he a long lost relative or an over generous fan?
She clutched the keys, letter, and map tightly and stood. “Is there a number where Lord Daniels can be reached?”
Cruz stood as well. “I’m to call him when you leave here and inform him of your plans.”
“Then please, tell him I’m on my way.” She turned to leave and Cruz moved from his desk, walking ahead of her to the door. Instead of opening it, he swung to face her. She blinked up at him. “Is there a problem, Mr. Cruz?”
“Not at all.” He held out a card. “This is my cell number. Call me by three o’clock if you want to stay at the bed and breakfast. And let me know what time tomorrow you want to review and sign the documents for the trust. I suggest over lunch or dinner. Legal papers are easier to take with food.”
She smiled at him. “I’ll be in touch. Is there anything more you can tell me about why Lord Daniels chose me for this honor?”
Phineas shook his head and opened the door for her. “Anything more, he will have to tell you himself.”
On that cryptic note, she left. Once in her car, she studied the map, then re-opened the letter and sighed in frustration. She prayed that once she met Lord Daniels, she’d not only find out why he’d given her part of the opera house, but also why it, Anya, and James haunted her dreams.
t was time.
Daniels clenched his cell as it rang. The fate of his soul rode on what Phineas Cruz would tell him. The fact that a phantom’s world hinged on a vampire’s call, or more accurately, a mortal woman’s choice, was unthinkable. Then again, when it came to Anya, he wasn’t sane. Never had been. “She’s on her way?”
“In the tasty flesh,” Phineas replied. “You neglected to tell me your protégé bears an uncanny resemblance to Anya, except for the color of her eyes. If Anya hadn’t been a mere mortal, I’d think it was her. Is it?”
“Just a coincidence. Keep your fangs to yourself or you’ll find my chain wrapped around your neck. I’ll talk to you later.” Jameson clenched his jaw and hung up the phone. He’d known Phineas since they’d fought together in World War II, a rare time when all immortals had fought side-by-side to destroy the evil threatening humanity.
Phantoms were the police keepers of the paranormal realm and were often hated or resented by other immortals. In the short seventy-five years he’d known Phineas, they’d had a fairly amicable, business-like relationship. He knew Phineas had lost the woman he loved centuries ago. Phineas never said exactly why, but that the Paratribunal—the immortals high court—had taken away her immortality, a punishment only meted out for treason or high crimes. So even though Phineas knew the pain of loss, Jameson wasn’t about to trust the vampire with the knowledge on just how vulnerable Jameson would soon be.
In preparation for tomorrow, Jameson had resigned from the Alpha Force and withdrawn from all politics years ago to live as a recluse. If he was lucky enough to win Anya’s love again, he planned to spend every moment possible with her.
In Anya’s first life, she’d died while Jameson had been on a mission. Never again. He blamed himself for her death and would pay the price to bring her back to life. Anya’s spirit had been reborn in Krisana Delacourt. For that sacrificial miracle, Jameson would lose his immortality on her twenty-fifth birthday. He’d still retain his powers as a phantom, but he’d age as mortals aged and could die as mortals did.