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Hidden Jewel

V. C. Andrews









  “I’ve Got to Find Mommy. My Brother Needs Her. I Was Hoping You Might Have Heard from Her.”

  “Not a word, not a syllable. I’m sorry,” said Aunt Jeanne. “Come, my mother and I were just having some late breakfast.”

  I hadn’t expected to see Mrs. Tate. My legs began to tremble and my heart to pound….

  “Look who’s here, Mother.”

  Gladys Tate was seated at the table in a wheelchair. Her head seemed to have sunk back in her neck because of the arthritis. Her hair was pale and gray and so thin that her scalp was visible in spots. She didn’t smile. Her stony eyes burned into mine and then her lips quivered into a sardonic grin….

  As soon as Aunt Jeanne left the room, she leaned toward me, her ancient eyes beading. “Tell me about your mother. Quickly.”

  I explained again about my brother’s accident and why Mommy had returned to the bayou. The story apparently pleased her. She smiled and sat back. “It’s true,” she said. “She is responsible and more will happen until she …”

  “Until she what?”

  “Drowns like my son drowned,” she said bitterly. Before my very eyes, her face seemed to shrivel and grow haggard with the impact of her hate. It sent a hot flash through my spine….

  V.C. Andrews® Books

  The Dollanganger Family Series:

  Flowers in the Attic

  Petals on the Wind

  If There Be Thorns

  Seeds of Yesterday

  Garden of Shadows

  The Casteel Family Series:


  Dark Angel

  Fallen Hearts

  Gates of Paradise

  Web of Dreams

  The Cutler Family Series:


  Secrets of the Morning

  Twilight’s Child

  Midnight Whispers

  Darkest Hour

  The Landry Family Series:


  Pearl in the Mist

  All That Glitters

  Hidden Jewel

  Tarnished Gold

  The Logan Family Series:


  Heart Song

  Unfinished Symphony

  Music in the Night


  The Orphans Miniseries:





  Runaways (full-length novel)

  The Wildflowers Miniseries:





  Into the Garden (full-length novel)

  The Hudson Family Series:


  My Sweet Audrina (does not belong to a series)

  Published by POCKET BOOKS

  For orders other than by individual consumers, Pocket Books grants a discount on the purchase of 10 or more copies of single titles for special markets or premium use. For further details, please write to the Vice President of Special Markets, Pocket Books, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, 9th Floor, New York, NY 10020-1586.

  For information on how individual consumers can place orders, please write to Mail Order Department, Simon & Schuster Inc., 100 Front Street, Riverside, NJ 08075.

  Hidden Jewel



  New York London Toronto Sydney Singapore

  The sale of this book without its cover is unauthorized. If you purchased this book without a cover, you should be aware that it was reported to the publisher as “unsold and destroyed.” Neither the author nor the publisher has received payment for the sale of this “stripped book.”

  Following the death of Virginia Andrews, the Andrews family worked with a carefully selected writer to organize and complete Virginia Andrews’ stories and to create additional novels, of which this is one, inspired by her storytelling genius.

  This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

  An Original Publication of POCKET BOOKS

  POCKET BOOKS, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

  1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020

  Copyright © 1995 by Virginia C. Andrews Trust

  All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever.

  For information address Pocket Books, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020

  ISBN: 0-671-87320-2

  ISBN: 978-1-451-60293-7

  First Pocket Books paperback printing December 1995

  10 9 8 7

  V.C. Andrews is a registered trademark of the Virginia C. Andrews Trust.

  POCKET and colophon are registered trademarks of Simon & Schuster Inc.

  Cover and stepback art by Lisa Falkenstern

  Printed in the U.S.A.

  Hidden Jewel


  It always begins the same way. First I hear him singing the lullabye. He is carrying me in his arms, and we are walking over marshland where the grass is so tall that neither he nor I can see his feet, only the tops of his high boots. He is wearing a palmetto hat so the brim puts a mask of shadow over his eyes and nose. I wear my pink and white bonnet.

  Behind us, the metal monsters do their monotonous drumming. They resemble giant bees drawing the black nectar from the earth. When I look back at them, they raise their heads and nod at me and then raise their heads again. It frightens me and I know he realizes it does, because he holds me tighter and sings louder.

  Then we come upon a flock of rice birds. They rise out of the grass with grace and beauty, but they are so abrupt and they come so close that I can feel the breeze stirred up by their wings. He laughs. It’s a soft, smooth laugh that glides over me like cool water.

  Before us, the great house looms against the sky. The house is so big it looks as if it swallowed up the sky and can block the sun. I see Mommy coming down the stairs from her art studio. She sees us and waves, and he laughs again. Mommy starts toward us, walk-ing quickly at first and then running. With every passing moment she grows younger and younger until … she’s me!

  I’m standing before a mirror and looking at myself. I am so amazed at the blue in my eyes, the flaxen color of my hair, and the pearlescent luster of my complex-ion that I smile and reach out to touch my image in the glass, but as soon as I do, I fall backward. I fall and fall until I hear the sound of splashing water and open my eyes to look at a school of fleeing fish. Their absence reveals the twisted roots of an upturned cypress tree. They look like the gnarled fingers of a sleeping giant. They frighten me, and I turn away, only to come face to face with him.

  His eyes are wide, his mouth open with just as much surprise that he is down here. I try to scream, but when I do, the water comes rushing in and I gag.

  And that’s when I wake up.

  When I was younger, my gagging would bring either Mommy or Daddy or both of them. But for years I have been able to catch my breath and regain the courage to lower my head to the pillow in the darkness in search of sleep again.

  Tonight Mommy must have anticipated the dream, because she was in my doorway moments after I cried out.

  “Are you all right, Pearl?” she asked.

  “Yes, Mommy.”

  “The dream?”

  “Yes, but I’m fine,
Mommy,” I assure her.

  “Are you sure, honey?” she asks coming closer.

  Why does it worry her so? I wonder. Is it because I still have the dream?

  “When will it stop, Mommy? Will I have the dream forever?”

  “I don’t know, honey. I hope not.” She looks at the doorway. “I can try another candle,” she whispers.

  “No, thank you, Mommy.”

  Once, she was so desperate about my dream that she tried one of the old voodoo remedies she had learned from Nina Jackson, my grandfather Dumas’s cook, and Daddy got angry.

  “I’ll be fine, really,” I say.

  She wipes some strands of hair from my forehead and kisses me.

  “What’s going on in here?” Daddy demands from the doorway in his pretend gruff voice.

  “Just woman talk, Beau.”

  “At three in the morning?” he asks amazed.

  “It’s a woman’s prerogative.”

  “To drive a man crazy, you mean. That’s a woman’s prerogative,” he mutters and goes back to bed.

  We laugh. In some ways we are more like two sisters than mother and daughter. Mommy looks so young, hardly thirty-six, even though everyone says caring for twin twelve-year-old boys has to be an age maker.

  “Dream of good things, honey. Dream about tomorrow. Your wonderful party. Dream about going to college and doing all the things you’ve wanted to do.”

  “I will, Mommy. Mommy,” I say and quickly grab her hand as she stands.

  “What is it, Pearl dear?”

  “Will you tell me more? Maybe if I know more, the nightmare will stop.”

  She nods reluctantly.

  “I know you think it’s painful for me to hear and you don’t want to do anything to hurt me, but I have to know everything, don’t I, Mommy?”

  “Yes,” she admits. “You do.” She sighs so deeply, I’m afraid her heart will crack.

  “I’m old enough to understand, Mommy. Really I am,” I reassure her.

  “I know you are, honey. We’ll talk. I promise.” She pats my hand.

  I watch her go off, her shoulders slumping a little now. I hate to make her sad, even for a moment, but I am drawn to the dark past almost as strongly as a moth is drawn to a candle flame.

  I hope—no, I pray—that, unlike the moth, I will not be consumed and destroyed as a result.


  The Future Beckons

  I woke to the sound of shouting just outside my window. The extra workers Daddy had hired to spruce up our house and gardens for my graduation party had arrived and were being assigned their jobs. It had rained the night before and the damp, sweet scent of green bamboo, gardenias, and blooming camellias floated all around me. After I ground the sleep from my eyes, I sat up and saw that the sun was nudging aside whatever clouds remained and dropping golden rays over the pool and the tennis courts. It was as if someone had lifted a blanket off precious jewels. Our gardens were dazzling, our blue and mauve Spanish tiles glittering. Could there be a more beautiful beginning to one of the most important days of my life? In seconds all the webs of confusion, shadows of darkness, and childhood fears were washed away.

  I was seventeen and about to graduate from high school. And I was the class valedictorian, too! I sighed deeply and then let my eyes move over my room. Long ago Mommy had returned it to the way it had been when she had first arrived in New Orleans. I slept in her actual dark pine queen-sized canopy bed, the canopy made of fine ivory-colored silk with a fringe border. My pillows were so enormous and fluffy I felt as if I sank a foot whenever I lowered my head to them. The bedspread, pillowcases, and top sheet were made from the softest and whitest muslin. Above my headboard was a painting of a beautiful young woman in a garden feeding a parrot. There was a cute black-and-white puppy tugging at the hem of her full skirt.

  On either side of my bed was a nightstand with a bell-shaped lamp, and in addition to a matching dresser and armoire, my room had a vanity table with an enormous oval mirror in an ivory frame decorated with hand-painted red and yellow roses. Mommy and I had often sat side by side and gazed at ourselves in the mirror while we did our hair and makeup and had our girl-to-girl talks, as she liked to call them. Now, she said, they would be woman to woman; but soon they would be few and far between, for I was about to go to college. I had been so anxious to grow up and so excited about reaching this day, but now that it was finally here, I couldn’t help feeling somewhat melancholy too.

  Good-bye to my Huckleberry Finn days, I thought. Good-bye to sleeping late on weekend mornings; good-bye to not worrying about tomorrow. Good-bye to wasting time and cramming for tests at the last moment. Good-bye to sitting outside in the garden for hours, dreaming away the afternoons. With a sweep of its hand, the clock would thrust me and my fellow graduates forward into the real world, the world of work and serious study in college where the only one looking over your shoulder was your own conscience.

  As my eyes retreated from the mirror, I looked at my door and discovered it was partly open. A further investigation revealed my brother Jean on his hands and knees peering in at me and my brother Pierre on Jean’s back peering in as well. The two duplicate faces with their cerulean blue eyes under their golden bangs gaped with curiosity and anticipation. What they expected I would do the moment I woke up on my graduation day I did not know, but I knew they were waiting for me to say or do something that they could tease me about later.

  “Jean! Pierre! What are you doing?” I cried. The two stumbled sideways. Laughing and squealing, they scurried back to their room, the room that had once been our great-uncle Jean’s room, my mother’s father’s brother. I heard them slam their door shut and all was quiet for a moment.

  Most of the time the twins were like two puppies sniffing and poking where they didn’t belong. Usually it got them into some sort of trouble, and Daddy, despite his apparent reluctance to do so, had to discipline them. He was very fond of his twin sons, very proud of them, and full of expectations for them, too.

  Between the two of them, they did seem to mirror Daddy. Jean had his athletic ability, his love of sports and hunting and fishing. Pierre had his inquisitiveness, his sensitivity and love of the arts, but neither looked down on the other. Rather, my twin brothers were like halves of one brother, a hybrid called Pierre-Jean. What one couldn’t do, the other did for him, and what one didn’t think, the other thought for him. They were already the Two Musketeers and didn’t need a third.

  What was amazing to everyone, even the most skeptical, was the way they both came down with the same childhood diseases at just about the same time. If one got a cold, the other was sure to have it minutes later, and I swear, whenever Jean bumped his head or his knee, Pierre grimaced with just as much pain, and vice versa.

  They liked to eat the same things and almost always ate the same amount, although Jean, who was growing faster, was beginning to eat more.

  “What’s going on out here?” I heard Mommy say. She listened for a moment and then came to my door. “Good morning, Pearl honey. Were you able to go back to sleep?”

  “Yes, Mommy.”

  “Were your brothers here waking you up?” she asked with a scowl.

  I didn’t want to tell on them, but she didn’t need me to testify.

  “I swear they’re like two muskrats getting under everyone’s feet these days. I don’t know what to do about them. One will swear the other’s innocent and do it with the sweetest, most innocent eyes himself.” She shook her head. She was complaining, but I knew how happy she was that they were so close. It had been so different between her and her twin. Whenever she talked about her sister Gisselle, she did so with a deep sigh of regret, still blaming herself for not being able to get Gisselle to become the sister she should have been.

  “I should be getting up anyway, Mommy. There’s so much to do, and I want to help.”

  “I know,” Mommy said, her eyes small and dark. For both of us, but maybe more for Mommy, this was one of those happy-sad days. If
she could have kept me a little girl forever, she would have, she said. “It all goes so fast,” she had warned me. “Why rush it?”

  Mommy always said she didn’t want me to lose a day of my childhood. She claimed she had skipped her childhood completely. She blamed the hard life she had for making her grow up so fast.

  “I want to be sure you don’t struggle and suffer like me,” she told me often. “If that means you’ll be a little spoiled, so be it!”

  But I knew she couldn’t keep me a little girl forever, not if I had anything to say about it. Although I’d loved growing up here, now mostly I couldn’t wait to leave and explore the world outside.

  “I think I’m more excited today than you are,” she said, her eyes beaming. She looked radiant, despite the early hour. Mommy was never one to wear a great deal of makeup or pamper herself the way the mothers of some of my girlfriends did. She hardly ever went to the beauty parlor and was not one to flit from one style to another, although she always looked chic and elegant. But maybe that was because Mommy was one of those special people who set the style. Other women were always interested in what she chose to wear, what colors, what fashions. She was a highly respected artist in New Orleans and her appearance at an art gallery or an exhibition would be noted, photographed, and printed on the society pages.

  Mommy rarely cut her rich ruby hair, her name-sake. She kept it long and when she wore it down, she had it curled or twisted in a French knot. She told me that simplicity was the keynote to being attractive.

  “Women bedecked in expensive jewels and caked with makeup might attract attention, but often they are not attractive, Pearl,” she advised. “A pair of earrings, a necklace, should be used to highlight and not overwhelm, and the same is true for makeup. I know that girls your age think it’s fashionable and exciting to dab on the eye liner lavishly, but the trick is to emphasize the positive, not smother it.”

  “I don’t know what’s positive about me, Mommy,” I said, and she laughed.

  Then she fixed those emerald-green eyes on me and shook her head. “If God had come to me when I was pregnant and said, ‘Paint the face you want your child to have,’ I couldn’t have done better or thought of someone more beautiful than you, Pearl.