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Delia's Heart

V. C. Andrews


  V.C. Andrews® Books

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  Delia’s Crossing

  Delia’s Heart

  My Sweet Audrina (does not belong to a series)

  Pocket Books

  A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

  1230 Avenue of the Americas

  New York, NY 10020

  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 either 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.

  Copyright © 2009 by the Vanda General Partnership

  All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. For information address Pocket Books Subsidiary Rights Department,

  1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020

  V.C. ANDREWS® and VIRGINIA ANDREWS® are registered trademarks of the Vanda General Partnership

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

  ISBN-13: 978-1-4165-9408-6

  ISBN-10: 1-4165-9408-6

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  1: Dark Place

  2: Christian Taylor

  3: The Davilas

  4: Rumors

  5: Down the Rabbit Hole

  6: Adan

  7: A Gift

  8: The Party

  9: An Uneasy Deal

  10: Beware of Thorns

  11: Driving Sophia

  12: Blackmail

  13: Open Water

  14: Change in Plan

  15: Give the Devil Her Due

  16: Escape

  17: Surrender

  18: Rough Seas

  19: Loss

  20: Adan’s Gift


  Looking down from my bedroom window, I see Señor Casto bawling out one of my aunt’s gardeners for doing what he considers sloppy work. Señor Casto is as upset and as animated as he would be if he actually owned the estate and not just served as my aunt’s estate manager. She is lucky to have such a dedicated employee, but I think his dedication and loyalty are still more to my aunt’s dead husband, Señor Dallas, than to her. He talks warmly about him quite often, although usually not in my aunt’s presence.

  Casto is waving his arms and thrusting his hands in every direction. It brings a smile to my face because it looks like his hands are trying to fly off his wrists but keep being caught in midair and brought back.

  The gardener, a short, thin man whose pale corn-yellow sombrero is at least two sizes too big, stares without expression and holds the rake like a biblical prophet might hold his staff. The shadow masks his face. He waits patiently, occasionally nodding. He doesn’t try to defend himself. I am sure he is thinking, Soon it will end; soon it will be time for lunch. With the other gardeners, he will sit in the shade of my aunt’s palm trees and unwrap his taco. They will drink their Corona beers and maybe have some beans and salsa.

  Sometimes I watch them talking softly and laughing, and when I do, I’m jealous of their conversation. I know they speak only in Spanish, and they are surely talking about Mexico, their relatives, and the world that they, like me, have left behind. Despite the poverty and the other hardships of daily life back in rural Mexico, there was the contentment that came from being where you were born and raised, being comfortable with the land, the mountains, the breezes, even the dust, because it all was who and what you were.

  The weather and landscapes here in Palm Springs are not terribly different from the weather and landscapes in my village back in Mexico, but it is not mine. I don’t mean in the sense of owning the property. The land truly claims us more than we claim the land. And it does that for all of us, no matter where we are born. No, I mean that I am still a stranger here.

  I wonder, will I ever truly be a norteamericana? Will my education, my aunt’s wealth, my cousins, and the friends I have made here over the past two years and will continue to make here change me enough? Probably more important is the question, will they ever accept me as one of them, or will they simply treat me as a foreigner, an immigrant, forever? Will they finally see me for myself and not just “another one of them”? What must I give up to win their full acceptance?

  Can’t I hold on to what I loved and still love about my people, my homeland, my food, my music, and my heritage and yet still be part of this wonderful place? Except for the Native Americans, wasn’t that what everyone else who came here had and kept? Italians, Germans, French, and others hold on to their sayings, their foods, and their ancestral memories. Why isn’t it the same for us?

  Nearly a year and a half ago, I stood by the door of the bus in Mexico City and said good-bye to Ignacio Davila, the young man I loved and thought I had lost forever to the desert when he and I fled back to Mexico. He was fleeing because he and his friends had taken revenge on my cousin Sophia’s boyfriend, Bradley Whitfield, who had forced himself on me. During the violent confrontation, Bradley was thrown through a window, and the broken glass cut an art
ery. He was with another girl he was seducing, Jana Lawler, but she did not call for medical help quickly enough, so he died. Ignacio’s friends were found, quickly sentenced in a plea agreement, and sent to prison, but through a friend, Ignacio’s father hired a coyote to lead us through the desert back to the safety of Mexico.

  A little more than halfway across, bandits attacked us when we stopped to sleep in a cave. Ignacio fought them so I could escape. I thought he had been killed but later discovered he had faked his own death in the desert. Only I, his family, and a few of their very close friends knew he was alive and well, working out a new identity for himself. That day we parted in Mexico City, we pledged to each other that we would wait for each other, no matter how long it took for him to return.

  Through our secret correspondence, I knew that Ignacio was doing well and waiting for enough time to pass so that he could return and not be discovered. He had to earn enough money so as not to be dependent on his father and put his father in any more danger. Both his family and I realized that he couldn’t come back here, however. It would be too dangerous. Bradley Whitfield’s father was an important businessman, wealthy, with connections to government officials and politicians. When the news was spread that Ignacio had died crossing the desert, Mr. Whitfield had retreated from driving Ignacio’s family out by destroying his gardener business. The Davilas even had a memorial service that I attended. In a real sense, I imagine they felt their son was dead and gone. Anyway, I suppose Mr. Whitfield believed he had gotten his revenge or what he thought was justice and was satisfied.

  Although Ignacio was just as angry as his friends were about my being raped and Bradley going unpunished for it, he swore to me that when they had gotten to the house that Bradley and his father were restoring and found him with Jana, he did not lay a hand on him. It was mostly his amigo Vicente who was so violent. Although Ignacio was technically only an accomplice to what was finally ruled manslaughter, he was afraid that he would not get an even-handed, just punishment. He regretted fleeing; he didn’t want to be thought a coward, and he didn’t want to leave his family with all the trouble, but his father was worried that Ignacio wouldn’t survive in the prison system and that Bradley’s father was so angry he would secretly arrange for some harsher punishment after all.

  I had fled with Ignacio so I could return to my little village, hoping to be with mi abuela Anabela again, even though I knew it would break my grandmother’s heart to see me leave what she believed was a wonderful opportunity for me in the United States. Here, living with my wealthy aunt Isabela, I would enjoy a far better education and have the chance to make something greater of my life. Of course, she knew that mi tía Isabela hated our family and had renounced her heritage and her language. She thought it was all because Tía Isabela’s father had forbidden her marriage to Señor Dallas, a much older American man, but I knew from her own lips that her rage came from my mother marrying the one man mi tía Isabela had loved, the man she thought loved her. Grandmother Anabela was hoping my aunt had regretted disowning her family and would give me opportunities as a way to repent and relieve her of her guilt.

  In my senior English class at the private school I now attended, my teacher, Mr. Buckner, quoted from a play by an English author, William Congreve, to describe how angry someone whose love had been rejected could be. Mr. Buckner was a tall man, with a shock of light brown hair that never obeyed the brush and comb. He was a frustrated actor and enjoyed dramatizing his lessons. He had a deep, resonant voice and took a posture like an actor on a stage to look up at the ceiling and bellow, “Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned. Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.”

  Everyone in the classroom, even my cousin Sophia, roared with laughter—everyone but me, that is, because all I could think of was mi tía Isabela’s blazing eyes when she described her disappointment and rage at losing my father. She accused my mother of being sly and deceptive and stealing my father from her. Of course, listening to her spout such hatred and anger at my mother and my family, I wondered why she wanted me to come live with her after my parents’ tragic truck accident on their way to work. It wasn’t long before I realized, as my cousin Edward so aptly put it one day, I had become a surrogate. My aunt couldn’t punish my mother, because she was dead, so she transferred her hunger for vengeance to me and wanted to make my life as miserable as she could. She did just that, so I had little hesitation when it came to my decision to flee back to Mexico with Ignacio.

  Grandmother Anabela used to tell me, “Un corazón del odio no pueda incluso amarse por completo.” A heart full of hate cannot even love itself.

  I saw how true that was for my aunt. She flitted from one younger man to another in a determined effort to look pleased with herself and get her friends envious. She flaunted her wealth and was at times ruthless at seizing property, claiming she was protecting her dead husband’s fortune for her children, but her children were cold to her and she to them. She had little respect for Sophia, and Sophia was constantly in trouble, doing rebellious things just to annoy her half the time.

  Edward was different. I sensed that he wanted to love his mother and, at times, I saw how much she wanted his love, but he, too, did not respect or approve of her actions and lifestyle. He was especially angry at her for the way she had treated me when I first arrived after my parents’ deaths. She immediately turned me into another one of her Mexican servants and practically put me into the hands of a known pedophile, John Baker, who was to serve as my language tutor. She forced me to live with him in what he called a “Helen Keller world,” in which I was completely dependent upon him for everything, supposedly to enhance and speed up my development of English. But after he tried to abuse me that first night, I fled, and Edward came to my rescue.

  For a while, thanks to Edward, my aunt was forced to treat me as her niece and not her house servant. However, she was always conniving, searching for ways to isolate me. She got me to spy on Edward and his close friend Jesse Butler, claiming she was worried that they were falling into a homosexual relationship, when all the while she knew that was just what it was. What she was really trying to do was drive a wedge between Edward and me.

  She nearly succeeded. Edward was very angry at me for doing that spying, but when he learned that his mother had put me up to it, he was at my side again, even after his terrible car accident.

  Edward had tried to come to my rescue a second time when he heard what Bradley Whitfield had done to me. In anger, he had chased after him before Ignacio and his friends did. He was going so fast he lost control of his car and got into a terrible crash that resulted in his loss of sight in one eye. For a while, it seemed as if old Señora Porres, a woman back in my Mexican village who believed in the ojo malvado, the evil eye, might have been right to predict that it could follow someone anywhere. I thought it was stuck to my back, and all I could do was bring trouble to anyone who wanted to help me.

  But in the end, it was Edward who wrote to me in Mexico and sent me the money to return. He and my aunt had learned of my grandmother’s death while I was crossing the desert with Ignacio, before I had reached my Mexican village. I was so depressed and lost when I arrived there that if it weren’t for Ignacio appearing like a ghost one night, I probably would have married a man in the village, Señor Rubio, and condemned myself to the life of a drudge with a man who was ugly and weak. He owned a menudo shop with his mother, who ruled him as she did when he was a small boy. She would have ruled me as well.

  With the promise of a future for me once again and the hope that Ignacio would join me in America, however, I returned, willing and strengthened to deal with whatever my cousin Sophia threw at me or whatever my aunt would do to me. Ignacio’s love for me and my love for him gave me the courage.

  I can’t say, though, that my legs weren’t trembling the day I deplaned in Palm Springs and met Edward and Jesse at the airport. They were both very happy to see me return and rushed to my side.

  “We’ll be your knights in
shining armor,” Edward promised.

  “No one will bother you with us around,” Jesse bravely assured me.

  It disturbed me that I was accepting their generosity and love and yet would be unable to trust them with the deep secret of Ignacio’s existence. Keeping secrets from the people you loved and who loved you was a recipe for a broken heart. I was afraid, however, and out of my affection for them, I also did not want to weigh them down with the burden of such a secret.

  There was so much more here in America than there was back in my little Mexican village, so much more opportunity and comfort, but there was so much more deception here as well. Back in my simple village, everyone seemed to wear his heart on his sleeve. Here, most people I met wore masks and were reluctant to take them off and show you their real faces. For me, even with my vastly improved English, I was still like a young girl wearing a blindfold and told to maneuver through a minefield.

  However, much had improved for me since my return. As Edward explained in his letter to me when I was back in Mexico, his reaching his eighteenth birthday triggered some financial power and independence through the trust arrangements his father had created before his death. Edward explained that my aunt wanted his cooperation on a variety of investments and properties they jointly owned, and to get that, she relented and granted me many new privileges and benefits. I was, as Edward had predicted, now attending the private school my cousin Sophia attended. Sophia and I were still taken there every morning by my aunt’s chauffeur, Señor Garman, and when he wasn’t available, Casto would drive us. I didn’t know it yet, but Edward was planning to give me a new car someday soon. He was trying to get his mother to do the same for Sophia, because he recognized she would make my life a living hell if I had a car and she did not.

  Edward and Jesse had both been accepted to the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, but they were home so often people wondered if they were really enrolled in a college. My aunt continually complained about it to him.