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Forbidden Sister

V. C. Andrews

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  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24


  Roxy’s Story Excerpt

  About V.C. Andrews


  My mother wasn’t supposed to have me. She wasn’t supposed to get pregnant again.

  Nearly nine years before I was born, she gave birth to my sister, Roxy. Her pregnancy with Roxy was very difficult, and when my mother’s water broke and she was rushed to the hospital, Roxy resisted coming into the world. My mother says she fought being born. An emergency cesarean was conducted, and my mother nearly died. She fell into a coma for almost three days, and after she regained consciousness, the first thing her doctor told her was to never get pregnant again.

  When I first heard and understood this story, I immediately thought that I must have been an accident. Why else would they have had another child after so many years had passed? She and Papa surely had agreed with the doctor that it was dangerous for her to get pregnant again. Mama could see that thought and concern in my face whenever we talked about it, and she always assured me that I wasn’t a mistake.

  “Your father wanted you even more than I did,” she told me, but just thinking about it made me wonder about children who are planned and those who are not. Do parents treat children they didn’t plan any differently from the way they treat the planned ones? Do they love them any less?

  I know there are single mothers who give away their children immediately because they can’t manage them or they don’t want to begin a loving relationship they know will not last. Some don’t want to set eyes on them. When their children find out that they were given away, do they think about the fact that their mothers really didn’t want them to be born? How could they help but think about it? That certainly can’t be helpful to their self-confidence.

  Despite my mother’s assurances, I couldn’t help wondering. If I weren’t planned, was my soul floating around somewhere minding its own business and then suddenly plucked out of a cloud of souls and ordered to get into my body as it was forming in Mama’s womb? Was birth an even bigger surprise for unplanned babies? Maybe that was what really happened in Roxy’s case. Maybe she wasn’t planned, and that was why she resisted.

  Wondering about myself always led me to wonder about Roxy. What sort of a shock was it for her when she first heard she was going to have a sister, after having been an only child all those years? She must have known Mama wasn’t supposed to have me. Did she feel very special because of that? Did she see herself as their precious golden child, the only one Mama and Papa could have? And then, when Mama told her about her new pregnancy, did Roxy pout and sulk, thinking she would have to share our parents’ attention and love? Share her throne? Was she worried that she would have to help take care of me and that it would cut into her fun time? Although I didn’t know how she felt about me for some time, from the little I remember about her, I had the impression that I was at least an inconvenience to her. Maybe my being born was the real reason Roxy became so rebellious.

  My mother told me that my father believed her complications in giving birth to Roxy were God’s first warning about her. However, despite her difficult birth, there was nothing physically wrong with Roxy. She began exceptionally beautiful and is to this day, but according to Mama, even when Roxy was an infant, she was headstrong and rebellious. She ate when she wanted to eat, no matter what my mother prepared for her or how she tried to get her to eat, and she slept when she wanted to sleep. Rocking her or singing to her didn’t work. My mother told me my father would get into a rage about it. Finally, he insisted she take Roxy to the doctor. She did, but the doctor concluded that there was absolutely nothing wrong with Roxy. My father ordered her to find another doctor. The result was the same.

  Roxy’s tantrums continued until my mother finally gave in and slept when Roxy wanted to sleep. She even ate when Roxy wanted to eat, leaving my father to eat alone often.

  “If I didn’t eat with her, she wouldn’t eat, or she’d take hours to do so,” my mother said. “Your father thought she was being spiteful even when she was an infant.”

  According to how my mother described all this to me, Roxy’s tantrums spread to everything she did and everything that was done with her or for her. My father complained to my mother that he couldn’t pick Roxy up or kiss her unless she wanted him to do so at that moment. If he tried to do otherwise, she wailed and flailed about “like a fish out of water.” My mother didn’t disagree with that description. She said Roxy would even hold her breath and stiffen her body into stone until she got her way. Her face would turn pink and then crimson.

  “As red as a polished apple! I had no doubt that she would die before she would give in or get what she wanted.”

  I was always told that fathers and daughters could have a special relationship, because daughters often see their fathers as perfect, and fathers see their daughters as little princesses. My mother assured me that nothing was farther from the truth when it came to Roxy and my father.

  “Mon dieu. I swear sometimes your father would look at Roxy with such fire in his eyes that I thought he’d burn down the house,” my mother said.

  Although she was French, my mother was fluent in English as a child, and after years and years of living in America, she usually reverted to French with my father and me only when she became emotional or wanted to stress something. Of course, I learned to speak French because of her. She knew that teaching it to me when I was young was the best way to get me fluent in the language.

  “Your sister would look right back at him defiantly and never flinch. He was always the first to give up, to look away. And if he ever spanked her or slapped her, she would never cry.

  “Once, when she was fourteen and came home after two o’clock in the morning when she wasn’t even supposed to go out, he took his belt to her,” my mother continued. “I had to pull him off her, practically claw his arm to get him to stop. You know how big your father’s hands are and how powerful he can be, especially when he’s very angry. Roxy didn’t cry and never said a word. She simply went to her room as if she had walked right through him.

  “She defied him continually, breaking every rule he set down, until he gave up and threw her out of the house. You were just six and really the ideal child in his eyes, une enfant parfait. Why waste his time on a hopeless cause, he would say, when he could spend his time and energy on you instead? He was always afraid she’d be a bad influence on you, contaminate you with her nasty and stubborn ways.

  “Your sister didn’t cry or beg to stay. She packed her bags, took the little savings she had, and went out into the world as if she had never expected to do anything different. She didn’t even look to me to intercede on her behalf. I don’t think she ever respected me as a woman or as her mother, because I wouldn’
t stand up to your father the way she would. Sometimes she wouldn’t even let me touch her. The moment I put my hand out to stroke her hair or caress her face, she recoiled like a frightened bird.

  “Maybe your father hoped she would finally learn a good lesson and return, begging him to let her back into our home and family and promising to behave. But if he did have that expectation, he was very good at keeping it secret. After she left, he avoided mentioning her name to me, and if I talked about her, he would get up and leave the room. If I did so at dinner, he would get up and go out to eat, and if I mentioned her when we were in bed, he would go out to the living room to sleep.

  “So I gave up trying to change his mind. Sometimes I went out looking for her, taking you with me, but this is a very big city. Paris is a bigger city, but more people live here in New York. It was probably as difficult as looking for a needle in a haystack.”

  “Didn’t you call the police, try to get her face on milk cartons or something?”

  “Your father wouldn’t hear of it for the first few months. Later, there were newspaper stories and a magazine article about lost girls, and your sister was featured. Nothing came of it. I used to go to other neighborhoods and walk and walk, hoping to come upon her, especially on her birthday, but it wasn’t until five years later that your father revealed that he had seen her. He told me only because he thought it proved he was right to throw her out.

  “He was at a dinner meeting with some of his associates at the investment bank. After it had ended, one of them told him he had a special after-dinner date. They walked out together, and a stretch limousine pulled up. The man winked at your father and went to the limousine. The chauffeur opened the door, and your father saw a very attractive and expensively dressed young woman inside the limousine. At first, he didn’t recognize her, but after a few moments, he realized it was Roxy. He said she looked years older than she was and that she glared out at him with the same defiance he had seen in her face when she was only five.

  “Later, he found out she was a high-priced call girl. She even had a fancy name, Fleur du Coeur, which you know means ‘Flower of the Heart.’ That’s how rich men would ask for her when they called the escort service.

  “Mon dieu, mon dieu! It broke my heart to hear all of that, but I didn’t cry in front of him.”

  Even now, talking about it brought tears to her eyes, however.

  My mother told me more about Roxy after my father had passed away. I was devastated by my father’s death, but now that he was no longer there to stop it, I wanted to hear as much as I could about my forbidden sister, the sister whose existence I could never acknowledge.

  I had no trouble pretending I was an only child. Since the day Roxy had left, I was living that way anyway. My father had taken all of her pictures off the walls and shelves and dressers. He had burned most of them. Mama was able to hide a few, but anything else Roxy had left behind was dumped down the garbage chute. It was truly as if he thought he could erase all traces of her existence. He never even acknowledged her birthday. Looking at the calendar, he would do little more than blink.

  He didn’t know it, but I still had a charm bracelet Roxy had given me. It had a wonderful variety of charms that included the Eiffel Tower, a fan, a pair of dancing shoes, and a dream catcher. My mother’s brother had given it to her when my parents and she were in France visiting, and she gave it to me. I never wore it in front of my father for fear that he would seize it and throw it away, too.

  Of course, I could never mention her name in front of my father when he was alive, and I didn’t dare ask him any questions about her. My mother was the one who told me almost all I knew about Roxy after she had left. She said that once my father had seen Roxy in the limousine, he had tried to learn more about her, despite himself. He found out that she lived in a fancy hotel on the East Side, the Hotel Beaux-Arts. I had overheard them talking about it. The Beaux-Arts was small but very expensive. Most of the rooms were suites and some were full apartments. My mother said that my father was impressed with how expensive it was.

  “The way he spoke about her back then made me think that he was impressed with how much money she was making. Before I could even think he had softened his attitude about her, he added that she was nothing more than a high-priced prostitute,” she said.

  She didn’t want to tell me all of this, but it was as if it had all been boiling inside her and she finally had the chance to get it out. I knew that she went off afterward to cry in private. I was conflicted about asking her questions because I saw how painful it was for her to tell these things to me. I rarely heard my parents speak about Roxy, and I knew I couldn’t ask my mother any questions about her in front of Papa. If I did ask when he wasn’t home, my mother would avoid answering or answer quickly, as if she expected the very walls would betray her and whisper to my father.

  However, the questions were there like weeds, undaunted, invulnerable, and as defiant as Roxy.

  What did she look like now?

  What was her life really like?

  Was she happy? Did she have everything she wanted?

  Was she sad about losing her family?

  Mostly, I wanted to know if she ever thought about me. It suddenly occurred to me one day that Roxy might have believed that my father risked my mother’s life to have me just so he could ignore her. He was that disgusted with her. Surely, if Roxy thought that, she could have come to hate me.

  Did she still hate me?

  The answers were out there, just waiting for me. They taunted me and haunted me.

  I had no doubt, however, that I would eventually get to know them.

  What I wondered was, would I be sorry when I did get to know them?

  Would they change my life?

  And maybe most important of all, would I hate my sister as much as my father had?


  My father was always the first to rise in the morning, even on weekends. He was never quiet about it, either. All three bedrooms in our town house just off Madison Avenue on East 81st Street in New York were upstairs. It was a relatively new building in the neighborhood, and Papa often complained about the workmanship and how the builders had cut corners to make more money. He said the older structures on the street were far more solid, even though ours cost more. Our walls were thinner, as were the framing and the floors.

  Consequently, I could hear him close drawers, start his shower, close cabinets, and even talk to Mama, especially if their bedroom door was open. The cacophony of sounds he made was his rendition of Army reveille. Of course, being the son of an Army general, he actually had heard it most of his young life. His family had often lived that close to the barracks, depending on where his father had been stationed, especially when they were overseas. When I commented about it once, Mama said the volume of the noise he made after he got up in the morning was a holdover from the days when Roxy lived with us. Her bedroom was on the other side of theirs. She would never wake up for school on her own, so Papa would be sure to make all this noise to get her up much earlier than was necessary. No matter what Mama said, he was stubborn about it. Maybe Roxy had inherited that obstinacy from him. Who could be more inflexible when he had made up his mind than my father?

  Even though he basically had defied his own father’s wishes and chosen a business career rather than a military one as his older brother, Orman, had, Papa still believed in military discipline. Disobeying an order in our house could lead to the equivalent of being court-martialed. At least, that was how it felt to me, and I’m sure it had felt that way to Roxy, especially when he told her to leave the house. To her it must have been like a dishonorable discharge. Perhaps, despite what Papa said, she had felt some shame. I imagined she would have, even though I couldn’t remember her that well anymore. After all, it was now a little more than nine years since I had last seen her or heard her voice.

  I often wondered if she had seen me and secretly watched me growing up. During these years, did she hide somewhere nearby and wai
t for a glimpse of either my mother or me? One of the first things I used to do when I stepped out, and often still do, was to look across the street, searching for someone Roxy’s age standing behind a car or off to the side of a building, watching for any sight of us. Even if I didn’t see her, I couldn’t help but wonder if she followed me to school.

  Sometimes I would pretend she was, and I would stop suddenly and turn to catch her. People behind me would look annoyed or frightened. Whenever I walked in the city, whether to school or to the store or just to meet friends, I would scan the faces of any young woman who would be about Roxy’s age. I often studied some young woman’s face so hard she flashed anger back at me, and I quickly looked away and sped up.

  One of the first things my parents had taught me about walking the streets of New York was never to make too much eye contact with strangers. I supposed Roxy would be like a complete stranger to me now. I even had trouble recalling the sound of her voice, but I did sneak looks at the pictures of her that Mama had hidden every chance I had.

  I believed that Roxy would be as curious about me as I was about her. Why shouldn’t she be? Although I feared it, it was hard for me to accept that she hated Mama and me because of what Papa had done to her. Despite his stern ways, it was also hard for me to believe she hated him. Maybe it was difficult only because I didn’t want to believe it. I didn’t even want to think that someone with whom I shared so much DNA could be that bad, that immoral. Or did it mean that somewhere deep inside me there was a strain of evil that would someday rise to the surface, too? How would it show itself? What emotions, lusts, and desires did we share?

  Having an older sister who had become so infamous to my parents naturally made me worry about myself. When I suggested such a thing to Mama once, she looked at me with pain in her eyes. I know the pain was there, because, like me, she didn’t want to believe Roxy was so wicked and sinful or as evil as Papa made her out to be. Then she softened her look and told me to think of Cain and Abel in the Bible. Abel wasn’t evil because Cain was. Abel was good.