Shadow Dancer (Shadow, #1)
To the Real Sergeant Jenna DiNolfo… My mother.
The memory of her permeated the wood. Her long shadow still danced upon the walls in her absence. The musky scent of her perfume wafted through the house, polluting the air we breathe. Inhale. Exhale. Consume. Release. Our laboring lungs swallow her down as she evades our call.
An ominous tingle shocked the nape of my neck when I was alone. The oddly shaped reflection of two when I stood alone on the bank of Croft Lake. The ever-present feeling that I was never truly alone. She had never left at all. I had my doubts she ever would.
My father guarded her like a dark secret - a secret he refused to share. She was kept locked away, out of sight where no would find her, especially my brothers and I. He was her secret keeper. The guardian of her past. Too afraid to let the truth be heard. Too afraid that his memories of Catherine would be stolen from him, tarnished by another’s opinion. Never once did it occur to him that I held the master key to the entire riddle.
They found her on the bank of the lake as the first light of day gleamed over the mountaintop. Snow covered her like a frigid blanket. She laid stark still, her skin an unnatural shade of blue and her dark waves cascading around her face in messy tendrils. The shock was not in finding her. No… The shock belonged solely to her eyes, once so soft and beautiful in life, so cold and callous in death. Frozen open by the wintry frost, she stared upon the world with deep contempt. She would not lie there forever, though. Her unsettled spirit would roam these grounds until her recompense was achieved.
The person responsible for her end led a double life. A respected pillar of the community in one light, and a sick, obsessed man in the next, brain addled by delusions and deceptions that would keep most adults awake a night. These thoughts were nothing more than commonplace to him. I was so desperate to learn what had happened to her that it never occurred to me that I would be next on his list. The truth of the matter is, some secrets are better off being buried and forgotten. Unfortunately, I did not learn that lesson until it was too late.
I know every secret my mother ever had. They were whispered in my ear as my mind fell to dreams. Slowly, they became my own to tell. Every secret my father longed to hide came to light in the glow of the pale moon. She is a shadow dancer. Skirting the shadows, out of sight but rarely out of mind. There she would remain, waiting, watching and forbidding him to make me a shadow dancer, too.
Fox Hollow, Pennsylvania
Monday, October 6, 1997
Under darkened sky and foggy moor, fall's vibrant colors were dimmed by dense cloud cover. A hooded figure, deep in contemplation, trembled in the chill. A raven, black and withered, beat its wings against autumn’s brisk, pushing fiercely against the early October wind. With its talons stretched, the raven perched gingerly on the splintering windowsill of Morrow Manor, pecking at the glass pane of the window. Shocking the figure from its thoughts, their piercing blue eyes met the raven’s sight.
"Tristan... You are going to drive yourself nuts doing that stupid project," said Blake, casting his younger sister an “I told you so” stare.
Sitting at an old computer perched atop an antique walnut desk, Tristan Morrow remained deep in thought beneath her boyfriend’s gray Steeplechase hoodie. The green hue of the monitor blinked impatiently before her while her index finger rested on the delete key, threatening to erase the words on the screen. Tristan had written a paragraph and she appeared utterly unhappy with the task at hand. She quietly decided whether or not to go forward with the project. It was an impossible task, a fool’s errand, but Tristan was stubborn and didn’t want to see her 98 average in English Comp go down the toilet.
“Stupid Kendricks!” Tristan yelled as she turned red-faced. Her index finger slammed down onto the delete key erasing the words on her screen.
Tristan spun in her chair to face her older brother, Blake, who was lying atop the upper level of his bunk beds. He was quite comfortable, sprawled out on his mattress as he read his irreparably tattered book of Greek Mythology. Poking his head up from his pillow, Tristan laughed at Blake’s full head of messy black hair, which was in desperate need of a trimming.
“I have to hand it in…”
“Why?!” Blake said looking at his sister as if she were insane. “I’m not!”
“Such a rebel…” Tristan said, shaking her head at her brother.
“Neither is Tommy!”
“Since when has Tommy ever handed in homework?”