Victoria's Destiny, page 1
Table of Contents
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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2018 by L.J. Garland
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Table of Contents
Thank you so much for reading Victoria’s Destiny. It is truly a story from the heart. I cut scenes—Scenes? Heck, I cut chapters!—then hacked and slashed what remained, and gnashed my teeth. All I knew was Vicki and River wouldn’t let me stop until I told their story the way it happened. So, that’s what I did.
Thanks to Kate Richards for your expert knowledge, support, and friendship. And for all the other wonderful things you do. You are amazing! Hugs!
To Emmy Ellis, not only for an awesome edit, but also for making me stretch—always a good thing. Mwah!
To my parents for believing in me. Thank you for standing behind me and loving me. I’m truly blessed!
To my family for…well, everything. To my boys for being so wonderful. And for being understanding and giving Mom some “quiet time.” I love you so much.
And to my amazing husband, Jeff, who not only has stood behind me every step of the way, but also worked on the plot of Victoria’s Destiny with me. Without you, this whole “writing thing” would’ve never happened. You’re my rock, my soul mate, best friend, and the love of my life. Always and forever.
And to my readers for going on this wild ride with me. Thank you! If you hold your breath or worry for any of the characters, even for a moment, then I did Vicki and River justice. I know I held mine, and I wrote it.
So, get comfortable, leave the lights on, and make sure to read every word, because what happens in the very first sentence is tied right through to the last word.
I love to hear from my readers. You can write to me at LJGarland.firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also find me here:
Twitter: @ LJ_Garland1
Want to hear about the books I'm writing, release dates, contests & giveaways? Join my newsletter here: https://lj-garland.blogspot.com/p/newsletter.html
♥ XOXO ♥
For as long as Victoria Spiere can remember, she’s been cursed with visions that reveal when someone's life is about to change. Living in the shadows, she’s afraid the world might learn her secret and label her the freak that she believes she is. When a crack reporter discovers her ability, splashing her face on the cover of a tell-all rag, her worst nightmare is realized. Abandoning the security of her home, she takes refuge with her best friend in Savannah, Georgia.
For eighteen months, Detective River Chastain hunted the Valentine Killer, intent on stopping his murderous spree in Austin, Texas. But just when the killer is discovered and the madness ends, River’s entire life turns upside down. Put on trial, dragged through the courts, and relieved of his badge and gun, he believes his career is at an end…until he’s offered a detective’s job in Savannah. Two weeks after moving to the East Coast, he finds himself facing a murder eerily similar to those perpetrated by the Valentine Killer. When a sultry blonde knows more about the case than she should, he’s not sure what to think. Could she be a copycat, deciding to take up where Austin’s infamous murderer left off?
Within days of her arrival in Savannah, Victoria finds herself at the top of the handsome detective’s suspect list. But the more time she spends with him, the harder she falls for him. Then the cursed visions come fast and heavy, linking everyone dear to her to the killer. Time is running out, and with only two weeks to convince River that she’s not the killer, she unwittingly leads the detective into a sinister paranormal world that neither of them knew existed. Can their
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Charleston, South Carolina
Oh no. I’ve done it again. Eight-year-old Vicki blinked away the tears burning her eyes. I don’t want Sarah to die. But I can’t control it.
Perched on the barstool in her parents’ kitchen, skinny elbows on the cool granite countertop, she forced herself to swallow mouse-sized nibbles of the soft chocolate chip cookie Sarah had given her. How can I fix this? There’s got to be a way.
The vision had come to her at the breakfast table, the symbols flashing in her mind regardless of how hard she tried to stop them. Two, four, six, and eighteen. Numbers. But what do they mean?
She sighed then took another bite of the cookie. She might not be the one to end her nanny’s life, but having the vision meant the result might be the same. And although Sarah Rosen hadn’t been the nicest nanny in the world, she hadn’t been the meanest either.
“You’re just a waypoint on my journey to bigger and better things,” Sarah had told her on the day she arrived. “You watch. I’m gonna be rich and famous. You’d better grab an autograph before I hit the big time.”
The pressure of the situation bore down on Vicki, and she struggled to find a solution to save Sarah. But she was a kid. What could she do?
She stared at the cookie in her hand and counted the chocolate chips. Eighteen. She glanced at the bag, which boasted the cookies inside were stuffed with chips, and decided it might be the truth. She’d have to eat a few more before coming to a final decision.
“You better finish up, Vix.” Sarah rinsed a glass, placing it in the sink. “Waste not, want not.”
“Okay.” She took a bigger bite and struggled to swallow without choking. What in the world am I going to do? While she didn’t really care for the skinny, childless, thirty-something nanny, she didn’t want anything bad to happen to her.
But the vision of numbers had come. Two, four, six, and eighteen. Something’s gonna happen to Sarah. Soon.
Vicki studied the huge cookie and froze. “Eighteen chips,” she murmured.
Oh, no. It’s already started. One of the numbers was already here, and she hadn’t figured out how to save her nanny.
“I forgot to tell you.” The nanny dug in her pocket and produced a square piece of paper. She waved it in the air, a huge grin splitting her narrow, horsy face. “This one’s it. I feel it.”
Of course she did. Sarah always thought her most current lottery ticket was the big winner. Vicki started to nod, but stopped with the downward stroke of her chin.
With wide eyes, she scanned the lottery ticket. All four numbers were there, printed in bold, black type. Hope fluttered in her chest. Maybe something good would happen instead. Maybe this time Sarah really would win.
A huge weight lifted from Vicki’s shoulders.
Maybe she hadn’t triggered the nanny’s death. Maybe she’d helped her get what she’d always wanted. Money. Lots and lots of money.
“Finish up quick, Vix. The drawing’s in five minutes.” Sarah turned, heading for the living room. “And make sure you clean the counter when you’re done.”
She didn’t mind. Sarah would win the lottery—she could feel it. Swiping the cookie crumbs into her palm, she dashed to the sink and brushed her hands. She hurried to the couch.
The doorbell rang.
“Some people’s timing sucks.” Sarah grunted in frustration and pushed from the recliner. She crossed the room, her attention glued to the television.
The bell chimed a second time. Vicki grinned. Two. Another number from my vision.
“All right already.” Sarah’s eyes narrowed. “If it’s somebody trying to sell something, I’m going to smack ’em upside the head.”
Vicki refocused on the television. A woman sat in a restaurant, complained about her split ends then listened while a friend told her about a new shampoo. Animated graphics proved that with regular use, the woman’s hair would grow stronger than ever. One shampoo later, the woman smiled. Her split ends were gone forever.
Vicki’s attention snapped toward the foyer. Voices came from the entryway—one deep and jagged, the other shrill. Had someone made the mistake of ringing the bell and attempting to sell something to Sarah?
“Welcome to tonight’s Power Four Lottery drawing,” a woman announced in a breathy voice on the television. The muffled sound of Ping-Pong balls bouncing around inside a twirling bin reminded Vicki of popcorn popping in a hot air cooker.
She scooted off the couch and eased toward the front of the house. If Sarah followed through on her threat—which she always did—then Vicki wanted to see the guy get smacked by her nanny.
Slipping beneath a table draped with a linen cloth, she tilted her head and smiled in anticipation. Sarah yelled at him, read him the riot act—at least, that was what Dad always said Mom did whenever he did something she didn’t like. Vicki couldn’t understand every word, but it sure sounded as though Sarah was giving him an earful.
“Our first number in the Power Four drawing is two,” the spokeswoman announced. “Two.”
Vicki peeked around the corner, not wanting to miss the blow sure to occur at any moment. It would be better than any of the wrestling matches Sarah watched on TV when she thought no one was looking. This would be for real.
But instead of her nanny smacking a salesman, the guy at the door backhanded her. She stumbled across the foyer and into the skinny table against the wall, her head slamming into the oval mirror hanging above it.
Glass spider-webbed, breaking into a million fragments.
Moaning, Sarah staggered in the direction of the kitchen. The guy grabbed her before she’d taken two steps and spun her toward him. A hank of greasy, blond hair fell across his eyes, and he swiped it out of the way.
“Where?” rasped the scarecrow head with hollow, unshaven cheeks. His stained and dirty jeans hung low on his hips. A ripped T-shirt fluttered on his skeletal frame while he struggled with her. His wild eyes searched her face with greedy hunger, and his long fingers needled her arms. “A house like this? You gotta have money stashed someplace. Tell me where.”
“Our second number is four,” the Powe
Sarah’s head lolled. Blood from the gash on her forehead trickled down the side of her face. Raising her arms, she slapped at the guy, but he easily avoided her feeble assault.
“Time’s up,” he snarled, his face contorting with monstrous rage. Scarecrow hurled her away with a lightning-fast pitch.
The nanny thudded into the wall then toppled forward, crashing to the floor face-first.
Something tiny skittered across the tiles, stopping inches from Vicki’s hiding place. Cringing, she stared. Four bloody molar roots pointed toward her. The urge to grab the tooth washed through her, but she didn’t dare. The bad man might see her.
“The third number is six,” the female’s voice wafted from the living room. “Six.”
A sharp click drew Vicki’s gaze from the tooth. She peered up at Scarecrow and gasped.
He straddled Sarah’s body on the foyer floor, the act bringing whimpers and growls from deep inside the nanny’s chest. She clawed at him, flailed, and managed to land a few blows. But the downward force of his arm as he plunged the knife into her chest was more than she could fight. After the sixth stab, she quit moving.
He stopped at eighteen.
Vicki knew—she couldn’t help but count every one.
Slinking back farther beneath the table, she held her breath. Scarecrow would come past her hiding place. She couldn’t let him find her, or he’d do to her what he’d done to Sarah.
“And the last number in our Power Four drawing is….”
She scrambled through the living room. The familiar ping-pong sound of a ball dropping and rolling down a plexiglass tube followed her.
“Eighteen,” the spokeswoman’s voice rang out. “The Power Number for tonight’s drawing is eighteen.”
The lottery didn’t matter. Not anymore.
She scurried through the kitchen and up the back stairs. She ran as quickly and soundlessly as she could down the hardwood-floored hall to her bedroom. Pausing inside the doorway, she glanced around the room. Where to hide?
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