I thought today I’d give you the first chapter of Malevolent Mind. ©Misty Harvey
The moonlight cast its beams down between the tree
leaves. What minimal light flowed to the earth bathed the scene in an eerie glow. It danced along the small peaks of the river as it ran downstream. Even most of the wild animals had retired home for the evening. The only creatures left were the crickets chirping their cadences and a small framed young woman that stood beside the river.
She wore a cloak to fight off the slight chill of the night air. The hood lifted over her head to hide underneath. This was a momentous place for her. It was the ending to her life as she knew it, and the beginning of a burning hatred none could understand. At least, none that she’d come across.
This is where it all had gone so wrong in her youth. Now, finally, after all these years she was getting the opportunity to make things right. Fate had smiled upon her and her nefarious plans.
Raven lifted the newspaper in her hand. A red circle resided around an advertisement for a nanny and housekeeper. It was a dream come true.
“Revenge will be ours, Willow. It is finally time. He will learn what he’s done, and you will be at peace.” She smacked the folded paper against her other hand.
Turning on her heel, she pushed the edge of her cloak back to billow behind her. It was a hike back across lands she knew well. Ones she’d played on as a small child. They’d long since been abandoned. No one dared live in the house she’d grown up in. Even her parents, distraught from the loss of one of their girls had promptly placed the house up for sale.
It had never exchanged hands, though. This was a superstitious community. Due to one of the children going insane and committing suicide while living there, they believed insanity was contagious. People even went so far as to walk on the other side of the street for fear it would somehow infect them.
No, that was absurd. Raven knew the reason that her sweet and innocent sister had lost control over her own mind. She knew it well, and now that she’d returned to the sleepy little town, revenge would be hers. Of that, she had no doubt. Even if it was the last thing she did.
The dried grass crunched under Raven’s black boots. It seemed much louder under the shadows of the dark, but it was a risk she had to take. Her sister deserved to know that she hadn’t been forgotten. That there was someone left in her family that was willing to exact payment for what had happened to her.
Unlike her parents, Raven had never forgotten. Over the course of the years, it had only amplified the pain and anger. Amplified it to the point that her entire life had been about these upcoming moments. Not even time in that glorified asylum had helped clear her head of the things that she wanted to do to that boy.
Lights from a passing car lit the roadway and front yards as it drew closer. Raven ducked behind the overgrown bushes along the fence to avoid detection. It would serve her no purpose to draw attention yet.
She peeked through the gap she’d painstakingly cut through the shrubs to watch the car pass by. Tucking the newspaper into a hidden pocket of the cloak, she pulled her small, black gloves more securely over her hands. Slipping through the gap, she opened the wrought iron fence, wincing as it creaked with the use. She froze. Her ears listened outward to hear if anyone had noticed the sound. Only crickets answered in return.
The breath that Raven had held escaped from her lips. She jogged around the corner of the Victorian-style home and onto the sidewalk. Each hand held onto the elbow of her opposite arm, securely hidden under the massive cloak to keep her warm. Her gaze darted about as her footfalls picked up. The last thing she wanted was people to wonder why she was out for a leisurely stroll at this hour.
A small side road led her back toward the main part of town. Unlike the small village on the outskirts, nightlife existed here. Street lamps lit the roadways, and some of the best soulful jazz wafted from buildings close by.
Buildings sat against other buildings, all created with some of the most beautiful architecture in this half of the world. Artistic wrought iron railing and fences accented buildings while brightly colored flowers hung with draping greenery from baskets. A certain magic seemed to radiate in the air.
Raven halted in her steps. A soft smile spread on her lips as she took a moment to appreciate the scenery in the lamplight. It was home – and there was no other place on earth like it.
Her stomach growled, reminding her she’d skipped lunch. It wouldn’t be ignored for another meal, and that suited her just fine. She could smell the array of aromas from restaurants nearby. Their heady scents of gumbos, crawfish, and the likes cooking made her stomach protest again.
It wasn’t a matter of when she’d eat, it was where. Everything smelled so incredible around her. The seasonings perfectly balanced with the food.
She put her hand to her stomach once more. Her interview with Heath Luxxy was early the next day. For the sake of simplicity, she’d eat in the hotel tonight, but Raven made a promise to herself that she would return soon to eat here. It had been far too many years since she’d enjoyed food from her hometown.
Checking both ways on the street wasn’t as much a safety precaution as it was a habit. The only vehicles here in the quarter at night tended to be horse-drawn buggies. Even the trolleys had come to a stop for the evening.
The small heels of her boots clicked against the cobblestone as she stepped into the street. Carefully she maneuvered her way over to the large hotel on the corner. The blue doors pushed open into the lobby. It looked like a flash from the past. Nothing had changed. Another aspect she loved.
A large chandelier hung by the check-in counter. Black and white tiles beat out a pattern on the floor, and antique tables lined the hallway. Brightly colored flowers sat in vases to cover the tabletops, giving the place a sweet smell. It all mixed amicably with the scents from outdoors that wafted in through open windows and patios.
Raven walked along the narrow hallway, passing by the stairs up to her room. In the back corner of the hotel sat a café. It wasn’t large in size, but the food was so delicious.
Much like the meals that her mother had cooked at home once. Oh, how she missed those Sunday feasts.
As Raven walked, she pulled her fingers gingerly from the black leather gloves. She turned the corner. The hallway opened up into the lobby. There, a few feet ahead, stood a man ready to seat the next guest. Her hand came out of the opening on her cloak as she undid the small silver clasp that held it closed. Raven slipped it off her shoulders to drape over her arm, greeting the man with a soft smile.
“Good evening, Ethan.” Raven stood on her toes to place a gentle kiss on the man’s ebony-colored cheek. “How are you? Good, I hope.”
“Miss Raven. You are a welcome sight. It seems like years since breakfast.” Ethan’s face broke into a wide grin to reveal bright, perfectly aligned teeth. “I’m as fit as a fiddle so no complaints. Your usual table?” He turned toward the café, holding out his arm to escort her.
“Yes, if it isn’t too much trouble.” Raven smiled as she slid her arm through his. She walked through the small spaces between tables on Ethan’s arm. At such a late hour, most of them were empty now, but come early morning they’d be booming once again. She laid her cloak over the chair beside her to keep it out of the way. When Ethan held her chair out for her, Raven eased her frame into the black iron piece.
“I will give you some time to select your meal while I get you some water.” Ethan handed her the menu as he headed toward the kitchen.
Raven smiled once more. She couldn’t help it. Ethan was the type to light up rooms just by walking into them. His undeniable charm probably attracted more customers than the actual food. She’d seen people from off the street come here to dine on a regular basis. Good old southern charm, it’ll get you every time.
She crossed her legs, tilting her body toward the street beside her. How could one resist enjoying the view from an outdoor café? It was also the one spot she could keep an eye on her goal.
His house peeked over the horizon on a hill in the distance. It was dark now in the late hours, but she could just make out the silhouette in the moonlight. Tomorrow, the path to her destiny would begin, and revenge would be hers.
Raven lifted the menu to give it a glance. It wasn’t hard for her to decide what she wanted. In fact, she’d come into the restaurant knowing. However, it wouldn’t hurt her to give the menu a glance to make sure nothing else sounded appetizing. Each menu item she scanned sounded delicious, but not quite what she wanted. No, tonight she’d stick with her usual.
Setting the menu off to the side, she relaxed back into the seat. Her arms folded over her chest. A smile instantly came to her lips as Ethan approached her table. She handed the menu over.
“Have you decided on what you would like tonight, Miss Raven?” Ethan asked as he placed a glass of cold water before her.
“Yes, I think I’ll have one of my favorites. A glass of Sangria and a bowl of that delicious gumbo I can smell the chef keeping warm for me.” Raven smiled as she took her cloth napkin and laid it across her lap.
“It’d be my pleasure, Miss Raven. I’ll have it out to you soon.” Ethan disappeared through the swinging doors into the kitchen once more.
She relaxed, listening to the jazz music that wafted her way from a local bar. Her foot tapped out the rhythm while she went over the devious plan in her head. There was no possible way that Heath would see it coming. In fact, she was sure he didn’t remember it had ever happened. That was all right by her. It would be that much sweeter as she reminded him.
Now all she had to do was nail that job interview. She hoped his little brat was at least old enough to be potty trained. Diapers were something she couldn’t do. It might even be enough to dampen her whole plan.
Still, Raven had to hope that fate brought her back here at this exact moment for a reason. It was time. Everything had worked out so perfectly. She’d come here to be close during the anniversary of her sister’s death. It was upon her morning scan of the job opportunities that she’d found it. That glorious advertisement of Heath’s.
He needed a nanny and housekeeper. Both things she was qualified to do. Now if he didn’t know about her time in the asylum it would all be too easy. She could play sweet and innocent. Hell, she’d played it most of her life.
Even her parents hadn’t realized their daughter had a few screws loose—that was until she’d felt the moment her sister died. That was the breaking point for her. No longer could she pretend that she was okay. Her sister wasn’t there to keep her balanced.
“Are you all right, Miss Raven?” Ethan asked as he stood beside the table. He’d placed her food and drink in front of her, but had received no response.
“What?” Raven startled back to the present. She adjusted in her chair, sitting up straighter. “Oh yes, I’m quite okay. Got lost in my own thoughts, I’m afraid. It happens from time to time.” She gave Ethan a reassuring smile, placing her hand over his. Her blue eyes met his chestnut ones.
“Well, as long as you are all right, Miss Raven. You enjoy your meal now.”
“I’m sure I will.” Raven watched him disappear into the kitchen once again. She could hear the muffled sounds of a television behind the doors. That is probably how the staff occupied their time while they waited on customers. She couldn’t blame them. It had to be dreadfully boring at this time.
Lifting up her spoon, she dug into her meal. She’d need a good few hours of sleep so she was presentable tomorrow. The more that Raven played her part the less likely Heath would be to dig into her background. At least, that method had seen her this far since her release. Not many people would want to hire someone who’d spent time in a mental institution to be around their kids.
Not that she could blame them there.
Raven quickly polished off her food and wine. She paid for her meal, leaving a healthy tip behind for Ethan. After all, he was working two jobs. A fact she’d learned about him her first night back. While part of her ached that tonight would be her last night in the hotel, the other rejoiced at destiny calling. She could always come back to eat at the café again soon.
She trudged her way up the stairs toward her room, her cloak resting over her clasped hands. Most of the time she didn’t need a jacket in this weather. It was only when a breeze stirred or rain fell that she covered up. The south had two major things going for them; humidity and southern hospitality. Humidity that kept her hair puffy and her skin damp. Some people couldn’t handle that about their climate, but it was a fact she loved. Well, all but the hair part. That was just a pain.
Raven used the heavy brass key to let herself into her hotel room. She would miss this place. Someone came to clean her room every day. If she got the job as a housekeeper, it meant not only would she be in charge of her own bed, but everyone else’s as well. It was a price worth paying for the results, though. She closed the door as quietly as possible so as not to disturb any other guests.
Tomorrow was the first day of her revenge, and it would be so sweet.
As always remember to L.O.L. (Live it, Own it, Love it) or it isn’t worth doing.