Hawthorne & Heathcliff
Author:R.K. Ryals

Hawthorne & Heathcliff

By R.K. Ryals





To my parents whose lives and deaths inspired me. You taught me that it takes more than the desire to do something to succeed. It takes a willingness to walk the road you choose. All with a sturdy pair of shoes. For that, I will always be grateful.





Acknowledgements


There are so many people in my life that I am grateful for. They fill each day with love and encouragement. To my husband, who is way more encouraging and helpful than I deserve, I love you. To my children, because you are my life. To my sisters, who truly inspire me. To Audrey Welch, because our bookstore trips keep me sane. I love you. To Christina Silcox, I seriously could not have done this without you. You go above and beyond in everything you do. You keep me grounded when my head is in the clouds and spend every morning helping me with my schedule. I adore you! To Melissa Ringsted, my editor, my friend, and an incredibly beautiful and wonderful person. To Regina Wamba because you are one incredibly inspirational and talented woman. You brought this book’s cover to life. I am wowed by your ability, you determination, and your work ethic. I love that we share a name! To Melissa Wright, because I’m not sure when this journey became so personal for us, but it’s created a lasting friendship I couldn’t live without. To everyone who supports these books, I love you. To Bree High. Elizabeth Kirke, Ashley Morgan, Alicia Lane Kirke, Jessica Johnson, Lisa Markson, Nanette Bradford, Katherine Eccleston, Ashley Ubinger, Beth Maddox, Vicky Walters, Katy Austin, Amy McCool, Julia Roop, Pyxi Rose, Alexis O’Shell, Anne Nelson, Jessie de Schepper, Derinda Love, Jodi O’Brien, Merisha Abbott, Jessica Lynn Leonard, Lynn Shaw, Amanda Engelkes, Leah Davis, Tina Donnelly, and so many, many more. All of you truly inspire me! And to the fans: you make every day worth it. Your words and your kindness mean so much. I can’t thank you enough for reading. It truly means the world. Sharing the love of reading one book at a time! From my heart to yours!





Mirror



I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.

Whatever I see I swallow immediately

Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike.

I am not cruel, only truthful,

The eye of a little god, four-cornered.

Most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall.

It is pink, with speckles. I have looked at it so long

I think it is part of my heart. But it flickers.

Faces and darkness separate us over and over.



Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me,

Searching my reaches for what she really is.

Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon.

I see her back, and reflect it faithfully.

She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands.

I am important to her. She comes and goes.

Each morning it is her face that replaces the darkness.

In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman

Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.



Sylvia Plath





Prologue


In my life, there were three words more powerful than I love you. In my life, there were three words that carried me, three words that made everything I’d done, everything I’d gone through worth it. In my life, love was never I love you. Love was for my sake.

I knew the moment I saw the water falling from the sky that my life was changed forever. We walk through moments in our lives, each one marked by something. For me, it was rain. Anytime anything bad ever happened, there was a downpour, as if the clouds, the sky, and the world somehow knew that I was getting screwed. It was as if the old adage when it rains it pours was written for me. And when it rained, I prayed and cried and shouted. It often made me wonder which was worse: the rain or the prayers.

“I’ve got news,” my Uncle Gregor said, swallowing audibly.

My uncle was the definition of unkempt. No matter the occasion, he always appeared to be falling apart, as if he were afraid looking like he was put together would ruin the world. There’d never been a moment in my life when he hadn’t worn a button-down white shirt only half tucked, his hair a brown spiked mess, and his black tie pulled loose. His pants were always a tad too short, which made no sense because he’d never been very tall.

That day, he’d been even more unkempt than usual. I remembered it because his eyes had been bloodshot, his mouth twisted, and his shirt stained. Even half-tucked, his top was never dirty. That day, it was.

My feet were frozen to worn, carpeted stairs, my hand clutching a wooden banister. My uncle was an odd man who spent his life pretending he was a scientist while living in a ramshackle plantation somewhere between Mississippi and Louisiana. The name of the town never mattered much. It was the plantation that mattered. It was as unkempt as he was, and yet it was alive.

That was the day I’d turned six years old.

That was the day I was wearing a pink sequined dress with a frilly tutu skirt, and shiny black shoes strapped just the way they were supposed to be strapped.

That was the day I wore my mother’s coral lipstick, and a plastic, silver tiara sitting lopsided on my perfect coiffure.

That was the day I wore the pearls.

That was the day I grew up.

Outside, it was raining.

It was raining because that was the day my parents left me.

“Are they coming back?” I’d asked my uncle.

He’d tugged on his tie, and I’d known simply from the gesture that they never were. Oh, my parents weren’t dead. I wasn’t that lucky. What an odd and cold way to feel, I know, but with dead parents, maybe there would have been good memories, this hope that with their last breaths, they would have cared … just a little. Alive, they’d simply never cherished me. Alive, they’d given up. Alive, they’d abandoned me.

Outside, the rain poured.