Authors: Kailin Gow
I nodded and leaned into him as he guided me to the car.
The girl at the steps was gone, but the cool wind remained.
“You mind giving me a ride? My taxi appears to have abandoned me.”
The moment we pulled up in front of the manor, Eric headed towards the back. “I’m too agitated to go up to bed.
Care to join me?”
I followed him into the garden.
Barely aglow with the faint light of the emerging moon, it was still magnificent.
“I’d never noticed that ring on your finger before,” I said.
We’d been silent throughout the ride home, each considering our farewell to Kristine. But now questions and doubts bubbled to the surface.
“Not long after I met you I decided to leave it in my coat pocket. Sounds strange, but it didn’t seem right to wear it while I was with you.”
I stopped and turned to face him. “Did you ever wonder if that isn’t what connected her to you?”
The cock of his brow told me he hadn’t.
“Isn’t it odd the effect a ring can have on one?”
He gripped my hand and brought it up to his eyes.
I wanted to laugh at the curious frown that suddenly changed the accusation in his eyes to confusion as he took in my bare finger.
I bit back my smile.
Shaking my head, I wrapped my fingers around his warm hand. It felt so good touching him. “Eric,” I whispered.
He brought my fingers to his lips, turned my hand to kiss my palm while pulling me closer.
“Tell me you aren’t in love with him.”
“The ring was on my finger before I could respond to him.” My lips brushed against the back of his hand as I muttered useless explanations. “I’ve not given him an answer yet.”
“Tell me you’ll not marry him.”
I brought his fingers to my cheek and pressed his palm to my skin.
My eyes heavy with emotion, I leaned into the strength of his hand.
“I love you, Eric.”
But even as the words were spoken, I questioned Eric’s immortality. What would become of us?
“Kristine is behind us now and we can look toward a future together.”
Was she truly?
“After the run of this opera, I’ll write another. New music meant for you, only you, Annette.” His lips nibbled mine, gingerly and hesitantly.
While my passion quickly rose to meet his and my lips took his with hunger and urgency, questions clung to the corners of my mind.
Jean Paul’s new mare had barely been able to sustain my interest. Though I listened to the old man’s ramblings about the lineage of the fine horse, my mind was on Annette.
“I need to run a few quick errands, Jean Paul.” I patted the horse’s backside. “Do you think we could continue this when I get back?” I barely gave him a chance to answer and headed to my car out front.
A brief phone call had confirmed the address where Kristine had lived until the day of her death. I tapped the address into my GPS and allowed myself to be guided down the country road. The village seemed to have been left in another era. Most of the dwellings were no longer inhabited and weeds and vines had taken over every garden.
I pulled up in front of the only shack that seemed to have some life to it.
“We don’t get many visitors from the city these days.”
“I’m looking for the home of Kristine Forcier.”
The old woman eyed me with suspicion.
“Please, I’m looking for anything of Kristine’s for a friend, a relative, who is searching to learn more about her family.”
The old woman did not budge an inch. I took out a photo of Annette, and immediately saw a look of recognition and disbelief in her eyes.
“Who is she?” she asked.
“Annette Binoche,” I said.
“A relative of Kristine’s.”
The old woman closed the door to her home, leaving me waiting in the biting cold. I stood out there wondering if she was ever coming back. Then as I turned to leave, the door opened again, and the old woman handed me an old leather journal and said, “This was Kristine’s. Annette will find the answers in there.” She handed me a scribbled note. “Her final resting place,” then closed the door again.
I walked back to the car, and sat in the driver’s seat perusing a few of the pages. The old French was scrawled in a script that was at times almost illegible. But I was able to piece together enough to form an opinion. Kristine was indeed a complicated woman, and reading part of her journal made me wanted to know her more. I drove off to find Kristine’s grave.
I arrived at an old church which held a musty odor that was foul and spoke of the ages cramped up inside. But a light fragrance clung to the air.
A fragrance I knew well and had often enjoyed. I wanted to question the presence of that delicate scent, but forged on. Heading through to the cemetery out back, there was more than just a sense of death about the place.
Time had rendered the lives of these old souls forgotten, belonging to a time and place the country had forgotten. Only a small speck of color brightened the otherwise dismal grey landscape. A yellow rose. With sure steps I made my way to the tombstone that had recently been visited. Not only did the rose adorn the faded stone, but so did an old, heavy ring.
Intrigued, I picked it up and scrutinized it. The monkey engraving…I knew instantly it was an Aragon ring. I have seen it before.
I pocketed the ring. Excited, I remembered reading a small passage about a ring in Kristine’s journal. Back in my car, I flipped through the pages and found what I was looking for.
The ring I’d found fit the description of one Kristine had given Eric weeks before Eric was to kill Rupert. What she didn’t explain, however, was how she’d come to have the ring. Had Rupert given it to her?
This ring and this spell shall ensure I have Eric constantly on my horizon. I shall never lose sight of him even after I marry Rupert Aragon. If the price of keeping Eric in my life is to forego my very soul, then so be it. We will be together forever in life and in death.
I knew right then just how important it was to take Annette away from Eric and everything he stood for. He would forever put Annette’s life in danger. What drove Kristine to sell her very soul for Eric? Is Annette doomed to the same fate? Who was Eric really, and why did he had such an effect on Kristine and now Annette? They said his birth was of mysterious circumstances and that his scars were the reflection of the Devil himself…
I need to get Annette away from him!
The Phantom Diaries continues in
Book 3 of
About the Author
Kailin Gow is the bestselling author of over 40 books. As a teenager, she was a voracious reader, who always had one or two books with her at all times. A self-professed nerd, she even
AP English and AP History was fun. She was on her newspaper staff, participated in drama productions, was on the yearbook staff, played sports, competed in kung
, played violin, and yes, was even on the pep squad at one point.
Her books include the bestselling Gifted Girls Series, The Frost Series, The Phantom Diaries Series, The Stoker Sisters Series, PULSE Vampire Series, Queen B
Games Series, The Alchemists Academy, Harold the Kung Fu Kid, and Shy Girls Social Club. Her books have been recommended by PBS Kids, the PTA, US Mental Health Association, homeschooling organizations, and mother-daughter book clubs.
She is also a filmmaker and radio host. Her short
of The Stoker Sisters recently screened at the prestigious 14th Annual LA Shorts Film Festival, officially accredited by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. She has written for and produced television series with Emmy-award-winning producers and directors. As a radio host, she was recognized and featured by
The Los Angeles Times
as a young Asian American Journalist.
She holds a Master's Degree Communications Management from USC's Annenberg School of Communication, and
Degrees in Drama and Social Ecology from UC Irvine. Kailin loves reading, writing, watching old and new movies, filming, playing video games, playing board games, traveling, and location scouting for settings in her books and films. In her past life, she was a news journalist, talk show host, tour director, and corporate executive. She is a mother, a mentor for young women, and the founder of the social group for teen and young adult girls called Shy Girls Social Club at
where girls can develop positive friendships and skills in the creative field. Members of Shy Girls Social Club can get a chance to win prizes, scholarships, and internships.