The Gilded Curse: Will the young heiress be the next victim of her family's curse?

BOOK: The Gilded Curse: Will the young heiress be the next victim of her family's curse?
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The Gilded Curse

by
Marilyn Turk

THE GILDED CURSE BY MARILYN TURK

Published by Heritage Beacon Fiction

an imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas

2333 Barton Oaks Dr., Raleigh, NC, 27614

ISBN: 978-1-938499-11-1

Copyright © 2016 by Marilyn Turk

Cover design by Elaina Lee

Interior design by Karthick Srinivasan

Available in print from your local bookstore, online, or from the publisher at:

www.lighthousepublishingofthecarolinas.com

For more information on this book and the author visit:
http://pathwayheart.com
.

All rights reserved. Non-commercial interests may reproduce portions of this book without the express written permission of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, provided the text does not exceed 500 words. When reproducing text from this book, include the following credit line: “
The Gilded Curse
by Marilyn Turk published by Heritage Beacon Fiction. Used by permission.”

Commercial interests: No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means—electronic, photocopy, recording, or otherwise—without prior written permission of the publisher, except as provided by the United States of America copyright law.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, and incidents are all products of the author’s imagination or are used for fictional purposes. Any mentioned brand names, places, and trademarks remain the property of their respective owners, bear no association with the author or the publisher, and are used for fictional purposes only.

Scripture quotations from The Authorized (King James) Version. Rights in the Authorized Version in the United Kingdom are vested in the Crown. Reproduced by permission of the Crown’s patentee, Cambridge University Press.

Brought to you by the creative team at Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas: Eddie Jones, Ann Tatlock, Leslie L. McKee, Shonda Savage, Brian Cross, Paige Boggs

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Turk, Marilyn.

The Gilded Curse/Marilyn Turk 1st ed.

P
RAISE FOR
T
HE
G
ILDED
C
URSE

Author Marilyn Turk uses both romance and danger to quickly draw us into this page-turning novel. When Lexie Smithfield’s brother is killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor, she returns to the family’s vacation home in Jekyll Island, Georgia, which she hasn’t seen since she was a child. The old home still stands, though it is uninhabited—at least, as far as Lexie can see. Her mother believed both the house and the island were cursed, but Lexie finds that difficult to believe. With the help of her childhood friend, Russell Thompson (now an extremely attractive man), she dares to challenge her mother’s belief—and quickly finds herself face-to-face with danger. This is a story I’d highly recommend, and one I hope has sequels coming along behind it.

~ Kathi Macias
Multi-award-winning author of more than 50 books,
including 2011 Golden Scrolls Novel of the Year,
Red Ink

Driven by a story of “have nots” who once “had everything,”
The Gilded Curse
magically takes us to an age of uncertainty by employing a cast of characters whose lives have been turned upside down by war and depression. With rich layers of description, this gripping suspense novel weaves romance, suspicion and intrigue into a dynamic wave of mystery.

~ Ace Collins
Author of over sixty books and
Christy Award-winning author of
The Color of Justice

Take a trip to WWII America with Marilyn Turk in
The Gilded Curse
, where Germans off the East Coast are only one of the worries for the heroine in this entertaining mystery/romance mix. You’ll get 1940s atmosphere, enough mystery to keep the pages turning, and a sweet little romance to boot!

~ Linore Rose Burkard
Award-winning author of Regency breakout novels for the CBA

The Gilded Curse
is my kind of novel. I was totally drawn into the story from the very first page. I loved the setting and the entire cast of characters. It has everything you want in a novel: history, mystery, suspense, romance and intrigue. Highly recommended!

~ Dan Walsh
Best-selling author of
The Unfinished Gift,
The Discovery
and
When Night Comes

Set just after the onset of WWII,
The Gilded Curse
gives us a glimpse into a society turned upside down by the war. Marilyn Turk’s story is one of romance and intrigue surrounding a once grand old home where God’s love breaks the curse and unites two hearts destined to be together.

~ Martha Rogers
Author of The Homeward Journey
and Winds Across the Prairie Series

Dedication

To Chuck, my husband and research partner
.

Thank you for your patience, support, and effort to understand this
writer’s complicated mind
.

Contents

Prologue

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Acknowledgements

Discussion Questions for The Gilded Curse

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Prologue

December 1941

“M
other, how do you like the tree?”

Lexie lifted part of the popcorn garland to make it drape on the tiny fir tree which perched on the small table. She glanced over her shoulder to see Mother’s response.

Standing before the window of her room, Mother stared out. Nothing. No reply.

Lexie sighed. At least she was trying to bring Christmas into Mother’s room at the sanatorium. Whether her mother actually understood or appreciated the gesture was doubtful. Lexie resumed her efforts to decorate the tree, humming along with Benny Goodman’s Band playing “Jingle Bells” on the radio. Maybe the music would help Mother make the connection between the tree and the coming holiday. But so far, no recognition had registered.

She left the tree and joined her frail mother, once so lively and beautiful, at the window.

“Would you like to go outside, Mother?” Lexie noticed other residents and their Sunday afternoon visitors enjoying the bright winter day as they strolled the manicured grounds.

Was that a nod?

“Good, we could use some fresh air. I’ll get our coats. It’s chilly out. I see a light snow falling.”

Lexie retrieved the garments and began putting Mother’s hat, scarf, coat, and gloves on her while the woman stood like a mannequin being dressed. Next, Lexie donned her own wool coat and hat and gently grabbed her mother’s elbow, leading her to the door. As Lexie opened the door, her mother’s eyes widened and she stepped backward.

“Mother, what is it?” Oh no. Not this again. “Don’t you want to go
outside?”

Mother glanced at her, eyes filled with fear, her voice timorous. “I don’t know you. Where are you taking me?”

“It’s me, Mother. Alexandra. We’re going for a little walk.”

Mother withdrew back into the room, shaking her head. “I don’t know if I can trust you.”

“Okay, Mother. We’ll stay inside.”

Lexie closed the door and began taking their coats off. Why did she keep trying? Mother’s fears consumed her so much that she didn’t trust anyone anymore. But was it real fear or dementia, or had one caused the other? No one knew for certain. Yet the illness had taken its toll on her mother as well as on Lexie and her brother Robert. But now with Robert in the navy, an officer on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific, Lexie had the sole responsibility of dealing with their mother.

As she returned the coats to the closet, the music on the radio abruptly stopped. A somber male voice spoke.

“We interrupt this program to bring you some important news. The Japanese have attacked the American fleet at Pearl Harbor.”

Before Lexie could comprehend the message, Mother started screaming. “They did it! They did it! I knew they’d get my family. They won’t stop until we’re all dead!”

Lexie’s mouth gaped as nurses ran into the room and tried to calm down her terrified mother.

No. This couldn’t happen. Not Robert too. Mother couldn’t be right about the curse.

Chapter 1

The coast of Georgia, January 1942

“N
ame, please.” The burly boat captain checked his passenger list. Behind him, the shore of Brunswick, Georgia, receded in the distance.

Chilly gray moisture hung in the winter air. Lexie tugged the broad fur lapels of her coat together at her neck. “Alexandra Smithfield.”

The captain’s bushy eyebrows lifted. “Got someone meetin’ you?”

Cold blew through Lexie’s coat. “I booked a room at the clubhouse but didn’t request assistance.”

He eyed the single suitcase at her feet. “That all you got?”

“I don’t expect to be staying long.”

The captain shrugged. He picked up the suitcase. “You related to the Smithfields that own Destiny Cottage?”

“Yes. Robert Smithfield Sr. was my grandfather.”

“Hmmph!” His brow furrowed, and he turned away to busy himself by placing her luggage atop the pile of bags.

Lexie frowned as he walked away. Did he not like her family? Maybe he was just surprised to find a club member traveling alone on the launch.

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