The Devil Will Cry is a passionate, plot twisting story from the start, bending the mind and extending the boundaries of reality. Beginning in England 1841, Lady Victoria Leslie thought to live a normal life as much as polite society would allow. But on one fateful night her delicate world was shattered by the appearance of the devilishly handsome Earl of Stone. Victoria instantly knew something was alarmingly different about this man. He is dark and dangerous, too beautiful to be labeled as a n
Basingstoke, England 1841
She had just broken the bounds of destiny by the power of the reckoning.
Her emerald eyes were narrowed in such a manner that one could see that she was teetering on the edge of something intense. Ferocity flickered like an ethereal flame in the depths of her irises, showing no signs of compassion, her sympathy—gone. The crimson haze that blurred her vision was mimicking the grief that weighed down her soul, her sanity. No, Victoria didn’t see the great estate that she stood upon, nor did she even know where she was. The dead grass around her went unnoticed; the crash of thunder went unheard.
Only the screaming in her mind grew louder.
Something had happened that was life-altering, soul shattering. She held out her hand and felt the sudden raindrops that began to beat down on her, as if the rain could deter her.
Victoria knew that despair was the raw material of drastic change, and change she was about to do. She was on a mission to alter fate, or die trying.
Misfortune gives birth to some of the most extreme acts of violence and utter chaos. Something that is so sick and vicious that it could only be described as desperation. Now here was her desperate struggle, an attempt at rebelling against destiny.
The darkened skies of Basingstoke cracked again, assaulting the dead silence that drifted throughout the land. Victoria, for the first time, took in her surroundings; everything seemed completely foreign but in the back of her broken memories she knew this place meant something to her. Victoria knew she was in the right place, at the very beginning of everything.
Yes, this was once her beginning.
This place was where her misery started, this very spot, on which she stood upon.
Victoria’s memory wasn’t completely gone, no. She still knew her name and what she had done. It didn’t matter how many times she jumped through time and lost her memory, she would never forget the pain that now consumed her soul, for it branded her. That could never be erased.
In her dark cloak she felt something hidden and instantly knew it was important, so she pulled it out.
Odd. It was a thick black book without a title.
It felt as though time had slowed down as she opened the book with care and hesitation. Blank… Blank? The pages were blank? And they were deliberately that way. Questions rushed up from her subconscious mind…why? What for? Who?! But, oddly enough, she knew that she was about to find out.
How did she know? She… just did.
She closed her eyes and began tracing her fingertips over the beautiful cover, over each groove of the design, trying desperately to remember. Please remember. Opening her eyes she traced her hand back up the cover and something flashed making her snatch her hand away as if burned. Victoria took a moment while her heart slowed. Taking a breath she placed her palm back on the cover, and to her shock, golden words were being written as if by a ghostly hand.
Sucking in her breath she tried to calm her now pounding heart as she stared at what was now being engraved into the cover.
The Devil Will Cry, was all it read.
Victoria repeated it in her head over and over, hoping to understand its importance.
She had no idea what that meant, but some profound instinct told her she was about to find out. Opening the book without a thought she stared at the blank page. Biting her lip she held her hand over the first page, and sure enough, golden words were being written.
Expelling a breath her green eyes frantically took in the written words, like it was her lifeline, her only grip on sanity.
Dear God, it was a story…
As her eyes skimmed over the first page she made a shocking realization. It was not just any story, but her story. Her hand shook as she traced over her name that was written on the first line—this was why she was here now!
This was the key to what had happened.
Victoria knew what she had to do. “Chapter one,” she whispered and held her trembling hand over the page.
The Devil Will Cry
Basingstoke, England 1841
Victoria Orpha Leslie gracefully knelt on the open field and let her maroon skirts swell around her. Being out here alone made her forget, to pretend that she was another more respectful young lady of perfect breeding. Ah yes, another unreachable dream upon a long list of disappointments. She supposed someone like her would be used to the most unfortunate of circumstances. If anyone could cope with misfortune it would undoubtedly be her. She wasn’t complaining but was merely stating the truth.
The ominous sky flashed brightly bringing her back to her bland, gloomy reality. She blinked rapidly as her light blue eyes gazed up into the angry sky. Her glassy stare reflected the full moon as if her pupils were no longer black but were shinning opals.
So it would rain again.
Victoria peered over the dark grasslands of the estate and tried to imagine how it would look with sunlight, if there ever was such a thing. It was night, yes, but the land always consisted of dark blues and silvers, the sun no longer blessed the land with its golden rays of life. She was told that the grass had once been green and soft, not straw-like. It was quite unappealing, prickly to the touch. The sky had been cloudy and gloomy since she was born some twenty years ago.
So, as rumor has it, she was the cause of this darkness. Victoria grabbed some dead grass and ripped it out, disgusted with their ignorance. That was a ridiculous claim. London’s elite was nothing more than gossip scavengers preying on other’s misfortune as if it were the essence of longevity. The scandal sheets had the audacity to claim that her father’s renowned sins had angered the mighty God into declaring punishment onto the unsuspecting population of England, cursing the land with darkness.
Though she was not formally labeled as a bastard, everyone thought her as such. She was cursed from birth being the aftermath of her father’s sins.
Lady Victoria was the legitimate daughter of Lucian Isaiah Leslie, the Duke of Basingstoke. At the time in which her father was still alive not one soul questioned why she didn’t look anything like the Duchess. It was well known that her father was a rouge in the highest degree, not minding his reckless reputation of late night gambling hells and an abundance of questionable women. She was told her father was feared, seeming to have no soul or any hint of moral principles. God forbid anyone look at her and wonder why she has silver hair and pale skin when both parents were the complete opposite, Italian decent. Did her father have a bastard child then try and cover it up, claiming his wife had conceived her? She had not a clue which was completely disheartening.
Thus, she was now labeled as the White Witch, the spawn of sin.
Depression, she realized, is merely concealed anger without enthusiasm. Keeping her bitterness, irritation, and resentment locked up inside could be dangerous.
Victoria glanced to her left and spotted an owl that was perched in a tall oak tree, watching the darkened land with curious eyes, waiting for the darkness to shift into something alive.
A shiver licked its way down her spine as she glanced around warily.
Why did tonight feel so different? She felt it from the moment she walked outside. `It was as if Mother Nature were playing a different harmony tonight, singing such a haunting and tragic tune. The moon lit the fog that splayed over the lifeless ground that slowly swayed back and forth even though there was no breeze. The trivial movement almost reminded her of something that was living and breathing, trying to make its way to her, praying not to be noticed.
Her waist length tresses shimmered as if it were diamonds, sparkling brightly in the moonlight. A slight gust of wind ruffled her unbound hair sending her skin pickling in sudden awareness. The breeze oddly felt like a caress rather than the normal shifting of wind currents. Her blue eyes narrowed as she scanned the darkened land unable to shake this feeling of being watched, something observing her from afar. Victoria touched the choker that clung to her neck like a safety blanket and took a steady breath. She told herself that the sudden drop in temperature was just her imagination. Victoria exhaled seeing her breath in small visible puffs and knew it was not. Her fingers worked nervously at her choker while her gaze still scanned the shadowed night.
The beautiful necklace was given to her by her father before a deadly fever took both her parents life when she was two. It wasn’t like other fashioned items that young ladies wore. Heavens no. The rare choker was adorned with black fur and in the center was a brilliant opal without an equal. The feather soft fur actually grew out of the soft metal, almost like it was—alive.
A streak of lightening sliced across the sky followed by a crash of thunder, feeling the ground rumble from its power. Her attention immediately went to the shadowed trees again, half expecting to see something lurking there, ready to pounce.
She saw nothing, just the billowing trees and the ominous darkness.
But that didn’t mean anything; she knew there were evils that the naked eye couldn’t see or understand for she sensed it. Victoria held out her hand, feeling the slight vibrations that drifted throughout the air. Since she was little she possessed this sixth sense, feeling things others could not. It was not long after that she found out that her senses went a beyond just being able to feel.
Whenever she removed the choker odd and unexplainable effects happened to the objects around her. Victoria had screamed in fury after her dear cousin accused her of stealing priceless jewels and the mirror next to her shattered as if being hit by a strong force. Displaying any extreme emotion when she was not wearing the choker always ended in chaos. Thinking that the oddities in her life could not get any worse was always a letdown. Victoria just realized that she just lacked a sufficient imagination.
Maybe she was a witch, a very bad one at that, one that could only break mirrors and rattled walls when angered.
Movement caught her eye as she jerked her head to the left. It was impossible to tell anything in the dark of the night for it could have been anything. Her pulse leap to life as the shadows within the trees seemed to move on their own accord. Just my imagination. Swallowing, she held out her hand higher and narrowed her eyes. Something was there, a force that could not be ignored. The little hairs on the back of her neck rose and her heart thundered. She was beginning to doubt that the faint howling in the trees was just the distant wind.
This felt wrong.
Whatever it was, it was not emitting welcome vibes. God, it seemed to draw nearer the longer she stood in this spot.
Her mind was screaming at her to back up slowly and run. The deep vibrations she was sensing rattled her to the core. Her fingertips tingled and her knees threatened to buckle as if the gates of hell just opened on this very estate. The energy around her was malevolent, frightening her for she never felt anything quite like it. Victoria backed up, her pulse beating in her throat. She prided herself in not being easily shaken and she was actually trembling. And trembling not from the sudden chill but from whatever was invading this calm night.
The wind felt as cold as death, robbing every ounce of her warmth and sense of comfort she possessed. Turning on her heel she took off into a sprint knowing that she was giving whatever it was lurking in the trees a reason for a good chase. She glanced back but saw nothing, however she still felt it. She brought her fingers to her lips and whistled, hoping her mare would for once in her life come when called.
Her gray mare seemed to glow in the darkness making her easy to spot several yards away. Victoria whistled again as she drew near. “Bratt!” she hissed, hoping her horse wouldn’t live up to her name and dash off without her like she was notorious for. But to her relief her mare was focused on the darkness behind her, as if seeing something she could not. Victoria warily glanced back praying nothing would be standing there. Seeing nothing again did not ease her escalating fear; it only heightened it.
She mounted Bratt and pulled the black hood of her cloak over her head. The horse pounded the ground nervously making Victoria pull back on the reins in an attempt to gain control. “Yes,” she whispered as she eyed the darkness, “you feel it too.” Within seconds they were galloping back towards the Manor as if the devil himself cased their heels. The feeling of being hunted was overwhelming. Bratt’s powerful strides tore up the ground as its hooves crushed the land its urgency. Her hood few back and her hair temporally blinded her as she glanced back, making sure that nothing was hot on their heels.
Urging her mare to go faster was all consuming.
The bitter cold wind cut into her face as they neared the great manor that seemed to emit an eerie glow tonight. The massive house seemed ghostly, alive with its glowing gas lanterns lighting the perimeter. The dark stone of the grand house gave an appearance of an old world castle complete with stone gargoyles and towering walls. Steering the mare to the back of the manor towards the stables was not easy for Bratt did not want to slow her neck-braking pace.
The stable boy came running out then immediately dove out of the way for Bratt charged past him, running directly into the stables.
“Whoa girl!” Victoria squeezed her legs tightly and pulled on the reins with force making the horse rear up. “Easy,” she cooed, tying to calm her spooked horse. After several seconds Bratt calmed to a degree, snorting loudly and pounding the ground with her hooves. Victoria dismounted immediately, nearly falling over as her foot became caught in the stirrup but regained her balance and sprinted outside.
The young boy came running at her with wide eyes and was clearly out of breath for she could see his heavy exhales in the night’s chill. “Mil’ lady, are ye’ well?”he asked breathlessly, dusting off his pants. “Is the horse mad?”
“Is anyone following me?!”
He turned around bewildered and shook his head. “No Mil’ lady, should there be?”
Victoria scanned the darkness seeing nothing and bit her lip, hoping she wasn’t losing her mind. “You saw nothing then? Not even an animal?” She asked almost hopeful, wanting him to confirm what she felt.
He glanced at her, his green eyes narrowing in confusion. “I don’t understand miss, I saw nothing out there but ye’ crazy horse. Nearly run me over, she did.” He shrugged his shoulders
Victoria closed her eyes, feeling the gentle wind against her face. The vibrations were gone but she knew what she had felt earlier. “Please take care of Bratt,” she said meekly, knowing she must look like she’d lost her mind along with her horse.
He nodded and spit to the side. “If you don’t mind me sayin’ mil’Lady, but I think yer wanted inside. Lady Henrietta was askin’ yer whereabouts. She did not sound so happy from what I heard.” His dirty face contorted into what she could only assume was a look of pity.
God above how could she have forgotten?
This night was her cousin’s birthday and it would be a grand event indeed. Bile rose in her throat at the thought of seeing her cousin’s pinched expression as she fussed and moaned to get her way. When her parents had died the grand title had then passed to her uncle, Lord Henry Leslie, the current and rightful Duke. Victoria gritted her teeth, Henry was said to be a saint, one that would restore light to this lingering darkness. What utter nonsense that was for Lord Henry was just as soulless as her father was said to be.
And his daughter was the spawn of the devil, completely and utterly spoiled rotten.
She shook her head and waved her hand. “Thank you, I shall see what is needed of me.” Victoria dismissed him and hurried to the house because she knew Henrietta was probably holding the staff hostage and demanding a human sacrifice. She got to the heavy stone doors and before she could reach the door handle, it opened swiftly. The butler had obviously seen her mad dash and was more than happy to help her in.
He spoke with a cool air, “Lady Henrietta awaits you in her private apartments.”
She grimaced, half with embarrassment, before thanking Clarence. His pinched expression spoke of how bad things were. More than bad—catastrophic. She paused, turning around to face the butler. “How bad?”
She had to ask.
The butler’s face went back to its trained indifference and said, “She threw a flowerpot at your grandmother, my Lady.”
That bad. Victoria raised her delicately arched brows and nodded, like they were discussing the weather. “Thank you Clarence.” She raced up the stairs to the west wing, reaching Henrietta’s room where she swallowed deep, her head starting to throb subtlety. She felt a thickness in the air, almost like the sensation one feels right before they pass out. Her eyes started to burn like a fire within making them water. This always happened when Henrietta became angry, and the effects were worsening each year. She grabbed her choker for reassurance, trying to find the peace it always brought. Pausing to listen at the door did not ease her nerves, not one voice was heard. Like the calm before a storm.
Footsteps were heard as the door swung open, Henrietta’s ladies maid Jane Maxwell greeted her with wide eyes. “My Lady, please do come in,” she murmured with a slight curtsy.
Victoria walked into Henrietta’s grossly pink flourished room to see her lying down on the satin bed with what looked to be hot towels draped on her face for the stream was visible.
“Is that Victoria?” Came the muffled but stern voice.
She desperately wanted to say, no. “Yes, my Lady.” Victoria answered, leaving the acid from her tone. She sighed, here came the stupid question, “How are you feeling, dear Henrietta?”
Henrietta sat up and jerked the towel from her face revealing red flushed features. Her eyes narrowed doing unattractive things to her forehead, “Are you simple minded?” she spat.
She took that as a rhetorical question.
Henrietta got off the bed and marched toward her, “For God’s sake! It’s my birthday and just look at my face! I broke out from nerves and all of the unbearable stress and now it’s red from washing it,” she took a quick breath, “the redness is not going away and the party will start with me not looking pure!” her voice broke painfully as tears sprang from her bloodshot, sea green eyes.
Victoria was confused on what she could do about it. But knowing that she treaded on very delicate waters here she must come up with something or everyone in this household will suffer greatly. “Maybe all you need is to put a bit of face cream on it. It’s probably just dried out, a quick fix.”
She screamed at Jane and threw her hot towel at her, “Don’t stand there you little fool! Go get me the best face cream money can buy!” Henrietta then turned to Victoria, “We have the best guest list in all of England tonight and I need to be the prettiest.” She arched a skinny brown brow, daring her to disagree.
Henrietta was, in fact, very pretty in the general sense of the term but her personality made her as ugly as sin. Her long auburn locks hung in a frizzy disarray and her slightly larger nose was bright pink matching her flushed cheeks. To be honest, Victoria found herself trying not to smile at her unfortunate predicament. The situation was actually quite humorous. What did she expect would happen if she rubbed her skin raw?
Victoria’s mouth twitched. “Oh, don’t fret about it. I’m sure everything will turn out perfectly.”
“Ha! Easy for you to say,” she hissed as she started to pace the room, her cream dressing gown flowing around her. “You think this is funny don’t you? If my face does not heal I want you to scrub your face as well. I will not have the men falling at your feet because of my unfortunate, tragic condition.”
Anger swelled inside Victoria, all humor gone.
“Oh don’t give me that look, dear cousin. Father has all but said that Viscount Middlethorpe had made his intentions very clear. You needn’t worry, why, you could be wed and wealthy by next season.” She smiled making her face redden more, painfully so.
Viscount Middlethorpe was a rat in every sense of the word. If there was another more perverse man to ever grace this planet she’d be shocked. The two times that she had the unfortunate experience of being in his presence he tried gain access into the confines of her clothing by calling her a little whore. Though she could have misheard for he was blithering drunk, but she doubted it.
Victoria schooled her expression and smiled sweetly. “Why don’t you just change it to a masquerade. You still have time to tell everyone to bring a mask, and those who don’t can use the extras in the storage when they arrive. It is your birthday after all…” Victoria said levelly, even though she wanted to scream. Or maybe scratch Henrietta’s eyes out and let her loose in the woods to fend for herself. A morbid thought but satisfying non the less.
There was silence.
“That would definitely fix my problem, I like it,” Henrietta turned and yelled painfully loud, “Jane!” She turned back and giggled, “I knew you would come up with something Victoria, darling. Go make it happen.”
She turned to leave when Henrietta stopped her.
“Oh and I would like to wear your choker tonight, it would match perfectly with my dress I think. It is my birthday, as you know.” Henrietta’s eyes took on the shape of a sly feline.
Anything but that, Henrietta knew how much she treasured the choker. Why did she want to wear it when she had diamonds and jewels worth so much more? Yes, Henrietta wanted it because she knew Victoria would be torn. “Wouldn’t diamonds fit better for this evening?” she squeaked.
“Don’t be a baby, it’s only one night for heaven’s sake. Do not make me mad or I will tell father.” She smiled, looking like the evil brat she was. If she didn’t give in she would be beaten like the countless times before. Which is why she always had to keep her anger in check or pay the price.
Indeed, Victoria was due for a large glass of sherry.