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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Psychological Thriller: The Beautiful Evil by @sweettalk29


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The Beautiful Evil

By Robbi Sommers Bryant




Synopsis


Constance Sartone Jacobson never recovered the sudden death of her father when she was only five. Devastated by her husband's death and the scandal that ensues, Constance's mother, Madeline, does little to comfort her scared and lonely daughter. With nowhere to turn, Constance protects herself by closing off her emotions.

Through vivid dreams and daytime visions Constance's father calls to her from a horse-drawn stagecoach. These visions help Constance cope with her humdrum life and failing marriage. But things are about to change. On a business trip with her husband, she purchases an antique Greek vase. Upon opening it, a stream of purple light hisses from the vase and a tribe of wasp-like creatures pour out. One of the creatures shape-shifts into a ravishing fairy and offers Constance a way out. Desperate to feel anything, Constance listens to the fairy's advice.

But as her confidence grows, she begins to make all the wrong decisions, catapulting her into a web of lies and deceit. As her life spins further and further out of control, Constance finds herself starting into the abyss forced to make one final heart-wrenching decision. A roller coaster ride into chaos of a personal hell, The Beautiful Evil is a captivating psychological thriller that will keep you questioning reality until the ultimate final act.

Excerpt


A bell tinkled when the door opened. The stench of stale cigarettes draped the cramped room. Behind the counter sat an old woman, her face buried in a paperback. She inhaled deeply on a cigarette and exhaled a cloud of smoke.

Her gray hair, tucked haphazardly into a makeshift bun, placed an unfortunate emphasis on her line-etched face. She regarded me as if I wasn’t there and returned her attention back to her book.

The gesture reminded me of the women at the brunch. Self-absorbed, wrapped up in their pseudo-perfect lives, including me in their conversations simply because they must.

And now, a haggard woman whose sole lot in life was to run a back-street shop had given me an obligatory glance and turned away.

“Excuse me, please.” She deserved the curt tone.

Without looking up, the woman sucked on her cigarette and flipped the page. The smoke curled above her in a dingy spiral. No wonder the walls were splotched with tar-yellow scum.

Tiny and chaotic, the store was a disorganized hodge-podge. Tired clothes hung in haphazard bunches. Overstuffed crates of shoes and hats filled corners. Shelves around the store housed gaudy knickknacks, stacks of dishes, and toys. Squeezed in empty spaces, unhappy plants gasped for air. Beads, necklaces, and other jewelry hung from dusty lampshades. A step in any direction led to a claustrophobic nightmare.

I cleared my throat. “Excuse me! The vase in the window?”

The woman exhaled another cloud of smoke.

“Never mind, I’ll get it myself.”

As if nudged, the old woman dropped her book on the counter, ground out her cigarette in an overflowing ashtray, and shuffled toward me.

“No, you not in window, eh.”

Her broken English was heavily accented. Hanging like a shabby tent, her dress was vomit-green. Her worn shoe made an irritating sound as she dragged her left foot. She stopped in front of me, gave me a long once-over, and finally said, “As I thought, eh.”

What was that supposed to mean? Was she appraising me? She had never been pretty, that was easy to see. Her eyes—one dark as mud, the other a dreary, mustard color—competed with each other for consideration. She had a weather-beaten face with a few scraggly, black hairs on her chin. Perhaps an appraisal in a mirror was not the best choice for her.

“Shadow of the father, eh?” The off-colored eye twitched slightly as she spoke. Illogical and most probably senile. Now that I had her attention, I preferred her earlier disregard. “Yes, sure. Now about that vase in the window.”

“Ah, the pithos? Aπό την παλιά Ελλάδα.”

A pus-like discharge welled in the corner of the yellow eye. She dabbed it away with a long, bony finger. Everything about her nauseated me. The clutter put me on edge. The horrid scent of last year's cigarettes made it difficult to breathe. I tightened my sash. Lifted my collar.

“I’m sorry. I don’t understand what you’re saying.” For God’s sake, could we complete the transaction? I was ready to leave the moment I'd stepped into the store.

“The pithos … how you say? Vase, yes? From the old country, eh. Greece.”

“Good to know,” I said briskly, wanting to cut off the chitchat. I had no time for her. For this. “The vase, please.”

I started for the front window, but the woman quickly stepped in front of me.

“I know why you come, eh.” She pulled the tapestry aside and leaned into the display. Her dress lifted slightly, exposing the rolled top of her hose, chunks of cellulite, and thick, purple veins.

The woman held the vase in front of me. “You like?”

Scenes like my dream on a vase, in a curio store. Was this a message from Daddy? Was he watching me from somewhere above? The possibility fractured a glacier of sadness deep in my heart. I missed Daddy. I ached with grief. Why was he taken from me? He loved me. No matter what, his acceptance of me was absolute.

A lonely person trapped and encumbered by self-loathing, I was terrified. With Daddy gone and Sam's cold edge, I felt like a ladybug with a broken wing.

When the old woman held the vase for me to see, I reached with trembling hands. The vase was a sign that anything was possible.

“Yes, that’s the one.”

“Kαλòν kαkόv.” The lid over the sour eye drooped as she pulled the vase close to her chest.

I pulled out my wallet and flashed my credit card in her face. “Here.”

“Kαλòν kαkόv.” Her eye began to weep and she wiped it. “Beautiful evil.” She shook her soiled finger in my face.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” I snapped back.

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