Secrets of the Morning

By: VC Andrews

Cutler #2



PROLOGUE


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As we descended through the billowing clouds, New York suddenly appeared below me. New York!

The world's most exciting city, a city I had only read about and heard about and seen pictures of in magazines. I gazed through the window and held my breath. The tall skyscrapers seemed to go on forever and ever, past anything I could have imagined.

When the stewardess began telling us to fasten our seat belts and pull up the backs of our seats, and the no smoking sign was flashed, my heart began to thump so hard I thought the nice old lady beside me would hear it. She smiled at me as if she did.

I sat back and closed my eyes.

It had all happened so fast—my discovering the truth about my abduction and confronting Grandmother Cutler with the lies, a confrontation that forced her to promise she would get Daddy Longchamp, the man I had mistakenly believed to be my father, paroled quickly. In exchange, I had to agree to go to the Bernhardt School for Performing Arts in New York, something Grandmother Cutler arranged so she wouldn't have to put up with a grandchild who she claimed wasn't really a Cutler. My mother confessed to having had an affair with a traveling singer, my real father, and then conveniently, she fell into one of her nervous states and retreated from any responsibility.

Grandmother Cutler could do anything she wanted with me, just as she could do with anyone else at Cutler's Cove, including her son, my mother's husband Randolph.

What a horror life at the hotel had been after I had been returned to what was considered my real family. How would I ever forget Philip's forcing himself on me and Clara Sue's spite that eventually resulted in poor Jimmy's being carted of by the police after he had run away from a horrible foster home?

Now I was caught between two worlds—the ugly world back at the hotel where there was no one I could turn to or depend upon, and the frightening prospect of New York City where there was no one I knew.

Even though I was going to do what I had

always dreamt of doing: train to be a singer, I was terrified of setting foot in a city so big. No wonder my breath was caught in my throat and my heart threatened to drum through my chest.

"Is someone coming to meet you at the airport, dear?" asked the old lady sitting next to me. She introduced herself as Miriam Levy.

"A taxi cab driver," I muttered and fumbled for the instructions I had been given and had placed in my purse. I must have looked at them twenty times during the flight, but still had to gaze at them again to confirm what was to happen. "He's going to be down by the luggage carousel and he's going to hold up a card with my name on it."

"Oh yes, many people have that done. You'll see," she said, patting me on the hand. I had told her that I was to live in an apartment house with other Bernhardt students. She said the location was in a very nice neighborhood on the East Side. When I asked her what she meant by the "East Side," she explained how the streets and avenues were divided into east and west and so I would have to know whether 15 Thirty-third Street, for example, was East or West Thirty-third. It seemed frighteningly complicated. I envisioned myself getting terribly lost and wandering forever through the long, wide avenues with thousands of people rushing by and not caring.

"You mustn't be afraid of New York," she said as she adjusted her hat. "It's big, but people are friendly once you get to know them. Especially in my neighborhood in Queens. I'm sure a nice girl like you will make friends quickly. And just think of all the wonderful things there are for you to see and do."

"I know," I said, putting my brochure about New York City back in my carry-on bag.

"What a lucky girl to be flying to New York to attend a famous school," she said. "I wasn't that much younger than you when my mother brought me over from Europe." She laughed. "We thought the streets were really paved with gold. Of course, it was a fairy tale."

She patted my hand again.

"Maybe for you, the streets will be paved in gold, for you fairy tales will come true. I hope so," she added, her eyes twinkling warmly.

"Thank you," I said, even though I no longer believed in fairy tales, especially fairy tales coming true for me.

I held my breath again as the plane's wheels were lowered and we approached the runway. There was a slight bump and we were rolling along. We had touched ground.