**Authors Note**; I'm going through and doing some editing today (5/1/14) to clean this up a bit. I will still say, however, that the beginning chapters of this mammoth fiction were began when I was a much younger writer, and I think it shows. Just stick with it, I say to you. It gets better. :)

Preface: The Beginning

The Phone rang. Once, twice, three times, before a perfectly manicured hand picked up the receiver. She raised the white phone to her contrasting ebony cheek. Her face was beautiful, but it was marred with a black eye swelled to almost closing. An authoritative voice spoke before she could even greet her caller.

"Is this Mrs. Penelope Fairchild?" Her brows furrowed, as no one usually called Penelope unless it was an acquaintance, and her eyes flickered to the packed bags by the door.

"Yes, this is she." Her voice was delicate, almost breathless. There was a regretful sigh on the other line.

"Mrs. Fairchild… I'm sorry to inform you of this, but your husband was killed today while apprehending a suspect in a bank robbery..." At this, the phone slipped from her hands, clattering loudly onto the floor. Her breath caught in her throat, and yet, with a light touch of her fingers to her inflamed eye, the tears never came.

Starbucks was crowded, loud, and full of chattering people. The sound of cappuccino's being made and the register chime with orders being placed would have distracted anyone. Yet Lucy Palmer was lost in her own world. She sat in a corner of the café, a lukewarm macchiato and discarded biscotti at the far end of her table. Music sheets were scattered around her, and in her mind a symphony played, reaching above the racket the coffee shop. She copied the notes quickly, afraid that if she didn't she'd loose the magic of it, loose the mood and the love that weaved through her body. Flutes and Clarinets told a whimsical story, while abrasive horns would periodically Bogart their way into the composition and shatter the tale of happiness with a menacing blare. It was beautiful. Even in its draft form it conveyed the shaky work of a master, a skilled protege, and it was beautiful to anyone who might hear it.

Though they never would...

The blare of her cell phone interrupted her thoughts, harshly cutting into the conduction of her muse and effectively ending its progression. It was her father, and his anger seemed to come to her in waves through the tiny device. Lucy cringed and, feeling not for the first time that her father must always know when she was off doing something he considered a sin, gathered her purse and cold coffee. She left the coffee shop in a hurry, answering her phone upon her exit in as innocent and cheerful of a voice she could muster.

The sheets of music lay on the table, never to reach the ears of anyone so lucky to hear it.

The handcuffs were cold against her wrists. They left an imprint on her skin, and caused her finger tips to become a light blue hue from lack of circulation. This was courtesy of an over enthusiastic police officer, obviously worried about her trying to break for it in the middle of a crowded court room especially since the cameras were rolling. She rolled her eyes at that and wriggled her wrists to try and get some blood flowing through them. She tried very hard not to show the panic she was feeling at the moment, not to show the absolute fear and hysteria she was threatening to bubble out of her. It wouldn't matter anyway.

Nothing mattered. Not anymore.

She had been found guilty. Guilty by her peers, guilty by her rotund Judge, and guilty by all around her, all that looked at her with judging eyes and certain knowledge that she was monster. And now her fate would be decided. She took a deep breath as the jury re-entered the stands and the elected orator handed the verdict to the judge. It hadn't taken them long at all to come to a decision. The Honorable Judge Watkins was large, bald, and wore glasses that were much too big for his beady eyes. He cleared his throat, the goblet of his neck quivering from side to side as he did so.

"Please stand," The bailiff announced. The courtroom did so, and went silent.

"Mrs. Valentina Marie Harriston," the judge's glabrous head gleamed from the overhead lights as he bent his face forward to read the document of her guilty sentence.

"The court has previously found you guilty of two counts of murder in the first degree, an unclassified level of felony, both with specifications of death, making this a capital case. As is the brutality and outstanding violence of this… slaughter, the jury has sentenced you to death by lethal injection. You shall be incarcerated until a time is scheduled for your execution. If you wish, you may choose to appeal within a sixty day period. It is so ordered, by the state in New York, and the city of Manhattan." The gavel hit with an echoing clatter. For a moment, Val felt her world freeze. Her heart stopped, her face a wide eyed expression of disbelief.


She'd known she was going to take the fall for this, knew that she was going to be the one that was blamed. And why not? All evidence pointed to her anyway. ... But death? Never, not in her wildest dreams, had she thought this would be the outcome. All around her cameras clicked, an eruption of questioning buzzing though the court room. Next to her, Valentina's public defender laid a hand on her should, as if to comfort her. Val shrugged it off, looking at the Judge in disbelief.

"No." She whispered hoarsely, the earth speeding back up to a normal rate, making her feel queasy and sick. Then she felt the young police officer take her arm and start to pull her towards the exit. The panic that she'd held in spilled out now, like a dam breaking open.

"No!" she yelled. "No, wait! I'm not guilty." She struggled to detach herself from the officer and saw another rushing towards her.

"Please!" she screeched.

"Please believe me. I'm Innocent!" The other officer had begun to help drag her from the court room. Val was hysterical. Tears were streaming down her cheeks as she screamed for mercy. And through them her eyes connected with his. Her step-father, stoic and somber through it all, looked at her and smiled.

Oh god.

"No! No I'm innocent, I didn't kill anyone! Him, he did! I didn't fucking kill anyone! Someone please help me. Let me go! Help!" She was kicking as the police officers lifted her off her feet by her elbows.

"Please, not death, not for something I didn't even do. I'm not guilt-" And then she was carried out of the courtroom, her voice silenced with the swift slam of the doors.

Everyone looked at her…

Theresa was beautiful. Her legs looked great in a skirt, her large breasts filled out a shirt nicely, and her curvy body and slightly angled face fit her perfectly. Her eyes were as big and brown as a doe's, and her lips full and heart shaped. Her nose was somewhat upturned, and her long thick hair the color of honey.

Everyone looked at her…

Her style was classic, hip, casual, and contemporary all rolled into one. She was quick-witted and intelligent, her humor clever, and her tongue sharp. Her personality was infectious, and when she smiled, showing her perfectly straight bleach white teeth, she lit up a room with the feeling of warmth and belonging.

Everyone looked at her…

She had gotten top grades in college and was now quickly becoming one of the top lawyers in the city. She was a great debater, a great litigator, and all around, a great person. And while everyone looked at her, he watched and he waited. She never saw him, but he was there. Outside her bedroom window, or by himself in the restaurant where she would have lunch with her colleagues. Inside her home while she took a shower, just breathing in the sent of her as steam billowed out of the cracked door and onto his lusting face. He watched and he waited. Waited for his chance, waited for the right time to make his move.

And it would be soon… very soon.

I'm waiting,
I haven't seen the ghost
And am I really here at all?
I'm silent, I'm the moon
One eye open,
I'm waiting, waiting.

It was raining at the cemetery. The little tarp awning was barely protecting the family and friends that surrounded the sleek casket from the stinging rain, coming down in biting cold sheets.

"Ashes to ashes, dust to dust." The minister spoke in desolate tones. Thunder rumbled somewhere in the distance, a flash of lightening far off from the soggy plot of land.

I swallowed a knife
I hold it in.
And every single time I breathe,
I cut a bit of me.
And it leaves my heart open.

Slowly, the ivory box was lowered into the ground and the mourners began to gradually scatter back to their cars. Tears were on some of their faces, others seemed like they didn't really care, hadn't really known her well enough. Either way it didn't matter. She was gone. Nothing could change that...

I feel you
My spectre yet unseen
Did you get the lilies I sent?
Did the violin that played
Make it's way through the gauzy curtain?

Away from the lamenting and their woeful eyes stood four shadowed figures, and all four had a deep sadness in their hearts for the girl lost. They stood and watched as all the grieving departed and the wet soil was covered over the casket. The tarp was taken down, and the caretakers, soaked to the bone, quickly left in search of a dryer space. One of the figures broke away from the others, uncaring of the fact that he was not disguised. He walked to the grave and dropped to his knees in front of the headstone, hands trembling and head shaking in disbelief. Water ran down his face as he stared miserably at the grave. Reaching out, he ran his fingers over the name on the headstone.

Jaden Nicollet Chambers, May you forever rest in peace, knowing you were loved. 1983-2007.

A marble cherub lay over the tombstone, a fat marble tear caught on its cheek. A hand came to rest on his shoulder.

"Come on Mikey, let's go." The voice was gentle and sad, laced with an emotion that was improperly placed. Tears blended with the rain streaming over Michelangelo's face, nearly blinding him. He stood and wiped them away, taking one last unhindered look at the grave before him.

"I love you." He whispered, and then he turned and left, his brothers following behind.

Come find the place where the curtain is thin.
Wink at the watchman,
And he'll let you in.

Lyrics by Stephanie Dosen, A Lily For The Spectre