The Price Of Lust: Book One of Faces In The Crowd, Chapters 4.4-4.7

IV. HELLENA

Dearest Hellena. You are a dear friend and confidant. You have played mommy to my children, whom I abandoned when I began feeling sorry for myself. I abandoned even you, forsaking our friendship for the pain and the blame I’d placed upon myself for that pain. How could you ever forgive me? I turned my back on you.

You were there, with my dearest Connie, when the doctor gave his diagnosis. You were there when I broke down and sobbed. You helped comfort me when I thought all was lost. You allowed me to dismiss, in my folly, all those who loved me…even yourself. You said nothing when I went into seclusion and stopped running the business.

When I dismissed you from my presence, you merely backed off and allowed me to make my mistakes. You were the wisest one of the two of us. I should’ve never sent you away. But did you really leave? Or did Connie call on you to help him with me, staying where I could not see you? If so, thank you. I would’ve driven my poor Connie mad by now if you hadn’t.

I owe you the most. As a business partner, you kept the place going while I was out. You made sure it remained successful, even when I was off being a selfish little brat. You are a true friend. Loyal, honorable, and truthful. I don’t deserve you. But, like always, you always come back to be there with me in my hour of need.

I only hope that my friends, who’ll be taking over my half of the business, can see what I saw in you that first moment we met…and devised the plan to destroy Max. I hope they can learn as much as I did-when we finally took Max’s business from him— from you. They’ll succeed far better from it than I.

And although we are back together, please realize that I am still dying, and will be gone from your life again, very soon. When is not up to me. My illness is not, nor will ever be, gone. There is no cure, only a possible temporary quick fix which entails surgery. No drugs can cure my illness. Nothing can keep me alive any longer than the Almighty wishes me to be here with you all.

My dear, it will be up to you to explain it all to the others when the time comes. You know the whole story. And please. Please try to keep Connie from going insane after my time with all of you is up. He’ll need all the help he can get.

V. CAROLINE BORDEN

Carrie, sweet Carrie. You made me realize, a long time ago, that I was beautiful. Unfortunately, I used my beauty to beguile…not to do anything good. Yet, I have learned from my mistakes-another thing you taught me-and have come full circle. At first, my beauty was only skin-deep. And, for a long time, that was all it ever was.

I forgot my friends from the past, preferring to follow a selfdestructive path of vengeance. I tracked down people I thought were my enemies in order to destroy them. Instead, I seem to have made them all stronger. Did I mention that they see me, the one who tried to destroy them, as their friend? And I used them degradingly. I forced them to do things that would destroy their reputations!

I let you down. Then, I realized that I had done wrong. How do you pay restitution for the crimes I have committed in the name of what I thought was justifiable vengeance? Vengeance, my dear, is never justifiable. Never. but I was blinded by my pain.

No, I am not making excuses. I am merely stating fact. I was blinded by my pain and lashed out at the wrong people. I blamed all the wrong people, much as my mother had, for my father’s murder. I went after innocent people. I took innocence away from women I shouldn’t have, only to find out long after the fact that my own uncles were to blame for my father’s death. They had misled the people, leading to my father’s downfall. His trust in his fellow man betrayed him, but also redeemed him. Lies sold him into the hands of his own brothers. Greed of the misled bought his death…and the deaths of those who’d believed the monsters.

My mistrust of others condemned me. My hatred kept me from redemption. My rage tore my soul to shreds. All blinded me to the truth.

I was lost, Carrie, after my mother died. I was lost emotionally and spiritually. I was no longer in control. My emotions, my pain, my loss…they all took over the controls. I was without any semblance of my former self. The person you all knew in Akron no longer existed. She had died with her mother.

So I did as my father had done. Pulled up my stakes and ran. All my money, all my possessions, everything was packed up and moved. I was no longer comfortable there. I was alone and aimless.

Well, maybe not aimless. I became Madam Sadie and opened a cathouse. I sold my body, and the bodies of those girls whose fathers had been blinded by my uncles, for a moment of peace and a pocket full of dirty money. In doing so, I was able to drown out the memories that were so painful…but only for a little while.

They still remained in the back of my mind, waiting for the right time to come out.

Then, I returned to my senses and arrived here in Chicago. After a couple of mistakes, I learned that my way wasn’t the right way. But I endured many a night being forced by a boss who was less of a man than he believed himself to be. Still, I always seemed to come out on top…or so I thought.

I made new friends and found new lovers…one of which became my husband and the father of my first children. But the social events went on and on. Then, my husband died and, again, I was on my own. This time, though, I had a purpose in life. Being wife and mother, businesswoman, and socialite…was the very purpose that I had sought all my life. But even that would be cut short.

I was diagnosed with a genetic ailment that would eventually cut my life short. Still, for the longest time, I believed that I was being punished for all my sins. I even felt glad to be resigned to my fate out of all the guilt I felt for all my past misdeed. I refused to forgive myself.

But, I was given a second chance. A chance to right the wrongs. A chance to feel loved again. But I know I won’t have much time in which to set all wrongs right or to give what I receive. Still, I must give more than I receive in order for it to count.

I know that nothing I can do will redeem me or buy my way into Heaven. Nor do I wish it to. I merely want to go out of this life with a clear conscience. My own willingness to forgive myself was the key to my deliverance. I know that.

Now, as I await my finest hour, I can think of no one who is more deserving-for all that they have done to show me the lightthan you to share in my joy. God bless you and keep you safe.

Please, for my sake, help Hellena guide my friends and teach them what you taught me.

I pray, for their sakes, that they learn what you have to teach. It will be for their own good, not mine. I only hope that they can find happiness as I have found it. Don’t mourn for me, for I have accepted my fate. I know that our time here is precious. Too bad that I learned it too late.

VI. LUCRETIA

Lacertia, I know that I don’t know you well…but I feel as if I’ve known you all my life. You first arrived with Uncle Lazarus shortly before Cain and Lucifer showed their faces at my door. You both tried to warn me, and told me the truth of how my father died. For that, I shall forever be indebted to you. I know that you have made your choice, but I hope that you change your mind before it is too late.

I would that you will take to Cozy and protect him. Protect him with your love as he has me. He will need you in the future. Lazarus can take care of himself, but I don’t believe Cozy could. He has relied on you and Lazarus for too long. But you and I know that Uncle Lazarus wants it all to end and would welcome death in a heartbeat. He is tired and too old to be running anymore. Cozy has just begun his life, though.

And so, you should throw in your lot with him. Take him into your protective heart, good heart, and watch over him. God will watch over you both. He will redeem you and absolve your sins. Do not worry.

Don’t mourn for me. I have lived my life. I did what I thought was right only to find that I had erred. To save the family’s last bit of honor, I have turned things around. You have the same chance, my dear, and I am urging you to take it.

Don’t wait, like I have, until it is almost too late. Do it now. Stop running and face the past. Defeat your enemies by standing and fighting. Yes! Stand beside me, and my friends, and fight against Lucifer and Cain. Let us end their nightmare reign of terror once and for all…even if we have to use treacherous methods to do so. They have to be punished for their crimes. And since the world outside of our family won’t do it, we must. We must use every person who has been hurt by them…even those who serve as their consorts.

I know that they, too, are family. Your sisters and cousins, mine too, but we must employ them in our plan to exact justice. This time, it’s not just for us. Think of the town that they decimated and the lives they turned upside down. Think of the path of destruction they have left, the murders that they’ve committed and still go unsolved, the innocence they’ve taken away. What of all those waiting for closure? Are they to wait an eternity?

And Uncle Lazarus. What about him? Doesn’t he need a rest from all the running? He has suffered just as much as the rest of us. He needs closure too. Please help us in ridding the world of two of the most vile creatures to ever walk the earth. We don’t stand much of a chance without you.

VII. LAZARUS

Dear Uncle Lazarus. You tried so hard to warn father of what was going on. The only question that remains is why he didn’t listen. Was he just tired of running? Or had he decided to turn and face the enemy?

Only you know those answers. I know that you’ll reveal it all to me in your own time, but I don’t have much longer. Still, you tried to warn him, and for that I am greatly indebted to you. You also warned me of every trouble spot that headed my way in the past. Not in person, but you always sent Cozy. You warned me when Lucifer and Cain got too close to me. Akron. Tulsa. No matter where I was, you warned me. And I ran.

Well, there will be no more running. Not you, not me, not any of us. Those days are over. Let Cain and Lucifer come. We will stand and fight…and we will win. No matter what methods we have to use.

Being a business woman, I have learned the tactics that are often used to bluff in that arena. I have also learned how to take over the competition. I know how to fight and win. And we can use those very methods, perhaps a little dirtier if we have to, in order to defeat the enemies we now have to face.

It is time to face them, Uncle. Time to take back what is rightfully yours. Time to show them that you aren’t afraid of them. Time to destroy their legacy. Time to end the cycle.

Now is your time. Time to redeem the family name. And only you can do it. You are the noble one, the strong one. You are the good brother. And good always triumphs over evil. You and I know that.

So stand with me, this day, and fight. This is our time. Let none tear asunder what has been united as one. No one.

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