Prelude (An Alec Winters Series, Book 1)

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Chapter 9

When the police took her son away that night, Cassidy was shocked out of her stupor. She finally awakened from the depths of her personal hell. Much to her credit, she was never anesthetized again. After flushing the sedatives down the toilet, she rushed to the hospital to stay with Catalina.

The examination was complete. It revealed that there was evidence of past sexual traumas and scarring. There was also current evidence of attempted rape. Feeling overwhelmed by her own neglectful actions that had allowed Cat to suffer such abuse, Cassidy held her daughter close while they cried together.

“I’m so sorry, Catalina. I’m so sorry. Please, forgive me,” Cassidy cried. “I let my own misery block out the wretched things you suffered. I’m so sorry.”

Sometimes, too little is simply too little…too late is certainly too late. In this case, the acceptance of her part in the troubling present circumstances seared Cassidy’s resolve to move forward. It mended the rift with her daughter to some degree. Right then, she determined to do whatever it took for the good of both of her children. She got busy to right the wrongs.

Next, she used the family home as collateral to post bail and secure a reputable attorney for her son. She brought Catalina home from the hospital, moving her to the sunroom so that the memories of what had previously happened in her own bedroom were less haunting. She comforted Alec and Catalina as only a mother can do.

The following week, Alec returned to school, Cassidy stayed alert and sober, and Catalina sketched furiously during her waking hours. Nothing would ever be the same for their family, but for all practical purposes, it was as normal as the Winters’ home would get. There was one exception: Cat refused to return to school.

“Catalina, you must continue your education,” Cassidy argued with exasperation. “Tell her, Alec. Life without an education is simply unacceptable.”

“I tell you I won’t go back and that’s the end of it,” Cat nearly screamed. “Everyone knows what happened to me, they know what my father did to me,” Cat haltingly explained her reasoning to Alec and Cassidy. “The terrible story of our family is in all the newspapers. Didn’t you read what Mrs. Anders had to say when interviewed? I can’t go back to school. I won’t!”

Cassidy glanced at the Times Picayune lying on the breakfast table. It was true—the gossip and stories circulating about the Winters family was all anyone discussed. Even Mrs. Anders, the teacher from Cat’s middle school, had gone on record stating that she knew something was wrong. Her direct quote read, “I saw signs of the little girl’s abuse and confronted the older brother quite some time ago. He did nothing to protect her then.”

Remarks such as that didn’t help anyone, especially the Winters family. They were dragged through the mud on a daily basis. In addition, there were reporters outside the Carrollton Avenue home more often than not. It was all Alec could do to push his way through the mob. Cassidy realized that tiny Catalina wouldn’t stand a chance against the horde of vultures.

Cassidy nodded thoughtfully as she considered that aspect of their troubles. She studied Catalina’s determined face. “I understand how you feel, but you need to complete your education.”

“No, mother. I can’t face the embarrassment and shame that will follow me to school. I’m not a victim and I hate the way the media calls me ‘a victim of incest.’ I will not return to school.”

Realizing there was little she could do to force her daughter to suffer more heartache and trauma, Cassidy reluctantly accepted Cat’s decision, “All right, but you must complete your education by taking correspondence and home-study courses.”

To offset those mundane worries, the angel of her rescue consumed Catalina’s mind and heart. Returning to her love of art, calluses formed on her fingers as she drew amazing depictions of the redeemer who had saved her. The angelic images came to life on paper, sketched by her gifted hand—angels everywhere. Angels of white surrounded by light…angels with soft, smiling countenances…angels with eyes blazing in fury. Her drawings always captured the essence of the one who had freed her. Each sketch revealed a benevolent being with startling blue eyes and huge white wings that sheltered lost and helpless victims from their tormentors.

Over the course of the next few months, Cassidy pulled her life together and became the role model she was meant to be, returning once again to the woman and spiritual teacher of the past. All the previous understanding and knowledge about metaphysical concepts and the way the universe worked weren’t lost. The insight returned to her as if she had never put it aside.

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