“The shadow of a bound spirit resides in her eyes,” the old gypsy woman said, placing me into another pair of weathered hands. Swiftly, I found myself tucked into a baby carriage, snuggled close to an infant’s side. Her soft skin smelled sweet, her steady breathing soothed me as my cold bones absorbed her warmth, gleaning new life from my tiny master.
A protective urge swelled inside me, straining against the carved rose in my chest. An overwhelming mixture of affection and ferocious pride, the closest thing to maternal love I would ever experience. At all cost, I would defend this child. Anyone foolish enough to betray her would suffer mercilessly, tormented by the full extent of my fury. Only true love would break my curse. And surely, true love was many years down the road for this precious babe.
But something was wrong. Another yearning tugged at my spirit, defensive and strong, forcing its way into my heart, pressing against my chest, threatening to shatter the rose carving. Another infant occupied the buggy—occupied my soul. I could hear its labored breath, sense the throes of its restless slumber. A twin. A baby girl, exactly like the one that held me close. Identical, but so very different.
For the first time in my very long life, I became confused. To which child did I truly belong? I felt an equally potent, yet distinctly separate, urge to protect both infants.
As time went on, I knew one of the girls loved me more than the other. The child Darcy, with whom the great-grandmother had tucked me into the carriage, lavished me with adoration as she grew.
When Darcy was five, the grandmother had embroidered Darcy’s name on a little white square of cloth, then guided the girl’s fingers, helping her stitch it inside my dress. If my painted eyes could muster tears, I would have cried that day. Finally, I experienced the joy of unconditional love, and the supreme power of a child’s devotion. I knew to whom I belonged.
Shortly after that glorious day, the great-grandmother died. An auction ensued. Everything was sold to the highest bidder. Her favorite chair rocked down the road in a stranger’s truck-bed, surrounded by a cloud of red dust. Cardboard boxes housed all else the old woman owned in this world. I found myself among these belongings, wedged into a box between a bowl of wax fruit and a rose-patterned teapot.
Darcy tried to save me, plunging her small hands into the box, yanking me free. But her mother intervened, tearing me from Darcy’s grasp, shoving me back into the box, insisting the child wasn’t to drag any of her great-grandmother’s “old clutter” home. All the while, Darcy’s twin, Scarlett, glared at me, sharpening her emerald gaze against my yellowed bones. A man loaded me up in the back of his pickup truck, and I disappeared down the dusty road.
With the reality of true love still years away for my dear Darcy, I would watch over her from afar. But quickly I discovered a complication. My spirit could not discern Darcy’s aura from the aura of her evil twin. My only choice: to defend both girls until the day true love would break the curse.
To my surprise, I turned up on Darcy’s doorstep, twenty-five years later. With great joy, I discovered her love for me as strong and real as ever. But lo and behold, along came the evil twin with betrayal in her heart for Darcy, and for me.
How could I protect Darcy against the malice of her wicked twin, Scarlett—whom I was also required to defend?
The answer to my unusual dilemma is found within the pages of Skinbound, the twisted story of identical twin sisters, Darcy and Scarlett Vaughan, and their mutual attraction to rural Oklahoma doctor, Cabin Creighton. On the banks of Chickasha Lake, even the good doctor finds himself doubly perplexed by the girls’ uncanny resemblance.
But fear not, for the villainous deceptions of Scarlett Vaughan are no match for me. My name is Rosa, the scrimshaw doll, known to my Darcy simply as Shaw. Skilled in the arts of betrayal. Punisher-extraordinaire.
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Author, Anna Kittrell