Bless the Child

“Spine-tingling . The suspense, which rivals the best of Stephen King, builds until…the final, chilling conclusion.”
West Coast Review of Books

“Seductive … spellbinding … an unrelenting sense of foreboding drives the narrative forward with power and speed.”
Publishers Weekly

Bless The Child Plot


Maggie O’Connor is a forty-two-year-old grandmother. She is also about to battle with Satan…she just doesn’t know it yet.

What if your drug addicted daughter left a newborn baby on your doorstep and disappeared? What if she came back three years later and took the child you love into a satanic cult?  And, what if that child turned out to be mankind’s last hope in the war between Good and Evil?  Would you risk your soul to save her?

Maggie O’Connor is about to answer these questions…maybe with her life.

A vibrant, attractive, recently widowed partner in a Manhattan antiquities shop, Maggie’s young to be a grandmother, yet the love and the bond between her and her little granddaughter Cody is so deep she’ll do anything to save her.

The law won’t back her up. But the exorcist priest believes. And the rabbi who practices Kabbalah knows too much not to believe. And ancient, raging memories of an Egyptian prophecy are rising within her own terrifying dreams.  Everybody wants this child. Even the Devil.  And time is running out…

BLESS THE CHILD. You’ll be touched to the heart, and chilled to the bone.


Bless the Child Excerpt

Chapter I

Maggie O’Connor set the burglar alarm with trembling hands and pounding heart. She turned the key in the lock of the little antiquities shop on 68th Street and Madison Avenue that provided her livelihood and tried to regain control. But the memory of the voice on the phone had undone her completely.

Jenna, her daughter, had called. Jenna, rebellious, headstrong, hostile, and missing for the better part of two years. The urgent voice, not quite familiar…the pain of memory seared in it’s almost childlike cadence…the brutal question marks of where she’d been, a punishing enigma. A fearsome kaleidoscope of visions had flooded Maggie at the sound. Jenna, the precious child she’d loved more than life – -Jenna, defiant and unforgiving at one futile drug rehab after another- -Jenna, the heroin addict, who’d cut your heart out for the price of her next fix. Maggie shook her head forcefully to clear it of unwanted images and flagged a taxi in the driving rain.

“I have to see you tonight, Mother,” Jenna had demanded, a disembodied voice from nowhere. Was it fury or frenzy or desperation in the tone? ” At the house. Six-thirty. For Christ sake’s be there!” Then only the hum of the dial tone for evidence that a call had ever happened.

Where had it all gone so wrong between them? Maggie pillaged her soul for the millionth time in search of answers. Where had all the love gone? Surely the exquisite little girl she remembered so vividly had loved her once upon a time. The child with the flashing mane of silver-blond hair and eyes like the Irish Sea, who’d held her hand and lisped out stories over cupcakes, had loved her.

Fourteen had been the incomprehensible year when the silver child had disappeared forever, and a sullen, defiant teenaged changeling took her place. Fourteen, the year her beloved daughter had metamorphosed into something unlovely and unreachable. How many times after that had Maggie reached out to touch, only to have her hand bitten back by reproachful words and hostile accusations?

“Her ears aren’t attuned to your frequency, sweetheart,” Jack, her husband, used to say, shaking his head in consternation. “It’s the damnedest thing to watch, Maggie, but it’s like she can’t comprehend a word you say. It’s probably just some Freudian mother thing she’ll grow out of. You’ll see. We’ll all laugh about it when we’re old and gray.”

Maggie caught her breath at the pain those words evoked. Jack’s voice still vibrant in her ears…Jack’s face still inviolate in her memory. Wasn’t time supposed to heal all wounds? Wasn’t the loneliness supposed to lessen?

Tears welled up and she bit them back. Now, they would never laugh together, never grow old, never understand why life had thrown them such an unreasonable curve. Jack was dead. Even if she still reached for him on her pillow in the long dark hours before dawn…even if she still held conversations with him in her head when she needed advice. Even if she fantasized that he gave it. Jack was gone.

At least he hadn’t lived to see his little girl with track marks on her arm, selling her body on Eighth Street to get money for heroin. Maggie needed the comfort of home.

She tried to force her heart to a bearable staccato, paid the driver, and turned her collar up against the steady slate-gray downpour.

Jenna was slouched in the doorway with a bundle of clothing in her arms. Or that was what Maggie thought, until it cried.

“It’s cold out here!” Jenna’s voice was accusatory, as if Maggie made the weather. No greeting. No “I missed you, Mom. How have you been?”

“I came fast as I could, sweetheart. I couldn’t believe it was really you on the phone. I’ve missed you so damned much!” Maggie threw her arms around the soaking figure, and tried to control her hurt when Jenna wriggled free of the embrace.

Maggie managed the lock with unsteady fingers and reached inside for the light switch; tears were choking back all the words she knew she should be saying. She stared at the tiny being in Jenna’s arms, struck dumb by the magnitude of so small a creature and all it presumed about the past and future.

“Aren’t you going to say anything else, Mom! I thought you’d be glad to see us.” Jenna, spare as a communion wafer, stood in the foyer, shedding water like a drainpipe. Still angry, still unforgiving.

“I would have been glad to see you two years ago!” Maggie blurted as she shrugged off her dripping coat, then instantly regretted her outburst. She’s home, she chided herself. That’s all that matters. She’s alive. Anything else we can fix.

“Of course, I’m glad to see you, sweetheart, I’m just overwhelmed by your really being here. I’ve dreamed of this moment so long! Oh, Jenna, I didn’t know if you were dead or alive…..I tried so hard to find you- – a private detective, the police. But they said there wasn’t a trace…” The words were only fragments, tiny abbreviations of the anguish suffered, the heartache stored forever in some private compartment of her heart.

Jenna wasn’t listening anymore. Her eyes were darting around the room, casing the possibilities. A survivalist assessing the terrain.

“I’m hungry,” she said, laying the baby on a chair, casually as a box from Bloomingdale’s.

Maggie shook herself to dispel the sense of unreality, of unreasoned fear.

“The baby, Jenna. Is it yours?” Stupid question. No mother, I found it on the subway.

Maggie picked up the bundle tentatively, as if it were made of fairy wings. She moved the wet receiving blanket away from the fragile, wriggly life form and was startled by its breathtaking perfection.

“My God, Jenna. This baby is brand new!”

“She’s ten days old. The birth certificate is pinned inside the blanket. I figured you might need it for something.

“I might need it? Why on earth would I need it?”

Jenna looked away, uninterested in the question.

“Is it okay if I get something to eat? I haven’t eaten in a while.  She’s hungry too.” The non-sequitor speech patterns of addicts, Maggie remembered, her stomach tightening at the thought. As if the brain only focused at random selections, like a CD player.

Maggie tried to quell her anxiety. She unwrapped the soggy blanket and gingerly extricated the tiny infant, pressing it to her heart. “Funny, but you never forget how to hold a baby, no matter how long it’s been,” she whispered, lost in the small warmth. “Fifty million years of biology, I guess.” Jenna blinked at her mother, uncomprehending as a lizard on a rock.

Not certain what to do next, Maggie started toward the kitchen, tears dangerously close. “We can figure things out better on a full stomach…”she said quietly. Anything was better than standing there, stared at by wraithlike unseeing eyes.

“What’s your daughter’s name, sweetheart?” she called over her shoulder, forcing cheer into the sound.

“Cody. I call her Cody.”

Maggie smiled down at the infant, trying the name on her for size. “That’s a beautiful name…I think it suits her. Is it from her father’s family?”

The bedraggled girl spat her reply. “Look!  I’m only here because I have nowhere else to go.”  The voice was strung out, on the verge of something.

Maggie took a sharp breath and tried again

“I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings, Jenna…it’s just that I’m way out of my depth here. All I know is that I love you and whatever trouble you’re in, we can fix it…”

The girl silenced her mother with an impatient gesture.

“Listen to me, Mom. I’ve got this baby. I can’t take care of her. I have to leave her somewhere. She’s your granddaughter for Christ’s sake!”

Aghast, Maggie turned from the refrigerator, words spilling against her will. “You can’t be serious, Jenna! You just appear after two years without a single word, and you mean to tell me you’re only here to deposit your baby on my doorstep? That’s absolutely outrageous! Where did this baby come from? If you need help, you know I’ll help you…”

“I need a place to leave this baby,” the voice insisted, relentless as sleet and twice as cold.

This is really happening, Maggie thought; the blood pounded so hard inside her, she felt dizzy. Instinctively, she clutched the baby tighter to her body and it began to whimper, an infinitesimal sound. Oh Jack, where are you when I need you?

“She’s soaking wet, Jenna,” Maggie said softly, not knowing what else to say, wanting to calm the lunacy with something commonplace. “Do you have any diapers for her? I didn’t mean to shout at you. Let’s just stay calm and try to figure this out, okay?”

Jenna searched her mother’s face, alert for nuance.

“On the sideboard in the foyer,” she answered quickly, “there’s a bag with diapers. I’ll get them.”

Maggie heard the wet sneakers squeak down the parquetted hall, and thought of other, better times. Then she heard the front door slam, and knew that Jenna was gone.

Maggie sat in the old nursing rocker she’d dragged up from the basement, and crooned to the infant in her arms. Irish Revolutionary ballads…the kind with twenty seven verses, all of them emotional. She’d been singing softly, for over an hour, remembering, remembering…And life goes on forever like the gnawing of a mouse, Millay had said. A woman would know.

 

Bless the Child Reviews

With a seductive, at times spellbinding style, author Spellman (An Excess of Love) incorporates ancient myths into an entrancing romantic thriller…Spellman succeeds in capturing the reader’s close attention as an unrelenting sense of foreboding drives the narrative forward with power.”

Publishers Weekly

“With lessons in mystic lore, many travels back and forth to ancient Egypt, and uncovering of plots as the deadline to killer-rites nears, there’s lots going on.  The windup rescue in the crypt with a loud demon who’s a whiz at dialectic is a wow… will probably materialize on the bestseller lists.
Kirkus Review

“Spine-tingling.  The suspense, which rivals the best of Stephen King, builds until… the final, chilling conclusion.”
West Coast Review of Books

“This big, lovely, frightening book makes that cult down in Texas seem like a pillow fight in a nunnery. It scared the pants off me.  Cathy Cash Spellman has written her best pulse-stopping novel, one for the haunted heart in all of us.  The plot is real and immediate, the characters full blooded (in every sense of the word) and the atmosphere she builds around them is as brooding as the dark mid-winter – she even knows when to bring in a laugh to temper the ice.  Once you start to read Bless the Child, I dare you to put it down.  I couldn’t.”
Rod McKuen

“Cathy Cash Spellman takes us on an enthralling journey to the world of the occult, the mystical and the magical.”
– Deepak Chopra, MD

“I have never read a book or connected with an author who has touched me so deeply – as a mother, a grandmother, and another psychic kindred soul!
Elizabeth Taylor

“This book has really touched my heartstrings as both a mother and grandmother. A Cathy Cash Spellman is one hell of a writer!”
Maureen Stapleton

Bless the Child is spellbinding, thought-provoking and fun.  A really great read!”
Jane Scovell

“Captures the spirit of the New Age movement in a well-researched supernatural thriller.”
Michael Feinstein

The centre of the struggle is a child who is foretold to possess at a given moment the ultimate physical symbols of good and evil.  The climax of the story… astonishing…”
Philip Burton

“The book is terrific and I love Cathy!”
– Helen Gurley Brown, Editor in Chief, Cosmopolitan

“Cathy Cash Spellman is a great, great writer!”
– Myrna Blyth, Editor in Chief, Ladies Home Journal

“Spellman truly knows how to cast a spell.  Bless the Child is superbly written – a super tale with a unique slant on the supernatural that outdoes Ann Rice at every twist and turn.  I guarantee it’ll grab you and make your neck hairs bristle.”
– Gerald A. Browne, 11 Harrowhouse, Stone 588

“The classic literary and theological theme of Good versus Evil in the universe is given a new twist in this spine-tingling suspense novel.  If mysticism intrigues you, this novel covers all the bases – Black Magic, Kabbalah and more are seriously discussed throughout.  While Bless the Child is fiction, an extra ordinary amount of research went into this book.

The suspense which rivals the best of Stephen King, builds until the day of the final, chilling conclusion.  If there’s such a thing as a guaranteed bestseller, this book is it.”

– West Coast Review of Books

“Bless the Child is terrific!  I was hooked from page one and couldn’t put it down until I finished it.”
– Lynda Carter