At a party, Bill Castellano, a mystery writer, meets Marie Boudreaux, an actress, and sparks begin to fly. He invites her to come with him to Ocean Breeze, FL, where he introduces her to the CEO of an Advertising agency, who offers her a job in a new campaign, acting opposite famous model Jamie Christopher.
Marie and Jamie play well off each other, but Bill becomes uneasy watching their professional embraces. Confused by his feelings, he returns to Florida–for his book, he says, but is Marie deceived?
Will Bill be able to come to grips with his feelings, and if he does, will Marie take him back?
His friend Amadeo di Sant’Angelo really knew how to throw a party, Bill Castellano mused. He was glad they had bumped into each other in the morning when they were both assessing the avalanche risk, and realized there could be no question of serious skiing. And that was why people came to Lucino—for serious skiing.
When Amadeo invited him to a party he was giving, he had quickly accepted—they had been good friends for years. He smiled to himself. The party was fun. It was in full swing, and he was standing to one side for a while, letting his eyes slide over the women guests—amazed at the number of beauties present, all in couture dresses and fabulous jewelry.
Invariably, when Amadeo invited, the women came—even some he had not invited. After all, Amadeo di Sant’Angelo was an Italian count, and they all wanted the cachet of being able to say they had slept with him. Bill’s mouth quirked. Amadeo was too fastidious to sleep around. For that matter, so was he. Several of the women here had come on to him—but he hadn’t been interested.
Glancing back at the mêlée, he noticed one woman who seemed to stand out from the others, although he thought her dress was not couture, and she wore no jewelry except for a pearl necklace resting just in the hollow at her throat. He felt that this woman would make any dress look great—even the plain black silk jersey that draped itself faithfully to her curves.
When she looked in his direction, he saw that she was beautiful, her blonde hair worn loose—just the way he liked it—framing a lovely face with huge eyes—blue or green, he couldn’t be sure, but he promised himself he would move closer to her and find out. He liked her small, straight nose, and the soft, sensual mouth—a pink invitation. As for her figure, it was simply sensational, and although she was petite, her legs were long and beautiful. Bill closed his eyes for a moment. She was the woman of his dreams. He promised himself he’d go over and make her acquaintance.
Celeste is a low born serf working in her Lord’s Castle. She is physically and mentally abused by her Lord’s aunts. She dreams only of living peacefully with Sebastian. Sebastian is Lord of Castle Kilskeagh. He rules his Clan with honor but he can never be happy, his love for Celeste can never be returned. His passion flares brightly but with it comes the Beast, for he is cursed to never find true love.
The three witches of Kilskeagh have made sure that the line will die with Sebastian for each time that he feels pleasure, he is cursed to turn into a Beast. Never will another male rule Castle Kilskeagh for the witches have made sure that someday their daughters will have that which should have been theirs.
Celeste walked carefully around the Laird’s table. Her head bowed, she watched her feet as she shuffled across the room. The men talked loudly, belching and laughing as they broke their morning fast. Margaret stood at Sebastian’s right shoulder as he sat at the head of the table. “Get moving you lazy serf.” She spat the words with hatred. No one spoke a word and all laughter stopped as the men waited to see what Margaret would do to the young lass whom was always the brunt of her wrath.
“Leave off, Aunt.” Sebastian raised his hand palm out. “The Lass is completing her assigned chores.”
“Do you show favor to this serf over your own flesh and blood?” she seethed.
“I have more important things to do than worry about petty scuffles between you and the women who work in this castle.” Sebastian pushed his chair back and rose to his feet. “If you’ve finished your meal, you have duties to perform.” He dismissed the men and watched worriedly to see what his aunt would do.
A pitiful cry came from the corner. Celeste walked slowly toward the sound. A castle dog had given birth some weeks before and she was anxious to get a look at the pups now that their eyes would be open. She squatted down as to not startle the little family. Something was not right, the cry was weak. She wrinkled her nose at the unpleasant odor.
“What are you doing there?” Margaret grabbed Celeste’s shoulder where she knelt over the bitch dog and her litter of pups.
“Poor wee one.” Celeste whispered. She laid her hand gently on the mother dog whose body was cold and lifeless, only one small body showed any sign of life. The Irish wolfhound pup struggled gallantly to live where as his litter mates had failed. She cradled the small body close to her bosom.
“Give the cur to me.” Margaret grabbed for the pup. “The bitch died yesterday, this one has not had the sense to follow the rest of the litter. I’ll just slam it against the stones there and we’ll hear no more of its pitiful cries.”
“Nay! You cannot have him.” Celeste turned her back on the mad woman. She would pay dearly for this small act of defiance but could not let the small warrior be harmed.
The flat of Margaret’s hand caught her soundly on the cheek. Her scar stood out vibrantly against the mark now left by the witch’s hand. “You forget yourself.” Margaret snarled.
“Enough!” Sebastian’s fist slammed against the table. “Leave off!!” He stomped angrily across the floor. The rushes crackled beneath his feet.
“Lass, take the pup and leave. Your duties are finished for the day.” He showed no other sign of the turmoil he was going through on seeing his lady treated so cruelly, but he must not alert anyone of his true feelings for his beautiful Celeste.
“Yes, M’Lord.” Celeste curtsied and bobbed her head. She never raised her eyes to look at either Sebastian or the Witch Margaret. Slowly, she turned and made a wide arc around the table and out the castle doors.
“You show much affection for such a low born bitch, nephew. Have you forgotten the curse? Or maybe the Clan whore cares not if she sleeps with dogs. I should rid us all of the problem before she breeds more of the same.” Margaret sneered.
Sebastian grabbed her arm as she turned to walk away. He stepped closer and looked down on her from his massive height. “Do you forget whom you are talking with, Aunt? I am laird here and curse or no curse, neither you nor your witch sisters will rule me or mine. The lass means nothing more to me than any other member of the clan. I protect what is mine.” The lie tasted bitter on his lips, but if anyone guessed his true feelings for Celeste, he feared for her safety.
Margaret jerked her arm from his fierce grip. “Never treat me thusly. Forget you the power that I wield and the pain I can inflict without effort?” She turned and walked toward the small room located behind the buttery. The sisters must be told of the rebellion taking place in their home. But first she had better tend to important matters; must not cause suspicion. She stopped and turned. “I’m sorry, nephew, for speaking to you thusly. I look out only for your welfare. You must be ever vigilant of the curse and never forget the evil it may cause. I am here to serve you and I hope to one day free you so that you may live happily. But until that time arises, you must remember what you are.” She turned her head so no one could see her evil smile as she passed through the buttery.
“I’ll never forget,” he whispered. “I’m living the hell of it daily.” He glanced toward the castle doors. Celeste was safe for now but her rebellion was sure to cost her. He shuddered to think of the pain his sweet lass was sure to go through because the aunts would not let this slight go unpunished. He must be vigilant to protect his love.
Changing from her travel clothes to narrow black velvet trousers, worn with a brown cashmere V-neck sweater and black kid ballet slippers, she quickly brushed her soft, blonde hair into its natural curls, and put some pink lip-gloss on. Now, she felt ready for l’heure bleue. She admitted ruefully that its name—the blue hour—suited her mood better than any ‘happy hour’. Willing her sad thoughts away, she put a determined smile on her face and quickly walked down a wide, curving stairway to the first floor. As she descended, she saw a number of people milling about the great hall, stopping here to chat, moving over to another group. She frowned. If l’heure bleue was this busy, there would be little chance of a seat in the bar. Still, she was going to try. She wanted to hear the guitarist.
The moment she entered the Bar Intime, various unattached men tried to attract her attention.
“Chérie, par ici” – over here, honey.
“Vous alors, si jolie et blonde, venez ici” – You there, so pretty and blonde, come here.
“Viens ici, ma p’tite, faisons l’amour…” Come here, let’s make love.
At that moment, a tall, dark man, seated opposite the last speaker, got to his feet. Staring the man down with utter disdain, he said, “You will speak to this lady with the utmost respect, is that clear?”
Eloïse felt her heart stand still. Nick.
The man who had so audaciously suggested he make love to Eloïse, seemed to shrink within himself, mumbling, “I din’t mean nuthin’ by it, juss a joke.”
“A joke in very poor taste,” Nick replied, breaking through the cluster of men who were staring at Eloïse. He slowly walked over to her, stopping in front of her, his eyes sweeping over her, missing nothing.
“Thank you,” she said hesitantly, “but what are you doing here? A quiet village in the Laurentians isn’t your scene. Did your wife talk you into this?” At the thought of Monique, Nick’s secretary-researche r, who had broken up the happy marriage she’d believed she had with her husband, her voice cracked, and her eyes flashed.
Calmly, Nick replied, “I’m no longer married. My wife divorced me, as you well know. I am here for a rest—I’ve been working too hard. What are you doing here, Ellie? This place is a bit expensive for a woman who refused her husband’s offer of alimony, coldly rejecting his efforts to make her financially comfortable. Are you waiting for your current boyfriend to join you?”
Deeply offended by the contempt in Nick’s tone, Ellie shook her blonde curls back from her face. “Not that it’s any of your business, but after the way you made me suffer in our marriage, I’m not likely to give another man a shot at making me equally unhappy.” Realizing her lips were trembling, she pressed them together, hoping Nick wouldn’t realize how vulnerable she still was to him. Turning away, she said, “I won’t remain here, that man was way out of line. I’m going back to my room.”
“Because of that common slob? I think he should leave, Ellie, not you.” Behind him, he heard the other men berating their buddy who had spoken so crudely to Ellie. At last, one of the men addressed himself to Nick.
“No need for the lady to leave. Marcel is going, right now.” They hospitably opened their circle, offering Ellie a seat at the bar. Nick did not resume his seat on the opposite side, he remained standing close by Ellie. “Let us buy you and the lady a drink to show you we are not like Marcel,” one of the men offered.
Nick shook his head. “That was immediately obvious to me. No, let me buy you guys a drink, you’ve been so kind, making your rude friend leave, so that Madame can feel comfortable here. Thank you.” He turned to the bartender. “Bartender? Drinks for these gentlemen, and a slushy margarita for the lady, please.”
The bartender nodded, and one of the men said, “Ah, you know the lady well enough to order her drink. Small wonder you defended her.”
“We used to be married,” said Nick briefly. He was amused at the gasp of surprise his words evoked.
The guitarist entered to a scattering of applause, and began to play a soft melody with a Bossa Nova rhythm. Ellie was grateful to have a few moments to herself. Nick… here. Defending me, and now he’s standing behind me. He seems to be alone… Does that mean he never married Monique, after all? Or are they divorced already? Dare I ask him…?
The barman placed the slushy margarita in front of Ellie, and began to serve the other drinks Nick had ordered. Nick slowly moved closer to the bar, until he was right beside Ellie. Lifting the vodka-tonic he had been carrying, he toasted Ellie, saying, “To a most unexpected and welcome meeting.” Ellie took a deep breath, grateful when their privacy was interrupted by the men Nick had bought drinks for. They were toasting him and Ellie smilingly. When Nick responded, she smiled at the men.
Then they were alone again. Alone with their broken marriage, in the midst of a sea of happy, cheerful people.
Want To Read More? Buy it NOW! And Get Your Copy In The Next 2 Minutes… Price: $3.50
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.