Gabriel's Quest for Love
Castillo Duarte, Long Island, N.Y. – early October

Gabriel Duarte was reading, sprawled comfortably on the sofa of his private sitting room in his parents’ castillo, when his cell phone played its little tune.


“Gabriel, it’s Jade.” Jade. My playmate on the painting trip. What can she want? She knew it was over when we got back.

“What do you want, Jade?”

“Dammit, Gabriel, you could’ve been more careful. I’m pregnant!”

Madre de Dios – pregnant. “Jade, you know I always used…”

Jade interrupted angrily. “Yeah, yeah. Well there must’ve been an accident with one. But don’t worry, I’ll deal with it.”

Suddenly afraid of what Jade might do, Gabriel said quickly, “Jade, there’s no need for you to ‘deal with this’. We’ll get married…”

“Are you out of your mind, Gabriel? Married? Playmates don’t get married. No way.”
Patiently, Gabriel tried reasoning with Jade. “I don’t mean a wedding in church with a zillion guests and all that, Jade. Of course not. I thought a quick wedding in a Judge’s chambers – so our child can be born in wedlock.”

“Gabriel, this is the twenty-first century, no one gives a damn any more.”

“Well, I do. Our Spanish relatives would use the word ‘bastard’ freely if my child were….”
“It’s your child now, is it? Well, don’t get all excited, Gabriel. I only told you because I thought you ought to know. But that’s all. I’ll deal with it.”

“That’s not good enough, Jade. You’ll need financial help, not only while your pregnancy keeps you from working, but later, for the child’s…”

Jade interrupted again. “If you think I’m going to be lumbered with a baybee, you can think again. No way would I…”

“Jade, if we get married, I can look after you. Once it’s born, we can divorce, and I’ll take my child. You needn’t be ‘lumbered with it’.”

For a moment, there was silence. Gabriel hoped Jade was considering his suggestion. His hope was soon dashed. “Nah,” said Jade carelessly. “I’ll cope in my own way.”

“Jade, this isn’t something we should be discussing on the telephone.

Are you at your place? I’ll come right over and….”

“No, I’m not at the loft. And there’s nothing to talk about, Gabriel.

I’m going to my sister’s. She’s a born helper of the needy. And right now I need a place to stay, all that boring stuff.”

“Jade, there’s no need to go to your sister— I’m more than willing…”

But Jade had hung up.

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The Dark Castle Lords