30 years of affection.
10 years of soul shattering love.
8 years of happy employment.
2 months of turmoil.
1 week of truth.
A lifetime of betrayal.
Would you have seen it coming?
Annabelle Fortin landed herself in a bit of trouble. Mandated to community service at an assisted living facility for early onset dementia she meets Jezebel, one of the residents. This is the story that unfolds over the course of Annabelle’s court ordered six month sentence. Nothing is what it seems.
“Excuse me. What are you drinking?” It was a deep, lush male voice. Mara’s head whipped around and her jaw dropped. Using her index finger, Celeste pushed Mara’s chin up until her mouth closed again and suppressed a chuckle. Turning, she noticed the body behind the voice.
“Who were you directing that question to?” she asked. Mara snorted and started to back away. Celeste grabbed Mara’s wrist to hold her in place.
“I think your friend is quite observant.” He laughed as Mara released herself from Celeste’s grip and moved another step away.
“Me then?” she asked, smiling as heat warmed her body from her belly up.
“Yes. You,” he confirmed.
“White wine spritzer. But, as you can see, my glass is half full.”
“Witty.” He grinned, flashing her a row of dazzling white teeth.
“Perhaps.” She felt a flutter in her belly. What was his angle here? She tried to work it out as he took a step closer to her.
“I’m not sure we’ve met. Gabriel,” he said.
“The biochemist with the inflated ego,” she returned coyly. His reputation was no secret. He was said to be brilliant in his field and popular with the ladies, and was modest about neither. A bachelor at heart.
“Ah, so you’ve heard of me,” he laughed. It was a deep, carefree sound that resonated. She instantly liked it.
“Celeste Fogarty.” She extended her free hand to him. He took it, gently but firmly, and turned it over before placing a kiss on the inside of her wrist. A small move, bold in its intimacy, but not outright inappropriate. If she could stop the damn butterflies demanding to break free from her belly she could analyze the moment.
“Fogarty . . .” he murmured. “Julian and Roberta’s daughter?”
“The very one,” she answered. He let his eyes roam her form—top to toe. His perusal made her squirm. She’d never been so blatantly stared at before. His gaze was appreciative though, not critical.
“I can see it now,” he said finally.
Celeste laughed. She truly looked nothing like her parents. Her mother’s blond hair and blue eyes were a far cry from her auburn locks and hazel eyes. Her mother was petite, while she was more athletically built. Her father, also blond, albeit a darker shade than her mother’s, was fit, but stocky. They loved to say she got her height, hazel eyes and brunette coloring from her grandparents. Celeste couldn’t be sure though, as she’d never met either set. Both were deceased by the time she was six and had never bothered to come to France from the States to visit.
“I hate it when people say that.”
“It was rather lame.” He shrugged. He looked to table six, where her parents were seated, and then back to her. “And, I suppose, not exactly true.” Celeste shook her head and grinned at him.
“So, Gabriel, what can I do for you?” she asked, feeling bold. From the corner of her eye she caught Mara and Matteo watching her. Suddenly she felt as if she were betraying them somehow. Leaving them out. They would bombard her with questions later tonight, no doubt.
“Épouse-moi,” Marry me, he said. Celeste felt her brows lift and her eyes grow wide.
“Very funny. I’ve only just met you!” she laughed. What a strange thing to say, she thought.
“What does that have to do with anything?” He grinned at her.
“Everything!” she replied, raising her hands in the air. His grin widened. She couldn’t help but be swept up in his dimpled smile. His carefree expressions were mesmerizing. Hell, everything thus far was mesmerizing about him.
“I’ll ask you every day until I wear you down and the only logical answer becomes yes.”
“You’re crazy,” she answered, snorting. She slapped a hand over her mouth and nose, embarrassed that she’d snorted out loud. Gabriel didn’t seem to notice or mind as he continued on.
“I’m many things. Taken by you. Frappe.” Smitten. The French word rolled off his tongue the way calm water lapped a shoreline. Provocatively. She loved the way the language here sounded. She loved listening to it. Matteo teased her love of languages by speaking his native Italian to her. Mara always joked that anytime a man spoke a foreign language, Celeste became putty their hands. Mostly, it was true. She could close her eyes and get lost in the gentle lilts and smooth sounding words of either French or Italian.
“That’s bold,” she scoffed, trying to remain unaffected by his words.
“No. Definitely,” she stated, chin raised.
“Okay, it is, but I know what I want.” Such conviction. Such allure. Curiosity to know if he was serious bloomed in her.
“What about next month? Next year? Twenty years from now?” she quizzed, deciding to play along. Her parents, still at their table, caught her eye, nodding their approval. Of course.
“Je vous veux.” I’ll want you, he answered. The conviction in his voice made her heart slam against her ribs.
“I can’t take you seriously right now, this is preposterous.” She laughed at the handsome stranger before stepping backward a step. He caught her wrist, stopping her movement. The rugged pad of his thumb grazed the delicate underside of her skin. Fire bloomed in her belly, swelling upward through her chest, warming her cheeks and surely staining them an obvious pink. Her eyes snapped to his.
“Settle for a dance with me then?” His eyes, stormy and serious, captivated her, kept her rooted in her spot. “Celeste, s’il vous plaît, juste une danse?” Just one dance. That damned French again, so fluid. So deceptively seductive. Her name sounded exotic they way he drew out the ending. She nodded her permission. He smiled a wolf-like grin, full of victory and blatant desire.
Sweeping her effortlessly into his arms and on to the dance floor, he promptly began to waltz. Looking back, that was probably the very moment he captured her heart.
Please note; Lying in Wait should be read after Jezebel
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Reading/Writing· Viola · Piano · Gardening · Pets · Coffee · Chocolates · Running
I am an avid reader, coffee drinker, and chocolate eater who loves writing. I received my B.A. from Simmons College-a while ago. I currently live with my daughter in Maine.
I’m working on my fifth novel out later this year. I’ve published Saving Caroline, 30 Days, Committed and Dating Delaney. Enjoy!
I love hearing from you so please feel free to contact me!