for the life of me I don’t recall ever publishing this last part, but it *is* in the “pages” section under my header. Some of you may have read it, some may not. The whole of the story up to here is published there, just click “Felicitations”. And now, I am committed to finishing this tale…can’t have Happy Ever After’s just dangling out there in cyber space, now can I? *smiling* ~nilla~
“You two are giving off sparks!” Anthony’s exclamation broke the dynamic tension in the room. Despite his size, he moved quickly through the room, which almost overflowed with antiques. He took one of Gabriel’s hands, and one of Cara’s pressing them to his lips in turn.
The interruption diffused the tension, but not the underlying lust that filled the parlor.
“Anthony, let them be,” chastened his husband. He resettled himself in the chair. It was obvious that what was unfolding here was making everyone edgy, not to mention how aroused they all were.
“I think it is time for Cara and her ghost to tell us the rest of their story…”
Outside the sounds of rain pattered against the window. Occasionally a car whooshed down the street. In the next room, the ticking of an ormalu clock seemed over-loud in the hushed tension.
“I..” she swallowed. “I think I need water. Or something.”
“Wine. I have a lovely Chateau Chival Blanc …” Anthony released their hands, and glided from the room. The rumble of wheels on the wood floors presaged his return a few minutes later. A tea-cart rolled into the parlor, set with beautiful vintage glasses, and a silver champagne bucket. He wheeled the entire assemblage over to Francois.
“Darling, if you would be so kind?”
Deftly Francois opened the bottle, and tipped it until each glass glowed ruby. Gabriel took a step, sweeping up two goblets. He offered one to Cara, tapping the rim of his against hers, then turning to tap with the two men.
“a votre sante!”
“To your health as well,” said Francois, with a wry grin. “or as healthy as a ghost gets!”
She sipped gently. The vintage was old; the wine was smooth and slid down her parched throat like a kiss. She took a breath, and another. Her head was swirling with memories. Sand under her back as he pressed her down into it, his hand on her bare breast; his shoulder trapping her on the bed by her tangled hair, as he tickled her; the feeling of being totally taken and filled with his cock as they loved one another during a sultry summer afternoon. And she recalled with perfect clarity, the feeling of sea-stained rope tying her wrists, and being spread over his lap as he spanked her bottom until it was red and rosy.
He sat beside her, hip to hip. He didn’t say anything, just lifted her hand and placed it on his hard-muscled thigh.
There was peace with him, after all. Yet she trembled.
“You left me.”
“I had orders, ma petit. One does not trifle with the Governor. I had a job to do-one that I enjoyed as much as I enjoyed you.”
“They say the sea is a hard Mistress” interjected Anthony. “Hard to take sometimes, and hard to get out of the blood.”
Gabriel flashed a smile at him, nodding. “Tis truth, my friend. She calls, you see. She lives in the blood, and demands obeisance. ”
Cara only half -listened. She was caught up in a memory loop, and clearly recalled the sight of a ship disappearing from view. She also clearly recalled the heart-wrenching pain as it sailed away with him. She took another sip of wine, and another.
“I would have ….gone with you.”
“My men would have devoured you. There is little that you would have found enjoyable on the ship. And the dangers were many.”
She shook her head. She remembered the giddy swirl of silks and satins and velvets. The gay laughter of thronging crowds.
“I came to you when I returned. I asked you to stay in your grandmothers home. To wait there for me. Do you remember, mon cher?” At her nod, he rose.
“Yet, you did not. You continued to play among the ton, play the games of lust and debauchery…”
She bolted to her feet. “I most certainly did not!”
He crossed his arms, staring her down.
“I went dancing, a few times. I was lonely. And I rode. I rode every day. I hoped and prayed every day that I would see your ship come back into the little cove, yet day after day it didn’t. The only place I could find out about the privateers was in town. There was word that there had been a battle…and ”
She stopped, her voice frozen in her throat.
“So you went to dance.” His eyes were steely.
“No.” She shook her head. “I ran to the Comte’s château for news, but he was not at home. His mistress was having a party, and I was brought to her.”
They looked at each other. Anger vibrated in the air between them.
“I would remind you two that this happened long, long ago….” Their attention swiveled to Francois. His lips curved into a soft smile. “Ah, but the anger simmers between you, still. Go on then finish it.”
“She sent me into town. I didn’t know…I’d not been into town for weeks. The villa was self-sufficient. The man who drove me had a cough.”
Her gaze dropped.
“The comte was gracious enough to tell me that it was not the Sea Urchin that had gone down, that you would be home by summer’s end.”
She gazed off.
“I…don’t remember anymore.”
He tugged her to her feet, wrapping her in his arms. His cheek rested on the top of her head.
“You fell ill, petit. Influenza ran through the aristocracy like sands through an hour-glass. Not many who contracted it, survived. When I arrived at your grandmothers villa, there was only the stable boy, and your horse. He told me that you had…that the entire staff had…contracted the disease. One by one, each of you fell. You tried nursing them even though you were terribly ill yourself. ”
“Stop…hold on a minute!” She pushed away from him. “You’re telling me you came home and *I* was dead?”
He nodded. “Tis exactly that.”
“If I may interject?” They turned and looked at Francois.
“It seems that you died, Cara, before you could forgive Gabriel for leaving on his voyage. That explains why it has carried through your spirit for all these generations. It is likely that your despair and anger kept you apart until this time, when you could talk, and work it out.”
“And now, I would suggest, that Anthony and I leave you. Your story is compelling, but for now, you need time to finish your talking. Stay as long as you need, Cara. Anthony, love, show them to the guest quarters.”
He rose from his chair, and stepped quietly from the room.