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How I came to writing

Like most authors, I've been fascinated by books since an early age. Because my parents were working (yes, I had a very modern mummy, ...

Monday, May 26, 2014

Love reading: The Three Musketeers (Alexander Dumas)

As I related before, I grew up mainly with my grandparent. They minded me while my parents were out working.

As a two-year-old I sat on my grandpa's knee and listened to him when he read from his favorite novels. He had a library full of French classics (he was French-speaking by birth) and he loved to read. I remember the first novel ever read to me was 'La Reine Margot' by Alexandre Dumas. I must not have known French at that tender age, but I still remember what the story is about. Funny thing, eh?

But that poor queen Margot was not my favorite story. No, that was by far Dumas' masterpiece, The Three Musketeers. First it was read to me in French, later on I read it myself in its Dutch translation and only much later I tried the French version once more. I prefer reading novels in their original language, as long as I understand it. I can read in Dutch, English, German and French.

The characters in The Three Musketeers appealed to me. As a young girl, I'd daydream that d'Artagnan was madly in love with me (while the other day it would be a handsome Native American warrior). What I especially liked about the book was the way in which Dumas mingles action, adventure, romance and a little bit of mystery. After all, we keep guessing about the identity of Lady De Winter at first.

I was also a lot interested in history - still am. Before the days of the computer, I remember reading about some historical facts in a book, and then going to the library to find out more about it. I still have a box with index cards filled with historical facts - and these come in quite handy when I'm writing one of my own novels.

Dumas definitely inspired me to write The Medici Diamonds. Of course my novel is not set in the same time frame - the seventeenth century under the reign of Louis the Thirteenth. My story is set in the early eighteenth century, when Louis-Philippe d'Orléans was Prince Regent until his nephew, Louis the Fifteenth, came of age. But I did borrow the way in which Dumas writes his epic story. I also like to mix adventure with action, romance and mystery.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Review: The Rhythm of Rain (C.L. Scholey) *****

As I've told before, I am a proofreader for Rogue Phoenix Press (next to being one of its authors, of course). I don't always like the books I go through, but sometimes I come across one I really enjoy. An example of this is The Rhythm of Rain.

Rain is a young (black) ballerina. Dancing is her passion. When it rains, she is driven outside to dance in the downpour, as in trance. She doesn’t know why she does this – this mystery is revealed later on in the novel.

Telor, who lives in the neighborhood, often watches Rain dancing in the dark. He loves the girl, but isn’t sure she has the same feelings for him.

One day, Rain meets another dancer, Jaron, in the studio. There is something familiar about him, but she can’t pinpoint the memory.

Rain has to go back to the past and solve the mystery involving her. She is helped by the two men who love her.

I found this novel well-written and keeping pace. The author sets the tone with the first pages already and you’re quickly drawn into the mystery of Rain’s need to dance.

My evaluation would be 5 stars

To give you a taste of the book, here's an excerpt:

From the recess of the darkness he watched her. Why on earth she had been named Rain he would never know. She was a tempest; she was a flurry; she was poetry in motion, and she meant absolutely everything in the world to him and more.

The storm crashed around them in the midsummer night. Thunder pounded out a staccato rhythm in sync with his drumming heartbeat. Lightning lit up the sky, zipping across the heavens—a force to be reckoned with—and still Rain danced, unfazed. Her clothing was saturated, as was his. Water plastered her white shirt to her chest, molding across the generous swell of Rain's breasts.

It was the same dance Telor had watched since he was a boy of eight and Rain was four. Ever since she and her grandparents had moved to his "nothing ever happens" little hick town eighteen years ago. Their houses were on a lonely dirt road, side by side, and backed onto a sparsely wooded forest near a small creek. They shared a gravel driveway that veered into a Y at the end.

Telor had seen Rain dancing from his window that first night many years ago—as he had tonight. Her movements over the years had matured with experience to create a story only she could tell, but didn't seem to know.

Telor remained frozen, hypnotized by her movements. Rain was a flurry of freestyle and ballet. She twirled, then dropped and crawled across the grass. Her movements were painstakingly slow. She let her head fall forward as though something were trying to defeat her.

Then determinedly, or perhaps defiantly, grass was ripped from the ground in chunks as she pulled her hands from the sodden earth. She rolled, jumped to her feet, and leaped gracefully in a grand jeté into the air over a stump. Her luscious legs stretched to their limits, one before her, one behind. Landing, Rain then spun in place with a fouette rond de jambe en tournant.

Around and around she went as the raindrops flew from her as fast as they landed. One deliciously slender foot tucked quickly behind the knee, then down, then up. All the while she whirled in place, making him dizzy as he tried to focus on her beautiful face.

Rain slumped to her hands and knees, remaining motionless for brief seconds while Telor caught his breath from the sidelines. She swung her head right then left in quick succession.

Slowly Rain stood; her body arched forward and went rigid as she let her hands slide sensually up her sides. She was on the move again, faster. She twisted and dropped, then up and spinning. Rain laced her fingers through the long strands of the tall willow tree to her right. Farther ahead she pirouetted. Whirling, turning her feet a batterie as they beat together in the air to the sound of thunder.

Telor felt his heart pound in his ears with the storm as Rain became one with the ferocity of the elements. Her movements were best described as a duende: Rain wasn't one with the dance—she was the dance. One could almost see rhythm flow through her blood with an undenied force. Making him—making him believe in an emotion so powerfully gripping, he went with her on her journey into the unknown…even if it caused his demise with his heart in his throat and his pulse pounding.

Then suddenly down Rain dropped once more and lay still, gasping, her hand to her chest. Telor clutched at his own chest, waiting. His breath caught and held. Oh God. Rain's rise to her feet was heartbreaking—a broken ballerina. With her legs shaking she fluttered her hands, but it was hopeless. Telor's eyes always went teary at this part. Her legs buckled and down she went. "Death of a dancer" was what Telor called this dramatic end.

Rain curled into a tiny ball, then emerged and drifted to her feet. It was as though her spirit came to life. Her gaze was mournful as she cast a woeful glance on where her body would be. Arms across her breasts, head bowed, she took tiny, flittering steps away from the scene as though unwilling to leave—but she had to. When she moved forward, she outstretched her hand with hesitance, reaching for something, someone.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Love reading: The Seacrest (Aaron Paul Lazar)

I don't often read modern day romance (rather prefer regency romance) but every now and then one comes across a work that catches the imagination.

One of these is The Seacrest, by multi-award winning autohr Aaron Paul Lazar. It's a romance, but not too sweet. There is also some mystery attached. As the author is male, this proves without doubt that men can write good romance too!

What is the book about? Here's a blurb:

They say it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

Finn McGraw disagrees.

He was just seventeen when he had a torrid summer affair with the girl who stole his heart—and then inexplicably turned on him. Finn may have moved on with his life, but he’s never forgotten her.

Now, ten years later, he’s got more than his lost love to worry about. A horrific accident turns his life upside down, resurrecting the ghosts of his long-dead family and taking the lives of the few people he has left.

Finn always believed his estranged brother was responsible for the fire that killed their family—but an unexpected inheritance with a mystery attached throws everything he knows into doubt.

And on top of that, the beguiling daughter of his wealthy employer has secrets of her own. But the closer he gets, the harder she pushes him away.

The Seacrest is a story of intrigue and betrayal, of secrets and second chances—and above all, of a love that never dies.

Having read the book in one sitting, I can testify it's a great read. One of those books which give you a sense of feeling good, of having witnessed something beautiful

I can only recommend you hurry to the bookshop (or online bookseller) and order your copy!

Monday, May 19, 2014

While I'm completing my next novel...

I thought I can keep you interested in this blog by posting some posts about the books I like reading (LOVE READING) or writing reviews of the books I've been reading as a proofreader for my publisher (REVIEW).

When I'm writing reviews, I'm going to rate them as well:

***** (5 stars): an excellent read, worth my recommendation

****   (4 stars): good, but lacks that ultimate polish

***     (3 stars): not bad, not good either

**       (2 stars): lacks points of interest

*         (1 star): not worth reading

Please keep this in mind when reading my future posts. Thanks.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Review 2: The Gold Crucifix

August 2012: Bookmaven623

This was an excellent historical romance. I really enjoyed the independence of the characters and how they dealt with the situations they were put into. I loved Richard and Sarah’s love story and how it did take them to the new world. I was saddened with the whole relationship with Richard’s brother. I almost felt like he was used when he was dying. I know that’s not what the author meant but it just kinda felt like Sarah was in a bad position and she used the Earl of Linfield to get security. The incorporation of Drury lane and the players was excellent. Also, the illustration of King Charles’ activities and how amorous and varied his affections could be were very historically accurate and made for a nice addition to the story. How all that fits in you will have to read the book to find out. You will love Sarah and Richard no doubt. I would definitely recommend this book and any other historical romance by Ms. Fleming.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Review 1: The Gold Crucifix

September 6th, 2012: Love Saves the World

Born in the aftermath of Civil War to Charles Davenport, a royalist, and to Rebecca Flint, daughter of the vicar of Cherwell St. Mary, Sarah Jennings never felt she fit into her family. Her mother's favorite, she was educated better than her half-siblings were and encouraged to dream grander than they were.

When her mother dies, Sarah is left alone and uncertain of what to do next. Opportunity comes in the form of Walter Carey, current Earl of Linfield -- recently returned from his exile in France. He is impressed with this clever and beautiful girl and invites her to stay at Linfield Grange as the housekeeper.

Her idyllic life and relationship with Walter is tested when Walter's younger brother, Richard, arrives from France. And history threatens to repeat itself as Sarah is seduced by Richard's sophisticated ways.

Richard is clear that he only wants Sarah as a mistress so Sarah runs away to London where she finds work in the tavern. But not long after, she catches the eye of Charles Hart, who happens to work for Sir Thomas Killigrew of the royal theatre.

Reminiscent of
Bertrice Small's Blaze Wyndham -- this is a sweeping story that takes the reader from the Civil War to Cromwell's England and finally to the Restoration and tells the story of Sarah Jennings.

It takes Sarah and Richard over a decade to discover a love that overcomes class difference. In that period, Fleming treats us to historical tidbits about the royal court, theatre life and the Great Fire of London.

This book has a lot to recommend it: it was a fascinating read. I loved how Fleming was able to blend the fictitious life of Sarah Jennings into the very historical world of Nell Gwynne and the court of Charles II.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Excerpt 2 from The Gold Crucifix

King Charles the Second of England plays a rather important role in the story. I won't tell you more, but here is where he meets Sarah for the first time:

As Hart had predicted the performance went smoothly. When Sarah appeared on the stage, her armpits were wet with transpiration. Nevertheless she said her first lines without the slightest hesitation and then became fully absorbed with her role.

She not once looked into the auditorium and therefore was not aware of the fact that most of the male audience was paying more attention to her than to the actual play.

In the royal box the king and his brother were more attentive than normal. Charles looked more than once at the leading actress, to his brother’s amusement.

“I won’t pretend Shakespeare is my favorite playwright,” the king whispered into James’s ear. “But this Ophelia… She’s a damned good actress and a pretty wench as well. Is she a new acquisition?”

“I don’t know,” James answered.

“Her name is Sarah Davenport,” George Villiers, the Duke of Buckingham, interrupted. The duke was one of the gentlemen in the king’s suit. He also was a frequent visitor of the theatre. “She is one of Hart’s new discoveries and he thinks rather well of her.”

“Davenport? Interesting,” Charles commented.

He kept silent for a while, completely forgetting the presence of the others. His thoughts lingered away and a secretive smile curled his mouth.

Oh yes, this could become a special occasion indeed…

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Excerpt 1 from The Gold Crucifix

This is where Sarah meet Richard for the first time:

It happened in the last bend of the lane, just before the clearing where the lawns and flower-beds of the manor became visible.

All at once Sarah heard the thundering of a horse in full gallop, and before she could even jump to safety, she was pushed off the road into the soft grass of the verge. She was so stunned she did not hear the curse of the horseman and how he pulled his mount to a standstill.

Slowly, she crawled to an upright position and immediately noticed the pain in her right knee. Neglecting the fact that her basket had fallen and its contents were shattered over the path--some of them trodden on--she started to rub her knee fiercely. Only then did she notice the man, who had turned his horse and who was now throwing disdainful looks in her direction.

Suddenly, she realized what danger she had barely escaped. This notion triggered a fit of anger, which became so violent she turned hot and enflamed. Returning his glances with eyes that shot fire, she snarled, "You fool! You could have hurt me!"

The look in his eyes remained cold, but the tone of his voice revealed a show of interest.

"In case you shouldn't know, let me warn you that you find yourself on private property," he said.

She refused to be intimidated and was quick to answer. "So right you are. But I am the housekeeper of the Grange…sir," and she put all her contempt into the word, "and I have every right to be here. I was walking alongside the road and you should have been more careful! The least you can do is offer your apologies to me, and if you're a gentleman, you will help me pick up my belongings."

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Gold Crucifix

When I originally wrote this story - years ago, when I was only in my early twenties! - I titled it 'Sarah Jennings' after the heroine. Since then, the story underwent various changes, but the main line was strong enough to maintain. The Gold Crucifix is the result of all these re-writes.

The action takes place in England and begins during the straining years of Civil War. Roundheads against Cavaliers, and a young woman and young man caught in the middle of the storm.

Just before the Restoration, 13-year-old Sarah learns on her mother's deathbed that innkeeper Amos Jennings is not her real father. Her mother can't tell her the name of the man responsible for her being. She only suspects he was a nobleman. She only has one item belonging to him: a beautiful bejeweled crucifix on a golden chain.

Sarah doesn't feel at home at the inn anymore. So she is glad when the local lord offers her a position at his manor house. As years go by, her intelligence earns her the job as housekeeper.

It is at Linfield Grange she meets Richard Carey, brother of Lord Walter - and his heir. Walter has consumption and will not live very long. She feels attracted to the young rascal, but realizes soon enough he will never marry her. Still she becomes a victim of his charms on the night of his leaving. Not wanting to share the same faith as her mother, she leaves the Grange and seeks her fortune in London.

There she meet Charles Hart, who is the main player in His Majesty's Theatre. He thinks she could be an actress and persuades her to give it a try. As Sarah Davenport she begins a career on stage, becoming good friends with Hart and his girlfriend Nell Gwynne.

As her success grows, Sarah draws the attention of various men - among which even His Majesty, King Charles the Second. But then Richard returns... to claim what he once owned. Hard times are ahead for Sarah, who can't say 'no' to Richard but knows in her mind he is not the right man for her.

The Great Fire and the pest play a part in this novel, as well as the restored theatre and the court of Charles the Second.

Suffise it to know that the story has a happy ending. Sarah marries the man she loves and even finds out who her true father is!

You can buy the book at Rogue Phoenix's website or an online bookseller, either as e-book or paperback.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Review 3: The Medici Diamonds

Written by Deborah McGillivray:

Who is Marguerite de Vallencieux? Marguerite does not know. There is a big gap in her memories, years missing from her consciousness, and when bits and pieces float to the surface, it makes her physically ill. Physicians have been no help, just advise her not to push it, let the memories return on their own. The problem is they don't return, and it puts Marguerite's life in danger. Someone murdered her husband, in what looked like an act of robbery, only the mysterious, shadowy figure, Le Chevalier, warns Marguerite it was a contract killing. Someone paid for her husband's murder. He warns Marguerite's her very life may be in danger and advises her to leave the city.

Marguerite does so, meets, falls in love with a Marquis and marries him, but on her wedding night, he beats her and takes a whip to her. Later, he claims to have made a mistake, that he thought she was Margot de Bassy and he was getting even for a wrong she had done him. He claims Margot has the same green eyes, the same face as Marguerite. Can Margot has some connection to Marguerite, a connection to the period in her life she cannot recall?

As Marguerite's life spirals out of control, she learns a priceless, cursed, diamond necklace is at the center of the plots swirling around her, and her memory holds to key to the riddles. Le Chevalier is out to avenge the murder of his wife,and the necklace and Marguerite are pieces in a chess game of revenge.

This is Fleming's newest book, and her writing style shows strong growth, spinning a true book of historical fiction. It's fast paced, the mystery keeps you involved, her prose showing a polished, assured style of a writer who has arrived. I hear constantly, from American readers, you cannot find old-style historical fiction any more. Thanks to gutsy writers like Fleming and the new age of technology with fresh publishers offering books that readers WANT, not what they are told they should want, you could find some super reads. It's mystery, adventure, duels in the night and a damsel in distress...in the old tradition of Scaramouche, The Three Musketeers and a Tale of Two Cities!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Review 2: The Medici Diamonds

A Scottish Lass for Angel Eyes’ Reviews
Rating: 5 angel eyes

The Title and Cover are outstanding as if a curling finger beckons the potential reader.

The plot is revealed in an almost quiet unassuming manner and as I settled into the book I could almost imagine the mystery was being woven through the story as a Navaho Lady would weave her shawl of assorted colors for each character. The author tied the entire story together and there were no loose ends. There were no ho-hum moments and I found myself going back to read again and again until I had finished.

The descriptions of the City, the characters and the time frame present the reader with a comfortable and intimate feeling that they are a part of the story. I must admit that I was wishing for the ending to be as I wanted it to be and when it happened there were some tears of joy. After all I am an Irish-Scottish Lass


A Scottish Lass

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Review 1: The Medici Diamonds

This is a review by Vivien Crystal:

Are you looking for a well-written, adventurous mystery with some historical connections to add to the intrigue? Here it is in Nickie Fleming's tale about the Medici diamonds, reputed to be cursed to whoever is the current owner but sought by thieves. In fact, they are willing to murder anyone who possesses these priceless jewels.

The tale begins with a young woman waking up in a Burgundy convent. Unable to remember anything about her past, she is dependent on her brother for her future. She experiences three marriages, fraught with convenience, brutality, and finally passionate love.

Before that dream of true love happens, however, Marguerite (or Margot as she is called by her peers) undergoes horrific nightmares about her unknown past, physical debilitation when the emerging memories strive to surface, a beating that leaves her mentally scarred but determined to protect her well-being at all costs, several murder attempts which wind up accidentally killing several people around her but which fail to remove the intended target, and finally an escape to a safe place where all of her tortured memories begin to emerge.

The returned memory portion of the novel is no less exciting than the previous sections and it is here that the reader discovers how the Medici diamonds have passed from victim to victim as well as the history of the diamonds.

The world of 18th Century France is portrayed accurately with its Prince Regent, Philippe d' Orleans and his court, as well as those constantly vying for his favor. Masqued dances, fashionable dress, the acquisition of riches to gain inclusion in the royal court, the loose marital agreements that allow and even expect affairs of the heart to supercede fidelity in monogamy, the secretive but powerful underworld of the Quartier Saint-Denis, a lost child and more fill these pages with enough action to totally mesmerize every reader. While the plot is certainly a familiar one to most readers, Nickie Fleming is adept at crafting the novel into sections that keep the reader guessing and thoroughly enjoying the progress of Marguerite's insecure journey and that of her friends and enemies.

This is a grand read - buy it and lose yourself in Nickie Fleming's imaginative presentation of France in the 1700s.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Excerpt 3 from The Medici Diamonds

This is my own favorite passage from the novel. It's the scene where Marguerite finds out she only loves one man...

Chapter 10


She had dressed in all her finery, had greeted the Regent and had done what was expected of her. But right now, she wanted to be on her own for a while. She thought for a moment, considering the risks then sent a lackey for her cape. Soon afterwards she left the interior of the palace. Outside, the cold was intense, but she did not feel it. At the deserted courtyard of the Palais Royal she found the peace she craved. She studied the twinkling stars in the firmament and wondered what the next year might bring to her. She did not startle at the sound of nearing footsteps – somehow, she had been expecting them.

“You seem to appreciate the festivities as much as I do, Madame,” spoke Lord Newton.

She turned around to look at him. “I’ll never feel at ease here,” she answered. “I really don’t belong at the court. My husband would not understand those sentiments. He wants me to shine on every occasion and win the Regent’s favor. Yet I feel out of place in such a role. It just isn’t me!”

She smiled apologetically. “Here I go again! I don’t know what makes me say all those things to you – nor what you must be thinking of me now.”

He avoided an answer by asking if she cared for a stroll. He offered her his arm and led her away from the courtyard, into the surrounding gardens. For a long time the rustle of her satin dress was the only noise that could be heard.

At last Lord Newton broke the silence. “Someone told me what happened to you this afternoon. Nevertheless you came to the ball, looking better than ever and were able to face the curiosity. I admire your courage, Madame!”

It sounded like a compliment, and it meant more to her than the sympathy Hilaire had shown. “I’m not so brave,” she however denied, sensing honesty was at its place here. “I came to the ball because I did not want to stay home with my husband.”

He let the last remark go, although he seemed to register it. “You won’t deny it was a scaring experience,” he said instead. “There may be danger for you here. Perhaps you should have stayed home.”

“That would not solve anything,” she replied. “You know, fear is a fierce emotion. It reaches a point where you are so scared that nothing seems to bother anymore – and then you become half as careful as you ought to be.”

He nodded to show he appreciated her sharp psychological insight. “I repeat: you are a brave woman. And know you are quite safe with me. Nobody will try to rob you of your jewels or money in my presence.”

She snorted. “Those scoundrels were not out for my possessions. They meant to kill me.”

He accepted her statement without apparent surprise, but because of the close contact of their arms, she sensed how his muscles tightened. Suddenly she felt a strong urge to take him further into her confidence.

“I need to talk to somebody,” she addressed him frankly. “Please hear me out.”

She told him the entire story without exaggeration, and he listened without any comment. By the time she finished talking, they had reached a frozen fountain where he let go of her arm. He did this so she could not feel how his hands trembled. He still was not prepared to trust her entirely, nor his own feelings.

“Why me?” he wanted to know when she stopped speaking. “Why not share this with your husband? He’s the one who ought to help you in your troubles.”

She did not need to think. “I am not very close to him,” she replied. “We only married because it was… convenient. I feel he’s more of a stranger to me than you are.”

He made an irritated movement which she did not catch immediately. Instead she went on: “I’ve had this feeling from the day we first met. Since then I became more and more convinced that destiny brought us together.”

“I’m afraid destiny had little to do with it,” he said hoarsely. “I saw you and wanted to possess you. Sometimes I indulge in my evil ways.”

“I don’t believe you,” she stated with inner certainty. “Not after last time. You said other things then. I thought we had become friends, so why can’t you be straightforward too?”

“Enough, Madame!”

Now his tone was rude and had the intention to hurt. He succeeded easily in this. Marguerite came to an abrupt standstill and a look of profound pain manifested itself on her face.

“Is this the way you treat friends?” she cried out. “What are you trying to prove?”

“Nothing!” he responded. “Didn’t they warn you about me, Madame? I am an outcast – and do you know why society shuns me? Because I was convicted for having murdered my wife.”

His revelation shocked her, but did not reach the objected goal. She did not turn away from him in horror.

She waved aside any possible doubt and said: “I can’t believe you’re capable of murder. There must have been a mistake.”

When she tried to lay her hand on his arm, he shook it off, with a violent gesture. “You’re wrong!” he shouted, undergoing the old hurt once more. “I could easily have killed her! I used to imagine how I’d lay my hand around her slender neck and press…press… so that she could scorn me never again. Only – I didn’t. Someone crossed my plans and was clever enough to put the blame on me. I was condemned to be beheaded, but my stepfather used his influence with the old king and got me a pardon. The sentence was changed into lifelong banishment. I had to leave France, and I shall never forget those years. The humiliation, the anger, the pain…”

“It has passed now,” she dared to remark.

He laughed unpleasantly. “Oh yes, it all turned out so nicely! My uncle, whom I never heard of since my father became estranged from his family, died of typhoid fever and shortly afterwards his two sons succumbed to the disease as well. Luck! Now I happen to be the sole heir of the Duke of Shrevenport… and because of that, the Regent restored me to my rights and allowed me to return to France. And what did I gain? Entrance to the court, and the openly displayed contempt of those who did not give me a chance to prove my innocence in the first place.”

Now she was no longer offended by his harsh words. His outburst gave her the chance to better understand how bitterness had turned him into the person he was now, and why he found it so easy to use irony and sarcasm. She realized she gained field in winning his total confidence.

“I believe you are not guilty,” she said. “Have you never tried to find out who killed your wife?”

He looked away and did not answer straight away. He appeared to be brooding over something.

“Can’t you tell me?” she urged him.

He looked into those beautiful eyes and realized she really wanted to know all. He bit his lip and pressed his nails deep into his skin, until pearls of blood appeared. Still he did not speak.

“You shut yourself off from those who care for you,” she concluded. “And I do care… You simply won’t give me a chance.”

“Marguerite, please!” It was a tortured man who spoke, a man who did not make it easy on himself. He was determined to continue on the path he had chosen. She had enough worries on her mind already. Why burden her with his guilt? “How can you understand?” he went on. “You don’t know half of the truth!”

“Not when you keep throwing such high barriers,” she stammered, losing courage at last. She swallowed through the tears that welled in her throat. Then she decided.

“I am sorry,” she said. “I won’t bother you any longer. I suppose I went too far with my curiosity. Goodbye.”

Decidedly she turned her back on him and headed back to the palace. One step, two steps, …

He felt as if his heart was being ripped out. The pain became too severe, too unbearable.

“Marguerite, don’t leave,” he whispered, finally giving up the battle with his self-discipline and needing to give in to the overwhelming desire to take her into his arms.

She stiffened in her stride and looked behind. Then everything seemed like a dream come true. He swept her into his embrace and ravished her mouth with hungry kisses which she eagerly returned.

He felt how his heart leaped up in pure joy, when he sensed her response. She completely surrendered to him, without the least bit of restraint. If it were not so deadly cold, he would have made love to her there and then. Now he lifted her into his arms and hastened to find his carriage.