I wrote a bunch of verses for the song that was supposed to set the tone for each chapter of this story but wouldn't you know it, I can't find a piece of paper among all the other pieces of paper that litter my world. Sigh... We'll just have to make due with what I can come up with now. I will be returning to Opening Chords at some point, but right now I'm just not in the right frame of mind. Rest assured, you don't need to read that first to understand this story.
The story is not just a series of one-shots though the timeline won't be linear and I'll be filling the blanks in gradually.
Chapter dedicated to my beta, Bards of Bedlam, who stays up to edit with me during the hours when sane people are sleeping.
As always, PLEASE REVIEW! Much love, Cat.
Late 1800s, London, England
She started as her finely tuned senses locked in on the fact that there was someone else in the room she had just entered. No, not just someone…a particular someone. No one else had her nerve endings vibrating quite like this. No one else possessed that same earthy, masculine scent. No one else could call to her essential self with a passion that reverberated throughout the ages. She lifted the candle when he approached her though she didn't need the illumination to know that it was…
"It's good to see you, Jacquette".
And no one else had a voice quite like his, a rich tenor with melting baritone notes that he used to great effect when he looked down at her with those soulful, brown eyes.
"I wish I could say the same, Andre."
"I go by Andrew, now. For some reason it seems French names are not too popular in England these days." That familiar teasing light lit his eyes but she was in no mood to humor him.
"Could it be due to residual mistrust of Napoleonic spies, I wonder?" she said, adopting his tone and tilting her head to the side. "I understand the generation who remembers the war has passed but we both know that people don't forgive such slights so easily."
The look in her eyes made him uncomfortable, filling him with the urge to drop his gaze and shuffle his feet.
She continued speaking. "Likewise, I have found it better to request that my friends address me as Jane. You may call me Ms. Anderson."
Andre looked down at her, unsure of himself for the first time in centuries. He had faced barbaric hoards in battle that had nothing on the coldness emanating from her violet eyes. "Jacque…Jane. You know I never intended to hurt you." He reached out, about to take her hand in his but hesitated at the last second and dropped his arm to his side. "You must still care for me if you continued our habit of adopting each other's names so we could find each other if we were separated. Though really, Anderson?" he queried, mildly admonishing her. It took me considerably longer than usual to track you down this time."
"Maybe I didn't want to be found!" Jacquette cried out incensed. Honestly, the man had a veritable talent for arousing her ire! "Did you ever think of that?" Of course not, he was far too arrogant for that. The words starting to spill out in an unrestrained torrent as though the dam within her that had been keeping her speech civil had finally broken. "That maybe it is just a coincidence that you could find your Christian name in the surname I've chosen…that maybe my every thought doesn't revolve around you and whether or not your degenerate hide will come searching for me once you've finished doing whatever it is that's so important that you can't make it to your own wed-"
Andre grabbed her upper arms and hauled her to him. "Didn't you think that it had to have been something important? That I wouldn't have missed such a significant event without good reason?" If she thought to ensure a victory through sheer volume or that he'd cower in the face of her temper she was mistaken; two could play at that game. "Did you ever think to ask where I'd been before you slammed the door in my face and barred me entrance to your home and the homes of all your acquaintances?"
She couldn't remember the last time he'd spoken to her in such a tone. Her eyes flashed indignant fire up at him and his lecturing words. "How could I think anything else but…that you didn't care…when you had already missed our first…I gave you another chance…I…" Her anger was stifling the flow of her speech which only served to make her more agitated.
"Yes, you did. Or at least I thought you did," he said flatly. "Am I never to be forgiven for my past foolishness?" he questioned exasperatedly. "I was young. I was…hell, I was an idiot, but I apologized and I thought we'd come to an understanding, developed enough mutual respect for you to-"
"You were!" she broke in. "I did forgive you. But for you to behave so callously again is unforgiveable. A woman can only take so much humiliation, Andre."
He didn't bother to correct her. It wasn't as thought anyone was around to hear her call him by the wrong name. "Then you should have given me the chance to explain."
"Explain what? How could you explain away visiting a brothel and then the house of your rumored mistress on the day of your wedding and then disappearing for two years? I don't need your excuses, Andre," she said bitterly. She was accusing him of appallingly dishonorable behavior and displaying an insulting lack of faith in his fidelity and his love for her. Yet…the hurt and pain in her eyes made him want to gather her up into his arms and kiss away her doubts until she wouldn't remember her heartache.
"They're not excuses," he insisted. "I know it looks bad but if you weren't so quick to paint me as a villain you'd see that I had no choice."
"No choice! No choice?" Her voice was growing shrill, shrewish but she was past the point of caring. "Oh, I have to hear this." The idea that he could somehow explain away his behavior was so ludicrous that she almost gave into the desire to laugh, something she'd only resumed doing in the last few months. "Go on, then," she urged. "What was so bloody important that you missed our wedding day but could make time to visit two houses of ill repute?"
He took a deep breath. Now that she was finally giving him a chance to explain, he wanted to be sure he made no errors. His future was at stake.
Hope you liked it.
As always, PLEASE REVIEW!
Much love, Cat