The incredible sequel to Lord Carabas! Every child wants to believe his family can be salvaged. Family secrets, adulterous liaisons and long born grudges threaten to destroy them all. Jules has to use his wits and burgeoning abilities to save himself and his son when he follows Keiko to the seat of her Scottish Clan.
A close, dark, and dreary night crowded about me. It was near Lauds, but I had yet to find sleep. Everyone in this miserable castle was chasing their dreams except me. My worries for my son Jean-Paul threaded through my mind. Through the auspices of a certain merchant, John Seawell, he was well on his way to the safety of the French Court and my patron Richelieu. I had naught to send with him but his nurse and a man John assured me was reliable. When we'd put him aboard the vessel, I'd cried near as much as my child. It might be the last time I would ever see him. My last view of the boy was him screaming and trying to jump from the stern of the ship.
The room in which I dwelled on circumstances was small and stuffy. Heavy curtains blocked out the cold but held in the smoke which leaked from the fire. I stood with my back against the relative warmth of the hearth wall, contemplating my fate. As I looked about I could see that Keiko had fallen from exhaustion across the bed, still in the clothes she had worn to the wedding. She twitched with nightmares. Every so often my wife would start awake and remind me that I needed to close my eyes as well. It would not do to be exhausted for my duel.
In my fingers spun a little vial. The clear, crystal liquid within took the light of the fire and broke it into a thousand rainbows on the wall. My family's salvation was held in less than a dram of fluid. Mon Dieu, could I succeed in what I had to do? How could I ever accomplish the task set before me? The path was fraught with unknowns and pitfalls where we could be undone. I would need the strength of Goliath and the cunning of David to survive what lay ahead. I was not sure I could manage either.
But, mon ami, my apologies, I am afraid I am getting ahead of the story. This little debacle, in which I now found myself, started as so many intrigues do, with a letter.
6 Septembre 1625
I would hope that this letter finds you well, although I doubt that you would be otherwise. I, as a humble servant of yourself and a simple man, presume to address you from the farther side of the Atlantic and fix your name at the head of my trifling report. I wish these few lines were worthy of the honor you grace them with by their reading.
We have received with great joy the news that through your ceaseless efforts and the providence of God, the war with England is over. The marriage of Le Roi's sister, Henrietta Maria, to King Charles of England would have been no mean feat to be arranged. I concede your genius to be the master of my small mind. Under its invisible, but powerful, tutelage, I have prosecuted my small labors which you have permitted me under the auspices of your great name. I am awed and humbled to be in the service of a man so great as yourself. That the lands of Northern France, where as you know I was raised, have been reunited with the rest of our great country delights my heart. Let the sincerity of the motives which urge me prevent you from thinking that this address contains aught but the purest tribute of reverence and affection.
Matters here are well. Your lands are flourishing and we have received a dozen new habitants who I have faith will bring you profit from their labors. The harvests have been good and the mill sold at a tidy profit to you. This year we killed near 1,000 weight of venison, half that much of beef. Fowls are always a great stock ... we have twice a year the pleasure of catching chough, whose numbers are sometimes so astonishing as to obscure the sun in their flight. What could we wish more?
With the defeat of the uprisings of the Apalachees under the instigation of the Spaniards, and well you know I was the author of same, the Indians have been quiet. It seems that they still fear their own dark magic and hesitate to approach. We have recently welcomed a black friar who is tending to our souls and those of our savage neighbors. He has had the honor of baptizing no less than four new children, although two did not live long past their first few months.
I hesitate to ask this of you, but I am hopeful that the fortune of recent events might cause your eminence to confer a little kindness on me. My wife, Mary, would have me beg of you a small favor. As you well know, it was not Laird MacPhearson's wish that we be married as he was unaware that his daughter had left Calais and journeyed to La Florida in my company.
At least, such was the case until Mme St. Luc chose, in an abundance of largess, to inform him of his daughter's departure. Given Mary's sufferings at the hands of her Apalachees captors and her delicate emotional state upon her rescue, Le Comte DeGourgues deemed the match appropriate and took it upon himself to speak for her father in the matter. Since the birth of our son, she has taken it in her head to reconcile with her family.
Well, I understand that the terms of my pardon require my service in this land for a term of ten years and I have been here but five, but I would humbly ask that myself and my valet Curran Shee, the Irishman whom you also so pardoned, be allowed to accompany my wife and son to Scotland from whence she hails.
I await your word.
Your humble servant,
Julius Montclair LaRousse
Vidamé du Caroline
The slap of the water against the side of the Étoile Matin had become a constant feature in the past months. Before long we would be in sight of the Scottish shore. It would be some time before we had another opportunity to be alone together. I pressed up against Curran and he tried to push me away. "Jules, there's naw privacy here."
"There's no privacy anywhere on board a ship." The Irishman's back was to the inside hull. "At least we're better off this time then we were the last, non?" My lips traced down the side of his neck and Curran sucked in his breath, his black eyes smoldering.
The Irishman's arms wound about my waist. "Aye, true enough."
"I've latched the cabin door. It's a fine day. Jean-Paul will keep his mother occupied on deck. We have some time, if we're quick about it." I slid my hands under his shirt, the hard planes of his stomach tensing under my touch. I kissed his lips and his tongue snaked between my teeth. His kisses were always so hot and hungry, as though he were starved for my touch.
My fingers fumbled with the ties of his britches, loosing them, pushing them down off his hips. I drew away, my teeth grazing his bottom lip, and pulled his shirt over his head. Mon Dieu, he was beautiful there--half naked, jackboots tight on his thighs, his purple head throbbing in time to his heart. Thick black hair had drifted across his eyes, veiling their passion. He reached out to touch me and I caught his hand, kissing the tips of his fingers as I freed myself. "Turn around," I breathed, and he complied, dropping to his knees. I knelt behind him, tasting the skin of his neck and back.
Curran turned his face, viewing me over his shoulder, obsidian eyes burning. I kissed him again, biting his cheek as I fumbled for the little jar of unguent I kept in my effects for this purpose. Thank God things couldn't go far on board ship. Still, it took me enough time that he started to laugh, just a bit. By then I had it out and coated my fingers with the oil. I wrapped my arm about his chest, pulled his back against my body, and shoved two of my fingers inside him. Curran threw his head back and moaned.
"Laugh at me, will you?" I whispered into his collar, nuzzling his neck, caressing his tight channel, making him sigh in delight. "Mon amour, I can't have that." When he was slick, I let go my grip about his body.