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Authors: Rachael Wade

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Amaranth

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AMARANTH

Rachael Wade

 

 

Copyright © 2011 Rachael Wade

Rabbit Hole Press

Orlando, Florida

www.RachaelWade.com

Cover Design: Robin Ludwig Design Inc.

 

All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction.
Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s
imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to actual events or
locales or persons, living or dead is entirely coincidental. No part of this
book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written
permission of the author except in the case of brief quotations embodied in
critical articles and reviews.

 

ISBN: 0615495702

ISBN-13: 978-0615495705

 

 

DEDICATION

 

To anyone looking for answers. Knowledge is both a
blessing and a curse. Be prepared to commit.

 

 

CONTENTS

1. Rendezvous

2. Undead

3. The Truth Shall Set You Free

4. Birth

5. Supplement for the Wreckage

6. La
Bise

7.
Tis
Always Morning
Somewhere in the World

8. Case of the Mondays

9. Paradox

10. Confrontation

11. Unveiled

12. It’s My Party and I’ll Cry if I Want to.

13. Humanity

14. Inverted

15. Threshold

16. Fight or Flight

17. Noble

18. Vagabond

Epilogue

 

 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

 

This book would not have been possible without:

 

Dave, my loyal and (sometimes) patient rock and
soul mate, who never seems to waver despite the rain. Your support knows no
bounds. Thank you for being the most faithful, trustworthy person I’ve ever
met. It’s a privilege to stand by your side. My life will never be the same
since I met you. You are forever the Apollo to my Starbuck. So say we all!

 

My best friend, mentor, and soul doppelganger,
Pat. I don’t know where I’d be without your compassion and your support. The
Pacific Northwest horizon knows our hearts, friend, where I’m certain it keeps
them beating in its whimsical heavens. We left some of ourselves in the
mountains, so we can smell the pine, see the valleys, and watch the whales sail
around the bend whenever we’d like. Thank you for teaching me about perfection,
judgment, and learning to let go.

 

Arlene, my editor, who I am indebted to. Without
whose eyes I would have been blind, and whose natural feel for storytelling
helped shape and guide every inch of this first installment.

 

The readers: Wherever you hail from, no matter how
small your numbers, thank you for taking a portion out of your time to give
this book a chance to entertain you. I love you to the moon.

 

And last but certainly not least, God, who removed
the blindfold in more ways than one. Written thanks aren’t necessary, but
credit is most certainly due.

 

CHAPTER 1
Rendezvous

For years I imagined what it must feel like to wake up on a
beautifully dark, gloomy February day in the city that stole my heart so long
ago. Paris. The city I’ve always loved and yet had never seen until now, when I
at last embarked on my mission to free myself from the mess I left back home.
To consider the trip a success, I had to return to the States unrecognizable in
spirit. If I went home the same person, there would be hell to pay. I’d already
paid enough.

Once dressed, I shrugged on my special coat, one that cost
more than I’d ever spend on any piece of clothing again. What it represented to
me, no amount of money could buy. It made me feel Parisian. Wearing it, I could
be mysterious and beautiful, perhaps even exotic, far from the life that once
held me in bondage.
Me and my coat’s little secret.
The thought made me laugh aloud.

Cold air rushed through the hotel lobby’s doors, stinging my
cheeks while people hurried in and out. I stepped outside and did a quick
review of my plans for the day, taking the black book from my purse that held
all my notes and maps and flipping through the pages. Working on my novel and
visiting my list of must-sees were first priority, but part of me didn’t want
to plan anything my first day. I tossed the black book back into my purse,
letting the loose pages fly out into wonderful disarray.

While I waited for a cab, a man in his early twenties passed
by me walking his dog, looked me up and down with a grin. I looked away. Whoever
said the French are grumpy was wrong. Yet I never liked that sort of attention.
Partly because of my shyness, but I also had a knack for attracting only
creeps. Like the one I left back home. He loved to beat me to a pulp with his
words. Eventually, his anger made its way to my face. That’s when I knew it was
time to come to Paris. I watched the dog walker stroll away, happy to see a cab
arriving.

I instructed the driver to head toward the Louvre, using as
much of my two years of French as possible. But when I spotted a
chocolaterie
, it looked like the perfect spot to bury
myself in my Guy de Maupassant novel and crack open my journal.

“Monsieur?
Ici
,
s’il
vous
plait.”
I
offered a grateful glance toward his reflection in the rearview mirror when I
felt the cab begin to slow.

“You can walk to the Louvre from here if you’d like,
Mademoiselle,” he answered: in English.
“Bonne
journée
.”

I glanced at the front of the store before I entered,
appreciating the building’s charming character: the weathered windows and
doors, the cracks in the stone walls that looked so perfectly broken, the wood
sign above the door that appeared so flawed, so aged -- and the empty, frigid
terrace, a perfectly secluded area for writing. Minutes later, my first cup of
French
chocolat
in hand, I headed toward the deserted
tables outside the shop, struggling to pin my side to the door to push it open.
My purse slid off my shoulder and thumped to the ground, spilling my black book
with its loose papers everywhere.

I bent to pick up the scattered contents, mindful of my drink
in my free hand that it didn’t spill. Little bursts of wind sent some of the
papers into the cold slush in a flurry, making the writing a runny mess.

That’s all I had time to think before something lashed into
me, knocking me off balance. I tumbled to the ground with an awkward thud and a
wince when I made impact with the concrete, and opened my eyes to find my
chocolat
splattered all around me. I looked down at my poor
magic coat, confused and embarrassed.

A repentant voice boomed, “Oh ma’am, I am so sorry! Here,
let me help you with that. I am really sorry, I just ... forgive me?”

A tall, slender guy leaned down to pick up my things and
offered his hand to help me stand. Intense dark brown eyes, short tousled brown
hair, an earnest face. I smiled and shook my head at him, hoping I didn’t look
angered by his mishap.

“It’s fine,” I said. “This is pretty much my life on a daily
basis.” I pushed my long tangled mess of brown hair away from my face. “Wait.
Do I really look old enough to be called ma’am?” I was only twenty-one, for
God’s sake. I took his hand and stood, brushed my hands on my coat before I
looked into his eyes. I felt myself blush.

“Uh, no, I guess not. Just habit, sorry. I wasn’t paying
attention, so ... again, I apologize for that.” His eyes brightened with hopes
of redemption.

“Don’t worry about it. Thanks for helping me up and
everything.” I looked down, intimidated by his fierce eyes, although I couldn’t
look away for long. His pale skin and cheekbones were stunning, and a strange
scar above his left eyebrow, out of place among his perfect features,
ironically added to his charm. I tried to think of something to say, but the
words wouldn’t come.

“Okay, well, let me at least get you another drink. Here,
sit down.” He beat my response, gesturing to the closest table on the wintery
terrace.

“No, please, you really don’t have to--”

“I want to, really.” He kept moving for the door. “It’ll
take just a second. That looks like it was
chocolat
.
I’ll be right back.” He darted inside.

Defeated, I slumped onto the chair next to me. I was here to
change, after all. I needed to be open, to bend a little. And this guy seemed
normal enough. He looked nothing like the bastard I left back in Seattle. But
then again, looks can mislead. I contemplated his origin while I lit a
cigarette and waited for his return. I wasn’t sure, but he sounded American.

“Okay, here we go.” He handed me my replacement. I noticed
he held two drinks. “Some people think it’s a little cold this time of year to
be sitting outside like this, by the way. Mind if I join you? We could go
inside if you want.” He smiled.

“I like it actually. And sure, but please, don’t let me keep
you. I appreciate the drink though.” I sent him a faint smile back.

“The least I could do after knocking you over like that. I
was
in a hurry, but I found what I was looking for.”
He studied my face for a moment, then pointed up at the window above the shop,
diagonal to where we sat. “A relative of mine lives in the apartment upstairs,
but this is my first time visiting her new place. She’s not expecting me for a
little while anyway. I was frantic to get here. Already managed to get lost
twice.” He laughed, then sipped his coffee.

I peered up at the elegant apartment front. “This is a great
place to live. I bet your family loves it here.”

“Yeah, from the little bit I’ve heard about it, it sounds
great.” He watched me take a drag off my cigarette.

“I hope the smoke doesn’t bother you,” I said.

“No. Quit almost a year ago. Sometimes being around it makes
me want one, that’s all.”

“Oh.” I nodded, relieved. “In that case, I’d offer you one
but I don’t want to be a bad influence. A year, that’s a long time ... good for
you.” I took one last puff before I put it out.

“So, you just visiting? What brought you to Paris?” He sat down,
wrapped his arms around his chest.

“Yes, visiting.” I cleared my throat. “I’m here for my
birthday actually, just came on my own. I’ve wanted to come here since I was a
kid, and the timing worked out this year so ... here I am.” Technically, the
timing was perfect. If I didn’t get away when I did, I might’ve wound up in one
of those battered women shelters for my birthday.

“Your birthday, huh? All by yourself? Bit of a loner are
we?” he joked. “I mean, I haven’t met many people during my visits here who
came alone, except maybe on a business trip. Especially not for a birthday.” He
smiled and often looked down when he spoke, keeping his arms folded against his
chest. He seemed genuine. Humble. It was refreshing.

“Just introverted I guess. I don’t mind being alone.”

“You must be pretty comfortable with silence, then.” His
eyes bored into mine, like they were suddenly searching for something. “Do you
mind me asking what your plans are for the day? That is, if you want any
company. Don’t mean to intrude.”

Did I want to be
this
open?
My journal was sitting there in my bag, waiting for me. I couldn’t write if he
was around.

“I’m introverted, not antisocial.” I gave him a smile, saw
his smile in return. I’d put my pen to work later. “I’m headed to the Louvre. After
that, I’m not sure.”

“I can walk you there if you’d like.” He peeled his eyes
from mine, lightening the eagerness in his tone.

“As long as I’m not keeping you from your family.” I pointed
to the window above us.

“You’re not.” He stood, his face showing pleasure. “It won’t
take long. I’ll walk you there and then head back.”

I let him lead the way, this time careful to wrap my purse
high on my shoulder and hang onto my drink with both hands.

“So.” He turned to grin at me as we began strolling down the
sidewalk. “Do you know what you’re looking for while you’re here?”

“What makes you think I’m looking for something?”

“You have the
look
. The
adventurous glint in your eye. The determination in your walk. You’re taking
the city by storm, braving it all alone, searching for something. The look
gives it all away.”

While I tucked my hair behind my ear, I allowed a smirk to
spread across my face. “What, you psychoanalyzing me?”

“Guess I’m busted.”

“I’m from Seattle and needed to get away, clear my head.
Lots of drama back home, that’s all.”

“I know what that’s like. You ever consider moving here?”

“What, to Paris? Have
you
ever considered it? Where are you from, anyway?”

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