Chapter 1 Excerpt [4]

James took a deep hit as he surveyed the scene around him, and while he slowly exhaled, a tiny smile tugged at his lips.  Perhaps he was slightly amused by the pairing of men and women that engaged in conversation, either hoping to form relationships or just have a friend for the evening.  Then he realized someone was sitting next to him, clutching his hand with tenderness.  The scent of her perfume wafted up his nose as he turned his head, and there she was—his goddess.  It had been quite some time since he had seen her, and for a moment he was overwhelmed by the vision of beauty that sat beside him, just the same way he had been when he surfaced earlier.  However, Sacha had failed to notice any change, thus not suspecting her husband was any different than before.  James managed to make the transition as painlessly as possible, mostly because he wanted to surprise her at the right moment, not so much due to taking pleasure in the deception.  He was aware of everything that had transpired while he quietly hibernated and felt it was time he woke up to be more involved.  Jesse was strong enough to handle the details, but James knew that he was better suited for anything that might happen as a result of the decisions his other half made.  Unlike his counterpart, James was not jealous of Lance, but that did not stop him from keeping an eye on the gentleman that was currently asking Sacha for a dance.

When her hand slipped from his grasp, James helplessly watched as she walked away with another man.  The gesture was a bold one, and he could not figure out why Sacha had agreed to the proposition.  It was certainly uncustomary to be so forward with the Queen, and Lance should have known that.  James’ gaze followed them over to the dance floor—which was built right in the sand, slightly elevated and surrounded by mats to keep the tiny grains from intruding too much on the polished marble surface—where the no shoes policy prevented scuffs.  Nonetheless, couples were appreciating the serenade of an old record player as it blared a slow waltz.  Sacha was so graceful as she swayed in time to the music without missing a beat, but her partner seemed to have difficulty keeping up.  James laughed to himself while Lance stumbled over his own steps, which visibly embarrassed him slightly.

“Well, I might as well go rescue them both from this situation,” James muttered, “and teach that boy how to move.”

Silence filled the air, causing those who had been enjoying themselves on the dance floor to disperse for a rest.  Sacha politely thanked Lance for his company and excused herself to obtain a drink.  A new record was placed on the player, and her foot unconsciously tapped to the lively swing tune.  James prepared for the moment, removing his jacket as well as unbuttoning his shirt.  Then he made his move, approaching her slowly before pausing to extend his hand.  How glorious it was to gaze upon her and once again see the sparkle in her emerald eyes when she smiled.  That was all he needed to feel as though he was victorious in deceit.  No suspicion arose from her, and it was doubtful if she even knew about the change as they headed back out to the dance floor.

What happened next could be described as one of those moments where the only two people that existed on Earth were right there in the middle of a slab of marble, out on the beach where waves that crashed a few feet away reflected the moon above as music filled the air—they could hear it and feel it in their bodies.  Their dancing was poetry in motion, each step as fluid and smooth flowing as the waves out on the ocean.  As their lips met in a salty kiss, Sacha was transported back to that night James had invited her out to dinner and they danced the hours away.  With the vision firmly in place, she had not been expecting to visit such a memory.  Pulling away, she stared at her husband as the rest of the world fell back into place, knowing that she could not get emotional in front of so many people.  Instead, Sacha took his hand, then lead him to a more secluded area where they could have some privacy.

They embraced on the rocks, once again locking their lips in passion as the waves crashed below, throwing spray into the air behind them.  Sacha had to pull away, slightly taken back by the lust that raged through her, wondering what had caused such a thing to happen.  It was not often that her thoughts were of a sexually explicit nature or so graphic in detail, paired with the desire to act upon them.  However, remembering to maintain her stately disposition, Sacha held fast to James’ hand as they casually rejoined the party.  Their guests barely even paid attention to the fact that the pair had disappeared, as everyone had been far too busy drinking and dancing.  Very few eyes actually spotted them walking in from their secret conference, except for Lance.  There was something important he wished to discuss with the Queen, and while aware that he may be overstepping his boundaries by separating her from the King once again, the intrusion would have to be forgiven, as what he needed to tell her was worth the retribution.  Before making an advance, Lance built up his courage with a few shots of whiskey, his sight set upon the emerald-eyed Queen.  Many stories had been told of her bizarre beauty, but nothing properly prepared him for that first time he saw her, understanding how infatuation could easily cloud a man’s mind.  However, his motive was not driven by any sort of lust, just something personal he needed to do.

Lance confidently made his way towards the couple, the mission clear and unpreventable in his mind.  With as much politeness as he could muster, he posed the question, “Might I have a moment of your time?”

“Certainly,” Sacha replied.  “Jesse, would you kindly excuse us for a moment?”  I promise that I will not be gone for long.”

James gave no protest and could only watch as her hand slipped out of his as once again she walked away with Lance.  Jealousy begged to fill him with rage and wanted to send that animalistic part of him towards the suave gentleman who had Sacha’s undivided attention.  However, realizing that a conversation was quite harmless, he held the anger at bay for the moment.  One wrong move on Lance’s part would be enough to set James off though, and so he kept an eye on them as they removed their presence from the party.

“Now what is this all about?” Sacha demanded.  “I want you to know that this is a bit rude.  These people expect me to be with my husband, but you keep separating us.”

“My Queen…I am most apologetic for my behavior, but I assure you that I do not mean to cause any trouble.  I simply need to share some information that may prove to be useful.  I am aware that this is not the most appropriate time or place, but I no longer wish to deprive you of the valuable knowledge.”

“Of course,” Lance replied, attempting to seduce her with a smile.  “My intention is honest, and sometimes being polite can be misinterpreted.  I will refrain from making you uncomfortable, if so desired.”

“Just get to the point, for I grow weary of this situation, and I am not sure if it even deserves my attention.”

“I assure you that you are not wasting your time by lending an ear.”  Lance paused and removed a small flask from his jacket pocket, taking a long drink before continuing.  “There are secrets about your past that I was entrusted to guard you from.  Damien was my employer at one point, and he had me take care of the ticket box for the sideshow as well as some business on the side.  My most important job was to keep an eye on you from time to time as a personal favor to him.”  Lance produced a photograph from his other pocket and slid it into her hand.  “I want you to look at this.”

Sacha obeyed despite the confusion that filled her.  Two of the people were easily recognized as Dean and Damien, but she struggled to place names on the women they were posed with.  “Who are they?”

“The one on the right is your mother,” he softly replied.  “That is her sister.  They were Siamese twins.”

“Why did he not tell me?” she demanded, on the verge of tears.

“He was unashamed, but did not want it to be common knowledge that he had to share the woman he loved with someone else.  They were all quite happy together, from what I am told.”

“It is hard for me to believe that Damien would hide something of this magnitude,” she quietly remarked.  “Hell, Dean was not completely honest with Jesse either!”

“Neither of them wanted people gossiping about the strange relationship.  It was not for public display.”

Sacha carefully wiped away her tears.  “Love is a beautiful thing, no matter what form it takes.  Damien should not have felt so compelled to keep this from me, but I understand his request for privacy, and there is no reason to be angry with him.”  She paused as she gazed up at Lance.  “Out of all people, why did Damien trust you?”

“Only family can be trusted, Sacha.”  He paused to take a deep breath and gazed into those lovely eyes as he replied, “I am your cousin.”

“How…how is that possible?” she asked with surprise.

“Your Aunt Lila fell in love with Dean.  I was unplanned, but these things happen.”

Her mouth gaped open as her thoughts collected all the pieces and assembled them together.  “That makes you Jesse’s half-brother!”

Lance smiled as he lit a joint.  “Correct.  This is why I have no intention of taking you away from him.”

“We must share this news with him,” she said with excitement, turning to head back to the party, but Lance was holding onto her.  “What are you doing?”

From a distance, James had no idea as to what the conversation was about and certainly unaware of the photo Lance had given to Sacha.  He could only see another man gripping his wife’s arm, and the scene certainly disturbed him.  It was that one thing needed to push him over the edge, and he had reached the limit of his patience.  James slowly made his way through the crowd, fixated on the man who clutched Sacha’s arm as though he were allowed to make such a bold gesture.  Anger was an electric spark that flowed in his veins, his mind set and determined to carry out a perfectly covert mission.  Slipping up behind that suave gentleman, James pulled Lance away by his collar, wanting to pummel him the moment he turned with surprise plastered on his face.  It was something that almost made James laugh, as he was always amused by such a helpless expression.  However, there was internal struggle to remain calm, lest his decisions be made by an unstable mind.  Fists were clenched and ready for battle, but only if it was necessary, not because he desired to cause Lance bodily harm.  There was only one being who prevented him from doing that, and it was the beautiful woman standing beside him.  Sacha had a way of keeping the rage at bay, even if he could not figure out how she managed to do so.  It was for her benefit that James refrained from carrying out the actions planned in his head.  Instead, he was convinced to handle the situation without having to resort to violence.

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