by Marie Astor
Twenty-eight-year old Annabel Green is about to tie the knot with her college love, an aspiring author Jeremy Blake, but her plans for an ideal wedding are rudely interrupted when she catches Jeremy kissing his gorgeous book agent.
Shell-shocked by Jeremy’s betrayal, Annabel retreats into the quiet routine of TV dinners and solitary evenings. It is then that Annabel’s best friend, fashion designer Lilly Clayton, sets herself on a mission to draw Annabel out of her shell. In an attempt to persuade Annabel to keep an open mind on dating, Lilly takes Annabel for a stunning makeover, but after Annabel passes on a date with a dashing entrepreneur, Lilly decides that more drastic measures are needed. Lilly invites Annabel to see a palm reader who gives Annabel a lucky charm that is supposed to help her find true love.
A few weeks later, Annabel meets a new love interest, and as the two embark on a whirlwind romance, she starts to believe in the power of the talisman the palm reader has given her. But what Annabel doesn’t know is that Lilly is hiding a secret that could unravel her faith in her newly found luck in love.
Within a matter of seconds, Annabel’s apprehension evaporated as she became absorbed by the magnificence of the place: regal paintings in gilded frames, ornate fireplaces, and antique furniture. It was like walking through time, but unlike most museums, this place felt alive, as though there were still people living there.
“Do you know that there is a legend about this place?”
“No. I have no idea. I don’t think I ever even saw the chateau mentioned in any of the guidebooks.”
“That is because it is still privately owned and is not open to public tours.” Etienne halted.
“Tell me about the legend,” Annabel urged him.
“Well, the legend goes as follows: the nobleman who originally built this castle was very rich. He was in love with one of the queen’s ladies in waiting. The girl was of a noble family, but she was an orphan and the queen had granted her protection, which really meant that the queen completely controlled her fate. The nobleman wanted to marry the girl, but the queen herself had an eye for the nobleman, and when he refused to be the queen’s lover, she married the girl off to an old count. The count was so old that he could barely walk, let alone consummate his marriage, but despite being incredibly decrepit, he continued clinging to life. It was then that the nobleman ordered a five-mile underground passage to be dug under the chateau so that he could see his love in secret, and that was how they met for ten years, until the old bugger died.”
“And then what happened?”
“The nobleman married his true love.”
“And the queen did not object?”
“She was impressed by the purity of love between the nobleman and the girl. You see, the story of the underground passage only became known much later.” Etienne smiled. “Of course, some say that this is nothing but a story and the secret passage was put in by one of the later chateau owners to see his many lovers behind his wife’s back. I guess people choose to believe the story they like the most.”
“I prefer the first story.”
They walked through a succession of rooms, each more opulent than the next, until they reached a dining room.
At first, Annabel proceeded to examine the room’s interior as she did with all the other rooms until she noticed that the long, rectangular dining table was set with food. She looked up questioningly at Etienne.
“I thought you’d never notice.” He grinned. “Shall we?” He motioned for her to take a seat at the table.
“You mean to tell me that this is for us?” she exclaimed in half disbelief.
“Guilty as charged.” Mischievous sparks danced in Etienne’s eyes. He was clearly enjoying the effect of his surprise.
“But is this even allowed? There are historical artifacts all over this place. What if food gets spilled or something?”
“Then we’ll just have to be very careful.”
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Marie Astor is the author of contemporary romance novels This Tangled Thing Called Love, Lucky Charm, On the Rim of Love, romantic suspense, To Catch a Bad Guy, and a short story collection, A Dress in a Window. Marie is also the author of young adult fantasy adventure novel, Over the Mountain and Back.
If you would like to learn more about Marie’s writing, please stop by her website: http://www.marieastor.com or visit her on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/marieastorcollection
Books by Marie Astor:
This Tangled Thing Called Love – a contemporary romance about overcoming one’s inhibitions, learning to tango, and finding one’s true love match.
Lucky Charm – a humorous contemporary romance about love, luck and friendship.
On the Rim of Love – a contemporary romance about the unexpected power of love.
A Dress in a Window – a collection of short stories about love, coincidences, and fate.
Over the Mountain and Back – young adult fantasy adventure novel about a boy who takes his snowboard for a ride and finds himself in a magical, hidden world he never knew existed.
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