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Paris, France, 1409
Galen Beaumont hurried home to the huge manor house his family owned on the outskirts of Paris. The day before his wedding to Simone Jourdain, he had finished some last minute errands before the grand ball his mother insisted on hosting.
The time drew near for him to dress for the occasion and his manservant waited patiently for him to finish his bath so he could help him. Galen hated affairs like this and truly did not look forward to the wedding and reception the next day, though he could not wait to marry Simone, a phenomenal beauty.
"Monsieur Galen, your father wants to speak with you as soon as possible."
Galen knew what the elder Beaumont wanted to discuss and he smiled. At nineteen years of age, he would become the owner of a financial empire including a shipping company, banking, manufacturing and other industries--all because of his upcoming nuptials. The perfect thing about it all was the company ran itself, his father being extremely successful. Another aspect to his fortune pleased him more--his father planned to remain active in the family business, allowing Galen and Simone to get settled into their new lives. Galen knew how his father schemed and allowed the man his fun.
At nineteen, Galen Beaumont had long been sought after in society circles. The gala balls during the season had many a Parisian mother pushing their daughters on him in hopes of their girls becoming Madame Beaumont. He'd met Simone the summer before, became instantly smitten with her. This pleased both families due to the financial windfall the marriage would bring, only Galen and Simone found one hugedifference with this alliance aside from others of the day. They truly loved each other.
After their marriage, they traveled the world making deals and acquisitions while Galen's father ran the companies from his office at home. The empire became huge, all those involved extremely happy and well off.
Galen loved Simone, their marriage and life together perfect, except for one thing. For years, they tried to have a family. He wanted an heir to inherit the family fortune. Every time Simone became pregnant, she would miscarry. The physical problem eluded the physicians and angered her. She wanted children--his children.
"Galen," she would apologize, "God does not wish me to have children."
Galen calmed her and quietly looked into legally taking on a ward. He found a young man named Etienne Marsden and after checking his background--he didn't want any dead relatives appearing suddenly--he took Etienne on and began his education.
Over twenty years, Galen and Etienne built the family fortune considerably while becoming, in their own ways, the corporate raiders of their time. No matter what they involved themselves in, it turned a profit. The thrill of the chase excited him but paled when it came to his wife.
Simone became pregnant in 1429 at an age considered extremely old to be having her first baby. Galen worried but she calmed him and took to her bed for the duration. The pregnancy progressed normally and with it, the hopes of having their family--finally.
"You are even more radiant than the day we met, m'lady," he told her near the end of her term.
"My husband always knows the right thing to say."
"I've always spoken my heart to you."
"I know. You've never lied to me."
"I haven't," he assured her.
"I would have known, dearest Galen."
By sunset, Simone had died. With weeks to go, she went into premature labor and both she and their baby--the son she'd wanted to give him--had been lost to him.
Their passing sent Galen into an emotional tailspin. He refused to let anyone attend her in order to prepare her for the funeral. When he finally passed out from sheer exhaustion, her maids took care of her, his manservant seeing to his Lord.
Galen went through the motions as a priest read the services. His wife and son joined other members of the Beaumont family in the crypt located behind the altar of the family's private chapel. Galen remained long after her entombment, unable to pull himself away.
Etienne finally coaxed him into leaving the crypt and helped him to his room. He looked at the bed they had shared for twenty years and swore he would never set foot in the room again. His manservant set him up in the apartment across the hall and Galen remained true to his word. This happened in July but within a month's time, Galen's life went from bad to worse.
While Etienne kept the businesses running and successful, Galen fell deeper into depression. He'd taken to the bottle and became reclusive, though his ward kept his benefactor's situation quiet.
A few weeks after Simone's death, Galen left the manor with a bottle in hand. He stumbled into the gardens, falling onto one of the stone benches. He drank more, his head spinning.