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Love Is Murder
By Rebecca Brandewyne
Harlequin Enterprises LtdCopyright © 2003 Harlequin Enterprises Ltd
All right reserved.
Chapter OneLove distills desire upon the eyes, Love brings bewitching grace into the hearts Of those he would destroy. I pray that love may never come to me with murderous intent, In rhythms measureless and wild. Not fire nor stars have stronger bolts than those of Aphrodite sent By the hands of Eros, Zeus's child. Love instills doubt in the heart and mind, Love brings enchanting days and nights into the lives of those he finds. He fills them with murderous passion. Who knows where it may lead? In rhythms measureless and wild, Cupid shoots his arrows without regard for the fatal deed. Vain, heedless Aphrodite's child. Love tills fields both fertile and barren, Love brings spellbinding ripeness to the furrows Of those who would eat of Its fruits, yet leaves them hungering for more. With murderous intent, In rhythms measureless and wild, Love comes with stars and strongest bolts to slay with passion heav'n sent By the hands of Eros, Zeus's child.
- Adapted from Hippolytus [428 B.C.], by Euripides
Savannah, Georgia The Present - Monday
The moment that she awoke, Lily Clothier - née Harlow - knew she ought to just stay in bed and pull the covers up over her head, that it was going to be one of those days.
For one thing, having suffered insomnia last night and having slept badly when she finally had drifted into slumber, she was still so exhausted this morning that even the buzzing of her alarm clock had failed to rouse her on time. For a bleary-eyed glance at the lighted digital dial informed her that the alarm had now been sounding for well over an hour - she had not even been disturbed enough to hit the snooze button - and that she had slept straight through it. At the realization, Lily groaned.
She was stiff and sore, aching in every fiber of her being from all the long hours and heavy labor she had put in this week at Mélusine's Attic, the small shop she owned. It was named after a legendary French fairy queen and located in Savannah's historic, upscale City Market, two blocks from River Street and the waterfront. All week long, Lily had worked rearranging the store's contents, setting up new vignettes throughout its rooms, which would display her wares to their best advantage. As a result, she was now bone tired.
Briefly, she thought about just not opening up Mélusine's Attic at all today. She was already nearly an hour late as it was. But if she didn't open up the shop, nobody else would. At the moment, Lily was struggling desperately to make ends meet, and as a result, she didn't currently have any employees, although she thought that by this time next year, if she were careful, she would be able to hire back at least one or two of those she had been compelled to let go. But right now, there was no one except her - and despite how weary she was, she really couldn't afford to lose a day's business.
At that thought, with difficulty, groaning again at the effort, Lily dragged herself from bed and headed toward the small bathroom that adjoined her bedroom.
Sometimes, it was hard for her to believe that only a year ago she had been happily married and without a money care in the world. Now she was completely on her own and - in part because she had refused to accept one single penny from her estranged husband, Paul - she was teetering on the edge of financial disaster.
It had taken every last cent she possessed to get Mélusine's Attic up and running. So if she couldn't make a success of it, if it went under, Lily didn't know what she would do, what would become of her. For despite the fact that, legally, Paul was still her husband, there was no way that she could ever return to him, could ever ask for his help, after the way he had betrayed her and their marriage vows. She and Paul had still been newlyweds, not even married a year, when he had started cheating on her, embarking upon a torrid affair with Zelda Rutherford, a wealthy socialite.
Like all decent, honest, trusting, unsuspecting wives, Lily had been the last to know, finding out about Paul's infidelity through one of the worst and most public ways possible: she had read about it in one of the local newspapers, the Savannah Spokesman, in Freddie Fontaine's gossip column, "The 'Delish' Dish."
Even now, her cheeks burned with embarrassment and humiliation whenever she thought about the article. Of course, Freddie had not actually mentioned Paul and Zelda by name, but even so, there had been no mistaking the identities of the "Handsome Hotelier" and the "Hostess with the Mostest" to whom he had referred in the paragraph he had devoted to the illicit couple. Even Lily had not been naive enough to think Freddie had been talking about Donald Trump and Donald's ex-wife, Ivana. Paul owned a chain of small, exclusive, expensive hotels throughout the South, and in Savannah, Zelda's parties were legendary, invitations to them highly coveted.
Now, as Lily turned on the taps and stepped into the shower, she felt her face unwittingly flame and her stomach churn sickeningly at the unhappy memories. No, if she lost Mélusine's Attic, she could not go to Paul. No matter how foolish it might be, her pride was such that she would rather wind up homeless and destitute than humble herself by agreeing to be Paul's wife again. The fact that she was actually still legally wedded to him was only a mere technicality, born of the fact that because of Mélusine's Attic, she had no money left with which to hire an attorney to free herself from the philandering husband who had destroyed their marriage and broken her heart.
That Paul himself, however, had never in the past year since Lily had left him filed for a divorce was a constant source of puzzlement, unease and anxiety to her. He certainly didn't lack for funds for a lawyer, his annual income running into seven figures.
Excerpted from Love Is Murder by Rebecca Brandewyne Copyright © 2003 by Harlequin Enterprises Ltd
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.