The Onyx Palace [The Collector 8] [NOOK Book]


Jasmine's husband died at war; Tabitha's treats her like a trophy. The neighbors meet two men who want to love them, but with their sites set on a tainted relic, different races, an errant husband are the least of their troubles. [Publisher's Note: This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations that some readers may find objectionable: Violence.]
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The Onyx Palace [The Collector 8]

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Jasmine's husband died at war; Tabitha's treats her like a trophy. The neighbors meet two men who want to love them, but with their sites set on a tainted relic, different races, an errant husband are the least of their troubles. [Publisher's Note: This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations that some readers may find objectionable: Violence.]
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781596324985
  • Publisher: Loose Id, LLC
  • Publication date: 7/10/2007
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • File size: 670 KB

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

She spent most of Saturday morning spying on the new neighbor's house. She even thought about having business cards printed up that read: Tabitha Mason, Terminally Nosy Neighbor.

Tabitha stood at the front window, watching the men unload the moving van that had been parked in front of the house next door all morning. Decked out in her bathrobe and sipping her coffee, Tabitha wondered about the person moving in. Funny, she thought, this was the most exciting Saturday she'd spent in weeks. Far better than spending yet another weekend alone while her husband allegedly attended to details at Hillendale's Antiquarian Specialties. Don claimed he spent his free time researching and obtaining rare and specialized fine art and artifacts for his mysterious, "off the books" clients.

"Where does he go all day?" She sighed to no one in particular. What she dared not acknowledge, even to herself, was the strange aroma of perfume on Don's clothes when he returned home at night.

She moved to sit quietly on the arm of the sofa, crossed her legs and took another sip of her coffee. She glanced around the room and snorted. "God, almost twenty-nine and still nothing to show for it. Married right out of college, no kids, no job, no hobbies, just a bored, lonely woman living vicariously through her more entertaining neighbors ... I have to get a life."

Even though today happened to be their seventh wedding anniversary it seemed just like any other Saturday at the Mason's, because Don just plain didn't care. Intent on spending their special day with his mystery benefactor, under the pretext that his profitable ends justified all her lonelyweekends, he'd be gone all day.

"More likely he's forgotten our anniversary altogether."

Tabitha had almost convinced herself she didn't mind. She should be getting used to being alone. After all, this was the third year in a row he'd forgotten their anniversary. For the third year in a row, he'd be gone most of the day and return totally clueless as to why she should be irritated with him.

Lifting her coffee mug in a mock toast, she gushed, "Happy anniversary, Tabbi darling!" "Why thank you, honey! Oh my, what a beautiful gift you bought me!" Then she harrumphed to clear her throat.

She didn't have many friends to turn to. In fact, she didn't have any. Feeling isolated and insecure, Tabitha didn't get out much to meet new friends. She'd have to remedy that, she told herself. Someday.

"Damn--dirty, lowdown, bottom-feeding, slimy bastard!" She flushed, and pushed her tiny feelings of guilt aside as she scorched her tongue gulping hot coffee.

She'd lost contact with most of her high school and college friends over the years. Nobody ever came by the house. On the rare occasion Don decided to stay home, he'd invite one of his male clients or a golfing buddy over to watch a game on television; relegating Tabbi to the role of waitress--serving beer and snacks all day.

Even when she'd hinted that he might allow her to play the piano for his friends' entertainment, Don dismissed the idea. "Now, honey, I doubt any of them would appreciate your talents."

How would they know if she didn't try?

Still sitting on the arm of the sofa, Tabitha placed the coffee cup down on the table and stretched out one of her legs. Absentmindedly, she began feeling the little stubbles of leg hair as she rubbed her fingertips along her leg and thigh. Damn! She'd have to shave them again. Smooth skin was a pet peeve of hers, something she'd obsessed over since puberty.

She studied her own reflection in the tinted window glass. Dutiful Trophy Wife. She sighed. Don owned the ultimate, macho corporate accessory in Tabitha. An exotic blonde with long, flowing hair, at five feet eight inches tall, she had long, shapely legs, a fabulous figure and flashing green eyes. A lot of people encouraged her to try modeling when she was younger, but Tabbi passed up the opportunity to go on to college. Besides, she had told herself, I'm probably too busty to model.

Pulling her shoulders back, Tabitha smoothed her hands across her belly, then struck a pose in front of the reflective glass. She'd passed modeling up once more to get married. After all, marriage was supposed to open all those wonderful doors for a woman. Instead, it trapped her in this pathetic excuse for a life. It wasn't exactly locked, but she lacked the courage to go through it, perhaps fearing it would shut behind her with an awesome finality.

Had her life completely deteriorated to the point where she aspired to nothing more than the superficial trappings of a trophy wife? She couldn't bring herself to answer the question honestly. At least she still had her music, Tabbi's thoughts backpedaled. Yeah, right!

The clatter of an appliance dolly forced her to glance one more time outside at the moving van. What in the world were those? One of the men rolled in what appeared to be two large Rubbermaid tubs carefully painted up to look like--buildings? Okay, now the mystery was laid out before her. Maybe these were some sort of art freaks.

Reluctantly leaving the scene, Tabitha stood up to walk toward the bathroom. As she passed by the one tangible memory of her grandmother she kept in the living room, her late grandmother's classic baby grand piano, Tabitha's fingers ran a smooth arpeggio along the open keyboard before she gently closed the keyboard guard.

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