In A Dangerous Marriage, Julia Davenport’s social life has drifted into a backwater. Then she meets Peter Medea at a business reception in New York City. She is drawn by his aura of power and erotic magnetism and is lured into a hasty marriage. By indulging her compelling emotional and physical needs she finds immediate gratification, but at a devastating cost. Her romantic adventure turns out to be fraught with conflict and betrayal. And she becomes unwittingly involved in her husband’s shady business transactions, forcing her into unwanted intimacy with the sinister man who masterminds these schemes. She finds support in friendships with a victim of his fraudulent machinations, and others. She is nurtured and encouraged by a man who emerges from her past. But Julia alone must overcome the threats to her self-esteem, happiness, and well-being, which are the destructive consequences of her earlier surrender to passion.
Readers say this about A Dangerous Marriage –
Wow, what a page turner! Compelling and sexy, with the added intrigue of the nasty part of the financial world. Great story. Constance Fulenwider
A Dangerous Marriage is extremely well written. The characterization is great – the reader comes to know the characters really well. I didn’t want it to end. Natalie Lee
I loved A Dangerous Marriage. I really was glued to the plot and felt totally involved with the characters. It is written with great sensitivity and the story line moves along compellingly. This is a terrific novel! Judy Bross
In A Dangerous Marriage, twenty-six-year-old Julia Davenport’s social life has drifted into a backwater. Then she meets Peter Medea at a business reception in New York City that she’s attending as a favor for a friend.
She is drawn by Peter Medea’s aura of power, apparent financial success, and erotic magnetism and is lured into a hasty marriage. By indulging her compelling emotional and physical needs she finds immediate gratification, but at a devastating cost. Her romantic adventure turns out to be fraught with conflict and betrayal. And she becomes unwittingly involved in her husband’s shady business transactions, forcing her into unwanted intimacy with Marco “Denny” DiNiro, the sinister man who masterminds these schemes. She finds support in friendships with a victim of DiNiro’s fraudulent machinations, and others. She is nurtured and encouraged by Danny Johnson, who has emerged from her past. But it is Julia alone who must overcome the threats to her self-esteem, happiness, and well-being, which are the destructive consequences of her earlier surrender to passion.
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.74(d)|
Read an Excerpt
A Dangerous Marriage
By William W. Blunt
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2012 William W. Blunt
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe private upstairs room at 21 Club in New York City exuded a plush variety of elegance with its heavy burgundy damask curtains, brocade wall covering and busy, oriental carpets. As Julia Davenport and her escort for the evening entered, she saw groups of well-groomed men, most of them probably in their forties and fifties, dressed in somber colors except for the occasional flash of a yellow or red necktie, drinks in hand, engaged in serious discussion. A crowd of uniformed waiters, unobtrusive but efficient, bore platters of hors d'oeuvres and glasses of champagne on trays and filled orders for other drinks. A well-stocked mahogany bar attracted an intermittent stream of guests.
The men were joined by a few women in smart business outfits, professionals who had not had time to change after work. Then there were wives or other female companions. They seemed to be on display, like exotic, plumed birds, posturing as they hung on the outskirts of the men's conversations or chatted among themselves.
Tall and slim, with short, dark hair, Julia wore the only garment she owned that was suitable for evening: a black cocktail dress, a designer label that she found marked down twice at an upscale second-hand clothing store in Philadelphia. She hoped it would look sufficiently cosmopolitan for the occasion. In any event, in the presence of this crowd of complete strangers, she felt more like a spectator than a participant.
She had come with a man whom she had dated for a while during her last year of college. His call and invitation came as a complete surprise, but when he asked her to accompany him to a large dinner party in New York City, even though she couldn't afford to stay there overnight, she accepted with alacrity. She realized as she heard his invitation on the phone—she barely recognized his voice—that this could be the opportunity she needed to emerge from the relative seclusion she had been forced into after college.
She had become painfully aware that while she was coping with graduate school, her challenging new teaching position, and caring for her ailing mother before her mother's death, her social life had drifted into a backwater, like one of those scooped-out places she remembered along the bank of the trout stream in the woods near the house where she grew up. When she was young, she had sat for hours marveling at the objects floating there, lethargically, in perpetual circles, with no apparent means of escape. Now, she might finally have a chance to break out, to gain direction, and she became determined to do what she could, if not to catch up, then at least to push herself back into the main current.
It developed that her friend, an attorney, needed to make an appearance earlier in the evening at a business reception that was to be a celebration by a large corporation congratulating itself on acquiring a smaller company. He and the law firm he was with had worked on the deal. He was to attend to help ensure that the fairly large room looked appropriately crowded. After "showing the flag" at the reception, they were going to the dinner. She had faced the prospect of the reception with a vague sense of apprehension. But it was, she thought, a small price to pay to gain the rest of the evening.
Soon after their arrival, her escort was drawn into an earnest discussion from which she was gradually expelled by virtue of the enthusiasm of the others, men, who edged themselves toward the center to hear or be heard. Julia took the opportunity to look with mild curiosity around the room.
In a few moments her gaze came to rest on a man she had noticed earlier in passing. Now that she was free from other distractions and he was absorbed in conversation, she could take him in at her leisure. His hair was jet black and combed smoothly, straight back. His skin was deeply tanned. His imposing nose reminded her of a hawk's beak, ready to strike, and his prominent brow and well-defined, slightly pointed chin all contributed to a predatory image that was enhanced by a certain feline smoothness to his movements. What had caught her attention from the beginning, she decided later, was his aura of animal vitality.
He was confident, she could tell, even cocky, as he held forth to the circle of men that had formed around him. He might be in his late thirties, more likely early forties, which was young for this crowd of listeners, but they all seemed to be working diligently to make eye contact with him. They smiled wisely, and nodded gravely, when he spoke. He was shorter than most of them, but still seemed to dominate: a lion among a gathering of nervous water buffalo.
When her escort reemerged, Julia asked him about the man she had studied with an interest that she found had grown in intensity more than she chose to express. She learned that along with the top people of the two companies, he was something of a celebrity here. In fact, he had brought the companies together, making the acquisition possible. In doing so, he had earned a substantial commission. He had a lot to celebrate.
Later, her friend ambled off to get another gin and tonic. Julia was still working on her first glass of white wine, which had warmed to an almost cloying sweetness in the ample bowl of its glass. He left her on the edge of a small group of lawyers from his firm. Their discussion, with lowered voices, did not include her. She could hear only disjointed fragments of their conversation, but, so as not to appear abandoned and alone, with mounting embarrassment, she feigned interest.
She was startled to recognize, close at hand, the voice of the man who had intrigued her so much from afar. It was a resonant baritone, yet its effect was intimate, bestowing on her a flattering exclusivity. He spoke with a hint of a foreign accent. She turned. He was smiling broadly, looking directly at her. His eyes were dark brown and impenetrable, like well-polished mahogany.
"We haven't been introduced." He held out his hand. "I'm Peter Medea."
His grip was firm.
It took her a second to recover. Then she smiled back. "Hello."
"And you're Julia Davenport." He held her eyes with his.
"How did you ...?"
"No, I'm not psychic," he said. "You were on the guest list. I always try to find out who it might be worthwhile to get to know. I hope that doesn't sound too calculating. Anyway, I found you by matching you with your escort."
"Well, what makes me so 'worthwhile,' as you put it?"
"My secret. For the moment, anyway. But now that I've seen you, that we've met, so to speak, I'm beginning to feel as though I'd like to get to know you with or without a reason. What do you say?"
"Sure." Julia hoped she did not betray her surprise.
"Well, we won't have much time now." Peter glanced in the direction of the bar, where Julia's escort was engaged in dialogue with another man while waiting for his refill. He pulled a slender, black leather appointment book and a Mont Blanc pencil from his inside coat pocket. "When can we get together?"
"I don't know." Julia hesitated. She was having a hard time catching up to the pace at which this man moved.
"How about dinner tomorrow evening?" Peter offered. "That's Thursday," he added, as if she might not know without her own appointment calendar in front of her.
"Here?" Julia knew she could not stay in New York.
"Here if you like," Peter smiled as he looked around the room in which they were standing, "although the atmosphere is a little more intimate downstairs."
"I'm terribly sorry, but I can't," Julia said. "I'm going back to Philadelphia tonight, and back to work tomorrow. Today was a school holiday."
"You're in school?" Peter raised his heavy black eyebrows.
"I teach. I'm a high school English teacher. In the inner city. Philadelphia. I thought you looked me up?"
"I did, but not for that." He smiled, then looked back to the appointment book. "In Philadelphia, then?"
Astonished, she tried to remember what she was supposed to be doing the next evening. Wouldn't she be correcting test papers to hand back on Friday?
"Yes," she said after a moment, "that would be lovely."
"Will you be free by, say, seven?" Peter's writing instrument was poised. His lips were full and sensual. He curled them in as he concentrated.
"How can I reach you?"
They exchanged telephone numbers and email addresses. He would pick her up at seven and take her to dinner. He did not say where. He would have to leave for New York by ten, so she needn't worry about being up too late.
Just then they were joined by a tall man, probably in his late fifties, immaculately groomed, swarthy, and heavy-set, filling out his well-tailored, double-breasted navy-blue business suit with an effect of solidity rather than the softness usually associated with such girth. He took Peter's elbow, as if to usher him off without further ceremony, but stopped, glancing in Julia's direction for a moment. Then he gave her an up-and-down, unhurried look, a leisurely but thorough appraisal, which brought a flush to her cheeks. Embarrassed by her instinctive dislike of this intruder, she looked back to Peter, who seemed frozen in place for an instant, his expression oddly neutral, his lips formed in a tight line.
Finally he spoke. "Julia Davenport, this is Marco DiNiro, chairman of Grendel Holdings, our host for the evening, and my valued client." He turned toward Julia. "Marco ..."
But before he could complete his formal introduction, the large man interrupted him. "Call me Denny, my dear. And if you ever get tired of Peter's company, please remember to get in touch." He gave her a brief smile and an elaborate wink. He loosened his grip on Peter's arm. "Now, though, I'm afraid I need your friend here for a moment." He gave Peter a meaningful look before he walked away from them to a small cluster of men that seemed to be awaiting his arrival.
"Well," Peter shrugged, "I guess business must come before pleasure. Isn't that the way it usually turns out?" He offered her his hand. "Until tomorrow evening then?"
"Yes," she said. "Tomorrow."
At that moment, Julia's escort returned, but her gaze followed Peter Medea. She knew she was already strongly drawn to this man, so compelling and yet so seemingly manipulative. She watched him walk quickly toward the small group that had collected around Marco "Denny" DiNiro, his important client whom she had found strangely threatening. She marveled that Medea had singled her out for his attention. That she had been the subject of his research, and, apparently as a result, had attracted his interest even before he met her. Why? Still she was flattered, and gratified, and welcomed this break in her solitary routine, this opportunity to expand her horizons.
She wondered, should she have been more cautious in her response to the surprising urgency of Peter Medea's advances? But if she had been, would she ever see him again?
Chapter TwoThe announcement reverberated through the vast marble hall of Philadelphia's 30th Street Station as Julia, the strap of her purse slung over her shoulder, dragging a suitcase on rollers behind her, strode quickly toward the gate. The rumbling pulse of the arriving engine and the sleek passenger cars it was pulling shook the floor under her hurrying feet.
In a dark suit, chosen carefully from her meager wardrobe, that she hoped was dressy enough for the occasion, she bent slightly to the weight of her load as she rushed to board the train. She knew she had a few minutes before it was scheduled to depart, and that it would take a while to unload and receive passengers and baggage, so when she reached the platform and saw that some people were still disembarking while others waited to board, she should have felt reassured. Yet she could not quell an undercurrent of mild panic that caused her heart to race, and she knew that her unease would not subside until she was inside, with the doors shut.
After she settled into a seat next to a window, a man sat down next to her, on the aisle. Middle-aged. Like Peter, she mused ruefully. He had helped her heft her luggage onto a nearby overhead rack and was now pointedly immersing himself in the Wall Street Journal. Good. She looked forward to turning her attention to the surprising way her life seemed suddenly to be unfolding. Before long, she would be walking up the ramp at Penn Station in New York City, to be, once again, with Peter Medea. She wanted this, had anticipated it often in her thoughts since she had seen him last, when he had taken her to dinner, but she knew that the stakes for her could be much higher this time than before.
The events that had led up to her being where she was at this moment—on the Metroliner, reaching its cruising speed toward her destination—had rushed past her too quickly. The demands of her work this close to the end of the school year and preparing for her summer job, had not left her enough time to contemplate them. To savor them, yes, but also to understand their meaning. Because, even as she looked forward to this next episode in what had come to seem to her as an exciting adventure, she could not shed the uneasy feeling as she embarked on it that she was not doing as much as she should to control her own destiny. As she turned away from her traveling companion to look out the window, she realized that this was her first real opportunity to sort out these conflicting feelings about Peter, even though she knew that by being here in the first place, she had committed herself to taking the next step.
In spite of her good intentions, though, she found herself distracted by the voyeuristic glimpses the view from the moving train afforded her of the back yards of tenements, a woman hanging clothes on a line, a courageous effort at a communal vegetable garden, the rear of a scruff y auto shop. The zoo magically appeared, only to glide swiftly out of her line of vision. Then a more suburban kaleidoscope—tree-lined streets, garden apartment complexes, town squares, and low station platforms fronting parking lots full of commuters' cars, SUVs and pickups—sped past.
But soon, her thoughts were relentlessly drawn once more to the purpose of her journey. She still stared out of the window, but now with unseeing eyes. She realized that she had become strongly attracted to this man, much older than herself, who had come bursting into her life, virtually from nowhere. She wondered what his desires might be. She tried to understand her own, and what the possible consequences, good or bad, might be of her trying to attain their fulfillment.
She pondered the outcome of their evening together in Philadelphia, such a short time ago. Even though it was he who had suggested it, she had still been surprised, and flattered, when this obviously busy man, drove (was driven, in a limousine, to be accurate) all the way from New York in the middle of the week to have dinner with her, as he had promised. At first she was on her guard. Their conversation had been easy, but light. He professed to be interested in her thoughts on various topics, her opinions. Maybe he was. Or maybe it was simply a technique he employed to put his companion of the moment at ease, one reason he was so successful (she assumed) in his business dealings and, she imagined, with women. In a short while, though, his companionable manner won her over. She found that when he spoke she was interested in what he had to say. She had been pleased, too, and relieved, that after all his effort in coming there, he maintained respect for the distance that she instinctively kept from him this first time they were together.
It seemed to her almost as if the two of them had stepped out from the party in New York for a while for some fresh air, away from the noise and frivolity inside, each to learn who this other person was in whom they had seemed to become so interested. In retrospect, though, she realized that he had learned far more about her than she had about him. Beyond his gracious manner, and his apparent feelings for her that were evidenced by his being there at all, and the interest he showed in her, she knew little more about him at the end of the evening than she had before she had first greeted him at its beginning.
Before they parted, he had asked her to spend a weekend in New York as his guest. He would arrange for her travel. He did not suggest that she stay in his apartment. Instead, he offered to put her up in a nearby hotel. It was with only a hint of apprehension, an unidentifiable, and therefore presumably insubstantial, concern that she had accepted his invitation. But now she was overcome with an ennui born of confusion. Was it wise for her to be spending a weekend alone with Peter so soon after their first meeting? What message would it convey to him? What did he want of her? What, indeed, did she, whatever she might like to admit to herself, want of him?
Excerpted from A Dangerous Marriage by William W. Blunt Copyright © 2012 by William W. Blunt. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.