Marriage and Miracles(5)

By: Miranda Lee


The only good thing to come out of the horrors of the past week was that she not only found out her mother's identity, but had discovered, with a degree of relief, that the man who she had thought had been her father all her life and whom she had never been able to love was not her father after all!

'Byron tells me Lenore is having an affair with Zachary Marsden,' Celeste whispered. 'Apparently, they intend to marry next year after he's divorced his wife.'

'Yes, I know.'

'She's no danger to your marriage, Gemma.'





'Yes, I know that too. Now.'

'Better late than never.'

Gemma smiled across at her mother. 'Is that how you feel about marrying Byron?'

Celeste grinned. 'You'd better believe it. I can't wait to hog-tie him to me forever.'

'When's the big day?'

'As soon as we can arrange it. No long white dresses or anything. Just a simple ceremony. I have no patience with frippery at my age. All I want is Byron's ring on my finger.'

'And all I want is my Nathan back again.'

Celeste sighed. 'Are you sure your love for this man is not blind, Gemma? Do you know what you're dealing with? You were very young when you married him. Just twenty. You're only a few months older now.'

'You were only seventeen when you fell in love with Byron.'

Celeste shook her head. 'That's different.'

'How?'

'Will you two women stop whispering together?' Byron hissed down the line. 'The curtain's about to go up.'

Celeste patted his arm. 'Keep your shirt on, darling.'

'It's my shirt I'm worried about,' he grumbled back. 'I've put a hell of a lot of money into this play.'

'Don't worry, if it bombs I'll sell my yacht and give you the proceeds.'





'I just might keep you to that!'

'Sssh,' someone in the row behind them said as the lights dimmed and the curtain rose.

It wasn't long before everyone was silent and totally engrossed in what was going on on stage.

Gemma soon realised why the play was called The Woman in Black. The heroine, played by Lenore, was a widow in her mid-thirties, whose elderly husband had just died. Her wickedly handsome black-sheep stepson showed up at the funeral and immediately created an atmosphere of tingling suspense and sexual tension. It quickly became obvious that he had once had an affair with his stepmother and the affair had resulted in the birth of a son who the dead husband believed was his and who was now heir to the bulk of his estate.

Towards the end of the first half of the play the widow was once again in danger of being seduced by her evil stepson. He came to her bedroom the night after the funeral, where by some very devious and seductive manoeuvres he succeeded in binding her hand and foot to the bed. He was about to cut her nightwear off with a pair of scissors when the curtain came down.

'Good God,' Celeste let out on a shuddering sigh as the lights came on. Slowly, she turned wide eyes towards Gemma. 'And the man who wrote that is the man you love!'

Gemma flushed fiercely. 'It's only a play, Celeste. It's not real!'

'Still...'

'My God, I'm on a winner!' Byron exclaimed excitedly. 'Just look at the audience. They can't stop talking about it. I knew when I first read the darned thing that it was a powerfully emotional and erotic drama, but to see it enacted...' He shook his head in disbelief and admiration. 'Lenore's quite brilliant, isn't she? And that that chap they've got playing the hero is simply incredible!'





'He's hardly a hero, Byron,' Celeste remarked drily.

'You know what I mean. Besides, I'll bet there isn't a woman in this theatre who'd say no to him if he put his slippers under her bed.'

'You could be right,' she said, revelling in the look of instant jealousy that burnt in his intense blue eyes.

'In that case, I'm not taking you to the party afterwards. That devil will be there. Gemma can go alone!'

'I doubt she'll mind that,' Celeste muttered, thinking Gemma might not want her father to see what she was up to. Despite Byron's passionate nature, he was basically a man of old-fashioned principles. It was the man's place to do the chasing, in his opinion, not the woman's. Seduction was not supposed to be a woman's domain. He was still coming to terms with Celeste's liberated views and would not condone his daughter doing her darnedest to get her husband back in her bed by the methods she obviously meant to employ later tonight. Celeste decided it might be wise to coax Byron away from the party afterwards as early as possible.

She didn't think she would have any trouble.

Her hand came to rest with seeming innocence on his thigh. 'Don't be silly, Byron,' she said, her eyes locking on his. 'You'll be expected to attend. At least for a little while,' she added, dropping her voice to a husky whisper, her hand moving ever so slightly up his leg. 'But I see no reason why we can't slip away early. If Gemma wants to stay and talk to Nathan she can go home to Belleview in a taxi.'

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