Dark Intruder by Lyn Hamer Cook
EXCERPT, Chapter One:
Newly married, Lady Jane Biltmore agreed to her husband's wishes that she journey with him by coach from their London estate to their summer home in the North Yorkshire Moors.
Bound by matrimony at the behest of her family to a man twice her age, she planned to keep her mind and body occupied with the task of running a large household of servants and groundskeepers.
Even though she was still considered a handsome woman by some, with her angular features, red hair, and green eyes, she was beginning to feel her years. Thirty was no longer considered youthful. Far prettier and more vivacious than Jane, both of her younger sisters had been taken to the altar before her. Jane had always possessed a wicked wit and sharp tongue. She spoke plainly and the men to whom she had been introduced throughout the years had found these traits in a woman unbearable. When Lord Biltmore had expressed interest in Jane to her parents, they were thrilled. He was a man who could provide her with every material need. Upon his proposal, their fears that Jane would become a spinster Auntie were dispelled with grateful sighs of relief. Lord Biltmore was quite suitable for their daughter. He had lost his wife two years earlier. His three children grown, he had found it socially awkward to be without a wife. In search of a companion, he had been been through the circuit of parties several times. At these social events, the young, attractive women inevitably paired off with the young, attractive men. A man of sixty, lacking the outward charms of youth could not hope to compete in such settings. He had been introduced to Jane at such a gathering. Always obtaining that which he sought, and not a warm, romantic man by nature, he had given his quarry pursuit and duly convinced her that duty came before desire. Jane, while not getting any younger, could ill afford to turn down his offer to live comfortably. At her advancing age, she did not have time to be selective concerning potential matrimonial prospects.
And yet, for all of Lady Jane's cool exterior and businesslike decisions, there lay hidden deeper desires than her geriatric husband could fulfill. Although aristocratic blood flowed through her veins, Jane had always secretly fantasized about a life of complete abandon and passion. Wild gypsy dreams had plagued her nights since childhood. She did not know from where the dreams originated, and marriage did not alter them. Lying in the large canopied bed, Lord Biltmore had clumsily taken from her what was legally his. Unsatisfied and left only with the sound of his thunderous snoring, Jane closed her eyes and drifted into a dream. A dream she revisited every night. Her existence was immediately transported to the carefree life of a gypsy. Each night, the dream ended with the frenzied gypsy dance. She spun and swirled wildly. Her hair, always worn in a tight upswept bun, became loosened until it came cascading about her shoulders. The music escalated to an exhilarating, maddening pace. She felt the presence of a dark intruder watching her intently from the shadows. Never seeing his face, the dark figure always entered her gypsy dream stirring passions beyond reason. The intensity of the passion lifted her higher and higher until she could no longer catch a deep breath...then, sighing an inaudible cry of release, she would sleep soundly.
ABOUT This piece: Painted in acrylics on stretched canvas with digital lettering using photoshop.