Sometimes kingdoms fall not by war but by beauty—wrapped in silk, drenched in sensuality, and smelling of honeysuckle. The Comte de la Fere longs for a love more fulfilling than youthful sin. The new sovereign finds his match in a mysterious woman, Anne, who beguiles him with her poetic intelligence. Setting aside good judgment, the young Frenchman marries her, despite many sinister undercurrents. Her temptation is too great.
“Athos & Milady: In the Beginning” chronicles the early heart-breaking story of Milady de Winter and Athos before their paths cross in “The Three Musketeers.” Definitely not a book for school-aged readers, this novel is a sexy re-imagination of two characters from the classic novel by Frenchman Alexandre Dumas. It claims its French-ness in many poetic, passionate scenes of longing, woven together by imagery from the Book of Genesis.
The silence of the sanctuary made Athos pause. He listened to his breathing and inhaled incense and exhaled potential. Heading toward the priest’s study, a cold chill blew from the direction of the confessionals. He strained and heard a door click shut. Aware it might be the priest, he walked over and found the hem of a silvery fabric protruding from a closed confessional door. Someone rustled inside.
He stepped up to the door, but the priest’s booth was empty. A voice from within the next compartment stopped him from knocking.
“Delays, delays.” Followed by a long sigh.
Athos froze. It was Anne.
She started humming, a nocturne or a hymn. It was lovely, the pitch and the drama, like she was purring the notes in secret contentment. The hum deepened. He knew if he made any sound he would give himself away, and part of him wanted to. The other part was fascinated by the cat in the cupboard.
A minute passed and the notes from her lengthened until she wasn’t singing. Her tone imparted animalistic pleasure, the kind from a cat of bigger size. He’d hear an mmm and an umh while the fabric of her dress shifted inside the cramped, wooden box. Her hands were making long passes across the fabric—Where would that place them now? Her breath hitched and resumed, heavy with need. The movement sounded like swirls of an autumn breeze, fanning her body. Dramatic rests interspersed her music. She was holding her breath. Longer and longer. The fabric rubbed in rhythm. He nearly spoke, taking the words right out of her mouth, his own lips pressed moistly to the door, at the moment she peaked: Oh God. The air rushed out of her, and the stray hem of the skirt slipped inside at the vibration.
All the wind left him, too, though under tight control. He laid his palms silently on either side of the door and dropped his head. Air, I need air. He tried to collect himself and move. His body was rigid. All that separated her from him was a slat of wood and a metal swivel. In every other way, they were on the same plateau.
“Excuse me.” The voice hit him from behind like a splash of frigid water. Athos buckled and straightened as quickly. Father de Breuil stood at the centre of the pews, leaving several rows between them. “May I help you?”
Buy Book Two, Athos & Milady, on Amazon
Buy Book One, Blood, Love and Steel, on Amazon
About Jennifer Fulford
Lover of all things Musketeer, Jennifer Fulford became fascinated by The Three Musketeers after watching the Alexander and Illya Salkind movies from the late ‘70s. She was particularly taken by the character Athos, who was played by a smoldering Oliver Reed. Later, she read the classic novel by Alexandre Dumas and loved the story much more. She decided Reed’s character, Athos, had more life to live, so she jumped from journalism to fiction and learned the craft as she wrote. Fond of poetry and handwritten letters, she uses both forms in her novels to heighten the passion and romance. She doesn’t consider herself a genre romance writer, so readers may find her novels less formulaic. She writes and lives in western North Carolina and loves correspondence from readers, either online or by mail. She rarely throws out cards and letters but tucks them away to savor for years. She is partial of the Pacific Northwest (her adoptive home), the Great Smoky Mountains, and a good bottle of gin. If she had time, she’d learn to fence.
Connect with Jennifer
Her blog, www.LivingOnInk.com
Her series, www.TheMusketeerSeries.com
Her freelance side, www.JenniferFulford.com