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Authors: Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban

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Immortal Love

BOOK: Immortal Love
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Immortal Love
Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban

Avon, Massachusetts

This edition published by Crimson Romance

an imprint of F+W Media, Inc.

10151 Carver Road, Suite 200

Blue Ash, Ohio 45242

www.crimsonromance.com

Copyright © 2012 by Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban ISBN 10: 1-4405-5476-5

ISBN 13: 978-1-4405-5476-6

eISBN 10: 1-4405-5477-3

eISBN 13: 978-1-44055477-3

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, corporations, institutions, organizations, events, or locales in this novel are either the product of the author’s imagination or, if real, used fictitiously. The resemblance of any character to actual persons (living or dead) is entirely coincidental.

Cover art © 123rf.com Cover Design Elaine Lee at forthemusedesigns.com

To Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer and Federico García Lorca, my two favorite poets, whose lives, so tragically short, I have expanded in my novel, by granting them immortality.

An immortality that, in spirit, they have already attained through their work.

To Marie and the members of BILY (Because I Love You) at Doylestown. My family outside my family. I wouldn’t have made it without you.

To my critique group, the Paper Whites, who read it first.

Contents

Dedication

Chapter One: Bécquer

Chapter Two: Madison

Chapter Three: Federico

Chapter Four: Matt

Chapter Five: The Portrait

Chapter Six: The Kiss

Chapter Seven: The Party

Chapter Eight: Beatriz

Chapter Nine: Kidnapped

Chapter Ten: Ryan

Chapter Eleven: Bécquer’s Request

Chapter Twelve: Rachel

Chapter Thirteen: Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer

Chapter Fourteen: The Contract

Chapter Fifteen: Richard

Chapter Sixteen: The Consequence

Chapter Seventeen: Bécquer’s Letter

Chapter Eighteen: In the Hospital

Chapter Nineteen: The Pact

Chapter Twenty: Cesar

Chapter Twenty-One: Red Roses

About the Author

Also Available

Chapter One: Bécquer

Bécquer called Sunday morning.

I was arguing with my daughter at the time, because she wanted to go to a Halloween party and I said no. I said no, not only because the party started late, but also because the outfit she planned to wear would have been too small had she been five, and she was fifteen. Caught in the middle of my impassioned speech to support my refusal, I picked up the receiver and barked a sharp hello.

A voice, deep and beguiling, answered mine. “Carla, this is Bécquer.”

The dark eyes his name evoked sent my heart into overdrive so that my voice shook when I returned his greeting.

“We met last Sunday at the Eastern College Writers Conference,” he explained.

As if I could forget.

He had been the only agent to ask me for a full manuscript that day. The only male, too, in a sea of female agents, a fact that would have made him memorable even if he hadn’t had the impossible good looks of a pagan god. He was older than most agents at the conference, mid-thirties was my guess, and, unlike all the others, he knew who I was.

“I read
Two Moon Princess
,” he’d told me when I sat down at his table. His voice, loud enough to be heard over the noise of other attendees furiously pitching their stories, was warm, creating a comforting intimacy between us. An intimacy his words only enhanced.

He was the fifth agent to whom I’d delivered my pitch that morning. Or maybe he was the sixth. I’d lost count of how many had told me already, with canned smiles glued on their faces, that my project was not a good fit for their list. As for someone reading my published work, that was a first. Ever.

“You did?” I mumbled, trying to remember whether I had sent a resume with my application.

“I ran a search on you.” He answered my unspoken question. “I’m interested in Spanish history.” Nothing personal, his words implied.

“Your accent — ”

“Still there after all these years,” he interrupted me as if to discourage further inquiry. “Tell me about your new novel. Did the boy kill the queen?”

“It’s a love story,” I told him, reluctant to give away the ending.

Bécquer smiled, showing a perfect row of white teeth between his sensuous lips. “Marvelous. I adore love stories, especially when they have tragic endings.”

Bécquer’s voice came through the phone, bringing me back to the present. “I finished your manuscript and would like to meet with you to discuss it. If that’s all right.”

“Yes, of course.” I tried and failed to sound nonchalant. “When?” I grabbed a pen as I spoke and faced the calendar on the kitchen wall to mark the date.

“Café Vienna on State and Main in fifteen minutes?”

“Fifteen minutes? You mean you’re here in Doylestown?”

“Exactly.”

I would have asked for more time, but I could hear Madison screaming her head off up in her room, probably complaining to a friend about her impossible mother. Because my mind was busy blocking her voice, I didn’t have a lot of brains left for thinking. So I agreed, only to panic as soon as I hung up.

What was I thinking? I would never make it on time.

But I did. It took me a minute to run upstairs, give Madison an ultimatum — either she could go to the party in another costume or wear that one at home — and rush in, then right back out of my room.

• • •

Bécquer was sitting by one of the windows, a cup of coffee in front of him. He got up as I approached and, after inviting me to the chair across from him with a movement of his hand, asked me what I would like to drink.

“An espresso would be nice,” I said, taken aback by his old-fashioned manners. When was the last time someone, male or female, had offered to get my order? Yes, I knew gentlemanly manners were a sign of male dominance, and I had endured enough of the drawbacks of a misogynistic society as a child to be certain I didn’t want to live in one. But the way Bécquer asked was not condescending, more like offering a courtesy to an equal. If he wanted to impress me, he succeeded. Somehow, I thought he wasn’t trying.

Soon he was back from the counter and set the espresso in front of me: a small cup on a saucer, the European way. I thanked him for the coffee and for the fact that he had brought me a real cup. How did he know, I wondered, that I missed the Spanish cafés and the coffee served like this, in white porcelain cups? Maybe he missed them, too, and he had guessed.

How strange the little things I remembered from my old life, the one I gave up when I followed my ex-husband to the States. I shook my head to get rid of the memories, and sipped my coffee while Bécquer stared at me.

“I loved your story,” he said, when I put the cup down.

I waited, out of habit, for the “unfortunately it doesn’t fit my current list” I was certain would follow, but it didn’t come.

“I hope you don’t have an agent yet, for I would like to represent you.”

“You want to represent me?”

“Yes, of course. You didn’t think I came all the way here to apologize for not taking you as a client, did you?”

“No, I suppose not.”

“I trust you have checked my credentials by now and know I’ve run my agency for ten years and been pretty successful placing my clients.”

He laughed when I blushed, for he had guessed right.

“So?”

I knew I had a speech prepared for this occasion stored somewhere in my brain. But when I searched my mind I couldn’t find it. I nodded. “Yes, I would like you to be my agent.”

“Good.” Bécquer reached for the briefcase resting on the windowsill. He had beautiful hands, wide and strong, an artist’s hands. Long ago, when I was younger, I had looked at hands as a way to judge a possible suitor. Bécquer’s would have passed the test big time. Not that it mattered anymore. I was not thinking of a suitor now. Hadn’t since I’d married. Not even after the divorce. When you marry the devil you don’t want to try again.

“Are you all right?”

I blushed furiously under his dark stare and nodded.

Bécquer pushed a paper toward me. “I took the liberty of bringing the contract with me. Care to sign?”

“Now?”

“After you’ve read it, of course.”

An alarm went off in my head. Every piece of advice I had ever heard told me to be cautious, to read the small print. But when I looked down and saw the contract, I frowned in surprise. It was handwritten, with the flowery calligraphy they don’t teach in schools anymore. A style that would have been outdated, even in my time. Yet it was easy to read: the text was short and straightforward, the conditions better than the ones on a standard contract. No fine print to ponder.

I looked up. “It seems reasonable,” I said, and then stopped, suddenly aware of the total silence around us. Everyone, I realized with a start, was frozen in place, as if they were actors in a movie I had paused by mistake.

“What happened?”

“Beatriz.” Bécquer pointed at the door where a woman in a smart suit stood facing us. “My personal secretary. She found me.”

My stomach hurting as if the coffee I’d just swallowed had turned to ice, I looked from the woman back to him, and then again around us, taking in the impossible stillness of the place.

“Who are you?” I asked, my voice broken with fear.

Bécquer sighed and raised his hands in a gesture of surrender.

“I’m Bécquer,” he said. “Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer.”

He pronounced the name slowly, his eyes on mine, and I knew he wasn’t lying. Yet the truth was unacceptable.

“You may remember me from your Spanish classes,” he continued. “
Literatura
it was called back then, if I’m not mistaken.”

“That’s impossible.”

I stood so abruptly my chair crashed to the floor. I remembered Bécquer, all right. He was the Spanish writer whose poems of unrequited love I’d memorized when I was thirteen, as every other Spanish girl, before and after me, has done the first time a clueless boy breaks her heart. Yes. I remembered Bécquer. But Bécquer …

“Bécquer is dead. He died long ago,” I said louder than I had intended, my fear, now a wave of panic that threatened to swallow me.

He nodded, nonchalant, a smile playing on his lips as though he was pleased that I remembered him. “In eighteen seventy to be exact. Only, I didn’t really die. I just stopped being human.”

“And what are you now, then? A monster?”

He winced as if my words had offended him. “I’m not a monster, Carla. I assure you I’m not evil. The change gives us powers, but doesn’t alter our true nature. I’m still who I was when I was human. Neither angel, nor demon, but a little bit of both at once.”

He had moved to my side as he spoke, and lifting my chair, set it on its legs.

I took a step back. “Don’t touch me.”

He bowed to me in a formal way that didn’t seem out of place. “Would you please sit down?”

I did as he said, mesmerized by his stare and the utter impossibility of his existence.

“You need a drink,” he said. “Just wait, I’ll bring you one.”

Skillfully skirting the tables and the people sitting, eerily still, he walked to the counter where a barista stood, a cup in her frozen hands.

I considered running away, but dismissed the idea as he would find me, I had no doubt, and bring me back. Besides, I wanted answers.

So I waited, my body shaking, until Bécquer came back and, retrieving the contract, set a steaming espresso in front of me.

“I meant to bring you something stronger,” he told me, “but couldn’t. After twenty years in the States, I still forget they don’t always serve alcohol in the cafés here.”

“Twenty years? Two more than me.”

“I know.”

His answer reminded me he had checked me online and thus knew more about me than I would have liked. Not to mention the fact that I had probably given him my card at the conference and so he had my address. Not a reassuring thought.

He motioned for me to drink the coffee. But I could not.

“What do you want of me?”

“Only the honor of editing your work and representing it.”

I scowled. “If you were who you claim to be, you’d write your own stories, not waste your time editing mine.”

“I’m that Bécquer,” he insisted, his eyes dark and serious. “Or I was when I was human.” There was anger in his voice and something else, frustration perhaps — or was it pain? “My mind was full of stories then, stories I could easily dress in words to show the world. But since I became an immortal, I have no stories or, if I do, words fail me when I try to capture them. Since I became immortal, I can’t write anymore, and I miss it. I miss it terribly. I miss the raw, unrestrained outburst of the artistic creation.”

BOOK: Immortal Love
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