Refracted Crystal: Diamonds and Desire

BOOK: Refracted Crystal: Diamonds and Desire
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Refracted Crystal:
Diamonds and Desire

 

M. J. Lawless

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© M. J. Lawless 2012

 

The right of M. J. Lawless to be identified as the author of this book has been asserted in accordance the Copyrights, Designs and Patents Act 1988. Copying of this manuscript, in whole or in part, without the written permission of the author and her publisher is strictly prohibited.

All sexually active characters in this work are 18 years of age or older.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are solely the product of the author’s imagination and/or are used fictitiously, though reference may be made to actual historical events or existing locations. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

 

Published by Black Orion Press, 2012.

Cover design by Arkangel Media.

All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

To
Bridget and Henry, who gave me my start in life
.

 

Contents

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Tour

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

 

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.

 

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:
Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.
 

Matthew 13: 44-46

 

 

Chapter One

 

The gallery was filling with people, knots of well-dressed and sophisticated guests forming patterns around the room, some gazing at the paintings that hung from the wall, others keener to see each other and be seen. Even those, thought Kris, who had not the slightest interest in art wanted to see her.

She smiled at the thought, looking down for a moment at the wine glass she held in her hands, swirling it slightly and watching the way the artificial light sparkled on the ripples of liquid. Beneath her dress, a discreet and elegant Dior that Daniel had bought her especially for this occasion, her chest rose and fell a little more rapidly than usual, her heart beating quickly at the thought that this night was hers.

She glanced down at the hand holding the wine glass, her fingers that until recently had been smeared with paint and charcoal. Clean now, one of those fingers possessed a more graceful adornment, a simple band of gold with a diamond upon it. The gemstone was elegant, its grace and modest size belying the wealth that it represented. With her other hand, Kris turned the ring slightly, watching it glitter in the light. Knowing what it meant inspired a warm feeling in her abdomen.

After so many years in a creative wilderness she still had to pinch herself slightly to believe that all of this was real. Outside, the London evening sky was beginning to darken at last, completing a perfect early summer’s day, and a few people were milling closer to her, smiling and waving, exchanging pleasantries and congratulating her on her work. She responded with self-deprecating thanks. Inside, however, she could not help but gloat once or twice when she saw who was speaking to her, old acquaintances from her time at Saint Martins who had thought nothing of ignoring her completely when she was a nobody.

She swallowed such pride, though. The evening was just too perfect and, in any case, the opportunity to display her work—her first, private exhibition at last!—was more than she could have hoped for. Yet even this paled in comparison to the real treasure in her life.

While she was speaking to one couple, a handsome if somewhat harsh-faced woman in her early fifties who worked as an agent alongside her latest toy-boy, Kris’s eyes flickered across the room to that true prize. Even in a crowd such as this he stood out, taller than just about everyone else, and with a presence to him—spread across those broad shoulders of his that filled the expensive cut of his jacket—that made her want him now. Daniel Stone.

Nodding politely as the woman spoke and the young boy in front of her made sophisticated platitudes, she could not help but let her eyes sneakily hunt him out. He was politely talking to another woman, and for the merest second a pang of jealousy stabbed Kris in the centre of her chest, making her draw in her breath. She savoured that feeling, that complicated emotion, before letting it fall away inside her. No need for jealousy tonight.

The woman in conversation with Daniel clearly responded to his quiet charm, as well as to his looks—though the pale scars across his face, and those uneven eyes of his with one pupil larger than the other, the remnant of a childhood fight, frequently made others uneasy around him. Yet she could see that Daniel’s responses to the slightly flirtatious attitude of the woman were simply those required by politeness. He was equally attentive to another man who butted in on the conversation (and whose face Kris vaguely recognised from somewhere), and for a second Kris allowed herself of feeling sorry for that poor girl: how could she know that he belonged to one woman—belonged to her completely, and she to him.

“This really is quite exceptional, and such a good turnout.” It was the agent in front of her, cold, blue eyes weighing up Kris, evaluating her, wondering how much she herself could make from this event.

“Thank you,” Kris said, her smile not insincere only because her thoughts still lingered on Daniel. “You’re very kind.”

But the older woman had also followed her sideways gaze and for a moment she hesitated. There was greed in her eyes for a few seconds, a lust even—though that was closed off more quickly than the raw avarice that had obviously given her a thrill of an equally sexual nature.

“Ah, the famous Daniel Stone,” she murmured. When she returned her eyes at last to Kris’s face, her smile was utterly insincere but very pronounced. Kris could almost see the pound signs revolving in those clear, hard eyes. “You’re a very lucky woman,” she continued. “Here, let me give you my card.”

Kris accepted graciously and, as the agent moved away, glanced at it before realising that she did not really have anywhere to stow the tastefully printed slip. She had misplaced her bag earlier when guests were arriving, and for a little while she pondered over the etiquette of placing it on one of the passing trays carried by attendants at the opening. That would be okay, she thought, if the woman did not happen to pick up a wine glass and see her own business card on it.

She would have to give it to Daniel: if there was an agent who opened doors for her, it was him. Chewing carelessly on the edge of the card as she looked across at him once more, observing that he was now engaged more deeply in conversation with the man, she thought of what else he opened up in her—and in that moment she felt a tender, delicious space stirring a little in her abdomen. 

But there was no way on a night such as this that she would be allowed to sink into a private reverie, no matter how delectable the fantasy. “Kris!” The voice calling out to her made her lift her head suddenly, scouring the crowd in the direction of the sound. A smile spread across her face as she saw her old friend, Anne, pulling her partner through a group of people towards her.

Kris’s pleasure at seeing Anne was genuine and profound: if she had been feeling slightly overwhelmed at the thought of all these people surrounding her, Anne and her boyfriend Andrew were the truest of her companions from college days. The card still between the fingers of one hand, wine glass in the other, she spread her arms and carefully placed them around Anne’s neck as she received her friend’s hug. Andrew grinned at the two of them, then returned his gaze to the space around them, admiring the gallery itself as much as the paintings that hung on the walls.

“It’s been too long. Far too long!” Anne said, standing back after a few moments and beaming up at Kris. “Look at you! You look... oh, fuck it! You look far too good to be true! Wow! That dress! I love it!” Her fingers were already moving up and down the fabric, touching the pleats and soft edges. “Is it a Chanel?”

“Dior,” Kris replied, almost apologetically. While Anne had dressed up specially in a simple and pretty floral summer dress, Andrew wore his essential outfit of rough jeans and faded jacket, the only uniform that a designer needed. In other circumstances, Kris would have looked for a faint hint of reprobation in his eyes, but tonight there was only admiration for her.

“It’s been too long,” Anne told her, not letting go of her for a moment as she held her close.

“Yes, it has been.” When Kris stood back, she held onto her friend’s hands and looked at her face with joy and a little guilt. “I’ve not stayed properly in London for ages,” she began to explain apologetically. “But I’m
so
glad you could come tonight.”

“I know, I know,” Anne reassured her, squeezing her fingers affectionately. It was only now that Anne properly paid attention to the ring on Kris’s hand. Her mouth started to form an O of surprise as she looked down at the hand she was holding. “Is that what I think it is?” she asked, forming the words very slowly. “So that’s what you were going to tell me.”

Kris found herself unable to reply, but simply nodded. Andrew looked at the two of them in puzzled confusion.

“Oh!” For a second, Anne looked at her friend with narrowed eyes, muttering curses under her breath, but then once more Kris was caught up in a huge bear hug. “Congratulations!”

As she pulled back, she burst out laughing at the look on Andrew’s face.

“What the hell is going on now?” he asked. Kris joined in Anne’s laughter at this.

“Our dark horse, here, is getting married! I still can’t believe you didn’t tell me!” she exclaimed, then blushed as Kris quickly raised a finger to her lips to quieten her.

“Okay, okay,” Anne nodded. “I get it. A bit more discretion. Don’t think I’m not annoyed that you didn’t tell me, though. But enough of that. I’ll punish you later. For now, spill all the details. When? Where?”

“Ask me afterwards,” Kris explained. “When we’re on our own.”

For a few seconds Anne appeared utterly flustered, bursting to release the pressure inside her. Instead, she looked around her at the gallery and Kris’s paintings hanging on the wall. “And this place, it’s fabulous!” She was simply gushing with praise, diverting her real questions now. The endless promises of future dreams that the two of them had shared together as students had seemed so far away for Kris for so long, but now Anne was revelling in her friend’s good fortune.

“Yeah,” Andrew added, laconically. “Very nice. I’ve been trying to get some of my work in here for ages. You lucky sod.”

Kris could not help but wince at this a little. She wondered if there was an unspoken barb in that comment, that her luck relied more on Daniel’s contacts than on her own talent. To calm her nerves slightly, she lifted her wine glass to her lips and sipped at her drink, gaining a precious few seconds to consider her own response. Andrew’s eyes, however, were free of any hint of malice, and Kris felt a flicker of shame at her own lack of trust.

BOOK: Refracted Crystal: Diamonds and Desire
4.09Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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