Authors: Serena Janes
Tags: #adult, #contemporary, #erotic romance
Luc was Jo’s perfect fit—his Yang to her
Yin—but a tragic loss causes her to leave him without a word.
Separated by each other’s silence, half a
world apart, they both search for solace through travel, and in
other lovers. But the Black Virgin won’t rest until she sees Jo and
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Revenge of the Black Virgin
Copyright © 2013 Serena Janes
Cover art by Carmen Waters
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Revenge of the Black Virgin
Black Virgin Series, Number 2
To George, for his untiring support, and for
letting me get on with it.
That’s the trouble with cults…
Joanna Clifford smoothed her short ruffled
skirt and straightened her sweater for the fiftieth time.
think you could just run off to the other side of the planet and be
done with them. But no…this one’s not going to let me go
She stepped out from behind a pillar at the
Vancouver International Airport arrivals hall, unconsciously
licking the last of her lipstick away as she watched the automatic
doors open and close, open and close, disgorging the bedraggled
remnants of a Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong.
Air France passengers would be out next.
According to the board—which she’d checked repeatedly—the plane had
landed on time. Luc was probably stuck in a line-up, waiting for
either Customs or his luggage, she guessed, as she bounced up and
down on her toes, glancing at her watch one more time.
It won’t be long now. And then I’ll see him,
finally. And he’ll see me, and then…what?
A familiar nausea gripped her as she imagined
the expression he’d be wearing when he saw her face. Would there be
any love in his eyes? Would there be any longing in them?
Or just fury?
She knew she deserved his fury, for what
she’d done. But he was coming all the way to Vancouver to see her.
That had to mean something.
With trembling fingers Jo took a compact and
lipstick out of her bag yet again, and carefully reapplied her pale
lipstick. Although the automatic doors weren’t in her sight line,
she jumped every time she heard them glide open. Then she would
force herself to peek around the edge of the pillar, too frightened
to feel embarrassed for hiding like a child.
No. Not yet. A few more minutes of agony.
Only a few. And then…what?
Suddenly the atmosphere in the hall swelled
with the murmurs and cries of the small crowd of people waiting,
like Jo, for their loved ones. She ventured another look and saw a
rush of families, lovers, friends coming together—embracing,
shaking hands, kissing, pulling luggage in every direction.
Her gaze darted from face to face
No Luc. Not yet.
She gulped air and went back
to lean against the cool pillar for support, crushing her little
suede clutch bag in her damp hands.
She wondered, again, if he’d like the way she
looked. She’d chosen every detail of her outfit carefully—the sexy
knit dress, the tiny fuzzy sweater, the soft leather sandals.
Yesterday she’d had her long hair conditioned and trimmed, and a
French mani and pedi. Today she’d suffered waxing, threading,
exfoliation and a two-hour yoga class before jumping into the car
and driving to the airport.
My head might be a mess but my body’s ready
for him. Any minute now…
She had to go to the bathroom. Again. But
there was no time. She’d have to wait it out.
Any minute now…And then it will all be good.
Just like before.
* * * *
Lucien LaPlante struggled against the
restraint of his seat belt and groaned in discomfort. He hated
flying. The roar of the engines was too loud to let him empty his
mind, and the lack of leg room prevented him from relaxing his
body. Anna, his ex-wife and confidante, had booked his flight at
the last possible minute, too late to choose a better seat.
Although he was exhausted, it was impossible
to doze. But he wasn’t surprised. He hadn’t slept for more than a
few hours at a stretch since the night Joanna walked out on him
over three months ago. He’d been beating himself up ever since.
Thirty-five years old and I’m a bigger idiot
than I was in my teens! How could I let this happen to me?
He began grinding his teeth, a new habit he’d
developed. When he was interrupted by a pretty flight attendant
asking if he wanted something more to drink, he just shook his
Only an hour to go. And then…what?
He had no idea.
Loving Joanna had ruined everything good in
his life. He’d lost Simone, of course. Who could blame her? After
almost a year, he and Simone had been preparing to move in
together. She would have made a good wife, and a good step-mother
to his son, Daniel. He knew she was anxious to start a family of
her own, too, and it had to be soon. Like him, she was in her
mid-thirties. But all that was over now.
And his relationship with Daniel had
suffered. Against his will, he’d become a distracted and impatient
father. He mourned, helpless, as he watched the sensitive
eight-year-old grow confused, then silent.
When he couldn’t sleep, he tried whatever he
could find to occupy his mind. He couldn’t listen to any type of
music because it evoked strong emotions, but he could read. Fiction
annoyed him so he turned to history, natural science, and field
reports. When morning light distracted him, he went jogging. When
the weather was poor, he swam laps at the community center
His only goal was to tire his mind and body
enough for sleep. Only sleep could make him forget about Joanna.
But sleep evaded him.
His motorcycle trip to Morocco had done
little to distract him. Even that crazy Dutch girl, despite her
best efforts, couldn’t exorcize Joanna from his heart.
And so here he was, on his way to Vancouver,
more frightened than he’d ever been in his life. At the mercy of
that damned American woman.
The one he’d intuited would be
trouble the minute he met her.
I should have trusted my instincts,
told himself one more time.
In addition to the terrible aching in his
chest—pain so severe it eclipsed the physical pain of his worst
athletic injuries—he was embarrassed at being victimized by his own
emotions. It had never happened before. Why now? How could he have
been so blind? At the time he was in Joanna’s thrall he would have
bet his life she was his.
“Fucking idiot!” He chastised himself again
as he heard the pilot announce their descent into YVR.
The old woman sitting beside him gave him a
startled look, frowning, and he realized he’d spoken aloud.
Pardon moi, s’il vous plait,”
mumbled, annoyed with his lack of control, and wiped his damp palms
on his denim thighs.
He wondered again why he was on his way to
see the woman who’d crushed him like an ant underfoot. Was it
because he still loved her? Or was there revenge in his heart? Did
he want to hurt her?
He didn’t know his own motive for throwing
down everything to fly halfway around the world. His uncertainty
frightened him almost as much as the prospect that she was still
lying when she said she loved him.
I loved you then, and I love
her letter said.
Unconsciously, he raised a hand to touch the
folded piece of paper inside his shirt pocket.
Could he believe her? Did he want to? What
he want, really?
He didn’t know. Nor did he know what he would
do when he saw her again. Embrace her? Kiss her? Hurl abuse?
All he knew with certainty was that he was
compelled to cross the ocean to try to ease the pain in his heart
and piece together what remained of his sanity. And then maybe he
could get on with the rest of his life.
* * * *
Somewhere in the middle of obsessing, Jo
sensed that the crowd in the arrivals hall had thinned. The room
was noticeably quieter. She stuck her head out from behind the
pillar and scanned the room.
Where is he? He should be…
Her heart recognized her lover before she
did. It jammed upwards into her throat, causing her to stumble as
she stepped away from her hiding place. Only then did her brain
register that her French lover was real, and standing in the middle
of the room, looking abstractedly around him.
He was wearing a dark wool sports jacket over
a pale shirt. Jeans. Loafers. He hadn’t shaved and his dark hair
was longer than she remembered, and rumpled. He looked amazing, her
body told her with a spike of adrenaline.
But he wasn’t alone. A stylish blonde with a
trolley of luggage stood beside him, talking, searching for
something in her over-sized purse. She found what she was looking
for—a business card, it seemed—and thrust it at a
Jo could hear the woman’s words, now. “If
your friend doesn’t show up, give me a call. I’ll be in town for
the week.” Batting her lashes she smiled up at him as he fidgeted
with his laptop bag. He didn’t seem to know what to do with her
Automatically, Jo snapped into action and
charged towards them, stopping a few inches short of Luc. He and
the blonde turned to look at her. The woman’s face showed fear, Jo
smugly noted. Luc’s showed nothing.
Jo stared into his beautiful dark blue eyes.
She saw no love there. She saw no longing. But she didn’t detect
any fury, either, and without thinking she grabbed the lapels of
his jacket and roughly jerked him towards her in a clumsy embrace.
Her face burrowed into his chest, and she breathed in the scent
that had the power to pull her right back into the cult’s grip. The
power to destroy her world all over again.
It was exactly where she wanted to be.
Then she felt his arms wrapping around her,
tightly. She heard his suitcase fall onto its side. Out of the
corner of her eye she saw the blonde silently melt away. She felt
lips kiss the top of her head and tears sprang into her eyes.
She was home.
Three months earlier. Martel, France.
Joanna thought she was in a taxi. But as the
car left the lights of Martel behind and began speeding through the
French countryside, she realized it couldn’t be a regular taxi.
“Where are we?” she mumbled against James’
collar as she tried to lift her head and look out the window.
“Shh. Never mind. Try and sleep, darling.” He
stroked her hair gently. “We’ll be there soon.”
“Where are we going?” Her head felt so
These were the last words she heard before
falling into a dark hole where nothing mattered anymore.
She remembered almost nothing of the Air
France flight to Seattle. Nor did she remember walking into her
condo by the harbor, nor James undressing her, tucking her into her
own bed and crawling in beside her to hold her through the first
long night of terror.
In the morning she awoke in James’ arms,
uncomfortable and confused. She didn’t want him in her bed. But she
didn’t want to be alone, either. She felt like she should cry, but
she couldn’t. Every part of her felt numb, except for her head,
which was throbbing. Slowly, she figured out why she was home.
She disentangled herself from James as the
weight of two terrible facts hit her full in the face.