Authors: Linda Boulanger
Tags: #romance, #love, #psychology, #horses, #hope, #suicide, #angel, #high society, #rich girl
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TreasureLine Publishing on Smashwords
Arms of an Angel
Copyright © 2011 by Linda Boulanger
All rights reserved.
This book or parts thereof may not be
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The following is a work of fiction. Names,
characters, places, and incidents are fictitious or used
fictitiously. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, to
factual events or to businesses is coincidental and
* * * * *
There are certain people
who will cross your path.
They’ll change the course for the good or
Those who change it for the better –
you have to wonder if they were sent by
Those are the people we call angels.
Perhaps an earthly angel of sorts…
that’s who he was to Claire.
* * * * *
Sometimes it’s hard to tell where one set of
wings ends and the other begins…
Claire wasn’t exactly the type of girl a guy
would normally choose to take home to meet Mamma. Yet there she
was, on her way to meet Garrett’s parents. Her heart slammed
against her chest hidden, in part, by the sweetheart neckline of
her blue Carin Morrow. It was the most modest dress she owned and,
still, it showed an ample amount of flesh. She’d tried to cover a
bit more with a simple sweater, but wasn’t at all sure if she’d
been successful. Her wardrobe had been purchased to enhance and
show off her assets, not hide them. Dressing to meet parents was
not a priority…at least it hadn’t been until now, and in such short
notice! Drag her out of bed and tell her to get ready to go to his
parents’ farm! Claire teetered between anger and disbelief; all of
it mixed with fear. She was sure Garrett’s parents would see right
through her. The thought of their disapproving faces filled her
with an even greater sense of dread. She wasn’t fit for any man,
let alone one as virtuous as Garrett. He was her angel. He’d saved
her, yet she didn’t deserve him. Or, perhaps, he didn’t deserve to
be saddled with a woman like her. Claire leaned back against the
seat, her mind wandering as the passing view changed from steel and
concrete to green hills and pastures.
Unwise decisions. That’s what Claire seemed
best at making. Incidents in her own life were what she’d chosen to
blame - two to be more precise. She lost her parents in a car
accident and battled cancer, both at the sweet age of nineteen. Not
only did she find herself alone, the cancer had left her without
the body parts to ever carry her own child, furthering her sense of
being forsaken and useless. She’d blamed God and turned as far away
from Him as she could. Fast men and free liquor had been her choice
as she’d commenced to working hard at partying through her
For four years, one indulgence after another
had been sought in an attempt to make the hurt inside subside.
Nothing seemed to work. Oh, she’d come close a time or two. On
occasion, her senses numbed to where she felt little more than a
dull ache, but the piercing pain always returned after too short a
time. Hope vanished as did her desire to go on. She’d decided life
was no longer worth living, and that’s the point where Garrett had
come into her life.…
* * * * *
Claire could feel him watching her in the
mirror, knew his eyes were assessing her, undressing her. She
didn’t mind. Knowing men desired her made her feel alive,
worthwhile…most of the time.
He looked away as she turned her face toward
the front of the limousine, though his gaze returned as soon as he
realized her focus was not on him. She was pensive - an unusual
disposition for this particular client. He smiled. Unusual was the
perfect word to describe Claire, regardless of her mood. Of all his
filthy rich, high society clients, there was none who could compare
to Claire Orion. Of course, there weren’t many who had allowed him
the liberties she had, either…none, actually. The thought of their
last encounter left him yearning. He was hungry, yet she wasn’t
biting. He’d tried to engage her several times throughout her
afternoon shopping spree to no avail. He wondered what had captured
her. She was definitely a woman looking within.
Claire moved from his line of vision as she
leaned toward the passenger side window. The driver couldn’t see
the look of pain that pulled her finely arched brows toward her
beautiful blue-gray eyes. He didn’t see her hand press against the
tinted window as she watched a little girl walking hand in hand
with her father. He didn’t know Claire well enough to know how much
she’d yearned for acceptance from her own father or how it had
affected the woman she had become. Ranauld, like most, only knew
the larger than life persona in the pretty little package that his
passenger most often presented to the world. There were few with
even an inkling of a notion that beneath her flawless exterior lay
a woman with scars she believed incapable of healing.
Ranauld missed Claire’s heavy sigh as he
focused his attention on the circle drive in front of her historic
building. With the ease of a man used to handling the large
automobile, he maneuvered through the traffic and pulled to a stop
outside the large double doors. By the time he opened the door for
her, Claire had masked her bitterness. Her father was gone. There’d
been no one to bridge the gap between them; no one he respected
enough that was willing to step in to help.
Perhaps I can be of service
to you later, Ms. Orion? I could make arrangements to see that you
make it home safely this evening.” Ranauld’s eyes begged as he
helped her from the limousine.
Claire smiled in that mischievous way that
made her nose crinkle; the one that should have alerted a man he
was about to be toyed with. “Why, Mr. Ranauld, I’m afraid you’ve
made a dreadful error. I can’t imagine what would make you think
I’m planning to go out?”
My apologies for the
assumption. I was thinking of your shopping, the packages…they
usually accompany an evening out.” He continued to fish. “So you’ll
be home? Alone?”
I didn’t say that.” She
knew what he wanted. He knew she knew. She ran her hands through
her dark hair in a way that reminded Ranauld of how it felt to have
his hands entwined in the soft lushness of her beautiful curls. Her
eyes danced as she moistened her lips with the tip of her tongue
before continuing. “But…I’ve got your number. I’ll call if the need
should arise. A woman can’t be too careful about who she lets take
her home…or who she lets stay…”
The building doorman chuckled as he held the
door for her before retrieving her packages from the wilting
chauffer. “Perk up, man.” The older gent clapped Ranauld on the
back as he took Claire’s bags. “She’s got your number.”
Charlie went away laughing, wondering how
many other hearts were hurting over the unpossessable Claire Orion.
He wasn’t sure if that was a word even. What he did know was that
Claire Orion was her own woman. The only man who’d ever had a hold
on her had been her father and he’d never given her an ounce of
anything except heartache. He snorted thinking of the number of
times she’d left the building crying over something he knew that
man had said to her. A quick death behind the wheel of a car was
too good for him. It was far better than he deserved after the way
he’d killed Claire’s dreams and sense of worth. It was more than
he’d given his daughter who had been dying inside for a good many
Charlie could only hope she’d live long
enough to learn to believe in herself. She was a beautiful woman
with a heart of gold and a generosity to match, but the way she
lived…He shook his head and looked up toward the heavens. Claire
needed to find her place in this world. She needed someone to help
her, and fast.
* * * * *
Claire caressed the bottle of pills, feeling
a wave of euphoria as she placed them on her nightstand and
patiently dressed, taking great pains with every detail of her
appearance. She wanted this last meal to be special. She wanted all
eyes at the restaurant to be on her. She wanted to look spectacular
when she was found.
Her mouth watered as she thought of the
titillating array of scrumptious delicacies that awaited her with
her last minute reservation at the extravagant Minuet. It had
surprised Claire that she was able to get in on such short notice.
The Maitre d’ had assured her when she’d called and he’d taken her
name that she need not worry.
I’ve got it right here.
Check and double check,” he’d told her.
Claire had decided it was an omen. The meal
was to be the beginning of her end. She smiled as she went down to
meet the cab Charlie had called for her. She hadn’t wanted Ranauld
returning – hadn’t actually desired his services earlier in the day
either, though a cancellation by Mr. Donovan in 3C had placed him
at her disposal.
She arrived at the restaurant dressed in her
finest. Black Fuarento cocktail dress straight from the racks of
Italy, black lace hose, black designer heels in the latest French
fashion. Heads turned as she walked by. Claire Orion looked good
and she knew it.
Table for Orion,” she
smiled disarmingly at the man who immediately recognized her voice
from the phone.
He eyed her appreciatively. “Check and double
check,” he said as he asked if she’d like to be seated or wait.
Hmm.” Claire ran a painted
nail across her lips bringing attention to their fullness as she
flirted with the Maitre d’. “If I’m to eat, I shall need to sit,
and preferably at one of your finely set tables.” She trailed the
same finger along the buttons of his tailored jacket causing his
voice to catch as he answered her. Claire smiled as he offered her
Away we go then, my lady.”
He escorted her to a cozy table toward the back.
Perfect!” Oh how Claire
loved the fineries of life. If only she could enjoy them with out
Claire ordered appetizers and wine: calamari,
sautéed zucchini, and a nice California Pinot Noir - the best money
could buy. Sitting back, she scrutinized the other table occupants
as she waited for her hors d'oeuvres. People watching without
seeming overtly rude and obvious. It was a pastime she’d managed to
perfect through years of being hauled from one boring event to
another at the side of one parent or another.
An older couple, undoubtedly celebrating an
anniversary, sat nearby holding hands across the table. Claire
smiled as she watched the gentleman bring his love’s aged fingers
to his lips. There was an edge of regret knowing she’d never
experience such love. After all, what good was a woman who could
not have children? She was good for one thing only and Claire was
quickly growing tired of the revolving door of partners who offered
little more than momentary diversion. Oh, she’d have liked to have
found one who looked at her, even for a moment, as the older
gentleman was looking at his wife but the ones she’d been with were
all the same. They cared only for what she could offer them at the
moment she was with them.
Claire shrugged. Se La Vie - such was life.
And for Claire, it was over. She returned to the people around her,
finding one level down and several tables over, a group of business
colleagues discussing strategies, their hard driving boss, and
their annoying counterparts in various companies and even within
competing groups within their own organization. Claire was thankful
she’d been well provided for and able to avoid the doldrums and
politics of the work-a-day world.
She had just turned her attention to another
table where a man sat with two women when Anthony, as her waiter
had introduced himself earlier, returned with her pre-meal
delicacies. She smiled knowing he was appreciating the view,
leaning toward her just a bit more than he needed as he placed her
platters and filled her wine glass.