Three women caught in a web of secrets and dark desires—
Rooke Tyler lives a solitary life in a small town on the Hudson River, carving intricate headstones in an exclusive cemetery for the county's wealthy families. At night she pours her dreams and desires into the figures she sculpts-waiting for the woman she senses in the stone.
Adrian Oakes knows there are things in life that defy rational explanation—she has spent her life avoiding casual contact with others, because sometimes what she feels draws her into a world of dangerous attractions and dark desires.
Melinda Singer, a beautiful seductive art dealer, wants both women and will stop at nothing to have them. When fate brings the three together, passion and destiny ignite.
Secrets in the Stone
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Secrets in the Stone
© 2009 By Radclyffe. All Rights Reserved.
ISBN 13: 978-1-60282-269-6
This Electronic Book is published by
Bold Strokes Books, Inc.
Valley Falls, New York
First Edition: July 2009
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.
Editors: Ruth Sternglantz and Stacia Seaman
Production Design: Stacia Seaman
Cover Design By Sheri ([email protected])
Love’s Melody Lost
Love’s Tender Warriors
Turn Back Time
When Dreams Tremble
The Lonely Hearts Club
Secrets in the Stone
The Provincetown Tales
Beyond the Breakwater
Distant Shores, Silent Thunder
Storms of Change
Winds of Fortune
Above All, Honor
Love & Honor
Honor Under Siege
Word of Honor
A Matter of Trust (prequel)
Shield of Justice
In Pursuit of Justice
Justice in the Shadows
Justice For All
Erotic Interludes: Change of Pace
(A Short Story Collection)
(A Erotic Short Story Collection)
Stacia Seaman and Radclyffe, eds.
Erotic Interludes 2:
Erotic Interludes 3:
Lessons in Love
Erotic Interludes 4:
Erotic Interludes 5:
Romantic Interludes 1:
Authors always say they write because they “have to.” True, I think, for all of us, that need for self-expression. There are lots of other reasons, of course—passionate belief, outrage, joy, intellectual curiosity, fame and fortune. Well, maybe not the last so much. I write because I have never found any other experience that engages my heart and mind to equal extent—or that was as much fun in the process. This book was an adventure, in character, in tone, in style, in story. I am happy that after thirty-one novels and dozens of short stories, I can still enjoy the journey, and I sincerely hope that you do too.
Many thanks to first readers Connie, Diane, Eva, Paula, RB, and Tina; to Jennifer Knight for her always-insightful critique and suggestions; to Ruth Sternglantz and Stacia Seaman for outstanding editorial guidance; to the unsung heroes aka proofreaders; to Sheri for graphic brilliance; and to you—the reader—for taking another voyage with me. Deepest gratitude.
And to Lee, for always being the light in the dark.
For All the Secret Treasures
A harsh glare pierced the murky depths of the tunnel, accompanied by a rumbling roar that reverberated in Adrian’s bones. Frigid air carrying the scent of snow blasted her, and she flinched back, blinded by the light. Bodies pressed close around her, whispers of anticipation hammered at her eardrums, and she struggled to shut out the disorienting tumult as the northbound Acela screeched to a halt at the platform.
Gripping her briefcase, overnight bag, and a cardboard cup of take-out coffee, Adrian let herself be carried by the press of the crowd into the business-class car, where she finally dropped into a window seat with an overwhelming rush of relief. She’d never been good in crowds—too many seething emotions, too many unwanted caresses masquerading as innocent touches. Determined to dispel the lingering discomfort, she pulled several files from her briefcase and concentrated on her work, the one constant she could count on to ease her disquiet.
“Excuse me, is this seat taken?”
“No. Please, sit down,” Adrian said automatically. She removed her briefcase from the adjacent seat to make room for the woman standing in the aisle. The blonde reminded her of Kim Basinger in
voluptuous in a way that contemporary women seemed to eschew. Lustrous shoulder-length honey blond hair, full red lips, and a sensuous figure that her tailored two-piece suit did nothing to temper. The curve of her hips and tapered thighs were obvious beneath the gray silk skirt, and the deep vee of the jacket, while modest enough for business attire at first glance, nevertheless gave a titillating hint of cleavage.
Adrian’s pulse kicked, and the response surprised her. She didn’t ordinarily find herself attracted to women who reminded her of the sophisticated, high-powered denizens of the world she’d grown up in. The train lurched forward and she grabbed for the coffee she’d placed on the narrow pull-down tray in front of her. She muttered an oath under her breath as a stream of scalding liquid sluiced over her hand.
“Oh, I am so sorry,” the blonde said in a smooth, melodic voice that matched the honey of her hair. To Adrian’s complete consternation, her wrist was grasped and the woman cradled it in her lap as she sat down, murmuring, “Here, let me see.”
“It’s fine, really.” Adrian tried to withdraw her hand, aware of a charge of current, so cold it nearly burned, dancing up her arm.
“You’re going to blister.” The woman pulled a silk handkerchief from a stylish black leather purse with one hand while her slender fingers continued to clasp Adrian’s wrist. She dabbed at a few drops of liquid before they could reach Adrian’s white cuff, then raised green-gold eyes to Adrian’s, her sensuous mouth curving into a flirtatious smile. “I don’t usually inflict bodily harm before introductions. I’m Melinda Singer.”
“Adrian Oakes.” Adrian finally extricated her fingers, ignoring the urge to shake her hand to dispel the disquieting tingle left behind. She’d always been hypersensitive to unexpected touch, especially from strangers, but she couldn’t remember the last time she’d had such a vivid reaction to anyone. Melinda Singer’s touch shimmered throughout her body with the intensity of an intimate caress.
“I hope I didn’t ruin your work.” Melinda gestured to the yellow legal tablet covered with scrawls and dotted with coffee stains on Adrian’s tray while casually surveying her traveling companion. Adrian Oakes was quite attractive in an entirely unstudied way. Her clothes, while informal, were expensive. The scuffed brown boots beneath the hem of her jeans were designer, as was the white cotton pullover. She was more deeply tanned than Melinda would have expected for late January, and the thin, pale crinkles at the corners of her sapphire eyes suggested she’d recently spent a fair amount of time squinting into the sun. Playing tennis possibly, or golf, on some Caribbean island. The smooth, unblemished surface of her fingers indicated she didn’t occupy her time outside doing manual labor.
Melinda imagined her lounging poolside at a resort or country club. She indulged herself with the pleasurable vision of the striking blonde in several even more interesting scenarios, all of which involved very little clothing, champagne and caviar, and an assortment of playthings. Melinda crossed her legs, escalating the tension between her thighs, enjoying the thrum of arousal. She’d been working too hard lately and had neglected her more personal appetites for far too long.
“I was just working on some notes,” Adrian said, hastily turning the smeared pages over to a blank sheet.
“Are you a college student?”
Adrian flushed under the scrutiny. She wasn’t a stranger to the attentions of women, or men, but this woman’s gaze bordered on avaricious. Reflexively, she edged closer to the window side of her seat, putting a few inches between her leg and Melinda’s warm thigh. Business-class train seats were hardly roomy, and even though she’d gotten used to close proximity with strangers through her constant travel, she still was never completely comfortable with anyone in her personal space. This afternoon, for some reason, she was even more sensitive. She had no idea why she sensed danger from Melinda Singer, because the woman had done nothing other than appraise her with candid interest. Adrian didn’t enjoy game playing in her relationships or any other aspect of her life, so she wasn’t quite sure why Melinda’s direct approach should bother her.