WHEN DOVES CRY: THE CAST
Gerald Stuart wasn’t from this world of movers and shakers. Politicians and old money clashed with the Old World sensibilities of his hardened business sense which had earned him access to the Senator’s party. That, a few well placed checks, threats, and handshakes had guaranteed him a way into this New World of wealth and sophistication. He, along with his associate and childhood chum, Leo Falconeri ran their quickly expanding organization with equal parts iron fist and fluid efficiency. They disagreed on nothing and it was always clear Gerald was the leader with Leo the loyal lieutenant. But Gerald wasn’t content on acceptance into the circle, he wanted to dominate it and carry it in his back pocket.
“Can you believe we’re actually in Senator Gray’s home?”
“Keep it cool. We want to impress the Senator with our professionalism not to go gaga over his lifestyle.”
A servant walked by with a tray of drinks. Leo took one. Gerald took two. “Watch and learn.”
Isabelle sat by herself on the stairs. She hated things like this. Her father was always trotting her out for show his ‘guests’, really potential contributors. There was no telling how much they had paid just to be in his presence. She wanted no part of it. Tonight he had forced her to play the piano. His trophy prodigy-see look what I made-she hated the whole game. And her mother, she was just lost in her world of cotillions and running the household. Her only friend in the house was Rosa, ‘the maid’. She was black and lived on the property along with all the other servants. But it wasn’t Rosa on her mind. This party was supposedly in lieu of her eighteenth birthday party. Her mother had invited several eligible bachelors. However she only had eyes for only one of the men who had come inside her personal prison.
Gerald Stuart had not been on her mother’s guest list as a possible future husband. He was a guest of her father’s for reasons unknown to her. He was older than her. Thirty years old. Dressed in a tux with blond hair and the bluest eyes she’d ever seen.
He was different from the others. He had a reputation as having his hand in criminal activities. Yet the women in house liked him, causing their husbands and men to hold their wives and girlfriends a little closer. She noticed the man at his side too, Leo Falconeri. Where Gerald was lean and muscular with charismatic and dominating personality, Leo seemed a little out of his depth and just happy to be in the big leagues. She could see in Gerald’s eyes he had plans. But her mother would never let anything happen between the two of them.
She stood up from the stairs she was sitting on and retreated to the music room and sat down at the piano. She may not be getting the man she wanted but she refused to be her family’s pawn in a power play for more status and leverage in Kentucky politics.
She allowed her fingers to tickle the ivories and instead of playing the safe, chaste, melodies her parents had paid for her to learn she started to sing a song she’d composed. A love song. A ballad so haunting and sad and beautiful that whoever she was singing it to would love her the way she would love them.
And then she launched into a bouncy poppy song of light hearted song of love lost. And when she stopped she whispered, “Why are you doing this to me Mom?”
“Why is Mom doing what?” The English accent wrapped in velvet voice rumbled into the room and into her chest.
Isabelle twisted around and her gaze came to rest on Gerald who was leaning in the doorway holding two glasses of champagne. She waited for moment as her heart skipped a beat. His charisma was electric and she couldn’t help but be pulled into his world.
“Setting me up for indentured servitude,” she sighed as he walked in, shutting the door with his foot. “We shouldn’t be doing this,” she said as he handed her one of the glasses.
“Doing what?” He asked with a charming smile and taking a seat next to her.
“Talking with the door closed.”
“And why not? Your mother wants you to find a fiancé does she not?”
“I don’t mean to offend you, but the last person my mother would want me to marry is you.”
“None taken. But you’re eighteen, right?”
He took a sip of his champagne and grinned. “And you’ve been watching me all night.”
She dipped her head and blushed. He chuckled. She raised her head and said, “I know who you are and what you do. And that you would be the absolute worst choice in my family’s eyes. But I look in your face and I think…life with you would be better than anything any of these phonies here could ever offer me.”
“I think you’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen,” he said setting his drink down, gazing at her intensely, touching her cheek and brushing her lips with his thumb. “The question is, just how far are you willing to test that theory of yours out that I’m the best husband you could ask for?”
Her breath caught in her chest. She had never so much as been kissed. Gerald Stuart wasn’t a boy looking to court her. Her was a man looking to change her world forever. She closed her eyes and wished for Gerald to rescue her from her gilded cage.
“Ah…” he said, “what would you want from me that perhaps I couldn’t give you?”
“Rosa,” Isabelle said with sadness.
“You want a maid? I can give you a maid?”
“She’s the woman who’s raised me as long as I can remember.”
“You’re right, I may not be able to do that for you. Will you come with me anyway?”
“Soon. I need to prepare a place for you. Would you want a wedding?”
“Yes,” she said her heart racing, her mouth dry.
“One that’ll embarrass my father.”
“I think I can do that,” he said hovering around her mouth.
“One that’ll shame my mother.”
“I can definitely do that. Isabelle Stuart have you ever been kissed?”
“No,” she said opening her eyes.
He took the drink from her hand and set it aside and gathered her up in his arms, his hands travelling the length of her back. Her breath hitched as his mouth met hers in a lingering kiss. Slowly he deepened it, growing more passionate with each passing moment.
Her heart hammered against his ribcage. And as his hand moved up the nape of her neck she broke off the kiss and leaned back into his touch as he trailed kisses down her throat. She held on tight. She didn’t know if Gerald meant a word of what he said, but at least for a little while she could pretend freedom was within reach.