Wild Passion
afire
with embarrassment, with confusion and so many other emotions that
she couldn’t possibly understand. “It belongs to the world.”
    “Hmm.” He looked like he was desperately trying to
understand, but just couldn’t grasp the words. And why would he?
The story was preposterous. The belief that the statue held power
was insane. “I see,” he continued. “And your mother, does she
understand the importance of this object?”
    Adelaide shook her head, feeling the sudden sting of
tears. Merde, she wouldn’t cry. She never cried! “No, she
doesn’t understand.” Her voice broke with emotion.
    “Have you not told her because she would tell you not
to sell this object?”
    She nodded, staring at the stone floor.
    He sighed, a gentle sound. “Well, child, I think you
know the answer. Don’t you? Your mother would never want you to
save her over the suffering of others.”
    He was right. Maman would never wish for her
to sin, but what choice did she have? Live forever in poverty?
Watch as her mother slowly died because they couldn’t afford a
doctor, let alone the tonics she needed to keep her lungs
cleared.
    “If your mother dies,” he said softly, as if reading
her mind, “it will be with a clean heart, a clean soul.”
    He had her. With those words he had her in his holy
grip. “Your hands,” she choked out, tears slipping down her
cheeks.
    He shook his head. “I don’t understand.”
    She grabbed his pale, warm hands and closed her eyes.
Immediately, images flashed to mind.
    This man, this very priest in a dry, barren
land…India. His face flushed with sweat and heat as he handed her
golden statue to another…to a man in green robes. The holy man in a
temple, placing the statue on a pedestal. Vines growing, stone
crumbling, moss spreading, time passing and the statue still sat
there. Safe. Forgotten.
    Adelaide opened her eyes and released the priest’s
hold. The walls wavered, her mind attempting to understand its
place on the line of time.
    “Are you well?” the priest asked her. He was watching
her strangely, unsure if he should be nervous or not. She didn’t
have time to explain her gift.
    “Go,” Adelaide whispered, shoving her hands into his
shoulders. “Go now. Hurry.”
    He stumbled backward, his face a mask of confusion
and shock.
    She surged to her feet, her body trembling with pent
up fear and anxiety. “Under the servant’s stairs in the back,
you’ll find something important. Very important. Tell no one what
it is, or what you hold. You’ll know what to do when you see
it.”
    He merely stood there, staring at her. Adelaide
wasn’t sure if she wanted to laugh or cry. “Father, you must go,
now! Before they arrive.”
    He nodded quick jerky movements of his head. He might
not understand what she asked of him, but he understood the
direness of the situation. “God be with you,” he whispered.
    The young man spun around in a flurry of robes and
raced down the aisle, disappearing into a corridor. The sound of
his footsteps faded. Silence settled. She was alone once more.
    Adelaide started forward, her leg’s trembling. She
must escape before… a shiver of unease made her blood cold. She’d
heard no footsteps, but she knew someone was there and it wasn’t
the Father returning.
    “Where do you think you’re going?” a man asked, a
familiar voice. A voice she’d heard only once before but the sound
had been implanted in her memory. Lord Emery.
    Adelaide resisted the urge to shiver. Slowly, she
turned. He looked as elegant and well-dressed as he had at the
ball. And those eyes…yes, those eyes were still just as cold. “Lord
Emery.” She realized, with some relief, that he had come alone.
Perhaps she could outwit this man. Perhaps she could play dumb. And
if that didn’t work, there was always running.
    “Where is it?” he demanded.
    She knew what he wanted. Had James told him she had
the statue? She felt the sting of the man’s betrayal like a knife
to her chest.

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