Soul in His Eyes
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by Christine London
Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance/Romance
Description: Christine Rose lives an ideal life in a beach suburb of Los Angeles with her husband, Leo. Whilst on summer break from her teaching responsibilities, Christine sees Hollywood's rendition of her favorite Gothic romantic musical, featuring a mysteriously magnetic actor with haunting, haunted eyes. Will his response to her letter help her cope with the tragedy that rips her world apart? Fascinated by her acuity and racked with the lonely isolation of fame, Erik pursues the Californian woman through an affair of words. He is as determined to open Christine's heart as she is to save him from his self-imposed solitude. But before they can dream of what lies in the future, they must come to grips with their pasts, as well as the myriad of obstacles fate and fame place in their way. Set in Los Angeles, Iceland, London, and Scotland this globe-trotting novel visits the disparate worlds of quiet family life and the lightening paced celebrity of movie making. It interweaves two life stories, unfolding half a world apart, in a novel of courage, strength and love.
eBook Publisher: Phaze, 2008
eBookwise Release Date: March 2008
2 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [510 KB]
Reading time: 324-454 min.
The soul in your eyes...
What are these things? It has nothing to do with our jobs, our families, or even our passions. It is something central to our core. Something inexplicable. Something that lives behind our eyes in that part of us that is non-corporeal. It is of spirit; essence. It is what matters most. Wrapped in legacy, clothed in eternity, it touches the face of God.
There is a connection between certain souls that transcends time and space. It is the most real thing this side of heaven. * * * *
"Jacob Brice, beware!" he rasped in rage as the black-cloaked man leapt from the roof, landing hard on the stone steps of the mausoleum. The impact forced him to his knees. The sword in his hand struck the cast iron fence with a harsh metallic clank. Quickly dislodging it, he swung about to face his opponent. With the fury of betrayal in his eyes he lifted the blade up and around his head, striking the sword of the man before him. The force of it sent his opponent reeling backwards off the steps and to the ground, landing on his back. With weapon miraculously still in hand, Jacob scrambled to regain his footing. The aggressor's cloak swirled like thick black smoke as he jumped down to carry on his attack.
"Stand if you be a man," Jerad growled.
"You are insane!" Jacob retorted, springing to his feet.
Jerad lunged at him, teeth clenched in anger and exertion. Jacob countered. They fought blow for blow across the uneven terrain of the graveyard. Jacob caught his boot on the edge of a stone pathway, falling again to the ground, this time losing the grip on his weapon. It flew, landing at a distance in the dirt.
"Damn it", he cursed as the director shouted, "cut."
Erik lowered his sword and strode over to see if his colleague was all right. Reaching down, he extended his hand to Peter, the actor playing his nemesis. "I don't think Jacob would have allowed such a faux paux," Erik jested as he helped Peter to his feet. "Are you all right, mate?"
"Yeah ... just bloody clumsy. You're right. He never would have lost his sword. Too much the classic protagonist."
"Right, boys. Shall we try that again?" Geoff boomed from his chair behind the camera. He rose and walked over to his two male leads. "That was brilliant ... up until your little stumble, Peter," he said with a chortle. "Do it again without landing on your arse and it'll be a print."
The actors, still breathing hard from the exertion of the fight, imparted a scowl. Geoff peered with raised brows at the expression on their faces and added, "Yeah, yeah ... I know the bloody swords are heavy and it's difficult. That's why you gents spend all those hours in the gym." He gave them a wink and headed back to his chair.
Peter and Erik looked at each other, resignation on their faces. Sweeping his cloak up over his arm, Erik walked back toward the mausoleum, glad that there was no singing to be done in this scene of Midnight Music. The inevitable make-up girl intercepted him. She began touching up his face and hair like a cleaner fish swirling around a shark. "Sorry for the sweat, my dear ... occupational hazard." He gazed at her, reached for a bit of lint at her temple and brushed it away with his thumb.
She blushed. "Mr. Bartholomew, if you aren't the cheeky one."
"Turn about is fair play," he quipped.
"All right, gentlemen. Let's get this done properly. Take your places, please," Geoff bellowed. As Erik climbed atop the mausoleum, he smiled to himself. This shoot was a dream come true. It would most likely put his name on the actors "A" list. More importantly, he was having the time of his life. * * * *
Early morning overcast clung along the L.A. coast where the chilly sea met the warming land; a misty marine blanket covering Christine's condo. It was a cozy setting for a few blissful hours of musical fantasy. Leo gone to work and daughter Kate surfing with friends, Christine stole the moment to slip in a DVD.
She curled up on the couch; the heat from her morning coffee warming her hands, cradling the mug in her lap. Smiling in anticipation of more private time, her eyes sparked, a hint of laugh lines showing at their corners.
Sepia toned images of nineteenth century Paris flooded across the screen; then the music ... that deep, foreboding and familiar organ music engulfed her. She was swept away into a world of beautiful costumes and romance, all set to a lushly orchestrated score. The story held her. She watched mesmerized, as the male lead appeared. The graceful fluidity in which he moved, his deep resonant voice, and those pleading eyes captured her. Much younger than she had anticipated, he was tall, well over six feet, with a muscular build, glossy, dark hair brushed straight back. He had long trim sideburns and a square jaw. His brows arched high in emotional expressiveness and furrowed in moments of anguish. Piercing green eyes reflected deep strength and sadness. She gasped at what was harbored in those eyes. How could a two-dimensional figure seem so powerfully real? She felt herself instantly drawn to him, as though she had met him before. Who was this man who seemed to transcend time and space?
As the movie ended and the credits rolled, Christine scanned the screen to find his name. There ... Erik Bartholomew.
The final music montage ended, the screen returning to its familiar vacant blue glow. Snap out of it, she told herself as the cell phone chirped from the depths of her canvas bag. She tripped, lunged, fumbled to retrieve it.
"Hey, Babe, What's up?" It was Leo.
"Nothing" she replied, immediately feeling a pang of guilt, having spent the morning with another man.
"I'll pick you up at six o'clock so we can grab a burrito at LBJ's before the book club. Okay?"
"Okay." She replied in perfunctory fashion.
"See ya then, beautiful. Bye."
Christine lowered the phone absently to the counter, staring blankly out the kitchen window. "Oh, shit," she whispered. "I think I'm in trouble." * * * *
The sun spilled in through the lace curtains, over the computer where Christine sat pondering her next Internet search. Shutters flung open, the floral scent of roses drifted in on the warm breeze. Sighing, she began to hunt and peck across the keyboard. It had been a strange week full of surprising, conflicting emotions. How long had it been ... five, maybe six years since she'd been moved by a film? This, however, was different. It wasn't all about the film. It had to do with the man. The actor. Those haunted eyes.
Blue-grey gems in a shaft of illumination; her eyes scanned the monitor. She stretched long legs, adjusting her posture to accommodate her tall frame in the oak swivel chair facing the roll top desk.
"Come on ... come on," she chanted in impatience.
Rotating strong slender shoulders in circular motion, she gently tilted her head from side to side, squinting at the fine print on the screen, more in vague frustration than denial of her age. After all, she had two more years before the big 5-0.
"Hhhmm ... Erik Bartholomew Actors Page, Erik Bartholomew.net, E.B.Fans, Erik B's Official Unofficial Fan Site, Everything Erik, E. B.'s First German Fan Site, Japanese Fans of E. Bartholomew, Green Celt Eyes. "My God.... is there no end to this man's admirers?" she wondered aloud. Click. The 'Everything Erik' page opened with a fanfare of music; his voice spoke a welcoming greeting of thanks in a thick Glaswegian burr. Funny, how his accent had been hidden throughout the music of the film. It was a perfect example of the peculiar tendency that singing has to melt all English dialects into a sort of standard; just as the Beatle's Scouse lilt had smoothed into an almost American-sounding vernacular as they sang.
The corners of her mouth curled in fond recollection of her recent visit to the electronics store; eyes drawn to the DVD of a musical she had first seen performed on the stage in San Francisco. The space in her heart that loved the enveloping velvet of the music and the largesse of the dark passionate landscape taunted, tempted her to return. She had missed its debut in theaters last winter. Advertisements on television at the time had moved her, evoking a lush, languorous appeal; an attraction as undeniable as moth to flame. Its score seduced her, just as it had ten years before.
Now it was a warm and wonderful July in Southern California. School was out and life ticked to a slower clock. The DVD she'd scooped up in a moment of impulsive decadence and watched in sweet solitude lay on the cluttered surface of the computer table along with her shopping list, keys, bills to pay and a faded photograph of two sanguine faced teenagers who stared out at her from a silver frame tilted at the corner. Silver anniversary of her life with Leo; was she the same person as that girl with the petulant grin that peered out from the confines of the frame?
She reached for the edge; dragging it closer to look at the impetuous smirk of the man-child she'd called her fiancé then, husband now. What a rake he'd been, what a treasure.
Still, there was the restlessness. Ever since school ended and the long days of summer commenced, she'd felt it, more aware, more sensual than she could remember.
Pushing the frame back to its place, she scrolled her eyes upwards, first in personal reprimand, then petition.
"Come on, God. Give me a break ... or at least a clue," she sighed.
Walking the curve of her local beach when no one was home, she'd been spending lots of time with herself. Looking into the vibrant faces of those youthful naive kids in the photograph, she felt decadent, almost sinful in allowing herself these freedoms of escape from her everyday responsibilities.
She shifted in the chair. The flutter of silk over skin sent a tingle up her spine and goose bumps crawling down her arms. The breeze off the ocean stirred a longing in her that she could not describe; wanderlust rekindled. Maybe she had spent too many months cooped up in her classroom without feeding her sense of adventure. She ran her hands up and down her arms, trying to allay the shudder that moved there.
Whatever it was, she had an almost eerie clairvoyance of something profound and poignant about to happen in her life.
Only Google shone at her. She stared at the screen, trying to think. Once again, his voice intruded, that deep, hypnotic baritone that haunted her waking hours. His eyes even crept into her dreams. What would Leo think if he knew that she was mysteriously drawn to another man, a man she had never met ... a man named Erik?
Silly ... nothing, she had told herself each time she stole a few minutes to replay the scenes in which he appeared, to visit his eyes once more. He's just an actor, a person playing a part.
It didn't work.
She focused back on the screen. "I wonder what people are saying about him?" she mused as she clicked on a fan link. Starting to read, she wondered why it was so surprising that women from around the world admired and wanted him. Their comments often sounded juvenile to her, much like a teen crush. It seemed to cheapen her experience of him. Why could these women see only his physique? They gushed over his muscular build, his perfectly tussled hair, his square set jaw. Were they all blind to the soul that peered out through those haunted eyes? Didn't they wonder what things he had experienced in his life to bring him to a place where he could breathe such life into a character?
She surfed over to the photo gallery. Picture after picture displayed a ruggedly handsome man. The images of him staring into the camera robbed her of breath. It was as though she could feel his presence in the room with her.
Once again, she forced herself back to reality by clicking to check her e-mail. I have to stop acting like a teenager, she thought. These impressions I'm getting aren't real. Stories like this can't be true. All this "old soul" stuff, or meeting in another life. No.
The feelings lingered. She could not assuage them. * * * *
The door leading from the garage caught Leo on the shoulder as he paused at the threshold of their living room. His deep chocolate brown eyes captured her startled expression. "Hey. Are you ready?"
Christine jumped from her thoughts to face him. "Shit, you scared me," she said, a catch in her voice. "I was just--"
"Thinking about something really hot, judging by the look on your face."
She raised a speculative brow. "No, I was headed for the bedroom to get my shoes. I wasn't expecting you for another few minutes."
He approached her, reaching to hook her shoulder before she could turn to climb the stairs. "I think I need to be the judge of that." Rotating her with a firm grasp, he drew her into his arms. "Let me take a look at you."
Face turned up to meet his, her eyes reflected both questions and culpability. "Don't we need to be moving along so we won't be late?" she asked.
"You're not telling me everything. What have you been up to?" He lowered his mouth to graze her cheek. Her breath fanned out across his jaw and the cord of his neck. "Why do you look like the proverbial cat that swallowed the canary?" he questioned in a low rumble at her ear.
Placing her palm against the center of his chest, she pushed him back to engage his eyes. "Just because you were the officer in charge for so many years--"
"My Naval career has nothing to do with the guilty pleasure I seem to have caught you in the middle of."
"Doesn't a girl have the right to a fantasy life?" She posed in her sultry alto register.
"Come on, Christine. You know what that lioness voice does to me." He threaded his hand through her hair, cupping her head at the nape. "Makes me crazy." The urgency of their evening's book club commitment faded as a coil of need curled in his gut to take its place. Lowering his mouth to nibble at the corner of her full lips, he breathed in the smell of her, sun and salt with a hint of that tangy female scent of arousal. Screw the book club. He claimed her mouth, filling it with a provocative commanding tongue. He felt her relax into his overt invitation, melding against the rigid demands of his body. She chased his tongue with her own, teasing, taunting him to take things to the next level. No problem. He drew back from her, appraising her expression with increasing demand expanding his chest, tugging at the desire blooming there. Her eyes were dilated with a haze of yearning. Unexpectedly, she swiveled and bolted up the stairs, scooping her tank top over her head and tossing it back toward him as seductive fodder.
He hesitated at the startling turn of events, momentarily taken aback by her playful flirtatiousness. Wake up, man, he shouted internally. Taking the steps by twos, he followed the trail of soft giggles that spilled down the stairs in her wake.
The satin of the sheets slid cool against his skin as he expressed the familiar possessive passion he felt for her. Each time was good, bringing comforting security, an illumination of so many years of shared experiences and complete knowledge of the other. He kissed her forehead tenderly, arms banded around her shoulders, her head resting on the curl of his bicep. Her hair smelled of summer sun and the faint fruitiness of her shampoo. Gathering her closer, he squeezed her against his chest, resting his chin on the crown of her head. Dragging in a deep breath of satisfaction, his gaze drifted to the clock on the nightstand.
She wriggled in his arms as he loosened his hold on her. Looking up into his face, eyes alight with satisfaction and love, her bottom lip jutted out in regretful apology. "Leo ... the time," she whispered.
He grinned sheepishly. "You are just so damn sexy when you've been out in the sun all dressed in summer's glow," he gallantly blamed her magnetism for leading him astray.
Christine shot a spurious look of annoyance at him, melting into gentle affection and appreciation of his roguishly boyish displays. The corners of her mouth turned up in delight.
He shrugged and swung his legs over the edge of the bed, reaching to retrieve the jockey shorts he'd peeled off in the heat of the moment. "Better than dinner, don't you think?" he said, back turned to her as he jabbed a toe through the leg opening.
"Absolutely delicious, but you're still buying me dinner," came her reply from behind him, as he felt the shift of the mattress when she rose to dress. * * * *
"What did you do today, lady of summertime leisure?" Leo asked as he drove down Pacific Coast Highway toward the community building where the book club met.
"I finally got to watch Midnight Music."
"Is that out on DVD?"
"Was it as good as on stage?"
Leo slid an appraising glance to his wife, and then returned his eyes to the road. "Really? It was terrific when we saw it live in S.F."
"It's a very personal story on film. You know the way in films they can really focus in on a character's facial expressions? The actor doesn't have to project to a huge theater. They don't have to use grand gestures. It's easier to see into their motives and emotions."
"Sounds good. Let's watch it sometime."
Christine thought that "sometime" probably meant never, or at least far off. He wouldn't be there to see her betray her vulnerability to the actor named Erik. Leo always seemed to know when something deeper was going on inside her. Surely, he would see it in her, if they watched Midnight Music together, at least now, when her perceptions seemed so compromised over her experience, so raw, so unfathomable. * * * *
"Cool barbeque." Leo's voice drifted up the stairs as she sat at her desk.
"Yeah," she shouted back to him. "I'm gonna write a thank you note." As the last words left her mouth, Leo appeared at the door, leaning against the jamb, bathing suit and towel in hand.
"Hot tub, darlin'?"
She squeezed together apologetic brows. "Do you mind if I pass? I've got to do this before I forget."
"You never forget." He draped the bright striped towel over his shoulder and swung the khaki swim trunks in a provocative circle in front of him. "I could lose these real fast if--" He wiggled a brow.
She sprang from the chair and ran to throw appreciative arms around him. Kissing his cheek, she murmured in his ear. "Give me half an hour?"
Clutching the trunks in hand, arms encircling her waist, he countered. "You know I'm not good at waiting."
"Makes the game all that much sweeter." She nibbled at his lobe.
Dropping his arms from around her, he backed away. "Not if you keep provoking me. Then there is no waiting."
She tilted her head and flashed sad puppy-dog eyes.
"Damn it, Christine. I don't know another man who could stand up under the strain." He took the trunks in a wadded grip, stiffening his shoulders and turned to head back down the stairs.
"Thanks, honey." She smiled in pensive gratitude. Turning back to the desk, it struck her. Didn't Erik deserve a thank you note, of sorts, for the pleasure his performance had given, the deep emotional impact he'd had on her? It was just a note, after all.
How could she make an impression upon him, adequately express what she felt in her heart? How might she insure that the letter got past whatever screening process she knew all celebrities had in place via fan mail receiving agencies?
Shamelessly rifling the contents of the oak desk, she searched for something to make her offering stand out. Ahh ... airmail paper, the tin, diaphanous white article that seems to float when you move it. At least the lavender colored envelopes she found shoved in the back under a pile of Christmas cards would charm. They'd been her favorites.
Rummaging through the top drawer of the desk, she found her old calligraphy pen. She had once taught herself the fluid strokes by carefully copying and practicing each letter from a sample page she'd gotten at a stationary store. Forming the letters made her feel as though she was part of some by-gone era when people had actually handwritten their thoughts and dreams to each other, a slower, more gentile time.
She tested the pen out on a piece of scratch paper. Good, the ink was still working. She wrote her name with beautiful fluidity. "I've still got it", she whispered to herself. Placing a small stack of the fragile white paper in front of her, she began to write. As she did, she tried to keep her emotions in check, but they manifest, if not obviously, then certainly between the lines:
I cannot believe that I am writing a love letter, a letter of appreciation and admiration to a man I have never met..." She wrote on in startling splendor; her words a fathomless repository of her soul.
The sun shimmered in through the glass windowpanes as she glanced out across the swaying greenery of her back garden. Even the soft mid-summer sway of the foliage and the warm yellow glow of daylight held the world a curious hostage to its indolent course, the soothing hum of the season. Everything was working quietly as it should, nothing minding the upsets and turmoil of human undertakings.
"...You have made an impression on me, a mysterious man with the ability to touch hearts. I have to admit that I don't know the man, Erik, but am mightily curious. What sort of man are you? What makes you tick? What inspires you and brings you joy? I wonder.
So from across a continent and an ocean, I extend an invitation to be, for lack of a more modern term, a 'pen-pal'. If your soul desires a slower, more thoughtful pace, perhaps you will be tempted to respond."
To this letter she attached some short poetic remembrances of her impressions of Scotland from the year in college spent abroad. (.... "The wind flowing through the tender grass across the lowlands leading to Stirling Castle".... ) She also slipped in a photograph taken of her in the shade of a birch tree with the sun illuminating her hair from behind. It was a true rendering, taken in her college days, showing her with a playful expression creeping across her face.
"I am asking that you send me a signed picture, so it's only fair that I send one of me to you," she quipped. She also included a recent photo, one that all teachers have taken at the beginning of the school year. She wrote a comment about it being more current. No deception, cards on the table, she put her heart in his hands. Perhaps he would see something in her eyes, as she had in his.