Upon a Star
By Kimberley Comeaux
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The cold crisp England
air ripped through the garment Kristy wore as if she were wearing
nothing. The velvet mantle flying with the wind behind her offered
nothing in the way of warmth. And her bottom was getting raw from
straddling the horses bare back, while the muscles in her thighs
were crying in pain from clamping tightly around the mares middle
and trying not to fall off.
All in all, Kristy
feared she had made a hasty and stupid mistake.
Remarkably, no one had
seen her as she rode off the grounds. Either they were too busy to
look up or they were in their cottages. And now as she reached
what looked like a road, she wasn’t all together sure just where
she’d planned on going in the first place. If she just knew
where Christiana’s uncle lived she could go there. But where in
the heck was ‘yon hill’ as Nan had so "English"ly
Her stomach growled in
protest of the breakfast it missed, and she was shivering from the
damp. October air. She nudged her mount on up the road and stopped
when she came to a trail leading into the woods.
An idea began forming
in her mind. She decided to hide out in the forest for most of the
day and by the evening she would go back to the castle and hope
that Darian the barbarian was gone by then.
dismounted and smoothed her skirts back into place. As quietly as
she could, she lead the horse into the dark trees and soon found a
clearing where she was sure that she wouldn’t be seen from the
She sat on the cold,
wet ground and wrapped her mantle tight around her shivering form.
Good grief! But this place was spooky. It was broad daylight
outside but where she sat there was only small rays shooting
through the thickly leafed trees, making everything look dim. And
Kristy was sure she heard every eerie sound imaginable the first
fifteen minutes out there.
She felt a pair of
eyes on her and she looked up to find the mare she’d ridden
staring down at her. She snapped at her, "What are you
looking at, you stupid animal? I know this was an idiotic idea.
Wishes! Bah! I’ll never make another wish as long as I
live!" She pulled irritatingly at the mantle trying to pull
it closer, doing not a bit of good.
"Do you make a
habit of talking to animals? Or were you referring to me?"
"No I don’t
always talk to…" she started to answer the deep voice that
came from the direction of her horse, but her heart stopped and
her eyes grew round as she began to realize that horses don’t
talk. That meant she now had company!
Jumping up she peered
over her horse and met with a pair of cool gray eyes. Her eyes
then took in the rest of him and immediately realized that this
was the man she’d seen riding up to the castle this morning.
cried, her eyes showing her surprise.
A dark eyebrow quirked
up and the man, who was standing there with huge arms crossed over
his chest, answered dryly. "Me?"
For a second she was
too stunned to move. Never, never had any man (or any woman for
that matter) spoken to her in such a condescending manner. And she
was mad at herself for not standing up to him, but some sane,
common sense part of her seemed to remind her that she was living
in a different time, in another part of the world. A world that
didn’t have the ideals that were bred in her all her life, ruled
by men who looked at woman as nothing more than a vessel for
breeding their offspring and treated as second class citizens.
For now she decided to
back down, but just this once. Once they reached the castle she
would think of something else. Standing alone in a forest with a
barbarian who could easily do her harm was not the time and place
to pick a fight.
turned to her horse but nearly let out a groan when she looked at
it’s bare back. How in the world was she going to find a
graceful way to mount and ride without stirring his dander up
Too late! "What,
may I ask, is now the problem?" his deep voice barked causing
her to wince.
She stared up at him
with narrowed eyes and a pursed set of lips. She’d run into
muggers that were nicer than this big oaf! "You don’t have
to yell at me, I’m not deaf. But you must be blind because if
you could see, you would notice that I don’t have a saddle,
Of course the
‘Sherlock’ totally escaped him, the rest of her words did not.
"You to tell me that you rode out hear with a saddle?"
"I was in a
A sudden picture of
her appeared in his mind. He could almost imagine a pair of lily
white, shapely legs as they gripped the sides of her horse, her
tunic gathered high above her knees....With a determined
forcefulness he shook his wayward thoughts to the back of his mind
and concentrated on the problem at hand.
He swore then. Loudly
and colorfully. "God save me from idiotic women!" He
raged toward heaven, throwing his arms upward then letting them
fall heavy against his legs.
In two seconds he was
mounted on his horse and another two, he had grabbed her up with
one arm and planted her sideways in front of him. This put her
sitting much to close for comfort in his lap. He then slapped the
mare’s rear and immediately it fled the direction from where
they had come. With a nudge from his spurs they soon followed.
They rode in complete
and very uneasy silence the whole way back to Cranbrook castle.
And sitting across his legs as she was, totally unnerving her to
no end. And it didn’t help that his brutish arm was clamped
tightly around her waist, holding her body flush up against his
rock solid chest. Consciously she held herself ridged, refusing to
allow her head to rest against his neck.
An emotion that she
wasn’t well acquainted with was surfacing at an alarming rate.
It was fear. Fear, not from what she thought he might be capable
of doing to her, nor from his callous threats. It was a fear of
herself, what she was feeling, how her body was reacting being so
close to him. Fear of how her heart wanted to reach out to him
when she caught a glimpse of the well hidden unhappiness lingering
in his eyes.
And that’s why she
wouldn’t dare relax her head and give in to him. Because she
felt once her cool cheek pressed against the warmness of that
thick beautiful neck she would lose the will to fight this
marriage. He was the type of man a woman could lose her heart too.
But he was most certainly the type of man that could easily rip
that same heart to pieces.
appeared in her blue eyes and a streak of pride came nudging
through to the forefront of her thoughts. Besides, she soundly
reminded herself, the man is a total cad. He walks about on
God’s green earth as if all it’s inhabitant should bow down
and obey his every command. So what if he’s drop dead handsome.
Big deal! Pretty is as pretty does, as her grandma so often
reminded her, and so far his personality hasn’t exactly come up
smelling like roses!
Remember that Kristy,
remember that! But her
resolve slipped a notch as she felt his warm breath as it gently
touched her ear.
She clenched her eyes
tightly and pleaded inwardly, Jubal, please get me out of this!
Jubal, looking down on
the couple as they entered the castle gate from his perch up in
the heavens, just smiled a smile that said ‘everything is
working as planned’..... and remained… silent.
The time had come.
With a sinking heart, Kristy felt the weight of what was now going
to happen bear heavily upon her. How could she have known? How
could she have known that a silly impetuous wish would have sent
her to this unbelievable fate! It had all the makings of a Twilight
Zone episode. But this wasn’t TV and Rod Serling wasn’t
around the corner recounting the details. This was real. Bizarre.
But, unfortunately, real.
And in just a few
short minuets she was to become the Countess of Greystone.
Correction, Christiana was becoming a countess, but until she
could convince Jubal to ship her out of her and back to the
twentieth century, she was Christiana of Cranbrook whether she
liked it or not.
When they had returned
to the castle, she had made one last ditch effort to persuade Lord
William that she was not his daughter. But the man obviously
didn’t spend enough quality time to get to know his daughter or
either he was too distraught over losing Christiana to such a
threatening man, because Kristy was sure that her parents would
have known right away that someone had switched places with her,
dead ringer or not!
But then again, being
that Christiana was so obviously given to theatrics, her story
merely sounded like a desperate final ploy to escape this unwanted
Nan stepped back,
looking Kristy over and admiring the wonderful job she had done on
making her into a beautiful bride. "Well, milady, at least
you look from the outside like a proper bride for an earl, if only
you would try to look a mite bit chipper and take that awful frown
from your face. ‘Tis nothing you can do but marry the man and be
done with it." she said with a sigh.
Kristy returned the
sigh and looked with trepidation at the huge wooden doors leading
into the small but charming chapel. "You’re right, Nan. I
guess I knew, somewhere in the back of my mind it would take place
whether I wanted it to or not, I just had to try." And
hadn’t Jubal said that here whole wish would be granted? A wish
that included the emotion of love? That and that alone gave her
the only hope she could cling to.
"I’m ready to
go in, now," she said with remarkable strength in her voice
and tilted her chin upward in a show of determination. She had
gotten through trials and problems before, she would get through
Lord William met
Kristy at the doors and gave her a loving, fatherly hug and walked
with her into the chapel.
Darian watched as the
doors opened and his bride came walking in. From the outside, one
might think he cared not a thought for the beauty walking to him
with boldness shining in her crystal blue eyes. But from the
inside, it clearly was not a case of not caring or not feeling
for, in fact, it was just the opposite. But what exactly he felt,
that Darian did not know. Lust, maybe? It could be. From the
moment he laid eyes on her something ignited in him, the very
sound of that soft voice stirred his blood and made him want to
put his hands on her and taste of her lips.
Aye, that was lust.
And that would be good. It would make it much more pleasurable to
see to the task of getting her with child. And though she referred
to him as a barbarian, he knew that she wasn’t totally
indifferent to him. He could almost read her thoughts as they rode
back this morning from the forest, as she struggled to hold
herself ridged against him, unwilling to touch him more than she
The thought of someday
loving her never once entered his mind. To him that wasn’t an
option or a choice. It just could simply never be. Only a fool
would put total trust in another human being. Only a fool left
himself vulnerable to the chance of being hurt. And after twice
being made such a fool, Darian would not allow a third.
Kristy saw Darian’s
dark glaze rake her figure from top to bottom and then back up
again. There was definitely something different about this look in
his eyes than before. Where his eyes this morning had been cold,
now they were....Geez! They were practically blazing! She decided
right then and there that she much preferred the cold ones rather
than the ones she was staring into now. She felt like one of those
poor lobsters in a restaurant tank that some hungry customer was
Forcing herself to
look ahead at the homely but pleasant looking friar, she finished
her march down the aisle, released Lord Williams arm and stood
next to her betrothed. As she stood there, the whole ceremony
seemed to go in slow motion, not seeming to make any sense. It
just didn’t seem real.
For heaven’s sakes,
just last night she’d been crying over being dumped by Cory and
today she was getting married. Somewhere in the back of her mind,
she still thought that at any time she was going to wake up and it
was all going to be a dream. With sudden inspiration she reached
down and gave her leg a good hard pinch.
Nothing happened. It
has to be real. It’s not a dream. Or maybe I’m going crazy.....
She felt Darian stir
beside her and she saw that his hand was stretched out to her,
palm up. She looked at him curiously.
Christiana. For the ring..." he whispered, but not very
gently. It was clear that he was irritated that she was not paying
She mouthed an
"Oh!" and placed her hand into his very warm one. She
almost jerked it back in surprise. She expected it to be cold, not
the warm, alive touch of a real human being. A real man....
The ring that he
slipped on her finger was absolutely the most beautiful piece of
jewelry that she’d ever seen. Nothing in all of Tiffany’s
could compare to it. The ring was made up of thin, delicate gold
wires, weaved into swirling patters that resembled dainty leaves.
And embedded in the leaves were emeralds of the most brilliant
shade of green.
She then heard the
friar announce that they were now man and wife and said something
about sealing the union with a kiss.
Kristy looked up
nervously at Darian and saw that he was staring down at her with a
strange light in his eyes. Oh Boy! He’s going to kiss me!
Somehow that knowledge caused her stomach to flutter and her heart
rate to quicken.
But her heart quickly
resumed its normal pace. Maybe even slowed a bit....with
disappointment. You really couldn’t have called it a kiss. It
was merely a pressing of the lips, over and done with such a high
rate of speed she wondered if they had touched at all. It reminded
her of the kiss Billy Simmons gave her in the third grade at
But that kiss had
sealed her fate. She was married. She was no longer a model with
schedules, long tiring working hours, and no time or privacy for
herself. She was a wife. No longer Kristy Kendrick, but
Christiana, Countess of Greystone.
Her wish had come
Because what was being
a wife without the love to go along with it. She could have
accomplished this much in the twentieth century. Men all over
America would have married her if she’d ask any of them. But it
wouldn’t be her they wanted but the image of Kristy Kendrick,
the model who had graced the cover of the bathing suit edition of
their favorite sport’s magazine, clad in that peep show of a
bikini they had put on her. Those men wouldn’t care what her
favorite songs were or whether or not she like Chinese food. Or
that she like to take long walks in the mornings, with not a bit
of makeup on, clad in old gray sweats.
Would Darian ever come
to care for her, or would he stay that cold, unmerciful hard man
that she had come to know? And could she be happy living in a
world totally alien to her? Could she leave behind her sister and
her successful career? Would it be enough just to have Darian’s
She sighed as they
left the chapel and rode out into the sunshine.
Right now, she
wasn’t sure about anything.
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