Cursed by Desire

Trista Ann Michaels

 

Chapter 1

“I’ve inherited a what?”

Jordan Taylor stared at the attorney as though he’d lost his mind. She knew her grandfather, and if he’d owned a castle smack-dab in the middle of England, he would have told her. Wouldn’t he?

“You’ve inherited Blackthorn Manor, a fifty-thousand-square-foot manor house resembling a small castle in the town of Dursley, England.”

“Wow, Jordan! Your very own castle. What are you going to do with it?”

Jordan glanced at her best friend Nina. Her red curls bounced as she leaned forward in her chair, the excitement evident in her green eyes. Nina had always had a fascination with castles, and Jordan was sure her friend was already mentally booking them on a plane to England.

“Unfortunately, or fortunately, however you choose to look at it, Miss Taylor must live in the castle for six months before she can inherit anything.”

“Excuse me?” Jordan croaked. She had no desire to move to England for six months.

The attorney, Mr. Scarsdale, adjusted his glasses on his nose and passed the will to her across the desk. “As you can see, your grandfather left you everything, but only if you remain in the castle for six months.”

She skimmed the pages, looking for any hint as to why he would do this. “I don’t understand. What’s so important about this house?”

“I’m afraid I couldn’t answer that, Miss Jordan.”

“I can’t go to England for six months. What about work?”

Nina rolled her eyes. “You’re a romance writer, Jordan. As long as you have the Internet, you can live anywhere.”

Jordan jerked her head up. “This place does have the Internet, right?”

“It has phones and electricity, and I’m assuming it has Internet access as well.”

“Jordan, if it doesn’t, we’ll stick a satellite on the roof and install a system. You’ll be fine.”

She glared at her friend in aggravation. “You just want to go to England and stay in a castle.”

“Of course.” Nina shrugged her shoulder with an impish grin. “You really didn’t think I was going to let you go all alone, did you?”

Jordan brushed her blonde hair back from her face in indecision. She just didn’t understand what her grandfather had been thinking—and when did he even buy the thing? Her grandfather had always loved England and went there several times before he became too sick to travel, but she had no idea he’d bought a house there. No. Not a house. A castle. A castle that was now hers.

“Your grandfather left orders that your travel expenses—and of course Nina’s—will be paid out of the estate. A limo will pick you up at the airport and take you to the house. There are several cars that come with the property, but the caretaker preferred not to drive to London, hence the limo. Your grandfather also left strict instructions that the caretakers be allowed to stay. They have a life estate of sorts.”

“How many are there?” Jordan asked.

“Two. The butler, Rene Bordeaux, and the maid slash cook, Kimberly Weston. They’ve been taking care of the place for quite some time, from what I understand.”

“Oh.” Nina wiggled her eyebrows. “A French butler.”

“Nina, really. He’s probably older than dirt.”

Nina giggled, and Jordan shook her head at her best friend. Sometimes, it was hard to believe the woman was a killer literary agent.

“I have an idea,” Nina started, suddenly becoming all business. “Jordan and I will go to lunch and talk this over. We’ll meet you back here around two?”

“Two is fine.”

The attorney stood and held open the door for them to leave. More than likely he was relieved to see them go. But Nina was right. She needed to talk this through.

* * * *

“So what’s so hard about this, Jordan?” Nina asked, as the waiter refilled her tea glass. “You’re the only one left to inherit. Do you really want all your grandfather’s money and possessions going to strangers because you couldn’t bring yourself to get on a plane?”

“Nina, you know I hate to fly. And besides, what if Josh wants to come back?”

“Jordan, please, we can only hope that prick doesn’t want to come back. The man cheated on you. Not once, sweetie, but twice. Do you really want to go down that road again? You’re better off without him.”

Jordan sighed and glanced around the crowded Mexican restaurant. She hadn’t been here since her and Nina’s last “business discussion.” Nina had been great and had done wonders for her writing career. She was not only the best agent she’d ever had but also the best friend. She might seem flighty at times, but the woman was a genius when it came to negotiating contracts.

Nina had also been her rock when she’d caught Josh cheating on her for the second time. It was a good thing she already had her next two books finished, because she certainly hadn’t been in the mood to write. Every time she tried, she killed her hero—and not quick deaths either, but slow, painful ones.

“I think this trip to England will be the best thing for you. It’ll get you out of here. You’ll have new scenery to admire, and maybe a few nights in this castle will be just the thing to inspire you to write the paranormal historical I’ve been after you to get started on. They’re all the rage, you know.”

“I know. But I don’t have a historical voice, Nina. My heroines keep saying things that are way too modern. I just can’t seem to get the dialogue down. For me, saying things like…” Jordan raised her hand and fanned at her face. “I would be delighted to accompany you, my lord.’ Or, ‘The garden is so divine this evening!’ It’s just unnatural. Please, I would rather eat liver,” she added, rolling her eyes.

Nina laughed. “Okay, so you don’t write historical—you write futuristic. Then you can say whatever comes to mind. It’s your own world which you created yourself.”

Jordan grinned at her friend. “What would I do without you, Nina?”

Nina shrugged. “Why, wither up and die, of course.”

This time it was Jordan’s turn to laugh.

“Now, back to this England thing. I think you should go.”

“Maybe you’re right.” Jordan sat back and allowed the waiter to place her order on the table. The enchiladas looked incredible. She inhaled the scent of refried beans and spiced meat covered in melted cheese. Picking up her fork, she prepared to dig in. “You’re coming with me, right?”

“Of course. I’ll be there as soon as I clear my schedule. Shouldn’t be more than a week, two at the most.”

“Great.” Jordan held her full fork up, saluting her friend. “Here’s to England.”

“To England and a new life.”