Sample Chapter: One For All, And All For One

As most of you know, I’ve been working on a Historical Fiction/Romance novel titled ‘One For All, And All For One’. It centers around Louis XIV/France. This is the next book that I’m striving to release once it’s ready.

Well, I finally finished editing the first chapter and wanted to share it with you all. I hope you all enjoy what I’ve written.

I’d love to know what you all think of this new story.

 

Within The Bastille

 

 

Pushing the man into the small cell, the guard kicked the door shut behind him with the flick of his wrist and walked away without a backward glance. Howling with rage, Louis turned around and ran towards the closed door, ramming his shoulder against it.

“Let me out of here!” he cried. “You have no right to keep me here. I am the King, I tell you!”

The warden chortled, his maniacal laughter ringing throughout the dungeon. “Do ye hear that, boys? He proclaims himself to be the King!”

His brown eyes blazed with fury as he curled his hands into tight fists and banged them against the thick wood. “You have imprisoned the wrong man. I am the King! The man on the throne is an imposter.”

The guard whirled about and marched back towards the oubliette, sporting a set of blackened teeth as his thin lips split into a wry grin. He slid the small wooden bar that sat across the window that allowed him to peer into the prisoner’s cell aside, gazing into Louis’ narrowed eyes. “I would put a cork in it, lest ye want me to come in there and give ye a beating,” he replied, hooking his thumbs into the waistband of his ill-fitting pants.

“I dare you.”

The sentinel shrugged. “Ye are not worth it, lad. ‘Tis the King himself who shall see to it that ye be given your due.”

Louis curled his fingers around the bars that held the opening in place and pushed at them with all his might. “You’re going to regret ever throwing me in here.”

Sliding the timber back into place, the guard pushed himself away from the door. “That, I doubt.”

Slumping against it, Louis seethed with anger. He hated the fact that his beloved Musketeers had betrayed him. Most of all, it irked him that his twin brother was now the King of France. Out of love for his mother, he’d kept Philippe out of sight. He’d been afraid of killing him, for he feared that he would lose the only person he cared for the most should he do so. His brother had been kept hidden at a cottage within the countryside, with a nurse and a cook his only companions, until his sixteenth birthday. It was then that he’d had him transferred to the Bastille. He had thought that it had been for the best. Yet he’d been wrong.

He had never imagined that someone would take it upon himself to best the King at his own game. He had never considered the possibility of being betrayed by those he’d trusted the most. Nor had he ever given thought to having someone else sit upon his throne. The mere thought of the betrayal brought a thick wave of bile to his lips that left him sick to his stomach.

Damn you, Philippe, he thought angrily. Damn you for throwing me in here. Some day, I shall have my revenge, and I will make you pay for all the heartache you have caused me. You will rue the day when I am King once more!

Pushing himself away from the door, he began to pace around the tiny room, his anger growing by the minute. He was unsure as to how long he would be able to last within that dungeon. He was not used to such things. He preferred the finery of his clothes, his wine, and his women. The very thought of his not being able to lie with one upset him.

It saddened him even further as he thought about Christine. A part of him had loved her and he could no longer deny that fact. His mind refused to believe that she was gone. Yet he knew that no amount of wanting and wishing could bring her back to life. His betrayal had caused her to take her life, something that he had never imagined her to do. The guilt that he felt inside would always be there, and he knew that it would never leave him.

If only, he thought. If only. . .

He tugged at the iron mask that sat upon his face in frustration, hating the way the edges of the cold metal chafed his skin. His brow furrowed as he began to think of plausible ways in which he could go about in removing it. He knew that Philippe had the key within his grasp, and no amount of cajoling would make him release his hold on it. Unless. . . .

His eyes twinkled with mischief as an idea began to form. If he were able to convince one of the chamber maids to come daily to the Bastille, he was sure that he’d be able to coerce her into retrieving the key for him. But how will I do that? he wondered, tapping his lips with a fingertip. They are not known to come here, and none of the guards will help me. Hell, they think of me as a mad man, and do not believe me to be the King.

A warm, feminine voice drew him out of his reverie, the sound attracting his attention. He approached the door once more, peeking through the small slits of the wooden bar that lay across its tiny window. His eyes narrowed as he caught sight of a petite, young woman standing beside a very bulky woman. It was evident that they were in the throes of an argument, for her face was suffused with color.

Pushing himself onto the tips of his feet, he squinted in hopes of catching a better glimpse of the pair. It was obvious that the girl did not want to be there and she was doing everything she could to voice her objections. The older woman swung her palm across the young lady’s face in hopes of silencing her. This only caused her to fight back. Winding her left fist within her hair, the matron forcibly pushed the servant onto her knees and summoned one of the guards.

“Get rid of her,” the woman ordered, her black eyes narrowed as she pulled upon the girl’s hair and thrust her towards the sentinel.

He wrapped his arms about her waist as she fell against him, her small fists landing several blows across his face. He did his best to subdue her as he continued to address Madame Baptiste. “And what shall I do with her? There isna a place to put her.”

“Then find one,” she commanded. “Her bickering sickens me, and I want nothing to do with her.”

“But . . .”

She pointed towards the cell in which Louis had been thrown into. “Get rid of her. If she refuses to do as she has been asked, then she is of no use to me. Throw her in there.”

“That room is occupied. I canna . . .”

“Do it!”

His shoulders slumped with defeat. “Yes, Madame,” he said and dragged the girl towards the dungeon.

Fighting against the blows that she continued to rain upon him, he fumbled with his key ring and shoved the correct key into the slot. Not wanting to be caught eavesdropping, Louis pushed himself off of the door and hurried towards the cot that was tucked against the darkened wall of his new quarters. Curling himself into a tight ball, he pretended to be asleep.

The door swung open as the guard shoved the girl inside. Her screams were cut short as she landed on her knees, her skirts and petticoats fluttering about her. He quickly swung the hatch closed and hurried after the older woman’s retreating figure.

Pushing herself into a sitting position, Molly pushed back the stray curls of her chestnut mane that had fallen across her brow. Taking a look about the slightly darkened cell, she could not help but feel a wave of apprehension. This was the first time that she had ever been inside of a dungeon and the thought of remaining there for the rest of her life appalled her.

Her voice quivered as she sought to reach out towards whomever occupied the cramped quarters. “Is anyone there?”

Watching her from the shadows, Louis could not help but smile. She’s perfect, he mused. She’s sure to help me. She has to, or she’ll be sorry.

“Who are you?”

Her eyes narrowed as she looked about and tried to detect his exact location. “Who’s there?”

“Who are you?” he repeated.

Her heart hammered within her chest as her head snapped around to gaze in the direction that he’d spoken. The meager light prevented her from discerning his position.

“H – Hel – l – l – lo?” she prodded as she pushed herself into the shadows. “Who are ye?”

He sat up and swung himself around so that he could rest his back against the wall. “Answer my question, and I shall answer yours.”

“I – I . . . My name is Molly.”

“Molly?” he replied, his voice haughty. “What kind of a name is Molly?”

She wrapped her arms about her knees as she pulled them towards her chest. “It is my name. My mother named me that.”

“And your last name? Do you have one?”

“Aye.”

“What is it?”

“Gautier.”

“Molly Gautier.” His eyes closed of their own volition as he absently fingered the edge of the mask as it rested against his chin. “The name does not suit you, but you shall do.”

Her eyes widened as she misinterpreted his meaning. “I shall do? What are ye going to do to me?”

Unfolding his lean, lithe frame, he rose and slowly approached her cowering form. Staring down at her, he smiled with anticipation. She will be an easy one to overcome, he thought. Her alliance will suit me well.

He knelt before her, placing one of his hands across her left knee. “Do not be afraid of me, Molly. I won’t hurt you.”

She scooted back, her shoulders scraping against the wall behind her as she sought to get away from him. “Won’t ye?”

His jaw clenched tightly, as he sought to gentle his voice. “No, Molly. I won’t.”

Her lips parted slightly as she stared back at him. The sight of the iron mask that covered his face frightened her. Part of her wanted to trust him, yet another part of her refused to listen to reason. Seeing her trepidation, he decided that it would be best to proceed with caution. He backed away and stood up before her, staring down into her expectant face. The slight tugging of his heart made him uneasy, and he knew naught what to do. Such feelings were unknown to him.

He swung about and trudged back towards his bed. His plans were in jeopardy, yet he knew that he needed to tread carefully if he wanted to gain her acceptance. It was better for him to follow the best course of action and not allow his heart to rule him. It would not do if he let his emotions get in the way. It’s all or nothing, Louis. What shall it be?

“Do you trust me, Molly?”

Her face brightened as she considered the thought of his helping her escape the Madame’s clutches. “Aye, I do.”

He nodded to himself. “Good.”

“Who are ye?” she asked.

“Who am I?”

“Aye.”

His lips turned up at the corners with amusement. Her bravado was commendable. “Who do you think I am?”

Gazing down at her scraped knees, she said, “I do not know, but I have heard of ye.”

“Have you?”

“Aye.”

Sitting down upon the trundle’s edge, he tilted his head as he tried to remember the legends surrounding the man in the iron mask. “What have you heard?” he prodded softly. “Can you tell me?”

“Ye are some sort of mad man.”

He laughed, finding the thought of his being considered a lunatic preposterous. “Is that all?”

“They say ye were locked away because ye resemble the King. That yer his brother. His twin.”

The corners of his mouth drooped as her words hit home. He had always thought that Philippe’s true parentage had been kept a secret. To know that others were aware of the fact that he was his brother appalled him. He could not help but wonder as to who had allowed that knowledge to become known.

“Is that all?”

“There’s more?”

“I do not know. Why don’t you tell me?”

She shrugged, resting her chin against her knees. “That is all I know. Bits and pieces, really. Are ye who they say? Are ye the King’s brother?”

His hand balled into tight fists as he sought to rein in his emotions. The mere thought of Philippe sickened him. I should have killed him when I had the chance, he thought. “That, I cannot tell you.”

“Why not?”

“It’s none of your business,” he shot back at her, venom coating his words.

Her eyes widened as she turned her head to gaze in his direction. Her body began to tremble as she fought to control the sobs that had arisen. She had never imagined that she would be thrown into the same dungeon that belonged to the man in the iron mask. She had always considered him to be a loon, one who would lose control at any given moment. Yet here he was having a sane, yet unfathomable, conversation with her. The very thought shook her to the deepest reaches of her being. Unable to stop herself, she released the scream that she’d been fighting to hold back.

Bolting out of his cot, he rushed to her side. Clutching her shoulders, he forcibly shook her in hopes of quelling her screeches. Her shrieks died down, moments later. He gazed down at her prone form as she lay within his arms. Tears streaked her reddened cheeks and her clothes were torn and tattered. The knowledge of her being commoner was not lost on him.

Yet knowing this, he cared not as to who and what she was. She was his only means of escape. One way or another, he would find a way in which to convince her of his loyalty. He was good at coercing a woman to do his bidding. Molly was just one of the many that he’d taken to his bed – mere targets that were easily compelled and seduced. All she needed was a little push in the right direction and she was sure to fall onto her knees in hopes of pleasing him.

Pulling her to him, he pushed himself to his feet and carried her over to his cot. He laid her down with care, whisking the stray curls of her hair off of her face. While he was tempted to awaken her and demand that she help him, he knew that it to wait. He preferred to earn her loyalty, rather than gain it through force. He sat down at the foot of the bed, prepared to wait until she awoke to make her see his side of things. Only then, could he put his plan into action.

 

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