Immortally yours, p.1
Immortally Yours, page 1
Lizette has spent three hundred years on earth, but this is her first time in a therapist’s office. Lonely and aimless, she feels that life has lost its meaning…and she’s come to Colin for advice on ending it. If only he weren’t so maddeningly, distractingly attractive, she’d be able to get on with things.
The moment Lizette steps into his office, Colin knows he has to help her. He also knows he has to have her—in every position possible.
As they spend time together, the heat between them rises and clothes come off, revealing Colin to be not only a phenomenal lover, but a picture-perfect nude muse for Lizette’s erotic photographs, as well. But in trying to give Lizette’s life meaning, they might have ruined Colin’s.
Ellora’s Cave Publishing
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Immortally Yours Copyright © 2012 Ashlyn Chase
Edited by Jillian Bell
Cover design by Syneca
Photographs: LiKar/Shutterstock.com; Romancenovelcovers.com
Electronic book Publication January 2012
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Dedicated to one of by besties, Dalton Diaz. She knows why.
Thanks to Jaid Black for taking a look at this manuscript and giving it a chance, and thank you to Meghan Conrad for catching all my mistakes and putting up with my frustrated hair-pulling.
After a year in therapy, my psychiatrist said to me, “Maybe life isn’t for everyone.”
Lizette had been sitting in the psychiatrist’s outer sanctum for only five minutes when she asked herself, What am I doing here? Just as she rose to walk out, his door opened and a six foot, brown-haired, green-eyed god invited her in.
Upon following Mr. Tall, Dark and Gorgeous into his office, she sank down on a brown leather couch opposite him. He occupied a matching swivel chair. Wishing he would join her on the couch, she tried not to stare—or drool.
He picked up his pen. “What brings you here, Lizette?”
She waved at Dr. Colin Brayer’s Northwestern University medical school diploma, which was on the wall along with numerous other certificates and diplomas. “I know you’re smart as hell, but you can’t possibly understand my problem. I think I made a mistake coming here.” She dropped her gaze to her lap. “This is something nobody understands.”
She glanced back at him. Did he have to sit there in his crisp, white shirt unbuttoned at the neck? He appeared so put together—impossibly tan, young and beautiful. Damn, he was making it hard to concentrate.
“Okay, but only because I’m here. I really doubt you can help.”
“You’ve already made up your mind? Please. Give it a chance.”
Lizette took a deep breath. Was she really about to divulge her secret to a total stranger? A stranger she was paying a hundred dollars an hour to listen to her whine? Hell, yeah. She wasn’t in favor of wasting money and he was bound by law to keep her secrets to himself, right?
“Will you hold whatever I tell you in confidence?” she asked.
“Unless you’re planning to commit a heinous crime, absolutely.”
“Oh.” Is what I’m planning to do a crime?
She hesitated long enough for him to tip his head and eye her suspiciously.
She swallowed hard. “Of course not.”
“You haven’t broken any major laws, have you?”
“What happened was no fault of mine.” She crossed her arms, took a deep breath and spat it out. “I was born in a small village near Lourdes, France—in seventeen-twelve.”
She paused, waiting for some sign of disbelief. The good doctor merely stretched his long legs out in front of him and clasped his hands behind his head as if settling in for a long story before a warm fire on a cold winter’s night.
At least the smile had disappeared.
“Go on,” he said.
“All right. In my teens, a terrible epidemic wiped out half the village, including my family, but I survived. I matured normally into my late teens but by my early twenties, I stopped growing—and aging. Later, when my eternal youth became apparent to the town elders, I heard whispers and knew it was only a matter of time before I’d be considered a witch or a demon and treated like any other freak—by that I mean someone different from the norm.” Even the memory of what could have happened made her hands tremble.
Encouraged, she continued. “I’d seen what happened to those who were unusual, so I stole what I needed and traveled as far as I could on foot. For months I traveled with anyone willing to let me accompany them, bartering what little I had—including my body.”
When he didn’t react to that, she figured he might be the right person to hear the whole sordid tale.
“Finally settling in Cologne, I worked in a perfumery with the Farina family, descendants of Giovanni Farina, the man who formulated the famous original Eau de Cologne. I spent many years in their service and, because I knew their secret formula and kept it to myself, they were good to me. When it was time to move on again I accompanied Jean Joseph Farina to Paris where he opened their new location. He didn’t seem to notice my not aging. He was what we would now call a nerd, only thinking about his work and hardly noticing the world around him. Years later, the product would become immensely popular with the Emperor and Empress of France. You would recognize their names, I think. Napoleon and Josephine?”
A corner of his mouth curled up slightly.
Okay, so maybe he wasn’t taking her seriously. On the off chance that he was, she decided to keep talking. It felt good to get it out.
“Back then, I was considered quite beautiful. My delicate ivory face and blonde curls were in fashion. Now I have to go to tanning parlors and iron my hair straight to fit the fashion of the times. At least I don’t have to dye it, since it never gets gray—and blondes really do have more fun.”
He chuckled briefly and she gave him points for having a sense of humor as well as paying attention.
He adjusted position in his chair but his gaze never left her face.
“I met a British gentleman when he visited the court just as the French Revolution broke out. He managed to smuggle me out of the country with him when he returned to England—thank God. It was a tumultuous time and didn’t get much better for quite a while after that.” She shuddered, then considered at the man sitting across from her. Why wasn’t he reacting? “Are you still awake over there?”
“Yes. Do I seem like I’m not awake?”
“No. It’s just that you haven’t interrupted me to say that I’m out of my mind and you’re going to lock me up and throw away the key.”
He uncrossed his legs. “Why would I do that?”
She sighed. This little game could go on for quite a while if she didn’t get on with it. “What I’m telling you can’t be a normal problem.”
He sat up and scratched the back of his neck. “Granted, it’s an unusual story. But as to your soundness of mind, I’d rather reserve judgment until you finish. Why don’t you continue?”
She hoped this doctor wasn’t crazy himself. She had heard some psychiatrists were nuttier than their patients.
“Fine. So I traveled to England with my rescuer, taking the Eau de Cologne formula with me in my head. I didn’t want to betray the Farina family but I had little else to bargain with, other than my body, and I knew if I wanted to regain respectability I’d have to stop being a mistress and find some kind of employment, eventually. The idea of marriage was out of the question since to stay in one place, with one person, would lead to questions. Questions I couldn’t answer. The gentleman who I’d rather not name kept me as his mistress until he died. Apparently, he didn’t mind my staying young.”
“Did you love him?”
She snorted. “I—appreciated him. After that, in London, I found a small shop that sold all types of fine gifts to the genteel class. The Industrial Revolution had created many wealthy people willing to pay for luxuries, so I had a market for my fragrance. I found that if I changed the formula slightly, it still smelled appealing. That helped ease my guilt over recreating and selling the famous Eau de Cologne. I rented a room above the shop and put away as much money as I could until at last I had to move again.”
Dr. Brayer sighed but in a way that appeared sympathetic. “That’s several upheavals already. It must have been difficult starting over again and again.”
Does he believe me? Incredible! She stared into his eyes and detected no guile or sarcasm, so she continued. “It was. At the time, I didn’t want to learn yet another language so I dyed my hair red and moved back to Paris to the Moulin Rouge, where I became a dancer. I spent ten years showing the world my cancan until the other girls became jealous.”
He smiled again.
“I still had the ability to attract the rich customers long after my peers were forced to put out for the middle-class leftovers. My life had become lonelier than ever, despite being with a string of handsome lovers. Have you ever been lonely with many people around? It’s about the worst feeling in the world.” She sighed deeply. “And then, hoping an adventure would help, I elected to travel to America.”
“When was that?”
Finally, the man had asked her a timeline question. Perhaps he was putting together the facts, which would prove she wasn’t lying.
“Nineteen-seven. I had heard that America was all the rage and someone had told me they had groves upon groves of citrus trees there. As it turned out, the citrus was far away from high society’s lively mansions in New York but I found someone to ship them north until I could think of another way to earn a living.”
“Why did you need citrus?”
“For the fragrant oils.”
He nodded again. She saw no frown of confusion, no smirk of disbelief, just an attentive expression and signs of encouragement. Now she was beginning to wonder about his sanity.
“I sold the Eau De Cologne formula to an interested buyer and he created his own version. Apparently Africans and Caribbean natives were using a sort of ‘miracle water’ in voodoo and hoodoo and the scent was similar. I was smart enough to acquire an interest in the business and earn a percentage of their earnings.”
“Very enterprising of you. How did that turn out?”
“Very well—until recently. Better living through chemicals, you know? My formula became much less popular, despite fame for its many uses.
“What kind of uses?”
He was testing her—she was sure of it. Well, she’d give him the whole list and prove that she knew what she was talking about. “A cosmetic astringent, an after-shower invigorating rub, a personal deodorant, a sickroom deodorant, it’s used for rubdowns, before shaving, after shaving, insect bites, headaches, nervous tension, itchy scalp, in hot weather it acts as a coolant and, finally, it can be used as perfume. I use it to scent my hair and lingerie drawers. Now the chemical companies have convinced people they need numerous products to do the same things.”
She was sure he’d have questioned something long before this if only to point out the reality of normal life spans—or to call her an outright liar or say that she was delusional. Instead, he simply said, “I thought I smelled orange blossoms.”
She stiffened against the couch’s back, open-mouthed. “Doc, I’ve got to hand it to you. I figured you’d be giving me a diagnosis of certifiable nutcase by now.”
“I’ve never heard of that diagnosis. And for what it’s worth, I don’t jump to conclusions. But it’s clear that something about this is distressing or you wouldn’t be here.”
A knock at the door interrupted them.
He frowned and said, “Excuse me.”
When he opened the door, she heard an anxious female voice whispering frantically. It must have been his receptionist.
He glanced at Lizette with a concerned expression. “It’s an emergency. Sit tight. I’ll be back as soon as I can.”
She sighed as he left the room and closed the door behind him. It was good that he took his other patients’ needs seriously but did it have to happen on her dime?
* * * * *
Colin was glad Lizette had come to him and not gone to one of his many colleagues who refused to believe in the existence of paranormals. He took about five minutes to reassure a patient. She had taken an overdose but nothing lethal. She was in an ambulance on her way to the emergency room and he’d promised to meet her there later. He wasn’t looking forward to it—he knew the ER would be hopping when he got there, because a flu epidemic had hit Seattle hard.
Colin strode back to his office and hoped Lizette would forgive the intrusion. The beautiful, petite woman was in crisis too. Her accent was still vaguely French but with such modern terminology that she reminded him of a blonde Juliette Binoche.
He returned to his chair. “Sorry about that.”
“Yeah. Look, I don’t mind an emergency if someone really needs you. But I hope they don’t cut into my time often. You don’t come cheap.”
He winced inwardly. He’d heard that before and knew money was tight for most people these days. But he didn’t think he was overcharging—and he needed every penny. Paying off loans after medical school wasn’t cheap, either. As much as he didn’t like to rush treatment, maybe he could help her get to the root of the problem quickly, saving her some money that way. She was right about natural products being replaced by chemicals. If her multipurpose cologne had fallen out of fashion, her funds could be running low.
But why did he care enough about her finances to compromise his methods? She was a new patient. No different from any other new patient—or was she?
“Have you ever been in therapy before?”
“So what brought you here today? It sounds like this has been going on for quite some time.”
“I can’t sleep. I’ve been having terrible dreams.”
“Tell me about them.”
As she went about describing disjointed images with no real story, he imagined her in bed, tossing and turning…covers slipping off her body… Suddenly, he realized how inappropriate the image was and he fought to turn it off immediately.
To keep his ethical standards and his license, he had to keep his hands off her. Damn. He wished he could have met her under different circumstances. He wanted to continue to see her but she was going broke. He was in a bind—unless he discharged her as soon as possible and then pursued a personal relationship… He needed to know if she was free to do that, however.
“Why don’t you tell me what your life is like now?”
“What do you mean?”
“Have you lived here for a while? Do you live alone? Do you have a job? What are your circumstances?”
“That’s just it. Now would be the time to move on, but I’m tired of running away. Tired of starting over. I have a nice low rent and it’s not easy to find jobs that pay under the table and let you stay under the radar. Hey, that doctor-patient confidentiality thing is still true, right?”
“You’re not running guns or selling illegal drugs are you?”
by Ashlyn Chase have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes