His haunting, painful memories pushed her away,her tragic accident sent her fleeing. Beneath the greasepaints and glitter...passion, love...and envious rage are revealed.
Amber Quill Press
Adrianna Dane Author Website
Celine Valentini had found some measure of acceptance in her solitary life until the arrivalof an unexpected, handsome visitor. He informs her that her grandfather is ill and he's there to escort her back to him--and to the circus family she'd fled seven years earlier. Once a talented member of The Flying Valentinis, she must now face not only her fear of returning to the trapeze, but also the man who'd callously dismissed her love. Passionate, heartbreaking memories of her knight in white satin are the real reason she's never been able to return.
Peter Cortland, running from the tragic loss, first of his child, then his wife, found solace and some sense of peace behind the painted white facade of a clown, the presence of one lone teardrop the only outward evidence of the heavy sorrow he carried inside. Undeniably drawn to the vibrant and beautiful aerial performer, when a terrible accident almost takes her life, in a desperate act of self-preservation he forces her out of his heart. It's taken seven years for him to come to terms with his tragedies and now he wants another chance at the love he threw away all those years ago.
Beneath the Big Top, surrounded by the scent of sawdust, greasepaints, and the glittering energy of the center ring, can Celine and Peter face their inner fears and reclaim what they've lost? Five years ago it wasn't an accident that almost killed Celine. Will a jealous, unbalanced rage rooted in the past again rear its ugly head, only this time to succeed in causing Celine's destruction?
The door opened and he stood before her still cloaked in the garb of Pele.
“I think you owe me that explanation.” She waited expectantly for him to invite her inside.
After a moment’s hesitation, he stepped back, allowing her to enter. “How did you get here?”
“Grandfather let me borrow his car and told me where to find you.” She stopped in the middle of
the living room and rounded on him. “I saw you at the hospital. Why didn’t you ever tell me you
had a child?” There was a catch of hurt in her voice that she was unable to suppress and she
turned away again. Why hadn’t he ever told her such an important thing as that?
“Celine, I’m sorry if I’ve hurt you yet again. I should have told you.”
She felt his hands at her shoulders. She shrugged them off and moved away from him. Turning
back, she raised her chin and faced him from across the room.
“How much more have you hidden from me, Peter? Do you also have a wife tucked away
somewhere?” She wanted to stay calm, but the longer she thought about it, the more agitated she
“Let me get this makeup off and change, then we can talk.”
“Fine. I won’t be put off this time.”
“I know that. I planned to tell you. Would you like something to drink while you wait?”
Turning, he walked with a stiff gait towards another doorway, probably his bedroom, without
saying anything else.
Celine turned back to survey the room around her. The walls were light beige, the furniture
looked comfortable in varying shades of dark green. She noticed several framed photographs on a
small side table and walked over to study them more closely. There was one of a much younger
Peter holding a toddler in his arms. They were both smiling into the lens of the camera. Celine
surmised it was a photograph of his daughter. A wave of unexpected jealous pain arrowed
through her at the knowledge it had probably been his wife who took the picture. She carefully
set the photo back down on the oak table and turned away.
An urgent need washed over her to touch Peter. Pivoting away from the table, she walked to the
doorway she’d seen him pass through. He sat before a dressing table staring at his reflection.
She saw his shoulders stiffen at the sound of her voice. He reached to pick up a towel and a jar of
cleansing cream. He looked away from her reflected image. “I’ll be out in a minute.”
Taking her courage in hand, she stepped farther into the room and walked to him. She knelt
before him and looked up into his face. How did she begin to tell him what was in her heart? She
bit at her lower lip.
“Don’t,” he stopped her with a shake of his head, the look in his eyes solemn. “I don’t want your
“It’s not pity I’m offering.” She took the towel from his hand and began to clean the white
makeup from his face, stopping at the painted black teardrop. For the first time she thought she
understood all that it represented in his life.
She stared at it for a long time, feeling the black void it represented, the suffering and loss inside
him. Leaning up she pressed her lips to its center. Closing her eyes, she opened her heart, tasted
the terrible pain and loneliness that was encompassed by that lonely, sad symbol.
He stilled beneath her touch. She placed a hand against the front of his white satin shirt, felt the
erratic beating of his heart. “I’ve missed you so much,” she whispered against his skin, the scent
of greasepaints and man teasing her senses.
Peter’s arms wrapped around her and he lifted her, settling her on his lap. “God, Celine, you’re
more temptation than a man can stand,” and he tilted his head to capture her lips.