The youngest child of a poor peasant family, Delia must marry or find a position as a servant in the nearby town to help her aging parents. She is loathe to relinquish her freedom, and has refused many suitors, when the duke of the land expresses interest in her. Maltric has lost four previous wives in mysterious circumstances. No one knows what happened at the castle, and many fear black magic is loose in the land. Delia is wary of Maltric’s attentions, but cannot refuse to meet him when he sends a message announcing his arrival.
At night Delia dreams of her perfect lover, a beautiful green-eyed woman named Atishi who knows everything about her and offers her sensual pleasure more exquisite than anything she has experienced in her waking life. She begs to stay with her dream-lover. When Atisha tells Delia they can be reunited in flesh if she finds the blue door in the duke’s castle, Delia agrees to the courtship with the duke.
Married and the mistress of an enormous castle, Delia searches for the blue door and finally locates it in an unused hallway tucked away on the top floor. Inside, she finds Atishi waiting for her under a gigantic oak tree in the land of Elysa. Delia must renounce her family and her world.
When the duke finds out, he accuses Delia of witchcraft and forbids her to use the door again. Time is running out before the passageway to Elysa closes. Torn between her love for Atishi and her family, fearful of her life if she stays with the duke, and fearing black magic pervades the castle, Delia must decide what she is willing to sacrifice for love.
Delia finished her breakfast and soaked in a warm, sudsy bath. When her skin turned a rosy pink, she wrapped herself in a thick robe and returned to the bedroom. For one born to poverty, she thought she had adjusted well to her new life. Each week when she visited, she took coins from her household allowance so Luc could hire help in the fields and Marthe could buy what she needed.
Delia had decided that men were easier to manage than she supposed. No great love bloomed between them, but her life was better, and her dream-woman still delighted her at night. Still, the matter of the blue door lingered. Delia had to find it.
After she dressed and tied up her hair with a blue scarf, Delia set out. She discounted the ground floor which housed the kitchen and servants’ quarters. Also the entire first floor, with the Great Hall. Its only doors were carved oak. She started on the second floor where her bedchamber and Maltric’s suite shared a hall. She had walked the hall a hundred times, but to be certain, she walked its length again.
She went into every room and searched but found nothing. She ventured into the unused hallways where her footsteps echoed and shadows taunted her. When she had checked every door, she climbed the stairs to the third floor.
At the end of the third-floor hall, a narrow door creaked open to reveal a spiral staircase that twisted its way to the top floor of the castle. Dust caked the steps. Cobwebs hung from the railing. She started up, testing each step before she put her weight on it. At the top, she came to another small door, black with grime. She put down her lamp and wrestled with the bolt before it snapped open with a sharp sound. She pushed at the door. It did not budge. Delia pressed her shoulder against it and shoved hard. It creaked open, revealing a corridor with a low ceiling, shorter than those below, for this part of the castle narrowed as it rose.
Holding her lamp high, Delia inched across creaking floorboards. She passed three doors, dark oak, their crevices caked with layers of dust. A spider scurried across her path and disappeared into a crack. A faint rustling in the walls could only be mice. With each step, more gloom settled around her. She scolded herself for being silly. Dust and spiders were harmless.
At the fourth door, she stopped. Its paint had cracked and peeled, the surface smeared with dirt as if water had dripped onto it from the ceiling. Filthy and not recently opened, but unmistakably blue, an indigo dark enough to grace the twilight sky. She willed her heartbeat to slow.
A rusted key stuck out of the keyhole. Had those other wives stood here? Reached out and turned that key? Delia remembered the horror on Cerise’s face. Maltric had said nothing about this door, so why should she, the lady of the house, guide her behavior by the fears of a chambermaid?
Delia took a deep breath. With her lamp in her left hand, high enough that the light fell on the keyhole, she grasped the key with her right hand. Cold, rusty, stiff. She tried moving it to the right. It did not budge. She released it, took a tighter grasp, and turned it to the left. With a loud, mechanical grate, the key moved. She pushed harder. A click. Heat rose in her chest. She released the key, grasped the doorknob, and pushed. The door opened, creaking so loudly she feared servants would come to investigate.