Mirabelle marries Charles and soon discovers he's a philandering prick, but that's not his only secret. After he leaves her alone in their chateaux to attend to his business affairs, she encounters a ghost hunting game in the woods. Hunter knows Charles quite well and is happy enough to reveal his old friend's dark side in exchange for Mirabelle's affections.
My name is Mirabelle Devereaux, and I was married to a man I did not love. Our marriage was an arrangement of sorts, and my husband did business in many villages and towns across the land. Once he brought me home, I understood that all of this was an illusion for his benefit. Charles did not know the meaning of loyalty. I’ll wager he had a mistress in every village he frequented, and I’m certain he chose new ones as his tastes required. He was a handsome man of the charming sort, well able to sweep many an unsuspecting virgin off her feet and defile her with his extensive wisdom in the art of lovemaking and flattery. I should know. I was not immune to his wiles prior to our wedding, nor had I known then what love truly meant.
But I get ahead of myself. Let me tell you of how I came to know the vagabond of a man who stole my heart and so many other things. It was spring, and the fields were being sown with seeds by the migrant workers Charles had hired. I could not want for any material thing, but having been alone most of my adult life, happiness as little more than a lover eluded me. I longed for the company of a friend, a confidante. I knew three days after my wedding that I had found no such thing in the arms of my husband. On that pleasant spring day, distraught at having discovered that Charles would journey north on business that evening and be gone for God knows how long, I left our house to go for a walk in the nearby woods.
I hoped to take in the cool air and calm my frantic heart. I was angry, and what new bride wouldn’t be? One marries to have a husband, not a business partner. Unfortunately, I came to realize Charles saw me as just that. I knew my way around the trade markets, having managed my parents’ estate after they passed. I knew how to keep books and tallies in order. He had married himself an accountant, albeit, as he said, I was much nicer to look upon than his prior accountant, and more pleasing in bed.
The cool breeze brought me the scents of the forest, leaves and fresh earth. I strolled along and tried to hold back my tears. I was a fool and knew it now. Somewhere in the depths of the woods, a gentle lull from a stream called to me. I journeyed toward that sound, dressed as I was in a gown too fine to be traipsing around in the wilds. Leaves and bits of forest loam clung to the hem of my full skirt. A stag darted from the bushes beyond, startling me. I saw him for the first time, a man dressed in commoner’s clothes, brown breeches and a simple shirt of unbleached cotton. He had jet black hair drawn back with a length of leather and a well trimmed beard. He pulled taut the string on his bow and let loose.
I followed his aim and watched as the stag went down, toppling with a crash in a stand of berry brambles.
“Oh!” I shouted.
The man nodded at me, grinned, and trotted away to retrieve his prey. Something in my middle clicked. As I watched this man stride away, his broad shoulders swaying and his small buttocks barely disguised by the leather covering it, lust had come over me. I fanned myself but did not look away.