Genre: Historical Romance
Short Story Type: Novella
Summary: Two years prior, Irishman Aaron O’Connel took his life from rags to riches. Chance and wits have kept him alive in 1850’S New York City. But no amount of money or success can bring his love Cathlene back from the dead. When a thief sneaks her way into his mansion, the last woman he expects to find absconding with his belongings is his long lost wife.Abandoned on New York’s shores, a widowed, penniless, and ruined Cathlene O'Connel was left to fend for herself in an unfamiliar world. Fear and circumstance drove her to a life of thieving in order to survive, but her heart risks the biggest danger of all when Aaron hands her a scandalous proposition: A son in exchange for her freedom.
Excerpt:Shock plowed into her gut, twisting her stomach into knots. The hope inside her deflated. He wanted her to give him a child? “Are you mad?” she demanded, her eyes blazing.
He continued staring coolly across the small table at her. The space separating them seemed to shrink. With his eyes locked on her face, Cathlene found it difficult to catch her breath.
The sheer sensual magnetism he exuded radiated from his every pore. His proposition called to mind memories of entwined sweaty limbs entangled in damp sheets.
A tingling sensation began at the base of her spine and spread through to her fingertips. “No I’ve not gone mad. I need an heir. I’ve amassed quite a large fortune, and I have no doubt by the time I’m an decrepit old man, I’ll have expanded my finances even more. I need a son to continue my legacy.”
He didn’t just want a child, but a son. She could be trapped with him for years until she had a son. And too, what if she only had daughters? And horror of horrors, what if she didn’t conceive?
“How will this arrangement benefit me?”
“For every month you remain with me, I’ll give you two hundred dollars. And on the birth of our first child, whether it be daughter or son I’ll triple that sum. Once you bear a son, I’ll double the amount I’ll have given you thus far. Then, you’ll be free to go and do as you please without any interference from me.”
A wife acting as whore with her own husband. Quite ironic, Cathlene thought, but if it would grant her the freedom she desired, she’d do it. Once she gave Aaron a son, she could go anywhere and start a new life. One where she wouldn’t be beholden to anyone but herself. The thought sent elation skipping through her that went cold as she thought of the children she could have then lose.
Once she clapped eyes on her child, boy or girl, could she leave them behind all for the sake of freedom? Could she live with herself and her choice?
“Would I still be allowed to see our children?” She swallowed the last drops of tea in her cup, but the dryness in her mouth persisted.
“If you leave, they won’t grow up knowing you are their mother. But I won’t deny you their company if you wish to remain in their lives.”
She lowered her lids to conceal the sudden burning tears which clouded her vision. To miss the opportunity to nurture and love and rear her children would shatter her already broken heart to splinters. But she had no other choice. Aaron was offering a once and a lifetime chance. One she had to take. Remaining in New York could bring great risk to her if she were discovered. And discovery would only bring her certain death.
She was on her own, and relying on Aaron for protection could only bring trouble down upon him. She hated that he’d stolen from her, but he didn’t deserve to die for harboring a criminal.