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L’OISEAU CHANTEUR, THE SONGBIRD
Gothic Historical Romance
BY CAMILLE BOUCHERON
Two epic singers, one created unnaturally, one born endowed with a musical genius. They are the original frenemies, one has the power to kill, though.
Adopted from the cathedral steps as a toddler by Lucrezia Rosamond, Rainna Rosamond grows up in the lavish world of the castrati singers. Her uncle, Clotaire Rosamond is their ruling king. Unmatched in beauty and talent, he is sought after, chased, and revered, a rockstar of the marbled halls of Versailles and palaces around the world. When Clotaire discovers Rainna is taking singing lessons and showing promise, he invites his sister to bring Rainna to a feast in her honor.
Demanding she sing, Rainna reveals the true power of her voice, changing the energy in the hall as she reaches a note so high it shatters glassware and mirrors. Forced to flee for her life after being accused of witchcraft, she is taken in by The Theater Jadot. Rainna becomes their star attraction, performing for villagers as they move from town to town in the French countryside.
When a villager falls in love with her, Etienne Lyon is sent to deal with her. Threatening her, the two engage in a heated exchange ending with Rainna inviting him to hear her sing. As she sings, he passes out, waking to find her standing over him. Telling the troupe owner to leave the village immediately or be arrested, Etienne returns to Versailles. Louis the Beloved hears of Rainna and sends Etienne to bring Rainna to him. Forcing her to accept the king’s generosity, she finds herself at the palace. Her presence at court causes a stir. Arriving at Versailles, Clotaire is shocked to find himself staring across the ballroom at Rainna, the woman he both loves and hates. When enemies encircle Rainna, including an assassin sent to silence King Louis’ songbird, Etienne must choose between his duty to King Louis or his love for Rainna.
L’OISEAU CHANTEUR, THE SONGBIRD
Gothic Historical Romance
BY CAMILLE BOUCHERON
Clotaire attempted to smile through a blurred stare, sighing in regret. “We are cursed, all of us, the writers, the actors, the singers, and painters. We are marked with the curse of strife. Alone in the night hours, we are worshiped from afar. No one understands the great depths we plunge to. No one can reach us. Harmony and contentment are shades we chase. Love is fleeting, happiness momentary. We dream of the sublime, yet never touch it. We are hunted and adored, yet easily dismissed. We are the first requested, but the first asked to leave.”
Constance dabbed at the edges of her mouth with a lace napkin and placed it on her plate. Both of her brows lifted. “You cannot mean such a thing, Clotaire. Everyone wants to be you. Your voice is a gift to humanity! You simply cannot mean that.”
He did not attempt to wipe away his tears. “But I tell you, my friend, I do. Long ago, I understood that the price of my voice is damnation. Even as I resist, the darkness in me gathers. It demands my life, my blood.” He paused and suddenly laughed. He was not alone. Others bore the mark of the condemned as well. Rainna’s voice once again filled his head. She was more cursed than even he was. Yes, cursed. Rainna, you are cursed. Even more than I.
“No, this is not true. Your heart is unwell, that is all.”
“My heart; you must never consider showing kindness to my unfaithful heart.”
She gripped his hand tighter, her wide eyes shimmering with tears. “You will survive this tragedy, I vow this. I will be by your side. I will stand with you. Together, we will help you reclaim your place among the stars.”
He saw himself standing on stage. Dressed in a costume of silver and pale charcoal, a black feather headdress perched above his brow. A profusion of delicate lace gathered at his throat and wrists. He glanced down at his long fingernails. Cleaned and polished with fine oil, they
The crystal glasses glistened with candlelight. A delicate cracking grew into the sound of shattering dishes in his mind. Annihilation Rainna created. A dark outpouring of rage. It was his fault. He had brought destruction upon himself by forcing her to reveal herself. Sadness made him shudder.
“It is my fault my sister is dead. I drove her to it. I am to blame.” He suddenly burst into deep sobbing. “I caused her to do it. I am the reason. Do not love me. Hate me, hate me as I hate myself.”
“You are not the first to bury a family member.” Constance sought to soothe him. Clotaire nodded deceptively.
He thought of singing, of the echo of his voice. He was the king of the castrati, the most beloved singer of the age. And then that single note Rainna created shrieked through him. Its height of it was unmatched in purity. Its tone and clarity unnatural. It summoned the ethereal, beckoning the unearthly.
Constance peered at him. A serious expression settled on her face. “You miss being before the audience? Someone as dearly loved as you must feel the absence of the stage most acutely.” She lured him back into the conversation. Of course, he did. He longed to step out into the light and feel waves of adulation wash over him. It was intoxicating ecstasy. Clotaire was broken and full of doubt, though.
“Clotaire! Clotaire!” They called to him, they shouted for him, cheering, and clapping loudly. How they loved him. They stood and yelled his name, battling for just a glance from him.
“They have forgotten me.”
“They will never forget you. Your name will live on long after you have returned to dust.”
He chuckled softly, tears rolling down his face. “You cannot imagine what it feels like, that moment, knowing all eyes are upon you. Everyone is watching you, desiring you. They fall silent and wait.” He paused, lifted his glass, and swirled the dark red wine. “They call to me, but their love is not for me. It is for what they perceive me to be. Great castrato.” He scoffed, bitterness twisting in his heart. “They know nothing of my suffering. They cleave to me for my talent. And now that I no longer sing for them, they discard me. They abandoned me for another singer. That is the fate of all performers. We are revered and then reviled. Hero transformed into villain. How swift the fall.” He saw his sister falling through the air, plummeting to her death. He closed his eyes, fighting against the ghastly sound of her body hitting the courtyard.
She frowned, released his hand, and sat back. “Must you behave so severely? Clotaire, my love, you are acclaimed. What more can you ask? You are the finest singer.” But he knew he was not. That title belonged to Rainna. “Cardinal saw to your training, gifted you with access to all the greatest tutors.”
He could not bring himself to speak of his youth at the cardinal’s villa, or the harsh, unyielding lessons dealt out by a man professing to be holy.
“My childhood came at a price.” He admitted thickly, inwardly shuddering from the memory.
“Clotaire, there are things we cannot change. At some point, we must accept who we are.”
She reached for a small silver bell on the table and rang it. Two servants shuffled into the room and began clearing the dinner dishes away.
“I have known you eons,” Constance told him brightly.
“I was in love with you, you know. Absolutely in love with you. I thought you the prettiest girl, even prettier than my own sister.” Clotaire teased her, tears distorting her image.
“You, dearest, were created to rule above the lesser attractive mortals,” she giggled playfully. “You came out onto the stage, in splendor, in magnificence, a force of nature to be reckoned with. No one dared to dream you could love them.”
Dessert dishes filled with strawberries were placed in front of them and Clotaire took a bite.
“Clotaire, I have a gift for you.”
No fine coat or lavish pair of shoes would rally him. No wig or expensive rouge would tempt him. The king’s jewels could not move him. Nothing would awaken him from his misery. The loss of his sister had broken his heart, leaving it heavy with longing to see his Lucrezia one final time, to sit and talk quietly with her.
He noticed tears brimming in her eyes. “The great court composer has returned to Versailles,” she praised him, a tear rolling down her cheek. “You have been invited to sing for King Louis.”
“No, I cannot. The muse has departed from me, dear, sweet friend.”
“Clotaire, you are the greatest singer alive. You must not give up. You must awaken.”
“I am finished, unable to be mended. When she left, she took my voice with her. It lies silently in the grave with her.”
“You must not allow this tragedy to destroy you. You are a gift among the men.”
“No, I do not accept that title. I will no longer play the role anymore. Death has ended my reign.” A gamut of emotions raged inside of him as he continued to stare at Constance.
“You do not want to come with me to Versailles?” she asked him sweetly, taking a bite of her strawberries. “You do not wish to be seen by the aristocracy? You do not desire their gold coins and diamond tiaras? You no longer enjoy the feel of silks against your flesh?”
It was out of the question. Not one to be trifled with, Clotaire would not be made to be a fool or a mockery. Still, though, the thought of Versailles began to take root. He imagined walking through the grand hall of mirrors. He was adored at court.
“You will accompany me?” he breathed, feeling a stupor build in him as he thought of the wealth a visit to Versailles might bring.
“Yes, but not just because Lucrezia would want me to. You are too beautiful to be left unattended at court. Think of the mischief you will get yourself into. Think of the lovers you could take for yourself. And imagine the glorious gossip.” Her eyes twinkled as she looked at him.
“It won’t be the same without her.”
“Oh, my friend, who is most unfair.” She smiled at him and caressed the top of his hand. “There was much she hid from you because she never wanted to harm you.” There was a calming serenity to Constance. Her kindness was genuine, and he felt a portion of his grief alleviated by her. “I happen to know she enjoyed lifting pretty trinkets from the collection plates. She also hated being confined most of her life. You and Rainna were the great loves of her life. There was a young man once, but Cardinal sent him away.” Tears streaked down her face. “She was my closest friend. We would laugh for hours over court gossip.” She stopped talking and burst into a fit of weeping. “I miss her, Clotaire. As surely as you do, I do as well.”
“I am a writer of dark and haunting Historical Romance, for love cannot exist without hate, nor can light shine without darkness. Writing is my great and true passion. To live, I must write. I am compelled by the universe to create, a time traveller inhabiting two worlds at any given moment. I am the author of The Seamstress, Vixen Blade, To Kiss a Wicked Rogue, Evangeline, The Haunting of Lady Draven, and L’oiseau Chanteur (The Songbird.)”
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