"Erotically wicked! Spellbinding! A unique retelling of
The Phantom of the Opera
"Colette Gale leads us through a labyrinth of dark, extravagant eroticism, to the romance at the story’s heart. Grandly conceived, wildly inventive in its smallest details—I, for one, will never hear harp music in quite the same way again.”
—Pam Rosenthal, author of
The Slightest Provocation
is a very wicked and original look at an age-old story. Readers will be entranced . . . a very dark thriller with a well-written cast of characters. . . . The pageantry and politics of nineteenth-century Paris and its wealthiest citizens are well-described, drawing the reader right into the drama. . . . This reader was well able to envision a time and people of a bygone era. Lush and sensual from beginning to end, erotic and romantic in the extreme,
is sure to please fans of historical fiction as well as erotica. If you like your historical romance with a ‘dark’ and erotic bent, you will be well-pleased with the purchase of this one.”
—Erotic Romance Writers
ALSO BY COLETTE GALE
An Erotic Novel of the Count of Monte Cristo
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First published by Signet Eclipse, an imprint of New American Library, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
Copyright © Colette Gale, 2008
All rights reserved
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Master: an erotic novel of the Count of Monte Cristo / Colette Gale.
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To all the women who knew Haydée
was nothing but a midlife crisis.
Not long after I finished compiling the documentation that became
, in which was revealed the true story of
The Phantom of the Opera
, I was fortunate enough to acquire some personal effects that shed new light on another familiar tale: that of
The Count of Monte Cristo
Alexandre Dumas’ novel of betrayal and revenge tells the story of the horribly wronged Edmond Dantès and his bid for vengeance against the villains—his friends—who sent him to prison for fourteen years. The tale has been adapted for film and television, and it has been translated and republished, abridged and dissected in numerous ways since its initial publication in serial format through the mid-1840s.
However, through my acquisition of the personal diaries and letters of one of the most pivotal players in the narrative, I’ve discovered that the story told by Dumas—along with its other adaptations—is incomplete and misleading.
I have had the pleasure of studying and organizing into a fleshed-out, chronological tale the diaries of Mercédès Herrera, the first and true love of Edmond Dantès. To my astonishment, through this study, I have learned that she was as much a victim of the events told by Dumas as Dantès was. Perhaps even more so.
Her diaries, along with her personal letters from Valentine Villefort and a journal that belonged to Monte Cristo’s servant, Haydée, bring to light a much different and more accurate chronicle about what occurred in her life during the years of Dantès’ imprisonment. The letters and journal in particular also expose certain other events that occurred when he came back to Paris as the wealthy, learned, and powerful Count of Monte Cristo.
Thus, within this volume is my attempt to make public the true story—with all its explicit details taken directly from her personal effects—of Edmond Dantès and Mercédès Herrera, a pair of lovers divided by greed, jealousy, tragedy, and revenge.
It is the story of
The Count of Monte Cristo
as it has never been told before.
Prisoner No. 34
Off the Coast of Marseille, France
e knew every gray stone in his prison cell, every mortar-filled line between each of them, every change in topography of the dirt floor beneath his filthy, cold, bare feet.
He had stopped counting the days of his imprisonment after one thousand of them, for he no longer cared to keep track of what had become this eternity of worm-filled black bread, dank water, and horrible, dark solitude.
He’d spoken to no one for an aeon, since the day he’d gone mad at the jailer, demanding to know how he’d come to be here, incarcerated—what he’d done, what crime he’d committed, who had sent him here, what horrible error had been made. But the only answer he’d received had been being thrown into this cell, even smaller and darker than the one he’d previously occupied.
He had nearly stopped reminding himself of his own name.
His lips moved silently, for there was no one there to hear.
But the name that did come to his lips, in a quiet, gentle murmur, like a lifeline to a drowning sailor, was the talisman he’d clung to all these days, these
He said it again, no more than a release of breath in his silent world. “Mercédès.”
How many times had he spoken her name?
At first, with anguish . . . he’d been taken from her, from the woman he was to marry, without a chance for farewell.
Then, with despair. Would he ever see her again? Touch her?
With pain. Would she wait for him? Had she tried to find him?
For a time, the only noises he made were the syllables of her name, desperately sobbed into the threadbare blanket, woven with dust, his lips dry and cracked and tasting dirt. Would she remember him?
At last . . . reverently. As if her name, her memory, were a light in the blackness of his life. Something to fixate upon, to yearn for, to live for. A talisman. To keep him sane.
When his mind verged on madness, when he longed to end his life but had no weapon with which to do it . . . when he gave up all hope, he remembered her lively, dark eyes, filled with intelligence and laughter. The smooth, sweet curve of her golden arms, the oval of her beautiful face, reminding him of the painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary hanging in Église des Accoules, the church in which they’d meant to wed.
Her lips . . . God had made them full and red, surely designed to fit Dantès’ own mouth. He saw them wide with happiness on the day he’d come back from the sea and told her he’d been named captain of his own ship . . . then soft and pliant under his own mouth later that afternoon.
How could he have known he’d be taken from her only two days later?
Who had done this to him? Who had betrayed him?
He remembered how his hands, rough from handling the lines at sea, had smoothed up her warm arms, drawing her close to him on the hidden hillside, bringing her so that he could feast on her mouth, draw cries of pleasure from those sensual, promising lips. Gently tease her so that he could see the light of love in her chocolate eyes before the sweep of her thick lashes came modestly down like the shutters on her little weather-beaten house.
Even now, God knew how many years later, Dantès clung to the memory of the slip-slide of their kiss, the rhythm of his tongue mating with hers in that warm, wet cavern that echoed the tight, musky one between her legs.
He was there again, as his hands drew away the simple peasant blouse she wore, the undyed linen creamy against her sun-drenched skin, baring a simple gold cross and two lovely breasts, along with the faint scent of kitchen smoke mingled with lemon. Her breasts . . . the size of oranges, with their own pebbling flesh tightening under his palms, dusky nipples pointing up to the sun as he loved her there in the thick, warm grass and crushed chamomile.
She arched toward him as his hands smoothed down her narrow back, her chin tipping up and the bundle of walnut hair loosening beneath her skull. As he bent to close his lips around an offered nipple, Dantès’ own desire surged when he heard her soft cry of pleasure turn to a deeper one of need. Her legs shifted, opened slightly next to him, her bare thigh brushing his salt-crusted seaman’s trousers. He hadn’t even bothered to change before coming to take her away to their reunion on this secluded hillock.
He sucked and licked, slowly swirling his strong tongue around the point of her nipple, taking all the time he needed and wanted, feeling the comfortable heaviness of his cock as it filled and swelled. One of her hands had loosened the thong that held his dark hair back; now it fell over his face, curtaining it as he bent to her.
Mercédès untied the fastenings of his shirt, her breath quickening when his hand crept to cover her other breast. He spread his fingers over it, then lightly brushed the backs of his nails over her nipple as he gave a long, deep tug on the other one. She moved restlessly, shivered as he toyed with her, the sun hot on the back of his head and his suddenly bare back.