Sex, Lies & ChampagneBy: Kris Calvert
Sex and Lies Book Eight
A Moonlight and Magnolias Novel
Thank you to Molly and Meg. You are the two best editors and grammar girls around.
Thank you to the Robyn and Heather who chat with me daily as we walk this long and sometimes arduous road of novel writing.
Thank you to my sister Kim, who took me to the wonderful Cayman Cookout where I sampled some of the most fabulous wine and champagne. It was at an amazing Moët Chandon party I decided to write this book.
Finally, thank you to my adoring husband, Rob and the two greatest accomplishments of my life, Luke and Haley. I love you all, with all my heart.
There’s a quote attributed to the French Benedictine monk, Dom Pérignon upon his first taste of sparkling champagne that says, “Come quickly, I am tasting the stars!” It’s been debunked by many, but if you are a lover of champagne as I am, you can easily believe that someone said it, even if it wasn’t Dom.
This book is dedicated to my daughter, Haley. Because long ago I too saw a star.
JUNE 5, 1987
I clenched my hands into fists of rage. Frenzied thoughts dashed through my head. I was erratic—circling the room like a moth—never landing anywhere—going nowhere. With each despondent tear I shed, I wiped away another with crazed fury. I was shattered. And in between my bouts of grief and distress I managed to repeat only one phrase over and over, That son of a bitch.
I threw our clothes into suitcases and trunks I’d grabbed from a storage room filled with centuries of his family’s inconsequential possessions. The baby cried out, his wail cutting to the heart of me. He was scared—confused. So was I. Even at three, he knew our lives were about to be turned inside out. When would he be old enough to know about his father? How would I tell him? How would I explain? When is a child old enough to comprehend betrayal? I was a grown woman and I couldn’t grasp the concept. I loved this man. I gave him everything, and somehow it wasn’t enough.
Adulterer. The word bulldozed past my scrambled thoughts and rattled around destroying my ego, my sense of being, my will to be alive. Did everyone know? Everyone but me? How long had our friends smiled at me, maintained their kind and gracious hospitality, all the while knowing the truth? All the while thinking what an idiot I must be.
The ideas in my head—fueled by emotion, not reason—were inducing physical pain in my body. The knots in my stomach, twisting with each piece of my life in France—our life—I tossed into the steamer trunk.
His crying made me cringe. Like fingernails on a chalkboard, I knitted my shoulders, my body shaking. I wanted to scream too. My instincts took over and instead, I stopped to sit on the side of the bed, lifting Tristan and the small bear he clutched in his arms from the play pen. I rocked his tiny body against my own. His head wet with perspiration, I didn’t know who was comforting whom.
The red double doors that led to our once sacred sanctuary burst open. A heady breeze blew through our bedroom from the vineyard below. I couldn’t turn to look at him. I couldn’t bear the sting of his blue eyes.
“Simone.” He breathed my name into the air, thick with tension and betrayal. “Simone, darling.”
I replied, my voice shaking with tears of despair. “There’s nothing you can say that will fix this, René. Not this.”
His hand gripped my shoulder from behind. I didn’t move. Rocking Tristan in my arms, the baby clung to me like wet clothes in a rainstorm.
“You have to believe me when I say it meant nothing. She means nothing to me. It was one night. One mistake.”
The mere sound of the word pushed me over the edge of reason. “Mistake?” Rage boiled from deep inside me, the sharp knife of infidelity turning my distress into madness. “She has a child, René. Your child. Your son.”
René faced me, staring into my swollen eyes. Slowly, he shook his head. He was trying to diffuse my anger with his usual sedate composure. It was his gift. René Lebleu could calm my fears armed with only his stoic demeanor and unruffled exterior. I’d never met another man who was as composed, cool, almost indifferent in traumatic moments. This time it wasn’t going to work. He couldn’t talk me down—again. This time I had proof he didn’t love me. He’d never loved me.