Something woke her with start. The alarm clock? No. It was too early for the clock to sound. The television? Couldn’t be. It broke last week and she couldn’t afford a new one. The phone? Must be the phone! She grabbed it from the nightstand, swallowed, and made an earnest effort to answer in the most awake voice she could muster.
“Hello?” she said with the “o” cracking slightly.
The voice on the other end was delicate and had an accent. “Oh, dear, did I wake you?”
“No, I’m up,” she grunted. “Can I help you?”
The voice was soothing –– the accent French. “Oui, my name is Marie-Claire. I should call later?”
“No.” Veronica sat up. “What can I do for you?”
“We have a lovely château we wish you to decorate.”
“A château…” Veronica tried to focus. She grabbed a glass of water from the nightstand and asked, “You mean a castle?” A lock of curly, brown hair caught on the side of her mouth as she took a quick drink.
The voice lilted. “Oui, un castle! It is called Le Château du Feu Ardent. Dr. Jacobs recommended you specifically for this job.”
Dr. Jacobs. The name swam in Veronica’s head, but she couldn’t place it. “Ah, Dr. Jacobs. Yes…continue,” she said, trying to stall and recall the name.
“The château is in the Loire Valley. We imagine your work to take three months, and we will pay handsomely.”
Veronica enjoyed the way the voice sounded and she smiled dreamily. “Three months, you say? Tell me more about this castle.”
“It is magnifique. We began to renovate it twenty years ago and wanted to make it an inn, but were unable to finish. It has been vacant all this time. Help us, sil vous plait?”
“I think I’m available. Where did you say the castle was again?” Veronica laid her head back on the pillow.
“In zee Loire Valley of France, near le Loire River. It is a place of many castles and kings. Beautiful and green. It is like coming back in time.”
Veronica smiled sweetly, briefly. “France? Did you say it was in France?” She sat up. “You want me to come to France?”
“No, I’m sorry,” Veronica interrupted politely, “that is just too long for me to be gone from my other clients.”
“We understand it is so much to ask; however, as I said, we will pay well. To start, you get one million francs.”
That sounded like a lot to Veronica…francs…. How much was that in US dollars, she wondered as the voice continued, “When the project is complete, you will receive one million more.”
Veronica sat silent for a moment. “And when would you like me to start?” She let each word roll around slowly in her mouth as she tried to calculate the dollar amount in her head.
“June. We will be away on holiday. You will have three months to do the job and can hire whomever you like to help. We have a budget set aside for general labor, contractors, and assistants.”
“Uh, can I get back to you? I need to think about this and see if I can, you know, clear my calendar.”
“Of course. I will call you in two days. Au revoir!”
“Au revoir,” Veronica’s voice parroted.
She glanced at the alarm clock as she hung up the phone. It was 5:27 AM. Work was two hours away, but Veronica could not fall asleep as she lay imagining the fairy tale castle.
Oubliette—A Forgotten Little Place, is a collection of stories that revolve around sisters Veronica and Nikki. As the women are lured to France to renovate a decrepit castle, specters from the past return, demanding their stories be known.
An epic adventure spanning millennia, you’ll be taken to an ancient Pagan ritual, Roman-controlled Gaul, the bloody Inquisition, plague-ravaged France, the duplicitous Reformation, and the treacherous French Revolution.
You’ll soon discover all the stories are linked together as you join Veronica and Nikki in unraveling the cryptic layers of the oubliette.
This is an intricately-woven saga. This is Oubliette--A Forgotten Little Place.
Read the first chapter from Oubliette...
Oubliette — A Forgotten Little Place copyright © 2016 by Vanta M. Black.
Website, art, cover, and jacket design copyright © 2016 by Black Château Enterprises.
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