Here’s a sneak peak of Goldheart, book two of The Andari Chronicles:
Torbert Melling was a man who knew how to get what he wanted. And, since before he was old enough to speak in sentences, he had never failed to do so. Whether by asking, or simply by taking, he satisfied his own desires and built a magnificent kingdom out of money and ambition until it matched the size and scope of his dreams. And then, when he finally met the woman who fit the picture he had painted for himself, he bought her, body and soul, and enthroned her in the house he had designed with her beauty in mind.
She reigned there, the acknowledged queen of Lansbridge society, for nearly thirty years. And though she was as cold and remote as her icy beauty might suggest, she gave him the son that her duty required and accompanied him in public whenever he demanded it.
And he, in turn, worshipped her, for Torbert Melling was a banker, and knew better than anyone the value of treasure. So he kept her well and he brought her tribute and did not understand when she told him, one late summer day, that she was dying.
Night after night, he sat in his library and drank deeply of wine and denial. They would find a better physician. She was simply over-troubled by heat and by the demands of her position as his wife. Perhaps a holiday would be in order.
But day after day she grew weaker, until one morning she did not rise from her bed at all. On that day, Torbert Melling knew a moment of terrible, chilling fear, as he looked on his wife and did not recognize her face. The woman who had graced his arm and his table, the enchanted goddess whose loveliness had inspired poetry of praise, the treasure for which he would have given far more than her foolish father demanded — his exquisite wife was now quite undeniably ugly.
And Torbert Melling could not bear it.
He could not, would not remember her this way — a shrunken, pallid, wax-like imitation of her former self. He must have had a portrait painted at some point. But though he searched his memory and his attic, Torbert Melling could find no painting that portrayed his wife as he chose to remember her.
A man who has spent his entire life un-thwarted does not give up simply because a thing appears impossible. He would hire a painter. One who could re-create his Serena’s staggering loveliness, so that even when she was gone, he would possess her still.
It would be difficult. Even a man so lost to grief could grasp the fact that it might be well nigh impossible. But impossible, to Torbert Melling, simply meant more expensive, and he instantly began the search for a painter who could be persuaded to attempt it.
His first interview was a disaster, and the painter was thrown bodily from the house by Ixby, who seemed far happier with the task than a butler rightly ought to be. The second was nearly as bad, and the third was worst of all, as the artist was clearly inflicted with insanity and could do nothing but laugh when the bereaved husband explained his requirements.
What Ixby may have done with the third applicant was a hotly-contested matter of household gossip for weeks.
Eventually, Torbert Melling realized that even money would not be sufficient to fulfill his desires in this case. He needed a plan. And for his plan, he would need a very particular painter. As his butler had proven more helpful in the matter than expected, Ixby was sent to make inquiries, which bore far more interesting fruit than Torbert Melling had anticipated.
A young lady was advertising her services as a portrait painter for hire. Her prices were staggering, but so were her samples, and one of them even seemed curiously familiar. When the painter’s identity became clear, Torbert Melling instantly knew what he needed to do. After all was in readiness, he dispatched Ixby on an errand of great delicacy: convincing a retiring lady artist to accept the commission of a lifetime.
It never occurred to him that he might fail. For Torbert Melling, money was a lever, and knowledge was the fulcrum on which it rested. Apply pressure in the right place, and the whole world would move. The whole world, except perhaps a reclusive young woman with no great ambitions. For money has no power but what it is granted, and knowledge cannot be used against those who have no fear of it.
Torbert Melling set out to get what he wanted once again, but this time, he had made a terrible mistake.