Write a Review

I of the Storm (on hold)

All Rights Reserved ©


Set in 1815 New Orleans, Maeve is rebuilding her life after it was violently taken from her. Bastian, son of the city's French Mafia, has recently lost his wife, and seeks comfort. They are an unlikely pair. Just as stubborn, just as proud. And yet, together, they just make sense.

Romance / Adventure
Sarah Jamet
4.8 4 reviews
Age Rating:

Chapter 1

December 20th, 1815

I always hated rain. The worst rain was in Dai Nam. It would rain for months and months and everything would get soaked. Even if you tried to hide it in a trunk under your bed wrapped in sealskins, somehow, you got wet. But the worst thing about rain is that you can’t go outside. You are confined inside to read, sew or cook, three things that I’ve never been accomplished at.

When it rained on the Ériu I used to play cards with my uncle and siblings. Uncle Niall was a good card player and he taught us all how to play all sorts of games. He would pick up new games in different parts of the world and we would all practice. He would give me different games as gifts, a full board of exotic pieces or painted foreign cards. He would tell me that I had a strategic mind and that I would make a fine ship’s captain when I was older. My brothers didn’t like hearing that, but they were scoundrels through and through, selfish but adorable, they always knew they wouldn’t inherit the Ériu. No one ever asked Niamh, though I think we all assumed she would rather settle down and marry. Now we will never know. They had all perished when the Ériu sank.

I sat at a small table in a dark red parlour staring out the window. The sky was darkened with the rain clouds stretching to the horizon. I shuffled the cards in my hands expertly. Across from me, three men sat, cracking their knuckles and eyeing each other’s stacks of money.

The game was blackjack. And I was cheating.

“Good evening gentlemen. My name is Babette and the game is blackjack. Place your bets please,” the men gave me winks and blew kisses gazing openly at my low-cut bodice as they handed the money over. I returned their winks with a bright smile and a fluff of my hair. It’s all part of the game, a distraction from my hands. I dealt the cards swiftly, holding each of their gazes.

“There we are, a hit sir?” I imitated my best American accent. I’d been to America many times but never bothered to learn their accent, but since I started working at Belle’s I had to adapt to the clientele, and they prefer their own familiar accent. Or French. Anything but my Irish accent really.

“A nine sir. Another hit? No? What about your sir?” I turned to the second gentlemen. He was younger than the other two, maybe even younger than me; I could barely spy a beard growing on his rubble cheeks. He shook his head and I moved on.

I stayed at table five as the men rotated around the room; often the same men came back to my table, regulars as it were. It baffled me how the men keeping coming back, they lost their fortunes each night. The house, Belle’s always won because we were all cheating. Though I knew very well, they don’t only come for the gambling.

Once the sun began to set the gamblers begun to order stronger drinks, moving from ale to fine wines or imported Scottish whiskey (which in fact was just made two states away and poured into old bottles each evening). As they grew drunker the dark curtains were drawn and the poker and blackjack tables were cleared of decks and set with red velvet cloths and bottles of spirits. Silver and gold candlesticks were lit strategically around the room, illuminating the nude paintings by “famous” French artists. The chandelier, a seemingly ancient piece dangled in the middle of the room, hanging from it, perfect teardrop crystals that glinted in the dim lighting.

The bar stretched across one side of the room and across from it was the stage. Heavy red curtains with gold tassels were pulled back and revealed three girls with bosoms overflowing from their gold corsets; heavy adorned with sparkling jewellery. They wore no drawers or petticoats under their heavy skirts and battering their eyelashes they proceed to dance to the soft music played by the piano at the back of the stage.

The upstairs rooms were opened as well, small grottos of masculine pleasure. Each room had a different theme, the Chinese room, the Wild West room, the Versailles room and so on, all outfitted with a gaggle of girls dressed to match. The girls at Belle’s must have many skills but only a select few worked in the upstairs rooms. Belle has very high standards and even higher prices. Very few men can afford to go upstairs, let alone stay for more than twenty minutes. Even so, the rooms do remain quite occupied each night.

Two girls moved onto the stage with dark cellos. Solemn they sat on their stools and spread their legs, tucking the instruments tightly between their thighs, the men like this. Their song is slow and deep, the men in the room gazed at the performers, star-struck as the dim light moves over their bare shoulders and peeking calves.

When I wasn't working the gambling tables I’m stationed behind the bar. I filled mugs of ale and opened bottles of wine to hand to the girls who hurry it back to the tables and our leering customers. The doorbell rang loudly and two girls with innocent eyes opened it wide. A group of twenty men staggered in, already roaring drunk and singing at the top of their lungs. They all wore finely tailored suits and carried long silver swords. After the girls helped them to remove their coats, they were ushered, somewhat roughly, towards a private room.

I knew who these men were, everyone did, the Dubarry men. Belle’s most precious and high-class customers. From what I had learnt in the few months I had lived here, the Dubarry family owned half New Orleans ports and taverns and controlled vast regions of the city. Belle’s was one of their first and finest establishments, run and owned by Madame, a Dubarry spinster with a wicked mind for business. The Dubarry boys appeared at least once a night at Belle’s, but I had never seen such a large crowd of them before tonight. Curious I leaned towards Lizzy, the girl serving by my side.

“Is there some special show planned for tonight?” I asked her. She glanced towards the private room just as the door swung closed.

“A wedding. It’s tomorrow, tonight it would seem, they’re celebrating the groom’s last night of freedom,” she looked sceptical.

“There’s a lot of them,” I commented.

“Well, there are three generations in there.”

“Babette!” Madame pushed through the private room and waved me over. I dropped my cleaning cloth and hurried towards her.

“I’ll have you waiting the tables tonight. Colette’s patron is in town and we’re short-staffed,” she gazed up at me, her eyes roaming up and down my body again. “I don’t like sending you in there,” she told me. “You’ve had no formal training whatsoever, but you’re French is up to it,” she shrugged, reminding me how I got hired so fast in the first place. “You do need a change of clothes first. Marie!” Before getting a chance to answer, or even to process if I was being given a promotion or being fed to the wolves, the servant girl appeared by my side and dragged me upstairs.

I was decked “appropriately” in a dark green gown, decorated with silver stitching and lace. The bodice, pulled tight around my waist, thrust up my chest considerably and a teardrop-shaped crystal was nuzzled between my breasts. There was no time to deal with my hair it remained pulled up with a ribbon, trailing down my back. A smear more of lipstick and I was racing downstairs again and being shoved into the private room.

If anything, it was larger than the main parlour itself. Wall to wall dark polished wood, deep blue wallpaper decorated with giant golden flowers. The gold-tipped cerulean curtains were pulled shut; two great chandeliers, these more obviously real, dangled from the ceiling, bathing the room in a warm golden glow. A small band for five girls sat to the back of the room; they were scarcely dressed, in colourful satin drawers and velvet corsets, they each played an instrument, setting a jolly tune about the room, though barely audible above the ruckus the men were making.

The great table stretched across the room, and around it sat the Dubarry men. They were drinking spirits and wine; the young ones (children really) chugged pints of ale. The family resemblance between them was obviously; they were all dark-skinned with thick dark hair and very loud.

Among them sat a couple of Madame’s girls, they were all French, and in all the time I had worked at Belle’s, they had looked down at me in distaste. The doors slamming behind me made no difference to the men who were singing and slamming their drinks together, but the girls, sober all noticed me come in with faint scowls.

Taking orders from the men turned out to be very easy. I had only to appear and they would be shouting at me for more alcohol or food. The older men sat at the top of the table, there were about five of them, speaking only French, and ordering a steady flow of wine. “Le meilleur de la maison!” The boys and the middle-aged men were downing ale; I kept their pints full and the jugs coming (though with all the cheering and getting up to dance, they were throwing half of it out into the polished floors). The young men sat at the other end of the table. These were by far the drunkest and the ones I recognised. There were at least a dozen of them, drinking straight spirits (and the real good stuff, Madame wasn’t cheating them, though they wouldn’t have noticed the difference). Half of them never sat down, they were sprawled around the room, jumping on each other’s back, singing in very loud off-tune voices and chasing the giggling girls.

Madame sat with the older men, her brothers and cousins, and discussed heartedly with them of business and the future. She had all the men’s respect, it was clear the younger men all worshipped her as well. Waving me over, she ordered five bottles of Champaign to be brought out, her finest. She insisted flicking me away again and told the girls to stand away for a moment while her family celebrated. The girls stood up giggling and tossing their skirts as they moved to the far side of the room.

While I was fetching the bottles Madame made a speech to her nephew, the groom. The young man stood up on his chair, a wide grin splitting his face in half. I quickly went about popping the corks (receiving a round of cheers each time) and pouring the bubbly liquid into every outheld glass. The men gave me winks and pats as I filled their glasses to the brim; they were noticing me for the first time.

I made my way about the table to the groom, still standing on his chair. He was listening to his aunt’s speech, grinning so widely and didn’t notice that I had gotten to his side.

Before I was able to grab his glass, two hands slid around my waist and hoisted me into the air. Gasping in surprise I found myself standing on top of the table next to the groom, gripping the Champaign bottle. The men cheered as I spun around to look down at the man who had lifted me.

A wide wolfish grin, black eyes, a sharp handsome face. He winked at me and indicated I should pour the glass for the groom who held his glass up to me proudly. My cheeks blushing red I poured the glass to the brim. The groom let out a cry of victory and downed the whole thing at once. Madame’s speech was forgotten; all the men started swallowing their drinks.

Votre main,” a deep husky voice, a tug on my skirt and the cheeky who hoisted me up onto the table man was holding his hand out for me. Gingerly I took it, and in a swooped movement he stepped closer, wrapped a hand around my waist, knocked my legs out from under me roughly and caught me in his arms.

The men let out a roar of approval as my captor held me tucked closely to his chest. He was big, really big, dark hair pulled back at the nape of his neck, black eyes glinting. He reeked of drink, of man and the ocean. Red-cheeked I struggled out of his grasp. Chuckling he let my legs drop but held onto my waist, pushing my hips against his.

Alors ma chère, comme ça vous essayez de vous échapper?” (my dear, are you trying to escape me?) he chuckled moving his face down towards mine. The rest of the men had gone back to their drinks and their songs as the girls scurried back to the table.

“Please,” I looked up at my captor meeting his eyes. “I need to serve the drinks,” I told him. His mouth twitched in annoyance.

“No need,” he said switching into English. “I’m sure there are plenty of other girls here who can pour a glass,” his grip on me was loosened but he kept one hand firmly around my waist, pressing my body to his. Something was intoxicating about being so close to him, his solid warm body wrapped around mine. “Besides, I’m sure I can think of better things for those lovely hands of yours to do,” his black eyes glinted with mischief.

“No sir. I must serve the drinks,” I told him clearly. He ignored me and dragging me by the waist, took me to Madame. She glanced up at him curiously.

"Tu me la fait à combien pour toute la nuit?” (how much for all night with her?) he asked grinning, the men around chuckled. I watched their eyes moving up and down my body appreciatively.

“I’m serv—”

Taisez-vous!” (Shut up!) Madame silenced me. “She’s new, she mostly serves drink,” she told my captor. He looked unfazed.

Rôh laisse le s’asumer Louise,” (Oh let him have some fun Louise) one of the older men said nudging Madame; she glanced at him then looked back at me with a clear expression of distaste.

“She’s had no training, I just hired her two months ago. Pick a professional girl Bastian; she will please you much more. I need this one to clean up,” she said. My captor, Bastian glanced down at me, an eyebrow rising quizzically.

“Are you a virgin?” he asked me. I flushed again and the men at the table roared with laughter.

Sputtering with indignity I answered with the quickest and rudest French that I had ever encountered in the French ports that it was far from being any of his business and I most certainly would not dignify to spend a night in his company.

Peels of laugher erupted from the table; Bastian’s eyes widened then he grinned at me. Madame hand swung out and caught me on the side of the face, ripping me from Bastian’s grasp.

Allez-vous en! (Go away) Get someone else to finish here, you start cleaning the kitchen! I want it spotless!” she barked waving her hand in the air. Cupping my throbbing cheek and casting Bastian a solid glare, I marched out of the room fuming.

Continue Reading Next Chapter
Further Recommendations

Kea: Bisher sehr gut aufgebaut...spannend...etwas viele Rechtschreibfehler

ivonneiyzelgarcia4: Me gusto todo Se las recomiendo mucho

Rae: I am loving this so far! I did not expect it to take the turns it did, and I can't wait to see what comes next!

huldamagambou: Je passe facilement de la joie à la colère et à de nombreux questionnement ce roman est immersif à souhait j'apprécie vraiment

Deniece: I love this book just wanted more, to him to get his sight, and there first pup.

Zino: I love the true portrayal of love, how you didn't rush the characters into falling in love, I felt connected to the characters and how Killian talked some sense into Blake not to have allowed Annabelle slip outta his grip. I also loved the plot as well as the setting and the close knit relations...

Jordan: An easy read, it moves very quickly and towards the end it did feel a bit rushed and sometimes forced, but it’s an enjoyable read that you can be done with in an hour or so!

Carine: J’adore la fluidité de cette histoire , il y a une vraie intrigue , on se doute bien que ce loup shadow est un métamorphose, juste il faut laisser le temps au temps

raelynn: This book is good I would recommend to 20+

More Recommendations

michellecsnelling: I love this book. It keeps you on the edge of your seat. Jessie Tate is a fabulous writer and this book so far has been written so well it keeps the reader wanting more.

Kaari: Just finishing book 4 of this great series and will read 5 before the night is through

Kaari: I'm currently fighting a cold so laying in bed with all these characters to keep me company is perfection

Pournima Ganapathy Raman: Something new and you can never guess what will happen next

Lisa: I love the story line so far but there needs to be a hit more background on the characters.

Kaari: The return of vega is quite the unforeseen nuisance but I can't wait to find out how this family of misfits takes care of him just hope the baby makes it

About Us

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered publisher, providing a platform to discover hidden talents and turn them into globally successful authors. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books our readers love most on our sister app, GALATEA and other formats.