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Sara Craven-Temple of the Moon

Oct 02, 2014




No matter what she might feel, Gabrielle knew there was no future for her in any relationship with Shaun Lennox--just the basic fulfillment of a mutual need. And for her, that was not enough.
"Shaun, listen," she said hesitantly. "You don't understand ...."
But how could she explain to the bitterly mocking Shaun? One moment he seemed to regard her as a brainless plaything, the next he was holding her at arm's length with a kind of wary contempt.

Temple of the MoonBy

Sara Craven

No matter what she might feel, Gabrielle knew there was no future for her in any relationship withShaun Lennox--just the basic fulfillment of a mutual need. And for her, that was not enough."Shaun, listen," she said hesitantly. "You don't understand ...."But how could she explain to the bitterly mocking Shaun? One moment he seemed to regard her asa brainless plaything, the next he was holding her at arm's length with a kind of wary contempt.CHAPTER ONEIt had been raining for several hours, a monotonous, relentless downpour that turned the gutters intominiature torrents and transformed the once sun-baked streets into shallow canals, swirling with reddust and debris.Gabrielle sat alone in the foyer of the Hotel Belen, her eyes fixed bleakly on the huge glass swingdoors which gave on to the street. Her fingers drummed restlessly on the small carved table in frontof her, keeping time with the raindrops. She felt totally alien to the laughing, chattering groups oftourists sitting around her, exclaiming over this unseasonable break in the weather pattern in whatwas officially the, dry season in the Yucatan peninsula. Once or twice she glanced down at thecamera case lying at her feet as if seeking reassurance.She was here, she told herself, where she had every right to be, so it was ridiculous to think that thissudden rainstorm was some kind of ill-omen. Even if James was not prepared to welcome her toMerida, she still had her commission from Vision magazine to fulfil. She was a working woman now,whether he liked it or not. And there could be all sons of explanations as to why he had neveranswered the slightly defiant letter she had sent him, telling him that Vision had bought some of thework she had sent them in a fit of bravado and wanted more. Perhaps he had never received theletter. After all, this was hardly the most accessible place in the world, and if James was in thedepths of the Mayan forests somewhere, he would hardly be in a position to conduct acorrespondence.But the more she tried to bolster up her self-confidence, the more frankly depressed she became.Other archaeologists managed to keep in touch with their wives and families, she knew, and longsilences had invariably been James' way of manifesting his displeasure with her during their briefmarried life. And in the past, she had always been the first to ask forgiveness, daunted by thisforbidding chill, but not now, she thought. Not any more. This time, there was nothing for James toforgive. He had deliberately, almost cold-bloodedly shut her out of his career. He could not preventher seeking one of her own, although he had made it icily clear before he had left for Mexico that hedid not want a working wife.Gabrielle sighed, and ran her fingers round the neck of her dress, lifting the collar away slightly fromher throat. In spite of the air conditioning in the hotel, she found the humidity trying and she knew thatin the forest regions she would have tropical conditions to contend with. But even the prospect ofmore discomfort could not prevent a mercurial change in her spirits at the thought of the trip ahead.To think that she was actually going to see themthese strange ancient pyramids rising out of thejungle, evocative memorials of an advanced civilisation that had been wiped out by the Spanishconquest. For as long as she could remember, the conquest of Mexico had fascinated her, and shehad read every book on the subject she could lay her hands on. Her father, who had taught at a

northern university, had always encouraged her interest, although he had not shared it particularly.His own researches were based nearer home into Roman and Celtic remains, and father anddaughter had amicably agreed to differ. They'd had a warm, happy relationship, made even closerby her mother's death quite unexpectedly during a minor operation. Dr Christow had aged visiblyunder this blow, but he had been determined not to allow it to affect Gabrielle's growing-up, and hisolder sister Molly, herself a widow, had come to live with them, becoming a more than adequatesubstitute mother as Gabrielle advanced into her teens.Her father's death had occurred when she was halfway through a photographic course at art college,and she had immediately offered to abandon the course and get a job to help out financially, butAunt Molly had been adamant in her refusal. Gabrielle might well be glad of some qualifications oneday, she had insisted, although she had no means of knowing how right she would be.Gabrielle had been at the end of her course when she met James. She had seen his lecture onancient Aztec civilisations advertised at the local adult education centre and had recognised in theDr James Warner with the impressive string of letters after his name the Jimmy Warner who hadbeen at university with her father and worked with him on digs in their younger days.When the lecture was over, she nerved herself to approach him and explain who she was. JamesWarner was a slightly built man, with severely cut greying hair and a trim beard, and in her wildestdreams Gabrielle could not envisage anyone, even her extrovert father, calling him 'Jimmy', but hehad greeted her with every appearance of delight and asked her to stay on and have coffee withhim.Her initial reservations had soon been swept away by his evident affection for her father anddistress at the news of his death.'I was abroad, of course, when it happened,' he told her. 'By the time I heard about it, I felt it was toolate even to write and offer my condolences. I had no idea Charles had a daughter, either.'He drove her back to her digs after the lecture and said they must keep in touch, but it was a vagueremark and Gabrielle did not really expect to hear from him again, although she thought regretfullythat she would have liked more time with him to give her a chance to ask more things about ancientMexico that did not come within the normal scope of a lecture.But to her surprise, she did hear from him again, and quickly. He wrote to her, and followed this upwith, a telephone call and flowers. He had several speaking engagements in the neighbourhood andinvited Gabrielle to go to these as his guest. It was useless to pretend she was not flattered by hisattentions and in many ways she felt as safe with James as she had with her father, although the twomen were not a bit alike and she knew it.At first she told herself that James' kindness to her was prompted solely by the fact that she was herfather's daughter, but as time went by, she began to realise this was not the whole truth. His wooingmight have begun cautiously, but soon there was no doubt of his intentions. James wanted to marryher. He told her so one evening when they were dining together before going to the theatre. Hespoke frankly on the considerable difference in then-ages and on his previous marriage which hadended in divorce some years previously.'My former wife could not accept the demands that my work made on my time,' he said. 'She had nointerest in my researches and hated travelling. Whereas you, my dear Gabrielle, share myfascination with the Maya. You could be a great help to meeven an inspiration.'If Gabrielle hesitated at all, it was only momentarily, and if an inner voice warned her to make sureshe was attracted by the man and not merely by the life he could offer her, she hushed it. She hadbeen oddly touched too by James' old-fashioned ideas of courtship and his evident respect for herinnocence. She had been disturbed by the permissive behaviour that seemed to be the pattern atthe college she had attended and her determination to stay apart from it had resulted in her beingcalled a prig, and even more unkindly a professional virgin by some of the other students. The labelshad stuck and in spite of the attractions of her dark copper hair and green eyes, fringed by long

lashes, she had spent a rather lonely existence during her student years.Even when they were engaged, James made no attempt to push their relationship to a moreintimate level, and she was grateful to him for this. The only souring of her happiness came with AuntMolly's overt disapproval.'Are you quite sure what you're doing, child?' she had said abruptly one day, watching Gabriellepacking some of the books she had decided to take with her to her new home. 'He's a middle-agedman, and set in his ways, and you're so young Sometimes I feel so worried.'Gabrielle sat back on her heels and looked at her aunt wide-eyed. 'But, Aunt Molly, surely you'veknown James for years.''Oh yes, I've known him all right,' her aunt retorted rather grimly. 'And that just increases mymisgivings. Even your father used to say there was a side to James that no one would ever know,and that it was probably just as well. Oh, it's not just the fact that he's so much older than you,although that does disturb me too. I just wish you'd wait for a whileget to know each other a littlemore.''Oh, Aunt Molly!' Gabrielle curbed her exasperation. 'Haven't you said time and time again that noone really knows anyone until they have to live with them?''Yes, I have,' her aunt returned. 'And if that was all you and James wanted to do, I'd feel muchhappier about the whole thing.''I'm shocked,' Gabrielle said with an attempt at lightness. 'But seriously, can you imagine Jamesagreeing to anything asswinging as a trial marriage?'They laughed together, but their amusement was forced and Gabrielle was relieved when theconversation turned to another, less personal subject. Aunt Molly was a dear, but her views ofmarriage were as old-fashioned in their way as James'. She believed in romance, and that lovewould win the day, whereas Gabrielle was convinced that marriage was a relationship demandingtoleration and hard work on both sides if it was to succeed. She had been pre-pared to work at hermarriage. What she had failed to do was ask herself if James was prepared to do the same.Gabrielle