From birth, Alain and Alina Alastair are a scientific phenomenon—identical male/female twins—a biological impossibility. Wishing to avoid notoriety, Lord and Lady Alastair whisk their miracle children to their island home isolated by a two-hour ferry journey from the mainland of England. It is at Alastair Keep that their destiny unfolds to the constant percussion of a restless sea. As a young man, Alain craves escape from the seclusion.
Alain tucked the in-flight magazine into the seat pocket and gazed out the window. The distance from one life to another vanished with the clouds fleeing beneath silver wings. The new 777-200 transported him from a sunlit future to a misty past…from a black-haired beauty to a fair-haired princess. Sunlight broke through cloud striking steel, blinding him for an instant.
Someone was going to get hurt.
Already he hurt—a low throbbing like a toothache. If he returned to Portugal, Alina would be devastated. His father would disown him. If he picked up his discarded heritage, a part of him would die and Maritza would grieve. For a time. He wasn’t vain enough to think she’d pine for him forever.
The choice lay in his hands.
Damn, life got complicated when he tried to declare independence from The Keep. He shifted his long legs cramped beneath the airline seat. He preferred not to think, but fragments of memory plagued the corners of his eyes.
A vivid picture of Alina supplanted images of recent days drenched white-hot by a Portuguese sun. His twin’s presence was more corporeal than the woman sitting to his left. Welcome or not, Alina was there inside him, the mere thought of her a compulsion. He sensed her anticipation mounting as the miles melted. Expectation tingled over him. In self defense, he grasped at a memory of riding the splendid Lusitano stallions, their beauty and majesty a temporary refuge. Like Maritza. As he pictured his lover framed in an arbor of roses, his heart dived. Grief mingled inseparably with the mounting excitement.
His seat mate muttered something. He smiled vaguely at the tiny movie screen where imaginary figures acted out their roles. The film would end happily; every desire fulfilled. He hated the silver screen people. Things never turned out right—except in the movies.
The roar of jet engines and the spattering of conversation became a distant echo. Alina was journeying. When his sister took flight, despite the distance, she’d lead him down the path her imagination chose. Alina had always been the leader. Or is that a cop out to ease my own guilt? He laid his head back on the seat and closed his eyes. Why fight the inevitable?
The rumble of the sea surrounded him. July sunshine warmed his face. The light of home was different from any other place, diffused, like sunlight filtered through a special camera lens. He stood on the top tier of the formal garden, looking down on another sweeping flagstone terrace. A brisk waterfall sprang from an aperture in rock to feed the swan pond. Even in summer the water rippled clear, green, cool.
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