Cassandra’s Revenge – Book 4, Golden Dolphin Series by Skye Michaels
Kitchen of the St. Clare home on Abercorn Street in the Historic District of Savannah, Georgia, Saturday evening, May 22, 1999
Michael St. Clare stood by as he watched his only child, Cassandra, sob uncontrollably in her mother’s arms. He felt helpless as he paced up and down the glossy, wide-planked kitchen floor. He saw his distorted reflection in the old, rippled glass cabinets lining the room. His face was red, and he looked like he was ready to blow a gasket. He balled his big hands into fists. He wanted to hit something—hit it hard and not stop.
His beautiful girl was decked out in a turquoise-blue spun-candy confection of a formal gown that matched the eyes she had gotten from him. Hedy, his wife, said it was turquoise blue anyway. He didn’t know one blue from another when it came to ball gowns and such female fripperies. He just knew his baby girl had looked beautiful when she had come down the central staircase earlier in the evening. He was a master restoration carpenter and had restored every inch of the beautiful, old home with his own hands. The house just off Oglethorpe Square in historic Savannah was a masterpiece. He and his wife thought they might just keep this house and not put it on the market as they had done with the string of other homes he had restored around Savannah as his company had become the best historic preservation company in town.
His baby girl had been dating Beaumont Bainbridge, III—the third for God’s sake—since the previous summer when she had met him at the Savannah Golf and Country Club where she had taken a summer job as a waitress in the club’s Nineteenth Hole Café. Mike had been against the summer job on general principles. Cassandra didn’t need to work, and he would rather she just enjoy her vacation. But she had a stubborn, independent streak that she had inherited from him and their Scottish ancestors, and so he understood that she wanted to earn some of her own money.
Cassandra was crying her eyes out over a worthless, insensitive, rotten bastard of a boy—young man—who had heartlessly stood her up on the night of her senior prom. Mike’s heart had swelled with pride when she came downstairs, her beautiful smile wide on her face. She had been so excited waiting for Beau earlier in the evening. But after two hours had passed and the realization that the little weasel wasn’t going to show sank in, the look of utter despair on her face just about killed Mike even though she was not yet willing to give up. She just couldn’t face it and had been in denial. Mike knew that Cassie had been especially excited. She had just had her braces removed in time for prom, and Beau had not yet seen her without the hated metalwork. He knew his beautiful daughter would survive this heartbreak, would be stronger for it in the years to come, but the little asshole who had done this to her might not—not if he got his hands on him first.
Mike’s icy-blue eyes clashed with Hedy’s greenish-gray ones over Cassandra’s shoulder. She was silently willing him to calm down. She was probably the only person in the world who could get him to do that right now. The previous summer Cassie had straightened the corkscrew curls that she had also inherited from him, much to her dismay. Now, tendrils were starting to pop out of the grown-up chignon hairdo that she and his wife had created for her long, and now fashionably straight, hair as she sobbed in her mother’s arms. They framed her beautiful, tear-stained face. He kept his own hair ruthlessly short to control the curls, but he understood that wasn’t an option for a young girl. He knew Cassie would far rather have had the wavy, dark-auburn locks that adorned his wife’s head than his crazy blond hair. He thought her hopelessly curly hair was beautiful, especially when the platinum streaks in the golden mass caught the sun on the beach. As a toddler, her turquoise-blue eyes and wild blonde hair had been adorable. Even though it was now straight, it was still beautiful as far as he was concerned.
When she didn’t have the time to straighten it, she usually kept it tamed down in a French braid that bounced on her slender back. She was a beautiful girl with long, coltish legs, and although her figure had not yet filled out, the promise was there. Hedy had told him that she had been a “late bloomer,” too.
“Momma, I just don’t understand. Maybe Beau had an accident driving down from school. Maybe…” The little prick was nineteen and a sophomore at Emory University in Atlanta. He had been the assistant tennis pro at the country club the summer before. He was the nephew of one of the club members who had gotten him the job. He and Cassie had met and dated the entire summer and had continued to date on school vacations during Cassie’s senior year.
“Baby, I don’t think that’s the case. Please take a deep breath and try to calm down now. You’re going to start hyperventilating. I know this is a heartbreak for you, but I don’t think we’re going to know what happened tonight. There is still time, and if you want, we can call your cousin, Derek, to take you to the prom. We don’t have to…”
“No way, Mom. I’d rather die than go to the prom with my cousin—nothing against Derek, but everyone knows he’s my cousin, not my boyfriend. Everyone knows I’m supposed to go with Beau. It would just be too humiliating. Maybe I’ll just say I got sick. Maybe I’ll just die of a broken heart tonight and not have to tell anybody anything. That would be the best.”
Mike sighed. “Cassie, you’re strong. You’re a St. Clare, descended from Scottish royalty, and don’t forget it, girl. You’ll get through this. I know that you don’t think so right now, baby girl, but you will. Someday, you’ll laugh about this.” His wife looked over Cassie’s shoulder and gave him “the look” that said “Shut up now, or I will maim you.” He just didn’t know what to do or say to make it better for his beautiful daughter, the light of his life.
Workshop of Jewels of Savannah in the Carriage House of the St. Clare home off Oglethorpe Square on Abercorn Street in the Historic District of Savannah, Georgia, Saturday morning, April 5, 2014
Cassie did survive the night and the next few days. They had told her friends and schoolmates that she had come down with the flu, had a high temperature, and had been unable to attend the prom. Her parents had not been in favor of the lie, but had understood that her fragile teenage self-esteem had been badly damaged and felt there was no need for her to suffer further humiliation. They felt she really couldn’t take much more.
A month or so later she told everyone that she had broken up with Beau. Despite what her daddy had said, she had not ever laughed about the night of her senior prom. She had never seen Beau, the little bastard, again despite the fact that he had family in Savannah. She never found out why he had not come to take her to the prom. She had, however, cried buckets of tears over the next several weeks. Nonetheless, she did survive it and maybe it had, indeed, made her stronger. She knew she now took every man she met with a huge grain of salt, and she was far more cautious in her relationships than she might otherwise have been.
Fortunately, she had registered for a summer session at the University of Georgia which had gotten her a head start in college and had also gotten her away from Savannah. The rush and excitement of starting college, not to mention her busy schedule, had helped ease the pain of prom night and losing Beau, whom she had really adored. The four years flew by, and after graduating from the University of Georgia, she had started a career as a jewelry designer with her family’s backing. She had been making jewelry since she was a little girl and just had a creative talent and an eye for what would look good with what. Mike had refitted the carriage house next to their home as a shop and workshop for her with a small apartment upstairs. It was a little jewel of a building surrounded by old oaks draped in Spanish moss, and she loved it. Her bold and slightly quirky designs had rapidly gained recognition around town. At thirty-two, she was now one of the premier designers in Savannah, and her work was popular with the local residents as well as the tourists who flocked to the shops in the historic district. Her work had frequently been featured in Savannah Magazine and the Sunday supplement of the newspaper.
“Hey, girl! How’s it going?” Devon James, Cassie’s best girlfriend since kindergarten and the only one who knew the true story of prom night, bounced through the back door of the carriage house and into Cassie’s cluttered workroom. The front of the shop was picture-perfect, but the back was a whirlwind of chaos with half-finished pieces and raw materials spread out over the workbenches.
Devon was petite with a pleasingly curvy figure and short red hair cut in a pixie style and spiked with industrial strength hair gel. Her fingers and toenails were painted a vibrant purple which matched the streaks in her hair. “Guess what! You’re not going to believe it. I won that sixteen-day trip for two on the Golden Dolphin. You know—that charity raffle at Le Club I told you about. It’s a singles cruise to Cozumel, the Caymans and Jamaica aboard a three-hundred foot luxury yacht.”
“Oh, Dev, that’s great! Grab a cup of coffee. There are some chocolate chip cookies on the counter. When is it?”
“It starts Saturday, May 10th and gets back Sunday, May 25th. It leaves from right here in Savannah, so start packing your bags, girlfriend, because we are going to have a blast.”
“Oh, Devon, I don’t know if I can get away.” Cassie usually never made plans that included May 22nd, the anniversary of the worst day of her life, the day she had been stood up for the senior prom. Not that she dwelled on it constantly, but that date had colored her life and had a bad connotation for her. It was like Friday the Thirteenth times ten. She really had never completely gotten over the trauma of that night. She knew she should have been able to shake it off by now, but she never had.
“Don’t start with me, and don’t think I don’t know why you don’t want to go away just then. This is me—your best friend forever.”
“Come on, Dev. I’ve only been to Le Club a couple of times as your guest, and I don’t know if I’m up to a BDSM singles cruise.”
“Oh, for Pete’s sake, don’t be a pain in the butt. It will be fun. You don’t have to get into the BDSM stuff if you don’t want to, although I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to. It might shake you out of your little funk, if you know what I mean.”
Cassie had recently broken up with her latest boyfriend, Max Setterfield, an attorney she had met at a fund raiser at the country club where she had worked the summer before her senior year. That might have been part of their problem. She probably had not really given him a chance. Max was handsome and a good enough guy, but she never let guys hang around long enough to form a really strong relationship, never mind a permanent one. A little fooling around and pleasant sex was okay, but she never gave her heart. And neither she nor her parents had ever joined that damn country club either. Intellectually they knew it was not the club’s fault, but that didn’t seem to matter where emotions and hurt feelings were involved.
She knew she had trust issues—all thanks to Beau Bainbridge. Although she had been crazy about him in her seventeen-year old heart, she was glad she had never given in and slept with him, not that he hadn’t tried to talk her into it. At least she had not succumbed to that first rush of love. That would have just been the icing on the cake of humiliation. It might have happened on prom night because she was feeling so grown up and pretty, but she would never know. She sighed. Beau really had been a beautiful boy—a tall and muscular tennis player with slightly long, wavy dark hair and gorgeous blue eyes. He had been on the tennis team at Emory. All of her friends had been envious of her college boyfriend. Only Devon had ever known the true story.
When Cassie continued to hesitate Devon said, “You’re going. That’s it. Don’t make me have to hurt you!”
“Oh, all right. God, you are a PIA, BFF.”
“Me? A pain in the ass? Never mind. We’ll have a good time. Maybe you’ll get ‘lucky.’ You never know who you will meet—maybe the love of your life. He might be just around the corner, or aboard a yacht.” She laughed, and Cassie had to smile. Devon was such a good friend.
“I doubt that, but okay. We have to figure out what clothes to take and all. We have to make a list. We’ll need stuff for poolside-deck—bathing suits, cover ups, sunglasses, sandals, not to mention casual or sportswear for excursions, and evening wear, underwear, LOL, and definitely jewelry. Ha! Free advertising. Hell, it just might be fun. At least it’s something different.”