Twenty-three year old Joanna Crawford is not happy to drop out of culinary school and take a job at the Armistead Mansion, but sacrificing her own desires to help those in need around her has always been her most basic instinct. Little can she know that this apparent setback will blossom into a life-changing sexual and emotional journey. 'A Series of Misdeeds' follows Joanna as she begins her employment only to find herself transgressing boundaries that bring her to the attentions of the Armistead family's mysterious heir. Once subjected to the unorthodox methods he employs to maintain staff discipline, initial resistance is not enough to escape the wealth of emotions and desires that the games of this enigmatic aristocrat excite in her.
Read alsoDust of Eden
Before the world was born, there was the Dust of Eden-blood-red earth from which all else was created. The last deposit of the mysterious dust became a viciously guarded secret...until the site was disturbed. A bit of Eden found its way into the hands of Ariel Leppa-an embittered elderly woman unaware of its ferocious power...for a time.
The Big House is the mansion on the southern outskirts of Delano, a few minutes west of the Twin Cities on the 394. It's owned by an old, old money family called the Armisteads. What old money is doing in Minnesota I never understood. It was just a peculiar fact of life that we all took for granted. When I was a little girl reading about Dukes and Earls and such back in the Middle Ages, it never seemed strange that some mysterious quasi-royalty lurked on the outskirts of our little podunk town. Every town must have a family like that, I thought, richer than the queen and faceless as the moon.
I had seen the house many times from a distance. It's an expansive, four-story white colonial with slate roof, gables, and an ivy facade. It's probably the only half-pretty thing to look at in middle-of-nowhere Delano, so it was popular among high school sweethearts to go up into the hills and watch the sun set over the estate grounds before fooling around in their cars. My first time up there was with Johnny Craycie, the second string quarterback, but I didn't let him do anymore than kiss me a bit. I went up there once with a real creep named Greg Olsen. That was the day I first learned how firm you sometimes have to be when a guy gets the wrong idea into his head. And then I had a number of really nice times with Riley, my boyfriend for two and a half years. But he left for Detroit after his twenty-third birthday and I'd been alone a year and a half since then, increasingly wondering if something was wrong with me.
I don't mean to get side-tracked. This is all to say that I was familiar with the house and had seen it from a distance often enough to give the inside a sort of mythic quality that made me more than a little nervous. Even parking on the street and walking up the quarter-mile of broad, conglomerate driveway was enough to send an anticipitory shiver through me.
Mrs. Galefield and I got along well from the beginning. She was in her fifties, thickly built and business-like but kind and sort of motherly in her own way. I think she hired me more because we got along well than because I was particularly good for the job. As she put it, the Armistead Household never had trouble attracting qualified applicants.
"There's one rule I tell every girl that's worked for me," she said to me after ushering me in and sitting me down on a stool in the low-ceilinged kitchen. "Don't oversweeten anything and don't steal anything. I can't tell you which is worse, but they're both sure to get your ass in the fire. I've worked here fifteen years and everything I've been told about Mr. Armistead reinforces the simple truth that you do not want to cross him. It's not that rare that his orders to sack one of the help gets passed down to me. If you keep that in mind, you'll be alright."
"What do you mean, been told? Haven't you met him?" I asked, surprised.
"No, hon, I haven't once. After all, he's an intensely private man."