From Our Editors
Secret by L. Marie Adeline: An Excerpt
Waitresses are adept at reading body language. So are wives who've
lived under the same roof as angry drunks. And I had been both, a
wife for fourteen years and a waitress for almost four. Part of my
job was to know, sometimes even before customers did, what they
wanted. I could do that with my ex, too, anticipate exactly what he
wanted the second he came through the door. And yet whenever I
tried to turn that skill on myself, to anticipate my own needs, I
I hadn't planned to become a waitress. Does anyone? I got the job
at Café Rose after my ex died. And in the following four years, as
I moved from grief to anger to a kind of numb limbo, I waited. I
waited on people, I waited on time, I waited on life. Still, I
actually kind of liked my job.
My absolute favorites were the couples, this one couple in
particular. Strange maybe to say this, but I'd get butterflies
whenever they walked in. The woman was in her late thirties,
beautiful in the way some French women are-glowing skin, short
hair, and yet she had an undeniably feminine air. Her man, the guy
she always came in with, had an open face, with brown hair shaved
close to his head. He was tall with a lean, lithe body, and a
little younger than her, I think. Neither the man nor the woman
wore wedding rings, so I wasn't sure about the exact nature of
But whatever it was, it was intimate. They always looked like
they'd just come from having sex or were heading to do just that
after a quick lunch.
After I finished polishing the glasses, I printed up my couple's
bill and made my way slowly to their table. That's when I noticed
the woman's bracelet for the first time, a thick gold chain
festooned with small gold charms.
It was so unusual, a pale yellow with a matte finish. The charms
had Roman numerals on them on one side and words, which I couldn't
quite read, on the other. There were about a dozen charms on the
chain. The man seemed captivated by this piece of jewelry, too. He
ran his fingers through the charms as he caressed her wrist and
forearm with both hands. His touch was firm, possessive in a way
that caught me in the throat and caused the area behind my belly
button to warm up. Five years.
"Here you go," I said, my voice rising an octave. I slid the bill
on the part of the table not covered by their limbs.
"It was great, thanks," the man added, digging for his wallet.
"Let me get this one. You always pay." The woman leaned sideways
and pulled her wallet from her purse and gave me a credit card. Her
bracelet tinkled as she moved. "Here you go, sweetheart." She was
my age and calling me "sweetheart"?
Her confidence let her get away with it. When I took the credit
card, I thought I saw concern flash across her eyes. Was she
noticing my stained brown work shirt? The one I always wore because
it matched the color of the food that ended up on it? I felt
suddenly aware of my appearance. I also realized I wasn't wearing
any makeup. Oh God, and my shoes-brown and flat. No stockings-ankle
socks, if you can believe it. What had happened to me? When had I
turned prematurely into a middle-aged frump?
My eyes followed the couple as they left, walking past the tables
and outside, where they kissed and parted ways.
As she passed the front window, the woman glanced in at me and
waved. I must have looked like such a dork, standing there staring
at them. I waved meekly back at her through the dusty glass.
My trance was broken by an elderly woman sitting at the next table.
"That lady dropped something," she said, pointing under the table.
I bent to retrieve a small, burgundy notebook. It looked well-worn
and was soft to the touch, like skin. The cover had the initials PD
embossed in gold, the same gold edging the pages. I gingerly opened
it to the first page, looking for Pauline's address or number, and
accidentally caught a glimpse of the contents: ". . . his mouth on
me . . .never felt so alive . . . it shot through me like a
white-hot . . . coming over me in waves, swirling . . . bent me
over the . . ."
I slapped the diary shut. **** Thanks to Random House of Canada for
sharing this excerpt. This excerpt has been edited for length.
Excerpted from S.E.C.R.E.T by L. Marie Adeline. Copyright © 2012 by
L. Marie Adeline. Excerpted by permission of Doubleday Canada, a
division of Random House of Canada Limited. All rights reserved.
From the Publisher
No judgments. No limits. No shame.
Cassie Robichaud's life is filled with regret and loneliness after
the death of her husband. She waits tables at the rundown Café Rose
in New Orleans, and every night she heads home to her solitary
one-bedroom apartment. But when she discovers a notebook left
behind by a mysterious woman at the café, Cassie's world is forever
changed. The notebook's stunningly explicit confessions shock and
fascinate Cassie, and eventually lead her to S∙E∙C∙R∙E∙T, an
underground society dedicated to helping women realize their
wildest, most intimate sexual fantasies. Cassie soon immerses
herself in an electrifying journey through a series of ten
rapturous fantasies with gorgeous men who awaken and satisfy her
like never before. As she is set free from her inhibitions, she
discovers a new confidence that transforms her, giving her the
courage to live passionately. Equal parts enticing, liberating and
emotionally powerful, S∙E∙C∙R∙E∙T is a world where fantasy becomes
About the Author
L. Marie Adeline is a Canadian author who has written both novels and non-fiction. She lives in Toronto, Ontario.