Gastien Part One: The Cost of the Dream by Caddy Rowland

In this both dark and hopeful first book, young Gastien Beauchamp begins his journey to Paris with two goals in life. The first is to become an artist with his own studio, following his own rules. That is an almost impossible dream for a peasant. Gastien has no money, no formal training, and is a naïve eighteen year old fresh off the farm. Paris spits out talented men into the gutters every day. “Good” gets you nowhere. “Great” maybe gets you a bowl of soup

The second is to become the greatest lover in France. That should be easy. With his stunning looks, and his willingness to learn, the women of Paris are about to be awakened in a way they have only dreamt about in the 19th century!

Gastien swears that he has no interest in love. Love would only take away his dreams. But he is innocent and does not realize that sex without love can be quite empty. Before he can learn that, he must face obstacles and heartaches that will threaten to destroy his very soul.

Insatiable, burning passion. Focus and drive. Raw, natural talent. Armed with those, Gastien is determined to succeed at any cost. Poor Gastien. If he could only know in advance what struggles lay before him, he might think twice about leaving home. However, he is young and full of hope. The dreams burn relentlessly inside of him, not allowing him a moments rest. And so the journey begins…

Read an Excerpt

April, 1899

Gastien slouched at his table by the window staring at the painting in front of him, but not really seeing it. Mon Dieu , his hip hurt! Everything hurt. The muscles in his arms, his legs…and his hands trembled. It was getting extremely difficult to recover in the mornings now, after a night of hard drinking. His stomach felt like molten hell, and his head! Oh, sweet Jesus, the pounding in his head! It was almost enough to make him consider giving up his beloved absinthe, but not quite.

After a full day of trying to get lost in the color while painting, the loneliness invariably won out. It seemed the emptiness of his studio (and his life now, come to think of it) would deafen him. How could silence be so loud and so painful? Once again, he would head out to the various cabarets, bars, and opium dens of Montmartre. He fervently hoped to forget how very alone and depressed he was for at least a few hours. Several drinks later, many times high on various drugs, he would stumble home. He was usually accompanied by one female or another for a bout of meaningless sex, which would grant him a few seconds of total peace-the peace that came during that wonderful moment of orgasm, releasing him from mundane existence. No one understood better than he why the French called that moment “the little death”.

If only he could prolong those few seconds of bliss and forgetfulness! Forget how alone he was, who he had lost, and what he had given up all those years ago-all to become a painter and have his own studio. If I had to do it all over again, Gastien mused, would I do anything different? Non , probably not. My art is everything to me. I caused pain to myself and others to get the chance to paint, but to have done any less would have killed me even sooner than the damned fée verte is determined to do. I may have told my Sophie that I loved her more often, may have held my son a bit more often, but for the most part I dealt myself the hand I wanted to play.

There would be no regrets now. He knew time was not on his side, even though he was only 43. His muscles ached from God knew what: booze, sex, opium, or some kind of poisoning from handling paints. His hip had also hurt him quite badly off and on ever since that night… but the chance to own a warm place to sleep, food that was not from garbage bins, and a studio in which to paint were not so much to ask, were they?

He remembered back to a time when going out to carouse was a lark. He was so damn handsome then! So irresistible to women! He had his pick, never having to resort to the whores and the lower class women of the area. By the time evening came, he was usually sexually sated. He could then happily concentrate on partying, arguing art and teasing women he would never be taking home. The bourgeois wives-and wives of the gentry-came to his studio to be painted during the day, and most often ended up opening their thighs to him. If they offered, who was he to resist? He loved women. He loved the sex they provided even more. He was not about to turn down an offer from someone who actually smelled good and had an excellent chance at being disease free. Oui , he had enjoyed many years of the best when it came to chatte .

Now, of course, those women were no longer interested in him. Not for the last year or two. The past two years were hard drinking years, and the tale was told on his features and physique. But, before, women had been drawn to his bohemian looks. They had adored his out of fashion, long, thick, dark hair. Those big, dark brown eyes with flecks of gold that glittered dangerously one minute and looked soulful the next, had held every female heart captive.

Add to that his flair for wearing odd jewelry, a colorful scarf, and other eccentric clothing just because he could, without detracting from his masculinity. In fact, what it did was accentuate his maleness. The blatant contrast gave him an oddly virile, kinky, and slightly dangerous appearance.

Women seemed to be drawn to a man that would take them somewhere they had never dared to go. It did not even matter that he maintained that he was completely incapable of loving them. It seemed most women could not resist a man who, by his actions, screamed “not emotionally available”. Every woman bet they would be the one to tame him. They always lost.

There was only one who managed to get to his heart and he almost…almost… gave it all up for her. But, at the last minute he realized that the price he had paid to get the life he had strived for was too high to turn his back on. Oh, Sophie, Sophie, Gastien thought, I hope-he shook his head to stop those thoughts. She knew he loved her. There was no reason to make himself feel even worse the first thing in the morning.

Gastien glanced out the window. It was still dark, but within minutes dawn would be coming. Soon people would start wandering down the street, on their way to work, or bakeries, or shops. Some would stop to watch him paint through the window. He really needed to go shave and brush through his hair, perhaps pump water for a bath to wash away the stink of last night’s booze and woman.

But I am wasting time meandering around in my past, he told himself. I never used to be so slow to get ready! Perhaps a little drink and a hit of hashish will straighten me out for the day. And still he lingered. It was so easy to just sit there and remember… remember back to how it all began. He was a month away from turning eighteen, still living on the farm…

About Caddy Rowland

Caddy Rowland grew up in the Midwest with a stack of books that almost reached the ceiling before she was five. Books, along with her vivid imagination, have always been her closest friends.

She lives in Minnesota with her husband, who was her high school sweetheart. They are owned by two parrots. Yes, they can talk, and yes, they can bite! Melanie, the African Grey has such an extensive vocabularly that Caddy sometimes thinks Melly is preparing to become an author.

After over 20 twenty years in advertising sales, Caddy decided to pursue her childhood dream of becoming an author in 2011. There are four books planned for the Gastien series, and many other books in her head. Now, if only she can learn to type 2000 words a minute…

Her goal as an author is to make readers laugh, cry, think, and become intimately connected with her main characters. To her, a good main character stays in the mind long after the story has been read. They should become as real in the mind as the person next door.

Gastien Part 2: From Dream To Destiny will be available December 2011!

My blog: Writer of Fiction, Painter of Life & Energy


About Nyx

Podcaster, baker, zine reviewer and maker.

Posted on November 21, 2011, in Book Synopsis. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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