Don't Tempt Me:Georgian 04(11)

By: Sylvia Day

With his thoughts firmly directed toward Marguerite, Philippe was too distracted to admire the beauty of the Parisian afternoon. He was lost in his private musings, unaware of anything but the sense that he was missing the obvious. His horse cantered toward Marguerite’s home without direction, the steady clopping of hooves lulling its rider into a thoughtful trance.

Around him pedestrians milled, creating a feeling of safety in numbers.

But he was not safe. Had he considered, for even a moment, that he would be used against Marguerite rather than the reverse, he would have been more circumspect. As it was, he turned the corner and took the devastating blow to the chest without any attempt at self-defense.

Thrust backward while his mount moved forward, Philippe was unseated and tumbled to the ground on his back. The air was knocked from his chest, leaving him dazed and unable to move.

The sky above him darkened as men swarmed around him. A booted foot connected to his side. As Philippe’s rib broke under the assault, a grotesque cracking sound rent the air. More kicks. Shouting. Laughing. Pain.


Philippe prayed for the strength to roll to his side and curl, but his body would not heed his command. The violence escalated. His vision dimmed.

Then mercifully went black.

“The afternoon’s post, mademoiselle.”

Marguerite looked up from the dining table, where she was perusing the week’s meal plan, and found the butler standing in the doorway. She gestured him in and pushed the menus to the side.

“Thank you,” she murmured, reaching for the topmost envelope on the silver salver as it was placed before her.

She went through the marginal task with only partial attention, her mind on Philippe and how withdrawn he had appeared over the last few days. She was a veritable prisoner in her own home, barred from even the swiftest of trips into town. Additional servants had been retained to protect her. The sparse amount of correspondence she received was the only contact she had with anyone beyond the walls of her house.

Her focus sharpened when she came to the missive sealed with thick black wax.

Very few people corresponded with her. Her mother and father had disowned her. Her sisters wrote only sporadically and briefly. Yet it was her name on the exterior of the envelope, not Philippe’s.

Prying it open carefully, she read the bold scrawl with mounting confusion.

Saint-Martin has two choices. Choose you or choose his life. I know how he will decide. The question is, how will you?


Marguerite frowned, then called out for the butler. When the servant appeared, she asked, “Who delivered this?”

“A groomsman brought it in. I will ask.”

She nodded and waited, rereading the cryptic words and examining the odd seal.

Several moments later, he returned. “He does not recall.”

“Hmm . . .”

“A courier is at the door, mademoiselle, requesting to see you.”

An apprehensive shiver coursed down Marguerite’s spine. She carefully refolded the note before leaving it atop the polished wooden tabletop. As a footman pulled her chair back, she stood and ran her hands carefully down her muslin skirts. Hesitating. She had been on edge for days. The odd happenings of this day only worsened her unease.

Rounding the table, she exited out to the hallway and moved toward the visitors’ foyer.

Every step weighed heavier and heavier. The hairs on her nape stood at attention. She was being threatened directly now. As disquieting as that was for her, she knew it would be more so for Philippe. If only they could ascertain what the root of the problem was . . .

“Mademoiselle Piccard.”

She tilted her head in acknowledgment of the courier’s greeting and drew to a halt by the main staircase, which was several feet away from him. “Good afternoon.”

“Comte Desjardins sent me.”

Her stomach knotted. “Yes?”

The man’s shoulders went back. That telltale sign of nervousness stiffened her spine. There were other concerning indicators, as well—the damaged and dirty state of his clothing, spatters of some dark liquid on his tan breeches, his disheveled hair.

“The Marquis de Saint-Martin was attacked just hours ago,” he said grimly.

“No . . .” She stumbled as her knees weakened under the weight of her greatest fear. Reaching out, she caught herself by gripping the baluster.