Don't Tempt Me:Georgian 04(12)By: Sylvia Day
“He was gravely injured. He has since been moved to his home, where he is being attended, but his situation appears dire. Comte Desjardins wanted you to be made aware.”
The room spun and Marguerite gasped for air, fighting a tightening in her chest that threatened to rob her of consciousness.
“Made aware,” she repeated, her thoughts on the letter sitting on her dining table.
Every instinct screamed at her to go to Philippe, to be with him, hold him, nurse him back to health.
Which was not possible. His wife would care for him, as was her right.
Dear God . . .
Marguerite sank to the marble floor in a puddle of yellow skirts, her vision distorted by hot flowing tears. The butler hurried toward her, but she halted him with an upraised hand. “Is your cousin still employed at the Saint-Martin residence?”
“Yes, mademoiselle.” Understanding lit the servant’s pale blue eyes. “I will send someone to learn what they can from him.”
“Urge them to haste.”
As the courier backed away as if to leave, her attention returned to him. Fury gave her the strength to rise to her feet.
“As for you,” she said coldly, stepping toward him with fists clenched. “Return to Comte Desjardins and give him a message for me.”
“Mademoiselle?” He shifted uncomfortably.
“Tell him that if the marquis does not survive, neither will he.”
He bowed and departed, leaving Marguerite with a life in shambles. For the space of several heartbeats she stood in place, hardly breathing.
How would she survive without Philippe?
A hand touched her arm tentatively. Marguerite turned to find Celie standing beside her.
“What can I do?” the maid asked.
“What can anyone do?” Marguerite replied in a hoarse voice. “Everything is in the hands of God now.”
“Perhaps the Vicomte de Grenier can be of assistance?”
Marguerite frowned, startled by the suggestion. She had no one to whom she could turn for help. Her sisters, perhaps, but they had nothing to offer and would most likely believe that such was the fate of fallen women.
“Why would he help me?” she asked.
Celie shrugged and winced.
“Send someone,” Marguerite ordered, thinking he would already know about the day’s events, regardless.
The maid curtsied and scurried off.
It was a few hours later before de Grenier arrived. He entered the parlor behind the butler looking windblown and handsome, despite the tightness of his mouth and the grimness in his eyes.
Marguerite rose from her seat, expending great effort to ignore how the knot in her stomach tightened upon seeing him. “My lord.”
“I came as swiftly as possible,” he said, striding up to her and collecting her hands in his.
“I am grateful.”
“I went to Desjardins first, to see what he knew.”
She gestured for him to sit and he did, choosing to share the small settee with her.
“Was he forthcoming?” she asked.
“He was startled by my involvement, then wary. I believe it was only desperation that led him to speak openly.”
Her fingers tangled together in her lap and her breath caught. “Desperation?”
De Grenier exhaled and the sound conveyed such finality, she felt ill. “I have always thought of Desjardins as immovable as a mountain, despite his youth. There are very few people who I would believe above any form of coercion and he is one of them.”
“Coercion?” she repeated, the word sticking to the roof of her dry mouth.
“Yes.” He paused. “Marguerite . . .”
“Just tell me, damn you!”
“There is some speculation that a cache of missing and important documents is being held by Saint-Martin in this house.”
“I do not know. Desjardins is not even certain the tale is true. He only knows that he has been receiving threats the last three months, all promising harm to Saint-Martin and you, if what the fiend desires is not returned.”
Confused, her gaze moved around the room as if she could find the needed papers. “We have been so wrong.”
“Beg your pardon?”
“Saint-Martin believed that I was distracting him from his duties to the secret du roi and that is what the grievance was. Neither of us understood how a mistress could signify, but we were unable to conceive of what else it could be.”