Don't Tempt Me:Georgian 04(2)By: Sylvia Day
“You, my youngest daughter, are to be a wife. Since the marquis already enjoys the wedded state with another, you must set your aim elsewhere.”
“How can you be certain Saint-Martin enjoys it? Their marriage was arranged.”
“As yours will be if you do not heed me,” the baroness continued with a note of steel in her voice. “Your sisters made fine matches, which frees me to give you more license. Use it wisely, or I will choose your spouse without consulting you. Perhaps the Vicomte de Grenier? He is rumored to be similarly randy, if that is your attraction, but he is younger and therefore more malleable.”
“You are not equipped to manage a man of Saint-Martin’s ilk. He sweetens his tea with naïve girls such as you and then gorges on less refined tarts.”
Marguerite had held her tongue, aware that she knew nothing of the man but rumor and innuendo.
“Stay away from him, ma petite. A breath of scandal will ruin you.”
Knowing it was true, Marguerite acquiesced and firmly intended to keep her word. “I am certain he has forgotten me already.”
“Naturellement.” The baroness offered a sympathetic smile. Marguerite was her favorite, and the daughter most like her in both looks and temperament. “The point of this discussion is to ensure that you follow suit.”
But Saint-Martin proved to be more determined than they had anticipated. Over the next few weeks, Marguerite found him everywhere, a circumstance effective in preventing her from forgetting him. Speculation abounded as to why he was suddenly less interested in his more jaded pursuits, which seduced her with the possibility that he was seeking her out deliberately. Unable to bear the suspense and distracted from her pursuit of a suitable husband, she resolved to confront him directly.
Ducking behind a large potted plant, Marguerite waited for him to pass her location in his pursuit of her. She attempted to regulate her breathing to facilitate a calm exterior, but the effort made her dizzy. As had happened from the first, the nearer his proximity, the more disconcerted she felt. She could not see him, yet she sensed his every footstep. Closer . . . closer . . .
When Saint-Martin came into sight, she blurted out, “What do you want?”
The marquis drew to a halt and his wigged head turned to find her. “You.”
Her breath caught.
He pivoted to face her directly and approached with animalistic grace, his narrowed gaze assessing her from head to toe. As his dark eyes roamed, they heated, and when they paused boldly on her chest, Marguerite felt her breasts swell in response.
“Stop.” She snapped her fan open as a barrier between them. Within the confines of her corset, her nipples hardened such as they did when she was cold. “You will cause a scene.”
His jaw tightened. “And ruin you for the marriage you seek?”
“That is not a deterrent.”
“The thought of you wed to another,” he growled, “compels me to insanity.”
Marguerite’s hand rose to her throat. “Say no more,” she begged in a whisper, her mind reeling. “I lack the sophistication required to banter in this manner.”
His prowling stride did not falter. “I speak the truth to you, Marguerite.” Her eyes widened at his use of her given name. “We lack the time for meaningless discourse.”
“It is not possible for us to have more.”
The marquis’s pursuit forced her to retreat until her back hit the wall. Only the delicate barrier of leaves shielded them from view. They had a moment alone, at most.
He tugged off his glove and cupped her cheek. The touch of his skin to hers made her burn, his spicy scent made her ache in unmentionable places. “You feel it, too.”
She shook her head.
“You cannot deny the affinity between us,” he scoffed. “Your body’s response to mine is irrefutable.”
“Perhaps I am frightened.”
“Perhaps you are aroused. If any man would know the difference, it is I.”
“Of course,” she said bitterly, hating the possessive jealousy she felt.
“I have wondered,” he murmured, his gaze on her parted lips, “how it would be to make love to a woman such as you—beautiful and sensual beyond compare, but too innocent to wield it as a weapon.”