Don't Tempt Me:Georgian 04(3)

By: Sylvia Day

“As you wield your beauty as a weapon?”

A smile tugged at the corner of his sculpted mouth. It stopped her heart to see the way it banished the lines of cynicism that rimmed his eyes. “It pleases me to know that you find me attractive.”

“Is there any woman who does not?”

The marquis shrugged elegantly. “I care only for your opinion.”

“You do not know me. Perhaps my opinion is worthless.”

“I should like to know you. I need to know you. From the moment I first saw you, I have been unable to think of anything else.”

“There is no way.”

“If I found the means, would you indulge me?”

She swallowed hard, knowing what her answer should be but unable to say it. “Your lust will pass,” she managed.

Saint-Martin released her and backed away, his jaw taut. “This is not lust.”

“What is it, then?”

“An obsession.”

Marguerite watched the deliberation with which he pulled his glove back on, one finger at a time, as if he needed the delay to reclaim his control. Could she believe that he was as affected by the attraction between them as she was?

“I will find a way to have you,” he rasped, then he bowed and left her.

She watched him move away, shaken and yearning.

Over the next few months he chipped away at her resistance in that intense, focused manner. Seeking out whatever stray moments he could. Asking a question or two about her life, tidbits that told her he followed her activities with avid interest.

Until her mother grew impatient and followed through with her threat to select the Vicomte de Grenier as Marguerite’s husband-to-be. A few months earlier, Marguerite might have been pleased. The vicomte was young, handsome, and wealthy. Her sisters and friends exclaimed over her good fortune. But in her heart, she pined for Saint-Martin.

“Do you want de Grenier?” the marquis asked gruffly after following her to a retiring room.

“You should not ask me such questions.”

He stood behind her in the mirror, his face hard and austere. “He is not for you, Marguerite. I know him well. We have spent more than one evening in the same questionable establishments.”

“You seek to counsel me against a man who resembles you?” She sighed when he growled. “You know I have no choice.”

“Belong to me instead.”

Marguerite covered her mouth to stem a cry and he pulled her close.

“You ask too much,” she whispered, studying his features for some hint of deception. “And you have nothing to offer in return.”

“I have my heart,” he said softly, stroking across her bottom lip with the pad of his thumb. “It may not be worth much. Still, it is yours and yours alone.”

“Liar,” she spat, striking out in self-defense, painfully wounded by the flare of fruitless hope his words evoked. “You are a consummate seducer and I have resisted you. Now an acquaintance of yours is about to best you. That is the driving force of your interest.”

“You do not believe that.”

“I do.” Wrenching away, she fled the room.

For several nights after, Marguerite took great pains to avoid him, a vain and belated attempt to kill her growing fascination with a man who could never be hers. She claimed illness for as long as possible, but eventually, she could remain hidden no longer.

When next they met, she was shocked by his appearance. His handsome features were drawn, his mouth tight, his skin pale. Her heart ached at the sight of him. He stared at her a long taut moment, then jerked his gaze away.

Worried, she deliberately stood in an intimate corner and waited for him to approach her.

“Belong to me,” he said hoarsely, coming up behind her. “Do not make me beg.”

“Would you?” The question came out as no more than a whisper, her throat too constricted to allow volume. His nearness caused tingles to sweep over her skin in a prickling wave, creating a sharp contrast to the numbness she had felt the last week. That their minuscule interactions had come to mean so much was frightening. But the thought of not having them at all was even more terrifying.

“Yes. Come with me.”



Abandoning everything she knew, Marguerite left with him. He took her to the residence he presently occupied, a small house in a respectable neighborhood.