Don't Tempt Me:Georgian 04(7)By: Sylvia Day
The volume from the bustling kitchen faded to a dull roar as Desjardins closed the cellar door behind him. He rounded the corner of one floor-to-ceiling rack and saw the smaller, rougher wooden planked door that led to the catacombs. It was slightly ajar.
“Stop there.” The low, raspy voice was reminiscent of crushed glass rubbed together, grating and ominous.
“Is it done?”
“The seeds have been planted,” the comte said.
“Good. Saint-Martin will cling to her more tenaciously now that he feels threatened.”
“I thought he would weary of the same bedsport months ago,” Desjardins muttered.
“I warned you Marguerite Piccard was different. Fortunately for you, as it has led to our profitable association.” There was a weighted pause, then, “De Grenier covets her. He is young and handsome. It would be a thorn to Saint-Martin to lose her to him.”
“Then I shall see that de Grenier has her.”
“Yes.” The finality in L’Esprit’s tone made Desjardins grateful to be this man’s associate and not his enemy. “Saint-Martin cannot be allowed even a modicum of happiness.”
“The Vicomte de Grenier has come to call.”
Marguerite lowered the book she was enjoying and stared at her butler. It was the middle of the day, not a time when Philippe was known to be visiting with her. Regardless, only those privy to the secret du roi felt such urgency that they would seek him out at his mistress’s home.
“The marquis is not here,” she said, more to herself than to the servant who knew that already.
“He asks for you, mademoiselle.”
She frowned. “Why?”
The butler said nothing, as was to be expected.
Frowning, she snapped her book closed and rose. “Please send for Marie,” she said, desiring her maid’s company so that she would not be alone with the vicomte.
When the maid arrived, Marguerite descended to the lower floor and entered the parlor. De Grenier rose upon her arrival and bowed elegantly.
“Mademoiselle Piccard,” he greeted with a gentle smile. “You steal my breath.”
“Merci. You also look well.”
They sat opposite one another and she waited for him to reveal why he would seek her out. She should have, perhaps, refused him. She was another man’s mistress. In addition, she would be de Grenier’s wife now, if she had followed her mother’s wishes. From the slight flush along de Grenier’s cheekbones, that uncomfortable realization did not elude him either.
The vicomte was a young man, only a few years older than she was. Tall and slender, he bore handsome features and kind eyes. He was dressed for riding and the deep brown color of his garments created an attractive contrast against the pale blue décor of her parlor. The smile she offered him was genuine, if slightly bemused.
“Mademoiselle,” he began, before clearing his throat. He shifted nervously. “Please forgive the importunateness of my visit and the information I am about to share with you. I could conceive of no other way.”
Marguerite hesitated a moment, uncertain of how to proceed. She glanced at Marie, who sat in the corner with head bent over a bit of darning. “I have recently gained a new appreciation for bluntness,” she said finally.
His mouth curved and she was reminded that she’d always liked him. The vicomte was charming, making it easy to feel comfortable around him.
Then his smile faded.
“There are matters of some delicacy that Saint-Martin oversees,” he murmured. “I am aware of them.”
Her breath caught as she realized what he was attempting to tell her. How extensive was the secret du roi?
“Is something amiss?” she asked, her fingers linking tightly in her lap.
“I fear for your safety.”
De Grenier bent forward and set his forearms atop his knees. “Saint-Martin has proven to be very valuable to the king. In addition, he is well respected, and when it comes to traversing certain . . . intimate channels, he is unsurpassed. And missed.”
Marguerite’s stomach knotted with jealousy. Of course the women who had known Philippe intimately would want him back. But would that be enough to jeopardize either of them? “What are you saying?”