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Chapter 12

They stayed together during the night in her room, making love in endless, leisured variety, both of them growing drowsy but also remarkably aware of one another -- jubilant with touch, taste and smell.

It was two o'clock in the morning. The outside storm still raged.

Roxton was asleep, unaware and so handsome in his ignorance.

"My knight in shining armor." Marguerite murmured in the dark, caught up in a past memory -- when he had been heroic and she wounded and the world, for a split second, did not exist outside of the two of them, staring at one another … defenseless. Roxton's face, as Marguerite looked at him now, was shadowed but appealing. His head rested on the corner of her pillow, just above Marguerite's right shoulder. Her fingers tenderly combed through his mussed hair. "And delusional." she added, a little forlornly.

So relaxed and peaceful were they that it was hard to believe only a short time ago he had urgently, almost possessively, sought her flesh with his own, taking what Marguerite generously provided without reservation and exalting in her sensual charms. In turn, Roxton had propelled Marguerite headlong into a world of utter intimate ecstasy. She never believed it was possible to reach such heights. Now she knew.

If only, while drifting off into sleep, possibly unaware he had muttered those dread words, Roxton hadn't said: "You must meet Father Charles. He's like an Uncle to me … and he can do the ceremony. Church of England …"

It did not escape Marguerite that there was a time in her life when attracting a wealthy man, handsome and a Lord to boot, would be an ideal state of affairs. She had the man right where she wanted him, totally captivated by her looks and talent, and impatient to make a commitment. What could be better?

'Truth.' Marguerite thought and closed her eyes in what bared a resemblance to pain. What would John do if he found out what she was … or wasn't? He probably wouldn't care. But she cared. Marguerite cared more than anything in the universe. She needed to know who she was. She needed ….

Lightening flashed followed by thunder.

" ... a name." Marguerite exhaled. If ever they were to have a future together Roxton would need her to be a creature of refinement; a woman to be respected. She played the part well but now Marguerite needed to be what she pretended. "God, please give me a background I can be proud of." she prayed.

She felt him tense suddenly, awakening.

"Marguerite?' Roxton whispered, easing into consciousness.

"I'm here." she whispered, touching his cheek.

"Thank God." he said, his voice shaking slightly. "I dreamed you had left me. I couldn't find you."

Marguerite was like a mother quelling the fears of her small child. "I haven't gone anywhere, John. How could I?" she asked, her own voice quivering.

Unhurriedly, they made exquisite love again and she forgot her fears and he his … for a time.


She did not know what awakened her. Was it the quiet; the absence of thrashing wind, rain and thunder? Or had it been the whisper?

Must have been a part of her dream. A girl. Running wild on the streets of Paris … laughing … yet afraid … lonely … yet surrounded by so many …

And Adrienne. She leaned forward, ready to wish her good luck; a girl barely out of her teens, singing on opening night, forced to wear a tasteless outfit in front of lewd men who would whistle, call out obscenities and throw money … but she liked the money … It symbolize so much to the young girl … Adrienne whispered into her ear: "Madge, nothing is as it seems."

It was early, not even five o'clock, but the storm had passed. A bright, low moon was shining through her window as a comforting warmth covered her back. Marguerite smiled, almost bashfully, and turned in the big bed. That, at least, had not been a dream …

Her gaze traveled over the finely molded features of the man who'd made her believe, however briefly, in genuine worship and love during long hours past. He breathed quietly like a young child, his chest barely moving, his lashes like dark shadows on the upper part of his cheeks, the curve of his mouth both sensual and tender like his kisses, his impressive body half uncovered, as if he had been too hot during the night.

The smallest quiver of excitement tingled Marguerite's senses at the memory of his skilled touch. And his long, powerful legs had twined around hers or served as firm support when she sat or lay on him during the night. Her gaze traveled down the flawless perfection of his lean, toned form then back again to come to rest on his face. She liked his expression, for she had watched it closely and often last night, when he reached the pinnacle of passion. He was so filled with joy … the joy of the act … and being with her.

"Together forever." he had whispered before they fell asleep, once again reminding Marguerite of his intentions.

Slowly, Roxton was making her believe it too. For reasons she could not fathom he loved her, wanted to be with her, and expected the woman he was laying with to feel the same. 'Perhaps,' Marguerite pondered, almost like a prayer, 'if he could be patient a little longer …' At least until she got back to London and could read her mail … then yes, maybe they could be together … forever.

Smiling, she snuggled in close to him and closed her eyes.

It could work. Yes, if she was careful and luck was with her, it could work.


Finally, after so many years of searching, he had found the woman of his dreams.

He knew there was something special about Marguerite Krux from the first moment he saw her. Beautiful. Worldly. Mysterious. Independent. Slightly wicked ... Yet, also tender and filled with a great capacity to receive and give love. If Roxton spoke his musings out loud Marguerite would laugh at that final portrayal.

Roxton sensed that she had once been hurt … by a man? Perhaps there was a special person, someone she had loved deeply, who had taken her heart and stomped on it. Even while experiencing bliss he sensed her holding back. She wanted to love him but was profoundly afraid.

She never spoke of her adopted family and avoided every attempt he made to get closer while they were on the plateau.

Marguerite - unsolved and filled with stealth - was unique.

But how could he know, during those early weeks while traveling to the plateau, the way he had fought his attraction to this difficult female, that Marguerite was his destiny? He should have known. Roxton had never had problems charming ladies. Oh, there were those who would play hard-to-get but if he appeared ready to walk away the same women would come scampering back without a moments hesitation. It was so predictable. Then Roxton, usually after a romp, would get bored. He treated the ladies well but knew there was no future for him with a woman - any woman - until now.

Not only had Marguerite caught his interest, refusing his advances while on the plateau, but she touched the core of what he was. He had never been so wounded when, unthinking, she - of all people - had spat back the death of his brother while they argued. From anyone else Roxton wouldn't care. He had heard and read the accusations before. But from Marguerite it mattered. Later she apologized, something not easy for the woman, and said it was not true. He shrugged it off but it had left an affecting mark. No woman but Marguerite Krux could do that to him.

Even then he was falling in love although he would never admit it to himself.

In the present, Roxton stared down at her. The flat of his hand holding his head up, his elbow resting on the upper portion of pillow above her head, as she lay beside him in the morning light. Her face was unlined, totally at peace as she slept and Roxton marveled at its beauty and purity. He reached forward to touch Marguerite's hair, thick and tousled as it was arranged on the pillow, and he marveled at its texture.

It had been remarkable. Beautiful. The most extraordinary evening of his life. The sensations she had wrought, the way her hands traveled over his body as if she knew him without ever having touched him before; the intense explosions in his mind when they kissed, petted, joined and reached ….


And as much as he loved it, as much as he adored the beauty laying beside him, something would not allow Roxton to take what was given without fear. It was just too good to be true. 'I can promise you tonight.' she had said. There was always a fly in the ointment. Looking very slightly away from her, trapped in a moment of ambiguity, Roxton suffered from a numbing fear. If she decided to phase him out of her life now would he ever be able to get over her? Had Marguerite Krux's passion ruined him for other women as the death of William had ruined his life in other ways?

"What are you thinking?" She was looking up at him, awake and aware, trepidation in her expression.

Roxton, warmed by her concern and pleased she had awakened, smiled gently and touched her hair again, "Just sorry to see the night end."

Marguerite reached over and took his hand which was laying on his sheet covered hip, "But now we have the day." she whispered.

"You're staying?" he asked, encouraged.

"Of course, we have a party to go to tonight."

He leaned down and kissed her softly, thanking her. Then, pulling back and curious, he said: "You seemed so set against it last night. Are you doing this for me?"

"Well, let's just say a lot has happened since that conversation and this morning." Her lips pressed together in a thin, humorous smile. She held his free hand in both of hers. "And you really were a very good boy last night."

"Ah," Roxton chuckled and, experiencing a familiar surge whilst feeling her intimate touch, even if it was merely the woman holding his hand, he leaned in close and pressed his lips to her temple. "That means we can spend the day in bed." he suggested, "And you can tell me about the odd birthmark I found on your shoulder blade last night …"

"Lord Roxton, you are absolutely insatiable."

"We can test that theory too." He leaned down to kiss her neck.

"No." Gently but firmly Marguerite disengaged from him and sat up, "We have to go shopping."

Curious more than disappointed, Roxton sat up beside her. "Shopping? Now?"

Her tone was practical, "The only gowns I have with me are the same as I wore on The King George. I will not be caught in the presence of Baroness Noble, she with her gorgeous figure and fashion sense, wearing something she has already seen me in." Marguerite turned and looked directly at Roxton, "So, you are buying me a new gown. The latest in chic Paris fashions."

"Delighted." he replied, sincerely. "But why am I buying your dress?"

"Your friends. Your invite. Your acceptance and …"

" … your moment to dazzle everyone you see." He smiled and put an arm around her bare shoulders, happy with the amused expression on her face. "But you know, we could order room service and have a nice breakfast in bed …" He lowered his voice, massaging her shoulders and whispering in her ear, "… take a little time for ourselves …" His fingers moved seductively down her arms, " … and by the afternoon we will be fresh and ready to buy." He tilted his head and once again kissed her gently on the neck, flicking the tip of his tongue against her warm flesh.

It was enough to make Marguerite shiver and swoon. Oh, he was persuasive! "Tempting but … no." She straightened once again and pulled away from him. It took all the self control she could muster but Marguerite was able to look past his seduction. The regret on her lover's face was a nearly tangible thing and made her snicker. "Tell you what," Sympathetically, Marguerite twisted around a bit and placed her hands on his bare shoulders as he held her loosely. "We'll go have brunch, shop, get my dress and if we get back to our rooms early enough - well - we might need a nap for the party to follow… and I'm not oppose to company."

Marguerite grinned at Roxton's Cheshire cat smile.

"Miss Krux, you are positively sinful." Roxton said, stealing a kiss. He then tossed the bedcovers aside, "And I think we need to hurry." Pushing himself from the bed, Roxton made a beeline for his room as her laugh followed him through the adjoining door.


They were awash in fabrics and trimmings: Silks, satins and velvet. Taffeta, broadcloth and lace. Ribbons, buttons and bows.

Finally, in the third quaint but exclusive shop they visited, Marguerite's interest was diverted by an incredibly expensive but superb burgundy silk off-the-shoulder gown with black lace and gold trim. The svelte model employed by the shop twirled, giving the couple a perfect view of the creation. The train of the gown was stunning, studded with small red stones as an accent. However, the front of the evening dress, with its low V plunge, was extraordinarily daring.

"Honestly Mademoiselle, it is the latest fashion. We just sent a shipment to America. You are virtually the first buyer of this ball gown and I am certain you will carry it off magnificently!" the proprietor insisted with a good-natured nudge.

Roxton, anticipating how lovely she would look in such a decorative frock, smiled devilishly. He was sold, despite the price tag.

"We have an engagement tonight. Can you have it ready for me in a couple of hours?" Marguerite asked then added, when seeing the seamstress' eyes flash indignantly, "Lord Roxton will make it worth your time and energy."

Roxton, sitting on a sofa in the elaborate waiting area, nodded with an indulgent smile.

"Very good then. Please wait to be measured, Mademoiselle Krux." The proprietor, without a moment's hesitation rushed Marie, his bedraggled seamstress, into a back room.

Marguerite and Roxton looked at one another and chuckled with good humor.

Later in the day Roxton presented an astonished Marguerite with a teardrop ruby necklace. It matched her gown perfectly.

"Oh John, you shouldn't have." A troubled but breathless Marguerite exclaimed when he slid the delicate chain around her neck and clasped the ends of the gift together. Then even later, when they were resting on his bed, after napping, and she reached up to touch the token at her throat - "It's too much, John." and she was sincere despite its beauty and his generosity. "I don't want you to think …" she began, "I mean, I'm not …"

"I know you're not." He said very quickly, speaking over her head as he held Marguerite "I want to give you nice things. You owe me nothing, Marguerite. Honestly, I just want to see you happy. When I see you smile it's like stars exploding in a night sky. Just indulge me for awhile. Let me treat you well."

"Okay," Marguerite smiled mildly, "but only because you're twisting my arm."

She was warmed and wanted by a man she could now privately confess she truly needed in her life. Who would have ever thought Marguerite Krux would find her soul mate, if there ever really were such things, on a plateau in South America then again here, away from England, in the city of love?

She needed to tell him her secrets. 'Some of them ..' Marguerite winced at the bad habit. But she needed to get it straight in her head first. Perhaps, after the party and in the privacy of his room, they could talk. … Then he could go with her when she traveled home to England …. And they could start a new life together!

With a shiver Marguerite closed her eyes and held him tighter. When was the last time she allowed herself to think such thoughts?

"Are you cold?" Roxton asked, rubbing her bare shoulders.

"No, just don't let go."

"Never. I don't want this to end …" he whispered then thought, 'I don't want us to end …. ever.'

For some reason she would never understand, even when Marguerite was laying in her own death bed so many years in the future, she knew what Roxton was going to say before it was said.