Desmond sat in on the edge of his bed inside his mansion trying to get his thoughts straight. He knew there had been something wrong with the way the guards had let them go and the gunshot should have been a big red flag. The only thing that would make Claude's men want to chase someone else would be because they were in league with the Raven. It could have only be the one person who worked for him who never came to the hideout, for good reasons. His hand clenched around the letter in his hands.
It was then that he heard Genevieve climbing in her bedroom window. She was lucky he was both her husband and the Raven. Did she really think he couldn't hear her climbing up the vines? Did she think it was luck or skill that she was always able to slip past his guards? He had made all of that possible without her knowledge...and now had to pay the price. He cringed as her door opened and she peered out at him. He ignored the fact that her face had paled slightly with the knowledge that he was actually still awake.
"Desmond? What's wrong?" Genevieve asked.
"It's Jean-Luc," Desmond said, his voice wavering slightly. "Claude's men confronted him at his home and tried to arrest him on grounds that he was in league with the Raven." Genevieve almost gasped aloud. Had the butler somehow thought one of them had been Jean-Luc?
"That's absurd!" Genevieve exclaimed. "Jean-Luc wasn't...I mean he couldn't have been helping the Raven. Jean-Luc wasn't that kind of person." She seemed to sigh inwardly, he knew, at the knowledge that she had almost said 'wasn't even there tonight'.
"I know, but they thought he was," Desmond continued. "He fled and they pursued him to the bridge where one of Claude's men shot him in the back. He fell into the water below. They haven't been able to recover his body." Genevieve saw how badly his hands were shaking. She sat down on the bed next to him and he noticed she had changed into her nightgown. She put a hand on his shoulder and gently rubbed it.
"I'm sure he's okay," Genevieve said quietly but Desmond just shook his head.
"I've known Jean-Luc since we were young men and he has never been a good swimmer," he told her. "If Claude's man wounded him he didn't a chance in that water." Genevieve laid her head against his shoulder as she continued to rub his back and place her free hand on his upper arm. "But I pray you are right." There was a long silence before Desmond scooped Genevieve up and placed her on his lap while cradling her in his arms. "How are you feeling? You scared me tonight." More than once, his mind put in.
"What's this? Powerful Lord La Croix was scared for tiny, insignificant me?" she asked with a smile, laying her head against his chest. "I'm okay. I'm sure I was just tired." Desmond knew she had many question about what had happened tonight, especially when it came to Stephan Lorenzi. He wanted to tell her, as did Stephan, but they had both made promises to each other that kept both their mouths shut. He looked down at her hands and smiled slyly when he noticed something was missing.
"Where is the ring I gave you?" he asked and felt her tense before stammering to answer his question.
"Oh, I wear it on chain so it doesn't, er, get caught on something while I'm around the house. I wear it when I'm in front of guests though."
Knowing she was lying he still wasn't sure if he would have fallen for that even if he didn't know she was sneaking out. He knew the reasons she wasn't wearing her ring; she didn't want anyone in the guild to know she had any kind of feelings for her husband and she was afraid of being captured while wearing it. It would take a genius to realize she was married to a noble and link her to him. Desmond slipped the thin chain from around neck and took the ring off. He took her left hand gently in his and slipped the ring on her finger as he kissed the side of her head.
"I love you," he said quietly. Genevieve looked up at him, seeming to search his face for any signs of a lie. He meant the words but wasn't sure he deserved to love her. If he didn't tell her who he really was at this moment he had no right being her husband. And yet, he couldn't bring himself to hurt her. He knew she wouldn't take the fact that he was the Raven lightly.
"I love you, too," she replied. Before the rational part of Desmond's brain could come up with some logical reason of why this was a bad idea, he gently brushed his lips against hers.
* * *
Genevieve was stunned for a few seconds. Her mind didn't seem to be able to comprehend what was happening. She knew Desmond cared for her but she never expected him to ever show any kind of affection, let alone kiss her. Even more surprising was the fact the she actually enjoyed his kiss. She suddenly had thoughts of the Raven kissing her and pulled away from Desmond and stood.
"What's wrong?" Desmond asked as he stayed where he was on the bed.
"Nothing's wrong, exactly," Genevieve said, her back turned to him. "It's just..." I was just kissing another man, her mind put in. She wasn't sure if she loved the Raven or not. She felt accepted and needed by him but wasn't sure about anything beyond that. Even after kissing him she still was unsure. Desmond had done so much for her that she couldn't forget. He had spared her entire family when he could have let them all die. He had also allowed her to see her brother more than once, even if the first meeting was without his permission at first. She almost gasped with the realization that she was in love with Desmond. It seemed a little silly for her to be shocked by this, given the fact that they were married, but she had expected to ever feel this way for him.
She felt Desmond get up from the bed and move to stand behind her. He wrapped his arms around her waist and gently buried his face in her shoulder. She felt one of his hands leave her waist and move to slip her nightgown off her right shoulder. She gasped when he placed a light kiss there and felt him smile.
"I love you, Genevieve," he whispered into her ear. "Let me make you mine. Please." She didn't answer right but instead turned to face him, his arms still wrapped around her. She looked up into his face and saw no lies or mockery in his eyes, only love and longing for the woman who was his wife. "Please," he whispered and Genevieve, nervous as she was, nodded. Desmond smiled, kissed her again and this time she kissed him back. Desmond slipped the other shoulder of her nightgown off and it fell to the floor in a graceful heap of lace and silk.
I'm sorry, Raven, she thought for only a second as she kissed her husband, the man she had come to love and adore. But you are not the man I choose.
* * *
Desmond watched his wife as she slept soundly next to him. He wanted to be happy she had truly become his wife in more than just title but was now worried about the grave he was digging for himself by making her fall in love with him while still being the Raven without her knowledge. He had to tell her...soon...then again...
He mentally shook his head. He would tell her. She would find out eventually and if he wasn't the one to tell her he feared for the safety of the bridge they had just built between them. He gently stroked her bare arm and she snuggled closer to him. When she awoke, he decided, he would tell her and let things play out. He looked out the window and saw the sun beginning to rise over the hills. He slowly pulled away from Genevieve and wrapped the blankets around her. He dressed quietly and headed down to the kitchen to find breakfast for them. Maybe a full stomach would help lessen the anxiety they were both certainly about to feel.
* * *
Genevieve awoke and stretched before opening her eyes to find herself alone. The room was still a bit dark but she was able to see that Desmond's clothes were gone as well. She wondered where he could be at this hour and got out of bed to investigate. She pulled on her nightgown and robe and moved towards the door. She was reaching for the door handle when she felt a strong hand grab her arm as another hand put a cloth over her mouth.
"Rest easy, Genevieve," a voice told her. "I will not hurt you." Her body suddenly felt heavy and weak as the drug worked its way through her body. She tried to fight it but it overwhelmed her determination and she collapsed into her attackers arms.
YOU ARE READING
A Thief for a BrideAdventure
Genevieve Simone knows she faces certain death when she and her 'family' attempt to steal from a powerful duke. When he offers her a chance to save herself and the others from the gallows she immediately accepts all the while wondering why he would...