•T W E N T Y - S E V E N•

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♪ We can talk things over a little time                                     Promise me, you won't step outta line ♪{Duffy—Warwick Avenue}

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♪ We can talk things over a little time
                                     Promise me, you won't step outta line ♪
{Duffy—Warwick Avenue}

Antoine's eyes glowed, eerily illuminating the basement landing. They scanned her face, searched inside her.

"Marguerite, thank you for coming," he said, his voice deep, awakening the butterflies in her belly she had destroyed years ago.

Instead of replying, she jerked her head backwards in several rapid movements, hoping to send his attention behind her. Her brows lifted as she repeated the motion, but Antoine's face stayed the same. Ignorant to her gestures, keeping his pupils linked to hers.

Does he not see Céleste hiding back there?

She well knew of the girl's presence in the room. How she tried to sneak behind her, following her to the rendezvous—Marguerite would have laughed were she not so furious. Céleste's loud breathing and footsteps like those of a large brute were less than discrete; and her gasp upon seeing Antoine had been much too audible. Marguerite worried her lack of skill would get them both in trouble. She regretted not preparing for such a coup—but there was nothing to do now.

Antoine showed no sign of understanding what was going on. If he had witnessed Céleste by the stairs, he didn't show it, nor did he care.

"Good afternoon, Your Majesty," Marguerite said at last, lowering into a curtsy, never removing her gaze from his.

His mouth twitched, and she shivered, remembering how it used to press against her lips. How their breaths mingled, his tongue wrapping around hers. The way he held her close, his skin rubbing on hers.

She huffed, willing the thoughts away as the butterflies pounded against her stomach linings. It was as if she hadn't learned from their secret meeting in the gardens.

"Why have Mother and my wife summoned you to court? We do not need a chaperone for contenders, since we have our own." His voice resembled his mother's; cool, like the first frosty breeze of winter. And his eyes flickered, alternating between harsh flames and soft ripples of water. "I am glad to see you alive and well, but I cannot hide my suspicions. They are both behind this, are they not?"

Marguerite's neck ached from tossing her head back and forth. She wished to inform him of Céleste, to make him watch his words and tone—but he was too riled up to notice. "Perhaps that is something you should ask them, Your Majesty."

Antoine disregarded her motions still, focused on nothing but her. "I will do no such thing. And please, I have told you; Antoine is my name. Do not address me so formally. Not you."

Marguerite's chin trembled, and she had no way to conceal it. She knew Céleste's thoughts would spin out of control, overhearing the way Clémentine's twisted mind worked—she would assume the worst, assume Sébastien was working with his mother and using her.

The Golden Girl (#2 in the GOLDEN series) ✔Where stories live. Discover now