The Marquis's New Clothes(8)

By: Lila DiPasqua


She jumped back a foot, startling him. “It’s cold!” she blurted out and took another step back. She was rubbing her arms vigorously. “Don’t you feel it? It’s become quite chilly all of a sudden.”

“Chilly?” Adam glanced up at the late afternoon sun. Did she jest? It was a warm summer’s day.

“Yes . . .” She was still rubbing her arms, though her cheeks were pink, indicating inner heat rather than a chilled form. “I could really use your justacorps. Would you mind?”

“No, of course not.” Adam removed his overcoat, walked up to her, and placed it on her shoulders.

She shot her arms into the sleeves. On him the coat was knee-length. On her it was much lower. She wrapped her arms around herself, the sleeves too long for her. He could barely see her fingertips.

“Are you all right?” he asked. Her behavior was bizarre.

“Yes . . . No. No, actually, I’m not feeling quite myself. I’m going to lie down until supper. If you’ll excuse me . . .” She gave a quick curtsy. “Good-bye,” she said as she turned on a heel and stalked away, calling out to her cousin.

Louise d’Arcy abruptly ended her conversation with Robert and raced to Aimee’s side, casting a nervous glance Adam’s way.

Aimee turned around quickly and tossed out, “I’ll return your justacorps later . . . and thank you,” then picked up her pace, both women rushing away.

Adam placed his hands on his hips as he watched the hasty retreat.

Robert sauntered over to him, frowning. “What on earth just happened?” he asked.

“I’ve no idea.”

Robert rubbed the back of his neck. “Any reason why is she wearing your justacorps, Adam?”

“She’s cold.”

Robert lifted a brow. “Cold?”

“That is what I said. Cold.”

“Dieu, it’s about as hot as Hades out here.”

Adam watched as the two women entered the palace through one of the garden doors. “Yes. I’m quite aware of that.”

Robert shook his head. “It’s baffling . . . First there was interest—which is rather astonishing in itself—and then a fast strange exit. What do you suppose is going on?”

“Don’t know.” It could be that he simply overwhelmed her and she lost her courage. After all, she hadn’t been with any other man besides Marc. Or there could be more to this than he knew. “But I do intend to find out.” Now that he saw just how responsive she was to him, he was going to continue his pursuit. Adam had a slow seduction in mind for Aimee de Miran.

He wouldn’t let her run off the next time. Not until he had her willing and wet and had rocked that edible little body of hers with a powerful release.

*****

“Nothing!” Aimee tossed the blue justacorps onto her bed. “There is absolutely nothing in the pockets.” She was so frustrated she wanted to scream. Her body was burning from the inside out, thanks to Adam de Vey—the last man on earth who should stir her. Her husband’s friend. A womanizer who had used the very same tactics on countless women.

Those tactics weren’t supposed to affect her. But they did. Dear God, had she learned nothing from her experience with Marc? Instead of being the one doing the playing, Aimee was the one being played—by Adam. It unnerved her that he’d incited her senses.

And that he knew it.

“Are you certain?” Louise picked up the coat and ran her hands through the pockets. A sound of exasperation erupted from her as her cousin tossed the justacorps back onto the bed. “We’re going to have to search again.”

“Oh, no. I’ll not go through that again, Louise. We’ve got to think of something else. Perhaps we can have a jeweler make an identical ring . . . or . . .”

“But that will take too long!” Louise’s eyes filled with tears. “Time is of the essence. Renault could realize his ring is missing at any moment.”

She knew Louise was right. She was grasping for ideas.

Louise flopped backwards onto the bed. “I’m going to prison.” She slapped her palms over her face and wept.

Aimee sighed. Clearly, she was no coquette. Or seductress. She wasn’t good at playing the siren. Or the games men like Marc and Adam played. And after her irrational behavior in the gardens, it was almost certain Adam thought she was a lunatic.

But for Louise’s sake, she’d have to do better. She knew her cousin would move mountains for her if Aimee were in need. In fact, Louise had been the only one who had been there for her during all the pain Marc had caused her.

“Louise.” She walked over to the bed. “You are not going to prison. I’ll search his justacorps this evening, providing he wears a blue one, and if that proves fruitless, I’ll figure out a way to sneak into his rooms and check all his blue justacorps.”