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Vilest Betrayal

Vilest Betrayal

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Published by: flippitygibbit on May 09, 2012
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05/09/2012

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The Vilest Betrayal
Why she wished to get closer to him, she could not have said: perhaps she was impelled by an all- powerful fatality, which so often seems to rule the destinies of men.-The Scarlet Pimpernel 
, chapter 12
 
Sir Andrew Ffoulkes groped his way up the narrow staircase, stepping slowly where hecould not tread lightly. The other residents of 
he Fisherman’s Rest
had retired many hoursago, and Lady Blakeney herself had finally surrendered to the late hour after they had talked well into the night. Andrew doubted that she would find any rest, for both of them wereanxious to be away from Dover and across the Channel to Percy, but he was glad that she hadretired to her room all the same.Now it was time for him to go to bed, but whether to sleep or lay awake the wholenight with his thoughts, Andrew knew not. Yawning until his jaw creaked, he blindly sought his way along the narrow corridor,counting the door frames to his usual room at the inn. He had given Lady Blakeney the candleso that she could light her way safely upstairs, rashly insisting that he could find his way blindfold. Only now did he discover that the wall sconce had either blown out or burnt down,leaving him with only his sense of direction and the waning moonlight to find a place to resthis head for the night.
“From home again, home again,”
 Andrew murmured to himself, running his hand overthe wooden architraves. After working back from the linen cupboard at the end of the corridor, he found hisbearings. Jellyband always put him up in the second to last room, which was smaller than theother chambers but faced out to sea. Where other guests of Quality would have baulked at the
 
location and dimensions of such a room, Sir Andrew Ffoulkes saw only a private space and anexcellent vantage point.Recalling that the warped wooden door could make a fearful din, Andrew settled onehand on the handle and pressed the palm of his other to the panels nearest the hinges.Holding his breath, he quickly turned the latch and pushed the door inwards.Two thoughts came instantly to him when he looked into the room: Jellyband had lefta candle burning within, as promised, and
and the room was already occupied.There she stood, her back to the door, holding a chemise in her hands but without astitch to cover her naked body. In what seemed like hours, but was in fact but an agonisingmoment, Andrew watched her turn to take in that the door was open, and who had opened it,before covering herself with the folds of her garment. He quickly pulled the door closed. Almost immediately recognising his mistake, Andrew spun on his heel and strode intothe room opposite, the door opening with a rattle and a shriek. He sank down against theframe, closing his eyes.
My God, my God, he mouthed. He had invaded a lady’s privacy, unwittingly betrayedhis friend’s trust, and embarrassed himself into the bargain –
yet he could not forget the sightof her as she turned towards him. The perfect roundness of her bottom, her shapely calves andslender ankles, and
good God
the swell of her breast, tipped with a firm pink bud. Andrewsmacked his head against the door. He could also see the look of sheer horror on her face, hermind working faster than her reflexes, when she became aware of the situation.Her hair was loose, tumbling down her back.Stop it, Ffoulkes! he chided himself. What on earth would Blakeney think? What would he
do
? It didn’t matter t
hat he had burst in on her by mistake, but the fact was that
 
 
 yes
he had wanted to see
more
, he realised now. Even a glimpse of her ankle would havebeen enough to thrill him. Marguerite Blakeney was a beautiful, delectable woman, and hehad just seen everything that a gentleman ought never to look upon, unless with his own wife
or a whore. Sir Percy’s lady was neither.
 When she had come to his townhouse, ready to confess her betrayal of the ScarletPimpernel to Chauvelin and forsake her dignity in asking for help, Andrew had not known what to make of the once proud Lady Blakeney. He had wondered why this charming yetcautious woman might suddenly engage him as her friend, doubting if he could
or should
 trust her story. Yet without knowing why, or for whose benefit, he had agreed to accompany her to France, following her to Dover dressed
in his own servant’s livery on her suggestion
.
From acquaintance to ally, Andrew’s perception of this
extraordinary woman had grown inrespect and confidence in the space of one remarkable day, but how was he to behave aroundLady Blakeney now? They faced the long, lonely hours of a Channel crossing in the confines of a packet boat before even reaching Calais, and then there was no guarantee they would findPercy. He would be alone with her for days, his mind seared with the afterimage of all he hadseen, until he could reunite her with her husband, his best friend.Though still uncertain of the passionate woman he had come to recognise in Lady Blakeney, a
deeper, more personal fear was now nagging at Andrew’s conscience.
He wouldfollow and guard her for the sake of his friend, but did not know if he could trust himself.Sir Andrew Ffoulkes was burning with desire, but not for Mademoiselle Suzanne deTournay. When he closed his eyes, he saw not soft ringlets and a look of tender browninnocence, but tumbling golden tresses and a liquid blue gaze that could chill or cheer withpracticed expression. A low, lyrical voice it was that echoed in his ears, not the polished tones
of a nobleman’s daughter. And never could he imagine such a divine figure lurking beneath
the worn finery of his young émigré fiancée.

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