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Submitting to the Baron Em Brown 2022/7/22 11:37:56

“The other guests are gathered in the assembly room,” he said.

“If you are alone at the chateau, you may acquire a partner there.”

She drew in a sharp breath and nodded.

“But you must hurry,” he added. “Some of the guests have dispersed already.”

“Thank you, but I think—I think I shall retire for the evening.”

He was relieved but raised his brows. Could she possibly have come for no reason other than to keep Diana company? “Retire? The night is young yet.”

“Yes, well, I had a rather long day of travel.”

She scratched at her hair, and he imagined the powder to itch considerably. It would have been no easy task to outfit herself in the fashion of Marie Antoinette. Why undertake all that effort for naught?

“Nevertheless,” he replied, “one does not venture to Chateau Follet to rest.”

His comment made her uneasy. She seemed not to know where to look.

“I did not think I would feel as fatigued as I do,” she answered at last. He could tell she was perturbed by his prodding but was too polite to call out his impertinence.

“Then you did have, at least, the intention to avail yourself of the offerings here.”

“This must be your first visit to Chateau Follet.”

“Yes. It is a lovely estate.”

“May I ask how you came to know of it?”

“My friend. She is acquainted with Madame Follet.”

“And she told you what transpires here?”

Trudie stared at him with brows knitted. Undoubtedly, she was trying to place the motive for his questioning. “Yes.”

“Are you acquainted with anyone else here?”

“If—if you will not find me rude, sir, I do think I should retire.”

She waited for him to respond, but as he did not move, she remained where she was.

“Your friend left you to fend for yourself?” he tried.

“Did Madame Follet send you, sir, to inquire after me?” Trudie replied.

“She was concerned that you would not enjoy yourself properly.”

She let out the breath she held. “Please tell Madame that I much appreciate her hospitality but regret that I cannot avail myself of the, er, festivities offered.”

“I find myself fatigued.”

He caught the irk she tried to keep out of her tone. “Is that all?”