As soon as the door closed behind them, Madeleine placed her cup down. “We must speak.”
“Indeed.” He sauntered to the sideboard, poured two glasses of wine, and gave her one, placing the other on a small side table.
His eyes warmed, and her heart began to flutter. Then he dropped fluidly to one knee, and took her hand. “Madeleine, will you do me the great honor of being my wife.”
It was as if all the breath had been sucked from her body. “What! We . . . I cannot. You know I must first see to Maman and Genevieve.”
“And you shall.” He met Madeleine’s gaze, and she was unable to break his spell. “I will fetch them and bring them here.”
His lips thinned to a straight line, yet his tone was gentle, as if he was speaking to an idiot. “I will not allow you to put your life at risk.”
“You cannot stop me.” She raised her chin. Let him try. She had enough money to travel on her own if need be.
Georges was silent for several moments. “Very well. You may accompany me.”
She swallowed the sarcastic remark on her tongue. A victor does not rub the opponent’s nose in the dirt. “Thank you.”
“Under one condition.” His tone was unrelenting, and his face could have been carved from stone.
“We wed before we leave.”
“No!” Madeleine wanted to pummel him, but the blasted man was still on one knee. She tried to pull her hand away, yet he held it firmly. “You are mad.”
“Probably.” Georges grinned. “Still that is the only way I will take you with me.”
Why was he being so difficult? “I do not understand your reasoning.”
“Unless you plan on bringing your English maid, and we can find a chaperone, I can
protect your reputation only if you are my wife.”
The thought of dragging Andrews through France did not sit well. Madeleine might be in danger and she would not involve the maid. When she had left Beaune, Jeanne, her mother’s lady’s maid, had come with her. She was middle-aged and the least likely to be molested. She also had enough sense to find her way home. “I see your point. I would like Andrews to continue to work for me, but I doubt she will wish to leave her home.” Madeleine took a breath. “I shall wed you before we leave as long as you meet my stipulation.”
Leave it to Madeleine to throw his words back at him. “Which is?”
“We will not consummate the marriage until my family is safe.”
That didn’t matter in England, not that she would know the English law, but in France consummation was required for the marriage to be finalized, or it could be annulled. Was that what she had in mind? He studied Madeleine for several moments. Her eyes flashed with resolve. If he didn’t agree, she would no doubt find a way to travel back to France herself, alone. It made him ill to even think about what could happen to her. On the other hand, he knew how to seduce a woman, even an experienced one, and Madeleine was anything but.
What could be easier than convincing an innocent? “I agree not to force you to consummate the marriage until you are ready.”
Her eyes rounded. “I—I thought you would argue more.”
“I have no desire to fight with you.” He rose, and took her into his arms. It was time to discover if she felt anything for him at all. “What I do wish to do is kiss you.”
Eyes wide, she stared up at him, confusion writ on her lovely countenance. “You do?”
“But, of course.”
“I suppose once would be all right.”
Georges smiled as she closed her eyes and puckered her lips. Ah, so innocent. Slowly he traced her full lower lip with the pad of his thumb. Cupping the back of the head, he feathered kisses along her jaw to the corner of her mouth. He waited a few moments for Madeleine to pull back; when she didn’t, he tilted his head, pressing his lips softly to hers. She gave a breathy sigh, and her arms slid over his shoulders and around his neck.
Georges’s body tightened as Madeleine’s full breasts pressed against his chest. His groin ached. He’d never wanted a woman like he wanted her. He ran the tip of his tongue over the seam of her lips, and she opened for him. She tasted of lemons and honey. When his tongue caressed hers, she responded tentatively at first, but soon, the intensity increased as their tongues tangled, and explored.
Georges needed to touch more of her. He stroked Madeleine from her shoulders to the curve at the top of her derrière, stopping before he gave in to the urge to caress her lush bottom. She trembled slightly and moaned.
Whether she admitted it or not, she was his. “Shall we tell the others?”
Madeleine’s long brown lashes fluttered as she opened her eyes. Desire lurked in their blue depths. “Others?”
“I’ll wager you, my sisters and mother are at the door trying to eavesdrop.”
A pink blush rose from her breasts into her cheeks. “But they retired for the evening . . .
“I would not count on it.”
“We should stop this kissing.”
He brushed his lips against her forehead. “Does it matter? We will be wed soon.”
“Yes but . . .” She drew a breath. “I suppose if they are waiting we should call them in.”
“In a moment.” Placing one finger under her chin, he tilted it up, and took her lips swiftly with his, then he strode to the door and jerked it open.