“I don’t like how familiar Lady Blakeney is with Sir Andrew,” the Comtesse de Tournay said with a frown as she and Suzanne watched the rest of the crowd. The weather was beautiful and perfect for a garden party. Marguerite and Sir Percy were talking with Sir Andrew and Lord Dewhurst on the other end of the lawn, and Marguerite laughed at something Sir Andrew had said, leaning towards him as she did.
Suzanne suppressed a sigh. “Maman, there is nothing untoward going on between them. You know it is only because Sir Andrew and Sir Percy are such close friends, as are Marguerite and I.”
The Comtesse’s eyes narrowed as they looked at the group. “I still don’t trust her. Be careful, Suzanne, who you bring into your confidence.”
This time Suzanne did sigh. “Yes, Maman. If you’ll excuse me, I must rejoin Sir Andrew.”
Lord and Lady Ashford’s ballroom was abuzz with the sound of conversation, and warm as their guests danced or milled about talking with their friends and discussing the latest gossip. The current topic of conversation among most groups was that of Sir Percy and Lady Blakeney. As the richest and most popular couple in England, all eyes were on them, and those eyes were quick to seize upon anything that seemed amiss.
Sir Percy was nowhere to be found in the ballroom. Most speculated he would be found at the card tables, as he often was at functions such as this. That was not what has caused tongues to wag.
No, it was Lady Blakeney who fell under the scrutiny of the crowd. Marguerite and Sir Andrew Ffoulkes, her husband’s closest friend, had run out of the room together, just moments ago, bodies close and heads closer as they spoke to each other quietly. It was not the first time that the two had been seen together in such an intimate fashion.
Sir Andrew’s wife, Suzanne, who was also a close childhood friend of Lady Blakeney’s danced with Lord Hastings, looking happy and as if she did not know that her husband and friend were running around behind her back. The poor, sweet girl.
Not everyone could blame Marguerite. Her husband was after all the dullest man in England, if the richest. But surely the ‘cleverest woman in Europe’ could be more discreet?
Sir Percy Blakeney opened the door to his bedroom quietly. It was late, and the bedroom was already dark; he knew Marguerite would already be asleep. Having already dismissed his valet, he quickly undressed and slipped under the covers.
“You are home, my love,” Marguerite said quietly as she moved closer to him. She smiled up at him sleepily and he leaned down to kiss her softly.
“I have missed you,” he said as he pulled back.
“And I you.”
“Rumor has it that you are running off with Sir Andrew again,” Percy said, one eyebrow raised, and a soft smile on his lips.
Marguerite’s smile widened. “Well, you know how terribly dashing he is.”
“Sink me, madam, it’s as if you struck me with a knife in the heart,” Percy said throwing one hand against his chest theatrically.
Marguerite laughed and shifted closer to him. “Do not worry darling, there is no one so dashing as you. And no one else that I love.”
Percy looked at her with the ardor she would never again take for granted, his expression smoldering.
“I missed you,” Marguerite repeated, her words a sigh, not wanting to break the sacredness of the moment. “I am glad you are returned.”
“My love, none so glad as I,” Percy said, before leaning down and capturing her lips in a kiss.