Châteaux and Shadows, Book 4
Henri de Cantière has been surly since he returned from visiting his family at Versailles, but he doesn’t want to burden Marcel Fourbier, his longtime lover, with his problems. He can’t sleep and hurts all over at exactly the time when everything else seems to be falling apart.
Marcel can barely keep up with his usual duties of running their household and creating beautiful furniture in the de Cantière factory when more burdens fall on his shoulders. His estranged Huguenot family condemns him to hell but wants his help, a stranger attacks him in a dark street, an arsonist tries to destroy the factory, and Henri’s beloved sister-in-law, who has been like a sister to Marcel, is weakening after being in labor for several days.
Most of all, Marcel wants to find a cure for Henri, the man who holds his heart.
Gay Historical Romance
Page Count: 166
Word Count: 40670
“As long as I’m imagining, I should imagine exactly what I want, n’est-ce pas?”
Henri closed his eyes and imagined as Marcel spoke.
“I’d need someone as gifted as my sister to dress the ladies. Someone with an extraordinary eye for color and detail. And I would make clothing for gentlemen. There’s so much I can do with color and texture that just can’t be expressed in cushions.”
He went on for another minute or two, then sighed.
Henri opened his eyes. “Not a stray thought, then. You’ve considered this. I fear the factory would collapse without you.” He meant it as a joke, but it was true. Marcel was the driving force in their finest creations.
Marcel shook his head. “I would never let you and the colonel down. I will provide for the colonel’s children.”
It seemed unfair Marcel would give up his dream for Jean-Louis’s children. Henri was also improving the factory for the same nieces and nephews, but he was an accountant, and any other scrupulous, honest accountant could do what he did. Not many people could do what Marcel did. He slid his arm around Marcel’s waist and pulled him close. “Until then, you can drive the dressmakers crazy while they make things for Hélène and Ondine. And someday, for Diane, too.”
Marcel’s body shook with a chuckle. “I think Ondine will soon drive them crazy herself. She doesn’t lack confidence, only experience.”
“She can already sew well,” said Henri. “She would be an asset in the factory.”
Marcel sighed. “She’s never going to be my apprentice, though. My sister and I were hemming skirts and coats almost before we could walk.”
Henri shook his head. “Jean-Louis doesn’t want a lifetime of work for her. None of us do.”
Marcel shook his head. “Well, I would gamble the colonel is still at home, seeing to Hélène. As you are staying here to meet the surgeon, I am the only one with the key to get everyone back into the factory.”
Marcel checked his coat for wrinkles, then slipped it on. He combed his hair quickly and tied it back.
Henri leaned on his right hand, his left curled in his lap. “You are very handsome.”
Marcel made a sour face. “I do what I can with what little God has given me.”
“Your face is alive. You are very handsome.”
Marcel looked away. “You will make me blush, Monsieur.”
“The cut of your coat draws the eye to your thighs and the strength in your shoulders, yes, but it is the charm inside you which makes you handsome.”
“Hmph.” He was blushing.
“I did tell you I wanted to see you naked last night, didn’t I?” Henri stood and crossed to where Marcel hesitated by the door. “I don’t remember everything, but I’m sure I said that.”
Marcel’s naughty grin lit up the dark places in Henri’s soul. “You did.”
“I guess opium makes me tell the truth.”
Marcel blushed redder as his gaze swept down Henri’s body. “Too bad there’s a factory to run and a surgeon to see. And no bleeding.”
“Perhaps a miracle will occur and I will be healed today.” He glanced down at his useless left hand clutching the front of his shirt so it wouldn’t swing painfully.
Marcel went up on his tiptoes, kissed him, and left without another word. Henri heard him speak to the servants before the front door opened and closed. He sighed and returned to his new room down the hall. A few minutes later, there was a knock, and Gaston showed the surgeon up.