Annette: Conversation

As the door shut behind us, I felt a sense of security. This woman Rachelle guided us to a study, gladly following her and the others. After all that running, I was struggling to regain my breath and composure, feeling slightly weak and lightheaded. Abrielle said your health was at great risk, that nagging voice said in my head. I brushed it aside, focusing forward although my vision was swimming ever so slightly.

We were brought before a Victor Montez; a Spanish looking man in appearance with leathery tanned skin and raven black hair, his face buried in various letters and maps. But there is also another man there. Neither of whom I trust, gazing warily at them. Introductions were made, I learned the other man's name was Richard, curtseys delivered before we finally we offered seats as our things were brought to spare rooms. I felt a great relief to find the chair beneath me, stabling my dizzied self. For a moment, Marie leaned over, whispering so no one noticed, "Why, Annette. You have gone from apple red to white as a specter. Are you alright?"

I briskly nodded her interrogation off, trying to focus on the conversation being exchanged. A maid entered offering them drinks, which many turned down yet I eagerly asked for some, hoping that it perhaps would stable my strange feelings.

Emmanuel started to tell the two strangers of what had passed this evening, even revealing what had happened to me in the alleyway. I lifted my chin as if to show my strength as the Monsieur Montez and the man Richard turned their stony gazes to me and then back to Emmanuel as he finished our short and adventurous tale.

The maid finally brings me my glass of wine, and I sip at it. Monsieur Montez, with his own bottle at his desk, smiles at me in the midst of their conversation, interrupting his companion Richard slightly as he commented light-heartedly, "Fine wine, is it not? From the finest wineries of Italy, aged for as long as I live, I reckon."

I smile lightly, somewhat entertained by his nature. He seemed like a good man, one that no one could truly dislike, from what I saw of him. Richard, though, seemed quite irritated at this little interruption, "Let us return to business," he said sternly. Chuckling ever so slightly, Monsieur Montez returns his attention back to the exchange, his expression dropping back to grave seriousness as if he said nothing of the wine.

After a while, the men pause in their words, Victor Montez drinking deeply from his glass. He swallowed, lingering over his wine as if tasting it's savory sweetness once more. Then he turned upon us women, "Excuse my bad hosting, it is late and I am sure you are quite tired from all your excitement."

I could see Clara's eyes flaring, as if she took insult from his words, believing that he meant they were weak young women. But it was true, we were all exhausted and eager for sleep. Before fiery Clara could retort, I placed my hand over hers as if to calm her and give her a signal to bite her tongue. I stood, as did Marie and reluctantly Clara. The room spun slightly at my sudden movement, though I fought through it, and curtseyed deeply. "I would protest that, Monsieur, you have been more than a gracious host. You have our deepest thanks," I said.

Victor Montez's eyes flashed playfully, as if amused by my words of mannerly custom. He bowed his head, half smiling, "I wouldn't say that, though you needn't call me Monsieur, Mademoiselle."

"Madame," I corrected him, smiling as well, playing his own game. I looked over all three men, raising my chin ever so slightly, "Good-night, Sirs."

We swept by them, letting a maid servant guide us to our rooms. As soon as I was out of their sight, I let my shoulders slump and I grasped at the railing, feeling quite sick. The physical strain as of late seemed to beat on me more than ever, and I was very content at finding my own room with my very own bed.

~~~~~

"...Gustave, we have given her long enough," Abrielle murmured to her husband, her face contorted with worry. "She could be dead...or dying. She is in great danger, and we have not the least clue of where she is!"

"I know," muttered Gustave, pacing about the parlor, darkness enclosing them in.

"You are well aware of her health. She is in risk, Gustave. I worry for her day and night," Abrielle stood. "We must do something."

Gustave grabbed his young wife's small, delicate hands. "I must do something," he corrected her. Annette, oh I could very well hate you right now. Causing trouble and putting us all in danger with your hard stubborn head. He ran his hand over his face. "But where do I start? She could be anywhere in Europe!"

His wife hurriedly searched her dress pockets, pulling out a folded piece of paper. "I was searching through her room the other day and I discovered this atop her dresser. It seems that she left it by accident, some sort of address...."

He took it from her, observing it. Orleans. That was were she disappeared off to, was it not? "This way I shall head," Gustave said determinedly. "It shall only take me a night. Perhaps I shall find at least her where-abouts. I will be able to return to you before morning light."

"Oh, please be careful," Abrielle said to him, her eyes pleading and grave. He took her hands once more, kissing them twice and then kissing her across her lips.

"Do not fret. I will make sure Annette is safe, at least find information on her." he murmured, kissing her once more before darting out the door.

It did not take him long, riding hard and fast through the murky darkness of the faint moonlight. He road the country roads, empty from travelers. All slept, tucked in bed and silent. Though the mysterious darkness made him shudder.

Few lights were on in Orleans, yet he reached the address, the windows darkened on the small home. Gustave tied his horse, going to knock upon the door.

It took a moment, but a servant with a candle answered, eyes glazed with sleep. Gustave spoke first, "I am Monsieur Gustave Jejour. Who be your master?"

The servant warily looked over him, silent as if he was not to answer for a moment. Though the butler's voice finally answered, "Monsieur Guillame,"

Guillame-leader of the Blanche! He had come to the proper house. Gustave gave the butler his card, "May I please have the pleasure of speaking with him? It is of urgent business."

The butler nodded, guiding him into the foyer, scarcely decorated. "He is a busy man, Monsieur. He may not be able to allow you a visit, especially at this hour," he warned Gustave, before climbing up the stairs to the second floor.

In a moment, a handsome man with his robe draped over his sleeping clothes came down the stairs, gazing over him with hard, brave eyes. Gustave was surprised to find how young he was. Quite a young man.

"What is your business, Monsieur?" his voice was strong and shielded. One of his hands was tucked out of sight; Gustave assumed that he held a pistol in his hand.

Guillame noticed the flicker of Gustave's eyes to his veiled hand, but still waited patiently for the man to proceed.

"I am Gustave Jejour," he stood taller, puffing out his chest courageously. "Brother to Annette's mother. I have long looked after Annette, and I feel somewhat a fatherly emotion for her. We demand to know where she is, and that she may be returned."

The young man's expression softened, pausing as he looked over Gustave. "Come," he gestured. "To my study."

Gustave did not take the chance to study the house, he was more interested in the man himself. "You caught me just in time," Gulliame said. "I was to leave on a journey at first light. Wine? Tea?"

He shook his head vehemently. "I wish to know Annette's where-abouts. Her health could be at risk."

Guillame's titled his head, concern flashing in his eyes, "At risk? What is wrong with her heath?"

"She has not told you?" inquired Gustave. Of course not. She tried hiding it as best as she could from us. "Soon after Louis died, and she joined the Blanche, she learned she carried his child. She did not tell us. We did not know until a later moment in time, when she had a miscarriage."

The other man did not hide a gaping mouth, shock crossing his face. Gustave continued, "She was considerably weakened, and the next day fever took her. She recovered, but never fully. She has always been slightly fragile, her health in question ever since. We could not convince her to stay out of the Blanche and it's adventures." Guillame did not speak, still looking thoughtfully away from him. "She needs to return, before she finds herself ill."

There was a break of silence, before Guillame called in his servant. "I will not be able to meet Nathaniel tomorrow, send someone in my stead to tell him of that," he murmured, though it was loud enough to Gustave to hear. "I shall depart for Versailles in the morn instead."

"I must tell you something, Monsieur," Gustave said as the servant darted out. "I don't know if you have realized, but my wife and I have had a belief for quite a long time that our Annette has feelings more than friendship for you. Whenever we approach the topic with her, she shuts us off...though....I think she certainly has more feelings for than you would think. Her heart is confused right now."

Guillame's face hardened, his eyes blank. Gustave was unsure whether he should've told him that or not, but he was certain of what he said and that Guillame should be brought out of the darkness to how she truly felt. That night, Gustave departed homebound, knowing that Guillame would give his best attempt at bringing Annette back to her senses and home. But would he be able to break her hard-headedness, even if she did love him?

The End

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