Marquess in Peril

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A Flash Fiction Short Story by Jessie Bennett

Genre: Regency Romance
Word Count: 994

Marquess in Peril

As he sat with her, images of their meeting ran through his mind. Belle, on the deck, where he had met her laughing at some shared joke. At dinner, licking a pink tongue across her lips as they ate pastries. Belle, blue eyes wide and looking into his as she shared some deep and soulful thought.

“Belle,” he said softly, “I know you can hear me. I want you to know that I cannot let you die. You are the light of the world. You cannot leave it.”

The sleeping angel breathed out, rosebud pout parting gently, and William stiffened. He hardly dared to breathe – what if she was about to wake?

“Belle?”

She sighed, and turned towards him, but she did not stir and her eyelids did not flicker. William bent closer, listening for her breath.

A voice disturbed him, coming from the doorway. “My lord?”

William looked up. A tall woman with elegantly-piled red hair and a pretty, earnest face stood there.

“Lady Annette?” William asked.

The British lady cleared her throat, wringing her hands in the dark velvet of her skirt. She could get no words out, but simply looked at him, stricken. She had been weeping, clearly, and William’s heart clenched.

“My lady? What is the matter?”

“It’s my husband. He has it too.”

“What?” William stared at her.

“My husband – Patrick – this malaise has got him, too. He’s sleeping just like her. I cannot wake him!” She burst into tears, and William ran to her, taking her cold hand in his.

“Oh, my lady,” he said gently. “I know it is hard. But we must be strong. We can do something to fight this, you and I…”

He trailed off, and she shook her head, vigorously.

“I cannot help them, William. I cannot help you, or anyone…” she started crying once again, heaving sobs that made her shoulders heave.

“But why, my lady?” William asked gently.

“They think I did it,” Lady Annette said flatly. “Because of my knowledge of plants. They think I did it.”

There was nothing William could say to that. As the woman collapsed, sobbing in his arms, he could think of no comfort to offer. He did not know, yet, what was happening; who was doing this. All he knew was he had to stop it. Fast. Before the woman he loved died.

*****

Author Notes

I came up with this little tale about Lord William self doubt that he is the cursed one and whoever woman he loved, they will die. If you enjoy this story… please tell your friends. It would be better to get the book, ‘THE MARQUESS’ CURSE” to find out if they can be together.

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