The Baron had taken her away from the pomp and circumstance of the betrothal where both families had turned out in force to honor the long-awaited treaty. He spoke of his urgent trip to Spain, and when they were a safe distance away from her chaperone, Girard had drawn her close to him. The tantalizing feel of hardened muscles against her skin left an unforgettable mark of desire on her senses. Lisette had closed her eyes and puckered her lips, waiting for what she was sure would be her first kiss.
Instead, he had brushed her pursed lips with his fingertip, causing the heat of a blush to spread across her fashionably pale cheeks announcing her chagrin.
"You're so beautiful and so very young, ma cheriee. I feel like a lecher wanting to make love to you now." The mellow tones of his voice had come from deep within his broad chest as he held her tightly against him.
[Footnote 6: ma cheri, my darling]
Lisette had been mortified. "I'm old enough to know what happens in a man's arms."
"Are you already so experienced at sixteen my sweet lady?" He looked deep into her eyes and brushed his fingers across her flushed cheeks. "I don't believe you, and even if I did, I wouldn't touch you yet. No, Cherie, I believe you are a spirited virgin."
"Must you be so vulgar?"
"'My lady, it's not a sin to save your heart and body for your husband. Remember me while I'm away. I will return, and then we shall see how experienced you are. For now, let me adore your innocence."
This time Lisette hadn't closed her eyes when his mouth came near. Girard's light kiss had been warm to the touch and tasted of brandy. She had pressed closer to him, the armozine fabric of his black coat slipping through her fingers as she returned his embrace. He was everything she had hoped for in all the wishes made on the crystal rainbows of her boudoir chandelier. This was a man who took what he wanted, and at that moment, Lisette knew he had her heart on a gilded tray.
Girard's gentle massage on her shoulders had made her head fall back, and her eyes had closed while a heady feeling swept over her. Nothing else had mattered except to prolong the excitement she found in his arms. The contours of his powerful body awakened her most secret desires. She shivered against him, wanting something more and not knowing what it was or how to make him understand that her love went with him. His lips touched hers, and a moan trembled from deep within her throat.
Girard had pulled away and gently kissed the palm of her hand. She had known then that her love for him was sealed. She hadn't expected such tenderness from him. He had seemed just as reluctant as she to end the magic of the moment. Silent promises secured their future, and intimate kisses had them both anticipating the day they would wed.
"Must you go?" she had asked, her voice faltering around the painful lump in her throat.
"Don't forget me, Lisette," he had murmured against her ear. Stepping back, Girard had pinned a brooch on her mantle. It represented the Jolbert crest of a ruby Fleury cross against a golden background. Lisette's fingers had traced the beautiful renaissance jewel in the shape of a Fleury vermeil cross set with a large lapis cabochon and four cultured pearls. The inside of the arms were enameled in transparent ruby red that glowed warm in the sunlight. The gilded silver brooch was evidence that she truly was a part of his life, and it wasn't a dream. She never let it out of her sight and wore the exquisite jewel next to her heart to show her loyalty.
"The Baroness Girard Jolbert," she had said out loud, and his brilliant smile made her knees tremble. Her eyes filled with tears when he leaned down to tenderly kiss her one last time and then walked away. Lisette prayed for the day Girard would return to her and claim his bride. He had promised to love her, she was certain in the way he looked at her, and she had also given her love in silent pledge to the tall man with beautiful jade eyes.