“We have prepared the tower room for you, mademoiselle,” the butler told her as they reached the last flight of stairs. “I hope you will find your accommodations pleasing.”
Arabella didn’t answer right away. Or rather, she couldn’t. For all of the mansion’s extravagant features, it did not unfortunately come with its own elevator, and Mr. Temps had just subjected her to a four-story torture test.
The butler stayed behind as Arabella stepped inside the bedroom, and like the rest of the mansion, no expense had been spared with its décor. The four-poster bed was the first thing that caught her eye; it was a work of exquisite craftsmanship, with bedposts carved to resemble twisting branches covered in silver and gold thread, and a headboard on which a floral masterpiece was painted – a bed of pink, white, and red roses dotted with crystals.
She couldn’t believe what she was seeing, couldn’t believe that this room was all for her, but when she turned towards Mr. Temps, she didn’t have to say a word.
“The master had our craftsmen working day and night to complete this in time of your arrival, mademoiselle.”
She shook her head incredulously. Why? Why go to so much effort for someone whose life he owned? She looked around her again, trying to take it all in, but it was impossible.
This room was –
This room was more than what she could even think of asking for.
Scrolled medallions decorated the room’s tall ceilings while a luxurious carpet the shade of lavender covered the entire floor. Across the bed was a velvet settee, set upon a magnificently woven rug and facing a grand fireplace with a marble mantel. Opposite the bedroom door was an entire row of bay windows, all of them furnished with padded seats and lace pillows.
Looking at Mr. Temps, Arabella said faintly, “I don’t understand. This room is fit for a princess. So why?”
Because it is what the young master intends you to be, Mr. Temps thought, and it is what we, too, hope you will be for him. But because the words were forbidden, the butler only smiled. “You are pleased then?”
She lifted her shoulders in a helpless shrug. “I am, but…” A cage was still a cage, no matter how lovely. She gnawed on her lip as Mr. Temps set her luggage down by the door. Was this it then? Was she really going to accept her fate just like that?
“Would you like a maid to assist you with unpacking?”
“Umm, no, I’m okay.”
“Then perhaps I could have a tray of refreshments sent up to your room in an hour?”
“No, really, I’m good.” But if Mr. Temps insisted on making it seem like she had merely booked a stay at some posh hotel, she might just go crazy.
“Then I shall take my leave, mademoiselle. Please do not hesitate to ring a bell if you require the staff’s service in any way.”
And that was it? As Mr. Temps reached for the door, she couldn’t help it, calling out, “Mr. Temps—-”
The butler turned to face her again. “Oui, mademoiselle?”
“About Aurélien Sauvage—-”
A polite mask fell over the butler’s face.
“Do you know—-” She swallowed hard. “Do you know what he intends to do with me?”
Mr. Temps slowly shook his head. “I am sorry, mademoiselle, but it is not my position to ask such things of the master.” He hesitated then said carefully, “What I can say, however, is that the master is a fair and just man—-”
A weak laugh escaped her. “Mr. Temps, how can you seriously say that, knowing what I am?”
“I cannot explain, mademoiselle, but I stand by my words. The master is not evil.”
Maybe, Arabella thought darkly. Or it could be that the great Aurélien Sauvage simply owned everyone on the island, just like he now owned her, and no one was allowed to say a word against him.
When Mr. Temps saw the young woman’s gaze turn calculating as she glanced towards the windows, he immediately knew what she had cooking in her mind and said with genuine alarm, “Please cast that thought out of your mind, mademoiselle.”
Even as she felt her cheeks flush, Arabella hastily schooled her face to look innocent as she stammered, “What are you talking about?”
The butler sent her a severe frown. “What you are thinking of is impossible.” He couldn’t help shaking his head. The girl had spunk to even consider jumping out of a four-story window. And principles, too, Mr. Temps thought, to not let the master’s obvious riches sway her.
When he noticed Arabella still giving the window calculating looks, Mr. Temps sighed. “I am not lying, mademoiselle. The height of this room is as such,” the butler explained gently, “so that any attempt to enter the room – or leave it – through the window can only lead to death.”
Darn it. Arabella’s gaze immediately flew to the ceilings as she considered her next move. Maybe a vent—-