But almost as if the old man could read her thoughts, the butler cleared his throat, saying, “I am sorry, mademoiselle. There is no vent in this mansion big enough to fit an adult.”
Even as she flushed anew at the butler’s patient tone, she insisted, “I truly don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Mr. Temps saw the young woman look at the marble fireplace, and he said gravely, “I’m afraid that’s not possible either.”
Darn it! It was just her luck to be imprisoned in the country’s second Alcatraz.
“Shreds of glass and blades have been fitted into the nooks and crevices of the walls, to prevent anyone from using it as a way in and out of the mansion.”
Arabella couldn’t help glowering this time. I’m not going to give up, Aurélien Sauvage. Her gaze turned towards the doors, her last resort.
Mr. Temps coughed.
Her teeth gnashed against each other at the sound. “Let me guess,” she couldn’t help muttering sarcastically. “The doors are locked from the outside?”
Just two words, and all her hopes for an immediate escape were dashed.
Mr. Temps watched in interest when a peaceful look settled over the young woman’s face as she closed her eyes. Perhaps she was meditating to control her fear? The butler nodded to himself. Yes, most likely.
He was wrong, though.
Arabella’s temper was her most shameful weakness, but poverty had forced her to learn the necessity of curbing her tongue. And so over the years, she had learned to satisfy herself by only letting her anger loose within the safe and private confines of her mind.
FUCK YOU, AURÉLIEN SAUVAGE! ASSHOLE! JERK! BASTARD!
Arabella exhaled. There. She felt so much better now. Opening her eyes, she even managed a smile for Mr. Temps. “I know it’s not your fault, sir.”
What a sweet young woman, the butler thought approvingly. She was exactly what Aurélien Sauvage needed, with her gentle demeanor sure to be the perfect foil for the master’s brooding ways.
“I thank you for your open-mindedness, mademoiselle. And truly, I do mean what I have said about the master. He is a good man, underneath—-”
The horns, the fangs, the claws?
Mr. Temps cleared his throat. “Deep inside he is a good man.”
Arabella hung on to her smile. “I suppose I’ll see that for myself in time.” Or not.
FUCK YOU, AURÉLIEN SAUVAGE! YOU WILL NOT GET AWAY WITH THIS!
So this was Arabella Blume.
The beast stared at her through the two-way mirror, finally seeing her for the first time. She was sleeping peacefully on the bed, her long dark hair fanned wide against the silk pillows, the covers falling just below her full breasts.
She was smaller than it had expected and far lovelier, too. The latter fact might have pleased other men, but that was the problem.
The beast was not like other men, and no other men could be like the beast.
Swinging away from the sight of her, the beast paced broodingly, its mood made edgier by the claustrophobic narrowness of the secret passageway, which wound behind the walls of every room in the mansion.
Could it really be possible?
Could she be the woman the beast had been waiting for?
The beast wanted to believe it was so, but the cynical part of it scoffed at this.
What the beast wanted was a dream, an illusion.
And it would never come true.
A growl of frustration escaped the beast at the thought. The sound caused Arabella to stir on the bed, and the beast stilled. Damn. The beast knew it would only be mere moments before she came into consciousness.
He should leave now, the beast thought.
But instead, the beast found itself doing the opposite.
A swift push of a button had the wall sliding out of view, and it slid back into place as the beast stepped silently inside Arabella’s room. Her scent immediately reached out to the beast, and it closed its eyes, savoring and committing every nuance of her scent to memory.
This was perhaps one of the few advantages of being a beast: the ability to identify a person, not only by sight but also by their scent.
And some scents were more tantalizing than most – as Arabella Blume’s was.
Her scent was a mixture of pure innocence and fiery passion, of sunlight and roses that were just about to bloom. It was enthrallingly contradicting, this scent of hers, and the beast found itself moving closer towards her, wanting more.
But then Arabella suddenly stirred, and the beast stilled.
Even deep in her sleep, the woman had managed to feel its presence, and the beast’s nostrils flared at the realization of just how sensitive she was.
If she was this sensitive, then did it apply to the rest of her body?
Would Arabella Blume be as acutely responsive if the beast dared to touch her?
The thought came out of nowhere, and the beast inhaled sharply.
The beast tried to control itself, but it was too late. The enticing notion had already taken hold of its thoughts and erotic images flashed in the beast’s mind.