Whispers

 
 

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Day Three, 16th Hour, 18th Minute

Rogue and Remy arrived in a small, unassuming town in South Carolina by about 4:15 in the afternoon. Remy parked the car where Rogue directed outside of a moderate-sized church, pulled the key out of the ignition, then studied Rogue. She was fidgeting with the fringe of her shawl and chewing on her lower lip, ruining the light lipstick she had worn.

He shook his head and sighed. "Chère," he said with mock despair. "You'd make a terrible poker player if you wore that face to the game."

"Excuse me?" Rogue rounded on him, green eyes flashing anger. "I beat you out, swamp rat."

He grinned at her.

She narrowed her eyes.

Remy leaned in close, still grinning. "My point precisely."

That took a moment to sink in, then she glared at him before yanking open the car door and stepping outside.

He laughed at her.

"Oh get out," Rogue huffed. "We'll be late for the service."

"I thought we were meeting them here, not worshipping." He cast her a sideways glance as he got out and fixed his shades.

Rogue shrugged. "Family's Southern Baptist. Missing the service ain't much of an option."

Southern Baptist. Go figure. He never seemed to catch a break with this femme. "De rien," he said dismissively and slipped into step beside her, wrapping one arm around her waist.

Day Three, 17th Hour, 7th Minute

Remy was bored long before the end of the sermon. The pastor went on and on...and on. He had already looked around three times for Rogue's family, but he had yet to see anyone fitting her description.

He leaned over and whispered to Rogue, "I like service better in Latin."

Her elbow met his ribs. Hard.

"I'd rather not know what they're saying," he protested, rubbing his ribs and earning a glare. He gave her a pleading look. "Since we do know what the guy is saying, and I'm not that interested in sitting through another hour or two of him waxing eloquent against my chosen profession, can't we split already?"

"We're here to meet my family," Rogue retorted in a sharp whisper. "Not satisfy your ego!"

"I haven't seen them yet," Remy protested and looked around yet again. But when he looked back at Rogue, she seemed a little bit uncomfortable. "Rogue?"

"They'll be here," she said. He wasn't sure which one she was reassuring. "They asked to meet me," she continued. "Not the other way around."

He sighed and turned back to watching the parishioners. "Oui."

He tried shifting to a more comfortable position on the hard pew, but Rogue's hand shot out and held him still.

"You're acting like a child," she said reproachfully.

Remy crossed his arms and stayed still. "No child." He grimaced. "Mais, a hard pew for sure."

He glanced over at Rogue. She was trying very hard to keep a straight face.

"Don't laugh," he said, lowering his voice directly by her ear and grinning at her.

She gave him the emerald death glare. "Shut up," she whispered fiercely.

"Non," he whispered back.

She shook her head and stared straight ahead at the pastor, whose finger was pointing repeatedly to some passage in the Bible. "This is juvenile," she muttered.

"You seem drawn to that argument," Remy noted. "Perhaps someone should show you what juvenile actually is." He made his offer with a serious look and an innocent tone.

She turned to him in horror. "I don't want to know what you consider juvenile."

He barely kept from a real laugh, the kind that would get them both in trouble.

"You're supposed to be listening to the sermon," she protested weakly.

He suddenly sobered, drawing on all his Thief skills to keep from laughing out loud. "Tu sais, when we were little, my cousins and moi, we would get bored in the Mass pretty quick. But we always sat behind this nice family, three or four children—"

Rogue dug her fingers into his arm, and he winced. "Not in the church!" she whispered. "If you make me laugh, I swear to—"

He cut her off with one gloved finger gently laid on her mouth. He smirked. "Not in the church, chèrie."

If looks could kill, he was certain he'd be dead.

She reached up and plucked his hand away from her face. "If you tell me anything that you or your cousins did in the church, I will kill you."

"Oh?" Remy clucked disapprovingly in her ear. "That's one of the Ten Commandments you'd be breaking."

"Really?" She coolly lifted a brow.

He grinned broadly at her. "Mon frère used to let a mouse loose in the soprano choir," he said quickly, before she could stop him. "He'd wait until the most boring part, then skip out to the men's room and make the fat lady sing."

"Remy Etienne LeBeau." Her voice held barely restrained fury and laughter.

He grinned wider. "Well, chèrie, you didn't say anything about my brother."

She made a small, strangled sound in the back of her throat while still looking forward.

"And my church never did preach against thieving," he added for good measure.

Rogue's hand came up to cover her mouth and a red flush burned her cheeks. "Remy..." she whispered. The threat was still there, but well buried under the laughter.

He glanced back toward the back of the church yet again. Something had changed. He glanced over the ranks. "They're here."

Rogue sobered instantly, a shudder running through her body. "How many?"

"Trois."

"Three," she muttered to herself. Her grip on her shawl tightened, and the knuckles were starting to turn white.

"Men's room," he whispered and stood to go out.

"Remy," she protested, but she was too late to stop him.

He kept his eyes well away from her family's direction and tried to determine the best way to circle back around. He shook his head. She really needed to pay him better!

Day Three, 17th Hour, 22nd Minute

By the time, Remy walked up to the foyer from down the outer hall, Rogue was just approaching her family. He slipped up beside her and settled an arm around her waist. She looked up sharply, a hint of a blush under her pale skin.

He leaned over and whispered in her ear, "Had to fix my shades."

Understanding flickered in her eyes, but by then, they had reached the people she had once called family. Rogue pasted on a smile and greeted them politely.

"Y'all, this is Remy," she introduced neatly. "He agreed to drive me down here today." He was pretty sure she deliberately omitted any reason for his very comfortable arm around her. "Remy, this is my papa, Owen, and mama, Priscilla. And this is Aunt Carrie." He caught the slight heightening of tension on the last.

He shook hands with Owen and kissed the ladies'. "Pleasure's all mine," he said with his most winning smile. He tightened his grip around Rogue's hips, much to her discomfort and stroked small circles with his thumb. "Your daughter is enchanting."

Rogue's smile became that much more strained.

"Well, I've never heard her talk about you," Owen said, narrowing his eyes.

Priscilla elbowed him inconspicuously, and Remy figured out where Rogue had gotten the tendency. "Owen, she's a girl. She only writes about girl things to girls," she said with a small huff. Then she smiled at Remy. "Charmed, I'm sure."

Remy gave Rogue a sidelong glance. Her cheeks were flaming. Gotcha.

She had written home about him. Very, very interesting.

Her aunt was saying something. "We could stop by that little place we saw on the way in. Nice restaurant." Didn't sound like a request.

"Sounds like an excellent idea," Priscilla seconded.

It seemed to be the women driving this meeting. Owen kept frowning at him, but put up no protest to Carrie's no-nonsense manner or his wife's submissive agreement. Remy reflexively pulled Rogue a little closer.

"Sure," Rogue said, her strained smile just about to give out.
 


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