Le Voyage de la Miséricorde
Remy stirred groggily from his sleep, wondering what had awakened him. Then he stiffened. There it was again. A tapping on his door.
He rolled over and stared at the clock. Somebody had to be kidding him.
He swore profusely in French as he clambered out of the twisted covers and yanked open the door. He stared, stunned.
Rogue stood, fiddling nervously with the pale green shawl that wrapped around her bare arms. A hunter green sheath dress hugged her curves with spaghetti straps doing little to hide her sleek, smooth shoulders—or anything else. Her hair had been done up in a chignon with the white strands out and curling around her face.
"Hey," she said, offering a tiny, nervous smile, her gaze focused intently on his face.
He could just catch the whiff of Erotica, the perfume he had chosen for her. He opened the door a little wider.
"And how may I help you, ma chèrie?" His eyes drank her in from head to toe, ignoring every bit of discomfort the look elicited.
"That ride?" She breathed out a sigh. "We need to leave around 4:30. I forgot to tell you that last night."
4:30? As in, the morning? He stared at her, the expression significantly changed.
"Out of sheer curiosity," Remy finally managed to bring out, "when do you sleep?"
Rogue glanced down his bare chest quickly, drawing a wicked grin and another devouring gaze, before turning away and fiddling with the edge of her shawl again. "Dress nice, Cajun. We're going to church."
"Wait un moment, chère." Once again, he was forced to backtrack and get his mind off of her clothes—and all that tantalizing skin beneath. He released the door and gestured as he spoke. "You want moi to go into a Protestant church?"
She rolled her eyes. "Catholic, huh?" She managed to look at him highly amused.
He growled. "Oui."
"Imagine that," she drawled. "Shave." With that, she whirled around in the heeled strappy sandals he just now noticed and left with a royal progress.
What would she think of next?
Day Three, 4th Hour, 33rd Minute
"You're insane," Remy informed Rogue bluntly as she slipped into the passenger seat of his car.
"Well, thanks," she replied sarcastically. "Always one for compliments."
He sighed. "Some reason we're leaving this early for church?"
Rogue paused and looked him over, apparently unable to suppress the expression of interest that blossomed over her face. He wore a dark blue dress shirt and slacks, but had skipped the tie and slicked back hair. He raised one eyebrow at her and she blushed.
"Seem to like what you see this morning." He leaned toward her.
She looked out the window. "Just drive." She passed him a slip of paper.
He read off the directions. "This isn't in Westchester."
"This is almost twelve hours away!" Remy sent her an incredulous look.
"I believe so." A tiny smile quirked at her lips. She still didn't look at him.
"What are we doing, chère?" he demanded. "It's a little late for church."
She fastened laughing green eyes on him. "There's an evening service. And I said, 'Just drive.'"
He muttered under his breath, fastened his seat belt, and started the car. Drive. He had experienced a lot of obligations in his life, but this slavery thing was perhaps the most demeaning. He had never been entirely under the command of another female before in his life. And he was beginning to discover just how aggravating it could be if that female was as coy as Rogue.
He just drove.
The road flew by in a neutral silence that held neither comfort nor discomfort. He flicked on the radio. His favorite sounds blared out and Rogue cringed. He couldn't help the chuckle that followed.
"You seem to like your music..." He searched for the right word. "More controlled." He let it roll off his tongue as the guitar and drums beat into his blood. He tapped the wheel with one hand and stole a glance at Rogue.
She glared at him. "More enjoyable."
He laughed openly at that.
Rogue reached over and viciously spun the dial to the same pop music channel as before.
"No need for that, chèrie," he said smoothly. "You're number 7 on the buttons."
She frowned and looked at the panel. "You programmed my station in?"
"Why are we going to church?" he lobbed back.
She sighed in disgust, crossing her arms. He really couldn't help but sneak a peek at that. He almost lost her next words.
"To meet my family."
The car slowed slightly and he gripped the wheel tighter. "Votre famille."
"Is that a question or a statement, Swamp Rat?" she drawled out lazily, then shrugged. "We're meeting in the middle. It's another eight hours or so to home, so this way we can both get home at night."
"So why do you need me?"
She caught her breath and looked away. "They think I'm Cured."
His knuckles began to turn white. Remy forced himself to loosen his grip.
He just drove.
The road flew by in uncomfortable silence. Finally, he broke it.
Rogue twisted in her seat. "So? That's all you're going to say?"
Remy shook his head forcefully. "So what am I supposed to do?" He didn't look at her, not sure he really wanted to know what was running through her head.
She didn't answer right away. She took a deep breath.
"Rogue..." It was a warning, a questioning, a demand.
"I'm no good at lying," she said abruptly.
He wanted to laugh. She had just made the understatement of the century.
"Least not to them." He caught a movement at the corner of his eyes, like a shrug he guessed. "And you are."
"And I am? That's it?" He glanced toward her.
She bit her lip and stared straight ahead. "I didn't really want to do this alone."
Remy gave up trying to multitask in this strange conversation with a girl who never had been easy to understand. He pulled over onto the side of the road, despite her instant protests. He pulled the key out of the ignition and turned to her.
She crossed her arms again and glared at him.
"Start from the top," he commanded.
"No." The response was blunt. And defensive.
He reached out and ran his fingers along one white lovelock. She dropped her mouth open slightly. Her anger intensified. He turned the charm full on and she leaned back, slapping at his hand.
"Don't touch me!"
He laughed shortly. "You do know the usual reason a girl brings a guy along?" He let his eyes dance as she slowly absorbed what he was saying.
He wouldn't allow her to react fully, but kept the charm going. Kept her calm. Kept her interested.
"Remy. Stop that." She didn't manage the full emerald death glare of the Rogue, but she was certainly holding out better than most young women of his acquaintance.
He leaned forward, mere inches from her face, and let the scent of her perfume wash over him. "No." The response was blunt. Eye for eye.
She put up both hands and shoved him back by the shoulders. He leaned over on the door and laughed again.
"Roguey, you're no good at lying 'cause you're no good at planning." He tilted his head and smirked at her, waiting for her reaction.
This time he got the full emerald death glare of the Rogue. "Do not call me that," she commanded imperiously.
Remy's smirk widened. "Roguey? Ma chérie. Ma belle fille." He leaned closer again. "Mon amour. Which would you prefer?"
"None of them," she replied helplessly, clearly this close to throwing up her hands at him. "I'm not your anything."
He laughed then, a real laugh, and she kept glaring at him while he kept laughing.
He finally gave her a sideways look. "I'm thinking you're too uptight, chère. Gotta relax. One more reason you're no good at lying." He slipped one arm possessively around her shoulders.
She immediately stiffened and tried to shove him away, this time in vain.
"We'll be the perfect couple," he said, smirking at her wide-eyed expression. "Unless you had some other plan." He managed to pack the last line with insinuation.
She finally managed to shove him off. "Shut up, you swamp rat! And keep your hands off of me."
"Just saying." Remy shrugged and restarted the car. "You want me to be of assistance, chère,"—he sent a calculating glance her way—"then you might want to come up with a real plan. And tell me what it is."
Rogue crossed her arms and pouted as he pulled out onto the road.
"I hate you," she said.
He shrugged. "You won't."
She didn't respond.