further into the catacombs they all knew so well.
He wanted to soothe her, but didn’t want his voice to carry. No answering signal could only mean trouble. Had the National Police discovered them? Even now, were Robespierre’s minions gleeful with the knowledge that they’d found the infamous and elusive Hellfire Club?
He guided Gabrielle, who had regained her composure, closer to the main entrance. By the time André opened the doors, and nodded them through the entrance, none of the scared woman remained. In her place, the once confident and vibrant woman Eric had fallen in love with blossomed.
Bernard, one of the main organizer’s of the Club, stood behind a large, ornately carved wooden desk. He glared at André, who glared straight back, then to Eric. Whatever Bernard wanted to say to the men died in his throat.
“Mademoiselle Bertrand!” he exclaimed, coming round the desk.
In what was surely the first breach of protocol for the patrician Hellfire Club warden, Bernard embraced Gabrielle as if greeting a long lost daughter.
“How good it is to see you again,” Bernard said. Eric stared at the man as he came as close to gushing as Eric had ever seen. “We’ve missed you here.”
“I’ve missed you as well, Bernard,” Gabrielle replied with a light laugh and a kiss on his cheek. She pulled back and said in a serious voice, “It’s a delicate situation, but if my brother should come looking for me…”
Bernard held up his hand and returned behind his desk. “Say no more Mademoiselle . He won’t make it past these doors. In here,” he said with no pretentiousness, “you are safe.”
Eric glared at the old man and wanted to call him out for his words. Where was this promise two years ago when Theodore had taken Gabrielle from the Club? Where was this genuine honesty when Theodore had endangered Gabrielle and then, once they were caught by the National Police, sold her like a whore?
“Thank you, Bernard,” Gabrielle said with another smile.
Bernard cleared his throat and at least had the decency to look contrite. “Mademoiselle,” he began, “as pleased as I am to see you, I’m afraid I must ask for your masque .”
Gabrielle turned in surprise. “ Masque ?”
“Yes,” Bernard nodded, but didn’t elaborate.
“I have it.” André, looking none too happy, stepped forward and held out the satchel he carried. Inside were all three of their masques . Bernard, not at all contrite, nodded and smiled again at Gabrielle before waving them off.
“ Monsieurs LeClair and St. Germaine.” Bernard called just as André had started to lead Gabrielle from the entranceway.
Eric turned and glared at the man, not in any mood to hear another word. He respected Bernard, but refused to leave Gabrielle’s safety in anyone’s hands but his and André’s. Never again would he trust another as he once had. She’d been taken from them once, forcibly dragged from the Club as no one here tried to help her; stop Theodore.
“Comte de Courville asked to see you should you return,” Bernard said evenly.
“I’ll contact him when it’s convenient,” Eric said shortly.
Gabrielle gave Eric an inquisitive look at his abruptness, but André led her away and she allowed him, slipping her arm through his and leaning close. They traversed the labyrinth hallways toward their old rooms, a path Eric wondered if Gabrielle remembered well. She walked stiffly, as if nerves tighten her step. Her awkward gait worried him, and Eric wondered if she was truly ready for this. They didn’t have to do more than stay in the same room together, though he was already hard for her, needed to have her now.
The deeper they moved into the catacombs, the more things looked as they once had, the more Gabrielle’s nerves showed through. He wondered what she saw when she looked around. Did she see memories of their time together? Nothing much had changed in the Hellfire Club since la revolution had begun. Or did she see a