Book 3 is Marie and Heart's story. Heart is a widowed Baron from Marie's past and Marie is Madame Marchander owner of The Market.
Madame Marchander paused from the conversation to survey her packed main salon. A deep sense of satisfaction settled in her bones. Philippe had informed her that the card room was bustling as well, and most of the rooms were currently occupied.
Business was excellent.
Her gaze drifted across the room and collided with the tall figure of a man who impeded her view as he stood over the small group of fawning gents arranged at her feet. Shifting directions, her gaze swept down and then up the masculine form. Arriving at his face, she felt the blood in her head desert her as an older, but all too familiar, face swam within her vision.
One of the men noticed her distress and began patting her hand. “Madame Marchander are you not well?”
“Please, I fear I am a bit warm with so many of you crowded around. I think a bit of air would be best.” She rose and the men parted so she could pass.
“Madame, please allow me to escort you.” Baron Heartfield slipped her hand under his arm and led her toward the French doors that opened onto her rear gardens.
“Do I know you sir?” Hiding behind formality and time she opted to continue pretending that Marie Doring no longer existed.
“Baron Heartfield, Madame Marchander, or may I call you Marie as I once did?” Familiar blue eyes sparkled as he swept aside her deflection.
“Madame Marchander will do.” Anger overcame her initial confusion. What was he doing at The Market? Why was he trying to resurrect ancient history? She had not heard that he was low on funds, so this could not be about blackmail. If the gentry of Coventry learned what became of Miss Marie Doring, it might cause a ripple of scandal, but her sisters were long married and could weather the storm. They had little contact, the occasional bit of correspondence and the annual Christmas card all that she allowed.
Her skirts brushed past the doorframe as they attained the patio. The cool air was brisk and refreshing after the shock of seeing Jonathan Pierce, now styled Baron of Heartfield, for the first time in nearly twenty years.
“I see. Very well, I'll permit you to hide behind formality for now. You look beautiful as ever.” Warm, strong fingers stroked the bare skin of her hand he held captive.
“You will permit me? My Lord, you may be a peer of the realm, but I am the queen of my domain. I could easily have you removed from the premises and refuse you entrance in the future.” Her spine stiffened in indignation.