<i>  Andrew rides up nearly to the door, deadly exhausted but buoyed up by his joy at having, against
         all odds, left Marguerite and Percy safe at the dock and at the imminence of reunion with
         Suzanne. Since it is late, he stables his horse himself, not bothering to wake the servants, and
         slips into the house
<P>
         Though she had retired to her chamber shortly after dinner--hours ago--sleep still eluded her.
         With a sigh, Suzanne rose, slipping her feet into the dainty slippers that waited at the bedside.
         Adding a warm wrap, she lifted the candle from the small table near the hearth and slipped out of
         the room. With slow, careful steps, she makes her way down the curving stairs that lead to the
         cold foyer below....</i>
<P>
         [Andrew] ::closes the door silently behind him, slipping into the house::
<P>
         [Suzanne] ::she freezes mid-step, convinced of a noise below. Gathering her courage, she
         quickens her step, so much as she dares, down the final few steps, calling out softly:: Who goes
         there? Is that you, Mr. Roberts?<P>

         [Andrew] :::turns, and any idea he might have had about playing a joke vanishes completely,
         because at the sound of her voice it's all he can do to get out one word:: Suzanne.
<P>
         <i>Her grip on the candle's pewter holder loosens and it clatters to the floor--the noise it makes
         against the marble seems to echo through the hall. The candle flickers for a moment, but the light
         disappears. Still, in moments like these...light is not necessary. The distance between the two
         seems to disappear in an instant before she's in his arms....
</i><P>
         [Suzanne] You're home...you're home.... ::repeating the words, her voice broken--as if on the
         verge of sobs::
<P>
         [Andrew] ::holds her tightly:: Cherie..
<P>
         [Suzanne] ::unwilling to loosen her hold on him:: You're home...and....you're....well? You
         weren't harmed or...or...
<P>
         [Andrew] :;shakes his head, grinning in the darkness:: No. No...Blakeney's home. He and
         Margot are following; I left them in Dover..:;sobers slightly:: Percy needed to rest..
<P>
         [Suzanne] ::flushing guiltily--in her euphoria, she had almost forgotten why he had left
         her.....thank the Lord they were all well....Margot, and Sir Percy....and Andrew....::
         Rest...then Sir Percy was....injured?
<P>
         [Andrew] ::very quietly and with an anger that is rare coming from him:: They did not let him sleep
         for two weeks.
<P>
         [Suzanne] ::softly:: So cruel....
<P>
         [Andrew] ::suddenly pulls away a little bit, smiling down at her, deliberately putting those
         thoughts away...praise God, it's over, Percy si home safe, Marguerite is home safe...and he is
         here with his wife:: And you, cherie..
<P>
         [Suzanne] ::shivering a bit:: Come...let's step out of this foyer. It's a bit cool....and you should
         be sitting. Or resting, even. 'S been a long journey for you....
<P>
         [Andrew] ::kisses her::: I am well now.
<P>
         [Suzanne] ::grinning mischievously:: Well, m'sieur....I must say I'm not certain if that was
         *flattery* or a fib....
<P>
         [Andrew] Are you impugning my honor, woman?
<P>
         [Suzanne] ::daringly:: And if I were, how would you react? I had believed duels to be against the
         law in England...
<P>
         [Andrew] Fie, my sword against a woman? I would have to devise some...other means.
<P>
         [Suzanne] ::sniffs haughtily:: Hmmph. I vow I don't believe a word of it, Andrew Ffoulkes...
<P>
         [Andrew] Now my veracity has DEFINITELY been questioned..you tread on dangerous ground,
         madame.
<P>
         [Suzanne] ::grinning:: My step is light--I have no fear of the ground below.
<P>
         [Andrew] ::suddenly sweeps her up:: What if I drop you?
<P>
         [Suzanne] ::giggles, hitting him gently in the arm:: Andrew, set me down this instant....
<P>
         [Andrew] ::Heading toward the stairs:: Absolutely not. I'll only be able to do this for another few
         months at least, after all...
<P>
         [Suzanne] ::clinging to his neck:: Andrew, honestly...you're going to drop me, and we'll both
         have quite a tumble....
<P>
         [Andrew] Have you absolutely NO faith in your husband, Suzanne?

         ::after a moment:: Don't answer that, please.

<P>         [Suzanne] ::soberly:: I have more faith in my husband than any. However, the faith I place in my
         husband's arms....is quite another matter.
<P>
         [Andrew] Hmph. ::nonetheless sets her gently down on the steps, and then sits down beside her::

<P>         [Suzanne] ::leaning in, her head comfortably resting on his shoulder::

 

<P>