"Sir, it seems the young lady has a fever."

"What?" He turned to see his housekeeper standing just inside the library door, her expression laced with anxiety.

"It seems that the young lady you found yesterday has caught cold."

It was no wonder, he thought sourly, what with her riding through such weather. Hiding his worry behind clenched fists, he set his work aside.

"Shall I call for the doctor?"

Giving a slight tilt of his head, the woman nodded her understanding and retreated from the room. The doctor would arrive within the hour. He knew the man to be a trustworthy sort and had been extremely useful in the past. He touched his face, running his finger along his jawline. His own anxiety tripled. Rising from his desk he paced his study, his eyes scoured the room for some sort of distraction. Finally his gaze settled on the large instrument positioned near the windows overlooking the garden. Stretching his hands he went to the piano that dominated the left corner of the room. Laying one hand on the lid, he tentatively touched the ivory and ebony keys below, not depressing them enough to produce any sound. It was a particular brand of torture for him, this one self-inflicted.

He sat on the bench, breathing heavily. He wasn't sure that he could keep his composure. He knew that every second the feverish woman upstairs stayed in his house the more restless he would become. His fingers deftly fingered the keys, fluttering in some sort of arpeggio, still without making a sound. She would be his undoing all over again. The bench scraped against the wood floor, screeching in protest, as he forcefully stood and began pacing again. The longing within him already threatened to spill over. His fists clenched at his sides, the knuckles white, forcing himself to take a deep breath, he went to the parlor to await the doctor.

Prompt as ever, the doctor arrived, bringing in the smell of rain. Gesturing the doctor to the seat opposite his, he remained seated. The doctor was a young man, thirty or so and was currently soaked through despite the heavy coat he had been wearing. The rain had made his usually fly away hair limp and stringy against his forehead. He liked the doctor, which had surprised him initially when he had finally admitted it to himself. He liked the doctor's manner and intelligence, although still not a match for his own, the man was well versed in all manner of topics, from history and languages to music and science. They had fallen into numerous discussions on occasion and had a mutual respect for the other. As the doctor settled himself in one of the high backed armchairs his gaze fell on the man across from him.

"So," the doctor inquired after a moments pause, "where is my patient?" The other man gestured to the tea set placed on the table in front of them and the doctor helped himself to the hot drink. Although he had responded quickly to his summons, the weather had made it hard to be swift. The rain had not let up since the evening before and the roads were muddy and treacherous. The doctor sipped at his tea and watched the other man for a moment. His face was placid and calm but his rigid posture and trembling hands betrayed his nerves. The doctor pondered what could be causing the man to feel such discomfort. Abruptly, he set down his tea cup as if reading the doctors mind. The doctor wondered, again, as to what could have caused this man such distress. He knew him to be in control of himself at all times and seeing him ruffled peaked his curiosity. Setting down his own cup, the doctor addressed him.

"I was told that my patient was a young woman. A servant perhaps?"

A quiet snort came from the other man. He leaned forward in his chair and pressed his fingertips together, forming a peak. He was silent for a moment.

"She's not a servant," sighing gently, he dropped his hands. "I found her last night. She had been riding through this blasted rain. When I found her, she was on the ground, unconscious and covered with mud. The poor animal was stuck." He waved his hand at the doctor's silent questions. "No, it did not fall on her and yes, the thing is safe and sound in my stables."

Since they had met, it had unnerved the doctor that this other man seemed to be able to read his mind at times. He wasn't sure if the quirk was convenient or unsettling. But he sat back and let the other man finish.

"I brought them both here and gave her a bed for the night. I had hoped to learn more about her this morning," this he said with an underlying tone that the doctor couldn't place, as if there was something more to the statement. "But my housekeeper informed me that she had taken ill and I sent for you."

His posture remained stiff until the housekeeper came to the door and the doctor excused himself to begin his examination of the girl. Upon entering her room, he set down his bag and glanced at the bed to discover the young lady in question leaning against the raised pillows and looking at him with apprehension. He stared at her for a moment, bewildered by the young woman's beauty. He watched her apprehension heighten before he remembered himself. Clearing his throat he turned his attention to the housekeeper who was beginning the introductions.

"Doctor Boisseau is here to see you, dear."

Understanding blossomed in the other woman's eyes. She cleared her throat, wincing as she did, and nodded at them. "Thank you, Mrs. Pruiett." The soft murmur was greeted by a motherly smile and sympathetic cluck from the older women as she nodded to the doctor and left the room.

The doctor cleared his throat. "Good Morning, mademoiselle," he said, moving closer to the bed and dipping his head in a slight bow. "My name is Herni Boisseau. I am a doctor, obviously," he chuckled softly. " I was told you had a fever."

The young lady blushed and touched her throat in obvious embarrassment. She fiddled with the tie at the neck of her dressing gown and smiled tentatively at him.

"My name is-" she began but a fit of coughing took her response and left her breathless.

Herni shook himself, turned and went to fetch his bag, which he had left near the bedroom door. He brought it back to the bed and settled it on the blankets. Rummaging through the satchel for a moment, he brought out several instruments and laid them out in a neat line on the comforter. He explained each instrument to her as he proceeded with the examination and talked her through what information he was gathering. Clarifying the proceedings seemed to bring the young woman some reassurance for she settled back into the pillows some more. By the time the exam was over she seemed tired but comforted. He then gave her some medicine for her fever and told her to rest.

"Four or five days in bed should do the trick." He glanced at her as he put away his things. Clasping the bag shut, he turned to face her fully. "It was not the smartest thing to ride your horse in such a rainstorm. As your doctor, I have to advise against it in the future. For your health." He smiled warmly at her obvious embarrassment. He patted her hand and made his way toward the door. "Please don't hesitate to call for me if you should need anything. I will check up on you in a few days time."

She nodded and appearing satisfied with her response, the doctor left the room, shutting the door quietly.


"She needs rest and fluids," Henri said, entering the library. "She should be fine within the week. But she must stay in bed. I've given her a prescription that should be taken with tea twice a day."

Although the other man's back was facing him, Henri could see the tension in his shoulders lessen and his fist unclench. Putting on an affected air, the other man turned to the doctor and thanked him for his services.

"If you should need anything else," Henri called as he left the room, talking once again to the other man's back, "Please do not hesitate to call upon me. Your guest is quite beautiful."

It was fortunate that the doctor could not see the anger blazing in the other man's eyes at his last comment.


"Sir, she's asking for you," Mrs. Pruiett's soft voice broke through his contemplations. She had set a fresh tea tray in front of him. He had been sitting in the library since the doctor departed; his mind a whirlwind of conflicting thoughts. He glanced at the older woman now in the doorway. She was her usual jovial self, completely unaware of the goings on in his head.

He nodded and stood.

This was going to be hard for him. She would not remember him and he was surprised to find, when he admitted it to himself, that the thought pained him. He shook his head as he made his way up the stairs. It wouldn't do to have such emotions at a time like this. He had already decided when she had arrived to remain cordial but aloof.

He let out a humorless chuckle. She had already turned his world upside down and she had only been here a matter of hours. Taking a steadying breath, he knocked on her door. A small voice gave him entrance.

He forced his eyes away from the bed as he entered, keeping his gaze on the window across from the door. Aloof, he reminded himself again, stay aloof.

"You asked to see me, Mam'selle?" He asked, keeping his voice hushed.

"Yes," He winced at the weakness of her voice. Out of his periphery, he could see her rearranging her hands on the blankets. His mouth turned up slightly as he recalled that she fidgeted when she was nervous. His throat tightened. He didn't know how he felt about that.

"I wanted to thank you for your assistance yesterday. I do not know what would have happened to me if you hadn't found me." She was already gasping, her congested chest making it hard for her to get a full breath. She coughed for a few moments and he wished that he had the power to take away her pain. He forced himself to stay at the window, every second seeming like a lifetime, every muscle straining against the impulse to rush to her side. It was torture.

Finally her breath came in gentler gasps and she adjusted herself back into a comfortable position.

"Please pardon me, Monsieur," she said gently. "I am sorry that I have inconvenienced you in this way. I will leave immediately if you so wish. You have already done so much for me and I do not want to cause you any more troub-" He held up a hand to silence her. She stopped and waited for him to speak. Waited for him to say something. Wanting him to do anything, say anything but stare out the window.

Realization struck her- she had no idea who this man was. They had not been introduced. Not wishing to break the silence, she waited as patiently as she was able.

Minutes passed in quiet, stretched out, he still hadn't looked at her and the entire situation was making her grow more and more nervous and uncomfortable. Unknown to her, he was waging war inside himself.

To her embarrassment, she began to cough anew. Pain racked her throat and she felt as if her lungs had been set a blaze. She wished she could loosen the tie at her neck holding her dressing gown in a respectable fashion. If only she could feel free and get air into her lungs. He must have seen her distress, shocking her when he appeared beside her, pulling her hands away from her throat and lifting her arms over her head.

"It helps," was all he said and he breathed with her, her gaze level with his chest, forcing herself to grow calmer and take in deeper breaths that matched his. A memory pricked her mind, but it was hazy and unfocused. This confused her. She had always had an excellent memory though now she seemed unable to sharpen the image that swam in her head.

Pulling herself back to the moment she looked up at the man before her. He intrigued her. His eyes were closed and he had a look of intense concentration on his face. Still unsettled from her lack of memory she closed her eyes too. When her breathing had evened and he seemed satisfied, he let go of her wrists and retreated back to his original spot before the window. He faced her this time, his face shrouded in shadow.

"We haven't been introduced," she said when the brief silence produced nothing from her mysterious host. His stoic nature was familiar to her. She couldn't place her finger on the reason why but resolved to think on it later. This forgetfulness is maddening, the thought pestered her.

Shaking herself, she felt her lips pull up at the edges in a small smile.

"My name is Christine."


A/N:

Here we are folks! Here's the second chapter. I hope you guys like it and please if you read it send me a quick review. I would love to know what you all think about the story!

Thank you for reading!