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A Taste of Cognac

Excerpt from a Taste of Cognac, short story in the anthology In the Red Room

LISETTE DU BELLAY’S silk skirts swooshed around her ankles. She followed the footman down a marbled-floored hallway lined with mirrors trimmed in ornate frames. Her eyes adjusted to the shimmering thousand-crystal chandelier or a sitting room. 

She blinked away the sparkles and focused on the man standing by the fireplace—tall, narrow in the shoulders, in a purple brocade jacket with a silver brocade vest. 

“Marquis of Clermont-Ferrand, Honoré Sabran,” the footman said. 

She swept her skirts by her ankles and settled in the middle cushion on the plush velvet sofa. 

The footman left, leaving Lisette alone with a stranger. 

A chin peppered with black stubble and a nose of a pugilist, the marquis, stared back at her. He stood stern, watchful, a man waiting to hear if he’s sent to the guillotine. 

The needle on the mantle clock counted the seconds. The footman returned with her wine and cognac and receded to the hallway, leaving them alone. Again.