“If it ain’t the doctor,” Marie Laveau smirked as Robert charged into the cabin shared by Charles and Gerry. She extended her arms and displayed her bloody gown.
“Think you can help me?”
“What’s happened to you?” Robert asked with genuine concern. Despite his contempt for Marie, he was, at his very core, a physician.
“Lost my baby.” Marie sneered.
“I’m truly sorry.” Robert replied.
“As am I, Miss Laveau.” Charles added.
Gerard was silent—his face still swollen from the beating that he had received at the hands of Marie’s men.
Marie’s voice cracked, “I believe that you are. Even after all I done to ya, I believe that you mean what you say. Even though I tol’ ya that my baby would have been the death of you.”
“No one should lose a child.” Robert shook his head. “I would not wish that horror on anyone.”
“Even me.” Marie nodded.
“Even you.” Robert answered quietly. “Miss Laveau, I must be honest with you. I charged down here after encountering Giovanni Iantosca in my cabin. I didn’t know what to expect except that Marjani told me that Odo was also on the ship as well as Ulrika Rittenhouse.”
“This is true.” Marie said.
“We’ve all quarreled and fought for so long. We’ve shouted and schemed and plotted. I admit, I’m angry. My companion and my family—we’ve suffered terribly at the hands of all of you. And why? All we’ve wanted was to protect an innocent child, the Duke’s nephew. When His Grace came here, he did so to retrieve his sister and a diamond that was stolen—at the request of his mother. Since he’s arrived, he’s discovered that he is an uncle, he has endured the deaths of both of his parents, not to mention his valet. He has been injured in more ways than I can count—as have I. We’re involved in a war which is as bloody as any I can recall, and, like most war, it’s one based on greed. Miss Laveau—we want nothing. The Duke has abandoned his quest to bring Miss Allen back to England. He doesn’t care about the diamond. All he wants is to return home and to give his nephew—now his son—a chance at a quiet, happy life. That’s all we ask. That’s all we want. Me, His Grace, my family and our servants. We want nothing from you except to have the freedom to give my nephews—Fuller and Colin—a chance to live. Surely, surely you can understand that—especially now.”
Marie’s back stiffened. “I can.”
“Then, please,” Robert said sincerely, “please, let us go home. You’ll not suffer for it. In fact, you’ll only be all that much freer for it.”
“If you came here for a specific purpose—if there’s something you want, I can try to supply it so that you don’t leave empty-handed. In return, just let us go, please.”
Charles’ heart raced as he watched Robert reason with Marie Laveau. He looked at Gerard who was still too blinded by pain to have any reaction at all, and then, back to Robert—wiping his eyes nervously.
“I’ll let you go.” Marie replied.
“Thank you,” Robert responded, his voice heavy with emotion.
“I only come here cuz Barbara Allen done convinced Ulrika and her Italian lover to come.”
“Barbara Allen?” Robert squinted. “Why? I was under the impression that she approved of the Duke raising her son.”
“She said that she could get all sort of riches for Miss Ulrika. Not just that diamond, but a whole fortune. You know how greedy Miss Ulrika is. Barbara explained that Ulrika would get what she’s been after all this time. I came along, well, because I was angry that your man here,” she pointed to Charles, “done tricked my girl and got Mama Routhe outta my house. But, I see now that it don’t matter none.”
“Thank you for telling me that.” Robert said. “Do you know where Barbara is now?”
“No.” Marie shook her head. “Her plan was for us to split up and distract ya’ll while she spoke to her brother the Duke.”
Charles rose with a look of concern on his face.
“We’ll go to him in a moment, Charles.” Robert nodded.
“No, it ain’t that, Sir.” Charles shook his head. “I smell fire.”
Robert sniffed the air.
“Me, too.” Marie’s eyes widened.
Before they could react further, they heard shrieks of panic from the corridor.
“That filthy cow…” Marie shook her head.
Did you miss Chapters 1-463? If so, you can read them here.