“Bah! Lost another hundred livres at cards. Mon Dieu!” The speaker slammed the door behind him and cast himself, prostrate, on a chaise lounge nearby.
“I would not swear by that name if I were you, Jeanclaude. The Committee of Public Safety mightn’t like it. There is no God now, save the Goddess of Reason.” Renaud Tremaine’s lip curled in disdain for the fool before him. He laughed, the bitter tones mocking yet challenging the young man before him. Jeanclaude took a lace-edged handkerchief from his pocket and with great deliberation polished his monocle.
Tremaine fastened his gaze on Pierre Jeanclaude, inspecting him like a butterfly on a pin. Every detail of the young man’s person was captured, memorized, and scorned by Renaud’s dark eyes—eyes that, did they reside under hair a different hue than that of a winter's sun, could have been called “fine.” Beneath the pale shock of curls, Renaud Tremaine glared at the world from the brooding depths of his eyes, with the unearthly effect of lightening and thunder.
Jeanclaude was a fool, just like every other weak-willed “patriot” in Paris this summer. Renaud picked at the stitching coming loose on his shirt-cuff and struggled to keep his passion from flashing forth in an oath and a blow to the face of the foppish Jeanclaude. But Renaud Tremaine had a reputation to keep up—a reputation as a rising leader in the Revolution. Cool, polished, debonair, ambitious: these were words that Renaud taught to cavort around him a dance of popularity. One misplaced remark, one hint of the passion crouching behind his thunderous eyes, and all would vanish back into the mist of obscurity he had risen from. Risen, like a phantom from a grave of disgrace, as his rivals liked to quip. Ah, but that was all changing. He had Citoyen Marjorie Larrieu on his side. He would not call her Sweet-Marjoram, as the enamored Parisian youths did. Bah! Sweet! She was a vixen if ever a woman could be, albeit his cousinship to this self-same Marjorie. He liked her—ah, of course he liked her. They were cut of the same cloth, that Marjorie and him. She, with her quaint witticisms and pretty airs, like a petted peacock; he with his aspirations for power and homage. Neither had reached their full potential yet. But together, and if no blundering fools like Jeanclaude came in the way, they could reach a height as of yet unattained by anyone. Marjorie and Renaud Tremaine, holding the reins of Paris in their collective hands. Feeling the emotions of the people quivering up the lines, able to turn the country any way with their supple fingers.
Renaud’s fingers shook and he clenched his fist to keep them still, casting combined thunder and lightening at the empty face of Pierre Jeanclaude. No, he had nothing to fear from that corner, he was certain. Marjorie loved herself too well to stoop to a union with such a swine. He would woo her and win her, and Paris would be in his hands. A happy thought, indeed