~ Part One ~
~ Unexpected Proposal ~
The word itself had always sounded so absurd but never more so than when spoken from his father's lips. Perhaps it was just the way he'd said it...as if the word 'marriage' had ever actually held any real meaning.
There was an awkward silence in the kitchen; the toast was burning and had yet to pop up, the smell of poor quality coffee hung in the air, thick and acrid, almost ashy. Remy could feel the stare of his adoptive father...it felt heavy, like being weighed down with hot wet tar. His brother, Henri, lurked in the threshold of the kitchen, his forearm resting against the doorjam, his hand dangled with a cigarette between his fingers, the white smoke curled into the air, disappearing with the grey of burning toast.
"Ain't y' got somet'in t' say?" asked his father, Jean-Luc, his thin gaunt face had a sharp and determined expression plastered across it as per usual, and it only reminded Remy more of why he hated being home.
"Yeah..." said Remy, insolently, "I got plen'y t' say," he looked away, contemplating his words, "such as 'are you out of your goddamn mind'?"
Jean-Luc's eyes widened, his face incredulous, "wha' I tell you 'bout speak'n t' me in that way!"
Remy ducked his father's open hand and moved out of the chair, "y'all are off y' heads if y' think I'mma marry an Assassin!" he objected as he moved over to the toaster and swiftly slammed it with his left hand; the lever was always jammed and needed a good smack to pop the toast up. The toast was blacker than swamp mud and Remy shook his head in disgrace at it. So much for breakfast...
"Don' you get it...you marryin' that lil' firecracker o' theirs gonna bring peace t' us all..."
With a grunt of disgust, Remy picked a burned slice of toast out of the toaster, grabbed a butter knife and began to try to scrape away the charring as much as he could at least so it would be edible – it was after all, the last slice of bread in the house. "Peace?" he asked, he gave an uneasy laugh. "Peace is it? There be more chance o' Seth Rogen bein' elected as our next President than there is o' Thieves and Assassins ever bein' remotely peaceful with each other."
"When y' joined the Guild officially, y' made an Oath, Remy. An Oath tha' stated y' gave y' life to the Guild. Y' life ain't y' own anymore..."
Remy glanced over his shoulder at his adoptive father, he threw him a cold glance. "Oui...verbal contract. Not really worth the paper it printed on, non?"
Henri finally spoke up, "wha' could be so bad 'bout marryin' Bella Donna? She hot, fit...tight little a-"
"Henri," warned Jean-Luc.
"And girl is in love wit' you...callin' here all the time lookin' for y'," reminded Henri. " You could do worse-"
"And I can definitely do much better," Remy interjected, "her brother Julien is protective of her anyway...t'ink everyone out t' steal her virtue..." he rolled his eyes. "As if that girl got any virtue left."
"Julien won't do anything to you if you marry her," Henri shrugged.
"Y' t'ink so, eh?" Remy asked, he didn't even bother to butter the toast – he doubted there was any butter – before putting it to his lips to take a large bite. "I swear he got a...unhealthy obsession wit' her. Sometimes the way he look at her...gives me the creeps...like...she a possession..."
"Julien just old fashioned, is all," said Henri, sounding quite bored with the conversation now. "He t'ink women should always be pure and under the thumb."
"I don' really care 'bout what he t'ink," Remy remarked, "I don' wanna marry Bella Donna."
"I don' get it, y' used to like th' girl, used to get mad when we told y' not to get involved wit' her..."
"Yeah, that was then. This is now."
Jean-Luc stood up slowly; Remy gazed over at him and tried not to find the few inches of height difference intimidating. The truth was though, as much as he knew how to handle himself, he'd always found his adoptive father somewhat intimidating...he'd been on the other end of beatings, and punishments...and he always felt threatened nonetheless when his father had that look teamed up with being taller and slightly broader.
Remy glanced down at his toast, he tried to seem aloof although he knew it would only anger his father further.
"There ain't no defyin' this, Remy. It ain't a request, it's an order..."
He scoffed, "an order? And wha' if I don' do what y'all tellin' me t' do?" Remy raised an eyebrow, he swallowed a mouthful of nerves; it tasted of burned toast.
"Then y' exiled," Henri spoke up behind him.
"Suits me," Remy grumbled unhappily.
"Henri, shuddup," muttered Jean-Luc. "Remy, y' got no choice. Simple as that."
"I have a choice," Remy responded quickly, "I can leave. Y' won' even need t' exile me."
Jean-Luc chuckled, "y' don' get it, Remy. Thieves don' walk away from the Guild. If they do...they don' walk very far."
"I can take care of myself," Remy tossed the remains of his slice of burned toast into the sink and shoved by his father roughly. "No one gon' make me marry any one, especially not an Assassin. I rather die first."
"Y' wan' that? Really?" Jean-Luc laughed now, "Remy, m' boy, y' stand that girl up at the alter, and the whole o' her family be out for y' blood. This already all been arranged way above y' head. If word get out to that girl that y' gonna dishonour her and her family by not upholding your end of the deal...y' as good as signin' y' own death warrant."
"Then hand me a pen," dared Remy. "Don' y' get it? I don' care. No one gonna make me marry anyone," Remy growled as he headed for the door.
"Not like y' can stop it from happenin'."
"Whatever," Remy uttered before pushing his brother aside and leaving the kitchen. I'll find a way, he thought angrily.
The girl known only as Rogue awoke with a sudden start; she wasn't sure what had aroused her slumber...only that something had. She brushed her hair away from her face with a grumble of exhaustion and looked around the room; in the early morning light, she couldn't see much, but she saw enough to know that nothing was out of place. Her iPod shuffle still sat on the nightstand, she could hear the music from the earphones although they'd long since fallen out of her ears while she slept...perhaps it had been the lack of sound that had suddenly stirred her from her sleep? She wasn't sure.
The alarm nearby read 4.58am, causing her to sigh and roll onto her side, trying to convince herself she'd perhaps been dreaming and that all she really needed to do right now was try to get back to sleep; she was well aware of the training session at 6am that she would be expected to attend, and missing out on sleep before having to go through a gruelling exercise regime was just asking for trouble.
A faint soft tapping on glass disturbed her, and made her sit up straight and glance towards the window. A silhouetted figure was at the window, two glowing red eyes piercing through the dimness.
She nearly screamed and in the split second between gasp and almost-shriek, there was the recognition that hastily set in; she knew the silhouette, she knew those red eyes; she clamped a hand over her mouth quickly to stifle her scream. She threw the covers off, and quietly got out of bed creeping across the noisy floorboards that were cold beneath her bare feet. She shivered despite the comfortable warmth of the bedroom and she approached the window cautiously.
"Gambit," she asked confusedly, she gazed through the glass at him; her eyes adjusted to the poor light and she could see it was indeed Remy LeBeau.
"Open the window," he instructed.
"Ah don't think so," she remarked smartly, she folded her arms across her chest and hoped her nightgown wasn't too revealing. "What are you doin' here?" she demanded in a whisper.
"I need t' talk t' you," he said from the other side, his voice muted through the window. "C'mon, open the window, lemme in."
"Are you crazy, Wolverine would go ballistic if he thought I had a boy in my room...'specially if it's you," Rogue reminded.
"Then come out," Remy instructed, he gripped onto the ledge, "I meet you down in the garden."
"How about you tell me why Ah should, first?" Rogue proposed.
"'Cause I need t' talk t' y' urgently, chere."
Rogue rolled her eyes, and then nodded; whatever it was certainly had to be urgent. It wasn't every day Remy LeBeau turned up at her window asking to talk to her; she supposed he could have just carried on in his usual manner, which would be to kidnap her and force her to listen to him. She leaned close to the window to watch him let go of the ledge and climb down the drainpipe, then she rushed to grab her robe from where it had hung on the bedpost and slip her feet into her unlaced black sneakers. She pulled the window open and climbed out carefully, trying not to make a sound as she slipped her feet carefully into the lattice of the rose trellis that braced itself against the wall, boasting white blooms that were fragrant as her cheek brushed against them while she climbed slowly down to the garden below.
He was waiting for her several feet away from the trellis, standing with his hands buried in the pockets of his long coat, his head low, shoulders hunched against the chilly morning air. In the strange early dawn light he looked different and she couldn't put her finger on why...was it that he looked tired...or just older?
"What's goin' on?" she asked in a hushed whisper, she pulled her robe tighter around herself, feeling the bitter sting of the cold circling around her bare legs and creeping up her nightgown. She began to walk towards the field overlooking Bayville Bay, she heard his footsteps on the gravel as he followed her.
"I know I ain't in any position t' ask for favours..." he began, he caught up with her and they walked slowly together across the thick lush green grass towards the edge of the field, where a wooden-railing marked the edge of the cliffs looking down into the dark crashing water.
Rogue blinked, she tried to ignore the exhaustion trying to pull at her, "Yeah, you're right...you're not." They walked for several more minutes in silence, until they finally reached the fence, and stopped there, it being far enough from the mansion to be out of earshot of everyone, hopefully including Logan, should he be awake.
Remy exhaled softly, it was a deep and heavy sigh that was full of...what? Sadness? She was unsure...she didn't know him enough to be able to read him or his emotions. What she did know of Remy LeBeau was that he played cards very close to his chest...metaphorically speaking...and he rarely showed any kind of emotion at all.
Rogue examined him briefly, trying to pretend as if she wasn't staring. Either he's puttin' on an act for pity or...
Or he really was upset about something.
He reached into his pocket and took out a packet of cigarettes; he put one to his lips and lit it, shielding the flame from the wind with his hand.
"Ah guess since you're here now," she gave in, "you may as well shoot and ask whatever the heck you came here to ask of me."
Remy took a long drag of the cigarette, then exhaled the foul-smelling smoke that disappeared almost immediately in the wind. "Y' turned eighteen recently, right?"
Rogue raised an eyebrow, "Yeah...I guess I must have missed your birthday card."
He gave a vague laugh, then fell silent for several moments as he smoked; this behaviour unsettled Rogue so much that she eventually shoved him to get his attention.
"Gambit, what's goin' on...why are you here?" she demanded.
She was caught off guard with his immediate reply.
Rogue choked, and she wasn't sure if it was due to the smell of his smoke, or if it was from the shock. Did he really just ask her to marry him? Was she hallucinating...or dreaming? Whatever this was...her response was powerful enough to make him continue.
"Don' look at me like that...I'm serious," he grunted as he looked onto the horizon; the light from the sun was beginning to appear as if it were coming directly from the water itself.
"Ah don' think you are!" Rogue retorted, "Ah think you're insane!"
"Maybe," he mused, he leaned on the rail.
Rogue hugged herself, "is this some kinda joke?" she finally managed.
"No. Like I say, Chere, I'm serious. Deadly serious."
"What's goin' on...why are you askin' this? It's not like we're in love or anything!"
Remy turned to glance straight at her, "if I don' get married now...in six days I'm gonna be made t' marry this...girl...back home."
This news made her pause, she wasn't sure why she didn't like the idea of Remy LeBeau getting married to some girl she didn't know...besides, since when had Remy LeBeau ever been the marrying type? And should he be at age eighteen? "Ah don' understand," she finally managed, she tried to control the tone of her voice.
"Arranged marriage...the elders of my guild figured it'd be fittin' for me to marry the daughter of the rival guild's Patriarch...in order to bring peace to the two guilds..."
"Oh..." Rogue mouthed. "But why me?"
"Y' about the only one I can trust," he sighed, "Y' seen in my head, y' must know what I been through..."
"Ah..." Rogue began, "Ah...only saw bits 'n pieces...it's like been handed a jigsaw puzzle with eighty-percent of it missin', Gambit...I don't know anything..."
"Rogue...if I have t' marry Bella Donna on Saturday...my life will never be mine again...I'll never be free..."
She frowned, "And Ah'm supposed to care about your freedom?"
"I know you care," he sighed, "Just like y' know I care about yours."
"Chere...this girl...she...obsessed with me...won' leave me alone...wants to be with me everywhere...ain' even married yet and already talkin' about babies..."
"What's the worst that could happen if you don' marry her?" Rogue shrugged.
Remy looked down at the rail, his hands gripped it tightly, the cigarette had burned down to nothing but ash. "They kill my whole family...I hate 'em all but...don' want that on my head..."
"We can't just...get married," Rogue shook her head. "We're not in..." she awkwardly put off saying the last word. It had easy to say it so breezily before...but now it felt...wrong to say it.
"We're not in love. I know...it's perfect," Remy finished for her. "It ain' gonna go any further...we bot' know that..." he gestured to her.
Rogue tried to not let the hurt show in her expression when he said that, but it must have because his face dropped and he grabbed her shoulders.
"What I mean..." he sighed, "is that...y' stubborn...y' still holdin' grudges wit' me...it ain't gonna...turn into somethin' it's not...y'know?"
"No..." Rogue pushed him away, "Ah think what you're sayin' is that because I can't touch you...it's not gonna complicate anything..."
"That's not what I'm sayin'," he said quickly. "What I'm sayin'...is that y' the only girl...ever...I can trust...and y' not like the other silly girls who I can make fall in love wit' me...I need someone with a clear head...a brain...determination...someone who hates me enough t' never let feelin's get in the way..."
She shook her head, "this is just...crazy. You want me mad enough to hate you so Ah never like you, but you want me to like you enough to marry you? Sorry, Gambit, your logic doesn't really apply..."
He tossed the cigarette over the cliff. "Believe me, this thing is all logic...it's the only way I t'ink I can get around this."
"My family...Catholic," he grunted, "divorce is a sin, and all that," he rolled his eyes at this. "If I marry Bella Donna...I can never publicly divorce without disgracin' the family and end up bein' killed by her family and bein' the catalyst for a massacre. However, if I got married..." he said softly, "they can't force me to get divorced without messin' wit' religion and beliefs..." he explained.
"And what about the girl you're meant to marry...if you don't marry her, aren't her family gonna come after you anyway?"
"It's a possibility. There's also a slight possibility that they might let me live...her brother Julien hates me...probably be relieved that I married some other girl...her daddy on the other hand might be sincerely pissed with me. But I got plans that might just get me away with this...all we gotta do is show proof we got married...then..."
"Then what...?" Rogue demanded, "Then we'd be married for the rest of our lives! What happens if Ah ever fall in love in the future...what happens if Ah wanna get married..." she pointed out. It was a weak argument, she knew from the experience of her powers that it was unlikely she would ever get far enough in any relationship for marriage to be an issue.
"Then we get divorced quietly...lettin' my family t'ink we still married anyway...no one need t' know" he offered.
"Say Ah was willin' t' help you...and Ah'm not in any way sayin' Ah am..." Rogue hugged herself tighter against the cold. "What exactly is it entailin'? And Ah'm not makin' any commitments here like Ah said...Ah'm just curious."
"Come back to New Orleans wit' me for a while...put up this...facade that we're happy and all the rest, that w' been in love for a while...and then maybe a few mont' down the line...y' get mad at me and...walk out on me?" he offered. "Should be easy...I'm good at pissin' y' off..."
Rogue shook her head, "It's too much to ask of a person..." she decided. "Ah can't just...take off from here to be your wife, even if it is just for pretend..."
"It ain' gonna be for pretend...y' will be my wife...y' jus' won' really love me...the love part is pretend...the wife part won' be."
"This is so...complicated...and complicated is what you don' want," Rogue reminded.
"Do this for me...Rogue, I'm beggin' y'...if y' turn me down...I'm gonna lose my future..."
"What is your future? Why don't you just run away like usual?"
"'Cause this time...they will find me...and kill me...they're Assassins...it's what they do," he sighed. "I like my life too much to let that happen..."
"What happens to you if we do get married?" Rogue asked, "and then we fight and Ah leave...where do you go from there, just as a matter of interest," she asked curiously.
He looked her in the eyes, "I wait feignin' heartbreak for a few mont'...then..." he glanced towards the mansion behind them, "then I come to join your family..."
Rogue gaped at him.
"If they'll have me."
"So you're asking me to save your life...so you can join the X-Men?"
"In a nutshell."
"No," Rogue shook her head stubbornly, "it's too much to ask."
Remy paused to contemplate this, then slipped his hand into the other pocket of his coat and pulled something out; he dropped to his right knee, and reached for her hand.
"I don't have gloves on," she yanked her hand back.
"I be careful..." he promised, he pulled the sleeve of his coat over his hand and took a hold of her left hand with the sleeve. "Chere...ain' another woman in the entire world I would get on one knee and swear my life to. Ain' no other woman on earth I could trust enough t' sign my life away to. All I'm askin' is that you take me as I am...be my wife...be my friend," he raised his left hand with the small velvet box and flipped it open to show her a beautiful diamond engagement ring. "Be the only woman to wear my ring..." he took the ring from the box, "and I will owe my life to you...for as long as I live..." he slipped the ring onto her finger carefully by holding the solitaire gem and gently grasping her wrist. It slipped on as if it had been cut specifically for her finger...a perfect fit.
Rogue glanced down at the ring, it dazzled her in the light coming from the beginning of the sunrise. "You're puttin' me in a real awkward position..."
"I know," he apologised.
"If we're gonna be gone by the time the rest of the mansion wakes up...we gotta go now..." she sighed.
He stood up and grabbed her under the arms and spun her around in a swift moment, "you're a lifesaver, Chere...literally."
Rogue awoke with a start, the humming of an engine was what had aroused her from her slumber; somehow for a moment she had imagined she was still at home in bed, safe and sound. When she opened her eyes, though, she was faced with the harsh light of an aeroplane cabin. She glanced around, realising that she was sitting in the first class section, and was momentarily confused until she remembered what had happened...and where she was heading for.
"Have a nice nap?"
The voice made her jump although she realised she should have expected it. She turned around to glance at her travelling companion. Remy LeBeau sat with a newspaper in his hands, it seemed to be the business section he was reading through his designer sunglasses.
"Not particularly," she rolled her neck to work off the discomfort of having fallen asleep in a bad position. "How long have Ah been out for?"
"About three hours," he turned the page casually, "we should be there in 'bout an hour," he added.
Rogue shifted awkwardly in her seat; it should have been comfortable but she felt too hot and too tired to be comforted by the padded out leather.
"I'm glad y' woke, actually," he confessed, he closed the paper. "I'm t'inkin' we should maybe talk...'bout the weddin' and stuff."
"What's to talk about?" Rogue made a face, "random weddin' performed by some Elvis Impersonatin' scumbag, right?" she made a face.
"Somethin' more tasteful. We want this t' look like a real weddin'...not just like we got married for the sake o' gett'n hitched. It's gotta look authentic..."
"Fine, whatever," she rolled her eyes and grabbed the newspaper away from him and opened it up at a random page.
"What y' gonna wear?" he queried casually.
She frowned, "it's not like Ah planned to elope with a moron," she reminded, "So Ah didn't exactly bring anythin'."
"It's fine...I get some money...y' go out shoppin'...get anythin' y' wanna wear."
"Does it have to be white?"
Remy pondered this, "It has to look like...a traditional type weddin'...if it looks like it was rushed and was too simple...it'll tip off everyone right away that this be a sham."
"Ah'll find somethin'..."
"Y' not gonna come to our weddin'...lookin' like the Bride of Frankenstein or somethin', are you?" he raised an eyebrow.
"It's my weddin' as well as yours, darlin'," she reminded, with a smug smile.
"Fine..." he said, the tone of his voice told her it really wasn't. "There some other stuff we need t' talk 'bout. Important stuff. Personal stuff..."
"Y' real name..." Remy sighed, "I...need t' know. I know y' don't like tellin' people it...but..."
"I'll tell you. Later." She had no intentions at all of ever revealing her name to him...she was sure that would give him far too much power over her and she couldn't afford that.
"And we should also get to know each other...or it's gonna seem real weird when we go back to the Big Easy and we're like strangers..."
Rogue turned to look at him, "I can know all I want to about you in two seconds," she wiggled her fingers suggestively.
"I still won't know 'bout you though," he pointed out. "And I ain't gonna be put in a position where I have to lie to convince them I know you enough to be married...so..."
"I thought you knew a lot about me...you followed me for a while," she stated coldly as she glanced at the comic section of the newspaper, pretending to be more interested in it than him.
"I know y' like purple, y' favourite season is Fall, and y' read those dumb Twilight books but you hide the covers by puttin' Stephen King book covers over them...'cause y' scared people would think you were lame if they found out..."
Rogue frowned, "how do you know that?" she demanded.
He just shook his head with a soft laugh and looked away from her, "there's other stuff I don't know...your name...your favourite movie...your favourite song..." he explained. "I need to be convincin' that I know you."
"Whatever," Rogue shrugged. "Just tell them whatever the hell you like, Ah don't care. This isn't a first date, Ah don't need to tell you everythin' about me."
"Okay..." he pursed his lips. "Be prepared t' nod and agree with everythin' I say then...even if y' don' like it."
The lights of Las Vegas were bright even in the glare of a blinding hot July morning. Rogue shielded her eyes from the sun as she stared out of the window of the taxi cab as they drove along the Strip.
"Ah always wanted to visit here," she mumbled as she gazed upon the impressive faces of well known Casinos. "Jus' didn't figure when Ah eventually made it here Ah'd be about to get married."
Remy LeBeau nodded as he listened, although she was sure he was only half-paying attention. He had a shiny new iPhone in his hand and was flicking through pages of information, sliding his fingers deftly across the screen.
"What are you doin', anyway?" she asked curiously as she glanced at the phone.
"Textin' y' the address of the Chapel. Y' need to be there by seven pm tonight. No later, 'k?"
"Fine," Rogue agreed bitterly as she felt her cellphone vibrating in her hip pocket, she slipped it out and glanced at the address, "here at seven."
Remy glanced at her phone; "I heard it vibrating earlier...I think your friends are trying to get in touch with you."
"I can't answer, how am I supposed to explain this?"
"Probably best y' don't until after the wedding...that way they can't really stop it."
"I guess..." Rogue sighed, she wondered if perhaps she should answer...should tell them what was about to happen. Maybe this was something that needed to be stopped before it got out of hand. The word mistake kept ringing over and over in her ears as if whispered by phantom lips.
"Mon ami," Remy leaned forward a little in the taxi, "let us off here..."
The taxi driver made a face, "you want me to stop in the middle of the Strip! Are you nuts?"
"I'll double your tip," Remy remarked.
The driver halted the cab immediately; it skidded and Rogue nearly fell from the seat. Remy took money from his pocket and passed it through, "merci," he said gratefully, and he let Rogue step out of the cab first before following. They rushed across the road of flowing traffic – much to the disdain of many drivers – and then stopped outside the nearest casino.
"I need t' go take care of business, but first, we gotta get checked into a hotel," he gestured to the grand entrance of a hotel/casino directly ahead.
"That place looks expensive," Rogue admitted.
"I can afford it," he led the way through rows of slot machines, lights glittering, bells ringing, the sounds of coins falling out, being dropped into paper cups. Rogue lagged behind to look, feeling slightly out of her depth and oddly fascinated. "Come on, we ain't got time to hang around looking at slot machines..." he grabbed her hand and tugged her along.
"This sucks, you dragged me here and Ah can't even try the slots?"
"Later," he promised, "after the wedding. Y' can spend as much o' our honeymoon night playin' slots as y' like. For now, we got stuff to do."
Rogue sighed, she tried to break his hand free of hers but he had his grip strong and secure, and he pulled her through the casino until they ended up inside a large lobby, their footsteps echoing on marble floors as they walked along to the reception area.
"You sure you can afford this place?" she asked quietly.
"Yes, now ssh," he mumbled, he pushed his sunglasses up his nose a little further and approached the reception desk with a sudden air of royalty about him, he spoke with a French accent when he announced his arrival to the girl at the computer.
"I have a reservation," he said, before the blonde in her thirties had time to greet him. "Monsieur Jeremy LeNoir," he sounded debonair and charming as he spoke.
Rogue had to wonder when he'd had time to arrange all this? She'd been with him since they'd left Bayville – how had he found time? Had he done this online using his iPhone? Or...had he planned everything ahead of time knowing what her answer would be when he'd proposed?
She hovered nervously at the reception beside him as he handed over credit cards that looked authentic yet she knew without a doubt could not be completely genuine. She saw him hand over photo identification – the eyes photoshopped exquisitely to make him appear human.
"You have no luggage?" asked the receptionist, peering over the counter to check.
Remy gave a coy smile, "myself and my cherie have...decided to...how you say...elope?" he feigned the French accent so terribly well that Rogue almost believed him too.
"Oh...congratulations," said the receptionist, her eyes lighting up.
"We're not married yet," Rogue spoke up, her cheeks reddening.
"Congratulations on your engagement then," said the receptionist delightedly, "give me a moment and let me see if the Honeymoon suite is available..."
Rogue felt a wave of embarrassment and panic overwhelm her as the receptionist typed a few commands into her computer, her hand sliding back and forth with the mouse.
"You're in luck, it is!"
"That won't be necessary," Rogue said quickly.
"Transfer our reservation to there, that would be wonderful, merci," Remy took the receptionist's hand and kissed it tenderly.
Rogue rolled her eyes at him.
"Now," said Remy, he cleared his throat a little, noting Rogue's anger with his behaviour, "My fiancee requires...a dress, you understand?"
"Certainly," said the receptionist. "I can recommend many wonderful bridal boutiques."
"And a salon?" Remy asked.
Now fuming, Rogue grabbed a hold of Remy's wrist, "excuse us," she said quickly to the receptionist before dragging Remy off to one side of the lobby. "What the hell are you playin' at?"
"Y' need a dress and a hair style...y' gotta look...authentic, or my family ain't gon' buy it."
"What's wrong with how I look?"
"Nothin', far as I can see, but they'll be picky...no woman show up to her own weddin' with everyday hair and makeup..." he explained. "When a girl get married...she wanna be a princess...a fairy princess, the epitome of perfect and glowing, the most pristine thing in the world..."
Rogue tried to swallow her anger, and she followed him back to the reception.
"I'd like a limousine to be ordered for Madamoiselle," he gestured to Rogue, "to take her wherever she likes to go. I'd also like a limousine to pick her up here at six-twenty."
"Of course, sir."
This is mad, Rogue thought in dismay. Limos? Wedding dresses? This is like some crazy circus!
Remy signed at the reception and spoke some more with the girl while Rogue stood with her stomach churning. Was it too late to back off? Could she run for the door?
Why am Ah doin' this? Why did Ah let him talk me into this? It's insane! Do Ah really care if his family disown him or if the Assassin's kill him for dishonouring them?
A bellboy showed the way to the elevator; Rogue felt Remy's arm wrap around her shoulders and knew it was all part of the act. How convincing he would be, she doubted his family could ever disbelieve him for a second. She let his arm sit there until they got out of the elevator, and she moved ahead of him to follow the Bellboy into their room.
The room was exquisite, walls in rich golden damask wallpaper, the king sized four post bed was swathed in velvets, silks and devoree. The carpets were thick and springy beneath Rogue's feet as she crossed the room.
"This room has one of the best views," said the Bellboy.
"Merci," said Remy, he took a twenty dollar bill from his pocket, and tipped the boy before letting him go on his way.
Rogue watched Remy close the door; an odd sense of awkwardness began the moment she heard the lock click. She felt her stomach tense, and she swallowed nervously. They were alone. In a bedroom. A honeymoon suite.
"What...was with the French accent?" she asked.
"Fake passport I had made for me...French passport, under the name Jeremy LeNoir."
"Jeremy 'The Black'," Rogue raised an eyebrow. "Nice."
"It also says I'm twenty-five," he added with a smirk. He crossed the room and searched for the bathroom, a large en-suite with a generous sized sunken tub, double sink and huge gilded mirror. "Come see this," he urged.
Rogue stepped into the bathroom, it being more lavish than she had expected. "How can you afford all this?"
"I've been savin'...for a rainy day," he ran his long tapered fingers gently across the slick marble effect tiles on the wall nearby. "It's exquisite, isn't it?" he admitted fondly of the bathroom.
"Call it what you like, swamprat," Rogue folded her arms, "it's still a room people bang in."
He laughed sincerely and turned to look at her, "your sense of romanticism leaves a lot to be desired, cherie," he stepped back into the room and he sat upon the bed, he seemed to sink slightly into it.
Rogue watched him, she leaned against the doorframe, glancing at the one bed. "There's...just one bed."
He shrugged, "most honeymoon suites don't do a twin bed option, Chere, for obvious reasons..." he reminded.
She made a tiny "oh," sound, she hugged herself.
"There's a couch right here," he gestured to the far end of the room where there was a television, a fireplace, and a velvet loveseat, "I can live wit' that."
Rogue nodded, she pursed her lips together and looked around the room feeling...empty. How odd it was to stand there, a place where other women would be thrilled to be standing.
"Y' look...sad," he admitted, gazing at her.
"Just tired...haven't quite caught up with my sleep," she wandered across the room to the large windows and pulled back the muslin drapes to reveal the sliding doors leading out to their own private balcony. Although it was beautiful, decorated with flowers and it's own loungers and table with chairs, all she could think of was that couples may have spent their most intimate moments there...and it felt odd to be imposing on that under all this...pretence.
The phone on the nightstand by the bed rang, and Remy picked it up, "oui?" he asked, remembering to keep up his French act for the hotel staff. He listened a moment, said "merci," then glanced over to Rogue. "Your Limo awaits, ma cherie," he smirked as he hung up the phone.
She frowned, "Ah coulda just took a cab."
"It's y' weddin' day...live a little," he pulled his wallet out of the inside pocket of his coat and retrieved a gold credit card, "buy your dress, shoes, whatever else y' need to look...like a bride. The girl downstairs has some addresses you can try out for boutiques and salons. Also get some other clothes...since y' didn't actually pack anythin'."
"Fine," Rogue uttered, grabbing the card from him irritably, "Ah hope this isn't illegitimate cash..."
"Don' worry where the cash t' pay for that card comes from, just focus on get'n dolled up for me. I won't see y' until y' arrive at the chapel...and anyway, it's bad luck t' see the bride before the weddin'."
"Where will you be?" she asked, tucking the card into her jeans pocket.
"Doin' the same as you, chere," he sighed, "workin' on makin' the illusion real...which reminds me...I need...y' name..."
Rogue frowned, "why can't I have a fake I.D. Too?"
"'Cause y' not marryin' Jeremy LeNoir. Y' marryin' Remy LeBeau."
"Yeah but...your family don' really know about me anyway, other than Ah saved your daddy that one time...why should it matter?"
"I...guess it doesn't."
"Can you do it?" she asked hopefully.
"I know a guy...it'll cost...but...it's...doable..." he gave in. "What y' wanna be called?" he asked with a sigh, she could tell the thought of getting her a new identification was going to be tricky for him...but still...if he was asking her to sign her life away to him for a time, it was only fair he went out of his way to make this easy on her.
"Ah...wanna be called...Alice..." she said, she smirked. "Alice Cullen."
"Chere...y' might jus' be sicker than I am."
~ End of Part One ~
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This story is dedicated to Alex, who has always been the greatest motivator of my writing and one of the best friends I've ever had.