Aimée was sitting on a bench in a garden of a respectable house. She was not in Paris and she had no more idea of where she was than when she had been kidnapped a few days earlier. She was amusing herself by plucking the petals off a flower one by one. When she spied Gilles approaching, she tossed the stem away.
“Careful, Mademoiselle, she will not like you plucking her flowers to disassemble.” Gilles was referring to Madame, who had opened her doors to them. He was dressed in a new set of clothes and now wore a sword at his side. The palm of his hand rested on it regularly as if to assure himself that it was there. Aimée gave him a dark look as she reached behind her and rebelliously tried to pull a rose from the bush. The stem refused to break completely and her grip slipped impaling her finger on a thorn.
“Ouch!” she exclaimed. Her hand recoiled as blood welled up from her fingertip.
“Especially the roses. I would recommend leaving them alone,” Gilles added as he took a seat beside her. He produced a handkerchief and held it out. Aimée could tell it was brand new and made from a fine cloth. She was reluctantly to blot her wound with it, but the Count grabbed her hand and pressed it on. “There, hold it,” he said.
“You lied,” Aimée spat as she snatched her hand back. “This isn’t Paris!” Gilles frowned.
“No, we are not in Paris yet. You have been living in seclusion, Mademoiselle. If I send you to Paris now, you will not enjoy it. Here, you will get the education you need to survive with your own people,” he explained.
“Yes, everything a young noblewoman needs to know,” Gilles replied as his hand subconsciously drifted back to his sword hilt. Aimée’s eyes followed it as he described things like etiquette and poise. He noticed the Aimée wasn’t listening.