Vivienne tapped her foot impatiently as she waited for her father to speak. Part of her felt guilty as she saw the tired expression on his handsome face. Eyes the exact color of her own stared back at her with a mixture of outrage and sadness.
She did not anticipate this conversation turning in to a nice father daughter moment.
"I guess I should be surprised that you have sunken to this level, but I am not. It is as though you were deliberately trying to embarrass yourself and this family with your every waking moment. How could you sleep with Lord Fournier immediately after his wife's funeral? Have you no shame?"
"We didn't actually sleep." A rueful expression twisted her face and brought her dimples out.
"So, you think that this is funny? I have already received three messages this afternoon asking me to confirm that you are indeed slated to be the next Lady Fournier, or if this is just a temporary dalliance. Dalliance, indeed."
Lord Bouchard sank into his desk chair. His expression tired. Vivienne noticed, for the first time, the deep wrinkles around his eyes. His hair was slightly dishevels, as though he had repeatedly run his fingers through the thick mane that was the same deep black as Vivienne's, but with a sprinkle of white at each temple. She watched as he poured another splash of cognac from the heavy decanter on his desk into a lead crystal glass. He raised the glass to his mouth and drained it in one swallow before continuing.
"I have indulged you , your whole life. But I do not think that I have done you any favor by doing so. You are spoiled and irresponsible and at this moment, I am ashamed of you."
Tears stung Vivienne's eyes and she had to blink fast to prevent them from falling.
"I'm sorry, Papa." she paused and shrugged her shoulder. "We didn't mean to let things go so far, it just sort of happened. I'm sure Lord Fournier has already dealt with his staff. You'll see, in a week no one will remember anything about this incident."
Laurent stared at the portrait of his late wife that hung on the wall above the fireplace, directly in across from his desk. "I have decided that it is time for you to marry."
Vivienne jumped up and rushed around the heavy oak desk to fall at her father's feet.
"Papa, you can not do this. You know I have no intention of every marrying any of those little sissys you insist on parading in front of me."
Laurent pulled her roughly to her feet. "Enough, do not attempt to play with my emotions like I was one of your little playthings. Those sissy have been some of the wealthiest and well connected young men in all of Europe. But none of them is good enough for you. So I have taken the choosing out of your hands. You will marry who I decide or you will be disinherited. We have had this conversation many times, since you came of age. Each time I have allowed you to convince me that you needed more time to pursue your studies or some other claptrap. But not this time. This time you have gone too far and I want you out of Paris, before you do something that my money cannot repair."
Making a production of straightening her gowns, Vivienne crossed to the large picture window that occupied the far wall.
"Papa, really. You need to stop talking crazy. I was only offering my condolences to Lord Fournier, when his housekeeper walked in and misconstrued the whole thing."
The glass in his hand flew across the room and into the unlit fire place. "How do you misconstrue his having his dick up your snatch to the hilt?" His rage contorted with outrage.
Vivienne winced at the coarse language. Her father had captained his own ship from the time he was twenty years old and spoke with the common language regardless of the fact that he had been born into the aristocracy.
She simply shrugged and decided that last remark needed no comment from her. She had learned long ago to let her father have his say and then she could do what she wanted to do afterward. She gave him a week, tops to remain angry and stop talking of marrying her off.
"You can wipe that condescending look off your face, whelp. This time I will not bend." He walked to the davenport beside the door and picked up another glass and poured another drink and took a sip. He lifted a piece of paper from his desk that appeared to be a letter. He handed it to Vivienne "The Nubian docked last night. I plan to ask Michel to take you to New Orleans on his next crossing. You will live in the next day or so. I have received word that the son of an old friend is willing to marry you."
"If you think that I am going to America and marrying a complete stranger you are out of your rabid mind. I refuse to go."
"There is no refusing on this, Kitten. You leave as soon as Michel has restocked. He has to go to Barbados, but when he is done, he will take you on to New Orleans and see that you are settled.
"Papa, don't do this."
She rose and made her way to the door. Just as she was about to turn the handle her father spoke again. "And if you try to defy me on this, know that every one of your little strays will be out on their collectives asses before morning; Madame Rousseau, cook, Nauris, the lot. It would pain me for sure, but I will be obeyed."
Vivienne did not turn. Her father had found her one weakness. She would not be the cause of this household being disrupted. Most would be fine and easily find other positions, but both Cook and Nauris were too old to begin again. She would go to American, but she would make the poor fool who made this exile possible rue the day that he was born