She frowned, unsure if that was a good thing or not. If he was as sweaty as he looked, she risked overchilling him, which was precisely what the doctor had warned against.
She sat down again, then stood, then sat, tapping her hand restlessly against her thigh. It got so bad that she had to practically slam her other hand down on top of it, just to keep it still.
This was ridiculous. She jumped to her feet and walked back over to him. He was moving about again, thrashing under his covers, although not with enough force to actually throw them off.
She should touch him. She really should. It was the only way to determine just how hot his skin was. What she was going to do with that information she wasn’t sure, but that didn’t matter. If she was his nurse – and it appeared she was – she needed to be more observant about his condition.
She reached forward and lightly touched her fingers to his shoulder. He didn’t feel quite as warm as she’d expected, but that might have been due to the fact that she, too, was roasting. He was sweaty, though, and this close up she could see that his sheets were soaked.
Should she try to remove them? He’d still have all the other blankets. She reached out and gave the sheet a tug, holding the top quilt with her other hand to keep it in place. It didn’t work, though; the whole set came sliding toward her, revealing one long, slightly bent leg.
Honoria’s lips parted. He was rather muscular there, too.
No, no, no, no, no, no, no. She was not looking at Marcus. She was not. Not at him. Definitely not at him. And furthermore, she had to get a blanket back into place before he rolled over and revealed himself entirely, because she had no idea if he was wearing any undergarments. He had nothing on his arms, and nothing on his legs, so it stood to reason . . .
She looked down at his midsection. She couldn’t not. He was still covered, of course, but if she accidentally bumped into the bed . . .
She grabbed a piece of the quilt and shoved, trying to get him covered back up. Someone else was going to have to change his sheets. Good Lord, she was hot. How on earth could it have grown warmer in here? Maybe she could go outside for a moment. Or go open the window a crack and stand near it.
She fanned the air near her face with her hand. She should sit back down. There was a perfectly good chair, and she could sit there with her hands demurely in her lap until morning. She’d just take one more peek at him, just to be sure he was all right.
She picked up the candle and held it up over his face.
His eyes were open.
She took a careful step back. He’d opened his eyes before. This didn’t mean he was awake.
“Honoria? What are you doing here?”
That, however, did.
Marcus felt like hell.
No, he felt like he’d been to hell. And come back. And perhaps gone again, just because it hadn’t been hot enough the first time.
He had no idea how long he’d been sick. A day, maybe? Two? The fever had started . . . Tuesday? Yes, Tuesday, although that didn’t really signify, as he had no idea what day it was now.
Or night. He thought it might be night. It seemed dark, and – God damn, it was hot. Truly, it was difficult to think of anything other than the overwhelming heat.
Maybe he’d been to hell and then brought the whole damned place back with him. Or maybe he still was in hell, although if so, the beds were certainly comfortable.
Which did seem to contradict everything he’d learned in church.
He yawned, stretching his neck to the left and the right before settling his head back into his pillow. He knew this pillow. It was soft, and goosedown, and just the right thickness. He was in his own bed, in his own bedchamber. And it was definitely night. It was dark. He could tell that even though he couldn’t quite muster the energy to open his eyelids.
He could hear Mrs. Wetherby shuffling about the room. He supposed she’d been at his bedside throughout his illness. This didn’t surprise him, but still, he was grateful for her care. She had brought him broth when he had first begun to feel sick, and he vaguely recalled her consulting with a doctor. The couple of times he’d broken through his feverish haze, she’d been in the room, watching over him.
She touched his shoulder, her fingers soft and light. It wasn’t enough to rouse him from his stupor, though. He couldn’t move. He was so tired. He couldn’t remember ever being so tired. His whole body ached, and his leg really hurt. He just wanted to go back to sleep. But it was so hot. Why would anyone keep a room so hot?
As if eavesdropping on his thoughts, Mrs. Wetherby tugged at his quilt, and Marcus happily rolled to his side, throwing his good leg out from under the covers. Air! Dear God, it felt good. Maybe he could shove off his covers entirely. Would she be completely scandalized if he just lay there almost naked? Probably, but if it was for the sake of medicine . . .
But then she started shoving the blankets back on top of him, which was almost enough to make him want to cry. Summoning every last reserve of energy, he opened his eyes, and –
It wasn’t Mrs. Wetherby.
“Honoria?” he croaked. “What are you doing here?”
She jumped back about a foot, letting out an odd chirping sound that hurt his ears. He closed his eyes again. He didn’t have the energy to talk to her, although her presence was quite curious.
“Marcus?” she said, her voice strangely urgent. “Can you say something? Are you awake?”
He gave a very small nod.
“Marcus?” She was closer now, and he could feel her breath on his neck. It was awful. Too hot, and too close.
“Why are you here?” he asked again, his words slurring on his tongue like hot syrup. “You should be . . .” Where should she be? London, he thought. Wasn’t that right?