I am so happy to be able to post "Paradise Lost" here in THE READING ROOM.  It's author JLC's first try at writing fan fic.  I very much hope it's not her last.

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by JLC


A/N 1: I'd like to offer my heartfelt thanks to Beckers and Rann for inspiring me to try my hand at writing. Their stories have provided me with many hours of happy reading and opened up the little door in my own mind which suggested I have a go myself. For that I am tryly grateful. Thanks also for their help in proof-reading/beta-reading -- any and all mistakes are my own.

A/N 2: This is my first attempt at fan fiction. I hope you enjoy it. Please let me know what you think.

DESCRIPTION: Following the events in "Paradise Found", Roxton and Marguerite contemplate their burgeoning relationship.


" and me, we're a disaster waiting to happen." With that Marguerite turned and headed off in the direction of her bedroom. A devastated Roxton leaned back against the post, looking forlornly into his wine cup.

"What did you expect old boy?" he thought, as he recalled the heated kisses between himself and gorgeous woman. "A beautiful woman offers herself to you and you turn and leave to look for a missing journalist...what the bloody hell were you thinking?!"

Marguerite had been avoiding him since they left the village. He realized that she was embarrassed by his rejection of her, but when he had said "later" he had meant it. He had planned on returning to Marguerite's tent, but Kieran had had other ideas. By the time the explorers had made their way back to their treehouse home, Marguerite had rebuilt her "walls". "Why does she do that?" he thought to himself. "What is she so bloody afraid of?"

The British lord had spent months lusting after the lovely heiress but he was beginning to realise that he wanted something more from the mysterious, and oftentimes outrageous, woman. Roxton had known many women - he enjoyed their company and considered himself an expert in the art of seduction. Marguerite Krux, however, was very different from the women he was used to dealing with. She was an independent and feisty woman who matched him barb for barb. She was incredibly intelligent with a sharp sense of humour; she was beautiful and (oh so) sexy; a superb marksman; a skilled seamstress and she had a mean right hook!! She could act the lady or the wanton with ease and, all in all, she refused to fit into any category that he could define or understand.

"...Roxton remembered her tears and heartache as she fell into his arms..."

The heiress exuded an air of experience that he found stimulating but he sensed that beneath her teasing remarks and sometimes callous attitude there lay a modest and compassionate soul. The more he observed Marguerite (and no matter where they were, or what they were doing, he involuntarily found himself observing her!) the more convinced he was that there was more to the woman than met the eye.

Marguerite was a woman of infinite contradiction and Roxton had been witness to many facets of her character. He recalled finding her in what Arthur Summerlee had called "the Cave of Fear". This strong willed woman, who had the most acute self-preservation instinct of anyone Roxton had ever met, had her pistol turned on herself. Despair evident, she was seconds away from taking her own life. To his horror, he and Summerlee had barely arrived in time to save her from herself. Roxton remembered her tears and heartache as she fell into his arms, flaying against his support, and his strong relief that she was still with him...

..Marguerite had taken on the burden of caring for the professor...much to Challenger's surprise..."

Looking deep into his wine cup, Roxton recalled a conversation with Challenger early on during their stay on the Plateau. Arthur Summerlee had been stung by a giant bee and had been near death, delirious with fever. Marguerite had taken on the burden of caring for the professor and, much to Challenger's surprise had shown the elderly man a gentle compassion. "Honestly, Roxton, I could hardly believe my eyes..." George had exclaimed "...Arthur was obviously suffering from some sort of delusion, asking Anna not to leave him and begging for her forgiveness. And Marguerite, instead of walking away, soothed the old fool and eased his mind so the poor man could get some rest...I could scarcely believe it...!" Challenger had shaken his head - still bemused by Marguerite's actions even hours after the event. Although surprised himself, Roxton had shrugged his shoulders and replied that "Marguerite is a law unto herself - no one can predict what the woman is going to do!"

"Her empathy had proven to be a balm to his wounded soul."

The hunter had experienced the full force of her anger and the acidic taunts from her sharp tongue. And, like Summerlee, he had also experienced her understanding and compassion following the debacle with Calista - Marguerite had offered him a shoulder to cry on, a sympathetic ear, without expecting anything in return and without judging him. Her empathy had proven to be a balm to his wounded soul.

Swirling the wine around in his cup, Roxton remembered seeing for himself Marguerite's sadness at the death of a king who had had no one to mourn him and her fear of being forgotten - what was it she had said? "Ah yes...'That collection of bones in there was once a king and if we hadn't stumbled in, he wouldn't even be a memory now. If the 'Ruler of All' can be forgotten, do you really think anyone will remember the likes of us?'" Roxton shook his head gently and sighed. The beautiful lady was most definitely an enigma to the British aristocrat.

There was no doubt that Miss Krux was, as his grandfather would have said, "a canny woman". Thinking back on their latest (mis)adventure, he acknowledged that she was the only one of their group who had been openly sceptical about Veronica's latest attempt to find her parents. They had argued about Marguerite staying behind but, even when exchanging heated words with the dark haired beauty, Roxton knew she would not stay - and that he would not leave her alone at the treehouse even if she had decided to. That last night on the trail before arriving at the village, Marguerite had reiterated her doubts to John about what they were walking into. Perhaps it was her warning that made his own survival instincts kick in and start looking for a way out of the village before they had even barely arrived. And it was Marguerite (according to Challenger) who suggested the others look for him and Malone once Challenger and Summerlee had pointed out that the two men were still missing the following morning - after the effects of the fruit had worn off.

Yes, Marguerite was a canny and dangerous woman. Roxton allowed a grim smile to cross his face as he recalled how events surrounding their escape had played out. It had been decided that Veronica and Summerlee would wait with an exhausted Malone on the dege of the village whilst he accompanied George and Marguerite back to Kieran's tent in order to retrieve their weapons. There, amongst the broken furniture and upturned plates of fruit, lay Kieran, a knife sticking out of his back. Roxton had glanced at Marguerite with a raised eyebrown. She had merely shrugged her shoulders and turned away to collect their belongings. Roxton wasted no more time thinking about Kieran - the man had been a ghoul and he had paid the price - but he did wonder where, how and why Marguerite had learned to kill like that - her aim had been very, very accurate..."What kind of life has she led where such a skill would be necessary?" he thought.

But what was a man to do? He had tried to fight their "connection" by using sharp taunts and jibes to stop them getting closer. He had tried to convince himself that all he wanted was a beautiful trophy - another notch on his bedpost. But, as he and the dark haired beauty spent more time together in this lost world, he realized that the only person he was fooling was himself. Every time they got close, plateau life had a way of interrupting. "Why did I leave that bloody tent...?!" Roxton's frustration with the situation was beginning to grate on even his nerves.

Gazing out over the rainforest, the nobleman finished the last of his wine and made a decision. Despite Marguerite's proclamation that they were a disaster waiting to happen, he was convinced that they were destined to have "something" together - he was not sure what, but he was going to do his damnedest to find out! Whatever else might happen in his life, Marguerite would prove to be Roxton's greatest adventure!

That said, Marguerite was a most elusive prey. Roxton knew it would take all of his skills as a world-renowned hunter to "trap" the dark haried beauty. The upfront approach had not proven to be as successful as he would have wished. Marguerite continually retreated behind her walls whenever he got too close. "No, the key to catching this beauty is subtlety" - get in under her defences. Let her know that she could trust him, rely on him. Woo her, without actually letting her know that she was being wooed. It was acceptable to let her see that he was attracted to her (that much was pretty obvious anyway!), but he had to show he cared too. It was not just about lust - not any more. Eventually Roxton would become such an integral part of her life, she would have no choice but to accept him as "hers"...because he was starting to be afraid, very much afraid, that as much as he wanted to be in Marguerite's life, he needed her to be in his...

"Hmm..." he muttered with a grin "...let the chase begin..." Turning around, he headed back into the main room of the treehouse with the grin still on his face...the hunt was on...


"Glancing quickly to the side, she picked up a piece of fruit..."

In her room, Marguerite pulled her hair out from under the collar of her purple robe and gazed into the mirror above the dresser. Glancing quickly to the side, she picked up a piece of fruit and took a small bite from it. Raising her eyes to the mirror she allowed herself a small half-smile. That smile, however, faded quickly and Marguerite abruptly placed the fruit back into the jewellery box. Whilst Marguerite could, and did, lie to others without blinking - and certainly usually without guilt - she had never been able to master the art of lying to herself. The harsh realities of life had long ago forced her ino taking an honest and hard look at who she was. And she was under no illusions regarding her faults - in fact she accepted them as part of her make-up. In many ways, what others might consider faults, she considered tools - tools that helped her to survive.

Looking at her reflection more fully in the mirror, Marguerite could admit that she was still "cheating time" - but eating that fruit, the food of immortality - was too high a price to pay for continuing to cheat it.  The thought of what made the fruit, what its essence consisted of, and how close they had come to losing Malone made Marguerite shiver.  "Sometimes, the price is too high..." she reflected to herself, as other, more powerful memories threatened to cloud her mind.  Despite her best efforts, she could not help but recall the times when using her looks had enabled her to carry out assignments that others (men) would not have been able to do.  Her beauty had blinded those in power, or those who stood in her way, to Marguerite's real goals.  Not seeing anything more than a beautiful woman, those men failed to notice her intelligence, her strength of will and her determination to succeed.  Even Tribune had not initially seen anything more than a beautiful, enticing female.  Unlike many males however, he soon realised the error of his ways!  But, like most things in life, achieving her goals had come with a price - there were always consequences.  "...yes, this time, it's much too high a price to pay," she thought, again thinking of Malone.

Ruthlessly she pushed those other disturbing memories back down into the recesses of her soul.

Marguerite could not, however, bring herself to dispose of the half-eaten fruit...the thought that it might prove useful one day would not be dismissed so easily from her mind.

Turning away from the mirror, the heiress removed her robe and got into bed.  Lying on her back she reflected on the evening's celebrations and the praise given her by the other explorers.  She smiled as she realised that she had yet again caused bemusement amongst her fellow housemates - they simply cold not understand how "selfish" Marguerite could risk her life to save theirs.  And she had no intention of explaining her actions to them.  "Let them wonder," she smirked.  If they ever found out what really drove Marguerite, about her true motivations or her life during the war, then they would have a very effective weapon to use against Marguerite - and she had no intention of providing them with that!

The only one of the explorers who did not seem unduly astonished by Marguerite's actions in the village was Lord John Roxton.  She recalled John's reaction to finding Kieran's body in the tent, the knife still sticking out his back.  The British nobleman had seemed curious, perhaps even a little "proud",  but definitely not astonished that Marguerite was able to handle Kieran.  Marguerite had not taken the decision to kill Kieran lightly.  But she had known that, when the vain man had given her the opportunity to leave the cage and go with him back to his tent, she would have to use it to her advantage - her life and the life of  her friends, depended on it.  The self-proclaimed leader of Paradise had underestimated Marguerite - not the first man to do so - and she had done what she needed to do.  She suspected that Roxton understood that and would not blame her, or judge her, for having blood on her hands.  "He sees far too much," Marguerite reflected.  "I'm going to have to put a stop to that..."

She had already  made a start by avoiding him on their return from that awful village.  She was not surprised that he had sought her out on the balcony - that particular conversation had been unavoidable - but she hoped she had put an end to any ideas he might have had about their carrying on where they had left off in Paradise.

Marguerite thought back again to the kiss they had shared in her tent; how close she had come to giving into her passion and sharing a night of abandonment with Roxton.  If only she could blame the effects of the fruit for her lapse in judgement, but again, Marguerite's honesty with herself prevented that.  Her awareness of, and her attraction to, John Roxton had been instantaneous.  The more time they spent together, the stronger the pull.  The air fairly crackled between them.  To her relief, it was not all one-sided - Roxton was as attracted to her as she was to him - and seemed just as conflicted by it as she was!

However, a night of passion between John and herself would have been a mistake - for both of them.  "If only the bloody man didn't make me feel so, so...alive," she thought with a rueful half-smile.

Turning onto her side, Marguerite attempted to sleep.  Thoughts and feelings about the handsome peer kept plaguing her.  Marguerite, like Roxton, recognised the connection between them.  However, unlike the British lord, she was also aware that such a connection was doomed to failure.  They were so far apart in terms of life experience and social standing that any relationship between them would end in disaster - or worse - in her having a broken heart.  Having experienced such agonising pain before, she ws not willing to risk her heart again.  Her goal in coming to this bloody plateau was to find out the mystery to her identity - not to add more complications to an already complicated life!

No, let Roxton and the others believe her to be noghting more than a cold-blooded fortune hunter.  In the long run, that was best for all of them.  And Marguerite was always good at seeing "the bigger picture".

When they returned to the real world, Lord Roxton would return to his estate and find himself a suitable virgin bride.  And Marguerite?  Well, she would tie up any loose ends left over from the war and make a life for herself as a financially independent woman - and as far away from John (and the others) as possible.  John Richard Roxton would soon forget that he had ever met, let alone shared earth-shattering kisses, with a woman named Marguerite Krux.  Satisfied that this was the best course of action for Roxton and her fellow adventurers (even if not necessarily for her), the practical woman let out a small sigh, turned over onto her back, closed her eyes and fell asleep.

Fate, however, in the form of a demon-like child named Osric, had other ideas...



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