Medieval Monday is back, with a new twist. This time around we post excerpts that fulfill a different requirement each week. For the first week we must post an excerpt with the meeting of the hero and heroine. So my excerpt will be from my medieval series Time Enough to Love, the first book of which is Betrothal.
She did so on unsteady feet. “I am ready, as always, Your Majesty, to obey my father as I would you.”
Holy Mary, let it be Lord Braeton.
King Edward lifted an eyebrow toward Alyse. “A very pretty answer, my lady. And are you ready to accept your father’s decree for your betrothal? His messenger has today reached me with the contract, as I am to stand in his stead in this matter.”
Alyse took a deep breath and hoped her voice did not tremble. “Yea, Majesty, I will obey my father.”
King Edward nodded and leaned over to whisper something to Queen Phillipa, who sat beside him, heavy with their twelfth child.
Mere seconds before she learned her fate. She could scarce affect an indifferent pose before the court when inside every inch of her quivered with anticipation of the name. His name, pray God, on the king’s lips.
In her mind, she heard the word.
The king straightened, glanced at her then at the man by her side.
“What say you then, Sir Geoffrey? Does the lady not speak fair? I vow she will make you a proper wife and a dutiful one as well.”
Alyse turned, until that moment unaware that Geoffrey Longford stood beside her. Chills coursed down her body as the king’s words echoed in her mind. The sensation of falling backward assailed her, as though she rushed away from the tall man at her side even as his figure loomed larger and larger in her sight.
Not Lord Braeton.
Her numbed brain repeated the phrase, trying to comprehend that instead he would be her husband. Geoffrey Longford.
God have mercy on me, for by the look of him, this man will not.
Fearful, she cringed as her gaze climbed higher, over his chest, over his chin, finally resting on the dark blue eyes turned toward her.
Geoffrey returned her appraisal, his gaze sweeping her figure as a smile crept over his face. “Your Majesty.” He spoke to the king but his attention remained fixed on Alyse. “When my father told me of the betrothal contract before I left his home, I resolved to play the dutiful son. Now, however, I find I do not wish to act that role after all.” His eyes held hers as he paused.
Dear God, does he mean to renounce me here before the entire court?
Alyse stared at the man beside her, willing herself to remain upright, despite the waves of ice and fire alternating through her body.
“Now I find I would rather play the ardent lover.”
An amused murmur ran through the Hall at his words. Sir Geoffrey grinned, his eyes sparkling with humor and something more. Despite the uneven light, Alyse saw an unfathomable promise in their dark depths. She took a shaky breath and looked away.
“I affirm Lady Alyse to be all that could be hoped for in a wife. Please you and God, we shall make the match and with all good haste.”
His self-satisfied tone and the thought of his outrageous teasing touched a contrary nerve in Alyse. She pulled her wits together and beamed brilliantly at her newly-betrothed lord. “Take care, my lord, for the wise women say, ‘Marry in haste, repent at leisure.’”
Sir Geoffrey raised a dark eyebrow while those around the banquet hall laughed. Heart pounding at her audacity, Alyse watched helplessly as he reached over and lifted her hand. “Such repentance could never be suffered too slowly, my lady, if ’twere your gentle hand that held mine through it.”
Laughter and applause washed over Alyse, who was struck absolutely dumb at the touch of his lips to her skin. Her heart pounded, and a strange roaring sounded in her ears; she wondered vaguely if she were about to faint.
Hope you enjoyed this excerpt! See you next week!