This is an excerpt from an unfinished book. It’s a couple years old, and I had such fun writing it. I’ll have to pick this up again sometime. That is, once my character tells me what she wants to do.
“You tremble; I perceive it is no longer from fear. Am I right?”
“Aye, My Lord.” Grace’s throat was dry as she pushed the quiet words from her mouth.
“Your beauty is almost more than I can bear.” Gilbert brushed an auburn curl from her face and locked it behind her ear. “Your form fills this bed, nay, the whole of my estate with an elegance of grace that leaves me breathless. My lady bewitches me. I wonder if she is also bewitched?” His finger followed her fair skin until it stopped beneath her chin. With a gentle firmness, he raised her face until their eyes met. “For her tongue seems to be stuck within her mouth and will not be loosened. Why will you not speak?”
“I am thinking, My Lord.” The tremble in her voice matched the excitement in her body.
“You think too much.” His upturned lips betrayed his reprimand, but Grace caught his intent.
“Did you not enjoy the evening, Sir? Do you think this room prepared itself? Do you not realize that it took thought? Did you not find me in a garment that was enticing when you entered my quarters this night? Had the fire not been set? Was the bed not warmed and free of vermin?”
“Yes and your breath smelt of cinnamon. Have I ever questioned your abilities as head of my estate?” His growing impatience began to rise up once again.
“Head of your estate? You jest, My Lord?”
“Nay, I speak plainly! Who else but the Countess? Are there any among my servants that do not rush to do your bidding? Are there any who is not willing to do the smallest task that you ask of them? Even my own Master of the Horses is at your command! Did he not escort you to court, at your request, just two days last?” His pause begged for an answer, but she pressed her lips tightly and forbid them to respond. Did he really think all was well?
“But, it is not now affairs of state that I wish to discuss.” How is it that you always manage to turn all conversation away from yourself? Alas, you vex me so!” Rising to his feet, Gilbert came to stand over her slight form where she still sat on the edge of the feather mattress before he continued. “You create a beautiful, inviting atmosphere and yet you hide your true self from me in the same manner as you, and all the courtiers, paint your faces with ceruse and vermilion and wear your wigs in a fashion that hides your beauty to please not but Her Majesty.”
“And who else should we please but the Queen?”
“No one, when you are in court; but this bed is not court. Your face has been wiped clean of the ceruse. Yet still, you hide.”
“My Lord is right to say he knows me not. How could you know me, or the world into which I was born? I, a low born, daughter of a low born. You were born into nobility, as was your father and his father before him. You take what you want. Forcefully, if needed.” Her voice tapered off as the last words left her and Grace felt the moistness in her eyes return.
“You make me out to sound a brute? Have I not given you all that is mine?”
“Did you ask me if I wanted it?” The words rang out harshly. “Did you ask my father for my hand? Nay! You did not! You saw me in the field and took me that night before the Priest. I had to beg for the right to bid my family goodbye.”
Gilbert raised his arm but froze as he saw her shrink away from the back of his hand. God help him. He would not become his father. With slumped shoulders, he turned and near rushed to the door. Stopping with his hand on the latch, he spoke without glancing her way. “My lady speaks rightly. You have taught me much since you first graced this manor, but I have much more to learn. It seems that more time is needed for your paint to come off. I will wait as long as need be.”
The warmth of the night left with him and Grace watched him exit.