Word of Honor(10)

By: Alexa Aston

Merryn thanked Geoffrey and clutched the cloth bag in her left hand. His fingers again laced through those of her right.

Father Dannet gave a short homily.

She found her mind wandering to what their wedding night would hold.

“It’s time to exchange your vows,” the priest said.

Merryn faced her betrothed eagerly. Geoffrey was the most honorable man she knew. The words he would speak to her would bind them together for eternity.

“I, Geoffrey, take thee, Merryn, to wed.”

“I receive you.”

“I, Geoffrey, give my body to you in loyal matrimony.”

“I receive it.”

She repeated the same vows and the priest called for the wedding ring.

Geoffrey took the gold band and slipped it onto her thumb. “In the name of the Father.” He removed it and placed it on her first finger. “And of the Son.” He then changed fingers again. “And of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” He slid the ring onto the third finger of her hand, its final resting place. Merryn smiled at the symbol of her commitment to Geoffrey.

“With this ring, I thee wed. This gold and silver, I thee give. With my body, I thee worship, and with this dowry, I thee endow.” His eyes blazed with determination. She knew she married a good man who would keep these sacred vows.

Father Dannet nodded to her and she opened the bag of coins. The children present politely lined up in front of her to receive a coin a piece, which they would give to their fathers.

With the coins now distributed, the church doors opened.

Merryn and Geoffrey followed Father Dannet inside, the crowd following behind.

After the mass, the priest offered the kiss of peace to the groom. In turn, the groom offered it to his bride.

Geoffrey’s lips met hers. It reminded Merryn of their shared kiss five years ago. Simple. Sweet. Full of promise. And hope.

They parted. She gazed into his eyes, seeing contentment. She was now his wife.

The priest uttered the nuptial blessing and Geoffrey led her from the church. Once outside, he swung her around, pressing her back against the stone structure. His hands encircled her waist. Merryn gripped his shoulders. Geoffrey kissed her deeply, his tongue branding her as his.

Chapter 5

“If I eat another bite, I’ll burst!” Merryn proclaimed as a servant placed another platter before them.

“You said that after the cheese and eggs. Then after the boar’s head and pigeon. And after—”

“Enough!” she cried.

Geoffrey’s eyes filled with mischief. “So you think you’ve had your fill?” he asked.

She nodded.

He reached for her hand under the table and gave it a squeeze. “But my dearest wife, you haven’t had your fill . . . of me.” His lips brushed her earlobe, sending tingles down her spine. “I plan to fill you up all night. Every night.”

Merryn pushed him away playfully. “Do you enjoy being so outrageous?”

Geoffrey smiled. “Only with you.” He looked around the great hall. “I think we should slip away to our bedchamber while everyone continues to make merry.”

Raynor, Geoffrey’s cousin, suddenly knelt by her elbow. “I assume ’tis time to bed now that you’ve wed?”

Before she could reply, Raynor slipped a hand under her garments and ran it along her leg.

“Raynor!” Merryn slapped at him. “What do you think you’re doing?”

Raynor tugged until he slipped her garter down her leg and over her shoe. He held it up for Geoffrey to see. “Did you not tell her, Cousin?”

“Tell me what?” Merryn looked from one man to the other.

“It’s customary for the unmarried male guests to try and snatch the bride’s garter when the happy couple leaves the feast,” Geoffrey explained.

“Why would they do that?” She looked back at Raynor. “It’s not as if you would wear it.”

“Nay, my lady. But I would give it to another.”

Her husband put an arm around her. “If my cousin can find a woman he has an affection for, he may give her this blue garter as a sign that he will be faithful to her.”

Raynor gave Merryn a smile. “I didn’t want you to be embarrassed while you and Geoffrey left the great hall, my lady.” He rose. “I shall let everyone know that I have your garter in my possession. That way, you will be granted a peaceful departure.”

He headed across the room, twirling the garter on one finger, moving amongst the trestle tables to show off his prize.

“Let us make our escape while Raynor entertains the crowd,” Geoffrey told her.

Lord Ferand stopped them from leaving, delaying their exit by calling for final toasts in their honor. Lady Elia embraced Merryn and told her how happy they were to have her as their daughter.

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