Word of Honor(9)

By: Alexa Aston


Merryn raised her arms and allowed Tilda to slip the cotehardie over her head. The silk garment rippled like water.

The servant smoothed the material. “Blue is for purity.”

The gown matched the blue garter she wore on her leg, another symbol of bridal purity. She’d shown it to Geoffrey, who’d teased that her sapphire-colored eyes would turn green once they’d wed, since green was the color of love.

Remembering his words caused her cheeks to heat. She had daydreamed about Geoffrey so often. Yet, upon his return, his kisses were nothing like the ones they’d previously shared. They told her how much he desired her. In the two weeks before their wedding, they’d shared many kisses. Merryn had already learned much about how pleasurable kissing could be.

Geoffrey promised her the best was yet to come.

Tilda helped guide her feet into her new shoes and finished fussing over her by placing a circlet of gold atop her long, chestnut hair. The servant stepped back and studied her appearance.

“You are a beautiful bride, my lady.” She wiped another tear away.

“Are you sad to see me leave Wellbury, Tilda?”

“You’ll be close by. Once we get your brother married off, we’ll see you more often.”

“Did I hear something about my bride?”

Merryn turned and saw Hugh smiling from the doorway. He’d returned to Wellbury two days after Geoffrey came back. The men had been thick as thieves, reliving stories of the war. She was happy that her brother would be present at her wedding.

“You look most handsome, Hugh.”

He approached and took her hands. “You, my dearest sister, are exquisite. Geoffrey is a lucky man.” He kissed her cheek. “You have a gentle spirit, Merryn. I hope the woman I marry will be the same.”

Hugh’s intended died from a fever while he was away. He’d only met the girl briefly, so it did not surprise her that he seemed unaffected by her death.

Before she knew it, Merryn found herself being led to the church. The minstrels guided her along the path as they played a merry tune. The people of Wellbury fell in behind her and were joined by those from Kinwick and the village beyond. She even recognized a few guests from Winterbourne, but didn’t see the Earl of Winterbourne among them. The last she’d heard, he hadn’t returned yet.

Her father hadn’t liked the man and his absence did not bother her.

As they approached the closed doors of the church, Merryn saw the priest standing in front of them. Ferand and Elia were to his right.

But where was Geoffrey?

He appeared suddenly and her pulse quickened. He’d tamed his thick locks by brushing them back from his face. His hazel eyes sparkled as she drew closer. His broad shoulders filled his dark green gypon and cotehardie to perfection.

This glorious warrior would soon be her wedded husband.

A fluttering swept through her as her heart pounded loudly. She stopped in her tracks in order to catch her breath.

She wanted this man. Only him. For all time.

Geoffrey met her and slipped Merryn’s arm through his. She appeared to him to be a little off-balance and he wanted to steady her. Then he escorted his bride-to-be the last few feet to Father Dannet and signaled his cousin Raynor to move closer.

Raynor had proudly told Merryn the night before that he would serve as Geoffrey’s best man. Tradition held that the best swordsman stood by the groom to make sure a wedding would not be interrupted. Raynor had promised she and Geoffrey would find wedded bliss on his watch. Merryn saw Raynor surveying the crowd, taking his role as best man seriously.

“Are you of age?” the priest asked them.

“Aye,” they both replied.

“Do ye have parental consent?”

“Aye.”

“And finally, are ye related in any way by law?”

“Nay,” they responded.

The priest nodded solemnly, satisfied with their answers. “We shall begin.”

Geoffrey’s fingers entwined with hers as they stood next to one another, facing Father Dannet.

The next part of the rite involved reading what the dowry involved. Church law required it to be read aloud for those witnessing the ceremony. Merryn had perused the tedious contracts years earlier. She was eager for the priest to complete this portion and continue the ceremony.

“The coins?” the priest asked.

Raynor handed Geoffrey a small bag. He turned the bag over to Merryn.

“I give this to you, Merryn Mantel of Wellbury, to distribute to the needy. You shall do so as my wife.”

He’d explained to her that once they joined in matrimony, she would be responsible for the financial management of his affairs if he was gone from Kinwick. His responsibilities would increase once his father passed and the title came to him.

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