Blurbs & Excerpts!
Shifting confused eyes from one face to the other, Corinne tried to make sense of their words. Was he the reason why she had no longer been permitted to walk to the village after her six and tenth birthday? Why she had been kept to only the abbey grounds and surrounding moors while the other girls housed under their protection had been allowed far more freedom?
The duke’s large, tanned hand covered her slight, pale one. She was led to stand before the altar. The cardinal’s words were only a murmur in the background of her mind. Corinne could only stare at their joined hands. His engulfed her own, dominated it. Only the tips of her fingertips could be seen past the strong sinew of his fist. On his ring finger there was a heavy, gold signet ring. It had a large, smooth black stone. Embedded in its hard depths was the image of a golden bird with its massive wings outstretched. Clutched in its vicious talons was a crushed rose. The family crest of Ebonhurst. An omen.
“In the presence of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We are here this night to witness the marriage of Lord Lucian Talon, Duke of Ebonhurst to Corinne, orphan,” droned the cardinal.
Corinne’s mind snapped to attention. The horror of her situation crashing into her conscience mind. This could not possibly be happening. Upon her life! She couldn’t marry this man. He was too rich. Too powerful. Too frightening. There was a dark, seductiveness about him that would swallow her whole; body and soul. This was madness!
Shaking her head, her slippered feet slid backward.
His hand tightened on her own.
“Please! You cannot mean it. It cannot be me you want,” begged Corinne as her body leaned backward, foolishly trying to break his grasp.
Lucian turned hard eyes on her.
Only the sound of her own harsh breathing broke the silence in the small chapel as she waited. A trapped bird hoping for release.
His grip slackened. Corinne slipped from his grip and took a relieved step backward, pressing her hands to her pounding heart. Mother Superior would be furious, but she would rather face her wrath than a lifetime bound to this overwhelming man.
Lucian shrugged out of his frock coat, tossing it carelessly over the nearest pew. The thin lawn of his shirt stretched over heavily muscled arms. Nonchalantly releasing a cuff, Lucian began to slowly roll up one sleeve.
“Leave us,” he ordered through clenched teeth.
Both the cardinal and Mother Superior scurried out of the chapel without so much as a sympathetic glance toward Corinne. Lifting the long skirts of her nightgown, she moved to follow them.
“Not you,” he barked.
“Your grace?” she asked timidly.
Lucian rolled up his other sleeve, exposing darkly tanned forearms touched with dark hair. “Your defiance merits a punishment.”
“Punishment?” Corinne choked out, more frightened then she had ever been in her entire young life.