A first kiss is always special. Here is the first kiss between Geoffrey de Montfort and Merryn Mantel in my latest release, Word of Honor. The two young people have just become betrothed, and Geoffrey is scheduled to leave to fight against France.
“So you think you can tell me what to do now? Order me about?” Merryn Mantel’s sapphire blue eyes twinkled with mischief as she leaned against the sturdy oak outside the gates of Kinwick Castle.
Geoffrey de Montfort gave his newly-betrothed a smile. The sunlight fell upon her hair, which spilled in waves to her waist. Usually dark in color, the light brought out burnished red highlights, making it a rich shade of chestnut.
“I assume you understand that our betrothal is a legally binding contract. That we’re as good as married.”
Except for the consummation.
But that would be another few years. At ten and six, he knew he had time to sow his wild oats before making Merryn his.
“I read the contracts, Geoffrey.” He heard the exasperation in her voice.
“Of course, you did. I would expect nothing less from you, Merryn.”
“They said nothing about obeying.”
He hide the smile that threatened to show itself. “I believe that will be a part of our actual vows. I suppose you still have a little bit of time before you become a slave to my every command.”
In truth, he was delighted his wife-to-be could read, thanks to her indulgent father. Merryn’s intelligence and natural curiosity about the world around her had drawn him to her since they were children. Geoffrey knew he was lucky in that theirs would be a love match, a rare exception to most noble marriages. He’d known her practically from her birth since their fathers’ estates adjoined one another.
And looking at her budding figure, it wouldn’t only be his mind attracted to her. When the time came for their true marriage, the physical would play its part in their union. He saw them with many children.
And many nights of making those children.
He came and stood next to her. Lifting a curl, he twirled it about his finger. He studied it with interest, dreading to tell her of the long separation ahead.
“I must return and finish my service to Sir Lovel first,” he explained.
“Will you go to France again before we marry?”
He nodded, reveling in the silky feel of the single curl he toyed with. Longing for the day they would be married and he could bury his hands in her hair. “There are still battles to fight. Crecy is but five years past, and though we have captured Calais, France has yet to capitulate to King Edward.”
“The third of his name to grace England’s throne,” she pointed out. “I have become fascinated with our country’s history.”
“I’ve fostered with Sir Lovel for half a score, first as page and then squire. I hope I shall fight as a knight when I step foot again in France.”
Merryn smiled up at him. “You are already as tall as any of Father’s knights, Geoffrey. You are broad of shoulder and think quickly on your feet. Sir Lovel would be a fool if he does not allow you on the battlefield.” A frown crossed her face.
“What ails you?”
She lowered her eyes to the ground. “’Tis nothing.”
Geoffrey’s fingers lifted her chin till their eyes met. “We have no secrets from one another, Merryn. We never have. ‘Tis nothing but trust that flows between us. I’d know your mind if you’ll but allow me.”
She placed a hand against his chest. His pulse jumped at her touch.
“I fear you may not come home to me,” she whispered.
“You have seen me spar. I’m quick with a sword or mace.” He brought a hand to cup her cheek. “And I know you wait for me. I will return to you, Merryn. Nothing could keep me from your arms.”
Geoffrey slipped his hand to the nape of her neck and held her steady. He bent and brushed his lips next to hers in their first kiss.
He broke the kiss and grinned. “We’ll have plenty of time for love play someday.” He reached down and snatched a few wildflowers. Lifting her hand, he placed them in her palm.
“I know how much you enjoy picking flowers and your herbs. Think of me when you do so each time. Until I return.”
Merryn set the flowers on the ground. She reached and unclasped the delicate gold necklace she always wore and fastened it around his neck.
“I know ‘tis suited for a woman, but you can wear this cross under your gypon. Wherever you go, I shall be close to your heart.”
Her gesture touched him. He brought the cross to his lips and pressed a kiss against it before slipping it under his clothing.
Geoffrey took her hand and brushed his lips against her knuckles before lacing his fingers through hers.
“I promise I shall come home to be your husband, Merryn.” He gave her a wicked grin. “Who knows? Mayhap I shall serve as your slave instead.”
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