He let his gaze travel back to his bride walking stiffly, reluctantly, toward him. For once, Ranulf felt speech was beyond him. She was so much more than he had expected. So beautiful. So clean. She glittered like a bright jewel in a dung heap. For Etherby, no matter how much he loved it, was not much better than one right now.
If only he could say to this magnificent woman, “Go away. Come back in a year. Give me time to build the castle the king has ordered, tear down this rotting hall, teach cleanliness to servants to whom filth is a way of life. Then you won’t have to grit your teeth and square our shoulders as if going into battle as you come to wed me.” But it was already too late. She was here. The wedding was now. And he felt as randy as a billy goat.
He would begin building the king’s castle immediately. The work would distract him from Lady Madeline’s seductive lure. She would find no treason with which to fill the king’s ears, and, like his mother’s attitude toward his father, he was sure the lady would be glad not to have him in her bower, not the way he felt now, the things he wanted to do to her.
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