The Maiden (Montgomery/Taggert 12) - Page 31

One moment Jura was standing still and the next she was leaping at him with her hands made into fists. “You injured my friend Cilean merely for your lust?” she screamed at him. “You broke my engagement to Daire because of your japing lusts?”

He caught her as she flew at him, his back hitting the stone wall. He was so angry at her, insanely angry, viciously angry, but the moment he touched her his anger turned to desire. He enveloped her in his arms and his mouth crushed down on hers, and Jura responded to him, her body seeming to try to make itself dissolve into his. Her arms went about his neck, pulling him closer as her mouth opened under his. Her anger, her despair, her loneliness turned into desire for him. She was his to do with as he would.

Suddenly, he pushed her from him and Jura went sprawling onto the hard stone floor.

“We must talk,” he said through his teeth.

He was panting like a hard-run horse as he looked down at her. A beam of sun came through the arrow slit and lighted the back of his head. “I curse you, Jura,” he said, his jaw hard. “I made a vow before God that I’d not touch you and I will not.”

Jura was trying to recover her senses. “We are married now,” she said. Whatever problems she had with his logic, she had none with her wanting of him.

“Then you must beg me,” he said.

“I must what?” she said, rising.

“If you want me in your bed, you must beg me.”

Jura blinked at him. “Is this one of your English customs? Do you make your soft Englishwomen beg? Is that a way to further humiliate them and to make yourself feel powerful? Lanconian men need not make their women grovel. Lanconian men are men.”

His anger was back and he took a step toward her then moved away, rather like one did when one moved too close to a fire. “I made a vow to God and I will not break it. Now, we have things to discuss.”

“I have nothing to discuss with you,” Jura said, and started for the door.

He caught her arm but released it instantly. “Sit,” he ordered.

With a shrug, Jura obeyed.

Rowan turned away from her and began pacing. “However it happened, through what mean turn of fate, you and I are married. I could dissolve the marriage if the circumstances were different, if I were not half English and therefore suspect or if you were not related to Geralt. But I cannot release us from this marriage; therefore, we will have to make concessions. Tomorrow I leave to go to the Vatell tribe to talk with their leader and you must go with me.”

Jura stood. “I most certainly will not.”

Rowan stood in front of her and leaned down until his nose was nearly touching hers. “I do not trust you to not try to gather an army to put that loud, arrogant brother of yours on the throne. I will have you near me—both of you—so that I can see what you are doing.”

“Or is it that you do not want the people to think you cannot take your wife’s virginity,” she said softly. She could feel his breath on her lips.

His eyelids lowered. “I can take it all right, make no mistake of that.” He glanced down at her lips and back to her eyes. “But I will not.”

She moved away from him. Whatever his stupid English reasons were for rejecting her, he was doing just that, rejecting her. It was another reason in her long list for hating him. “I will remain here and—”

“No!” he said loudly. “Whether you want it or not, you are my wife and you will act as such. If you do not share my bed, you will share my room, or tent, as it may be. I will let nothing stand in my way of uniting the tribes. If the people want to see me with my virginal wife, then they will see me—and I will be able to see that you do nothing evil behind my back.”

“If I put a sword through you, it will be in your heart not in your back.”

“I assume that is meant to ease my mind,” he said dryly.

“Take it how you want,” she said, glaring at him, then her expression turned to curiosity. “How do you plan to unite the tribes? Conquer them?”

Rowan moved away toward the window. “In a manner of speaking. I want to marry them to each other so that in a couple of generations they will be so interbred they will not know which tribe they are. They will only be Lanconians.”

Jura smiled at him. “And how do you plan to do this? Ask them to marry people they hate?” Her smile disappeared. “You know nothing of us. The tribes would die before giving up their identity. Why don’t you go back to your England and leave us in peace before you cause a war—if you live that long?”

“And will you return with me?”

Jura was aghast. “Live in England, where the women must beg the men for their favors?”

Rowan opened his mouth to explain but closed it again. “I will not try to explain to you. Your duty is to obey and nothing else. You are to go with me as I travel across Lanconia and nothing else. I want no advice from you nor any comments. You are to be a proper wife.”

“An English mouse, you mean,” she said. “You will find a Lanconian woman not so easy to subdue as your pale English dolls. I will go with you. What does it matter? I will be a widow by the next full moon.” She turned on her heel and left the room.

Tags: Jude Deveraux Montgomery/Taggert Historical
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