Bridgett tried pushing down her fear as her new husband, Marcus O’Connor, pulled her roughly through the halls of her new home. He was moving so quickly she was having trouble keeping up, but she dared not ask him to slow his pace.
He hadn’t spoken a word directly to her the entire morning, seeming to resent her very presence. The only time he did speak was to give the appropriate answers to the questions asked by the priest at their wedding.
Pushing open a door at the end of the corridor, he hauled her into what appeared to be a bedchamber, slamming the door behind them. The covers on the bed had been pulled back, a bundle of young apple blossoms placed on each pillow, a custom from time immemorial to promote fertility.
Silently Bridgette prayed, asking for the strength to bare what was to come. Having grown up in her grandfather’s house Bridgette was well versed with what happened between a man and a woman. While she herself was a virgin, coupling took place wherever and whenever her grandfather’s men wanted, so long as they didn’t touch her, he didn’t care.
He himself was known to bend a maid over the long table, in full view of everyone, and have his way with her. If one of his men wanted a serving-maid, he pulled her to the side and took her regardless of what was taking place around him.
Bridgette had thought that Marcus would be different, that he’d wait until after the wedding feast, not drag her to bed almost before the ink was dry on the parish papers.
The ceremony had been a simple affair with only herself, Marcus, her grandfather, and the priest in attendance. Throughout the service Bridgette had been afraid that something would go wrong, that Marcus would change his mind or her grandfather would decide he wasn’t going to let the marriage happen. Perhaps that the earth would open up and swallow her into the depths before Father Hillstrand could anoint her union with Marcus and bless it in the name of God.
But it hadn’t. When Father Hillstrand asked, in his strong, awe inspiring voice, if anyone had a reason they shouldn’t marry no one spoke, though she’d felt Marcus’ fingers momentarily stiffened in her own grasp.
After receiving the final blessing, Bridgette turned her hopeful face up to Marcus to receive her first kiss, but he barely brushed her cheek before turning away to sign his name in the parish ledger. When that was done, he unceremoniously passed the quill to Bridgette and moved so she could make her own mark.
As soon as she’d handed the quill to her grandfather, Marcus grabbed her by the hand and pulled her roughly away, dragging her from the chapel, across the misty cobbled courtyard, and into his home. Her home now. O’Connow Lodge.
“Stand over there,” ordered this man, who was now her husband, pointing to the corner by the bed, startling Bridgette out of her inner thoughts.
Quick to obey, she hurried to the spot indicated trying to prepare herself for what she knew was coming. From the cries of pain from some of the girls and the giggles that came from others, she knew the act could be painful or pleasurable, but she had no idea what to expect with Marcus. Would he be gentle with her, understanding that this was her first time? Or would he simply fulfill his needs and leave?
Trembling, Bridgette watched her emerald eyes wide with apprehension, as Marcus, his strong back and broad shoulders turned to her, moved to the bed snatching up the flowers. Violently rendering them into pieces, he threw unceremoniously to the floor.