Authors: Rebecca Winters
The priest pronounced the benediction and made the sign of the cross above their heads. Catherine Rosine Prouet and Jeffrey Alen Norwood were now man and wife. There was a silence. The priest made a gesture.
"Catherine," Jeffrey whispered. "Bend down so I can kiss you.” She leaned over and he tenderly bestowed a kiss on her lips. The priest smiled and slapped Jeffrey on the back. Wine was poured and everyone began toasting the health and long life of the English couple. Father Joachim said something to Miguel, who in turn translated for Catherine.
"He says it’s a pity there cannot be music and dancing which is what our people love to do so well. He says never has he seen such a beautiful bride."
Miguel's eyes were sparkling. "I agree," he added, and exercising his right as best man and honored guest, he pulled Catherine into his arms and kissed her warmly.
The old men laughed heartily. For a little while no one had a care in the world. Jeffrey looked into the faces of these remarkable people. It was probably the most unusual wedding ceremony that had ever taken place, and he loved it! Every second of it.
His eyes fastened on his adorable Catherine. Tonight she had a radiance about her he'd never seen before. He was almost in awe of her. She made his blood pound with desire; at the same time, he wanted to worship at her feet. She was laughing and talking modestly, completely at home with the others. He would have to be content for a little while longer to share her with them.
His thoughts took him back across the ocean to England, to Michael and Philip. There would be so much to talk about when they went home. Yet he felt almost as much at home in this mountain hut among these dark-eyed men as he did at Norwood. Catherine was here. Nothing else mattered. He closed his eyes and tried to quell the violent beating of his heart.
When all the wine was consumed and everyone had kissed the bride, the priest bowed and said he must be going. Catherine and Jeffrey signed the marriage document which he witnessed, then he shook hands with Jeffrey once more before descending the ladder. Luis followed. Miguel turned to Catherine.
"Luis and I will stay at the other hut for two days. Then we will come back and you and your husband can move up there. Bolt the door after us and do not build any fires till we return. Do not light any candles. If the pigs come snooping, they will think the hut is deserted.
“There’s a gun over the fireplace. Tell the Commander it’s loaded." He finally smiled. "May you always be as happy as you are tonight."
"I want you to be happy too, Miguel." She followed him down the ladder and fastened the bolt after him. The sounds of the mule's hooves grew faint. There were embers smoldering in the fireplace.
She looked all about her in the last dying light of the fire, then took the mantilla from her head and slipped out of her clothes. Miguel had found an old robe of Maria's for her to wear. She slipped into it and fastened the belt, marveling at the intricate embroidery Maria had embellished.
Catherine folded her clothes and put them in the trunk. Her hand lingered on the worn blue dress she'd taken from the priory. Was it only yesterday? Crossing herself, she sank to her knees.
Jeffrey sat up in the bed, and waited for her to come to him. Time passed and still there was no sign of his new bride. He knew without being told that she would be praying.
"Jeffrey," she whispered. He turned his head and watched her approach. She was wearing a black robe which came barely to her knees, held together by a simple belt. It revealed her long, slender legs. In the candlelight her skin gleamed like satin and the flush on her cheeks and throat was like the dusky pink tint on a half-opened rose.
She came over to the side of the bed. "Ours has to be the most unique of wedding nights, my darling.” She smiled. He stared as if he had never truly seen her before. His hand reached out and rested on her hip. The soft skin was warm beneath the thin material. She felt his touch and gazed at him with loving eyes. There was a thickness in his throat. For a moment, he couldn’t think. His hand passed down her leg. Catherine knelt beside him.
"Here, let me help you," she said, easing his pant leg over the cast. His hand cupped her chin. "I should be helping you, not the other way around."
She gazed at him through the heavy black lashes. Her eyes were purple in the dying light and they shone with a lustre that rivaled the stars he could see through the open window. "Everything about us has been different right from the beginning," she answered in a tremulous voice. "Perhaps-- perhaps it isn't proper for me to be saying this to you, but I've longed so for this moment."
"Catherine—“ His brilliant blue gaze fused with hers. "You gave up a whole other life to become my wife. I pray you'll never regret that decision."
"How could I regret what was destined to be from the very beginning? I'm your wife now and forever. I want nothing else." Her voice broke.
They looked with love and longing deep into each other's eyes. Jeffrey blew out the candles. She came to him then. They reached out to each other with that eagerness and joy only those who truly love can experience, and the passion which had been kindled over the passing months now burst into glorious flame. They sought only to bring each other happiness.
In this total giving of themselves, a deeper union was created that would withstand all the trials that still awaited them. One day soon they'd go back home to England, to Michael, to begin their new life as a family. the three of them bound together inextricably by the silken bonds of love.
About the Author
Rebecca Winters, a mother of four and a grandmother of five, has won many awards including the National Readers' Choice Award, the Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award, the B. Dalton Award and has been named Utah Writer of the Year. Right now she’s working on her 148th novel.
A college graduate and French teacher, she hails from Salt Lake City, Utah, and readers can tell from her books she loves the West. But she also lived in France and Switzerland, and has traveled extensively all over Europe, particularly in England, Spain, North Africa, Italy and Sweden where many of her books are placed. This quote reflects her feelings. “There are so many gorgeous places, fascinating people, beautiful languages, cultures and histories, it's like trying to choose from a fabulous smorgasbord every time I start to write a new story. The tastes, smells, sights, music--all of it speaks to me. Every time!"
Visit Rebecca at her website,