A Bride's Lesson
Arrianna stood before the fireplace wishing she could find the warmth of July in its glowing embers. As she attempted to warm herself she wondered where her maid might be. It was unlike Lucy to keep her waiting. Unused to the trappings of her new life as the bride of Lord Derek of Edenshire, she continued to wait.
Her thoughts drifted to the events of that evening. It had started out well enough; the dinner party that had been arranged to begin introducing her to the gentry of the county was sumptuous and well attended. The ladies were resplendent in their finery, silks in gay colors and perfectly coiffed hair. The gentlemen too were dashing in their brocades and cascading ruffles. The repast was bountiful; the wine was the finest from the vineyards of France. Conversations flowed amongst the music and the soft tinkling of glass and fine china.
Everything was heavenly, until Lord Dinglederry began bragging of his latest acquisitions and his plans to control the copper market by closing the mines he had purchased. Arrianna was immediately incensed. How could he do that to the men who depended on those mines to feed their families? Those poor folks were barely able to exist and something as cold and calculating as Lord Dinglederry’s plans would have far reaching repercussions on all the people in the region.
The only child of generous and doting parents, Arrianna had enjoyed an education unknown to most women of her day or station. She’d learned to read and write. She spoke Latin, French and Spanish. Her love of the arts had been encouraged. She was a skilled musician and a fine artisan. Her station in life had kept her close to the common folk of the region, yet protected from their struggles. She cared for their plight, and with her marriage to Lord Derek she hoped she would be able to assist those less fortunate than herself in many ways.
She listened as Lord Dinglederry droned and bragged of his schemes until she could listen no more. Before she could censor her words or reactions she took aim at Lord Dinglederry and hurled the contents of her water glass into his florid face.
“How can you be such a fool?” she demanded. “Do you have no concern for the people that will be hurt by your horrid greed?”
The room fell silent and Arrianna knew that she’d just made a very powerful enemy. When she looked to Derek, she saw a towering rage in his eyes that frightened her to the depths of her being. Quickly, she stood, apologized to the still sputtering Lord Dinglederry and excused herself from the company present.
Hours later, she continued to ponder the scene her temper had created. What had she seen in Derek’s eyes? ‘Does he still love me after I’ve made such a spectacle of myself?’ she agonized. He was so angry. Were she able, she would gladly do whatever she could to change the situation she had created.
Slowly, Arrianna turned from the fire. It was time for her to retire; her gown and underpinnings were heavy on her small frame. She stepped to the bell chord to summon Lucy, coming up short when she realized she was no longer alone in her chamber. Seated on the edge of her bed was her husband, Lord Derek. She had been completely absorbed in her thoughts and had failed to hear him enter the room.
Still attired in the finery he’d chosen for the evening, Derek was a splendid man. Tall and muscular, his clothing accentuated his attributes. His dark eyes were flashing with anger, and his usually full lips were drawn into a firm line.
“Arrianna, we must talk of the events of this evening.”
“Yes, Derek,” she murmured. “Can you forgive me?” She looked at him, hoping her simple apology and beseeching eyes would put an end to his ire. The look on Derek’s face told her otherwise.
“Yes, my sweet, I can forgive you. Yet, I don’t believe that forgiving you will teach you the lesson you must learn,” he replied.
Arrianna’s heart sank. What does he mean to do? Teach me a lesson? What could that possibly be? She felt her pride begin to flare and along with it, her temper. “Teach me a lesson, Derek?” she scoffed. “And what might that lesson be, pray tell?”
Quietly, Derek sat looking at his beautiful bride. She was trim and small, his hands fit easily around her dainty waist. He adored her raven curls, her lively blue eyes and her bow shaped lips. He knew that beneath the layers of clothing, her skin was creamy and soft, her breasts full and ripe, her bottom smooth and round. She was his perfect woman, and if she was to stay so, she must learn comportment. He wished it didn’t have to be so.
“Arrianna,” he barked, “for the remainder of this conversation you will address me as “My Lord”, is that understood?”
Tears of frustration quickly found their traitorous way to Arrianna’s eyes. Her heart was pounding with anger; a scorching retort hovered on her tongue. Her pride was battling with her good senses. Finally, she was able to utter the words that were commanded of her, “Yes, My Lord.”
“Better,” said Derek. “Now, stand before me, I have some things I wish to say to you.”
Hesitantly, Arrianna moved to situate herself directly before her husband. “Yes, My Lord.”
“This evening’s outburst will be the last time you ever display your temper in public. Do you understand?” he demanded.
“Yes, My Lord, but…”
“Silence,” Derek commanded. “You will not speak unless I permit it.” He glared at her for a moment to be certain she understood.
“Arrianna, I agree with your sentiments whole-heartedly. Lord Dinglederry’s plans are short-sighted and dangerous. Understand that I will do everything in my power to stop him from ruining the lives of the people of this region.”
“But…” Arrianna started to say.
“Ah, ah, ah,” Derek shook his head to quiet her, “I’m still speaking. Arrianna, you must be punished for your outburst this evening.”
Her eyes grew large with apprehension. ‘Punished, punished, whatever for,’ she silently screamed, ‘I apologized to everyone, including that odious man.’ She looked at Derek, wondering if she was free to speak her mind.
“You must understand the gentry have little to do save gossip and speculate. Our marriage created quite the breeze with the wagging tongues. We are being observed and judged in everything we do and say. Your outburst tonight will be the topic of discussion for months to come. It must never happen again. I will not have any one of those arrogant boors think I am unable to control ‘the classless woman’ that I chose for my bride. Do you understand?”
“No, My Lord, I do not,” Arrianna said quietly. “You tell me you support what I said, but you would punish me for saying it? Why?”
“I’m not punishing you for speaking your mind,” said Derek, “only the way you chose to speak it. You must learn that honey draws better than vinegar. Your punishment is to serve as a reminder of that fact, my love.”
Don’t forget to come back tomorrow for the conclusion.