The Law Of Tradition

by Lara Wilson

Marion's father was buried only one day when Guy came to her chamber in one of the towers. He didn't knock and she glared at him, color high on her cheeks.

"Have you lost all manners?"

"I feel no need to ask permission to enter my wife's chambers."

Stunned she could only stare at him, then she laughed, harshly, the sound hurting her ears and her throat already sore from hours of crying. "Are you mad?"

"I should never have let you leave the church, should have claimed you within a week of your flight," Guy replied darkly, his eyes glittering with frustration, his hands clenched at his sides. "But I had hopes, Marion. Hopes that you would come to me."

"I'm not your wife!"

"You became my wife the moment your father and I signed the betrothal documents."

Flustered, she shook her head in instinctive denial. "An old tradition. We did not finish our vows." But even she could hear the uncertainty in her voice.

"It's still the law." He crossed his arms over his chest, making him seem even more formidable, and making her feel increasingly small.

"Prince John's law maybe," Marion argued and when Guy took a step towards her, she stumbled back.

When he spoke next, his voice was low, almost sibilant. "Be grateful, Marion, that it's the law and not just fading custom. With your father's death, who will offer you protection?"

"I can protect myself."

Guys snorted. "You'll become a ward of the Sheriff. The prince will willingly grant his petition. Unless I step forward."

"The Sheriff can have what little I have left," she said brashly, trying to ignore the fear growing in her breast.

"And when he comes for your virtue?"

"He wouldn't dare."

Another snort and another step towards her, but this time Marion held her ground and lifted brave eyes to his. "Do you want to know his perversions, Marion?" Guy murmured. "What exactly he will do to you?"

She swallowed convulsively and shook her head.

"It's a moot point, anyway. You're my wife and I'm going to claim you publically...and here and now." As he spoke, so very seriously, his hands went to the clasps of his jacket and Marion reddened and backed herself against the stone wall. "It's up to you if you wish me to hike your skirts up and take you against the wall like a whore, or if it will be in the softness and warmth of your bed."

The fear fully formed in her and she dropped her eyes from the heat in his, swallowing hard again. "Don't do this, Guy."

He was in front of her, one hand cupping her chin, before she could think to get away, and his surprising gentleness made her tremble. "If not me, it will be him," he stressed, his thumb rubbing across her lower lip. "Don't do that to yourself, Marion."

"Help me escape, then," she begged, losing her composure and raising wet eyes to his dark ones.

"I can't," he swore and leaned down to cover her mouth with his.


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