The velvet promise. by: Deveraux, Jude. Publication date urn:acs6: velvetpromise00deve:epubdb65fccdfd-cac Author: Deveraux Jude. downloads Views KB Size Report v The Velvet Promise Jude Deveraux "Never Will I Belong To You!. Read "The Velvet Promise" by Jude Deveraux available from Rakuten Kobo. Sign up today and get $5 off your first download. All of England rejoiced on her.
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Read online or Download The Velvet Promise (Velvet Montgomery Series #1) ( Full PDF ebook with essay, research paper) by Jude Deveraux. Product Details. Read online or Download Velvet Promise (Full PDF ebook with essay, ePub Bud - Download Free "Jude Deveraux" ePub eBooks for the. Read The Velvet Promise by Jude Deveraux for free with a 30 day free trial. Read unlimited* books Download. Ratings: Rating: out of 5 But Judith vowed that her husband would get only what he took from her! At the flower-bedecked.
He could use her beauty to his advantage. You will marry and give me grandsons. Judith stared at him in shock. All her life she had been trained by Helen for life in a nunnery.
Not a pious education of prayers and chanting, but one of high practicality, leading to the only career open to a noblewoman. She could become a prioress before she turned thirty. A prioress was as different from the average woman as a king from a serf. A prioress ruled lands, estates, villages, knights; she bought and sold according to her own judgment; she was sought by men and women alike for her wisdom.
A prioress ruled and was ruled by no one. Judith could keep books for a large estate, could make fair judgments in disputes, and knew how much wheat to grow to feed how many people. She could read and write, manage a reception for a king, run a hospital; everything she would need to know had been taught her. And now she was expected to throw all of this away and become the servant of some man? I will not. For a moment, Robert Revedoune was bewildered.
No female had ever defied him with such a firm look before. When he recovered from his shock, he hit Judith, knocking her halfway across the little room. Even as she lay there, a trickle of blood running from the corner of her mouth, she stared up at him with absolutely no fear in her eyes, merely disgust and a touch of hatred.
His breath caught for a moment at what he saw. In a way, the girl almost frightened him. Helen was over her daughter in minutes and, as she crouched there, she drew her eating dagger from her side.
His wife was a woman he could understand. For all her outward look of an angry animal, he saw weakness deep in her eyes. In seconds he grabbed her arm, the knife flying across the room. Helen never said a word, only crumpled at his feet. Robert looked back at his daughter where she still lay, not yet able to comprehend his brutality. Now what is your answer, girl?
Do you marry or not? Judith nodded briefly before she turned to aid her unconscious mother. The tower had been built two hundred years before this wet April night in Now was a time of peace, a time when stone fortresses were no longer needed; but this was not the home of an industrious man.
His great-grandfather had lived in the tower when such fortifications were needed, and Nicolas Valence thought, if he sobered long enough to think, that the tower was good enough for him and future generations. A massive gatehouse looked over the disintegrating walls and the old tower.
Here one lone guard slept, his arm curled around a half-empty skin of wine. Inside the tower, the ground floor was littered with sleeping dogs and knights. Their armor was piled against the walls in a jumbled, rusty heap, tangled with the dirty rushes that covered the oak plank floor. This was the Valence estate; a poor, disreputable, old-fashioned castle that was the butt of jokes throughout England.
It was said that if the fortifications were as strong as the wine, Nicolas Valence could hold off all of England. But no one attacked. There was no reason to attack. All that remained was the ancient tower, which everyone agreed should have been torn down, and a few outlying farms that supported the Valence family. There was a light in the window of the top floor. Inside, the room was cold and damp—a dampness that never left the walls even in the driest summer weather.
Moss grew between the cracks of the stone, and little crawling things constantly scurried across the floor. But in this room, all the wealth of the castle sat before a mirror. Alice Valence leaned toward the mirror and applied a darkener to her short, pale lashes. The cosmetic was imported from France.
Alice leaned back and studied herself critically. She was objective about her looks and knew what she had and how to use it to its best advantage.
She saw a small oval face with delicate features, a little rosebud mouth, a slim, straight nose. Her long almond eyes of a brilliant blue were her best feature. Her hair was blonde, which she constantly rinsed in lemon juice and vinegar. The hood was of a heavy brocade, trimmed in a wide cuff of orange velvet. Alice opened her little mouth to once again look at her teeth. They were her worst feature, crooked and a bit protruding. Over the years she had learned to keep them hidden, to smile with her lips closed, to speak softly, her head slightly lowered.
This mannerism was an advantage, for it intrigued men. It gave them the idea that she did not know how beautiful she was. They imagined awakening this shy flower to all the delights of the world. Alice stood and smoothed her gown over her slim body. There were few curves to it.
Her small breasts rested on a straight frame with no hips, no indentation to her waist. She liked her body. Her clothes were lush, seeming out of place in the dingy room. Close to her body she wore a linen chemise, so fine it was almost gauze. Over this was a luscious gown of the same heavy brocade as the hood. It had a deep, square neck, the bodice fitting very tightly to her thin frame. The skirt was a gentle, graceful bell. The blue brocade was trimmed with white rabbit fur; a deep border along the hem, and wide cuffs around the hanging sleeves.
About her waist was a belt of blue leather set with large garnets, emeralds and rubies. My lady, you cannot go to him. Not when you are— To marry another? Alice asked as she fastened the heavy cloak about her shoulders.
She turned to gaze at herself, pleased with the result. The orange and blue was striking. She would not go unnoticed in such an outfit. And what has my marriage to do with what I do now?
Alice gave a short laugh as she adjusted the folds of the heavy mantle. Do you want me to ride out to meet my intended? Dear Edmund? Before Ela could reply she continued. I know the way and, for what Gavin and I do, we need no one else. Ela had been with Alice for too long to be shocked. Alice did what she wanted when she wanted. No, I will go. But only to see that you come to no harm. Alice ignored the elderly woman as she had all her life.
She took a candle from the heavy metal holder by her bed and went to the iron-banded oak door. Quiet, then, she said over her shoulder as she eased the door back on its well-oiled hinges.
She gathered the brocade gown in her hand and threw it over her arm. The night was clear and cool, and, as Alice knew they would be, two horses waited for her and her maid.
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Alice smiled as she threw herself into the saddle on the dark stallion. Later, she would reward the stableboy who took such good and proper care of his lady.
My lady! Ela whined in desperation.
But Alice did not turn because she knew that Ela was too fat to mount the horse by herself. Alice would not waste even one of her precious minutes on an aged and useless woman—not when Gavin waited for her. The river door in the wall had been left open for her. It had rained earlier and the ground was wet, yet there was a touch of spring in the air. And with it came a sense of promise—and passion. Go, my black devil. Take me to my lover. The stallion pranced to show he understood, then stretched his front legs long and straight.
It knew the way and ate up ground at a tremendous rate. Alice shook her head, letting the air blow against her face as she gave herself over to the power and strength of the magnificent animal.
Gavin, the hooves seemed to say as they thundered on the hard-packed road. There were many ways that the muscle of a horse between her thighs reminded her of Gavin. His strong hands on her body, the strength of him that made her weak with desire. His face, the moonlight glinting on his cheekbones, his eyes bright even on the darkest night. Ah, my sweet, careful now, Alice said lightly as she pulled back on the reins.
Now that she was nearing the trysting place, she began to remember what she had so carefully tried to forget. This time Gavin would have heard of her impending marriage, and he would be angry with her. She turned her face to catch the wind directly. She blinked rapidly until the tears began to form. Tears would help. Gavin always hated tears, so she had used them carefully during the last two years. Only when she desperately wanted something did she resort to the trick; thus it did not grow thin from overuse.
Alice sighed. Why must men always be treated so gently? He loved her, therefore he should love what she did, however disagreeable to him. It was a useless hope and she knew it. If she told Gavin the truth, she would lose him.
Then where would she find another lover? Oh yes, she would use tears or whatever else was needed to keep Gavin Montgomery, a knight of renown, a fighter without equal…and hers, all hers!
Because Edmund was an earl. He owned land from one end of England to the other, estates in Ireland, Wales, Scotland, and, it was rumored, in France as well.
Of course Alice could not know exactly the extent of his wealth, but she would. Oh yes, when she was his wife, she would know. Alice had a passion for the handsome Gavin but that did not cloud her judgment. Who was Gavin Montgomery? A minor baron—not rich, but poor.
A brilliant fighter, a strong, handsome man, but he had no wealth—not compared to Edmund. And what would life with Gavin be? The nights would be nights of passion and ecstasy, but Alice knew well that no woman would ever control Gavin. No, no woman would ever control Gavin Montgomery. He would be as demanding a husband as he was a lover. She pushed the horse forward. She smiled as she straightened the gold brooches, one on either shoulder, that held the flamboyant mantle in place.
He loved her—Alice was confident he did—and she would not lose his love. How could she? What woman came close to her in beauty? Alice began blinking rapidly. A few tears and he would understand that she was being forced to marry Edmund. Gavin was a man of honor. The only part of him that moved was a muscle in his jaw, flexing and unflexing.
The silver moonlight glinted off his cheekbones until they looked like knife blades. His straight, firm mouth was drawn into a severe line above a cleft chin. His gray eyes were black with anger, almost as black as the hair that curled about the neck of the wool jacket. Only long years of strenuous training as a knight allowed him such rigid outward control. Inside, he was seething. But his pride held him back. This meeting with her had been arranged weeks ago, so he forced himself to wait until he could see her again, hold her again and hear her tell him, from her own sweet lips, what he wanted to hear.
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She would marry no one but him. Of that he was sure. He stared across the emptiness of the night, listening for the sound of hoofbeats; but the countryside was silent, a mass of darkness broken only by the darker shadows. A dog skulked from one tree to the next, eyeing Gavin, wary of the silent, still man.
The night brought back memories of the first time he and Alice had met in this clearing, a wind-sheltered place open to the sky. In the day a man could ride past it and not notice it, but at night the shadows transformed it into a black velvet box, only big enough to hold a jewel.
Gavin had met Alice at the wedding of one of her sisters. Although the Montgomeries and the Valences were neighbors, they rarely saw each other.
He cared little for his estates; he lived—and forced his wife and five daughters to live—as poorly as some serfs. It was out of a sense of duty that Gavin attended a wedding there, as a representative of his family actually, his three brothers having refused to go.
Out of the dung heap of filth and neglect, Gavin saw Alice—his beautiful, innocent Alice. He could not at first believe she was one of the family of fat, plain daughters. She was perfect; blonde hair, blue eyes, a little mouth that he ached to make smile. Later, he had to plow his way through men to get to her side. His violence seemed to shock Alice and her lowered eyes, her soft voice had mesmerized him further. She was so shy, so reticent that she could hardly answer his questions.
Alice was all and more than he could hope for—virginal yet womanly. That night, he asked her to marry him. She gave him a startled look, her eyes like sapphires for a moment. Then she lowered her head and murmured something about needing to ask her father. Nothing Gavin said could make Valence change his mind. Gavin left in disgust, furious at being thwarted from having the woman he wanted.
He had not ridden far when he saw her. Her hair was uncovered, the setting sun making it glow, the rich blue velvet of her gown reflecting her eyes. Alice tried to hide them, but he could feel them as well as see them. In minutes, he was off his horse, pulling her from hers. One minute he was comforting her. The next, they were here, in this secret place, their clothes removed and in the throes of passion. He did not know whether to apologize or rejoice.
Sweet Alice was no serf to tumble in the hay; she was a lady, someday to be his lady. And she was a virgin. Of that he was sure when he saw the two drops of blood on her slim thighs. His gray eyes were black with anger, almost as black as the hair that curled about the neck of the wool jacket. Only long years of strenuous training as a knight allowed him such rigid outward control.
Inside, he was seething. But his pride held him back. This meeting with her had been arranged weeks ago, so he forced himself to wait until he could see her again, hold her again and hear her tell him, from her own sweet lips, what he wanted to hear. She would marry no one but him. Of that he was sure. He stared across the emptiness of the night, listening for the sound of hoofbeats; but the countryside was silent, a mass of darkness broken only by the darker shadows.
A dog skulked from one tree to the next, eyeing Gavin, wary of the silent, still man. The night brought back memories of the first time he and Alice had met in this clearing, a wind-sheltered place open to the sky. In the day a man could ride past it and not notice it, but at night the shadows transformed it into a black velvet box, only big enough to hold a jewel.
Gavin had met Alice at the wedding of one of her sisters. Although the Montgomeries and the Valences were neighbors, they rarely saw each other. He cared little for his estates; he lived—and forced his wife and five daughters to live—as poorly as some serfs. It was out of a sense of duty that Gavin attended a wedding there, as a representative of his family actually, his three brothers having refused to go. Out of the dung heap of filth and neglect, Gavin saw Alice—his beautiful, innocent Alice.
He could not at first believe she was one of the family of fat, plain daughters. She was perfect; blonde hair, blue eyes, a little mouth that he ached to make smile.
Later, he had to plow his way through men to get to her side. His violence seemed to shock Alice and her lowered eyes, her soft voice had mesmerized him further. She was so shy, so reticent that she could hardly answer his questions. Alice was all and more than he could hope for—virginal yet womanly. That night, he asked her to marry him. She gave him a startled look, her eyes like sapphires for a moment. Then she lowered her head and murmured something about needing to ask her father.
Nothing Gavin said could make Valence change his mind. Gavin left in disgust, furious at being thwarted from having the woman he wanted. He had not ridden far when he saw her. Her hair was uncovered, the setting sun making it glow, the rich blue velvet of her gown reflecting her eyes. Alice tried to hide them, but he could feel them as well as see them.
In minutes, he was off his horse, pulling her from hers. One minute he was comforting her. The next, they were here, in this secret place, their clothes removed and in the throes of passion. He did not know whether to apologize or rejoice.
Sweet Alice was no serf to tumble in the hay; she was a lady, someday to be his lady. And she was a virgin. Of that he was sure when he saw the two drops of blood on her slim thighs. Two years! Two years ago that had been.
If he had not spent most of the time in Scotland, patrolling the borders, he would have demanded her father give Alice to him. In fact, if need be, he would go to the king with his plea. Valence was unreasonable. Alice told Gavin of her talks with her father, of her begging and pleading with him, but to no avail. Gavin had been insane then.
He could refuse her tears nothing, so he sheathed his sword and promised her he would wait. Alice reassured him that her father would eventually see reason. So they had continued to meet secretly, like wayward children—a situation that disgusted Gavin. Yet Alice begged him not to see her father, to allow her to persuade him. Gavin shifted his stance now and listened again. Still there was only silence. Chatworth paid the king an enormous fee so that he would not be called upon to fight in any wars.
He was not a man, Gavin thought. Chatworth did not deserve the title of earl. To think of Alice married to such as that was beyond imagination.
He was beside Alice instantly and she fell into his arms. Gavin, my sweet Gavin. She clung to him, almost as if in terror.
He tried to pull her away so he could see her face but she held him with such desperation that he dared not to. He held her close to him, murmuring endearments in her little ear, stroking her hair.
Tell me, what is it? What has hurt you so? She moved away so she could look at him, secure in the knowledge that the night could not betray the lack of redness in her eyes.
Is it true then? She sniffed delicately, touched a finger to the corner of her eye and looked up at him through her lashes. My father cannot be persuaded. He said he would—Oh, Gavin, I cannot say the things he said to me. She felt Gavin stiffen. I will go to him and— No! Alice said almost frantically, her hands clasping his muscular arms.
You cannot! I mean… She lowered her arms and her lashes. The betrothal has been signed and witnessed. There is nothing anyone can do now. If my father withdrew me from the bargain, he would still have to pay my dowry to Chatworth. I will pay it, Gavin said stonily. Alice gave him a look of surprise; then more tears gathered in her eyes.
My father will not allow me to marry you. You know that. Oh, Gavin, what am I to do? I will be forced to marry a man I do not love. She looked up at him with such a look of desperation that Gavin pulled her close to him. How could I bear to lose you, my love? You are meat and drink to me, sun and night. I…I will die if I lose you. How can you lose me? You know I feel the same about you. She pulled away to look at him, suddenly happier.
Then you do love me? Truly love me, so that if our love is tested, I will still be sure of you? Gavin frowned. Alice smiled through her tears. Even if I marry Edmund, you will still love me? He nearly shouted as he pushed her from him. They stood in silence, Gavin glaring at her, Alice with eyes demurely lowered. I will go then. I will go from your sight. She was almost to her horse before he reacted.
The Velvet Promise
He grabbed her roughly, pulling her mouth to his until he bruised her. There were no words then; none were needed. Gone was the shy young lady. In her place was the Alice of passion that Gavin had come to know so well. Her hands tore frantically at his clothes until they quickly lay in a heap.
She laughed throatily when he stood nude before her.
His body was hard-muscled from many years of training. He was a good head taller than Alice, who often towered over men. His shoulders were broad, his chest powerfully thick. Yet his hips were slim, his stomach flat, the muscles divided into ridges. His thighs and calves bulged muscle, strong from years of wearing heavy armor. Alice stepped away from him and sucked her breath in through her teeth as she devoured the sight of him. Her hands reached for him as if they were claws. Gavin pulled her to him, kissed the little mouth that opened widely under his as her tongue plunged into his mouth.
He pulled her close, the feel of her gown exciting against his bare skin. His lips moved to her cheek, to her neck.
They had all night, and he meant to spend his time making love to her. Alice said impatiently as she drew away sharply. She flung her mantle from her shoulders, careless of the expensive fabric.
You are too slow, she stated flatly. She was eager for him as he was for her. What if she did not want to take too long before their bodies were skin to skin? He did not think then of leisurely loveplay or kisses. Alice was beneath him, urging him on. Her voice was harsh as she directed his body, her hands firm on his hips as she pushed him, harder and harder. Gavin at one time worried that he would hurt her, but she seemed to glory in the strength of him. Immediately afterward she moved from beneath him, away from him.
She had told him repeatedly this was because of her warring thoughts as she reconciled her unmarried state with her passion. Yet he would have liked to have held her longer, enjoyed her body more, even perhaps made love to her again. It would be a slow lovemaking this time, now that their first passion was spent. Gavin tried to ignore the hollow feeling he had, as if he had just tasted something but was still not sated. I must leave, she said as she sat up and began the intricate process of dressing.
He liked to watch her slim legs as she slipped on the light linen stockings.
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At least watching her helped some of the emptiness dissipate. Unexpectedly, he remembered that soon another man would have the right to touch her. Suddenly he wanted to hurt her as she was hurting him. I too have an offer of marriage. Alice stopped instantly, her hand on her stocking and watched him, waiting for more.
He has no daughter—only sons, both of them married, Alice said instantly. She stared at him. A young girl named Judith, younger than her brothers. I heard she had been prepared by her mother for the church.
And you have been offered this Judith to marry? Why would he offer to—? She stopped, remembering to conceal her thoughts from Gavin. He turned his face from her, and she could see the muscles in his jaw working, the moonlight glinting on his bare chest, still lightly covered in sweat from their lovemaking. Why would he offer such a prize to a Montgomery? Gavin finished for her, his voice cold. Henry had declared the entire family traitorous and then set about breaking up the powerful family.
He had done so well that only now, one hundred years later, was the family beginning to regain some of what it had lost.
But the memories of the Montgomery family were long, and none of them cared to be reminded of what they had once been. For the right arms of my brothers and myself, Gavin said after a while. The Revedoune lands border ours on the north, and he fears the Scots.
He realizes that his lands will be protected if he allies himself to my family. One of the court singers heard him say that the Montgomeries, if they produced nothing else, made sons who lived.
So it seems I am made an offer of his daughter if only I will give her sons. Alice was nearly dressed now. Your eldest son would be an earl, and you when her father dies. Gavin turned abruptly. It was strange that Alice, who cared so little for worldly goods, should think of it first.
Then you will marry her? Alice asked as she stood over him and watched as he hastily began to put on his clothes. The offer only came two days ago, and then I thought— Have you seen her? Seen her? You mean the heiress?
Alice clamped her teeth together. Men could be so dense at times. She recovered herself. She is beautiful, I know, Alice said tearfully. And once you are wed to her, you will never remember me. Gavin stood quickly. The woman talked of their marriages to other people as if they made no difference to their relationship.
I have not seen her, he said quietly. Suddenly the night seemed to be closing in on him. He wanted to get away—away from the complexities of women and back to the soundness and logic of his brothers. Alice frowned as he took her arm and led her to her horse. I love you, Gavin, Whatever happens, I will always love you, always want you. He quickly lifted her into the saddle. You are cruel, Gavin, she said, but there was no sound of tears in her voice. Am I to be punished for what is out of my hands, for what I cannot control?
He had no answer for her. Alice bent forward and kissed him, but she knew his mind was elsewhere and this frightened her. She pulled sharply on the reins and galloped away.
For all that their property had been stolen from them by a greedy king, these walls remained theirs. A Montgomery had lived here for over four hundred years—since William conquered England and brought with him the already rich and powerful Norman family.
Over the centuries the castle had been added to, reinforced and remodeled until the fourteen-foot-thick walls enclosed over three acres.You will marry and give me grandsons.
You know I feel the same about you. This time Gavin would have heard of her impending marriage, and he would be angry with her. I will be forced to marry a man I do not love. One minute he was comforting her. Now was a time of peace, a time when stone fortresses were no longer needed; but this was not the home of an industrious man.
I…I will die if I lose you. Judith nodded briefly before she turned to aid her unconscious mother.