The Snow White Bride

Free The Snow White Bride by Claire Delacroix

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Authors: Claire Delacroix
Tags: Medieval, Highlands
virginal. She guessed from what she had witnessed of Alexander that he would wed her promptly if he believed he had claimed her maidenhead.
    She eased him aside, cut her finger, and let the blood drip onto the linens in the middle of the mattress.
    The three younger sisters were dispatched then, and the men disrobed Alexander. Madeline and Vivienne shielded Eleanor from the men’s view as she discarded her own garb. The men left the chamber with averted gazes; then Eleanor was alone with the two elder sisters.
    “He is a good man,” Madeline assured her, then kissed her cheek.
    “So long as you do not deceive him, he will strive to make you happy,” Vivienne said, then kissed her other cheek.
    Eleanor did not think it prudent to note that cutting her finger was a deceptive beginning to their match from any perspective.
    “He will be fine on the morrow?” she asked.
    Madeline chuckled. “He is as hale as an ox. This sleeping draft will leave him with no more than an aching head.”
    “As if he had savored too much of the wine,” Vivienne agreed. “Do not fear for him.”
    Alexander snorted and rolled over to his back, then began to snore with gusto. The sisters laughed, then scurried from the chamber with Eleanor’s garb, closing the door behind them.
    The key turned in the lock and Eleanor folded her arms across her chest. Their footfalls and whispers faded from earshot, but she stood long in the same place.
    Once alone in a locked chamber with a man, she could not help wondering at the folly of what she had done.
    * * * * *
    T he snow had stopped and the sky was clear outside the window of Kinfairlie’s laird, the stars shining brilliantly. The air was icy, prompting Eleanor to shiver. She crossed the floor with measured steps, the wood cold beneath her feet, lured by the temptation of a warm bed.
    Alexander slept like a dead man, and Eleanor knew there was no chance of her awakening him soon. The red of her own blood glistened against the white of the linens, taunting her with the import of her deed.
    By this time on the morrow, Alexander would be her wedded spouse. They would meet abed in truth. She would be his possession and she would have many years to learn whether her glimpse of his nature this night showed the truth or not.
    It was, in many ways, a fearsome prospect.
    Eleanor pulled back the coverlet and looked more boldly upon Alexander than she would have the audacity to do when he was awake. He was, as she had suspected, finely wrought, and something deep within her thrilled at the prospect of coupling with a man who was neither aged nor fat.
    Alexander was muscled, evidence that he actively trained at arms. The last vestige of a tan faded from his hands and face. There was a dark tangle of hair upon his chest and a darker one somewhat lower, a finer smattering of dark hair on his forearms and legs. His thick ebony lashes would have served any woman proudly, but there was no doubting his gender. She studied his firm lips, still slightly curved in sleep as if he dreamed of some hilarious jest. It was his merriment that beguiled her, his humor in contrast with his thoughtfulness.
    She stood a long time and gazed upon him. Reassured that he did not waken or move or expire, she stretched out on the bed alongside him. She ensured that she did not touch him at any point despite the chill in her limbs.
    But no sooner had she pulled up the coverlet than Alexander curled up behind her. Eleanor stiffened in shock as he slipped an arm around her waist, her eyes flying open. He grunted and pulled her closer, coaxing her back against his chest, her buttocks against his thighs.
    She stiffened, startled, and waited for the amorous assault that would surely come. But the moments passed, and Alexander did not seize her breast or force his erection against her.
    Indeed, he did not seem to have an erection. His breath stirred her hair, his breathing slow and deep. And he was warm, blessedly warm. His lips were against

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