When the clock struck seven o'clock on Christmas Eve, Zara was helped into the library to meet the wedding party. She was escorted by old Jasper, and leaned on a cane for support. Her gown was a lovely gold brocade. She imagined herself a princess in such a rich gown. It had been a hand-me-down of Julia St. John's, but so was this wonderful house and the bridegroom who waited for her at the library hearth.
The doors were opened and she allowed Jasper to lead her to the makeshift altar in front of the massive stone hearth. The alter was a high table, and behind it were two chairs, one for her, and one for St. John. They were billed as 'the invalids' to the justice of the peace, and thus the need for him to travel to Huntington Abbey to help them make their vows instead of meeting them at Gretna Green. The library had been festooned with greenery, red ribbons and bright candle light. It was bright and cheery. The scent of cedar boughs, and fresh pine cuttings mingled with the essence of apple cider and cinnamon. Beyond that, the fragrance of roasting chestnuts was an invitation to linger by the fire. As her intended still felt a chill from the day before, it seemed best to sit with their backs to the roaring fire as they spoke their marriage vows.
The only people in attendance were Annie, Jasper, Maggie, the doctor, Mr. Leeds, and the justice of the peace's wife. The middle-aged couple had traveled here to conduct the ceremony, as they were but a few miles from the Scottish border, or so Zara had been told. She believed it was St. John's money more than their invalid status that made the couple rouse themselves from their warm fire and come to Huntington Abbey to conduct the marriage ceremony and then claim it all took place at Gretna Green on ink and paper.
"I now present Mr. and Mrs. Stephan St. John," the justice of the peace said with finality and moved to the side so the seated bride and groom to be seen by their well-wishers.
"I think you forgot something." Stephan said, with all seriousness.
"No, I didn't." The justice replied, appearing perplexed. He pushed his round spectacles up on his nose and looked to his wife for confirmation.
"You forgot to say 'you may kiss the bride'." Stephan reminded the fellow.
A look of consternation passed over the justice's face. "Well, kiss her, sir. Why do you hesitate? You're married, you don't need my permission."
Laughter ringed around them as Stephan lifted Zara's chin with his thumb and gazed into her eyes with tenderness before brushing his lips across hers with a sweet, gentle possession.
As he drew away, he cradled her face between his palms. "Merry Christmas, Mrs. St. John," Stephan whispered with his face inches from hers. "We must make it through the next hours with our guests. It pains me to do so. If you aren't careful, I may devour you this night."
Zara smiled. "I hope so, my gentle beast. If not, I should be sadly disappointed."
Copyright Lily Silver, 2014
So, will Richard McManus be successful in finding a cure for werewolfish, or shape shifting. Will he tame Mr. Leeds? Will he become one himself, and open up that Home for Forelorn Werewolf Bachelors he was talking about?
I hope you have enjoyed this serial romance, and in getting a glimpse into a writer's life, the rough draft posts have been written mostly the week of the post, as an incentive for me to finish this book. It was first began in November 2009, and never finished. I decided that in order to finish it, as I have had so many other projects going on, that I needed to do something to make myself publicly accountable. So, posting a chapter a week has helped. It was tough some weeks, but I made it through. And as you have been so patient, I decided to bring the last part fast and post daily so you could get to the end. Thanks for your support and encouragement.
Lily Silver, Historical Romance Author.