01 - Chapter 1 - A Daughter's Secret
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A Daughter's Secret 



Chapter  1





July 1107

"Oh no! Wha' am I goin' ta do?" Maryse's whisper was barely audible. Her vivid golden eyes were full of disbelief and shock. What was she going to do? She hadn't been feeling well lately, and now she knew why. She was carrying a babe, Duncan's child.

Maryse knew it had been na´ve of her, but she hadn't considered this possibility before now. Oh, she should have--after all, she and Duncan had lain together, even if only that one time. Well, once had obviously been enough. Now she was going to become a mother. But what would her own mother say about this, not to mention her father! How could she tell them about her child, when she had never told them about her husband?

She managed to walk out of the garderobe and sank into a nearby chair. Pressing a damp cloth to her forehead, she considered the past few months. Falling in love with Duncan McLain had never been something she'd planned--it had just happened. A few glances, some chance meetings, rides into the hills, clandestine kisses, and thenů Then her brother Ardry had been killed, and one of Duncan's father's men had been responsible. Maryse could still remember her father ranting at Castle Culdi, all but threatening a blood feud in his grief. She and Duncan had known that asking their fathers for permission to marry would have been pointless, and might only have made things worse. But they weren't willing to give up on being together. Duncan had suggested a secret marriage--after all, it would be much harder for their parents to oppose their marriage if it had already taken place.

'I want to marry you, Maryse', he'd said. 'My father won't agree now, and I don't want to wait for months or years until he would. If we marry now, they can't do anything to stop us'

'But who'd hear our vows, Duncan? Ye know that there's no priest here as would.

'God will. He's the only witness we can trust.'

So they had secretly exchanged their vows in the deserted Culdi chapel. They had spoken their vows with only the light in the Presence Lamp to hear them. Maryse had given him a golden shiral crystal that she had long worn around her neck. In lieu of a wedding band, Duncan gave her his cloak clasp, the McLain lion's head, made for him by his father. Into the back, they placed the band of braided hair that Maryse had made a few days earlier. The consummation had come afterward, in the stable hayloft; not as pleasurable as Maryse had hoped, but still nice- a prelude to the joys they would have after their union was publicly known. She and her parents and sisters had ridden away from Culdi the next morning. Maryse had neither seen nor heard from Duncan since. Now she wondered how she would tell him that their love had made a child.

Despite her worries, she couldn't help starting to dream about this baby. Would it be a son or a daughter, what would they look like?



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