Lord Tristram’s Love Match by R.R. Vane
Present time, 1174
Judith supposed she was weak and foolish to welcome the touch of a man set on humbling her. She’d not only let Tristram take her maidenhead last night, but she’d also shamelessly revelled in their lovemaking. And it was as if she’d unlocked the door of a forbidden chamber she could no longer close.
At present, Tristram, who plainly thought himself her master, was gazing upon her chastened behind. His fingers were boldly tracing the stripes his punishing belt had left upon her skin yesterday.
“So?” Judith asked, unable to contain her anguish. “Will you punish me now?”
Tristram’s fingers were now no longer touching her reddened skin. When she gingerly sat up, he yawned as he stretched his hard body, and Judith, who’d never seen that beast which was called the leopard, but who’d seen painted images of it, supposed he now looked just like a leopard. It was perhaps not fitting that the De Brunne banner was an eagle soaring. It should have been a leopard passant.
Tristram didn’t answer, and she found herself staring at him in vexation.
“Husband?” she queried.
“Not now. Later,” he replied, beginning to comb his tousled fair hair with his fingers.
Judith had the urge of reaching out to do that for him, but stopped herself in time. She frowned to herself, because, while her bottom felt much better than she’d thought it would, it still smarted when she sat down on it.
“Later,” she muttered with a sigh. “Later… when?”
He shrugged, unconcernedly, and Judith knew he was doing so because he wanted to taunt her. Judith had already become resigned she would have to submit to her husband’s punishments. However, she didn’t see why she should submit to his taunts.
“I’d rather you did it now, to get it done and over with,” she said, although the moment she spoke the words she realized she’d given Tristram the perfect excuse to torment her.
“I bet you would,” Tristram grinned in full malice.
The next thing he did though took her by surprise, and she didn’t even have the time to catch her breath as, lightning-fast, she found herself lying face down over his lap.
“You are defiant, wife,” Tristram chided, as he began to rub her bottom. “And to cure you of your defiance, methinks I’ll punish you both now and later.”
But Judith didn’t have the time to say anything further, as Tristram’s large hand came swiftly to spank her bottom. The spank he delivered wasn’t hard, but Judith instantly gasped in surprise under it. Her bottom was still quite tender from yesterday. And she began to understand how foolish she’d been to goad her lord to spank her now. He would reduce her to tears in a matter of moments. And Judith understood, with a thumping heart, he may want to use the same belt he’d used yesterday. She bit her lip, hard, coming to see she’d not thought this through.
Tristram’s hand now caught her sit spots, which caused a mightier burn than before and a treacherous, ignoble stir in her sex. She attempted to feel ashamed of it, and failed.
The punishing hand had blissfully stopped, and Judith felt disgusted with how grateful she now was that he’d desisted.
“You were saying, wife?” he asked in a silky voice.
Judith hated herself for what she would say next, but there was no going around this.
“I erred. It’s best you spank me later,” she muttered, now simply revelling in the warm weight of his large, rough hand upon her behind.
Smack. Suddenly, Tristram’s hand was no longer still, as he delivered a volley of rapid spanks on her very tender behind, which instantly brought tears to her eyes. Mercifully though, he let her off without continuing what he’d started, and yet again Judith hated herself for the strange, unseemly feelings which rose inside her. This was punishment, but in her feverish mind this ignoble chastisement had already turned into strange love play.
She sniffed, rubbing her bottom in an undignified manner, while Tristram perused her with his dark eyes. There was undisguised heat she read there, and she simply blushed, lowering her gaze.
“Tonight I’ll finish what I started,” he let her know and his voice sounded hard, quite at odds with the liquid warmth in his eyes.
She nodded, dejected, thinking upon the very different way he’d treated her when they’d first wed. At first she’d thought him the most wondrous, kindest man who had ever lived. But then her mother had made her see what he was in truth. Or so she’d thought. Because at this moment she was older and different than she’d been. And she had come to see her mother hadn’t been right at all times. Still, she recalled what she’d seen with her own eyes, and anger came back in full blazes. Tristram now meant to punish her fiercely for lying to him. But who would ever punish him for lying to her as he had during their marriage?
As soon as she was dressed, she went to see her mother, trying to look calm and unconcerned, so Lady Fenice wouldn’t worry unduly. Judith already feared yesterday’s events had made her mother’s mind even more frenzied and melancholy than it had been of late.
“He’s plucked you,” her mother said abruptly, casting her a sad, appraising look, just as soon as Judith entered the solar where Lady Fenice spent all her time.
Judith placed the tray she’d been carrying on the table by her mother’s side, saying nothing.
“I saw it from my window, how he dragged you after him in the inner bailey. I couldn’t see what happened next. Did he beat you?”
Judith shrugged, replaying the punishment she’d received at her husband’s hands. It had been a harsh spanking, yet she had to be honest to herself. It hadn’t been a beating. She opened her mouth to tell her mother that, apart from a sore bottom, she was unharmed, but her mother didn’t let her speak.
“My poor daughter!” she muttered with a chagrined expression on her face.
“You needn’t worry…” Judith started, but yet again, her mother didn’t let her finish.
“He beat you and then he ravished you. So like a man!”
“He didn’t ravish me!”
For a moment, to Judith it seemed her mother’s voice was disappointed, but she decided her mind was playing tricks on her.
“Of course,” her mother said with a mocking smile. “I had forgotten. He is a clever fiend, that one. He’s finally tricked you into lying with him.”
Judith took a deep breath, telling herself it was only of late her mother had become so distraught and troubled. Or… The nagging thought which hadn’t let her be for many months came back to haunt her. Or was it that her mother had always been distraught and troubled, and Judith was only now beginning to grasp it? How could it be? Judith decided, whatever the truth, her mother loved her dearly and had always wished the best for her. She always worried over her daughter, as she should.
“We should escape as soon as can be, you and I,” her mother went on, and it seemed she wasn’t talking to Judith, but to herself. “To go to my sister. And then who knows, perchance I’ll get to see my beloved home in Aquitaine before I die.”
“Aunt Edith cannot aid us now. She’s supported Eleanor, just as we did, and Eleanor is vanquished. She will probably have to go into exile. And, Mother, you have not left these chambers in several years, not even to walk through the bailey. How will you be able to undertake such a long journey?”
Her mother sighed.
“I have been ailing. I will get stronger though, and we will be able to leave this accursed place!”
Judith said nothing at first. For many years she’d thought her mother was suffering in her body. But in the last year she had come to finally understand it was not her mother’s body that was ailing. A year ago, Judith had prevailed upon her mother to have one of the greatest physicians in the land call upon her – a man reputed to have studied the art of healing in the Holy Land. And the healer had told the truth of it to Judith. There was no affliction of the body which plagued the lady Fenice. She was just heart-broken and forlorn.
“I do not think this place is accursed,” she decided to tell her mother gently, as she was pouring her a goblet of watered wine. “It has always been my home. And you’ve not received news of your kin there in many years. Besides, our people are here and we have a duty to them.”
Her mother scoffed.
“Not my people. Just Englishmen.”
“I call myself an Englishwoman,” Judith countered in the same gentle voice as she’d employed before.
She had already expected her mother wouldn’t understand, but she hoped the lady Fenice would become reconciled with the way things were. Tristram might hate Judith now and might want to exact his revenge upon her, but he had his own honour, and he would never harm or mistreat her mother. Lady Fenice would be safe here – safer and happier than in a convent. As for Aquitaine, Judith doubted her mother would indeed ever be able to make the journey, no matter how hard she wished for it.
Her mother’s harsh laughter took her by surprise. Lady Fenice had always been gentle and soft-spoken, and it seemed strange that today she was behaving so unlike herself. But Judith decided the castle’s surrender had increased her mother’s distress.
“It’s clear you have no wish to get away. My poor daughter, you lust for the fiend! I always knew it,” her mother said with that peculiar, harsh laughter.
Lustwas not a word Judith ever recalled her mother to have used. She blushed, lowering her eyes. Nevertheless Lady Fenice was right. Her mother knew her well. Judith attempted to conjure up guilt for her own weakness, and she recalled, with flushed cheeks, the brazen, heated coupling she and Tristram had shared last night. She should feel guilty for her ignoble enjoyment of all of it, and even guiltier for the shameful way she’d felt this morning as she’d lain defenceless across her husband’s lap. Yet she simply found she couldn’t feel guilty.
“All will be well, Mother. We’ve not been driven from our home,” she said, now belatedly recalling the letter she’d once received from the bishop’s chancery which had stated her marriage to Tristram had been annulled.
In the turmoil of events which had unfolded, she’d not had the time to think upon it. But now as she was able to do so, she shook her head in sheer puzzlement. How could a chancery clerk have erred so grievously?
She recalled the day she’d received the letter, and how she’d told herself she should be happy her marriage to a man who didn’t and couldn’t ever care for her was done and over with. And how she’d strived to put Tristram away from her mind. She’d failed though – miserably. His face and voice had forever haunted her dreams. And now they were together again. Judith attempted to tell herself she should look upon this only with bitterness. Yet it was not only bitterness she conjured up whenever she thought of Tristram.