The Dark Lady
Van must learn to combine the knight she used to be with the wife that she must now become.
Peter must learn that old fears die hard but they must be released if he is going to have a good life with his new bride.
Vanessa Fordella should have grown up in luxury and ease with a father that doted on her and loved her. Instead her mother stole her away and forced her into the life of a boy. Becoming Van instead of Vanessa was so easy for her she was sent to page training at Grayweist Castle. Large for a girl and uneven of temper it didn't take her long to make herself known. She rose through the ranks quickly and was sent into battle. She risks her life to save Peter Lawston and in return for her courage and honor King Henry II bestows her with knighthood making her The Dark Knight. For years she enjoyed being a dangerous and deadly knight until one day a message tore her beloved world apart. At her mother's dying request she agrees to marry.
Peter Lawston goes home from the war with ideas of a simple and peaceful life. Peter has always had an ordered and controlled life and he wants to keep it that way. Pain and betrayal from when he was a child dictates the kind of man he is and the kind of wife he will allow himself to have. When his father grows ill Peter reluctantly agrees to marry a woman he has never met. As the carriage draws up to the castle Peter is hoping for a shy and controllable wife. What arrives instead is Van, a six foot tall Amazon of a woman with pent up rage and aggression who doesn't know the first thing about being docile or obedient.
Peter and Van fight and struggle for power and control of the relationship. They fall in love quickly but her secret past is always a strain between them. Peter doesn't want to give up his idea of a perfect wife and struggles to turn her into what he wants. Van has always been the one in control and is used to getting things her way. She doesn't know how to let go of the knight that she has always been and struggles to become the woman and wife that she is expected to be. Both must give up their difficult past if they hope to have any kind of a future.
She was still in full battle garb and the chain mail hauberk glinted in the sun coming through the window of the small room. Most of the blood had been washed away at the small stream where they had rested their mounts in the frantic rush to get to her mother’s side, but it was still apparent. Van rubbed at the large blood stain and tried to regain composure.
Patricia Fordella smiled and whispered so low that Van had to drop down beside her bed to hear her. “This is my last wish. I want you to marry. I want grandchildren.” She coughed deeply, a thick wet sound as breath wheezed in and out of her lungs. “I may never get to see them but I want them.”
Van’s mother slipped farther away with each labored breath. Emotions were not something The Dark Knight was willing to deal with and she struggled to stay in control.
“Your father has changed. He now has two sons and he wants to make up for the past. Please Love. Let your mother die happy. Promise me.” Her voice was a bare wisp. Her eyes closed.
“Yes mother.” Van answered reluctantly through gritted teeth. Patricia’s voice became nothing more than soft breath on Van’s cheek. The words were more felt than heard as she leaned in close to her overly warm face.
“Thank you. I love you…You will make a good wife, a good mother.”
Van watched helplessly as her mother's eyes drifted shut. She pulled the limp, frail body against the hard metal of her protective chest plate. Tears stung her eyes as she felt for the breath that no longer filled her mother's sickened lungs. She held the lifeless body tightly to her and took a slow deep breath against her mother’s hair.
The sweet smell of roses that had always surrounded her mother had been replaced by the pungent aroma of sickness. Van had always loved the smell of her mother, it had made her feel like she was home the way nothing else ever had. The chest plate suddenly seemed too tight and much too heavy.
Van trembled. She could feel the knot of tears swelling in her throat but she refused to cry. She took shallow gulping breaths around the lump that had lodged in her throat. With each labored breath she shoved her tears away. She pushed away the pain, burying it deep inside, where she had hidden her feelings ever since she was little.
Dr. Burgess gave her a gentle shake. "Van ...." Van couldn’t respond. She was not in control and her breathing was still labored. She did not trust herself to speak. "Van.” He gave a more urgent shake. "Van, let her loose. Let me see to her."
Vanessa Fordella, who thought of herself as Sir Burgess, The Dark Knight, Van, but never Vanessa, gently laid her mother down onto the bed. Tears swam right behind her eyes blurring her vision, but she refused to release them. Her heart still thudded within the tightness of her chest but her breathing was calm and her armor no longer threatened to crush her to her knees.