worried her that for the first time in her life, someone else could hold such sway over her emotions.
Even the pain over the mother love she had lost, if indeed the Lady Margaret of Liddell had ever loved her “dear, dear Joan,” even the ever-present ache for a departed father whom she was said to resemble but had never known; even the bitter separation from Marta and her home to come here—all that had been walled up in a tiny, unfathomable inner recess where it touched her not. But this! This sweep of longing, this rush of weakness mingled with joy when she merely laid eyes on a man she had known but a little over a week and, of course, could never hope to keep—by the blessed saints, there were no thoughts, no words, no songs or music to even begin to delve into that unreachable realm!
She sat now alone in the chamber she shared with Constantia and Mary, clothed to go out, full of a delicious meal from another tray the Princess Isabella had sent to her by her own servants with a cheery, little message in French begging her to eat and get well of whatever distemper had seized her and to come at midmorn before the others arrived. Whatever the bland, sweet dish Isabella had sent had been, it had warmed her as much as the note except for the tiny postscript in Isabella’s flowing hand, which read, “And my dearest brother, our Prince Edward, has returned to us from one of his journeys to say he would like to meet his distant cousin, Joan of Kent.”
had moved her to get up and stop the cowardly sulking, to set aside her rushing fears more than all else. It was a challenge from him, albeit a gentle one, and she would not have him think he had bested her, even though—blast the royal, arrogant knave—he had for now.
She had dressed in the second finest of the four gowns Edmund had purchased for her. Though it was rather too fine for a day gown, she knew Isabella always dressed resplendently even during the day, and she intended to show her, and her vile tease of a brother, that she could array herself every whit as elegantly. Marta had claimed this kirtle and
were the most marvelous because they matched and set off her eyes that were the color of Marta’s beloved Scottish heather. The kirtle was a lavender velvet which deepened to gentle purples in the soft folds of drapery clinging at the waist and bosom. As was fashionable, the material, soft as ducklings’ down, molded itself to the swell of her breasts, then to her ribs and flat belly and tiny waist before falling gracefully over her hips. The sleeves were tight from shoulder to extended wrist and from her elbows dangled long, slender bannerets of matching fabric called liripipes.
over the kirtle was of a deeper purple banded with the fur of pure white miniver. If she were to walk outside in the spring sun, of course, the whole ensemble would be too warm, but she would stay in the cool rooms of Isabella’s lofty suite today, and besides, she had felt flashes of chill these last several days, so she could most truthfully say she had not been well.
Her lavender velvet was set off by her favorite silver belt slung low on her hips from which dangled a sweet-smelling pomander ball she had stuffed today with essence of dried lily petals that Lady Euphemia had given her. Her short, slender dagger for use at meals rode over her right hipbone. Beneath her gown, when she walked, white stockings and pointed purple slippers peeked out. She had spent over an hour on her own hair without using either of the two maids the three ladies of her chamber could summon to help. Besides, Constantia and Mary always had the two of them hopping about at their beck and call to fix this or fetch that, and Joan’s toilet was so simple compared to the stylish complexities of the others.
She glanced quickly at herself in Constantia Bourchier’s polished bronze mirror, a gift from some valiant admirer. Aye, her coif looked fine, if a bit unfashionable