Eva has a temper as strong as her desire not to wed. Unfortunately, in the 15th century, that doesn’t leave her with many options.
Her guardian, Lord Christopher Ellis, decides that something must be done and sends her to Silverlake Priory – a most unusual place renowned for reforming stubborn young women. Little does he know what he’s getting them both into.
How will Eva cope with the strictest discipline imaginable, corporal punishment and other, more unusual methods used at the Priory to turn hot-tempered girls into obedient young ladies? Will she acquiesce or will she fight Father, Mother and the Sisters every step of the way?
Book 1 of this exciting new series will take you behind the stone walls of the Priory. Join Eva and her friends as they love, laugh, learn, break the rules and are made to accept the consequences… whether they like it or not.
Publisher’s Note: This is a sexually-explicit novel featuring discipline and mild age-play elements in a historical setting. It is a “fantasy” priory and no connection with any actual religion is made. It is intended for adults only.
“Say it.” The man was tall, with broad shoulders and long silvery grey hair. To the naked girl kneeling before him he seemed enormous, with his imposing air and gruff voice.
“F- forgive me Father, for I have sinned. Please p-punish me.” She had lost count of the number of times she had found herself in this precise situation but it never failed to invoke the same feelings of dread, remorse and humiliation she had experienced the first time.
“Assume the position girl, so that I may administer the discipline.”
She knew better than to dawdle. Hastily she crawled to the prie-dieu and knelt down, being careful to position her whole body with care; knees well apart, elbows resting on the desk, hands clasped as if in prayer.
The man observed her closely. She was a plump, pretty thing with thick black hair and a sweetly dimpled arse, which still bore faint traces of her last penance.
He cleared his throat. “Now tell me: why am I doing this?”
“Girls who act as children shall be punished as such,” she began to recite in a faltering voice. “They must understand that their Mother, Father, Brothers and Sisters love them and protect them.”
“And what have you done, my child?” His tone was gentle, forgiving.
She closed her eyes and felt the blush begin, glad he was standing behind her. “I had im… impure thoughts, Father.”
“And did you act upon these thoughts?”
Unable to speak, she nodded.
“I see. It would appear as though your last lesson was not firm enough. Do you remember what I promised would happen to you if you were caught with your hands in your secret place again?”
A single tear escaped her lashes and began to roll down her cheek.
“You did, Father. Father, please…”
“Enough! Not one more word, girl. Wait here. I must fetch my glove.” He tutted. “Such a shame, I had so hoped not to need it this time.”
His footsteps echoed on the stone floor as he left the room to retrieve what she knew would soon be tormenting the bare flesh of her buttocks.
The man returned much too fast for the girl’s liking. In his left hand, he was holding a birch rod. In his right hand, now protected by a glove, he was holding a bunch of freshly picked nettles…
An icy wind was lifting Eva’s cloak and whipping her hair across her face but she barely noticed, so intent was she on biting back her tears.
“We’re getting closer, the lake is just beyond those trees.” Her stepfather, Lord Christopher Ellis, was riding beside her. He was either choosing to ignore her utter despair, or trying to distract her from her obvious misery.
Eva didn’t care. She was still reeling from the news he had presented her with just one day earlier.
“It appears as though we’ll be there long before dusk, which is good. I do dislike unpunctuality. Eva! Are you listening to me, girl?” Lord Ellis didn’t wait for a response from his sullen stepdaughter. “It’s said that they have some of the best wine in the district at Silverlake Priory, which is just as well. This journey is certainly making me thirsty.”
Eva stared at her gloved hands on the reigns of her grey palfrey. The leather was worn and supple. The gloves had belonged to her mother, Lady Eloisa Ellis. A woman so sweet and beautiful, so undeserving of the tragedy that had recently befallen her. What would she have said if she could see them now, if she knew what was happening? Suddenly Eva’s temper got the better of her.
“You are thinking about wine? About wine? How could you?” she stormed at her stepfather. “My poor sweet mother is barely in the ground and you devise this despicable plan for me, and all you are concerned with is your thirst?”
Lord Ellis felt his jaw clench and his fingers tightened on the reigns. He forced himself to take a deep breath before answering. “You are lucky I do not wish to stop here, young lady,” he said grimly. “Riding across country is so much more uncomfortable on a freshly-thrashed seat. You would do well to remember what we discussed yesterday and I can assure you, if you say one more word about the Lady Eloisa, you will sorely regret it. This attitude is precisely why I am taking you to the Priory. You should have been married years ago ? the good Lord knows you are fair enough ? but no man in his right mind would want a wife with a temper such as yours.”
“Which suits me just fine. As it happens, I do not want a husband! And you would not dare strike me.” Eva was no longer shouting but her voice still had a sharp edge to it.
“What you want does not matter, my sweet. You’re a grown woman who has long since flowered and you should have been wed a long time ago. Your lady mother, in her gentle folly, indulged you far too much and now it is up to me to remedy the situation. Girls your age who do not wish to take a husband belong in a convent. It’s as simple as that.”
Except it wasn’t quite so simple. Lord Christopher had married Lady Eloise for her family’s fortune and land. He was her second husband ? her first, Eva’s father, having perished in a hunting accident.
As a young lady, Eloise had been forced by her own father to wed the old Lord Roderick Patten, who was bad-tempered and some twenty years her senior. Their only surviving child was a girl ? Eva ? and Roderick had made no secret of his disappointment over the lack of a male heir. Needless to say, Lady Eloise shed few tears when her spouse passed away and she was delighted when the handsome young Lord Christopher asked for her hand a short while later.
Whilst Eloise had certainly been attractive, she was five years his senior and Christopher had always preferred younger, more delicate women. Eva, therefore, with her long, willowy body, tousled chestnut curls and startling gold eyes, had often caught his eye once she reached womanhood.
“And what if a girl does not wish to have a husband or join a convent?” Eva’s voice broke Christopher’s reverie.
“A girl’s wishes have nothing to do with it. It is a woman’s place to serve. If you do not want to serve a man, you must serve the Lord.”
The sweating sickness had arrived in Dorset suddenly, without warning, and the household had been quite unprepared. Lady Eloise and two servants had succumbed to the illness within days ? once you fell ill with the sweat, there was little one could do but pray.
Lord Christopher had been fond enough of his wife to feel some sadness over her passing, but it hadn’t taken long for an entirely different thought to strike him.
The extravagant manor house and, more importantly, the acres and acres of surrounding farm lands in which he lived with Eva and the servants, had belonged to Lady Eloise’s family for generations. As Eloise’s widower, he was able to remain ? but only until Eva wed. Then her husband would be the new Lord of Pryacre.
The thought of some stranger taking ownership of not only the property and resulting income, but also having unlimited access to his stunning stepdaughter, had enraged Christopher so much that he decided to take action.
For the first time since she had come of age, he was glad that Eva had so stubbornly refused to wed ? and that the Lady Eloise had so indulgently refused to force Eva into marriage. For Christopher had soon decided to take Eva as his own wife, thus securing his rights to Pryacre and giving him the chance to finally bed the woman he had been lusting after for years.
Now there were no obstacles in his path but one. Eva. The girl was beautiful but she had an incredible temper. He could force her into marriage, no doubt, but she would fight him every step of the way and he did not intend to spend the rest of his days with a wildcat. So instead, he devised a plan…
“You see that lake?” They had stopped at a line of ancient oak trees, beyond which a body of water was shimmering in the cool afternoon sun. “Legend has it that a full moon turns the lake to liquid silver, which is why the Priory was named Silverlake.”
Eva’s gaze followed Lord Christopher’s outstretched arm. She glimpsed the lake for a moment before her attention was drawn to the vast, gloomy stone building beyond it. “Is that it?”
Christopher nodded. “Your new home.” He was about to kick his horse back into a trot when her voice stopped him.
“Please. Please my Lord, don’t make me go there.” Her eyes were brimming with unshed tears and she had never sounded so vulnerable. For a moment, all Lord Christopher could do was stare at her. Then he swiftly checked himself.
“As I told you yesterday Eva, there will be no discussion. You are going to the Priory. You will learn obedience and submission and you will be moulded into everything a woman should be. You should be grateful. Many noble born ladies spend time at a convent in order to learn their letters as well as their place. You’re lucky you’re not a common peasant’s daughter, forced to toil in the fields until your back is crooked and your hands bleeding.”
“I want to go home. I’ll do it. I’ll marry. Please. I’d rather marry than go there.”
Christopher inhaled deeply. So far, it was all going according to plan. He watched her for a moment, taking in the slouch of her shoulders, the teeth on her lower lip, the way her gloved hands were clenched on the reigns of her horse.
“Eva, you have been willful and disobedient since the day I first laid eyes on you. You are accustomed to having your own way but not this time. I have heard tell of this place."? Christopher did not tell Eva the truth that the mentions he had heard were always a bit reticent as to the actual details.? All anyone would ever say was that the sisters at Silverlake were unusually effective at producing obedient daughters and wives.?? It was odd, though?? Christopher had been unable to ascertain what Church Order the Priory School was even affiliated with.? He shook his head, banishing the unwelcome thoughts, and continued, "The Father and Sisters at Silverlake Priory have made it their mission to train wayward girls like you and they are expecting you. So you will go. Once you have completed your training, they will let me know and you might be able to choose between a life as a nun or as a wife. But first you must stay there and learn. Do I make myself clear?”
“Yes my Lord.” Her voice was subdued.
“Then let us get on.” With a swift kick to his palfrey’s flanks, Lord Christopher set off.
She had contemplated an escape but it was futile; her horse was slower than his and all the tenants for miles around would be only too glad to return her for a reward rather than shelter her. So it was with a distinct feeling of dread that Eva followed him reluctantly.
* * * * *
Up close, the Priory was daunting in its majesty. The door was made of a heavy oak and loomed above them. It appeared to Eva to be at least twice the height of a man. Higher still, an ornate spire reached toward the sky.
Lord Christopher pounded the thick wooden door with his fist and, as they waited, Eva felt an inexplicable urge to hide behind his cloak.
They were greeted by a tall, bony woman whose hair was hidden beneath a wimple. She was wearing a floor-length grey habit and her eyes were cold. ?“Lord Ellis, I presume?”
“You presume correctly. And this is Eva.” He drew the girl forward so as to afford the woman a better view.
“My name is Mother Constance. Please wait a moment while I fetch someone to attend to your horses.”
Eva found she was trembling. The way Mother Constance had looked her up and down without saying a word, before turning back to address her stepfather, had been most unsettling.??
A moment later, two young women scuttled past them. They, too, wore woollen habits, only theirs were a much lighter colour, and their heads were covered with veils, albeit a different kind to the one worn by Mother Constance.
“The novices will take your horses to our stables where they will be fed and watered. You may come with me now.” Without waiting for a response, the older woman turned on her heel and went inside.
Lord Christopher and his stepdaughter followed. They were taken through a large, empty hall and then through a door to the right. ??“This is the cloister,” Mother Constance told them, indicating the square courtyard.? In the centre was a beautiful, small garden, sheltered from the biting wind by the stone buildings on all four sides. ?“As you can see, the cloister gives us access to all four wings of the Priory. And through here is the solar, where Father Bertram is awaiting us.”
Eva had never before felt so helpless. Aside from the two girls who had seen to their horses, she had not yet spotted a single person in the vast building. There was an eerie silence, broken only by the sound of their footsteps as they walked around the courtyard and followed the stern woman through an incredibly ornate door.
* * * * *
The solar was warm and furnished sumptuously, but Eva did not dare to look around. Instead she focused her attention on the large, slightly portly man who had been sitting at a desk, yet rose to his feet when they entered.
“Lord Ellis? It’s my pleasure. I’m Father Bertram. Welcome to Silverlake.”
“Thank you, Father Bertram. This is the girl, Eva.”
Bertram’s dark, hooded eyes travelled up and down Eva’s body and she found herself suppressing a shudder. “I see. This is the hot-tempered child you have brought here to be taught. She doesn’t look very fiery ? more the opposite, in fact.”
Lord Christopher smiled slightly. “I do believe she is currently just a little overwhelmed by the situation. However, I can assure you that Eva does indeed possess a sharp tongue and an impudent nature. No doubt you will find that out soon enough. Goodness knows her mother was quite unable to control her.”
“Were any attempts at discipline made when the girl was young?” Mother Constance had moved to stand beside Father Bertram and now she, too, was looking closely at the girl.
“Not to my knowledge.” Lord Christopher shrugged. “My lady wife, alas, had a soft heart when it came to her only daughter.”
“The rod is spared at the risk of spoiling the child,” Father Bertram mused. “We have a few of those examples here. Unfortunate girls who are not given the proper guidance during childhood. Their guardians never seem to understand that they are doing their wards a disservice by withholding discipline, for the time will come when every girl is of an age to marry. And when that time comes, they soon discover that no man wants a disobedient, rude, choleric wife.”
His eyes moved back to Eva’s face, watching her carefully. “Is she still a maid?” This casual inquiry brought a warm flush creeping up the girl’s cheeks, exactly as he had hoped.
“To my knowledge she is.” Lord Christopher rubbed his chin. “For her sake, I most fervently hope so.”
“Indeed. Well, we will find out soon enough. Mother Constance, please take the young lady upstairs. You know what to do with her. I’m sure Lord Ellis is in need of refreshment after his long journey.”
Eva had listened to them speak of her, as though she had not been standing there in their presence, with mounting horror. She found herself rendered utterly incapable of speech. She wanted to scream, to cry, to throw herself at her stepfather’s feet and beg him to take her home. And yet, under the stern gaze of the three imposing adults in the room, she found her tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth and her throat so dry she feared she would be able to do nothing but croak if she did try to speak.
“Of course, Father. Girl, come along now.” Mother Constance moved towards the door and turned, expectantly.
Eva found herself rooted to the floor with apprehension. For the first time since they had arrived at the Priory, she opened her mouth. “I ? I don’t want to. I want to go home.” She turned to her stepfather. “Please, my Lord, please take me home.”
“Don’t be silly. You’re behaving like a child.” In two strides, Mother Constance had crossed the room and taken a firm hold of Eva’s arm. “We will leave Lord Ellis and Father Bertram alone as they have things to discuss. And you will come with me. I will not ask you again.”
“Go with her. Now, Eva.” Lord Ellis spoke in a tone that brooked no argument.
The girl was clearly outnumbered, but she couldn’t resist one final attempt. “I am not a child! I am a woman grown and I am Lady Patten of Pryacre. And I demand that you take me back there this instant!”
A moment of complete silence followed Eva’s outburst, then Father Bertram broke it with a chuckle. “My Lord, you were not wrong about her temper! I’ll wager you had your hands full with this one! Nevertheless, she has come to the right place. We shall soon teach her how to behave.” ??The Abbot went on to address Eva. “You may be accustomed to getting your own way in the past but that ends today. Unlike your lady mother, we do not believe in sparing the rod. You are not the first recalcitrant chit to be brought here and nor will you be the last. Believe me when I say that you have absolutely no choice in this matter and from this moment on, you will obey every single instruction you are given. Protestations, complaints and defiance will not be tolerated. I would strongly suggest that you accept this situation and follow our rules. Otherwise… well, let’s just say that the more you fight us, the worse it will be for you.” ?He turned back to the woman who was still holding Eva’s arm in a tight grip. “Mother Constance, please continue.”
“Thank you, Father. Come along now, girl, and I would advise you to be quick about it. My patience is worn thin enough as it is.”
With one last helpless look at her stepfather, Eva allowed herself to be marched from the room.
* * * * *
Eva had been dragged most unceremoniously up a long flight of stairs by the stern Mother Constance, and into a small, bare chamber. There was a small window, cold stone walls and no furniture save for a straw pallet in the corner.
“Is this… is this my room?” she asked, horrified.
“Rule number one. You do not speak unless you are spoken to, girl. Now remove your clothing.” Mother Constance glanced at the heavy wooden door to make sure it had closed behind them. Then she crossed her arms and waited.
“Your clothing. Your cloak, gown, chemise and slippers. Take them off. Now.”
“And what will I wear instead?” Inwardly, Eva was quaking, however she was delighted to hear that her voice still sounded calm.
“You will be given suitable attire once you’ve been examined,” the stern-faced woman said coolly.
“Examined? What on earth-”
“Now!” Mother Constance barked. “You have until the count of three, young lady, and if you are not as naked as the day you were born by then, I can assure you that you will sorely regret making such a fuss.”
“How dare you? I am the heir to Pryacre and I will not be spoken to in such a brusque manner. I demand that you take me back downstairs to my stepfather this instant!” Eva, too, crossed her arms then, and glared at the old nun.
When she next spoke, Constance’s tone was calm and she had still not moved an inch.
“Listen carefully to me, girl. Your stepfather has put you into our care. You are here because of your behaviour ? this little outburst is precisely why you were brought to Silverlake. In our Priory, you are Eva. Not Lady Eva, not Queen Eva, just Eva… an impudent, disobedient little chit. All our girls are pupils, nothing more, nothing less. You will not receive preferential treatment. ?Now, you have until the count of three to remove your clothing. I will not ask you again. The only reason I am giving you a second chance is because you have just arrived. Trust me, in the future there will be no second chances. You do as you are told immediately or you suffer the consequences. One…”
“I shan’t.” Displaying more bravado than she felt, Eva took a step back and then sat down on the pallet bed.
There was a long, long pause.
“Very well. I will return shortly.” Mother Constance turned, opened the door and left the room.
Eva’s sense of achievement was immediately blighted when she heard what was unmistakably a bolt sliding across the door.? With a desperate churning in her stomach, she let out a shuddering sigh and curled up on the pallet, still fully clothed.
* * * * *
“Would you care for some wine, my Lord?” Father Bertram rang a little bell and gestured for Christopher to sit opposite him.
“I most certainly would.” Christopher took a seat, admiring the plump velvet cushions on the stools.
The solar was indeed a splendid room. The vaulted ceiling gave it an air of grandeur.? There was a luxuriously thick Eastern carpet on the floor and the colourful tapestries on the walls provided a sense of warmth and luxury. It was a stark contrast to the sombre, bleak ambience in the nave and courtyard.
A young novice in a grey habit appeared, as if from nowhere. “You rang, Father?”
“I did. Fetch us some wine. Our guest is thirsty.”
“Of course, Father.” The girl bobbed a quick curtsy, then vanished as quickly as she had arrived.
The Abbot eyed Lord Christopher thoughtfully. “Surely you are not having second thoughts?” he said, raising a bushy dark eyebrow. “I’ll admit the girl’s pleas were… touching, but that sort of reaction is quite to be expected.”
Christopher was surprised at how astute his host appeared to be. “No, no second thoughts. Although I was rather amazed at her demeanour. I’ve been Eva’s stepfather for a number of years and I’ve never, ever heard her beg. Not for anything.”
Father Bertram chuckled. “Something tells me she’ll be doing a lot more of that before her time here is up.”
“Begging? In what way?”
“Oh don’t look so horrified, my Lord. We do not send our girls out to the village to collect alms, if that’s what you’re worried about. Ah, thank you, Alice.”
Christopher watched the Abbot pour them both a goblet of wine with a large, meaty hand. No sooner had he taken his first grateful swallow, than the girl had taken her leave once more.
“Silverlake Priory has been a convent for well over a century,” Father Bertram continued, pausing only to take a sip of wine. “For most of that time, it was governed by a succession of Abbesses and housed only females who had devoted their lives to the Church ? they were trained as novices for the requisite four years and then took their vows. For many decades, Silverlake nuns tended our lands, helped those less fortunate and were renowned for their outstanding illumination work and transcriptions. It was this reputation, combined with a dire lack of funding for our services, which led to the creation of a sort of finishing school within the Priory.
“A most charming Abbot named Helias came to stay for a while some two score years ago, and told the Abbess that many other religious houses all over the country were being paid to tutor girls from good families ? he suggested that perhaps Silverlake Priory could prosper from a similar arrangement. The Abbess readily agreed. Helias accepted her invitation to remain at Silverlake and the finishing school was born.
“At first the emphasis was purely on providing education for the girls; teaching them their letters, fundamentals of bookkeeping, cooking and so on. But as the school grew more popular, a pattern began to emerge. Helias and the Abbess discovered that almost all the young ladies who were being sent to Silverlake had certain things in common: they were stubborn, disobedient, spoilt and had been sent here by their families as a sort of final resort.”
Lord Christopher noticed with dismay that his cup was empty. He gestured to the jug. “May I?”
Father Bertram nodded. “Of course. Please help yourself.”
“Thank you. Please continue, Father.”
“Luckily, Father Helias had a wealth of knowledge ? he loved to read, you see ? and so he soon came up with a most impressive way to bring those girls to heel, as it were.
“And it worked. The girls who had undergone his rigorous training then returned to their families as obedient, softly spoken, educated young women who knew their place and suddenly found they had no shortage of potential suitors. Their families were delighted. News spread fast and since then Silverlake has acquired quite a reputation of success.”
Christopher smiled. “You did come very highly recommended. May I ask what exactly this training method is?”
The older man returned his smile. “You may ask… but you will not receive a satisfactory answer. Our methods are kept most secret. For a long time, Father Helias and a mere handful of the nuns here ran the school without any additional help. But then the old Abbot grew frail and realised the need for someone to take his place when the time came.
“I had been his apprentice at a monastery not far from here. So he sent for me, I came, and he taught me everything he knew about turning hot-tempered, disobedient young girls into pliant, gentle young women. When Helias inevitably passed on, he named me his successor. And now, here we are.”
Lord Christopher was intrigued as to the "methods" Father Bertram was referring to, but he knew that the Abbot’s lips were sealed as far as that was concerned. He contented himself with asking a different question. “How long does it take? I mean… how long will Eva need to stay here?”
“I must apologise, for I cannot say. Some girls are more easily shaped than others. Some have been ready to return home after a mere six months, others have opted to take vows after all and remain here forever instead of leaving to marry.” Bertram had noticed the undercurrent of impatience in Christopher’s voice.? “Eva is still young, my Lord, and girls are being wed much later than they used to be. Have no fear; she will still be a young and desirable potential wife when she has completed her schooling here. Please forgive me, I have rambled on and on. Would you care for some supper?”
“I would. It’s a long ride home and I must lead her horse as well as my own.”
“Then please allow me to show you to our guest quarters. Do you intend to stay the night?” Bertram frowned at the darkening sky outside.
“I hadn’t expected to do so but now… if it is no trouble.”
“Certainly. I expect you do not need to be told that you must not, under any circumstances, leave the guest quarters. The Priory is full of most impressionable young women and you are still a young man.” The old Abbot winked.