“I don’t want you to go to Lord Rustin,” Erron blurted as she rushed into Jarek and Kirgan’s shop. Jarek, his father, and Anais were huddled not far from each other just inside the doorway.
As she’d stared out of the window of the loft, her heart thudded with every step of her father’s retreat. He’d hurried away. Norden hadn’t even looked back. What could he be planning?
Was he gone, out of her life, for good? It couldn’t be that simple. He’d told her many times he’d never let her go.
Jarek rushed over and yanked her into his arms. “Love—”
She squeezed him tightly before pulling back. “I just…want to be your wife. I…need to be done with him. I can’t…don’t want to have to tell…” her voice broke on a sob. There was no way she could testify to the Duke of Dalunas about what her father had done to her.
“Shhh…” Her tanner pulled her against him, rocking her gently.
“Your voices carried, my lad,” Anais said softly.
The older woman stroked her back as her fiancé held her and Erron swallowed hard, heart pounding. She crushed her eyes shut and wiped away her tears.
Why didn’t she want revenge on the man who should have never taken her innocence? A man who’s blood flowed through her veins?
She should want him to rot at the work camp, but Erron only wanted to be away from her father. To be with Jarek. And…now she had both?
“He needs to pay for what he did to you,” Jarek said into her hair.
“The lass should have the say,” Anais answered. Her small hand continued to make soothing circles up and down Erron’s back.
She didn’t even know the older woman, but Erron felt cherished already, and that she’d gained not one champion, but three. Family.
Jarek released her and the four of them moved to the living quarters of the two men, separate from the shop front. Her fiancé seated her at the table while his father and stepmother-to-be disappeared into Kirgan’s sleeping room. They emerged moments later, fully dressed and groomed, Anais had gathered her long pale locks into a bun.
Taking a seat across from Erron, Jarek’s father reached for her hand. His deep brown eyes were impossibly soft, concerned. “Lass, what that man did to you is wrong. You have a right to see him punished. The duke is a good man. He would hold a trial.”
Erron shook her head frantically and Jarek scooted his chair closer, throwing his arm around her shoulders and pulling her against his side.
“I just want away from him.”
Kirgan and Jarek exchanged a look but said nothing. Anais put a plate of fresh bread and a bowl of butter on the table. She rested her hand on Erron’s shoulder.
“You two eat and leave the lass alone. She’s made it clear how it’ll be handled.”
Both men protested, but Erron met the older woman’s pale eyes, flashing a grateful smile. Anais caressed her cheek and smiled back.
“You’re here now, lass. You’re safe and soon to belong to my lad. He will treat you right. Love you and care for you.”
The blush lit her cheeks, heating her face, but Erron nodded. She believed Anais. She would finally be a part of a real family. Kirgan and the woman would be like parents to her. Erron could have a mother again. Then she could be a mother. She and Jarek would have children. Her heart skipped a beat.
“Erron, I don’t think—”
“Hush, you.” Anais admonished, cutting off Jarek’s statement. Her tanner’s brow drew tight, but he said nothing. “There are many types of justice,” Anais added softly.
“Including gelding,” Jarek bit back.
“Here, here to that,” Kirgan said.
“I won’t let him touch you again,” Jarek growled, ignoring the glare his stepmother-to-be threw his way for ignoring her.
“That’s enough for me,” Erron said, her voice getting stronger with each word.
Her fiancé crossed his arms over his broad chest, his expression dark. “I don’t like it.”
“Neither do I,” his father echoed.
Erron was cold without his arm around her but she met his brown eyes straight on. “All I want is you.”
His face softened and he caressed her cheek. “All I want is you, too.”
Her heart missed a beat at the sincerity of his tone and the love in his expression. Jarek was all for her. Norden’s angry face popped into her thoughts and she suppressed a shiver. “He’ll come back for me.” Her father was the only threat to her happiness.
Jarek’s words on the ride into town teased her memory. He’d said they would marry quickly.
“Let him come,” Kirgan said, making a fist.
“It won’t matter,” her tanner said at the same time, cupping her face. The intensity of his stare made her cheeks warm all over again. “Erron, will you marry me? Today?”
“Yes,” she whispered, elation washing over her. She grinned.
Kirgan grabbed Anais’s hand, kissing her knuckles before tugging her to his side, arm slung low around her waist. She beamed, her round cheeks pink.
Jarek glanced at the older couple, then back at Erron. “Shall we have a wedding today? Or two?” He winked and his father grinned when Anais giggled.
Erron’s stomach flipped.
She would be married this very day. But when would her father reappear?
TO BE CONTINUED...
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