“What is your name, lass?” The soldier’s eyes searched her face.
The soldier stopped and stared at her. “Not the daughter of Sir Washington? Sister of Gabriel and Jaxson Washington?”
“The very one! You knew them?”
“Aye. Gabriel was my best friend.”
“Yet you still serve his murderer?” Her green eyes sparked and flashed.
“Murderer? Miss, your father and brother, Gabriel were killed in a battle just like this one.”
“And Jaxson returned home maimed. But it was Sir Wallace who pierced my father through and left Gabriel to die on the battlefield.” She raised her voice.
“Anyone engaged in a battle can lose their life or sustain a permanent injury. Surely you can’t hold Sir Wallace accountable for actions in battle.”
“I can, I do, and I will. Now I think it best if we stopped talking and you simply lead on.”
“I’ve just one more question.” His steady gaze met hers. “How many have you killed or left on the battlefield for dead in your quest to find and kill Sir Wallace?”
She stood, her mouth hanging open, but uttered no sound.
He watched as her face crumbled, tears began to pour from her eyes and sobs racked her body. She began to sway and he caught her in his arms before she landed in a heap on the ground.
He held her and stroked her hair. “Ah, you poor lass, revenge can destroy the avenger. I know you’ve been hurt. You’ve lost loved ones and you’ve been grieving, but killing Sir Wallace won’t bring your loved ones back.”
Her sobbing subsided but he didn’t release her. He simply put a finger under her chin and tilted her face up to his. He wiped her tears with the thumb of his other hand. “Where is Jaxson and your Mum? Do they know where you are?”
She shook her head violently. “My mother died giving birth to me. Jaxson is all I have left, but he’s broken. He limps around and does what he can with his remaining hand, but he hasn’t found a way to earn any money. I don’t know what’s to become of us.”
As she looked into his eyes, he lowered his head toward hers and once again claimed her lips in a kiss. This time the kiss was long and passionate. She felt her knees go weak and put her arms around his neck and clung to him, returning his kiss.
When the kiss ended, they both stood trying to catch their breath. Then he looked into her eyes. “Marry me, Alita. I will take care of you and Jaxson.”
She gasped and stepped back. “But I’ve only just met you, and you say you were Gabriel’s best friend. How is it then that you left him on the battlefield to die? You were there, weren’t you?”
His eyes grew watery. “Aye, I was there. I tried to get to Gabriel when I saw the large soldier he was fighting gaining the upper hand, but I couldn’t reach him in time. When I did get to him, it was too late. I held him in my arms as he took his last breath. I didn’t leave him on the battlefield to die. I left him on the battlefield already dead.” Tears spilled from his eyes and he hung his head.
Alita stepped forward, put her hands on either side of his face and pulled his face to hers. She kissed him tenderly. Then she offered him a small smile. “You have asked me to marry you and I do not even know your name.”
“My name is Bertram Weinhold.”
“Well, Bertram Weinhold, I will marry you.”