After bidding farewell to his family and Trint, the man he’s come to care for, Rafe heads out to sea, free to be himself for the first time in his life—free to learn himself, away from the constraints and trials of his mother, away from the terrible person he believed himself to be while forced to live with her.
When Rafe returns home his family is waiting for him—but there’s no sign of Trint. With a little push from his ward, Rafe decides to be bold and go after what he wants, though he fears in the end that all his efforts might still not be good enough to overcome the past and the secrets that have controlled so much of his life.
I am so excited to share this scene. Rafe is reminiscing about a childhood memory. It’s a little sad but it also shows some insight into Rafe himself. Read and enjoy!
Rafe stared at the sleeping face of Niel, still amazed that this child would come into his care if anything should happen to Raquel and her husband. The joy that filled his chest hurt so much. That they would trust him with someone so important. And not just Niel, but Nasta too.
Rafe closed his eyes, arms protective around the sleeping babe, and remembered another time when someone trusted him.
Lord Cinderston’s sun kissed skin was pale, his eyes glassy and unfocused. To see the man Rafe considered his father brought low by fever left Rafe cold and with the fervent wish he’d be allowed to leave the room. Except Lord Cinderston had called for him.
Startled, Rafe took a step back, the door a hard expanse behind him. Lord Cinderston stared at him, face blank.
“Rafe.” Lord Cinderston raised a hand, fine tremors shaking the too thin arm. “Come here.”
Unable to resist, Rafe stepped away from the protection of the door. His steps were slow, more of a shuffle, until he stopped beside Lord Cinderston’s bed, a small stretch between them.
“Rafe. My son.” His fingers touched Rafe’s cheek. They were cold. “I need you to promise me.” He sucked in a ragged breath, then released it, the sound rattling in his chest. “Promise me you’ll take care of your mother and sisters. You’re the man of the house now.” He swallowed, his breathes shallow and quick.
Rafe nodded. “I promise,” he whispered.
Lord Cinderston leaned back on the pillows, his fingers slipping away with barely a touch on Rafe’s cheek. His eyes were haunted. “I know Raquel is your blood sister, but treat Greta…” He gasped and spluttered. “Treat Greta as you would Raquel. Protect them both, but keep a close eye on my Greta.”
Rafe nodded again and, though he was afraid, he took Lord Cinderston’s hand between his own. “I’ll watch over everyone.”
Rafe rose and stood beside his bed, the dagger clutched tight as he waited for some indication that they were searching his ship. Who they might be, he wasn’t sure. They shouldn’t have been too far into unclaimed water, and as far as he knew, no pirate or enemy to their kingdom would attack so close to claimed water, but he could be wrong. There was always a chance for some war to crop up, even in these peaceful times.
The fighting sounded to have stopped not long after he woke, but Rafe waited until there was a knock at his door, and Captain Manis poked his head into the room, before moving, following him onto the deck to take stock of the damage.
“This shouldn’t have happened,” one of the men whispered as he hefted a body and placed it into a pile near the bow of the boat.
Rafe didn’t say anything as he cast a glance at Captain Manis. His mouth was pinched, eyes hard as he led Rafe to a group of men, no older than boys, and stopped, arms crossed as he scowled at the defiant figures. Rafe waited, but when Captain Manis didn’t say anything, he stepped forward.
“Why have you attacked our ship?” His gaze skimmed the group before him, taking in the trembling forms. After a quick perusal, he settled on one of the men whose eyes darted from side to side. Rafe knelt before the man, clasping his jaw in a firm hand. “Why have you attacked our ship?”
The man glanced from side to side again, but none of his fellows would look at him or speak up. With a deep breath, the man spoke in a small, childlike voice. “It’s our right.”
Rafe lifted an eyebrow. He must not have heard correctly. “Excuse me?”
Ann Anderson enjoys long walks through wooded areas, hunting zombies, and stealing treasure from space pirates. Only the first happens in real life. Besides allowing her imagination to run rampant, Ann loves editing and is glad she’s been able to make a small career of it while following through with her other passion of writing. Her cats can attest to both passions as they enjoy knocking the laptop from her lap and claiming the space as their own whenever Illinois weather drops to a reasonable degree.
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