Teeth chattering, I press my hands to my stallion's back, rubbing gently. Her warmth helps my frostbitten fingers. The wind has picked up, bringing rain, hail, snow- anything nature desires to throw at me to make it harder to get to MacCallan.
Lachlan and I haven't said a single word in over an hour, although I have the distinct feeling he's thinking of ways to kill me. Having left unprepared for this journey due to my stubbornness, we're both suffering from the decision.
"I'm sorry," I whisper. "I wasn't expecting the storm- to be this miserable... I needed to get back though."
"Why the rush? Does he not trust ye to come back?"
"He didn't trust you to let me go."
There's silence and then, "Yet here I am..."
I close my eyes, garnering the courage to tell him the news I must before we arrive in Inverness. "I have something to tell you. I don't know if anyone has yet but I suspect not."
"What is it?"
"Knox is dead."
The stallion stops moving. I turn my face, finding him staring down at me in shock.
"A few weeks ago. He was caught in an ambush."
"Christ, Gillian, ye should have told me!" he gasps accusingly.
"I'm sorry. A lot has gone on since then," I reply sternly, turning away from him.
I release a breath of relief when Star reluctantly begins to move forward. We travel in silence for a good while until he murmurs quietly, "Did he suffer much?"
"Yes... he suffered."
"Why was he caught in an ambush? Where was it? Was he alone?"
I look forward, swallowing. "I don't know much of the details."
He stops the horse again. "Aye, ye do!"
"It's not your business. It's not mine either."
"So, I'm to be left in the dark? He was a friend of mine, Gilly, a good friend. Taught me almost everything I know. I'd like to ken what happened!"
I touch Star's mane lightly, exhaling shakily. "He went to retrieve MacCallan from the battle. They were on their way back when they were robbed. They both barely made it out with their lives. They walked half a day's journey, bleeding until we got them."
When he doesn't answer me, I begin to fear for the consequences of keeping this from him. I turn, slowly, looking up at him. His lips, usually full and smooth, are pressed into a thin line. He shakes his head.
"You're tellin' me he died to save a complete stranger? A traitor? And ye let him go do it?"
I'm defensive immediately. "I had no idea he went! Greer sent him and he did it willingly! MacCallan tried to save him but by the time-"
"It was too late... Oh, Gillian, the horror that accompanies that man!"
"Don't you dare speak of him, Lachlan," I snap, bravely, without so much as a blink. He stares down at me, red-faced from chill. "You have no idea what kind of person he is. He's kind and considerate and loving. He truly loves me."
"I worship you, Gillian. Ye ken it."
Chuckling softly, I shake my head in dismay. "I don't want to be worshipped. No one wants that! I just want to be equal. I want to wake up each morning and not fear to be belittled or chastised or beaten for something I say. I want a partner for life, who will hear what I have to say each day, no matter how insignificant, and smile. Who will fight with me when I'm angry without moving towards me in malice... That is what I want, Lachlan, and as hard as you could try to be that for me, I know it wouldn't last."
YOU ARE READING
Two very different worlds. Two very different men. And one woman who has to choose between the life that she knew and the one that lies ahead... ----------------------------------------------------------------- Gillian Clarke finds herself thrust...