IV. Hellfire and Damnation

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Three years ago...

"'Tis a grand weddin'," Ned commented beside Alex. Barto nodded beside him.

Both of her cousins looked utterly young and handsome in their expensive suits. Their hair was far from their usual messy mane, tied neatly behind their nape. But they looked very uncomfortable.

Alex, on the other hand, could not feel the same. She regretted wearing her breeches underneath the blue gown, but it was a price to pay for the odd wonder and satisfaction she felt now.

Alex felt like a princess as she stood in the entrance of one of the largest churches in Wickhurst and she did not know when she would ever be given this chance to experience something as grand again.

Her eyes looked ahead, down the aisle where a group of men were standing. She recognized William, the Lord of Wakefield, the groom. He looked utterly distraught as he listened to five men surrounding him, all of whom with dark hair.

She smiled as she recognized one of them. Levi Everard. He had been with the twins when they came to Meriwether.

But it was not Levi who happened to turn his head and glance at her.

Alex was not certain why as she was not quite sure who it was, but her heart leaped when she discovered that one of the Everard brothers was gazing at her.

She looked behind her. There was no one else there. He was looking at HER.

"Oi," she said to her cousins, tearing her attention away from the handsome Everard. "Watch yer speech from this moment on, aye? We dinna want anyone recognizin' us. We've robbed quite a lot of 'em gentries in the past."

Knowing that one particular Everard still had his eyes on her, she turned and ushered her cousins to the side.

*****

It did not take Ralph Everard long to reply. In fact, he did so very willingly and with relief in his tone he said, "Of course not, Peters. Be my guest."

Alex gasped and gaped as the only Guard amongst the Everards stepped aside to give way to one of his fellow Guards on the ground.

She took a step back but the footman had suddenly grew strong and blocked her path.

Alex could picture the sneer on the servant's face. Ralph, on the other hand, seemed rather indifferent and looked almost impatient. He would rather have this over with as fast as possible!

"But—" she started, but the Guard had already reached her and grabbed her arm. "Oi! Careful, ye bleedin' little toe-rag!"

Everyone was taken by surprise when she suddenly twisted her arm and sent the Guard flat on his back on the ground. And before anyone could jump on her, she jumped on Ralph Everard.

Although he towered her for almost a foot, she managed to wrap an arm around his neck and point a dagger at his side. She had not been fighting with her cousins all her life not to master the move. She had done it countless times, once even with her father. The latter did not end well for her, but it had given her a tremendous lesson.

"Good Lord!" the footman shouted in horror as Alex pulled Ralph away from the group, determined to escape.

Her eyes flickered to the side to see the butler and three other footmen running toward them from the entrance of the estate.

"Put down the weapon, bandit!" Peter shouted, jumping from his horse. The other Guard let go of Siege and Alex let out a loud whistle and her mare lifted her front legs and galloped away.

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