XXXIV. So Long

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Two years ago...

"Ye watch," she strongly told Ned and Barto. "Ye watch how I do it," she reiterated.

"We can handle this carriage, Lex," said Barto wryly.

"Nae, ye can't, ye fools. Did'ye forget what happened a fortnight 'go?" she asked. "Ye messed up the last time 'n we almost died!"

"The driver simply had good reflexes!" Ned defensively shouted.

"They got away, that's what it was—after almost runnin' over us'll!" she snapped.

"They knew bandits lurk 'round—"

"Shh!" Alex said, raising one hand. "It's comin'."

The three of them waited in silence as the sound of the carriage neared.

"Now, Lex!" Ned hissed beside her.

Alex looked around. There was no one else in sight and the carriage was slowing down as it turned around the bend.

"Wait," she murmured under her breath, holding back Siege's reins.

Just as the carriage had fully turned and was about to pick up speed, Alex kicked Siege's side and the horse galloped out of their hiding place, surprising the carriage driver and the two horses.

"Oi!" she greeted the driver as Ned and Barto jumped from behind the large rocks to calm the horses and tie the driver as she proceeded to the carriage window.

Still atop Siege, Alex reached out to tap on the carriage door with a proud look on her face. "Good evenin'!" she shouted in greeting, knocking on the door again. Ned and Barto rolled their eyes as they watched, their hands on their hips, the driver now securely bound.

Alex wiggled her eyebrows at her cousins. They ought to know by now that perfect timing was everything.

"Oi! Bandit's waitin' 'ere!" she said to the carriage door, chuckling with mirth.

But the smile on her face froze when the carriage door opened.

Bloody hell.

Ralph Everard.


"Can you clearly see my face?" Ralph asked Alex from where he was standing, which was against the door just in case she was considering an escape.

Alex nodded from where she sat, feeling like a prisoner who had no other choice but to confess.

"I am not judging," he told her, his face telling the truth. She nodded once again, gulping. "I am not going to judge." Again, Alex nodded.

But when he added, "And I am not furious," her brows furrowed into a frown of disbelief. "Very well, perhaps disappointed." When Alex raised her brows, he sighed. "Angry. I am angry."

She bit her lips.

"Now, please," Ralph said, drawing her attention back to him. "Would you please tell me what the bloody hell had been going on?"

Alex moistened her lips and opened her mouth to speak. "D'ye remember when I was attacked after escapin' Beechworth?"

With his arms crossed over his chest, Ralph frowned. "You mean when I found you beside the road with a bleeding man?"

She nodded. "Aye. The prisoner who died."

"Yes. What of it?"

"And d'ye remember when we were attacked in Blucksley?"

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