“She knows.” Charles shook his head and called out for Devon to get back inside. He rushed across the snow and frost and entered the church, but they were too late.
“Tell him to let her go, Crawford.”
“She’s given them little choice, Blackwood.”
Charles slowly edged around Devon and two of Crawford’s men, until he stood between Crawford and the man holding Rhona. He gave a brief indication to stop Tristan and Devon when they would have moved to stand beside him.
“She’s still under our protection. Let her go.” Charles spared a look at Rhona. He couldn’t tell if it was fear or anger he saw. She didn’t struggle, but her eyes darted as though searching for a way to loosen the man’s grip on her arms.
Crawford held up a long, sharp blade. “She was set on driving this dagger into my heart.”
Charles controlled each breath. His mind forced his body to remain calm rather than attack.
“She is to be my wife and no longer under your protection.” Crawford stepped forward, closer to Rhona.
Charles reached her first. His own blade slid through the heavy fabric across the arm of Crawford’s man. He released Rhona into Charles’s arms, who flung her behind him, his own body acting as a shield. Charles pulled a pistol from his belt and pointed it directly at Crawford’s chest.
“That was a foolish choice, Blackwood.”
Tristan and Devon flanked Charles, holding their own guns on Crawford’s men.
Devon leaned in and spoke aside to Charles. “I suppose you saw no other way to handle this.”
“Don’t overlook what a skirt and a pretty face can do to a man,” Tristan remarked.
Charles ignored them both, though he appreciated their efforts to gain him both ground and time with their banter, but whatever happened here would not end in laughter.
“If a man wants another man’s wife, he’ll have to kill him first.” Crawford stepped toward Charles until the barrel of the gun pressed against his chest.
Charles held the loaded gun steady, his eyes and hands unwavering. “Don’t doubt it.”
“I don’t doubt you.” Crawford turned his head to look at Rhona, who stood next to Derek and her maid. Rhona’s maid clutched her arm, but it was the look in Rhona’s eyes that surprised him. “She’s promised to me, Blackwood.”
“Promises can be broken.” Charles lowered his voice so it wouldn’t carry throughout the hall. “What will it take?”
Crawford spoke without hesitation. “Marry her.”
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