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K.J. Jackson

Marquess of Fortune, A Lords of Fate Novel 3, (EBOOK)

Marquess of Fortune, A Lords of Fate Novel 3, (EBOOK)

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⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ More than 1,400 five star reviews on Amazon and Goodreads

Steamy Historical Regency Romance

A sheltered existence ripped away.
Coddled her whole life by her father and older sister, Lily Silverton finds herself the sole standing member of her family—her father dead, her sister barely holding onto life after a gruesome attack. Desperate to save her sister from death, Lily finds a beacon of hope in the rogue man that stumbles upon her in the middle of the night.

A chance meeting deep in barren woods.
Garek Harrison has things to do—responsibilities he needs to attend to. Responsibilities that include the need for a good deal of coin. Responsibilities that have nothing to do with the odd woman he meets in the middle of the night, swinging a hammer. But those responsibilities don’t stop him from approaching her. Nor from becoming entangled in the world that threatens to harm her at every turn.

Fortunes altered. 
Thrust together by fate, neither Garek or Lily can deny their mounting attraction. But when forces combine to tear them apart, fate intervenes once more and Lily and Garek must find the courage to fight their way back to each other.

The Lords of Fate series continues. Historical romance with strong women, undeniable men, and hold your breath adventure. Each is a stand-alone story, and can be read individually in any order.

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{ Chapter 1 }

Norfolk, England
January, 1821

His head jerked up.

The crack startled him, echoing through the woods, petering out. Silence.


Loud. Low. A smash. Something solid hitting something immovable.

Garek Harrison cocked his head. He had almost been asleep, his horse plodding along the trail. Looking to the sky, he found the edge of the moon through the tree cover just before a grey cloud slipped in front of it.


A wail. A harpy from the bowels of hell wail. The anguished sound bounced off the trees, suffocating the air about him.




Garek shook a shiver from his spine. Lost. He was utterly lost in this blasted forest, it was still four hours until daybreak, and now he had haunting wails echoing through the woods to contend with.

Nicking his horse forward, Garek searched ahead on the little-used path, hoping against hope that the forest would open up in front of him, producing a village. A cottage. A farm. Anything that would tell him where he was.




The last wail choked off in mid-screech, a sob swallowing the sound.


Garek shook his head. A woman. Definitely a woman—not a harpy ghost haunting the woods.

Against his better judgement, he tilted his head as he pulled his great coat tighter against the chill, trying to pinpoint where the sound originated.


The wails had disappeared, but the cracking didn’t cease.


He tugged the reins to the right. Six more cracks to lead him, and Garek knew he was going in the right direction, the sound much louder, no longer just remnant echoes.

The cracking continued, methodical now. Evenly spaced with no wails, no other noise. It took a half hour before Garek broke through the low brush at the edge of a clearing. A structure stood in the middle of a flat, round area carved into the woods, the ancient white stone glowing in the moonlight.

An abbey of old. Vines attacked the building, leafless thick roots blanketing the walls—fingers from the earth reaching up, slowly returning the stone back to the ground.  

Garek pulled up on the reins, halting his horse as he spied the origin of the sound.

He hadn’t known what to expect—he had just been following the instinct that set him forth after realizing it was a woman in trouble.

This, though. This he never could have imagined.

In the light of the cloud-dotted half-moon, a woman stood, legs wide and braced, swinging with both hands a large blacksmith hammer at the corner stones of the abbey. The flat-topped hammer she held was heavy, and he could see her arms dip with the weight every time she pulled it back over her shoulder to swing.

She seemed to pay no heed to the cold, her black dress thin with the sleeves pushed up to her elbows. A cloak sat bunched on the ground a few paces away from where she beat upon the building. The handle of an even larger sledgehammer was propped onto the stone next to her cloak.

Her hair—not quite blond, but not a dark brown—was pulled away from her face into a half-knot at the crown of her head, a ribbon holding it tight. It fell halfway down her back, long waves that tangled with the hammer every time she set it over her shoulder.

Garek could only see her profile, but even that slight bit told him this woman was beautiful—and trouble.

He stared at her from the edge of the forest for some time—too long for his own liking—debating.

A woman slamming a hammer at an abbey in the middle of the night constituted a firm walk away. Any sane man would agree. Leave her to her hammering. Move on.

But something held him in place. Held him in place and would not let him tug on the reins. Would not let him turn his head—even as he winced every time she swung and hit immovable stone, sending shocks reverberating down her body.

And then he saw it. Saw the very reason that he had stayed in place, attempting to figure this scene out. The clouds had slid off to the side of the moon, casting more light down onto the clearing and reflecting off the thin layer of white frost on the ground.

Blood. Blood dripping from her hands.

How long had she been out here hammering, bleeding?

Garek slid off his horse. He set the reins to a nearby branch and walked into the clearing, keeping a respectable distance from her.

“Excuse me, miss, do you need help?”

She jumped, spinning, the hammer dropping to her side and hitting her calf. She looked down at the hammer, annoyed, and then up to Garek. The annoyance didn’t leave her face. It also did nothing to mar her obvious beauty. Beautiful, but then, he was accustomed to spending his days looking at gaping flesh and broken bones. Still, he could not deny that she possessed an ethereal quality—a glow that rudely awakened his loins.

Wiping one of her bloody hands on her skirt, she turned back to the building, heaving the hammer up over her shoulder. “No, no. No, thank you. I am doing quite well. No assistance needed.”

Garek noted a hint of sharpness in her words, yet her voice was soft and light—almost lyrical—as though she sat in one of the finest London drawing rooms.  

She swung.


Tiny shards of stone went flying, sparking—progress that Garek had not been able to see from the forest. He took a step closer to her.

“Can I ask why you are attempting to destroy this abbey in the middle of the night?”

She heaved the hammer to her shoulder. “I am tearing it down.”


“May I ask why?”



Garek took another step toward her. He was now within her swing. If she so chose, she could bash him, but he was somewhat assured she wasn’t completely crazy and wouldn’t try to hurt him.

No—her anger seemed to be directed solely at the building in front of her.

“Your hands, miss. They are bloody.”

“They are.”


“Perhaps you could stop for a moment so I may look at them?”



“If I cannot convince you to stop—”

“You cannot.”


“May I help you with your destruction?”

She stopped, her arms falling as the hammer slid from her shoulder. She turned to him, and for the first time, truly gave him her full attention. “You would like to help me?”

He shrugged, suddenly questioning his own offer. It was quite clear this woman was a little addled. And fascinating. And set upon injuring herself.

“Yes. If it will lighten your burden. I noticed you also have a sledgehammer with you.” He pointed down the wall of stone to the large black iron hammer. “I see you have already made progress—half of this stone is gone. Perhaps I can work on this corner while you take a moment of rest?”

“I do not want to rest.”

“Then I could work on the corner opposite you?”

Her eyes narrowed at him, searching his face. “Why? Why would you help me? You do not know me.”

“I am Garek. Garek Harrison. And your name?”

“Lillian Silverton.” Her head cocked to the side, suspicion still deep in her furrowed brow.

“And now I know you, Miss Silverton.” Garek walked to the sledgehammer, removed his great coat and then picked up the long wooden handle. He moved back to her, lifting the hammer to balance it on his shoulder. “Shall I start here?”

Her bottom lip jutted out, staring at him. “Over there.” She pointed to the other corner at the front of the abbey. “You can start there. This one is mine.”

With one nod, Garek moved to the other corner.

And he started swinging.


Garek’s eyes went once more to the dark sky. The moon had long since disappeared, and he had never waited so anxiously for daybreak, as he did in those predawn hours.

He had sorely underestimated how much energy swinging a sledgehammer took.

Thoroughly soaked with sweat, his clothes hung heavy, sticking to his skin. With every swing, he would steal a glance at Miss Silverton. She was drenched as well, her hair matted to her neck, but it didn’t slow her any more than the blood dripping from her hands did. If anything, her swipes at the stone only became more ferocious throughout the wee hours of the night.

And then finally, a ray of light broke above the trees.

She dropped her hammer.

His muscles on fire, Garek gave one last stone-shattering swing, and paused, turning to her as he let the black iron head of the sledgehammer rest on the ground. “We are done?”

She didn’t look his way, her eyes travelling up her corner of the abbey and then making their way to Garek’s corner of the building. A quarter of the lower stones from the corners now sat in rubble.

Her eyes flickered to him, then down to the stone on the ground. “For now.”

He nodded, using the moment of her averted eyes to stare at her, truly take her in.

He hadn’t been wrong earlier. She was beautiful—even with sweat rolling down her brow. He could see in the morning rays that her eyes were a peculiar light blue—set against dark lashes, which made them appear even lighter. The softest waters of the ocean.

Her brown hair was light, giving way to blond in many places. The hammering, combined with the cold, had flushed her cheeks, even turning the tip of her nose rosy.

Garek’s eyes travelled down her functional black dress and stopped on her hands. The blood he had seen her wipe off on her skirts over and over again throughout the night was now smeared up onto her arms, past her wrists. She had ignored him every time he had mentioned stopping to look at her hands. And he had mentioned it often.

Her chin lifted as she looked over to him, her blue eyes questioning. Caught in his obvious assessment, Garek coughed, dropping the handle of the sledgehammer.

“Would you like payment for your services, Mr. Harrison?”

He walked to her corner of the abbey, stopping in front of her. “Only one thing.”

Hands clamping into fists, her arms crossed over her belly. “And that is?”

“Come with me to some water. Let me look at your hands.”

Startled, she looked down as she pulled her fists free and opened them. “My hands?” Her fingers ran over her palms, quickly trying to clear the blood.

He grabbed her wrists, stopping the motion. “Yes. And you need to stop rubbing them. I would like to look at them. Make sure there are no stone shards embedded deep into your skin. They will fester if not taken care of, and you are digging what I presume are shards deeper into your skin every time you touch them.”

“Oh.” She gently pulled her wrists from his grasp, letting her hands fall to her sides. He could see her fingers twitching, aching to rub at the itch of the wounds.

Her head tilted to the side as her bottom lip jutted out once more. “That is all? You want to look at my hands? No coin?”

He shook his head. “No coin.”

She stared at him for a long moment, judging, and then reluctantly, she nodded.

“Is there a stream nearby? Running water would be helpful.”

“A short distance through the woods this way.” She pointed, her feet already moving toward the water.

Garek stopped by his horse for his satchel and then followed her through the trees. Finding a large boulder near the water’s edge, he guided her elbow, moving her to sit. She fought the motion for a mere second, and then exhaustion won out and she sank, setting her hands into her lap, bloody palms upward.

Stepping down to the edge of the stream, Garek used his heel to crack through the thin sheet of ice that had formed along the bank. Several more stomps of his boot, and the ice floated away, leaving a small eddy of water swirling in front of them.

He turned back to Miss Silverton. “I would normally dab away the blood, but after the hours of your hands being unattended and gripping the handle of the hammer—not to mention the scabbing that has already happened—it will be most efficient to immerse them into the water to clean the blood away.”

“Are you scolding me?”

“Possibly. This should have been done four hours ago.”

She sighed, shaking her head as she stood, and moved to balance on her heels at the edge of the water.

Down on his knees, Garek grabbed her left wrist. “This will be cold—freezing.”

“It is fine.”

He didn’t repeat the warning, just pushed her hand into the stream, letting the running water wash away the blood with only a few gentle dabs of encouragement from his handkerchief. It took longer, but he didn’t want to drive any stone shards deeper into her skin.

She suffered the shock of the freezing water—admirably so—until she yanked her hand from his grasp, clutching it to her belly. “Bloody hellfire. I cannot feel my blasted fingers. You did not say it was that cold.”

Garek had to hide a smile. The swearing and the sweet voice belonged nowhere near each other.

“We can wait to do the other hand until I take care of this one.” He motioned to the rock, and Miss Silverton moved backward to sit.

Settling onto his knees in front of her, Garek pulled free a white linen shirt from his satchel. His last nice shirt, but also his only clean one.  He shook it and then bit the edge, tearing it into thin strips.

 Linen ready, he rummaged through his satchel until he found the thick leather wallet deep in the bottom. Flicking open the silver catch on the wallet, he unfurled the four leather flaps and pulled free sharp, pointed tweezers and a small scalpel from the silk lining. He set both of them on top of his bag, the silver gleaming in the morning light.

Garek paused, staring at them. Months. It had been months since he had looked at them.

“What? What are those for?” Miss Silverton’s left hand flew up, tucking under her upper right arm to hide.

“Just a scalpel and tweezers. I am not about to dig into your skin with my fingernails.” His fingers wagged in a curl, motioning her to him. “Your hand.”

“But that is a blade.” She glared at him, her hand solidly buried and not moving.

“This will not hurt.”


Garek shrugged. “Possibly a little. But it is better than leaving a shard in your hand and having it fester, then move up your arm and eventually kill you. That happens, and who will tear down the abbey?”

Her frown deepened, but her hand slowly appeared. Garek grabbed it, tilting it to the bright ray of sunlight that was fighting through the tops of the trees.

Just as he suspected, a multitude of grey shards were embedded into her palm. Some were stuck half out, some he could only see below the surface of her skin. Cradling her hand, he picked up the tweezers and made quick work of the shards that could easily be pulled free.

Garek set the tweezers on the rock next to her and picked up the scalpel. Her arm twitched away, but his fingers clamped onto her wrist, holding her hand in place, resting on the inside of his forearm. “I will not cut deep. Just surface skin to get to the stone. This should not hurt too much.”

With a deep sigh, she nodded, swallowing hard enough for Garek to hear. Her face scrunched, turning from him the second the small blade went onto her skin. Garek gently peeled away layers of skin above one shard until there was enough stone to grip.

He continued on—five, six, seven shards freed without a whimper from Miss Silverton. She stayed as still as the boulder she sat upon until her face turned back in his direction.

“Your hands are delicate, Mr. Harrison. I would not have thought it for how you swung that sledgehammer.”

Garek didn’t answer, his concentration solely on capturing the tip of the last stubborn shard. If he didn’t get it, he would have to slice deeper, and that, he wanted to avoid. He clamped the tweezers and yanked.

“Uuh. I rescind my comment. That was not at all delicate.”

He looked up at her. “But the pain was short?”


“Then my hands were delicate.” He stood. “Come down to the water. I need to clean this to make sure I got all of them, and then on to your right hand.”

Miss Silverton’s left hand checked and the other hand washed, Garek was halfway through pulling the stone shards from her right palm when she squirmed. He paused for a moment but kept his eyes on her hand, giving her a chance to resettle.

“How do you know to do this, Mr. Harrison?” she asked, taking a deep breath. “Are you a surgeon? You have the tools.”

“I trained to be a physician, but after I took the Royal College exams and began to see patients, I realized that curing the occasional cough was not what I had hoped for. So I trained to be a surgeon.”

“That is an odd choice, to descend from a gentleman to a laborer.”

“Not for one that has witnessed what I have.” Garek shrugged, his focus diverting to pluck at another stone. “I apprenticed for years with a man who was both a physician and a surgeon before I had to leave to…to make my way north.”

“Are you visiting someone in the area?”

He glanced up to her face, then bowed his head, attacking the next shard. “No. I am in the area for work. I was told Farlington would have opportunity, but then I became lost in these woods.”

“Farlington? Yes, you are lost. Farlington is a day’s ride west and another day’s ride north of here.”

Garek pulled a stone splinter free, shaking his head. “I have never been good with directions. I had hoped these woods would be the end of the journey.”

“Instead, I have only slowed you.” Her left fingers scratched at the linen he had wrapped around her left palm. “Although the selfish part of me is pleased you made such good progress on those cornerstones of the abbey. Your pile of rubble was far larger than mine. You work much faster than I could ever hope.”

“I am also half again your size, Miss Silverton.” Garek blew free a fleck of dried blood, searching for any last shards. “You made plenty of progress. More so than I ever imagined a gentle woman could.”


 “Yes, your clothes, your speech—I do not imagine you are a laborer?” Garek looked up to see her face had gone pale, losing all the pink from the cold.

She shook her head, pushing him aside and jolting to her feet. “Excuse me, please. This…I have not been in my right mind. I never should have allowed you to stay…to touch me. Please, forgive me. You must think me wanton…a harlot. I did not mean to pull you into a compromising situation.”

Her feet shuffled in a wide circle around him, but Garek caught her wrist before she could escape. He stood. “Please, Miss Silverton. I do not think you a harlot. Sit. Let me wrap this hand.”

“No. It would not be appropriate.”

“Appropriate? We have just spent half the night swinging hammers together—and you cannot afford another minute so I can wrap your hand properly?”

She stared up at him, her eyes wavering. “One minute.”

“One minute. For purely medicinal purposes.”

She sat, offering her hand up with a tight, acquiescing smile.

One last check for missed slivers of stone and Garek started wrapping her hand. “Tell me, Miss Silverton, why have you not been in your right mind?”

Her head shaking, her eyes swung to the half-frozen stream. “Anger. It consumes my brain. I forget about everything, including manners, when it is in my mind. I only see the red and I cannot control it.” She looked to him, her blue eyes softening. “I apologize again. It was very kind of you to stop to assist me last night, and even kinder to tend to my hands. I do wish to pay you for your kindness.”

“Again, it will be refused.” Garek tied off the linen along the back of her hand.

A visible shiver ran through her body.

“You are cold?”

“Yes. Suddenly very much so.”

Garek wrapped his tools into the leather wallet and stood, picking up his satchel. “Let us go back. I saw you had a cloak by the abbey.”

Her arms clasped to her body for warmth, Miss Silverton stood and moved past him, and Garek fell in step beside her.

A few paces and Garek looked down at her. Her cheeks were flush again, but this time it appeared to be embarrassment tinting them pink. Even though he had asked numerous times throughout the night without an answer, he was going to try the obvious question one more time. “Why do you want to tear the abbey down?”

Her eyes stayed downward on the frosted trail. “Bad things happened there.”

His imagination sped, scenario after scenario constituting “bad things” rushing through his mind. Bad things happening to an innocent. Instant rage. Rage he had to quell—for she looked innocent, Miss Silverton, but what did he truly know of her other than she liked to swing a hammer at a stone building in the middle of the night?

He stopped, shaking free the horrors in his mind. Miss Silverton halted, looking up at him.

He cleared his throat. “Bad things? To you?”

Her head bowed and she started walking again. “To my father. To my sister. He was killed in there. She was alive…holding on. I found them. Found them in the blood.”

“You found your father dead?”

She nodded.

“I am sorry for your loss.” Garek reached up, setting his fingers on her shoulder.

Her head snapped up at the touch, eyes wide at him. She didn’t fully jerk away, but she did dip awkwardly, angling her shoulder away from his hand. She either didn’t want comfort, or was suddenly afraid of him. He hoped it was the former.

His hand dropped to his side. “And your sister—she is alive?”


“She is ill?”

“She has not recovered.” Miss Silverton glanced up at him, her arms tightening around her body. “It has been a month. When I found her there were gashes—deep—in her leg, and they became infected. Green pus. Fever that will not yield. I have feared she was dead too many times since then to count.”

“What is being done for her?”

“Our family physician tends to her. There are times when I think she is mending, going to be well. But at other times…” She shook her head, her look drifting to the abbey coming into view through the woods. “Our physician bleeds her, but it does not appear to help. I have told him to cease, but he insists it is the only way.”

“He bleeds her?”

“Yes.” Her face blanched, her eyes closing as another shiver quaked through her body. “The disgusting leeches. To see them wiggle on her body. It makes me queasy just thinking about the repulsive little suckers.”

“And you have asked him to stop?” Garek could not hide the edge in his voice.

“I have.”

“You are right to do so. Insist again. And again. And again. Insist until he stops, Miss Silverton.”

Her blue eyes left the path to center on him. “What do you know of it? Did the doctor you apprenticed with not bleed patients?”

“No. And I have seen far too many people nearly bled to death by the practice. The man I learned from did not believe in the method, and I agree. In most cases, it appears to do far more harm than good. You need to see that he stops the bloodletting and he must drain the infection from the leg properly. If he is above the labor of it, then find a surgeon to do so.”

They walked to the side of the abbey and Garek picked up Miss Silverton’s dark cloak, snapping it free of frost before setting it about her shoulders.

“Thank you.” Fastening the front clasp, she blinked hard and then wiped the corner of her eye with the back of her wrist.

“Is something in your eye?”

She wiped her eye again. “Maybe. One of the sparks, something flew at my eye hours ago. It is an annoyance that comes and goes.”

“May I?”

Miss Silverton nodded, and Garek set his satchel down and grabbed her shoulders, spinning her so the brightest rays of sunlight aimed at her eye. His thumb under her chin, he tilted her head upward, searching her left eye. The light lit up her eye, making her blue iris sparkle, and Garek lost himself for a moment, transfixed by the shimmer and forgetting all about looking for a rogue shard.

He caught himself. Focus. He had to focus.


She blinked several times, and then he saw it, the smallest sliver just below her upper eyelashes dragging down across her eye.

“Would you like my tweezers or my fingernails coming at your eye?”

“Can you get it with just your fingernails?”


“Then no tweezers. As gentle as you were, I am not looking to repeat that scene by the stream anytime soon.”

“It hurt more than you indicated?”

“You did not see? I squirmed the whole time. And I could not watch what you were doing.”

“Do not blink.” Garek pinched the sliver, extracting it from her eyelid. He flicked it from his fingers. “You should have said something. I could have been gentler with your hands. Better?”

Blinking rapidly, she nodded as she smiled at him. “Thank you. And know that you could not have been any gentler than you were, and I am grateful. I merely do not take pain that well.”

“So the next time you are out here tearing this place down, you will wear proper gloves?”

She chuckled. “I will.” Looking around, her eyes settled on his horse. “I do feel as though I need to insist on paying you.”

“Point me in the proper direction of Farlington and that will be payment enough.”

Miss Silverton stepped past him, going to the back corner of the abbey. She pointed into the woods. “This trail will take you north to the main road—maybe an hour’s ride—but it does not veer, so it will deliver you to the road. Go left, follow the road to the west, and you should hit the crossroad north to Farlington by the end of the day. It is well marked.”

Though he had only known her for a handful of hours, it panged his gut to have to leave her presence. But he inclined his head at Miss Silverton. “Then I thank you, kindly. I do hope your sister recovers well, Miss Silverton.”

Garek gathered his great coat and satchel and went to collect his horse. Miss Silverton stood rooted to her spot by the back of the abbey, watching him without a word.

His foot in the stirrup, Garek was halfway up his horse when her voice, sweet, cut through the silence.

“Wait, Mr. Harrison.”

Garek looked over his shoulder at her, dropping back to the ground.

She moved across the clearing to him. “Mr. Harrison, what kind of work are you looking for in Farlington? Are you to set up practice as a physician there?”

He hesitantly shook his head. “No. No practice. I am not particular of the work, just that there is some.”

She took another step closer, her neck craning up to him, her light blue eyes on fire. “I am, quite honestly, a little—no, a lot—desperate for my sister, Mr. Harrison. I need her to live. And our physician does not seem capable of bringing her back to me. You are the only one who has offered me any other suggestions as to her health. As to what I can do to help her.”


Taking a deep breath, her eyes implored. “Stay. Please stay, Mr. Harrison. I will pay you. Whatever you need. I do not think I can get our physician to stop what he is doing by myself. He dismisses me—anything I say. I need help. And you have training. You can help her.”

Garek’s mouth set into a grim line. What Miss Silverton asked—tricky waters to wade into, he knew. The matters of life and death—what people believed a doctor could truly do for them—were constant battles between reality and hope. Thorny indeed. And it was a battle he had seen lost far too many times.

He didn’t want to ask. Didn’t even want to consider what she suggested. Do not get involved—advice, pounded into his head for years.

But his mouth opened, words falling before he could stop them. “Why do you believe I can help her, Miss Silverton? You know nothing of my surgical knowledge. I merely pulled a few splinters from your skin.”

She stared at him, searching—searching his soul if he was to guess at what she sought.

“It is your eyes, Mr. Harrison.” Her tranquil voice went low, reaching up to wrap him in its softness. “I have seen it in your eyes. I have seen more humanity, more compassion in your eyes in these past minutes than I have ever seen in our physician.”

“Compassion does not heal people, Miss Silverton. If it did, she would already be well—you would have made it so.”

“I need her to live, Mr. Harrison.” She reached out to grip his arm, the linen wrap across her palm pressing into him. “And I am willing to do anything to make that happen. Anything. I am even willing to chance the fate of a random meeting with a stranger in the middle of the night. And I am willing to trust the compassion I have seen in you. The light in your eyes. Once you commit, you will make it happen. I can see that. You will bring her back to me.”

“I cannot perform miracles, Miss Silverton.”

“I am not demanding miracles, Mr. Harrison. Only a possibility—give me that—the possibility that you can find a way to heal her.” Her hand tightened on his arm. Garek could feel the desperation in her fingers. “Please, Mr. Harrison, help me. I need her to live.”

He stared at her, jaw clenching. If he could not help her sister…he could already see the destruction he would be forced to witness. Destruction he did not want to be a part of.

But she only asked for possibility. For hope.

Do not get involved.

He swallowed hard. As much as it unsettled him, he could not deny her that—deny her hope.

Garek nodded. “I will stay. I will come with you.”

Miss Silverton’s eyes closed, and she nearly crumpled with relief right before him. Only her hand, her grip on him, held her upright.

“But I warn you, Miss Silverton, if your sister is not long for this earth, I can only ease her suffering. I cannot make her live.”

“I understand.” Her fingers slipped from his arm as her blue eyes opened to him. “You, Mr. Harrison, are the very best thing that has ever come across me in the middle of the night.”

He chuckled. “Shall I grab your hammers?”

She nodded. Garek went to the side of the abbey and picked up both hammers, heaving them up to balance them on his shoulder.

“Ready?” she asked.

“I will follow you.”

Miss Silverton started off into the woods, and Garek grabbed the reins of his horse, following. He watched the back of her light brown hair swing with her gait, reminding him again of her natural radiance. But that was not the thing that gave him pause, made him question every step he took in her footprints.

No, it was her voice. Her voice alone.

The most alarming, beautiful sound to have ever floated into his ears.

A voice that could take him to hell and back, if he let it.


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