Kindle Edition - Free
by Karla Gracey
Publisher KG Publishing House
Kindle Edition - Free
F R E E
Critics describe these books as a very sweet invigorating set of books which are heart-warming, full of love, mystery, hope, and the true meaning of friendship.
Includes 4 series starter books (Faith Creek Brides #1, Sun River Brides #1, Silver River Brides #1, Ruby Springs Brides #1)
Byron knew that he should stop. But Amelia was right, it felt so good to unburden himself after all this time. He had never known anyone to listen so attentively when he spoke, or to care so much about the injustices dealt him. “I should stop,” he said knowing that he had already said too much, had left her with images nobody should have stuck in their minds.
“No, you should not,” she said firmly. “If there is more you need to tell, then you should do so.”
“I do not want you to hate me,” he admitted cautiously.
“I could never hate you Byron. You offered me my freedom when I most needed it. I shall always be grateful for that, and I know I should not admit this, but I think I fell in love with you from that very first letter, maybe even from your quirky and original advertisement.” Byron wanted to pull her to him, to crush her against him as he heard her words. She was so certain, and they were words he had longed to hear – but he knew that the worst was yet to come, and he did not doubt that he would lose her good favor forever once he did so.
“Yes you could Amelia,” he said quietly. “I managed to cross to the opposite side of the island where our ship was stationed without being caught this time. In one of the natural harbors a ship was moored. It wasn’t a naval ship, but all Captains need crew. I offered up my services. I was welcomed aboard warmly – much more so than I ever expected to be. But I did not care. The ship was headed for Costa Rica, and from there I would be able to find a berth home, even if I had to travel the seven seas to do so. But I soon realized why I was so eagerly welcomed aboard as we came upon a merchant ship. It was foundering off one of the reefs. The Captain had us set sail. I thought we would act as a rescue party, but as we made our way closer the ships lad raised the Jolly Roger. I was amongst pirates and they intended looting the vessel, not saving it.”
“Oh my, you must have been so frightened.”
“I wish I could say I was, but after years of enforced servitude I was angry and bitter. I wanted my revenge. I could not punish the Navy directly, but I could harry their supply ships, make life harder for them. I didn’t think about my friends, my colleagues who were just as trapped as I had been. I thought only of the elites – the Captains and officers who thought so little of us sailors that they could order floggings and withdraw our Board-sanctioned rations for the most impecunious of reasons. I am ashamed to say that when the Captain ordered us to kill all hands I was just as vicious as any of them.”
Byron watched Amelia’s face carefully, waiting for the look of horror, of disgust to cross her pretty features. But it did not. She gazed at him steadily, her eyes full of compassion and he wondered if she had heard a word he had said. “I said I killed innocent men, without questioning it,” he said quietly.
“I know. I heard you. What would have happened if you had not done so?”
“I don’t know. I suppose at the very best they might have marooned me somewhere, they may have shot me – either way I would have been dead.”
“So you did what you had to, in order to survive?”
“Yes,” he said cautiously. He had never thought of his actions in that way. Had allowed his guilt to take over him.
“You had been badly treated for over fourteen years, with no recourse?”
“And when given a chance to seek a little revenge you took the opportunity?”
“Did you kill and attack many ships after that?” she asked him.
“None. Our next stop was Costa Rica and I managed to book passage to America, offering my skills as payment for my berth.”
“So, you have been punishing yourself for one act, taken in a moment of high emotion, that would have meant you lost your life had you not done as ordered?” she clarified.
“Yes, but that does not make it right,” he protested.
“No, it does not,” she agreed. “But you had been following orders for fourteen years, knowing the consequences would be dire if you did not. Any man would have done the same thing – can you not see that? If you had been in the Navy for less time, or it were a more civil organization everything may have been very different. If you had not been press-ganged, if you had not been denied your passage home. But none of that matters. What matters are the choices you have made since that day. I am guessing you rescued Simon not long after that?” He nodded.
“I fail to see what that has to do with anything though?”
“Do you not?” she asked him. “You told me in your letter that you rescued him because you could not bear for any helpless living thing to be trapped, to not be in possession of their own freedom, remember?” He looked at her curiously. “It says you would never let any innocent man, woman, child or even animal suffer what you did. You had already begun to make the choices that would lead you to where you are now – a man who upholds the law.” Amelia reached over and took his face in her palms. Tenderly she kissed his eyelids, his cheeks, the tip of his nose and finally his lips. “Without all that happened to you before, you would not be the man I love.”
He groaned as the tears he had needed to shed for too long burst forth. She cradled him in his arms and let him sob. He had never felt so wretched, or so free in all his life. He knew in that instant that he could never let Amelia go. She was everything he had dreamed of, everything he wanted – and most importantly she would keep him honest for the rest of his days. “Amelia, I will understand if you say no after everything I have just told you, but will you marry me?” he said looking up at her through a haze of tears.
“I moved to Montana to do just that,” she said with a cheeky smile. He wrapped his arms around her waist and held her tightly.
“I do not deserve you, but I do love you,” he said fervently as she smoothed his hair from his face. A single tear fell from her eye. He reached up and brushed it away with his thumb. “Thank you.”
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Karla Gracey was born with a very creative imagination and a love for creating stories that will inspire and warm people's hearts. She has always been attracted to historical romance including mail order bride stories with strong willed women. Her characters are easy to relate to and you feel as if you know them personally. Whether you enjoy action, adventure, romance, mystery, suspense or drama- she makes sure there is something for everyone in her historical romance stories!