Chapter LVII

All her life, Beatrix had been used to being right. Never had she felt, or been made to feel, that her decision could possibly be wrong. And so she didn’t immediately recognise this strange new emotion that clawed at her guts.

The very idea that Keiran liked her any more than he did Rhea, for example, and in any other way ought to repulse and shock her - a month ago, it certainly would have. But she was starting to realise that the Lady she had been a month ago was a very different person to the girl she was now.

But where did that leave her? She'd known all her life that she was to marry one of her cousins - and Owain was looking the more likely of the two.

She couldn’t say she’d always liked Owain. They had generally been cool, almost awkward around each other because of the forced, strained nature of their relationship. It had always been duty and responsibility first, personal feelings second. That was just how it’d always been. And Beatrix had never questioned it, preferring to lock away her emotions than admit that sometimes they conflicted with her responsibilities. But now, here she was: questioning her own judgement.

Suddenly, she felt extremely selfish. She’d allowed her feelings to run away with her. For a lovely, sweet moment, she’d forgotten who she was and what she had to do. She’d forgotten that she was a Lady and he an outlaw. She’d allowed her fantasy to sweep her away on a tidal wave of emotions, suddenly freed from their dusty prison, and the flood gates had opened. And now she knew what this new feeling was - guilt.
She was betraying Owain. Every time she thought of Keiran, she was betraying Owain. She’d known he was the one she was meant to marry, and yet here she was, in love with Keiran.

She blinked, surprised with her own boldness. Was she really in love with Keiran? She barely had do ask the question. Of course she was.

She’d never really loved anyone before - at least, not in this way. But he was the only person she felt truly comfortable around. He made her laugh. And no, he wasn’t perfect - but was she really still naïve enough to believe in the perfect man? She thought not.

It would be so easy just to stay here. Forget about Owain, Aaron, the rebel Erls - just stay here with Keiran, a normal peasant girl. He would help her become a person again, she was sure of that.

Suddenly, she felt terrible. A sense of urgency welled up inside her - she had to stop Carla! She had sent Carla to pledge her alliance to the rebel Erls - and that wasn’t what she wanted any more!

Carla. Didn’t she deserve the man she loved? And that was Quigley, just one of the many who had been cast aside by Aaron’s lust for power and dominance.

Could she really be just a normal peasant? She was too political, too outspoken, too strong. Owain needed her. She had to avenge Roald’s death. There was only one way she could do all of this.

And Keiran didn’t feature in these plans.

The End

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