What better way to finish up Hero Tuesdays in July than combine it with the Warrior King Series Celebration (Two) and highlight the last of the MacAlpin warriors… Trey MacAlpin. Trey has been through more than any of his brothers. First, he loses the woman he loves and intends to wed, then he gets attacked by the king’s soldiers and almost dies. And now he finds himself wed to a stranger, though not a total stranger… Bliss the woman who helped heal him.
Trey is determined to protect his wife, regardless that he’s surprised to find out that he’s actually wed to her… at least according to Pict law. Besides he had failed to protect the woman he had loved, Leora, and he isn’t about to let that happen again.
Of course there is the true King to protect and Bliss knows who he is, so it’s even more important that the king doesn’t get his hands on her.
To Trey, it’s all about protecting his wife. Here’s a scene that reflects that:
Trey didn’t give Bliss a chance to object to his plan. “Coming home with me is what is best for you and that is what we will do.”
He continued talking as they walked. Bliss kept a tight lip and he wondered what she was thinking. She didn’t look happy with his suggestion, though it was more a command. And he could understand her objecting, though eventually she would see the wisdom in his decision and agree — or so he hoped.
When words finally failed him he said, “Your thoughts?”
“I’m allowed them?” she asked with a tinkle of laughter.
He was relieved that she responded with humor rather than anger. Not that it would change his decision that would stand no matter how she felt. It was, after all, for her protection. It was just that he didn’t wish to anger her. He liked the way she wore a smile, never forced, always so natural and lovely. And he much preferred seeing her that way, rather than causing her to frown.
“I want you safe,” he said.
“I have looked after myself many years and my people protect me. You need not be alarmed.”
“But you have a husband now” — he shook his head when she went to speak — “No, I know what you will say, but we will not end this marriage of ours until I am sure you are safe.”
“It is honorable of you to feel this way, but Fate guides and guards me well and has for some time.”
“What of your parents? Siblings?” he asked curious about this woman who had suddenly become his wife.
“My da died in battle when I was five years. My mum died of fever two years later though I think her heart had broken when my da died, and she just did not want to go on without him. My grandmum raised me.”
Bliss smiled and Trey smiled along with her, glad that she had loving memories to recall.
“Grandmum’s skills were so much stronger than mine, but she encouraged me, insisting that one day my skills would far surpass hers. She was ever so patient with me and my hundreds of questions.”
“She answered them for you?”
“Some, but she had insisted, it was the question that mattered more and not to worry if an answer wasn’t found.”
“She sounded like a wise woman,” Trey said. “I wish I could have met her.”
“She is near and watches over me and will be on her way when she feels it is time.” Bliss glanced at him, her smile fading.
“What’s wrong?” he asked giving her hand a comforting squeeze and wanting her to know there was nothing to fear.
“I have not felt safe sharing that information with anyone, for fear of the consequences such unacceptable beliefs could bring.”
“I am glad you trusted me,” he said with a wide smile and briefly raised their joined hands. “Besides, we are one — husband and wife — and we can share anything without fear of repercussions.”
Her smile bloomed once again.
God, but he loved when she smiled. It was as if light was cast on darkness and joy drove away despair. He almost shook his head. Whatever was the matter with him? He was sounding like a fool in the throes of love. He and Bliss barely knew each other or did they?
She had healed him with tenderness and caring, and such a deep, abiding love that he longed to feel again. He had felt a distinct emptiness when she had left, that he had wondered over it. Had that been the way of it, or had something happened between them that neither had realized?
“Tell me more of your grandmum,” he said eagerly.
And she did regaling him with stories that allowed him a peek into her past and a peek more deeply inside her.
After a time Bliss said, “I have talked enough about myself. What of you?”
He grinned. “Your tales are entertaining, mine would not be so.”
“I would rather determine that,” she encouraged. “Besides I did hear some stories while at the keep.”
Trey winced as if wounded. “You must not believe all you hear, especially if it comes from my brothers.”
Bliss laughed. “I often wished for siblings. You are lucky to have them.”
“You will think differently when I tell the tales,” he said and soon had her laughing with stories of his childhood.
“So no matter how many times you hide in the trees to escape your brothers they did not find you?”
“I climbed higher and higher each time so they could not see me amongst the leaves and branches.” He grinned proudly. “And from my perch I delivered deadly dirt bombs, I had skillfully armed myself with, and won many battles.”
When he finished detailing various victories and her laughter subsided she said, “I hope to have many children so that they will have the chance to tell funny and endearing tales like yours.”
“Aye, I wish the same,” Trey said. “Seeing my brothers and their growing brood, I long for a family of my own.”
Silence settled over them after that, each lost in their thoughts and thinking of the future and what it might bring.
With dusk not far off shelter needed to be found. There was a glen not far ahead and it was decided that it would be best to climb the rise and settle in the valley below for the night, Bliss sure that a stream with cool clear water waited there.
It was an easy climb, especially with each other to rely upon and they stopped for a brief rest once they reached the top. Trey didn’t wish to rush her. They had walked a good distance and had kept a good pace today and she had not complained once. But dusk was fast fading to night and he wanted to get a fire started to chase away the chill that grew ever colder with the fading light.
“We should go,” he said and she agreed with a nod.
The arrow came out of nowhere slicing past Bliss’s arm and sending her tumbling down the hill so suddenly that her hand was ripped out of his. Trey knew it would be a waste of time to look back and try to spy the culprit. He was more concerned with trying to reach Bliss. He charged after her, but her tumbling body gained momentum as she continued to rapidly roll down the hill. Try as he might, he could not catch her and stop her plummeting.
Trey’s story, Wed To A Highland Warrior, and the last book of the Warrior King series will be available at the end of October. Watch for more Warrior King Celebration posts coming soon.