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She made no sound. Still as death. If she died, bad luck would befall him until his won death, perhaps even into the Afterlife. He reached over and placed two fingers on her throat, relieved when he found a pulse. The vulnerable flesh was warm, perhaps from a developing fever, and soft like down against his rough hands.
Any other circumstance, he would not have given the woman a passing thought. Even dressed as a man, she was handsome, an attraction both rare and disturbing in a white woman. He wondered her age. More importantly, why she was out here alone and had taken a shot at Colonel Grey. To Grey’s good fortune, she was a poor shot. Worst case, he would never use his arm again, perhaps even lose it, but he would live.
Hunter had never seen this woman at Fort William before today. He knew little about the inter workings in a woman’s mind, knew some had a temper, but enough to kill? Perhaps Grey had scorned her, jilted her. Perhaps she was possessed. Most women were.
A great-horned owl hooted in the darkness, reminding him again of his impending doom. Thoughts of returning home bore into his skull and made his head throb like a dull toothache. Home. The word no longer held meaning. Not the meaning that thoughts of returning there should invoke.
Had his brothers gone off to fight in this war between the England and the French? Hunter had heard Seeker had taken a wife, but Hunter did not know who the matriarchs had chosen for him, as was customary. The last time Hunter had seen his youngest brother, he had still been playing Peachstone. To think that he was a husband and a provider to someone was difficult to fathom. And River…would he even speak to him at all?
Hunter would regret coming home. Coming back would cause everyone more pain. Leaving again would spawn more hatred. A two-edged sword. Same as his life had always been and would always be.
Hunter’s headache centered and focused and intensified directly at the base of his skull. He could leave the woman for dead, and then he would not have to go home. Just return to Fort William and forget. Her death would not be the first by his hands.
The first woman, though.