The Road to Port Haven (Chapter 8­, page 1 of 11)

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Late that evening, Kara found Roman in their bedroom at his desk, going over some paperwork.

'Why didn't you tell me about the duel?'

Roman's only reaction was a barely noticeable hesitation. 'I saw no need to worry you.'

'No need to worry me? My father's a marksman, Roman!'

With maddening nonchalance, Roman continued what he was doing. 'As am I. It should make for a memorable contest.'

'My father will kill you!' Kara shouted, and began weeping.

Roman took the hanky from his pocket and proferred it without looking up from his work. 'I have discovered all I need to know about your father's duelling. So far he has one drunk and one hot-headed adolescent who had never fired a gun to his credit.'

'Oh, and I suppose you've killed your share of real men!'

He fixed her with a gaze that made her insides turn to cold water. 'One man I killed was the leader of a gang of pirates. They were murderers, all, and had ignored the port authority, insolently thinking they could partake of the hospitality of one of Port Haven's inns. I called the leader out and shot him here, right through the left eye. I then shot down his companions, to a man. All four of them.'

Kara could only stare, aghast. 'So this is what you have planned? To settle things by killing my father?'

Roman quirked an eyebrow. 'What would you have me do? Run away? Risk putting him in prison, where his friends and associates would no doubt come to his rescue by sending in an army of mercenaries? Would you rather I handed you back to him?' He smiled suddenly, and the dangerous look passed. Rising to his feet, he gathered her into his arms. 'I did not say that it is my intent to kill him. Only that I intend to deal with him in a way that he will understand.'

'Oh? And what way is that?'

He chuckled and picked her up lightly in his arms. 'I will tell you when I feel that you are ready.'

'You . . . arrogant . . .'

'Yes?' he asked her, quirking an amused eyebrow as she spluttered in helpless anger. 'I am arrogant. That is a well-known fact. Have you any other little gems of wisdom to add.'

'You have no right to hide things from me!'

'As your husband, I must do what I feel is right. Would you rather I wasn't true to my convictions? Or to you?'

She subsided, unable not to suppress a wan smile. 'All right, Roman. Just what am I ready for, in your estimation?'

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