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‘I’ve been thinking,’ he said. ‘Maybe I’m ready to settle down. I’ll take you home, then find myself a nice girl to marry.’ He looked thoughtful as he considered his future. ‘Maybe there is a family somewhere who needs a good, strong man. A family with an available daughter. But she must also be a lady. And someone who will be a good friend.’ He brushed a leftover straw from her hair, never taking his eyes off here. ‘Someone who is both beautiful and strong.’ 

Did he mean her? She glanced over her shoulder as if some exquisite maiden might emerge from the trees. That seemed more likely than Rhys meaning her. He knew she was lame. 

The Gwyllion’s words came to her mind. Stars do not shine on dreamers but only on those who see the truth. 

She had been a dreamer; that was truth. To think she had honestly believed she would marry the king’s son. No girl had dreamed bigger. She’d thought Urien’s love for her was truth. She had been altogether wrong. Urien had not loved her; that was Urien’s truth.

What was Rhys’s truth?

A dozen scenes played through her mind. Rhys, sitting at her bedside through the night, trying to bring down her fever. Rhys, rubbing her feet with salve, working to get some strength back into them. Rhys, carrying her up the mountain to see the snow lilies in bloom. Rhys, facing Urien in the water of battle, giving up everything- to save her. 

He’d done more for her than any other man alive. That had to count for something. 

That had to count for everything. 

The truth hit her softly yet utterly and completely. She cared for Rhys more than she’d ever cared for anyone. 

She lowered her eyes and stared at her ruined legs.

But no.

It couldn’t be. 

She was mistaken. 

With barely a whisper, she repeated the question she had asked herself for eight, long years. ‘Who would want a crippled wife?’

Rhys took a step toward her. With a rough and calloused finger, he wiped a tear from her eye, then reached out, pulling her close. ‘I think I might know someone.’ 

Unraveled: A Tale of True Love, Julie Daines, 2014

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