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I never in a million years I might end up living this life. Living, and loving, a man like this. I had never allowed myself to imagine the possibility of marrying for love. Not that I come from a wealthy, noble family, of course. At least, we’re not wealthy any more. Once upon a time, the Blake name commanded respect, rubbed shoulders with the upper classes. Built that majestic, haunting manor on that outpost of Holy Island. I don’t blame Nathan for our family’s losses. Though of course, I was never privy to the financial workings of the family, I am observant enough to know that our wealth had been dwindling for a long time.

And so I always assumed that, as the oldest surviving daughter, it would be my job to marry well. To restore some dignity and connections to the Blakes. Never mind that, thanks to Walton’s reluctance (in the shape of an endless stream of business trips), Harriet got there long before me. I couldn’t help but resent her because of all that happened with Walton. Not that I particularly (or at all) wanted to marry him, but because she is so desirable, so wifely, so beautiful. Next to her, I feel so plain and unattractive. At least, I did before Finn.


But I can sense the sadness hanging over Harriet – an invisible weight. And I knew instinctively that it had to do with her marriage, her child – I knew these things because I had the same fears. The same sense that once I walked down the aisle to face Matthew Walton, my life would stop being my own. Not that it ever really had been.


Though I have horrible regret over Donald Macauley’s death – and guilt that plagues me that I have never told his family the truth, I am torn by the fact that that horrible, regrettable occasion brought me to the man I love. It doesn’t seem fair, but perhaps it is not my place to judge such things – it is just my place to be endlessly grateful for Finn. I feel as though he has saved my life several times over – first on that terrifying night on Longstone, and then by providing me a life so different from the one my sister has made.


That first night, I had no clue what to make of him. I wanted desperately to keep my distance, but I also knew that he was my only chance of survival – or at least of getting back to Holy Island in one piece. I felt like a horrible imposition, a burden. And yet I also felt strangely attracted to him, like he was something entrancing I couldn’t look away from. I didn’t know why I felt that way. He was not kind to me that night, or warm. I think in part it was because he represented my survival. But he also had a way of looking at me that made me feel utterly exposed and vulnerable. Like I couldn’t hide from him. I suppose that was why I told him what I did. In that overwhelming terror I felt that night, he was like a solid beacon – a lighthouse in the storm – if not a particularly warm one. Steadiness. The fact that he knew the island, knew the sea – survived out there – made me feel as though I could too.


I think, in spite of his distance, his coldness (which I now know to have been a cover for his own confused and conflicting feelings for me), something about him represented safety.

When I realised he had been hurt, I felt sick to the stomach. It was entirely my fault that he was there – I felt more of a burden than I ever had before. And I felt sick with worry. Cold dread, perhaps more than was reasonable for someone I hardly knew. His mockery made me so angry, made me feel small and stupid – and it reminded me of how unwanted I was by Walton.

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