Claudius’s mouth slackened, and his eyes widened as I took my seat. His unfocused gaze reached me across the distance. “So, you punished him and his entire family because of what? Dishonesty?”
The incubus’s tone was condescending. He dared judge me? I’d heard the rumors about the male. When he wanted to, he could be completely ruthless for the smallest of infractions. Why should it be any different for me? Was it because I was a female?
“It went deeper than that,” I corrected. “Winthrop told my accusers that he didn’t know me.”
“Was that all?”
“No! He had the unmitigated nerve to swear that a married man with a child on the way wouldn’t stoop to soiling their good reputation with an obvious harlot like me.” Those weren’t his exact words, but they were close enough.
Claudius broke eye contact and rubbed the back of his neck like he had something to say.
I didn’t want there to be any misunderstandings between us, but I didn’t think we could see eye to eye about what I did. “You don’t think my actions were justified?”
He looked at me for a long moment and slowly said, “No, I don’t.”
Claudius held up his hand before I could argue my point. “Elsbeth, you punished his wife and their unborn child. They were innocents. Surely, they didn’t threaten you or even lie to you. Your actions toward them were unjustified. The man should have been the only one who suffered.”
It was the same sentiment I got from Rufus Charles when the chaos swept through the village. He claimed that my wrath went too far—setting families against each other. He tried to reason with me, explaining how I played a part in the scenario with Winthrop. Neither of us had been honest, but the settlers didn’t deserve punishment. I disagreed with him.
I blinked, and the memory dissipated. “None of that matters now.”
“I think you’re wrong, Elsbeth.” Claudius pushed to his feet and went to the bar. “Eventually, we all must pay for our wrongdoings.”
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