I felt like I had been hit with a ton of bricks. I know my lower jaw dropped, and I must have looked ridiculous because Daphne sort of half chuckled which, thank heavens, brought her sobbing to an end.
Her crying aroused Caleb because he stuck his head in the Dining Room and asked if anything was wrong.
I smiled at him and said, “Everything is just fine.”
He just shook his head and went back on the hotel porch.
Daphne dabbed at her eyes with her handkerchief and removed all the tear stains from her cheeks, but her eyes were red from her crying.
I continued to look at her in disbelief. Finally, I stuttered, “Daphne, what are we to do? Your family doesn’t like me. I broke Ahab’s arm and he’s likely to kill me the first chance he gets. Is our love doomed from the start?”
Daphne suddenly gathered herself together, sat up straight and proclaimed, “I don’t believe the man that just expressed the most beautiful and truthful passion of his love for me would ever quit until we were together.”
I took a deep gulp of air and realized what I had gotten myself into. I made a momentous decision and looking her in the eye, said furiously, “I will never stop loving you, and I won’t rest until we are together in Holy Matrimony.”
Daphne eyes widened. I reached across the table and took her hands in mine. She looked as if she would start crying again. So, I quickly added, “Please don’t cry again. If Ahab sees you like that, I know I will have to kill him on the spot.”
“You don’t have to worry about Ahab,” she avowed. “His pride was hurt, but I think he respects you in his own way. I can keep him in check because of something I know. So don’t think about him as a threat.”
I looked at her for a long moment and then nodded my head.
Speaking of the devil, at that moment Ahab made his appearance in the Dining Room. Just to make sure of my safety. I let go of Daphne’s hands, immediately unbuttoned my coat and pulled one pistol from my belt. I held it under the table and out of sight. He took one look at Daphne and then looked at me with the blood lust of a lion moving in for a kill.