Most men hated when I defied them. My opponent waited, intriguing me when he hesitated to force me out of his way so he could take what he wanted. Men liked to think they ruled, and in their opinion, the strongest men got the best women, and that was that.
Wise men realized some women conquered their own mountains and tossed off every man who challenged them.
One day, I’d figure out where I stood in the grand scheme of things. I’d been raised to be a man, a warrior above other men, the strength and pride of my clan. I should have become a man when I had turned ten, but thanks to my stupidity, I had ended up a woman instead.
Remembering pissed me off enough I either needed another beer, a fight, or both.
The bar cleared out, and Petey numbered among those bailing. I arched a brow, shrugged, and reached across the bar to snag myself another beer, careful not to touch the Starfall stone. “When I’m done drinking my beer, I’ll move.”
Within a minute, Oyster Bay emptied, leaving me with the three cloaked figures and a man at the other end of the bar too stupid to run or too brave for his own good. When he spotted me looking in his direction, he lifted his bottle in a salute.
Men were a dime a dozen, but sometimes, a pretty one came around, and my flavor of the month was tall, dark, and handsome enough to remind me there were a few perks to being a woman. He smirked at me, likely anticipating the fireworks from the stone or the brewing fight between me and the three men who wanted it.
I liked his mouth, and my gaze locked on his lips before I managed to force my attention back to my trio of unwanted guests.
Outside, thunder rumbled, rain pattered on the bar’s metal roof, and the storm stirred the ocean’s ire, splashing salt water against my feet.
“Move.” The man took one step forward, and his voice remained emotionless and calm.
“Cheers,” I said, lifting my bottle towards my lone spectator. If he wanted a show, I’d give him one, and when I was finished with the three men determined to invade my personal space, I’d leave him a little memento to remember me by. I scooted my stool back, stepped into the water, and met my adversary’s gaze.
I set my beer down beside the Starfall stone. “You’re not going to let me finish my beer in peace, are you?”
He took another step and leaned forward, his breath hot on my face. “No.”
Walking away would’ve been smart. Leaving the Starfall stone to burst and cause mayhem without me in the general vicinity would have been wise. Instead, I unsheathed my sword and rammed the pommel into his gut.
I smiled and went to work. All I’d leave for him were bruises and his life. He didn’t deserve anything else from me, not even a scar.