Highland Echoes:Fated Hearts 02(122)By: Ceci Giltenan
“Oh, she was. Until my da died last year she was blissfully happy.”
The old woman smiled and nodded. “I’m glad to hear that. Would ye mind terribly…may I look at the things yer mama kept in the box?”
Grace smiled at her. “Of course ye may.”
The elderly woman pulled the box toward her, removing the lid. She laid the letter to one side, picking up the gold brooch first. She touched the ring of leaves with its sprays of tiny flowers reverently. “This belonged to my mother. My father gave it to her when they wed. It’s bog myrtle—a symbol of Clan Carr. I was a Carr.”
Next she removed the coin, smiling. “Ranulf, tell her what this is.”
He crossed to the table, taking it in his hands and smiling broadly. “This is a gold florin. When Sheena, Catriona, and I were little, our grandfather Carr gave us each one. He told us to keep it forever and we would never be poor. I still have mine. I expect Sheena does too.”
“Sheena?” asked Grace.
“My other sister, yer aunt. She is married to Laird Gunn—another clan with whom we had had a long, bloody feud until it was ended with a wedding. Speaking of which, I will send a messenger to her later. She will want to know, and I expect she’ll be here nearly before the messenger returns.”
Grace’s grandmother removed the silver brooch. “That was my father’s,” said Grace.
The old woman nodded, laying it aside before removing the last item, the pendant. “Yer grandfather and I gave this to Catriona on the last Epiphany before she left. Kynan wanted her to have a pearl. In spite of everything, Grace, he did love her. I think the pain of losing her fueled his anger and he wanted to blame everyone else. He was never willing to see the role he played.” She looked at Grace. “Yer mama could have sold these or even just used the florin. That she saved them tells me she remembered us with love too.”
“I’m sure she did,” said Grace.
Her grandmother returned each article to the box, picking up the letter last. “What is this, lass?”
“It’s a letter from my father to his mother,” Grace answered.
“May I see it?” asked Laird Sutherland.
Grace wanted to say no because it was a private letter and Innes should be the one to grant permission to read it. However, Innes wasn’t present and Grace knew she would show it to Laird Sutherland if he asked. “Aye, I don’t think my grandmother would mind.”
Eanraig read it. Frowning he asked, “Bram did ye know about this?”
“Not until a day or so ago.”
To Grace, he said, “Ye knew ye were a noblewomen?”
“I knew my mother was.”
“Why didn’t ye tell us?”
She glanced around the room, her eyes resting finally on her grandmother Sinclair. “I was afraid ye would try to seek them out. I promised my mother I wouldn’t do that. I’m sorry, Grandmother.”
“Aye, well I would have,” said Laird Sutherland. He gave her a stern look. “And it would have been the right thing to do. Look at all the difficulties we would have avoided.”
“Eanraig, she couldn’t have known that,” said Rodina. “Her mother was afraid for good reason, so Grace was too. Frankly, we would have avoided quite a few difficulties if ye hadn’t behaved exactly as Grace expected a nobleman to.”
Ranulf said, “Grace’s choice was entirely reasonable, Eanraig. When Da died a few years ago, he left many relationships to mend. Grace had no way of knowing what she would have faced and I don’t either. Da would never have hurt her, but he definitely would have used her for his advantage to restore an alliance. Grace, the fact is, I too would have sought an advantageous betrothal for ye, but as important as restoring alliances may be, I vowed never to force my children into an intolerable marriage. I never wanted to lose a child the way we lost Catriona. Eanraig, by some incredible miracle, we have our alliance as well as happy children.”
As Bram thought back over the last few hours, he could scarcely believe how things had turned out. When he and Ian returned to the keep, their father had been relieved to hear Grace was safe but positively furious to learn of the wedding. He insisted it could be annulled on the grounds that banns hadn’t been posted. He ranted on, trying to convince Bram of the wisdom of that path using every threat in his arsenal.