Highland Echoes:Fated Hearts 02(125)By: Ceci Giltenan
Bram sobered. “I know ye are, and ye’re a good man, Michael.”
Michael grinned again. “The absolute finest and who knows, maybe I’ll find a bonny lass among the guests for the wedding feast yer da is planning.”
Michael left the hall but at his mention of a wedding feast, Bram realized his father had been absent from the hall much of the afternoon. In fact, both of his parents disappeared for a while with Innes. Bram assumed they were giving Grace some time with the Sinclairs and thought no more of it. He returned to Grace’s side, unwilling to be separated from her for long.
When time came for the evening meal, much to Bram’s surprise, his da escorted Innes to the refectory table, showing her to a place between his mother and Ian. He signaled for Bram to join them. To his surprise his father said, “Bram, I want Grace seated beside me tonight.”
“Aye, Da, whatever ye wish.”
As the hall began to fill, Kristen sat at one end of the table chatting happily with the Sinclair women. Grace stood to one side, her arms clutched at her waist. She appeared worried. Bram returned to her and put his arms around her. “What’s upsetting ye, Grace?”
“I’m just…well, the last few weeks haven’t been pleasant. The clan…well, I’m worried. I don’t want Kristen to hear the names people have called me.”
“That will end tonight, Grace. If I’m not much mistaken, news of what happened here this afternoon is already spreading. Come to the table with me.” He led her toward the place where his father sat.
She stopped short. “Nay, Bram. Please, let’s sit somewhere else. Yer da won’t like it.”
“My da requested it. He wants ye seated beside him.” The look of horror on her face nearly made him laugh. “He’s trying to make amends.” At her incredulity he added, “I’ll be right beside ye.”
Bram put a finger to her lips. “Grace, ye argue too much.”
She sighed and took the seat he held for her. She looked so nervous, Bram began to worry about the wisdom of granting his father’s request.
When Michael arrived for the feast, he wasn’t surprised to see much of the clan in the hall. As a guardsman, Michael often sat at the laird’s table during meals. But with the addition of the visiting Sinclairs, and in light of all that had happened, he had intended to sit at one of the trestles, which were rapidly filling. Then Kristen caught his eye. She waved and called, “Sir Michael,” from the end of the Laird’s table where she sat next to one of the most beautiful women he had ever seen. Fair skin, chestnut hair, and eyes as green as Grace’s.
He approached the table and bowed. “My lady, Kristen, ye look very happy tonight.”
“I am happy. My mama came home. And I found out wots of new fings.”
He grinned at her. “Like what?”
“Wike, this is my cousin Annice.” She gestured to the breathtaking lass beside her. “I wike Annice. Annice, this is Michael. I wike him too.”
“Good evening, my lady,” Michael bowed low.
Lady Annice blushed and smiled. “Good evening, Sir Michael.”
“And I found out, I have anover gweat gwandmover, and new uncoes and a new aunt, and Waird and Wady Suverwand are my gwandpawents too. That’s because Mama mawwied Sir Bwam. Oh, and he is my da now.”
Both Michael and Annice chuckled at her litany. Michael said, “It seems ye have much to be happy about then. Please excuse me. I need to find a place to sit for this fine feast.”
“Sit here,” said Kristen, pointing to the chair beside her.”
“Nay, Kristen, I—”
“Oh, please join us,” said Annice.
“If ye insist,” said Michael. Only a direct order from his laird would have prevented him from denying that request.
“It has been quite a day,” said Annice, “and I’m sure Kristen will like having a friend close.”
Michael smiled. “Kristen is a fine wee lass, I’m certain she has adapted well.”
“Aye, she has,” said Annice.
“And what about ye, lass? I fear none of this is what ye were expecting. How have ye fared today?”