Highland Echoes:Fated Hearts 02(128)By: Ceci Giltenan
When he released her lips, Grace looked bemused. “What are ye doing?”
“Carrying ye over the threshold.”
“Ye did that last night.”
“But we are home now.”
Early March 1342, Castle Sutherland
The Sutherlands retired to the family solar after the evening meal had been cleared away. Grace sat by the fire, her husband’s arm around her, watching their son Conall play with Uncle Ian on the floor. Conall was ten months old and chortled merrily every time Ian rolled a small wooden ball to him.
“If ye think this is fun Conall, wait till yer mama teaches ye to throw knives.”
“Ian, don’t tease him so,” said his wife, Saundra, who was ready to deliver their first child any day.
“’Tis no jest, Saundra,” said Bram.
“Grace doesn’t throw knives,” said Saundra.
“Well perhaps not on a daily basis,” said Lady Sutherland, who was putting the final touches on several tiny garments, “but she’s more accurate than any man I’ve ever seen.”
“Flying neeps don’t stand a chance around yer mama,” said Ian.
“Mama,” echoed Conall.
Saundra looked to Innes, who sat in a chair near the fire with Kristen’s gray cat, Sprite, lounging in her lap. “Innes, are they all having one over on me?”
Innes chuckled. “Nay, they aren’t. To quote the laird, Grace can ‘Split a fly’s hair at twenty paces.’”
Saundra looked at Grace in awe. “Will ye teach me?”
Ian laughed so hard tears streamed down his face.
“What are ye laughing at?” she demanded.
“I was just imagining ye throwing knives at flying neeps, my love.”
“Saundra, ye don’t need to start by trying to hit flying neeps. Aiming at a big laughing arse of a husband might be easier,” said Bram.
“Bram, mind yer language,” scolded his mother, “little ears.”
“It’s all right, Grandma,” said Kristen, who was almost five years old. “I’ve heard Da say ‘arse’ before.”
Lady Sutherland looked pointedly at her errant son while Laird Sutherland tried desperately not to laugh at the wee light of his life who sat on his lap.
Grace scolded, “Kristen, ye needn’t repeat everything Da says and Bram ye do need to mind yer tongue.” Before she could tell Saundra that she would be happy to teach her to throw knives, there was a knock at the door.
“In,” called Laird Sutherland.
A messenger entered. “Laird, I bring a message from Laird MacLeod.”
Laird Sutherland held out his hand for the missive. Opening it, he scanned it and his eyebrows drew together.
“Nothing’s happened to Davy, has it?” asked Saundra, fear marring her features. Davy was her late sister’s son.
“Nay. Well, I mean, aye, he had a little accident but he is well. Apparently a MacKay lass was nearby and helped him.” Laird Sutherland read on.
“Poor lass,” said Ian.
“Is she in danger?” asked Grace.
Bram frowned. “The MacKays and the MacLeods have been feuding over their border for years.”
“If she helped the boy, they wouldn’t hurt her, would they?” asked Grace.
Laird Sutherland said, “Don’t worry so, Grace. Laird MacLeod just wants me to send a messenger on his behalf to Laird MacKay so he can arrange to return her.” He folded the missive and said to the messenger, “go down to the great hall and ask someone to get ye something to eat. I’ll send Laird MacLeod’s message on with one of my men tomorrow.”
“Aye, Laird.” The messenger bowed and left.
“Now, lass, where were we?” Eanraig asked Kristen.
“Ye were going to tell me the story about the selkie,” answered Kristen.
“Aye, the selkie. Once upon a time…”
Later that night, long after both children were tucked into bed, Grace lay sated in Bram’s arms.
“Grace, my love, ye delight me.”
“I know,” she said with a cheeky grin.
He laughed. “Now, lass, the polite thing to say is, thank ye, or ye delight me too.”
“Ye delight me too, Bram.”
He nuzzled her neck until she giggled. “I love that sound,” he said. He kissed her lips, eliciting a soft moan. “I love that sound too. In fact, I love everything about ye.”