Highland Hellcat(7)

By: Mary Wine

Kaie smothered a horrified gasp.

“Ye see there? That’s why marriage is a matter for yer father to be negotiating, because there are details that come into play far beyond whether or no’ a lass takes a fancy to a lad.” Their father stopped for a moment and fixed Kaie with a hard look. “Are ye still pure?”

Kaie stiffened, her face tightening. “I most certainly am.”

“Mind yer tone, Daughter. Those who allow scheming to happen without raising the alarm deserve to have their honor questioned. Ye will nae be escaping this with a few words tossed at me declaring how repentant ye are. This is more than just one girl shaming her father, because I am laird of the Chattan. Ye have been taught that since ye were old enough to leave yer nurse’s arms—everything ye do has more weight because of who yer father is.”

“I would happily remain pure forever, Father. I do nae want to wed.”

Their sire made a disgusted sound and waved his hand in the air.

“Enough, I’ve a daughter to fetch back, and yer future is settled.”

Kaie suddenly found her courage. “Please, Father, send me to the abbey. I want to be a bride of Christ.”

“Has this castle been invaded by demons?” Robert sputtered because he was so frustrated. “Both ye and Deirdre seem to have gone mad with the desire to argue against the place that ye have known would be yers by my word.”

“It is nae madness, Father. I have a true calling to serve the church.” Kaie hit her chest with a tightly closed fist. “Allow me to go in Brina’s place.”

Brina felt her breath freeze in her chest.

“Enough, Daughter. I’ve shook hands with Roan McLeod, and that’s the bond of every Chattan.”

“Give him Brina,” Kaie insisted.

“Nay.” Their father made a slashing motion with his hand. “Yer sister has been raised to obey only God as her master; she’ll take her position at the abbey.”

Laird Chattan walked to the door, his stride taking him there quickly. He and his captains were gone almost in the same moment his words finished echoing between the stone walls. That left Brina and Kaie with nothing, save for the soft flicker of the candles that burned on the table.

“Do nae look at me like that, Brina. I meant it. I want to remain pure, not wed.” Kaie snarled her words, turning so quickly that her skirts flared out from her ankles.

“Yer temper is misplaced, Kaie. I am a daughter too and made no choice on where either of us is intended to be sent.”

Brina’s voice was loud and bounced off the chamber walls. Her sister flinched, but Brina felt no remorse for her.

“How could ye keep silent? Men may well die over this.”

Brina shivered, and it was not the chill in the air that caused her to do it; it was the possibility of revenge from the Lindsey clan.

“The Douglas clan would be a far-better alliance,” Kaie snapped. “They are in love, and a Douglas would be a safer marriage in these times.”

“The Douglas seek the crown, and everyone knows it. Deirdre may well stand beside her lover when he is run through because the rest of the clans do nae want the Douglas to hold so much power. We have a king.”

Kaie shook her head. “A king who is naught but a boy. Who knows if he shall ever grow up? He would not be the first boy king who died before becoming a man and he has no brothers.”

“You should nae say such things.” Brina turned to look back at the chamber doorway. They had no door because they were maidens, and closed doors inspired rumors.

“And you should no’ be so trusting…” Kaie’s words trailed off, pity covering her features. “You have everything that I desire.”

“But why have you never spoken until now, Kaie? Father could nae reward ye after the captains heard that ye did nae tell him about Deirdre.”

Brina failed to mask her frustration. It bled into her tone, and she realized that she was becoming far too discontented with her lot. That was a poor choice to make for the only one who would suffer from her unhappiness would be her.

Her sister wrapped her arms around herself. “I’m sorry, Brina. Ye are correct, but I do nae have the same spirit that ye do. I long to go to the abbey, where I can commune with God.”