It Happened in Scotland

By: Patience Griffin

Chapter One

Holding her daughter’s hand, Rachel Granger stood at the baggage claim alongside the woman with whom they’d sat on the flight from Chicago to Glasgow. Rachel’s new friend, Cait Buchanan, was flying home, whereas Rachel was bringing her daughter to Scotland for the first time.

Rachel had been to Gandiegow, the small town on the northeast coast of Scotland, twice before. Once to marry her husband. And again to bury him. She glanced down at five-year-old Hannah, who looked so much like her father, Joe. Rachel had been avoiding this trip for the past three years, but it was time for Hannah to meet her great-grandfather whether the village of Gandiegow despised Rachel or not. Her spunky daughter was growing and changing so quickly that Rachel knew this year she had to pull herself together for Hannah’s sake. No more using work as her scapegoat to get out of going to Scotland, especially during the holidays. This year Rachel was going to give her daughter a Christmas. A Christmas with a real tree, gingerbread cookies, and a family gathering.

Cait stepped up to the luggage carousel. “There’s mine.”

“It’s huge. Let me help.” Rachel turned to her daughter. “Can you stay here and watch my things?”

“Sure, Mommy.”

She didn’t have to worry; Hannah would guard Rachel’s tote along with her own Frozen backpack like a loyal and headstrong soldier if anyone got near.

As the large suitcase approached, Cait laughed. “I always pack too much. I was only gone a week, but I brought three times what I needed.” She reached for the handle, Rachel for the wheels. Together they tugged it to the floor with a whoompf.

“I’m glad ye’re taking me up on my offer,” Cait said. “Especially since I’m heading to Gandiegow, too. What are the odds?” A green tinge came over her face and she grimaced. “Do you mind, um, watching . . .”

“Go,” Rachel urged. “We’ve got your luggage.”

Cait raced for the toilet sign while Rachel rolled the humongous bag over to Hannah. The few steps provided just enough time and space for apprehension to once again seep into Rachel. She wasn’t looking forward to staying in Gandiegow, but she’d come a long way from the twenty-four-year-old bride who’d walked down the aisle in the village’s church and then the young widow who’d laid a rose on her husband’s grave. The village hadn’t known when she’d been back for the funeral that she and Joe had separated and were heading for a divorce, but they’d spurned her just the same for bringing one of their own home in an urn.

Rachel rested Cait’s bag beside Hannah and sighed heavily, feeling much older than thirty. Death, responsibility, and parenthood could do that to a person.

“Mommy?” Hannah said. “Is Cait going to be okay?”

Rachel wrapped her arm around her daughter’s shoulders. “Yes. Cait will be fine.” Nothing seven or so months wouldn’t cure.

The way Cait had been downing saltines all through the flight, especially during the turbulence, made her pregnancy obvious. Rachel had experienced the same joy and anxiousness which showed on her new friend’s face.

Right when Rachel was beginning to worry, Cait reappeared—white, wrung-out, but with a small smile on her face.

“Sorry about that,” she said when she’d rejoined them. She studied Rachel. “So ye’ve guessed.”

“That depends on whether you want anyone to know or not.”

“The morning sickness is much worse this time. The doctor says it’s a good thing. But I haven’t told anyone. Not even my husband.”

Automatically, Rachel’s eyebrows shot up, but she got her reaction under control quickly. She wouldn’t judge. Cait’s relationship with her husband was her own business.

Her new friend bit her lip. “I don’t want to get his hopes up. I’ve miscarried twice before. It’s been hard on him because he travels a lot and he worries about me so.” She glanced at Rachel, hopeful. “So ye’ll keep my secret?”

“Mum’s the word.” She gave her a reassuring smile. Rachel knew a lot about secrets and keeping them hidden. She looked over at her daughter, who was singing the song “Let It Go” quietly to her doll.