laughed then smiled up at Segan. "Thank you. Compliments help to
make the agony of dressing up worth it." Of course she was teasing.
"I'm glad this is turning out so well for Caiome." Even with
all the underlying currents and everything that was going on around
them. "We'll keep an eye on things though, aye?" She had
caught the ladies suddenly around Corina. Uh oh!
that explained quite a bit. He saw Gillean take Caiome in hand, then
glanced to see where Remmington had gone, as well as his family. It
seemed all was under control for the moment. As far as Gillean, the man
would definitely need rest after this was all over. Gillean's words had
him wondering if the Viscount would be able to take more tonight before
Neville was an excellent dancer due to the fact that his late wife had
loved to dance. He glanced at Michael and Bella and chuckled.
"Bella is so full of love and unintentional mischief." He
looked back down to Caiome and that smile remained. Yes, he could be
decent if he didn't have to deal with a certain brother. "Thank you
for inviting us. This is an excellent way to meet your neighbors. I'm
sure they'll be talking about such a lovely affair for days." He
chuckled softly. "And bring up all the old stories and rumors that
abound when the nobles come together."
had enjoyed the dance and found Caiome not only lovely, but well-spoken
with a graciousness few had. He led her from the dancing floor to the
refreshment table and picked up a glass of champagne as well. "Ah,
well, do you see that rather plump gentleman there. That's Lord
Hearthwood. The lovely lass beside him is his wife and it's said she
keeps him happily fed, and does as she pleases." A silly little
rumor there. He pointed out a few others, then sighed, and though it
sounded sincere, it was not. "Of course there are the nastier
rumors like those about Daniel Remmington." He shook his head.
"They say his father was overwhelmed by grief because of his son's
behavior. He, that is Remmington, loved to drink, gamble and was said to
be involved in a few scandals." He smiled, and this time it was
sincere. "But, rumors are just that and not trustworthy. And you
should not have to hear such tonight while you're enjoying
you," lifting her head from that comfortable position to show him
that very guileless smile. It would seem that champagne had a soothing
effect on her. She wasn't slurring her words nor really drunk, more in
the guileless than anything else. Innocent. Naive. Yet, she was not so
much any longer really. Dewar knew the facade she put on. Although it got him
in trouble with her brother more often than not. Such an angelic smile.
One that shone in green eyes. "You look very handsome
tonight," at least she didn't add 'comfortable' too. Had she
snoozed off in a way? It was as if she realized where she was all of a
sudden as her brother and cousin waltzed by. Huge smile swept as easily
as they had and having no clue to the reality of their talk that would
contradict like night and day. She actually lifted a hand from its
resting place on Dewar's shoulder to wave as they passed. Wait. Was that
a dip of brows near the bridge of her brother's nose? Maybe all wasn't as it
seemed. Possibly she just imagined it. The dance came to an end and so
did her closeness to Dewar as they eased from each other. She curtsied.
Low. Gracefully. A sight to behold for the dip in her gown. There and
gone as she stood again with a sweeping glance over all those who
remained, ending upon her brother a moment in linger as he parted with
was having fun in this race, mostly on her part in the reality of it,
with Dewar and his men. They would have to bite in or they would lose
her. Sometimes she managed to disappear out of their sight but would
emerge again with laughter in the air. Probably not appreciated but did
she care? Not with the wind in her hair and the exhilaration that came
with the speed of a thoroughbred beneath. There were times it was
prudent to slow so she didn't wear the horse out. Little did she
realized the great distance they had traveled where it had been late
morning turned into late afternoon. She had finally come to a full halt
only to notice the positioning of the sun and the hunger that was
growing in her stomach. It was also here upon a hilltop she noticed an
estate not far off that spread over rolling hills and rich land. She
waited on Dewar and his men to catch up as she pointed out the scenery.
"What estate is that?" Presently she had not realized she went
from western Kildare to Northeast.
warmth radiated throughout from the hospitality of the staff to the fire
in every room. Not so much in a stuffy, overbearing way but ... just
right. After all, Daniel had not been speaking with his tongue in his
cheek when he promised Caiome that his staff would be awaiting her
arrival. No sooner had they stepped through the front doors then they
were relieved of their outer garments. Nods and welcomes offered from
the higher ranking of the staff pool and Remmington showed Caiome - and
Dewar since he would be following like a puppy on the scent of a biscuit
- to the sitting room. As Daniel crossed over to the tea service that
had been prepared, he started to pour his guest a cup and looked around
his arm to Caiome. "I do beg your indulgence, Lady Callihan. It
will be a short time until something more substantial can be prepared
for you, but until that time, will you not share some tea and
cakes?" One comfortable with entertaining and the mores and
folkways of society, he didn't wait for her answer, but after preparing
for her comfort, carried the small plate of pastries and her cup/saucer
of tea over to her. "Shall we sit closer to the fire, M'Lady? Or
are you quite warm enough?" His smile was well practiced, but for
Caiome, no doubt, it was sincere and as we waited for her to decide, he
answered her question. "My holdings are vast, more than I shall
ever truly need. I thought of maybe dividing it up amongst my retainers,
seeing how they improve upon their lots, and then, depending on their
success, reward them with the land for their efforts. That is just land
though, and you and I both know, that with an estate, land alone does
not a man make." He was well aware that Dewar was in the room. All
too aware. Daniel kept himself cordial, gracious...but blast if he
didn't wish the guard had some other sort of ... hell...you know...
guarding ... to do.
the moment, his gaze lowered to rest on the connection of hand over hand
and there it remained until she retreated by pulling away. Shame really.
One could have hoped with the sampling of wines that Caiome might have
shown more of her Callihan side and less of her reserved Lady of the
Manor side. Still, there was still time over the next months to break
through any barriers of propriety, if it would take that long. Daniel
could wait, he would wait. He had to wait. He studied her eyes and the
hope he witnessed there. An easy smile spread over his features.
"I'm not sure exactly what you might seek within the walls and
bindings of my library, M'Lady. But I assure you, you are more than
welcome to search to your heart's content. For as long as you should
need. Until you find what it is that you seek."
He looked from Caiome to Michael, then rose fully from his seat on his
way to the window. His hand slid along Caiome's lower back just before
she moved away from where she stood to the side of the window and, with
a brush of forearm to curtain, he squinted down to the source of the
sound. No one he knew would be tossing up pebbles to gain his attention.
That was just ... not done.
can have me fired, but ... " Ah shit! Dewar's arm was nearly jerked
from its socket as the horse reared up and he was hard pressed to keep
hold of the reins as he was lifted off his feet. He calmed the horse,
urging it forward so Caiome wasn't trampled. Once the horse was away
enough, he left go of the reins and ran to where she laid. First he
touched her neck to check for a pulse after he knelt down beside her,
and slid his arms beneath her to lift her carefully. The pain in his
shoulder was ignored as he stood.
had just turned, still grimacing at the pain in his shoulder. He wasn't
surprised to see Gillean, though the blow he gave Remmington had both
brows lifting. The Captain was about to answer the Callihan Lord's
question when the other noble answer and Gillean turned on Daniel again.
Good lord. "My Lords, she's waking up." He started inside, and
as he passed Gillean, he added, "And this wasn't Lord Remmington's
fault. It was mine." As much as that bothered him to say it, it was
Prelude to Visit
was nearly over and Regan was still in Montrose. The ball had been fun
though an eye-opening event in many ways. Gillean's words were still
remembered but not with regret or even hatred. His concern for Caoime
was an obsession; there was no other word for it. It went beyond the
worry that her brothers had for her They saw her as stubborn and
reckless, even knowing she could take care of herself. Gillean saw
Caiome as delicate as porcelain, as fragile as a butterfly. She had been
during the time their father had tried to kill Ronan but there was a
strength to Caiome that she was just beginning to realize. Time would
prove who was the stronger.
trip from Thornston to Swan Lake could be long even when the rift was
utilized and especially on a hot day such as this. Daniel's intentions,
because he had to have good ones, were to check with the Lord of Swan
Lake regarding the well being of the Lady, considering her tumble from
the horse. Perhaps discuss any further skirmishes. If there was anything
Thornston could do to assist Swan Lake with the summer pressing in on
them. Yes. All good intentions. For the shade and cool provided, he had
taken to the trees and the narrow path there on his way. A well placed
trot to see him along. But he pulled his mount to slow when he heard
first the squeal, then the splashing and laughing off in the seclusion
of trees. Females. Most definitely. But it was the scream that had him
jerk his mount around and start weaving him through until the thick
foliage would allow the beast to go no farther. He slipped from he
animal, patted his thick neck, and tossed the leather straps over a
limb. A duck of head and he continued on foot, following the sound of
water and voices to the source. And what a lovely source it was! Daniel
had always believed in the luck of those fated for the finer things. Lo
and behold, a lucky man could not be witness to anything finer than
Caiome Callihan swimming naked with a friend. No, it wasn't proper to
watch. But it was also not very smart to pass up an opportunity such as
this one when it was presented. Rather than make his presence known
immediately, he took up a lean within the cover of trees and just
enjoyed the show.
you also enjoy riding? Picnics?" She still had not caught on but if
he kept it up, she probably would eventually. "I have sketches of
how I'd like the garden to turn out as well the front patch of
grass," which was bigger than a patch. "A very large fountain,
one that a person could wade in." She was seeing it in her mind's
eye, any mask usually worn .. gone. Especially when talking on matters
that her heart was into. In a lot of ways she was still very innocent
even if trying her hardest not to come off as such. Eventually it will
catch up to her. Pretenses usually do. "I hope to go sailing with
my cousin. Fishing I'm not so good at." And she left it at that.
"Do you have a lot of small lakes and ponds on your estate
too?" Being it seemed he liked to go swimming. Talking so much she
had not even started her meal and so, with enough questions already out
there, she settled in with her fruit first.
He actually laughed when she dared to admit that she might only be
giving him the time of day for his wealth. He didn't respond more for a
little while, still chuckling under his breath while he shook his head
with disbelief. "Madame, perhaps I am only intrigued because I am a
gallant greatly drawn to a damsel in distress. And Gillean Callihan?
There...my dear lady...is a great cause for distress. And no, not any
more do I regret my father's passing and my need to manage my
inheritance. After all, had I the liberty to set about without any
restrictions, I may not be here, and what a great loss that would be
with such pleasant ... diversions...to be had." Speaking of
diversions. "More wine?"