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The Cunninghams

Date: 01-21-09
Poster: Broch Cunningham
Post # 1

Serious Family Talk

The time had come to finally call a meeting of his family now that they were all in one place. Time seemed to slip away far too easily as life took it up with challenges and everyday things. There was always one of them not available, sometimes more. This night, however, the four of them were not only in the lands but under the one roof. So after the dinner was enjoyed, he asked them to meet with him in his office at an hours time. No other plans were to be made and only way it would be held off was if some huge dire emergency came up. The family meeting was long overdue after finally all being reunited. He was in the spacious room that had become his office, standing in front of one of the windows looking out. Big man blocked what little light was still offered as dusk was settling in. Hands tucked behind his back, he was enjoying the sight of the snow falling. The crackle of the logs burning in the hearth a backdrop of warmth in defiance to the cold outside. It also gave him a moment to let his mind go blank, so much had to be addressed and he knew no prepared speech could touch it properly anyway. And so he waited, comfortably attired in a woolen vest of dark brown over a tan poet's shirt, brown pants and boots of a lighter shade.

Laura was finally able to spend more time with her family with the new teachers finally in place. She had cooked tonight, enjoying a task that she enjoyed, especially with all her brothers home. Broch's request had her curious but she was nothing if not patient. She went up to her room to go over some materials then when it was close to the hour, headed downstairs and for Broch's office. Being he had asked them to meet, she gave a light tap to the door before stepping through. She smiled at the sight of Broch standing there, grateful for so much gained. She was still wearing the velvet gown from earlier, a dark green that brightened her eyes. She was over to hug Broch, peering out the window. "It's beautiful, isn't it?" She didn't even mind when she had to travel in the snow.

Logan was too use to the cold that he only wore a poet's shirt that was left open half way down the front. Tails were tucked into black well made pants as well black boots worn. A hand ran through dampen hair as he'd washed up in that hour so it would be dry before he sought his bed or even ventured outside. Logan was like a caged lion if trapped indoors for too long a time. He'd pace the rooms and drive everyone crazy. Luckily he was fine presently as he swooped in after Laura, "a fine wife you'll make some lucky mon one day with your splendid cooking." Mark her calendar, he was paying her a serious compliment. She had outdone herself and deserved the praise. Logan didn't dish praise out easily, very sparingly and needed to be well earned. He could be a hard taskmaster as Mike found out when teaching him to scale cliffs with him. There was a good reason, mainly the difference between life and death.

Michael had gone out to the stable to check on Card Shark. Though he trusted the stable boys, it did him good to see to the care of the horse at times. Tonight, however, he had merely talked to the older man who watched over the horses. He didn't wish to smell of horse when he joined his family. He slipped his boots off at the door and slipped on a pair of low ones after hanging up his cloak. The last of the four to arrive, he grinned as he joined them. "Aye, you've a talent for it, Laura." He added to the compliment he heard Logan give. He was comfortable in an Aran sweater worn over black pants.

Hands unfolded as he was around, smile tucked within the trim beard but Laura would notice the serious edge to his eyes. Burnished green hue was deeper tonight. They had seen him go from serious stages to lighthearted, the last having been the way of it for numerous months. He seemed carefree more than ever, in spite of a topic none of them had broached, his wife Maureen, other than they knew she had died in one of the clan wars. A marriage that came about after they were gone. No children had been born to them in the brief year they were married. Well, his cousin. Then again, they hadn't known his cousin's devotion to her. So that was a saving grace other than they might suspect he'd be fiercely devoted, fiercely love the one he married. He returned the hug with that extra feel in it, like one not certain of their standing or returned love taken away at any moment. "It bae beautiful, aye." He spoke just like the brother they had known before the separation, just older. One who had spent far many more years in Eire's highlands than they. Logan and Mike each got a clasp to their shoulder, clan style before he was indicating the grouping of chairs in front of the hearth. A table near with various drinks they could partake of. "Com' get comfortable by t'e fire and we s'all talk o' a few t'ings." His presenting belying the serious of one part of the talk to come.

Laura tipped her head back to study him a moment then Logan caught her by surprise. Her smile was bright for the compliment as she turned to look at him. "Don't hold your breath on a husband. I don't even have a beau yet, but thank you. It's always good to know my cooking is appreciated." She was over to the table first, to pour a bit a potcheen punch for herself before sitting. She knew the three wouldn't sit until she was seated and didn't want to make them stand or wait. This obviously was something important.

"Aye, famous words, not yet. You will once you get out a bit more." Like he was one to talk. He hadn't even had his head turned yet by a lass but then he wasn't around socially. Too busy scaling cliffs or other such fun, fun for him anyway. Except the intensity of moss green eyes turned on Michael especially. "Some of us have been in the company of the fairer sex," lingering there longer than the glimpse given Broch. He was his usual daring as he down into the comfort of a chair with little aplomb. Long legs stretched out and his body sunken into the cushions of the chair. He'd gotten a glass of the potcheen to imbibe upon while listening. He figured it would be more listening but always prepared to participate if required.

He chuckled as he listened to Logan and Laura then a brow lifted with Logan's look. He just grinned and shrugged. "Aye, some of us have." He wouldn't deny it. After all, he was spending a lot of time with Brigid of late. He went for scotch tonight and instead of taking his usual lean, sat near Laura, turning his focus to Broch.

"I would like tae touc' upon lig'ter matters first. T'ere bae t'e smallest matter o' giv'in a name tae our manor. Sae I would like yea tae bae t'ink'in o' a name t'en we can decide later." The one he planned to propose had meaning behind it and he needed to still discover if it would apply after his talk. "Dae any o' yea 'ave concerns? I kin fir meself I need tae fine me a 'obby w'en not tak'in care o' family matters." He was head of the house and their small clan. "Iffin yea 'ave any ideas I'd be glad 'n t'e present'in o' t'em. I 'ave t'ought of join'in yea 'n bounty 'unting if t'ere bae anot'er needed. T'ere bae t'e news o' t'e possibility o' some o' our cousins coming tae live wit' us eventually. T'is came about 'n me trip back tae Eire o' last." Taking a drink at this point, kicking the whole of the potcheen back for that matter before refilling his glass as he let them speak up as they would. He hadn't even addressed the brief look his way for a few reasons. Mostly too much on his mind.

A name for the manor? She'd have to do some thinking on that. Her brow furrowed as she tried to think of any concerns. Of course, she had one and that was the bounty hunting but she'd not say a word to any of her brothers. She felt she sounded more like their mother than sister when she nagged. But they all meant so much to her. "Cousins?" There were still some alive?

"So you found some of our cousins." He gave a thoughtful nod to that. It had been some time, a different lifetime ago. If anyone could find them it was their brother for knowing the highlands so well. "On my part, they would be welcome of course." Highlands were a rough life as each of them well knew, though family ties were strong. It was that strength that helped them endure what was needed. The weak of body and heart didn't survive the highlands. Probably one of the inborn determination he had to scale the impossible, gave him that feeling of danger and being alive. If he ever met a woman that could give him that kind of feeling then he'd probably fall for her complete. It was a high order so he didn't think it would come about, didn't worry over it either. "I know there is the concern on our chosen profession in life." Pointedly turning a look Laura's way then back. "I think it is inborn in us and we're good at getting to the bad guys and bringing them to justice."

"I'd have no problem with them coming either though I doubt if I'd remember them." He offered a slight smile to Laura when Logan spoke up, nodding slowly as he looked back to Broch. "It works out well and of course, you'd be more than welcome to join us." There were times an extra pair of eyes or hands would have been welcome. "Then again, we're concerned about the traveling you need to do, Laura, though it's cut back some. Of course, you stay on the main  roads so it's not too bad except in this weather." And the concern on Broch becoming a bit of a hermit had passed. "Beyond that ... " He shrugged.

"Yea bae meet'in 'em fir t'e first time." Leaving it go at that for it was neither here nor there until he heard from them in such a way. There was a fleeting moment's consideration not to tell the fantastic tale he was about to. They, in the least, might feel he had gone mad. The first clue was the fact the brogue was gone. "There is something that plagues upon me to relate to you all for in the least it is a fantastic tale that you might not believe because of such. I feel, obligate, nonetheless to tell you of it. If we are to be family, tightly knit, those bonds should be made on total honesty of anything considered serious. It may change your view of me and it may not. I can hope for the latter." He needed another drink which had him kicking back what was in his glass before refilling it again. It was not like him to drink so and that too might clue them in on how hard it was for him at this moment. He would have to divulge things he didn't like about himself as well.

Laura had taken several drinks from her glass but as Broch spoke, and without the brogue, she placed it aside on the table. She might need it when he was talking but she wanted to give him her full attention. Glancing at Logan and Michael, she turned back to watch Broch take another drink.

He well noted the serious mannerisms of one about to tell something that was a struggle for them. Brogue gone came as a surprise but then they all had gradually lost the heavier one. Well, not that quickly, like snuffing out the flame on a candle. He was up from his slouch in the seat, glance given Laura and Mike in turn as an arm came to rest along his knee as he lean slightly forward. He was all ears, not a word to distract his brother.

His expression changed from one of thoughtfulness to one of concern. When they found one another, Broch's seriousness had worried him though it was understandable. Now, he was worried again, and it sounded like for good reason. He exchanged glances with Logan and Laura then looked back to Broch. "You have our attention, Broch."

A passing glance was given his cousins-siblings before a nod, he took the moment to set his empty glass next to the bottle of potcheen. "You remember Da telling you of his brother that was lost at sea along with his wife and son, Broch?" Though posed as a question he knew from some of the lingering memories within his cousin's body that such had been. Those lingering memories had served him well in fitting within the body of his namesake and that of his father. "The lad survived and ended up on England's shores an orphan but with a will to survive. Around nine years old and with a cunning nature he managed. Slept in hovels, alleyways behind garbage bins. Some gave him coins but most food he stole. He became good at surviving and stealing that he attracted a man's attention that employed, using the term lightly, boys to steal for him. He offered shelter and protection, the latter being very questionable." Giving a wave of his hand as he could be here all night if got sidetracked to particulars.

"He had been a good laddie up until fate changed his destiny, loved his parents and now bitter against the world and life itself for taking them from him. He grew into an angry man one with skills above the average. With this older man they stole from the elite as well the middle class. He sent Broch on his final mission to these very lands in disguise of an older, long lost brother of the Frasier Clan. He nearly got away with it if it wasn't for his lusting of women, a womanizer amongst all his other sins. He was killed but neither heaven nor hell didn't open up to him. There had been enough good to balance the bad and so he was offered redemption. He had to go back and help the Frasier family as an earthbound entity," another name for a ghost, "and save the little girl from an evil on the ethereal level. One he was upon himself and could fight there. He won that battle but that little piece of heaven he hoped for didn't come just yet. Instead he found himself back in the highlands of Eire in spirit form still." He decided not to tell the part on their brother trying to end his life for it was only a moment of anguish such an idea had come and not the true strength of the man. "It was here he ran into your brother Broch. A man discouraged after losing his family, brothers and sister and then his wife Maureen he had loved more than life itself. There is only so much a heart can endure in this life and his had maxed out. He could see the spirit Broch, his cousin who was a mirror image in looks although ten years his senior at the time of his death. He had been named after the lost uncle and cousin.

The spirit Broch helped him defeat another warring clan but your brother was wounded very badly in this battle and couldn't be found for the terrain it had covered. He had lifted from his body and Maureen came to him. He was at that borderline between life and death, had he the will to live he would survive. He didn't have this will especially seeing his Maureen again. It was she that told him his siblings were alive. He could stay and try to find you or, as a higher suggestion was made by ones unseen even to me, he could allow his cousin, myself, to take over his body and he go with Maureen. I was asked to find you, to bring you together once more as a family if I too accepted this rare offer. It would give me back the life I should have led, to lead it out as he would have done and one day collect that redemption offered, earned this time in due course of living. Darkness fell like night descends and when I awoke I was in excruciating pain. A woman had come and taken me away deep into the woods to care for me until I was well. Leaving the clan to think their Laird had died, for in essence your brother had and I was not to stay as Laird of the clan. It was to go to another cousin whom was deserving to lead." They may well notice how his story went from addressing the cousin as a third person to first person by the end of the tale. "I am your cousin Broch in your brother's body." He waited now with a held breath to see how they responded. It could go so many ways but he was
silently praying for the best.

Laura's expression went from concern to incredulous disbelief. There had been so many years of separation from her brothers that she didn't truly remember their personalities fully, even if she had kept the memories she had close to her heart. She could remember that Broch had been the serious one, most of the time, though there had always been the usual pranks when they were young. She stood as Broch finished, moving away from all her brothers and began to pace. "It's ... quite a lot to take in, isn't it?" Finally speaking. She didn't want to think Broch had lost his mind but the story .... She looked at Broch then at her brothers Michael and Logan, feeling quite helpless.

Logan sat there staring at his brother-cousin. Not so much that he disbelieved him but he was finding it hard to wrap his mind around a long dead cousin, twice over by the tale. One assumed, one real and now in his brother's body they had thought dead. Forgive him if this was a bit difficult and if he kept trying he'd probably end up with a migraine over it. So he stepped passed that catch. What became important, as he could see within his brother-cousin's expression was if they could accept what had transpired. He could have walked away once they were all found as well, his commitment completed but he had stayed. He kicked back what was in his glass before setting it aside. Each of them would have to come to terms with all of this, he could only speak for himself. He was up and over to embrace Brock, cousin, brother or both, in clan style. Shoulders gripped with a quick fierce hug before stepping back. "Brother or cousin, you're still blood and brother as far as I'm concerned. Something that is done by higher levels than I can comprehend but trust you in the relating of all this and that you are as sane as any of us. I've seen my share of the unexplainable to believe you. I have tons of questions. Are you anything like the Broch that had been here to harm the Frasier family, womanizer? I don't think you are but best to ask for then I'd have to whip your hide. I'll not judge otherwise that which those higher than I have already."

Mike watched Broch's face as he talked, leaning forward as he went deeper into the story. Elbows resting on his knees, his drink held loosely with both hands between, he showed little expression until Broch finished. Of the three, he had noticed little differences but considered them quirks that Broch had developed over the years. He watched Logan, finishing his potcheen while he spoke though the mention of being a womanizer had him smiling slightly. Broch was anything but. "Aye, it is a lot to take in but like Logan said, who are we to question the fact you were given a second chance. You have our brother's memories then as well as your own? Do the Frasiers know or suspect who you are?" He stood and was over to Broch as well, giving him a quick hug and then the grip of both shoulders. "For the past few years, you've been Broch, our brother. I'll find it hard to think of you as anything else."

"If I retained any of those sins, I'd let you whip my arse into shape, Logan." Of his two kin, Logan was big and strong enough to give him what for in any fight. Possibly beat him. Hopefully, other than in a good way, it would never come to that kind of fighting between them. "Being dead had me appreciate life and regret I had thrown mine away in bitterness. I should have gotten past that and possibly I would have it the turn of events hadn't included a man who hated the Frasiers with a passion. If the opportunity ever arose, I would single handed kill that man for them. I feel both Neale and Danny suspect there is more to me than a cousin that happens to look very much like the Broch they killed in a fight, over a woman no less. I had been their personal ghost, especially Danny. On his end, he had forgiven but I don't know if Neale ever could let alone know for certain the situation.

As the saying goes, best to let sleeping dogs lie. I am not a threat to them and would only help like I last had. I debated to tell you all, for I could have just gone along as your brother and none the wiser to the full truth of it. My conscience nagged at me enough I felt it knew better that I was to tell you no matter the reaction. Something about honesty and the right to know the truth. I have many memories of before the clan uprisings that separated you all. Some are more hazy than others and near all of those on Maureen are wiped out other than how true and deep his love was for her. I feel I can say on your brother's behalf that he loves you all and will always, hoping you can understand that it was his time to go and be where his heart was. Each of you will hopefully one day have the kind of love your brother had. Each of you will have your own lives to live and know that there is life after death, perhaps even moreso than living in this temporary condition."

Laura watched her brothers, feeling quite confused. Then again, if he had been given a second chance, not only by their brother but by higher powers, how could she not accept? It might take her some time to adjust but she was over to hug Broch tightly. "Life throws us a lot of surprises, doesn't it?" She said softly as she clung to him. "But, it really doesn't change much. I love you, Broch. Both of you." A hint of an imp's smile appeared. "You're the eldest in any case."

He gripped Mike's shoulders clan style before he had Laura wrapped up into his arms. "This might sound odd, but I feel more your brother than cousin. Perhaps that is why certain memories were left to become mine as well if I wished." Glancing between Mike and Logan, "I have a very serious side but it was something I needed to step away from until needed." Humor was a way of enjoying life more fully, to laugh with others, to tease and challenge. To sharpen one's wit, sharpened the mind in other ways as well. It had gotten to the point all that had transpired became as a dream and he was fully their brother. That would also not be fair to their brother's memory, a deceit, hence he knew he needed to tell them. "Know that he is very happy where he is and awaits the time when each of us will join him and Maureen." He felt he couldn't say enough in favor of cousin and brother. He also knew this would be kept between them. Cousins that may come did not need to know.

"Well, then," Mike grinned as things seemed to be well settled. "Why don't we go to the kitchen and have another piece of pie before we all head for bed. I can't think of a better way to seal the deal so to speak." He winked at Laura. Things hadn't been so bad after all. In fact, they were looking pretty good.

"Aye, all this thinking has worked up my appetite." See, Logan had a sense of humor as well. "Pie is good for many things as long as it gets consumed. Especially Laura's pies." Logan stepped closer to his sister as an arm slipped around her drawing her into a side hug. "I might tease you a lot but that is because I love you as well. Love me brothers too, cousin-brother as well," tease sent Broch's way before lifting a hand, "I'll not be making a habit of calling you that so getting it in now before such will cease once we leave this room for pie."

He almost forgot with all the emotions that ran for the telling of the fantastical truth. Stalling his siblings for they certainly were at this point. "I propose to name the manor Teaghlach Manor, it means simply, in Gaelic, Family Manor." Simple but held a lot of meaning to him which he hoped they felt it too.


Logan paused in his ushering of Laura to the kitchen as the suggestion was announced. He didn't even need to think on it. "I like it. Family." Something they had not for some time and now had. It was appropriate in his mind.


"I can't think of anything better." He didn't say more, didn't feel it was necessary. The name made the circle complete.


She leaned against Logan after the mutual hug, smiling. The name was beautiful. "I think it's perfect. It says a lot and means even more." And then she grinned. "I'll make a fresh pot of coffee too. It will only take a minute." The relief she felt washed over her as they headed out of the office and for the kitchen. Their family was intact and with Broch's honesty, the ties that bound them were only stronger.


Date: 02-03-09
Poster: Broch Cunningham
Post # 2

Dinner Bet
(Warning: adult content)

She finally got around to preparing a dinner for Broch. And the Dining room at the Thistle provided the room she needed. She was already there, had been for a little bit to make sure everything was all set. Two tables had to be pulled together and there was a lacy tablecloth spread over each. What took the longest was setting the food out. She promised a dinner, which should have been a simple matter. She promised a dinner, but surely he didn't expect to walk into a grand feast. There were platters all over the place. Salads, soup, quail with pepper sauce, veal, chicken and vegetable dishes in the mix of breads and a few items for dessert. There were candles lit, too. She'd finished placing the silverware and she checked the champagne, in a bucket of ice, to make sure it was chilled enough for a decent taste. Satisfied, now it was just waiting. She wore a dress of crushed velvet, a shimmering emerald green that laced up her back. It wasn't full, if anything, it gave way to more of her.. shape than anything else she owned had. Her hair was down, wavy and swept behind her shoulders. She paced the floors, nervously, as she waited.

Broch had received the note from Gaelle on a time and place for the dinner bet he won. Surprised them both he had actually won the race that night after not two previous times. Maybe he had been holding out. Maybe it was luck. One never knew for sure with him. He debated what to wear, casual or dressed up and finally settled for the standard that fitted any occasion. He had taken time with his appearance, hair combed out and braids redone, some spicy smelly stuff to splash on before he collected the fur cloak and was out the door. He arrived at the appointed time with Alex directing him to the small dining area rarely used of the Thistle. One that was kept spotless nonetheless. The door pressed open as he came in cloak and all. Standing there a moment as he stared at all the food set out. That's when he called out over his shoulder. "Appetite, get yea arse in 'ere, yir needed." As if a separate entity, closing the door then before removing his cloak. He was wearing the full Cunningham kilt ensemble. It had a way of giving him a regal appearance, highland style, for he had been their warlord until coming here. Although it was fur lined boots that laced up his legs almost to where the kilt's hem started instead of socks and shoes. One could see his knees, each with a dimple and certainly muscular legs. Smile slowly drew up as he had caught the end of her pacing and now appreciating her attire. "Yea bae look'in beautiful, Gaelle." Words lower in a thicker brogue.

She was quite thankful that Alex allowed her to use the room. Quite thankful. When the door opened, she whirled around and grew still. When he called out for backup, his.. appetite, she laughed into the palm of her hand, muffling the sound of it. Her eyes glittered, and when her hand fell away, he was treated to a broad curve of a smile. She looked over him slowly, no doubt appreciating his appearance. From the braids, to the kilt. Her throat cleared gently when she lifted her eyes to his. "You look quite handsome, Broch, and thank you." She felt a rise of heat in her cheeks, rose and fire as the blush showed its true colors. "I hope you're hungry." She glanced to the table and the assortment offered. There was diced cheese in there, too, fruit even. It was hard for her to locate some of this stuff. She didn't hesitate in starting. She seemed to be playing the roll of some type of server as well. She had a bowl of soup and a salad complete with sliced, tiny mandarin oranges in the place she felt he should sit. Why, at the end of the table, of course. She even uncorked the champagne and poured some of it into two glasses.

A large hand splayed against his chest as his head tipped forward, respectful gesture in return to her compliment. Hand falling away as it only took two long steps to come up close. That brief second towering over her before he had her into his arms. Warmth encircled as well the spicy scent to tease her senses. "I bae very 'ungry." But the look in burnished green eyes could have her wonder exactly what he might be hungry for. More with the next words, "bout let us eat w'at yea 'ave fixed first." Arms sliding away as he was to sit at the end of the table. Like a king. He fitted that appearance and bearing as he took up a seat. One leg angled out with the material of the kilt folding down between. A hand to rest there against his knee as she poured the champagne. Eyes in watch of her every movement. It was obvious she was not going to join in the meal but feed him. Such a wicked gleam with a thought.

She had the bottle in her hand when he approached and she carefully held onto it when he swept her in his arms. She returned the embrace, and took a moment to inhale the scent of him. It was enough to cause her breath to catch. Spicy. And on the opposite end of the spectrum, she smelled sweet, and warm. Vanilla and wild flowers. What he said nearly caused her to drop the bottle, but she didn't, thankfully. She watched his eyes when he took his seat, then finally swept in to finish pouring his glasses. She might join in, pick at the food here and there, but yes, her main plan was to feed him. She set the bottle back into the bucket and unfolded the cloth napkin that contained the silverware. She glanced over him, and though she might have had the idea to place the cloth in his lap, she dropped that idea rather quickly. He might have even guessed what was on her mind, just by the way she hesitated in releasing the napkin, and by the way her gaze kind of ducked.. down.. to his lap. She stepped away, off to the side to sink into a chair next to him. "Yes, eat," she murmured, delayed. "I hope you like it." She did seem nervous, frightened that he would hate everything she made for him!

Vanilla still tantalized his senses as he sat watching. That glint only brightened with the look when she hesitated with the napkin. Oh yes, it was as if he could read her thoughts. Which only had the other resolve emphasized. "Yea bae quite efficient, Gaelle. 'ave yea ever eaten a feast," for certainly this was a feast she prepared, "'ighland style?" He planned to enjoy this meal to the fullest, as with a lean towards her, a hand reached out that she might take it.

Her brow slowly arched. She had been a dreamer from birth and it was all imagination that had gotten her this far with the feast she prepared for him. And yet his question caught her by surprise. She slowly shook her head, indicating that she had not.. "No? I did not know there were differences.." And she didn't. She watched his stretching hand and took it into one of her own, unsure if she should rise from her chair or stay seated. For now, she stayed seated. Her teeth sank into her lower lip gently, lending her a rather sheepish (and maybe a little innocent) look.

She was to rise with his gentle tug, urging her forward as he guided her close then down onto his extended knee. So there was a reason he sat the way he did. He place food on his plate in good helpings but he forego using the utensils. His hands were clean and he was sure hers were. The cloth napkin would be made good use of. As a king would favor his woman, he offered up a chunk of the slightly greasy quail, compared to chicken. To her lips it went as he was watching her intently and what he was doing so he didn't drop any bit of the meat. She would be eating from his fingers, far more personal.

Indeed different. At least, sitting on his knee was quite different. He might note that she wasn't so gabby as usual. Perhaps she was slightly nervous, still, or she was far too swept up in some kind of spell that he'd unknowingly cast on her that it made her speechless. She settled down against him, not weighing so much which was probably quite a blessing to him. First, she watched his eyes, hoping to catch sight of something within him that might give her a clue to what he was thinking, feeling. Her attention moved, though, to his hand and she glanced from his fingers, back to his eyes, and right back to his fingers again. The smile that curved her mouth came slow, but steady and she tucked her chin down just slightly to take the offered bit of quail, right into her teeth before she moved it aside with a roll of her tongue. She kissed the tips of his fingers then, before she straightened up. She wasn't too bold.. yet. But she was bold enough to copy his actions. She, too, took up a chunk of the quail in her fingers, and she leaned towards him slightly when she offered it to his mouth. Instead of watching his mouth though, she watched his eyes closely.

Burnished eyes were on her, every little nuance captured. They darkened to almost a fire to heat their depths. Eyes could far more expressive than facial muscles alone. Combined, even greater. He made sure every bit eased passed her lips, "t'is bae a guid meal," not just the cooking but in how it would be eaten. He wonder if she realized the ancient pagan appeal of a man and woman not only sharing food but feeding each other. It was very symbolic, very enticing. Words barely out when she picked up on it naturally. Had a twitch of a smile for that very fact. Lips folded over the morsel to then slide over the tips of her fingers, teeth in grab of the meat to ease it free. He closed his eyes as he chewed and swallowed the bit, making a throaty sound of pleasure. Luring kind in an undercurrent this whole ritual herald.

She learned quickly, so it seemed. Though she wasn't sure at all about the ritual itself, there was something definitely enticing, she found, about the way this whole dinner was unfolding. "Yes.. it is. I agree," she whispered. She found it difficult to lift her voice above that, above a whisper. Not only that, her heart suddenly fluttered, skipped a beat when he took the food from her fingers. She was too aware of the heat of his breath, the moisture of his lips. Timid, she realized--she felt quite timid! It was so strange, only because there was another side of her that wanted to show itself; the teasing side. She didn't say a word, yet, though she did shiver when he made that sound. She'd never had a man react like this around her before. It was new, foreign, thrilling even that she could have him react this way around her. When her fingers were free of food, and he was busy chewing, she reached for the champagne. This, she offered him, too--carefully held to his mouth.

"Yea bae a 'ighland lass at 'eart." Which was a compliment coming from him, not only the words in tone but the look in his eyes. He took up a portion of the chicken to offer her next, easing it to her lips in wait. Eyes continued to have that molten look as they strayed from her eyes to her lips. If one could have another feel as if their lips were on theirs without touching, it would be now. She might also realize he was reveling in the way she reacted to him. One of those that fed each other just as he was feeding her. There was a method behind the madness as it was phrased. A testing. They were friends, that had been established. He felt there might be more. She had not refused or felt uncomfortable sharing the food far more intimately, nor sitting on his lap. More even, he finally felt himself a good man that he could actually pursue this avenue. Far different than a past life he was finally letting go of.

"I am?" She quietly inquired. "What makes you say that, Broch?" If she had anything else to ask, she'd forgotten the question. She turned her dark eyes down to his fingers. His were molten, hers were smoldering. Though it was something she tried to mask, hide, because she wasn't quite sure how he'd take seeing such a heated look in her eyes. She opened her mouth and took in the chicken, again it was tipped to the side, in between her molars. And her lips even closed around his fingers, too. Not all the way, but the tips of them certainly had. She trembled in response, breaking away with a hitched breath before she offered the champagne to him again. She tilted it carefully, against his mouth for a drink. Only, when she pulled the glass away after he'd had some of it, she didn't set it aside. She took a drink herself.

For a man that had been dead, mind open to the ethereal even still, he could tell the look even if she tried to mask it. Satisfied too to see it. With the offer of the champagne, he took a drink but it was the fact she drank from it as well that sealed the thought of her being of a highland soul. "Because yea bae, mae lovely Gaelle." Voice was thicker as well lower in the finality sound of his statement. Now would come the truth. "Yea kin we bae friends bout now I bae t'inking we bae more. Somet'ing tae explore iffin yea feel t'e same?" The question in his eyes in wait of her response. He was the type there would be no hard feelings if not and they remain nothing more than friends, for he cherished that already, if she didn't feel the same. It was one of those crucial roads to take in decision. One that at the moment presented, she should know her answer as well.

Her lips pursed in thought, then she smiled for him. Everything she was doing, that he caught onto, she did without really thinking; the things that made him think of her having a highland soul. She set the glass down, finally, almost blindly. She had her eyes on his still, especially when he voiced his question. It had been something she had thought on quite a bit. "I have thought on this, dreamed of this, you do realize. Wishing for a day you'd ask, or mention, or say.. something.." Her words were breaking up. She didn't have food to offer him this time, instead she was leaning closer, closer to press a kiss to his mouth. He may note the restraint she held, as if she might be fighting a war against what had to be, no doubt, hunger. Her lips were soft, her breath warm, and there was a notable tremble in her very breath.

"Aye?" That seemed to surprise him and at the same time pleased him as much. Anything else would be lost as he was careful to use his clean hand than leave grease in her hair. She might be timid, and understandable, but he was not. Strong fingers curled into her hair at the back of her head in support for the onslaught of his lips when they met. Heated hunger, ravishing at first before gentled in spite of a growing need. Exploring instead in a sweet torture from one end to the other before parting enough to let his tongue slip in to meet hers if possible. All depended if she was willing as well.

She was very, very willing. She seemed to forget where they were, even if there was no one in that dining room but them. Still, it was a dining room. Her mouth parted with the probing of his tongue and she sucked a breath that was so quick it hissed into her. She felt as if everything happened at once, one tiny moment where an explosion of some sort set off so deep into her, she'd sworn it had come from her very soul itself. In the wake of it, she was left with tingling nerves and something fire hot that raged inside of her. And wings. Butterfly wings, or moth wings, she wasn't sure, but she could feel as if they were tickling up against her ribs. She tasted him, breathed him in, her tongue in a dance against his. At one point even, though it was very light, her teeth even grazed his accidentally. If he listened close, in a bare moment where she pulled up for air, his name spilled from her mouth in a quivering whisper. Only his name. She was too drunk to say anything else.

He had known the growing draw he felt for her. One that progressed naturally on its own, no pressure, no forcing, it had been there. Question had been if she had felt the same. Now he had his answer and it warmed to his soul. One that had wanted this moment desperately for a long time but had felt it was undeserving. Not that he knew who it would be and not one to make something be. He had felt undeserving anyway to go that course. He had never known these feelings before, on the wings of an eagle to soar. His treatment of women that other lifetime ago was far different and very lacking. Tongues dance an ancient rhythm that emulated a far more intimate act. His whole body feeling the pleasure and if he rose at that moment, there would be an unmistakable tilt in his kilt. Might have her faint! Tone was ragged in steeped emotion, "I bae warn'ing yea mae 'ighland lass, I bae fall'in 'n love wit' yea." No bars held but still presented a certain way that if she balked, she could with grace.

No, there was no pressure. It built slowly like it should have. She was comfortable around him, she trusted him with her very life. Everything seemed to bloom straight out of the friendship they had established, though she should admit that she'd had a terrible girlish crush on him for the longest. But it was not something she thought she actively chased, forced. Instead of it fading, like she had expected, the feelings only blossomed, strengthened, and it was funny that she didn't realize any of it until they got together for a dinner on a bet she'd lost. She was still breathless and her eyes appeared glazed when she trapped his in her focus. "I think, then perhaps I should warn you, too, Laird Cunningham, I've already fallen in love with you.." Quietly, though she worked up a smile that appeared somewhat sheepish.

Some bets lost, one won more than ever expected. He had purposely lost bets to her, purposely tried to win them too. Depended. She had never been a passing thought but a challenge around each corner. That was part of the draw to her. Part of what he considered a highland soul. "T'is bae guid t'en." His smile swept within the trimmed beard as burnished eyes searched still with that heated look. "I bae t'inking I bae steal'in mae dessert afore finis'in mae meal." Then lower in that thicker tone, "t'ere will bae times a'ead tae look forward tae 'n s'owing." Showing sounding like sowing for his brogue, was not off the mark either. "It bae time tae enjoy t'e rest o' t'is superb meal yea 'ave prepared fir mae." Although it could not compare to what had just transpired in the scale of things.

"Very good." She agreed with him. She tipped her head to the side, bird like as she listened, her eyes glittering. "What kind of dessert?" She teased. She glanced to the table, there were different kinds and she acted as if she had no idea what type of dessert he truly wanted.. what a time to lay on innocence. She rose upward, or rather, bent forward to pull more of the platters closer. In easier reach. She didn't mind sitting here for the rest of the meal, feeding him if he wanted. "You do have a lot of food to consume, Broch. I fear you may be fat by the time you're done." Spoken as if she didn't plan on helping him at all. "And we have all the time in the world." This, much softer.

"One o' a goddess, t'ere bae nae Earthly dessert tae compare." He waited for her to draw the plates closer. The hand that still rested at the back of her neck had fingers stroking in against the skin below until she leaned forward and allowed to slip down her back. Thumb in against her spine in a soothing way before settled around her hip. He planned on continuing the meal same as they had started out. So he would be offering her the next bit of food, accepting bits from her and sharing the champagne as well. "Aye, we dae. Means time taegether fir I never consume m'meal tae fast, but savor." Usually, in the reality of it, implying more as was the usual between them. There were the exceptions when on the run after an enemy to eat quickly when they could. "Iffin I become fat, yea best 'ave a plan fir me tae work it off." After all, if she made him fat it would be her duty. Ah, but the implications once again and steadfast where his eyes upon hers as waited her response.

His touch was soothing and yet, at the same time, she felt as if little sparks ignited behind the path of his hand, fingers. She ate the bites he offered, almost always pressing kisses against his fingers and once, even, to the palm of his hand. "I believe this is the happiest day of my life," she thought to say. She offered different pieces of food in each turn. Cheese, bread, chicken, quail, but she didn't touch the vegetables so much. She wasn't sure what he liked and didn't in that route.

She may never want to eat normally again when he was around. Although with others he would behave unless a highland setting. "Aye, and it bae mine as well." The exchanges of kisses were there, sometimes stealing one from her lips or offering a piece of chicken from his instead of his fingers. The food was delicious of which he would remember but forgive him if the woman had far more of his attention and interest. Once they were done, the cloth napkin would come in handy in cleaning grease and the like from their fingers, well, after he licked hers clean by bringing up her hand and turning his lips and tongue beneath over each one. Always his eyes held to hers to watch her reaction. A bowl of water would be gotten lastly to wash their hands in.

Her reaction was never bad, or at least, hopefully it wasn't. He had her breathless, again, needless to say. And as if she might be learning this ritual that had gone unspoken, one that she didn't even know about, she gave him the exact same treatment. When all was said and done, they were left still staring at an ungodly amount of food. But she had plans. All of it, of course, would be sent with Broch! It was, after all, his dinner.


Date: 02-14-09
Poster: Broch Cunningham
Post # 3


Broch was sitting at a table near one of the front windows. Lazed back in his chair while he enjoyed a tankard of ale after a good meal. Dressed in a ribbed tunic of dark green over a cream color poet's shirt, black pants and leather boots cuffed off just below his knees. Hair was tied back even with the warrior braids intermingled, a neater appearance. On the table was a fine crystal vase holding a dozen red roses, ferns and baby's breath. A red bow of satin whose tails curled down to rest over another box wrapped in red. Fire crackled in the hearth coupled with the only other sounds of the cuckoo clock over the mantle ticking away and Alex putting away the clean glasses to hang over the bar.

Finding something for Broch was the hardest thing. She'd never been so stressed out over a holiday in her entire life. She came up with two ideas and one of them was flat out cheesy, but she was sure it might bring at least a grin out of the man. She had on a new dress beneath her cloak, crushed velvet of a deep, deep red that might have reminded one of rubies. She entered carrying two boxes, a small one stacked atop a larger one, but it was only the top one that was actually wrapped. Removing her cloak at the door while juggling boxes took a bit of effort, also making sure her hair had not fallen out of place, with one hand, when she was done hanging her cloak. Her dark brown hair was swept up, away from her shoulders, and exposing the slim column of her throat. She exhaled a breath and scanned the tavern, blinking when she caught sight of him at the table. She slowly turned towards him, her gaze dipping from him to the roses. She smiled, wide.

He had caught sight of her coming up to the porch and then within. A swallow of the ale finished off as the tankard was set to the table, the dull thud of the front legs of his chair almost in emphasis as he gained his feet. Burnished green eyes were upon her, watching from where she stood taking care of her cloak. Appreciative glint as next he was on the move heading her way. A determined look replacing the other before he had her swept up into his arms. Nothing said yet as lips branded over hers, a deep soulful kiss that ended far sooner than he'd like but they were in public. "I bae wait'in o' yea." Managing it around the boxes she held or possibly having her drop them.

Dropping the small box wouldn't matter much, but the bigger one? No, she had to make sure that one stayed balanced in her hands. She managed, somehow, even as she leaned into him, against him. The larger box was held away from her, balanced on the palm of her hand. He always managed to take her breath away, and the kiss had done just that. Too short, even for her, but it still managed to leave her somewhat light headed and starry eyed when he released her. "Have you now?" She smiled, but it was soft and warm. "I've missed you." She planted another quick kiss to the slope of his jaw, just to punctuate her last statement.

"Aye, I 'ave. Was gett'in ready tae track yea down." Still close as he relieved her of the boxes as that kiss was place to his jaw. Smile grew as he got a kiss placed on the tip of her nose in the process. "Come join mae." Ushering her over to the table so he could set those boxes off to the side. A chair then drawn out for her to sit, all gentleman like. "W'at would yea bae lik'in tae drink." He obviously was going to get that for her as well. He didn't act like he was aware of the roses and box on the table at all.

He didn't act like he was aware of them, but she was! She glanced from the roses to the box as she settled down. Then her eyes lifted and she watched him, her head tipping oh so lightly to the side. "Uhm.. I suppose .. wine, perhaps?" It somehow fit the moment. She flashed him a smile. "Thank you." She could've gotten the drink herself! While he took care of it though, she continued to watch him. He looked quite nice today. Quite nice. Very nice. Distractingly nice.

And she was a feast for his eyes. He was listening as her perused her face, the line of her neck and the color of her dress. "Yea bae look'in beautiful, Gaelle." Words held that elusive serious tone before he grabbed up his tankard, finishing it off as he crossed the room to the bar. The empty vessel set there as he requested a bottle of champagne. Two glasses. Within a few minutes he was back, setting the glasses on the table before the distinctive POP of the cork. It shot straight up to ricochet off a beam and land harmlessly somewhere. Too fast to follow as the haze lifted from the mouth of the bottle; proceeding to pour each three quarters full before setting it aside and settling into his chair. Still, nothing was said about what was obviously in front of them. He lifted his glass, "tae t'e most beautiful lady 'n all t'e lands 'n mae eyes. A lady t'at bae mine. Happy Valentine's Day, sweet'eart."

"Thank you," she murmured, blushing--getting it out before he stepped too far away. She was watching him in a way that certainly suggested she certainly liked his appearance. When he was back, and the champagne uncorked with a pop that bounded off of.. somewhere, Gaelle slightly flinched, expecting perhaps to be smacked in the head with the cork. She let out a quiet laugh, straightening when all seemed to be clear. She did note that he seemed to totally ignore the roses, the box. She was patient, though by now she was wondering if they were things left to him by somebody else! A passing thought, for now. She lifted her glass, blushing for his words. "Thank you, and yes, totally yours. Happy Valentine's Day.." She didn't call him a pet name. She had to pick a good one out for him. She leaned towards him to clink her glass lightly against his, then sipped.

He had moved his chair closer to hers so with a lean he hooked his arm around hers that would bring them closer as they each took a drink for the occasion. Careful then as his arm eased back around so they didn't end up with champagne on their laps, especially for the dress she was wearing. Once more there was a slow drawing glance down over her attire. "I bae lik'in t'at color o' yea." There was an unmistakable glint in burnished green eyes that had a lot to do with his statement, the appreciation of how she looked and just a hint more. "It bae guid c'ampagne." Which is was of the finest quality. Taking another drink as his focus remained on her. The way her hair swept up, the tint of color remaining upon her cheeks.

She was quite careful with her glass when their arms looped around each other, almost like snakes. She flashed a grin over the rim when their arms untangled, but she didn't lean back too far. She watched his eyes, noting a glint that was becoming quite familiar to her and his words brought out another flush against her cheeks. "Thank you. I don't think I have anything else in my wardrobe this color." Her gaze dipped to the dress, her lap, then back up to watch his eyes. "I just bought it.." She trailed off, her smile cutting a dimple into her cheek. She nodded at the mention of the champagne, it was quite good. She took another sip then lowered the glass to cradle in both of her hands. She didn't say anything else, she seemed quite content in simply watching him. Maybe, by now, she'd forgotten about the gifts, too!

"It bae a keeper, aye, as yea are." Slowly focus shifted from her to the roses on the table. "T'ese bae a nice centerpiece, aye?" Not looking back as if he was noting the vase with the roses for the first time. He was certainly well aware of her in spite of the ruse.

"I certainly hope I'm a keeper," she murmured, teasing him. She straightened slowly, her gaze taking in the roses. She said nothing for a long, long time. Then her throat cleared. "Well, yes, they are. Did Alex pick them out?" She squinted at him, her head ticking to the side, like a bird.

"Nae, t'ey bae delivered earlier from Lisette Floral. Maybe t'ey bae fir someone special, aye?" Reaching over as he flipped the ribbon from where it laid over the wrapped box. Her name showing on it but eyes had turned her way.

She saw that, her name. Her eyes glanced from the roses up to him, then right back down again. Her brow arched and she took one hand away from the glass to extend a point to the vase. "I think I saw my name on there.." Nearly in a dry tone, as if maybe, she was catching on finally. Her lips pursed, and she glanced down to the box, pointing again. "Is that.. yours by chance? Did someone leave you something, Broch Ian Trouble Cunningham?" Thought it was Touchable?

"Aye?" Turning back to look, "sae it bae!" Like he was surprised as well. Hand still resting on the box as he then slid it over to her. Of course there was a card attached saying, tae t'e one w'o 'as captured mae 'eart, written like he spoke and signed in his name as well. "T'ey gae wit' t'e flowers. Whic' matc' yea dress." Like that was planned.

She let out a rather unlady like snort of a laugh for his surprised expression, and she was the one that was surprised when he finally slid the box over. She read the card first and a sheepish expression came over her. She glanced up to him, but the glance sort of turned into a longer gaze. He knew how emotional she got over stuff like this and she hadn't even opened the box yet! Which, she did then. She turned her eyes down to see what was inside, speaking all the while. "Yes, it is quite amusing how the roses match my dress. Maybe you knew I was going to wear red?" Teasing him.

Inside the box was an assortment of milk chocolates of the finest from Sweet and Sassy candies, run by the Turlough ladies. He was watching her like a hawk, every expression for it mattered to him because she mattered to him. "Red bae t'e color fir passion," that was just right out there but the look in burnished green eyes said far more.

She was quite aware he was watching her. And she grinned wide when she saw the candy, already picking out a piece to pop into her mouth. She didn't speak until she swallowed. "Thank you so much. You are going to eat some of these with me, right?" She winked to him then set the box down, to pass over the two she brought for him. The larger one held a chocolate cake, heart shaped but the frosting was butter cream. Red roses made out of icing were decorating the top, right hand side. The middle plainly stated I love you, though the word 'love' was actually a smaller heart. The smaller box was what might have him rolling his eyes because it was so .. cheesy? When the wrapping was pulled free, he'd note that the box itself was decorated. The box, deep purple, was trimmed in red with a red heart splayed right over the lid. There was a note, Since you already have my heart, I thought you might want a box to keep it in and the key to open it up. And inside the box? Yes, a silver key, the end itself shaped like a heart. She's so silly, that Gaelle.

"Aye, iff'in yea feed it tae me." Wicked gleam sparked green eyes. Except she distracted him as the boxes she had were now passed over to him. He opened up the larger one first. "Yea made t'is yeaslef? Yea are going tae 'elp me eat it?" Setting it aside to open up the next, which had a grin that only grew bigger by the time he had the sliver key in his hand, pressing the tip to his lips. "I will safe keep it," sliding it into the pocket of his tunic over his heart. "I love yea Gaelle," words low as well eyes turned her way with a serious look to them. The gifts only symbolic and many didn't really give them with the right intention but expected. "'ow about I take yea back tae our manor tae enjoy a guid meal and some cake? Me brothers and sister can 'elp us eat it." She might notice the carriage pulling up outside with the Cunningham crest on it. He had won the carriage but had the crest painstakingly painted on the sides.

She set her glass down to stand, more like, creep over to him for a hug. A kiss slanted along his cheek and she murmured near his ear, "I love you too, Broch." Warmly. She straightened up and his invitation had her smiling wide. "I'd love to. I've never seen your home." The glance out the window turned to a stare. She did see the carriage, the crest. "Is that new? The carriage?" She asked while she helped gather up the boxes, the gifts.

He was up to have her within strong arms and that sliding kiss he managed to slide his lips to meet. "Aye, I'd like yea tae see it." He had his reasons though he wasn't able to bring her home to meet his mother. There was a lot to be said for such and bringing her to his home was about equal. "It bae t'e one I won at t'e races," besides their bets that night. The boxes collected as well he to get his and her cloak before they were on their way.

Cloaks, gifts, roses. Everything was in order. And indeed, they were on their way.


Date: 10-26-09
Poster: Broch Cunningham
Post # 4

Gifts Purchased

After last evening Broch got the perfect idea of what to do with his portion of the bounty money. Certainly enough to spend and for at least Mike's interest, had him turning the gate open and onward to the cottage that would be the Lady Baltimore's. Smile tucking within the thickened beard as he thought on his siblings reactions. Well cousins that had become siblings for the unique circumstances. He wasn't sure if she was here or at the Avian building just across the way, so if not he would head there next. It was a cold brisk day with the sun fully out that if seen from inside one would think it was warm out. He had gotten his cloak cleaned which was worn over a dark green tunic, black pants and boots lacing up ending in a cuff.

Coming from the supply hut, Vanessa carried with her a thin leather throng and a small pouch of unseen contents, which was tucked away within a pocket of the dark blue dress she wore. Simple in design with an empire waist and made of heavy material to offer warmth while out in the chill of the air. Without even having to look, memorized steps carried her to the door of one of the flight cages. Each cage was a little more than 20 feet tall and 15 feet in radius, some more full than others, just depending on what sort of birds it housed. One housed colorful, exotic birds, two held more common birds such as cardinals, blue jays and doves, the last held birds of prey; falcons, hawks and owls. The door of the cage open, she stepped in with the various sorts of birds of prey, picking up a heavy leather glove along the way and turned visual attention up to watch them, settled comfortably on their perches, watching her in turn.

He was just about to knock on the door when he caught motion from the corners of his eyes. Hand stilled and lowered as he turned to watch the lady Vanessa head for the avian cages from the supply hut. He took the shortest route from the door of her cottage over to the cages, making sure to step loud enough that she would hear and speaking up as well. "Lady Vanessa," using the polite title though he need not as he approached. Hoping she would recognize him from meeting last evening with his brother.

Of course she would recognize him. Stepping into the cage just as she heard the call of her name, she turned back to look over the grounds and smiled to Broch. "Morning, Broch." She paused, wondering if she should have been more formal as she pulled on the leather glove. "You're welcome to call me Vanessa. No need for titles."

"Top o' t'e morn tae yea," smile shot bright for a moment as he added, "Vanessa. I've come tae see about buy'in some o' yea birds fer mae brot'ers and sister and see'in about 'ow yea gae about it." Not being privy to her setup and how she conducted business. He stood just outside the cage she was in as focus shifted from her to the birds within.

"Oh? What sorts of birds are you interested in for your kin?" Her attention remained on him as she held the gloved arm up, calling to her one of the smaller hawks. The kestral came to the whistled call and took perch on her arm, she then threaded the throng through its cuffs and brought it out of the cage with her, smiling to Broch. "You're welcome to have a look around if you'd like."

"Well, yea met mae brot'er Mic'ael last eve and I've anot'er brot'er Logan, bot' are bounty 'unters. T'ey could use suc' a bird as one o' t'ese," indicating the birds of prey, "and mae sister would bae lik'in, I'm t'inking, somet'in pretty fer the 'ouse tae keep 'er company."

A nod of understanding, she looked back into the cage with the larger birds of prey. "Well, your brothers would have to come to the gardens to be chosen by one of the larger birds. Your sister.." She looked at the cage with the more exotic birds thoughtfully. "...maybe she'd like a silver macaw?" Hard to guess since she wasn't sure she'd ever met the sister.

"If I pay yea afore'and, can a certificate bae sent tae me brot'ers and I can purc'ase suc' a bird fer mae sister today?" Which would include all the trappings as he had money, especially being Laird of his clan. Gaze followed hers as he wasn't totally certain which was the silver macaw, though it sounded perfect. "It bae one t'at can talk tae? I t'ink I like t'e idea o' a pretty bird talk'in back at mae  sister." Slow grin showing itself again.

The kestral was urged onto a perch with a nod. "Aye, I can send you with a certificate today. You just have them bring it with them." Since she hadn't met them all, that would be easiest. "And you can purchase a bird and supplies for your sister today." She motioned him to follow, walking around the hut to the cage with the warmer climate birds as she pulled the glove from her hand. Pointing up to the branches inside the cage, she pointed to what looked like a gray/silver parrot. "They can be taught to speak. They pick up quickly on frequent words."

Which he caught sight of the one as he moved closer to that cage. Though there was another that flew down closer to take a look over him. One of bright colors which had him chuckle. "Bae t'is bird bae fer sale tae?"

She watched quietly and nodded. "Aye, he is. He's a golden macaw." She went over to the cage door and pulled it open so she could slip in. Both hands reached up to gently take the bird around the body with wings securely under her hands so she could bring him out and set him on perch, so Broch could see him.

"Bae s'e a girl o' boy?" Not that it mattered but more if he was asked as he came closer. Tall man too, as many were in the lands. Probably wasn't one under six foot and none quite seven. "I bae t'inking s'e cannot 'elp bout bae lik'in t'is one." Which he held out a fisted hand for the bird to climb onto if allowed and would. Deciding already if his sister preferred another he would keep the one for himself.

"That one's male." She smiled, watching the bird step up onto his arm. Coming over beside him, she looked at the bird. "How do?" Avian tilt of its head as it regarded her and squawked out something. Vanessa repeated. "How do?" Beak parted, the bird repeated. "Hooow doo?" Smiling some, she reached into her pocket for a small chip of bread to feed to him.

"I bae doooo'in guid, hooow dae yea?" Bird was going to end up with an Irish accent as Broch usually spoke with a pronounced one more often than not. He could curb it if he concentrated. That was due more to his cousin's habits before inhabiting his body as was given him. "Yea bae a most 'andsome suitor fer mae sister." Which Vanessa could bet he was going to tease her with the gift being Laura had not met a man to see her out and about and avoided it he was beginning to think. So also set him to thinking of who he knew single about her age to spend some time with. He was probably venturing towards trouble with those thoughts but Broch had always walked that line.

The bird bobbed his head up and down almost rhythmically as he stood. Vanessa laughed quietly watching the bird and held out another pinch of dried bread. "Quite well, thank you." Another bob and weave of his head, it took him a couple times to get the words right, but eventually repeated them close enough to what Vanessa had said. "I think he'd make a fine companion for your sister."

"Mae sister will love t'is 'andsome gent t'ough I s'ould bae forgett'in somet'in t'at will 'ave her come 'ere tae get." He wasn't sure what as the cage, food and stuff would be an immediate need. Realizing he probably wasn't making his idea clear, "tae get 'er out o' t'e 'ouse tae meet yea." Which said he approved and liked Vanessa enough to wish his sister to meet her. Mike and Logan would have to for the certificates.

She nodded her understanding to the bit about getting his sister out and about. "That's fine. I can hold him here and have his supplies ready for when she comes to get him." She motioned him to wait a moment as she went back to the hut and disappeared inside. A moment later she came back with a small leather cuff colored red and wrapped it around the macaw's ankle to mark it as being purchased.


He stood there in indecision and now with the desire to see the surprised look on his sister's face. "I kin, I would like tae bae bring'in 'im back wit' mae to surprise 'er tonig't. S'e 'as put up wit' a lot fer 'er bloke o' brot'ers and t'eir dangerous professions. I kin take t'e bird 'n t'e cage and 'ave 'er come back tae pick up a free standing perch?" That way he could kill two birds with one stone in a sense. Not that he would kill a bird like these, pheasant, turkey, chicken and the like, yes. "Iffin yea 'ave t'ose certificates tae.." he could give them to his brothers this same night as well.


She looked at him for a moment and nodded. "Of course." And offered a smile. "I'll get the cage and a bit of feed for him, to hold him over until she can come get the rest. Why don't you meet me up there at the cottage. You can have a seat on one of the benches if you like. The certificates are up there." Which she'd have to fill out. On that note, she started back for the hut to get the spoken supplies.


His smile was infectious that spread within the thick beard, dimple to his cheek and a spark in burnished green eyes. "Aye, t'ank yea, Vanessa." Not having been sure how she would react to him changing the plans to fit what he desired. Grinning a few seconds more before he was around on a heel and heading up to the cottage as she requested. He was actually getting excited to do this surprise mostly on Laura. Proud of his brothers in the abilities as bounty hunters and the world a bit brighter at the moment.


"You're most welcome." She smiled back to him and went on to the hut to get the cage and some supplies to hold the bird over. It would only take about ten minutes of shuffling around through various things before she came back out with a lovely cage big enough to comfortably house the bird, some feed and a few toys with bells in them to occupy the bird. They were set down in front of him. "I hope she likes the bird. Let me get those certificates." Through the side door of the cottage, this wouldn't take her long either. She returned with three certificates and sat down next to him so she could show him. "Tell your brothers whenever they're free, they're welcome to come to be chosen by one of the prey birds. This last one is for your sister, so she can pick up the rest of the supplies for the macaw." Which it stated on the front of the certificate.


He had taken up a seat on one of the benches. One that gave him a view of the side yard rolling down to the small lake behind them. The trees reflecting their colorful leaves as many were starting to cover the ground. "It wont bae long, aye, winter bae t'e scent 'n t'e air." More to himself as he soaked in the beauty of the sight before him. That was until he was distracted as Vanessa returned. Immediately he was to his feet as she set the cage down. "I bae t'inking s'e will and will bae want'in tae meet yea anyway." Though leaving the perch here would ensure that. Yes, Broch conspired, one of his characteristics he never lost but at least now it was for good intentions. "I'm very appreciative," as they had discussed the cost, he counted out the monies to 675 then rounded it out to 700. These he gave her in a small pouch before taking the certificates. He was about to warn her on Logan but then decided to let that brother most likely surprise the lass in whatever way he ended showing up. Taking up the cage with the bird within and a cover over it to keep it warm for the distance, "I bae be'olding tae yea Vanessa. Yea 'ave a guid day." After their farewells, he would be on his way and quickly so less chance the bird got cold.

Date: 10-26-09
Poster: Broch Cunningham
Post # 5

Teaghlach Manor

It was approaching dinner by the time all was said and done at the Avian Gardens. Broch knew Laura had planned a big welcome home meal this evening being they had arrived late the prior one. Which also meant that both Logan and Michael would be there. A family gathering. Perfect timing for what he had in mind being the head of the family. Dear Laura had waited up until both he and Michael returned, at least Logan returning earlier appeased her that all were safe and hale.

Luckily for her, she didn't do any teaching unless one of the others were ill. And she wouldn't do any traveling this week, not when her brothers were finally home. She had spent the day preparing the meal with Cook and now everything was nearly ready. There was one problem though and that was Broch had not yet returned. Logan and Michael were upstairs in their rooms getting ready and she had just returned from doing so herself. Skirt and blouse had been replaced with a festive gown of velvet in bittersweet with a sweetheart neckline and sleeves that billowed at her wrists. Black Spanish lace trimmed the neckline, bodice and sleeves. Around her tiny waist, she wore a black ribbon tied with a bow at her back. She even had her hair up in an updo with several curls allowed to fall at the nape of her neck. Tiny silk leaves of orange, brown and yellow dotted with one or two sparkling rhinestones was worn at her right temple. She even had topaz earrings with a necklace to match. The table was decorated with tapers of orange in gold candleholders and a centerpiece made of small pumpkins and gourds and real leaves. The plates, glasses and silverware sparkled and as she stood in the doorway, she smiled

before making her way to the window to peer out again. A stranger might think it an early celebration of Thanksgiving, and in a way it was. Every time her brothers returned from a dangerous job, she celebrated and this time even more since Broch had gone with them. The moon was plump and full tonight, illuminating the estate with silver and she smiled and offered her silent thanks again.

Mike had kept his news to himself, hoping to speak to Brigid before he told his family but he wasn't sure he could hold it in. He knew this dinner was important to Laura, so he took his time with his appearance. A poet's shirt of pristine white was worn beneath a sleeveless tunic of dark blue cotton. Dress pants of black were tucked into his best boots, highly polished to a shine. He had even pulled his hair back neatly with a small cord of black and had shaved. A few more moments, and he intended to head downstairs but first, he too looked out the window, seeing the same scene as Laura, including the road that led to the manor.

Logan was sitting on his bed atop the coverlet, back braced against the headboard and booted feet crossed one over the other stretched out before him. Arms folded and if either saw him could wonder on that particular grin. He was taken a moment to not be moving for a change. He was always on the go doing this or that and rare did he ever sit still. A tunic of tan was worn over a dark brown shirt tucked into black pants and boots of a darker tan. Damp hair tied back to the nape of his neck as he had just showered. One moment still, the next had him leaping up from his bed and heading downstairs. He couldn't sit still for too long or they would think he was sick. Probably would be. He was into the room to find Laura looking out the window, "he wont get here any faster that way, best you boil water and watch it," coming up from behind as his arms slid around her waist and a kiss to the side of her temple (one without the decoration) as he saw the scene before them as well. "It's going to snow," giving her a pat to her rump as he slipped away to look about in a quick way noticing Mike was not down yet. "Michael still daydreaming on his love upstairs?" Grin was back.

Broch would be up that path once all were not looking. Or so he seemed to know on another level. Otherwise he'd been seen carrying something very large that was covered over with a small blanket. A box tucked under his other arm and papers rolled up sticking up out of the front pocket of his jacket. Though looking loaded down one would never tell by the grin on his face tucked away in a thick beard and the ease at which he moved. When he got to the door his knock came by hitting the toe of his boot, luckily reinforced, against the wooden door.

She heard Logan before he came into the room and remained where she was. Laughing, she turned to watch him move away again. "Maybe not, but it does look pretty with the moon so bright." A wrinkle of her nose followed. "Not too soon, thank you. I need to make sure all is well in the other realms and order any supplies needed before the snow sets in." She was over to poke him in the side, laughing. "You leave Mike alone. He's the first of you to fall and the one I never thought would. " When she heard the knock, she started a bit. "Who could that be?" And then she was off to answer the door.

He heard Logan thundering down the steps and followed him at a more leisurely pace. He got to hear his comment and then Laura's and laughed. "Aye, and if I was?" Challenging the youngest in a way, but the knock distracted him. He followed Laura, curious.

"Aye, but dark comes too early for the wintry months and that means less sun and darker moods." Though the moon was out early, not quite dark and set its light over dusk. "You best get to work on that or it wont be happening unless one of us takes you in a horse drawn sled to your destinations." He fended off his side with a laugh as well, "you keep that up and I'll scale the next cliff with you strapped to me back," being pretty sure she was bad with heights if not very bad with heights! Hearing Michael he turned his way with a retort. "Oh, you thought I'd be the first or Broch?" If anything he would probably be the last if at all. Hand lifted to point at his brother, "we know you were, no if about it." Grinning still but he was watching Laura get the door. Broch would not be knocking at the door to his own house?

When she opened the door she would see mostly a covered up large square shaped thing but then there was squawking as the jarring upset the bird inside, "hurry hurry the Brits are coming. Hooow daae yea daae," squawked out from beneath. "Laura, this is for you!" Maneuvering inside as he was over to set the cage down on the nearest table in the living room. The box was next before he had the certificates out from his pocket and unrolling them to hand one to each brother with the corresponding name. There was also one for Laura which he set on the box for her to pick up the rest of the supplies for the Macaw. "T'ese bae fer yea, mae brot'ers." Which the certificates would say it all. Then he was breathing in deep. "Mmmmmmmmm, I smell something guid, like turkey." Would it be a Thanksgiving type?

She blinked as the covered up thing talked and stepped back, laughing. Hurrying after, she eased off the cover and let out a squeal as she opened the cage door. Of course she had to put her hand down to let the young bird climb up. "He's lovely!" She laughed as they were eye to eye and then the bird leaned forward to nuzzle his beak against her cheek. "Does he have a name?" She let him hop onto the cage and checked the box for food. She'd see to water for him too but Broch had her laughing. "Yes, turkey and all the trimmings, right down to the pies. And we'll have it again on Thanksgiving Day. Now, I can hear Cook setting them to the table." She scratched the macaw's head, "and I'll be back in a little bit."

Mike blinked in surprise at what was in the doorway, then laughed. He accepted the certificate after checking out Laura's new present. "Thank you, Broch." He clamped a hand to his brother's shoulder, not saying more. Knowing it wasn't necessary. Then his stomach growled. "I think I'm ready."

He blinked as Broch came in loaded down and with a talking bird no less. "He is a beauty," liking the bird's coloring and for some reason felt it was a male. Taking the certificate as he read it over under a sweep of his eyes then joined Mike as he clamped Broch's other shoulder. "Thank you. I've thought about something like this in the past but never got around to it. I think this will help us out greatly in our profession." That was if they kept the profession. No matter. He went hunting enough as Laura knew, she got to cook up the deer, wild turkeys, grouse, ducks and so forth.

"Yea bae welcome, you know w'ere t'e Avian Garden's bae, gae w'en yea can soon..." which he couldn't help to cause some mischief, "even t'e wee 'ours o' t'e morn. Best time fer t'e falcons and 'awks." A hand to grip each of his brothers shoulders before announcing with the growl of his stomach, "let us gae eat afore it gets cold." Which would not do well with his sister after all her hard work! He was over to sweep Laura up into a hug and dance her with him into the dining room right up to her seat which he saw to as he spoke up again. "Yea will need tae gae t'ere tae pick up t'e perch and meet t'e lass."

He hadn't told her if the bird had a name but then she was hugging him back, then laughing as they danced into the dining room. "Then I think his name is Indigo. Thank you, Broch." She kissed his cheek before sitting so that her brothers would do the same. Giving a nod to his last comment. "And if you'll give the blessing, it would make this night complete for me." She was so happy to have them all home and safe again. What she didn't realize, and they would all soon learn, was the young macaw was an escape artist, so he'd be joining them shortly.

"Aye, we know. Newest place in the commons." He grinned as he tucked the certificate away then followed Broch and Laura into the dining room. Taking a deep breath, he sighed happily. Yes, they had a good cook but when Laura put her hand to cooking, it was even better. Now only one more thing to accomplish, though Mike wasn't sure how long he'd be working as a bounty hunter.

"Oh, and t'e bird awaits a name I bae t'inking, as none was offered t'at it 'ad. Indigo bae a guid one." Seeing to her seat after she kissed his cheek, "yea bae welcome." His heart into it and hoped this day his cousin Broch, their real brother was looking down upon them, along with his wife Maureen, with a smile. Taking his seat before he would say Grace once all were seated.

"I'll be there soon as I can. I hear she is a fetching lass too." Of course Logan would hear such but then there were a few about that were fetching. He took his seat with the others, next to Laura before taking the moment out as grace was said and thanking the lord for all of their safe return.



Date: 11-12-09
Poster: Michael Cunningham
Post # 6

Finally to Court

Brigid found out there was a letter waiting for her at the Thistle from her brothers. They would have sent it to the manor but it gave her an chance to get out and back down to the public place. She worried on them, worried on Kildare, worried on the Callihan family too. She worried on the Cunninghams that went up there to help out and she hadn't heard on them, though no news was good news. She was seated at the bar in a golden bronze gown with a scoop neck and princess waistline. Hair was mostly loose with braids either side taming it back ending in a golden bow. A glass of cherry punch setting near her hand and the letter held which was in the process of being read.

Mike had made his way to Clearview only to be told that Brigid had gone to the Thistle. He had ridden, so it didn't take him long to reach the tavern. Turning the horse over to the stable boy, he headed up the steps and inside.  A grin appeared when he saw Brigid was still here and he hadn't missed her again. Hanging up his coat, he made his way to the bar, waiting to scoop her up into a hug. Since she was reading, he wouldn't do so until she noticed him since he didn't want to scare her.

Someone had come in but she was very focused on her brother's words. That of the brothers, of Kildare, of things unsettled still but not for long. In spite of the intensity with which she read there was a prickle that ran up the back of her neck. Tearing her eyes from the words that danced before them to the source. It took but a second as the letter fell from her hand to slip back onto the bar counter as she all but leaped from the chair into his arms, hers around his neck. "I had been sooooo worried!"

He just stood watching her, smiling. She looked beautiful as she sat there, even with the intense look on her face. When she finally saw him, he caught her in his arms and swung her around before his lips found hers. A kiss with so much unsaid behind it. "I missed you so much. You're even more beautiful than I remember." He held her a moment more before releasing her. "I spoke with your brothers."

She melted into his kiss, melted into his arms when the swing about stopped and her heart accelerated. Lost in an emotional haze a moment before his words brought her back to reality. Her smile bright with his words, ones she had hoped to hear for the time away. "And you most handsome. I was just getting to where Niall mentioned you came to talk with him and Cian, he told of your adventure into Swan Lake estates, how well you all did and how pleased the King and Regent were."

"Aye, they were." He chuckled as he placed his hand on her back and guided her back to her seat. "Logan and I got to pretend to be farm lads. Your brothers were at the castle to meet with the King and Regent. I had a question to ask them." He reached into his vest pocket and brought out a small black velvet box. "I asked their permission to court you, and now I'm asking you, and if you accept, I'd like you to wear this." He was nervous but hid it well. After all, he had faced Vincent after insulting him!

"They approved?" More than a bit surprised not that Mike wasn't the best of men but more her brothers were so protective of their one and only sister. Niall having thought he had lost her and their brother. She sucked in a breath, "yes!" Arms were once more wrapped around his neck, almost not even noticing the black velvet box. That fact sinking in as she lifted back from the hug to take the offered box and open it up.

"Hopefully, that will become an engagement ring in time." Though he'd likely add another. It had three pink sapphires with diamonds on either side. "I'd like to put it on your finger." It would likely have to be sized but Velvet had assured him it could be.  He'd take her to pick out the rings if all went well. Matching engagement ring and wedding bands, whatever she wanted.  She had been deprived for too long and he wanted to make it up to her.

"Ooooooo... it is so beautiful," once more her arms were around his neck in a bear hug. Tight enough he might gasp a breath she was so excited. Drawn back, probably in relief this time, to hand him the box so he could do as asked.

He could really get to like this! Grinning, he removed the ring from the box, and carefully slid it on her finger. He was beaming as he watched her. "They not only approved, they gave me a warning that I better treat you right, so I know they really do approve." He paused to consider if that made sense then shrugged inwardly. "They were surprised too but I don't think they were displeased."

It was a little loose but not too bad, enough though to have it adjusted so it didn't fly off her finger when she made a flip of hand in gesture towards something. She was on another plane of existence at the moment admiring the ring as tears came to her eyes. A few fat ones rolling down the curve of her cheeks. "I would have to give them a tongue lashing if they did. Warning?" The last dawning and a bit confused look in large hazel green eyes that met his.

"Aye." He gently wiped away the tears, his smile soft. "Aye. That if I ever treated you badly, they'd make me pay. They don't ever have to worry about that, and neither do you. I love you, Brigid." His brothers had been right ... Mike was the first to fall, to his delight.

"It is not in your nature to hurt me." Besides, she'd kick his ass if he tried but that didn't need to be warned because he was not that kind of man. "I wish my mother could be here for this day," one of the reasons  for the tears and the emotion, she would not be able to share this joy with her.

"I know, sweetheart." He wrapped his arms around her again, pulling her close. He knew Laura would wish the same, even if she was barely remembered. "I'm sure she is in spirit." He was a strong believer in those who had passed on staying in touch with their loved ones. "I would have loved to have met her."

"My brothers are coming down, they say I will need new clothes for the winter." Which was true as she really had little suitable and not be an embarrassment. "They want me to look my best for you." Which had her smile returning while held in his arms. "I would have loved to introduced you to her and my father. He is much like Niall or should I say Niall is much like him.."

"Then he was a formidable man, and a good one." He leaned so he could look at her face and he grinned. "You always look good to me. I'll have to tell Broch and the others, and when I do, I'll ask that we invite them to dinner when they arrive. " He kissed her again. "And if you'd like, I'll buy you a new gown for the occasion." They could buy her all they wanted, but he'd like to do that for her. She'd be getting presents from him too.

"If you picked out a gown you want me in, I will wear it." Her smile brightened a bit more, if it was possible. "That would be really nice for I want them to meet Laura. Both are still single.." which had her adding in a wink in conspiracy.

And the wink had him laughing. "Ah, now wouldn't that work out well. I think she's decided she'll be an old maid though she seems more determined to see us all married before she worries about herself." He grinned. "We'll just have to make sure she's here when they are." And not in Ballicastle or Tyremoor.

"If Broch marries... she will be the spinster in the house if she stays." She wondered. "I would like Laura to find a good husband, there are plenty of single men in these lands. Surely.."

"Well, she's said that she can get her own house if need be." He laughed again. "Are you plotting, Brigid? She's met a few but nothing's happened."

"She's met a few, has she liked any of them?" Maybe Laura was one picky lass! Something they all should be, she had been though Michael seemed to make a clean sweep of taking her off her feet.

"She never said. I think she's afraid we'll tease her if she does." He looked thoughtful. "Though she doesn't seem to dislike any either. Of course, we've been away a good bit." He looked at her again. "Which, reminds me. I know you worry while we're gone so I've been thinking, maybe it's time for me to find another profession?" As much as he liked the work he did, he didn't want to worry her any more.

She had to think on that very seriously. "Michael, I would not ask you to do something, change something you wish not but I honestly fear something happening to you in such a profession as you've chosen. That is natural and I know one can say that when they walk out their door in the morning, they take the chance of not coming home ever again. That one doesn't even have to leave their home if a big tree fell on it and killed you beneath. It is more that some professions have a higher likelihood of one dying over another. Is there another profession you can choose you'd not be miserable in just to please me? For doing so to please me will in time have you resenting me instead."

"Well, let's see. I know there's a need for a dance instructor, or a dentist, barber." He was teasing and grinned at her. "Actually, I was thinking of the tobacco shop. I know the shop here has been empty for some time and though it's a change, I think it's less dangerous."

"You know how to dance?" She was teasing as fingers wove through the strands of hair along the back of his neck then filtering though to trace the shell of his ear. "Unless you get someone in withdrawal that needs that next smoke and has spent the last of coins on one of his other fixes, the doxy down at the port." Oh, she knew more than she let on to her brothers.

"And what do you know of the port, me lass?" He laughed as he caught her hand and placed a kiss to each of her fingertips before continuing. "I had decided that when we marry," not if, when, "I would certainly do something else. But the more I think of it, the less I want to take a chance, though I might have to help Logan until he finds someone to replace me. I need to talk to him about it but I wanted to talk to you first." He knew his brothers would understand his reasoning. Broch might even insist on it.

"I've been through enough of them when on the run with Cian. He could not erase the scenes the nights held while we hid in crates just to keep safe." She saw a lot between the slats though she never let her brother know, let him think she slept through it all. The kissing of her fingertips had little chills run up her arm leaving goose bumps in their wake. "I would at least consider it when we have children so that they grow up knowing their father and learning from his expansive wisdom." Which had her considering something, "do you think he will continue if you don't? If I remember comments made, he had only taken it on with you?"

"Aye, he had and he may decide not to it any more. I don't know for certain." He tried to look indignant as he remembered something she had said. "And yes, I can dance, just not the kind that was taught at the studio."  Well, not the ballet but the others, yes.

"Then maybe you will dance with me another night for I grow very tired this one. If you are not busy tomorrow maybe we can spend it together? We could at least window shop."

"I will dance with you any time you choose, and yes, we'll spend the day together. Are you returning to the manor, or staying here tonight?" He looked forward to spending time alone and they could return to his home for dinner and tell his family, or tell the Quinns. Whatever she wished!

"I had planned on returning to the manor, you know they are like a second family. The Quinn matriarch especially will want to meet you as well the aunt and sisters." Poor Mike, he was going to be teased. Oh, and the thought had a most delicious wicked smile to sprout up. The letter was confiscated from the bartop and slipped into the pocket of her cloak which was also retrieved from where it laid over the back of the stool she'd been occupying.

That was almost a frightening thought! But worth it in his eyes. "Well, I'll just have to deal, won't I? I'll escort you back and then tomorrow, come to pick you up and meet them then?" He helped her with her cloak before retrieving his coat from where it hung.

"That sounds like a wonderful plan, make it just after breakfast so the beasties' stomachs are full and put into a better mood.." would he be sleeping tonight wondering on the Quinn females? Leaving him to help with her cloak as she turned into it. Once ready with a wave to Alex, they would be out the door.

Wicked woman! He chuckled and waved to Alex before holding the door. Outside, he'd offer his arm and escort her back before returning to the Thistle where he'd stay the night.



Date: 11-15-09
Poster: Mike Cunningham
Post # 7

Sharing Good News

Broch was lounged out in a wing-back chair in front of the hearth. Booted feet were kicked up over an ottoman one o'er the other. Fur cloak hung on a bigger peg in from the door. A well made tunic of leather and suede patches was worn in varying dark browns. His pants a deep russet and boots of black lacing up over his calves. He had a tankard of ale in hand and a shot of the pure on the table next to him waiting.

Mike had spent the day with Brigid as planned and finally said a reluctant good night after a meal with the Quinns. An experience in itself! He stepped inside the Thistle, removed his coat and hung it up and unbuttoned his vest as he made his way to the bar. The tie he had been wearing was tucked in the pocket of his coat. Dress pants of black were tucked into highly polished riding boots. "Evening, Broch." Giving his brother a grin, he requested a glass of the pure before heading toward the hearth.

Burnished green eyes shifted towards the door as he was taking another cooling drink of his ale. Lowering the tankard had a slow grin etching across his features. "T'ere yea bae Mic'ael. 'ave yea eaten?" Boots kicked up from the ottoman and down to the floor as he sat up some to view his brother, free hand indicating the chair next to him. "Come join mae."

"Aye, I've had more'n enough tonight." He grinned as he sat and placed his glass on the table. "Ate at the Quinns tonight. I asked Brigid to let me court her and she said yes, so I spent the day with her." His grin grew. "You were gone before I was up this morning so I couldn't tell you then."

"Well, congratulations tae yea bot'. S'e bae a fine lass. 'ow are t'e Quinns doing?" There were quite a few if he remembered correctly. Which he eyed his brother in that way of his, "sae t'at bae w'at yea talked wit' 'er brot'ers?" Of course he was aware that Mike had gone to see them and obviously it had not been him at the door or he was still being sneaky about it.

"Aye, that's why. I didn't want to say anything until she said yes. I mean, wasn't positive she would." He grinned again, obviously still a bit overwhelmed by it all. "Didn't we make a bet once on who would fall first? I think I lost. Or won, depending on your point of view." Oh, the Quinns! "They're all doin' well. Just the lasses were there though, and their aunt and Grandmother."

"Aye, one never knows the mind of a woman," dropping the accent as he mellowed out after the chaser. A hand lifting to scratch through the trimmed beard. "Maybe I should be thinking of finding me a lass and settling down." Being he already had such thoughts though they hadn't panned out so far. Laughing at this point as his hand lowered to rest atop his thigh, "aye, you lost but I would bet you are not disappointed in this case. You've won if anything."

"Not disappointed at all and I think I've won too." He gave Broch a devilish look. "Well, Lady Vadoma seemed impressed with you. Even if you were a bit older most of the time." He chuckled and finally lifted his glass for a drink, though he paused. "This hit me out of the blue, Broch. I never expected it to happen." Maybe that's why it did.

"Usually how it does, sneaks up on you. Aye, Lady Vadoma is a very guid woman. She had been older at the time too. I might take a trip up there to see her again and I might meet some of the ladies here first. See what my options are if any are interested in an old man as you say." Except he was grinning and if anything he was ten years younger than he had been when he first died.

"You certainly don't look old enough to be my father." He laughed after taking that drink, and referring to the spell Leoric had put on him. "There is another thought though, and I'm needing your opinion on it."

Which had a robust laugh to follow. "Only fer a couple days," barely two as once they got back the aging wore off quickly. "Lady Vadoma will continue to be a beautiful woman even as she ages. At last she got the benefit of knowing that." Lifting his glass with another shot poured in salute before kicking it back.

"Aye, she did at that." He took another drink, then continued. "I'm thinking of doing something other than bounty hunting now that I'm seeing Brigid. I know life has its risks as is, but if we get to the point where it all works out and we wish to marry, well, even now I hate to have her worrying. I'm not sure how much it will affect Logan though." Being they were partners.

"I think Logan would find something else than continue on his own unless really needed and they had someone else to work with him. It's too risky, more risky than his mountain climbing. I only did it to help you both and keep an eye on you knowing both of you were going, not just one. So.." grin rising, "what do you think you would be happy doing as work for the rest of your career?"

"That I'm not positive on but the tobacco shop is in need of an owner and I was considering it." He chuckled. "Can see how I like being a shopkeeper for a while and if it doesn't suit, well, I'll try something else. I won't go sailing again since that would take me away for a good amount of time too."

"Logan has always been the one more out of doors if I'm not mistaken?" Eyeing his brother in consideration. "You can try it, try a few jobs if needed. What if you find out that being a bounty hunter is your only real calling?"

"Aye, he has. " He paused then shook his head. "I don't know. I don't want to do something that will worry her, but I can't not earn money either." He made a face. "I'm not bad at playing cards, but that's not a profession for a man who's engaged or married. I guess I'll work it out if it happens. That's all I can do."

"It is a very risky profession but many have risky professions. I can see changing that if you can, if you can find something that will be as rewarding even if different. You might like serving others in their tobacco needs." One didn't know until they tried it. "I will support and help you in any way I can."

"I knew I could count on you, Broch." He grinned. "I know Logan will be glad for me too, even if we do have to break up our partnership. I suppose I should see Ice or Draven to see about the shop." He ran a hand through his hair and laughed, almost nervously. "New steps, aye?"

"Yes, but life is always changing. At some point or another your career as a bounty hunter would end, be it by your death or old age where you realized you cannot be as quick as you were when young. So if you look at it in that light, you will not be leaving the profession at death's door. If running the tobacco shop works out, it is a job you can continue into a very old age."

"As long as I don't come home smelling of smoke." He chuckled, finally relaxing. "Her brothers will be coming to visit and I was hoping we could have the three of them to dinner."

"You might want to get one of those pulley fans like they have in here to get rid of the smoke." Finishing off his drink as he rose to stretch. "Aye, you need to ask Laura about that and we have enough room they can stay at the manner than needing to stay at a tavern, no matter how nice this one is. Brigid can stay too, I'm sure the Quinns would not mind." Especially since her brothers would be coming.

"I know they won't." He finished what little remained in his glass, then stood as well. "And I'll be sure to talk to Laura if she's up when we get back." She had been gone for a few days seeing to the schools of the other lands but was back. He was worried she might be tired.

"About that time to head back and catch her before she goes to bed. I know you'll not get much sleep until you do," he took his glass over to the bar to set away before collecting his cloak from the peg. Waiting on his brother as he got the door.

He didn't have to wait long as Mike was right behind him. He pulled on his coat as Broch opened the door and stepped outside. Still a fine night, and his mood was excellent.

An upnod to Alex before he was closing the door off and heading out with his brother. Not so bad a night but certainly winter was on its way.



Date: 11-17-09
Poster: Broch Cunningham
Post # 8

Tracking Down a Friend

It had been a while since he'd seen Gaelle and heard she had moved back North. So he headed North to check on her and see how she fared. The main Notorious tavern was vacant except for a few vagabonds and drunks from the previous night or even a few previous nights. That thought had smirk rise up as he headed for the next place he might find her. A known cafe setting up on the hillside from the Rhydin Port. One that had a grand view and the older proprietor pleasant as well his granddaughter that served the customers. There were booths and small tables inside and there was a patio outside that extended out to the edge of the cliff with only a rail to separate one from the mile or so drop to the ocean below. If one didn't like heights it would be a spiraling vertigo to witness. It was more due to the colder weather that he naturally headed inside first and up to the counter to order a mug of steaming rich coffee. While he waited, he would gradually see who was about and if one in particular was amongst them. Not much of his clothing could be seen for the thick fur cloak over his shoulders. Pants were a deep russet and boots a dark brown, near black leather.

She'd been shopping with what little monies she had saved, for a small amount of supplies that she needed in creating a few things that she thought of trying to sell. It would be a trial run, of jewelry, mostly woven out of strips of leather and wood beads, and any other thing she could think of adding in there. The sack in her hand was cloth, tied off and small. She needed a break from her shopping and wanted to look over the items she'd bought. Passing the cafe, she decided to stop for a while. A drink, and a moment of rest were on order. She pushed through the door, and a chilly breeze chased her inside. Dressed in earth tones, brown pants and an olive green blouse with belled sleeves, the cloak over it all was rather thin and probably didn't do a great job in keeping her warm. Nothing's changed about her, apparently. Her gaze swept to the counter and she blinked a few times when she spotted Broch. Quietly, she started for the counter herself. Her worn out boots didn't make much of a sound along the floor.

He had just finished speaking with the man about seeing a woman so high, coloring and the like of Gaelle when speak of the devil there she was! Burnished green eyes turned with a twinkle to light up in them. "T'ere yea bae Gaelle!" Just like his thoughts. Shifting around and up from the half lean he'd taken, "I'm pleased to find you." His accent leaving as he sometimes allowed. It was use more for any long ago possible recognition when he was not such a nice man. In fact a very troubled bad one. He had died for it, he had learned his error of ways in another existence. "Would you mind joining me?" Coffee mug in one hand as he indicated one of the tables near a wall with a window that gave a nice view down the one side of the port, crow's nest type.

"Broch. Hello." Gently. She nodded her head, then blinked in slight confusion. "Find me?" And his accent had.. vanished. She wasn't at all sure what to think about that and she eyed him for a long moment in silence. Obviously she had noticed! The look she gave him spanned from head to toe, but eventually swept back up to linger on his eyes. She nodded faintly and placed an order for coffee. When it arrived, she took up the mug and turned to the table he indicated. "You sound different. You lost your accent." She thought maybe he'd lost it during his last travel, but then again, she did just hear that familiar accent riding his tongue only a moment ago! Her lips pursed, then she smiled gently and settled down into one of the chairs. The small sack was set on the table, along with her mug.

"I don't always 'ave an accent." Though it was always there to some degree in reality. Smile tipped lopsided as he pulled out her chair as would a gentleman no matter his appearance being more like some highland lord out of the wilds. Once seated he was around to take the opposite one so he could face her completely. Tipped, almost comical, grin still in place. "Yea are look'in guid, Gaelle. How are yea doing?" Settling into a more modified accent between the normal for him and almost nil. He noticed the sack with a passing curious glance but didn't ask on it, at least at this point.

"I've been well. Though, I'm somewhat tired today. I had a little too much to drink last evening." She crinkled her nose, shrugged her shoulders then tipped a glance out the window. "There were a lot of shooting stars last night. Did you see them? Which, there have been a few the day before, and the day before that. But last night, there were so many." She didn't know about meteor showers, really, or what caused them. Clearing her throat, she lifted her mug for a tiny sip, then set it back down. "What about you? How are you?" Admittedly, this meeting felt somewhat odd, considering their past. Only because she was nervous and she wasn't really sure how to act.

"Yea were celebrating somet'ing." Though not really asking as it came more of a statement but one she could expound upon if she wanted. With the talk on shooting stars he shook his head. "I'm afraid after c'opping a cord o' wood to help see us through the winter, I collapsed on mae bed." Out like a light though a slight frown touched, "I would 'ave liked to have seen them. Maybe you can describe 'em to mae and I can see 'em through yea eyes?" The last answer then given in the usual way, "I've been well, just gett'in ready for winter and 'olidays." Not to override the previous one so that she would describe the lights.

"No, not really celebrating anything, except maybe being alive." Her voice softened a bit, and again, her shoulders inched up in a shrug. She was watching him intently and quietly laughed when he asked her to describe the stars. "Oh, well, some looked like streaks of white light, with long tails. Like horse tails almost. It was very.. ah, neat to watch them. It was like they started as a pinpoint of small light, a tiny pin prick, then simply burst across the sky like they were running away from something. Or.. maybe they were running to something. I haven't figured that part out, yet. Some of them had a blue glow to them." Her imagination was still as wild as before, it seems. "I watched them after I got home, and couldn't sleep. Though, eventually I fell asleep, right behind my cottage, on the ground." She snickered.

"Being alive bae a good t'ing tae celebrate but it has mae pause that you might 'ave 'ad yea life threatened?" No matter what the circumstances were presently, she might realize that in the very least he was her friend. Something that was important. He too was watching her, not so much in an odd way but more one combined of curiosity and concern. Her description brought about a decisively warm smile. "That was a grand sight tae see. I hope at some time I will get another opportunity." Though brows dipped, "it is tae cold tae be sleeping outside unless under and on many thick blankets." Almost chiding her for certainly it was a good way to get sick. "Under those conditions and watching such a sky, it would be a grand night, especially if shared." Such moments didn't always offer the other however.

"Life threatened? Uhm, sort of. I'll be fine, though." The nose wrinkle was there again, small and quick. She made it sound like nothing, and indeed, she certainly didn't appear too concerned about any threats that might have been given to her. Her hands clasped on the table top and her chin tipped upward in thought. "I had a cloak on. And I'm sure you'll get another chance to see it, maybe even share the moment with someone else. I was .. I think I was okay watching it alone. Just me and the stars." There was a nod of her head, slow and careful. "So, why were you looking for me?" Had he answered that? She couldn't quite recall.

He watched her keenly to see more beyond the words. There were life threats and then real life threats. It didn't seem to be the latter for she lacked that kind of fear associated. "It is guid you had a cloak on." For some reason he pictured her without a cloak or anything, like the many times she had twigs and pieces of leaves in her hair after romping through the woods. "Aye, I'll 'ave tae put up a post before the next shooting star show, tae spend the night o' it out in nature under many blankets, then a place fer volunteers to sign up." Grinning with the tease like it would even happen, a wild idea too. "I was down Hollow Woods Inn talking tae Lorcan and he mentioned seeing yea up this way so I came tae see yea, see how yea are doing." A more serious look had his eyes darken in green hues. "I consider yea mae friend and I 'ope yea still feel the same o' mae." He wasn't really quite sure what happened between them but the distance of him being up north to help and separation seemed to play a part. Except Broch was a stubborn man to at least try and save their friendship in the least.

"Oh yes, I saw him. Lorcan I mean." She remembered that night. Or at least, parts of it. She believed she was in conversation with Mesteno about the grumpy man, or at least, that's what Gaelle had tagged him. She noted the darkening of his eyes and her lips pursed in response. "I do.. It's just.." It was hard to explain what she was thinking, or feeling, and she considered giving up even trying. "It's still hard." She finally said, with a shrug. Her fingers curled around the mug of coffee in front of her and she glanced down to it, to see the fact that steam was no longer rising.

Feelings were hard to sort through more often than not. Confusing a good word to associate with them. But in all of it, he always felt a friend and didn't want to give that up no matter if it wasn't to be more. Fate was fickle, so nothing could ever really be ruled out. He reached across to fold her hand into both of his, one under, one over with the caress of his thumb against smooth skin. "Aye, it bae 'ard, confusing, I din want yea tae worry o' it, just let time bae tae let it bae but know I bae yea friend and t'at is guid fer now. Iffin yea need mae, yea know w'ere I bae. I know w'ere yea bae." Pausing here, "well generally. W'ere bae yea cottage?" It didn't matter to him about his coffee for certainly the steam cease to rise from his too.

Her gaze flicked from the coffee, to their hands. She watched, listening intently, then lifted her eyes to his. She smiled faintly. "Not so far from the village where I lived once. North of it, a bit. I can keep an eye out on things going on there, but still have enough distance to where I can find peace if I need a retreat from something. It's a good place, well, despite the once in a while raids. I don't think one has happened in a while, though. I'm close to Rhydin, almost on the border, in fact, and close to one of the main rivers." She sent a peek out through the window, again. The view was nice and she could tell by the position of the sun that it was late afternoon, already. Time had flown. It felt like it was not even an hour ago when she'd stepped out for her shopping trip, which had taken place early in the morning.

Her hand was released with a trace of his thumb to fade off before he dug inside of the cloak worn to bring out a folded up piece of paper, one side having a list of things to do and get. A pencil as well as he unfolded it to mark Heathfield to the south.. Rhydin to the north and then turned it for her to mark the name of her village and approximately where he cottage was. "Yea put it 'ere, close enough, I'll find yea and iffin you need anything, anything at all, yea let me know." He meant his words, there was a fierceness behind them. He would protect if needed too, whatever needed, that was part of being a friend. He too noticed the time, it got dark far earlier each day. He also noticed it seemed she needed to go. Once he had the quick map they could conclude the time together so that she could go where she needed to be from here. "I am pleased tae 'ave found yea, Gaelle. To 'ave talked a bit." Wasn't long and certainly didn't go badly.

She marked the spot exactly, even drew the tiny line for the small road that angled off just a small bit along Rhydin's border. Not by much, and the river that was close by. She handed it back to him, smiling as she gathered her things and started to rise. "It was nice. I'm glad to have seen you. I need to make another stop on the way home. I'm looking for nightshade and oleander. I'll have to keep it inside until I get the small green house built behind my cottage." She finished off her coffee while she stood there, then glanced to the door. "Want to walk out with me?"

He rose too, "can yea use any wood? I've plenty to share, bring a cord of it tae yea place." In spite of her liking to romp through forest, he didn't picture her chopping down trees and splitting wood. "Aye, I would bae glad tae walk with yea," right to her cottage door if needed after her stops. The paper was taken and folded away to keep in finding her place if he didn't walk her that far today. He picked up his unfinished mug to drop at the counter, something of habit and would carry her sack if she let him.

"Wood? Oh, of course. If you don't mind. I'll pay you somehow." She promised. She walked out with him, and on the way, pulled out the list of plants she needed to purchase. Almost all of them toxic! No telling what she had in mind these days.



Date: 12-11-09
Poster: Broch Cunningham
Post # 9

The Visit

A little cottage outside of a rather small village sat tucked between a gathering of tall pines. The pines were useful, she'd broken off limbs and made garland out of them that laced shelves and countertops--anywhere she could stick them. So, in a way, stepping inside was like stepping outside. Only, it was warm from the fire sizzling in the fireplace. Her home carried the pine scent; fresh and clean. She'd even cut a tree to decorate, and tonight, she was doing just that. Only.. she was having problems with decorations. Most of them were handmade. She'd gathered up pine cones and painted the tops of them in various colors. And pecans? Really? Well, the ones she figured were not good were painted up too, with ribbons tied into tiny bows that rested on each shell. And ribbons. It was scattered all over the place, along with a few strands of stringed beads. She had company. A kitten that she'd found that appeared to be mixed with bob cat. The light fur had stripes and spots, it's tail short and quite fluffy. The tell tale sign of bobcat came in the ears. They were tufted in black. She hadn't named it yet; the little critter that was batting pecans across the floor. Candles burning in the windows, obviously someone was up.

Broch came rumbling along in a wagon to her place. It had taken him a few tries but he finally found the right one amongst those hidden in this section outside of Rhydin. He was bundled up in furs, even a hood that covered most of his face with the overhang and kept the cold from freezing his face. Gloves and boots, he looked like an abominable snowman too large even for the wagon loaded with three cords of wood. The lad seated next to him seemed small in comparison. Between them was a couple boxes, biggest one on the bottom, medium size one and small. "T'e place bae look'in festive Tommy." Drawing the wagon to a halt before both were down and the lad of seventeen, though a good size and muscular, set to unloading the wood and stacking it aside the house. Broch gathered up the boxes to carry before he was to the door and a good resounding knock as he juggled the balance of gifts with one arm.

There was a golden bell hanging from a small wreath she'd made hanging from the door. He could see it, decorated with pine cones and red lace. The bell jingle-jangled when he knocked, and she stopped what she was doing to approach the door. The kitten? Skittish thing got a fright from the sudden knock and its back curved up in a threatening arch--ears pinned against its head. In a split second, it tore off towards one of the bedrooms, pfft-pfft-pfft hissing the whole way. She got a laugh out of it, at least. "Thank goodness you didn't try to climb the tree," she muttered on her way to the door. In dark brown pants tonight, and an ivy green blouse with sleeves that flared loose over her arms, she was comfortable and rather casual. A good thing she'd not changed into her bed clothes. She cracked open the door to peek out, her amber eyes narrowed faintly until she saw who was there. Or at least, recognized him in the bundles of clothes. "Broch? Is that you?" She sounded rather surprised. She opened the door all the way to let him in. She didn't see the other person with him, quite yet.

Well, the boxes kind of obscured the bell until it was jingling away and had a gruff laugh as he quickly caught up the boxes before they spilled to the ground. "Aye, it bae mae, Gaelle, can yea let mae in fer a few?" He wouldn't keep her too long this late at night but it was when he could get here. "T'at bae Tommy out t'ere stack'in t'e wood we broug't." So she knew what that commotion was and sounds associated. Beneath the cloak he wore a wool sweater of heather in blues over dark brown pants and black boots. He was certainly attired to stave off the cold and the start of flakes falling littered over the fur hood.

"Oh, yes, come right in. Tommy? Oh! The wood. I almost forgot about that. Thank you very much." Rambling for a moment, a brief one. She held the door open until he was inside, then called out to the busy boy stacking the wood, "When you're done, you can come in! It's awful cold!" She bit her lower lip, then murmured to Broch, "Maybe I should help him? And what are you doing with those boxes?" Her brows furrowed. She'd noticed them before, but just now got around to asking about them. From the hallway, there was a tiny growl. The kitten came out to see what was going on. At least.. for a few seconds. It skittered back into the room when it found that its courage had fled him.

"Aye, t'at would bae nice," on Tommy coming in at least to warm up before the two started back. Broch was paying him a good price as the lad had come to him for work so he had money for the holiday to spend. He was in and looking for a place to set the boxes. The largest one contained a brown suede hooded cloak that was lined in Shetland wool. The medium box had boots that matched, suede and lined and the smallest box had a scarf and gloves that matched. It was a whole set. Why? Because last time at the Cafe, she wore a thread bare cloak and worn boots that would not see her through another winter. "T'ese bae fer yea from Santa Claus o' Kris Krinkle o' t'e bunny rabbit," teasing her with a wink and the smile that tipped lopsided.

She motioned to the living room, which, wasn't all that far. Her eyes widened when he told her that they were.. pretty much gifts. "You.. didn't have to. Really. But thank you, Saint Kris Bunny." She teased, her nose twitching playfully. "Would you like something to drink?" It was the first time he'd been to her house. Well, in Heathfield she really didn't have a house. She glanced around at her mess, brows furrowing. "I have been decorating. Pardon the disaster area." There was a streak of brown and grey fur, mottled in black. This streak went right up one side of Broch and down the other before it fled beneath the tree. "Cat." She explained. Her tone was rather dry.

"Aye, bout I did, yea going tae spank mae?" Like he'd been a naughty lad bringing gifts, for her, during a holiday season! Her house was festive looking and a comfortable feel to it as he managed his way into the living room and to the table there to set them off, "yea can open 'em any time." She didn't have to wait until Christmas unless she wanted to. That was up to her. "W'at..." as something streaked by as he stepped back, running up the fur cloak, which luckily kept the feel of claws from his skin, and down the other side before it was gone. "Yea bae keep'in little beasties now, Gaelle?"

"I found it a few days ago. In the woods, and alone. It was mewling, cold, and frightened. I had to do something." Sadly, if she came across more, she'd probably bring them home, too. "I haven't named it yet. And no, I will not spank you." She answered him a bit in reverse. She was prone to doing that sometimes! She grinned easily and slanted a look to the tree. The kitten had gone from angry to playful. It would be her luck, to bring home an animal that's a lunatic. Little paws batted at low limbs, knocking one of the ornaments off which it chased across the floor. Tufted ears quite alert. From there, she glanced at the boxes. "Hmm. I might wait until Christmas. You never know, that might be the only thing I get this year. I've been rather naughty you know." Teasing.

"It bae a wild cat," although if young enough it could turn into a good enough cat. If she got clawed, it would be worse than a domesticated kind. It looked liked the short stubby bobcat species. "Call 'im, o' 'er Streak." Being the creature could streak quite well. "I bae t'inking I prefer naug'ty 'n a lady." Which had him chuckling as he was over to check out her tree and the scooting cat playing with her ornaments. "Aye, bout yea may make use o' t'em before. Yea dae 'ave neig'bors and friends up t'is way?"

"I'll think of a name, I'm sure." She walked towards the tree, but kept a respectful distance from him. She reached up to touch one of the ornaments and her head inclined a little. "Yes, the village that I used to live in is right up the road. Very close. You can see some of the main square from my backyard during the day." She smiled up to him, then lowered her arm to her side. The kitten was still playing. Though it had grown tired of the ornament and was now batting at some of the ribbon on the floor. "Thirsty?" She questioned quietly. "Hungry? I can get you something.. so you won't have to ride back on an empty stomach." She could do that much, at least. Or so she thought.

"Spike t'e streak'in wild cat, aye." Amusement in his tone of voice, "I'm sure ye'll come up wit' somet'ing appropriate." He shrugged out of his fur overcloak before he overheated and folded it over the back of a chair. Big and heavy enough it nearly tipped it over but he caught the chair and adjusted the weigh of fur to stabilize. "I will 'ave somet'ing iffin yea are tae drink, t'e same." He wasn't going to be an inconvenience. He reached over with a trace of his fingers along her cheek that curved down to her chin to give a little tweak. "Ye'll 'ave ot'ers about t'en wit' yea sae close tae t'e town yea grew up in. Yea 'ave made contact wit' friends o' old?" Realizing that sometimes a town you grew up in may have changed over completely during the years absence. There was a saying about you could never go home... because of how time changed things.

She grew rather still, staring as his touch trailed along her cheek. Her throat cleared, then she let out a soft laugh. "Some of the same people are there. Many have moved on. They grew tired of the raids; constantly losing things. Though, I do not think the town has been raided in a while. That doesn't mean it won't happen again.." The kitchen was right across the way, and it was open to the living room. She could be seen when she moved over in that direction to dig around. Potcheen, she didn't have. But she did have a bottle of brandy that someone in the village gave her. She filled two small glasses and carried them with her, along with the bottle, back towards him. One of the glasses was handed over. "I think.. some of the people in the village are getting sick. My father sent for a physician." Since, they didn't have one living in the town currently.

"If yea bae not wis'in mae tae touc' yea, yea only need say'in." Words were low as he caught her reaction and certainly didn't wish to make her uncomfortable. "It bae guid t'ey 'ave not been invaded 'n a w'ile," and he could hope that continued. He turned to keep facing her way as she moved into the kitchen. Taking the glass when she was back and offered. He lifted it to take in a whiff, brandy, good brand of it too, or at least made well. "W'at kind o' sickness?" Raising his glass in a toast though he would not kick back brandy. "Tae a 'ealthy resolution fer t'ose gett'in sick." Then he took a good taste of the brandy. Perfect. Warmed up his throat and left such a trail down to his stomach.

"Uncomfortable? No. Not really. I just.. it's .. well, I don't read them very well. Some of the things people do; gestures or touches. I have to keep in mind what we are, now.." She hoped that made sense. She lifted her glass with his, then drank a good portion of the brandy before answering him. "Some of the people are coughing. Fevers. I think an older lady was coughing up blood." She lowered her eyes to her glass, her brows furrowing. For now, she set the bottle down on a small table, rounding it to drop down to sit on the couch. The glass in her hands was lifted again, another sip before she set it down too.

"W'at we are, bae very guid friends. T'at 'as not c'anged fer mae." Which for him it included touches, it included hugs and if fate still determined more, mutually, he'd allow what should be, be. If she found she could not be friends with him, he figured she'd tell him. "Coug'in up blood bae consumption, not guid." Not that any sickness was good, more that some were worse than others. "Yea fat'er bae all rig't? I can 'ave medical supplies sent tae 'elp." It would not be a whole lot but it certainly might make some difference. "Yea fat'er lives 'n t'e city not far from 'ere t'en?"

"It hasn't changed for me either.." She smiled quietly, shrugging her shoulders a bit. At the news of what she'd feared, the 'diagnosis' of the sick people, she nodded and frowned. "That's what my father has been guessing. So far, he hasn't .. shown any illness. And yes, he lives in the village. Along with my mother, and brothers. And thank you, Broch, but.. you've done so much already. You brought the wood, gave me gifts--I couldn't ask for anything else. The physician he sent for should be here soon. I have offered a room for him, or sent word that a room is offered. Which, I've told my family they could stay here too." Her arms curled along her waist.

He was pleased to hear her words and it brought a gleam to burnished green eyes and a smile to touch that reached them. "T'is bae fer t'em." Giving her a wink so she didn't have to feel he was overly showering her with gifts. "It bae fer t'ese sick people." He didn't know she had family before. Not only were her parents alive, which was great, she had brothers to look after her too. "How many brot'ers dae yea 'ave?" He might at first wonder why she didn't stay with them but if it was him, he'd want a place of his own outside a city. Although he housed his whole family in the manor because he was responsible for them. If they wanted to move out, he figured they would tell him. It was by then Tommy was knocking at the door to let them know he was done, and they could have him come in to warm up.

"I have two brothers." She held up two fingers, smiling faintly. "One is married, the other isn't." She had a reason for living just outside of the city. One, that she thought, was a good one. Most of the raiders in the past took the same road that Broch had, on their way to the village. So, they passed right in front of her house! This could be good, or bad, depending on how one looked at the situation. She heard Tommy's knock, and turned her gaze towards the door. "Come in!" She guessed it was him, it had to be. "I will be in the village tomorrow, for most of the day. If you'd like, I can send word that you're willing to send supplies." Offered back to Broch.

If it gave her time to get to the village on some back route and warn them, then it was good. Bad if they decided to hit her house first or if she got caught. Tommy was quickly in, taking off the Irish cap from a mop of reddish brown hair. Blue eyes, freckles too and good looking with the straight strong nose, full mouth and expressive eyes. He was quick to close the door to keep in the warmth. "Ma,am," politely her way then to Broch, "the wood is all stacked." And obviously he was ready when he was. Broch was thinking he might hire him on as a steady handyman for his determination and ability to get things done. "T'is bae t'e Lady Gaelle," and if she fussed over him using such a title, he would ignore it. Just that tipped grin would be the result. Then back to Gaelle, "aye, ye can, I will 'ave t'em sent 'ere tae yea place." She would know who to get them to from there.

"Thank you very much, Tommy." Offered to him through a wide smile. The title from Broch had her nose wrinkling. "Do I look like a Lady?" Teasing him. Then her gaze flicked to Tommy. "I am Just Gaelle." Spoken like the 'Just' was a title on its own. "And thank you, Broch. I will let my father know." That was spoken warmly. She rose up slowly, glancing between them with another smile. "Tommy, would you like something to drink?" The offer was given to him, since she'd done the same with Broch. And she would've felt horrible if she hadn't made that offer, anyway. "Or eat? I have pies in there." Motioning to the kitchen with her hand.

Tipped grin as eyes met and held, obviously he looked upon her as a lady. Tommy shifted from one foot to the other as his glance traveled between both. "Aye, Just Gaelle, a pleasure Ma'am." Which was a term as good as Lady for Tommy. "Ah, no thank you ma'am, I'm going to be checking on the horses and wagon to make sure nothing has gotten loose." Straps or bolts and so on, not admitting he felt a little awkward but not out of place all considering. The hour too, he knew Broch would not dally too long and would be expecting everything in order. The cap was being turned through his hands as an unconscious tick before he shoved it back over the mop of hair tipped to one side in how the Irish wore them. "It was a pleasure meeting you Just Gaelle." Half bowing having his rump bump into the door then around quickly and out, shutting it behind him as Broch let out a good laugh. "He bae a bit s'y, aye. Pretty lass got 'im all flustered." Not said in any derogatory way but amused of human nature. "I will bae 'aving tae gae but maybe anot'er time w'en not sae late t'at I may visit." He didn't wish to overstay his welcome either. He might even deliver the medical supplies in person but they would be here in two days either way.

Just Gaelle. And he'd said it twice. While she wanted to laugh, she only beamed a smile right at Tommy instead, until he was outside, at least. When Broch mentioned pretty lass, she squinted her eyes. "Oh, pretty lass? Jessa, from the village must have been outside then." Teasing, and totally acting clueless on the fact that he probably meant that she, herself, was the pretty lass. She rose up when he mentioned leaving, nodding gently. "Thank you, again, for everything. You are welcome to visit anytime. Hopefully I won't be sick the next time I see you." Her smile faded a bit.

"Din kin w'o t'is Jessa bae but it not bae her bout yea. Yea are a pretty lass, Just Gaelle." Which he couldn't help using. He rose, his glass empty by this point which he left on the table. He hoped she liked her gifts too and maybe it was best, for her, she waited to open them. For him, he would have liked to see her do so. Alas, it was not to be and that was all right. At least she had accepted them when he knew she could use them. "Yea better not bae sick o' I will bae tak'in yea back wit' mae tae nurse back tae 'ealth." Sounding like a threat but more a concern and he might just carry it out if she got sick instead of her being here alone. One large step and he had her wrapped up into his arms in a bear hug, more like a teddy bear one than squeezing the life out of her.

Her head shook gently, a soft laugh breaking free. She opened her arms, wrapping him up in a tight hug. "That sounds like a threat, Broch Cunningham." Teasing him again. She knew it was out of concern however. She stepped back after hugging him, to see him to the door. Which she opened for him, of course.

A kiss had been pressed to the crown of her head before she escaped his arms. That certain lopsided grin like he had gotten away with something, little boy stealing a cookie. "Guid nig't Just Gaelle, I 'ope tae see tae see yea soon.." sung like as he grabbed up the cloak to turn over his shoulders and out he went, grazing a kiss to her cheek on the way as if stealing just one more treat. Tommy was waiting on the buckboard of the wagon as Broch would be the one driving. A last wave before he climbed up and soon on their way. Tommy sending a wave as well.



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