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Dates to Remember

Date: 02-22-10
Poster:  Rhett Shawnesey Jr
Post # 1

Date with Surprises - Celtic Gardens

It was the usual cold day, wintry sun shinning even with a dazzle of sliver snowflakes, as he call them, floating around in the air with some full size flurries. Rhett was dressed warm as usual, winter outerwear, boots, Stetson hat, gloves and so forth. He was driving a horse drawn sleigh with a picnic basket packed in the back. One that Hazel gave him to bring because he asked. Drawing up in front of the cottage, he was quickly out and up to the stoop to knock on the door.

The date had been set, leaving Karina plenty of notice to get all of her tasks done before Rhett arrived. In fact, she'd worked SO quickly that she had excess time of more than an hour before he was supposed to meet her. Vanessa having taken the baby out for a walk, Karina was left alone in the cottage to do some dishes and clean up a bit... and then there was nothing to do. She was antsy, too antsy to sit still and wondered why. She didn't entertain the thought that she was just girlishly excited about their date. Fully dressed, she was ready and waiting by the time the knock came, and she sprang up from the chair she'd just sat down in. Hurrying over to the door, she took a second to hastily tug her mass of curls into some semblance of order. Then opened the door to greet Rhett with a crooked grin. "Hiya."

He had been glancing out over the fields and road that he'd have to take. It had been a very long time since he was to where he would be taking her. Blue eyes were bright in such light, almost surreal that turned back upon her as the door opened. The usual pressed smile showing before answering with a, "hiya. Are you ready?" Stepping aside one pace so that she could see the horse drawn sleigh. He had said nothing about the date in where he would be taking her or what means.

She didn't answer him, too busy gaping at the device which was waiting behind him. "You got a sleigh?" Incredulous eyes returned to his. It brought a smile to beam from her sea-green eyes and finally her lips, then she gave a nod. "Aye, ready." She reached just inside the door to grab her hat, a yellow knitted beret that she pulled down over her hair. She was wearing the crimson dress that he'd complimented once, the rich color brightening her features or perhaps it was just the excitement of the day. Snug pants and tall brown boots beneath, a dark brown coat atop to keep her warm. "Let's go." A smile flashed his way as she shut the door behind her and stepped out onto the stoop.

Gloved hand had fingers entwined over hers as he led her down to the sleigh. Huge smile on his face since hers flashed. Seeing her within the sleigh as a gentleman would do before he was around to the other side but paused to get something from the basket. Once he was up onto the seat he offered her the red rose tipped in white streaks. He got it because it was different and had a very sweet scent to it, strong enough but not overpowering. The gesture spoke for itself.

She felt strange, like a true Lady or something, escorted as she was by such a gentleman to the grand horse-drawn sleigh. Settling onto the chair, she waited for him to join her, turning to face him once he climbed up. Which was when she was surprised by that rose. Just another milestone to cross together.. she'd never received a flower in her life. It stupefied her into silence as she took the rose, running her finger gently along the petals then bringing it to her face to inhale the fragrance. Eyes moving back to him, there was only one thing to say and she had no words for it. Instead she leaned over suddenly to press a sound kiss to his lips. When she pulled back she was grinning a bit foolishly. "Alright, now we can go."

He watched the expressions that fleetingly crossed her features. Reading every one that she didn't need to say a word for it was all there. There was something about his smile too, warmth filled that was soon disappearing into the kiss. Eyes closed, one gloved hand to rest against her cheek and his hat tipped back a moment with that movement. With her pulling back so quickly, it had a laugh to burst free. "Aye, onto your next surprise in an adventure." Certainly it would prove so or he hoped. The tap of the reins had the workhorse starting forward. A breed that was extremely efficient in snow covered roads and fields, strong and sure footed. Because they were in a sleigh, they were not regulated to the road and he took shortcuts through fields although taking a longer way to their destination. There were deer along the way that had heads up as they passed, most didn't seem scared of their presence but when happening on a herd directly in their path, they scattered to a certain distance to allow their passage.

She settled back on the bench when the sleigh began moving. Holding the rose carefully across her lap, she let her free arm slide through his, linking them together as he held the reins. She did it without thought, the gesture felt as natural as breathing. Enjoying the wind against her cheeks, she was plenty warm bundled up and inside the sleigh, and looked around for a few moments. There was still plenty of snow on the ground but the sun was shining, making the entire landscape sparkle. It reminded her of a crystal held up before a lamp, its facets reflecting little beams of light in every direction. In other words, it was completely beautiful, and she soaked it in for a few minutes before turning back to Rhett. "So are you gonna tell me where we're going?" A mischievous glint to her eyes, since she hadn't been able to get the surprise out of him yet.

"No," came with a laugh and a spark in blue eyes her way as they continued through another field then back out onto a road. Smile pressed a moment as the horse seemed to know the way once on this road. Eyes held before he finally added, "you'll see very soon." She may notice that it seemed to be a little warmer and the snow was getting thinner. Usually the sensation might have one thinking the logical, that the sun had been bright and warm enough to start melting the snow.

"I've been wondering about it all week! Mean," she accused him but was laughing while she did so. A tongue stuck out at him before it dissolved into a grin, and she looked out again, hoping to see some clue. She did notice that the snow seemed to be melting into puddles here... a bit strange, but then the sun was strong and perhaps hit at a better angle here to melt the snow. It was a bit odd but she was too curious about their destination to wonder about it for too long.

He did a double take when she stuck out her tongue and couldn't help himself saying, "best know how to use it if you're going to stick it out like that." Which certainly had other visuals to arise in one's mind. Luckily she would be saved, perhaps, as he maneuvered the sleigh off to the side before there wasn't any more snow. The horse could drag it against the ground but that would be asking a lot of the workhorse unnecessarily. Once stopped, he was out to take up the picnic basket then around to offer a hand, "we will need to walk from here." One couldn't see a whole lot up ahead for the haze that had thickened, a kind that might turn some away if they had no clue to the reason. Entering a Fog unsettled some.

Blink, she looked back to him at that comment... just eyeing him for a second, caught between embarrassment and amusement. But before a comment could be made he was drawing the sleigh to a stop. She took his hand to step out and to the ground, but she still held the rose. A moment of debate, but she didn't want to just leave it in the sleigh... so she stuck it behind one ear. The rose looked rather dashing alongside her bright yellow hat and she smiled his way, then paused to look ahead and hesitated. "Looks sorta foggy." She commented unnecessarily, but the haze was a tad unnerving. Still, she trusted him, so after a second she stepped forward to walk with him.

The comment would imply that he knew how to kiss that way, just he hadn't so far. He offered her his arm in escort so that she would be more centered and sure footed. "Aye, there is a reason as you shall find it all out soon," basket over his other forearm as he proceeded to guide her into the fog. It had a refreshing quality about it with the scent of flowers and new grass. The scent of a perpetual spring-summer condition as the temperature continued to climb. They had left the 20s behind to proceed into the lower 80s. As they neared their destination the fog started to dissipate. Like one looking through a window into a summer scene approaching. They were entering the Celtic Gardens. Little pinpoints of various color lights seemed to shift in the fog, distinctive but gone if one tried to look that way of the streak caught out of the corner of their eyes.

He was being very mysterious, causing her to smirk his way once more before concentrating on their surroundings. The first thing that seemed strange was.... "it smells like plants!" Rhett was given an odd look, since that was a scent she hadn't smelled in months, since winter fell and killed most green things in the land. As they continued, she found herself getting warmer and warmer, until she was almost sweating in her heavy winter clothes. What was going on? Did she have a fever or something? Free hand lifted to loosen her scarf and then to pull off her hat. It hung loose in her hand as she stared about herself. For some reason it felt appropriate to whisper as her eyes tried to trace one of those dashing lights. "What is this place?"

He found a large flat rock aside a gurgling fountain that was part of the rock gardens spread about to set the basket on. Paths leading to and fro with violets and other wild flowers growing in patches of dirt and around rocks for a good distance inviting the traveler to explore. The grove was nestled in the palm of tall pine trees and great old oaks in full foliage. "This is the Celtic Gardens it is said is tended by the forest nymphs. It is close to the hidden Crystal Caves that Prince Andrew has. Where miracles have happened of those brought there. It is told how the blind found sight and one that was part vampire was cured of her curse. The warmth comes from deep within the Earth in this part, a place that is separate from the world as we know it. Enchanted some say. There are hot springs not far from here I plan to take you. Healing waters of mind and body besides being in a unique tropical area." He was divesting of his winter wear to leave on the rock to collect later. Even the woolen sweater was lifted from the cotton poet's shirt, boots taken off as he'd go bare foot.

The questions were written all over her face, and the wonder as well as she advanced slowly to look around. "But how? When it is winter everywhere else?" She wondered aloud. Enchanted, he said, but she was still trying to wrap her head around it. She supposed, some things were just amazing without any explanation to be had. She could believe it, seeing the lush landscape, almost feeling the magic prickle against her skin. "It's..." words failed her again but he'd be able to clearly see her awestruck expression. She was still looking around as she began to lose her winter layers, which were now unwelcome. The hat already off she unwrapped her scarf, tugged off the bulky brown coat. These were put in a pile on the grass.

"It's a place to come to especially in the middle of winter. Not many realize it stays warm, they have come here in the summer when there is no real difference going between worlds." Which he put it that way for a good reason, it felt like they had entered a different world set apart, the very feel in the air around them spoke of this on another level if one was attuned to such. The earth was warm beneath their feet which attributed to the hot springs which alone could be a reasoning of why this area was this way. He splashed her with some of the water from the natural gurgling fountain, it was made of rocks that gradually led up the side of the mountain.

She was still bedazzled enough to be looking around, thus she was victim to his splash without having seen him coming. It drew her out of her reverie and she laughed. "Guess you're just as bad in this world too." She teased with a grin, reaching down to untie her boots with more energy. She tugged them off and set her bare feet against the warm ground with a sigh. "Oh, it's so nice to be outside AND warm for once!" As the surprise wore off the thrill was setting in, and she turned her face up to be warmed by the sun. "I'm surprised that half the town isn't here." If she had known this place existed she would be a frequent visitor during winter. Turning her face back down she looked back over to Rhett with a bright smile. "It's wonderful.. thanks for bringing me."


"Would you want me any other way?" Teasing her back as he stalked her in an approach. Quite taller had him dip his chin as he got that close. Pressed smile brought a dimple or two with it. "It's more wonderful sharing the time with someone here." Hand slipped to capture hers before he was tugging her away with him. The basket scooped up in his other hand in passing. "C'mon, there is more to see." Leading her through some of the winding paths around flowers and rocks, "the tree nymphs take care of the garden," which for being wild seemed in perfect order yet no signs left of any gardener having touched the soil. He was leading her towards a path that led away from the garden area. "There is a cottage in a field down from here that keeps the warmer weather all year round, I think in the dead of winter it only goes down to the upper sixties. There are green houses there but I don't think anyone is living there presently." An aside as she would hear the sound of water falling in a rush growing louder the more they progressed along the trail.

"Guess I wouldn't." She replied casually though there was a grin teasing her lips too. She went quiet as he approached, face turning up to his and her breath going offbeat as it always did when he got so close... and then he was grabbing her hand and pulling her away, making her laugh. She left all of her extra clothing and shoes behind in that pile, fingers sliding between his as she stepped barefoot across the grounds. The warm ground beneath her toes was so nice it almost made her shiver. "Are there really tree nymphs?" She wondered aloud, gazing about herself with lingering wonder. She listened to his words and gave a light shake of her head. "I woulda never known that places like this could exist...." She'd learned a lot besides that since coming to Heathfield.

"I think so, if one comes to favor you then they will let you see them I'm told. Sir Cairns has two that decided they liked him and follow him around at times causing mischief. There are others that have seen them. I've caught glimpses when I was here years ago but I am too busy making swords." There were odd bits of light to dance around that were not commonly seen in other places. This place held a surreal quality to it of a pleasing kind. He came to a halt along the path drawing her close as his fingers unlaced from hers to draw around her shoulders. Before them was the sight of the waterfall. One that came from so high up the mountain it was hard to see the top with the sun shining so brightly behind it. Birds of all colors were flying about, singing and chirping. The whole place was alive right down to the water itself that spilled into a pond below that rushed away with pools that settled off to the sides in small coves of clear water. So clear you could see stones and plants along the bottom as well the various fish swimming around. There was a path leading down the embankment as they were about twenty feet up at this point, about a quarter of the way from the bottom in comparison to the top of the falls.

She snickered at that imagery, of some wee nymph chasing around a Knight, tugging his ears or playing tricks. That would be a sight she'd like to see. Though as she turned around her breath was taken away by another sight altogether. Never in her life had she imagined a waterfall quite so huge. Its size, the power of its rushing waters were so great it was almost frightening. Certainly striking. She could almost feel the life here, that not-quite-audible buzz of hundreds of creatures from insects to songbirds. The beauty was almost too much to take in. Feeling his arm slide around her shoulders, she wrapped her own arm about his back and stood close as they looked around. Standing there with him, seeing the sort of scene one only imagined in stories... filled her with a happiness that swelled her throat and was nearly an ache. It made her wonder how a person could be so happy and yet inexplicably sad all at once. Something to baffle over as she allowed her head to tilt sideways and rest against his shoulder.

The buzz of insects was there but not the irritating in your face. Actually what happened as they stood there soaking in the scene was a multitude of butterflies surrounded them, many landing on their heads, shoulders and arms. Ones of all colors and sizes along with various dragonflies to come up and hover in front of them as if being inspected. Translucent wings that hinted of blue and greens beat so fast they were a blur as one left another came to take its place counting at least three times over before they were all gone. "I think we were under scrutiny here," which brought a chuckle, "and we must have passed for we still stand." Not that there had ever been a report of someone being killed by insects in this garden. More, they had been honored for the blatant scrutiny.

Karina stood perfectly still, and almost held her breath when the butterflies surrounded them. She didn't need to be told that these were no ordinary insects.. the way that they landed upon their skin, much more trustingly than others of their species, was enough to tell her that. She watched them as they flitted around, then just as quickly, disappeared once more. Rhett's words brought her gaze back to him, and there was a luminous smile on her face, the sort that very rarely ever graced her features... no hint of a smirk about it. Her eyes were very bright, the turquoise hues a bit glassy.

He was captured by her smile, the world and time could have stood still as he stared, his smile growing as eyes held. A thought coming to mind was expressed, "you fit in here like you could easily become a part." Still held before the spell was finally broken, may have been the squawk of a colorful bird flying overhead and off to the falls. His arm slid down as fingers entwined with hers again and he was once more leading her along the path. The air was getting heavier in a tropical feel, the leaves larger of strange plants that grew along the path on both sides, the underbrush had leaves that spanned two feet in a heart shape then others like tall hay stack grasses. The rush of the waterfall muted more as he showed her a smaller path that led through the plants that stood taller than them at his point. A feeling of Alice in Wonderland that they somehow shrunk. "Through there one can access the ledges behind the waterfalls. They are tricky, slippery, but you can access caves that go inside the mountain." Although he pointed it out, he was not taking her there are they continue along the path. There was a growing sulfuric tint to the air.

Her smile stretched a bit wider at his words, though she wasn't sure if she believed them or not. Still it was nice to hear him say it. She held his eyes until the moment passed them by, allowing him to take her hand once more as they set off. She let her feet find their own path, too busy looking about herself as the plants gradually grew larger and larger. Gaze returned to him with interest at the mention of the waterfalls. "Can we come back some time and try to get to the caves?" That daredevil streak was still there in her eyes.

"Aye, another day when we are prepared for such an adventure. Ropes and other tools." He would do it smart as his Pa taught him. The air got thicker and thicker much like the plants seemed to get bigger and bigger, leaves coated with a sheen of moisture and the most exotic flowers blooming. The air all misty and the dance of lights even more profound as the hot springs came into sight. There were a few of them but the largest was the first and easily accessible. There was a rock formation that jutted up near the middle of the twenty foot somewhat round spring. "You can sit on ledges out there and soak." His fingers sliding away from hers as he was over to set the basket on the large flat ledge by the spring. He also proceeded to take his clothes off, all except the braies worn. Basically a cloth that just covered his bottom. Arms, chest and legs were well tone and muscular. A blacksmith and swimmer's athletic build.

She stayed put when he walked forward and began... to strip. Just watch her eyes widen as she gaped. Rooted to the spot, she just watched as he put down the basket, peeled off layers of clothing. The sudden reveal of much of his body wasn't the only reason she stared. She made no move to follow, torn. She didn't want him to feel like she was rebuffing him... but she was loathe to take off her dress to reveal her shoulders and back... Quickly she was trying to think of what she wore beneath the crimson dress and what it might cover. As she did so she was just standing there looking somewhat like a deer caught by a sharp-eyed hunter.

"You are not afraid of the springs?" Not just water but these were a little different, very warm, healing waters. "It is said they will heal wounds as you soak." Eyes making contact as feet found their way to the edge of the spring where he finally turned his attention there as he started down the natural made steps, gradually lowering him into the water.

"No, I'm not afraid." Her tone slightly defensive. She wasn't angry with him, but nevertheless there was irritation pricking at her as she still made no move to advance. Then all at once she made her decision and with almost an air of recklessness, she was loosening the laces at the front of her dress, tugging her arms out of her sleeves and pushing the rest of the garment down until she could step out of it. Which left her standing in 
 the snug leggings she'd been wearing beneath, and her undershirt, a simple white sleeveless top. The thin cotton shirt laced halfway up the front with a faded green silk ribbon. Her form thus revealed was slim, with only gentle curves swelling at the bosom and hips... a spare feminine shape. She crossed her arms tightly and stepped forward to slowly follow down the steps.

He had reached the rock that had ledges underwater to sit upon. Watching her as she took off the top clothes to something more suitable to be in water. The draw of his eyes was natural and if she noticed she would also 
 notice he found the sight pleasing. Blue eyes held a near glowing quality as he sat there with steam rising all around him in the most unnatural place compared to the world outside of here still blanketed in snow. "Come sit beside me," pressed smile came with the dimples again and a different spark in blue eyes.

She would have found herself glowing at the look in his eyes, and at the surreal quality of the place, had she not felt so... naked. She still kept her arms folded and moved almost stiffly down and eventually into the water. A breath sucked in at its heat as she stepped carefully down, the water lapping her knees and then her thighs and hips as she came to sit beside him. And then waited for it. At this angle, and with much of her shoulders revealed she knew he would notice the scars which covered the skin there. Some were quite old, just thin white lines, and some newer, the wounds turned to puckering pink skin when they healed. They criss-crossed and reached as far as her neck, running out of sight beneath the thin fabric of her shirt. In some places the skin seemed to have been almost rubbed raw, leaving discolored patches. "Don't say a word," she spoke suddenly and her voice was almost harsh, warning. "I don't wanna talk about it." And with that she turned her eyes decidedly forward.

He noticed and wondered, anger if anything to flare inside his heart that someone did this to her. With her warning he said not a word but his gesture might help to ease any worry where he was concerned. Fingers drew up the healing waters to smooth over the scars. A light touch before he leaned in to place a kiss atop the worse of them in appearance. It was brief but a statement made. Certainly he would have asked questions on how it happened but he stayed his tongue at her request. Next she would find herself wrapped up in his arms, all bare skin to surround and protect. "We are here, now." Which too said a lot in how he looked upon her situation.

She was taking measured breaths to steady herself, sitting stiffly until she felt the gentle sprinkle of water along her skin. All the wounds were long healed but her skin there was sensitive for other reasons, so rarely touched. Her eyes slid shut went he pressed his lips against one of the scars, she could have even named which one, and a light shiver ran down her spine at the contact. With her eyes closed she felt rather than saw him wrap his arms about her, and she surrendered to it, melting into the embrace. Her face found its way to bury in his bare chest, much as it had that evening on the lake, after their first kiss. An unconsciously childlike gesture of seeking comfort and trust. A small nod was given to acknowledge his words.


Date: 03-04-10
Poster: Rhett Shawnesey Jr
Post # 2

Celtic Gardens Cont.

There was a shimmering coating left over her skin as he smoothed the healing waters in a light gentle touch. She may notice, being this close, that he had one at his side where the sword had gone in during that battle that should have taken his life. Well, he was dead for a short while and brought back in a unique way; joint effort of two highly gifted men. A comfortable silence rose up that he didn't break at this point leaving the healing spell to weave around them both. Like the rise of the steam it lifted all troubles and pain away off into the dense air above. Which so happened to draw blue eyes trailing up with the wisps. Up there were many pinpoints of dazzling lights as if a ball going on, dancing about and as he watched he was sure he heard their music. Light, whimsical, chime type of perfect tones that danced as much inside one's head. All the while holding her in his arms with the smoothing of his hand over her back.

It took several minutes but slowly, slowly, the tightly-held muscles of her body began to untense. His stroking of her back was soothing in a deeply human way, the comforting touch of skin against skin. Gradually her heart ceased its racing and she stopped the near twitches of discomfort that her sense of nakedness had inspired. As the mist seeped into them and the music floated on the air, her soul quieted and calmed. Yet she still didn't budge out of his arms, unwilling to do so. A sense of gratitude overwhelmed her, thankful for Rhett's silent understanding, his non-judgmental reaction... Hell, just him, and the fact that he was sitting here with her in this fey place. Her arms stole up to wrap around his back in a hug that stayed snug for a few moments, her head lifting from his chest only to rest upon his shoulder. Karina's nose nuzzled against his neck just lightly, wordless feelings crowding up inside her but... she wouldn't have known how to say them if she tried. So instead she just closed her eyes and enjoyed the moment.

Some things went beyond words and if one tried to tie them down, it was like capturing a butterfly instead of observing its flight. Lips found her hair in touches then to her temple and top of her forehead as he held her in his arms. The waters were warm but it didn't touch the warm feeling growing in his heart. Something as fragile as that butterfly and just as beautiful. It occurred to him, though Karina would probably object, he found what he would call her when alone. "You are my butterfly." The way he handled her said as much for always at any moment, considering his strength over hers, she could escape him if she wanted. He didn't want the moment to end but there were moments coming to enjoy too. "Wait here," sliding a kiss that as he moved trailed across her lips before he was moving away across and out of the waters. The braies a little revealing for their recent closeness that could not be helped. He was over to the basket to open it up and back about five minutes later with a tray held in each hand. Ones that he floated, once in the water, back her way. There were water lilies on the tray around the plates. Two glasses of wine and lobster braised in lightly spiced butter. A creamy cheesy potato, tender french cut beans and carrots and slices of apples sprinkled in cinnamon that had been lightly baked. "Hungry Butterfly?"

"Butterfly?" It drew a quiet chuckle from her lips. That delicate, beautiful insect was not a creature she would have compared herself with. Drawing back, there was a curious smile on her lips, but any further questions were arrested when he moved away. Watching him, a different sort of smile flicked across her features, even as she bit her lip. She drew up her knees to her chest, arms wrapping loosely about them, a comfortable rather than defensive posture now. Her curls were an amber riot around her head as she waited patiently, then her eyes widened when he returned with the bounty. A shocked glance quickly became a disbelieving smile as she looked at everything he'd prepared. "If you tell me you cooked all that yourself, I'll think you really are perfect." That slipped out before she could help it, revealing her more private thoughts regarding Rhett... yes, almost too perfect to be true. Her cheeks already pink from the heat went a bit darker in shade, and she went on to cover it. "It looks amazing."

"I'd like to say that I did, and I can cook, but Hazel had this done up for me. I supplied her with a set of culinary knives as a thank you." He eased up beside her again and thankful to be half emerged in water again. He took one of lilies to add into her hair next to the rose. The way her hair curled it held flowers easily. "Bon appetite." Stealing a kiss of her lips before he was ready to dig in while it remain warm. Hazel had fixed the basket to keep it serving hot as she called it. "We should not stay longer than to eat our dinner in the waters. Too long is not good for your body while up to a point it is very good."

Ah. Karina nodded but still smiled to herself, thinking no less of him for not having made the meal himself. If anything, she was touched at the thoughtfulness of it. Her smile grew when he tucked that flower into her hair, leaning in to return that brief kiss before surveying the spread before them hungrily. "I don't know where to start...." Eyes flashed back to him as a laugh stole its way past her lips. The mood of their outing had lightened again. Whether it was the freedom of being so exposed and accepted even so, or the magical aspects of this place... whatever it was, Karina was almost giddy. She grinned as she reached for her plate, heaped high with food and digging in zealously.

"I think if we pause too soon, we may lose our meal." While she was indecisive or so perhaps teasing, those pin points of light seemed to draw around them as if descending from heaven to partake in a heavenly meal. He set some of the flowers to float as some of the lights followed the petals. A slice of carrot slipped away from his plate and was carried away. It had him laughing as he placed some more along the edge of his plate in offering. He remembered some stories about offering and then they didn't take it all but respected you for it.


She had to laugh at that too, watching a bit of her lobster disengage itself from the rest of the crustacean and fly off. The sound was incredulous and coupled with a shake of her head, then she wasted no time digging in. "I can't believe this place...." she said again with another glance around. Seeing Rhett do so, she put a few bits of food along the edge of her plate... also, so that whatever the creatures were, they wouldn't put their teeny tiny fingers all over her food to get it! Soaking in the warm water up to her stomach, and enjoying the sumptuous meal, she was completely comfortable... though half her wonderment was because it was hard to believe she was actually here, in such a place, with a guy like him. "It's like... something you'd tell a kid in a story." Or so she would, if she had kids someday. The thought had never really occurred to her before and surprised her.

"Look," he paused after digging in too as there were little piles of fairy dust left in place of what had been taken. "We should collect and keep this once we are done. Faery dust is magical and you may need it one day." So he was careful eating what was left without disturbing the multicolor sparkle-like little crystals that made up the faery dust. "I think this is the best meal I've ever had because you are here to share it with me in this wonderful place. I'll have to eventually show you others. Will you be my girl?" If he was going to start seeing her more like this, he didn't want to share her going out with other guys at the same time. Perhaps a bit selfish but it was more to see if they worked out together, knowing well they could end up parting as friends and onto other dating. It was not a binding contract either like engagement, more like going steady to see where it went especially for their age.

"What would I need fairy dust for?" But she said it on a laugh, letting it be a rhetorical question as she continued eating. The sense of relaxation was wonderful... a release of sorts, as was the company. His words made her smile lazily in agreement... though it faded as he went on. The request took her aback completely, and she dropped her eyes to her plate, at a loss for words. It had been so nice these past weeks, spending time together, getting to know him better.... but the fact remained that she felt completely inadequate... and certainly did not deserve him enough to make it official. "Rhett..." she began uncertainly, halfway glancing up from behind a curtain of a few curls. "Are you sure that's a good idea? I mean, you hardly know me at all, I'm not...." She fumbled to express it, suspecting he would take this the wrong way. As if she didn't want to go steady. "I really like you," she blurted out. "But I'm not like.. most other girls around here, you know? You don't know everything about me and - I just don't think, I don't know...." Wow was she ever babbling, and she cut herself off there, peeking up at him worriedly.

He not only sense her sudden discomfort, he could feel her struggle. The last thing he wanted to do was make her feel uncomfortable. He had thought it was a good idea or he would not have asked but now he was second guessing himself after her reaction. He never really dated anyone before and thought it would be appropriate. He was probably as insecure as she was. His voice came hushed,  coarse under his breath. "I don't know what other girls are like." Admitting he was clueless. "You want to just be good friends?" Trying to clarify it all. "Or let it evolve more before being only my girl?" He was probably fumbling too and now regretted being impulsive. "I like you a lot too, dearheart." Admitting that bit too. If anything he looked a little afraid she may have gotten offended, that he pushed too quickly.

"No, it's not that..." Such a struggle to express things she'd never thought she'd have to express, before. "There's no one else I'd rather be with." She admitted that more softly. That wasn't why she was doubtful. She hesitated a second longer, moving some of the food about her plate before fixing her large eyes upon him. "I just don't think I'm... I don't know if I'm the right person for you. What you ought to have." There, that was the crux of it. She really wanted him to be happy. Even if it meant it was with someone else...

His meal done, he sat there thinking this through, trying to calm his racing heart in fear she might say she didn't want to see him anymore. No matter the reason. Well, her reason had brows dip in a slight frown. "I think if you were not right for me, I'd know that and I'd not be taking you out. Hanging around with you, yes. I wanted to take you out. I wanted to kiss you and have. I may not be the right person for you. I don't know, I think if we keep seeing each other we'll find out and maybe later on take more steps." Giving a slight shrug of his shoulder, "I think I got too enthusiastic is all." There was a smile then to show, "I think what I ought to have is what makes me happy and what makes you happy in this. Not what you think others might say about it or your own low self esteem. So, you would still go out with me?" That was the bottom line wasn't it? He was already up and carefully moving across the waters so he could see to the faery dust into a pouch he had on his belt and put the dishes in the basket. Wine and food were done and both enjoyed. Rising up on the other side while steam rose from his body as well the waters.

Even anxious as she was, his words couldn't help but bring a flush of happiness to her heart. She tried to ignore it, at least enough so she could think practically. Something very difficult to do when he looked at her that way. He still didn't understand... and that wasn't his fault. She watched him begin to move away, biting her bottom lip as his final question hung in the air. She wanted to say of course! but the bite to her lip prevented it. Instead she said what she must. "Rhett, there's people who might be comin' after me." Harsh reality suddenly invaded the enchanted glade but it couldn't be helped. He had to understand. "And not just to say hello... I don't want you to get hurt just 'cause you're.. involved with me."

He managed the dust carefully into the pouch and his dishes away into the basket while still waiting on her. He was getting on his trousers even if the underclothing was still damp. The kind of heat had it drying faster. So he was hopping around on one foot when he stopped, pants half on him. Blink. "What kind of people might come after you?" He was a warrior and a good one. He had tons of friends too to help him protect her. He didn't like the sound of these 'people'. Then she added more, "I would help you whether we were involved or not so you may as well toss out that thought.  You need to tell me, I and a few others will see that this ends. I know some that have gifts," not realizing that some of them had been imparted to him by Leoric going within his mind to bring him back from the dead as well Trevor's healing powers infiltrating his body and absorbed.

Date: 03-04-10
Poster: Rhett Shawnesey Jr
Post # 3

Karina was shaking her head rapidly even as Rhett was speaking. "No, I don't want you involved in this. Or any of your friends, or any of my friends." She spoke firmly, pushing herself up out of the water. A few light splashes echoed as she stepped out of the spring, water coursing down her shift and bare legs as she moved towards her pile of clothes. Arms crossed tightly again, though the air was so warm she wasn't really cold. "Listen Rhett... I know you're a good fighter and.. and it's really nice you'd want to help. But these aren't the sorts of people you can just.. fight." Picking up her dress, she turned to him, features wrinkled into a frown. Worry not for herself, but for him. "They sneak up on you. They fight you in ways you don't even realize til later, they... wait for you in the dark. I don't want you involved." She repeated it for good measure.

"What would have me do Karina? Pretend for a moment you are me and I was telling you this. Would you willingly accept to stand down and do nothing?" He managed his pants up by the time she got closer. Words lowered emotion filled. "I'm not just being nice, I care about you as a few others also care about you and what happens to you. Call it selfish, perhaps, if something happened to you it would harm me too. I know you're not use to family or possibly even friends, but this is what family and friends do for each other. It is what makes them important. You are as much saying I'm not equipped to handle them, are you so equipped then? You challenge 
 me to prove to you that I am capable. I'm not one that one can sneak up on to start. You would do the same, allow me to help you in this if needed. They can be stopped. There are ones far more powerful than them here." He was giving it his best shot in spite of how stubborn she was being.

Once, twice, she parted her lips to try to answer him, but he kept plowing on. Each time he kerfuffled her thought process but she tried to keep the arguments straight in her mind. Something very difficult when he was speaking so convincingly, and when all she wanted to do was throw her arms around him and relent. But this was too important, too dangerous for her to give in to her own desires so easily. In the end, when he finished all she could burst out with was, "well, I care about you too and I don't want anything to happen to you because of me!" Cheeks flushed nearly as crimson as her dress, she tugged her clothes on and started lacing up the bodice part."It's not a matter of me challengin' you. I just know how to deal with them. I have before." She spoke this on a lower key, almost a mutter. Fingers fumbling to tie up the damned strings, she looked up to meet his eyes as she got back to his first question. "And yes. If you asked me to do nothing... I would respect that." Would he respect it for her?

He was furious but it was restrained behind a well discipline, warrior honed, effort. There was disappointment there too that she didn't feel he was important enough to help her in this. The muscle along his jaw tightened as it took him a very long moment before he dared answer. "I can't force you to let me help, I tried to show you by words what it means to me and anyone that cares for you. If you wish to remain stubborn and flip aside my ability to help as nothing, then I will have to respect your choice." She had in essence insulted him on a few levels though not on purpose he would hope. "Just remember this conversation when something bad is about to happen to me and I refuse your help." Frustrated and yes, angry, with the whole conversation he was over to tug on his shirt then his boots. Once done he proceeded like an automatic robot to collect the dust from her plate to put in the pouch. Once he had it all collected he offered it to her. "At least take this, perhaps the Faeries here know something about the future and why it was given."

No, the insult was not purposeful and she was a little taken aback by the anger she sensed in him as a result. She didn't mean to imply that she thought him unworthy, she only wanted to keep him from getting hurt. She knew all too well that accidents happened even to the most skilled and undeserving of people. Surely he'd seen that in battle.. the best knights cut down by a half-second's mistake, why couldn't he understand her? Karina's own jaw set as she steeled herself against a flood of explanations and pleas. Fine. He could be angry, as long as it kept him safe, she told herself... that was fine. So with great effort she said not a word, instead worked on tugging on her shoes and lacing them up. She looked up though when he stepped close, straightening slowly to accept the pouch. "Thank you." She said nearly in a monotone, afraid to meet his eyes in case she slipped into apologies and further discussion. If that were to happen... she had a feeling she wouldn't be strong enough to resist him much more. Then he'd get involved, his friends too, someone would get hurt, and it would be her fault. No. She refused to let that happen....  whatever the cost. As she looked at his angry, hurt expression she realized just what a big cost it was.

Because he was a warrior trained and trained to take risks for the importance of duty to others, himself, family and friends. It was what honor was made of. Everyone took chances but for him some chances were better taken for his skills. His eyes were intensely blue as if all he tried to say could be conveyed there better than words. He was more afraid of her getting hurt than him. He had more training than only a warrior but druid ways. This she didn't know and he doubted it would make a difference. He was at least appeased that she took the faery dust for as strange as it seemed, it may help her out if she would not let him. Once they had all their belongings, he took up the basket before coming up alongside her and slipping his hand over hers as fingers laced. Nothing more said as he started them back along the path towards the Gardens.

She hesitated as he stood so close, almost daring to look up and into his eyes... but the eye contact was fleeting. Quickly she glanced off again and the stubborn set of her jaw returned. She had a terrible feeling that because of this one issue, things between them wouldn't be quite as perfect as they had been. She could almost regret ever mentioning it. But then again what right did she have to expect perfection, hm? She ought to be grateful for what she had - and she was. The fact that he took her hand helped to relax her some... at least he was not so angry that he would snub her. She allowed a sigh to pass her lips but said nothing more. Fingers intertwined with his as they started silently back.

The fact that he took her hand said a lot no matter how he felt about her stubbornness. He was stubborn too and would let this go for now but he hadn't really given up on it. His mind went blank when he tried to come up with idle conversation at first but as they got closer to where the waterfall rushed down the side of the mountain it reminded him of that part of an earlier conversation. "So you still want to go exploring there sometime?" Struggling, yes, she had turned him down in being his girl then turned him down a second time too in helping to protect her. Insecure in this relationship? Definitely. He wasn't sure who he could talk to and not have them just say he should forget it. Should he? He dared to even ask himself but passed over it anyway.

If she had suspected that he hadn't given up on the matter, she might have been a bit harsher. In her mind he couldn't really fully understand the potential dangers, no matter how he protested that he could fight. He hadn't dealt with these ruffians before and she was determined that he never would. The silence was almost painful in how badly she wanted to tell him just how much she did care about him... how that one thing had nothing to do with the other. But if she said that, would he try again to get involved? She was afraid he might and so she kept her lips buttoned. Not looking up until he gestured to the waterfall. "Huh? Oh- yes. Yeah, I'd like that." She nodded to affirm her words, sending him a slight smile up.

Her words no longer held the wonder and excitement they had before. He wasn't sure what he had done wrong but certainly he must have. Rhett not only didn't know what to say at this point, he was afraid of saying anything that would make what had become a wonderful date go wrong and become worse. By this time they reached the gardens themselves, the pinpoints of lights seemed to have abandoned them too. Fingers slipped from hers as he was over to the fountain, setting the basket to the ground so he could scoop 
 up some cool water to splash on his face and neck. At the same time trying to let go of whatever negativity had taken hold.

Indeed, the magic seemed to have gone out of the place, and she was kicking herself for being the one to cause that. But what's done is done.... and what must be done, had been. Even such logical arguments though couldn't take away her sense of regret. She let his hand go and watched him move away, feeling his disquiet almost as her own. Dammit, he'd created such a nice day for them and she'd gone and ruined it. Still words failed her, because she would not relent on the matter of him helping her with her enemies. There was one thing she couldn't resist doing though. She waited until he was straightening up from the fountain, then slipped soundlessly over to join him, so that when he turned around he would be met by her lips. Fingers curling around his arms, she stood on her toes to better deliver the kiss, which was as passionate and needing as any they'd shared yet. Her eyes closed and face tilted to taste his lips, allowing herself this one moment to try to communicate what could not be said in words.

Maybe cooling himself off in that particular water helped for certainly some had changed as he turned, face, hair and neck wet to be met by a fierce kiss. His kiss was fierce back as arms went around her tight instead of retrieving the basket as would have been done had she not approached. All the emotions that were pent up came out in that kiss that couldn't seem to get enough to almost demanding but giving as much first. His heart accelerated to racing, pounding in his ears and head that knew nothing else at this moment than the kiss. It had become all, it was an outlet for both their feelings in spite of the clashing of stubborn personalities minutes ago.

Because of their shared stubbornness it could be their only outlet for now, without a shouting match. The heat of his returned kiss took her breath away, skinny arms encircling his frame to squeeze as she claimed his lips hungrily. She lost all sense of time but only knew it had been far too short when she finally pulled away, breath coming fast and her blood running hot in her veins. Would it be enough to tell him that she did care... that she was his girl in all but name? She could only hope so as she forced herself to pull away and turned, starting down the garden path.

It was enough to confuse him, certainly. The heat of her kiss would chase other doubts away until his mind went back over all that transpired in their conversation. He had never gotten this involved with a girl before and the words of others that it only proved a headache sang through his thoughts. He was on the verge of a real one. A ragged breath drawn in as their lips parted and the look on her face told him she cared. His probably did the same even if the other thoughts were not going away, nor his stubbornness. It was probably good they didn't linger there from one high point to a plummet to high again and not wishing another plummet so soon. He grabbed up the basket to move it further over to where he left his clothing. They would be going back to the cold and snow. The outerwear soon donned, "I think we'll really feel the difference coming from summer into winter." Waiting on her as he collected the basket again then started out down the trail. She would need to stay close for the misty fog that would be encountered again.

Karina was meanwhile trying to take deep even breaths to steady her lungs, which seemed to be working convulsively. She half-turned from him to pull on her coat, hat, scarf, gloves, regretting each layer but knowing they'd be necessary when they returned. "Aye... guess it's much colder in the real world." Her words slipped from her lips but might have been a metaphor for something else. Bundled up once more, she would join him again for their walk out.

Which finally had a pressed smile to show, "one can wonder which is the real world for it is what we make of any worlds we enter." Which was true if one thought upon it so what was really real or did it come down to what one decided which was true? His arm came to slide around her shoulders to keep her close, "it is said that if you have a evil heart that the Fae would have you get lost in this fog never to be found again instead of invading their domain." Which could have one wonder for the fog had that quality about it. Once again it would fade off in wisps as the area around them became clear. The horse had found spots of grass where the snow had been pawed away and was busy eating what would be new shoots beneath the snow. Once to the sleigh, he put the basket in the back before seeing her up onto the seat. Around then he was up and in to start them on their way.

Date: 03-05-10
Poster: Patrick Frasier
Post # 4

Fulfilling a Bet Date

Patrick was a busy man, had been for some time after his wife left and a divorce decreed many years ago. He had not tried dating as he was a man that took things to heart and hard when his heart had been given. Hard to accept things as they were and gain his heart back. In time he finally accomplished it and still a few more time went by where he kept from the dating scene. Having made a bet with Gemma was his first step, small one, in dating. Not a true date being it was to see to a bet but it was the closest he had come so far.  Perhaps why he had made the bet to force the step and who better than the lovely Gemma Quinn? A beautiful, respected lady who couldn't cook (as announced by her). The thought had him chuckling as he headed for the Quinn Manor. He had better see to making good his bet or soon there would be no snow as required. He was dressed up but not overly, smart looking coat over neat attire consisting of an heather wool sweater of wheat and browns, twill pants of a darker brown and the functional boots lacing up to below his knees. He added a picnic basket that Hannah willingly saw to so in helping her brother out in this matter no matter if it had been a bet. There would be surprises in there he would find out. A note had been sent ahead in plenty of time so Gemma would be ready and if it had been an inconvenient time, enough time to send back a note stating such. He knew were the manor was in Heathfield and planned to stay the night at his cousin's casino where there were a few extra lush rooms.

Gemma knew Patrick had a busy life and might have suspected the reason. She also knew he was a man who would see to his bets. So, it was no surprise when the note arrived at the manor. She had been in a kind of argument with her grandmother on what she should wear. Mary Quinn was bound and determined that her granddaughter would not go on a date in britches whether it was because of a bet or not. They had come to a compromise and Gemma was wearing a riding skirt of butter soft suede dyed a deep rich shade of blue. The blouse, though not frilly, was feminine, with a scoop neckline and she wore a lined jacket that came to her waist and matched the skirt. Her argument had been they would be out in the weather and the outfit not seen but it had been easier to finally give in. She wore a velvet cloak that was a deeper blue than her outfit, nearly black, lined with rabbit fur. Gold embroidery decorated the hems along the bottom, front and hood. She even took the muff that her Grandmother had offered, smiling at the pleased expression on her face. Now she waited at the door, feeling somewhat anxious, for Patrick to arrive.

Bells had been put on the harness of the two matching dapple greys. So they could be heard not far away as they came trotting up the road leading to the manor's door. Reining them in, Patrick was quickly out and up to the front door to give the brass knocker a few sounding taps. The horse drawn sleigh could fit six people in all as it had a back seat where the basket rested. An open sleigh with cushioned seats and extra wool blankets to put over ones laps if needed. To keep his head warm, he had donned an woolen Irish cap and a scarf made of soft wool around his neck whose tails hung down the front of his coat freely. Lined leather gloves kept his hands warm.

She was laughing as Gram told her to not answer right away in order to not seem anxious. "I'm not keeping him waiting!" She declared but she did take a moment to make sure all was in order before she opened the door. "Hello, Patrick. Right on time." She wouldn't have minded if he were a little late, he looked so dashing. "And a prefect day for this. Would you like to come in for a moment or shall we leave right away?"

Green eyes were vibrant in the wintry noon day sun. "Mrs Quinn," giving a respectful nod to the Matriarch standing not far behind Gemma, "a good day to you, I will not keep your granddaughter overly long." Which held a charmed smile to show fleetingly before attention shifted upon Gemma, taking in her features this close as if seeing her for the first time. He had not really gotten a good look at her before now and it had him pause. Blink. Smile followed as he offered her the bend of his arm. "Hello, Gemma, our sleigh awaits. Best we be on our way and perhaps stop once back to warm up." The time out was precisely timed to get them back while there was still light, accounting for any mishap or obstacles that would have the trip take longer.

She hadn't realize Gram had moved closer and had looked over her shoulder when Patrick spoke, blinking while she bit back a laugh. She had also noticed the blink and wondered if something had surprised Patrick but left it go. A dimple appeared as she smiled slipping her arm through his. "Be back soon, Gram." She gave her an airy wave, tempted to say good-bye to her sisters and Brigid who she knew were peeking. She didn't however. "I'm so glad you picked today. The weather couldn't be better."

Patrick held himself in a dignified way as becoming of their Clan that Neale set an example of. There was another side full of passion buried under the polite outer crust that only one so far had a full glimpse of. That crust had been built up even more but the passion was still beneath. He was almost reckless as a younger man and gradually curtailed to keep out of trouble. "Had I waited much longer for all my duties, I fear there would be no snow left to see to this sleigh ride. Then I would have to beg of you forgiveness and amend the bet to a regular ride in a surrey." A gloved hand coming to rest over where hers laid upon his arm for a moment as they reached the sleigh then away to see her within. Leaving her to settle as he was around and up into the driver's side taking up the reins. He waited the few moments, pulling a woolen blanket up over their laps and legs to keep them warmer for the trip.

She knew there was another side to Patrick, one of good humor when he rode in the hometown races. The other might be seen in time. She listened to his words and nodded, looking serious though the sparkle in her eyes showed she wasn't totally. "And I'm certain I would have forgiven you and accepted the surrey ride." Her smile reappeared like sunshine coming out from behind a cloud. "But I have to say, I'm pleased you took the time off from those duties." She understood all too well how they could overtake one. She thanked him for helping her into the sleigh, then smiled again for the blanket. A wave was given toward the house where there were four faces peeking out of a window.

"That is good to know." Smile reached his eyes slightly shaded from the brim of the wool cap as the wintry sun shown down like it was warm but it was not. "I have a motherly sister named Hannah who has been on my case of late. Worse, she has rallied my sister-in-laws to further nudge that I was becoming unbearable and better a person in my more rash days. I am pleased to have lost this bet and in your company for a good portion of the day." A ride that would take three to four hours when all said and done. The click under his tongue accompanied the light tap of the reins on the backsides of the horses that had them easily on their way. The ride was a bit different in a sleigh, smoother and less bouncing.


"So, tell me of yourself, Gemma Quinn, what goes on inside that pretty head of yours? Your achievements and goals, the past, the present and the future you hope for?" He would prefer getting her to speak on herself but knew that if she did and then turned it on him he would have to then open up enough to oblige in all fairness. If she hedged around the questions then he could too. All the while they were already leaving the Quinn lands and out into the open streets that had been rolled over but he was soon going through another gate taking them through a field that had signs of sleighs having passed this way before. Rolling hills far from the beaten path that had a more scenic view including a trail that went right through a small edge of a forest. Bunnies hopped out of their way as well many deer to be seen. There was not as much wildlife about as spring would bring. A family of raccoons were disturbed and the two scolded as they passed. One lone red fox was seen in the distance looking at them curiously before disappearing into the brush.

She laughed when he spoke of his sister.. "I understand completely. Segan's lady, Vanessa, has adopted a baby and my grandmother has been fussing at all of us about giving her great-grandchildren." Which was more problematic since only he was seeing someone, as far as Gemma knew. She pursed her lips in thought with his question then batted her lashes in a silly way. "Why, I'm not sure what you want to know, Mr. Frasier." Laughing, she considered a moment. "Well, I suppose one achievement is being trained to become part of the Order of Athena, which is also a goal. I've trained with sword, knife and bow and wasn't certain I would find a place where I could use those but when we came here, I was pleased to hear of it. " She looked at him a moment, blue eyes bright. "Are you sure you want to hear about my past? There's nothing special about it?" At least in her opinion.

"I would love hearing all that you wish to impart, Gemma." Giving a reassuring glance her way and the ease of a smile to go with it. They were coming out from the other side of the forest's edge to advance on a trail that wound them gradually up the side of a mountain. The lower side as the other was too steep and dangerous at this time of the year to go by even sleigh. Some ventured up on horseback or foot but that was not his goal. "Most do not think their own life events are out of the ordinary or special but whether they are or not, they add to the richness of getting to know that person."

"Hmm, that's true." She made a slight motion with her hand, as if waving vaguely in the direction of Ireland. "Well, we were all born and raised in Ireland. I wanted to be trained as I said and also in the old ways. Our mother, and grandmother, did what they could but in the end, I was sent off to the same school as my aunt had been. That was after mother died. We probably had an idyllic childhood, days of roaming the countryside when chores were done, lessons in a classroom. I was a tomboy and the oldest girl so I tried to follow my brothers around. When they wouldn't let me, I'd go off by myself. Gram always worried the Fae folk would steal me away." She laughed, "and I always told her they'd bring me back because I was so stubborn."

The road was wide enough to fit the sleigh easily but there would have been problems had one been coming down the side of the mountain. Luckily the chances of that were slim. A section opened up as he geared it off to the side to a small field that overlooked the valley from above. A view that one could see for miles of snow and further capped mountains in the distance. Here he stopped as a picnic table was set up under a canopy. He had not set it up but knew of it before deciding where to take her on the sleigh ride. "This school was of warrior training your aunt had gone to?" As it wasn't specified and he didn't want to assume for the context of the tale. "If you get the spot in protecting the high born ladies of the castle, it will require a lot of you in devoted time. If there are enough lady knights, dames, then duties would be rotated giving you some time of your own. All in all it could become a very solitary life for you, different from what you have known no matter your love of the sword. You may not find much fighting other than the everyday practice I am sure the Dames are expected as are the knights on the king's field every morning." With the sleigh stopped it had his full focus on her in a curious way. The idealism of such a position and the possibly boring reality of it. A sort of grown up babysitting he couldn't imagine the Queen of these lands being too pleased with. He remembered the stories of her champions when that was pressed upon her. Although this could be different. He was wondering. "The Fae Folk might like you even more for your stubborn streak, it would prove a challenge to them and they like that."

"It could very well be, as I'm sure it can be for the men." She had thought about that reality several times but it was still what she wanted. "And since there is no war, there isn't much fighting at all. "The only other prospect is to attempt to become a ranger." She looked at him a moment before she continued. "It was for training as a Druid. School is the best term I have for it since it wasn't quite like the schools of my childhood." She had been looking at the scenery as they rode but now her attention was on him. "There are some not comfortable with the Old Ways but I've found most are open to everything here."

"No, Druids don't have classrooms that anyone can go to. Those with gifts are chosen and all is taught without books or recorded other than in one's mind and psyche." He was out and around to help her out then to see to retrieving the basket from the back seat. "Rangers are kept busy especially their trips to the borders and what remains wild beyond them not necessarily beasts but in humor form. You would be gone from society completely for months at a time." Only a tipped smile to the last about those being comfortable to the Old Ways here as with basket in one hand he offered her the bend of his other arm. "I hope you are hungry."

It was easier to talk to someone who understood. She accepted his help, and then stepped to the side so he could retrieve the basket. "I know they're away a good bit of the time which is one reason why I think it's something I'll have to let go." She could just imagine her grandmother deciding that Gemma needed to be found and setting out to look for her. "Yes I am to be honest." She slipped her arm through his as she laughed again. "I have a good appetite though I can't compete with my brothers."

"Hannah fixed the basket for me so I can lay no claims to the cooking. She is much finer cook than myself but I can cook." Which he did for his son and himself every so often, it was just more convenient letting Hannah and the other sister-in-laws do the cooking along with the cook. Hannah just loved to cook but when busy, and certainly she was with the brood she had, the cook was there to take over. He led her to the picnic table and set the basket atop. "I choose this place for a reprieve for the magnificent view." Needless to say as it spoke for itself. High enough up the mountain for it to be breathtaking. "Just don't get too near the edge for the snow and ice could have you slipping over the edge and this day end up tragic." Fair warning for if one were not afraid of heights it would be exhilarating to get close to the edge which was about twenty feet away. A clear day as the snow glistened over hill and dale below, the river cut out like a sparkling blue ribbon against white. Patches showed some spots with a hint of green and the castle in the distance and ocean beyond. He opened the basket to find a small catch of wild flowers as he took them up with a chuckle. "These are for you." A variety that were picked for their scents.

"Then I'll save the closer view for a time when the snow is gone." She turned from the view, a pleased smile appearing. For all her determination to be as stoic as her brother, Eion, Gemma was not. "Oh, how lovely!" She accepted the flowers and buried her nose in them, inhaling the scent. "I'm not much of a cook at all but Gram feels there's hope for me." She grinned at him as she brushed snow from the table. "Of course, I never really had to cook, though I had to scrounge for food in the woods a few times as part of my training." She looked at him a moment. "What did you do before your had the racetrack and raised dogs?"

"Perhaps next race I will bet a cooking lesson." He had stepped close watching how she enjoyed the flowers. Something he would have forgotten he was so far out of the social arena. A hand lifted as if to touch her hair or face but it lowered as he stepped away. They hardly knew each other but this whole deal was reminding him of a time long ago. Something he realized he missed and there was no longer pain associated with it. The wound had healed, the situation accepted, now all he had to do was move on. That became prominent. "I got into a lot of trouble." Which had him chuckling under his breath. "I helped my brothers out as needed but staying idle could not last long, I've too much energy for that and it would turn me going wrong." A spark in green eyes was near a challenge her way if she could believe him. The spark alone showed the bit of the devil still alive deep inside. "Although, I have not tried raising dogs being Eddie McAndrews has the kennels not far from us and had more than enough dogs to help everyone out. You might say he was a bit exuberant in getting pairs to breed when he first started out. Are you looking to get a dog?"


Which had the idea he should get one for his son. He was old enough to learn this responsibility. "I was married and have a son. The woman I was married to left the lands many years ago. No rhyme or reason, one day here, next gone and never returned. We searched but she left no trace. After two years went by, my brother saw to a discreet divorce as he felt it not fair for me to keep clinging to an ideal." That was all he would say on the matter. Green eyes darkened a moment but that was all. A year ago he probably would not have been able to speak on it at all, two years ago, definitely not. "Anyway," chasing away any grey cloud that might threaten to form over talking on it. "I do believe we have fried up fish fingers in a buttery crust, not heavy in oil as is Hannah's secret and just enough spices to have you wanting to eat more."  He was taking the plates and such out.. first the cloth which he laid down to place the others stuff on. "Apple cobbler with cinnamon crust, some veggie sticks," mussing as they were set out. There was a bottle of wine and glasses in the basket too.

She blinked then laughed, shaking her head. "For some reason I associated the dog track with raising the dogs. My apologies." She gave a slight bow of her head though the apology was given with a hint of mischief. "You got into trouble? I'd never believe it." She was teasing and the glint in her own eyes showed it. "No, Eion got each of us a dog. The estate is filled with horses, dogs and cats and Gram keeps order over it all." She had watched his face and nodded when he spoke of the past that was over and she did touch his hand briefly. She couldn't imagine how he must have felt but it didn't need to be said. "It sounds delicious. Of course, if you do bet a cooking lesson, I'd  have to win."

"No apology needed, it was an honest assumption." Smile tipped to the side as that spark was back in green eyes. "I think I prefer you not believe me." A quick wink added before he paused with the touch of her hand, his other folding over hers before it could get away. Captured and lifted as eyes held and a kiss placed on the palm. Sensitive area as lips were warm, one might get the impression he would prefer her lips but that would be far too bold. It lasted one of those lingering moments that seemed far longer than it actually was before her hand was lowered and he went about pouring the wine. "You do drink wine?"

Gemma prided herself on the fact she didn't blush but Patrick was very close to causing that to happen. She bit at her lower lip as he kissed her palm, nearly holding her breath. Maybe it had been too long since she had been out socially. In fact, she couldn't remember when she had been. "Yes, I do. We have it at dinner quite a bit."

He took out two cloth covered pads, setting one on the bench seat for her to sit, then one where he would sit across from her. "The food is still warm, but wont stay so very long," needless to say. He lifted his glass first for a toast, "to days of beauty shared with another to make the day more exquisite still." Touching her glass with his before he would take a drink to seal the compliment.

"And perhaps more to be shared," added before she too, took a drink. She lowered her glass, taking her place on the bench. "It smells almost as good as the flowers." As she sampled the fish, she closed her eyes, enjoying the taste. "I don't dare tell Gram about these or she'll be hounding me to ask Hannah for the recipe." She might not cook, but Gemma did enjoy food. "Is this a favorite spot for many?"

"If you would feel more comfortable not learning from family," as such sometimes caused problems with being too personally involved, "I'm sure Hannah would teach you." Which he would offer knowing his sister well. He dug in too but paused with her question, taking a moment to view their surroundings again. "Favored enough, there are other places favored too, this is just one of them. In the spring, further up and to the other side of this mountain you can see the herds of wild horses. If you're lucky, it's not like they come scheduled as clockwork. If you look closely you can see Ravanna farmlands, the McDonough ranches, and sheep ranch as well the Crystal lake from up here." Being they were covered in snow, one may not realize it with a quick look. The cattle looked like brown spots of snow cleared away upon a first glance. The sheep blended in so harder to tell. He set into eating for indeed this was one of Hannah's speciality and he was making the most of it.


She would have to look of course, though while she did, she continued to enjoy the food and wine. A decision was made that once spring arrived and the snow cleared, she was going to do some exploring. "I may consider it though I know Gram enjoys teaching, even if she pretends to be aggravated with me." Mary Quinn had an amazing amount of patience when it came to her grandchildren. Once she was full, she continued to enjoy the rest of her wine, watching not only the scenery but Patrick.

He did the same, there was just enough food and certainly enough wine as he topped off her glass and his for the second time. It would not do well to linger too long or the cold would seep in but long enough to enjoy the day especially one with sunshine. "Besides skill with the sword, are there other things that you like to do, Gemma?"

"I like to ride, and," she paused as she gave him a look, "I enjoy doing embroidery. It helps me to relax and I guess it brings me closer to my mother. She's the one who taught me when I was very small and was fascinated by it." She laughed as she held up the cloak so he could see what she had done. "It also satisfies my taste for pretty things."

"So no one can say you don't have a feminine side for being a warrior." Teasing but it was true as he made note of the cloak. "I like to go riding too, take off in the country side. No matter how many times I go out, there is always a new place to discover." Which was probably why he enjoyed it so much. He poured them the last of their wine and gradually put all back into the basket: dirty plates, the table cloth, the empty wine bottle, and once they were done the glasses and pads would follow.

"Where you born here, or rather in Ballicastle?" She motioned toward the landscape, taking it all in. "I think you could spend your lifetime exploring and still be surprised. I've been to a few of the closer places, the different gardens, the library and museum, and of course, the race track." She helped him put things away, then finished the wine that remained in her glass. It would help her feel warm for a time at least. "Is there any single place that's your favorite?"

"Have you been to the Celtic Gardens yet?" He had risen as his glass was empty and set into the basket as well the pad he'd been sitting on for warmth and comfort. Why they had been added. "I was born in Scotland as were the rest of my family. Direct siblings. Our father died shortly after we arrived, it was his dream to come here." He realized he wasn't sure why but probably Neale knew.  That was a time of his life where he got in trouble a lot, hot headed and more self centered which was a normal stage. And he grew out of it which was normal to follow, it was the ones that didn't that had problems. Once done, all packed up and the basket over one forearm, he offered the other in escort.

"The castle gardens but not the Celtic. I know it's always warm there but I wanted to wait until I had a full day and so far, every time I do, there's something else to be done." She handed him her glass and the pad she had been sitting on and then slid her arm through his. "It seems to be the same for a few. Of course, our father wanted to come because of our grandfather. I understand why now that we're here."

"I really don't remember being any where else it has been so long. This is home to me and I'm sure my siblings and cousins feel the same at this point, or they would have left." Seeing her to the sleigh as he set the basket inside first then saw her up and in. A strong hand to guide before he was around and inside to take up the reins. Luckily there was enough room to turn the sleigh around, carefully, before they were on their way back down at a slow steady pace so there would be no slipping of the sleigh into the horse. His free hand on the break in case they started sliding at certain dips in the road, they were going down the side of a snow covered mountain after all.

"Then wanderlust has never taken you off to other places?" She watched as they traveled down the mountain, watching the changing scenery and occasionally spotting wildlife though many of the animals were settling in for a night's sleep. "I've been to England but I find it a dreary place compared to Ireland and, now here. The nobles are a stuffy bunch for the most part, especially when it comes to the Irish." Unconsciously she moved a little closer to Patrick. It wasn't that she didn't trust his driving but more that some of those dips were a bit un-nerving!

"Aye, it has, but I came back again too. Never gone long, especially now." Although he had built in baby sitters he tried to spend as much time as he could with his son. The race tracks took up a lot of time but he was starting to bring his son with him and this summer most likely more being he was going on six. "Aye, England is one of my last choices to end up there. Scotland, Ireland, either of the two are more preferable. He noted her moving closer and naturally slid his arm around her in a protective gesture, drawing her closer which she would find much warmer.

"I didn't go much farther than that though I would have liked to travel more. My father took ill." She frowned slightly, "And was gone before I made it home so I joined Mel here. It's something I've not regretted so far." She gave him an impish look. "Nice to share the warmth, isn't it?"  She meant it too!

Which had him dip his chin with a look down her way with her snuggled at his side. Something else shadowed green eyes a moment in reflection and was gone again. "Yes it is. I had forgotten how nice it is to have one close like this," anything else was left unsaid as focus shifted back to the road and the workhorse making its way carefully down. A bit of a relief once they were past any dangerous points and the horse then picked up a steady trot. "I enjoyed losing the bet for it brought us here," words lowered between them with a glance back down upon her face.

Again, she noticed the shadow but it was something she'd ask another time if they saw one another more. "I'm not sure quite how to say it because I don't want to sound smug, but I'm glad you did too." She laughed as she answered. "I've truly enjoyed myself. It was exactly how I hoped. And please tell Hannah that everything was delicious."

Which had him laugh outright, slightly throwing his head back for the outburst. Rich deep sound, "now how can I believe that.." teasing no less back at her. "Of course with this last race, you owe me breakfast was it? See if  you can learn to cook some scramble eggs, hash browns and.. or.. pancakes. Just let me know when you are ready, although I may have to bring my son with me that early if that is not a problem?" Giving a wink as they continued onward across a field then out onto the main road heading for the Quinn manor.

His laugh had her joining in before she became just a touch more serious. "Oh, all the lessons are planned out and this time I will pay attention so, I would say within a week or two. And of course your son is welcome. I don't know if Gram will be able to resist peeking in to meet him." She looked toward the manor then back. "Will you come in for a few minutes? If you can, of course. I promise we won't keep you overly long." She didn't want to keep him from his son if that's what he planned for the evening.

"I would love to come in and meet your grandmother and the others. Will you be serving me breakfast here then?" Which would be a logical choice as he would be over in time as she called it and when. Once to the front of the manor he rein in the stallion and was out and around to help her out. He had an hour or so he could spend as long as he was home for dinner and at the table with his son and the rest of the Frasiers.

"Good, she'll be delighted." The meeting before they left would not have satisfied Herself. "And yes, here. In case I get stuck." What she was going to make wouldn't be hard, but it was natural for her to make fun of herself.  As they headed for the front door, she had to laugh when she saw the curtains move. "They're waiting for us I think." The hour would pass far too quickly but it would be fun, and Gram would likely be talking about Patrick for days!



Date: 03-29-10
Poster: Rhett Shawnesey Jr
Post # 5


It was another beautiful day in spring, the bulbs coming up seemed to double their size after the night's rain. The sun warming the earth only enticed the plants to practically grow before one's eyes. Rhett had sent a note to the Cottage for Karina to meet him down at the lake once she was done with her chores, he would be waiting for her there but not in a pressure kind of way but at her leisure. He was attired casually, lighter weight pants and shorter boots as the ground was still soggy in places to wear sandals. Poet's shirt was partially left open for the gentle warm breeze this day. Stetson was dipped down in front to shade his eyes and face as he examined one of the canoes that had been brought out and placed along the shoreline up far enough not to get damaged. There had been placed a clean tablecloth over one of the picnic tables with a basket set upon it, closed over, and a vase holding flowers from the floral shop being there was enough wild flowers yet to pick. The few that were blooming were small and he didn't have the heart to take those but left them for all to see and enjoy.

Upon receiving Rhett's note Karina had hurried through her chores, whizzing about the gardens like a spring dragonfly, probably to Vanessa's amusement. The birds taken care of, she washed up and changed, from her work pants and boots into lighter attire. Even though she was still somewhat leery of dresses, Vanessa had lent her a light green number that was appealing even to the tomboy on this warm day. The dress was a pale green dotted with tiny blue embroidered designs, the neckline wide and with cap sleeves. Her curls, now long enough to reach past her shoulders were swooped back into a low ponytail and tied with a ribbon at the back of her neck. Some sandals on her feet and she was out the door. She relished the weather on the walk to the lake, and the feel of the grass tickling her bare toes, something she hadn't been able to enjoy for months. Coming over the hill, she looked down and immediately saw Rhett standing there. Karina gave a wave and smile and started down the hill. One thing was certain, this fresh-faced and vital young woman was a far cry from the run-down ragamuffin that had come through the tavern door so many months ago.

He had completely cleaned out the canoe with a whisk broom, making sure all was as it should be. Someone had obviously taken care of treating the canoe bottoms and varnishing the wood, so he only had to make sure dust and small debris from being outside were whisked away. The task had while away the time in wait and there she was as he looked up, blue eyes bright as he set aside the brush to stand and head over to the picnic table. That is when he stopped and stared for how pretty she looked in that dress. Speechless for a few moments before clearing his throat. "Karina, you look..." pressed smile held a moment with dipping glance, "great.." not one to go overboard with flattery.

She was smiling easily as she traipsed down the hill, pleased as always to see him, and taking notice of both the set table with the flowers and the canoe nearby. She was about to comment on those when she noticed him looking at her like that... in a way that made her cheeks go warm and her heart miss a beat. In a good way. She'd barely glanced at herself in the mirror but the way his eyes held her, she felt as if she were wearing a ball gown. She reached back to give her ponytail a tug before finding the proper response. "Thank you..." Hey she was learning to take compliments! Van would be proud. "You do too," she added truthfully with a crooked grin.

"Aye," which had the nervousness fall away with a rolling laugh. "Oh, these are for you, I hope you like flowers?" Turning out to be a question at the end with him becoming uncertain. "And I have some lunch if you are hungry now or want to wait until after we get back from the canoe ride?" Leaving the choice up to her as he could go either way and it was polite anyway.

She laughed a bit too which helped to dispel the awkwardness. At his gesture she glanced to the table then looked back with a bright smile. "Of course I like them. They're real pretty." She even reached out to pluck one of them from the vase, a daffodil, and tucked it behind one ear. "What do you think?" She asked him with a little grin. "Let's save lunch for after, unless you're starving now.." Which if he was, she wouldn't mind eating now. She always had an appetite!

"I ate a good breakfast," smile widening from the usually press of his lips. "Flowers in your hair seems like they belong there." He leaned in closer to take a whiff of its scent that also put him that kind of close to her for a few moments. He had something nice smelling on, rich subtle scent she would get a whiff of before he pulled back. "Have you ever been in a canoe before?" Asked as he was heading over to push the canoe through the sand half way into the water. "You can get in first," which he would help her, there were two paddles, cushions to sit on over the harder woven seats in front and in back and a thick blanket padding the bottom of the canoe. "We could take the basket with us and either eat in the canoe or on one of those small islands on the other side of the lake you can't see from here."

His phrase of 'flowers in your hair' had a certain rhyming cadence to it, which had her chuckling, that is, til he leaned in nice and close. Eyes lifted to his as she took a breath of his distinctive cologne, just as he sniffed her flower... and that plus the close quarters made her dizzy a moment til he pulled away. Took her a second to find her voice. "Only once some time ago..." She followed him down onto the sand, taking the basket with her at his suggestion. She leaned over to put the basket in the canoe and then gave him a quizzical glance. "I'm not gonna tip this thing over, am I?..." As she climbed into the vessel carefully, one hand taking his for the balance lent.

He took her hand in his to guide her within, "a canoe takes getting use to, like riding a horse you mentally become a part of it, moving with it in balance. Never stand up quickly for you most likely will fall out if not topple the whole canoe. Although this particular style of canoe was made for rapids. The distinctive sloping up of the ends more than usual of the front and back. So, more likely you will fall out than overturn the canoe. They use these for the annual rapid races," which he pointed in the far off direction of where the lake was fed from a river that ran down one of the bigger mountains.

"Oh, well, that's a relief. At least I'll only fall out myself and not knock you in too." There was sarcasm there but it was more of a good-natured tease as she sent him a smirk. Clambering in slowly and carefully til she could take a seat on the front padded bench. She watched him speak for a moment then nodded, looking at the canoe with an interested eye. "I've seen other canoes like this but I guess they weren't for racing... they were broader and not as turned-up at the ends."

"Well, there is always the chance I will come in after you," giving her a wink as once she was settled, he gave a good push. Booted feet splashing in the wake before he was hopping into the back of the canoe with the last big shove. It sent them sailing out a bit, the difference with a canoe over a boat as it cut through the water far more smoothly and accurately. In these few moments he settling on his seat taking up the paddle to dip deep down one side then over his head in a quick twist around and dip down the other side. Steady strokes each side sending them out towards the middle of the lake which would take twenty five minutes for the size of the lake.

"Maybe I'll just pull you in whether you like it or not." Another grin and then she let out a surprised sound once the boat sailed out smoothly over the water. Hands came to rest on the gunwales of the vessel as she peered excitedly over the sides, the way the water rushed past them as they sliced across the lake. Then she settled onto the bench, chin propped up by her hand as she watched him row, the way the muscles beneath his shirt flexed strongly. Of course she didn't want to be caught staring so if he caught her eye, she would casually flick her gaze out across the lake. Where it lingered as birds flitted overhead. "It's so nice out here... sort of feels like we're a million miles away from everything, doesn't it?" A very nice feeling for her with all the worries that had been dredged up by their discussion in the Celtic Gardens. Most of the time she ignored her trepidations and did what she wanted, which was to spend time with Rhett. But at night they haunted her.

It would have been hard not to catch her eyes for she sat facing him which he kind of liked he realized. It would have the response of a pressed smile as he actually caught her. He let the canoe drift for lengths of time giving his arms a rest as there was quite a way to go. "It is very nice out here. I don't think you've been to the other side of the lake?" One with various coves hidden away. One of those coves large enough to have an island in the center of it. There was a flight of blue heron that flew across in front of them, scooping up smaller surface fish and bugs as they passed. A flock of swans swimming towards the other side eyed them warily as did a mingling of geese and ducks that were back from their winter hiatus.

Her eyes were on the birds but not really focused, her thoughts so far away that she didn't quite catch his question. Only the end of it as she brought her gaze back to him. "Hm? Oh uh... yeah, once Segan took me there." And a strange venture that had turned out to be.

"Aye? Segan? How long ago?" Perhaps a little surprised but he said nothing more on it other than the question asked. "There are a number of strange places in these lands. Like the Celtic Garden, there is an enchanted forest where the Sylvan Elves live too. Rare are those chosen to ever see it, sometimes never knowing they are. They walk into it and disappear in front of their friends if any are along with them and come out hours later in a different spot altogether. Sometimes days go by that only seemed an hour to them and they talk of this beautiful race they met." All the while he paddled in long easy smooth strokes that had them heading for the other side. He pointed out where Raphael and Gabriel had their tree house, hard to miss once past an outcropping that kind of hid it from the sandy shore. "Have you seen the tree house?"

How long ago? She thought back. "Oh, I dunno... last Fall I guess." It had definitely been before winter set in. She nodded to his words. "Aye, we saw some strange things back there... little creatures that were there and not at the same time. We kept very quiet and they didn't bother us, but it was odd... like you could feel their magic." Which she still wasn't quite sure she believed in, but the bizarre feeling that had been there was undeniable. A glance up  to the tree house, fascinating as always. "Yeah we went past that too." The company had been different, Segan whom she loved as a brother... and now Rhett who... well perhaps he knew by now that she was crazy about him. Eyes fell back to his face with a soft crooked smile.

"I know where they are if you want to go back? Or sometime, take you to where we can possibly meet the Sylvan Elves." Not something he did all the time but he had been born here, lived here all his life and there was something about that held favor with the Elves and the Fae. Especially after he had a death experience and opened his mind to even more, not that he was presently aware of it, but in time things kept happening piece meal that would have him accepting them without much notice. "There are a lot of wonders to discover if one has an open mind. Long as these wonders are not there to cause harm, just because they are different." Giving a slight shrug of a shoulder before he guided the canoe down where the shoreline had looked like a straight line from the other side, was indeed not at all and a water way taking them to another section of the lake.

"I don't know... it sort of gave me the shivers the first time," she admitted. Being so grounded in the earthly and rougher things in life, all of the enchanted areas and mythical creatures of this land were something to get used to. It'd take more than one trip to accustom her to the strange feeling in the air, but he could probably convince her to tag along. She looked up when the canoe shifted course, at the narrow waterway that had been revealed only when they were close by. "I didn't even know this was here.."

"Perhaps another time then," pressed smile held a slightly wicked spark to blue eyes. Piece meal would be best where she was concern. The waterway opened up to a smaller lake (or large cove) with an island in the center of it, one with white sands and budding trees mingled with pines. Not a huge island, as he could probably throw a stone across the depth and the width maybe twice as long. "A perfect picnic place." The waters were crystal clear that as they reached the white sandy shore, one could see the spawn of fish freshly hatched skittering around under water and trying not to become food for the larger fish. Only a portion would survive to grow bigger.

"Mmm. Perhaps." She echoed him in a tone that implied she hadn't missed that plotting gleam in his eye. But it just made her smirk. Attention was stolen then by the arrival at that island, which floated in the center of the lake like a little spot of tropical paradise. Eyes widened in appreciation for a moment and she agreed, "Perfect." A smile flashed his way as she clambered - carefully out of the canoe, hastily grabbing up the ends of her skirts so they wouldn't get wet. Her sandals were soaked though, so she took them off and tossed them back into the canoe. Here on this sandy island she could contentedly go barefoot.


They still had the caves to explore behind the waterfall in the Celtic Gardens. There were a lot of things to do when they got the time or just spend unscheduled time together. He reached into the water to send a little sprinkle her way as the sand rose up to meet the curved bottom of the canoe bringing it to a halt. He was out after her, boots would get somewhat wet but he had waterproof them with a certain oil rubbed in as he was quick through the wake to bring the canoe in more then pulled it up onshore so the water didn't lap up against it, moving it continually and subtly against the sand. Something that overtime would wear the finish off it. It was a wide beach of white sand as he moved a short distance to a spot that seemed favorably and set down the basket. The blanket had been tucked under his arm so he spread it out for them to sit on. "How do you like this spot? It's good for fishing too." The few that knew of it were marked by a pit that had been dug and surrounded by rocks for cooking.


"Hey!" She protested with a laugh at the splash, kicking up some water with her bare foot and aiming it his direction in retaliation. A snicker as she tromped through the shallows and up onto the beach to join him. "A grand spot. Good for fishing, eh?" She had a mischievous look in her eye as she turned away slightly, reaching into her neckline of her dress and when she turned back around, she held a small coin purse in her hand. Which she weighed as she spoke. "Didn't I say I'd show you how I fish?..." Clearly she was going to show him anyway! A sly smile as she tugged open the small purse and pulled out a couple coins. As he watched she waded back into the water, so she was standing in about six inches of it, her free hand lifting the hem of her skirt so it was out of the water. Then she bent to carefully place a coin between each toe, holding it between those tiny digits where they nestled in the mud. Her toes given a little wiggle. "Now... just watch."

Date: 03-29-10
Poster: Rhett Shawnesey Jr:
Post # 6

Laughing as he got splashed and just took a swipe of a hand over his face, rest soaked into his clothing and certainly wasn't any bother. Pausing then as she spoke on what she'd show him, "aye, that you have." Moving away from the blanket and picnic basket to come up alongside her. He moved to the edge of the water as he watched. "Bribe them with coins are yea?" Teasing with a chuckle to follow.

She gave a chortle which she quickly muffled. "Aye, greedy little buggers they are... and attracted to the shinys." As she gave another wiggle of her toes, causing the sunlight to play on the surface of the coins and sending flecks of light through the water. A few moments later a silvery fish came swimming up, cruising around her leg, darting away a few inches and then venturing forward again. Karina held her breath and continued to wiggle her toes, distracting the fish with the play of shininess, so similar to light flashing off a smaller prey fish's scales. Then with lightning speed she shot her hand into the water, let out a cry of triumph and straightened again with the gullible fish flapping wildly in her hand. "Ha-HA!"

"Not bad, a good way to catch fish if you don't have your rod and coins on you." Wondering how cold the water still was having only recently melted of the ice. "Tell me you're a polar bear too." Though some splashing was actually refreshing for the heat of the day, one reaching the upper seventies.

She flashed him a grin. "Nah, this ain't bad, err.. isn't bad. Try it when the edges of the lake are still icy and the fish too sluggish to care for shiny things in the water." She gave a shiver of memory, there had been times it felt like her feet would freeze right off. Probably had gotten some frostbite on her toes at certain points too, though she couldn't have known that and still had all ten toes at least. Karina leaned over, gently placing the fish back into the water. "Go on then, and beware of toe coins from now on," she chided the fish with a smirk and opened her hand; the lucky animal immediately swam away.

Pressed smile spread easily as she corrected her grammar. He was proud of her for putting in the effort. Not that such would stop him from liking her anyway. He noticed she wasn't missing any toes but her skin was a touch blue. Holding out his hand to take hers. "I will give it a try once the water gets a little warmer. More for the challenge of catching them with my bare hands. Are you hungry yet?"

Once all of the coins had been plucked from her toes and put back in the purse, and the purse hidden away in her garment somewhere, she took his hand with a nod. "Starvin'." A smile his way as she walked over to the basket, enjoying the feel of the sun-baked sand beneath her chilled feet. Though it didn't seem to bother her a bit, she'd learned long ago to ignore most bodily discomforts. And over to the basket they went!

"Now, if I was to rob you it would be for fishing purposes." Teasing as they moved back to the basket and soon settling down on the blanket. Once settled he opened it up to bring out the plates then the various wrapped up portions of lunch. Sandwiches, tuna, chicken salad, ham and turkey. Some fruit slices and broccoli heads for dipping in a creamy sauce. Cider in flasks. He filled his plate and was soon digging in for the paddling had worked up his appetite good.


"And if I was to throttle you it would be only for revenge," she replied in a light tone and with a wicked grin. She settled down on the blanket, unable to sit her usual cross-legged way for the skirts, so she sat sideways with legs folded beneath her. The bare skin of her arms, ankles and feet were enjoying the sun as she piled up a plate high, taking some of everything and soon digging in with her typical gusto. Big bite of sandwich taken and the flask grabbed up for a swig. Though she did find time in between bites to swallow and give him a smile. "Thanks... for all this, today." The fact that he'd taken the time to get the canoe, pack their picnic and get them out here... it meant a lot to her.

"Throttling sounds tempting," as he caught that wicked grin, which in turn set off such a gleam in blue eyes. Didn't stop him from eating however as he devoured one sandwich then another. Somewhat taking his time and somewhat not. He was hungry. Didn't help that he missed breakfast and was making up for the needed energy. A swig of cider to follow in washing down the food. A slow pressed grin when she thanked him, "aye, thank you for coming for without you.. well.." ending up in a chuckle.


She arched a brow at his words of 'tempting' but only smiled elusively. With the edge of her hunger taken off, she wasn't inhaling the food so much, and now munched on the crust of her second sandwich. "Without me what? You'd never have learned how to catch a fish with only your bare feet and some shiny trinkets?" She snickered. She'd actually been lucky to catch the fish so easily... a lot of times it took forever for a fish to even swim up, and more often than not she wasn't quick enough to grab them. Today had been a fluke that made her skill look almost supernatural... though she wouldn't admit that!

He reached over to ruffle her hair as those curls were wild enough looking already. "Without you it would not be such a day." Teasing as his hand fell away with the backs of his fingers brushing against her cheek. "Care to take a walk with me around the island?" Probably take them all but fifteen minutes. His plate was placed back in the basket before he was up with a hand out to help her up.

With the breeze that was blowing, yes, those shorter rings were escaping from her low ponytail to fall about her temples. His words might have had a teasing tone, but they were touching too, enough to have her gaze dipping away before lifting again almost shyly. The tenderness of his touch definitely had her feeling warm and fuzzy and she gave a willing nod. Her smile sparked light in her eyes which were nearly the same color as the clear blue-green waters surrounding them. Taking his hand, she set her plate down and rose, intertwining her fingers with his happily as they began their walk.

The lock was complete as fingers entwined and he started of with her by his side. A leisurely walk as a path wound up into the small wooded area then down along the perimeter. Grassy areas, weeds growing in the waters where fish would hide, rocks that jutted out that would probably be good to dive from provided no rocks were beneath in the water. Actually he knew there wasn't. "This is a good place to dive in and the other," swinging the point of a finger to the grassy area, "good place to fish although too deep for toe fishing with shinnies," giving her a wink before they continued. There was a flock of swans forging for fish just up the shore as well some geese and ducks, keeping to their few, more than mingling directly.

She walked along with him wherever they happened to wander, bare feet tripping along the sand lightly as she looked around. The place certainly was lovely. She glanced to the rocks with interest. "Maybe we can come back here sometime for a swim, when it's a little warmer." And she grinned a bit at the comment of fishing. "You'll have to show me how you fish, then," with a wink of her own. She swung their joined hands lightly as they walked, completely relaxed until she heard a sound. At first she thought it was the cracking of a twig beneath her foot, but she was standing on sand. Her head jerked up and she looked toward the bushes behind them. Her voice dropping quietly. "Did you hear that?" There was a pause, a very short one as she stood completely still, listening. Then she was pulling his hand and hurrying into the more heavily wooded area. Running like her life depended on it and yanking him along if he resisted. "C'mon!" Hushed urgency as she got them both into the woods, and crouched down behind a bush, pulling him down beside her and then staring out towards the open area they'd just come from.

"Aye, by ourselves or with a few others. There are a few canoes." It was a thought but he liked the idea of the two of them again here, alone. He heard the twig break and wondered what could have gotten out to this island, would have had to swim. Running with her had him laughing before he was kind of hushed as they crouched down to await whatever it was. Just at the height of the anticipation, as it mounted, he poked her side. Had to.

Karina was in no laughing mood, however. At the poke she only shot him a sharp look, half chiding and half truly scared. There was something there, deep in her eyes that spoke of haunted fear, then it was back to staring out beyond their hiding spot. There was more rustling from the bushes, and she extricated her hand from his, eyes not moving from their focused position as she reached beneath her skirt to where she had a knife strapped to her upper calf. Her fingers curled tightly around the hilt. The noises were getting louder, branches breaking, leaves being disturbed. She stood slowly as whatever it was seemed to get closer, and closer, finally bursting through the bushes not ten feet in front of them. Karina let out a stifled yell and raised her knife, eyes blazing, at the - wild pig. A half-grown feral hog that was as startled by the girl as she was of it, and immediately let out a squeal and high-tailed it in the other direction. Karina blinked, knife still raised and panting as she watched it go.

That was the first he got to see the fear, real fear, in her eyes. It took him by surprise although it should probably not have. He wore a hunting knife, always when out like this, which was drawn from its sheathed for it seemed there was a real danger. What happened next was quick as a blink. "Holy, you scared it away," which she had but certainly surprised him for hogs usually charged whatever frightened them. "I wonder how it got on this island." Which he would alert the McDonough men whom he knew would get them off without harm. He rose from the crouched position wondering if they should take their leave before it decided to charge them.

The hog had been a young one, probably barely weaned from its mam, thus its fear. A full-grown adult, especially a male would have been more inclined to charge them. Karina just stood staring another moment until it sunk in that it really only had been a pig, then she started laughing. Not loud uproarious laughter, more like a string of nervous chuckles. "Must've swam. They're good swimmers." She was still in the midst of that laughter as she spoke, it had the edge of hysteria about it. As she reached beneath her skirt to slide the knife back into its hidden sheath.

His knife sheathed before hers as the hysterical edge her laughter worried him. A hand drew down along her arm before captured gently to turn her into him. Blue eyes searched hers with that kind of concern, "are you all right?" The young pig forgotten for the moment as she was his main concern. The young pig probably on the furthest point from them at this moment. She probably scared it enough it was swimming back across the lake to the mainland.

"Yeah," giggle, "Yeah. A bloody pig." She snickered, giving a shake of her head as she sank to sit down on the ground, which was strewn with dirt and pine needles. The laughter slowly ebbed away as did the smile that had come 
 with it, leaving her to catch her breath and calm herself. Easier said than done, because for a moment there, she had thought that it was her past finally catching up to her. It would've destroyed everything, probably would have harmed Rhett in the process, and it was that possibility which had her trembling with the rush of adrenaline.

He hunched down next to her, picking at pine cones to toss as well twigs and rocks while waiting for the odd laughter to pass. She seemed to calm but then she started trembling as he slid his arm around her shoulders and tuck her in against his side. He didn't say anything for he wasn't sure what to say, instead offering her what comfort he could. He would wait until she was ready.

"I thought it was-" She began but trailed off with another short laugh and wave of her hand towards where the pig had disappeared. "not that." Finished more quietly as she felt herself drawn in close next to him. Her heart still beat over-quickly and she took deep, even breaths, talking herself down from the fright. The close physical contact with him helped but at the same time, she knew he probably thought she was completely nuts. Or at the very least was wondering about her reaction. "Sorry," she added with another slight chuckle as she rubbed briefly at her temple.

"Well, finding a piglet hog on an island is a bit of a surprise but I think we scared it more than it scared us." He had picked up on that hesitation and knew where it connected to. He didn't go there for what happened last time he had and really didn't want to ruin their time together. One day, it would be and make all the difference. Right now, it could only hurt for her stubbornness and his. He eased her up into his arms fully as he stood, "nothing to be sorry about unless you swam that pig over just for today..." brows lifting in a mock accusation which was absurd. "We should head back before it starts to get dark." The hours flew in a very pleasant way but indeed a few had gone by. All except the scare but he knew it was more than the pig.

When that silence lingered between them she chanced a glance up into his eyes. Part of her, as always ached to just tell him the truth already, so he would understand (and maybe not think she was crazy). But as always that secretive instinct held her back. Someday.. maybe someday and before it was too late. So she only let out another laugh at his tease, a softer one as she seemed to have calmed herself down. "Yep, I admit it.. I thought it would be a nice addition to lunch." Her breath was slowing to a more normal pace, as was her heartbeat as she was drawn to her feet. A nod of agreement given to his words as they turned to leave the clump of trees.

"Had we been stranded here on this island, at least we'd have ham sandwiches next time." Easing her from the hug as his hand slipped to capture hers, fingers entwining as he started them off back to the shore where their things were. Her sandals would be dry by this time too. Once there he released her hand so he could finish packing up the basket and roll up the blanket. "So this is a place to come back to," like he was checking places off on a mental list. Stealing a glance her way with a pressed smile before he was over to place the things into the canoe and help her in once she was ready.

Karina was determined to not let that little... incident put a dark spot on their otherwise perfect day. She was working very hard to push the remnant anxiety to the back of her mind and found success in his company. A snicker at the joke was given as she helped to pack away their leftovers and put everything back in the canoe. "Yes... we will definitely have to come back." She agreed with a light smile even if her gaze flicked rather quickly away. "You made it a wonderful day." She settled into the canoe for the ride back to the mainland during which she wouldn't look back at that little island even once.

Date: 04-07-10
Poster: Rhett Shawnesey Jr
Post # 7

A Bet Lost - Service For Two Hours

Rhett had time off and there was that bet made and lost he needed to see to. His mind in a whirl as to what Karina would be having him do to wait on her. Would she be wicked? Would she be kind? Either way he headed for the Cottage. Beautiful day had many out and about wandering the streets, tending gardens or socializing with neighbors. Wouldn't be long when swimming would be added to the things to do once the days had the waters warm enough to be a pleasant experience over shocking and turning blue. The thought had a wry grin tip to the side as he reflected back on their canoe ride too. Lost in thought as he automatically greeted ones on the way and perhaps a few snickered for his dazed look while heading towards a certain Cottage. He almost passed the gate, which had him pause with a blink and back peddled a few steps to turn into the path leading up to the Cottage and Avian cages not far behind it.

Karina was busy at work in one of the cages, raking away and ignoring the angry chatter of the kestrels as they swooped overhead. Their small talons occasionally brushing her hair, but she knew by now that it was all for show. She'd been thinking alot about their bet since the races. The thought of making Rhett her slave, even if it was all just in good fun, had her uncomfortable. She couldn't name the reasons but she was reluctant to cash in on their deal. So she hadn't brought it up yet, instead keeping busy with the aviary and Ysa. The telltale squeaking of the gate caught her attention, and she glanced up, hand lifting to shade her eyes against the bright sun. And there was Rhett himself, sparking an immediate smile to her lips. She let herself out of the cage, locking it behind her and leaning the rake against the outside of it as she moved towards him. "Hiya."

Seeing she was in the cages working he headed around the Cottage and towards there as she stepped outside the one she had been in. Smile was immediate, kind that reached blue eyes, "hiya," repeated as they tended to greet with the slang word that fitted. "Grand day today, a few weeks from now we could go swimming." Which was something Rhett loved and couldn't wait. "I've come to fulfill my bet," as he had fulfilled all made so far and would. Coming to a halt a foot or so near with a glance to the birds behind her that were scolding.

She couldn't help the reflexive grin that always sprang to her lips when he came near. She was excited as he about swimming, and gave a quick nod. "I can't wait. I remember swimming there when I first got here. Funny to think it's been about a year.." and even stranger to think of how much her life had changed in the span of that single brief year. She glanced over her shoulder to the kestrels as well, smirking a bit.. before he went on about the bet. "Oh... ah, you really don't have to." A lopsided smile as she scratched her scalp briefly. "I mean, it's just a dumb bet. You don't have to follow my orders all afternoon or anything like that."

The fact they had met but she was too engrossed with the Quinn brothers to really notice him at the time. Or the fact that he would notice her more many months later too. So he stood there smiling at her a few heartbeats. Kind of goofy one that was hard to read. Probably because the thoughts were so fleeting. "Has it been a year already.." although a question it was more reflective than asking. "Well, you won the bet so it's up to you but if you want we can do something else that you would like better?" Stetson shaded his eyes from the sun but they were intense upon hers to hold. Hand lifting as he drew the backs of his fingers down along her cheek in a caress. "It would only be for two hours," slow grin with a wink added by the time his hand fell away. He didn't want her to feel uncomfortable and perhaps the whole idea of it would. "What would you like?"

"Yep, a year..." but her words and her train of thought trickled away the second he touched her cheek. That sort of caress that always had her mouth going dry, heart pumping and tongue unable to form coherent speech. Staring up into his eyes in that special way that she usually made fun of when seen with other lovesick couples. With him looking at her that way she was helpless to say anything but the blunt truth, "I just wanna spend time with you." Which sounded goofy enough to have her cheeks pinking, and she gave a sheepish grin and shrug. "And if I have to order you to do so... so be it." Her grin expanded as she regained the ability to tease. There was a pause though as she tilted her head then announced, "I have an idea."

"Are you done with your chores? I can help you there to free up your time." Which he would do anyway and had always been a hard worker so it would be a breeze. The last had him pausing as brows lifted adding that slight air of anticipation. "Aye? What kind of idea?" So he was curious more than wary with Karina coming up with an idea!

Now there was an idea... and it would sort of go along with the bet, even if he volunteered to do it. "Sure, if you want. That cage there still needs to be raked if you don't mind." Even with that bet she wasn't going to force him! As for his question... a slow smirk curved her lips. "You'll have to wait and see." Handing him a rake blithely, she let herself back into the kestrel cage. "Yeah yeah, you're real scary little monsters..." that was said to the wee birds of prey that swooped down upon her the second she stepped inside.

Just be glad they didn't ever read the story called Birds, or they would be using those rakes to fend them off! Taking the rake he let himself into the parrots cage as he started raking up the ground below loaded with bird poop. At least their poop hardened into balls and didn't stink like dog, cat, or cow feces. All raked into a pile then the pile was shoveled into a wheel barrel before he headed across the back field to the forest's edge to dump it.

Karina, of course would watch him out of the corner of her eye... smiling occasionally to herself. You can't fault a girl for looking! Soon enough she was done with her own raking, shoveling up the mucky mulch to dispose of it. She wiped her hands off against her pants, for when working around the cages like this she usually wore her boy-style clothing. The clothing itself was new-ish, at least, a cream-colored blouse left loose at the throat with sleeves rolled up to her elbows. It was tucked into a pair of snug dark brown pants, her old short boots worn too. Unruly curls were restrained by a low bun at the nape of her neck. She waited for him to come back with the wheelbarrow before lifting a brow at him. "Ready?"

Rhett was similarly attired in brown pants, short, lightweight boots and poet's shirt tucked into the pants of an off sienna color. One of lightweight cotton and left open down the front. At least he wasn't overly hairy on the chest. He returned moments later with an empty wheel barrel and a grin. Made his eyes brighter as he came up to where she was standing, the wheel barrel turned aside out of the way. "I was told I was born ready," one of those fearless children that got into all kinds of things.

That made her laugh, not a snicker or chuckle but a genuine free sort of laugh that was such a rarity. "Alright then. Let's go." Making sure all the cages were securely locked along the way, she set off for the gate, letting the both of them out before heading off. Not the way that led to the Quinn's manor, but another way, around the back of the cottage and to a field that sloped up a big hill and eventually led to the woodlands. It was a gorgeous warm morning, not too warm but with a cheerful sun beating down on them.

He watched as she locked all the cages before falling in step by her side as they started through the back Gate. He let her set the pace and direction as he walked by her side when possible. He grabbed a long weed to fit the end in his mouth to chew on, looking more the cowboy at the moment for the Stetson, and a wild violet which he slipped through the locks of curls to anchor it behind her ear. The glint in blue eyes told on his wonder where they were going but he didn't ask either. Just mirth filled eyes that would catch hers as he'd break off taller weeds on the way to playfully toss at her.

She smiled at the way he sauntered along, grass dangling from his mouth like a frontiersman... a smile that grew when he tucked that flower behind her ear. She adjusted it to make sure it wouldn't fall out as they started up the hill, the spring grass becoming thicker and taller as they went. She let out a laugh when he tossed some bits of plants her way, a few of which latched onto her shirt. "Hey!" She pulled off some blades of grass too, which by now was the height of her knees, and tossed them at Rhett before taking off running. Her laughter trailing behind her as she changed course, turning right before they reached the woods and towards a smudge of yellow wildflowers on the other side of the hill.

"Ouch, ouch, ouch," Rhett was mimicking as if every blade tugged off called out in alarm. The two of them were getting grass bits and small weeds over their shirts. Soon as she took off, he was on her heels for he'd been about to run but his idea had been to grab her up into his arms when he did. So now it was a chase and he was swatting at her backside the whole while. He caught up, slightly winded for the quick pace to scoop her up into his arms, his hat falling off down onto the lush grass as they stood amongst a mass of yellow wild flowers. "Looks like sun upon the ground." Swinging her around to view north, then east and west. "Far as the eye can see," well up to where the forest started up again a field or two away depending on which direction he faced.

"Bad, bad!" She chastised him laughingly when he swatted at her, reaching back as she ran to thwap his hand away playfully. Then she was caught up in his arms, breathless as he swung her around this way and that. Hands came up to clutch at his shoulders, it was easy to swing her around like a ragdoll for her small frame. Of course, if she'd really wanted to get away she could have.. but she didn't want to and so didn't struggle. She grinned and nodded her agreement as she looked around, "That's not the best part though." She met his eyes a moment, then wriggled free, only to grab his hand and pull him down to the ground. Plop they would both go, falling back harmlessly on the soft earth. Looking up Rhett would see that they were surrounded by a cathedral of those sunflowers, which were tall enough to shield the rest of the world from sight, but straight enough that they could see the vast blue sky above. She smiled and turned her head sideways to look at him. "It's like a cave right out in the open. Nobody can see us here."

If she really wanted to get away, he would release her. He'd never hold her against her will, well, not of the norm for even that thought could one day have him eating his words. "No?" Releasing her in like moment as she wiggled to safely set her to her feet. The strength of his arms, and hands held that slight moment he was sure she was balanced before he let go completely. His hand grabbed up by her before it was totally free and down he went willingly by her side.They probably flattened out a few of those sunflowers too as he laid back, arm curving behind his head as he looked up. "Aye, it does and we're both part of this hill with the sun flowers."

"Aye. I guess we are." That was a nice way to think about it, and she smiled again before settling back, hands linking as a pillow behind her head. She just gazed up at the sky for a moment, which was almost painfully blue, scattered with a few puffy white clouds that moved unhurriedly overhead. "I stumbled on this place a couple weeks ago and realized how you're hidden when laying down. Also the ground is always warm here, not sure why." Probably because the mass amount of plants soaked up the sun and kept the general area a few degrees warmer. "I love this place."

He studied the sky but something else was more on his mind and the thought growing until he turned to his side, lifting up enough of his upper body to hover above her. He first teased a weed with a fluffy top across her cheek and lips. "If I was Shakespeare I would spout poetry of how I would give anything to be the fluff at the top of this weed." Which he let fall away as he leaned in, easier without the Stetson on his head as lips were captured in a gentler kiss, much like that which surrounded them.

The touch of the weed tickled, bringing a snicker to her lips which quieted when he spoke. Certainly it was the most romantic thing anyone had ever said to her and it gave her a sense of unreality as her smile faded into something more serious, only to grow again when he leaned down. She reached up to meet his kiss in the same gentle way, lips moving unhurriedly against his own as if wanting to soak up every moment. A hand lifted to delve into the hair at the back of his neck as she kept it slow, making it last, and wanting to remember every second as her heart seemed to expand within her ribcage.

Encouraging him only had him kissing her longer and more intensely than he had before. The kind that had the thunder to pound in your ears, heartbeats to increase and a growing desire a man could not hide after a while. Although he wasn't pressed against her in that way. Delving, exploring kiss that only heated up more. One hand slid under her head in support while fingers of the other traced against her cheek. Time had ceased.

She felt the simple sweet and blissful kiss deepening into something more intense and she did not resist it. The desire was there for her too, making the blood run hotter through her veins. If anything the slow but definite deepening of the kiss only made it more sensual, making her want more. But it felt as if there was all the time in the world, a world that was only theirs, hidden amongst the flowers. She gradually rolled herself sideways so he wouldn't have to prop himself up, arms moving to wrap around him without breaking the kiss as they lay facing each other now. So close she could feel the warmth from his body.

He could become lost to her world, becoming his in the process as the kiss was melting his body into an inferno. Something that should be put in check or he would be diving into the cold waters of the lake to do so later! She might be able to tell by his deeper breathing just the affect she had on him. On the same note, he could tell he was having the same affect on her. That was a heady feel in itself. As she moved he wrapped her up as bodies entangled. Now she would feel the unmistakable need she had arouse in him. Lips found her neck in suckling little kisses but not the kind to break the blood vessels beneath. He would not mar her skin. Fingers tangled in her hair caressing her scalp beneath before letting one wander down her side along the dip of her waist and curve of her hip. He would pass the afternoon like this with her and certainly it was better than playing slave, not that he would have minded.

Her own breathing came quick from her lips, which parted when his own lips broke away to wander down her neck. She tilted her head back to admit the suckling, exhaling a sigh of pleasure as her eyes half-lidded. Indeed she felt his need and it was suddenly her need too. The act of sex had always seemed mildly repulsive to her, something witnessed in dark allies with prostitutes and sailors, or shadowy corners of bars between two people almost too drunk to perform the act. But this.. was completely different. This was exciting and dizzying, causing a yearning to well within. Every touch of his fingers was tantalizing and her own hand lifted to run up his arm, then around to his back, fingers sliding beneath the neck of his shirt as some birds flitted ignorantly overhead.

.......and so the afternoon continued leaving the two to their privacy until they both needed to be back or gone so long others became concerned that something happened to them and went in search of the two.

Date: 04-07-10
Poster: Gemma Quinn
Post # 8


It was a beautiful day that had Patrick pulling up in the surrey outside the Quinn manor. Early in the morning still found the sun already shining at seven on the hour. The driver would see to the horses and wait until summoned for the trip back. Disembarking first then offering a hand in assistance to his son. Cian Patrick was wide eyed looking at everything offered in their trip here and certainly as many questions about this and that for curious age of five. Of course he refused the hand as he could do this on his own and jumped down, half stumbling and would have face planted if it wasn't for his father's quick hand to grab him before that moment of impact, saving him face. Once dusted off and his jacket properly adjusted he walked alongside his father to the manor's door. Patrick lifted him up so that Cian could do the knocking of the brass ring. A number of thuds resonated rapidly before he could put him down, "they will think us impatient, Cian." Which Cian responded as being hungry and hoped this Gemma could make pancakes good.

Gemma had finally given in and learned to cook, mostly because she really wanted to be the one to make breakfast for Patrick and his son. After several false starts and quite a bit of burnt food, she found she liked to cook, much to her grandmother's delight. She had even managed to clean up and the rest of the family, after some teasing, and eating earlier, had disappeared, all off to their own jobs or chores. Everything was still hot and Gemma had even managed to clean up though she had missed a spot of flour on her nose. Cian would have plenty of blueberry pancakes. She had actually put on a gown too, though it was fairly plain, in a soft pale blue, with a ribbon at the waist and a touch of lace along the scooped neck. Her hair had been pulled back with a ribbon. She was the one to answer the door too, a wide smile given to Patrick and then to his son. "Good morning, and welcome. I hope you're both hungry." She stepped back and motioned for them to come in.

Such a smile was greeted by another in reflection. One that reached the green of his eyes in appreciation of her attire but more how pretty she looked standing there in the doorway with the sun sliding down over her hair giving it a glow. Took him by surprise, an appreciative one, but had him tongue tied a moment. Something he was not use to since his teen years. Finding his voice with almost laughter in it for the moment aftermath, "Gemma, this is my son Cian," who was standing at his father's side in miniature and a big grin. Obviously he liked ladies and was use to being pampered by all his aunts. "I am very hungry," which Cian piped in the same and rushed in with a quick looking around and mostly following his nose to the kitchen before his father could slow him down. It had him laugh instead. "I think his actions speak more." Which he easily followed in his wake with Gemma.

"Hello, Cian." She laughed as the boy rushed in and went directly to the kitchen. "He has a good sense of direction, along with that sense of smell." She slid her arm through Patrick's to lead him to the kitchen. And she wasn't worried if there was food left over. The stable boys wouldn't mind two breakfasts. "I hope you're hungry as well." The table was set for the three, with covered dishes to keep everything hot. "There's blueberry pancakes, sausages, ham, scrambled eggs, hash browns or cottage fries and toast. Juice or milk for you, Cian. Coffee or juice for us." She looked at Patrick, her eyes bright. "And I hope it all is good." That said lower. She started to uncover the dishes as she spoke.

He saw Cian into a seat, "milk will be good," for starters as his son would drink some juice too in the process. After Gemma uncovered the various dishes, he put three pancakes on Cian's plate, one sausage and a few fries. Some syrup over the pancakes and his son was digging in. "Smells really good, so you can cook after all?" As per teasing and her own words that she couldn't boil water. His plate contained a sampling of all as he had a bigger appetite than his son, or more .. could fit more. Taking his seat once she was seated and then digging in while all was warm. Light conversation between. "How are you and everyone else doing now that spring is here?" Something much awaited by near all.

She laughed at the tease, wrinkling her nose. "Intensive lessons per my Grandmother. She was determined I prove myself proud." She made sure they had their plates full before filling her own. "I'm doing well. Helping Mel when I'm not on the training field. We have a few mares about to foal, one of the Royal carriage horses in fact. And everyone else is well, and busy too." She had to laugh then. "Eion is rebuilding a garden shed for Gram when he's free with Segan and Conor's help when they're free." Whew! "How about yourself and your family?"

That's when Cian let out an enormous burp and just looked at them. Patrick gave him a look which he was probably waiting for, "sorry, can I go outside?" At five he loved getting outside and exploring as often as allowed. He took to the woods like one of the wild creatures too. "As long as you stay in the back yard, if it is all right with Gemma." Which had Cian looking expectantly her way. Of course if one of the stable boys offered to show him the horses, you can bet Cian would take up the offer. Then to answer Gemma, "my family does well, quite a few of the cousins are here in these lands with their businesses. I swear the amount of children grows weekly at Falkirk, either by some of my siblings having more or friends and neighbors dropping their kids off to add to the horde." Which of course he was teasing but certainly it felt like that at times.

That was quite a burp and Gemma had to bite her lip to keep from laughing. "Of course you can." She had told one of the lads that there would be a young boy visiting so likely, he would ask and if Mel was in the stables, he might even get to see one of the newborn foals. "I've met David during the races and have passed the sign shop. I still need to see about a new bow, so I'll be meeting them all gradually." She chuckled again, shaking her head. "I think my Grandmother would love something like that. She's always talking about Vanessa's wee niece." She finished eating and pushed back her plate. "Would you like some coffee?"

Gemma just became an angel in Cian's eyes, ones that were green like his fathers and a curly mop of hair a few shades lighter. He rushed out to see all that there was to see. Gemma might conclude correctly that he was a handful. "Gus makes a great bow and I think his head is on cloud nine over a certain Egyptian lass." Which the mirth shone in his eyes in reflection of how Gus was around Mirre. He didn't give the lass' name away presently but many knew about this ongoing event having Gus charmed. "David is still settling in and I believe your sister works for him." The part on her Grandmother had a humorous chuckle to escape, "she is welcome to come to Falkirk anything and get a good fix of all ages of children." Giving a nod with the last, "please," as coffee would be better with his breakfast than only the juice.

"I'll be sure to tell her." She stood and poured two cups of coffee, placing one in front of him before she sat again. There was sugar and cream if he wanted either on the table. "Concessa likes working for him, I know." There were also the dogs for Cian to play with. "You know, if Grandmother does come visit, she may decide to adopt your family." She could just imagine it too! "Have you taken Cian to the zoo? I've yet to go there but I understand the Callihan siblings are to obtain more animals for it." Good thing there was plenty of land for it to expand.

"I don't think Kathleen nor Hannah would mind as they are the head ladies, matrons of Falkirk by marriage and by birth. They would welcome her into the fold and another to help manage the brood." Which the idea had him chuckling for he could picture it. "I've not taken him to the zoo yet but it is something to do. Perhaps you would like to join us when we do? Have you been there?" Being she brought it up, the invite came out naturally. "I imagine they would find plenty of animals for the zoo for their travels." Which would make the zoo all the more interesting. He continued to work on his coffee which he took black.

She would mention it to her Grandmother later today since she was sure she'd be 'cornered' to find out how the breakfast went. "I haven't been there yet, but I'd like to join you. Seeing it with a child would be extra special." She nodded, looking thoughtful. "It would be something to see them in their actual habitat I think. Far away places and all that." She gave him an impish grin. "Have you traveled? I've managed to go to England and here and that's the extent of my travels."

"I have traveled, been in all kinds of trouble especially when younger. A bit of a temper that at least has tempered out over the years and with such projects as the Stables and the Racetrack to run. They keep me busy as does my son." He rose from his seat and was over to hers to see to in invitation to join him. There was a window that he could see his son from as he was young enough Patrick would want to keep his eye on his whereabouts.

"We could go outside, if you'd like. There's bench out there as well as a picnic table, and chairs. And you can keep an eye on Cian without him realizing you are." She understood his concern. "The racetrack would take a lot of work to keep it in running condition. Stables I know do." She helped Mel enough.

"We can go outside," there was a smile in green eyes while he lingered there close as she stood and turned her gently into his arms. He was a strong muscular man for all the hard work but he wasn't a rough man around women. Not anymore. Well, there were times such was pleasurable that one couldn't dismiss either. "There is a kiss betted and I am to kiss you if you are ready and still wish me to?" Almost daring especially this close as one hand rose to first dispel the bit of flour on her nose before fingers whisk the wisps of hair framing her face as he spoke. Eyes lifting there for the moment as they were guided behind her ear. For a warrior woman she held a very feminine appeal at the moment.

She hadn't forgotten about the kiss and with his being this close, she was able to see the color of his eyes, and he would be able to see how blue hers were. She was probably as close to blushing as she could be, but didn't quite yet. "Yes, I still wish you to, and I don't think I could be more ready." Her brothers wouldn't believe this if they saw it... they had only seen the tomboy side of Gemma when they were younger and even now, she rarely wore gowns.

Her eyes were a beautiful shade of blue that one could get lost in. There was a way about his smile that some found charming and the scent of sandalwood for the soap he had used this morning in bathing. "You are quite beautiful, Gemma," as if he was really seeing just how much she was for the first time. Captivated a moment before he leaned in having their noses nudge and the tease of his lips to the corners of hers as he slipped his arms about her to draw her in closer against him still. She could feel the strength in the whole of his body and in personality at this mature age. Eyes finally closed as the tease melted away into the full capture of  her lips beneath his. He didn't give a second thought if anyone should walk in on them but far better here than outside where there would be definite witnesses. Perhaps her grandmother was spying? There was the feel of others near but the taste of her lips blotted out any other instincts at the moment.

"Thank you." She managed to get that out as she realized how long it had been since she had been kissed. That was forgotten as he drew her closer and her arms slid around his neck. Her eyes closed as his lips touched hers in  the tease, then the full kiss. If Herself was spying, she'd hear about it later but she wasn't worried. In fact, she wasn't thinking at all, her whole being focused on the kiss, the way she felt in his arms and his body so close to hers. It was an amazing sensation and one she'd not forget.

She fitted well into his arms, for his build and his height. Her lips willing and perhaps both had been starving a very long time that it became the feast of a king. Lips plundered, lifted, then plundered again first in a growing frenzy of one that had been starving. At that height it turned into a longer plunder of exploration. He wasn't counting seconds nor even minutes but letting the kiss flow as it would for as long as she was willing, finally feeling for her lead for when it should end. What was proper over what was desired or finally becoming a combination of the two.

She let the kiss linger then with a reluctant sigh pulled away. As her eyes fluttered open, she looked into his again. "I think we were both winners with that bet." Her voice was husky, thick with emotion. And though the kiss had ended, she didn't move out of his arms. She lifted one hand to run her fingers along his jaw briefly, then she smiled. "I would have to put that at the top of things I've won." She was feeling a bit dreamy now, and it showed in her eyes.

As she pulled away he got in a quick one before all was said and done. His voice held a huskier tone to it, "indeed we were. I will be thinking of it for some time to come," what did one say, you kiss good? Obviously in the way he had enjoyed it and had kissed back said it all. He didn't pull from her but held her in his arms, eyes upon hers in study and perhaps an awakening wonder he had not possess in a very long time though he had met many a charming lass. "Perhaps I should lose a few more kisses your way," but he hadn't necessarily added as bets.

"I will be too." She could feel her cheeks turn hot but was she actually blushing. She was glad none of her brothers were around! "You could do that." She wouldn't be adverse to more. The way he made her feel was quite unlike anything she had experienced before. "I'll have to remember to thank Grandmother for insisting I start getting out more and bringing up the races as one place to go." Of course, she'd have to watch how she worded it or Mary Quinn would be plotting!

It was the first heat to rise to her cheeks as certainly if it was not blushing it was becoming. Had his study of her linger as such coloring attracted a male on another level. "I'm glad you did, either by your own decision or the prompting of another." He had ones on his case to get out and socialize but he got out all the time at the race tracks and what time he wasn't there, at the stables. "Shall we go outside to make use of that bench you spoke of?" He could see Cian had been playing with the dogs in throwing sticks for them and it looked like Melantha had spotted him and heading his way to probably invite him to see the stables.

So was she and again, it showed in her smile. She nodded at his suggestion, glancing at the window and laughing. "Cian is likely to go home in need of a bath." Not that it was a bad thing for a five year old. She was glad to see Mel approaching the boy. "We can go see the stables too, if you'd like?" Or sit and talk more.  Gemma was enjoying this morning far more than she had expected, and in many more ways. Gran had told her not to worry about cleaning up, just to enjoy herself and she certainly was.


"Luckily he doesn't give his nanny too hard a time. A lad never died from getting behind his ears scrubbed." Certainly he remembered those days. "I get to see stables all the time, leave Cian to Mel and give us some time, unless you are itching to be in the stables?" Which if she genuinely wanted to go, he would oblige. Making their way outside and to the bench as Cian waved to them before off excitedly with Mel so really wasn't paying them much mind at the moment. More than the stables, there were goats, sheep and probably chickens to chase too.

"No, I'm not." She answered honestly since she spent plenty of time there. Watching Cian a moment she laughed. "He's certainly a handsome young lad." and she gave Patrick a side look, "just like his Da. Does he try to do it all himself yet?" She settled on the marble bench and took a deep breath. It was one of those perfect spring mornings and promised to be a lovely day. There was even a hint of cherry blossoms in the air.  She would have to take a walk later and see if the crocus and paper whites were blooming around the graves of their parents and grandfather.

"Of course, thinks he's a man or that he can be one. Doesn't want to wait just like his Da and many others, too anxious to grow up. He's a handful but one I would not go without. A good kid." Settling on the bench next to her as his arm was set along the back in a natural way. Either that or Patrick Frasier was smooooooth. There were those over time that would argue the latter. "Now, I know you like to fight with swords, are there other weapons you are proficient in too?" His former wife had been a warrior so he wasn't against such in a woman. Obviously. Perhaps such attracted him or they were attracted to Patrick.

"He's likable too and so full of energy." She leaned back, a playful smile appearing when she realized his arm was there. No comment made though, instead she answered his question. "I'm a decent archer, and learned to use knives as well since there are times a sword isn't effective. I learned to move through forests almost as quietly as an Elf." And to read certain signs, all as part of her Druid training. "You said you had a temper before. Did you mostly use your fists?" That seemed to be the preferred method among young men.

"Knives or a short sword. Arrows for distances. Perhaps you and I can practice together and place some wagers. I'm good though I've not had need to use any such skills. Thankfully." Though he had when he rode with his brother until that all came to a head. "Now moving quietly I could use some practice on." Pausing when it came to his temper. "Aye, fists mostly, I can feel the rage and I gradually learned that can be very helpful if you learn to control it, or in a way, aim it in the right direction."

"Hmmm. More wagers. Will we have to be creative?" She teased, then smiled. "There are some that never learn to control it, Patrick, so it's a good thing that you have. And I'm sure Cian was a help with that." She looked toward the stable as she spoke. "None of us have had children yet but I think for most people, they cause a bit of growing up, changing how you look at things."

"I've seen the devil rise in him but hopefully I can teach him at an earlier age so he can avoid a lot of the trouble I got myself into. Quite a few of my clan are married but it took time for them to settle down once to these lands. I think we are a bit older..." wondering in that moment just how much older he was than her.

"And just how old are you?" She turned to face him, tipping her head slightly as she study him. Blue eyes held laughter as well as a smoldering quality. She was curious and didn't hesitate to ask. "You can't be that much older."  She even reached out and brushed her fingers along the hairline at the side of his face. "No gray hairs that I can see."

It took him a moment to figure it out. Not something he really thought much about. "Twenty eight last I checked." Which had a spreading grin for the realization, he felt older than that far too many days and nights. It was on the tip of his tongue to ask her but that was not the proper way of things so he heard. "So you are less than twenty and eight?"

"Yes I am. Twenty and three, though soon to be twenty and four." She sighed dramatically, but it was only in jest. "My family fears I'm an old maid already." They didn't really! Even if some married so much younger.

"Well, then, maybe I should see that you are married off so that such a title will never be worn?" Teasing humor in bantering if she really wanted to be married off and certainly could have her pause at the suggestion. "Are you the oldest? Being none are married, I might have to see to single men in these lands that would make any of you a good catch." If her grandmother heard his words, she'd be having him work for her!  It was at that point that Cian came running back. He was covered from head to toe in mud and his teeth looking even more white and his eyes more green. "Da, I got to play with the colts, the sheep and goats!" Which Patrick had to laugh at the sight as he rose from the bench to intercept his son. Too late as he hugged his leg leaving much behind on his father as well.

He did have her pausing but only to glance over her shoulder and she playfully put her finger to his lips. "Shhhhh. Don't let Grandmother hear you." Though Herself would want to see her grandchildren marry for love. "Aye, of the three though I think we don't have to worry on Mel." She laughed when she saw Cian and Mel followed after, apologizing for the boy's condition, but she hadn't wanted to stop his fun! "It sounds as if you've had a wonderful time, Cian." She would thank her sister later for entertaining Cian so he wasn't bored.

"And, I should get you back so you can soak all the dirt off before lunch is served and the croquet games to begin." Something all the children at Falkirk got involved in and enjoyed. There was a loose running tournament of scores according to ages. So something encouraged to improve upon while improving with their sportsmanship. "I would like to have you over sometime when you have time. Or to spend time.." glancing to Gemma with the comment.

"And I would like that very much. I'm free most afternoons, and I can be some mornings." She would ask on the mornings and though she helped around the manor and grounds, she knew her family would chase her off if she was asked to go somewhere. "I have to say I've enjoyed this very, very much and I'm sorry it has to end." It seemed as if the morning had gone too quickly.

It had gone quickly but it seemed they were agreeable on spending more time together to get to know one another. She may well get teased by her sister and Grandmother, whom he had a strong feeling was hanging around, though didn't show herself. Not this initial first time. "I enjoyed it very much," lifting his son up into his arms being he already shared his mud of the day. He would change as well once back at the manor and it was a good ride away. "I will be in touch. Or, send me a note." She knew where to find him in the least during the races. He would walk with her around the house rather than track mud through it to arrive at the front. Their carriage waiting them.

"I will." She'd be sending him a note likely in a day or two just to thank him for coming. "And you and Cian are welcome anytime. " She grinned at Cian. "You can even bring a cousin to get muddy with if you'd like." Once around to the front, she stood on tiptoe so she could plant a kiss to the corner of Patrick's mouth. "Thank you, Patrick, for a lovely morning." Oh yes, she'd be teased but it was well worth it!

"He may bring a few," being she offered for he had quite a few cousins his age he played with. He saw his son into the surrey only to turn around for the kiss. He knew Cian would be asking him a hundred questions on that! He got in the same to the side of her lips. The look in his eyes said.. for now, followed by a charming grin before he too was within the carriage and off they went, "thank you!" called out as he turned to watch her until he could see her no more than attention turned back to his son who was watching him far too keenly for his age.

The more the merrier!  She'd have questions to fend off as well but she waved and remained standing there until the coach was out of sight. Turning, she headed back inside. She'd see if help was need still for cleaning up, then change and go about her chores, likely smiling most of the day!



Date: 04-25-10
Poster: Segan Quinn
Post # 9

A Day to Remember

It was a spectacular day. Rains at night gave way to a full sun coming up at dawn to burn away the last residue of moisture. Trees seemed to fill out overnight and grass greener. Flowers were coming up  in preparation for summer as the spring flowers were in full bloom and some starting to fade out, giving way to the others that would last a few months in blooming. Segan came by in a surrey with his sister Concessa who agreed to watch Ysa for a few hours that he and Vanessa could spend the time together. Something that was overdue, nothing against the little angel but he wanted time with her mommy! He hoped she was able to go, especially with him providing the baby sitter. Once out, he was around to see Concessa out before up to the door stoop to give a knock

Vanessa had woke with the sun. The morning light warmed her room in the cottage and it was far too delightful a morning to miss. Ysa slept in, giving her a chance to work in the gardens a bit, which were now a beautiful array of colorful blooms amongst the green backdrop of brush, grass and trees, serenaded by the birds a short distance from the cottage and the occasional peacock that roamed the grounds freely. Morning had passed, Ysa woke and Vanessa had changed from her usual gardening attire before settling down with the babe to feed her, which was the current doing when the knock came on the door. Ysa was seated in a booster seat sort of thing on a kitchen chair. Jar of mushed carrots in Vanessa's hand, along with a spoon, she glanced to the door from the kitchen. "It's unlocked!"

She may have heard the voices as he and Concessa talked on how beautiful the gardens where. With the call, almost missed for their own conversation, Segan pressed open the door to allow Concessa to come in first. Who whisked in and right over to Van with a hug he noticed then fussed over the baby. "Good day Vanessa, such a beautiful one I can hope you will join me on a picnic, some time alone for us. I've brought a willing babysitter too." Knowing well Van trusted Concessa and she had babysat a few times for them already. Nothing overly long or that would be taxing. There was a picnic  basket packed by his grandmother in the surrey. All the things necessary for a picnic including the blanket to sit on.

Mushed carrots spooned up and offered out to Ysa, who insisted on trying to grab the spoon herself -though not quite ready for it with an unsteady hand-, the spoon was pulled back with a smile to Concessa and Segan. "Well, hello there." She returned the hug one armed, the one holding the car- then looked to Segan with a bright smile. "That would be lovely." She thought to ask and make sure that Concessa didn't mind, but it was apparent that she didn't. So the jar and spoon were offered to her. "We just sat down for her lunch. Watch her, she gets the spoon and food goes everywhere." Spoken as she rose from her seat so Concessa could sit. "Thank you. This is such a wonderful surprise."

Segan noticed how Concessa was prepared with a pretty full apron over her dress as she took the baby and food to continue the feeding. She would make a good mother one day, this noticed even for her younger years, then again she was only a year younger than Vanessa he believed. He let them get settled as he stayed by the door, instead of going over and getting Ysa all riled up as he tended to do. Well, he like having fun with her and she got excited easily! He would get her later when they got back instead of his sister having to settle her back down. "Thank you once again Concessa," who nodded while busy with the baby and talking with Van. Then to Vanessa, "our chariot awaits for it promises to be a glorious afternoon with sun and warmth."

Vanessa took a moment clean up some, wash her hands and such after removing her own apron, having found it a requirement when feeding Ysa. "You can take her out into the gardens. She does very well with the birds. Watch her though, she's finally figured out that she can move on her own and she's quick." Ysa had discovered her crawling ability and was very good at a quick escape! Turning to Segan, she smiled once more. "Any day with you would promise such, no matter the weather." He could warm the gloomiest of days and brighten the darkest of nights. To the door, one last glance back to Ysa with a little wave. She was perfectly content with Concessa. "I await your lead." Looking back to Segan.

He offered his arm to escort her to the surrey, little fringe on the top too that provide shading from the sun. Helping her in before he was around to climb on the seat opposite. It was one of the smaller ones, seating four to six (three a seat of normal weight/build and a little pressed together). I decided to have you all to myself for it seems that the time we do get to spend, others come. Not that such is unwelcome but I wish to be greedy this day. I will always have to share you with Ysa, and I don't mind." But of late it was not only Ysa but many others. He had great patience but it was wearing thin after a while. "I know if we were to go to the Crystal-gold lake, others would be there or come, so," starting the surrey on its way, "I decided on a spot I've discovered around the other side of this lake your backyard connects with. There is a cove in a area there are no homes and Concessa knows we will be somewhere across Willow Lake that if really necessary she could yell real loud that we would hear her but not see." The not see was their privacy in that too, it would be extremely rare for anyone to come upon the spot. Of course the distance would be shorter if they took a canoe or rowboat across, but the ride in the surrey was pleasant too. Perhaps another time they could go there over the lake. It also meant getting a canoe or rowboat to have. Unlike the other lake, they were not provided here. The horse was a sprite dapple grey that set to a rhythmic trot.

Taking his arm, she followed out to the surrey, which had drawn the attention of a couple of the peacocks in curious nature. Never too close, but close enough. Up onto the seat, she smoothed her skirt and smiled to him as he spoke of stealing her away, blushing lightly. "I don't see any harm in being whisked away from everyone else for some time with such a charming beau." In truth, it was nice. They'd gotten to spend quite a bit of time together during late fall and over the winter, but now with spring, her work and his work and people coming out to enjoy the warm days, it was hard to escape friends and family and work. She pondered for a moment what he said about Ysa, though, nodding to his mention of the Crystal-gold lake. It was a popular warm weather place and likely they'd get no peace there. "Sounds lovely. I've not ventured around the lake much." Not enough to have discovered the small cove he spoke of.

The ride itself was a very pleasant one with rolling fields that showed patches of flowers, white and yellow and purple where the wild violets bloomed. Birds flew overhead, dragon flies and other flying insects were about, which he had some lotion to put on them that kept them away. Hopefully down by the lake they would not be so bad. Later in the summer they would be worse with the mosquitoes. They were making their way gradually around the lake after he took a turn from the main road, a particular one amongst a few others, all leading to different places. They passed through a thick cove of trees that were filling out so actually blocked out the sun in spots. They gave way to brush and bramble that then gave way to a grassy knoll that he pulled the surrey over onto. "From here we can take the path down to the lake." Which was a cove off of it so hidden. There was sand down near the edge of a few feet but not as much as the other lake. There was also a dead tree log that could serve as a seat if needed. Once out of the surrey, he grabbed the picnic basket in the back before around to help her down and his arm in escort again.

She was content to sit quietly for the ride and look around, seeing everything in spring bloom. This was her favored time of year, when all the colors of spring were fresh and just starting after the white winter. It was an easy time of year to appreciate before the heat of summer. The bugs never really seemed to bother her. It was rare that she got bitten by anything. Must be the bird part of her. When they reached the cove, she was still looking around. It was very beautiful. She peeked at the basket when he grabbed it, then took his arm and stepped down out of the surrey with a smile to Segan. "This is really nice. Of course, I've learned that for a man you have rather excellent taste." Which was true enough! She'd have to thank Yaya for that some day.

There was a smile to himself she might notice, the stolen glances on the way and now even more as they walked down to the sandy area. The path cutting this way and that over a rougher terrain once passed the grassy knoll. No wonder, the sandy area was as a niche cut from a rocky terrain for passed the small area, trees grew closer to the edge and the embankment climbed with large rocks jutting out or piled on top of each other. Most areas of the lake were not reachable unless one wanted to climb the precarious incline. Once to the area he set the basket on the old log so that he could spread out the blanket over the sand. Once down he pointed out that line of shore with the rising embankment the further away. Of course even further away it would dip back down. "Look there, between the trees on the formation of rocks there are caves. It is said they were from tribes that lived here long ago before even the castle was built. There have been artifacts found."

She followed to where he decided to set them up, watching him more than she watched their surroundings. Yes, she was stealing her own glances now that he was occupied. When he was no longer occupied, she took on a very natural innocent expression and smiled, drifting interest to where he motioned and spoke of. "Artifacts, you say? Perhaps we should do a bit of exploring later on." Before he had the chance, she scooped up the basket with one hand and moved over to the blanket. Shoes kicked off she stepped onto the blanket and knelt down to settle on her heels, then she was going to snoop through the contents of the basket just to see what had been brought. "I wish you had told me about this. I would have contributed."

"That would be something interesting to do. Either today or another day set to exploring as it would probably take up the few hours we have," not to abuse Concessa's good nature in watching the baby even if she enjoyed it. As did his grandmother and most likely some of his other sisters would take a turn. Melantha would along with Gabriel he was sure. He laughed as she grabbed the picnic basket and whisked it away. As she removed her sandals he did one better in removing his shirt. Good way to soak up the sun and he already had a tan going for being on his ship that way. Short boots were taken off and his pants rolled up as he was finally over to join her. The basket contained fresh baked bread with thinly sliced meats, turkey and ham with Swiss cheese and plain. There were sliced up fruits, apple and orange wedges, strawberries and pineapple pieces. A jug of lemonade and homemade eclairs, thick chocolate topping the delicate pastry that was gorged with thick vanilla pudding. Not the traditional dessert but they were easier to pack and handle for a picnic, besides it was one of Segan's favorites.

She started pulling things out while he made himself comfortable for the sunny day. Everything set on the blanket in the center for easy reach of them both. She couldn't help but give a side long glance to his nice form and just smiled to herself. "We should do that some time. I think exploring the caves would be fun." As long as there wasn't a chance of getting lost. Once the food was set out, she settled on her hip and reached up to pin her hair off her neck, looking around again to admire the scenery. Which included Segan. "This is very beautiful. Thank you."

He took in a deep breath as with a sleight of hand he took something from his pocket to cocoon in the palm as he laid down on the blanket stretching out. Head somewhat propped with the curve of his arms, whatever was in his hand tucked behind out of sight completely. "A beautiful day to spend with a beautiful woman. One that is more than fair to the eye, especially mine but one who has the heart to care of others and to mother a child that had lost hers. Sister or not, you don't take it on as a chore but lovingly. You are as her mother would have been for her. I admire you. You befriended Karina, who was a stray and not necessarily easy to get along with, you opened up your home to her. Although, my draw to you is even something deeper still," so he started to broach the subject that had been put off for some time, many months now, for time constraints and privacy.

If she hadn't blushed at all before, she certainly did now as he spoke what seemed more his heart than his mind. It wasn't really a bashful blush, just an expressed blush as she looked at him. She wasn't even sure what to say to that, really. There was plenty to be said, that could be said. "I'm sure you would do the same for those you grew to care for." Karina was more than a friend. She'd quickly become a sister to Vanessa even if she was sometimes hard to understand. Vanessa never found her difficult to get along with. Ysa, well that was kind of self explanatory.

Karina had become like a sister to him and he was glad he didn't give up on her when she first arrived in the lands, he and both his brothers wanting to throttle her more often than not. Blue eyes were trained on her of a brighter color, perhaps one could say painted hopeful. "We have been going together as a couple for a few months. Our relationship growing there easily. I cannot see myself with anyone else," he was getting up from his prone position to his knees as he faced her. "I wish, in time to make you my wife, so I am asking you this beautiful day here by the lake if you will consider becoming my wife within the year? You know how I feel, that love was not a word that ever escaped my lips before but easily comes when I think of you." Which he held up the ring for her to see hoping she liked it but if she did not, they could go together and exchange it at Velvet's Jewelry.

This was one of those speeches that could go north or south; good or bad. And when he first opened up, her heart dropped some. And it was visible in her expression. It wasn't long lasting though as she watched him sit up, listening to him speak on about his hopes. From up to down, her heart fluttered and skipped a beat even! She said nothing at first, looking from the color change of his eyes to the small ring in his hand when he held it out. Tears welled but with a smile that spoke of her happiness. "I cannot see myself with any other than you, and here by this lake, on this most beautiful of days, I would be honored to be your wife in time." She didn't need to see the ring. It could have been brass or nickel and she'd have accepted it from him, knowing it came from his heart. Shifted from her hip to her knees, she moved closer to capture the strong line of his jaw in her hands and lean in to meet him for a kiss. A lingering kiss, but sweet none the less with a smile as she drew back. "I love you, Segan Quinn. With all my heart."

Fear gripped his heart for a moment, the kind that made it feel like the life was being squeezed from it. The possibility she would turn him down for whatever reason. He had forgotten to mention this had nothing to do with Ysa and how it would be better if she had a father too. Sure that was an ideal but this was all her, no one else or any other reason than the way he felt. When her expression changed, his heart soared as the words came in the positive and not negative. When her hands captured his jaw and the kiss came, it was met with all the intensity he was feeling. Such a force for that moment as he could devour and drown at the same time. Eyes closing as he wrapped her up in his arms, ring still clutched in his hand as lips parted, "I love you Vanessa Baltimore and you just made me the happiest man alive." As she had drawn back he took up her hand to slide the ring down her slender finger. It would fit perfectly being he knew her ring size.

Vanessa smiled brightly to him, looking at the ring, really, for the first time. It was a beautiful make and design, and naturally once it was on her finger, she held it out for a better look with a subtle tilt of her head. Attention on the ring didn't last long, for her attention returned to Segan. "And you've made me the happiest woman for none could be as lucky and fortunate as I am." And she meant every word of that. Looking back to the ring for a moment, she settled back on her heels and looked at him. "You know, I was afraid that my bringing Ysa here would put distance between us. Not..not that I thought you wouldn't accept her, but...well she is not my child by birth and not your child." It had been a genuine concern. She had the same concern regarding Karina and how she would react to an infant in the cottage. Karina made a great auntie though and Ysa had grown to love Karina as much as Karina had Ysa. And Segan's care of the child meant the world to Vanessa. She was more than relieved that she hadn't had to choose between them.

"It looks like it was made to be on your finger." Which was true as he liked the mix of gold and white gold together. His expression grew serious as she talked on Ysa, and good she did for it was something that should be aired so there were no doubts. "Aye, she is what I call a star child, she belongs to the universe when her parents were taken away. How could one not love a star child? How could I love you and not love her too? As you feel a mother to her, and you are in her world, I feel I can become her father just as easily. Maybe she is not blood related but she will be in heart and she will be the older sister to any children we have, the gods willing." Which he hoped to have one day and with her obviously. "You would not mind more children in time?" Certainly it was a down the road reference. Grandmama had still to find out about Eion's child on its way. Something that he hoped he got around to telling them. It would not come from him because it was confided. "Actually I feared making you jealous in lavishing such attention a child needs, that is different than attention I would give you. I didn't know how I would be around children until Ysa." Which was the truth there too. He never had the opportunity to find out before.

He had excellent taste, no doubt about it, and he knew her well. "Ysa is a part of my life. She is a blessing to me and my sister's legacy to the world. A world that we share even now that she has passed. A world I wish to share with you." She smiled lightly and settled on her hip again, close to him. "I would love more children. Armfuls of them to keep Yaya busy for years to come." Having come from a smaller family, she always wanted a big family. "I could not be jealous of the affections you lavish on Ysabeau. It makes me happy to watch the two of you together. She enjoys your presence and having you there, just as I do. As I plan to do for all my days. And nights. And holidays and weekends."

Which had him chuckling with the last as he listened to all she had to say before. Things he agreed with, "aye, or I will be breaking down your door and kidnapping the two of you away with me, arrrggghh.." sounding much the pirate at the end. Oh, he could speak the language and might in teasing her sometime. He took out the plates to place the various foods upon them, indicating each one if she wanted this or that while taking samples of all for himself. "I better come home with an empty basket." Giving her a wink as then Yada would be pleased. She packed just enough that it would not be hard to do.

Segan the pirate! The thought had her laughing quietly before taking up some of the food that he offered. In truth, she was hungry, so she'd eat her fair share. Looking at her, most wouldn't realize just how much she could eat for being the slender little thing she was. "Well, if there's anything left, we'll figure something to do with it to keep Yaya happy." Starting to eat, she smiled and fell quiet for a moment, lost in her own thoughts and such things.

He shifted his sitting position so his arm bumped against hers and would touch at times this close. He was glad she had such an appetite for it meant she was healthy. She kept her weight where it should be, he had no complaints on her figure. In fact he tried not to think about it too much for the desire that would follow. He really had mended his way from the more wild young man that gained himself a ship in his teens. "We should leave some for the wild woodland creatures, it is a good omen to do so. It is believe that what you give in life freely comes back to you a hundred fold." Which he had set some things aside on his plate for this offering later to be left. He would probably be caught looking upon her as he could not help himself. Smile would creep or twitch when she did catch him.

She didn't mind the contact. In fact, she took to very lightly leaning against him. Wouldn't want to throw him off balance. "I think that is an excellent idea. We can toss whatever bread is left to the water for the ducks and fish." She looked at him, noting first the smile and smiled back to him. She eyed him for a moment. "What?" Curious now what his thoughts were as she picked at bites of the bread, meat and cheese. Her own smile couldn't be helped, but she was always smiling. Such a smile on him was a rare one.

"I've still to be your slave for an hour.." placing a strawberry between his lips as he offered her a bite that way. Of course he was going to steal a kiss with it! He was grinning around it too as the happiness literally shone in blue eyes.

She laughed, tempted to argue that he'd more than paid that debt, but played along. She leaned in to collect the bite with a kiss to join. Another sweet kiss that lingered long enough to combine the taste of him with the berry, then drew back to finish the bite.

He went with the kiss, long as she'd let him even lips still shaped so after hers left with him leaning her way before caught back, "sweetest strawberry I ever did have." He had finished what was on his plate except the pieces he was going to leave behind on one of those large flat stones. He was up, taking up a chunk of bread and leaving the plate behind for now. "Care to help toss the bread to the geese, ducks and fish?" As there were some out preening and dunking into the water to eat small fish and algae. Vanessa joined him as the afternoon wore on, feeding the ducks and laughter to sweeten the air before they packed up and headed for home leaving their offering on the flat stone. There would be news for them to share.

Date: 05-04-10
Poster: Joe McAndrews
Post # 10

A Long Overdue Date

It was one of those exceptional spring days where the sun was bright with only a few fluffy clouds in the sky, and the temperature was perfect -- not too hot and not too cold. Joe had sent a note to Marcy the night before, suggesting they have their picnic that day since he actually had the time off. He obtained a surrey and headed for the Thistle to meet her. He was dressed comfortably in pants of black tucked into black riding boots. A poet's shirt of dark blue cotton was worn beneath a vest of black leather. He had even shaved and wore his hair pulled back with a bit of rawhide. Once he arrived at the Thistle, he tied off the horses and headed inside.

She had been at her shop but left Violet in charge as she headed up to the Thistle to meet Joe there. She looked like spring itself in a pale yellow dress. One that had embroidered black eye Susans around the neckline and hem. No sleeves so she brought a lacy white shawl made of cashmere with her. Her hair done up with strands already escaping that tickled down along the slim line of her neck. Some framing her face in wisps. A smile came catching sight of the tall McAndrews man as he was up and into the tavern. With a quick look up and down the street she then hurried across to follow in his footsteps. "Looking for someone, handsome?" came in a teasing yet sultry tone from behind.

He paused when after he stepped through the door and heard footsteps, turning slightly to hold open the door. A grin appeared when he heard that voice and he turned to study her. "Aye, a lovely nymph all dressed like Spring herself. Are you ready for a picnic, m'lady?" The basket was waiting for them so all they needed to do was collect it. He had blankets in the surrey.

"Indeed I am," her smile brightened as well green eyes. "I do believe I have at least a dozen ladies jealous of me this day." One could tell by the ones passing by and taking that kind of look over the two of them all dressed up and looking like they were indeed together. Lashes slightly dipped as her chin tipped up, "I rather like that idea." Which only had her smiling more as she stepped through. "Good afternoon Alex," then lifting her voice, "good afternoon to you Hazel." With the open serving window and the door to the kitchen open, Hazel would hear her.

He chuckled as he glanced around as if looking for the ladies then followed her inside. "Alex," giving the man a nod then he raised his voice also, "afternoon, Hazel and thank you." He picked up the basket, testing its weight with a grin. The smells coming from it were delicious too. "We'll return it when our picnic is over."

"Don't wait up on us," giving Alex a wave with one of those smiles, the tease in her eyes as they headed outside. She was sure there would be lemonade and potcheen packed in the basket too. Once outside she waited for his help in once the basket was placed. "Definitely a beautiful day but I think it is more the company I am keeping." Which had another quick smile as she got situated on the seat.

He gave Alex a smile, this time with a waggle of brows for Marcy's comment. His hand fell to her back as they headed out. The basket stowed safely away, he helped her into the surrey then went around to the other side to climb inside. "I'd have to agree with that. The company is making this day a good one." He tapped the horses with the reins and they started for the lake. There were lilacs in bloom, as well as fruit trees and early blooming flowers. Birds were busy collecting twigs for nests or courting. The ride to the lake was always pleasant but today it was especially so.

"Mmmmm," relaxing back as she drank in the fresh air and sunshine. "Won't be long and we'll be swimming in the lake. Probably could presently but I think it would be a little too cold than it had been when I was younger. Are you getting all done while here or is there still enough to do that will keep you around before you disappear for the summer?" She knew about his mine and the time it took as he went down with his men unlike most owners.

"There's still a few more things and Michael needs to look into the condition of the mine. This is a busy time for him too." He glanced at her and smiled. "Then again, I may make more than a few visits if I have incentive." He slowed the horses as a doe crossed the road in front of them. "I think the lake's gotten colder too though I believe my nephews would disagree. Then again, I'm not sure they feel the cold like I do." Or at least, they'd not admit it.

"I imagine it would be for he has the vineyards and now is the time to make sure the soil is aerated and the plants free of blights." She knew a little about it. "I'm sure he'll find the time to check out the mines as it is important for the safety of your men." Eyes widened a fraction. "I think perhaps that incentive might be found. First incentive is to go swimming with me once the lake is warm enough not to chill us to the bone, unless of course we have those arms to fall into as well a blanket to wrap us up in." Impish smile came with that curled edges of full lips. They certainly weren't skinny ones like some nor like sofa cushions either.

"We know the mines well enough to be sure of some areas and those we're getting ready to work, but there are others I'm not sure of. We had some flooding in there one year and he warned us of it." He laughed again as he turned the surrey down the path that led to the lake. Of course, his eyes dropped to her lips briefly then lifted again. "I'm sure either could be arranged though I think I might prefer warmer days. There can still be cuddling in a blanket after." The horses were brought to a stop and he set the brake, then hopped out. He was around to help her down, and then to collect the basket. "Pick a place?" He also grabbed the blankets.

She got this odd spike of energy go through her when he dipped a glance to her lips. Sent a chill up her spine of a warm kind. "Indeed there can be even on dog day nights." She'd not pass up such if he was under the blanket! Her thoughts were starting to warm her up as it was a good distraction of their arrival and he around to help her out. "There, nearest the lake," pointing out a nice picnic table in the sun. On a day like today, one was warmer sitting in the sun. Soon enough the other tables would be chosen that were in the shade. Curling her hand around his free arm she walked with him to that very area. "I feel spoilt having you carry the basket and all."

"I don't usually have anyone to spoil so it's nice for me." He smiled again, then studied the table. They had been fixed where needed and repainted. "Someone's been busy." He'd still place the blanket on the bench for them to sit on. "Then again, I can let you do the honors of seeing what Hazel's put in there and set it out. And we can both clean everything up." He paused then added, "if you'd like. Otherwise, I'll keep at it."

"I believe in fair share," giving him a wink as she settled with the basket on the table between them. The lid opened up to that heavenly scent. "Chicken fried strips," which she was getting out the plates to set the portions on. Hers modest compared to his for they were renown for their appetites. There was potato salad, cole slaw, some sliced up strawberries in whipped cream and sponge cake in their own containers. There was cups to pour the lemonade in and of course the potcheen if either wanted a drink.

"Nothing like Hazel's cooking and lovely company." He poured the lemonade and waited for her to take a seat. "Do you cook?" Had he ever asked her that? He knew most women could and a good portion of men but there were some who just didn't care to.

"Yes I do. Had to for I was on my own for some time. I found I enjoy it. Baking especially. I may well treat you to a dinner some evening." Slipping a green eyed glance up his way, for even sitting she had to look up his way while taking a bite of a fried chicken strip. So the look lingered a moment his way as she soaked in his fine looks.

"I'd like that. The food is good at home and at the mine, but sometimes it's nice to have a more intimate dinner with someone special." Had he been younger, he might have flexed for her but he just smiled and dug in. Like his brothers, he did enjoy his food.

"When not at the mine, do you stay in the castle of Ballicastle?" Curious question asked in between bites as he continue to hold her focus, certainly curiosity there but something else too. There was a confession on the tip of her tongue she didn't let fall through. Not yet at least.

"Yes." He answered after finishing a chicken strip, wiping his hands on a napkin as he spoke. "All winter, and at time during the rest of the year. I try to shut down in early fall so my men can get back to their homes before the snows trap them up there. Some bring their families over the summer. There's a caretaker for the winter and he and his family watch over things. Bit isolated for them but I try to get there to check on them as often as possible." Though if the weather was bad, Michael helped him there too.

"Give them time to winterize too, that is very good of you. Kind." which that word went a long way in her book. She stalled too, green eyes in study of his features. Drawing a quick breath as she realized she was staring, before she could actually be accused. He probably knew no matter. She struggled to find a change of subject, dipping glance away which brought the food in sight. "Hazel is a wonderful cook." Thinking of how lame that sounded even if the words were true.

There was a hint of the devil in blue eyes as he watched her even with the more modest answer. "Well, I care about their well-being, and they're good men. I've known some of them since I was a boy. Few are older than me but it's hard work , and I think they're happy to retire from it. There were other professions for them, or a good pension when they retired. "Aye, she is at that. I think it's because she loves to do it."


She couldn't stand it anymore. "Color me bold Joseph McAndrews, but ever since I watched another kiss you boldly upon the lips, I've wanted to do the same. I'm sure the inclination was there before but pushed way back to the recesses of my mind." She was getting up so she could be over to him easier and while he sat, standing made it opportune. "I've never been bit by the green eyed monster until the other night. Not so much of the lovely woman that so boldly kissed you but of any and all women that have. To be one of those, ah hell.." which almost had her laughing with that kind of cuss word as she slinked around his side, arms sliding around his neck and if he didn't stop her., the passion of a pent up kiss would be claimed upon his.

Well, wasn't that a surprise? He'd never turn down a kiss from a lovely woman but the confession was what surprised him. He placed his plate down as she stood and watched her approach. "Well, then, I think you should." His smile showed those McAndrew dimples as she slid her arms around his neck. His slid around her waist and he accepted the kiss with the same passion, his tongue even sliding out to tease.

The position was somewhat awkward all considering and she figured he got a lot of kissing in wherein she had not kiss someone in so long she couldn't remember. Far too long. As his arms slid around her waist, she slid into his lap for it was there and a natural follow through. Lips didn't cease their perusal and when his tongue came out to play, she was right there to meet the teasing, twisting, twinning and pouring a lot into this kiss.

As she made herself comfortable, one hand came to rest at the base of her neck. Had her hair been loose, he would have tangled the fingers of that hand in it. Fewer women then she thought. The kiss deepened, his heart began to pound and he knew they would have to stop. But not quite yet.

It would not take much for her hair to become totally loose being strands were already escaping for the impromptu actions. His heart was not the only one pounding she discovered. She was kissing a McAndrews and Joseph in particular, one of the brothers she had admired from a distance for a while, if she was truthful to herself. There was a light murmur that mixed in with the normal sounds of a kiss, sounding like something delicious. They would have to stop, in time. but she was not taking the initiative. Oh, she knew there was nothing more to this than her own boldness but one only lived once and this was something she would have always wonder on otherwise. Now she could relish the memory and let her heart skip a few later down the years with the memory. It was all she imagined and more. Her body feeling boneless as she melted against him so comfortably.

While the fingers from one hand tangled in the hair that feel free, the other remained around her waist. His tongue slipped out and teased again her lips, urging her to allow a little more exploration. He heard the sound and smiled inwardly. Other than that 'kissing bandit", it had been some time since he had been kissed and he was enjoying every moment of it.

Her lips parted to meet that tease as tongues began the dance that reflected an ancient calling. Twisting, sliding, suckling back and forth leaving him to lead the exploration but meeting it equally then giving in return. Heady sensation that was starting to get her tingly all over. Warm too, warmer than the sun that played down over the two and the waters not far from where they sat. If this kept up they may need to take a dip. Fingers were working their touch about the shell of his ear from one while the other slipped into the blond locks of his hair teasing a trail over his scalp beneath.

He allowed the kiss to linger until finally he had to break it off, not just to catch his breath but allow his heart to slow. He added a quick additional kiss, catching her bottom lip briefly before resting his forehead against hers. "Well?" Voice was deep and husky as he spoke in a near whisper, not at all in the usual manner of the McAndrews men.

She sucked in a breath that came in a warm soft whoosh, "you kiss..." another breath taken, "fantastic," which was probably said to him a thousand times before but it was her first time to say it. He could probably tell by how winded she was. Little dizzy too but she had a good hold still, arms wrapped around his neck sliding down to his shoulders as forehead met. Certainly he knew how powerful his kiss was!

"You don't do so bad yourself," he smiled, showing off those dimples as he did. Their surroundings intruded some, though only with the sounds of birds nearby, and in the distance the barking of dogs. It would be a while until he released her, just wanting to keep her where she was, to savor the moment a little longer. As far as that power, he did not. It was a part of himself that he didn't realize he had.

It had been eons, or so felt, since she was held in the arms of a man like this. Something she realized she had missed, an ache in her heart for that realization. Not something she would admit nor unhealthy expectations. "I could stay like this forever," words murmured against his chest as she settled her head there. Fingers teased along his jawline as her retort came in a tease, "I bet you say that to all the ladies," huffing a breath of air, "no matter, I will cherish mine." Green eyes glanced up then that held that sparkle of a tease in them.

He laughed, a deep rumble of sound that came from his chest. "There hasn't been many ladies of late. I'm glad you'll cherish it, as will I." Blue eyes met green and he smiled again. "We can stay here as long as you'd like but  I'm afraid forever would have everyone come looking for us." Which had him chuckling at the thought of his brothers coming looking for them. "I didn't know you were interested in kissing me, Marcy."

"I would have to weave a magic spell around us." Coming from a cousin of the Queen it was not far fetch. "Being time is not our friend in this, we shall just have to take more time in the future to repeat." It was an offer but she wasn't tacking him down to any commitment on it. Just something tossed out on the table. "Of course I have been.. interested. For some time but I didn't think I would have the chance." Hence he might understand her bold actions earlier. She wasn't a kid anymore, had it been back then, she would not have been so bold but would had let it be left up to him if it were to be. Which may not have happened and most men, she came to realize over the years, do not mind being kissed. "We probably should eat our meal before it spoils.."

He had nearly forgotten the meal, but her words had him thinking. "Yes, we will. Just have to make sure I don't get lost in the mine." He winked at her before releasing his hold on her. "You know .... you smell wonderful." A compliment that needed to be said. "And while we eat, maybe we can discuss when we should meet again?" One never knew what would happen unless they were willing to try.

"If you get lost in the mine, I will come and find you." Sure it sounded like the thing to say but she was actually serious. "That should not happen, however for you have your brother to check it out." Which she knew how he checked it out knowing Michael. "I think you are smelling the meal.." teasing him right back with a wink as she slid from his lap easily to sit beside him. "I would like to discuss that. Your time is more demanded on than mine. I have found a helper and could become just the owner of the Linen shop, with hired help." She didn't need the money it was something to do to keep her sanity and contribute.

He started back into the meal, then nodded, his expression thoughtful. "The next two weeks will likely be very busy once I get the supplies up there. But after that, we should plan something. Would you like to do something other than a picnic here at the lake?"

"Perhaps a canoe ride out on the lake or a walk to the Celtic gardens and the water spas there. Have you been there at all? We could go riding or something you like to do?" She was open for suggestions as well having given a few. All the while she worked on her plate of food, enjoying each bite and especially her company.

"I haven't been to the gardens in some time. That and the water spa sounds good. I enjoy riding too but we could save that for another time, maybe see if we can see the wild horses. Or ... " He paused, looking at her a moment, "we could take a day and go to the zoo." A bit different but it could be something she'd enjoy. "Make a day of it and have dinner in the Thistle after."

"I would like that. I hear they are getting in new animals and birds all the time. You could bring some of your nephews if you are brave enough." It would probably be a great outing for his nephews that were ten and under. She figured the older ones would either not be interested or would prefer going in their own age group. Which they could provide the transportation for them. Certainly some would not wish to share their time but that was not like Marcy. "First the springs, then horseback riding.. I'll have to swipe out everything else on my calendar to fit you in then fit the rest around you." It was easier to tease on something that said she liked him.. a lot.. then to say it directly and make him feel trapped. She wasn't trying to trap him but sure as the sky was blue she would grasp any opportunities her way to spend time with him.

He laughed and rubbed his chin, looking out over the lake briefly. "I think we could manage them, though trying to keep up with them might be a problem." They were constantly on the move and asking questions. "More than likely they'd all want to go in different directions." He finished his food and placed his plate aside, his expression changing subtly. He was pleased that she said what she did. "Let's plan the first in three weeks then. Should be able to make it sooner for anything following." If his men knew he was going to see her, they might do some plotting so he'd likely keep it to himself!

"Perhaps just those of one brother at a time? We could bring one of their nannies with us too." She would not rule it out for them being a handful and perhaps the father would have a few words with the lads or lasses so they would be on their best behavior. At least the little ones, the teens might get into mischief but that went with being that age. "Three weeks sounds good." That would give her time to set up another in her shop. There would be two employed and she to come and organize at her leisure. Now she had a reason not to bury herself in her work. It might be just like Marcy to come and surprise him at some point at his mine, with a delicious lunch made but she would have to feel comfortable to do such, presently she would not take such a step.

"That might be the easiest way to handle them." He grinned as he thought of them. "And I'm sure their nannies would enjoy the outing too." Something different for them to enjoy. He patted his stomach, quite happy with how things had turned out. And when and if she became that comfortable, he would certainly appreciate it. "I'm sure you have new things coming in all the time? Is there something that would be suitable for a son to give to his mother?" He would like to give his mother something different.

"There are some beautiful lace gloves with exceptional embroidery done along the wrist band. Silk scarf's, depends on what your mother likes?" Some things were traditional that everyone could use. She too had eaten her fill of the excellent food and made a mental note to compliment Hazel when they returned the basket.

"Both sound perfect." He tipped his head back to look up into the sky. "She likes pretty things. And she rarely treats herself." He'd likely give Hazel a big hug and get a swat back for it. "I'm not sure I'm going to be able to move for a while." He was kidding of course though normally he'd walk for a bit. But a surrey ride was just as good with company.

She shifted closer, bumping her hip against his. "Sitting here sounds perfect to me in letting our food settle. Come by the shop tomorrow before you leave so that you can pick out what you like. I would also suggest some flowers, field picked from her son and perhaps a light perfume she can wear for summer." There were lots of things but the wild flower picking was priceless coming from her son.

It would a good time to do that too. He turned his head slightly so he could look at her again. "I think I'll do all that." Legs stretching out, he certainly didn't seem inclined to move. "Good at recommendations too. Hmm. Lot going for you." He turned his head fully, though he stayed in that comfortable position. "I look forward to seeing what other surprises you hide."

"If you stick around, you may discover more." Oh, so suggestive with a sultry smile to follow as she snuggled in against his side, letting the breeze wash over them as it rippled over the lake, sending scattered waves to weave one over the other. Such a sight, with the sun above, birds flying about and the occasional fish to jump.

He just grinned, then settled in again, his arm going around her shoulders. The combination of food and sun could cause him to doze but he was thinking how much he was enjoying this. It wasn't an every day occurrence certainly.  They would spend several more hours at the lake, taking a walk along the water at the edge of the shore, talking and sitting on the rocks to watch the sunset. Finally, Joe would light the lanterns on the surrey and guide the horses back along the path and then the main road to the city. After a drink to end the night, he'd escort Marcy home, returning to Michael's for the night. It was a nice day to have spent before his work began.


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