Poster: Patrick Frasier
Post # 55
(Continued from Falkirk Races)
They arrive safe and sound a number of hours later. He didn't have the
horses paced fast but an even pace being they had Ysa with them. Once
there he was out, handing the surrey over to one of the stable lads to
take it down the back. Around first to offer a hand to Karina or take
the child as she got out.
Once arrived he was out near the same time as Rhett to see to Vanessa.
Karina gave Ysa over to Rhett, knowing he was good with the babe, before
hopping down to head in with the others. "So Segan, that was nice
of you to sit out the race with Vanessa. Or were you afraid I would beat
you too?" Okay, so maybe she would gloat juuuust a little.
Which he grinned, "you're lucky I didn't race or you would not have
won that pretty purse." Certainly implying he would have won.
"You should ride Thunder Thighs next time Rhett and you are certain
While Segan and Karina locked horns he headed into the Thistle with Ysa
in his arms. She was a slobbering one! Which made him laugh and in turn
She snickered quietly to what Karina had to say and looped her arm with
hers. "I have something I wish speak to you about." And
whisked her away, leaving Rhett with Ysa for the moment. He'd be okay.
The ride between Ballicastle and Heathfield was something she always
enjoyed. Having company always made it better. Cer was taken to the
stable to be tended to. She'd take her to the castle when she headed
"Oh-HO! Certain to win, he says," she scoffed. Giving
Segan a broad smirk. "Nothing in life is certain, laddy, especially
you beating me in a race." Up she went into the tavern, waving to
Alex and Maggie. Then her arm was taken by Van and off she was whisked.
"Oh, o...kay." Karina always got a bad feeling when someone
said that to her, call it paranoia.
It was nothing bad. She just smiled sweetly and whisked her friend off
to some quiet corner to sit at a table.
They took their time enjoying each other's company and not far behind
the surrey. "Have you been keeping yourself busy since last I've
seen you?" Dismounting and handing the horse over to be taken back
with Gemma's. Then he would see her inside the tavern.
"Feisty words but proof is always in the pudding!" Called
after her not giving an inch as he then was joining Rhett as
Vanessa took hold of Karina to talk privately, "there they go off
whispering again.. if they start to giggle you know we're in
trouble," this to Rhett as he would take Ysa from him once he was
"Aye, I have. Duties to the crown as well as spending time with me
family." She smiled again. "Our cousins have returned safely
and brought another, a sister. And of course, I'm sure you know about
the King and his men returning. It's made for a busy
time, as well as a joyful one."
Karina sat down at that table and looked across at her friend warily,
waiting for her to speak her mind.
Vanessa looked at Karina, trying not to smile. She managed for a moment
or three, but then the battle was lost. "You know I love you and
think of you as a sister. I was hoping perhaps you would adopt my
family's surname. Not that a name makes you family, but it would mean a
lot to me."
Some of her concerns were alleviated when Vanessa smiled but she
continued to eye her friend uncertainly. Even after Van had spoken.
Stare. Blink. Yes... completely shocked and she looked it. There were
several long moments of staring before she blinked rapidly as the idea
absorbed. "I. Um.." She had no idea what to say. She didn't
have a surname of her own, never had, and never had expected to. She
already thought of Vanessa and Ysa as her dearest friends and the
closest to family she'd ever get, but this.... this would be like making
the tie official and she was speechless.
"Yes, word travels quickly on such matters as the King. I hear he
has not quite come out in public?" Unless that has changed and so
asked. "There is a lot of speculation on how they were wounded so
badly but I figure in time that all will be made clear. Those in these
lands are rarely left in the dark on such important matters. I figure
there are things to sort out first." Giving a nod to the others
with a warm smile as he saw Gemma to the bar and made his request for
some potcheen. Alex would leave the bottle. "Would you like to
remain here or sit at a table or the couch in front of the hearth?"
She had options.
Now that looked interesting. She grinned at Segan and Rhett, then smiled
at Alex. Cessa had talked about the watermelon punch and that would be
what she'd have. "The couch would be nice. And no, the King hasn't
come out yet though he's expected to soon and to meet with King Leoric.
People were worried but have been assured that the wards still
He and Rhett were in a light.. low.. conversation about a new hunting
knife. An upnod given Gemma and Patrick as they arrived.
Vanessa just watched quietly. It wasn't something she would push for,
but there was no doubt that Karina was as much a part of her family as
her own blood sister had been. She hoped Karina would adopt her surname
as sort of an official welcoming to her family.
"I uh.." It wasn't often that her tongue was so flabbergasted,
but lucky Vanessa got to witness one of those rare times as she
struggled for words. She blinked again quickly, and maybe what spoke
more than words, was the faint glimmer of tears that came to her eyes.
"Yeah, that would be, I would," swallow. "I'd like
that." Karina was touched to the deepest corner of her heart and
for once it showed.
Vanessa got up with a smile and went around to Karina's side of the
table. "Then I will petition for it tonight if you like. You can
take time to think about it if you want, Karina. You know I would never
push for something you're not comfortable with."
"No.. no, I don't gotta think about it. It's.." Words failing
again, speech a worthless thing. Instead when Vanessa came around to her
side of the table, Karina reached to give her friend a fierce hug.
Squeezing tight then just as quickly, she was up and moving for the side
door that led to the garden. "Scuse me," she called back as
gaily as she could manage before ducking out into the garden. Big girls
don't cry... at least not in public. Make no mistake, she was thrilled
but it came along with a truckload of other emotions too.
"So, tell me how your training has come along?" As he escorted
her over to the couch, waited for her to be seated then taking up the
spot near, but not too close as they were not that familiar.
The fierce hug was returned with a genuine smile, happy that Karina
accepted the idea, and she just held onto the other until she broke away
and excused herself. Watching her go, she wondered if maybe she should
follow, but decided to give Karina a moment, so instead would go to ...
where ever Segan and Ysa were.
Seeing Karina leave, as he had no idea what they were talking about, he
was up and heading for the garden door. Excusing himself from the
conversation with Segan.
He sat back with brows lifting. Wondering what was going on that had
Karina leaving. He was at the table that Rhett had vacated. Glass of
potcheen, both had, and a bottle left. Ysa on his lap. "Everything
She made herself comfortable and turned slightly so she could face him,
one arm resting on the back of the couch. "Very well. It's hard at
times but worth it. And I'm glad to be working with the Crown Princess,
and Mo and the others." She paused to look up, watching as Karina
She smiled to Segan as she reached to take Ysa and nodded.
"I...think so. I think she just needed a moment." Ysa got
raspberries blown against her neck for the giggles and then Segan
received a kiss on the cheek.
Rhett would find her pacing around in circles outside, arms folded tight
and her steps almost bouncing as she fought back a full-on invasion of
emotions. Breaths came short as she kept herself moving, and one circle
had her back facing the door to see Rhett standing there, but she didn't
say anything yet. Couldn't. Just kept bouncing from foot to foot with
Brows rose higher with a pressed line of his mouth in concern as he
stepped out. He was over to draw her up into his arms. "What is
wrong?" Words hoarsely in a whisper.
"Congratulations on being knighted. News travels but not
opportunities to say so.." lifting his glass in salute before
kicking back the shot. "That is a great honor. I should come and
watch you on the field," giving a quick wink as a dimple pressed
aside the growing smile.
He relinquished the infant as she was beginning to smell. Although he
wasn't sure if it was her bottom or the bubbled up milk. Whichever, it
was better that Van took care of it.
She was way too agitated to stand still at the moment, arms remaining
crossed as she kept moving from foot to foot even in his embrace.
"Vanessa asked me to take her last name." Her voice came
tightly through a constricted throat.
Ooo...she did smell. Ysa was held up so Van could look at her.
"Ysa...." Then looked at Segan with a smile. "I shall
return." Then she went to the bar to ask Alex for the bag she kept
there and went off to get rid of the smell.
Her smile showed a dimple and she laughed. "Thank you.. With things
the way they were, it was done quietly. I think Grandmother would like
to have a big celebration, not just for me, but for the return of our
cousins as well as Conor coming back from Ireland. Combine anything that
needs celebrating into one grand party."
"That is an honor, do you wish to do so?" He still held her
but his embrace was loosened being she kept moving like a cat on a
hot tin roof. He was concerned and wondering how she felt about it.
Which had him chuckling and thankful Ysa had waited long enough for
Van's return. Once more he was left alone.
"That would be a wonderful idea, a sort of in home thanks giving
for all the fortune your family has seen. I imagine a feast in your home
would be as large as ours.."
"Yeah, of course. I mean, I don't know." It was hard to
explain herself when she hadn't shared her whole story with Rhett
before. Harder still when she didn't know exactly how she felt about it,
herself. A deep breath drawn as she tried to stop her twitching.
"She said she loves me like a sister. And I feel the same about
her, and Ysa, I do. I guess I just never actually thought about it with
that word before, sister." She finally unfolded her arms
enough to lift a hand and start wiping at her cheeks. Karina knew that
she was acting ridiculous and Rhett probably couldn't understand her,
any better than she could understand herself. Letting out a short laugh
as she mopped her eyes. "Just took me by surprise..."
It wouldn't take Van long to get Ysa changed. When she came out, the bag
was brought with her so she could wash the soiled stuff, which was
wrapped in a potpourri scented pouch. A seat claimed next to Segan, she
glanced towards where Karina and Rhett had disappeared and frowned some.
"I hope I didn't say something wrong to her."
"Almost, though we don't have the spouses or children. But it's
still lively." She glanced toward Segan and grinned. "Of
course, my brothers make up for that."
"Much better," more mumbled as Vanessa returned with a much
better smelling Ysa. "I haven't heard anything that would indicate
something bad. What did you say to her if you don't mind my
"I don't think she expects an immediate answer. What is your
surname?" Realizing she never told him and the question was out. He
just had always accepted her as she was.. Karina. The one he cared
"I asked if she'd adopt the Baltimore name. She's like my sister
and I would like to share my maiden name with her." She bounced Ysa
on her knee and smiled over to Segan.
"None of you married but a couple engaged.." glancing Segan
and Vanessa's way a moment then back. "No little ones yet. I'm sure
within a decade there will be a few."
That shut her up. She went very quiet and turned her eyes up to Rhett
when he asked that. They had never really spoken of the details of
Karina's life before she came to Heathfield. She loved to hear all about
Rhett's history, but steered clear of particulars when it came to
herself. It seemed as if that moment had come and she spoke softly.
"I don't have one. Never did. Never had a family to give me one. I
was born in an orphanage and spent most the rest of my life on the
Which had him go thoughtful. In way it would make up for the loss of not
only her sister but her twin. "I know you really care for her as a
sister, as well I do. I'm sure asking her this, is not saying something
wrong. In a year's time you'll be taking on the surname of Quinn."
Which was an even bigger step but changing or getting a surname was a
"I have no doubt of that either." Her expression softened
slightly as she looked at her brother and Vanessa briefly then looked
back. Her drink was nearly finished and she made quick work of it.
"It's getting late and I should be on the field bright and early.
And you are more than welcome to come watch."
"I do care for her. She's part of my family regardless her last
name, but I'd like to share mine with her." She paused for thought
and looked at Segan with a tilt of her head, then smiled. "I will
be hyphenating my name to Baltimore-Quinn." Which she hoped
he didn't mind.
"Well, look at it this way. You can choose your surname and your
family now. Not many can do that although I've no complaints about my
family." Not to give the wrong impression. He would not press her
at the moment but certainly it gave fodder for future conversations.
Maybe when feeding her a feast and have her in a good mood.. all stuffed
up like on strawberry truffles. "Baltimore is not too bad of a
surname. Karina Baltimore. Hmmm." Which had him pausing a moment,
"of course if you eventually got married then it would change
"I will walk you up to the castle then with your permission."
She may be a warrior, she may even be a knight, but he was a gentleman
and would see her properly there. Luckily he was a good fighter or he
might be intimidated by being with a woman so trained if he was not. He
rose from his seat, "good night," given the others and he'd
collect a key from Alex so he didn't need to disturb him later upon his
return. He could gain entry through the back way and stairs.
"If that is your wish," at least Quinn would be in there as
some didn't like to even change their names at all but that rose other
questions too. He imagine they would wait for the two to return. He was
watching the door thoughtfully before kicking back the last of his
"I always welcome your company, Patrick." She smiled as she
stood, then was over to hug her brother, Vanessa and even the little
one. "Will you give my good nights to Rhett and Karina?"
Asking her brother.
The hug was returned with a smile to Gemma. "Good night, Gemma. It
was nice to see you again." She probably got drooled on a little
between giggles from Ysa.
He was up to give Gemma a hug then a clasp to Patrick's shoulder. He
didn't say anything about noticing he was around more which he had
nothing against. Made his sister happy, he was happy she was aside
the man being well respected. "I will," in reply to Gemma's
She hadn't thought about it that way... choosing a family rather than
having it thrust upon her. Not that it was unwelcome thrust, it had just
been a surprise. But if she had to choose anyone for family.. certainly
it would have been Vanessa. And Ysa, of course. And Rhett, and Segan,
and Eion, Concessa... all those people who she cared for as much as she
imagined a real family would. His calmness even in the face of her deep
dark past helped to calm her in turn, and she nodded. She wasn't
bouncing around either like she had been before. His marriage comment
lured a soft laugh and she stepped forward, more into his arms. Her head
laid against his chest and she blinked again but these tears were of a
different kind. She murmured against his shirt, "I'm happy."
Arms went even more protectively around her. "I'm pleased to hear
that." He figured there were a few times she was really happy, when
he was with her but this was the first she ever said it. "I think
we should go back in so they don't wonder what we are doing out
here," easing back a tad as he waggled his brows.
Segan got a clasp to his shoulder in return and Vanessa a smile as Gemma
gave her hugs. He didn't know them that well but he like them. "You
have a very pretty and very lively daughter there." Though he was
aware of the circumstances, Vanessa was the girl's mother as far as he
A smile given to Patrick. "Thank you." It was strange to think
of Ysa as her daughter when Ysa had first come to live with her, but she
accepted the idea now with pride.
She didn't usually say when she felt things.... it was more in the
subtleties of her mannerisms (though her temper was never subtle). She
chuckled again at his comment, nodding and sniffing some through her
nose as she leaned back. But before they went inside she would stand on
her toes to give Rhett a grateful kiss. Lingering there just a moment
with her hand resting against his neck, calloused pads gentle.
He was always up for a kiss, and so it would linger as if making up for
all the time spent outside in this garden and not doing so. Long enough
but finally broken before he was ushering her inside, otherwise he would
keep kissing her all night.
Seeing Rhett and Karina return, "good night," cordially before
ushering Gemma out with him and on their way. He felt the two couples
might have something to discuss they were not really a part of.
"Good night." A wave was given as they were on out the door.
It was a lovely night for a walk. Not too warm, the moon still bright
and stars filling the sky.
That was good enough, more than enough. Everything she needed. Fingers
squeezed Rhett's before they stepped in, just in time to see Patrick and
Gemma departing. A smile was produced as she waved her farewell. "G'night."
Then it was over to the others. She wondered if Vanessa had told Segan
about their conversation, and thought she probably had. Which made
Karina feel a little sheepish for running off as she had. "Hiya,
sorry about that.."
"Good night," he had that look about him with a pressed smile
and all, like a lad that stole from the cookie jar and got away with his
treasure. He was right over with Karina to where Segan and Van still
She looked at Karina and smiled. "No need to apologize."
Assuredly spoken. She realized it must have been something very big to
"Nothing to be sorry for," least in his book and seemed Van
agreed. "Shall we see you both home," as he figured Rhett
would be along too to see Karina, being they both stayed at Vanessa's
At least they weren't asking for explanations or anything.... and
hopefully her more relaxed manner and smile would be enough to assure
them that she was alright, now. Still something to be absorbed but it
was bite-sized now rather than overwhelming. "Sure.."
Turquoise hues flicked to Rhett at Segan's offer, wondering if he had
wanted to linger here or head out.
She nodded lightly to Segan's offer and smiled. "That would be
nice." Ysa was scooped up in one arm, her bag taken in the other.
"It seems time to go," as it was getting very late and he had
to be up early. "You will need to let me know what you wish for
your dinner?" If he remembered correctly that was part of the bet.
He would at least take the bag as the walk would be pleasant this
evening and no need of the surrey. The Avian gardens were not that far.
"There is still a full moon out that lights up the lands like
twilight." Or more.
"Oh, yeah." In all the excitement she'd almost forgotten about
the bet. A dinner with Rhett, that gave her something to look forward
to. "I'll have to think about it." And didn't she look ever so
mischievous, as if she was plotting to come up with some impossible
menu. In the end she wouldn't torture him with anything crazy though,
probably just some sort of pork and potatoes, two of her favorite foods.
Her hand slipped down to take Rhett's as they walked.
Ysa was propped on her hip, she nodded to Segan. "It's very nice.
I've been watching it coming for a couple of nights now."
"Aye, so have I upon the deck of my ship out at sea." Where he
tended doing a lot of thinking. He was prone to that at times. With
everyone ready, he headed out setting a leisurely pace.
Here he thought she might go for some seafood. "Well, you can think
it over and just let me know so I can get the ingredients needed. You
have a favorite dessert too?"
Heck, she'd eat almost anything with gusto. "Mmm, sure. I like
cobblers, and fruit pies. Oh and chocolate cake, I love chocolate
cake.." And so on and so forth. She would have a hard time
Which had him dipping a wary glance over her as they headed out, arm
about her waist as he kept her close.
Free arm wrapped around Segan's with a thoughtful smile to him. Ysa laid
her head on Van's shoulder and yawned. "It's a nice night
out." Quite happy to be walking rather than riding and enjoying the