Aidan's Chance - Chapter 1
edited: Tuesday, June 18, 2002
By Judi L Strider
Posted: Tuesday, June 18, 2002
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Kaitlin should never have trespassed on Rothirforde land, but she did. Now, she must pay the price.
Scotland, Spring 1282
“Da, Da,” Kylee greeted her father as he walked into the nursery where Eilis was tending her grandchild. She had remained at Robesburg Castle after Lesley’s death. Although she had a small cottage outside the castle keep, she stayed at the castle to help Aidan raise Kylee. Eilis’s husband had died during one of the border skirmishes with the English, and now with her daughter dead also, the only relative was Kylee around whom her world revolved.
While calling his name, Kylee slid from her grandmother’s lap to toddle and crawl to her father. She stopped in front of him, sat down, and held up her arms. Aidan bent over and brought her up to his level placing a gentle kiss on her forehead.
“Hello, beautiful,” he greeted her with as much enthusiasm as he could find after working all day. Kylee would bring out that extra spark of energy deep within him.
Eilis slowly stood up from the chair and walked awkwardly towards them. Aidan noticed that Eilis was moving slower these days with the evidence of pain in her movements. He had mentioned this to her a few weeks prior, but she would hear no more on this topic. His main concern was Kylee’s welfare. She was getting faster, and soon Eilis would not be able to keep up when Kylee’s toddling becomes a run. Once again he broached the subject to Eilis as he put Kylee down to play with her handmade rag dolls.
“I have talked to my brother Nicholas about finding someone to help you care for Kylee.”
“Nae, I will not have it.” Eilis responded bitterly.
“This will be someone to do the running for you so your attention can be placed more on Kylee’s welfare, meals, and education.”
Appealing to his feeling of guilt, “Lesley would not approve of a stranger taking care of her daughter.”
This brought back the memory of the apparition he had seen the night of Lesley’s death. Aidan had told Eilis a few months later about his vision, and occasionally she would use this against him. They continued this discussion with neither conceding to the other’s point of view. Both were so busy expressing their wishes that they were oblivious to Kylee’s leaving the room. It was her giggle from the hallway that brought both of them back to reality. Aidan ran into the hallway to find Kylee setting within inches of the staircase staring at the wall and laughing.
Aidan was thankful for the dancing sunlight that had distracted Kylee; otherwise, she would have fallen down the stairs. He grabbed her quickly from the stone floor and held her close to him – once again hearing Lesley’s words, “Please take care of our little girl, Aidan.” just before the sunlight vanished.
Eilis was just now emerging from the nursery. She was thankful to see that he had Kylee in his arms. “Is she all right?”
“Yes, no thanks to us. I will do what is best for her; it does not matter what you want.” He stomped past Eilis to the nursery to get Kylee prepared for the evening meal.
Kaitlin paced and stomped back and forth within the castle tower waiting for the laird to explain why she was being held. On a ride to her grandmother’s, she rode too close to the border between Scotland and England. Surrounded by men wearing the crest of Count Nicholas, she knew she had crossed the border into Scotland. The longer she waited the angrier she became. These border skirmishes between her father and Count Nicholas were getting more involved. She picked up an earthenware mug from the table and threw it at the door; wine flew everywhere.
“You are not very appreciative of our hospitality,” Nicholas quipped, the mug barely missing his head when he opened the door.
“What hospitality? I was kidnapped, brought here to Capehope Castle, and locked in this tower room. What are your plans for me?” Kaitlin snapped.
“Presently, I have none. I thought about returning you to your father, but after your destructive behavior, I believe I have changed my mind.” Her icy stare warned him that he had better stop baiting her. “Why were you trespassing on my property? ‘Tis enough that your brother and his companions stole my cattle. Were you scouting out the next thing to steal?”
“If you are talking about my brother, Andrew, he did not steal your scrawny cattle. Not enough meat on those bones to feed us for more than a week.”
“Andrew, Phillip, or Matthew. It does not matter. My cattle are missing, and your father was behind it along with all your younger brothers.”
“How do you know my brothers’ names?”
“I know almost everything about Baron William Wakefield and his progeny. You forget that my father Gregory Rothirforde fought with your father long before you were born, and I was just a wee lad.”
“And you continue to battle with my father.” Kaitlin remarked.
“My father died indirectly at your father’s hands.”
“My father did not kill yours.”
“Nae, but it was after a meeting with your father that he was killed while returning to Capehope Castle. Your father may not have shot the arrow, but he made sure someone did.”
“My father denies knowing anything about it.”
“I imagine so; I did not think he would admit to murder.”
“Is that why you continue to battle with us?”
“That and the fact that you are thieves. Your father stole my father’s life, and I vow to make his life as miserable as ever.”
“So you kidnapped me?”
“’Tis impossible to kidnap someone who is trespassing. This conversation is over. Until I decide what to do with you, you will stay here. I will send someone with some food.” Nicholas opened the door. Looking back over his shoulder, “Throw anything else, and you will not get the food.”
Nicholas descended the stairs from the tower and met his wife Adriana outside their bedchamber.
“She sure has a temper,” Nicholas commented to his wife. “She threw a mug at the door and almost hit me.”
“Sounds like one of our first meetings. I wasn’t too happy to meet you, and the last thing I wanted was to marry you.”
“But once you were enchanted by the Rothirforde charm, you could not resist,” he teased his wife.
“Charming, well, I like to think that charm also can be considered a bit temperamental.” She replied with a smile. “I arranged for some food to be taken to her. Have you decided what to do with her? She is not William; she is not responsible for your father’s demise.”
“I realize that, but she was on our property; by mistake or not, she needs to know that she cannot be somewhere she shouldn’t. I’ll sleep on it tonight and make a decision tomorrow. I need to do something before William retaliates.”
The next morning Nicholas was holding his three-year-old daughter Margarette. Carrying their son, Nicholas II, Adriana joined her husband and daughter in the great hall. Nicholas loved being a husband and father.
“Hi my wee little man,” Nicholas held his finger up so that his son could grab it.
“You are a good father,” Adriana commented.
“I could not do it alone. I don’t know how my brother does it. Even with Eilis’s help, it must be difficult.
“And Eilis is getting older,” Adriana added. “He really needs someone young to help Eilis.”
“You are brilliant,” Nicholas said as he put Margarette down and kissed his wife on the cheek. “I know exactly what I am going to do with Miss Kaitlin Wakefield. I just have to tell her; I hope we have enough mugs.” He bounded up the steps to give Kaitlin the news.