Aidan's Chance - Chapter 2
edited: Tuesday, June 18, 2002
By Judi L Strider
Posted: Tuesday, June 18, 2002
Become a Fan
Sparks flew across the room as Aidan and Kaitin met for the first time. Will the hate for each other's families outlast the visible attraction?
Standing in the inner bailey and talking to Olan his overseer, Aidan recognized Timothy, his brother’s messenger, riding through the castle gates. Concerned that Wakefield had mounted another attack on his brother, he was not eager to hear the news. Aidan secured the reins of the horse allowing Timothy to dismount.
“Bad news, I fear.” Aidan began.
“Nae, your brother wanted me to tell you he has found someone to help you take care of your daughter.”
“Who is it?”
“I do not know. Laird Nicholas would not tell me.”
“I don’t have time to leave Robesburg. I have rye and other crops to plant.”
“He expects you at Capehope in two days.”
Aidan frowned at his brother’s indirect order. “Tell him I’ll be there, but I won’t be pleased if I’ve wasted my time.”
Timothy nodded, mounted his horse and left quickly knowing that he had a full day’s ride ahead of him.
Olan was still standing were Aidan had left him. Noticing the frown on Aidan’s face, Olan asked, “Is there trouble, Laird Aidan?”
“Nae, Olan. My brother believes I can stop what I’m doing and come to Capehope to see someone who will take care of Kylee. He must think I have nothing to do. Besides the crops, we need to finish the tower on the northeast corner.” Olan tried to reassure him, but Aidan continued to list everything that needed to be built, planted, repaired, or cleaned.
“It will be finished, Laird.” Olan was finally able to say something when Aidan stopped to take a breath.
“Yes, it will, but I don’t need another person to worry about.”
“Have Eilis help.”
“That is my other problem. She swears that no one will help take care of her granddaughter. It’s not going to be easy telling her.”
“Don’t tell her.” Olan suggested.
“I’ll tell Eilis I’m going to my brother’s. I won’t tell her why until I bring the person to Robesburg. No need causing problems before I need.”
“When will you be leaving?”
“Tomorrow morning, at dawn.”
“Very well, Laird Aidan. I’ll get the villagers started planting this afternoon.”
Riding to Capehope Castle, he was sorry he didn’t tell Eilis the real reason he was going. He had told her that something was up with Wakefield. Nearing the castle gate, he heard the watchguard yell for the gatekeeper to open the gates. Once inside he dismounted and gave the reins to an awaiting peasant boy. Nicholas met his brother at the top step of the castle keep and escorted him into the great hall.
“Please join me in some ale. I’m sure you are thirsty.” Nicholas tried to soothe his brother’s anger evident in his brilliant green eyes.
“Cut the pleasantries, brother. I don’t have the time or desire. Where is this person you sent word about?”
“This person is a she, and she is locked in the tower.”
“Locked in the tower? Is she mad? A criminal? You sent for me so that you would unload this undesirable person on me to take care of Kylee?”
“‘Tis not what you think. She is….”
“At least I’m thinking.” Aidan’s voice escalated. “You must have rocks for brains. I’m not letting Kylee near a crazy woman who needs to be locked in a tower.”
“She’s not crazy; she is my prisoner.”
“So, you’re the crazy one. No thanks. I can find my own caretaker for Kylee.”
“Wait Aidan. You are just like father was --- stubborn and never allowing anyone to explain. Her name is Kaitlin, and I caught her trespassing on my property. Before you pass judgement, meet the girl.”
“Okay, but if I don’t think she’s good enough for Kylee, she’s not going with me.”
Aidan paced around the great hall while Nicholas went to get Kaitlin. He looked at the tapestry with the Rothirforde crest embroidered on it. He read the familiar words again, Nec sorte nec fato: Neither by chance nor fate. Hearing footfalls, he turned towards the entranceway expecting to see the girl but was greeted only by his brother.
“Adriana will be escorting her to meet you in a few minutes. She doesn’t take kindly to me.”
“I wouldn’t either if I’d been locked in a tower.”
“I noticed your looking at our crest.”
“Brings back childhood memories. I’d stand here many times looking at it. Father held my hand and told stories of our ancestors. I must have asked him over a hundred times to read those words to me. I miss him, Nicholas.”
“As do I, Aidan.”
“Do you see Mother often?”
“Nae, Keir and she are occupied at Cavalier Manor with their children. Keir makes sure she has no time for us.”
“I still get mad when I think of Wakefield killing our father and leaving us to be raised by mother and our stepfather, Keir.”
“He did not kill your father,” was the adamant voice heard from the entrance to the great hall. Aidan and Nicholas had been so occupied in their conversation that they did not hear Adriana and Kaitlin arrive.
Staring intently at this bold girl, Aidan in a booming voice replied, “And who are you to know about my father’s murder?”
Not allowing Kaitlin to speak, Nicholas answered, “This is Kaitlin, the young lady I was telling you about.”
His temper fuming, Aidan stared at the young woman who was standing straight, her hands clinched in fists by her side. She was beautiful. Her waist length auburn hair was braided with a gold ribbon. Her ample bosom and shapely hips accentuated her slender waist. Her skin was flawless yet not white - evidence from Aidan’s point of view that she worked in the sun. Her brown eyes with golden flecks were bright with defiance. The nostrils on her small, upturned nose flared with each breath she took.
Turning his anger on Nicholas, “I want to hear her talk, not you.”
“Okay Aidan; Kaitlin talk,” Nicholas backed away from the couple.
Her arms crossed across her chest and her mouth set in a frown, “I have nothing to say.”
“You had something to say earlier about my father’s murder, why not now?” His voice rising in pitch.
“Because I don’t answer someone who is yelling at me. I’m not deaf.”
Aidan strode towards her. Nicholas was about to stop him when Adriana shook her head at Nicholas. Aidan walked within inches of her, stopped, and stood with his legs apart. “I’m not yelling now. What do you know about my father’s murder?” If he had not purposefully quieted his voice, the sweet aroma from her hair and body would have eased his temper. He had not been this close to a woman in years, and he was feeling the effect of it.
She stared into his sparkling, green eyes. Aidan was a full head and a half taller than she was. His black wavy hair fell to his large shoulders. A crimson tunic covered his shoulders. Chausses covered muscular legs that could be seen below the knee length tunic. His sword hung from its belt on his right side. Mesmerized by his flashing green eyes, she quietly said, “I know Baron William Wakefield did not kill your father.”
As if no one else were in the great hall, they stood just inches apart and whispered, “You are too young to know this. What gives you this firsthand knowledge?”
“Because my father is Baron William Wakefield, and he is not a murderer.”
Aidan’s quick glance and steps toward Nicholas preceded the thunderous voice that echoed off the walls. “Is this a joke, Nicholas? Do you think I would ever allow a Wakefield in my place to take care of my precious Kylee? I told you I would go home without her if she’s not good enough. I’ll be leaving alone.”
“Don’t be too hasty, Aidan. What other choice do you have? Eilis is growing older. You were lucky that Kylee didn’t fall down those stairs a couple weeks ago.”
“I realize that. But look at her; she’s a Wakefield. She is a trespasser. And her temper is terrible.”
Nicholas chuckled aloud at the final comment. “You should know about temper. Why don’t you give her a chance? What do you have to lose?”
“My daughter.” Aidan said quietly. Kaitlin felt something pull at her heart, something in this statement that made her want to reach out to him.
She spoke. “I’m not chattel. I’m a person with feelings. Maybe I don’t want to go.”
“You were trespassing,” Nicholas began, “and you must pay for that crime. You are on Scottish land and will pay by my Scottish law. If you wanted to be on Rothirforde land than you will be, only it is Aidan’s land not mine. You will stay with Aidan for one month to help Eilis take care of Kylee. I will inform your father of my decision. To you Aidan, I am your overlord; you will do as I suggest. The month will give you a chance to find another person to help Eilis.” Both of them stared at Nicholas with disgust, disliking the decision he had made. With everything settled per Nicholas’s orders, a messenger was dispatched immediately to Baron Wakefield’s.
The next morning dawned bright and sunny. Aidan saddled his horse and was waiting in the outer bailey for Kaitlin to come outside. When she finally arrived, Nicholas and Adriana flanked her on both sides. Nicholas helped her astride the sidesaddle on her horse. Aidan grabbed her reins to lead her behind him. Aidan, still disgusted, never turned around to see Nicholas and Adriana waving goodbye.
“Do you think they’ll survive together for a month?” Nicholas asked.
“Only if Aidan has enough mugs.” Adriana replied.