weathered such tears before. He could weather these.
Could he no’?
The woman had needed a lesson in fright.
Had she no’?
Or had he allowed his temper to make a muck of things again?
Refusing to revisit other times when he may have been hasty in his distribution of punishment, he took a steadying breath. Then two more. Smoke and dust assaulted him. Oh, how he hated this place.
Did it matter this lass was a MacKay? Did she deserve to suffer the fright he had forced upon her out of pride? Granted, his foolishness a year before had put the honor of his clan in jeopardy, but he would guard that secret with his life. And his sons would guard it as well.
But would those sons have black straight hair and bright green eyes?
His dream came back to him and he stretched his mind to remember the way his wife had looked upon him. He glanced at the woman in the corner and could not imagine that look of fear ever changing to the adoration for which he longed.
The MacKay woman struggled to stand and with the aid of the sisters, she was able to do so, albeit against the wall. All blood had drained from her face, but she swallowed and raised her chin. Every time she blinked, fresh streams of tears raced down her cheeks to dribble onto her wee shift, but she’d no’ greet as she’d done the day before.
She thought he was here to kill her and yet she wouldna greet. She was a proud MacKay, as Ivar ever had been. He could run her through and she likely wouldn’t raise a hand to dissuade him.
He should cut his own tongue out for making her believe him capable of killing a woman. For his temper it was he who should be sealed inside the tomb with the secrets that were his duty to protect.
Gah! He was a monster.
“Get out,” he spat at the sisters who had been looking at him with disgust, as his own mother would have if she were alive.
The Muirs, too, were a proud lot. Either that or they thought they knew him better than to ever need flee from him. He’d heard the lass warn them to run, but as was always their way, the sisters chose to believe what they chose to believe. Too bad they chose to believe in Isobelle’s charmed torque, else he wouldn’t be needin’ to shoo them away from his home every other sennight.
“Keep a firm control on yer tongues, women, and Ewan can see ye home. If ye ever meddle in my affairs again, ye will be sent to the Gordons.”
“I beg to differ with ye, Laird Ross, but we’ve no’ had a hand in whate’er is afoot here.” The one to the right patted the lass’s cheek while she spoke. “We ken not this woman, so blame her for no sins o’ ours.”
How was it they could smile while they confessed to having sins? They must make Father MacRae daft.
“Ah, but she kens the two of ye, do ye no’, lass?”
The MacKay woman frowned and caught herself before her legs gave out. Here they were, brayin’ on, while she awaited the bite of his blade.
“Get out. All o’ ye,” he roared, then didn’t wait for their footsteps to recede before he fell to his knees and wrapped his arms around the lass’s waist, both to hold her up and hold her close. His impression from his dream, that the woman was already his wife, would not leave him.
He pressed his ear against her middle and closed his eyes, demanding that the vision return. “Forgive me my tongue, lass. Forgive me. I’ll no harm ye, I swear it. Betimes I just go out of sorts with Isobelle’s nonsense. She’s a wicked lass, to be sure for startin’ this celtic knot.”
“Y...you’re not going to put me back in the tomb?”
“Nay. Never. I so swear. If I should break my oath, may God show me only misery for the rest of my days.”
Her next breaths were fair to steady.
“And you said Isobelle is a wicked lass,” she said.
“And she is.”
“You didn’t say Isobelle was a wicked lass.”
“Aye. Wherever she is, she’s up to the same. I know my sister well, ye ken?”
Her voice was sounding