Torn (The Handfasting)

Torn (The Handfasting) by Becca St. John

Book: Torn (The Handfasting) by Becca St. John Read Free Book Online
Authors: Becca St. John
Seonaid looked over her shoulder and Maggie knew Talorc was
there before he took her arm.
    "Go
away."  She didn't bother to look at him.
    "Maggie?" 
He tugged.
    She
shrugged him off. "Go away."
    "Whatever
you have to say to each other, you can say to me."
    "I'm
thinking she doesn't look well, Bold," Seonaid lied. "She needs to be
going back to bed."
    Talorc
had the grace to ignore her, but he did study Maggie. His gaze a sensation, it
rippled through her. She had missed it. But he was sending her away. "I'm
fine, Bold, better than when I was above stairs."
    "I
don't want you upset, or bothered."
    Maggie
looked anywhere but at him. "You're the only one who bothers me
now."  Which was true. Her eyes shifted back to his face, unable to stop
from filling up on memories.
    He
frowned at his feet. Except for him, and her parents, who verged so close to
charging to her rescue they looked like racers waiting for the cloth to drop,
she and Seonaid had been given a wide berth.
    She
pushed Bold toward her kin. "Go. Calm them." 
    He
hesitated, for a moment, then did as she asked. Surprised, she blinked. His
compliance meant one of two things, either he really didn't care what happened
to her, or he trusted her to take care of herself.
    That
didn’t matter right now. She needed to see Beathag. Questions about the cup
skirted her memory. So much rode on explaining what happened and how to keep it
from happening again.
    Beathag
was not to blame, but the old woman might be able to help her grasp the evasive
answers. Besides, Maggie hated to see the old woman in such a fretful way when
she had done nothing wrong. She wanted to help her find some peace.
    There
were two doorways near where she’d been sitting, one to the hallway and all the
rooms beyond. The other door, an outer door, led to the kitchens. If the woman
had gone to the hallway, she could be anywhere in the keep. It would take less
time to search the smaller area of the kitchen, less time wasted if it was the
wrong choice.
    Beathag
was there, rooted in the midst of preparations for a feast. Deep in thought,
she no longer shivered, ignored the busy women who muttered about her being in
the way. Maggie moved toward her, when suddenly, without warning, Beathag came
to life. She moved toward the sugar bin, stopped short than acted as if she
were there, lifting the lid, chipping off a chunk, raising a piece to be
dropped in some invisible container.
    The
old woman enacted the same parody for a spoonful of malt. From there Beathag
crossed to the molasses cask, again she stopped short and mimed turning an
imaginary spigot, only to shut it off with the quick precise motion needed to
stop it in mid-flow. When she made to move to the yeast, Maggie cut her off.
    "Beathag,"
Had this disaster set her beyond recovery? Was she now as lost within her mind
as she was within this community?
    Eyes
bright, Beathag squeezed Maggie's hands then pulled away.
    "What
is it Beathag?"  The older woman shook her head and went back to her
routine until she put an imaginary object on a shelf. As she went to leave the
kitchen, she reacted as if something brushed against her. She stopped, cringed
into herself, and then looked over her shoulder. Her eyes followed the empty
space as though tracing the movements of the person who had bumped her. Her
expression changed from fear to irritation to a frown and finally confusion.
    She
swiveled, her hands on hips, tilting her head with a scowl.
    "Beathag,
tell me."  Maggie tried, but it was Talorc who answered.
    "She's
trying to remember what happened the day you fell ill."  He stepped
further into the kitchen. "I keep telling her it wasn't in the brew she
made, but she won't stop retracing her steps of that day. It's the only thing
that stops her shivering."  Beathag continued to re-enact her movements. "What
did Seonaid want with you?"
    "Seonaid?" 
Maggie didn't care about Seonaid.
    "She
didn't bump into you by accident. It was deliberate. She had something to

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