Bewitching the Highlander – Extended Epilogue
April 20, 1664
Fiona frowned while pushing the curtains to the side, staring outside the window as she watched the riders come in through the gate. They wore the blue and green tartan of the clan, yet she knew the youngest son of Laird Fraser Campbell was arriving today. He should be amongst the riders. She shoved the curtains closed and strode out of the room, trying to compose herself despite the nervousness running through her.
Malcom, thankfully, had been able to resolve the tax issues with the Campbells, however, Fraser still couldn’t completely trust her husband given past circumstances. So, he had sent his son to see to matters. The letter informing Malcom of Fraser’s decision had sent her husband into a tizzy and she did everything she could to calm his nervous mind.
Fiona sighed, her hand braced against the wall as she took one step at a time down the staircase, which seemed to grow longer and harder to take each day. Her other hand held her swollen belly, stroking it softly as if soothing the child growing inside.
“Fiona, what in heavens are ye doing?” Malcom called from the bottom of the steps, his gaze staring at her in horror. “Ye didn’t have to greet Fraser’s son. I told ye that.”
Fiona huffed, finally making the last step. “Nonsense. It wouldn’t be appropriate if I remained cooped inside my rooms.”
Malcom frowned, grabbing her shoulders and looking her over. “At least have the servants help ye with the stairs.”
Fiona shook her head, batting his hand away. “I’m fine, Malcom. I’m with child. I’m completely capable of seeing to myself.”
Malcom’s frown deepened, but he didn’t say anything more on the matter as he took her arm and placed it on his. He led her through the halls to the entrance of their keep, where they found Dalilah smoothing her hands over her dress nervously. Finnegan swiped his wooden sword at her side, pretending to stab someone before whirling around and swiping again.
“Will ye stop that,” Dalilah scolded, grabbing his sword from his hands and giving it to a servant standing behind them.
“Ye are no fun,” Finnegan muttered while crossing his arms in front of himself.
Fiona stifled her giggles, knowing it would do nothing to help assuage Malcom and Dalilah’s nerves. The two were like two peas in a pod. Fiona sidled up close to Dalilah, taking her hand and giving her a gentle squeeze.
“I don’t know why I’m so nervous,” Dalilah whispered harshly. “It’s not like I know Andrew Campbell all that well.”
Malcom chuckled. “That’s not what I remember. Wasn’t he the one who kept pulling yer hair?”
Dalilah scowled. “He tries that again and I might just put a rat in his bed.”
“Ye will do no such thing,” Malcom said in horror.
Fiona cleared her throat as the doors creaked. Both siblings straightened, watching the doors part and the light from the Spring sky pierce through the keep. Andrew Campbell stood on the other side, holding himself tall as he strode towards the family. He wore a tartan clipped around his brown tunic. The Campbell’s boar insignia was pinned to his side and stared back at Fiona. Fiona forced her gaze away from it, turning her attentions to the young, handsome man standing in front of her.
Andrew Campbell took two steps forward and kneeled in front of Malcom. His red hair glimmered in the sun’s rays. The tendrils curled along his jaw, covered in ginger stubble from traveling the last two days. He lifted his blue eyes, his lips curling into a smirk and Fiona felt Dalilah still at her side.
“Laird Malcom Gunn,” said Andrew while rising. “It’s an honor to meet with ye again.”
Malcom held out a hand. “As is mine,” he said as Andrew took his hand and gave it a firm shake. Fiona didn’t know the full story of Andrew, but she knew he had spent a summer with the Gunns several years ago when Dalilah was still a young girl. Her gaze slid to Dalilah, watching her clench her jaw. Her lips lifted, yet she seemed to grimace at the young man before them.
Andrew turned toward Fiona, his smile turning honest and pure as he took her hand and placed a kiss on her knuckles. “This must be yer beautiful wife. Unfortunately, I was unable to make yer wedding day. I apologize for that. My father had given me other duties to attend to.”
Fiona chuckled and shook her head. “No apology needed. It was quite abrupt.”
Andrew’s eyes lowered to her belly and his smile grew. “I see ye have been busy,” he said while clapping Malcom on the shoulder. “Do ye know when she’s due?”
“She’s due soon,” Fiona said while holding her head high. She was not in the slightest bit happy when anyone spoke for her when she was present and she wouldn’t permit it now.
Andrew chuckled while nodding vigorously. “We should have a drink in celebration, Malcom!”
Dalilah cleared her throat and Fiona watched as Andrew’s blue eyes swiveled to her. His lips pursed while he looked her up and down. There was a slight gleam to his eyes Fiona recognized. She looked up at Malcom, wondering if he noticed it, but he was too busy in his head, possibly thinking about work and not about the man gazing at his sister. She shook her head, telling herself that men often didn’t see these things.
“And who might this lass be?”
Dalilah frowned. “I’m Dalilah,” she said curtly. “How is it ye do not remember me?”
Andrew chuckled, crossing his arms. Fiona noticed how his fingers dug into his elbows and the way his body mirrored hers. “Oh, I remember Dalilah,” he said with a sly grin, “but she was a scrawny wee lass.”
Dalilah gasped. “I beg yer pardon?”
Andrew tilted his head to the side, a mischievous glint in his eyes. “One with a mighty temper if I remember correctly.”
Dalilah stepped towards him, leaning forward while she scowled up at him. Fiona watched as Andrew didn’t back down. He clenched his jaw while laughter played behind his eyes. She didn’t know why, but she liked the way he looked at Dalilah. It was a look of adoration; teasing, and yet loving.
“I only have a temper, because ye are the one who makes it so,” Dalilah said, her voice raised.
Andrew’s eyes widened in mock shock. He pointed a finger at himself. “Me? I would never.”
Dalilah scoffed, her mouth opening as if to shout something at him. Malcom stepped forward, pushing his body in between the two. “Enough, both of ye,” he said, sounding exhausted. “Why don’t we let the servants show Andrew to his rooms. I’m sure he is exhausted from his journey and would enjoy a bath.”
Dalilah forced a smile, yet the fiery glint remained in her eyes. “Of course, Brother,” she said while stepping away from Andrew. She nodded to the servants standing behind her. “Please show Mr. Campbell to his rooms.”
“Thank ye,” Andrew said, the mischievous smile still fastened to his face.
Dalilah watched him go, her smile falling into a deep scowl and as soon as Andrew was up the stairs she whirled around. “I am so putting a rat in his bed,” she whispered harshly before turning on her heel and stalking down the hall.
Fiona giggled, covering her mouth with one hand while Malcom sighed.
“To think I have the both of them under one roof again,” he said while pinching the bridge of his nose. He leaned his head backwards, his gaze staring up at the ceiling in agitation. “How am I ever going to get through these next few months?”
Fiona rubbed her belly. “Oh, I know how,” she said while smiling up at him knowingly.
Malcom’s hands rested on her stomach and he leaned down, pressing an ear against it and sighing. “I just hope everything will be alright,” he whispered.
Fiona stroked his hair. “It will be.” She knew he was worried about the birthing and understood his fear. His last wife had died in childbirth. She couldn’t say anything to rid him of his anxiety. She, too, hoped everything would be fine.
Malcom rose and pressed a kiss against her temple. “Do ye have any herbs or teas I can give those two so they can get along?”
Fiona chuckled and glanced over her shoulder, looking at the stairs Andrew just went up. “I don’t think they need any herbs,” she said, her lips curling into a bright smile. “I think they like each other more than ye think.”
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