Lifting a Highland Lass’s Curse – Extended Epilogue
Three Years Later…
It had been three years since they married, and Blaine ascended to the Lairdship. Life in the clan lands had become prosperous, and the people were happier under their new Laird. Caitriona had found a man she enjoyed spending time with, and Olivia was thrilled for her mother. She was glad her mother had found somebody who would honor, respect, and love her as she deserved.
She shook her head. Even after three years, it was still strange to call her mother. But they had grown as close as a mother and daughter should be. Maybe even closer. She had come to love Caitriona every bit as fiercely as she loved Blaine and Aisling. They were her clan. Aisling had married Captain Craig, and she didn’t see her former handmaiden nearly as often, though they got together as much as they could. They both had married woman’s duties to attend to—especially Aisling, who had just had her first child—a baby boy.
Blaine had proved to be a good Laird. Just. Kind, compassionate, and focused on improving the lives of his Clan. And he’d done just that. As a result, life was good in ways it never had been under his father’s rule. Blaine was enjoying being in the Laird’s chair—it was something Olivia never thought she’d see, but he’d grown into the role and loved it. And the people loved him.
But still, even with so many things going well in their lives, Olivia knew there was one thing that still bothered him—his name. He’d adopted Gilchrist, but she knew deep down, he still wanted to know where he came from. Wanted to know who his birth mother was and his true family name. He wanted to know if he still had people out there, and it was for that reason that Olivia had been working so hard. Behind the scenes, she had devised the little adventure they were now taking.
“Are ye nae goin’ tae tell me where we’re goin’ then?” he asked.
She sat astride on her horse and turned to him, a mischievous grin on her face. “No, I don’t think I will,” she said. “You’ll know once we arrive.”
He grinned at her. “That’s nay fun.”
“No, ruining the surprise is what’s not fun,” she said with a laugh. “I swear, you’re worse than a child.”
She laughed, and together, they rounded a bend and found themselves approaching a series of buildings made of timber and stone. The smaller buildings surrounded a more prominent, central building that looked to Olivia like a tavern in a former life. As they approached, several nuns stepped out of the large building and watched them ride up.
Blaine was down from his horse first and helped her down from her mount. He looked at her strangely.
“What is this place?” he asked.
She gave him a soft smile. “This is the foundling home where Caitriona found you,” Olivia replied. “I thought if we were ever going to find out anything about your name, it would be here.”
His smile was full of wonder, and he shook his head. “How did ye—”
She shrugged. “Caitriona didn’t remember much about it, so it took a little doing but eventually, I found the place.”
“This is amazing. Thank ye, me love,” he said and held her hands, his voice thick with emotion.
They walked into the building together and were greeted by a stout, middle-aged woman wearing a gray nun’s habit. She was short and looked up to both of them.
“And what may I do for you two?” she asked in a voice tinged with a French accent. “Are you here to adopt a foundling?”
“Actually, no. We were looking for information about him,” Olivia said, pointing to Blaine. “He was a foundling here until he was adopted one night by a woman—tall, black hair, green eyes? This would have been almost thirty years ago now.”
“And you expect me to remember back that far?” the nun added with a smile.
“I know, it’s a challenging request. But if there’s anything you have or can tell us that might lead to his name—it would be more than appreciated,” Olivia replied.
“You know, thinking back on it, I do seem to remember a noblewoman coming in a very long time ago. She was in a near panic,” the nun said. “Demanded a child. A boy. She was practically throwing coins at me. I let her pick one of the baby boys mostly to get her to leave, but partly because the amount of money she gave funded the home for almost two years. Let me see if I can go find something.”
Blaine whistled low. “I’ve always told ye I’m nae cheap,” he says.
“That is still a matter of opinion,” Olivia added with a laugh.
The nun came back a few minutes later, holding an embroidered cloth. The threads were all frayed, and the fabric looked like it had seen better days. But then, it was thirty years old.
The nun handed the cloth to Olivia. “Here you go, dear,” she said. “We ask that the mothers leave a personal item as an identifier should a mother wish to reclaim her child after dropping them off. This was left for the baby the noblewoman took that night. I remember that part of it so clearly.
“Thank you,” Olivia said. “This means a lot to us.”
“Of course, dear. If there’s anything else you need, just give me a shout,” she said. “I’m always around.”
“Thank you, Sister,” Blaine said.
She handed the cloth to Blaine and watched him touch the fabric. He ran his hands over it, looking at it with wonder.
“My mother made this,” he said, his voice tinged with awe.
Olivia nodded. “It was.”
He looked closely at it, a slight frown touching his lips. Olivia cocked her head.
“What is it?” she asked.
“It almost feels like there’s a pocket sewn into this— that there’s something in it,” he said.
She watched as he picked the thread out of what did indeed look like a secret pocket. With the stitching undone, he pulled out a folded slip of paper. Blaine looked at it, then looked at Olivia, the excitement in his face more than obvious. She couldn’t believe that not only had the cloth survived, but the piece of parchment inside the cloth had survived as well. It seemed as if somebody wanted Blaine to know about his past.
He unfolded the note and read it slowly, the tears shimmering in his eyes.
“What does it say?” she asked.
Blaine handed her the slip of paper and walked away. He seemed to be drying his eyes, but his expression was faraway. Whatever had been written down had hit him hard. Olivia looked down at the slip of paper in her hand and read the words scrawled upon the page in a neat, precise script.
“Baby boy, know that even though I could not care for you myself, that you were loved. And know that you will be loved, not just by me but by all who encounter you. You are special, baby boy. Make your own name and make your own way. I love you ~ Your Mother.”
She turned it over and looked at the page but saw no names. She had come out here hoping to solve the greatest mystery of Blaine’s life finally, and they were no closer to an answer. But when she looked at him, he seemed strangely at peace. He was calm, and his expression thoughtful.
“I’m sorry we couldn’t find your family name,” she offered.
“It’s all right. She didn’t want me burdened with her family name, whatever it was,” he said softly. “I think she wanted me to be free of it for whatever reason. She wanted me to make my own name… my own life, and I’m all right with that.”
She smiled. “I’m glad to hear that,” she replied. “And whoever she was, she was also right—you are loved. Very loved.”
He pulled her into a tight embrace and planted a soft kiss upon her lips. “As are you, my love. As are you.”
As they walked from the foundling’s home, Olivia smiled. She realized that family wasn’t what you were born into. It’s what you made of it. It was the people you surrounded yourself with. That’s what made up a family—not merely blood ties.
And from that perspective, Olivia felt as if she’d found the most extraordinary family ever, and she was thankful for each and every one of them. She had a bounty of love and joy in her life. Olivia had never imagined her life would turn out to be so perfect—but as she looked at the man she loved, she had to admit it was pretty close.
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