Heh, this took a while….my computer was being fixed since some viruses attacked…in that process I lost what I had already written, but it's ok now. Please enjoy this chapter. It may be a bit shorter than other chapters but there's some interaction between the two main protagonists.


Chapter 24

She had known from the moment she had finished using the privy and then going down to eat her extremely late supper that Rourke was furious, and this stranger Douglas possessed some strange grudge against her. The encounter she had with the MacNeish man only supported the opinion that she would not dare to trust any people at the festival, not that she trusted people very easily. She was getting so frustrated that she could almost bludgeon herself in the head with one of those heavy swords that Scotsmen seemed to favor so much.

There were times that she would be wary of even Bran, Oglivy, and Rourke. They had already proven that they were not going to harm her and went out of their way to be kind to her. Well, perhaps only two had gone out of their way to be kind to her, but Rourke, the stupid oaf, had his own way of being kind as well, he just was not as good as the others at showing it. In fact, that may have been his one flaw…other than being proud, arrogant, blunt, and violent…. Just to name a few.

They had kidnapped her, and she had decided that she best not forget that fact. It worried her that she had forgotten and almost completely trusted these people so easily. There was a reason why these people were keeping her here, and they must not have been very respectable if they had to abduct her. She sighed, it was just so hard to not trust them; from what she could see, they were good people. Things were so complicated, she felt like…. going home.

Blair hated the silent glaring treatment she was receiving from Rourke ever since she fell asleep unknowingly in that one room. She knew that upon her arrival in the MacCallum clan, she had caused Rourke's temper to ignite more times than she could count on both hands put together, but this time it was awfully annoying. She never minded him yelling at her, and it would probably take a few years toll on her hearing, but this was just unbearable. She huffed in resignation. Perhaps she would apologize to the insensitive man, that is, if he apologized for his insufferable temper and for abducting her…which would be never.

For the meantime she sat there on a fallen tree watching the hypnotic spinning of people dancing. Once in a while she would catch a glimpse of a man watching her, and her hopes lifted on the thought that someone would ask her to dance, but as soon as he would look in her direction they would look away as well. She never had this problem in England, never had to sit alone like a wallflower hoping for attention. "Blair, stop being vain," she whispered to herself. Perhaps she had become ugly in her short time with the MacCallum clan, she thought. A groan escaped her lips, when had she become this irrational? Never before had she worried about what she looked like or being ignored, in fact she had wished that she was plain in features and thus left alone to do whatever she desired. Things had changed in such a short time. That was it, she was going to go home…Home it was.

She'd think of some way.

The annoying chit, where had she run off to? Those words went off over and over in Rourke's mind as he furiously searched for her. He had tried looking for her near the food tables, which would have been anyone's best guess, but she was not there. Almost seeming nonchalant, he picked up some random goblet from the table and downed the contents. He was not worried, he could hold his liquor…and hopefully, within the next few minutes and more than several refills later, the strong liquor would dull his senses enough so that when he did encounter the object of his search he would have forgotten to throttle her.

The liquor did not affect the man at all. He was irritated, and still remembered his silent threat. Besides being near the banquet table, there were plenty of other places she could possibly go.

An indistinct apparition of a moth fluttered past his face, brushing his face with the very lightest touch of its dusted wings. It seemed to almost leave a sprinkling of flour upon his cheek. The winged insect had one goal in its mind's eye, as it flew toward and into the midst of the twirling dancers. Captivated, Rourke followed the miniscule floater into the crowd; his large figure lithely dodging the fleeting bodies. He pursued the brown gray obscurant till it suddenly with a sigh exploded into flames, a glowing ember flying up, escorting what was left of the life it had taken into the sky, into the dark heavens. It had flown into the stacked fire, and he was not much more than a step away from the edge.

He turned his head, neither understanding what had just happened nor wanting to look into the situation any deeper. Though, his heart was calm as its accelerated beats from earlier settled to a slow rhythmic "thump, thump, thump." It made the same sound as one clapping with cupped hands. Hollow.

She was sitting right there. The one moment that he was not searching for her was the moment that he found her. He had to chase a moth and almost burn himself to find her. She really was troublesome. He heaved a sigh.

"Woman, what are you doing here?" Blair looked up a bit startled, not noticing Rourke's curt tone of voice.

"Just thinking and watching people dance, that is." It really was a nice thing to do, watching people spin all around. It felt like she was trapped in time and everything was going on without her. It felt nice, peaceful.

"Why were ye not eating?" Wrong words. He meant to ask why she was hiding, but kept thinking about how she was not at the expected banquet table.

"Excuse me?" She snapped and stood up abruptly. "What are you trying to say?"

"Ye are always near the banquet table."

"Pardon me?"

"Will y-"

She cut him off. "Are you trying to imply- no, nevermind, not imply, you said it quite directly. You think I am less of a woman for besting even men when it comes to dining, is that it?"

"Woman, list-"

"Do not "woman" me. As if I would care what a man like you, not even from the same clan, would think about me. It is not like you are attractive. In fact, you are as ugly as a boar. I will eat however much I want as long as I am a guest of yours, that is, at least until you decide when it is I shall return home.

"And… Indeed I am not as thin as some of those fragile women that men seem to prefer. I may have an odd shade of eyes, unruly hair, found a liking towards swearing at times, and may not be the most ladylike in other habits. But, if you are sensitive of the fact that I can, in many things, defeat men then you will surely be disappointed."

"Woman-," he began, but was once again cut off. She was testing his patience.

"Are you deaf? Did I not say to cease calling me "woman"? What if I only referred you as "man"? Man, come here and fetch my shawl. Man, you smell like a swine. Man, you are as dumb as a goose." She paused, then continued. "My throat is dry, one minute." She then proceeded to down the nearest goblet near her, its contents full of alcohol.

"You should nay be drinking that," he gritted through his teeth.

"Are you saying that…I, no- women can not hold alcohol? Pardon me, it was….only one cup." Her cheeks were turning a bright pink.

"Aye, of course I am out to insult ye. Ye eat too much. Soon, one day ye will be the size of a sow. Ye curse, and can not bloody hold your drink!"

He should not have shouted at her.

Blair was never known to hold her drink. In fact, both the residents at Bathurst manor and the Fergusons knew to keep the drinks away from her. Just one sip of hard cider was enough to make the girl irrational, sometimes cry, and babble away in Gaelic. Although, the latter issue was only a problem in England.

"Why are all men like this? Stupid…stupid bloody men, not good for anything. Sheep have more brains than men…wish I were a sheep. An ewe, a damn ewe….Oh, God!" She blubbered. "Always with this….This insolence, this forwardness not known in anything but men and asses…"

" Blair! Ye are speaking too loud, and making yourself into a fool, drunken wench."

"There was this one time, when I was young, I feel so old….I…what is this? It... tastes.. mmf…so good…."

Rourke had shoved a tart into her mouth as he ushered her away from the dancers and crowds. They were close to the edge of the clearing now, and the music and voices were still audible but not loud enough to have to shout over. That was when he could hear her muttering and rambling to herself.

"Walk so far…seems like I'm in Scottland…Scotts…Never see such hills back there… but warm, so lonely here….hungry…tart?" She sighed. "tarts…tastes like…sweet. Kisses are sweet…" She stopped talking and leaned heavily against Rourke.

"Lass, I like soft women with green eyes and hair as black as Satan…"

She moved a tad, then mumbled, "Yes…me too."

Then proceeded to spew the fruit tart back to Rourke in several heaves, all over him.