Chapter Seventeen (mature subject matter, read at your own discretion please)

"Are you sure now, that you feel up to a walk, girl." Ian was concerned. "We can stay in..I know you enjoy.."

"Ach, Man!" Katelyn sighed wearily. "Y' treat me like some China doll. I am a Fahey. We've had bairns now for centuries. None of us have ever.." she halted her tirade, seeing his face, etched with worry. "..Ian." she altered her tone and manner, taking his hand. "I thank y' for the thought, truly but if I have to stay in that house one more hour without taking some fresh air, I will surely perish. I love your family and I love mine but the two of them together?" she grinned. "Tell the truth. You are in need of an outing even more so than I."

The man relaxed a bit, smiling down at the petite female.

"Be a man..own up to it, then." She insisted.

"I just do not wish you to over-do."

"I am not even showing." Katelyn took exception. "What will y' do when I'm as big as a Circus tent?"

Ian put his hand on the tiny bulge of her stomach moving closer, his voice dropping a degree. "You are showing." He felt a tingle of pride. "Anyone can're seeded, good and proper."

"Why a man is so odd about such things is beyond would think you would hang your head in shame."

He grinned, leaning, his mouth catching hers for a brief caress.

She glanced back to the house, the feel of the cool lips on hers making her feel rather..something. Something she could not put her finger on, aye but..something.

Katelyn scowled, the feeling unfamiliar for her. " know very well they watch us like hawks."

Ian did, sighing lightly. "Come on then..a short stroll about the grounds, mayhap..will not hurt." He directed her to the West side of the house which was more sheltered this time of year. "Not much to see." He had bundled her up against the cold but today was especially nice, the winds having died down and the sun shining over the faded, crackled landscape.

Katelyn examined the arbors with their wintry shrubs of hanging vines. They walked slowly, and she knew he matched his steps to hers. The feel of his hand intertwined with her fingers was reassuring. Did she need reassurance?

How odd. Having her family in-house was wonderful and the two families seem to get on well, to her amazement. "I fretted my Mother might not take to..such a grand house or way of life."

Ian glanced at her lovely profile. He liked her hair down and flowing like it was. It had grown so in her absence from him, a time he refused to think upon. The full curls feel cascading down her back and softly over her shoulders, framing a flushed and freckled face.

"Well, she does, so stop making trouble." He cut her a chastising look. "You have freckles."

The girl stopped, pulling her hand away from his, gasping her indignation. "I must certainly do not!" she was appalled. "What..w-what a ..cruel thing to say, Man!"

Ian laughed gently. "I forget those mood changes, do I not." He searched for her hand but she refused it, putting it behind her back stubbornly, her pretty face set and ready for battle. "I like freckles." He amended..his eyes softening as well. "very much."

"Tis no fashionable to have them..I..I use that buttermilk solution faithfully!"

His eyes traveled her well-clothed torso. "You must use it everywhere..your skin is flawless and ..soft and.." he closed his eyes, a sinking feeling coming over him. "Shite." He whispered his regret. He straightened, easing the sudden tightness in his slacks to a better position.

Katelyn..measured him warily. "What?"

The man looked off, out across the spreading landscape with it's many statues and fountains but he could not find anything of real interest to take his doldrums away just yet. "Never you bloody mind..." he cast her a sullen glance. "Bitch."

The woman was now experienced enough to understand his pique. "..Are y' hurtin, then."

He returned his gaze, his mood no better. "And does it make your day?"

Katelyn was in no mood to harass, however. "There is that small place..down the path."

Ian was more interested in getting his cock to settle down. "What?" he hadn't caught her 'hint' but then.. "…What?" his manner and mood..altered visibly, his system going on full alert status.

The girl glanced nervously back at the large mansion behind them. They had walked only a few hundred meters. What was she thinking? The doubts set in and she instantly regretted her hasty..

"What..the fuck do you mean?" Ian grasped her hand, forcing her attention. "Do not be playing with me, Woman..not today. I'm in no mood for such..teasing!"

Katelyn settled her nerves, the sound of that word on his lips always doing odd things to her insides. "We..we have had no real time..of late."

"Really?" he managed, rather tightly, his fingers clamping down on the small appendages he held so securely. "I had not noticed."

His eyes told her..he was lying. She fought her blush. "Well..t'is true and..being as I am a married woman and all, it is perfectly proper and fitting that I have a say in..such things, as the marriage goes, and whatnot."

"Then..have your bloody 'say'..and be quick about it." He suggested..strongly. "My cock is as hard as granite for want of that tight little cunt. Would you like to feel for yourself?"

She gasped then..settled demurely. "Must you be so vulgar?"

"Yes, this moment in time.." he moved..closer. "I must."

"Oh." She swallowed..hard. "Well..fine then just.." she checked with the house again, then grimaced adorably. "Ach, Ian..there is so many clothes to wade through and what with it being right out in the open, so to speak, where…anyone might just…come along and.." she shared her doubts and woes with the man.

"Not to worry about your clothes, girl." He was suddenly all too confident, his gaze traveling her form in a most ungentlemanly way. "I will manage. As to the others coming upon us.." he pulled her close, his arms going about her waist. "Exciting..isn't it." His breath fanned her face, warm and smelling of mint tea.

"I knew you would not take this seriously." She wailed.

"I will not hurt you, Moppet. I will be ever so gentle."

"You do not sound as if you will be." She pouted.

He calmed his system as best he was able. "It is just has been four fucking nights without you, Kate." He lay his forehead upon hers, his eyes closed the realization that perhaps, his torture would be at an end. "I am used to..having you whenever I wished. I..miss that time and damn it, Woman…" he allowed her to read his heart. "I!"

She glanced at the house. "I dinna miss you, per se, but.." she could not but be truthful for he had shared his feelings as well. "but..I miss..other things." Her eyes dropped to the front of his slacks but most of the view was hidden by his long, heavy cloak.

He chuckled sensually. "Do you now." He approved the turn of the conversation. "Tell me more."

"Tis no proper." She took his hand tugging him along the stone path determinedly. Ian allowed himself to be manipulated, his spirits rather high at the moment.

"I do not need you to be 'proper'.." he reminded himself more than the girl. "I need you to be.." he halted her tugging, bringing her back to his side, his mouth descending in a lascivious kiss, his tongue melting to her more hesitant one. He pulled back purposely, wanting her to want him as much as he did her. "a woman." He whispered that 'need'. "MY…woman." His eyes held hers willfully. "Can you do that for me, Kate?"

She glanced to the house but they were relatively sheltered from view by a long row of prickly briar alcoves. She leaned more comfortably upon the strength of his chest, relaxing a bit. "I found a the library." She confided, the lovely eyes lifting trustingly. "Yesterday afternoon…such a long time ago, Ian, it was too." The lovely features pouted for him.

"..Did you?" he wondered where the conversation was headed but..he trusted his instincts with this pixy. "Was it?"

"Aye..I did..and it was! Ever so long a time!" She nuzzled the slight opening of his shirt, the tip of her tongue flitting to taste the warm flesh of his throat. "It was an indecent thing..with amazingly graphic..illustrations."

Ian's mind wandered, for he was more interested in the feel of her body pressing so intimately against his straining one. " say?"

"Sinfully so." Her hand left his lapel, easing between them. It came to rest finally, over the bulge of his hardness. Ian swallowed with difficulty, closing his eyes for a brief second of ecstasy. "You should chastise me for looking at such..disturbing images."

Her fingertip played gently about the length of his manhood, measuring it's durability and resolve.

"Do you wish me to..chastise you?" he wasn't certain of her mood. She did enjoy such things from time to time, after all, but he had promised he would be..

Katelyn's mouth melded to his lips, her arms lifting about his neckline, her body pressed along his. Ian held her securely..tightly, his hands constantly roaming the curves and delicate lines of her back. "Fucking cloak!" he murmured his dissention, not being able to feel as much as he wished feel, but instantly sought the taste of her again, his mouth devouring the full, warm lips.

"Well.." the soft, feminine voice heightened his sense of urgency. "I have been thinking things..wicked things." Katelyn confessed. "And..Father Paul, he wouldna understand..or approve, even were I to admit my sins to him."

"But I would never judge or angel." Ian was quick to play his part. "As you know."

"Aye.." Kate lifted a sultry stare. "I know." She returned her attention to his nether regions, running a loving hand over his enlarged organ, her finger playing with the damp dab where his semen had spotted his front. "You are a good man, Ian McGowan..on most days."

She squirmed inside his cloak opening, cuddling to him. "Should I take care of that for ya, then?" she asked innocently. "We are sheltered here and after all..y' taught me just how to do it for y'.." she blinked those eyes at him and he stifled a groan. "The way y' like and all."

"Yes, Kate..that would be the thing to do, seeing as how I am about to lose it all on the fucking ground as is." He growled his growing frustration, his arms tightening almost painfully, his voice filled with desire. "You take me in and I will 'come' the instant that hot little tongue licks one stroke."

"That would no be fun." She scowled darkly up at him.

"It would for me." He caught her lips in a passionate repast, feasting to his content. "Fucking tease!" he groaned wearily. "I am dying here!"

"You are a much better man than you think." She dismissed, squirming up against his thighs wantonly. "Ohhh, Ian..y' feel ever so nice.."

"Shite!" he keyed his system down as best he could. "SHITE!" he put her away from him, holding her at arm's length. "I should beat the living hell out of you." He vowed.

She went back inside his cloak, wiggling her way back into his arms..and his heart. "That would make me cranky..y' dinna want me that way, y'?" She sought his lips, the kiss light and chaste.

"No, Kate." He knew the fight was lost, giving in. "that is not the way I 'want you'.."

" do." She made certain. "Want me."

"Ohh, hell yes, Precious!" he breathed shakily. "In the worse way possible!"

"What are y' going to do about it then?" she put it to him, trailing kisses over his neck and just inside the 'V' of his shirt.

He tugged her forward, down the path, his steps purposeful and directed. In minutes he had entered the small vestibule which preceded the larger atrium that was used to showcase the summer and spring flower collections.

Ian pushed the small frame up against the stone wall, his lips instantly seeking out the warm hollow of her mouth, fusing their bodies together in an intimate, searching kiss which left him breathless.

He wasted no time on preliminaries, his free hand reaching inside her cloak, pushing past layers of finery, lifting the hem of the long winter gown she sported. He was rewarded with a most feminine gasp of shock directly before his fingers touched the smooth, cool flesh of her inner thigh.

His arm lifted her effortlessly, his weight pressed to her body as he stepped between her now spread legs, hoisting her as he bent slightly, balancing the slight weight on his thighs.

Katelyn didn't seem to mind the rough handling, her arms embracing his neckline, her lips responsive and welcoming.

He was careful, all the same, for her condition was uppermost in his mind, well..not uppermost, surely but..damned close, if one pushed past the passion and lust building within his powerful frame.

He fumbled with the opening of his slacks, pushing into the slit of his bries, extracting his engorged penis with difficulty. "I have needed this, Moppet…" he breathed out, his lungs burning with the need to take in enough air. "God is my witness…" he nuzzled the heated space between her breasts, for his handiwork with the front of her bodice had allowed him enough area to explore the fragrant flesh to his contentment.

He hooked his finger beneath the hem of her chemise, the warm appendages traveling to his intended destination in a slow, exploring path.

Katelyn squirmed a bit, her breath more shallow, warming his neckline and ..elsewhere.

He..smiled. A wicked, slow grin that melted into a low, tantalizing chuckle, as his fingers reached their target. "I was mistaken." He pushed slowly, ever so much so..into the volcanic depths of her being, his middle finger sinking into the velvet silk with painstaking thoroughness

Kate's tiny mew of acquiesces thrilled the man.

"You were not teasing me.." he thrust several small, quick strokes, enjoying the melodic whimper of distress to its full measure. "You came..prepared, as it were." He leaned just enough to see the flushed, beautiful cheeks, his smile for her alone. "Does that feel good, my angel?" he insisted she share her emotions. "Do you like…this?"

He pushed deep into the quivering cavern, his thumb gently whispering across the tiny nub just above his present position.

"Ian." The sound of his name on her lips was music to his ears. She spread her thighs..wider.

He removed his appendage, taking himself in hand..the cold air invigorating his exposed genitals. "Aye.." he was in total agreement, time for play was over. He held her open, glancing down, enthralled by the lush curls surrounding her exposed chamber. The man gently slid the head of his apparatus into the tight but giving lips, gasping his pleasure as the hot, steamy hole opened, welcoming him.

He watched as he moved forward, inch by inch of his endowment disappeared inside the pink, slick gateway until his pubic hair mingled with hers, the damp, slick home he had found delighting his senses as nothing before ever had.

He moved to embrace her, beginning the ancient movements of love-making, his pace directed by his need but also a growing awareness of just how open and exposed they were to any would be by-passers.

The thought was both thrilling and forbidden, which heightened the moment for both participants but in the end, it was if they were the only two people on the face of the Earth. The consummation was both physically pleasurable but also, somewhat ethereal in nature, at least from the man's point of view.

He finally drew away from the warm, tantalizing body, allowing the woman to primly readjust her clothing and descend from his embrace but he felt a change inside himself.

He looked at the woman, watching her difficulties, unable to formulate exactly what he was feeling at that stage. It had been a most pleasant romp, but much more, somehow.

He wanted to tell her what she meant to expound his love which seemed to grow day by day for this unorthodox, unearthly creature, which went so much farther than the mere physical enjoyment of her body.

He searched for the proper words, anxious to find share his emotional state with her. To let her know, in some impossibly inane way that..

"You will burn in hell for your Heathen ways, Ian McGowan." Katelyn broke the spell, her impishly accusing eyes scolding him soundly, as she finally had managed to 'right' herself..once again the presuming perfect picture of all a proper, guileful little Catholic female should be. "and I shall be the first to throw 'holy water' upon your wretched soul..what is left of it."

She flounced away, humming happily, already in that fanciful world that constituted, Katelyn Faheys' universe.

Ian watched her until that saucy little ass disappeared around the last stone wall leading back to the main path from which they had strayed.

He realized then and there, that his life would never be a normal one..because his wife was not normal..not by any stretch of the imagination. He wondered what lay in store for him. And then..he smiled. Because he suddenly did not matter. Nothing mattered but cornering that little smug bitch in an alcove somewhere and getting a little of his own back.

He went about his way, continuing his stroll unmindful of the fact..he was humming as well.

"He is dead!" Katelyn vowed sacredly. "...Charlie!" she called from behind the draped-off area.

"Aye, girl...I am here."

"Put his name down in y' Book!"

Charles grinned at a restlessly pacing Ian McGowan.

"Is it down?" she wished to know. "Strike a mark through it! Death to him!"

Katelyn's mother cast her daughter a scolding glance.

"He is a heathen Celt, Mama! Look what he did to me!" she lay back, her brow wet with perspiration, her hands clamped tightly around the rails of the bed. "Tis his fault!"

"Dinna think he is suffering enough, child?" Kathryn knew Ian had been here, just around that partition for as many hours as Katelyn had now.

"He is suffering! He?!" the girl was a little upset at the moment. " not trying to push a bloody damned pumpkin out of his..."

"Katelyn!" her mother chastised hastily, halting the tirade effectively...for all of two seconds.

"God! How long is this going to take?!" Ian rasped his agony.

Michael watched his brother. Ian had not shaved, his clothes were rumpled, as if he had slept in them. Which, the man had...for an hour or so last night. His appearance was more than unkempt.

"Settle down, girl...this baby wants to come out. Work with it!" Kathryn was instructing her daughter. Mary bathed the girl's head with cool cloths.

"I canna, Mama...let it stay in!" Katelyn had fallen back into the sweat-soaked pillow. "I am too tired. I canna do it!"

"A Fahey can do anything he sits his mind to!" Kathryn was stern.

"Mayhap, I am adopted." The girl explained away her inability's. "Charlie said I was dropped off by gypsies and that you and Papa took pity on me, rearing me as one of y' own."

Ian glowered at Charles, who grinned even wider for his part in the narrative.

Michael and Sean stood, guarding one end of the large room, Charles and Angus on the other.

Ian had attempted twice to go around the draped area, to his wife and both times the men had refused him access.

It was his lot in life to merely pace and feel bloody helpless while his sweet, angelic wife, only meters away, suffered through the pangs of hell. Without him to protect nurture

"I will kill you, Ian McGowan! With m' bare hands!" Katelyn uttered the sweet, angelic refrain as another wave of birth pangs descended. "I will cut off your..."

"Margaret Katelyn Fahey!" Kathryn had caught the jest of the threat, cutting it off mid-screech.

"Y' had better not touch me ever again! Do you hear?" Katelyn yelled loudly that everyone might 'hear'. "Dinna even think of touching me!"

"As God is my witness, I will not!" Ian whispered the sacred vow, praying silently to a higher source. "Only please! Please!...Make it stop! I cannot stand anymore! I cannot!"

"One more, Katie..." Kathryn urged her daughter with a competent, capable tone. "Push hard and it tis done!"

"I canna, Mama!" Katelyn wailed the fact. "I...canna!"

"You can! Now, do so...this instant!" Kathryn advised sharply.

"Y' never liked me, woman! I was never your favorite!" Katelyn was positive.



All was silent for too long a time after the last angry, defiant 'yell' from the woman.

Ian halted his steps, his eyes flying to his elder brother's.

Michael was calm, his gaze reassuring.

"...Mama?" Katelyn was breathless. "What is w-wrong with it? Is it...supposed to be that color?"

The silence was more than strained.

Ian stood it for as long as he could, then bolted for Michael and Sean. To his amazement, they did not try stop him. He rounded the corner in record time.

Katelyn was sitting up, of sorts, propped on the pillows behind her back, her eyes anxiously seeking his. She held out her hand. "Ian!"

He instantly grasped the slender fingers, but his interest was for the woman across the way. He could not see, for Kathryn's back obscured whatever she was doing on the table.

A tiny mew caressed Ian's straining ears. He was vaguely aware of his brothers' arrival around the curtain and Charlie going to the end of Katelyn's bed. Sean craned his neck to see what his Mother was about.

Ian squeezed Katelyn's hand hard, unaware of doing so until. "You are hurting!" she shook free of the man's grasp. He was holding his breath and then...

A rather loud cry shook the ensuing silence.

"Mama!" Katelyn was near tears.

"Here y' go..." Kathryn turned about, her arms filled with a squirming, loudly protesting little bundle of soft down. "Y' new wee bairn."

She placed the baby in Katelyn's arms, and the girl instantly stiffened. Ian leaned, taking the bundled parcel into his capable embrace.

Michael leaned to 'see', as did Angus and Sean.

"Tis so wee a thing." Sean was amazed.

"Are you alright, woman?" Ian looked from his son to his wife, examining her closely.

She nodded, her eyes unable to look from the bairn.

"You should name it, Abelard." Angus scowled at the unhappy little face.

All eyes turned to him, each face scowling their concern.

"Why does it look like that?" Katelyn wanted to know. "Tis like a pink prune."

Mary chuckled. "It is a beautiful baby."

Katelyn sought comfort in her mother. "Mama! Tis a prune! What did I do wrong?!"

"Michael, Ian McGowan." Michael offered his choice for a name.

"Ian, Michael McGowan." Ian objected.

"Chauncey." Sean shook his head for such stupidity, having hit upon the correct name for a boy-child.

All...looked at him with much the same expression they had used for Angus.

"Nay...Bertram!" Angus disagreed. "A noble name, indeed." Then, at the 'looks'. "It was my best friend's name in school."

All was pointedly...silent.

"Filby?" Angus tried again.

"...Jamey Christopher McGowan." Charles caught everyone's attention with the confidently stated name. "Jamey...for our father. Christopher...for your's." he looked at Ian.

Katelyn and Ian exchanged glances. "Tis a fine name, y' not think?"

"A fine Irish name." Charles concluded proudly.

"What is wrong with 'Archibald'?" Angus demanded. "It is a fine Scots name."

"It is German." Michael sighed heavily.

" is settled." Ian looked down to his new son, pride welling in his heart. "Jamey Christopher McGowan."

"Is there something wrong with it, Mama?" Katelyn fretted openly. "Tis crying still!"

"Mayhap, she does not like her name." Kathryn mused.

"She?!" Angus was upset. "I am not going to be the one to tell Grandmamma!"

"...She?" Ian stared down to his new...daughter.

"Grandmamma said he would be a 'he'." Angus was loathe to remind all. "She is not going to be tell her, Michael! You are the oldest! It is your duty!"

"She." Ian whispered his awe, his thick finger lifting the minuscule one which grasped his securely. He lifted the weightless bundle, kissing the tiny finger lovingly. She smelled so wondrous.

"She is beautiful, Ian." Michael smiled at his brother and the new arrival.

"Is she not the most beautiful baby ever, Michael?" Ian had never seen anything more precious. He could not take his eyes off the wee thing.

"I think Kate was right." Angus scowled at the ugly little thing. "She looks like a..."

Michael elbowed the younger man in the stomach, halting the unthinking remark. "She is going to be a heart-breaker. You will have to kill a few young bucks, I am thinking."

"Pity, really." Charles nodded sagely. "What with them dying so young and all."

Ian had not thought that far ahead, holding his bairn more protectively, his brow furrowed darkly.

"Go now...Katie needs to rest."

"Ian, leave the baby." Katelyn reached for it.

"No." he held his precious cargo out of reach of anyone trying to take it.

"Give it to the Nanny! You know less about one than I do...Mama, make him give it back!"

"No!" Ian held his bairn away from the women.

"He will be fine." Kathryn assured her daughter.

"He is no 'fine'..." Katelyn was beside herself. "He is a Celt! God knows what he will be teaching the poor, wee thing!"

"Kate..." Ian had given the matter serious thought already. "We should look into 'Nunneries'...not this year, mayhap...but surely the next. What do you think?"

Michael chuckled as did Charles.

Katelyn was totally lost. "What?" Nunneries sounded good to her.

It was Ian's duty to protect this wee, helpless bairn. One could never start too early on such a path. "There, there." He shushed his little one. "I am here. No one is going to harm you. Not while I am about."

"You give that baby to the Nanny!" Katelyn called after the man but, he ignored her. She watched the men file out of the room, her state of nervousness beyond scope.

It was very late when Katelyn awakened.

Her first sensation was, the hurt between her legs felt rather unnatural. Then, she remembered, feeling her stomach.

There was hardly any to feel anymore. She...smiled. It was over! It had not been some God-awful nightmare, after all.

She allowed her eyes wander about her surroundings. This was a room she seldom visited, an enormous one. The area Mary and her mother had draped off was clear and
she could see about the darkened room.

A small light lit the space with a cheery glow, a fire crackled in the hearth.

Katelyn attempted sit up, if only to see how responsive her body would be to her brain's commands. She managed sit, grimacing for the discomfort but, that was all it was.

She felt pads between her legs and the warm gush of blood but that too, seemed minimal.

She felt remarkably well considering she had been at death's very door this day...or at least, it had seemed so to the woman.

A fact she had had no trouble voicing from time to time.

The pain had been excruciating...just horrible, but, was over.

Katelyn sighed her relief.

She was hungry and thirsty. She swung her legs over the side of the bed, waiting to orient her body to the movement. Something caught her eye to the right of the huge bed in which she resided.

Ian a rocker, his feet stretched out before him, crossed at the ankles.

In his arms, lay a contentedly sleeping baby.

He held her securely, even in his slumber. The tiny bundle looked so small swallowed by the enormous bulk of the man.

He had not shaven. He wore the same clothes he had donned the first night of her labor. Was that last night? She could not remember.

Katelyn's curiosity got the better of her. She slowly found her feet, crossing to peer at the sleeping baby.

She blinked her shock. She would not have recognized it as the same alien thing which had clawed its way, kicking and screaming, out of her only this morning.

The tiny face was smoother, pink and rosy and...and...beautiful.

Tiny nose, cute little bow of a mouth...dark hair all shiny and soft, curved about the enchanting face.

A terrible thought struck Katelyn.

Had the Gypsies exchanged her baby for this one? not be stupid! The girl shook the fanciful thought.

"You should not be up."

Katelyn started, gasping. "Why are y' always doing that? And...and, what do y' think you are about? She should be in her crib, and from the looks of y', man," she swept him critically. "You should be in bed, as well. Y' look terrible!"

"You, on the other hand..." his eyes touched the woman's face gently. "Look...absolutely beautiful."

"There is no need to be hurtful...I just gave birth!" she arranged her hair self-consciously. "I have an excuse!"

Ian grinned. "I was not being hurtful, woman. You look..." he 'looked', his eyes taking in the soft lace of her gown, the long dark hair hanging about her face and over her shoulders. "...lovely."

Katelyn scowled at him. "Put her to bed."

Ian looked down to the baby. "I like holding her."

"She will be spoiled, wanting it all the time."

"Then she shall have it." He decided.

"She will not! Y'll no spoil her." Katelyn absolutely put her foot down. "I dinna like a spoiled child."

"I thought you did not like any child."

"Well..." she gazed at her own. "She...she is not so bad now, I suppose...while she sleeps." The tiny figure was studied cautiously. "Is she all there?"

"All fingers and toes? Aye, she is perfect." Ian smiled for the fact.

"No one is 'perfect'." Kate scoffed. "I dinna remember that outfit."

"Mary dressed her. Michael purchased it special only today. Silks and plaid."

"Thank God." She nodded, then, could not help a wee smile. "...I like that bonnet."

Ian returned the gesture. "Is she not the most enchantingly beautiful bairn ever to be borne?"

Katelyn smiled. "I suppose all parents think that of their child."

" this case, it is true!" Ian insisted.

"Y' really should put her down." Katelyn looked at the man. "Y' look exhausted. Have y' not slept?"

"I wanted to be here...when you awakened."

"Well, you were, ya go and get some rest." She ordered. "She will be fine. I will put her beside me in the bed."

"Why can I not lie there as well...she does not like being away from me."

"Oh, she dinna, hum. How do y' know?"

"When I put her down, she frets."

Katelyn nodded. "I see, well...fine. Put her down between us then."

"You must be starved. Your mother said to wake her when you..."

"Dinna even think it." Katelyn objected. "You are perfectly able to fetch me some food."

"...Aye." Ian had not thought of that. "I could do that."

"Stout lad." She held her grin.

"Watch her!" Ian laid the bairn gently into the bed.

"Watch her, indeed." Kate repeated, annoyed. "As if I would not do so!"

She lay down beside the infant, watching the baby sleep.

She was a beautiful child. "We will call you Jamie...after m' father. He would be so proud of y', little one." Her eyes misted with the threat of tears. Which she shook aside.

It seemed only moments before Ian returned, tray in hands.

Katelyn had uncovered her baby, looking her over carefully, kissed her little cheeks, her fingers and toes, her tiny forehead and smoothed her hair. She straightened her dress and put her sox back on.

"She dinna like her sleep disturbed." Katelyn had looked up at the man's entrance.

"Like her mother."

My God...Katelyn blinked her shock. She was a...mother! She was responsible for this wee thing's future...her very existence!

"Ian!" she sought the man, her eyes wide with a new-found fear.

Ian sat the tray aside, glancing at the woman expectantly. "What is it, angel?"

She arose, grasping his neckline tightly. He felt the slight tremor run through her slender body.

Katelyn closed her eyes to the feel of the man, her universe falling into place again.

"I love you." She whispered huskily, her hold tightening drastically.

"...W-What?!" Ian was...astounded.

"...I...I love y-you!" she stammered uncertainly.

Ian took a moment to acclimate himself. "I love you, as well." He answered automatically, his senses still reeling.

"Nay...I do...I have! Since...since the first I saw y'...tossing those bloody trees about." Katelyn poured out her heart as fast as she possibly could. "I tried to stop...after that woman, but...I couldna! And, I dinna want y' to leave...not ever! Y' have to stay and help me take care of the wee one! I canna do it alone! I canna!"

"Calm down, precious. I am going nowhere." He soothed her, his large hand lovingly smoothing the curls of her hair.

Michael had warned him of a female's mood swings during this time. "You are shaking like a leaf." He lifted her, placing her in the bed, covering her with the coverlet, his mouth pressing to her full lips gently.

"Everything is fine. Do not upset yourself so." He pulled the cover snugly about her still shivering form. "What is in your head, woman? Why would you even think I would leave?" he smiled gently at her. "I never want to leave you...never!"

"You lied." Katelyn blurted her fears. "You and Mary and Michael. And, I said nothing because I wanted to believe y' but...but, I know! I know y' slept with her...I know it!"

Ian's blood ran cold, his features freezing into a carefully composed unreadable mask.

"I thought I could pretend it dinna happen but the wee one changed...everything." the woman attempted explain what she was feeling. "I canna live a lie...I dinna want lies between us. Not now."

Ian listened...his mind stagnant, his heart beating so hard in his chest, he thought it would rip from his body.

"I was not happy when I was away from y' and then, when y' came and seemed want me back..."

Katelyn fell silent, recalling the time. She shook the long tresses and they swayed softly about the small face. "I...dinna want lies."

The man was stunned by her admission...the fact she had known the truth all along...unable to formulate a reply or even a response as yet.

She had known he lied...all along...Katelyn had known he...lied.

No more lies, she had said.

My God! She wanted him to confess.