I Can Shoot!
When he reached the cabin, he set me down on one of the logs. He disappeared returning quickly with salve for the bottom of my feet and a pair of stockings. He crouched down and rubbed salve gently but thoroughly into the bottom of my feet. Well this is different, no one had ever rubbed my feet before. Gentle but firm fingers rubbed my soles and toes perhaps more so than was needed. I had no intention of telling him to stop.
This was a new experience and one I wasn’t complaining about. When he rubbed between my toes I had to hold my breath, it was slightly ticklish but it was more the flittering’s I felt inside. I stared down at the man knelt before me rubbing my feet. Conall’s face was serious focused on what he was doing. Did he realise what it was he was doing? When he finished he fitted me with the stockings tucking the tops over the bottom of the pants.
When Conall carried Morgan, he had caught sight of cuts on her feet. As soon as he put her down on the log he fetched balm and began rubbing it into her soles and between her toes. Her skin was soft and he knew she was sore, she jerked slightly when his hands came in contact with the cuts. When he rubbed the balm between her toes, she didn’t jerk, but pushed them against his fingers.
His intention was to ease the pain, now he knew what he was doing, and he knew what it was doing to her. He took longer than needed in his ministrations, his own body reacted. He took his time to wipe his hands down the side of his pants and then slowly put stockings on her feet. More in the hope that when he stood his arousal would not be so evident. However, the slow movement of the stockings just made things worse. He was grateful when Murtagh arrived with a pair of boots so he could squirm himself out of the way and back to the house, without anyone noticing his erection.
Murtagh came with a pair of boots that he assured me should fit. They were close being only a half size larger. It seemed that Murtagh had confiscated the boots from the smallest of the guards. He had had the guard ride back to the castle to retrieve himself another pair of boots. Murtagh eased the boots onto her feet and tied the laces.
“Murtagh has your father left?” I asked looking around not seeing him anywhere.
“Aye, he, Aiden and three men are riding to Gil’s.” he answered tying the last of the boot laces around the boot.
“He left me and some of his men here. We will await his return in a few days. How do ye feet feel now lass?”
“Much better thank you. Thank you Murtagh for the boots, but I feel bad the man had to go back to get another pair. I really didn’t mean to be a burden.” I felt guilty that the poor man had to ride barefoot back to the castle to gain a new pair of boots.
“Tis no a problem milady, he was happy to give them to ye.” Murtagh said with a sheepish smile.
Conall returned to sit next to Morgan. “Are ye hale lass?” he asked even though Morgan had retorted his continuance of the statement earlier. The air had cooled significantly.
It was a little chilly, even though not more than two hours ago I had been sweltering. “Aye.” I replied lifting my head to stare at the meat cooking in the fire in front of me. I could feel the warmth of the flames on my face. Hot and comforting. Conall set about cutting a piece of the meat and set it on my lap on a plate.
“Ere lass, eat while tis hot. It will settle the beast in your stomach.” he whispered as if my growling stomach was a secret. I was sure however that the entire camp had heard the groans.
Murtagh cut himself some meat and sat next to me. “Would ye like a dram of whiskey milady?” he asked eating heartily of his portion.
“Yes, I would actually, but do finished your food first.” I said thinking that a little whiskey would go down well. I was becoming accustomed to the heat of it, like a warm blanket on a cold night, rough but comforting. I indulged a little more than a dram. The other men who had stood guard at the outskirts of camp had also eaten, and now sat around the fire chatting in Gaelic.
I slid off the log and sat on the ground with my back to it. A much more comfortable option. I had drunk a little too much I thought feeling extremely relaxed and a little light headed. One of the men began singing a Gaelic song, I couldn’t understand a word of it but the lull of it was soothing. He had a lovely voice.
I must have dozed off for when I awoke, I was gathered on Conall’s lap, he was now sitting in the dirt holding me close to his body, my head resting on his chest. I was tempted to let him know that I was awake, but I felt overly comfortable nestled against him. I could hear his heartbeat through his plaid. Strong and steady. I felt his breath above my hair and heard him whisper ‘mo nighean bhòidheach’ having no idea what it meant, I repeated the words in my mind, wanting to remember them. I could have stayed there all night. I effortlessly drifted back off to sleep.
When I awoke I was laying on the four-poster bed still dressed but without boots. I hadn’t felt them being removed. Did I dream that I had lain in Conall’s arms in front of the fire during the night? I wasn’t too sure. What I needed to do was remember that Conall was my protector and nothing more, and focus on seeking the seer woman to have my ability restored. To return to my own time, sort out my store, and ruminate over what to do about Joe.
Perhaps my ability would give me an advantage over him, sending him back to whatever hole he had crawled out of. I thought of asking Sloane and Ula if they would allow me to live with them on the farm. I would like that. The question was would I like it with or without Conall. In the few days, we had been together I had become used to him.
My mind wandered back to the slap he had given me while I was slung over his shoulder. In truth, it wasn’t hard enough to cause any pain. Once again, I giggled like an idiot to myself. Then remembering how he rubbed my feet, the flittering I felt then emerged once again. Morgan control yourself, I smiled to myself.
Once dressed I wandered outside to find two of the guards cooking over a big black pot, hung over the fire. It reminded me of witches huddled over a cauldron. I couldn’t see Conall anywhere so I approached the two would be chefs. “Hi…good morning. Do you know where Conall is?”
One with dark hair and brown eyes answered me. “Aye milady, a good morn to ye. He be down at the waterfall. Would ye like me to go get him for ye?”
“No that’s ok. What are you cooking?”
“That be parritch milady. Would ye like some to break ye fast?”
“Yes please. Thank you.” I replied as I sat on the log. The guard handed me a bowl and the two of them sat down with a bowl as well. The dark-haired one was named Matthew and the other, a quiet older man with greying hair and beard was named Malcolm. Matthew spoke about his wife Aila and his three bairns. Malcolm was a widower losing his wife two years ago to the ague. He had a grown daughter Maisie who was married to Haig’s son Will. Will and his brother Dougall were the two missing brothers I had yet to meet.
“Can I ask you a question?” I directed my attention to Malcolm.
“Aye milady what can I do for ye.”
“What does mo nighean bhòidheach mean?”
Malcolm and Matthew gave each other a quizzical look. “It means, my beautiful girl.” he said looking stumped as to where I might have heard it. “Did someone say it to ye milady?”
“No, I just heard it somewhere, that’s all. Thank you.” I finished my bowl and walked swiftly to the cabin. I don’t know what exactly I thought the words would mean. I did not however expect that. Maybe I said the words wrong, or perhaps that is exactly what he had said. I was no doubt being ridiculous over a couple of words. I must have gotten it wrong, I huffed.
Conall returned dripping from taking a swim. Later in the morning he escorted me down to the waterfall so that I could also have a swim. Grateful for the boots on my feet. I said nothing about my conversation with Malcolm earlier. Conall was the perfect gentleman keeping his back turned the entire time I abandoned my clothing.
Thoroughly enjoying the swim and the chance to give my body a decent clean. While I bathed he whistled a tune. I giggled silently at his whistling, especially since it was the tune to Queen’s ‘We Are The Champions’. No doubt he had heard it at Sloane and Ula’s house at one time.
I quizzed him about it later, he had no recollection as to where he had heard it. It would seem that bringing back items from the 21st century was not the only thing to be wary about. I let the matter rest and hoped he would forget the tune soon. I had a thought of elegant kings and queens dancing the minuet to one of Queen’s songs. An entertaining idea at best if not comical.
Conall escorted me back to the cabin when I had dried and dressed. Conversation with Conall was easier than it had been over the past few days. We discussed the weather, food, hunting and the properties of some of the local plants. He seemed to know quite a lot of their healing properties. I wondered whether this was perhaps a prerequisite of the times in the need to survive. There was no such thing as a quick trip to a hospital in 1735 so I presumed that the people of this time had to have some herbal knowledge.
It was intriguing to discover that his education was extensive. He could read Latin and Greek. He had read more books than perhaps I had. He enjoyed poetry by Catullus and Homer and the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle. Apart from being a skilled warrior, he could cook, and sew. Valuable assets for a man in any time period.
I discovered that he had a rather good sense of humour, smiling easily. His smile was contagious, so I found myself doing the same. I was glad that we had stopped arguing, he was so much more than I expected a warrior to be. Not that I knew what a warrior should be other than being good at wielding a sword.
During the next couple of days Conall disappeared for hours on end. I wore Abbey just in case. With what had happened to Gil I had no assurance that the guards at any time could not be overtaken by a Brollachan. I was taking no chances. It would have been an easy feat to overwhelm me and take the pendant. Having Abbey strapped to my back gave me some solace.
On one particular day, a conversation turned to Abbey. Conall was curious to see if Ula had spoken the truth when it came to my handling of her. He had Matthew set up a bull’s eye of sorts on a tree. It was actually just a piece of white cloth. No doubt from one of his old shirts. I removed one of the bolts from the quiver hung from my belt and loaded it into Abbey.
At a hundred yards on release the bolt hit dead centre of the fabric. Conall motioned me to stand three hundred yards. Before I loaded the bolt, I realised the guards where forming bets as to whether I would hit it or not. The second bolt found home right beside the first one. Conall looked impressed.
Haig and Murtagh rode up as I was loading for a third shot. When they dismounted they approached the area to see what was going on. Conall waved his hand in gesture for them not speak. They all stood watching as I moved to about five hundred yards. Conall shook his head perhaps thinking I was a little ambitious. A raise of my eyebrows quietened his thoughts and he raised his hands in surrender.
The third bold hit dead centre of the first bolt. The third bold stuck in the tree with the sides of the first bolt sticking out sideways like an arrow head.
“God’s blood!” exclaimed Haig. “I’ve no seen a lass that can shoot like ye.”
I had a smirk on my face, damn if felt good to impress. Something I had never been able to do. At least not until Ula had seen me shooting in the training room. The appreciative glance Conall gave me somehow meant a whole lot more. I could also see Matthew and Malcolm reaping the winnings. Obviously, they were the only two who had trust in my abilities.
Haig stood with his mouth open, arms crossed at the chest. “By the saints above. Lass do ye hit yer mark every time?” he asked clearly amazed looking from the tree to me.
I nodded to him. Even though my exterior was relatively calm, inside I was jumping up and down with sheer exhilaration. It felt great to stupefy them with my shooting. I now had some understanding of what Olympians at the games felt when they stood on the podium to receive their medals. Not that there was a medal for what I had just done. But the ooh’s and ah’s of the men was inspiring.
Haig approached to have a closer look at Abbey. “This is a mighty fine weapon ye have lass. If’n ye don’t mind would ye tell me who made it fer ye?”
I handed Abigail to him. “The crossbow was a gift from a friend, it was original made in the middle ages. I made the bolts and the quiver.” I said noticing a smile on Conall’s face.