Fergus looks up at Brianna. “So, you must tell us all about Boston. What is it like? How are the winters there?” ‘why you decided to leave’ is left unsaid although Brianna can feel it’s spectre in the air.
“Well Boston is a huge place, mama left me with a friend when she traveled back to find Jamie…” the words are not coming to Brianna and she mentally kicks herself for not listening more in history class. She was bright, yes, but it was her closeness with Frank that had helped her with the studying and homework. “The winters are exceptionally cold. We would have to chop wood for the fire everyday in order to heat the house. We do get snow, so I love to go sledding…” wait, sledding? Is sledding a thing in the 18th Century? Brianna thinks, but Fergus interrupts her.
“For fun? Or to transport the wood you chop for the fires?” he moves his arm as Marsali puts the supper in front of him and Brianna.
“Bit of both, really. When we finished transporting the wood I would beg to slide down the massive hill at our home in Boston. Daddy was always watching so I knew I was in no real danger.” Her eyes flashed to Fergus when she said ‘Daddy’, he didn’t flinch so she continues. “That was really my whole childhood in Boston, that and being in daddy’s study while he was marking his student’s papers. He taught at Harvard you see.” Harvard was the one thing she was certain about, had been around for 100 years at this point or more. Marsali and Fergus nodded.
“And then leavin’? What made you leave Boston? Was it just that you were missing yer mam?” Marsali sat down and looked at her.
“No, not just that. I wanted to meet Jamie too…” Brianna thought about it and she pulled out the photocopy of the newspaper page. “I also found this...I don’t know how much of it my mother has told you...but I found this in 1970. They’ll die, and I couldn’t let that happen…” She looked up at the stunned couple. “So my mother didn’t tell you anything...great.” She laughed ironically, “I suppose you have a few questions…”
“More than a few, more than even a lot…” Marsali interrupted. “But right now I cannae think of any.” She laughed breathily. “I suppose they’ll come.”
“I only have one, ma soeur, who was ‘daddy’?”
Ah, he hadn’t flinched but had remembered that one. “Daddy was Frank, mamas husband in Boston...in the future, he was a good man to me.” She looked down, had he been good to her mother?
“And Claire?” It was Marsali asking this time. “Was he a good man to her as well?”
Brianna thought, and then sighed. “No, he... would seek out other women.” Fergus had pursed his lips. “But mama was still in love with Jamie, he didn’t like that...there was also a few arguments.” her eyes started to water, remembering the one after her mother’s graduation, “I can’t say as I heard all of them but I heard enough to know they weren’t in love after mama became a doctor.”
Fergus nodded, “but he must have loved her to marry her in the first place, non?” he was angry that she had said that Frank had sought out other women, Milord would never treat Milady like that whether she was in love with another man or not. “And he must have really loved her to take on you, another man’s child.”
“He did, once upon a time…” she sighed, Fergus would find out soon enough, time to tell his name. “His full name was Frank Randall...he was a descendant of Black Jack Randall. I guess he must have looked too much like him for mama to bear.” She looked up at Fergus who had gone chalk white. “Frank was nothing like his ancestor; he was kind and loving. But he did have an unfortunate resemblance to him and I guess he wanted to spend time with a woman who wouldn’t flinch everytime he went to touch her.” Marsali took Fergus’ hand and squeezed gently. “I know he forced you when you were a child but…”
“Non, it wasn’t him...it was Randall. And Milord and Milady helped me to come to terms with it. Jack Randall was a monster, Frank Randall hadn’t done anything wrong.”
“No tae you at least, Fergus Fraser.” Marsali smiles at him.
Just as Brianna was about to continue the door bursts open and Jamie stands at the threshold, he’s panting a little, “Fergus, get yer coat on. I need ye to take a message tae Murtagh.”
Fergus nodded and moved to put his coat on. “What is the message, Milord?”
“Tell him that Governor Tyron knows and it’s a trap. Whatever happens, do not let him rob that coach. D’ye understand me?” he was nose to nose with Fergus.
“Yes, Milord.” and with that Fergus was gone. Brianna stood up and crossed to Jamie, she wrapped her arms around his waist and pulled him close.
“Is something the matter a lenanan? Has something upset you?” he was immediately concerned.
“No. I just, didn’t realise how much I missed you before I even knew you existed…” Jamie smiled and rested his cheek on the top of her head, wrapping his arms around her shoulders. “I don’t know what to call you. Father seems too formal and I couldn’t call you daddy, cause that was Frank...I don’t think there’s anything else.”
“Da. Call me Da. It’s simple.” Brianna smiled at him.
“Okay, Da.” It seemed strange in her accent. “I love you. Is the play over?” She was suddenly looking behind him to see if her mother was there.
“No, a lenanan, yer mother’s skills were needed before the players could finish with their tedious offerings.” He sighed and shared a knowing look. She had been able to provide a distraction so he could warn Murtagh.
“Well, best get back to her before anyone notices you’re missing.” He grinned and kissed the top of Brianna’s head, and Marsali’s before running out of the door.
Brianna opens her mouth to express concern but before she can get a word out there’s a knock at the door.
Brianna opens it and nearly faints because standing on the other side is Roger MacKenzie Wakefield.
Brianna is dumbfounded for a moment before finding a voice. “What are you doing here? I specifically said not to follow me. How did you manage to follow me anyway?”
“All good questions that I have been pondering how to answer all day...may I come in?” Roger eyes Marsali questioningly, Marsali nods.
Once inside Brianna makes introductions. “Daddy willna be happy. It was a fight to get him to accept me and Fergus and we’re not even blood kin, God alone knows how he’ll react tae yer man here.” Marsali has her arms crossed on her chest.
“I know. I should talk with him when he’s back…” Roger looks at Brianna questioningly, she just shrugs. “But ye’d rather I explain myself first? To you I mean.”
“It’d be a start.” she looked him up and down. “I really didn’t want to talk to you before I left...because…”she takes a deep breath. “Because I didn’t know how to tell you I love you. Or how to tell you I do want to be your wife…” she sighed and Marsali grinned.
“I’m sorry, what? Run that last bit by me again.” Roger was on the verge of splitting his face in two. “I could’ve sworn ye said ye want to be my wife.” it was then she held out the bracelet he had given her on the day of the festival. Roger pulled her close. “I’ll take that as an, ‘aye Roger, I’ll marry you.’ then shall I?”
So Roger and Brianna were officially engaged. Oh God, how to tell her father?