Today is my first official day as retired man from the distillery business. It doesna half feel good.
I may no be working now, but I have a family, so plenty to keep me busy. Especially today. I need to prepare breakfast for Claire and the bairns. Make sure Fergus and Faith have everything they need for school and playgroup. I then have to take Fergus and Faith to said school and playgroup before dropping Claire off at her therapists for her Monday morning session. Whilst Claire is in her session, Brianna and I will head to the supermarket and get this weeks shopping done before collecting Claire.
Claire doesna work on a Monday, so it means we have the day the gether with Bree at home before Fergus and the wee monster get hame.
The shopping task is actually working out better than usual. Well, since it’s only Brianna and I, it’s a lot less... chaotic shall I say?
I love my children, don’t get me wrong, but shopping as a family always comes with its difficulties. Fergus and Faith having their little squabbles over what flavour of ice cream to get or Faith wanting to run off and do her own thing. It can get a bit much, and then it unsettles Bree.
It’s gotten to the point where either Claire or I will go and do a weekly shop and then we just go to the corner shop near the house to get more bread and milk when needed. Anything’s better than all five of us shopping together.
After the shopping’s done, Bree and I drive over to collect Claire from her session. When we pull up to park in the car park, Claire is already stood outside the building waiting for us.
Claire jumps in to the front passenger side of the car next to me with a big smile on her face and kisses me hello.
“Hello handsome.” She says as she pulls away.
“Sassenach. Take it it was a good session then?” I ask.
Claire has definitely been a lot happier since she started working at the clinic part time. Every time she comes out of a therapy session, she looks fit to burst with joy as well.
In fact, Claire’s been doing so well recently, she’s cut her therapy sessions right down to once a week.
We spoke a few weeks ago about maybe giving family therapy a go with young Fergus, but the lad insisted he was fine. We thought it would maybe benefit him a bit with all the changes the lad has had to go through. Someone he can speak to about his nightmares and such, but the lad says he feels a lot more safe and secure at home with us now, and he hasn’t had a nightmare in a while.
When we get home, Claire gets Brianna settled in her wee high chair whilst I bring in all the shopping from the car and then Claire gives me a hand to put all the shopping away.
“Your sister text me whilst I was waiting on you by the way. She said they will be here around one.” Claire informs me.
Jenny has been helping Claire out a lot with the wedding plans. Now that I’m no longer working, I was hoping to take on more responsibility myself. Unfortunately, my sister seems to be doing everything she can to keep me out of any important decision.
She does ken it’s MY wedding and no hers, right?!
It’s isn’t just Jenny who will be here over lunch time. One of Jenny’s pals from Inverness is a florist and has agreed to do the flowers for the wedding. No that Claire or I got much of a say in the matter. Jenny just decided for us.
Anyway, the lass is down visiting Jenny and Ian in Edinburgh for a couple of days, so Jenny is bringing her over so she and Claire can decide on what kind of flowers and things.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy and grateful for Jenny’s help. Plannin’ a wedding doesna come easy. It takes time and preparation. I just wish Claire and I were able to do it together, ourselves. I have spoken to Jenny about it all, but she’s just a busybody who likes to do things her way. It would help a lot if Claire said somethin’ to her, but since it took Jenny a wee while to warm to Claire, I think Claire doesna want to say or do anythin’ to put Jenny offside again.
“Right. Just, dinna let her railroad ye in to what SHE wants Sassenach. It’s OUR weddin’ remember, no hers. I ken she doesna want me hangin’ around the day when her and her pal are here, but tough. I didna get a say on which caterers to hire, or what food to serve. Hell, I didna even get a say on the bloody band she hired for the reception.” I say.
Claire comes over and wraps her arms around my neck and pulls me down so she can kiss me. “I’m sorry darling. I should of put up more of a fight. It’s just—“
“I ken Sassenach. It’s fine. As long as ye are there and I can officially make ye my wife, I dinna care about anythin’ else. Well, I just want ye to be happy.”
“I’m about to become your wife in four weeks Mr Fraser. I’ve never been happier.” She tells me with a wide smile on her face.
“Me either Sassenach.”
When Jenny arrives with her wee pal, she doesna even knock before lettin’ herself into the house.
“Ye still here brother? Thought ye would be gone already.” Jenny says as she dumps a huge weddin’ plannin’ folder down on the kitchen table and takes a seat and tells her pal to do the same.
“My house Jenny. My weddin’ tae by the way, so I’ll no be gan anywhere.” I respond firmly and take a seat next to her.
Jenny rolls her eyes and then introduces Claire and I to her friend Morag. Apparently Morag has been a florist for about twelve years now and has done flower arrangements for many weddings over the years.
She seems like a nice enough woman, I just wish Claire and I got to pick our own florist. Not that we ken any personally, but that’s no the point.
After a good couple of hours of talkin’ in great detail about the weddin’ and what thoughts Claire and I had for the flower arrangements and such, I ask Jenny if it wasna about time she went hame to see to her kids. She rolled her eyes at me and informed me Mrs Fitz was over in Edinburgh to take care of the weans.
Just as I was gettin’ up to make us all another round of coffees, my mobile rang. I took it out of my pocket and saw it was Dougal.
“Hey Dougal. Before ye ask, no. I’ve no changed my mind about workin’ at the distillery. I’ve made my decision and I’m happy wi’ it.” I say firmly.
Jenny and Ian couldna afford to buy me out of the business alone. They didna really want to take out a bank loan unless they really needed to. Dougal was still interested in buying in to the business and since he was being a great help to me tryin’ to track down Laoghaire, I eventually decided to let him buy my share of the business. It seemed to be workin’ out quite well. Dougal had brought in some of his own staff and had even started work on the vineyard Ian and I had purchased but hadn’t gotten around to actually doing anything with. Things seemed to be going well the past three weeks with Dougal there any way. He and Ian really do make a good team, and Dougals staff certainly have the respect for him that’s needed in a successful business.
I dinna regret my decision to leave. My family is my priority. Them... and finding Laoghaire to find out what the hell she was playin’ at that night!
“‘Tis’ nowt to dae wi’ the business lad. It’s Laoghaire. The Private Investigator we hired thinks he may have found her.” Dougal tells me.
“Seriously? Where?” I ask.
“He managed to trace her to Stornoway. He doesna think she’s staying in the town though, but he’s fairly certain she’s either staying on Harris or Lewis. He’s seen a lass matchin’ Laoghaire’s description twice now in the town. The first time, he followed her to a house in a wee village named Shawbost, but the second time, he followed her to a house in Tarbert. I’m just waiting on him sending the photos over to me. I’ll let ye ken if it’s her or no lad. Keep yer phone on ye, aye?”
“Aye. Thanks Dougal. Speak tae ye soon.”
I make my way back to the kitchen table without the coffees and collapse in to my seat. I canna see my face, but I imagine I’m really pale. I can feel the colour draining fae me.
“What’s wrong Jamie? What happened?” Claire asks me with panic in her voice.
I turn to her and say, “‘twas’ Dougal, Claire. He thinks... he thinks he’s found Laoghaire.”
“What? Really? Jamie that’s wonderful! Where is she?” Claire asks as she reaches over to take my hand in hers.
I tell her all that Dougal told me, but reminded her no to get her hopes up too high. It was only last week that Laoghaire had got in touch wi’ her grandmother and told her she was over in America. Mrs Fitz didna believe that story though, because if that was true, Laoghaire would of been callin’ her at five in the mornin’, her time. Apparently Laoghaire isna the early bird type of lass. For a minute though, I was hoping she was there and I could fly out and have it out wi’ her. The P.I that Dougal hired wasna convinced she went to the states either because her bank account hadn’t been used to buy flights to the states, it was used to buy a ferry ticket to the Isle of Barra though. That’s where the PI went off to when I last spoke to him. She might of made her way up the western isles then?
Just as Jenny and Morag stand up to put on their coats to leave, my phone dings with an email from the PI of pictures of Laoghaire. Claire’s phone rings and it’s Dougal.
“Did Jamie get the photos fae the Investigator lass? He said he was gonna send them over.” I hear Dougal ask after Claire puts her phone on speaker.
“Aye, got them now. It’s definitely her.” I answer.
“Aye, certainly is lad. What’s the plan now? What dae ye need me to dae?”
“Nothin’. I’ll take it fae here uncle. I thank ye though. Ye’ve been a great help, truly. This is something I need to sort myself though. I need to get myself over to Stornoway and speak to her myself. I need to ken why she did what she did.” I say with anger in my voice.
This lass could of cost me everythin’! My wife, my kids, my life! She could have easily killed me that night. And for what? I need to ken.
Before Jenny and Morag leave, Jenny calls Murtagh and asks if he can come and stay a few nights to help take care of the kids since Claire has work. Technically she could take Brianna wi’ her and out her in the crèche, but we think she would settle better wi’ Murtagh. Fergus and Faith would love him here too.
Claire and I look up flights from Glasgow, Edinburgh and Inverness to Stornoway. It’s proving difficult to get a flight there though. Looks like I might need to drive up to either Uig or Ullapool and sail over. Not ideal, but it will have to do I suppose.
I finally manage to get a ferry booked for tomorrow morning from Ullapool to Stornoway. I call the P.I with my plans and arrange to meet him when I get off the boat tomorrow morning.
I just hope this isna gonna be a wasted trip. I really need to get this sorted. I need to ken why the lass did what she did. I dinna want to get married wi’ this still hangin’ over Claire and I.