Chapter 1: Prologue
“Dr. Sosa? You have a call.”
I looked up, my heart sinking. Few people ever actually called me at work, so I hurried to my office, swallowing thickly before taking a seat and saying, “Dr. Sosa speaking.”
“Good morning, Doctor,” the voice on the other end said. “I’m sorry to disturb you at work, but I thought you’d want to know that he’s very close. If you want to come and say one more goodbye, you should come now.”
My dad had been sick for some time...ever since my mom died, really. The nursing home he’d been living in the past four years was the best in the state, and my frequent visits helped assure me that he was given the best treatment.
I knew that it could have been any moment, and it was hard for me continuing to work when all I wanted was to be at his side, but it was also hard to just sit there and watch him go for weeks.
“Thank you,” I said, hanging up and taking a deep breath. I told my nurse to cancel my appointments for the rest of the day...no...the week, and grabbed my coat.
When I entered his room, he was just laying there, sleeping peacefully. I sat and took his hand, murmuring that I was there, in case he could hear me, but he’d ceased to seem to know me some time ago.
Before my mom died, Anthony Sosa hadn’t had a sick day in his life. Just a quiet, cheerful farmer who was up with the rooster and asleep with the sun. But when Mom had her heart attack six years prior, Dad’s health went downhill, and fast, and before I knew it he was barely a shell of the man I’d known and loved my whole life, and it broke my heart.
No matter how much I’d learned becoming a doctor, nothing could have cured his heartache...and nothing could have slowed an aging body.
A pair of dark brown eyes opened, and fixed on me with more clarity than I’d seen in ages.
“Hi mi nina, ”
“Hi, Papi ,” I said, tears springing immediately to my eyes as I fought down hope. I knew what this was, had seen it before in patients just before passing on, and I was determined to be grateful for it.
“I think I’m ready to go see Mami, now.”
“I know,” I whispered, stroking his weathered hand. “She’s been waiting for you.”
“I wish I wasn’t leaving you alone.”
“Don’t you worry about me, now. I’ll be just fine. You taught me how to take care of myself, didn’t you?”
He smiled, and though it was tired, it was beautiful. “Will you try to find them?”
I bit my lip and looked away. Leave it to him to bring that up now. “What good would that do? They may as well be on a different planet, and I’ve a life here .”
“But what is life without family? I’ve loved you a long time, mi nina . They loved you just as long, but they had to do it while missing you.”
I felt a twinge in my heart, imagining having left my Papi and Mami to miss me, how it would have broken their hearts. Even though I didn’t know them, felt nothing for them than I would for any other ancestor, it did hurt me thinking of what they must have gone through thirty-four years ago.
Then again, there was still a very skeptical part of my brain that denied any of it was true at all. It was something out of a book or movie. Things like that didn’t actually happen ...but then yet again, how did one explain someone as out of the ordinary as Uncle Raymond?
“I know you wouldn’t go because you wouldn’t leave us,” Papi continued. “But now there’s nothing holding you here.”
“Now hush,” I said, patting his hand. “Let’s not talk of me leaving, okay?”
“Tell them...tell them that I was grateful,” he said. “Tell them I was sorry, but so, so grateful. I love you, my beautiful girl. I love you with all my heart.”
“I love you, too, Papi ,” I whispered, leaning down to kiss his forehead. “I’ll tell them.”
My father died at three that afternoon. When I left the nursing home, it was still light out. A bright, sunny spring day. Not at all the sort of day you’d expect when a parent dies.
I went home to a quiet apartment, sat in a quiet living room, in front of a quiet TV.
After a while of just sitting...and it must have been a while, because it had gotten dark, I switched on a lamp and walked over to my overflowing bookcase.
Next to the photo album and my baby book, there was a large scrapbook that I’d always called the History Book.
But it wasn’t a regular history book. It was my history...or so my parents had told me growing up.
I opened it to a photograph in the front, of a happy older couple and their smiling toddler. Anthony and Maria Sosa were brought a three week old girl by their old, trusted friend, Alphonse Raymond. He’d explained that the child was special...in the way that Anthony was, and that he’d had no choice but to take her from her natural mother in order to preserve the mother’s life. He’d asked them if they’d be willing to raise the baby. Being unable to have children of their own, Anthony and Maria had jumped at the chance, and taken the baby in at once, raising her as their own.
No one would ever had said that I got my looks from my parents. Though beautiful, Maria’s cinnamon-colored skin, straight, dark hair, and enormous brown eyes couldn’t have looked less like my fair, freckled skin, blue eyes, and a mass of curling, burgundy hair.
I’d always wanted to look more like her growing up, but no, apparently I was the spit and image of a woman I’d never met.
I flipped through the pages of the book, looking at the handful of old photographs, weird newspaper articles, a photocopy of an antique property deed. All that really existed of my heritage.
That, and a grave. A grave I had to see for myself when I was in college, traveling with my friends. I held the picture that I’d taken of it, and had hidden in the Book, so that my parents didn’t see it, knowing it would just upset them.
Small, unadorned. Just a name, a date of death, and a tiny cross.
“Faith Fraser,” I muttered. “Born and died, in seventeen-fucking-forty-four.”
I snapped the scrapbook shut and sat with my back against the bookcase, cradling it to my chest. Papi thought I should try to find them, the birth parents who had no clue I was even alive.
But in order to do that, I’d have to go back in time 240 years.
Chapter 2: The History Book
Faith struggles to make a decision whether or not to try and find Claire and Jamie.
Thank you everyone who commented or tweeted me about the first chapter! I’m glad you like it so far! I’ve been sitting on this for a while and I’m impatient so I’m going to go ahead and post chapter 2. ;D
The funeral for my father was small and short, but lovely. My dad had no family alive, and my mom’s only relatives were distant, and still in Honduras. But several neighbors, friends, and even nurses had come, and that felt even better somehow, because I knew that they all came just because they had loved him, and not because they felt obligated by blood.
After everyone else had left, I stood in the silent cemetery, staring down at the two graves, one fresh, the other grown over with bright green grass and surrounded by rose bushes. They got to lay side by side, together forever, and it couldn’t help but make me think of the tiny, ancient grave with my name on it in France.
The person at my side didn’t startle me when he was just suddenly there. I’d long since grown used to my “uncle” popping up unexpectedly.
“You didn’t come to the funeral,” I said, with a hint of accusation in my voice. I had tried not to mind, knowing how he was, but he was the only relative I had, even though he might have been a bit more distant and watered down than a mere uncle.
“I never liked funerals,” Uncle Raymond said, with that peculiar accent of his. “I prefer thinking of them as alive.”
“Alive…” I whispered, something dawning on me. I looked down to my left, where Uncle Raymond only came up to my shoulder. “Could I go back and see him and Mami when they were alive?”
“As long as you’re not there,” he said with a shrug, as nonchalantly as if we were discussing popping over for brunch. “But they wouldn’t know you there, you know. Or love you, not they way you would expect them to. It could alter their choices in how they raised you, possibly not for the better.”
I huffed in annoyance. “You and your endless rules . So, going back in time over 200 years wouldn’t alter anything then?”
He chuckled. “Ah, Madone , it would alter everything. But some things in life are meant to be altered.”
“You mean like ripping me away from my mother’s breast the moment I was born?” I hissed.
Raymond gave me one of his characteristic sideways glances. “Sometimes things have to hurt so they can heal.”
“Alright, Rafiki,” I murmured under my breath. “I know what you want me to do. Papi asked it of me on his deathbed, but how can I just... go there? They don’t know me. They’d be in their, what, sixties by now? Late fifties? I’m nothing to them. Nothing but...but a fucking miscarriage that happened a lifetime ago. What reason would they have to even believe me? I wouldn’t believe me if I were them! I barely believe myself as it is!”
“For someone named Faith, you could use quite a bit more of it.”
I let out a frustrated growl and stormed away from him, not wanting to lose my temper in from of my parents’ graves. “ You named me that!”
“I thought it suited you.”
I whirled back on him, clenching my fists, growing even angrier when when he laughed , the bastard.
“Believe me, child,” he said. “As your sister is your father’s likeness, you are your mother’s. No one could ever deny who you are.”
“So I’ve heard,” I muttered, my anger dissipating as quickly as it had flared, leaving me feeling empty and sad.
Raymond pulled something out of his pocket and held it out to me. “What’s this?” I asked, taking the deceptively heavy object from him and turning it around in my hands. “A dragonfly?”
He nodded. “Trapped in amber. Ask them about when you see them, they’ll know.”
I ran my thumb along the smooth, cool surface of the amber stone. I didn’t bother to ask where and how Raymond got it, but I knew in a strange abject way that it did once belong to them. I knew in the way Raymond always knew things. He said it was just part of who we were.
“Everything I know about them can fit in one scrapbook,” I said quietly. “Even with everything you’ve told me, it’s never felt like anything but fairytales. Bedtime stories of a brave and good man and woman trapped in a faraway time, told to make an orphaned child feel better about herself. They’ve never seemed real to me.”
“No number of stories I tell you could make them real for you, Madone . Only knowing them for yourself could do that. And you and I, we are the lucky ones, the ones given the opportunity to do just that .”
I looked back at my parents’ graves. “Do you know where they’re buried?” I asked, trusting him to know what I meant.
“Yes,” he said after a moment’s pause. “And no, cheri , I will not tell you that. Your future rests in their lives , not their deaths. Here, you will need this.”
He took my hand, and slipped on a delicate gold bracelet with rubies. “And this,” he said more quietly, giving me a gentle pull, and I went willingly into his embrace, burying my head into his shoulder, and cried.
I sat back in my too quiet, too dark apartment with the History Book in my lap, staring intently at the photograph of Claire.
She’d been beautiful; the very picture of 1960s fashion. Beside her was a pretty little girl with vibrant red hair. I’d seen a handful of other pictures over the years, including ones of Claire’s husband, Frank, who’d always sort of given me an uneasy feeling whenever I saw images of him. But this picture was my favorite, evidently taken on Claire’s graduation day from medical school. The day I’d discovered the photograph was the day I decided to go to medical school myself, a part of me reaching for something to link me to this ghost.
She was beautiful, and had kind, but desperately sad eyes. I knew from Raymond that she was incredibly brave and fiercely protective of those she loved, but I knew nothing of her . Not the sound of her voice, the tenor of her laugh, whether she hated mushrooms like I did. I knew even less of James, since I didn’t even have a picture of him.
I flipped on through the book, seeing Claire’s stunned face in a grainy newspaper picture.
The various disappearances and reappearances of Claire Beauchamp Randall were mind-boggling, to say the least.
The initial disappearance had been in Scotland just after WWII, and her return three years later had been declared the work of fairies by those in Scotland. She moved to Boston after that, and spent the next twenty years becoming a surgeon, and raising her daughter with Frank. Then, she vanished again, leaving nothing behind but a resignation letter, and her daughter. No one seemed to question it.
Not long after that, Brianna Randall disappeared too, and this did raise questions, but it was eventually chalked up to her eloping with her boyfriend in Scotland.
Brianna and her boyfriend, then husband, came back some years later, and I’d found some school photographs of who I suspected of being their children, Jeremiah and Amanda.
But then they disappeared yet again shortly before I landed in 1986 as a newborn, meaning my little sister would have been in her thirties when I was “born.”
This time, a full-scaled search was performed, naturally coming up with no leads, with theories ranging from their car having gone over a bridge, to Roger MacKenzie murdering his family before committing suicide. Some even thought it was the other way around, with Brianna being the murderer, as there were reports of her taking the children to Disneyland just before they all disappeared, and she had left a sizable property in Scotland to an old family friend named Joe Abernathy. There had evidently been reports of someone threatening them though, but no bodies were ever found. No arrests. Just an unsolved case.
The property in Scotland was called Lallybroch. From what I understood, it had remained in the Abernathy family until Joe died, and his granddaughter had it turned into a bed and breakfast and museum before selling it.
Mami and Papi took me there as a kid, and even then, I’d been unable to ignore the strong sense of belonging I felt as I walked the old halls, saw the slashes in the wall made by a redcoat sword hundreds of years ago.
The room we stayed in was whimsically named The Laird’s Chamber, and I remember lying awake that night, feeling like someone was watching me. It hadn’t frightened me, really, but I would never forget that strange feeling of being in a crowded room, even though there was no one but my parents sleeping a few feet away.
My historical knowledge of my father was much more scant than that of my mother and sister. All I really knew of him was that he’d been a soldier in Scotland during one of the country’s several rebellions, and then later in the American Revolutionary War. There was the matter of an ominous newspaper clipping hailing the sad news of one James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser perishing in a fire with his wife, but Uncle Raymond had assured me several times over just to ignore that.
Heaving a sigh, I snapped the book shut and went and flopped onto my couch. “I don’t think I can do it, Papi,” I said aloud.
If I knew anything about time travel, was that it wasn’t like a quick car ride. There would be no popping in and popping back out. In fact, returning could likely be impossible if I stayed gone too long, since covering up my own disappearance would be a bit harder than it was for Brianna and Roger, considering all the many methods of communication and GPS and the like. Uncle Raymond had always tried to make sure I understood that returning was never guaranteed, no matter what.
As for what I would leave behind...I supposed my strongest ties had been to my parents. Without them, what was left?
I had friends, but we’d drifted apart in recent years due to them getting married and having children, and my heavy workload. My own love life was...well...it hadn’t been a fairytale, that was for sure. Even my cat, Wallace, had recently passed away at fifteen years old. I had really nothing tying me down, save a few barely-living plants, and my career.
And carajo , I’d worked hard for my career, and my parents had sacrificed so much of themselves to help put me through medical school. Plus, I was a damned good doctor! What could I do in the 18th century where women were treated like dirt? How did Claire manage?
“I know, I know, Papi,” I muttered. “Only one way to find out, hm?”
I picked the piece of amber up off the coffee table and held it up to the light of my living room lamp, liking the way it made the dragonfly almost look alive.
But it wasn’t alive. It had been dead for hundreds of years. Like my family. Like me.
I yanked the towel off my head when I heard the doorbell, checking to make sure my robe was covering the essential bits before opening it. “Package for Faith Sosa?” the delivery man asked.
“That’s me,” I said, thanking him before lugging the probably oversized box to the kitchen.
“I bet Claire and Brianna would have been grateful for Amazon Prime when looking for wardrobes,” I said, opening the box and packaging to find the dress I’d ordered.
It had a bit of a plasticy smell, but the style and colors seemed right, and it was well made, with a price-tag to match. The costuming company often supplied things for plays and reenactors.
I held up the blue late 18th century style dress and frowned, having a hard time imagining myself wearing it for any reason other than Halloween.
I couldn’t say I’d completely made up my mind yet, but I was going through the motions, preparing, seeing if I could even come close to getting there mentally.
Part of me thought that I should wait, take a year or two, mourn my dad, put my affairs in order, work my way up to the idea of leaving. But the other part knew that if I didn’t just take the leap, I likely never would. Waiting meant the risk of going there only to find that I was too late. Waiting meant the possibility (and hey, a girl can hope) of meeting someone and becoming tied down.
Waiting meant putting it off year after year, never having the nerve, until I was old and gray.
No, if I didn’t leap now, I never would, and I would always wonder.
I started making a list of things I would take with me. Nothing too obviously futuristic, as Raymond had warned me repeatedly about that.
A knife, a drinking water filter, pieces of old jewelry that I could sell, some antibiotics, several years’ worth of birth control.
Nothing could make me leave behind photographs of my parents, no matter what Raymond would think. Or my History Book. I also thought I could bring my baby book, wondering if they’d want to see it, or if it would only make them angry, or sad.
It was their anger I worried about the most. As much as I loved my Uncle Raymond, and as much as I understood that he believed that he had no choice, what he had done to my biological parents was, from their perspective at least, unforgivable. A person could never really get over something like losing a child, and to find out it had all been a lie? I didn’t like to think that they could be angry at me for it, but...I didn’t really know them, did I? Sometimes anger doesn’t make sense, and Raymond wouldn’t be there to accept the blame.
What if they were happy living their lives together with their daughter and grandchildren, and resented the 34-year-old stranger showing up and upheaving everything? They didn’t owe me anything. It wasn’t like they were the ones to give me up. They would probably be glad that I’d been taken away, once they were made to understand that it had been me, or their lives.
I didn’t go on Facebook very often anymore, but as I swiped aimlessly at my phone, I saw I had quite a few condolence messages from a bunch of people I barely knew.
I saw one from Katie, a woman who I’d been best friends with in high school but rarely spoke to anymore. Her profile picture was of her in her wedding dress, standing between her mother and father. I felt the tears blur my vision as I clicked the screen off and tossed the phone onto the cushion next to me.
My Papi, my Mami, were gone. I was twice over an orphan, and the feeling of being so totally alone in the world was suffocating. I had no one I could really talk to. No one who could possibly understand what I was going through, save Raymond, but he was too ancient and world-weary to really understand what I was feeling.
Papi had done it. Traveled back in time, found love, and decided to stay, never looking back. I wasn’t interested in love, not of that sort anyway. But not being alone...that could be nice.
Seeing Claire and James Fraser in person, hearing their voices, seeing if I could spot myself in their faces.
It could be nice.
The hospital wasn’t terribly surprised when I put in for an indefinite leave, though I felt bad for the patients I was leaving. I said goodbye to friends and coworkers the same way I would if I was just going on a long holiday. I set my bank up to continue paying my rent, just in case it didn’t work out and I needed to come home. Everything would stay paid up and available for some time, until my savings ran out. I gave my plants to my neighbor. I got myself tested for every virus under the sun then self-quarantined for two weeks for good measure.
The only possessions I really cared about fit neatly in a leather hiking backpack along with as much medication I could manage to buy or swipe from the hospital.
In the end, it was sort of depressing how easy it was to effectively end my life in the 21st century. It would likely be a year or more before anyone started to wonder what became of me.
I didn’t have to go all the way to Scotland for standing stones, because they existed almost everywhere. I just hopped into my car and drove to North Carolina, figuring that the closer I could get to my eventual destination, the better. I sold the car in North Carolina, and used the money to buy more sellable jewelry, supplies, food. The rest I tipped to a dumb-struck waitress at a restaurant on my last night.
I had the Uber drop me off at the national park where Uncle Raymond had told me to go, dressed like a regular hiker.
It took all day to reach them, far off the normal hiking trail, but I didn’t have to wonder if I was at the right place or not.
Any lingering doubts I’d had in my mind were gone once I heard them. It wasn’t exactly the way Raymond had described. The sound was more like moaning than buzzing, but the intensity of it made me wince.
I pulled the photo of Claire and Brianna out of my pocket, fixing my mother’s face in my mind. It was important, Raymond said, to have a tether. Something drawing you to a particular place in time. Something, or rather, some one .
I had no reference for James’ face, except that Brianna looked like him. So I pictured a man more or less like my dad, except with red hair and blue eyes.
And then, I looked back the way I had come, and for just a split second I could swear I saw them...my Mami and Papi, as they looked when they were still healthy, shooing me off with loving smiles the same way they did when I was on my way to school in the mornings.
That vision warmed and gave me courage.
“ Je suis pres , I guess,” I whispered.
I raised my hands.
Then I touched the stone.
Chapter 3: Into the Woods
Faith goes through the stones, but finds herself unsure of what to do next.
It was odd. For a moment, I wasn’t sure if anything had actually happened. Everything around me looked the same.
But when I started walking, I realized that the marked hiking trail was nowhere to be found, plus the rubies from the bracelet that Uncle Raymond gave me were gone, so I had to assume that the stones had worked.
The uncomfortable question was, however, did they send me to the right time?
I hastily changed from my workout leggings and oversized t-shirt into my 18th century dress, hoping that even if the stones didn’t send me to the exact right date, that the clothes would at least be appropriate. My own hiking boots were plain brown leather, so they’d do.
I had a map of the area, but there was really no telling exactly where Fraser’s Ridge was. At some point in time, the name of the region had changed, so the precise location was a mystery. I had only the general approximation.
I decided that my best bet was to find the nearest town, and ask for directions, maybe use my jewelry to barter for a horse. But...where was the nearest town exactly?
Bemoaning the loss of my GPS, I started walking.
“Fucking hell,” I muttered, realizing with a jolt that I hadn’t thought to bring a compass . I knew I needed to head west...but which way was west?!
“I knew I shouldn’t have quit Girl Scouts,” I sighed, slipping off my backpack to rifle through it.
I hadn’t been sure what to do with my phone. I knew that if I’d left it somewhere in the 21st century, someone would find it and a whole manhunt would begin. Then again, I acknowledged that bringing it with me could raise a lot of questions and a possible witch-hunt if it was seen.
But I had it with me, along with a camping charger that was solar powered, so all I really had to do was keep it hidden. There was no one anywhere around, so it couldn’t hurt to try and use its built-in compass.
I was a little surprised that it even worked, having wondered if it required the satellites that right now didn’t exist. But it did, so I didn’t question it. (And no, the GPS did not work. I tried.)
I’d expected to come upon a town, or village, or even just a farm or something...but after hours and hours of walking, all I’d seen were trees, trees, and more trees.
That first night, I huddled up under a bush, watching videos I had saved on my phone to ward off the loneliness and silence that pervaded the darkness.
I wasn’t unused to being alone, but something about being in the wrong time and in the middle of the wilderness with no contact with anyone was an absolute solitude I’d never imagined before, and it was terrifying. My fingers kept itching to text someone...anyone...and I did, a couple of times, knowing fully well that it wouldn’t go through, but something about it was soothing. It felt normal.
The next day was much the same. Walk, rest, eat the food I’d brought, walk some more, make camp. There was no sign whatsoever of human life, and panic started to rise up slowly within me.
The beef jerky, crackers, trail mix, and candy I’d brought weren’t going to last forever, and my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were already gone. I’d grown up on a farm, thought I could probably manage to identify edible vegetation, but I’d never been hunting and wasn’t sure I could bring myself to kill something cute like a rabbit myself. I knew how to fish, but not without a pole or at least a net.
“I knew I should’ve watched more Bear Grylls before I left.”
It was ridiculous, really. I’d imagined all manner of scenarios and dangers that could occur in the weeks leading up to my departure. Some more fanciful than others. An attack from animals or people, accidentally plopping down in the middle of battle, being burned at the stake. But somehow, getting lost in the wilderness and dying of exposure or starvation hadn’t even occurred to me.
Days went by. I was exhausted, sleep deprived, filthy, and hungry. Every part of me just wanted to sit down and cry for home like a child, but I trudged on, wishing like hell I could just put my workout clothes back on. I did eventually take off the corset and bodice, leaving the skirt and shift.
I played music quietly on my phone, letting the music distract me and give me goals in how far to walk - like, “if I make it to the end of the next song, I’ll rest.”
On the sixth day, I dragged my feet tiredly up a rocky hill, having shut off the music so that I could listen for the sound of water, my bottle nearly empty.
When I finally reached the top, I slumped against a boulder, hiding in the shade. Even though the air was chilly, the sun was pretty unforgiving, and I was already sunburned.
Maybe I’d gone too far back. What if there were no people around? What then?
I sighed and let my head fall back against the rock, uncaring that it hurt. I looked off toward the west, my stomach sinking to see that there was nothing as far as the eye could see except more trees and mountains. Not even a plume of smoke.
But then...the longer I stared...I realized that there was something there that wasn’t formed by nature.
At first I thought it was a tree, but at the top of a high cliff was what looked like a pyre of some sort. It was tall, wide at the bottom, narrow at the top, and sort of looked like a cross. It gave me a chill to see, wondering what on earth it was for, but it was clearly made by a person, and that meant there must be people somewhere around.
Hope rejuvenating my energy, I got up and plowed on, excited to have a destination, at least for the moment.
I grinned as I started to make my way back down the hill, but must have caught my boot on a rock, and before I knew what was happening, I was tumbling headlong down, feeling my feet fly above my head.
Once I finally came to a stop, I let myself just lay still, trying to take stock of myself and see how hurt I was.
I was bruised from head to toe, but most of it felt okay, except for the searing pain in my right shoulder and arm.
I sat up carefully and tried to look over the damage. There was a gash down my upper arm, long but not terribly deep. I could have probably managed to stitch it up myself with the small medical kit I’d brought, but I quickly found that I couldn’t bend my upper body enough to manage it due to the badly dislocated shoulder.
I rolled laboriously to my feet and quickly found a rock to prop up against. I grabbed the wrist of my injured arm, attempting to bring it to the position to relocate it.
“ HIJO DE PUTA!” I cried, abandoning the effort immediately when the gash tore open wider and started to bleed freely.
Breathing deeply through my nose, I cleaned my wound as best as I could and slowly bandaged it with strips of my petticoat, cursing myself a thousand different kinds of idiot for being such a klutz.
Now I felt a whole new sort of urgency. It would be hard to keep the gash clean by myself, and I couldn’t stitch it myself. Every minute I spent outside this was another minute I could contract an infection, and even though I was in possession of some antibiotics, they’d be useless if I couldn’t keep the site clean. I took some Naproxen, but it did little more than take a slight edge off the pain, so I decided not to waste it after that.
I continued on, muttering curses to myself, in both English and Spanish.
I’d been walking for around an hour, and likely had only gone half a mile, when I became aware that I seemed to be on a road of sorts. Or at least, a well-worn wagon wheel path that seemed recently traveled upon.
Another hour, and my pain-numb ears picked up the sound of hoofbeats. I paused and waited, watching the road ahead of me to find several men on horseback making their way toward me.
Relief warred with cautiousness at the sight of them - soldiers, by the looks of it.
Cautiousness beat relief in the end when they all grinned at the sight of me, and it didn’t look that friendly.
“What do we have here?” one of them asked.
“Are you lost?” asked another, with a bit more genuine concern.
Their coats were red. British . One thing I knew about James was that he had been a soldier in the American army, had even fought close by to General George Washington himself. I couldn’t trust these men, regardless of their intentions, and I couldn’t ask the way to Fraser’s Ridge.
“My horse threw me,” I said, hoping it explained well enough my appearance. “But I’m fine, my home isn’t far from here.”
“There are no houses for miles,” the first one said. “Perhaps you ought to come with us. We’re on our way to Virginia. A woman like you shouldn’t be out here all alone…”
“Oh, no, no thank you…” I stammered, backing away. “My uh...my husband will be expecting me.”
“Corporal,” he said, motioning to one of the others, and then to me.
The younger man swung off his horse and started walking toward me. I spun on my heel to run, but exhaustion and pain made me slow, and he gained on me in half a second, grabbing hold of my good arm.
“Get your fucking hands off me!” I shrieked, trying to pull away.
“Oh ho,” the corporal said, smirking. “What a mouth she has on her!”
“Now then,” the captain or whatever he was said, riding up on his horse. “Perhaps you’d care to tell me what you’re doing out here alone, and why you tried to run.”
“I ran because you chased me,” I hissed. “And as for why I’m here, what the hell business is it of yours? Am I breaking any laws?”
“Probably just a whore fleeing her master,” the corporal said, leering at me. “Just look at her. Mayhap a few rolls in the hay will curb her language.”
Captain huffed a laugh. “We’ll bring her with us, and deal with her later.”
“Oh no you won’t!” I hissed, digging in my heels as he tried to drag me.
I stood no chance, obviously. It was five armed men against one injured woman without a weapon. So, it may have been foolish, but it was all I could think of.
“Siri,” I said as calmly as I could. “Open voice command.”
The men paused when my pocket beeped, staring at me in confusion.
“Play playlist; running,” I said, and the pulsing sound of a fast-pace song started playing.
“Jesus Christ!” the corporal exclaimed, releasing my arm.
With my arm free, I reached into my pocket and brought out my phone, quickly maxing the volume and turning on the flashlight and shining it in their eyes.
While they were startled and confused I took off, away from the road and back into the woods.
I ran until my legs gave out, but the soldiers hadn’t come after me. I hoped it meant I’d frightened them enough to decide that I wasn’t worth it.
I sat for an hour or more, catching my breath and trying not to feel like I was going to faint. I ate the last of my beef jerky, changed the bandage on my arm since it had started to bleed again, and then got back up, my legs feeling like they were made of Jello.
The soldiers had been going the opposite direction of me, but I still avoided the road for a while, until it didn’t seem I had a choice if I wanted to get to that cross.
It was nearing dark when I heard the sound of a horse again, along with a wagon.
I sighed in frustration and fear, but the area was too wide to try and run for cover again, besides, they would have already seen me.
I hoped maybe it was a family, or at least someone old and feeble, but no such luck. At least it was only one man, although this man was quite large, and looked like he could lift a cow.
“Evenin’, Mistress,” he said once he was near enough, his accent either Irish or Scottish, I couldn’t quite tell. He gave me a quick up and down look, but it lacked the lasciviousness of the other men. Still, I tensed in fear, keeping a firm distance from myself and the wagon.
“Are ye hurt?” he asked. “Do ye need help?”
Before the soldiers, I would have been eager to ask him for directions, but now I was wary, and shaken. I knew enough about the time to know that men more or less saw women as objects, and a woman alone was obviously suspicious.
“N...no,” I stammered. “I’m fine. Could you...could you just tell me where the nearest town is?”
“That’d be Cross Creek, a good ways back that way,” he said, sticking a thumb over his shoulder.
My stomach dropped like a stone, and I felt close to tears.
“But there’s a settlement just up ahead,” he continued. “And a healer that can do something about your arm. I can take ye there.”
I hesitated, unsure. The eyes above the bushy beard looked genuine, but I’d known plenty of men over the years that seemed that way at first. Getting into a vehicle with a strange man and going to a second location was how to get raped and murdered 101.
“I dinna mean ye any harm,” he said softly, and I knew that my fear must have been showing on my face. “I can tell ye’ve had a rough way of it, but Mistress Claire is th’ best healer in North Carolina, and beyond that, I’d suspect. And she’s verra kind, as well.”
I felt the breath catch in my throat, and for a moment I couldn’t respond. “Claire...did you say Claire?”
He blinked, probably curious at my reaction, and maybe a little suspicious. “Aye. Claire Fraser. She and her husband are th’ founders of yon settlement ahead, Fraser’s Ridge.”
I felt like I was going to faint again, but this time out of shock and relief.
“Come lass,” he said, holding down a hand. “Ye look as though a strong wind might blow ye over.”
I didn’t hesitate to take his hand and let him pull me up in the wagon. “Thank you,” I breathed as I settled myself next to him. “I’m Faith, by the way.”
He smiled. “John Quincy Myers. Your servant, mistress.”
Chapter 4: Life on the Ridge
Claire and Jamie are settling back into a peaceful life when Myers brings by an injured young woman who reminds them all of someone...
I’ve been VERY much looking forward to posting this chapter!!
The point in time we’re in here is pretty much right where MOBY leaves off, but it’s been a few years since I’ve read that book, so I might have forgotten some of the details of what all’s going on on the Ridge. But, obviously the focus here is on Faith and the Frasers, so hopefully you’ll overlook any canon mistakes :)
For the first time in a long time, there was peace on the Ridge.
Brianna, Roger, and the children had come home after an extraordinary journey, and we were all finally home together, as a family.
Marsali and I resumed work together in my new surgery, just as we had before we left. The new house was even more beautiful than the one that burned down, and as devastating as that was, there was an incredible degree of comfort in not having that particular sword dangling over us any longer.
Brianna went back to inventing indoor plumbing, and whatever else she could dream up, having come back with even more skills as an engineer. Jemmy and Germain went back to their old tricks more or less, the younger boy’s return having been a blessing in bringing some of Germain’s former vivacity back after the tragic loss of his little brother.
I awoke, as I did most mornings of late, warm and comfortable and utterly content, with my husband nestled snugly beside me.
This particular morning, he was curled up behind me, our bodies melded together like two pieces of a puzzle.
The state of him, hard against my rear, happened often enough when he was still asleep, but the hand making lazy circles across my stomach suggested that he was awake.
“Good mornin’, Sassenach,” he murmured into my ear, voice still heavy with sleep. “Sleep well?”
“Indeed,” I hummed, giving my hips a slight roll and pressing myself more firmly against him. “Except I kept having the strangest dream that I was in a fairytale; The Princess and the Pea.”
“Oh? How does that one go?”
“Just that the princess couldn’t sleep because there was something jabbing her in the lower back.”
I rolled my hips again, and he moaned, then chuckled, as his hand drifted lower.
“What did th’ princess do about such a nuisance?”
“Hmm…I can’t seem to remember,” I breathed, as his fingers raked lightly through the hair between my legs, only barely brushing the spot where I wanted him, so I raised one leg, hooking it back over his, to give him proper access.
I could hear children laughing outside. Marsali and Fergus, arriving to begin the day’s work.
“It sounds like our family is here,” Jamie whispered.
“They can wait a moment,” I groaned impatiently, arching back into him. “But I think you’d better hurry now.”
“Perhaps we ought tae wait for tonight…”
I knew damn well he wasn’t serious, and if he was, I’d be forced to worry about his health because once Jamie started this particular activity, nothing short of the world ending would stop him. But I was too worked up just then for his twisted sense of humor, and practically snarled at him.
“James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser, if you don’t stop teasing right now and fuck me, I swear I’ll kill you.”
With a delighted chuckle, he entered me in one swift stroke, setting a quick, relentless pace while his fingers remained between my thighs, working me into a frenzy.
The sounds of children were louder now; Germain and the girls calling for their Grandpere and Grandmere . I buried my face into the crook of Jamie’s arm, desperately trying to hush my own cries.
Jamie’s teeth were digging into my shoulder in a similar effort, but the slight pain was only making it harder for me to be quiet, so I held my breath.
I came hard just as Jamie’s pace doubled, nearly driving me into the mattress. He wasn’t far behind me though, and I felt more than heard his low groan as he spilled himself inside me.
It was only then that I released my breath in a whoosh of air, seeing little dark spots in my vision that faded quickly.
We lay still, tangled together. Jamie’s hand still cupped me, unmoving, just holding me there, almost protectively.
I finally worked up the energy to turn over in his arms, nuzzling my face against his chest as we both fought to catch our breaths.
“I think it’s time tae start th’ day,” Jamie said, utter contentment in his voice. I swear if men could purr, he would have been. “Seems we’ve lazed about long enough.”
“At least they know better than to come looking,” I said, stretching. After living in a small home with Fergus and Marsali for parents, Germain had long ago learned to give adults privacy in the bedroom, and he would never allow his sisters to disturb us without knocking.
I regretted my confident words immediately however, because in that moment, two more little voices joined the herd, and I had just enough time to make sure we were both decently covered with the quilt before our bedroom door was flung open wide.
“GRANNY! GRANDA!” Mandy exclaimed, barreling heedlessly into our room. “Why are you still sleeping ?! Time to get up !”
“We seem to have overslept darling,” I said, yanking the quilt up higher as she leapt onto the bed. Beside me I saw Jamie bunch the blanket around his hips, making sure she couldn’t pull it down.
“Aye,” he said, his voice strained and his cheeks turning a rather adorable shade of red. “Best go on and let your Granny and myself get dressed, a leannan .”
Mandy took in our state with those eyes of hers, that were far too shrewd for one so young, and wrinkled her nose. “Where are your pajamas ?”
Before I could attempt an answer, a dark head popped cautiously into the room, and Germain’s eyes went round. “ Oh mon Dieu ,” he hissed. “Mandy! Come out of there, now !”
“What’s wrong?” I could hear Jemmy ask from somewhere behind him.
“Never you mind,” Germain snapped imperiously over his shoulder. “Amanda! Come on! Leave Grandpere and Grandmere be!”
Mandy hopped off the bed and skipped over to the door, where Germain prompted grabbed her by the arm and pulled out out. “Sorry!” he exclaimed as he slammed the door shut.
I sighed, and rolled my eyes heavenward. “If anything, I think Germain just made that more awkward.”
“Life wi’ children about th’ house, aye, Sassenach?” Jamie asked, grinning, and I knew that even in uncomfortable situations like this one, he relished getting a chance to experience even a taste of what raising little ones was like, and I did so love him for it.
“Better hurry,” he continued, getting up. “‘fore she comes back!”
“Heard you had some visitors this morning,” Brianna said without looking at me, as she helped me pick herbs from the garden that afternoon. I felt my cheeks warm as I glared at her, but she only laughed. “I came upon Germain scolding Mandy roundly, that she must never go into Grandpere and Grandmere’s bedroom without knocking. What happened, did he happen upon something unsavory once?”
“ No ,” I said. “But I think it happened with his own parents. Or maybe Fergus simply explained it to him.”
“Mandy walked in on me Roger and me, not long before we came back,” she said. “Had no clue what was going on, of course. We just told her that we were uh...playing leapfrog, and she accepted that easily enough.”
I laughed, then grimaced. “It would be even more traumatizing, I think, walking in on one’s grandparents , though, don’t you think?”
Brianna thought a moment. “I dunno, never had grandparents. But now I’m unfortunately picturing Mr. and Mrs. Drummond doing it and I’m horrified.”
I found a small pebble in the dirt and threw it at her. “Mr. and Mrs. Drummond are eighty years old! You’re comparing Jamie and me to them ?!”
“They’re what came to mind when I thought of grandparents!”
I threw another pebble, but this one went wild and almost hit Marsali as she approached.
“Whoa! What did I do?”
“Sorry,” I said. “ This one here is just being rude, is all.”
“We’re talking about what would be worse,” Brianna explained. “Walking in on your parents having sex, or your grand parents having sex.”
Marsali looked back and forth between us with a disgusted scowl, which then cleared as she considered it. “Neither. Walking in on your children would be the worst.”
“Wait, like, your children together ?!’ Brianna shrieked.
“No!” Marsali exclaimed, bending over to find a pebble to throw at her. “Like your son or daughter w’ their spouses, ye numpty!”
Against my wishes, I suddenly had a pervasive image of Brianna and Roger float through my head before I shoved it forcefully away with a shudder. “Marsali is right,” I said. “Now may we please stop talking about this?!”
“Agreed,” Brianna said.
“What are you talking about?” Fergus asked, coming up beside his wife. We all threw pebbles at him.
“‘Tis just a wee scratch, Sassenach,” Jamie said as I cleaned and bandaged the cut on his thumb.
“You say that every time,” I told him. “Sword wound? A wee scratch. Bullet hole? Wee scratch. I swear you could walk in here carrying your own head in your hands and say it was just a wee scratch.”
“Fine then,” Jamie huffed teasingly. “Next time Adso uses his claws on me, I’ll run in wailin’ like a bairn. Would that make ye happy?”
“It’d make me happy,” Marsali piped up. When we both looked at her, she only blinked at us innocently. “I’d just like tae see him do that.”
I chuckled and shook my head at her before focusing again on my accident-prone husband. “What would make me happy , darling, is if you wouldn’t get so many wee scratches .”
Jamie grinned flirtatiously at me. “But it makes ye pay attention tae me.”
“There are better ways of getting attention, you know.”
“Aye,” Marsali said. “Apparently Germain and Mandy saw one of those ways this morning.”
I whipped my head over to her. “Now, they did not !”
“Mistress! Mistress Fraser!”
I recognized John Quincy Myers’ voice at once, but seldom had I heard it raised in such a manner, so I rushed outside, Jamie and Marsali right behind me.
Myers was hopping out of his wagon, then turned to hold his arms out for a woman who’d been riding beside him.
“She’s injured, Mistress,” Myers said over his shoulder. “Found her walkin’ along th’ road, all alone.”
It was growing dark, and all I could really make out was a head of wildly curly hair, and that she was cradling her arm.
“Come inside,” I said gently, motioning for her.
She hesitated, but Myers put his hands on her shoulders and guided her gently up the steps and into the surgery.
In the light, I could see that she was young, and quite beautiful, which no doubt accounted for the way Myers was eyeing her.
Her own eyes shifted all around nervously, before settling on me with disconcerting intensity.
“My name is Claire Fraser,” I said, wondering if she perhaps didn’t speak English. “I’m a healer. This is my husband, Jamie, and daughter-in-law, Marsali. You’ve already met Mr. Myers, I see. What’s your name?”
She looked back and forth between Jamie and me, with an expression that was both amazed and terrified. I wondered what on earth we had done to provoke such an emotion from her, and also wondered if she was about to bolt.
“F...Faith,” she said, her voice barely above a whisper. “M...my name is Faith. Faith Sosa.”
I felt a slight catch in my chest when she said her name, as I did almost any time I heard that particular word. But there was something else about her, something almost familiar, and certainly something...off.”
I guided her toward the cot, and gently took hold of her injured arm, nudging her hand away. Her arm had been hastily bandaged with strips of her petticoat, so I carefully unwound them to see the deep gash in my bicep.
“I’m going to need to help you out of your bodice,” I said. “Gentlemen…”
But Jamie and Myers were already making their exit, and Marsali went to draw the blinds.
“Do you mind telling me what happened?”
She snorted. “I tripped and fell down a hill. Clumsy of me. I was lucky Mr. Myers came along when he did though, because I was hopelessly lost. My shoulder, it’s dislocated too.”
I helped her to strip down to her corset, and could see that she wasn’t joking. The joint was badly out of place. “Where were you going?” I asked, mostly to distract her from the pain.
She gave me a look, and I could tell right away that she didn’t plan on telling me.
“No matter,” I assured her. “You’ll sleep here tonight. In fact, you might ought to rest here for a couple of days, so we can watch and make sure this cut doesn’t get infected. That means…”
“I know what infected means,” she said, almost as if to herself.
The clothes she wore were remarkably well made, but were of thinner fabric than was usual in these parts, meaning she must have been from far away.
“I don’t wanna put you out…” she said as I cleaned the wound.
“We have more than enough room,” I said, smiling at her. “I’m going to need to put a few stitches in this, but first I need to get this shoulder joint back into place. Can you bear it, or would you like me to give you some laudanum for the pain?”
She gave me a wide-eyed look at that and shook her head. “No, I’m good. I mean, I can bear it.”
I had to be careful while maneuvering her arm, unsurprised when the gash started to bleed again. I smiled, and she gave me an unamused look.
“I’m sorry,” I said. “It’s just...the very first time I met my husband was when I set his right shoulder, just like yours.”
She gave a slight smile in return, but it was more of a grimace.
“This is the worst part,” I warned her once I got the arm into position, and she nodded, not even crying out when the joint snapped into place, though Marsali flinched violently from beside me.
Faith sighed then in relief, flexing her fingers. “That’s better,” she said.
“I’m not done yet,” I told her. “I still need to put in the stitches. If you’re sure you don’t want laudanum, Marsali…”
But Marsali was one step ahead of me, holding out a glass of whisky. “This is th’ good stuff, too,” she told her.
Faith hesitated, then with a shrug of her good shoulder, took the glass and then a healthy swallow of it. “It is good,” she agreed, taking another, more appreciative sip.
“You’re a much braver patient than that giant of a husband of mine,” I teased. “He can never be this still when I’m putting in stitches, no matter that it seems that I have to do it every other week.”
“Is he clumsy too?” she asked, offering a ghost of a smile.
I hummed. “Not clumsy, just...a magnet for trouble.”
“Like husband like wife,” Marsali said under her breath, then raised an eyebrow at Faith. “I think it runs in the family, come to think of it.”
“Are you hurt anywhere else?” I asked Faith.
“Just a lot of bruises, and a few blisters” she admitted. “But nothing serious.”
“Well, you look exhausted. Marsali? Do you mind showing Faith to the guest room? The one on the left. I’ll see about warming up a little supper.”
“Of course,” Marsali said, giving Faith a warm smile before leading her out of the surgery.
“Is she alright?” Myers asked when I found him and Jamie in the study.
“She fine,” I told him, smiling at his concern. “Marsali is getting her settled into a room for the night.”
“What d’ye make of her, Sassenach?” Jamie asked.
I shrugged one shoulder. “She wouldn’t say much, but she seems...lost, and more than a bit frightened. Did she tell you anything, John?”
Myers shook his head. “No, no’ much. She was shakin’ like a leaf when I found her, and terrified of me, th’ poor lass.”
“Perhaps she’s fleeing an abusive husband,” Jamie suggested.
“She wouldn’a come wi’ me at first,” Myers continued. “But I didn’a want tae leave her alone. I told her I’d take her to a healer. It was only when I said th’ name Fraser that she agreed to come.”
Jamie and I exchanged a look. “Why?” I asked. “Did she seem to know us?”
“To be quite honest, Mistress, I thought she might ha’ been ken tae ye. That’s why I told her your name.”
“Why did you assume she was a relative?”
“Christ, lass,” Jamie said incredulously. ‘Could ye no see th’ resemblance? She’s th’ verra image of you, lock stock and barrel. Gave me a wee shock tae see her in th’ light. It almost felt like I was seeing you again, th’ way ye were when I first laid eyes on ye. She even sounds a wee bit like ye, if ye were tae speak like Brianna.”
I chuckled. “I suppose any frightened, dirty young woman with curly hair might remind you of the day we met.”
Myers gave us a look. “Dinna think I’ve heard that story...but it sounds like a good one.”
Jamie laughed at his friend. “I’ll tell ye later, Myers.”
Myers smiled. “Aye. Well, I best be going. I might check in on th’ lass tomorrow, if I may? I only figure as I found her, that makes her something of my responsibility.”
Jamie nodded and clapped Myers on the shoulder. “Of course. We’ll take good care of her in th’ meantime.”
I smiled at Myer’s retreating form, waiting until the front door was closed before I spoke to Jamie. “I think someone is a little taken.”
Jamie chuckled. “Seems so. Never seen him like that, before. Suppose he’s a bit like I was, when I first saw you.”
I smiled and shook my head at him before rising up on tiptoe for a kiss. “I’m going to go check on our guest, and then I’ll join you in bed.”
He kissed me again. “I’ll be waiting, Sassenach.”
Chapter 5: Ninja Turtles
Faith reflects on the fact that she’s found her parents.
Claire, Jamie, and the family get to know their new guest.
I followed Marsali up the stairs, in awe of the beautiful house. I said as much to her.
“Oh aye, ‘tis grand is it no’?” she replied, smiling. “Daddy built it. Well, he had help of course, but they were all his plans.”
“Incredible,” I said. “Your dad...that’s James?”
Marsali chuckled, then opened the door to a bedroom, quickly lighting a lamp then stepping to the fireplace to start a fire. The room was small, impersonal in the way guest rooms usually were, but cozy, and clean.
“Nobody calls him James,” she said. “Only Jamie, but aye. D’ye need anything? My ma will no doubt be coming tae check on your bandage before she sleeps.”
I shook my head. “No, I’m fine, thank you Marsali.”
Marsali nodded and smiled, then after a moment’s hesitation, came forward and grasped my hand.
“I ken it’s no’ my business what caused ye tae be alone and hurt th’ way ye were, but I just want ye tae know that ye have friends here.”
The genuine warmth in her voice was enough to bring tears to my eyes, and all I could do was squeeze her hand back and murmur a thank you.
Once she was gone, I sat heavily on the bed, trying to let my brain catch up to everything that had happened in a dizzyingly short amount of time.
The week-long trek in the woods had felt endless, but in truth I’d expected to spend weeks, if not months, tracking down my birth parents. And here, I’d been dropped right into their laps.
In a way, my injury was a blessing. It allowed me an excuse to stay there without having to tell them the truth right away. In fact, it had already crossed my mind a time or two to just not tell them at all.
They seemed to have a nice life here, with friends and family. What if I just messed that up? What if their children resented my presence? And then, there was always my fear that they’d just think that I was a lunatic and have me locked up.
Maybe it would be enough to just stay there, heal, get to know them a little, and then go home.
That all could be figured out later, because for the moment, I was still reeling over having seen them... spoken to them for the first time ever.
Claire was everything I’d imagined. Tall, gorgeous, with an easy smile and a soothing, low pitched voice. Her hair was mostly silvery gray, not like in the photo I had of her, but she somehow managed to maintain a remarkably youthful appearance, and if anything the hair and gentle aging only made her more beautiful.
James...Jamie...well, to be honest, he was nothing like I’d imagined.
Never in my dreams had I envisioned someone quite so... enormous . Not only in height and muscular build, but somehow just his sheer presence took up a room. It should have been incredibly intimidating, but I was given the impression right from the start of kindness.
Honestly, I had a rather hard time believing that two such powerful people had made me. I mean, I thought I was attractive enough, but in no way did I have a presence in the way they did. It made me wonder if Raymond had made a huge mistake.
And to top it all off, they’d taken me in. A complete stranger off the street in the middle of the night, not knowing whether I was a psycho or a fugitive, they’d brought me to stay in their home. It made me smile...because it was the sort of thing my Mami and Papi would have done.
Marsali brought back up a spare shift and a pitcher of water, so I gratefully stripped out of my filthy clothes and thoroughly scrubbed - wishing like hell for a shower - before putting on the soft, white gown. I wondered absently if it was Marsali’s, or Claire’s.
I sat down at the vanity then, laboriously trying to pick at my knotted hair with one hand.
There was a soft knock at the door, and when I called for them to come in, I saw Claire’s face peek in through the reflection in the mirror.
She took me in, and smiled. “A pain isn’t it?” at my confused look, she pointed at my head. “Having curls?”
“You have no…” I chuckled, catching myself. “No, I guess you do have an idea, don’t you?”
When I’d first arrived, her hair had been in a neat updo, but she’d since taken it down and it fluttered over her shoulders in gleaming spirals.
“Indeed I do,” she replied. “But I have an oil that I use that helps with tangles. Would you like to try some?”
I nodded, and she disappeared a moment before returning with a little green bottle in her hand. She twirled her finger around, so I turned and faced the mirror again.
Gentle fingers worked the oil into my hair, carefully picking at the snarls.
She of course had touched me when she set and stitched my arm, but at the time I barely knew what was happening, too overwhelmed and absorbed in pain. Now, in the quiet room, I felt a chill go through me. And she...she had no idea what it meant, such a typical motherly action as fixing hair.
“Are you alright?” she asked quietly, and I realized that a tear had escaped and was rolling down my cheek.
I quickly brushed it away. “I’m fine. Just thinking of...of my mother.”
I chuckled. “Her hair was straight as silk. She never did know what to do with mine.”
Claire chuckled as well. “My daughter, Brianna has curls, but her hair is more like her father’s, and damn her if she just doesn’t get tangles the way you and I do!”
“Does...does your daughter live here too?”
“She and her family live nearby. I’m sure you’ll meet them tomorrow.”
I wanted to ask about Marsali, but couldn’t think how without sounding weird. I thought that Claire had referred to her as daughter-in-law, but that would have to mean that there was a son...and nothing in anything I’d ever found about them, or that Raymond had told me, suggested that they’d had more than the one child.
“Mr. Myers said he’d drop by tomorrow and check on you, as well,” Claire continued.
“He’s a kind man,” I said.
“Yes, very. And he’s been a good and loyal friend to me and my husband. Do you have a husband?”
I knew fishing when I heard it, but I could scarcely blame her. “No,” I said. “I’ve never been married. My father passed away recently. He...he was all the family I had.”
I hated how needy that made me sound, but I wanted to try and be as honest with her as I could.
“I’m so sorry,” she said, and I could tell she meant it. “May I ask how old you are?”
I watched her reflection in the mirror blink in surprise, then she twisted her body around to look right at my face. “Goodness. I would have guessed much younger.”
I laughed and shrugged. “It’s okay. I get that a lot. A friend of mine used to say it was because I don’t have any kids.”
Claire laughed too. “She may well be right. There, all done.”
I reached back and touched my hair, marveling at its softness. Not even the most expensive products in my time had made it feel like that!
“Wow, that stuff is good!”
“I make it myself,” she said. “I’ll put together a bottle for you tomorrow.”
I turned around in my seat to smile up at her. “Thank you, Claire. For everything.”
Claire smiled back, and lightly brushed a curl off my face. “You’re welcome, Faith. Sleep well.”
“How is the patient?” Jamie asked as I got into bed beside him.
“Settled in,” I said.
“Did she tell ye anything?”
I sat back against the pillows, thinking. “Not much. She seemed honest in what she did say, though. She’s never been married, and her father passed away recently. None of that really explains how she got to where Myers found her, hurt and all alone.”
Jamie hummed in though. “Poor lass. Must have gotten herself into a bit of trouble. She’s no’ married, but that doesn’a mean a man isn’a responsible.”
“True,” I said. “But I think she’ll be alright. Once her arm is healed, we can help her get to wherever she needs to be. Or perhaps, if she doesn’t have anywhere, she can settle here.”
Jamie looked at me from the corner of his eyes. “Ye’re as bad as Myers, Sassenach. Known her but a few hours and already ye’re ready for her tae stay.”
I rolled my eyes at him. “I’m only saying . She indicated she doesn’t really have anyone, so here is just as good a place as any, isn’t it?”
“Oh, aye, I’m only teasing ye. She seems a sweet lass. And bonny, too...looking so like you as she does. She’ll have all th’ young lads on the Ridge at her heels th’ moment they see her. They’ll think they’re in heaven, a woman nearly as beautiful as Mistress Fraser, but unmarrit and more their age.”
I laughed, and nudged his shoulder with mine. “Don’t go marrying her off to the very young boys, mind. She’s thirty-four.”
Jamie whipped his head around to me, brows up in surprise. “Truly? Weel, she really is like you. Ye never have looked your age.”
I kissed his nose. “Charmer. Now, blow out that light, would you? It’s late, and I’m tired.”
Jamie put out the light, then rolled over and pulled me into his arms. “Just how tired are ye, Sassenach?”
I grinned at the way his hips nudged mine in question. “Tired...but perhaps I could be persuaded to stay awake a few more moments…”
It wasn’t the first time I’d dreamt of her, far from it. But time had healed that wound, and I dreamt of her less and less as the years went on. Before, when I dreamed of the child I lost, it was of a little girl with red hair, just like Jamie’s, and Brianna’s. That night, for some reason, I dreamt of her again, but the little girl looked more like, well, me.
“Good morning, Granny,” Jemmy chirped, literally sliding into the kitchen.
“Jemmy!” I scolded laughingly when he almost slid right into the kitchen island. “Be careful!”
He grinned unrepentantly. “I have a present for you!” With that, he got down on one knee and produced a bouquet of daylilies from behind his back with a flourish.
I gave a dramatic gasp and put a hand delicately on my chest. “Oh, my! What a gentleman! They’re beautiful!”
“ And useful,” he said as I took the bouquet and went in search of a vase. “You said you use these in medicine, didn’t you?”
“I do! And it makes me even happier that you remembered!”
“Show-off,” Jamie said with a fond chuckle.
I winked at my husband. “You could learn a thing or two from this young man. He’s well on his way to giving you a run for your money as King of All Men .”
Jamie narrowed his eyes at me playfully and tossed a small hunk of bread in my direction.
“Jemmy,” I said. “Where’re Mandy and your parents?”
“They’re coming,” he said, sitting next to Jamie at the table. Mom didn’a want Mandy running in again in case you and Grandda were having private time again.”
I groaned loudly as Jamie just laughed, then glanced over to the side. “Behave, lad,” he said. “We’ve a guest. Come on in, lass. Dinna mind this wee gomeral.”
I turned around to see Faith standing in the doorway. “Morning,” she said shyly.
“Come, have a seat,” I said, smiling reassuringly. “I’m afraid it’s just porridge this morning. Normally Lizzie makes breakfast, but she’s been feeling poorly so I’m afraid you’ll have to suffer my efforts.”
“Oh, I don’t mind,” she said more cheerfully, sitting across from Jemmy. “I can’t cook worth sh…” she glanced over at the boy. “Shhhirt.”
Jemmy giggled. “I know you were about to say shit.”
“Jeremiah!” I exclaimed, the shook my head. “I’m sorry, Faith. This is Jemmy, our grandson. Jem, this is Mistress Faith, and she’s our guest.”
“Hello,” he said to her, offering a little wave.
“Th’ rest o’ th’ brood will be along soon,” Jamie said. “I hope ye dinna mind a bit of ruckus.”
Faith grinned. “Not a bit. It was just me and my parents back home, so I’m interested to see what a big family is like.”
“Well, we’ve family in spades,” I said with pleasure. “There’s our daughter and her husband, and their two children,” I nodded at Jemmy. “You met Marsali last night, she’s married to our son, Fergus, and they have three. There’s also Lizzie. She’s like family, and her...husbands…”
Faith laughed. “Husbands? Plural?”
I shook my head. “Long story. We also have many tenants who may be in and out, just so you’re not alarmed by all the coming and going.”
I set a cup of coffee in front of Jamie, then another in front of Faith, before turning back to breakfast.
“How are ye feeling?” Jamie asked.
“Better after a good night’s sleep,” Faith said, gingerly touching her arm. “Just a dull ache now.”
“Claire told me of your father. I’m sorry, lass.”
Faith sighed. “Thanks. He just never bounced back after my mother died. He tried, I know, for my sake, but they...they were just meant to be together, you know?”
I turned around, finding Jamie’s eyes on me. “Aye,” he said. “I know.”
He looked back at Faith. “I hope ye dinna mind my asking, but your name...Sosa, that’s unusual in these parts.”
“My parents were from Honduras,” Faith said, her tongue rolling expertly on the word. “But both moved to the...colonies…as children. They were farmers.”
I could hear the smile in Jamie’s voice as he spoke. “They sound like fine people.”
I was digging in the pantry for cinnamon when Brianna and Roger came in with Mandy, and I looked up with a smile that quickly turned to a smirk of amusement when Brianna went directly up to Faith from behind, placed a hand on her shoulder, and kissed the top of her head. “Morning, Mama.”
I hid behind the pantry door and watched as Faith frowned in confusion and slowly turned her head.
Brianna leapt away from Faith like she’d been burned. “Holy shit!”
“Ha!” Jemmy crowed.
“Who are you?” Brianna asked, eyes wide, as were Roger’s.
They both looked up at me where I was emerging, laughing, from behind the pantry door. “That’s Faith,” I told them. “Our guest.”
“I’m sorry,” Brianna said to Faith. “It’s just...Da, do you see this too?”
“Aye,” Jamie said, eyes twinkling. “Apologies, Faith. It’s only that ye seem to look a wee bit like our Claire.”
“Wee bit?” Roger said. “I’d say a wee bit more than a wee bit.”
“Kowabunga!” Mandy exclaimed suddenly, jumping to land directly in front of Faith with her hands up in a karate stance, a red scarf tied around her head.
“What th’ devil?” Jamie asked bemusedly as Faith only laughed.
“Sorry,” Brianna apologized again, guiding her daughter away. “She’s uh...going through a phase.”
“Anyway,” I broke in, bringing the porridge to the table and hoping to distract our guest from my youngest granddaughter’s more peculiar games. “Faith, meet our daughter Brianna, and her husband Roger. The hyper-active little one is Mandy.”
“Nice to meet you,” Faith said.
Brianna and Jamie launched in on discussing their latest project to improve the new house, while Roger focused on getting Mandy to put the majority of her porridge in her mouth and not on her frock.
Soon, Marsali and Fergus arrived with their children, and everything was the usual daily madness.
Faith smiled, seeming to enjoy herself, but remained a quiet spectator. I was keeping an eye on her, speculating on if I needed to offer some pain medication for her arm, and was watching as Mandy sidled up beside her.
“Are you Donatello?” Faith asked her quietly.
“No!” Mandy said with affront. “I’m Raphael!”
Faith chuckled. “Oh, my mistake.”
I wondered in amusement what on earth renaissance artists had to do with Mandy’s playacting, but at least someone understood it.
Chapter 6: Obstacle Course
Faith gets to know the rest of the Fraser family, and certain truths get forced into the open
It was like watching some kind hybrid love-child of Full House and Hamilton, sitting at the breakfast table that morning.
The love these people had for one another was palpable, and it was beautiful to see. Conversations were loud and fast-paced and happening simultaneously. It was such a stark change from what I was used to growing up; quiet mornings before the sun was even up, Papi reading the paper, Mami serving him bacon and eggs and me sugary cereal because I was a picky eater as a child. And it was worlds different than the silent mornings of coffee that I experienced as an adult. It was different, but I liked it.
The really entertaining part though, was watching them act like none of them were time travelers. Really? They just thought they could casually invent indoor plumbing and no one would notice?
Claire’s first patient of the day showed up right after breakfast with a toothache, and she smiled apologetically at me as she escorted him to her surgery.
Jamie excused himself as well with Fergus and Roger to do work at the whisky still they apparently had, leaving me with Marsali and Brianna.
I felt unduly nervous, my brain working a mile a minute trying to figure out how to relate to these two women without being weird, or giving myself away. I’d always wished I had siblings, sisters particularly. These women were clearly close, and I was just a random stranger, but dammit, I wanted them to like me.
“Laundry day,” Marsali said with a dramatic sigh, handing the last of her porridge off to one of her daughters to finish.
“Do you need any help?” I asked, then nodded wryly to my arm. “Not sure how much help I’d be, but I’ve got one good arm!”
“You shouldn’t exert yourself,” Brianna said kindly. “But come on, keep us company!”
There were several women already setting up basins of water and soap in the field by the house. Apparently the entire Ridge did laundry on the same day, and it seemed like a bit of a social affair. Everyone was friendly toward me, but I still felt like an awkward outsider, especially considering the fact that I wasn’t of much use.
I’d taken some of my private stash of painkillers, so that I wasn’t forced to take any of Claire’s 18th century stuff, but I was still aching.
“Think you can manage this one-handed?” Brianna asked, holding up the big spatula-looking-thing that they seemed to be using to agitate the clothes.
“Sure,” I said, grateful to her for at least trying to give me work to do, so that I wasn’t feeling like a lump.
“Where are you from? Originally?” Brianna asked as we worked side-by-side.
“Uh, I grew up in Texas,” I said, sticking as close to the truth as possible. “My parents were farmers. But after my mom died, the farm got to be just too much for my dad, so he ended up taking a position in Connecticut teaching agriculture, until he got sick, that is.”
Brianna smiled. “I grew up in Boston. My dad was a teacher, too.”
For a moment, I forgot all about what I knew of Brianna’s life, and looked at her questioningly.
“Oh, I don’t mean Jamie,” she said, flushing. “I was raised by someone else. Long story.”
I held up my hand to show her I wasn’t going to pry. “No worries. I was adopted right after I was born.”
“Yeah? Do you have any family left from your birth parents’ side?”
I shrugged my good shoulder. “Could be.”
“Well, if it you find yourself in need of a place to stay for a while, you couldn’t have picked a better one. People look out for each other here, and my parents look out for everyone. You’d be welcome to stay.”
I grimaced. “I wouldn’t want to put your parents out. It’s not like I can go and build myself a cabin right now.”
Brianna waved me off. “Oh, trust me, they don’t mind. Just so long as you don’t mind public displays of affection. They can be a little excessive sometimes.”
I laughed. “Leave it to a daughter to think so!”
She flicked some water at me. “Hmph, you’ll see!”
Grinning, I flicked some back.
I stirred the water until my arm felt like it was going to fall off, and finally had to take a step back and just watch.
From the corner of my eye, I saw a large figure approaching, and looked over to see the man who’d given me a ride. I’d been so out of it at the time, but I remembered he had a long name...what was it again?
“Oh, hi,” I greeted him. “...John, right? John...Quincy.”
He smiled as he reached me. “Och, call me Myers, Mistress. “John” makes me sound too much like that dandy husband of Mac Dubh’s wife.”
I shook my head, trying to figure out what he was saying. “W...who? What ?”
Brianna laughed from her place at the basin. “Myers, come on. Sorry about him, Faith. Lord John is a family friend, and an impossible person not to like. But there was a whole…situation...long story.”
I honestly didn’t know what they were talking about. I thought I might remember a Lord of some sort being involved with the Frasers, but I didn’t know who Mac Dubh was or what Myers meant by “husband of his wife.” I decided not to pry, however.
“How are ye feeling, lass?” Myers asked.
“Much better,” I said, smiling. “I can’t thank you enough for your help last night.”
Myers cleared his throat and nodded, seemingly thrown off by the praise.
I was distracted from my conversation with Myers when Marsali snapped at her youngest daughter for walking along the top of the fence surrounding the horse corral, I volunteered to go after her.
“I’ll talk to you later, Mr. Myers,” I said.
Myers harrumphed. “Just Myers, Mistress.”
I turned and walked backward a moment, facing him. “In that case, it’s Faith, not Mistress .”
I turned back around, but heard him say, “Faith,” as I went.
“Careful there,” I told the little girl when I reached the horse corral. “Wouldn’t want to fall in and have one of those things step on you.”
“I won’t fall,” she said. “My little brother used to do this all the time.”
“Little brother?” I asked. “I thought you just had an older one.”
She frowned, but accepted my hand to help her down. “Henri-Christian died.”
“Oh…” I said awkwardly, unsure how to respond. “I’m so sorry. Come on, why don’t we go practice that over there, on those logs? Then at least your mom wouldn’t get angry.”
She shrugged and let me lead away, over to where some logs were laid out on the ground, presumably waiting to be chopped into firewood.
Prior to medical school, I’d worked in the summers as a camp counselor, so despite being an only child, I did know a thing or two about kids.
“I’m so sorry, could you remind me what your name is?” I asked her. “I’m afraid with all the introductions this morning, I forgot.”
“Felicité,” she said. “My sister is Joanie, but she’d rather be inside sewing than playing with me. And the boys never let me play with them.”
“How rude,” I gushed. “What about Mandy? She seems fun.”
Felicité chuckled. “When you can find her.”
I hummed. “Well, you know the fastest way to get kids to come find you?”
I grinned at her. “Have as much fun as possible!”
Within minutes, I had directed the little girl in how to set up a crude obstacle course using the logs, along with various branches, a strip of leather, and a wagon wheel.
As I suspected, Germain and Jemmy emerged from the barn, curious as to what we were doing. Once I explained, they were only too eager to help. And sure enough, Mandy appeared from seemingly nowhere, still with that red scarf tied around her head. Even Joanie eventually must have heard us or come to check, because she was there too, along with a handful of other children. Before long we had a full-on relay race happening, with me on the sidelines keeping score. Normally I’d be right there with them, but my whole body was beginning to ache, and I decided that the events of the past week were seriously catching up to me. But I was content to enjoy watching them laugh and run.
It had been a busy, busy morning and afternoon. A tooth extraction, two lanced boils, a mild burn, and a broken nose. After seeing Mr. Humphrey out with his nose bandaged and held high, Jamie appeared, setting a tied cloth on my work table.
“Ye haven’a even stopped tae eat, Sassenach,” he scolded, coming up behind me to massage my shoulders. “Rest now, there’s no one else outside waiting.”
The smell of the bannocks in the cloth were tempting, as of course were Jamie’s hands, but I sighed and resisted them all.
“I will,” I said. “But I want to go find Faith and check on her arm, first.”
“Last I saw, she was outside wi’ Bree and th’ other ladies wi’ the laundry.”
I huffed. “Oh, I forgot it was laundry day! And here I haven’t helped them at all.”
Jamie chuckled. “Ye make it sound like ye’ve been in here, idly twiddling your thumbs, Sassenach. Ye’ve work more pressing than clothes.”
“Still doesn’t feel right that I always manage to escape the more domestic duties,” I said wryly. “I’m the Lady of the Ridge, aren’t I?”
“That ye are, but ye’re also our doctor, and we’d be lost wi’out you. I know I would.”
I smiled, and kissed him lightly. “You have a point, there.”
“Now, go and find th’ lass, so you can come back and eat.”
I gave my husband a teasing salute, then held back a giggle when he swatted my rear as I left.
“Hey, Mama,” Brianna said when I made my way outside. “We’ve just about got it all finished.”
“I see that. I’m sorry I couldn’t help, it was a busy day in the surgery.”
Brianna chuckled. “Don’t worry about it. Seems like whenever the weather is nice, more people get hurt.”
“That’s because when the weather is nice, everyone is anxious to get outside and hurt themselves. Where is Faith? Your father said she was out here, and I wanted to check her stitches.”
Bree and Marsali both laughed.
“They’re o’er on th’ side of the house,” Marsali said. “Last I checked, Faith had all th’ children running a gamut they made, just like a general wi’ a wee army.”
Brianna grinned. “She’s good with them, and they’ve all taken to her like flies to honey. You know, Mama, I sort of get the impression that Faith doesn’t really have anywhere else to go, now that her father is gone.”
“Hm, yes, I got the same impression,” I said. “There’s something about her, though, something familiar .”
“What, you mean like how you two practically share a face ?” she looked over her shoulder at Marsali, but she’d gone to help the other women hang the clothes. “It makes you wonder...what if she’s like, an ancestor of ours or something?”
“Really, Bree, what would be the odds?” I asked, although I couldn’t deny that the thought hadn’t entered my mind.
She rolled her eyes. “Please, Mother. What are the odds of me falling for Roger, who just happens to be like us? What are the odds of me running into Geillis? What are the odds of you running into Daddy’s disgusting ancestor when you first arrived? Our lives are basically just one coincidence after another.”
“Alright, fine,” I said. “You have a point. But she told me that both of her parents were from Honduras and I’m fairly certain I haven’t any Honduran in my ancestry.”
“Yeah, but she’s adopted.”
“ Maman! Maman! ” Germain shouted, though he changed his direction the moment he saw me. “ Grandmere ! Grandmere come fast! Mistress Faith was playing with us, and she became ill and fainted!”
“Germain, get your grandfather,” I snapped, getting handfuls of my skirts so that I could run, Brianna and Marsali right behind me.
All I could see at first was a circle of children, but I hurriedly shooed them all away, kneeling beside Faith’s prone form and touching her head.
“She’s burning up,” I said, carefully rolling up her sleeve. I’d specifically chosen it to loan to her, knowing that the sleeves were loose and wouldn’t hurt her wound. When I moved aside the bandage, I hissed through my teeth. “Goddammit. I was afraid of this.”
“Sassenach?!” Jamie called, running up alongside Germain.
“Jamie, I need you to carry Faith inside,” I said. “Her arm is infected. Marsali…”
“Aye,” Marsali said at once. “I’ll prepare th’ penicillin.”
“Is Mistress Faith going to be alright?” Felicité asked, her lower lip wobbling.
“She’s going to be just fine, my love,” I told her. “We’ll get her some medicine, and she’ll be fine. Germain, see to your sisters.”
“Yes, Grandmere .”
Jamie gently carried Faith into the surgery. “Christ, she’s on fire,” he murmured.
“I know, lay her down,” I said. “Pour some of the alcohol into a bowl with water, and wash her face with it, just be mindful of her eyes.”
Jamie did as ordered as Marsali and I readied the penicillin injection.
“What happened?” Faith said weakly, opening her eyes.
“Shh, dinna fash, lass,” Jamie said soothingly. “Claire will fix ye right up. Ye’ll be fine.”
Jamie smiled, and brushed the hair back off her face. “Nay, a leannan , tis only me.”
“I came here for a reason,” she said. “I didn’t know how to tell you…”
“Shh, ye can tell us later, rest now.”
I got the syringe ready, but her dazed eyes widened at the sight of it. “Wait, what is that?”
“It’s alright,” I assured her. “It’s only medicine. It will help you.”
“But what is it?!”
“I...it’s called penicillin. It…”
“No!” she cried suddenly, nearly launching herself off the examination bed, and might have had Jamie not stopped her. “Don’t give that to me!”
“Faith, please,” I begged her. “I have nothing else and if we don’t do something about your infection you could die.”
“I’m allergic !”
I froze, then jerked the hand still holding the syringe back as if I could accidentally inject it from a foot away. “What?”
She slumped back against Jamie’s hold, her eyes struggling to stay open and her head falling against his chest. “I’m...I’m allergic to penicillin.”
I practically threw the syringe at Marsali at that point, appalled with myself. I’d seen fine well what a penicillin allergy could do, and I’d let my fear for Faith’s life cloud my judgement. “I’m so sorry,” I said. “I should have at least tested first I…”
Then something occurred to me, and I gave her a long, hard look. “How on earth did you know that you’re allergic to penicillin?”
“I was given it as a baby,” she said. “If you...if you just give me my bag...I have other antibiotics.”
“Marsali,” I said, without taking my eyes off of Faith. “Could you please go get her bag?”
Marsali was watching us all with wide eyes, but nodded at once. “Yes, Ma.”
Once Marsali was gone, I sat beside Faith on the bed as Jamie laid her back down. “Faith...penicillin...it hasn’t been invented yet.”
“What do you mean? You just…” her eyes widened again. “Oh, shit.”
Marsali returned quickly with the bag, and for the first time, I took a good look at it, realizing at once that it was nothing that could have been made in the 18th century. When I opened it, the contents inside more than proved my rising suspicions, while they also confused me. But there was a zippered pouch on top containing little plastic pill bottles.
Faith reached over, plucking one of the bottles from the pouch and handing it to me. “That one I can take. Two at first, and then one every four hours.”
“You’re sure?” I asked her.
She nodded, her eyes starting to droop. “I’m a doctor.”
I met Jamie’s eyes, which looked as astonished as I felt, then had him hold Faith up so I could get her to swallow two of the pills.
After that, she could no longer stay awake, and I had Jamie move her to the bed in the corner.
“God in Heaven,” Marsali said, having evidently been rooting through Faith’s things and was now holding what looked to be a technological device of some kind. Certainly nothing out of my time...but perhaps Brianna would know. “What is all this?”
“Marsali, put her things back please,” I admonished. “All that matters right now is that this woman is ill. We need to make sure she gets one of these pills every four hours, and we should try and get some food in her as well. Could you go see about preparing a broth?”
Marsali nodded and took her leave, and I sat heavily on the bed beside Faith, looking up at Jamie.
“Is she...like you?” he asked.
“She has to be,” I said. “It’s the only way she could know about having a penicillin allergy, and the things she has in her bag are things even I can’t name,” I shook my head. “I cannot believe I almost gave her the penicillin without testing her first...I know better.”
“Ye were worried,” Jamie reason, pulling up a chair to sit before me. “And ye said it yourself, she’d likely die without an antibiotic. ‘Tis only lucky she had some of her own.”
I looked back down at Faith, noticing how very young she looked while she was sleeping, her face flushed with fever.
“Do you think she knew when she came here? Do you think she came to find us on purpose ?”
“Perhaps,” Jamie said.
I shook my head. “Well, it doesn’t matter now. Step out, please, I’m going to undress her.”
Jamie nodded and stood up to go, but not before looking back at her once more. The look on his face was so soft, something I’d only seen from him when looking at one of our children or grandchildren.
If she was from the future, she couldn’t be an ancestor like Bree had thought. A descendant, perhaps. But why on earth had she come here?
Chapter 7: Not for Nothing
As Faith heals from her infection, Claire and Jamie seek answers.
I drifted in and out of consciousness for an unknown amount of time, feeling weightless and in motion, no matter that I knew that I was in bed.
It was like that feeling after spending the day at the beach, swimming in the ocean, and when you lay in bed that night there is that faint hallucinatory sensation of still being tossed around by waves.
I was very dimly aware that I was never alone. Someone was always there. Claire, Jamie, Marsali, Brianna, I even thought Roger might have taken a turn watching over me.
In my dreams I saw Papi and Mami, holding my hands, brushing the hair off my face, murmuring words of love and encouragement.
I came home from first grade feeling disgruntled. Mami picked up on it right away, drawing me into the kitchen for an afternoon snack.
“What is it, nina?” Mami asked.
“Mrs. Douglas assigned us a family project,” I said, my brows furrowed.
“Oh? And what is so wrong with that, hm?”
“We have to make a family tree,” I explained. “With pictures and stuff. One of the other girls said I can’t make one cause you and Papi aren’t my real parents. I never even told her I was adopted, she knew cause I don’t look like you.”
Mami ‘tsked’ and shook her head. “That sounds like another little girl who will grow up to be very small-minded, not like you Faith. Lots of families don’t look the same, but that doesn’t mean they’re not family.”
“I know that ,” I assured her. “But my teacher said that the family tree is about DNA. Like, the reason my eyes are blue, or why my hair is so curly.”
“Well...you get that from your birth mother. You know that.”
“I know. But how come you never told me anything else about her? Like, where she is now, or why she gave me away to Uncle Raymond?”
Mami leaned on the counter, giving me a long look. “We were waiting...until you were old enough to understand.”
Mami waited until Papi came in from the field, and together they told me the whole truth, even showing me the picture they had of Claire and Brianna, my little sister. I could see a little of myself in them...but everything else they told me, about the stones and time travel...it didn’t make sense.
“Can they come here?” I asked.
“It isn’t easy,” Papi said. “And your father isn’t able to do it at all, only your mother, and your sister. Coming here could maybe mean they could never go back to him, and you going there ...well...Faith, it could mean you wouldn’t ever come back.”
“Then I don’t wanna go!” I exclaimed, suddenly feeling like this time portal would open up in the floor under my feet and suck me in. “I wanna stay here, with you!”
“We know, mi amor,” Mami said, putting her arm around me. “And we want you here. Maybe that’s a little selfish of Papi and I. But we love you so.”
I opened my eyes, still feeling the ghost of my mother’s embrace. I looked all around the room, feeling clearer of mind than I had in some time.
Claire was curled up in a chair by the bed, a green shawl wrapped tightly around her, asleep. It made her look small and young.
Her sleep didn’t look restful though. Her face was contorted in pain, eyes beneath her eyelids rolling, and her arms twitched madly.
“Claire,” I murmured, my voice hoarse from thirst and disuse. “Claire!”
She awoke with a start, wild eyes searching the dark for danger before finally settling on me, and her whole body relaxed. “Faith!” she gasped. “You’re awake!”
I nodded. “Seems so. Did you have a bad dream?”
Claire grimaced. “Old ghosts, I’m afraid. But I’m fine. How are you is the question…” she got up and sat on the bed beside me, feeling my head. “Your fever has broken.”
“How long has it been?” I asked.
Claire got up and returned with a glass and a pitcher of water, helping me into a sitting position so that I could take a grateful sip.
“This is the fourth night. We almost lost you.”
I let myself fall back into the pillows, exhausted from just the action of drinking, even though the cool water had perked me up tremendously. “I think I knew that.”
“Thank God you had these,” she said, holding up the bottle of Doxycycline. “I was beginning to fear it would run out. Faith, I am so sorry for not testing the penicillin on you first. It was an unforgivable mistake, and could have cost you your life had you not known of your allergy.”
“Don’t beat yourself up,” I said. “If I didn’t have the other antibiotic, I’d have been dead anyway. Having access to penicillin now is extraordinary. Question is... how ?”
Claire smiled a little bashfully. “Well, I made it. I knew the sort of mold to look for, and just kept trying to grow it until I was successful.”
“Wow,” I breathed.
“It’s true then,” she said. “You’re from...from the future?”
I nodded. “Yeah.”
“Did you…were you looking for me? For us?”
I sighed, then nodded again. “Yes.”
Claire opened her mouth, no doubt to ask the millions of question she had to have, but I cut her off.
“Claire, look, I’m going to explain myself, I promise. But if it's all the same to you, I’d rather do it when my head is a little more clear, and with Jamie there too.”
Claire nodded at once. “Of course. It can wait. You need your rest. Are you hungry? There’s some broth I can heat up.”
I smiled and shook my head. “I’m out of danger, I’m fine, and you look ready to keel over. Go get some sleep.”
Claire’s eyes twinkled as she pulled her shawl tighter around her. “Are those doctor’s orders?”
“Mhmm,” I replied. “You bet. I prescribe uninterrupted sleep until at least daybreak.”
“Uninterrupted sleep,” she snorted. “Try being married to my husband. But fine, I’ll go.”
I was inwardly cringing at her words as I watched her go, but called for her as she reached the door. “Claire? Thank you.”
She smiled. “You’re welcome. Good night, Faith.”
I sat with the cup of steaming coffee in front of me, warming my hands, just staring at it.
“Are ye trying tae absorb it through your skin?” Jamie teased, sitting beside me.
I smirked at him. “I think Bree’s sarcasm is rubbing off on you, dear.”
Jamie smirked back. “Aye, because it’s no’ as if she didn’a get it from you . Now, what’s really th’ problem? Has Faith’s fever returned?”
“No,” I said. “She’s fine. Still sleeping. I just...I’m dying to know who she is, and why she’s here.”
“She told you she’d tell us,” Jamie reasoned, plucking the cup out of my hands in order to take a sip. “Just give her time. Ye dinna think she’s some sort of danger tae us, d’ye? No’ someone like Geillis?”
I snorted. “To be fair, between Geillis and Donnor, we have good reason to be gun shy of any time traveler that aren’t our own children or grandchildren. But no, I don’t think she means us ill. She does need her next dose of antibiotic though.”
Jamie covered my hand with his. “Sit, Sassenach, I’ll go tend th’ lass.”
I smiled in thanks and sipped my coffee, closing my eyes to better appreciate the taste and much-needed caffeine.
A part of me was a little afraid of what Faith’s presence meant. Our lives had finally settled into relative peace, with all our loved ones near, and safe. We’d been through so much that I couldn’t help but be wary of anything that might disrupt all that.
Finishing my coffee, I stood up to go start prepping my surgery for the day.
“Faith alright?” I asked, taking stock of my medicines. “Is she ready for some breakfast?”
“She’s still asleep.”
I glanced up at him. “Jamie, she needs her antibiotic. Do you...Jamie?”
He was standing in the doorway of the surgery, a dazed expression on his face, staring at something in his palm.
“Jamie?” I set down the comfrey and went over to him. “What’s wrong? Is it Faith?”
He shook his head slowly, and I tried to peer into his hand, but he was cradling whatever it was like a baby bird. “I accidentally knocked over Faith’s pack,” he said. “I was picking up her belongings and…”
“What?” I asked. “For God’s sake, Jamie, what is it?”
He finally held his hand out to me, and there, in his palm, was a smooth, amber stone, in the center of which, was a dragonfly.
I felt my mouth fall open slightly, and took the stone from him. Of course it was perfectly possible for there to be more than one such trinket in the world, but the second it was in my hand, and I ran my thumb across its smooth surface, I knew it was mine.
“Where did you find this?” I whispered.
“It was in her bag,” he said. “I lost it at Culloden. I never thought I’d see it again.”
“I remember seeing it in a museum,” I said, and he gave me a surprised look. “It was a collection of things found in the moor.”
Jamie grimaced and shivered, and I couldn’t blame him for feeling unsettled by that. “How did she get this? Why does she have it?”
The floor creaked, and I looked over to see Faith peeking into the surgery, one of Jamie’s knitted throws wrapped around her.
“Faith?” I said, feeling my voice shake slightly. “You shouldn’t be up, dear.”
“I’m feeling better,” she said, looking back and forth between us. “I needed to move around. Something wrong?”
I stared hard at her, having that strange sensation again of knowing her somehow.
“Who are you?” I demanded. “Why have you come here?”
“I…” Faith stammered, looking around as if for an escape.
“Why don’t ye have a seat?” Jamie asked gently, going and guiding her to a stool. “Ye hungry, lass?”
“Not really,” she said, looking like she wanted to sink into the floor, and I regretted my bluntness. She had been very ill recently, after all. “I guess you deserve some answers, huh?”
“Where did you get this?” I asked more calmly, holding out the piece of amber.
Faith stared at it, caught, until she looked back up at me with slightly narrowed eyes. “You went through my things?”
“Jamie knocked your bag over on his way in to give you your antibiotic and found it. Did you take your antibiotic?”
Faith rolled her eyes good-naturedly. “ Yes , m…” she trailed off and flushed, but I recognized her tone of voice. It had sounded just like Brianna when she sarcastically said “ yes , Mom,” to Roger when he was fussing at her for some thing or another.
“This is mine,” I continued. “Well, it was. I gave it to Jamie and he lost it thirty years ago. How did you get it?”
“It was given to me,” she said, then sighed. “Look, maybe I should just start at the beginning. I...you see...maybe you should crack out the whisky?”
“It’s six in the morning,” I pointed out, but Jamie was already grabbing us some glasses.
“Here ye are, lass,” he said, handing her a glass, from which she took a large gulp.
“You’re not supposed to drink with antibiotics but fuck it,” she muttered.
“You must be part Scot,” I joked.
Faith looked so much like a frightened deer, I felt the urge to console her, and tell her that whatever it was she needed to tell us, could wait. But the need to know just who on earth she was, was eating at me.
“Ye needn’t be afraid, Faith,” Jamie said softly. “No matter what, we willn’a hurt ye.”
“I know,” she said, sitting up straighter. “It’s just...I’m not sure you’ll believe me, for one thing.”
I snorted. “I’m a time traveler from the 1960s. There’s very little you could surprise me with anymore. Why don’t you start from when you’re from?”
“The two-thousand-twenties,” she said, and well, that did surprise me.
“Christ,” Jamie said. “What must th’ world be like then ?”
Faith laughed, but it wasn’t a very happy sound. “A hot mess, that’s what. Civil unrest, crooked world leaders, global pandemic, murder wasps…”
“Pandemic?” I asked at the same time Jamie said “ Murder wasps?!”
Faith held out her hand, and after a moment’s hesitation, I handed her the amber. “My uncle gave this to me,” she said. “He told me that it belonged to you. You know him. Raymond.”
“Master Raymond? He’s your uncle?”
She shrugged. “In a fashion,” she stood up then, pacing restlessly. “He...he told me that...he only did what he did because our lives depended on it.”
“Who’s lives?” Jamie asked.
“Mine,” she said, then looked at me. “Yours. Brianna’s.”
I shook my head. “You aren’t making any sense. What are you saying?”
“I need you to listen,” she said, struggling to hold back tears. “I need you to open your mind, try to understand. You never would have gone back to your time if I’d been there. You wouldn’t have risked me. You might not have even been with Jamie at the battle, or maybe you would have tried to escape together. But no matter what, if you’d stayed in this time, you wouldn’t have survived Brianna’s birth. That...that’s what he told me.”
“ What are you saying?!” I demanded, getting to my feet. My heart was starting to thunder in my chest, almost not even wanting to understand what she was telling us. I knew it to be true; Brianna’s birth was difficult and I very likely would not have survived it if it had not been for the doctors in the twentieth century. It had been one of the few things that made my and Jamie’s twenty year separation bearable.
“He took me,” Faith cried, growing hysterical. “It was only supposed to be for a little while. He would have given me back to you in your own time, but I was sick. I needed an operation that doctors wouldn’t know how to do until the eighties. He didn’t have a choice!”
“Who the hell are you?!”
Jamie took my hand, quietly said my name. I looked at him, and he was staring at Faith like she was a ghost. “It canna be…” he whispered.
“I don’t know why he had to lie,” she said, letting her good arm drop to her side. “Except to force you to move on without me. I don’t think it was right...but we’d all be dead if he hadn’t taken me from you after I was born. That much I’m sure of.”
I shook my head, trying to back away, but Jamie still held my hand in a crushing grip. “No…no...you’re lying.”
“Come on,” she said, trying and failing to smile. “Look at me, Claire. Can’t you tell? Do you need the words? I’m your daughter, alright?”
“Faith?” Jamie whispered. “ Our Faith?”
My mind was working to try and wrap itself around what she was saying, but rebelled violently against it, and I didn’t know why. How often had I fantasized about my baby surviving? How often had I pictured her there, sitting beside Brianna at the dinner table? But just then all I could think of was the weight of my dead child in my arms.
“I held her,” I said, hearing the way my voice sounded broken and cracked, as if I’d been screaming for hours. “For hours I held my daughter. I memorized the shape of her face, her red hair. I held her cold, lifeless body to my breast. I didn’t imagine that! I don’t know who you fucking are but my daughter is dead !”
Faith was shaking her head, taking a step toward me, but I backed quickly away.
“It wasn’t me! There had to be a body, so Raymond convinced Mother Hildegarde to tell you I was stillborn, and when you demanded to see your baby she gave you a little girl who’d died along with her mother in childbirth. God, I get how fucked up that sounds, but it’s the truth!”
“I would have known!” I cried, though I was beginning to doubt. But no...the baby had looked like Jamie...hadn’t she?
“You were so sick,” Faith said gently. “I’m so, so sorry…”
I shook my head again, and this time broke out of Jamie’s grasp. At the same time hope pervaded my heart, though the scar tissue that had developed there the day my daughter died tried to prevent it from taking root.
To believe what this woman was saying was true, meant that the trauma of what I went through after the miscarriage was for nothing. The years of pain, guilt...nothing. The hatred I’d temporarily felt for Jamie that would haunt me during the twenty years we spent apart...all for nothing. To believe her would mean that I’d missed thirty-four years of my child’s life because someone else decided it must be so.
“I can’t...I can’t.”
I turned and fled, feeling that if I didn’t shut it all out, I’d go mad. I could hear the two of them calling my name, but I covered my ears and like a coward, I fled.
Chapter 8: The Garden Bench
Claire reels from the reveal of Faith’s identity, and Jamie encourages Faith to talk to her.
I watched Claire run out of the room, feeling worn out, but not surprised. I could only imagine how it must feel on her end, learning that she’d been manipulated in the worst of ways at a pivotal and already tumultuous time in her life, and by people she had trusted, at that. It didn’t matter that it had been to save our lives...it was still a betrayal.
And I was living proof of that.
“Do you think she hates me?” I asked aloud, to no one in particular.
“No, lass,” Jamie said, in barely more than a whisper. “She doesn’a.”
I looked at him then. His eyes were full of pain and regret, but there was also surprise, and dare I even think it...love. It was a little intimidating, to be honest.
“Is it truly you?” he asked in wonder.
I nodded, tried to smile. “Yeah. If I’m being honest, I sometimes wondered if it was really true myself. But after coming here and meeting you, seeing that you’re... real I gotta say I’m pretty convinced.”
“And...and your...you parents. They…told you?”
I felt my smile become easier, more sincere, and I took a step closer to him. “When I was a little girl, my Mami and Papi would help me say my prayers. ‘Bless Mami, bless Papi, bless my cat, Freddy...and bless my mother and father.’ Since before I can remember, they would remind me that I was loved. That you didn’t choose to give me up. Uncle Raymond would visit sometimes and tell me stories about you. You were like the heroes in a storybook.”
Jamie smiled, his eyes full of tears. “Ye canna know how often I thought of you...imagined you. Imagined what it would be like...if you were here,” he reached out slowly, as if giving me time to pull away, and touched the side of my face. “We never forgot our wee Faith. Christ... mo nighean leanaibh .”
Jamie pulled me into his arms, and I stiffened only momentarily before sinking into his embrace, my arms going around his middle. His hand gently cupped the back of my head, like I was something small, and precious. He was whispering words in Gaelic that I didn’t understand, but they made me smile regardless.
“I used to draw pictures of you,” I said into his shoulder. “I had a photo of Claire, but nothing of you, so I’d try and imagine what you might have looked like. But I know now that I never got it right. You’re better than what I imagined.”
He chuckled, and pulled back to look at me. “Bree likes tae draw. Like my own mam did…” he shook his head in wonder. “Christ, wait until we tell her...tell Bree.”
I wondered how Brianna would take it. If she might feel threatened at all, but couldn’t bring myself to say that aloud. “Look, Jamie, I know that you and your family have this life here, and I’m not looking to...disrupt that at all. You have to know that I don’t expect anything from you...I…”
Jamie frowned and shook his head, putting his hands on my shoulders. “Faith...lass...ye are family. If ye’re a disruption, it’s one we’re grateful for. Just as I’ve always been grateful of the disruptions that were yer mother and sister. Those two create wonderful chaos wherever they go, and I expect ye’re no different.”
I chuckled, scrubbing the tears off my face with my sleeve, but the job was suddenly taken over by Jamie, using his thumb to wipe them gently away. “Do you think Claire feels that way?” I asked.
“Claire’s had a shock, a leannan . Perhaps...perhaps ye should speak tae her, aye?”
I gulped, not sure if I was brave enough for that. But he was right, I needed to talk to her, and there was no sense delaying the inevitable. “Where do you think she went?”
“Where she always goes when she needs tae think. Her garden.”
There’d been a time when my herb garden had been my own little sanctuary away from the rest of the world. Even in my own time, since planting, and watering, and pulling weeds didn’t change no matter what century you were in. But then there’d been a time where it had ceased to bring me comfort, after the unfortunate death of Malva Christie.
But Jamie had started me a new garden at our new Big House, and I was learning to recapture that sense of peace that could only come from getting my hands dirty.
I came to it now, while my mind and heart were like a raging storm. But I did not put my hands into the soil. I simply sat at the little stone bench that Jamie had made for me and stared blankly at the neat rows of herbs.
I could hear the footsteps approaching, too light to be Jamie, too short to be Bree.
She sat beside me, unspeaking for a while, and we just sat, watching the sun rise higher above the horizon.
“Good soil here,” Faith ventured, leaning down to pick up a handful of it. “What sort of fertilizer do you use?”
“Horse dung,” I replied.
“Ah. I noticed you don’t have any cattle.”
“Cattle aren’t common in these parts just yet.”
I could see Faith nod from the corner of my eye. “Oh? If you could get your hands on just a bull and one or two cows, you could start a herd fairly easily. And having a bull around to pull plows would be easier and faster than the mule.”
I glanced at her from the corner of my eye. “You know a lot about cattle?”
She smiled and shrugged. “My dad was a cattle farmer.”
Her dad .
I tried to shove away the resentment I felt, but it was hard. I tried to look at this beautiful young woman and replace her face with the tiny one I’d memorized thirty-four years ago, but it was hard.
“Who was she?” I asked. “Do you know?”
Somehow, Faith seemed to know exactly what I was talking about. “I don’t,” she said sadly. “I wish I did. All I know is that both she and her mother died in childbirth there at the hospital. I visited the grave, once.”
I felt surprise at that. “You did?”
She nodded. “It sounds morbid, I know, but I wanted to see it. It was the summer after I graduated high school. A couple of friends and I traveled to Europe, and I knew I had to go there. It was so weird, looking at it and knowing that it was meant for me. I left flowers, for the little girl buried there. And I...I found something there.”
My head snapped up. “You did?”
“Yeah. It had been raining a lot, the ground washed out. I was digging around the marker, clearing away the mud, and I found a little spoon, buried.
I felt the breath leave me, a wave of sorrow washing over me. “An apostle spoon.”
She nodded. “Yeah.”
“Did you keep it?”
“No...it felt wrong, somehow, removing it from the grave, so I buried it back again. Do you wish I had?”
I thought a moment, then shook my head. “No. I think...I think I like that something was left there...for her,” I winced, wondering if that would hurt her feelings somehow, but I couldn’t help but still feel an attachment to the baby I’d held in my arms.
“I get that,” she said. “That’s why I left it.”
“Is Faith really your name?” I asked suddenly. “Or is that just what you told us?”
She chuckled. “It’s really my name. Raymond is who named me that, not Mother Hildegarde. My middle name is Marie, after my mother, Maria.”
I smiled. “That’s pretty.”
“What would you have named me?”
My smile fell, and I winced. “I never had a name for you. Jamie and I...we couldn’t make up our minds. Your middle name might have ended up being Ellen, after Jamie’s mother. That’s what I named Brianna. I’m sorry.”
I felt a warm hand cover mine, and I jumped, looking down at it. It looked so much like mine.
“Don’t be sorry,” she said. “None of this was fair, I know. My parents knew that, too. Before he died, my Papi wanted me to tell you how sorry he was, but how grateful.”
“Your parents sound like wonderful people,” I said, amazed that they could be so generous, sharing their child’s love with ghosts. I couldn’t help but think of Frank, how he coveted Brianna’s love, held it prisoner from Jamie, no matter that Brianna’s heart was plenty big enough for both.
“They were,” she said. “I hope it’s some comfort, at least, to know that I lived a pretty good life.”
It was a comfort. An immense one. The people who raised her could easily have been abusive, or neglectful, or simply never told her about her real parents at all. I was incredibly grateful, so why did I also feel this ugly feeling of jealousy?
I realized then that this must be precisely how Jamie had felt about Frank, and I suddenly felt very sorry for the fights we’d had over it.
“You said you were sick,” I said. “Why? What was wrong?”
“Congenital heart defect,” she replied. “I managed to avoid open heart surgery, and they were able to use catheterization to repair the holes in my heart. I’ve been going strong ever since. Doctors say I’m a walking miracle.”
“So if we’d kept you,” I said. “Even if I had survived Brianna’s birth…”
“I’d have died,” she said simply. “Even if you’d taken me to the 1940s with you, they wouldn’t have had the right knowledge yet to fix me. I know how this must feel to you, but I truly believe that Raymond was just doing what he thought he had to to save us all.”
“But why? ” I asked. “ Why do all of this to save us? Who assigned him as God?”
Faith chuckled. “I’ve asked myself that several times, but there are some mysteries to that man even my dad didn’t understand.”
I took a breath, gripping the edge of the bench a little too tightly, and forced myself to relax. “Then why did Raymond give you to the Sosas? Why not get you the surgery you needed, then bring you to me?”
Faith looked like she’d been expecting that question. “Well, the thing is Raymond can’t stay in any one time for very long. Don’t ask me why, because I don’t know. And I would require medical help for many, many years. He left me in the care of his trusted friend, my father, Anthony. He’s a traveler too, like us. He came from 200 years in the future, like you did. But...200 years into... my future. So like, 2100s. He didn’t like to talk much about it though. He met my mom in Honduras in the early 1980s, and he stayed.”
“Like me,” I echoed, amazed, as I always was, when I learned of yet another traveler. This was the first, however, I’d ever heard of one so very far into the future.
“After being raised by them from infancy…” she continued, and I held up a hand.
“No, it’s alright, I understand,” I said, and I did . They’d raised Faith, and loved her as their own. Of course they wouldn’t dream of giving her up once her heart condition was healed. And truth told, as turbulent as my own life had been, it was the kinder option for everyone.
“It’s okay if it still hurts, though,” she said.
I smiled. “You’re just like Jamie. He always somehow reads my mind.”
She grinned back. “You’re very expressive. People have often told me that I wear my heart on my sleeve, so I get it.”
“So now what?” I asked her. “Now that you’re here…”
“Look, it’s as I told Jamie, I don’t expect anything out of you. I came here with the simple desire to meet you, to get to know you, and let you know me.”
“Will you leave?” I asked, trying not to let too much emotion show on my “glass face.” If Faith wanted only to meet us, and then return to her own time, it would be completely understandable, and the last thing I wanted was for her to feel like she was being guilted into staying longer than she wanted to.
“Do you want me to leave?” She asked, her voice small.
The emotion I’d been trying to reel in since she sat down crashed out of me like water from a broken dam. I turned in my seat, wrapping my arms around her. And for the first time, I felt something like I felt when I would feel her move and kick inside me. My heart and body knew what my brain had tried to rebel against. She was mine. My child, who I grew beneath my heart, who Jamie and I created together. Ours.
“I don’t want you to go,” I whispered into her curly hair. “ Please don’t go.”
“I won’t,” she cried, her arms tight around me, almost crushing. “...m...Mom?”
I pulled back, looking into her eyes, seeing myself there. With Bree, I’d always seen Jamie. It was incredible seeing me .
“I want to know everything,” I said. “Your life, e... everything .”
She chuckled. “I uh...I brought my baby book.”
I gasped, having for some reason not considered that, living as long as I had without the gift of photographs. “You have pictures?”
Faith nodded. “Yeah. And I’ll tell you anything you wanna know. I uh...I want to know you, too. Raymond told me some things, but it’s not the same as...as knowing you.”
I gave a watery chuckle, jumping to my feet and pulling her along with me. “I’ll tell you. We’ll tell you all of it. But for now, you’re eating breakfast, because you’re still healing.”
“ Yes, Mom…” she droned playfully.