Debbie had been startled, but had boldly stated that if Deb couldn't keep her man happy at home, then who was she to turn him from her bed. She saw in Debbie's eyes that she wanted to surprise Deb with the news that her husband was unfaithful.
Deb had laughed scornfully. "I'm his wife, not his keeper. If my husband wishes to roll around with the filth every now and then, I'll just insist he bathe before he comes to my chamber," she replied acidly.
Debbie had looked down and hurried away before Deb had a chance to say anything else.
Oh she knew about her husband's infidelities and it bothered her. She should have listened to her father and stayed far away from the Taveryns! It seemed they all had a weakness for those raven-haired Baker girls.
She loved Connor with all her heart and fervently hoped this next child would be another boy - to prove that the sanctity of marriage helped produce male heirs instead of bastard girls!
Orb's Year 914
"But, Mom, he's my best friend!"
Carrie shook her head sadly, ashamed of herself for the sins of hers that would lead her son to heartbreak.
Deb smiled patiently. "Because he is a peasant," she instructed. "Your lives are destined to go down different paths."
Aidan clenched his jaw, annoyed at hearing Deb speak so glibly about Carrie and his children. He knew that they assumed their mother's station in life since he had not married her, but that didn't lessen the love that he felt for them.
All the reasons he'd had for not marrying for back then seemed silly.
But still, he said nothing, biding time to put his plans for his children in motion. He was surprised to hear Brand speak up.
"Really, what does it matter if they want to wrestle and rough-house together? They're boys! They care not for the lines between stations like we do."
Deb clenched her jaw and sent her husband a deathly glare. She knew all too well that he disrespected the lines between stations, quite often dallying with peasants.
She saw to his instructional work each day and encouraged the improvement of his skills.
"I think so, Grandpa!" Connor said, eagerly trying to please his grandpa.
She had won that battle.
Orb's Year 915
"Do I need to take you back to the bedroom to show you how robust I am?"
That got a smile from Carrie. "It's broad daylight!" she protested.
Aidan wiggled his eyebrows and put his food aside. He was hungry for something else altogether this morning!
Sighing, she realized that the baby crying was coming from the same room as the hushed giggles.
When she entered the room, she saw Aidan in the bed with a suspicious lump under the blankets. Caitlyn rolled her eyes. "Perhaps if you happen to see my mom, you'll tell her that Lady Deb is looking for her."
There, that should douse whatever games had been underfoot. Just the mention of Lady Deb was enough to cause Mama's back to straighten.
"Don't wait up love!" he called from the horse. "I'll send a missive for you when I've returned!"
He watched the young, naive chit wring her hands and felt a pang of guilt. Perhaps he'd become too jaded.
"But I love you!" she called out, catching the eye of several patrons at the pub.
Jauntily, he saluted her and then he was gone, ready for a night on the town, drumming up business for their tavern & sampling other establishments. Research is what he called it when Deb started in on him.
When she saw Brand, she slapped him. "Have you no decency? To fraternize at my home with a peasant!?" Brand was actually quite glad that she hadn't heard any gossip about the merchant girl. If you choose to take on mistresses, then do them the kindness of keeping them far from me!"
With that, she pushed the maid at him and stalked into the pub, uncaring for all the people that were following her every move.
Brand caught the girl before she could fall to the ground. "Aw, now. I'm sorry you had to go through that."
Nicole grinned when she caught his drift. She lightly touched her cheek, "She slapped me here..."
Brand immediately leaned forward and nuzzled her cheek. "And where else?" He immediately began following the path that Nicole set out, thinking that this game was quite fun. If his dear wife had any idea that her anger had led to such a naughty past-time, he was sure she would flip her lid.
Orb's Year 916
Brand's fork stopped mid-way to his mouth. "What?" he asked, blindsided. "What do you meant?"
"Mom said that she'd spoken to her Father and that we would be leaving soon." Brand played with his food. "But, I don't want to leave you and Grandpa Aidan and Carrie and Dirk and Caitlyn. I want to stay!"
Brand put his fork down and reached across the table and patted Connor's hand. "You're not going anywhere. I'll speak with your Mother."
If she would have to live unhappily, she might as well live unhappily at her Father's without the constant embarrassment!
But then Brand had stormed into the room, tipped off by Connor. She shouldn't have told the boy, but she'd wanted to give him a chance to say goodbye to his friends. Apparently he had not listened to her instructions to not speak a word of it to anyone in the house.
After a long, loud fight, Brand and Deb had finally come to an agreement. Brand would quite stepping out and recommit himself to Deb and the children. And Deb would stop her constant harping about class lines.