Orb's Year 925
Scowling, he pushed his plate away with a jerk.
"It's not fair, Mama. I love Caira! Why wouldn't Madam Marchant allow us to marry! She's a spiteful old witch!"
Dirk jumped up from the table and ran from the room. Glaring at the woman she despised, she said angrily as she followed her son, "Did that make you feel better? To take out your bitterness out on him?"
Brand lavishly kissed her hand, bowing low. "You give me a great compliment, my lady! I would be honored to play for you anytime!"
Gwen pouted prettily, "But what if I have an interest in other diversions?"
Brand stepped closer, "Well, I would be honored to help you with... anything... you might desire, my lady."
Orb's Year 926
Brand had noticed the dog sniffing around the trash the past few days and had begun leaving out some food for the mutt.
Now if only he could talk Deb into keeping him...
"Oh, by the Orb, it's not rabid. When did you turn into such an old sour-puss?!" he demanded. "It's a stray mutt that needs a home and some food." Throwing his arms out wide, he yelled, "Look around! We have a home! Last time I checked, we had some extra food!"
Deb glowered at her husband. "There's no need to raise your voice to me like that Brand Taveryn!" Then, a crack of doubt shimmered through her facade. "You think I'm an old sour-puss?"
Brand felt like he'd kicked a puppy when he saw Deb's disappointment. Sometimes he wondered how in the world they'd managed to stay married for so many years with so much anger and distrust between them. He guessed they were both too stubborn and ornery to call it quits.
Offering her an olive branch, he gentled his voice. "No, Deb, you're not an old sour-puss. Not most of the time. Just a bit harsh sometimes. I'd like to keep the dog. The kids will help me bathe him and he'll be right as rain in no time."
Deb tried, but couldn't resist it when Brand had that look on his face - so earnest and hopeful! Perhaps that was why she'd stayed with him all these years when he ran around behind her back making a fool of her! "Fine! Fine! Keep the dog! But don't forget I warned you! If he goes rabid and bites you, don't come crying to me!"
"Here you go, boy," Connor said as he greeted the dog after his lessons. "Go eat your dinner and I'll eat mine"!
Deb glanced up sharply. "A lady must be able to make dinner for her husband!"
"I don't know about your husband, but I sure would love a leg of turkey instead of a sandwich after a long day!"
Devon giggled, "I don't think I'm quite ready to prepare a turkey, Connor!"
"Nonsense. Sit down and eat your dinner, Connor," Deb said, tired of his fooling around. "Can't you take anything seriously?"
Connor's smile froze in place. He'd been on the receiving end of his mother's lectures and snide remarks for too many years. He didn't know how his Father stood it! "Oh? Perhaps you'd like to have a serious conversation about treating Auntie Carrie and Cousin Dirk like human beings?"
Deb opened and closed her mouth in shock, seeming not to be able to come up with a response. "I know you consider them lowly servants, but they are my kin & I would see them treated well!" Adrenaline coursed through Connor's veins and he felt light-headed from finally confronting his caustic Mother. "Now, if you will excuse me, I seem to have lost my appetite!"
He waved at his Father behind the bar and walked around greeting people. His worries about his Mother slipped away as he went about business.
But that was no excuse for her to have said such harsh words to him. She'd known him since he was a baby. Had held him in her arms and soothed him when his mother Carrie had been busy doing her duties.
And, sadly... Caira being wed to Remington Flowers had nothing to do with class... it had to be with having the blood of a Taveryn coursing through his veins. If Dirk wanted to be mad at someone, he should be mad at his half-brother, Brand, for not being able to control his passions.
Although, that would provide no solace for the boy, she thought as she walked away, unnoticed.
He got that way when he played these days. Sometimes he could spend hours playing without even realizing it.
"I'm trying Mama!"
Dirk looked slightly guilty, "I actually took a few jigs playing the fiddle around the village. Hopefully I can make it as an entertainer of sorts." Uncomfortably, he glanced away, "I just don't want to be tied to the pub. It's Connor's heritage, not mine."
Carrie patted her son's shoulder. "Your heritage is what you make of it. Your father would be proud of you!"
Late one night at another pub in the village, Dirk let the music flow from the fiddle. He was working for tips tonight!
But, tonight, there was electricity in the air...
He glanced up and stopped mid-song...
It was Caira!
She'd walked in and stopped abruptly when she saw him. Both Caira and Dirk stared at each other for what felt like an eternity.
He did the only thing he could do... he picked up his fiddle and began to play...
Orb's Year 927
Everyone cheered as he blew the candles out in one long huff.
Brand smiled at his son. "He's got a gift, that child of mine!" he bragged. "Comes from being brought up in the pub!"
Her eyes gleaming, she nodded enthusiastically.
"Give you another chance? It's been ages since you'll called on me! Why should I spare you any time!"
Darius reached for Devon's hands, but she pulled away. Frustrated, he thrust his hands in his pockets. "Come on! I had to wait for my Mother to settle down!"
"Oh! So you're going to let your Mother rule your love life, eh? I wish you luck with that, I do! She broke Dirk's tender heart!"
Devon's heart softened. But it still wasn't good enough. "I'm sorry, Darius. But, I'm not going to let you break my heart!" she said heatedly before running towards the pub.
To keep from crying, Devon grinned even bigger. "Everything is perfect!" she assured him. If she told herself that often enough, maybe she would believe it.
Aidan sighed. If there was one thing he'd learned about women through his lifetime, it was that when a woman told you everything was fine, it most certainly was not!
Orb's Year 928
"It's break time," Connor said, pulling Christa towards him. Motioning to his father, he led Christa to their home space. "There's something I want to talk to you about over dinner..."
Smiling, Christa slipped the ring on her finger, then reached for his hand. "Me too, Connor. I love you!"
That wasn't completely the truth.
When he spotted Remington leaving Caira unattended in the room, Dirk acted fast. He fought through the crowd and grabbed Caira's hand, tugging her towards the empty hall. Caira stumbled after him as he dragged her away towards privacy.
Caira closed her eyes as she felt her heart race. She couldn't make herself say the words that would betray her husband.
Pushing away, Caira said, her voice hitching, "I can't, Dirk! I'm not like my mother! I'm not!!"