Orb's Year 929
The man glanced around. "I've a proposition for you..." he began mysteriously.
Keith nodded, as though he'd been expecting the question, "Truth is, sir, I don't know anybody else that had the gold to put into it. Dirk said that it might be something you'd consider!"
"It sounds wonderful!" Christa exclaimed.
Orb's Year 930
Balin jumped up and growled low and menacing at Deb's affront. Frightened, she scurried a few steps back and held her hands up to ward an attack.
Every time she tried to step forward, Balin growled low in his throat and followed her. She was well and truly cornered.
"EDRICK!" she screamed at the top of her lungs. "Call off your dog!"
Brand sighed deeply. "You're going to have to be more specific."
Deb violently pointed at where Edrick had left the demon-dog. "That DOG! It attacked me!"
Brand's eyebrows went up with surprise and he took a step forward, concern in his voice. "It bit you? Are you okay?"
Deb crossed her arms over her chest, "It didn't bit me! But it would've! It cornered me in the kitchen! I feared for my life! Get rid of it!"
Brand stepped back. Of course Balin hadn't bitten Deb! He was mighty friendly to most everyone... unless... "What'd you do to him?" Brand asked blandly.
"ME?! You're blaming me! I didn't do anything!"
"What'd you do?" Brand persisted with his own arms crossed.
"NOTHING! I just nudged him out of the way and he attacked!"
Brand sighed heavily. He could well imagine Deb's 'nudge'. He'd been on the receiving end of those a number of times! "He's not going anywhere," Brand said firmly. "Balin is family." Brand lifted his hands in the air and called out, "To family! Drinks on the house!"
Deb huffed off.
Brand read over the letter and grinned. "That's my boy! You're doing so well!" I'm do proud of you, son!"
"I might be the littlest, but I think I'm the smartest, too!" Edrick said boastfully.
Brand's laughter rumbled. "You just might be, son!"
"It's about time you showed your potential!" his mother snidely replied. Edrick's face fell. He'd thought he had done well!
He glanced over at Carrie, "Grandma Carrie?" he asked questioningly, seeking approval.
"Mmmmm..." Edrick said smiling. "I love pie"!
Shakily, cursing her weak legs, Carrie got up and went over to the kitchen to start on Edrick's pie. She just wished that her light-headedness would go away...
Rest in Peace Carrie Baker, Orb's Years 884-930
Deb cornered Dirk on his way out of the house. "You're the only Baker left. Don't you think it's time you found a place of your own... with your own class. Stop living off of your brother's hospitality! It makes you look weak!"
Dirk didn't say a word. He narrowed his eyes and roughly pushed past the old biddy and continued on his way.
But her words haunted him.
"Maybe she's right though," Dirk confessed with a hoarse voice. "Maybe it's time I started my life somewhere else. There's nothing left for me here... Mom is gone... my sister is married with children... my love, Caira, is married with children..."
Connor reached out and put his hand on Dirk's shoulder. "You're right about one thing. It's time to start your life. Stop pining for Caira and begin again. What about that laundress, Susan... was that her name? The one you told me about? She'd flirted with you over at your sister's house..."
"Suzie," Dirk replied, thinking of the striking woman he'd met.
Connor kissed his wife's cheek. "I'm sorry, love. I'm exhausted. Can we talk in the morning?" he asked without slowly down.
"Thanks," he replied, not really saying anything, just staring off into space.
"No," he replied shortly.
Suzie stared hard at Dirk for a moment and then smiled.
Startled, Dirk finally glanced at her. "What?..." he started to ask.
"I think I know something that will make you fell better..." Suzie said, smiling wide.
Orb's Year 931
Christa grinned widely. "I'm not sure if you've noticed the weight I've been gaining..."
Connor interrupted her, "Aye, but you're lovely as ever!"
"Well, I'll be losing them soon..."
Connor raised his eyebrows, "Oh?" he asked.
Christa grinned broadly at her husband's perplexed look. "I'll be losing them when I deliver our child."
"A child?!" Connor repeated, then whooped with joy.
Christa nodded happily, trying not to cry.
"We're having a baby!" he shouted loudly. He wanted all of Celestia to hear his good news!
Brand was surprised by the grief he felt looking upon Deb's fallen form. She was so young, he thought sadly. Only 39 and gone so quickly...
Rest in Peace Deb Taveryn, Orb's Years 892-931
Connor sighed against his wife's belly. "How can I not? She died because of me!"
Christa ran her hands through his hair. "She had a weak, sick heart," she told him. "Perhaps that's what made her so unloving much of the time."
Connor squeezed his eyes shut to the pain, "Aye, perhaps. Let us never be like that." Glancing up, he met her eyes desperately, "I couldn't bear to live like my parents did!"
Christa stroked his cheek. "We won't. I vow it!"
Orb's Year 932
When Suzie had stepped from the room, leaving a well-satisfied Dirk asleep in bed, she'd run into Brand. Literally. She'd found his arms wrapped around her as he'd attempted to steady her. "Whoa there, where are you hurrying off to?" he'd laughed warmly.
His touch had sent flames shooting through her body, even though Dirk lay just feet away. "My apologies!" she said with a slightly shaky voice.
Brand just laughed and winked at her. "Feel free to bump into me anytime."
Suzie narrowed her eyes. Did he know of her past? Being a laundress didn't make much money. When Prince Geoffrey had offered her a coin, she'd jumped at the chance. And after that, it had seemed an easy way to supplement her purse. Rudely, she pushed past him without saying a word, burning with shame now.
"So do you like living here? Always something to do at the Taveryns!"
Suzie smiled, "I am. Dirk said that you needed help with the cleaning and chores, what with Connor and Christa running Taveryn's Kitchen and you running the pub."
Brand grabbed Suzie's hand in his and stroked her fingers. When she tried to tug them back, he raised it up and kissed her hand. "I'd hate to see your hands calloused with hard work."
Brand wasn't sure what drew him to Suzie. He knew was overstepping bounds and that she was Dirk's woman.
Reluctantly he stepped away.
And he could see that she was not unaffected by the desire either.
"What'd you do?" he asked as he cleaned the bar.
"I stole my brother's woman."
Brand felt an arrow pierce his heart and stopped mid-motion. Guiltily, he glanced over at Suzie and frowned. "Was it worth it?" he asked quietly.
"No, she never loved me," the man shook his head sadly.
Camelot Bradshaw sigh with self-recrimination. "And the kicker is that despite all that, I find I am now in need of a gently-raised wife."
"Aye," I confirmed it with the midwife. "I'm pregnant..."
Suzie hesitated only a moment before slipping his ring on her finger.