Orb's Year 941
"Come on, what do you say?" he cajoled.
Connor smiled winningly. "It's the best situation I can think of. You're pregnant with my child. You could move in and care for all the children at one time and tidy up around the house while I'm running the pub!"
Deanna scowled. "What's in it for me?"
Ferguson wasn't impressed. "But she's pregnant herself! How is she going to take care of Giselle and Heaven!"
Deanna raised an eyebrow. "I've raised three other children. I can raise another three."
Connor clapped his hands together and said almost too cheerfully, "Alright then. Well, I'm off! I'll leave you guys to get acquainted. I need to get over to the pub."
Deanna rolled her eyes at the indignant youth. "I could care less about marriage about propriety. I do care about a warm, safe home to stay in. And that's what I have now. If you don't like it, then you may make yourself scarce while I care for your sisters."
Ferguson snorted, but thankfully left without another word.
Orb's Year 942
"Ah, I see you're not Balin!" Connor said wryly, on closer inspection. "Perhaps we'll call you Sophie! I'm sure Balin would love to make your acquaintance!"
Connor shot his son a disgruntled look, then turned back to Giselle. "As Ferguson knows, we're not too worried about class lines here. We welcome all family and friends at our table!" Connor glanced down the table and was dismayed to see Deanna studiously regarding her plate.
He cleared his throat and added, "The turkey is delicious, Deanna! I haven't tasted anything this fine in years!"
Ferguson glanced sharply at his father, feeling that the compliment was a slight against his mother and then glared down the table at Deanna.
Giselle studied everyone at the table and tried to understand what was going on...
Connor quickly looked around as he put a finger to her lips. "Deanna, remember. We agreed! The children are not to know about us! Not until they're older."
Deanna rolled her eyes and said angrily, "As if they weren't aware, Connor! Ferguson hates me for replacing his mother and Giselle suspects something is not quite normal!"
Connor crossed his arms stubbornly. "Well, it will remain speculation. I just want to protect them..."
Deanna hadn't even given him a chance to see little Imogene before she whisked her away to the servant's quarters with a glare.
Deanna rolled over in bed and sniffed, "Well I am now!"
Deanna found it hard to stay mad when Connor nuzzled her ear like that. Even harder when he shifted lower...
...It didn't take long for Connor to win his way back into her good favor...
Orb's Year 943
"It's not that I don't love you," Connor said in a hushed voice. "Things are just fine the way they are! Why ruin a good thing? You're happy here, aren't you?"
Deanna sighed. She was happy here. She just hated feeling as though Connor was ashamed of her.
Connor jumped up and ran to the beautiful little girl, pulling her into his arms. "What is it, love?" he asked her.
"Ferguson said that Sophie just had puppies! And he said that I could name the little girl! Isn't that amazing?"
"That's certainly exciting," Connor agreed. "Come, show me those little puppies!" he said, carrying his daughter outside without a second glance towards Deanna.
"Aw, look, Balin is nuzzling Ballard!" Giselle cooed with delight, clapping her hands.
Connor scratched Balin behind the ear. "What a good papa you are, old Balin!"
"Aw, Deanna, love, you're not a dirty secret!" Connor said, stroking her hair. "I just need time..."
"We're not getting any younger, Connor," Deanna said, pulling him into her arms. "Prove to me that you love me," she said as she sought to prove to him how much he needed her.
Ferguson shook his head as his father walked by, strands of hay tousled in his hair and clothes. He didn't know why his father insisted on pretending that there was nothing between him and the servant woman when it was clearly obvious!
Besides, he had his own conquests to worry about!
Deanna put down her fork and blotted her mouth daintily with a napkin. "Of course," she said, laying the napkin to the side and rose from the table.
She followed Connor into the bedroom and then flew into his arms the moment the door was closed. Between kisses, she teased him, "Oh, the master bedroom! And during the day time! Whatever will your children think?!"
Connor growled as he kissed her back. "It's too damn cold outside to be traipsing around the snow and if you're quiet, the children will never know!"
Deanna shoved Connor onto the bed flat. "Ach, be careful or your compliments will go to my head!"
Deanna stiffened as Connor stilled and then turned from her. He sat up and stared at the now open door with an anguished expression on his face.
She wasn't surprised when he hurriedly got out of bed and began dressing without sparing her another glance.
"Well, see, the thing is..." he stammered, trying to judge the girls expressions. Heaven no longer had tears in her eyes, but Giselle was frowning fiercely. He tried again, "Miss Deanna and I..."
"...Are lovers," a voice said from the doorway to the master bedroom.
All eyes jerked to Deanna as she lounged in the doorway, deceptively calm. "Or perhaps I should say were lovers. I have decided that I deserve more than a man that wants to hide me and his child away in the grungy servant's quarters." Deanna stormed from the room, scooping up Imogene as she went.
Giselle and Heaven glanced back at their father with their mouths gaping open. "Papa?" Heaven asked hesitantly. "Is Miss Deanna leaving?"
Connor galvanized into motion, upsetting the chair as he stood in a hurry. He was out the door before the girls could say another word.