Orb's Year 941
The laughing, care-free girl that he married was gone, he thought sadly.
"Fiona?" he called out groggily. Perhaps Fiona had already gotten up to care for little Curtis. No, he shook his head. It sounded like the poor baby had been crying quite awhile. Perhaps Fiona needed help, he thought, throwing the covers off to rise.
It happened more and more lately. Robin would come home and find Curtis wailing, the children hiding in their rooms and poor Fiona sobbing.
Robin pasted a smile on his face. "I decided to take a little holiday! I don't get to spend nearly enough time with my family! Let me go put Curtis to sleep and we'll have dinner when I come back."
Bryan worriedly clasped his hands. "Why would she have left us?"
Amber shrugged, but was secretly terrified that she knew. Mama always yelled that they were such naughty children. Perhaps she left because of them... Looking at her brother with wide eyes, she told him, "Whatever we do, we can't let papa know how naughty we were! Okay?"
Bryan's eyes widened at his sisters words and he nodded hastily. He hadn't even thought about what would happen if their papa left, too!
"Anything you like!" Amber said quickly, elbowing her brother.
Bryan startled and added, "Oh yes, anything you make will be wonderful!"
Robin opened the ice box and glanced in. Empty. Of course it was, he thought sourly. He glanced back at his waiting children and felt a lump in his throat.
"I'm sorry, it appears I need to get groceries tomorrow. Can you wait for breakfast tomorrow morning?"
"We'll just head to bed now."
Robin kissed the top of his daughter's head. "Isn't a little earlier than usual for bed?" he asked.
Bryan fidgeted nearby. "But Amber, I am alittle hungry," he whined.
Shaking his head, he got up. He didn't have time to fall apart...
Orb's Year 942
He turned quickly around. It was his wife's twin. "Farrah!" he exclaimed with surprise. "What are you doing here? Did you hear from Fiona?"
"No! I got a message from Amber saying that you needed help. Where is my sister? What is going on?" Farrah asked with concern.
Farrah shook her head. "No! She wouldn't!"
Robin felt a prick of annoyance at her staunch defense of her sister. "Well, I can guarantee you that she has! I've been doing the best I can... but..." he trailed off and lowered his head.
Robin buried his face in Farrah's shoulder, taking her comfort in like a sponge. It still hurt that Fiona had just left him without a word. Had he really been that bad?
Briskly, Farrah pulled back and tried to reassure her brother-by-marriage. "Well, now that I'm here, I'll see what I can do to help. First things first, you should go get dressed," she said, blushing.
Robin couldn't help it. He hurried from the room with a laugh, probably the first time since Fiona had left. But Farrah looked so embarrassed to notice that he was in his drawers alone.
She shook her head. The poor man needed comfort - not lecherous thoughts from an Abbess!
Farrah felt guilty. "I'm not leaving. I just need some time to help my family. Robin doesn't have anyone else to care for my niece and nephews!" she implored Abbess Belinda to understand. "They need me."
Abbess Belinda crossed her arms impatiently. "The Abbey is not a revolving door. We would like truly committed individuals, devoted to..."
"I am devoted! Just give me time to deal with my family's crisis," Farrah pleaded. "Since childhood I have dreamed of being an Abbess!"
Abbess Belinda nodded thoughtfully. "I'll have to give this some consideration."
But was that still true?
Farrah kissed the top of his forehead. "I am! And I'll be here as long as I'm needed. I promise to let you know before I leave so you can wave me off!" As usual, Amber hung back. Farrah was beginning to think she would needed for much longer than she'd planned. Curse her sister for leaving her dear children. They tried to hide it, but Amber and Bryan were scared they would lose her or their father.
Robin laughed and pretended to grab his heart. "You're too cruel to my manly pride, Farrah!"
Farrah blushed. Unfortunately she noticed how very manly he was. "Yes, well, I was only teasing."
Farrah's heart broke to see Robin in pain. "Who can know what paths we might walk in life? Perhaps one day she'll return..."
Robin scowled. "I should hope not! She's hurt this family enough than to come blithely back.." he cut his tirade short and scrubbed a weary hand over his face. "She's your sister. Of course you miss her and want to see her again."
"I do, but I am also so mad at her! How could she do such a thing? I love her still, but I don't know if I'll ever understand her!"
Robin blinked at Farrah as she spoke passionately against her sister.
Sleeping arrangements were tight in the house right now. The children had taken over their papa's bed as neither adult wanted to deprive the children of a good night's rest. That left the lovely wooden bench Robin had carved long ago and a small palette of pillows that they used. Most nights Robin insisted that she sleep on the bench since she was the guest.. but not tonight...
Robin frowned. "No, I'll be fine on the palette again." He started to get up, his muscles protesting in agony.
Farrah pursed her lips. "Robin Carpenter. You are near to collapsing. You take the bench tonight. One night on the palette will not kill me!"
But, soon the children would be older and she would return to the Abbey. He frowned fiercely down at her. What were they going to do when she left?
Orb's Year 943
"What is it?" she asked, glancing up.
Robin shook his head. "Nuh uh, I'm not going to tell you! You'll have to see it!"
Farrah laughed and started to get up. "Well, let's go see it, then!"
Robin tsked and shook his head at her eagerness. "No, no, missy. You must finish all your salad before you get your present."
"A present, Robin? For me?!" Farrah asked with wonder. "Oh please, let's go see it now!"
Robin took in the delight lighting up her face and relented.
Of course it did, he told himself ruthlessly, you've been without a woman for neigh two years! Any body would have caused such a reaction!
Farrah's eyes widened and a blush stole across her cheeks.
"What is it?" Farrah asked. "What's the matter?"
"I just forgot I have more work to be done today," he mumbled quickly, praying he could get out of there before he lost all caution.
Orb's Year 944
Amber glanced over at her pesky little brother. "She's not our mama!" she said stubbornly. "Mama's coming back!"
Bryan rolled his eyes as he swung the pillow at Amber. "Well, I like her more than mama. I don't mind it if she lets us call her mama!"
Amber glared at her twin brother for that traitorous thought. He used to always agree with her, but not anymore...
She pulled his head down to hers and sought his lips, burying her fingers in his hair.
Amber scowled. Why did everyone want to replace mama?
Curtis ran to Farrah and threw his arms around her. "I always knew you were my mama!" he said.
Farrah ruffled his hair. "I'm still your aunt, Curtis, but Orb's Truth, I think of you as my son, as well!"
"Well this is cozy, isn't it?" came a voice from behind them.