Thursday, June 26, 2014

Laird, Orb's Year 945-948


Orb's Year 945
Angus Laird flashed a charming smile at his wife, Crystal.  "I think you'll find Suzie a great help around the house.  She can cook, clean, perform any other duties you require." 

Crystal glanced between her husband and the servant he had brought into their home.  "But, Ryker already cleans..." she began to argue.  Even though she was fairly certain her husband was now faithful to her, there was no reason to bring temptation into their household. She glanced at Suzie again. Although, Suzie was certainly older than the typical lady-friend that Angus had enjoyed...

Angus waved his hand dismissively.  "Ryker can find another household to clean. I never liked him anyway. He always looked at me funny."

Without waiting for Crystal to say anything else, he strode away.
"So, I suppose I should show you around..." Crystal said, turning towards Suzie.

"I can find my own way around," Suzie snapped sourly.  "If you've cleaned one lord's home, you've cleaned them all."
Suzie Baker strode off muttering darkly under her breath. 

Crystal wrung her hands and watched her leave, wondering where in the kingdom Angus had found the bitter, old woman.
When Ryker came by, Crystal felt tears well up in her eyes to let him go.  Orb's truth, he'd been her ally during a dark time when she'd felt so alone.  She considered him a friend of sorts...
"I don't understand," Ryker said uncertainly. "You're not in need of my services anymore?"

Crystal opened her mouth to respond when Suzie Baker entered the house, slamming the door shut behind her.  "They don't need you anymore. They have me."

***

"Look at that arm!" Angus said proudly as he tossed the ball back to his son. "Throw it again, just like that!" 

Callum grinned as he caught the ball.  Winding up, he lobbed it back at his father, twisting it to put a spin on it. 

Angus grunted as he caught it against his chest.  "Give it a few years and you'll have all the girls fawning over you in the sports arena!"  He couldn't be more proud of Callum - a chip off the old block!  "Come on, let's go in. Suzie should have dinner made by now!"
Inside, they found a kasha meal set out on the table.  The family chatted amiably as they ate, leaving the bowls behind for someone else to clean.
Suzie grumbled under her breath as she gathered the dirty dishes from the table some time later.  "Lazy bunch of lords and ladies," she said, her voice filled with bitterness.  "Probably need help wiping their tushes!"
 
***

"I don't know Angus. Suzie is a wonderful cook and keeps the place clean, but anytime I ask her to do something, she ignores me!  I'm alittle scared of her!"
"Nonsense!" Angus protested. "She's your servant. She can't ignore you!"

"Yes, but.." Crystal started to explain. 

"But nothing.  She stays."

***

Crystal watched Suzie walk off, fuming about spoiled ladies.  She'd just asked if she'd be willing to make salmon for dinner...

Tears pricked at her eyes and Crystal wondered why she couldn't seem to speak up for herself...

Orb's Year 946

"BJ!" Crystal said excitedly, hurrying over to greet her nephew.  "Look how you've grown!"

BJ laughed. "You've grown yourself!"

Crystal rubbed her hand down her burgeoning belly and laughed self-consciously, "Yes, well, babies do a lot of growing!"
She hugged him tightly, glad of a friendly face. 
Angus glanced past his wife and her nephew towards the boys rough-housing.  "Boys. Quit horsing around and come greet your cousin," he barked.
Callum and Duncan immediately stopped.  "Yes sir," they said together quickly.
Angus sat down at the table.  "Is dinner ready yet, Suzie?" he asked impatiently.

Suzie grumbled darkly in response.
"Here it is," she said rudely, slapping a plate down in front of him. 
"So now that you're a grown man, what are you going to do with your life?" Angus asked with a nudge. "A handsome face like yours would do well as a court jouster.  Ladies would swoon over you!"

BJ snickered. "I do well enough on my own.  Besides, I'm itching to adventure! I'll have a woman in each port!"

Crystal admonished, "BJ!"
BJ turned away from Angus with a wink to soothe his aunt's ruffled feathers.  "Aunt Crystal, I'm just teasing.  But I'm a young man still! I'm not ready to settle down!"

"But what about Francine Royale? I've heard you're courting her!" Crystal said with surprise.

BJ winked. "Don't believe everything you hear, dear Aunt."  As Crystal floundered, something else seemed to occur to BJ.  "By the way, Aunt Crystal.  While I'm gone, will you be able to watch my dog for me? Scottie's a real sweet dog!"

Crystal glanced across the table at Angus, who merely shrugged.  Taking his action as assent, Crystal nodded.  "Of course, BJ."
BJ kissed his Aunt goodbye. "I must go. Thank you for having me over for dinner."

Crystal hugged her growing nephew goodbye.  "Take care," she lectured. "I worry about you!"

BJ chuckled, "There's no need to worry! Everything's going to be fine!"

***

Crystal knelt down in front of BJ's dog.  Scottie's a real sweet dog, he'd said.  "Welcome to our home," she said, holding her hand out for him to sniff.
Callum caught the dog digging in the yard, "Go on, mutt! Get!" he shouted, stomping his foot and waving his hands. 
"Stop scratching at my blasted couch!" Angus growled, nudging the dog away with the tip of his toe.
Crystal was ready to pull her hair out of her head.  "Scottie! No! Outside!" she cried when she saw the puddle.
"Go on your mangy dog!" Suzie said, brushing past the dog.  Scottie hadn't done anything bad this time, but Suzie didn't want anything to do with the blasted pet.
"And the only one that will even feed the rangy mutt is me," she said bitterly.  This is what my life has come to, she thought sourly.  Although she didn't miss the Gypsy Grotto! She missed the Taveryn though... and Brand... If only she had met Brand first...

***

Callum rubbed his hands together as he stepped down from the carriage with Florence Knightley.  He'd managed to convince her to sneak out with him. 
He had high hopes that he might be able to sample some of her samples tonight.  Leaning in close, he whispered in her ear, "Would you care to slip around to the back with me..."

Florence fluttered her eyelashes.  "I'd love to!"

Orb's Year 947

Crystal held her daughter, Elizabet, in her arms.  Secretly she was so pleased to have her own child now to care for and love.  She knew that Angus would have no interest whatsoever with a girl...

***

"Chandler! Old friend! It's good to see you!" Angus said in greeting.
Chandler barely smiled, though.  It looked like he had something heavy to discuss.  "Can we go down to the Kitchen?" he asked.  "I need some advice..."

Angus clapped him on the back.  "We'll drink some ale! It usually helps the advice go down more easily!"

***

When he came back, Angus had quite a bit to drink.  Chandler's own misery had settled over his own mood.  If Chandler, the hopeless romantic, couldn't keep the light in his own marriage - what hope did he have of staying faithful?

Seeing Suzie standing there, he felt his pulse start to beat erratically.
He approached her from behind and whispered in her ear.
It took a bit to convince her, but promising her a night off seemed to work well enough.

***

Afterwards, he brushed the hay from his clothing and left Suzie to enter his home.  He laid down beside Crystal, satisfied and surprisingly not guilty in the least!

***

Suzie walked into the master bedroom to start the early round of cleaning.  She saw Angus and his wife looking quite cozy in their bed.
She scoffed.  Her ladyship wouldn't be that cozy with him if she knew what he'd been doing to her last night!

She had been set to turn Angus down because she was through with men and their filthy desires.  He'd offered her some jewelry and then, in exasperation, asked what she wanted.  

That was when the idea came to her - a night off.  And she knew just what she was going to do!

***

A pounding on the door woke Angus and he stomped to the front door to throw it open. 
Bradshaw Knightley stood there with fire burning in his eyes.  "Where is your son?" he demanded angrily.

"What do you want with him?" he asked defensively.
"If he's absconded with my daughter, there will hell to pay!"  Bradshaw threatened. 

Angus glared. "My son wouldn't be stupid enough to do that."

"Go. Get. Him." Bradshaw growled.

When they weren't able to find Callum, they set off together to search for him.

***

Callum held the ice pack to his head as he listened to his father lecture him.  "Never toy with other noble women! If you have passions to fill, find a good peasant or merchant class! They won't expect anything from you!"

"I'm sorry, da. I've learned my lesson," Callum promised.

Orb's Year 948

"Come and sit by me Duncan!" Angus said as the family settled by the table.

"But Da!" Callum protested as he stalled at the seat by his mother. "I always sit by you!"

"Sit down!" Angus said, banging his hand on the table, glaring at his eldest. 
"We're celebrating Duncan.  He's applied himself and has earned a spot as a jouster!" He nudged his son.  "Taking after his father."

Callum's mouth dropped open with disbelief.  "Duncan?!His little brother was replacing him in his father's favor!

***

 Crystal headed upstairs when the boys began bickering and hoisted Elizabet up into her arms.  Singing softly to her daughter, she snuggled her close.  Elizabet would never be like, she thought happily.  Elizabet would always be hers.
 
***

Callum tried to reestablish himself as the favored son in his Da's eyes, but it was hard.  Now every word out of his Da's mouth was about Duncan.  Duncan this and Duncan that.  It was sickening!

He roughly grabbed Duncan by the neck and began tousling his hair.  "Call uncle, you baby!"

Duncan struggled to get out of his brother's grip, punching him hard on the leg.  "Let go, Callum!" he said angrily.
Satisfied that he'd humbled his younger brother, Callum laughing pushed him away.  " You big cry baby!" he snickered.

Duncan rubbed his sore head and glared at his brother. "What was that for?!"

Callum shrugged.  "You're such a big man now, I thought I'd see how tough you were!"  He laughed scornfully.  "But you're not very tough at all."

Duncan clenched his fists, longing to punch his brother square in his face.

Callum could tell Duncan itched to strike at him and clenched his own fists in response.  "Do it!" he goaded. 

Knowing his brother was much stronger than him, Duncan glared one last time and walked away.

***
 
Callum hurled the ball at Duncan as hard as he could, pleased when he saw his younger brother cringe from the strike.
Grabbing the ball, Duncan lobbed the ball back at Callum, giving as good as he got.

Angus watched from nearby and chuckled at the boy's competition.

***

"You came!" Suzie said softly. 

Eddie nervously tugged his ear.  "If Da finds out, he's going to kill me!" he said, glancing around.
"I've missed you," she said, giving him a hug.  Then she paused and glanced behind him towards her daughter.
Eddie stepped to the side and Suzie turned to face Eliza.  "Aren't you going to give your ma a hug?" she asked.

Eliza looked up at Suzie suspiciously.  "You're not my ma!"

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