Binding Vows (Page 37)

Binding Vows (MacCoinnich Time Travel Trilogy #1)(37)
Author: Catherine Bybee

“What makes you say that?”

“She needs more, I don’t know, more passion, romance. Anything less than a knight-in-shining armor and she’d turn up her nose.”

“She’s told you this?” he asked.

“Not in so many words. It’s only my opinion.”

“Is there anyone Myra has an eye for?”

“She hasn’t told me if there is and I think she would.” Tara took in the hillside, her thoughts grew distant. “She reminds me of my sister.”

“I didn’t know you had a sister.”

“Lizzy. She’s two years older than me. Now, she is a hopeless romantic. For all the good it did her.”

“Tell me.” His look was full of questions and concern.

“Lizzy had a hard start. She fell for her high school sweetheart, her first real love. He was nice enough, in the beginning at least. They dated for awhile.”

“What is dated?”

“Courted, is how you would say it.”

“So your father approved of this man.”

Tara laughed. “He was a boy, not a man. Only one year older than my sister. My dad was too busy working to notice his eldest daughter falling in love.

My mother noticed, but she believed in the ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ theory. She figured she’d completed her job when she warned us about what boys want, and expected us not to do it.”

“Ahh, it sounds like what mothers tell their daughters in this time as well.”

“Lizzy did do it. She thought she loved him. He told her he loved her too, and before long they started sleeping together. Within a few months she was pregnant.”

“Your time has protection against pregnancy, does it not?”

“Accidents still happen even with those precautions.” Tara breathed in the cool air. “My dad flipped when he found out. My mom cried. Lizzy’s boyfriend denied all responsibility.”

“What? He was a coward.”

Tara was surprised to hear resentment in his reply. “Yes, he was a coward, a kid. I imagine he was scared to death at the possibility of his life being over at seventeen. His parents moved out of state when they heard Lizzy was going to keep the baby.”

“What do you mean?”

“Oh, that’s right. You don’t have abortions here.

Well…”

She picked her words carefully. “If a woman doesn’t want the baby, a doctor can stop the pregnancy. Lizzy never considered that an option.

Giving the baby to someone else to raise wasn’t an option for her either. So, she had Simon.

“He’s Amber’s age now. Lizzy found a job working in a daycare. She has always struggled to make it work. But she has, somehow.”

“Your parents didn’t help?” Disgust laced his words.

“No. As soon as she turned eighteen, they kicked her and Simon out.” Tara narrowed her eyes at the painful memory. “I finished high school six months early and left home. Once I was out of the house, they moved somewhere in Arizona. I haven’t heard or seen them since. But Lizzy and I were very close.

Her son Simon is the greatest kid.”

They rode is silence for awhile, both caught up in their own thoughts. Neither of them snuck into the other’s mind.

Breaking the solemn mood, Tara asked, “How long will it take us to get to the village?”

“At this pace it will take us ‘till mid-day.”

“Which means we would be getting back after dark. Is it safe?” She glanced toward the woods and thought of thieves living in them.

“I can protect you, Tara.”

She noted the massive sword strapped to his waist, his straight back and ruffled hair reminded her she had nothing to fear. No self-respecting criminal would willingly clash swords with him. He would protect her and look good while doing it! He is the definition of eye candy. She forgot to block the words from him.

An image of a child’s sucker being popped into her mouth came straight from Duncan’s mind. She watched his laughing eyes, their expression bordered on seductive. He drew his horse closer.

“Would you like a taste?”

Her teeth caught her bottom lip. “Maybe a little.” What harm could come on the back of a horse?

He dropped his lips to hers, like every time they connected, Tara felt shudders of pleasure drifting down her body.

Unable to keep her thoughts to herself, Tara moaned inside and out. I want more. Her hand resting on his chest moved over his body, searching for skin-to-skin contact.

The horses pushed away from each other, breaking their contact.

Tara, feeling off balance, struggled to keep her seat. Duncan struggled in a different way. The effect of their brief contact had his leggings tight, and his position on the back of his horse was uncomfortable.

Tara struggled to keep from smiling when she read what Duncan thought.

“You’re thinking this funny are you?”

Not able to stop, Tara started laughing so hard she doubled over and had to hold her sides for support. “I’m sorry, really.” His serious look made her laugh even harder. Tears fell with every renewed giggle. “Maybe you should go back to wearing a kilt.”

“Perhaps I will.”

Tara imagined his ease with seduction while wearing such clothing. She quickly stopped laughing after reading his thoughts.

He changed the subject and kept her busy with instructions on riding until they reached the edge of the village.

Tara gawked at the sights. The village was right off the pages of a novel. Thatched roofs on top of simple buildings blotted the landscape. Smoke from cooking fires rose out of pits both in and outside the dwellings. Children ran free along with dogs and an occasional chicken.

People stopped what they were doing and watched when they approached. Greetings came in the form of waves and an occasional bow.

Tara noticed a few mules corralled or hooked up to an occasional cart and asked, “Where are all their horses?”

“Not many villagers can afford the luxury of a mount. Those that do are in the outlying fields working the summer harvest or herding sheep. They prepare all spring and summer for our long winters.”

“Oh.” Long winters weren’t something she thought much about after years of living in Southern California. Instead of dwelling on the unknown, Tara noticed a cart loaded with what looked like dirty cotton. “…and over there?” Tara pointed to the cart. “Wool, from the sheep. The women will comb out the dirt, divide it up into colors. Some will be dipped and dyed for fabric, some will be spun for blankets.”