“You’re wrong. It’s not like that.”
“Oh, yeah? What’s it like then?”
“It’s only physical,” she said defensively. “I can’t let it happen again.”
Tara put the brush down and glared at her.
“Fin’s a player. So was Simon’s dad, you remember.” Tara nodded before Lizzy continued. “I won’t get mixed up with his type again. Besides, I’m going home the first chance I get.”
Tara flinched, making her feel like shit for being so blunt.
“You know you can stay here. Why work so hard to leave?”
“This isn’t my time, my place. I know you want us to stay, but it isn’t right freeloading off the MacCoinnichs like we are. In all my hard times, I never so much as asked for food stamps. How am I supposed to live off someone else without paying my way?” Liz flipped over on the bed and eyed her sister. “You know I’d do anything for you, but staying in the sixteenth century is asking a little too much.”
“I know, but I have to try.”
“And I have to say ‘no’ .”
“Are you going to tell me what’s bothering you? Or are you just going to kick my ass all day long?”
Todd raised his sword to block Fin’s move.
Sweat poured off Fin’s brow and had been for over an hour. He was working off some serious aggression, and Todd received the worse end of it.
Fin stepped back, circled around, and lunged again. “Women.”
Todd countered when Fin left himself open. “By women, you mean Lizzy?”
A few more passes and clashes of steel later, Todd said, “Suck’s doesn’t it?” He wiped the sweat from his brow. “Seeing them all day long. Hearing them. Smelling them. And not being able to do a damn thing about it?”
“You refer to my sister?”
Todd picked his words carefully. Knowing a brother might not like to think of his sister the way he thought of Myra. “Lizzy is someone’s sister.”
Fin and Todd both lowered their swords when the objects of their affections walked by on an upper terrace. “Damn,” they both said in unison.
A mountain is only a mountain, until pressure starts to build from below. Fire churns, heat and smoke rise causing that mountain to become a volcano. Todd saw his current situation in a similar way. On its journey from mountain to volcano, earthquakes rattle the nerves of people around it. Sometimes, right before it erupts with the force of a nuclear blast, small amounts of ash come out and litter the land with its warning.
Although the table was relatively quiet, the sounds of utensils hitting plates filled the lack of conversation. Todd glanced over to Myra who sent him a timid smile. God she was beautiful. The dip in the fabric of her dress gave him a glimpse of her creamy white skin. The thought brought a wave of longing over him. He cursed his erection, tore his gaze away from Myra and stabbed at the dead bird on his plate.
“Todd and I will be going to the village tomorrow.” Fin’s announcement brought all eyes to him. Todd held his breath. Although he’d agreed to go with Fin, he wasn’t sure he could keep the reasons for going from Myra. He didn’t want to hurt her, but Fin insisted that they find a couple of women to ease their pain.
Todd knew he wasn’t going to go through with Fin’s plan, but he couldn’t exactly blow off his request. Telling Fin, ‘Gee, I think I’ll just wait until I can find a way to be with Myra,’ didn’t seem like a healthy choice of words. The thought of the broadsword swooping down on his neck popped in his mind.
“What is it you need there?” Ian asked.
Fin exchanged a glance with Todd. “Repairs from the winter’s storms need to be addressed.” His excuse wasn’t entirely without merit.
“Maybe you would like some company,” Lora suggested.
“No,” Todd put in.
Myra tilted her head to Lizzy, who stared at Fin.
“I think you should take Simon and Cian,” Liz told Fin. “Wouldn’t you like that?” she asked the young boys.
“We go alone, Elizabeth.”
“Why is that, Finlay?”
Damn, Liz wasn’t fooled. Todd knew without any doubt that she’d already pegged their ulterior motives. He glanced at Myra, but she appeared lost.
Guilt and remorse hit him hard.
“Because I said.” Fin’s voice started to rise.
“Really, Fin. I don’t see what the problem is.”
Myra glanced at Todd. “I’m sure Simon and Cian can help with repairs.”
Todd shot his eyes to the plate in front of him.
“We don’t know if it’s safe to be leaving in big groups.” Todd followed his comment by placing a forkful of food in his mouth.
“Fin took Simon and Liz out the other day. It will be no less safe tomorrow,” Myra argued with Todd.
Ian slammed his massive fist to the table.
Everyone jumped. “Enough of this.” Ian tossed his hands to the dogs who had moved far away from the table when the arguing had begun. “Even the dogs are sick of this conversation. If the men want to go alone, they go.”
“That’s it? What the men say sticks, and we can say nothing?” Liz sputtered.
“You can say what you want, lass. But it will make no difference.” Ian was firm and met her stare.
Liz pushed away from the table and threw her napkin on her plate. “Great! That’s just great.” She stood and left the table.
Todd watched her go and dared his eyes to meet Myra’s. They narrowed with sorrow before falling to her hands.
“You do know why they’re going right?” Liz poured the wine the maid brought to her room. “Women.” Myra accepted the glass.
“Damn right women. Women that aren’t us.”
She tossed back half a glass in one gulp.
“I thought you didn’t like Fin.”
“I don’t—not like you mean anyway.” She coughed. “But are you going to sit back and let him lead Todd to who knows who? Have him introduce your guy to the hotties in town?”
“I don’t think Todd will go through with it.”
“You can bet your ass he would. Men suck that way. Anything in a willing skirt and off they go.”
“I’m a willing skirt, and he hasn’t jumped on me.” Myra put her glass down.
“He would if your father wasn’t just outside your door.”