At times the trail was wide enough for us to ride three abreast while at other times I spent my time dodging limbs vowing silently to myself not to ride behind my brother again. Neshoba, Jake and Speck enjoyed themselves by chasing rabbits and romping in the bay. Yes, I was jealous.
Talking was nearly impossible on the small game trails we had been riding on since we had stopped for dinner. This had given me much time to think and silently curse my brother. About that time Nick let a large pine sapling limb loose nearly sending me off the back of Jet. “That’s it!” I dropped my reigns. Nick had stopped and turned around to stare at me. “What?”
“What? You idiot! I have had it with getting swatted and switched by tree limbs.” He began to laugh but stopped when he saw my eyes glowing a bright yellow. “Now Claire I really didn’t mean it.” With one quick dismount I was at the side of his horse. With another swift jerk he was laying on the ground looking surprised. “There, it is your turn to ride behind me for awhile, brother!” Grabbing hold to Jets mane I jumped back up into the saddle. Smiling down at Nick as I road by. From behind me I heard Drake chuckling. “Well, son, I guess she told you.” Nick gave a low growl before climbing back up on Doc. Ya know you should really work on your anger issues. I just ignored him, smiling with satisfaction when I turned around to watch him get smacked in the face by a low hanging limb. Drake gave me a wink and a slight smile.
The sun began to slowly make its decent in the west before we finally stopped to make camp. Nicholas still was not speaking, which was actually nice. He cut a piece of cane to make a poll and sulked his way to the bay to catch us fish for supper. I found a few pieces of dry driftwood to start a fire while Drake watered and feed the horses. It felt as if this was something we had done often, not for the first time.
With camp made I decided to walk to the shore of the bay. I sensed him before he stepped out behind me. Finding an ole log that had been stranded on the shore I sat down, stretching my legs out in front of me. He followed and sat down on the sand next to me leaning back against the log. I sensed he wanted to talk so I held my tongue and thoughts.
“Claire, before you start asking questions let me say what I want to say first. Your grandfather and I have known each other for a very long time. We have much history together. In order for you to understand more about yourself you must learn more of your family history. It just so happens that your history and mine intermingle.” I nodded for him to continue. He laid his head back against the log and closed his eyes. I waited patiently.
“In order for you to understand I guess starting from the beginning would be the best. I was born to Ellana and William McMurphy. At my birth my father welcomed me with open arms never questioning why I looked different from my other brothers and sisters. Were my hair was a dirty yellow color my siblings wore crowns of curly auburn hair. My eyes were a bright blue but theirs shone like emeralds. He was a good man and father, never once did I ever question his love for me. I still knew I was different. My mother was a handsome woman with brown hair and dark coal eyes. She loved me but at times I saw a sadness that would cross her face when I would do something dangerous. She watched as the injuries I sustained healed faster and stronger than my siblings. She never said a word. That is until my eighteen summer. She had become ill and had been confined to her bed for several months. One morning she called for me to come to her chamber. When I entered she sent out the servants leaving us alone. It was then that she told me of my true father. She had met him one afternoon as she was taking one of her favorite walks along the river. They met often. At first they just talked but it then became more. My father was off at battle and she had become quite lonely. She said it was wrong but she would not take back anything that had happened because she was given me. My father had suspected but never asked her about it. The man that was my father, however, was of a different breed. He was not a highlander but he was lets just say of the heavenly sort. I can remember looking at her wondering if she was delirious or maybe not in her right mind. The look in her eyes told me she was serious in what she said. From below her pillow she pulled out a letter. She then proceeded to tell me that he was coming for me and would be at the castle by tomorrow morning. Then handed me the piece of paper.
I will be at Heather Hills on August 10th. I look forward to seeing you and meeting your family. There is much we need to discuss concerning our son. It is time for him to know of his true father and the life he is expected to lead. You have done well as I knew you would as also your husband. I assume he has noticed the differences and knows that Drake is not his.
Sorry for the short notice but many changes are taking place in this land and he is needed.
I can still feel her caress as she stroked my cheek, tears running down her face as she watched me read the letter. Please don’t be angry with me for not telling you she whispered. I leaned over and kissed her hand then her forehead. I loved her too much to be angry. That night she passed on to the afterworld. The next day a man by the name of Bartholemew arrived at the castle. We stayed for her funeral then I said my good-byes and rode Saint out the castle gates, never looking back.” “Why did you never return? Why don’t you go back and find them now?” “Because they have all long since passed on and the land has been dispersed. Claire,” turning my head toward him I was startled to see the raw emotion that filled every inch of his face, “that was over seven hundred years ago.”