Treating his wife badly was an insult, but he was virtually a stranger here. Yet Kiera was not just his wife, she had acted as Lady MacKenzie between her mother dying and her father marrying Silean Chisholm. This severity of insult to Kiera, and therefore her father, in the home she'd cared for, could have gotten a man flayed.
"I would like to be a spider in the corner when Laird MacKenzie discovers what has been done in his absence," said Duff.
"I had no idea of this," said Colin again. "Kiera tried to speak to me once but we were interrupted and I didn't see her again."
"What about Silean?"
"She hasn't left her chamber as the babe made her belly erupt at all hours. As she had kin visiting I left her alone. I had a few wee things on my brain what with taking over for my father," he added with a touch of sarcasm.
"What will ye do now?" asked Malcolm Colin's scowl eased. "I shall help you escort my dear sister to Kinrowan."
"As Laird MacKenzie's spy?" asked Duff quietly. His eyes shot daggers.
"My lord and laird will think I spy on Ross of Balnagowan." Colin rubbed the silver pin at his shoulder with his cuff. "Like an adder he lies by a rock, so still you dinna see him afore he strikes."
"An adder bite rarely kills," said Duff.
"That's where he differs." Colin turned his eye to Malcolm. "Kiera is the youngest of us. She is smarter than most of my brothers and fought to be their equal. She kens she is a la.s.s and must obey her laird, but it vexes her."
"We've seen that a time or two," said Malcolm drily.
"I've never seen her happier than in the two days you've been back. Have you been speaking with her of Kinrowan during all that time you spend in her chamber?"
Malcolm trusted Colin. He'd been good to them, and to Cormac and James. It would do no harm to speak of his pride in Kiera. "I asked her what she might do there if she could. She spoke not of helping herself but of training widows and wives at home with bairns to weave so they could gain a few coins."
"She wishes to improve the sheep flocks so the wool is finer for weaving," added Duff.
Colin nodded as if he'd heard it before. "And what of the cattle?"
"She is wise enough to realize she'd best leave that to her men," said Malcolm.
"So Kiera is learning a wee bit of wisdom as well as all the rest?"
"Aye," answered Malcolm, "and that 'tis best if none ken we talk with her or that we listen. A clan wants a strong, decisive laird. I have learned from yer father, and also from Somerled."
"Our laird is grim and responsible, but Niall, his twin, yanks the stick out of his a.r.s.e now and then," said Duff. "As I do
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