"I am glad to have a day of rain to sit and mend." Bessie sighed in contentment. "'Tis so peaceful here in yer solar. Ye can barely hear the noise of the bailey."
"'Tis glad I am to sit!" Kiera settled on her padded chair and picked up Malcolm's old s.h.i.+rt. "I'm wondering if 'twould be best to turn this to another use." She held up the threadbare garment. "If Malcolm stretched his muscles 'twill rip apart."
"Yer men have put on muscle."
"Aye, they had little food at Duncladach." She thought of her rear and frowned. "I've put on weight as well."
"Aye, I heard Master Duff say so to the laird." Bessie dimpled. "He says all the stairs are putting an extra curve to yer a.r.s.e, though he misses the jiggles."
"Well, there's enough jiggling here to make them happy." Kiera lifted her growing b.r.e.a.s.t.s, making Bessie smile. "'Twas such a surprise to see you here, Bessie. I never kenned you'd leave your home." Kiera paused. "I expect since you've never married or had a babe 'twas easier to leave?"
"I left my home as a wee la.s.sie with my mam when Lady Elizabeth Stewart married yer father." Bessie peered closely at the cloth in her hand. "Mam taught me, so I was often with Lady Elizabeth. After she died...well, yer father was lonely, and I was there..."
Kiera's jaw dropped. When her mother died she'd been so tied up in her own grief and busy with taking over the household that she'd not noticed much beyond her own work. Bessie ducked her red face.
"The laird kenned 'twas best I leave with ye. He had Lady Silean..." She cleared her throat. "Please, my lady, dinna send me away."
"Send you away for comforting my father? Never." She patted the older woman's hand. "You kenned me when I was a la.s.s. You're the only one I trust to speak your mind."
Bessie's breath shuddered when she exhaled. She wiped the corners of her eyes with her knuckles. "Thank ye, my lady. I was feared of keeping it from ye, and of telling ye."
They worked for a while. Kiera thought back of what she knew of the woman.
"You never found yourself a husband, nor did you have bairns."
"The laird was so much a man I wouldn't settle for less."
"So when he asked you-"
"Nay, la.s.s. I asked if he wished some comfort. He needed to be held. He, ah, couldna..." She cleared her throat. "Nay with me. Mayhaps there were others after." She flapped her hand, blus.h.i.+ng furiously. "I may be the only grown virgin at Kinrowan."
"Mayhaps there's others, just as choosey. You are a prize for the right man, Bessie, if ye wish one. 'Tisna sommat to be ashamed of." Kiera went back to her work. If she was killed and her husbands were distraught, she would want them to have someone to hold in the night. "I'm glad my father had comfort, no matter what kind."
"He ne'er wished for another while yer mother was alive, though he did look. I've told a good number to cover what might fall out when they bend over!" Bessie, chuckl
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