So sorry about last week's failure to launch! Here we go again....
Alynn was met with cold rain, as well as her mother on a high-strung horse. The saddle’s girth was twisted and two holes too loose, and the seal-brown bay was making every effort to inform her oblivious rider.
Alynn grabbed the reins. “Mum, we ought to talk things out first!”
“What’s there to talk about?” Caitriona demanded. She grasped the saddle as the mare reared, nearly throwing Alynn off her feet. “Yer brother’s out there—”
“I know he is. Five minutes, Mum. We’ll make a plan, we’ll—”
“Leif will get us a ship,” Caitriona insisted. “Do you remember where Captain McMahon was headed?”
“Just get it as close as you can, Lynder. We’ll find him, I promise.”
Alynn closed her eyes. It sounded like skyr, she said to herself. Skare...Skey....“Skerray! Mum, ‘tis Skerray! He’s in Skerray!”
Caitriona spurred the mare on, ripping the reins out of Alynn’s hands as she set off at a gallop toward the village on the northern shore.
And she had taken Alynn’s horse.
Alynn stamped her foot before running into the stone-and-wood stable. Why, why did she have to be the adult in this situation? She ignored the cackling of chickens and bleating of sheep on her way to Lukas’s stallion, Honor. She threw a blanket on Honor’s snow-white back, then followed it with a saddle. As she tightened the girth, the stable door opened, and Lukas stepped in.
Alynn looked up at him, grabbing a bridle from its hook on the wall. “Are you coming with?” she asked.
Lukas met her gaze. “To the village?”
“Not at this hour.” Lukas shut the door and took off his hood. “I doubt ye’ll be coming back until morning.”
“Probably not. Do you want to come with us to Scotland? You’d love Tarin—you love everyone, but he’s special—and I know you don’t like being left alone—”
“Calm down, Alynn,” Lukas said. The sound of his voice, with his Highland brogue and his comforting tone, brought almost as much sanity into the situation as the words he spoke. “Don’t give a thought to me, I’ll take care of myself fer as long as it takes to find him. Just worry about helping yer mother. I was wondering if ye’d like to finish eating afore ye leave.”
Alynn smiled, putting the bridle over Honor’s head. “Thank you, Lukas, but I’m too excited. Faith, I wish Mum wouldn’t run off like that....”
“Does yer brother take after her?”
“Hardly.” Alynn turned, as if Lukas could see the lump in her throat. “He was—curious, sweet as honey, built like a freckled, redheaded fence rail. I always imagined that he’d grow up to be—quite a bit like you, actually. But—with hair.”
Lukas and Tarin didn’t look a thing alike, Alynn realized. Lukas had no freckles, his white hair had probably never been red, and he tanned every summer from working in the fields. But he still half-smiled at the comparison. “I’ll take most of that as a compliment,” he said.
Alynn smiled, kissed him goodbye, and disappeared on Honor’s back into the darkening forest.
M. J. Piazza is a Jesus-loving, dog-walking country girl who just so happens to write books.