|Scotland church…. *sigh* so beautiful! [image via]|
Today we have a very special treat. I’ve teased with short blurbs from the sequel before (see the short excerpt here) but today, I thought we’d dive into the first chapter. The first FULL chapter. Not just three hundred words but a full 980 words. :0)
One thing to note is that this is also the first time that my editor will be seeing this so, um, yeah grammar/spelling has not been fixed yet. :0)
The Legend of Lady MacLaoch II
The church was situated comfortably for several millennia in the place I came upon it that afternoon. Green pasture land surrounded it and the quarter mile hike down to it. Perched, white washed and ancient, on the misty cliffs north of town, the church held a breath taking view to the rocky beach below and out to the slate gray of the ocean. Dotted on the horizon were the emerald humps of the outer isles.
The first inhabitants of the church were buried beneath it, I learned later, around 800 BCE. It was quite phenomenal to be standing at the rickety gate of this small seemingly inconsequential church on the outer edge of MacLaoch land. The paint peeling off in white strips under my hand while roses grew wild. The thorny beauties rambled and climbed up past the church’s glazed windows on their wandering race to the top of the steeple. Their thick fragrant heads bobbed in the moist sea air as it breezed up over the mossy green bluffs, reminding me that it had done the same thing for centuries. I felt young in that yard of the deceased.
Marble tombstones in erratic rows stood tall and mighty at the far end of the grave yard. Though closer to the gravel path that lead to the stone church in front of me all seemed to be made of chalk. They’d aged so badly and lichen’s were doing their best to revert the stone back to its original state that the wording on many of them was nearly indecipherable. Within the low stonewall of the church yard the grass was mowed to within an inch of its life, and tediously trimmed around each headstone as if His Royal Highness resided there, or at least the clan chiefs of MacLaoch. But that I knew for certain was not true, MacLaoch’s had been residing in the MacLaoch churchyard and crypt since – if you believed Rowan’s version – before time, itself.
In my hands I held my lineage that Rowan had given me last year when he’d first invited me into his office. The documents that I thought I had all but lost. On the list, the burial grounds were marked, when they were known. The first to find on the list was a woman who married a Fitzgibbon. I was hopeful that since this was the last known church I’d checked in all of Skye I was hoping she was buried somewhere in that yard.
“And ye be looking for someone in particular, or just enjoying the sunshine?” Came a woman’s voice from around the edge of the church. Her Scots was thick, her ‘just’ sounding like joost.
I looked up to find a snappy old woman with a bushel of gray hair tied back into a bun.
“Since there’s no sun. I think you’ve got me pegged, I am looking for someone in particular. I’m looking for a Rose Maria Minory Fitzgibbons, would you happen to be the caretaker here?”
She stood looking at me for a moment, “Oh aye. I thought ye’d come.” Then making her way in front of the church, walked in through the front door to the church with a creek. When I didn’t follow she turned impatiently around, “Come in then, we’ll have a cuppa and see what we can do.”
I followed behind her into the dimly lit church, “What do you mean you thought I’d come? Did Cliff from Castle Laoch call to warn you—”
At the sound of Cliff’s name she turned and hissed at me, “That old codger is still alive? Well he wouldn’t call me if he had any sense.” She said pulling off a set of dirty garden gloves as we got situated on the opposite side of the church in a small stone room filled with a single wooden table two chairs and a wood stove. She placed a kettle on the top of the stove and tossed her gloves to the side before slipping a large leather bound book down off the shelf behind her. Setting it gingerly down on the ancient table top she gestured for me to sit down.
“Fitzgibbons, is who you’re looking for?” she asked placing the pair of spectacles that hung around her neck up on her nose.
“Yes, Rose Maria Minory Fitzgibbons.”
“Now if she were just a plain ol’ Fitzgibbons, she wouldn’t be here. She’d be in the next township over with her people. No, I wouldn’t waste your time with a Fitzgibbons, and I wouldn’t be waiting for ye to arrive either. But, ye said Minory.”
I heard myself sigh. It was still new for me, the stigma of the legend of Lady MacLaoch and her star-crossed Minory love. “The curse is broken.” I said heading her off at the pass.
“And ye, Nicole Ransome Minory Baker. Have broken it.”
At the use of my full name, I looked at her, really looked at her. “Do I know you?”
Her hazel eyes twinkled, something familiar in their expression. “No, ye don’t. But I can tell ye tha’ if ye let a year and a day pass without properly fastening yourself to tha’ MacLaoch chief ye’ll not have done he or her any good.”
I felt an odd sensation in my gut as I said, “You mean Lady MacLaoch…” I said then added, “Rowan and I are handfasted.”
“Oh aye. I hear tha’ ye are.” She said and nodded, “But ye are to finalize it with a proper wedding ceremony. Handfasting is but a marriage for a year and a day, at the end of tha’ time the couple needs to commit or move on.”
The sensation got worse, our wedding day was three months off. And we’d be handfasted for a year and a day, in five days time.
“And…” I said softly, “What happens if we’re not, the curse returns?”
She pulled the glasses slowly down off her nose, “I suggest ye not find out.”
And don’t forget to sign-up for the raffle to win the first The Legend of Lady MacLaoch, revised and updated with a swanky new cover!