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Highland Wolf Pact:Compromising Positions(8)

By:Selena Kitt

"'Tis no imposition at all," Donal soothed. Kirstin caught his eye and  saw something in his that made her smile. He was amused by this whole  scene-Darrow's stubborn posturing, Raife's even more stubborn resolve.  Then his words, the warmth in them, made her melt. "She's more'n  welcome. Ye'll are."

"Good. Then it's settled." Laina brushed her mate's hair away from his  face, looking concerned again. "Darrow stays put until he's ready  t'travel."

"You're not going any farther than your chamber pot," Sibyl insisted,  shaking a finger at the wulver in her care. "Not until I'm convinced  your outsides are ready to keep your insides in."

"If yer goin' t'be 'ere, then ye can keep me posted on Darrow's  progress." Raife pulled Kirstin aside, speaking quietly. His gaze  softened as he glanced at his brother, growling at the two women who  fussed over his wound. "I'm sure Laina can use t'help."

"I imagine, so can Sibyl," she said pointedly, waiting for his response.  There was one, but it was deep, buried in the bright blue, gold-flecked  recessed of his eyes. It was so brief, a human might not have even  noticed, but Kirstin did. Raife was in pain. A lot of pain. And none of  it was physical.

"Donal, may I speak wit' ye?" Raife turned away from Kirstin to talk to the MacFalon.

"Aye," Donal agreed amiably.

"Darrow, mayhaps ye could come wit' us?" Raife asked, and Darrow actually started to get out of bed again.

"No!" All three women shouted at once.

"Raife, are you deaf?" Sibyl cried. "I've told you over and over-I am not letting him out of this room."

Raife folded his arms over his chest and glared at her, but he didn't say a word.

"I think she knows what she's speakin' of," Kirstin reminded her pack  leader, poking his shoulder. "She's been carin' for him since he almost  got himself killed."

"T'was her doin'," Raife snarled, speaking lowly, for Kirstin's ears, not Sibyl's.

Sibyl had gone back to tending to Darrow, urging Laina to try to get him  to eat something, although she did glance up at them, a look of such  hurt in her eyes it broke Kirstin's heart to see it.

"No, Raife, t'was mine," Kirstin confessed. She swallowed hard, seeing  the way Raife's gaze turned to her, his eyes blazing. "I was t'one told  her that Laina'd been taken. I was t'one who put 'er on a horse. If ye  want t'blame someone, blame me."

Kirstin waited, breath held. She waited for him to rage at her, to  accuse her. She saw Donal's eyes flash, saw his hand move to the hilt of  the sword at his side, but that was all. He was waiting, too, watching  Raife for a reaction.

Raife's jaw worked, and his gaze skipped over Kirstin to focus on Sibyl.  She stood beside the bed, facing him, cheeks pale, pleading at him with  her eyes. Kirstin saw the love Sibyl had for him-she felt it. There was  a deep, unspoken apology in the way she looked at him that moved  Kirstin, and she expected it to move Raife, too. Even Donal was affected  by it-there was a great deal of sympathy in him for Sibyl.

Then Raife's eyes hardened and he turned back to Kirstin, directing his  words at her, although his intended target was the petite redhead across  the room, and he verbally hit his mark-hard.

"I'm sure ye did'na 'ave t'do much convincin' t'get 'er t'run back t'marry 'er betrothed."

Sibyl gasped as if someone had just punched her in the gut. Laina's arm  went around her shoulders, and she drew the redhead close to her,  steering her around the bed.

"Why don't the three of us go down t'get somethin' t'eat," Laina  suggested softly, guiding a trembling, stricken Sibyl around Raife,  toward the door. "Kirsten, let's go."         



"Ye-" Kirstin pointed at Darrow. "Stay in bed.

"Aye, jus' hand me t'food then." Darrow nodded at the tray beside him.

Kirstin slid the tray onto the bed, watching him move to his elbow to  tear bread and dunk it into the stew. He was getting his appetite back.  That was good.

"And ye." Kirstin turned back to Raife, who pulled a chair up beside his  brother's bedside and straddled it. Her voice shook as she addressed  their pack leader. He was a formidable man on a good day, and a  downright frightening one when he was angry and glowering, like he was  now. "Did ye get knocked on t'head out there on the battlefield? Do ye  need me t'examine ye?'

"Nuh." Raife grunted, waving her away. "Leave us."

"Are ye sure?" Kirstin leaned in and opened one of his eyes wider with  her fingers, peering in. "Given t'way yer actin', I'm not so sure. Might  you've left most of yer mind out there somewhere on t'field? Should I  go look fer it?"

Darrow snorted a laugh from the bed and Raife gave him a cool look.

"Kirstin..." Raife shifted his attention to her, catching on to her not-so-gentle hints at his behavior.

"That woman's t'best thing that's e'er happened t'ye." Kirstin pointed  to the door where Sibyl had been led out, so hurt by Raife's words she  could hardly walk. "Yer mad t'let 'er go."

"She made 'er choice." Raife's lip curled in disgust when he spoke. "Leave us, Kirstin."

"How can ye say that?" Kirstin wasn't ready to give up-not yet. She  imagined Laina had been too distracted by Darrow and his wounds to  really take Raife to task, and he wasn't going to hear it from Sibyl. He  clearly wasn't listening to her at all. Maybe Kirstin could get through  that thick skull of his. "How can ye sit here and not understand why  she came? What she sacrificed fer ye?"

Raife's brow lowered as he scowled. "I did'na ask her to."

"Nuh, you did'na. And she did it anyway," Kirstin reminded him. "Because  she loves ye. God only knows why, ye stubborn, foolish, pig-headed-"

Raife stood, his hand going to the hilt of his sword. Darrow continued  to shove stew-soaked bread into his mouth, glancing between the two of  them, chuckling to himself.

"A'righ', a'righ'!" Donal stepped between the two of them, Kirstin  barely coming up to Donal's shoulder, and Raife a head taller than that.  She just glared between the two men. "Mayhaps it's time fer ye t'join  t'women in t'kitchen and let us menfolk-"

"Oh, don't ye start, Donal MacFalon!" Kirstin turned on him, eyes  blazing. "The menfolk're t'ones who made this mess in t'firs' place! We  weren't t'ones goin'round forcin' people into marriage or kidnappin'em  and holdin'em against their will! Last time I looked, we women were jus'  tryin' t'clean up after ye ‘menfolk'!"

She poked her finger into the middle of Donal's chest, punctuating her  words, hearing Darrow sputter a laugh behind her, which just made her  madder.

"How did I get in t'middle o'this?" Donal held his hands up in  surrender. "'Twas Alistair who trapped Laina, not I. And Sibyl's  marriage t'Alistair was arranged by King Henry, not I. I've gone outta  me way t'honor t'wolf pact, I've taken in wulvers into me castle, which,  I might add, has most of me men and all of t'women afeared, in spite of  my assurance of their safety. I fail t'see how anythin' I've done could  possibly be construed as... "

"Oh,what could ye possibly know about it?" Kirstin snapped, crossing her  arms over her chest and uttering an exasperated sigh. "D'ye know what  it's like to be afeared the one ye love's gonna die, and ye might be  t'cause? Because that's the weight that woman carried on 'er lil  shoulders, and that's the reason she came 'ere to yer castle. T'satisfy  yer brother's demands."

Donal's spine stiffened and he frowned down at her. "I fail t'see how me brother's actions have anythin' to-"

"Give it up, man," Darrow called, his mouth half-full with stew-soaked  bread. "No use arguin' wit' a woman-especially not a wulver woman."

"What would ye like me t'say?" Donal asked, giving Kirstin a truly puzzled look. "That yer right?"         



"That would do well, fer a start," she agreed, realizing she'd been  directing her anger at the wrong man-Donal wasn't even a wulver, or part  of her pack. He was their host, and had clearly been generous and kind.  She'd overreacted, and she knew it, but she wasn't quite sure how to  fix that, especially with Darrow snickering and Raife growling.

"If King Henry's gonna send ye another English bride, ye might as well  get used to sayin' that phrase," Darrow remarked, licking his fingers  clean and grinning over at them.

Even Raife had to chuckle at that.

"What're ye babblin' about?" It was Kirstin's turn to scowl, raising a quizzical eyebrow at Donal.

"Well, Sibyl was s'posed t'marry t'eldest son, Alistair," Darrow  explained, his eyes glittering with amusement. "Now he's dead and  Donal's The MacFalon. I imagine King Henry'll jus' decide t'give 'er to  this brother instead..."