Ghostliyprincess: wow! Props on the quick review that was all of what, 2 seconds after I posted? Oh, and I love fire… not as much as george mebbe… but it is so mesmerizing, no?
Starsplash: heh, doing laundry as I type, waiting for the beep so I can switch loads and (groan) fold, the worst part! Oh, and, deary, I fully intend on finishing this story, unless I die, which I don't plan on happening for at least, oh… fifty to sixty years from now… perhaps even 70, but the point is it will be finished………….eventually…
Aka_fredandgeorge: yes, I know I have been trying, not promising though.
Allie the final Dragon Rider: well… if you really want my blood, I do make a point to donate to the local blood bank, so if you get in a mess and need a transfusion, you may just get your wish…
Anyhow I'm just glad you reviewed (I had to check your profile to remember who you are, you change your penname too much) and I'm glad you liked the chap too!
Oh, and thank you for telling me a part was funny. It's great to get specific things pointed out rather than the standard 'good chapter' business!
Shortly after lunch the next day Katrina was sitting in the library going over a small stack of lists of needed supplies with Taidhgan's help and Kipp sprawled across an overstuffed chair, one leg over the armrest, head buried in a book.
"Your guests have arrived, miss." One of the maids announced from the doorway Katrina looked up from the latest list that she was discussing with Taidhgan.
"Thank you. Could you please show them to the study? I will be with them in a moment." she thanked the girl, who bobbed a curtsy and left. "Kipp?"
"Hmm?" the captain responded, head still bent to the book he was reading.
"We're almost done here. Could you go and greet them for me, please?"
"Sure, love." He marked his place in the book, stood with a stretch and stole a quick kiss, making Taidhgan roll his eyes. "I saw that sailor!" Kipp called over his shoulder at the door, making the first mate grin before turning his attention back to the papers.
"Hello." Kipp smiled as he entered the study. "I'm Captain Christopher Hunt, Twelfth earl of Kent." He offered his hand and the man gave a firm shake.
"Will ye be tellin' us why we're 'ere then?" the woman still sitting in the other chair asked. Kipp grinned, he liked her straightforwardness and no-nonsense behavior.
"No." Kipp stated simply.
"Why no'?" the man demanded. "Ye called us ou' 'ere. Dinna?"
"That was not me, but the owner of the manor. I'm afraid that I'm just the greeting party."
"An' who woul' make an earl their errand boy?" the woman asked, curiosity sparkling in her eyes.
"Thank you, Taidhgan. Do you think you could show me how to enter the receipts later?" said a voice muffled by the door.
"Lord or not, there is only one person could." Kipp said and opened the door to let in the owner of the voice.
"Mr. and Mrs. Lyons!" Katrina beamed at them holding out her hands. "Sorry to keep you waiting, my, but it is good to see you!"
"Katrina? Child, look a' you! Dressed all fine. I almos' dinna recognize ye!" Mrs. Lyons got up and embraced the young woman before her. "John, look who tis!" she released Katrina and turned the girl to face her husband.
"Aye, I see 'er, Minette." He crossed his arms over his chest and looked Katrina up and down. "I suppose ye'll disappear on us afta a day?" Katrina looked at him, taken aback by his greeting.
A laugh interrupted her. "Come 'ere child." He stepped forward and gave her a brief hug. "The owner surely is an odd un to have servin' girls dressed so fine. Where is the man anyhow?"
"Well, the maid's uniform is a gray dress and white apron. And the owner isn't a man… nor a woman, but a child."
"It's Sera. Sera owns all of it." Kipp said from Katrina's side.
"Sera?" Mrs. Lyons questioned. "That li'l angel tha' was with you las' time? She is 'ere as well?"
"Yes and yes. But she is taking her afternoon nap right now."
"Tha' is all good and well, but I don' see wha' tha' has ta do wi' us."
"Well, as Sera's guardian, it is my duty to hold and care for her inheritance until she comes of age and can do so herself. But I will need stewards, or caretakers, people I can trust and who will be answerable to me." Katrina smiled slightly.
"Why is tha'?" Mr. Lyons asked. "Canna ye do it?"
"It has been made painfully aware over the past few days that I have next to no idea how to go about such things. And, as much as I love Bridgewood, I am afraid that my future husband prefers the Caribbean to the colonies." She smiled up at Kipp, who smiled back and wrapped an arm around her waist, lightly kissing her forehead. "And, honestly, I cannot think of anyone more qualified than the two of you." She added after a moment, smiling at the Lyons.
"Us?" Mrs. Lyons asked, a stunned expression on her face.
"Please, consider doing this." Katrina implored.
"Child-" Mr. Lyons shook his head with a slightly exasperated sigh.
"A man would be a fool ta give up such an opportunity. But the inn-"
"John." His wife cut him off.
"There is no need to decide right now." Katrina cut in. "I need to check on Sera, will you stay for supper?"
"Aye, though we may 'ave some mighty sore customers come tomorra."
Katrina smiled. "Please, make yourselves at home. I'll have tea sent to you, would you like it in here or the parlor? Oh! Perhaps you like to take your tea on the back balcony, it has a wonderful view of the gardens. Or-"
"'Ere, would be fine, child." Mrs. Lyons gently interceded.
"Oh, of course." Katrina blushed when she realized that she had been rambling.
"Well, don' let us keep ye. Go look in on th' li'l darlin." Mrs. Lyons shooed lightly with her hands.
Kipp smirked and bowed to the elderly couple before capturing Katrina's hand and gently tugging her from the room.
Sera was sleeping soundly, clutching a silken bunny to her chest and contentedly sucking on her thumb. With a smile, Katrina gently closed the door then decided to check on Link as well.
A thump and a muffled groan was the response to her knock. Opening the door, Katrina saw Link sprawled on the floor five feet from his bed. "Link!" she rushed to his side and pushed him onto his back.
"Angel." He grinned peering up at her with pain clouded eyes.
"Oh, Link. What am I going to do with you?" she asked, helping him into a sitting position, then standing with one arm over her shoulders to steady him. "You're not supposed to be up yet." She stumbled as he sagged, leaning more weight on her.
"But I'm about to go stir crazy." He complained, one hand flying to his head bandage. Reaching the bed, Katrina helped him sit against the headboard, propped up by some pillows. Swiftly she unwound the bandage to assess the damage. With a sigh, she grabbed some spare gauze, covered it with iodine and lightly slapped onto the wound. "Ow!" he complained.
"That is why you should stay in bed. You popped a stitch. Now hold this here while I get someone to fix this."
"Why someone else?" Link asked with a groan.
"Because if I did it, I'd probably do it wrong and you'd end up disfigured, and then Keeley would kill me for messing up your face instead of simply leaving you with a dashing scar." She was amused to see a slight blush spread over his skin at the mention of the young mother-to-be. "I'll have some books sent up, and maybe some of the crew could come and keep you company. And I'm sure Sera will want to see you after her nap. But if I hear you're out of bed before the doctor says you're fine, I will have you tied down." With that threat, Katrina made her way down the stairs and to the kitchen.
"No more kitchen duty for you." Kipp intercepted her before she could get over the threshold.
"Just one thing." She sidestepped him but he caught her around the waist as she moved past him. Her shriek of surprise gained the attention of the whole kitchen. "Chloe!" Katrina called. "Two more for dinner! And Link popped a stitch, please get someone to fix it!" Laughter was the only response she got as Kipp twirled her to face the opposite direction, placed her feet back on the floor and tucked her securely under his arm.
"Now, I do believe you are due for a break. How about a walk in the gardens?"
"Hmm, alright, I meant to check on the wash house, and it is in that direction anyway."
Kipp sighed. "Kitten…"
"Alright, fifteen minutes, but I really have to check on things, then I want to go to the village."
Fifteen minutes later Katrina and Kipp were sitting on a stone bench, Kipp brushing off Katrina's hands. "I don't think that weeding a bed of roses counts as taking a break."
"But the poor things needed it." Katrina frowned at the small pile of dirt that now littered the walkway in front of them. "I'll have to talk to the gardeners."
Kipp ran his hand through his hair with an exasperated groan.
"I know, I know you think I'm doing too much, taking too much on. But, oh, you should have seen this place when I here the first time. It seemed perfect. I just want to try and get that back. For Sera. After all, this will all be hers when she's old enough. I will not allow Bridgewood to fall into further ruin. The garden was always my favorite. I'd make excuses and take any chance I got to walk through them. Now look at it overgrown and full of weeds. It's just sad." She cast her eyes over the flowerbeds and untrimmed hedges. "It has lost its charm."
"Speaking of lost things. I believe I have something of yours that was so carelessly left behind. And if you'd let me, I'd like to properly return it."
"Something of mine?" she looked at him quizzically.
Kipp nodded. "Though, I have to ask you something before I give it back to you." Gathering both of her hand in his, rubbing small circles on the back of her hands while he sorted his thoughts. After a moment he looked up. "Katrina, I love you. You know I do."
"I love you too." Katrina was quick to reply, noticing his use of her given name, something he only did when he was very serious about something.
Kipp grinned and stole a quick kiss before continuing. "I know. But I never actually asked last time. So I'm just going to do it." He suddenly dropped to one knee in front of her. "Will you marry me?" he asked, presenting the ruby ring.
Katrina stared at him for a moment "You really need to ask?" she finally whispered.
"I thought I'd do so properly." He shifted slightly. "Could you answer so I can stop feeling like a fool?"
"Yes, my answer is yes." With a giant smile, Kipp swept Katrina up in his arms, spinning her before giving her a searing kiss.
"When?" Katrina asked. They where once again seated on the stone bench and her head was resting on Kipp's shoulder.
"Let's see." Kipp paused to consider, absently rubbing Katrina's arm. "We still have to get this place set to rights. Then there is the trip home and, of course, time for the parties and what not that Elizabeth will insist upon. Hmm. I think three months is about right."
"Three months?" Katrina lifted her head to look Kipp in the eye. "That's not enough time to plan a wedding."
"Kipp, Elizabeth and my uncle will insist on a year. Apparently that is the proper thing to do, according to Amberly."
"Six months then."
"Kitten, I won't wait any longer to make you my wife." Kipp nearly growled.
"I think we can talk them down to six months, eventually." She agreed.
"If not, we can elope. I know a few captains that would happily perform the ceremony." Kipp grinned mischievously.
"Now that would be an excellent point when talking the time down. Though I don't suggest using it unless we are getting desperate, my uncle very well might try to shoot you. I don't want to be a widow before I marry. Now, I really need to get back to work." She stole a kiss before dashing off.
Well, I had really hoped to wrap it up in this chapter, but the characters weren't cooperating. So at least one, maybe two chaps more. Oh, and I'm thinking I may add an epilogue. That is still up for debate however.
I do not plan on a sequel, sorry to all that wanted one. But I don't see any other stories springing from this one.
That does not mean that I intend to stop writing. I plan to finish my Robin Hood fic, and then, who knows?
Please review, reviews brighten my day!