The storyline of A Thousand Miles follows my fan fiction titled Assumptions--MotG Story 1.
I do not own any of the wonderful MotG characters or their respective worlds but have appreciated and enjoyed writing this fan fiction.
A Thousand Miles
Life consists of balances. Birth follows death. Good, follows bad. It was the natural order of all things.
Ideally an even status quo was what one strove for. And indeed, this theory had been exclaimed often enough in muttered exasperation by the 14th Laird of Glenbogle a one Hector Naismith MacDonald. "No news was good news!" This habitual refrain irksome and annoying had always been accepted by the rest of the immediate MacDonald clan with a roll of the eyes and a throwing up of arms. It simply wasn't realistic, was it? A stagnant life was hardly a life at all. But in the wake of Hector's death the family had found to their surprise that this motto, this well-worn pearl of wisdom might just hold a kernel of truth.
Hector's wife had certainly mulled this phrase around in her mind when her husband's younger brother Donald had come round recently looking it appeared to bed down for goodness knew how long. Familiar with his questionable past and reputation Molly MacDonald had been cautious to open her home and heart once again to her brother-in-law, a man who'd stayed away for nearly 40 years. But she'd been left no choice really. And it was important for her children especially her son Archie the newly-designated Laird to size up their uncle for themselves.
It could have been argued however that Donald Ulysses MacDonald had not been given a fair chance. Barely having shared their first meal together, toasting to the memory of Hector and the future of their family when they'd come across a hitch, a second disturbance to the equilibrium they'd managed to achieve. It was something that had shocked Donald the most.
He was a father. Father to a son he'd never known. Father to a confident, self-made, full-grown adult, a man set in his own ways much as Donald was himself. Surely it wasn't bad news. But neither was it good.
Yet despite this interruption to their lives they'd all seemed to recover quite resiliently. Balance had been restored. Everything had followed its natural order.
Just in time for whatever was to come next.
Questions without Answers
"Okay, Mrs. MacDonald. Do you have any questions?"
Lexie shook her head and whispered, "No." Pulling on her short beige trench coat she tied its belt loosely around her waist then grabbed her hat and shoulder bag.
"All right then, please don't forget to schedule your next appointment at the front desk on your way out. And I guess I'll be seeing you in a few weeks. Good day, do take care."
Lexie smiled weakly, "Thanks, Dr. Murray."
Molly MacDonald deftly raced down the main staircase while donning her long, quilted vest. Goldenrod in color it was chosen especially to complement her favorite tweed cap with the deep yellow specks. Though her modeling days were well in the past a good sense of fashion had always been like second nature to her. And for this she was grateful. The recently widowed Molly was finally ready to add to her somber attire of late a tiny bit of spice. Thus adjusting the final flourish, a silk scarf tied round her neck and she was set to go out—almost.
Making the sharp right turn from the breezy servant's hall into the warm kitchen, her full skirt swirled around brushing against a wooden cupboard with a soft swish. She found her brother-in-law Donald exactly where she'd expected he'd be, sitting at the long wooden table in the center of the room, a pair of spectacles perched low on his nose. He was nursing a cup of coffee and reading the latest issue of The Glen-Bugle.
"Molly!" Tilting his head down Donald glanced at her over thick, blue-grey frames. "Have something on your mind, do you?"
"Well yes, Donald actually I have," Molly paused. She chose her words carefully, "Not to pressure you or pry but have you given any thought to what you're going to do?" Moving further into the room she was now standing directly opposite him.
"Do?" Donald slapped down the news-rag and raised his salt and pepper brows in question.
"Yes, I mean here." Losing her patience, Molly tried to get on more clearly. "Oh Donald, for goodness sake how long do you plan on…"
"Sticking around," Donald interjected, "Being under foot? Getting in the way?" Having removed his spectacles he let them dangle freely from his right hand as he spoke.
Her question now voiced loud and clear Molly heard how callous it sounded. She tried softening her approach. "No I'm simply asking what your plans are. I've a right you know, this is my home."
Donald thought to himself, Hmmm…fish and guests in three days are stale. Molly's comment had unexpectedly stung him. Indeed it was true that the youngest son of Martha and Hamish MacDonald had chosen to flee the premises several years before on his own accord but he'd been born on the Glenbogle estate, a place he'd always considered home and to Molly he said as much.
"Fair enough, Molly. But it seems to me that this house is big enough for allof us to co-exist rather comfortably, quite possibly without even seeing one another for long stretches at a time. This is still my home too, after all, is it not?"
Molly realized he had a point nevertheless she questioned him further. "All of whom do you meanexactly, Donald?"
"Well," Donald kept count on his fingers as he spoke, "there's you, me, your son and his wife, and perhaps even my son."
"Your son, you say? Who? Paul Bowman? Is that who you mean? And when did this happen?"
"Oh, now don't get all huffy, Molls. Nothing has happened yet. I've sent him a letter inviting him to visit is all. As a bonding sort of thing, you know. Anyway, I've yet to hear from him."
Molly's expression turned from one of annoyance and impatience to one of concern. Sensing this, Donald soldiered on. "What's the real problem here then, hmm?" One temple of his glasses now pressed against his bottom lip, "Is it money?"
"Well, that depends on what you mean…"
"Good morning Mother, Uncle," Archie entered the kitchen, barging in on Molly and Donald's tenuous conversation. Repeatedly he tossed a set of keys up in the air with his right hand, catching them in his left.
Donald swiveled around on his stool to face his nephew. "Morning you say?" He made a show of pulling up the sleeve on his left arm so he could glance at his wrist watch. "It's half past eleven!"
"Yes, and I believe any time before noon is still considered morning." Archie shot his mother a look but her only response was a shrug of her shoulders.
"Now you listen to me young man," Donald rose from his stool. Being 6' 4" or close to it, the elder MacDonald towered above Archie making him appear even more imposing. "If I'm going to stay on here then I think some changes need to be implemented regarding the running of the estate. Glenbogle should be managed properly, like a business. Up at the crack of dawn! Burning the midnight oil! I'm not just a handsome face, you know. No, no my dear boy. I know quite a bit," He tapped the side of his head with two fingers for emphasis, "What's more; I'm willing to share that knowledge with you, my nephew!"
"If you stay on," Archie hesitated, confused by his uncle's admonishment. "Right, well um, yes I'll have to give that some thought, Donald."
"Mind you do, Archie, mind you do." Donald returned to the table.
Archie looked anxiously at Molly, "Mother, are you ready?"
Quickly approaching her son, Molly hooked Archie's arm with hers and pulled him toward the door. Nearly having exited to the adjacent hall Archie had a change of mind and went back to the kitchen to confront his uncle. His nostrils flaring slightly, his good mood rapidly souring, the younger MacDonald, taking advantage of the fact that Donald was now sitting, loomed over his uncle. "I was up at six this morning." Archie justified his remark with a nod and a quick one-handed flip of his jangling keys, "Just wanted to make that perfectly clear!"
"Hmph!" Donald's reaction, loud and indifferent made him feel as if he'd had the last word.
Lexie stood outside the doctor's office collecting her thoughts, trying to decide where she should go next. She wasn't ready to go directly home just yet but one of the drawbacks of living in such a small community was that almost everywhere she went she was home.
Before realizing it her legs were carrying her away from the main, wider street that ran through the center of the village where she had parked the grey pick-up truck. Instead she found herself veering down a quieter, meandering lane. The slow pace she took along the gently curving sidewalk lulled her mind. She passed by Baxter's Bakery. In the front window freshly-baked rectangles of shortbread were neatly piled on lacy doilies set atop gleaming tiered stands. Though she adored the native cookies today they held no appeal. Walking by The Grande Dame she spied a gaggle of curler-topped ladies clustered around a washing sink. Probably gossiping about the latest local scandal, she surmised which Mrs. was flirting with which shop-keeper for a better cut of meat or fresher selection of produce.
When she reached Clarke's Stationers she stopped. This is where she would have ordered her invitations had she and Archie had the wedding of her dreams. She had designed them in her imagination: cream-colored, satin-edged notes embossed with the MacDonald Clan's Crest, written in an elegant deep-purple font and off-set by envelopes lined with the family's pretty tartan. As a final touch a small spray of white heather—the symbol of good fortune would be enclosed. Though white heather was rarer, Golly, the estate's Ghillie and the most knowledgeable person Lexie knew regarding topics of the land and its history had once told her that the more common purple actually stood for solitude. How ironic.
But who on her side of the family would she have sent the invitations to, anyway? Her mother? There's no doubt Pamela would have thought them too plain. At least Eric, her mother's current husband would have noted the meaningful little touches of that she was certain. Pamela was lucky to have married such a thoughtful man as Eric Morton. And as for her father, Lexie wasn't even sure what continent Alex McTavish was presently schmoozing his way around.
Yes Lexie had planned the perfect wedding it had seemed in that short, blissful sliver of time after Archie had placed the pull-top ring on her finger and before announcing their engagement. She had wanted to hold off on saying anything just for a bit but Archie was so eager to share his joy—their joy—with his family and their closest friends. She hadn't remembered ever seeing him so content and at ease.
But Lexie knew better. For every drop of happiness, every silver-lined cloud that life had ever been willing to grant her there were just as many storm-darkened ones looming in the distance, waiting to roll on in.
Just like now.
Having finished reading the newspaper Donald flipped over the last page and drained the dregs from the bottom of his cup of coffee. He chomped, as always, on any remaining bits of grounds stuck to his teeth and tongue—a disgusting habit, particularly for someone purporting to be so refined but one hard to break all the same. He noticed a colorful ad taking up most of the back page of the paper, immediately recognizing the Coat of Arms emblazoned on either side of the text, the familiar castle and crown set on opposing fields of yellow with 'Ks' on the two, remaining red quadrants, as that of Kilwillie Castle. It read:
Kilwillie's Luxury Foods
Gentleman's Relish -- Venison Pate -- Whisky Marmalade
& Other Fine Edibles
Quality Products for the Discerning Gentleman's Palate
at Nearly a Commoner's Price
Private Label Distillery
Also Try Kilwillie Spring Water
All Products Produced and Packaged in the Scottish Highlands
"Hmmm," said Donald. The old cogs and wheels of his mind turning, his attention became distracted.
Ewan Brodie the hired Glenbogle chef, a young but very capable, self-taught cook scuffed noisily up the back stairs, each scrape of his footing on the concrete steps echoing against the high-walled narrow space of the stair well. He sported a 50lb sack of potatoes slung over his left shoulder which he hoisted and dropped to the kitchen floor with a loud thud.
"Oh!" Startled, Donald jumped a little, placing his hands over his heart. "What on earth? Ugh, potatoes," he wrinkled his nose and curled his upper lip in mild disgust.
"Aye, they're po-ta-toes!" Ewan mocked, "Just what've you got against tatties? These humble little…"
"Dirty…" Donald cut in.
"…beauties," Ewan continued, "are culinary stars. Baked, fried, smashed with garlic or boiled. Any way you cook 'em, they're fantastic! I'm thinking of writing a book, I am. I'll title it: Totally Tubular Tubers."
Donald fluffed off Ewan's comments and mumbled under his breath, "Hmmm, you probably thought deep-frying Mars Bars was a brilliant concept, too. " Out loud he said, "Tell me, ahem, Chef," Ewan flashed him a smile. "Is Gus still kicking around these hills?"
"Gus?" Ewan asked, wracking his brain. Though he wasn't native to the area, his parents had moved to Glenbogle from Glasgow when he was still a lad, Ewan had been living the latter part of his twenty-one odd years in the small village. And, as young men do, he'd made his way all around the town quite sufficiently and as such was pretty familiar with who was who.
"Yes, Gus…Gloomy Gus, that's what Hector and I used to call him." Donald waved his hand impatiently about, "oh, the man must have a trillion names! Let's see here, what would you probably know him as, Lord Angus or something of that nature?" Donald spoke dramatically and then added amusingly, "Only his family dared call him Sharon!"
Seeing as the boy was still without a clue, Donald held up the Glen-Bugle, pointing to Kilwillie's advertisement.
"Oh, you mean Kilwillie? Aye, he's back."
"He's back, you say?"
"Yea, he went on a tour around the world and his sister."
"Aye, you know her then?"
"Ugh!" Donald shivered at the mere mention of Dorothy Trumpington-Bonnet's name. "Yes, I remember Dottie. Ha-ha," Donald slapped his knee, "she positively hated it when I called her Dottie, or even worse, Dot! She was quite a looker though. Well, um, at least she was in our younger days, wouldn't know now, but whooo," he whistled, "She was also a very conniving little," His voice trailed off, lost in a memory.
"Aye, well she was looking after the estate while Kilwillie was travelling. I had a few run-ins with her, too. Geez she almost had me arrested but that's a story for another time." Ewan momentarily became lost in his own horrid memory. "Anaway, thank goodness she's pushed off again."
Donald opened his eyes wide, bringing himself back to reality, "Yes, that is very good news. So you said the old dog traveled the globe, 'eh? Hmm," Donald stood and dutiful personified pushed his stool underneath the table and placed his mug in the sink. "Thanks for the info, lad." Donald slipped the folded newspaper under his arm and left the kitchen.
Archie and Molly in a Vehicle
"You're awfully quiet Archie, dear."
Though Archie didn't respond verbally, his facial expression and manner implied it was nothing.
"I've no doubt," Molly continued, "that you're thinking about your Uncle, ruminating over his words. Remember, he takes some getting used to. I've said this before deep down he truly is a good person and most of the time at least his heart is in the right place. Why not just try and bear with him, hmm?"
"Aye I'm sure you're right, Mother. But what's this business about him running the estate? I mean quite honestly I hadn't given much thought to what he was going to do when he'd arrived. I was happy to meet him and to welcome him back home. He is now the patriarch of the clan McDonald." Archie signaled left, turning onto a highway. "Och, I don't know, I guess I thought he'd just take a room here and then, you know," Archie nearly whispered, "do what father did." He glanced at his mother, his annoyance building. "Donald's retired now so why doesn't he take up fishing or golf or just do whatever it is that strikes his fancy! And by that," Archie's voice rose, "I do not mean running the estate! I know I said we should persevere together but, I meant with me at the helm! What does he know about running an estate?" Archie sighed heavily and slammed his fist onto the steering wheel.
"I know, I know," Molly tried to soothe her son. "It was the same with my brother, having just turned up before your father died. He offered to stay on after with the idea of helping. And at the time he was a great help to meemotionally. Now admittedly Jolyon's less into schemes and more into himself. I suppose he, like Donald, feel a bit responsible for what goes on at Glenbogle and they want to offer their assistance but."
"But it's not necessary for them to do so, is it?"
"Well?" Molly hesitated.
"Wait. Hold on just a second here. You do agree that I don't need any help running the estate, correct?"
"Oh Archie please, let's not discuss this now. Mind your driving."
"Mind my driving? Bollocks!!" Angered full-tilt, Archie took a deep breath and tried to temper his emotions and voice. "You don't think I'm doing a bad job at running the estate though, do you, Mother? Mother, answer me!" Though Archie implored her to respond, Molly remained silent, save for telling him once again to mind his driving.
Catching sight of someone's reflection in a store window, Lexie turned around to greet a woman who was coming out of the bakery. She was laden with white and pink boxes all tied with thin red and white string.
"Hi Liz, can I help you with those?"
"Oh gosh, no Lexie thanks for offering. I decided to nip round here myself today," she said sheepishly. "I'd not had enough time to do my own baking this morning and well, in a pinch, Baxter's does make the best scones, oh and their shortbread! My American guests in particular insist on having some after every meal. They think it's the Scots thing to do and there's no telling them any different! They won't hear it. But listen to me going on! I'll tell you what, how about you come on over for a cup of tea, hmm? I know shortbread's a favorite of yours, too."
Lexie looked down and away, trying to think up an excuse. It's not that she didn't like spending time with Liz Logan McKay, taking tea in her charming Bed & Breakfast which was just round the corner. She'd actually become quite friendly with the woman as she was the aunt of Glenbogle's Head Ranger, Duncan. Having started as housekeeper at the estate just a few years prior to Duncan's being hired Lexie and he had become fast friends. She'd even suspected that Duncan thought they'd become closer than just friends some day but it wasn't in the cards for them to be together. Theirs was a brother-sister relationship through and through. Not that there was anything wrong with Duncan McKay. He'd always been kind to her and he certainly was cute, what with those dimples and his curly chestnut hair, but if there wasn't any magic between them—and in Lexie's opinion, there wasn't—then there wasn't any point in pursuing him, was there? Lexie was, she knew, an incurable romantic.
"Now, now Lexie, I won't take no for an answer," Liz persisted. "Besides, we haven't gabbed for ages." She said this while giving Lexie the once-over, "And listen, I promise not to ask any questions."
Although not a mother herself, Liz Logan McKay always had a sixth sense about people, an instinct that served her well as the owner of a Bed & Breakfast where sometimes travelers journeying from near and far sought solace in the inn's homey atmosphere and her caring attitude. Most times however she came off as being a wee bit too nosy for Lexie's taste. But given the lack of female friendships presently in Lexie's life, it couldn't hurt. A bit of girl-talk was probably just what she needed no matter the actual age of the girl.
"Aye, okay. I could do with a nice cup of chamomile, Liz."
Property Surrounding Glenbogle
Donald was beginning to regret having chosen to walk to Kilwillie Castle. Leaning against one of the large trees that ran along the side of the road he closed his eyes and tried to catch his breath. As a boy it would have taken him twice as long to reach his neighbor's estate with him, Daring Donald and his brother, Heroic Hector creating adventures for themselves along the way, effortlessly traversing in and out of the surrounding groves of tall pines. But that would only happen during the summer months. For the rest of the year Gloomy Gus would be shipped off to boarding school. Later as free-wheeling lads getting a bit tipsy on gallons of Shandy, of all things, that odd but easy-going-down concoction of beer and lemonade—all the rage at the time—meant the trio would almost never make it from point A to point B on foot. But then that had been half the fun.
Donald reasoned that while standing there taxing his brain with memories of the past he'd actually allowed himself to succumb to a light cat-nap because the next thing he knew he was listening to an idling car engine.
"What the Bally Mos…Donald?! Could it actually be the Daring Donald?"
Donald's face transformed into a wide, clownish grin, "Gloomy Gus!"
"Oh! Gallant Gus, my nom de plume was Gallant Gus, don't you remember?" Lord Kilwillie leaned out of the window of his polished antique auto. "I was the one who always rescued the pretty damsel in distress! Oh, never mind," he whined. "I'd heard you were in town but what in heaven's name are you doing here standing in the middle of nowhere?"
"En route to see you!"
"Ah, well why didn't you say? Hop in old chap!"
"My, my, you've done some redecorating I see?" Donald gazed around at the high walls of the formal parlor, the red paint and gleaming fixtures chosen very ostentatious and bold.
"Yes well when one has lived in the same dwelling all their lives as I've done one does what they can to put their own stamp on things, to make a home feel their own. Now if you'll just excuse me for a moment I'll need to track down my butler." Instead of stepping out of the room Lord Kilwillie took a deep breath and hollered out at the top of his lungs, "Badger!!"
After a few long minutes an aging man wearing a uniform of black suit, vest and pants, with a white shirt, bow tie and gloves which had taken on a yellowish hue, appeared at a side door. With one shoulder stooped lower than the other and a slight drag to one leg the silver-haired man hobbled into the room. "Yes M'Lord? Oh," he said, excited at the prospect of entertaining, "I see we have company!"
"No, Ihave company!" Lord Kilwillie pointed to himself as if the motion were necessary. "Could you fix us a drink and then prepare something for us to eat, you know, the usual kingly spread and," Lord Kilwillie thought for a moment, planning this all in his mind, "yes, I think I shall like us to be served in the dining room. Badger? Badger? Badger!!"
While having his instructions dictated to him the butler had been staring unflinchingly at the guest until recognition finally donned on his face. "I remember you, aren't you?"
"Yes! It's me, in the flesh!"
"Blimey! It's been nearly what, 40, 50 years, hasn't it?"
"Yes indeed," Donald bent his huge frame and spoke to the diminutive butler using his hand to screen his mouth from Lord Kilwillie, "I don't suppose you could whip us up a batch of your famous tasty oat cakes, hmm?"
"Oh, yes," Badger smiled, "I'll have them ready for you in a jiffy, Sir."
"Yes, M'Lord," The butler pulled himself away from the guest and fixed his attention on his boss. "I'll fix your drinks right away. You know, you really shouldn't yell so much, all that blood rising to your head, remember what the doctor said. Getting too agitated wasn't good for your blood pressure." He continued prattling on to no one in particular while slowly making his way to the liquor cabinet.
"If only," Lord Kilwillie said to Donald in a hushed, irritated tone, "refurbishing people were as easy as redecorating a home!"
Liz's Bed & Breakfast
Liz poured a little boiling water into the china tea pot, swirling it sufficiently around before dumping it into the sink. Filling the warmed pot with loose tea she emptied the rest of the kettle water into the chamber before replacing the lid and topping it with a quilted tea cozy. With everything set on a large wooden tray she carried it into the adjoining room where Lexie was sitting comfortably at a small round table.
While the chamomile tea steeped Liz took a knife from the side board and broke the string on one of the bakery boxes. The sweet smell emanating from the open box of pastries mixed with the brewing tea infused the air with a warm, comforting scent.
"So, how are you finding married life?" They had both known Liz couldn't actually resist asking questions, her theory being that questions were the building blocks of any good conversation.
"Well it's had its ups and downs. But we're very happy together."
As Liz filled some silver dessert stands with pastries, Lexie began to prepare their teas.
"Mm-hmm, I can see that in the way he looks at you. Archie seems very happy, content."
Lexie was a little surprised at Liz's comment. "Aye." She added a few drops of milk to the two delicate bone cups Liz had set out and then, holding a strainer over each, she poured in the steaming tea. Though through the years she'd had much experience serving tea at the Big House—as Glenbogle was familiarly called—Lexie handled this China gingerly, knowing the fine set with the intricate all-over floral pattern had been in the McKay family for generations and as such, only a few pieces remained.
"Listen Lexie, when you've gotten to know as many people as I have over the years, you pick up on things. No matter the culture or age when two people love each other, I mean truly love each other there's just no mistaking or faking it. When they stand arm in arm together they sort of lean in to one another, both offering equal support. When one speaks the other is attentive. Och! There are all sorts of little nuances and see that's the difference. I'm not talking about grand, overt gestures. It's the little things, isn't it? It's him making sure he hasn't hogged all the bed clothes for himself or leaving the last bannock because even cold they make delicious midnight snacks."
Lexie relaxed back into her chair and took a sip of the hot, soothing tea.
Liz placed her hand on Lexie's arm, tapping it gently, "They're the things that help you get through the rough times."
Donald began to salivate eyeing the sumptuous spread Badger had laid out for them on the dining room table. There were glistening pots of relish and chutney, various savory jams and sweet jellies, perfect molds of smooth pate, dishes of pickled onions and marinated mushrooms, plates of grilled sardines and rare beef with horseradish, a selection of delectable smoked cheeses cut into thick slabs and wedges and in the center of it all, a heaping stack of freshly-baked oat cakes.
Approaching first Lord Kilwillie pulled out an arm chair at the head of the table for himself, indicating for Donald to take the seat to his right. Eagerly, the two men tucked into the feast.
"So tell me what have you been up to over the years, now that you've hung up your racing gloves?" Lord Kilwillie asked with genuine interest, before stuffing a large piece of chutney-topped oat cake into his mouth.
"Mmmm…Well," Donald wiped his lips on a scallop-edged linen napkin which had a red 'K' embroidered in one corner. "I've done a bit of traveling myself. But no matter where I've gone or what I've accomplished, returning to Glenbogle has always been on my mind." He cut himself a healthy hunk of cheese and grabbed another oat cake, slathering it with pate. "Gus, this food is absolutely delicious! I know Badger is handy but I'm sure he's not capable of all of this. Where around here did you find such fare may I ask?"
"Well if you must know," Lord Kilwillie spoke with feigned modesty. He rose from the table and walked over to the far side of the room where he pushed open a swinging door retrieving something from within. Upon returning Donald could see he was holding a pamphlet which he offered to his guest. "These products are well, they're mine!"
"Good show, old man!" Donald removed his glasses from an inner pocket of his jacket, rubbing them on a corner of his coat before putting them on. "When did you get into the let's see here, the luxury foods business then?" He read this phrasing right off the pamphlet which was a more elaborate version of the ad he'd seen in the Glen-Bugle—a fact he didn't mention. There were colorful pictures scattered throughout the glossy leaflet and one very large image of Lord Kilwillie's smiling face.
"Well as I'm sure you remember my father had a very fine palate, always ordering the best of the best for his family. I suppose after years of sampling such good food I became a sort of connoisseur, if you will. And anyway you don't want to hear all of this."
Donald was still perusing the pamphlet. "So how's business?"
"Oh! Donald, I don't want to talk shop!"
"No, no, of course you don't, I'm sorry." Donald cast the brochure aside but continued to gnaw on this rather tasty bone. "It's just that I think someone like you, who was born into all of this, yet still has the fortitude and generosity to become an entrepreneur in his own right possibly providing hundreds of jobs for local people should be commended!"
Lord Kilwillie's ego now pumped, his face positively beamed. He decided to divulge one of his primary trade secrets of which Donald carefully listened.
"The key to success in selling anything I believe is you have to know your market. You must choose something that you have a passion for and that you're familiar with. Mine is very obviously food," he said this last part with a chuckle while patting his rounded stomach. "Now I don't suppose I could interest you in staging the Battle of Culloden with my fine set of toy soldiers? You can be Bonnie Prince Charlie."
"Um no," Donald said with raised brows.
"No," replied Lord Kilwillie, a little disappointed, "I thought not." What he really wanted to say was, "No, you're certainly not my dear pal, Hector. Poor, poor Heroic Hector."
Returning to Glenbogle from her visit with Liz Lexie had felt much more relaxed and in a better frame of mind than she had been earlier that morning. As she pulled into the garage drive she saw Molly quickly heading to the house and heard Archie slamming the Estate Office door. "Oh no," she thought. No matter that on the drive home she had managed to garner enough confidence to become resolute in her decision to tell Archie her news it was looking as though their talk would have to wait. Once outside the truck she called out to Molly who waved and said hello but kept on going. Lexie took a deep breath and made her way to the office.
Before opening the door she rapped on it lightly. Though not something she was accustomed to doing somehow it had seemed right at the moment.
Her husband was sitting in a wooden swivel seat behind the desk, his elbows resting on the chair's arms and his hands clasped loosely in front of him. He was looking very despondent, staring vacantly ahead.
From the door, Lexie spoke out softly again, "Arch?" When he didn't react she moved into the room and crouched beside him. "What's wrong? Hmm? You're scaring me. Did you have a row with Molly?" She began to rub his tense shoulders and neck but he pulled away from her.
"Actually no, I couldn't call it that because it was a bit one-sided. You see I asked her a question and she hesitated with her response. That's all that was said. And it was plenty." His voice was strained as he tried to control his anger.
"This isn't making any sense. What's this all about?"
"Oh nothing just this little thing called Glenbogle and how this Laird—the man you married, mind you who gave up his previous London life to try to, run the estate apparently rather unsuccessfully!"
"Did she actually say that to you Archie? Did she tell you that you weren't doing a good job?"
"No not in so many words. But I asked her point blank," he emphasized his words by striking his fingers on the edge of the desk.
"And what did she say?"
"Nothing Lexie, she said nothing! Doesn't that say everything?"