I’m so sorry, Fearchar, Seonaid. I’m out of practice. I – I –
“Wha’ di’ye mean White Horse a’ the Fyskar clan? Ye’re man, nae beast. Tradition died out centuries ago. None a’ the clans claim the land tha’ way. A disgustin’ myth told in dark corners.” Fearchar cut off the apology.
The deed to the land is passed down through my lineage. I’ll tell you, but not her, he pointed to Seonaid.
“So, horses are apparently off-topic for me. Whatever, I’ll go eat my dinner. You two can eat it cold.” She stomped away from them.
Eoin stood up and paced in the small space. He cracked open the door to find it still snowing. Grimacing, he turned back to the room. Quick strides put him into the empty bedroom and back to the fireplace, where he stood clear of Seonaid. She set a pot to boil with an irritated clank and sat down at the table.
“Wha’s it?” Fearchar approached him warily. Eoin’s hands trembled, unsure of himself. Fearchar had asked, but was it something he wanted to share with the man? If he did, what would Fearchar think? What would he do?
His hired hand waited, knowing Eoin needed the freedom to choose. He held out his hand to the doctor. Eoin reached, tentatively, past Fearchar’s hand to his collarbone. He rested his hand against his neck, the beads of his necklace grazing the edge of Eoin’s fingers.
The hired hand blinked into the inky darkness. Fear and nervousness swamped his senses for the briefest of seconds. A singing heat ran along his skin. His spine tensed. Pressure built around him, inside of him. The feeling hit low and fast. He throbbed. Fearchar looked around himself, trying to find Eoin in the black. Fingers trailed his back and slipped around his ribs to brush his chest and dance across his clavicles, then disappeared.
“What if I told you?” A mouth at his ear made him shiver. “That I had a husband and a wife.”
The apparition moved away from him. Fearchar crumpled to the sensations crawling across his skin. Fingers pressed and teased. Warm breath crept along his chest, and his body tightened. “Husband…?”He tried to breathe through the feeling, trembling at the building need threatening to crush him. He edged along more defined sensations; fleeting images of pleasure flicked across his senses. “Wh-why…why didnae ye…ah -” Fearchar moaned, fighting to keep control of himself, warmth twining and feathering his skin to bursting. Lips trailed fire down his chest. A large, rough hand clasped the back of his knee. Soft breasts pushed against his arm.
“Why didn’t I?” Eoin’s voice, breathy and ragged, hitched in the throat.
“Why’d ye only want ta share with me?” The pressing need in Fearchar’s gut relented. He drew in a saving breath.
“You asked why I had not taken in ten years. I’ve been taken more times than you would imagine by my prince, but I haven’t pushed for myself in all that time. You see,” The feeling ground into Fearchar again, the temperature rising another degree. His legs trembled. “The blessing of a White Horse, a name we call those men who can feel the memories, is to communicate emotions between two people; more is dangerous for us.” The voice caught, electricity crackling and sparking. “A relationship can turn into a fever-pitched revelry that can be difficult to extract yourself from. Hours can pass without awareness. Not everyone will tolerate shared emotions. I didn’t know if you could take the sensation or would want Seonaid subjected to – to it.” The voice moaned as a flash of need dazzled the space.
Fearchar’s head throbbed, a heady tightness wrapped up his spine and across his rib cage. “These are your memories.” He breathed through the liquid heat rising inside of him, threatening to drown him. Eoin shared the textures, the impressions he had and related them to his hired hand. Fearchar identified Eoin’s hands and a rougher, larger pair and a smaller pair.
Sawdust. Heather. Seasalt. The scents mingled, pulled him into the depths. Cloth rasped through his fingers; the coarseness of woven wool slipped across the tips. Teeth nipped at the back of his hand. Pressure built around him.
Eoin looked up at a mousy brown-haired man with delicate features. He was younger than Fearchar had expected. There was a knowing smile playing at thin lips. Slashing grey eyes laughed in amusement. A blonde woman leaned over Eoin’s side, kissing and licking his skin.
She was round in late pregnancy. Red-stained lips held his focus as she traced liquid heat up his chest. She worked her way up to his neck, kissing him thoroughly as the man thrust deep. The sky broke.
The heat relented, momentarily tempered, as other memories slipped in. “That house on the hill, where the Daleroch’s lived? That was Osla and Bercilack’s. Berc and the clan constructed it for her as her wedding gift. The land it is built on is mine, and giving Bercilack the land to build Osla’s house there was my wedding gift to them. He was a gifted carpenter. She was an excellent weaver and midwife. They were made clan chief and lady of the Fyskar when Bercilack’s father, my father’s second husband, died.
“The taigh màthair out near the fence, that was mine. My house behind it, I built it alone, by hand, as was tradition for the prince to live near his husband and wife in such a way. Like my father, and his great-grandfather before him, I was training to be the Duine Naomh na coille of the clan.
“As we can share memories and emotions, we can define and restrain pain and grief, allowing us to be brilliant medical practitioners and leaders of the spirits. Women of the clan with the talent often became midwives and keepers of the snaidheadh gràbhalaidhean for our people. Men are much rarer. There was a time when several generations never saw a White Horse. We depended in those times for the women to preserve our stories through our carvings and to instruct the new Duine Naomh na coille.
“We had children, Osla, Bercilack and I. Dughlas was our oldest son at six and gleefully helped watch my sheep. He had participated in his first lambing. I had planned to teach him sheering that spring. He, like all the rest except for Callum and Albin, took after Berc.
“Ealasaid was my wife’s pride and joy, her first daughter and a golden ray of laughter that never stopped shining. She would sit at Osla’s feet in front of the fire and drop her little spindle over and over, giggling like kirk bells echoing off the hills. She would have been five at midsummer.
“Torcall, two, was mischief in waiting. He was utterly intrigued with stacking shells and blocks. He was my wife’s handful. He was stubborn and wilful. He would mimic Bercilack at every turn, carving, negotiating with the people, you name it. Berc would tote him around to meetings and had decided to encourage him in carving with toys he had made, even if Ally was too young. I think Berc was hurt that Dughlas was so fixated on tending my sheep. He would never admit as such. He was too good to do so.
“Albin and Callum, as twins, were to be a surprise and cause for celebration in the village when they reached six months- when we would have introduced them to the village. They were kept in private. Other than my husband, wife, and grandmother, no one else knew that Osla had born a pair of White Horses. They provided the potential for the Fyskar to expand into two clans.” The images stopped floating around Fearchar.
“Bercilack and Osla.” Fearchar tasted their names and the love that wrapped the memories. “You loved them?”
Eoin nodded, warmth at the corners of his lips spread into his cheeks with memories tumbling. “He insisted, if he was going to marry, that he would have an educated wife and prince, or else he would not marry at all. He motivated his father and the village to pool together the money to bring a teacher in for the children. He is why I can write and read.” A soft warmth spread in Fearchar’s chest for Eoin’s husband.
Fearchar watched quietly as Eoin worked his memories backwards. ” ‘ow auld are ye, Eoin?” Fearchar didn’t want to disturb the man’s joyful memories.
“I was twenty-three when they died. I’m…as of this past summer…thirty-three then?” he asked himself, working through the math. “Bercilack’s father was suffering a fast-wasting disease, and my father had nae been able ta cure it, nae matter what he tried. He e’en travelled ta England ta look fur a cure. We’d been informed that he’d most likely nae make it through winter. I helped my father conduct the Walk fur the clan chief and the Wake that followed. Three weeks af’er, my father saw ta our marriage as a priority to establish the next clan chief quickly. He waited fur the guid news a’ my young wife’s expectin’, then rowed himself out in a dark storm.
“I wasn’t ready fur that much responsibility. Ta have ta see ta the needs a’ me clan chief, to take care of me pregnant wife, to become a White Horse for them, n’ a Flath n’ Duine Naomh na coille for the clan. So many titles too quickly. We ne’er saw him ‘gain. His boat was found days later, smashed ‘gainst the rocks.
“That midsummer celebration, though, was filled with the height a’ merriment n’ merrymaking. Bercilack and Osla were magnificent in their robes. It was a time a’ joy n’ celebration. The lineage was guaranteed.” Eoin’s voice hitched with pride as he showed Fearchar his brightest memories of his new family.
“I’d been helpin’ my father with his medicines since I was nae much older than Dughlas. I understood how ta splint, mend, n’ care fur t’ose sufferin’. I understood t’ose responsibilities as med’cine man, one a’ the facets a’ Duine Naomh na coille. Howe’er, me new position as the White Horse ta me marriage was somethin’ that was ne’er mentioned direct ta me.
“Father had a husband and wife ‘fore Bercilack’s father. Rory ‘n Fenella. Ah was Fenella’s only bairn. She n’ Rory fell ta plague when Ah was no more ‘n seven. As a move ta keep a clan chief in place, father remarried Rory’s brother Drostan ‘n his wife, Caointiorn. They already had Bercilack. She’d always been sickly n’ Bercilack’s birth left her bedridden. She died a’ winter cough two years after their marriage ta me father. He became a hollow shell, havin’ ta bury a third partner. Drostan were his last straw. Ah do believe he didnae wanna be around in case Osla met the same fate bearin’ Dughlas as early as she did. His was nae a’ unreasonable fear.
“Me father neglected any useful duty in explainin’ what ta expect after the ceremony. Then ‘gain, havin’ tended enough flocks, it wasnae that Ah was without me own understandin’ ah the events that’ld take place. Ah knew that linkin’ between two people was difficult n’ energy consumin’, but -” Eoin shrugged in the darkness, “It were me first time ta share with another in such a fashion.” He allowed a splintering heat to crawl through his memory, once more starting the fire. Fearchar tasted the anticipation in the memory seeping through his bones.
“That firs’ night,” electricity coursed under the skin, “were when Ah learned the heights that a White Horse could take a relationship. ‘N we didnae fall,” Eoin whispered into the deep. A gloating smile flitted across Fearchar’s consciousness. Hands grasped, pulling him into the depths, holding, pushing, teasing, inflaming him.
“There are reasons Ah havenae been wit’ another in ten years. Not as a White Horse ‘n Ah could be nothin’ less.” Eoin fuelled the burn building in Fearchar. The man returned a muffled groan as an answer. Eoin knew he was being selfish, pushing these feelings, reaching for something he wanted. He could have told them in the simplest of ways, but this? He was ensnaring the man, begging.
“Ah loved me family dearly. Their memories linger. Howe’er…” Eoin cleared his throat in the void and stilled, pulling himself from his burr, fighting to return himself to the cultured aristocratic enunciation he had learned from Henri. “It is not out of respect for them that I have not taken a woman to bed with me. Mirza is quite aware of my capabilities and tends to use them at his discretion, as you probably suspect. I have asked him to not let others at the palace know what I can do. It would not be acceptable for me to join with him and his wives.” Eoin allowed a tremor to build low.
“Do you love him?” Fearchar asked, breaking the tremor.
Cold depth, a slinking edge entered the space for a heartbeat, two. “No.”
“Comfort, structure, protection, a role I know how to fulfil. In the same vein as your wife and the men and women who walk through your door for her. It’s a job, a way to make money, to keep a roof and bellies full. You, she loves. You give her the space she needs to be as free as this village, and this world will let her be. If all the world sat at your fingertips, her’s, you both would be more than the station society has demanded you to stay in.
“I can provide to Mirza in order to survive, for as free as my world will let me be. I am more, but the world is not favourable to me. Even here, I needed a handler to work, someone to translate when I could not risk speaking for myself. And I’ve accepted this fate. I am fed, clothed, housed. My sons are educated amongst the royals’ own children. He has my profession and my body. I have my soul for my people in the Forest.
“Mirza, like his brothers and father, has many wives, and they live within areas of the palace where they can be kept safe. He has several young children a’ his own, though I’ve nae met them. He may love his wives. I’ve never found it necessary to ask.
“I knew of family love. Of carnality. Of passion and need. I’ve known of friendship and expectation. That warmth, like the fire in a hearth in winter, the sight of dinner on the table, a hand on my shoulder with a cloak before sunrise during lambing season. I’ve known that feeling, and I would not taint it asking for it from him, or you, or Amina and Tau. I wish to keep Berc and Osla’s love as it is in my memory.
“Are royals allowed to love? Or the poor? Or those who will not be persecuted? Or is it only for those with nothing left to lose? I’ve lost it all twice over. My family and my place and I cannot do it again. Physically or mentally. Am I a curse to those who would love me? My people, my families, my villages. They all are taken, and I am here asking the world to not kill me for existing.” Eoin traced heated spirals in the space as he let his thoughts escape. “So, I stand here, showing you who I am, asking you for nothing resembling love, but to let me be me for a moment in time. No more, no less than the people who walk through your door.”
“Will ‘e ken a’ this?” Fearchar pulled Eoin’s hope to his heart.
“Aye.” Eoin refused to flinch at the question.
“Will it cause ye trouble?” Fearchar swallowed hard against the burning heat of sorrow and need warping the space.
“Even the falconer knows to let their bird seek a mate and nest, hoping their devotion will return the creature home.” Eoin shrugged. “You?”
Fearchar tried to shake his head, his thoughts on the edge of Eoin’s fragmentation. ” ‘n Golnar?” The Skye man pressed, keeping some presence of mind.
“She is but three years older than what Dughlas would be now if he had lived. If we share a marriage bed, as seems to be Mirza’s plan, she will also journey through my memories when that time comes. If he allows it, I plan to seek out a path from Mirza that would not bind me to her. I cannae lie to those I touch, and I wouldnae lie to her. The most I can do is try to hide my memories.” He had made his peace with it.
“Seonaid ‘n myself?” Fearchar grasped at threads, trying to pull himself out of the consuming burn swamping Eoin’s void.
“If I touched you and Seonaid when you were like this, she would feel it as intensely. You are husband and wife though, and I -” Eoin swallowed, fighting to calm the fire in his blood. Laying it on thick, he was making it painfully difficult to relent. He wanted to respect their relationship, having seen how they treated each other and how Fearchar reacted to what she did for a living. Having lived in their house for three months, he was strung tight.
“Benefit a’ tellin’ me like this?” Fearchar drew in a spicy scent, flooding his lungs with ember and sparks.
“You like full answers, or else you insist on me elaborating, which can be exhausting. I wanted to make this as quick and complete as possible,” Eoin whispered, once more spinning Fearchar from the void.
The vulnerable man dropped his hand, his cheeks flaming red.
The bereft chill of isolation hit harsh and cold. Fearchar drew in a deep breath and held it. He tried to steel his nerves, though heat raced across his skin in swaths at the thought of what had happened. The crackle of the fire and the smell of his house slowly settled him back to the ground.
Seonaid watched the men with amusement. Her eyes glittered with desire in the firelight. “That was fun. You know your eyes go a fascinating shade of gold-green when you’re doing that?” she commented, her head in her hand, her finger caught at the edge of her teeth. Eoin turned away, his ears burning. Fearchar looked down at himself. He was covered in sweat and had the worst hard-on he had experienced.
“I want in on whatever this is.” Seonaid got up.
Eoin looked up at her, panicked. He glanced to Fearchar, not sure what he should do. Eoin could tease the man to fits, but he was not keen on intruding on the man’s relationship with his wife so blatantly without some sign from the handyman. The doctor backed up from her.
Fearchar caught his wife around the waist, pulling her to him. He buried his face in her neck, trying his best to suppress the driving roar in the back of his head.
Seonaid eased back, letting him hold her. “Fear, love?” She tunneled fingers into his hair, holding his hand at her hip.
He contemplated the white-haired man possessively. Eoin backed up to the main door, anticipating an escape. “Hold, White Horse,” Fearchar growled. Eoin paused, his heart fluttering in his throat. “Ye have ta feel this, Seonaid. Ye’re goin’ ta love it,” Fearchar whispered in her ear. ” ‘e ‘ad a husband ‘n a wife n’ is a wee shy of others knowin’,” he filled her in. Eoin glanced at the door. Seonaid tilted her head, enjoying the press of her husband against her backside. Fearchar watched Eoin’s panic and steadied his wife’s swaying hips. “Ye’re nae so timid in yer heid as ye’re dealin’ in the real world, ye ken, Eoin?” Fearchar pointed out.
I am aware of the shortcoming. I have been reminded of it on a number of occasions. I am not partial to making people uncomfortable with my presence. I would rather not instigate…
“Love?” Seonaid cooed in Fearchar’s ear.
“Yer ‘little kitten’s a collared wolf who’s lost their way. Ah feel their talents could be well interestin’.” He kissed her throat.
“Eoin?” Seonaid held out her hand to him. “Do you want to say no?” she asked him. He shook his head, taking a tentative step toward them. The Fyskar caught Fearchar’s eye, dry swallowing.
Fearchar ran a finger along his wife’s bust line, tugging gently at her shift, revealing a band of open flesh at her neck. She arched back into him, lifting her breasts higher. He ran his hand down her hip, scrunching the materials as he pulled her back to him. Eoin took another step toward the couple, reaching out to them, praying to the guardians of the Forest that what he was about to do would not have him passing over the River that night.
His fingers sought her collarbone as he had found Fearchar’s a moment ago. He reached out to Fearchar, more nervous than ever. Fearchar grabbed his hand, pulling a long finger into the heat of his mouth. His tongue played along the pad, promising. Eoin channelled the sweet pleasure running from Fearchar through his body into Seonaid. Her knees went weak at the intensity pouring into her. Eoin pulled his hand from Fearchar’s heat and Seonaid’s neck, allowing Seonaid a moment to breathe.
“I didnae know you could do that,” whispered Seonaid, pressing a delicate hand to her collarbone.
Do you want…? He left the question hanging.
Seonaid and Fearchar shared a feverish glance.
“Le’me stoke the fire. Then we’re takin’ this ta bed.” Fearchar set Seonaid aside and took up his waxed cloak. He stamped out the door and returned with two slings of peat. The Skye man used half of the first to stoke the fire and placed the remainder in the alcove to wait until they needed it.
“Help me with these stays, Eoin.” Seonaid turned her back to the physician and untied the shoulder straps when Fearchar returned.
Eoin shook his head vigorously in time for Fearchar to see his reaction. “Why so nervous with the woman? Ye ‘ave bairns, ye ken how this works.” Fearchar approached the man. He brushed past Eoin and untied the long strings of Seonaid’s stays.
Eoin reached out and touched them both as Fearchar worked. Fearchar stilled as awareness of Seonaid’s anticipation, and her relief rippled through his nerve endings. Her heart beat faster at her husband’s touch. Fearchar slowed his demand to disrobe his wife, savouring her desire. “Damn,” he swallowed. He pushed his hand up from her hips under her stay to skim under her bust, thrilling at the soft texture. Fearchar leaned his head against her neck, the sultry high of shared experience riding his body hard.
Freed from her stays and petticoats, her nipples pressed hard against the thin fabric of her linen shift, sending fleeting stretches of electricity across her skin. Fearchar devoured the image of her like a starving man. Eoin passed the lust between the two. It was a heady dance to keep the link tethered and uninterrupted.
Fearchar tugged at his linen shirt, exposing lean muscle and a chest speckled with golden-red hair, the fabric sagging to the ground. Her desire built for him as the pleats in his disrupted kilt sagged along his hips, threatening to slip. Intrigued with that new knowledge, he luxuriated in experiencing what she enjoyed.
A steadying beat radiated through Eoin as a pressing need pushed into his core that was not directed from either Seonaid or Fearchar.
The two turned glazed eyes to him, harried hunger burning through them. “Claus’re comin’ aff, chief,” Fearchar stated flatly as Seonaid helped him pull Eoin’s shirt off. The man in the middle swallowed. This wasn’t what he had planned.
Seonaid’s fingers trailed along his tattoos while Fearchar untied his thick belt. Eoin melted under the onslaught. The Fyskar fed sensations and textures into Seonaid as he ran his hand up Fearchar’s chest. She drew in a sharp breath as her need beat at him. Fearchar watched them both through half-lidded eyes, basking in the intensity of emotions.
They fed off each other as Seonaid’s shift dropped, and Eoin stripped away the last of his clothing, his anklets and bracers flashing in the firelight. “You won’t disappoint.” Seonaid smiled slyly, eyeing his hardened length hungrily, her fingers moving around to tease and stroke experimentally. He bowed his head, closing his eyes to absorb the throb through his nerve endings as his lungs stilled. Muscles clenched in anticipation, and the heat in the room rose.
Fearchar pulled Seonaid from behind Eoin and crowded her between them. Eoin savoured cream curves pressed against his flesh, not willing to break his connection with Fearchar. He ran his hand from her butt up around her hip to under her breast, lifting the ample weight to caress a taut nipple, brushing it against Fearchar’s chest. Rolling it delicately, he enjoyed the contrast in consistency and the hitch in Seonaid’s throat. Eoin had his other arm wrapped around her shoulder, his touch light on Fearchar’s hand where the man held her head.
Fearchar kissed Seonaid deeply, fascinated with her reaction to him. She mewled in anticipation, tension running through to her core. He cupped her warm mound and teased gently at the nub at the edge of her folds. He drank in the blossom deep in her stomach at the lingering flick. She returned the favour, sliding along his pride. She eased her fingers down, fixated with the spark of weighted need that shot through him. They teased back and forth, heightening each other’s desire, revelling in what Eoin provided them. Fearchar brought Seonaid to the edge again and again as he tuned to her body’s responses. Eoin shifted, keeping his place, soaking in the swamping desire they passed through him. He could live on that flow, eat and breathe it.
They basked in each other’s energy as Fearchar pushed Seonaid over the edge before restlessness unfurled through his system. With Eoin’s connection, they all shared what Fearchar desperately wanted at that moment. “Lay down, ye lanky alfr.” Fearchar pushed Eoin to sprawl out on the bed, his hair scattering across the bedroll. The connection broke for a second as Fearchar positioned Seonaid, bending her over Eoin’s length.
Eoin tunnelled his hands through her hair as her lips parted, and she took in his length, her tongue swirling and playing along it. Gently she traced his inner thigh to the sensitive spot beneath his weights. Tight heat wrapped around him, and his world almost shattered. His breath hitched, and he dropped his head back as hot numbness ran up his spine when she gently rolled his balls. Fearchar eased himself into her entrance, trembling at the slowness. The slickness of metal shifted against his calf. Skin touched, and the connection continued its sinuous blaze threatening to consume them.
Eoin floated through broiling urgency as Fearchar pushed himself in a deeper, feverish pace, and Seonaid matched it with her mouth and her hips. Torrid pressure built. In his fog, Eoin consumed the pattern of Seonaid spiralling out of control. Her knees tightened, and bare feet curled as her zeal hit breaking point. Searing clarity and electricity flooded her limbs, her core tightening rhythmically around Fearchar.
Her husband groaned at the wash. He throbbed in response, numbness pushing pressure through his limbs to a starpoint that had him reaching for his own ending.
Eoin swam in the heady high, sending him bobbing. He took the flashes of intensity from Fearchar and amplified them as he allowed his own release, letting them both feel that burst of pleasure. Seonaid licked him clean, her eyes glazed. Fearchar puffed behind her, trying to maintain his balance as his head drifted away. Eoin leaned his weight back on his elbows and looked up at the content couple, hope and uncertainty crossing his features.
Breath caught, Fearchar pulled himself from his wife and helped her regain her footing. “That was…”Seonaid searched for words, still in the lightheaded glow of pleasure.
“We’re keepin’ ‘im,” Fearchar decreed.
Eoin waved off the remark. I still have to get back to my children. He tried to calm the possessive look in Fearchar’s eyes.
“Ah am foreseein’ ye needin’ some ‘ne ta get ye back.” The braided man smiled broadly.
You have a life here, though. Eoin protested.
“I can serve as bodyguard or military man anywhere, Eoin. There’s always some’ne that needs some’ne killin’ some’ne.” His teeth gleamed maliciously in the dimming firelight.
And your wife? Eoin leaned back and flopped to the bed. This had not been something he had expected from Fearchar. Mirza was possessive as it was, and it had been a challenge to convince the giant to allow him to come back to the Isle for the coming-of-age materials. What would he do if his physician brought back a sword-craving Scotsman and his prostitute wife?
“There is always work to be had in this world.” She went about gathering her skirts and shift.
If you’re in the palace, there won’t be. Eoin tried to explain.
“Fur now, ye need yer tools from yer auld ‘ouse, aye?” Fearchar tugged on his shirt. Drained, Eoin dragged himself off the bed and located his drawstring pants. He sat back down, once partially dressed, and watched the couple as they helped straighten each other’s clothing. Relief loosened the muscles in his shoulders. The warmth of afterglow left him sated.
He lay back on the frame and closed his eyes to listen to the couple murmur to each other. The moon pressed light in through the seams of the shutters. He drifted under the shine, floating in blissful numb lethargy.
Chapel Orahamm (C) 2022-2023. All Rights Reserved.
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