Over the years, he’d seen his fair share of malice. He’d walked the earth long enough to have witnessed much worse in people than this, yet regardless of the amount of times he’d beheld the reprehensible acts of human beings, he didn’t grow blind to them.
Up until their uncle claimed them, Patrick’s and Dillon’s lives were marred with poverty and death but Patrick came to understand the younger you are when you face tragedy, the easier it is to overcome. He had yet to let go of their father’s hard cold eyes and the months, which lead up to his mother’s eventual journey to join him in the afterlife. It was as if she poured what was left of her soul into the ground with him when he died, and covered it with dirt. No down pillow could ever replace the light that once shined in her green eyes for him, and no warm fire at night or the rich aroma of fried bacon waking him, would close his wounds. The only thing that kept him from either coming completely unraveled or running for his life was taking care of Dillon.
Dillon got out of Old Kilcullen. Patrick was still sitting on the side of the road waiting to be saved.
To Dan, people were no different than horses. He could look into a horse’s heart through its eyes and know the good ones from the lost causes. Patrick wasn’t a lost cause; he was just lost.
Dan didn’t have an idea at all as to why Liam was watching because Pearse had never set foot on the backside. Nonetheless, Liam didn’t look away for more than a few minutes before checking again just in case Pearse wore his cheap shoes today.
“Do I detect a note of disapproval, Mrs. Jameson?”
“William, ye do realize my difficulties in bringing up this–this spirited child into a proper young lady? Most days it’s a struggle just trying to keep shoes on her feet, let alone setting her upon a running horse.”
“Oh, Elizabeth, the child is nine. Allow her to enjoy her freedom before ye slap a corset on her and bind her to some borin’ gentleman for whom she’ll be nothin’ more than a hostess and mother to his children.” He spoke before considering the role of his own wife but it was too late. The slap was nearly audible yet she did not flinch.
“I have passion, William, despite what ye may believe after nearly twenty years. However, as that wife and hostess and most importantly mother, my passion now rests on the future of our daughter and making sure she is well prepared for that binding. For certain, it can be suffocating at times.” Elizabeth rose from the table slowly, “Please excuse me, I have things which need my attention.”
He didn’t even flinch. Had it not been for his loud snoring, he could have been mistaken for dead. Dan thought of rousing the man but by the time he’d finished the idea, Dillon was climbing into the back of the wagon about to thump the man and wake him.
“Dillon, wait,” Dan ordered but Dillon was drunk too, on a lethal combination of anguish and anger which even the most level-headed of grown men can barely contain.
Raina turned back and took her long pale fingers and placed them over his mouth to hush him. “You not show me zee town and I not come visit you.”
Owen was caught off guard by her touch. An unfamiliar warmth came over him that he wasn’t sure was due to the excitement of the day or Raina’s touch on his mouth and he was taken completely by surprise. Whether out of guilt or some spontaneous need to reassure her of his intentions, Owen reached up and took her fingers in his hand, peeling them away from his lips and exposed her rough palm. Without a second thought, he leaned in and pressed a kiss into her calloused flesh. This wasn’t a moment or two moments but a true and heartfelt embrace of lips to skin that made Raina buckle and shudder before pulling her hand away.
“Why did ye do that?”
“You should not touch me zis vay. You are leafink and I vill look into my hand for your lips and fint nossing.” Raina’s eyes filled with tears and she left the room before Owen could find two words to put together to stop her. As brilliant as he was, she’d left him with only the taste of raw potatoes and cabbage on his lips and his heart about to break his ribs.