"I'm meetin' her 'ere."
"She knows how to get here?"
I pick at a hem of lace. "'Course we do. How else ye think a little sister
and her mates entertain themselves on a Friday eve?"
Jean offers a patient sigh. "Come in, Kitty. It's getting cold."
I shake my head. Stubborn McCleve, aye that's me. "Nae. I earned it, I'll
bloody well get used to it."
A hand lands on my shoulder and I jump. I didnae realise she was that close
to me, perching on the porch of the now apparent Home for Wayward Irish
"Are the two of you going to come in and warm yourself?"
I pause. I've never heard his voice before. I know I expected some Limey
burke with an aristocratic lisp, or some cockney sewer drinker with slurs in
his sentences, but him, his words roll off his tongue without a wisp of
tongue curl. His words are proper, clear, but musical.
Maybe I've been misjudging him a bit.
"Just a moment, luv. Kitty?"
"I'll nae be addressed as a driveling Mick in anyone's house."
Leaning down, a sweep of red hair hitting my shoulder, I meet green eyes
that've been watching out for me for years. "Kitty," Jean starts, "I'll nae
let anyone call ye that, especially in this home."
A male hand is offered to me. Somehow, it's rougher than I thought it would
be. Not so pampered as the "Nae while I breathe, anyways."
I suppose a warm fire and a chair is better to enjoy your self-imposed
condemnation than a cold stone step. I grasp the hand and pivot on a foot
to lock eyes-- well, eyes to chin-- with the bane of my Ma's existence. "So
He smiles a little. Maybe it's the McCleve charm. or my sister's been
talking about me again. "That I am. There's brandy and roast beef from
last night's supper, if you're so inclined."
"Somehow I thought ye a bit more of an ogre."
I shrug. "Ye'd have me lie?"
"Nae, just," she shakes her head, "just go inside. We'll be along."
I free my hand and stare at it, nodding a little numbly at the pair of them.
"Nae any surprises in there, eh?"
The Englishman seems to think about it. "No, just ignore mum when she nags
on you for being too thin."
"It sounds like a scary place."
"Tis a bit rougher, I'll tell ye that much," my sister agrees. Every once
in a while it happens, I guess. "Nae a city that's loaded to the brim with
rats and rogues, though."
"Aye," I add thoughtfully, staring at the map laid out on the table, "'tis
horses and rogues instead."
"Actually," I'm corrected, though it's nae the voice of my brother telling
me I've gone daft so I don't immediately argue, "it's a bit better than
that, though the locals are a tad more colourful in the regional way than
"Aye," Jean giggles through her hands, "they wear leather and spurs."
The Anglican sports a confused look. "And what's so funny?"
"Just picturin' the poor man who wears it in the blisterin' heat of an
"There are pigs better treated than that," I murmur.
"And they look better."
Glancing between the two of us lasses, Scott Sumner looks to my sister,
waiting for an explanation. All he gets is a bewitching smile.
"Ye said ye preferred a little mystery in your life, so God provided ye a
"If that's true," he pauses, "than the greater British island has been
remiss in it's duty to woo the lasses off their native land?"
"Bloody well has. Ye could knock off the dominance bullshitting, too."
I glance up. There's a comment I ne'er expected out of my sister, but
rather than an angry response to her complaint, her imperialistic chippy
leans down from behind the chair she's in, kisses her forehead and laughs.
"There's the fiery upstart I like. Now stop worrying about this and relax."
Before they can go any further, I clear my throat. "I dinnae care what
ye've already done together, but for the sake of keepin' a good roast lodged
in my stomach, dinnae be carryin' on in my presence."
Their response is a laugh. Lovely. About to open my mouth and give them
my further opinion, there's a knock at the front door, and like a mare
running from a fire, Mother Sumner brushes by us to answer it.
"Is she always that fast?"
Three seconds later, we hear "Miss Kitty, there's a young woman to see you!"
I stand up and raise an eyebrow at the couple still a tad too close for my
meal's sake. Jean feigns innocence and goes back to glancing at the map,
pushing the little marker up and down the route to Colorado. "Comin',
"Now there's respect," she smiles at me, sizing me up. I guess she fully
intends to have me around as an in-law, Heaven help me. "Come in Miss
Kennedy, can I offer you something?"
Marie smiles at me and shakes her head. "Nae, I'm fine, but thank ye.
Kitty, Kurt and I have the carriage, are ye ready?"
Wincing and wishing I had remembered that that was so soon, I smile with an
embarrassed slight at Mother Sumner and shake my head. "A few moments to
gather what I've strewn about here after runnin' from Mass, please."
"Take your time, my dear. You two should have some tea before going to keep
warm. There's Earl Grey and a bit of Darjeeling left."
Marie looks to me, to the elder woman, back to me and then behind her, where
the outline of a carriage and two horses is backlit by streetlamps. "One
cup, to get in our goodbyes, methinks."
"I-- I-- bloody hell, all right. 'Tis only fair to wish the songbirds at
the table well, too. At least Georgia's a bit more civilised then where
they're off to."
Mother Sumner chuckles and nods. "Still better than this burgh."
Marie and I both nod. To us, and apparently a few Anglicans that we've nae
given enough credit to, New York is a place to escape.
Sweet God above help us all.
[cont'd in part 7]
"To touch is to heal
To hurt is to steal
If you want to kiss the sky
Better learn how to kneel" --"Mysterious Ways," U2