OOOkay, believe it or not, I CAN count. I swear. And the archivers can
come down and hunt me for this, but... um.. guess what.... recounting, and
yes it IS finished, this thing is 10 parts. Gah.
New Orleans, LeBeau plantation,1854
"Though Marie's mother says that the pair of you are alive and well deep in
the Southern States, I've not heard from you, nor have I honestly had the
chance to contact you, so I bear a great deal of sadness to write this
letter to you now.
"With that hard winter striking New York last year, Ma took ill. Though the
state of medicine is not quite as medieval as it once was, she managed to
make it through Christmas, acting a shade of what we've always known her.
Your sister and her family were here; but I think the peace was kept because
we all knew, including Ma, that she'd not see the next summer. The sight of
grandchildren made her smile, though, and that lightened my heart.
"Unfortunately, she was right. Ma passed on before the lilies broke the
ground in her garden. By the time you read this letter, we'll have buried
her in Saint Katherine's little graveyard-- a gift from Father Franklin for
her contributions to the community. I've written to Margaret Jean to let
her know too, and you'll kindly extend the news to Marie for me, if you
would, along with another favour I have of you.
"The loss of Ma has left me wondering about what we're doing here in the
States. Uncle Charlie has been at my all but beck and call since Ma's wake,
offering me a place to stay-- I might agree to it, on one condition. I've
been a coward all these years skirting around my feelings for Marie. I know
she might be otherwise engaged with some other... gentleman, and if so I
wish her a long, healthy and happy life. If not, please give her my hellos
and my sincere promise to make good on all the affection I've had for her
"I hope the plantation life is treating you well. I think about you often.
"Your brother, Logan."
"Cherie, is dere a problem?"
My mind is elsewhere when Remy walks into the halls where I've stopped to
read Logan's letter. I cannae believe it. It's just.
Bloody impossible. "Sorry. It's a letter from my brother in New York."
"Bad news, I'm guessin'."
"Aye, that it is. My Ma's died."
Remy LeBeau, my employer for two years and a blessedly kind Cajun with a
roguish smile, steps up closer and sets a lace framed hand on my shoulder.
"Je suis trés desolé, cherie."
And now I'm fighting tears. "So am I."
"Stay here, I'll send 'Roro to keep after you-- better yet, settle up in t'e
library and I'll be along with Marie. If you two would like, I coul' let
you take a trip up to New York for a bit, and settle some of t'ese affairs."
I pause, turn to look at his eyes and wonder. Should I go so far as to
accept the offer? I know he means, it, and I would like to make sure Logan
and Uncle are okay, but after three years of magnolia trees and accents that
curl around your ears like smoke, the Irish quarter seems a bit.
intimidating. "Can I think about it?"
He smiles and I try to hide the blush. I've been a chaste lass this entire
time, but it'd be foolery to say I havnae thought about calling Remy more
than my employer. "Oui. I'll fetch Marie."
And with that, he leaves. Waiting until he can't turn around and see my
reaction, I let out a deep breath, wiggle in the corset and bite my lip.
Twenty-six, the owner of a rolling plantation by default-- his father died
four years ago-- and with a gait and personal style that sends the local
lasses swooning, Remy LeBeau is a good man. Plucking us straight from the
well-maintained streets of Savannah on his own break from his life role as
we wandered like pilgrims in a new land, I swear to my patron saint that he
set eyes on Marie in her blue dress and knew right off that he'd have us for
his plantation. Nay, Marie he likely fancied more, but with a mere mention
of a brother with more punch than the "petite chat Kitty," he seemed to back
up a little. For my part I merely got under his skin and made him realise
that a McCleve woman is destined to be the head of any house. Peculiar how
that works out, eh?
"Kitty! Kitty! Remy told me what happened. Is it true?"
I hold up the letter, offering it her way. "Aye, 'tis true."
After a few minutes, I can hear the long sigh. I'm nae sure whether it's
more about my brother's feelings about her, or the loss of Ma. Then she
hugs me soundly. "I'm sorry, Kitty. I wish we could have gone at Christmas
like we were wantin'."
"Thanks, Marie, but tis done with. But I still don't know if I want to go
Remy pauses, shuffles his feet and walks around to face me in the highbacked
chair. "Cherie, he's your frere. Since he can't come 'ere, you should go
"I'm sure my sister will try to do the same. He won't need me if she's
There's a rustling of paper as Marie rereads a paragraph. "Mayhaps not if
she's got kitlings to chase."
I sigh, lean my head back and wish for something easier to deal with.
Anything else, truth be told, than this. "I cannae go. I don't really want
to. Ye can go Marie, and see your family too."
The paper rustles again and I hear her sit on the edge of one of the
couches. "I'm worried about you."
"Ye've no need to."
"And your accent is returning with a vengeance."
Remy nods at me. Three years of being away from my heritage has, as Ma
would have put it, corrupted my native tongue, but I suppose with the
reminder of what one is, and chaos being thrown at that same one's feet, we
go back to what we're most comfortable with. Marie, for her part-- the half
Gaelic, half Saxon part-- has no accent anymore. Her voice wanders to the
local dialect more every day, and it's nae entirely bad. Makes me look like
a sodding Faerie in comparison. "That it is." I stand up, turn around and
head for the foyer, making a grand gesture that likely neither of them will
believe as true. "And tis decided. I'm nae going. Send Logan my regards,
and as always Marie, I've always liked the thought of ye and my brother
And with that, I walk to the door, open it and step out into the New Orleans
Three hours later, I've got Anton, a half-Scot local with a vested interest
in the horse market, sitting next to me in the Painted Pony, a tavern I like
And I'm a little past the point of inebriation.
"All's I'm sayin' is that ye've nae given it enough thought."
"It's a bloody late arrival to the funeral of my Ma, Anton."
He holds out his hands reasonably. "It's lettin' yer brother know ye give a
damn about him. Ye've kept poor contact with him-- yer elder sister,
farther away an' entangled with a Limey, 'as done better-- and the lot of
ye've now lost the one solid link between ye."
"Are ye my friend," I start, brandishing the tankard, "or my priest?"
"Only if priests know a prize filly when they see one," he grins.
"Nae the ones I know. Ah, Anton, I dinnae want to go. I left New York to
find meself. And I have. Now I get to go back and face everythin' I've
left behind, and maybe more. Ever told the dragon to pish off, only to have
to come back and ask it where ye left your sword and shield?"
"Ever manage to forget the maiden?"
I laugh a little. "Now there's a shameful moment. 'Excuse me, milady, but I
was noticin' that I forgot to free your pretty self when I was makin' my own
He nods. "We've all got someplace that can call us back on a whim."
"Ye could use the break-- go before the summer settles in and ye don your
impression of a melting iceblock."
I wave a hand around, mimicking the use of a fan I always drag out around
July. "Bloody sodding sun just roasts us in our own juices."
"Aye. So, go."
"But I don't WANT to."
Anton frowns. "That makes it sound like ye have to."
I sigh, look at him and shake my head. With a deep throated swallow I
finish my stout and stand up. "Aye, that it does."
"Take Remy with ye then."
I blink. "Eh?"
"LeBeau. Take the bloke to New York with ye. The plantation's thriving and
he's got more allies than most clans. His business is in order and he cares
for ye. Show him how strange he sounds to the like of a Celt by surroundin'
him by them."
"Take my employer with me."
"Aye," Anton responds simply.
I'm still scoffing at the idea, though the merit of it is beginning to sink
in. That, or it's the stout talking. "Anton."
"Think about it, lass, all right?"
"Yah, I will, I promise. I still think ye've lost your mind and are sharing
the finer details of that fantasy though."
As I walk out the door, Anton calls after me, "But it never hurts in the
askin', now does it?"
[cont'd in part 8]
"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