We had some issues earlier today on a stop that was listed for you to follow. So, I decided to post my favorite part of the book.
This excerpt is not my favorite because it is mushy and romantic…It is my favorite because it shows we can all begin again. Perhaps that is what some of us need…to let go of our past and start over looking ahead. It can be so difficult at times, but when you take that leap, it feels as though the air is cleaner to the lungs, the heart pumps blood to the whole body, sounds are louder in the ears and life is noticed when it wasn’t before.
I liken this feeling to getting a new pair of glasses. My son had to get glasses when he was about four. He had been nearsighted for all of his young life. I buckled him into his seat in the car and he twisted to the window, his little fingers holding tightly and he stared in wonder at the world before him. “Mommy, those trees have leaves!” he exclaimed. Tears welled up in my eyes. I hated myself for waiting so long to get him what he needed, but I was so happy he could finally see all those little leaves on the trees.
So when we love another, we see the leaves. As life goes on and we know those leaves are there, we grow comfortable and complacent. We take those small wonders for granted. We lose that love, either in death or as allow it to fade. In any relationship where there was love, there is a certain degree of hesitation when beginning again. It might feel unnatural, it might feel traitorous, it might be really scary. But when the time is right, love will manifest itself and those leaves come back into focus. You find in life what you have been lacking and feel the strength to begin anew one more time.
I have felt this in my lifetime. I can relate to this moment that Deb has with her long time companion. Even when we can’t see it, some of the most beautiful of relationships sit before us. If we can let go, we will experience it. But those who never let go will forever be doomed to wallow in that misery. They will never see leaves…that’s the sad truth. I have known people of this caliber as well. I prefer to find a way to move forward and hang onto what helps me see a clearer, more wonderful world.
Enjoy this blip out of Cheryl Alleway’s book “Of Blade and Valor”:
Deb rose the next day to a chilly air. Her small window was open and she walked over to it to close it. The damp Scottish mist carried the smell of the night’s fires. The smoldering scent wafted into the castle and everyone was beginning to wake. Anne was still dozing across the courtyard in her room as her thoughts the night before had kept her awake longer than she would have wanted.
As Deb looked out the window towards the horse stables, she could see Finnean’s muzzle anxiously sticking out from his stall. He never liked staying in it, but Deb wanted him safely tucked away at night with his coat wiped down and the burrs plucked from his tail and mane. He seemed to agree to the compromise, but his neighing was distinct and Deb put on her boots and began to tousle her long black hair into a more presentable arrangement.
Before she took one last glance outside, she noticed David walking toward the stables. He was holding his hunting bow and headed for his horse. Before he opened the gate, he stopped to pet Finnean. Deb noticed this and paused to watch. David placed his hand on Finnean’s snout and gently caressed him. Finnean instantly stopped neighing and fussing. He blinked his eyes slowly and seemed to fall into the attention from David as he did when Deb greeted him.
Deb smiled curiously as Finnean was not usually as accepting of just anyone getting that close to him. Deb decided to try and get David’s attention as she thought it may be enjoyable if she joined him on his hunting outing. She called out to him from her window and her voice echoed down to Finnean’s ears as well.
Finnean began bobbing his head again as David turned and looked high up to Deb’s window.
“I think he’s getting anxious, lass! Why don’t you join us?” David shouted back. His heart began to beat a bit more at the thought of being alone with Deb and as he waited for her to make her way down to the courtyard, he turned back to Finnean and said, “Well laddie, I wonder if I will have the courage today? What do you think?”
Finnean brushed his front hooves on the stable floor. David wanted to wait for Deb and added, “Alright now, she’s on her way. You’ll soon be with her. Trust me lad, I know how you feel.”
Deb had grabbed her bow. She was a sight to behold to David as she passed through the entrance to the courtyard from within the castle. She had on her riding leggings, her knee high laced boots, her warm woolen tunic and she had tied most of her hair back with a leather lace. A few long pieces of her dark curly hair were trailing behind her as she walked in her strong gait toward him. He couldn’t resist staring, and realized that he was overdoing it so he turned to open the stall that his own horse was in.
Deb made her way to Finnean as well and he pranced out into the courtyard as she set him free. She said good morning to David and said, “If you don’t mind, I would like to contribute to the meal tonight! I am anxious to get Finnean his exercise! I think he is too!”
“Of course, I think we would have double the chance to bring a deer home with the two of you by my side.” David’s face was beaming.
As the two set up the horses, Deb made sure to mount her bow and arrows in the precise location that she would need them should a deer show itself as they rode. Her accuracy while in mid-stride was unmatched at times and David had benefited from riding with her over the past few months. Deb’s flexibility as a woman gave her sturdy balance when Finnean was fast paced. It steadied her upper body and allowed for her strong accuracy.
David had been more of a ground fighter. He was strong, stout and his sword technique was envied by many. He had survived many battles alongside the MacDonell clan. When his young wife had died, he was as young as Deb. He understood her pain when Liam was killed and now, almost fourteen years older than Deb, David thought he had found the woman that he was meant to be with. His guilt for Liam’s friendship and his love for Deb were now battling inside of him even more. It was a pain that he could no longer hold in. He wondered if the time were coming for him to reveal his feelings to Deborah Barne. First, he would attempt to find out how she was feeling. They mounted their horses and made a slow pace out through the castle walls. For now, the air was fresh, there was peace on the Inverness fields and Deb was looking more beautiful than ever.
What David didn’t notice was Deb’s glance upon him as he mounted his horse. She felt something in her gut, but it wasn’t something she had allowed herself to feel. It was a feeling of contentment that turned into a mild, but adoring pang within her chest. She hadn’t realized that she looked upon him in such a way, but she stayed on course and breathed deeply as the morning air filled her lungs with delight.
Finnean was snorting as he warmed up his muscles with a light jaunt past the castle walls. Deb laughed and patted him on the neck. She leaned forward and put an arm around him. One could see the love she had for him. Finnean in turn held her atop of him as if she were a princess. She had saved him once and had never left his side. When she rode him, he was free. This is what she represented to him and why when they rode together, they were a sight to behold. David sat back on his horse and watched them ride ahead. Deb’s sleek form flowed with Finnean’s gait as if they were attached. They were one.
Deb pulled her bow out to practice. Without arrows, she released the reigns and laid them loosely on Finnean’s neck. As soon as he felt it, he knew what to do. While he rode, she guided his path with light touches to his sides with her feet and knees. It was all he needed. She was then free to use her arms and hands.
She raised the bow and pulled back several times, stretching her arms and warming the bow. David caught up to them and stated, “We’re close to the north forest. I think it’s a good spot to start with. The does have been seen with fawns and that means there may be a buck nearby as well. Let’s ride to the west edge and take a look!”
Deb nodded and the two turned on the trail across the open terrain. Deb’s hair was flowing behind her now like dark water and David felt as though he was in heaven as he began to see that Deb was herself again. She was smiling and healthy and the fire was back in her eyes. She was a force to reckon with when she was like this.
Deb Barne was a powerful, vibrant young woman. She would not be found under a man’s thumb, or silenced by the back of his hand. Deb was any man’s equal in a world where women were so often considered the fairer sex. No, this one was different and she excited him like no one else ever had.
As they pulled up to the edge of the trees, he slowed down and Deb followed in behind. They went quietly in single file and gently brought the two horses to a stop. They dismounted to listen and look for signs of deer.
There were actually plenty of droppings within the underbrush and even a few wolf prints that seemed to be tracking the hoof marks. Deb went up to the horses and touched each of them on the snout.
“Shhhh, boys…quiet now. We need you to be still for a few moments,” she said as she stroked their snouts to soothe them.
David had walked around the corner that flanked the field they were in and squatted down. “These ones seem to be fresh. I think if we sit a bit right in here, we may just have a sighting. They will have heard the horses though, so it will take some time before they feel safe enough to circle around again. Why don’t we have bit of bread and let the boys rest?”
Deb agreed and the two took their bows and arrows down from the horses should they need them quickly. They sat down and David pulled out some unleavened bread and a piece of lamb that was left from last night’s dinner. They shared a bit of water from a sheep skin flask and David said to Deb, “I’m glad you came, lass. It’s much more enjoyable hunting when you have a partner.”
She smiled and answered back, “Well, it’s something I love to do as well. Besides, maybe we’ll get lucky and come home with a few hares on top of it. Imagine the feast we could have tonight!”
David sighed nervously and asked, “So are you feeling more of yourself lately, Deb? You look like it to me. In fact, everyone sees the glow in your face.” He added, “I think you look beautiful today especially.” He realized what he just said.
Deb felt a slight flush creep into her cheeks. There was that feeling again in her chest. David had never spoken to her like that before. She did not look right at him, but answered back with a smile, “That is a kind thing to say, especially since I did not make myself up very well this morning.” She was blushing from her roots to her neck and David saw it.
He now was a bit taken back by her sweet reaction and quickly added, “Deb, I hope it is not too forward to say that you never need to make yourself up. You`re perfect the way you are, lass.”
Deb looked over at David now realizing what was happening between them. She suddenly felt naive with her thoughts and wondered why she did not expect it. She just kept thinking of Liam so much that she was blinded. She never truly realized that David had been looking at her in this way. ‘Was this really happening?’ she thought to herself.
She wasn’t ready for it; or so she thought. David was so gentle with his words that she knew he would not presume anything. He wasn’t even looking at her as he spoke and it made her smile to think that he was probably very nervous right then. It was uncomfortable, but at the same time so youthful in its emotion that Deb could not help but feel special. She thought it may be best to keep with the task at hand because she could feel David’s tension. She decided to change the subject for the time being, but she felt in her gut that something great was happening between them.
“David, I have been thinking of going back to the farm soon. I believe Henry may want to stay on though. It would be most valuable to have him there and I do miss his sweet, crooked smile. I wouldn’t be able to afford to pay anyone else to work for me. Henry will have things well maintained and there would be less work to do because of his diligence. What do you think?”
David gazed out into the misty field and sighed quietly. He looked over at Deb and answered honestly, “Well lass, for you, it is a journey that only you can continue at your own pace. But you grew up there. It is your family’s home. When I was there, I could see why you and Liam fought for it. I could see why you swore you would go back. In a land that is owned by Lords and Kings, your family is fortunate to answer to no one. The MacDonell`s have seen to that. And so I believe that Henry would be more than happy to see you return. I only…” . David paused.
“What is it, David?”
David smiled and took a breath. Deb knew that he was going to say something that she was trying to avoid, but then she saw the look in his eyes. It was honest and humble and she felt his heart.
“I just think that maybe it would be beneficial to have someone else with you. Henry is a good man, but Scotland has only just become its own country. There is still unrest with the clans and…your farm is so isolated.” He was stuttering as he pretended to be adjusting his bow.
Deb let him speak.
“What I am trying to say is that if there is a need for farm help, I would be happy to help you. I have been well taken care of by the MacDonell`s. I have saved much of my coin and if you see it as a necessity, I could join you and help you get your father’s land back to where it was before. I am sure that Henry is doing his best, but…well, I just think that you may like to have someone else around.”
David looked away when he said his last words and Deb felt an urge to give in to his request. How could she turn him away after all that they had been through? David never allowed himself to be forward with Deb and she knew that she may be keeping walls up that should come down. This man was much older than she was, but something calming came over her when she was with David. The image of a strong loving man caring for her again did not come without guilt. It felt right, but wrong. Why had she not considered it before now? David was bearing his soul and making himself vulnerable. He was alone now as well. He too had lost his love. They should not feel shame for feeling this way after all this time. She was suddenly hit with an epiphany and it was as if a veil had been lifted from her eyes.
Inside, she heard her own voice, “He is a wonderful man. Why have you been so sightless? I cannot believe what I am feeling. Talk to him! Don`t push him away! ”
Deb looked over at David and placed her hand on his. David pulled his head around slowly looking down and then rolled his head up to look into Deb’s eyes. She was smiling gently and the misty morning sunlight was framing her beautiful face.
She blinked slowly and when she opened her eyes she said to David’s delight, “David you are a gentleman and you have been nothing but good to me. I keep forgetting that you too have battled the same demons inside that I have. We have both lost someone that we loved very much. I know that you may feel something growing between us. I just never looked for it before, but I see it too and I am sorry that I have been so difficult to speak to.” She sighed and placed her other hand on David’s. “I would be grateful for your help. Maybe it is time that we talk about our friendship as something more?”
David was not blushing anymore. Swallowing a lump in his throat, he looked Deb straight in the eyes this time feeling energy from her words and answered her, “Deborah Barne, I would want nothing more. We shall talk then and make plans. I am sorry if I have been so vague, but it is only out of respect. I must say that these past few months have been glorious ones for me, but torture as well. There is so much I longed to tell you.”
He smiled finally, feeling relief from his awkwardness and added, “You are a beautiful woman, Deb. I have wanted to say that for so long.”
She thought back and saw it all now. All the small moments, the looks, the willingness and loyalty were all slipping into view. She felt overwhelmed with giddiness as if she was seeing his eyes for the first time in a way she hadn’t before. Now there was emotion behind them; a longing that she felt coming from him. It made her feel it too and it was like a wave of love was powering its way through her heart. To know that someone desired her this much was so powerful after all she had been through. She could no longer deny any of it.
Deb reached up and touched David’s face, then leaned in and gently caressed his lips with hers. It was innocent and angelic, but David felt as though someone had finally breathed life into his body. He could not believe that this moment was happening, but he knew to be calm for as not to frighten her. Deb was not a woman who was easily manipulated or made to swoon like a girl. She was beyond her years and this is what David noticed in her. He had come this far. He wanted to treat her with the same reverence that he had been feeling for so long. He knew she would appreciate his respect for her and her feelings for Liam. It would not be a man who came on strong that would win this young woman’s heart but it would obviously be someone who proved his respect for her through time and patience. David had presented both of these to her and she knew it in her soul.
The two gathered their hunting gear and watered the horses one more time before turning back to the castle. They had nothing to show for the day, but inside, they both knew better. They had found each other’s hearts.
As they rode slowly back side by side, they spoke with a comfort that they had both missed for so long. The comfort of having someone by their side that made them feel alive was like basking in the sun. They chatted without awkwardness at last and it was like a weight had been lifted from David’s shoulders. Deb thought about it and realized that he had been there every moment, watching, waiting and loving her. How could she have been so blind? She could tell that her face was showing an emotion that she had not allowed herself to feel for so long. She was glowing.
In the midst of war torn Scotland, a baby girl is born to Jacob
Douglas and his young wife. The conflict between the English and the
Scots breeds trials of loyalty that tarnish the landscape, while Jacob
teaches his strong-willed child the skills she will need to face her
uncertain future. Behind the veil of war, villains pillage their land,
pilfer what is not theirs and do not fear retribution for their deeds.
There is none strong enough to make a stand; no one, until Deb
Douglas. Keeping her father close to her always, he radiates a courage
that motivates her fight for freedom, for love, and for her land. Deb
rallies those she meets to join her cause, which frees the secrets
from her past that have been buried for many years. While destiny is
all-knowing, Deb never backs down and faces it all with the courage of
a man and the heart of a Scot!
Be sure to visit tomorrow’s stop with Dominic Giuliani at EternalDomination!
After you visit on any of the days above, we would like to thank you for your support. Please fill in a comment with your email address to be placed in a draw for one of the gifts below. The calendar was created by Cheryl from her trip to Scotland, England and Wales. The pendant necklaces were crafted with black chains to represent Deb’s black hair and courage along with the green stones representing her eyes and the fields of Scotland. They were created by “Rock Around The World” out of Sault Ste. Marie, ON, Canada – email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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