Thanks so much Snow Wolfe6631 for betaing! You always deal with my little messes and I cant thank you enough
"I told you that when I got back here, I'd find you owning that horse, in your father's house with Puck Connoly in your bed..." Holly pauses and smiles that sly American smile. "Now, was I wrong?" he asks as we watch Puck fly across our land on Dove, a small red colt chasing after them.
A smile plays at my lips when I look at her. Her hair, the color of the autumn grass, has blown out of her ponytail, her face full of the happiness that we have been searching for. She looks over at me quickly and gives me the same smiles. She's beautiful.
I look over at Holly quickly and he still wears his smirk that stretches across his face. "She's a spitfire... did you finally settle her down?" He asks but I don't like the idea off him talking about Puck as if she's a horse. She's different.
"I don't think I want to," I inform him.
Holly smiles and nods as he looks at the young colt. "Well, when I come back next year with Annie... that colt will be a winner and I'll be expecting to hear of a new winner of the human variety," He winks at me and nudges my arm. "Good day ..." He pauses as he slips on his red cap. "Tell Miss Connoly that I wish her luck with the new farm on her land," And with that, he's gone.
A winner of the human variety?
Puck, Dove, and the small colt, Fundamental, trot over to us. "Well, how is Holly? Happy with little Funny here?" Puck says reaching down to rub the soft little head on the red colt causing him to squeal with the sound that only a Capaill Uiscee filly can make.
"Strange in his American ways as always, but yes, he's happy with him. Happy with you too..." I say as I begin to walk off back to my stables.
The three follow me. "Well what's that suppose to mean?" Puck asks.
I look up at her to see her bright green eyes looking down at me. "He believes that you and I are getting married soon. Talked about kids, too," I mutter under my breath as Puck purposefully slips off of Doves back to walk next to me.
Kate only smiles and shakes her head. "Shook you up pretty bad didn't it? I didn't think I was that ugly," She says with a kind of humor that one may only receive from brothers. Suddenly, though it's as if she knows what I'm thinking.
I'd like to marry Kate Connoly. Hell, I'd love to marry Puck and having children with her...well that would mean getting something else with her all together and I don't know if my Puck would want to do that... I would.
"I should get home on Dove," She whispers causing Dove's ears to prick in our direction.
I look at her as we continue walking. "Yeah... unless you want to stay the night."
She looks at me as if I've said something stupid, but there is that small glint in her eyes that tells me she wouldn't mind. "Oh and you think Finn and Gabe would be happy with this? I could only imagine Finn's next letter to Gabe in the mainland titled, 'Get home! Puck's sleeping with Kendrick!' All about you and me and the horrible things we do here," She says with a smirk that so much like her, that she's all I can look at for right now.
"Sleeping with Sean Kendrick? I have a guest room you know," I pause with a slight smile as we walk through the field. "We don't even do horrible things here unless you mean picking up Corr's sh-"
"Sean," She looks at me skeptically. "Well, you know I didn't mean it that way. Guess I know what's going on in your mind," She says turning the skeptical look in to the smirk she wears for her jokes. "Now what is Father going to think..." She rolls her eyes and smiles. "I'll have a lot to say in confession, I suppose," She says as we make our way to the stable and guide the colt and Dove in.
"I don't understand how it could be a sin," I say latching the door.
Puck smiles. "Well the rule is, you have to get married first and you are a fine man but to marry you..." She looks in to my eyes as she leans on the door of the stables where Dove chews at her hair gently.
She's beautiful here. She's always beautiful but here, with the love of that horse and that smile in the dark. I love her and I would marry her right now, not for the reason of sex but because I love Kate Connoly. I love her and her wild November grass hair, her sea green eyes, and those hands of years of practice that always grip mine at the right times. She's been mine for what has now been a year. I like to see myself with her in the future, it makes it look a tangible heaven.
"I'd marry you," I say matter of factly as I take a step closer to her taking in the smell of hay and November cakes.
She looks at me with what looks like amazement and fear in her eyes. "You'd what?" She asks looking from my chest up to my eyes.
I cough slightly to clear my throat. "I'd marry you Kate Connoly. I know we're young and all and it doesn't have to be now but... I want you to know that I would be glad to marry you."
"You want to marry me," She seems to ask, but it's hard to tell if she means it like a question or she's stating a fact.
All I have to do is nod my head and then suddenly my body is moving on it's own and the need to kiss her overpowers the whisper of the ocean in my ear. I kiss her full on the mouth tasting the sweet taste of November cakes on her tongue which is now beginning it's way in to my mouth. Her curved womanly figure pressed tightly against mine, my hand making their way to her hips and her hands to the back of my neck until I hear a slight cough.
I can tell from the way her face becomes bright red like the color of her hair and how she begins to look angry. It doesn't take much to know it's a brother but it's not the younger brother that will simply take it and act like it never happened. It's Gabe, and for me that means a glare of death and maybe death itself.
"Puck... are we going home?" His annoyed voice asks. Puck looks at me with an embarrassed yet stubborn look that seems very rare. She's asking me if she should stay with me here or go back with Gabe, who she hasn't seen for two months now.
I simply nod my head. It's not a real question especially how Gabe has stated it. "I'll see you tomorrow. Take Dove and I'll watch the colt. He'll be fine."
She nods and kisses my cheek avoiding as much eye contact as possible as she takes Dove out of the stable. "I'll see you tomorrow," She mutters and then looks over at Gabe as if she is going to kill him.
I lean on the stable door with the colt calling for his mother. He's getting to old to be babied by his mother but he loves her... and I love Kate Connoly. Watching her walk away in to the Night, with her brother and Dove next to her. I wish to call to her and I wish to have her in my arms once more.
I walk into the house awkwardly with Gabe. We barely said a word on the way home.
I hang my dark green jacket on the hook by the door. "How is the mainland?" I ask, trying to cut through the tension. It's a strange moment when your brother finds you pressed against a man kissing him... with a little bit of tongue involved.
It wasn't like I hadn't been with Sean for almost a year now. He was not a complete stranger.
"Puck..." He seems to say. He looks like he did when he told to family he wanted to be like Father. He looks prim and proper and down right holy. "You haven't h-"
Before he finishes I instantly stopping him "Gabriel!" I yell, shocked by his ideas of me.
"It was only a question," He states to me as he sits down in Father's old chair. "You are a woman and all now, Puck, and well... I haven't been here so... is he going to ask you to marry him?"
I pause as I stand over the sink still piled with all of it's dirty dishes. " Its been discussed a few times," I say bravely. I didn't know how I felt about marriage. It was a big deal and a commitment as big and strong as the ocean, filled with all the same uncertainties of the sea and it's monsters.
"Discussed or Proposed?" He asks reaching over to pick up a orange, now fully affordable with my job and the winnings off the race.
What if Sean did propose? Did all of that count as a proposal? Do I want to marry him?
Sean Kendrick is an amazing man. One foot in the sea and another on the land. I'd be happy to spend the rest of my life with him and I wouldn't regret a day that I spent with him. I love him and he loves me. It is quite easy to tell.
I look over at him as I lean back against the sink I could only imagine leaning on the stable door with the smell of Sean Kendrick, his hands on my hips and his lips fully locked on to mine. "Just discussed but not much. For God's sake, Gabe, I've known him for a year. I'm eighteen years old."
"Whatever Kate," He pauses and then stands up throwing the other half of the orange in to my hands. "Just don't do anything you're going to regret. I don't want to hear about a unplanned nephew or niece on the way," He smiles, though, at the end and winks. A true smile that I haven't seen since the day we bought the house and we're safe again once more.
I'm shocked by his ideas and throw the orange directly at him, causing it to splatter on his shirt. "Gabriel Connoly!" I say in shock once more, with a laugh. I fly in to his arms pounding at his chest playfully, like I used to as a child.
"Sean Kendrick is sooo dreamy. I'm going to marry Kendrick. We're going to live on a big farm and have little red headed babies that ride all along Thisby on their magic steeds," He says in a high pitched voice, mocking me as he moves away and grabs some red yarn on the table throwing on his head.
I shake my head and send the orange and yarn in to his face now which makes the two of us break in to a fit of laughter that I'm surprised doesn't wake up a sleeping Finn in the other room.
"I missed you Puck even if you're going boy crazy now," He says with the same true smile.
I smile back at him. "I missed you too, even if you are a loser."
He suddenly hugs me. His large massive arms wrapped round me and my small arms wrapped around him. His head on my shoulder and my head on his chest. " I missed you so much, Puck."
I walk Corr early in the morning and take him down to the early October Sea. The November sea isn't far behind and with that comes it's own battles. The horses but most of all the races and the men who ride in them, men have already begun the task of preparing their horses from last year's catch.
Corr will never ride in them again and I'm sure he has no quarrel with that idea, neither does Puck for that matter. I, on the other hand, find the call of the November sea almost unstoppable.
"Wait!" I hear someone call from behind me. I turn around to find an American in his neat clean clothes and combed hair that is covered in a cap, much like Holly. He smiles with his big white teeth and holds out his hand to shake, before he finds Corr's face moving closer. The American can't help but take a step back. "David," He pauses as his eyes search Corr for any kind of aggression. There is none, the call of November hasn't sparked the magic in him yet. "Hamilton," He says with a sure nod. "Nice Cap- Capaill Uisce," He tries to pronounce uneasily.
I nod with a polite smile. "Yes he is. He's not for sale though."
"Oh well I wouldn't have imagined, with how his gait is and all I heard what happened last year," He says with a apologetic smile. "I would like to apologize for the loss of it must have been a great loss since he was your employer and all."
I nod and grit my teeth together. Mutt Malvern was never a great loss and he wouldn't be missed by anyone here on Thisby or beyond. "Yes the races are a dangerous thing," I manage to say. "It must be what makes them so exciting though, I suppose."
Hamilton nods. "Well, to be honest, I was going to ask you about that red colt of yours. I've heard all about him and he's supposed to be a winner when he's grown, isn't he?"
"I've already promised him to someone else but if you want Miss Puck Connoly, a good friend of mine, has some horses for sale. Actual horses you'll be able to bring to America with you. Since the Capaill's aren't able to move to the mainland or anywhere else except Thisby."
He nods his head then looks down the beach and whistles. "Now, who is that pretty thing?" He says taking off his cap and placing it over his heart. I look up to see Puck staring down at the busy coast in tight tan riding pants and a green shirt with a large green overcoat that looked a size too big, most likely it was her brother's. "Your island might have rare creatures, but I feel as if the young women are more valuable then them," He says with a smile as he runs his hand through his fair blonde hair. "You are a lucky man."
I nod and grit my teeth feeling a strange ownership of Puck. She was not a dog and definitely not a beast to be sold. She was the stubborn, childish woman that I had been able to understand over this year.
Puck smiles politely as she always tries to do with business even if she secretly finds them disgusting. Her mother must have pounded the idea in to her arse enough as a child to get the idea across. She looks at me with her bright green eyes, quickly trying to read my face. "Good morning!" She says with a little hum. Why was she so happy all of a sudden?
"Good morning, miss," Hamilton says as he keeps his hat off, his pale hair flying in the October wind. His tan hand reaches out to her hand and takes it softly as he presses her fingers closing his eyes ever so slightly. Puck looks at me from the corner of her eye and gives me a look that is the picture perfect example of uncomfortableness. "You are?" He asks, his eyes full of dreamy wonder.
"Puck Connoly," I answer for her with a slight growl I try to hide. "That friend of mine I told you had the horses."
She smiles with the same polite smile, but the Puck I know hides under that smile in pure disgust. I can only imagine her spitting on his shoes and kicking him in the shins. My stubborn unruly Puck. How dare she look like this and attract this man? "Yes a few, but they are quite young. I'd like to keep them with their mothers for a bit longer. "
He smiles and sighs. "Well, is there anyway I can convince you of a deal?"
"Well as I said I'd like to wait a bit longer, but we ca-" But before she can finish about the horses Hamilton smiles at her and looks at her as if he can undress her with his eyes.
He shakes his head quickly. "No, I'd like to make a deal with you to go to dinner with me? Talk about those horses of yours." And with those words I'm disgusted that this American would like to take Puck out to dinner.
Puck's polite smile falters quickly and then comes back forced. "That's okay," She pauses with discomfort as she tries to find the 'polite' words in her mind. "I'm not sure that Sean would be okay with that," She says placing a hand on my upper arm. "Since Sean and I are engaged to be married."
With those words, Hamilton becomes very red and begins to stutter. "I'm sorry I never knew. Sure is a lucky man," He rubs the back of neck. "Well I hope to see you two later to talk about those horses," Then with that uncomfortable experience, he is gone and I'm left with Corr and Puck.
"Engaged?" I ask as she strokes Corr's neck.
Puck looks at me with a playful smirk. "Aye," She says with a little chuckle. "I didn't like him and you didn't like him for sure. It got him away, didn't it?"
"Yes it did, but... engaged?" I ask.
She smiles and looks up at me. "Don't act like you didn't like the idea...besides you got in quite a tissy when he said I looked pretty."
"Well, why did you have to dress like that? Men are going to look at you when you look like that," I state matter of factly.
"You mean when I wear some old gross tan pants covered in horse hair, a shirt that smell likes hay and Gabe's old jacket from the docks?" She looks at me skeptically. "Its not like I'm traipsing around here like one of the mainland girls," She smiles and begins her way back down the beach with a slight blush on her cheeks. "Now when your done being ridiculous like my brother and making deal with Americans, I'll be in the town with Dove at the bakery. Oh and Sean," She pauses to look at me. " You're blushing."
I put my hand to my cheek to feel the heat and when I look back up all I can see is the wave of a red ponytail. I swear I can feel it slipping between my fingers. Damn you, Kate Connoly.
Sean doesn't meet me at the bakery, which I didn't expect him to but as I ride home on Dove with the bag of fresh bread and some sticky mess of a pastry for Gabe, I see the lights on in his stables.
I hop off of Dove into the small pack of dirt in between the house and the stable he keeps Corr in. Sean is hunched over as he pumps water from the water spout for Corr and the other horses. It's easy to slip behind him. "Hey," I say tentatively as I touch his shoulder slightly with my hand.
"Hey yourself," Sean says with a smile as he picks up the bucket of water. "Checking on the yearlings?" He asks. But he knows that's not why I'm here. I'm here to talk about the Races that are slowly creeping on to us. There was already talk of a horse being spotted down on the beach.
I take another bucket and start to pump the spout. "No," I look up at him and we make eye contact. "They spotted one of them today."
"Yeah," He says as if it's not a big deal.
I sigh. "You know what I'm asking, Sean. You cant race Corr anymore and well," I pause, thinking about Mutt Malvern being taken in to the sea and Sean a bloody mess in the sand. "You're not going in the races again this year, are you?"
He pauses as well and I know he doesn't want to tell me the truth. It's written all over his face, the way he looks set in concentration as he's going over his decisions. "You know that it would be better if I won. We could actually make a farm for you. Just because Mutt is gone doesn't mean the original Malvern isn't still selling horses."
"Sean, you can't," I protest as he pours the water in to Corr's stall.
Sean only shakes his head. "Don't you want a nice life, Puck? Never have to worry about money. Be able to make all your own decisions and own your own stable and everything? You know that's your dream. What you did to save your house? This is the same thing."
"That's a lie!" I say seething with anger. "I did what I had to do to keep my house and to have my brother on the mainland!"
Sean huffs and under his breath I slightly hear, "And look how that turned out," He's barely able to finish the sentence, before I throw an empty bucket at his chest.
"You are the most selfish and stupidest man I've ever met, you know that?!" I yell at him as he looks at me in disbelief. "Gabe left to go to the mainland to be free. Because he didn't love this island as much as me. I let him go!" I scream knowing I shouldn't tell him any of this. If my mother could see me now, I could only imagine the lickings. My mother's voice is not speaking to me now so I continue to yell. "Fine, Sean Kendrick. Go in the races, get yourself killed," I begin to stalk off to Dove, but Sean grabs my hand quickly. He holds on tight and looks me in the eye.
"You know I didn't mean it that way," He says puling me close.
I sigh and roll my eyes. "Then what way did you mean it Sean?"
"I mean that I want to get you something that you want. I want us to be happy. I want to ge-" But Sean's thin lips close quickly before he can finish the sentence. "I just need to go in, Kate. If I win and you know I can. Think of it. Think of everything we could do."
I shake my head. "I don't want you to endanger your life again for some measly coins," I say. "Just promise me that you won't go in Sean. Just promise me that you won't because there are plenty of better ways to get that money you're talking about."
"You know what. You're calling me stupid and selfish. You're just as bad, Kate!" He says dropping the bucket as we yell at each other. The small light of the stables making our shadows even bigger on the hard packed earth. Our voices echoing through the fields as we do what we do almost every week.
I laugh in disgust. "I'm selfish for not wanting you to die? I'm selfish because I rather have you live than have a bunch of stable so that we can ruin Malvern?" I shake my head like I have been this entire fight causing my head to hurt even more than the words.
"Yeah, you are, Puck."
I continue shaking my head. "It's like I'm fighting with a five year old. You're doing all of this so you can ruin Malvern to make him pay for what his son did to Corr. Why do you need these things Sean? You know what fine! Fine," I kick all of the buckets, some full of water, spilling on to Sean," I turn to see his shirt and pants covered in water from the bucket. He looks -and smells like- a wet dog.
"Puck..." He says with a small smile playing on his lips.
I look at him my face clear of emotion. "Well you kind of deserved it," I say but I can't hold it any longer and I begin to giggle which makes Sean look up from his soaking form to look up at me and start his own chuckling.
"C'mere," He says spreading his arms and running after me to give me a big hug. "Get over here, Puck," He says he smile spreading across his entire face.
"No, no, no. This is not getting you out of the conversation, Sean," I say as he picks me up and I squirm in his arms like an unruly toddler. "No Sean!" I say as he kisses my cheek and face twirling me around. "No," I say, but I can't stop laughing especially when we slip on to the small patch of Thisby Grass outside his house, causing me to land on his chest. He stares into my eyes and reaches up to my cheek with one hand while the other presses in to the small of my back.
"I love you," He whispers to me as my hands rest on his broad chest and he plays with my autumn hair. "I'm sorry," He leans up and kisses me softly and then very passionate until soon he's laying over me, my hair and the grass blending in to one another and Sean's hands are roaming over the plains of my stomach.
"I love you too," I whisper as he pecks at my neck and collarbone. "I don't want you to ever die, Sean."
He smiles and pulls himself away from my body. "I won't die, Puck," He kisses my cheek and then my forehead. "I promise you that you will never see a day when I'm not here on this Earth.
I don't go home that night and instead I let myself fall asleep in the warm arms of Sean Kendrick on his couch. My head tucked in to his neck and chest to hear his strong heartbeat. In the morning I find myself in his large bed in his big green sheets that are wrapped and tucked around me. Next to me on the bed is a note in Sean's crude handwriting.
I'm going down to the beach to talk to a few sellers. I've got some old clothes on the drawer for you if you need them. Meet me at the bakery at 12 if you want to I've got a surprise for you.
-Sincerely your greatest friend.
It makes me smile the way he says that we are the greatest of friends. I've seen to many people together that only care about one another for material things. Sean and I are best friends even when he is a complete idiot and I think in that way I can really love him. I quickly get dressed in to his old grey tshirt. It has him written all over it. From his smell of hay and the sea, the small flecks of mud and blood that are hardly noticeable. It's Sean Kendrick.
I go in to town with Dove, looking at my watch that tells me its only ten a.m. I hear Holly behind me. "Puck!" He calls for me, making me turn around to see him in his clean american clothes with a little red cap. "I'm so glad I ran in to you," He hands me a small pastry bag. "For you."
I smile and thank him as Dove begins to sniff at the bag next to me.
"How are the yearlings doing?" He asks politely.
"Just fine," I reply.
He only nods and chuckles slightly. "I'm sure Sean will be riding one of those little things in the years to come."
"Oh no, he's given up the races," I assure him.
Holly looks at me strangely. "Sean Kendrick?" He asks "Are you sure? Because I saw his name on the butcher's board," And then suddenly he looks like he's disappointed himself.
I look at him strangely and soon we're in the butcher's. "Puck, I was only joking. It's no big deal and all lets just go find Sean."
But its to late. I know that he's not joking, I know that Sean Kendrick lied to me. He's joining the races and he's going to be murdered.
When I walk through the door, everyone smiles and I can hear people from across the room call my name. "Hey there Puck!' One yells while another asks how Dove is doing, but their little greetings mean nothing to me as I look up at the board to find Sean's name written in chalk.