Five Years Later
“One more push, Alina, ye can do it, lass!” Amanda wiped the sweat from her brow with the back of her hand as she knelt in front of Alina’s open legs, watching a thatch of reddish hair crown.
“Och, how have ye done this twice now, Amanda?” Alina screamed, clutching at the bedclothes and pushing one more time.
Leyla stood by, holding a clean blanket at the ready. “Dear sister! He is here!” Leyla knelt just as the baby slid forth into its new world into Amanda’s open, expert hands. Amanda smiled down at Alina’s new baby, her first child, and it began to cry when Leyla wrapped it up tightly in the white cloth.
Alina sat up, breathing heavily. “It is a he?” she said, and Amanda smiled at her young, fiery friend, her red hair damp against her skull.
“Aye,” Amanda said, and Leyla slipped the child into Alina’s arms.
Leyla was in tears. “I am an aunt now,” she said, beaming. “And Angus, an uncle. He will be so proud!” Leyla’s hands were on her face, and pure joy was in her eyes.
Amanda helped Alina sit farther up on the bed, placing a pillow behind her back. “Ye enjoy holding yer boy, lass, while I help to deliver the last bit, all right?”
Alina nodded, her eyes focused on her new child. “Leyla, will ye tell Finn and me Faither that I am well? And that they have a son to see in a little while.”
“Aye, of course,” she said gleefully and skipped from the room.
The placenta came forth quickly, but there was a lot of blood, and Amanda worked quickly, having already delivered almost twenty babies in the last five years. It was like second nature to her now, but she was happiest that she could help her dear friend deliver her first child.
“What will ye call him, Alina?”
“I daenae ken just yet. Finn and I will have to discuss.” Amanda smiled and leaned over to brush a kiss on Alina’s cheek and placed a soft finger on the baby’s cheek.
“Are ye happy, then? There are so many things we didnae expect to happen in our lives, I think.”
“I could nae have been happier these last five years, Amanda. I think it is owed in part to ye.”
“Och? Why?” Amanda was genuinely surprised.
“Because without Jonathan fallin’ into yer doorway, needin’ aid, I would never have met Finn. Without Leyla invitin’ me to the castle, I would never have seen him again.”
“So it seems ye have nae me to thank but them,” Amanda said dryly. Alina chuckled weakly as her little boy wrapped his tiny fingers around hers.
“I suppose, but I thank ye for teachin’ me all ye have. Havin’ me own healin’ cabin in the woods has been a godsend. It is what I have always wanted. I can live a life that is interestin’, fulfillin’, and now me son shall learn the ways as well if he so wishes.”
“And then, since ye are so close to us, ye can always visit here, as often as ye like. That is the part I love the most. Yer son will come and be a part of our family.”
Alina nodded, her gaze returning to her little boy. Amanda watched the joy of new motherhood for a moment before she said, “I will leave ye, Alina, but I will be back soon to take the baby so that ye can have some rest. Ye will need it.”
“Send Finn, will ye? I would nae feel right about fallin’ asleep afore lettin’ him see his son. He has been waitin’ so long for this.”
“Aye,” Amanda nodded, washing her hands in the basin nearby and then leaving the room, sighing with relief. It was now finished.
As she entered the castle’s hall, her own two children rushed up to her. “Maither!” Darla called out, and Amanda lifted the three-year-old into her arms and kissed her on the cheek. “Is there a new baby?”
Amanda nodded with a smile.
Michael, her younger son, was sitting happily in his father’s arm. As she approached the men, Jonathan looked up with a smile. “We heard it was a success!”
“Aye, very much so.”
Finn stood tall like the proud father that he was. Amanda nodded towards the stairwell. “Please go and see her, Finn. She will need to rest soon, but she wants ye to go to meet yer son.”
Finn barely heard the rest of her statement; he was rushing off up the steps, taking them two at a time. Amanda chuckled at his back.
Angus moved from the side of the hearth and, holding Leyla around the shoulders, said, “Och, it is a boy then?”
“Aye. A strong, red-haired lad. Lookin’ very much like his Maither, I think. Perhaps he will have inherited her fiery spirit as well.”
“Too bad Mrs. MacTavish wasnae here to see it, God rest her soul,” Jonathan added. “She always had a big soft spot for Finn.”
Leyla said, “Aye, I remember that. I was the one always bein’ scolded while Finn could do no wrong.”
Amanda laughed at Leyla’s eye-rolling. Leyla then said with a clap of her hands, “Let me call for the servants to bring food. We will all need some sustenance, I think, after waitin’ so long. And we do need to celebrate!”
Angus followed after Leyla hand-in-hand. Jonathan stood up and leaned down to kiss his wife. “Ye are a miracle-worker, me love. I have always kenned that. I am glad I did nae try to stop ye from bein’ the healer for the castle. Ye have helped so many.”
Amanda laughed. “As if ye could have stopped me! But thank ye, Jonathan. I have been so glad to help these last years. So many needs. So many ways to help. Each time I deliver a baby, I learn somethin’ new. But it was a great honor to help Alina and Finn. Ye should have seen her bright, cheery face. I can just imagine Finn’s expression right now.”
Jonathan chuckled and moved to place Michael before the heart on the soft carpet. Amanda set Darla down as well. Both Ghaoil and Doiche were already there, sleeping happily, and the children bent their tiny arms to pat them gently on their heads.
Jonathan pulled her into his arms. “I bet it looked very similar to when I first laid eyes upon our two little bonny bairns.” He brushed a strand of dark hair from her face. “I love ye, Amanda Roberts. And I love the two children ye have given me, me love. What happiness I have kenned. Happiness I never could have imagined, and I never expected it.”
Amanda grinned, tired but happy. “Me as well. Ye have turned into quite the romantic.”
“Och?” he said with an eyebrow raised. “Here I thought I was always romantic.” He gave her a fake hurt look before grinning. “And ye have turned into a brilliant healer. Ye surprise me every day.”
“Good. How boring would it be otherwise?”
Jonathan chuckled, running a hand through his beard. “Now, I must tell ye that I am off tomorrow mornin’. A bit of business with Clan Ross. Finn, of course, will stay, but Angus will accompany me.”
“And when will ye return?” Amanda asked hopefully, and Jonathan grinned.
“Even after five years, ye still want me to return home? How lucky am I to have such a wife?”
She ignored his joking tone and said, “I suppose they still have nae found anyone they want to lead the clan?”
“Nay.” He shook his head. “I keep tellin’ them every time, but I think that they hated Romain so much that they wanted this alliance instead. We are now the largest clan in all of the Highlands. It is a matter of pride, I think.”
“I ken, but it keeps ye often away.”
“Daenae worry, lass. When I am done, I will come home and spend weeks in yer company, focusin’ on our original clan and our family.”
“Good. While ye are gone this time, I will be busy helpin’ Alina figure out how to start bein’ a Maither.”
“There is nay one better to teach her than ye, love. Ye are perfect.”
Amanda rolled her eyes, but she stood up to put a kiss on Jonathan’s cheek. “I ken that ye are just sayin’ that to soothe the blow of ye leavin’ again, but I will accept it. It is nae every woman who has a husband callin’ her perfect after all this time.”
Jonathan cupped her cheeks in his hands. “Well, ye are nae every woman.”
Jonathan lifted his cup of ale to the small yet celebratory company.
“A blessin’ and congratulations to Finn, on his new fatherhood.”
The others cheered, lifting their cups into the air.
“Good luck to ye, lad,” Jonathan said, smiling as he sat down next to his friend.
“I am happy, but I daenae think I have ever been so nervous,” Finn said, a sort of grimace on his face.
Leyla laughed. “Ye will be perfect, brother! I just ken it. All will come right.”
Jonathan looked around at his friends and slid his hand under the table to squeeze Amanda’s hand. She turned to him with a smile.
“What was it like for ye, then? I remember how terrified ye were the first time, Jonathan,” Finn said.
“Aye, I was terrified. Even with the second one, I was terrified. But after a few weeks, it all settled down, and I think I will always be afraid, but it is nae so tense as it once was.”
“Ye have turned out excellent,” Amanda said, squeezing his hand back.
“So,” Finn said, “When can Alina join us once again? How long must she stay in bed?”
Amanda’s voice turned to admonishment when she said, “She must rest for at least a week. She has just done a lot of work to get that baby out. Now, listen to me, Finn, she needs to rest from that other sort of business for almost six weeks.”
“Six weeks?” Finn asked, and he looked so crestfallen that Jonathan burst into laughter.
“Aye, lad. And nae a moment sooner!” he added with a scolding finger.
“Six weeks is like an eternity,” Finn groaned.”
Amanda chuckled. “Jonathan got through it just fine, ye ken.”
“Just barely. By the end of it, I was practically on me knees, beggin.’”
“Och aye,” Amanda laughed loudly. “I remember that now.”
Jonathan scowled, and now it was Finn doing the laughing.
“Well, at least I am nae the only one to experience such sufferings.”
“Och, how selfish men are,” Leyla interjected, “to think only of themselves when their wives have been through such hell to bring about their children.”
Finn sobered. “Aye, yer right, Leyla.” He paused, and the rest of them fell silent for a moment, but then Finn said again. “But six weeks!”
Everyone in the group burst into laughter. Jonathan watched them as they shook with merriment, savoring the blessings that he had now been given after all the cruelty. He now had a family and dear friends who acted as family, and all the warmth and love that he needed in the world. He now had a brilliant future.
In the evening, a few hours later, once the mother and baby were settled and sleeping with Fin sleeping nearby, Amanda and Jonathan retired to their chamber.
Darla and Michael were tucked away in their beds with the nurse keeping watch over them, and Jonathan drew Amanda into his arms, searching for her lips. His bare body was against her side, and he pressed his arousal against her thigh.
“I ken that ye are tired, me love, but I am so impressed by ye and what ye did today. And I will be away for a few days, ye remember,” he teased, nibbling at her earlobe.
Amanda chuckled and shivered at the contact, wrapping her arms around him.
“Aye, aye,” she laughed, “Of course, I remember. I am tired, dear husband, but nae too tired to feel such love and adoration from ye.” He moved swiftly on top of her, his eyes full of heat. Amanda laughed at his expression, but she was soon silent when his lips moved over her mouth and down her neck and chest.
He lifted her shift, and she pulled it over her head, so now she was bare underneath him, and his body craved just as it always had to enter her and love her until the both of them were spent.
The heated feverishness of their young love had passed, and now their lovemaking had turned to deep passion, where they savored each moment. To his delight, this time, Amanda pushed against his chest, so that his back was on the bed, and she straddled him, a sly grin on her face.
“I see ye are nae tired at all, wife,” Jonathan said with a chuckle.
Amanda winked while lifting a finger to her lips, and he gripped her hips, helping her to slid down his length, which made him forget his laughter and think only of the pleasure pulsating through him as Amanda took what she wanted from him, riding him with a steady, yet ever-increasing rhythm.
Their eyes met, and love overwhelmed him. He still couldn’t believe his good luck—a beautiful, intelligent wife, whose soul and body he both craved in equal measure, and she had given him two beautiful children, which was just an addition to his current joy.
He could hear Amanda’s growing moans, and he watched her body shiver and her head lean back as she found her pleasure. He thrust into her again and then sighed out his pleasure before she slid off of him and curled into his side.
He closed his eyes, letting the lovely feeling spread through his every muscle. Amanda kissed him on the chest.
“I love ye, lass,” he whispered into her hair. “I always will.”
“And I as well. Too bad ye are goin’ away.”
“Well, perhaps we can do that when I return,” he replied with a chuckle. Ye set me so on fire.” He pulled her tighter.
“Aye, when ye return, we can do that and more.”
“More?” he said, his interest piqued. “Such as?”
“Ye will just have to wait and see. It will be a surprise.”
“Och,” he groaned. “Just as I told ye when we first married. Ye will be the death of me, lass.”
Amanda laughed. “Me? A healer desirin’ to bring about someone’s death? Never.”
“Ye do it without even knowin’ it, me love. Fine, then, I shall wait patiently until I return to yer arms and yer bed. Or unpatiently.”
“Me arms and bed will be waitin’. I will always wait for ye, Jonathan.”
With those lovely last words in his mind, Jonathan fell into a deep sleep.
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