Happily Ever After
That fall had seen a beautiful wedding. And it wasn’t long before Chloe and Callum had moved into what was deemed as the Castle of the Lairds as the property’s Baron and Baroness of Arundel. They ran the castle as Arundel did, and he was happy with all the reports his brother sent him.
Although Dorian had to admit, he missed his sister.
They had begun to create a more traversable path between the two castles, cutting down trees to make the journey take only a day’s ride. So it wouldn’t be long until she was knocking on his bedroom door again while he was undressing his wife. Even married, she was still a pain in the arse. However, that had been delayed slightly as the Laird and Lady prepared to welcome the bairn that would be arriving any day now.
He rolled over that morning to see his wife sitting up in their bed in all her naked glory. She was sweating, her face pale, as she rubbed her swollen belly. Her face was contorted in pain, and she let out pants as she breathed. He sat up carefully, wrapping his hand around hers where it lay. He felt a strong kick against his hand.
“Hilda,” he began, “is she arrivin’?”
“Nae yet,” his wife answered as she relaxed. “But they will be later.”
He was so certain it was a girl that he had referred to the child Hilda bore as nothing else. Though his wife remained optimistic. He quickly got out of bed and dressed. Dorian helped his wife do the same, pausing every so often as a wave of pain hit. He led her to the birthing room across the hall, converted from what had been Hilda’s first room.
It wasn’t until the afternoon when she felt a release. Water pooled around her where she sat on a chair, reading by the sunlight coming in from the window. But there was more than water, and she felt her child move as a strong contraction hit.
“Dorian!” she called between strained breaths.
In a heartbeat her husband was at the door, his eyes expectant, and she nodded. He alerted the guards to get Zea and the maid. Soon the women were fluttering about her, removing her gown and setting her on the mattress. She let out a cry of pain as she felt another contraction, her body involuntarily pushing to help the bairn out of her womb.
Her second child was about to be born.
Hilda let out a wail of pain, clutching her husband’s hand. Her entire body was tense. Her curly, red hair was damp with sweat, her face red from tears. She felt as if she would snap in half from the excruciating pain. She enjoyed being pregnant—she hated giving birth. She pushed again, straining with all her might before falling back onto the pillows.
She turned to her husband, who was pale and looking on with a rather shocked expression. He had not been in the room when Alastair was born—it was improper. However, having heard her screams at the first birth apparently had him insisting on joining this time, damn the rules. Not to mention, as he so kindly put it to Zea, it was his castle, and he could go in the birthing room as he pleased.
She could tell that he had been fraught with nerves, and part of her suspected he demanded to be in the room in case she met the same fate as his mother.
“One more, Hilda,” Zea comforted between her legs. Hilda shook her head adamantly. There was no more she could muster, her strength having gone on the last push. “One more push, my Lady.”
Her body contracted with force, Hilda screamed as she sat up, pushing through the pain and agony. She felt as if her whole body was being torn in half. She could feel the head as it emerged, pushing one last time, and soon the wailing sound of a newborn filled the room. After one more burst of effort, the bairn was born fully, and Hilda collapsed against the bed. Her maid took the child to be cleaned, Zea helping Hilda through the rest of the birth.
She panted, the tears flowing down her face as she caught her breath. But she couldn’t help but smile, and she turned her head to the side to see Dorian’s tender face. He smiled at her, pressing a kiss to her lips.
“Ye are amazin’,” he whispered, tears running freely down his face. “And I cannae wait to hold her.”
“Her?” Hilda asked in a daze.
“Aye,” he smiled, tears shining in his eyes. “Isabelle Grace Zea Chloe Bradforde.”
Hilda nodded. They had a daughter, just like Dorian had wanted for so long. Someone that could carry on the traditions of the women in the castle, both his and Hilda’s. She heard the soft coos of her daughter as the maid brought her in, handing the bundle of fabric and pudgy infant to Dorian.
Within an hour, the Lady of Arundel nestled her newly gifted daughter to her breast, watching as her body gave of itself. She smiled, looking at her husband. He had been staring at her feeding their daughter in awe. There was a hunger in his own eyes, one that she couldn’t satiate for a long while, given the time her body needed to heal. But if she knew her husband, it wasn’t going to be long until she was with child again.
And she couldn’t wait.
The sun descended on the day, casting the library in a beautiful ray of orange. Dorian was sitting in his chair by the fire, reading a book. It had been a simple summer day, with the whole castle at peace. And he was glad to retire after playing in the fields with his children all day.
Dorian looked down at his four-year-old son on his lap. His almost three-year-old daughter sat on his other leg. They were in his chair next to the fire, and Isabella was holding on to Hilda’s cat, who she affectionately named Whiskers. Alastair had taken more to the dog than the cat, and it seemed as if it was a mutual relationship on the behalf of Whiskers.
He closed the book as he finished reading it aloud, and Alastair jumped off his lap to go find another book in the library. He carefully adjusted his daughter, looking at where Hilda lounged on the couch. He smiled at her, and she looked at him sleepily. She had reached that time of her pregnancy when she slept frequently, the bairn in her womb growing.
She looked radiant as ever. Her hair was long and beautiful, her red curls being passed down onto their son. However, Isabella had her beautiful brown eyes. His wife smile at him, a hand going to her swollen bump. It would be some time before the next Bradforde was born, but he was still bubbling with excitement. He looked down as his son walked up, clutching another book to his chest.
“Can ye read this one?” Alastair pleaded, holding out a green covered book. “Please, Da? And then I’ll go right to sleep after!”
“Ooh, I love this book,” Isabella lit up. “Please Da? We promise!”
Hilda and Dorian both sat up a little straighter. He darted his eyes to hers, seeing her similar expression of awe. He hadn’t read the green covered epic to the kids yet. He was going to wait until Alastair turned five before reading it.
“That’s im-pawsib-pal,” Alastair tried. “Da has nae read it yet.”
“It does nae matter,” Dorian said gently, and his children calmed. “I can read it now, and everyone can like it.”
“Even the bairn?” Isabella asked.
“Aye,” Hilda answered with a smile. “We would like to hear it.”
His children leaned against his chest as the sun set, and there was a stillness as he began to read the story his mother read to him. It was a brilliant tale, and the children listened intently as he began to read.
His wife stood up, smiling as he read as she grabbed the blankets and pillows. It was a Saturday, and the children loved to spend Saturday nights in the library so much it had become an entire family venture.
He continued to read to his enthralled children, watching as they soaked up every word with drowsy eyes and ears. It wasn’t long until each of them had curled into his chest. After he finished the book, Alastair yawned. His daughter had fallen asleep long before. It was far past their bedtime, the moon having rose up above the horizon.
He set the book on the small table by his chair, and, picking up his children, Dorian stood. Carefully, he set Isabella amongst the blankets and pillows first, letting Alastair slide down to his feet. He turned to his son, holding the blanket up as he scrambled underneath and laid his head on the pillow.
Dorian kissed his beautiful baby boy on the head as he tucked him to bed, “Good night, Alastair. Sweet dreams.”
“Good night, Da,” he yawned.
In mere minutes, the boy was asleep. Dorian turned to his daughter, seeing her eyes open and having covered herself up with the blanket. She yawned as he pressed a kiss to her forehead too.
“Can ye read it again tomorrow?” his daughter asked, her eyes fluttering closed. “It’s my favorite.”
“Aye,” Dorian smiled. “It’s my favorite too. Now go to sleep, darlin’. Sweet dreams.”
He stood, meeting eyes with his wife. She smiled at him and sat up, inviting Dorian to lay on the couch. He gladly took the invitation, his legs stretching out across the piece of furniture. He gathered Hilda in his arms, smiling as she carefully got comfortable on his body.
“I love ye,” she said, looking up at him.
He pressed a steamy kiss to her lips, promising a morning of lovemaking and intimacy while Zea and Scout took the children to get ready for the morning meal. She moaned into the kiss, and he felt her knowing smile as he kissed her deeper.
“I love ye, too,” he whispered.
Hilda yawned as she curled into him, and his hand began to draw lazy circles on her back as she slowly drifted to sleep. Dorian watched for a moment, taking in his sweet family. The one that he never thought was possible for him, played out in the flesh.
He closed his eyes, and slept.
It didn’t take long until the entire sky was cloaked with inky midnight blue. The stars twinkled in the sky, taking in the view of the lovers that lay with each other. The Laird was holding the Lady of Arundel on the couch by the fire, both parents blissfully asleep as their children slept on the floor by the fire. The Laird stirred briefly, staring down at his sleeping wife. She stirred, but didn’t wake as she adjusted her sleeping position.
Dorian pressed a soft kiss to Hilda’s forehead as he rubbed her belly. There was a forceful kick against his hand. He smiled, looking down at the swollen bump in awe. It was something special, a connection between father and child he hadn’t experienced so intimately.
“Greetings wee one,” Dorian whispered. There was another kick against his hand. “I cannae wait to meet ye.”
So Dorian told his unborn child a different story, one of love and war and jealousy. Of strong women and fearsome lairds, though all they would know of them were kind and compassionate. Soon, the child was lured to sleep, and Dorian closed his eyes again.
And all was well in Arundel Castle, and would be for many years to come.
Readers who read this book also liked