Winter Rain, part 37

The butler knocks on the door of the den, then leaves me to wait. It’s Keaira’s older brother, Cashel, who opens the door, a few moments later. “Come in”, he says, not even a hint of a smile. His six feet of solid muscle completely fill the doorway, and he steps back only a bit to let me by. I have to squeeze to get around him—which I’m sure is intentional. The door closes, and I can feel him looming behind me, but I don’t turn. It’s a game—it’s his job to intimidate me, to make sure I don’t think to try anything. And I’m intimidated, no doubt about it—he could snap me in half—but there’s no point letting on. Not right now, anyway.

Aiden sits at a low table across the room, lingering over the remains of a late breakfast or an early lunch. He looks up from his paper. “Mmmm, it’s Tiergan, isn’t it?”

“Yes, Sir,” I reply, but remain where I am. I know the drill.

“Well, don’t just stand there,” he says, after a moment.

“Yes, Sir,” I say again, and cross the room, winding my way through the furniture groupings that fill the large space. Cashel’s heavy footsteps follow behind.

As I near him, I realize why he is so universally respected. And feared. He’s barely smaller than his son, despite his extra years, and something about the way he sits, the way he holds his paper—he’s still nothing but muscle. He must have been enormous, in his youth.

He lays his paper down and takes a sip from his mug. Coffee, from the smell. I stop a few feet from him. He looks me up and down, once, then meets my eyes with a hard gaze. Not angry, just . . . unimpressed.

I decide to get the point. “Sir, I am here to—”

“Yes, yes,” he says, and cuts me off with a wave of his hand, “I already know why you’re here. Faolan requested passage for you on the phone this morning. I’d have waived protocol altogether, except that he mentioned it would be you passing through.”


“You’re friends with my daughter, correct?”

Ah. Of course. I guess I should have realized it would come up. “Yes, Sir,” I answer carefully. I feel Cashel take a half step closer behind me.

A memory of Keaira’s voice surfaces in my mind. If she were here . . . she’d laugh, and tell me I should casually lean back against Cashel and hug him around the shoulders. Maybe look teasingly up into his eyes and call him “lover”.

I almost laugh out loud.

“Something funny?” Aiden asks, unamused.

I shake my head and force myself still. If she were here . . . . I guess that’s not something I need to worry about, any more.

Deep breath. Take your lumps. Arrange passage. Leave quietly.

“No, Sir.”

He looks me up and down again while I stare over his head and through the window, out into the grounds. But there’s too many unhelpful memories there, too. I settle my eyes on a tree and wait.

“I knew your father well,” he says, and I find my eyes on his again. “I had a lot of respect for him. What he did with so little. Even fought me off his territory a few times.

“You don’t look like you could fight off a dog.”

Try me, asshole.

But he likely would. I keep it to myself.

“Pup, I don’t like you. You don’t know your place.”

“Yes, Sir,” I reply, as calmly as I can manage. But I lock eyes with him, and if it kills me, I, will, hold.

“I expect the best for my daughters, and, we both know you’re not it.”

Yeah, well, fuck you, too.

“You’ve been putting bad ideas in Keaira’s head.”

Now that’s off limits.

“Sir, nobody puts ideas in Keaira’s head except Keaira. Which you would know if you’d ever bothered to talk with her. You know, instead of at her.” The words are out of my mouth before I can pull them back. But then, I didn’t really want to pull them back.

He regards me impassively for a moment, but I know I’ve crossed a line. I don’t flinch. And I won’t. I tighten muscles and prepare to be hit.

But it doesn’t come.

“You’re braver than I’ve been told.”

Yeah, well, people underestimate me.

He continues to watch me calmly, but I refuse to relax. I’ve seen how fast Faolan or Cormac can move . . . and I suspect he can move even faster.


“Forget about my daughter, Tiergan. She’s not for you. Not until you are strong enough to take her from me.”

Like that’s ever going to happen—his implication is clear. It’s time to end this conversation. Now.

“Sir, I don’t think that will be an issue. She ended our relationship yesterday.”

“She did?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Good. Then it’s settled.”

“Yes, Sir.”

“You’ll be heading to see Dugan, next. You know the way?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Fine. I’ll call him shortly to vouch for you. There’s two of you, correct?”

“Yes, Sir. Me and Brennan.”

“Faolan tells me you are in charge for this trip.”

“Yes, Sir.”

“From what I’ve heard about you, I would have thought Brennan would be in charge.”

“Yes, Sir.”

He smiles, but I’m beyond caring.

“Okay, Tiergan. Cashel will show you out.”

“Thank you, Sir.”

He nods. I turn and Cashel indicates I should lead. He follows me to the door, opens it for me, then pushes it shut behind.

I look around for something to hit, but there’s nothing convenient. At least, nothing that won’t make a lot of noise. I clench my fist, instead—hard—then release it, stalk to the front door of the house, nod to the guard, and let myself out.

12 Responses to “Winter Rain, part 37”

  1. Vercin says:

    OK, this one really threw me for a loop for a while, since there’s many characters whose names I haven’t yet memorized. After rereading the last 3 chapters, I think I get it: he’s diplomatic and traveling through several foreign territories, thus he’s announced and presents himself/his business to the First, on request. Correct?

    Other than that, good stuff.

    Something I noticed while reading which is probably just a personal quirk/nitpick:
    The off-limits part of the convo, I picture him goaded and reacting with little thought, but still with asshole puckered and formal. The “you know” is too casual to flow properly as a snappy comeback while he knows he’s over the line but doesn’t care . . . he chooses his words better than that. Thus:

    bothered to talk with her. You know, Instead of at her.”

    And now we’ll see if I pass html 101 or not. Nice ep. I like the formality of canine affairs, and the way Tiergan carries himself. He has more than a few qualities that would make him an excellent, discerning leader if he could amp up the muscle and aggressiveness a bit.

  2. Yeah, I think you got it.  Wolves are territorial, but commerce and travel come into play with the human nature.  The two have to be managed.  So, essentially, they are going to have to travel a route that is transitively friendly—either families they have a direct treaty with (ie. Aiden’s) or one they can get a pass through by virtue of a friend’s relationship (ie. Dugan’s, by way of Aiden).  Carrigan is their ultimate destination, but given the map I haven’t shown you, they’d have to cross Rian’s territory to get there directly.  As you can imagine, that’s not going to work out too well, just now.  ;-)

    As for the “You know”—I debated that one for a while.  I agree with you—it doesn’t flow as well as it should.  But I haven’t been reading it as conversational, more as a soft insult, almost contempt.  Which is why I ended up leaving it in, because I think Tiergan wants to step over the line, wants to get a reaction.

  3. Kunama says:

    I see a typo in the first line.

    Keira’s – Keaira’s

  4. srsuleski says:

    I’d like to do violent things to Aiden.

  5. Kitty says:

    Last paragraph: “I look around from something to hit, but there’s nothing convenient.” 

    Should be “for” not “from”, no?

    Otherwise, great stuff :)

  6. Miladysa says:

    “You don’t look like you could fight off a dog. – Quotation mark missing I think?

  7. Sorry about last chapter’s comments — this chapter explained it.  But maybe the clarity of last chapter would be helped if Tiergan’s narration mentioned he had to arrange passage to get to Carrigan?

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