tagNonHumanGargouille Ch. 07

Gargouille Ch. 07

bymerryweather©

Hi everyone. I hope you all enjoy this chapter. I so enjoyed writing it. Thanks to my lovely editor Angelicsounds, you're a star. Thanks for the feedbacks.

Gargouille

**MW**

Her near death experience had happened four months ago. Just four months. Nicole knew she should be happy, as the men had done everything in their power to make her feel happy and safe. But she wasn't. All these past months spent trying to stay positive about her new life...the men...it hadn't worked. No matter how determinedly she argued against letting that night ruin how she should be feeling, it was ruining it. Someone had tried to drown her. So, the problem had to be dealt with. Right now.

She couldn't truly move on with them until it was.

Her heart ached as she remembered the flaming row they'd had over her questioning them about who may have wanted to kill her. Did they have enemies? And why the need for guards trailing her every wake?

"Whether ye like it or not, Nicole, ye'll have a guard when we're not around." Eyon had pointed at her, ignoring her other questions.

"You both have no right making decisions without informing me," Nicole had replied angrily.

"No?" His arrogant look said otherwise.

"Of course not," Nicole snapped, "I can take care myself, thank you very much."

"The guard remains. 'Tis not an option."

"You can't be serious."

His expression didn't waver.

"I have been taking care of myself since I was twelve, I'll have you know."

"Is that all?"

"What?" Arrogant sod. "It's not about you," she fiercely retorted, incensed by his contemptuous views of her having a say about her own life. "It's about feeling included. It's my life, you know."

"Not anymore, Nicole. Ye think this behavior is going to deter us?" Kieran demanded as he came over and stopped in front of her.

"Yer ours, Nicole, our mate. Yer needs are our responsibility now. All ye need to worry about is being mother to our children."

Bloody hell! Was she a brooding mare?

"I am not..."

"Silence!"

Nicole had snapped her mouth closed and glared at them. They might have the upper hand at this moment, but it wouldn't last. When she found out their weaknesses, their roles would be reversed, and she couldn't wait.

Nicole had found herself trembling from the force of her anger. She had believed the men would come around to being reasonably less domineering and controlling. It wasn't much to ask for, was it? Hadn't she proven how adaptable she could be by residing in bitter cold Scotland with two mythical creatures still stuck in their medieval ways of thinking? But now, Nicole was frightened that wasn't going to happen. Not ever.

Nicole stood in their room, at the large window, gazing down at the back garden of the mansion. It was April and the weather was fickle, wet and dreary. The large garden displayed an abundant growth of unusual plants, such as, Naked Ladies and Bat Face Cuphea to name a few, that seemed to thrive despite the cold. Eyon's hands sure had a magical touch.

Admittedly, there were trees and shrubs, leafless, scattered throughout the deep beds, yet the garden exuded an air of springtime and life quite absent from most gardens in that season, especially in Scotland. While the hands themselves that tended these plants were rough, the touch was always soft, just like the man. Small chills ran up her spine. Just thinking of Eyon often rendered her body limp and her sensitive spot pulsing.

Approaching footsteps pulled Nicole from her thoughts. A knock on the door announced Alana and she bustled in, tut-tutting at her mistress' state of undress.

"Good morning, my lady," she said in her usual cheerful and sunny voice.

Nicole turned. "Good morning, Alana." She cast a last glance at the garden before looking over at the large bed and seemed to be intently studying it.

Sensing her mistress' thoughts, Alana quickly stated, "No no, my lady. No going back to bed. You have a household to run and they're waiting on your instructions."

The house was so vast that Nicole hadn't even explored most of it. How the hell could she possibly oversee such a huge staff? She wouldn't even know where to begin.

"What?" Nicole asked, as Alana hurried over to the closet. "Why are they waiting on me?"

"Well, two days ago you asked the Lairds to inform the staff you wanted to meet with them on Monday. Well, the day as arrived," Alana informed her.

Nicole's shoulders hunched and she groaned aloud. "And they have been waiting on me since..."

"Well before dawn, my lady," Alana finished.

Blimey!

All at once, Nicole's appetite--which before hearing this news had been fairly well stirred--had waned and the thought of eating grilled salmon and asparagus for lunch had her vaguely nauseous. She struggled not to gag. Nicole stared at Alana, desperately imploring her.

"Can you not postpone it? Please...I beg you. Pretty please, Alana."

"Now, now, my lady, that's no way to behave," she scolded. "You will be fine."

"I am not going," Nicole said stubbornly.

"You have no choice, my lady," Alana pointed out. "But I give you my word that I will be there to support you. No one will disobey you."

"The staff will think I am an idiot before I even start talking," Nicole predicted glumly.

"You'll be fine. Now let's find you something to wear."

"Okay..." Nicole replied, deflated, flopping down on the chaise at the base of the bed.

"That's the spirit, my lady." Alana gave Nicole a momentary glance before opening the closet door.

Nicole snorted. "You think they'll like me?" She glanced over at Alana as she opened the closet door to go in.

"Who? Now where did I put that top?" Alana muttered, rummaging through the large selection of clothing, reminding herself to color coordinate the mistress' clothing at some point.

"Are you wearing the green top this morning, my lady?"

"No," Nicole answered crossly, none too pleased at the impending meeting, although it was her own doing. "Are you sure the rest of the staff will like me?"

Alana wished the mistress would stop worrying so much. She couldn't promise her there wouldn't be complications along the way, but what she could guarantee was that she would always be there to assist her. As the mistress' personal assistant, it was her duty to see things run smoothly. The Lairds would expect nothing less of her.

Nicole looked up to see that Alana had moved all the way from the other side of the room and now stood right in front of her.

"You have naught to worry about, my lady. Why, with your kindness and beauty..."

"Beauty?" What the hell? "What do looks have to do with anything?"

"Don't you believe me?" Alana asked, her expression stunned and incredulous.

Nicole shrugged. "That's not the point, Alana. It just makes me sound shallow, that's all. Do you think looks are important, Alana?"

Alana seemed to consider the question for a long minute before she answered.

"Well, you are beautiful, there's no denying that. And no, I don't think looks are important. Character, yes. But, what I meant to say was that you are not selfish, you are sincere and care about others. I know it takes more than looks for the clan to welcome an outsider..."

"I should bloody well hope so." Nicole wanted to earn the clan's respect, not have them give it to her out of fear or because of her looks. She knew the men would no doubt demand it of them.

"I am no Aryan," Nicole stated, trying to inject some humor into her confused mind.

She had heard some of the other householders saying how beautiful Aryan was. But Alana did not find such a jest amusing. She was looking at Nicole with concern. Nicole smiled slightly and kept quiet.

"Lady Aryan is beautiful, yet others would pass her by. She lacks spark and fire and is easily overlooked, but not you, my lady. There's something about you that causes others to stare. Wherever you go, people notice you."

Maybe because I'm the only black person in the clan, Nicole mused inwardly.

Alana continued. "And you are the subject of much gossip among the clan. Why, the women can scarcely believe how brave you are to defy the Lairds at will."

Alana saw her startled expression and was instantly consumed with contrition. "Forgive me, mistress. What I meant to say was, we all think you are strong and spirited."

"It's okay," Nicole assured her.

Alana blushed. "I was out of place. I spoke without thought."

"I am not upset, Alana," Nicole said, "I am just worried I'll mess things up."

Alana, vastly relieved that she hadn't offended her mistress, quickly replied while squeezing Nicole's hand, "Of course you will not. Give it time. I am here to help and all the other staff will value and respect your opinion."

"But I do worry," Nicole continued. "I wish I was more confident." She silently damned her prideful nature.

"You are wonderful. No one would dare defy you, my lady." Alana shook her head several times to emphasize the fact.

Her words, of course, did nothing to alleviate Nicole's fear.

"I am sure the men are probably the only reason they fear me. I am, after all, their human mate and we both know how the clan had fought against that happening."

"They have come to appreciate you and the Lairds expect the clan to welcome you, or suffer the consequences," Alana said quietly.

Nicole sighed. That was what she was afraid of.

** MW**

As Nicole went about her nightly ritual that evening in the adjoining bathroom, she smiled happily at how well the day had turned out. It wasn't easy at first, as Nicole had been so nervous. But luckily she had Alana, as well as Moira, for moral support. Still, the other staff seemed to hang on to Nicole's every word. It might not be so bad after all.

The buzzing phone had her frowning. It was Keisha. Nicole picked it up and answered. Keisha sounded happy.

"Hi, Nicole, I am so sorry it's taken me so long to call you. I am in France, and yes, with Ewan. I have been dying to call you, but Ewan said I should give you some space. I am sorry I didn't tell you about our relationship, but I was afraid of how you'd react."

Keisha was always hard to shut up. She carried on, "As soon as I am back in London, we can meet up. So how is Auntie Hyacinth dealing with all this? You know....with you being in Scotland...and all that. I know she must have been shocked when you told her."

Keisha suddenly stopped. "Wait just a minute, Nicole."

Someone was talking to her. Nicole could hear the muffled sounds and then Keisha was saying, "Okay, love, I won't be long."

Then she spoke into the phone. "Sorry about that, Nicky. Well, I have to go. We'll talk soon. Goodbye for now. Love you."

Nicole slowly looked at her phone, staring at the small instrument as if in a trance. Sighing, she reflected on the great times she had shared with Keisha. And no matter how angry and hurt families got at each other, they didn't stop being family. They just tried harder to understand and forgive. Families didn't stop loving each other, just because one or both of them made a mistake. Yes, she was angry with Keisha, not because she lied to her, but because she had expected loyalty from someone she had grown up with.

Keisha had mentioned her mom. Nicole hadn't told her. Would she be upset? Nicole had no doubt her mother would have a thing or two to say when she found out. Soon enough, she'd have to tell her, but until then she would remain silent about her relationship with the men. Knowing Hyacinth de-Leon, this could turn into a war.

"What's taking ye so long, Nicole?" Kieran's impatient voice snapped her from her thoughts. Quickly, she stripped and walked through the door to their shared room where they waited for her, also naked.

** MW**

Nicole woke up slightly groggy the next morning. Not that she'd gotten much sleep the night before. The household was slowly stirring to life, but the sound was still subdued. She was about to slip out of bed when a strange sound caused her to still, she didn't know what it was. Nicole was used to the sounds of the men whispering hot erotic words as they made love to her, as well as the staff going about their chores, but this one didn't belong.

Nicole remained still. Eyes partially open, she listened. Nicole couldn't say exactly if the person was singing or crying. Worse of all, the voice sounded nearby and then the next minute, it would suddenly sound distant. It even came to a point where the voice sounded like it was coming from inside her bedroom.

Then it abruptly stopped.

Alarmed, she attempted to rise, but a sudden sickly feeling caused her to flop back down on the bed. She closed her eyes in sudden pain; a dull pain beginning to drum a call to arms behind her tired lids. For a few seconds, she lay like someone emerging from the influence of hard drugs. Slowly, the feeling lulled and she opened her eyes fully. Nicole was almost surprised to find herself alone. That didn't last for long though. There was a soft knock on the door and Moira, the cook, came in, carrying a silver tray in her hands with a hesitant smile on her face.

"Good morning, mistress. I brought ye a pot of coffee."

"Good morning, Moira." Nicole looked up at her, puzzlement showing in her eyes.

"Alana is out on an errand. I hope ye don't mind."

The thought of food made Nicole slightly nauseous. She laid still, eyes closed; telling herself that if she remained still, the nausea would pass. But she knew she couldn't simply lie in bed all day, she'd had to get up, lest the men started fussing and came to seek her out.

Nicole sighed when she heard Moira speak. "Are ye okay, my lady?" She sounded worried.

"Yes, Moira, I am," Nicole assured her.

Moira frowned. The mistress' voice was soft and pained and she had to lean forward to hear her words. It was almost as though Nicole was speaking to herself, instead of to her, and she could see her shiver.

Nicole slowly opened her heavy lids and blinked a couple of times to clear them. Moira's grave face stood out against a dark background peering keenly at her.

She sighed. "I'm fine, Moira, just a bit tired." The words sounded hollow even to her ears.

She nodded and then gave Nicole a relieved smile. "Tis time to drink up, lest it gets cold, my lady."

"No, thanks, I'm not feeling up to it. I just want to take a bath and go downstairs. I have a lot to catch up on today."

Moira's forehead wrinkled. "Well, ye'll be needing yer energy then, won't ye?"

Nicole decided to ignore Moira's last statement. The woman worried too much, she was like a mother hen. If her mother were to see this, someone else fussing over her, she would have a fit. Her mother, forever the termagant, was more than likely somewhere creating uproar. Nicole had promised to call her and that was three days ago. Scotland Yard was probably on speed dial.

First things first, she needed to relief her bladder.

She threw the blankets aside and slid off the bed. Feeling weak, she pressed her fingers against the side of her head and grimaced. Trying to shake off the strange lethargy, she remained still and took a deep, soothing breath; it must be the heat of the room after so many hours of having a blazing fire. A larger-than-life fire roared in a stone fireplace at the end of the room, with no sign of waning. The sickness would pass, she told herself, trying not to dwell on the problem.

"My lady," Moira murmured, rushing forward. At Nicole's scowl, she stilled and then stepped back a pace, eying her nervously. "Is... is anything amiss, my lady?"

"I am fine, Moira."

Moving slowly, Nicole gained her footing again and walked stiffly to the bathroom, performing the necessary tasks and returning to the bedroom. Nicole was so caught up in her task, she didn't hear Moira approaching.

"Are ye sure ye're well?" she ventured to ask again. Moira contemplated her young mistress with growing anxiety.

"I am quite well, Moira, just a little tired, as I said before. Stop worrying so much."

"If ye say so, my lady. But 'tis best ye eat and gather yer strength," she replied glumly.

Sitting up in bed, Nicole watched as Moira added a bit of milk and sugar to the china cup before pouring the liquid. Moira handed the tray to her. Nicole made a face and was about to refuse, but on a second thought, she remembered how it had helped calm her stomach the day before. She smiled and murmured her thanks as she took the tray. With a contented sigh, she drank the hot liquid and nibbled on the muffin.

"The Lairds are in their study and will be dining below in a few minutes. Will ye be joining them or shall I make ye a meal?"

"No, I'll go down." Nicole took another sip of coffee and wished she had another muffin to go with it.

When she finished, Nicole handed Moira the tray, thanking her as she took the tray and put it aside. Feeling suddenly ill again, Nicole closed her eyes. Then she sneezed so hard that Moira exclaimed, "My lady, ye have surely taken a chill. Let me get ye another blanket."

"Nonsense, Moira—I am not staying in bed all morning. I could not. Besides, if I stay in bed, I am sure to get worse and I have things to get done." She had affairs to sort out and intended to get those done. Lying in bed, being waited on hand and foot, didn't suit her.

"I am so afraid ye're getting to be very ill, with all that sneezing and fainting," replied Moira, as she shook her head.

Nicole shrugged. "All foolishness. I am quite well. Never better." That wasn't true and Nicole knew it.

Despite Nicole's protests, Moira came over and wrapped a blanket around her mistress, ignoring her fussing. "There, there, dinna worry so much, my lady, take yer time."

Moira wondered if the mistress was with child. Her heart skipped an elated beat at the thought. Nay, she shook her head, 'twas not possible. The inability of the few remaining females to conceive had not been spoken about in the Clan, except in whispers, for centuries. The year that the women had committed such a devastating act, leading to their deaths after the Viking invasion, had been full of torment. Would the gods ever forgive them? Sighing inwardly, Moira wrapped the blanket around her mistress and shook her head.

"I wish ye would rest in bed today, my lady."

Nicole gazed at the pretty woman hovering over her and said with a smile, "Thank you for your kindness, Moira."

Moira gently patted her hand. "Ye are most welcome, my lady."

She sighed contentedly, and settled back on the plush pillows as Moira began tidying up the room. The coffee and sweets had worked their caffeine and fiber magic, her strength was returning with each breath. Her stomach had somewhat settled and the strange crying sound seemed less alarming. She would just speak to the men about it, and when the mystery was explained to her, well, it wouldn't seem alarming. However, she did want to know who it was and why she wasn't told about it.

"Well, if that'll be all, I'd best be taking my leave now, mistress," Moira said respectfully and curtsied before moving away to collect the tray of crockery off the table.

"Okay, Moira. Thank you. But, before you go, tell me, have you heard anyone crying?"

Whatever happened to speaking to the men? Guess her curiosity got the better of her.

"Crying, my lady?" Moira responded speculatively, as she stood hesitantly at the door.

"Yes, crying or singing. Haven't you heard it?"

"No, my lady," she denied, just a little too quickly.

Nicole looked at her with wonder and suspicion. Dark thoughts came into her mind. "So you didn't hear a woman's voice?"

Moira's eyes grew round and Nicole watched as she began biting down on her lower lip. "My lady... I... dinna know what to say 'bout that."

Nicole rolled her eyes in frustration. "I can tell something's wrong. Now, are you going to tell me, or do I have to drag it out of you?"

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