He gathered the woman in his arms and grunted as he stood, the thick muscles of his thighs and calves bulging beneath his old, worn kilt which clung to him most uncomfortably and smelled unpleasantly of wet sheep. As comfortable as the old garment was dry, it did not bear close acquaintance when soaked through. The tendons and muscles in his arms bunched and bulged as he hefted the woman’s weight and settled her against his chest.
“You’re a mess, Connor. If you’ll wait, I’ll fetch a wagon.”
“I’ll walk,” he said and made good on his intent. The wet wool clung wetly to his thighs and his boots squelched, but the steady movement generated much needed heat to his chilled muscles.
“Let me carry her for a bit then,” Liam offered with sympathy. “She’s got to be heavy and you’re soaked to the bone and cold besides.”
The woman was heavy, but Connor did not want to relinquish his burden and did not really know why. It was not as though she were a sterling example of feminine pulchritude. She was as old as Liam’s mother would have been had she not died a few years ago. She was fat, carrying extra weight that some disciplined food consumption and exercise could remedy. Her skin was doughy and old pock marks on her face showed the remnant scars of adolescent acne. Her hair was thin, light brown, and liberally streaked with gray. But he held on to her. Liam ran ahead to alert his grandmother of their impromptu guest. When Connor finally walked into the old manor he called home, his sister clucked her tongue at him and ordered him to relinquish his burden.
“Liam will take her to the rose bedroom,” Brenda said, hands on her hips and tolerating no disobedience from the men. “You get yourself to your tub and soak until you’re warmed through.”
Then Connor did give over the woman to his grandnephew. He headed for the comfort of his own chambers to strip the cold, wet garments from his clammy skin. The tub steamed gently and he sighed appreciatively as he sank into the scented water to soak the cramps from chilled muscles.
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