Like lusty woodland faeries and tarot cards.
Anyway, the original purpose of this post was to say that--huzzah!--I at last broke through the midpoint snarl and bridged the two halves of the rewrite. Now, I'm rolling toward the nail-biting climax. I wish I could post a really gripping scene where she picks up a strapping lad in a nightclub so Graham can feed on him, but I'm afraid it's not suitable for all audiences. So, here's the short scene that follows. As it happens, this is the scene directly preceding the one at Stirling Castle.
Leaving Rory in the vaults to come to his senses, they drove back to the hotel in uncomfortable silence. Cat’s mind was agitating like a washing machine. She’d vowed when she left her childhood home that she’d never, ever, under any circumstances, allow anyone to strike her again. And now, someone had. Someone she loved dearly. Her soulmate and the father of her unborn child.
Should she hold the line? Board the next train back to England?
She’d been dead wrong to suggest what she had. She should have understood the depth of his wound. Branwen’s demeaning abuse. Fitzgerald’s stealthy nocturnal assaults. What was she thinking? She wasn’t, obviously. But he’d also been wrong to spank her like that—and to suggest doing it again should she ever say something equally emasculating.
But what to do about it?
Try to work it out? Or run for the nearest exit?
She’d understood intellectually that he was from another era, but hadn’t taken the time to ponder the implications. He’d been born in 1784—back when women were considered property and had no legal or personal rights. And if a husband raised a hand to his wife, nobody gave it a second thought. In fact, society expected a man to keep his woman in line by whatever means necessary.
Sir! Here's a good stick, to beat the lovely lady.
And that was from a movie shot in the early 1950s! Her mind retrieved something else--a news report on attitudes about rape among young men in Scotland. According to a university survey, a disturbing percentage of respondents felt rape was justifiable if the woman was the girlfriend or wife. A lump of outrage swelled in her chest. Holy shit. If Scotsmen thought like that today, how Neanderthalic were their attitudes back when Graham grew up?
She struggled to find her voice in the stony silence. “Can I . . . ask you something?”
“Aye. If you must.”
There was a sharp edge to his voice she didn’t like and he wouldn’t look at her, but she pressed on nevertheless.
“Do you think of me as your equal?”
He looked at her then, frowning deeply. “Because I spanked you?”
She swallowed, summoning her courage. “Well, yes. I suppose. To some extent. But also because you’re . . . well, because you’re from such a different time—an era when women were considered property. Like cattle or furniture.”
“First of all,” he said, the edge in his voice sharpening, “I have never in all my life looked upon a woman as a piece of property. Back in my day, equality had to do with class. Females of my class were more or less equals . . . while females of a lower class were not. But the same standard was applied to men.” He shot a swift, softer glance in her direction. “When I was alive, mind, women were treated as second-class citizens. They rarely got a proper education, inherited property, or earned a living wage. As a consequence, I might have at one time believed a woman’s intellect to be . . . well, less sharp, I suppose. But I can assure you Caitriona sorted me out on that score.”
She took a breath and blew it out, relieved that they were at least talking again. “Did you ever hit her? Or Catharine?”
He didn’t answer right away. He seemed clenched and thorny. She began to fear the answer. “I’m sorry I lost my temper. Truly. But you cut me deeply. Did I not make myself clear on the subject of feeding in that manner?”
“But nothing. I’m sorry. I wasn’t thinking.”
“Thank you. Apology accepted. And I hope you will forgive me, too.” He sucked in a breath and blew it out. “Look, lass. I ken why you’re worried. But if I’m harboring any repressed chauvinism, I’m unaware of the fact—though, come to think of it, I would be, eh?—given that its repressed.” His mouth quirked into a slight grin. “But seriously, if I ever act like a sexist pig, call me out on it. I might be old . . . and a wee bit old-fashioned . . . but I’m hardly a bloody caveman.” He looked at her then, meeting her eyes. “And to answer your question, no. I never laid aught but a loving hand on either one of them.” In a voice softened by contrition, he added, “And I swear on the holy iron of my dirk that, say or do what you will, I shall never raise my hand to you again.”