IN THE NAME OF LYNCH

In The Name of Lynch

-Chapter 05: Not All Island Girls Live in the Tropics-

In New Deerness, which had been built upon the ruins of the civil parish of Deerness, Charlotte Ballantyne clung to the bars that confined her. Stuck in semi-enclosed space for longer than she cared to be, she cried out for anyone that might hear her. Small as she was, she had a powerful voice and it wouldn't be long before it was heard.

On the floor below, Claire was on the vu-phone with her older cousin Magnus when she heard the cry.

"Hold on," she told him as she got to her feet. "Sounds like the wee one's up. I'll just be a moment." she left the room, returning a few minutes later with Charlotte and a couple of toys.

Claire set her seventeen-month-old daughter on the floor with a doll and a little plush-and-velcro train set, then set herself down on the sofa.

"She's really growing fast," Magnus observed.

"Yeah," Claire smiled, sadly. "it's a shame her da isn't around to see it." She reached over to the box of tissues on the end table and pulled one out. "I know I shouldn't get this upset about it now. It's been five months since..."

"Since Sigund's death?" Magnus asked. "Of course you should still get upset. You loved that man, Claire. And he loved you. We all had high hopes of the two of you having a big family like your aunt Mariel."

"And now Charlotte is the only child I'll ever have," Claire said, looking at her daughter with protective affection.

"You might marry again some day," Magnus said, reassuringly. "It's hard to believe right now, I know. Your heart hurts and the idea of falling in love again and opening yourself up to feeling that hurt again is terrifying. But when it happens, you'll forget that fear, trust me."

"I can't do that," Claire shook her head. "I can't betray the memory of..."

Little Charlotte looked up at her mom, whose face looked a little wet. She was smart enough to know that when someone's face was wet you were supposed to hug them, so she toddled over to her and put both arms around her leg.

"Loving someone new is not betraying those have departed," Magnus told Claire as he watched her pick up her daughter. "In life, Sig wanted nothing more than to see you smile; to know that you were happy. He'd want that now, also. Take whatever time you need to grieve, little cousin, but don't take your whole life. Think of little Charlotte. It'd be nice for her to have a little brother or sister to play with."

"I was thinking of adopting once she's a little older," Charlotte said, looking down into her daughter's face. "I was adopted and it would be nice of me to return the favor some day."

Magnus smiled. "I remember the day your mum brought you home from London. She was all smiles and tears. "I may have only been six, but a look of joy like that stays in your memory forever, no matter how old you are."

"I knew I was a foreign adoption, but I never knew where from," Claire said, turning part of her attention back to the vu-phone screen. "London? How did you know she went there?"

Magnus held up a little Beefeater Bear. "Your mum brought this back over for me from one of the antique shops," he told her. "I wish I could tell you more, but grownups don't talk much about things like that to six year olds. Not even when they're boys."

"It's okay," Claire said, tickling Charlotte's tummy and smiling as the child laughed with delight.

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