“A guest needs your help, Myra my lass.”
“Of course, my love.” Her voice sang of the Irish hills. “What would you be needing, sir?”
Raven told her. She sized him up with a professional eye, and went to a set of shelves, which sported labeled crates.
“These should do.” She handed him a shirt and underthings. A tiny closet provided a coat and breeches. “As to the great coat…. Were you set upon by dogs?” Her eyes widened as she examined the garment.
“Wolves, actually. One got the jump on me.”
“And you still here to talk of it? My land!” she looked the collar over well. “I’ll need to replace a piece, but I haven’t this exact fabric.”
“Something close. It’s purely functional. I’m not a fancy man.”
“I’ve a black that will blend well with the navy blue.”
“That is satisfactory.” He emptied his pockets, transferring things to his pack. “I leave it in your capable hands, my lady.”
Myra blushed, giggling.
“What do I owe you for the clothing?”
She told him the price, which he happily paid, as well as settling on the cost of the repair. He paid her for all, thanking her once more.
“May one inquire when your babe is due?”
“In two months time.” She beamed, her hand on her belly.
“Aye. A girl, I hope. Himself wants a boy.”
Raven tipped his head, considering. His newly augmented senses told him much. “May I?” He raised his hand to touch her belly. “Back home, I acquired a talent for telling the babe’s gender.”
Raven laid his hand on her belly. Concentrating, he smiled. “I believe you will have your wish. And, unless my senses fail me, so will your husband. For I suspect twins—a boy and girl.”
He was sure. Not only did boys smell different from girls, he’d sensed a second heartbeat. “In truth.”
“That’s wonderful news! Isn’t it grand, Sam?”
“Aye, my love.” He kissed his beaming wife. “A bath now, Mr. Willoughby?”
“Please. Fresh water.”
“Always. We never make our guests share road dirt. I’ve my own well,” he bragged.
“You are a lucky man, indeed. A fair wife who can sew, twins coming, your own well…. The gods have smiled, Sam.”
He beamed. “Aye, sir. They have.” He led Raven to a small shack behind the inn. It had three doors, two had pictures of tubs drawn on them. the third was a symbol Raven didn’t know.
“A bath house and privy,” Sam explained. “Another privy is on the other end.” He pointed south. The building was long and sprawling. “Saves a walk from the south end, and keeps the odor from the kitchen.”
“Do you rent rooms by week or month?”
“Yes to both, for them can pay. Do you figure on being longer than a night?”
“It will depend on how I fair at the docks tomorrow.”
“Best of luck. Water’s hot. There’s lavender for those who wants it, no extra charge. Soap in a tin. Pull the plug when you’re done.” He saluted and went back to the inn.
Left to his own devices, Raven dropped the latch and disrobed. His dirty clothing fell to the wooden floor. He’d find out about the laundry later. Right now, the hot water called to him. Easing his tired body into the hot water felt wonderful.
“Just this side of heaven,” he sighed.
Later, as he dressed, someone knocked at the door.
“Beg pardon, Mr. Willoughby,” a woman, not Myra, said. “Sam told me to collect your soiled garments.”
“One moment.” He pulled his trousers on and opened the door.
A pretty young woman, who shared Sam’s broad smile and golden curls, stood there. Her eyes widened when she spied his muscular, bare chest. Scattered with black hair, against his swarthy skin, it was a fair sight for a lass. Raven smiled. He’d seen that hungry look in the eyes of many women.
“Thank you. And you are?”
“Sam, his sister.”
“You’re Sam’s sister, or your name is Sam?” Standing with the door open, firelight behind him, he knew he presented a tasty treat. However, the sister of the innkeeper was off limits, in his mind.
“Both. Samantha, Samuel’s twin. Myra tells me we’ve another mixed set to welcome soon.”
“So my senses tell me.”
©2021 Dellani Oakes