During the drive back to MacTaggert Castle Milly realized three things. She had been lost in thought about the wedding, that her mind was not paying attention to the road, and that Brad was staring at her. Normally she wouldn’t mind Brad staring at her but this was different. He was staring at her and there was a real purpose to it.
“Normally I don’t mind you looking at me but this is different. What’s on your mind. Or do I have to ask?” asked Milly.
“I’m thinking about what Kendra said. That photos of us really exist. I just wish I knew where they were and where to look. In his letter all Gil said was that was under lock and key. Then when we were talking he barely mentioned them. I thought he was kidding and I didn’t give them a second thought. Now I don’t know what to think.” replied Brad.
“So you’re thinking about the photos. Fine. But why are you staring at me?
“Right now Kitten I’m just toying with an idea. I kind of like it here. At first, I was far from thrilled being here and you already know the reason why. But this country and its people sort of grow on you. Would you want to stay here for any length of time?”
Milly looked at Brad. Her mouth went slack and was astonished at what she just heard. She drove the car to the side of the road, put the Lotus in park, put her elbow on the dashboard and turned towards Brad. “Has Fergus had a wee chat with you?”
“You’re absolutely sure he hasn’t said a word?”
“He hasn’t talked to me about anything. The last time he said anything to me was when we were in his library and he was telling us all about his observatory. What are you getting at Kitten?”
Milly told Brad all about Fergus’s apology and the question about living and working in Foster Cottage. Milly also said she wouldn’t mention any of the conversation to Brad until Fergus found out if the cottage could be retrofitted to serve as a surgery/home.
“What I’m thinking about has nothing to do with Fergus or Foster Cottage whatever that is. Back in Strathpeffer beside the bakery was a store that dealt with real estate. One of the properties for sale was a pleasant looking cottage with a thatched roof. I was simply toying with the idea of us putting in an offer and hanging up our shingles. That’s all Kitten”
“Well, that’s just plain spooky. Because Fergus asked me to consider an idea that’s almost identical to what you just said. His said that Highland was willed this cottage it really didn’t need. The idea was that the cottage would be retrofitted with everything we would need and that it would be an extension of the hospital. He didn’t know if the cottage was zoned in such a way where it could be retrofitted. I pointed out that such an idea might be OK with us if the cottage was big enough for a surgery and a home but that I wouldn’t mention any of our conversation to you because we had a wedding to plan. And speaking of that Fergus mentioned he had a son walk out on him and I thought it would be really nice if we could reunite them somehow.”
“Would this fellows name be Hamish by any chance?” asked Brad.
“How did you know that? I haven’t even mentioned his name.”
Now the ball was officially in Brad’s court.
“Hamish MacTaggert was the fellow I talked at the desk when we stayed at Bosworth Hall. When we registered we had to put our final destination or where we could be reached. Hamish saw that we were both doctors and asked if we staying with Fergus. But he didn’t fully disclose his identity until I booked a room for Jessica and Jamie. I said I was a little concerned about them driving all the way back to Strathpeffer in the dead of night.”
“Did you really do that Hon?”
“You know I did. I already told you”
“I must be having a seniors moment forgive me. But it was sweet that you did do that. I’m glad we’re having a small wedding. I really don’t understand how some of my girlfriends from University can tolerate those with one or two hundred guests. Can I ask you a question, Hon?”
“You know you can and already do. Fire away.”
“We’re having a small wedding with just a few people. Would you mind terribly if I asked Kendra to be a guest and cater the wedding? That way there would at least one other Foster other than you? I just don’t want you to feel outnumbered.”
Brad looked surprised and a bit embarrassed. He leaned over and started caressing Milly’s face.
“Well thank you for thinking about me. I’ve been to too many weddings where everything is about the bride and her side of the family. But after talking with your mom and dad I already think of them as our family. I know you’re Mother was a little “over the top” because of the HRT therapy but after talking to your dad I think safely say things are all right between us. He just wants to be absolutely certain his “little girl” is going to be well taken care of. Let’s turn the car around and ask Kendra.”
The pair turned the car around and drove back into town. The Lotus came to a screeching halt just outside the bakery. Kendra was just locking the front door when Milly burst out of the car.
“Kendra Foster. Hold it right there! We’ve got some serious talking to do.”
“I’ve had people pounding on the door to get a taste of my cupcakes, but the car and the screeching brakes are a nice touch. Everybody in town is going to wonder what is going on. So thanks for the free publicity.”
“Ever done weddings?” asked Brad. After a very brief explanation Kendra escorted Brad and Milly to her apartment. They climbed up a long flight of stairs before they reached the landing. During which time Kendra asked Brad about his height. Kendra explained the building was built in the early twentieth century and that the ceiling in “Casa Foster”, as Kendra called it, was a “wee bit low for a monster of your size”. Kendra and Milly breezed through the doorway like nothing was amiss. Brad, on the other hand, had to crouch a bit. Even though he was only six feet tall the doorway was made for people five foot five inches.
“Alright before we get down to brass tacks I have to ask whose driving?”
Milly put up her hand.
“OK, I won’t be offering you anything to drink except Coca-Cola, diet, and the Strathpeffer version of it which is simply hair-raising,” Milly asked for some mineral water.
“And you Dr. Foster. You look like a man who favors Gin. Am I right?” Milly started shaking her head. “I’ll have a Scotch if you have some.”
Kendra was already reaching in the cupboard for the gin bottle when she heard Brad’s request and started to needle him a bit.
“A scotch the gentleman says. Just where do you think you are? Botswana? I’ll have you know its almost a law to have a bottle in the house.”
Milly was sitting in a comfy chair. She crossed her arms and watched Brad squirm and attempt to deal with this unexpected verbal attack. She giggled at his obvious discomfort. Just a little bit flustered at this unprovoked assault on his person Brad turned his attention to Milly.
“Laugh it up Blondie!”
When Kendra handed Brad his scotch Milly laid her cards on the table.
“We’re getting married at the end of the week at MacTaggert Castle. And we’re wondering if could cater the wedding for us. It’s going to be a small gathering. If you include yourself as a guest there are only going to be nine people. Ten if we include Dr. MacTaggerts first son.”
Kendra bit her lower lip as she pondered the question before her.
“I canna say I ever catered a wedding before but it would be nice to get my head out the oven for a while. When I started the business I always hoped I could branch out some day. Oh, I know what to do. After all, I have a degree that says I do. It’s just a big step to actually put what I’ve learned into practice. There shouldn’t be any problems getting the spirits and the Scotch. And the opportunity to start small doesn’t come around very often. Can I think about it overnight?”
“Sure. Even if you decide not to cater the wedding we still want you there as a guest. So we’re hoping to see you there in either capacity.”
Kendra responded that would certainly be at the wedding as a guest. “I’ve wanted to get a new dress for a long time now. Now I can justify the expenditure without feeling guilty. So thank you for inviting me.”
Just then Brad’s phone rang. It was the first time his phone had rung during the entire trip. It was Fergus stating that a package from Gil Whitaker had arrived at the castle and that it was marked “Important”.” Kendra asked for Brad’s phone number and promised to phone him the following day with her decision.
During the drive back to the castle Milly drove like a demon. She had a feeling the package marked “Important” contained the photos Gil had spoken of. Brad was anxious to see some ancestors in some of the photos.
“I’ve got a question, Hon. If the photos are any good should we invite Gil?”. The question carried a great deal of import to it. If Gil was having a good day there shouldn’t be any problem. But if he was having a bad day and his memory was in sad shape he could potentially ruin the wedding, and make Milly’s day a very bad day. Milly made making the decision even harder when she added “You met him and you’re a doctor. What do you think?”. Brad thought about it. The odds were fifty-fifty. Right now Gil wasn’t that bad. But dementia patients were totally unpredictable. They shouldn’t invite him because he might have a bad day. Using that logic would like not inviting someone because they might have a heart attack. After thinking about the question for some time he gave his reply.
“You know as well as I that inviting anyone to any function is always going to be a crap shoot. We’re always going to be taking a chance when we invite anyone to anything. Something you don’t want to happen could very well happen. As a doctor who’s had a lengthy talk with him may I suggest we ask the matron of the hospice how he’s doing and tell her what we’d like to do. Then we base our final decision on what she says. I don’t see how we can make our decision any easier. As for me, I’m for inviting Gil if he gets a good report from the matron. But I would like you to at least meet Gil before you make the final decision. I think you should make the final decision. After all, it’s your wedding.”
Milly knew Brad was right but didn’t appreciate the way he phrased his answer to her question.
“I know you’re right. Everything you said makes perfect sense. But somehow, and I don’t know how you did it but you did a masterful job of painting me as the bad guy. The one who wears the black hat.”
“Sorry, you feel that way. Maybe it was the way you phrased the question. You asked about the wedding. And I was brought up believing a wedding was about the bride. You asked me what I thought and I told you what I thought. I’m sorry my answer wasn’t what you expected. I’m quite certain you were unaware of it but you asked me to make a very uncomfortable decision for you. By phrasing the question the way you did you put me in a very uncomfortable position. And the only way I could answer the question was to toss it back at you. Sorry about that Kitten.”
Milly went silent and the car accelerated. Normally the drive from the town to the castle took just over fifteen minutes. As Milly silently fumed at Brad her foot accelerated the car even faster. The drive back to the castle took five minutes.
The car had barely come to a full stop when Milly bolted out the car door. Brad pulled on the parking brake Milly had forgotten. She charged in the front door with all the energy of a child on Christmas morning. Mason was going about his duties when Milly flung open the door. Her exuberance caught him by surprise and she bowled him over in her excitement to see the photographs. Mason was about forty years old, thin, and clearly not used to adults behaving like children. He very rarely spoke, and nobody could recall him ever losing his temper but in this particular circumstance, on this particular day he did. However, he lost it with restraint.
“Dr. Shine. Maybe you are used to behaving like a twelve-year-old scalawag, but I assure I in no way resemble a bowling alley. I live here and god willing will perform my duties just like my father did and his father before him. The last time I was run over with such complete disregard was when Master Jamie was ten! This may be how you behave at home but you are a guest here. I suggest you remember where you are, why you’re here and behave accordingly.”
Mason then dusted himself off and went about performing his duties. Brad was walking up the path when he heard Mason. He stood in the door frame as Mason finished chastising Milly. When he finished Brad applauded.
“What the hell are you applauding for? I’ve never been spoken to like that in my entire life!” screamed Milly.
Brad turned her around and pushed her towards the bedroom. As they entered he closed the door and locked it while Milly sat on the edge of the bed.
“Oh, I know what you want. You want to have your way with me. Sorry to disappoint you but mother nature is still doing her thing. So you’ll just have to wait…”
Brad stood with his back against the door, looking at the floor and shaking his head. He then put his hands his hands in his pockets and took a step towards the bed.
“Right now Kitten I don’t want to do anything with you. Because I know what I’m hearing really isn’t you.”
Milly stood up and undid her jeans letting them drop to the floor. As soon as her pants hit the floor she got back on the bed and spread her legs. “I know what you want and it’s killing you that you can’t have it.”
Brad looked at her face puzzled that he had never seen this side of Milly before. Milly started flashing little peeks of “her” at Brad. “Here “she” is if you’re man enough to go after her”. Brad leaned against the door, crossed his arms and looked at Milly. “I’m going to take that parcel from Gil into the library and then I’m going to take a good long look at it. As for you, I would recommend a long hot shower. Maybe the steam will clear away the bats in your attic.” After Brad stopped talking he picked up Milly’s pants and tossed them at her. Then he unlocked the door and walked down the hall. Milly stood in the doorway and watched him walk away from her. He stopped by the table in the hall just long enough to pick up the package addressed to him. He then opened the door to the library and walked in. Milly was incensed he didn’t do what she told him to do. Brad was in the library alone.
After about an hour and a half, Milly knocked on the door frame of the library.
“Can I come in Hon?”
“Have you apologized to Mason?”
“I have. I’m not sure why. I don’t remember coming back. The last thing I remember is that we were in the car. After that, I have no memory. What did I do?”
Brad was a little unsure on how to handle the question.
“I’m not quite sure how to answer your question so don’t bite my head off if I don’t get it right. Remember when we took a walk and your mom joined us?”
Milly sighed and sat in a chair. “Oh, nuts. What happened? What did I do?”
Brad told her about speeding in the Lotus and running through the front door and plowing into Mason.
“Now I know why he called me “the bowling ball from hell.” Brad started chuckling.
“After you plowed into him I steered you into the bedroom. Right now you’re Dr. Jekyll. But when you were in the bedroom you turned into Miss. Hyde. Kind of sleazy and slutty too.”
“Oh, Christmas! What did I do in there?”.
Brad told her exactly what transpired. Milly almost went green with horror, but redder with embarrassment. “I’m almost afraid to ask. Anything more?”
“I’m going to be honest as hell here. When you were flashing me with “her” I found it arousing as hell. I knew that if I didn’t leave the room I just might pounce and have my way with you. But I also knew that if I did I knew it wouldn’t be fair to you because I don’t think you were in charge of what you were doing. Everything you did and said was so out of character for you.”
Milly put her hands to her mouth and started to tear up. Brad continued.
“I think there might be some sort of hormonal imbalance. I want my wife to get a checkup when we get back. A thorough one. Blood, urine, hormone levels the works. Because if you start flashing me in a months time well-well lets just say I may not be as much of a gentleman. Plus it might be a good idea if you had a real mother-daughter chat with your mom. There may be some sort of imbalance that’s inherited.”
Milly said she was sorry for everything she said and did. But she did admit to having a fair amount of curiosity. She got out of her chair and knelt beside the chair Brad was seated in.
“OK, you said “he” got sort of aroused when I was flashing you. Is he…still…you know.”
Milly put her hand on Brad’s pants.
“He’s enormous! Doesn’t that hurt Hon?”
Brad motioned towards some of the photos. He had picked specific photos out and placed them on the table. It looked like he was playing Solitaire with some photos.
“These take my mind off of “him”. But something always reminds me of the animal inside me that really wanted to do something to you.”
Milly got up and walked over to the table where the photos were. She put her hands on her knees and bent over. Suddenly she screamed in laughter. Brad asked what was the source of the laughter. Milly picked up the photo of a man that looked very much like Brad. He was an English clergyman.
“I was hoping you wouldn’t see that one.”
Milly picked up the photo of the priest and held it close. “He’s sorta cute in an ecumenical sort of way. I just had a thought. Follow me.”
She led Brad back to the bedroom. During the walk back she picked up an old wooden chair. When they got to the bedroom she put the chair in the shower. “This way I don’t have to worry about either of us slipping or you hurting your back. You just sit down, I sit in your lap, “he’s” inside, and we’re close enough for a little vigorous tonsil hockey.”
Brad was a little hesitant. “But what about your monthly visitor?”
“It’ll supply the lubricant for both of us. You still have to wear a condom though. Interested?” asked Milly.
“Thank you, Cosmo” as Brad reached for a copy of the magazine.