Chapter 19 – Summons From A Far

After everything had settled down Kendra went home to her apartment. That left Jessica and Milly in the store. Mrs. Carter wasn’t quite used to the level of emotion she saw today and looked forward to the remainder of the day being rather quiet. Milly and Jessica chose to recount the events of the day over coffee and a single donut while they waited for Brad to pick them up in the Lotus Europa.

Jessica was the first to speak.

“Can I say something Milly?” she asked.

“Sure you can. I want you to feel you can say anything” she reached out and touch her hand.

“When we first met I didn’t think much of you. I thought you were simply a woman who wanted a free trip to Scotland. I thought you were leading Brad on to get that free ticket. But I’ve come to realize I was completely wrong about you. What you went through this morning with your mother today that took courage. Most Scots probably would have clocked your mother for what she said. We’re not exactly known for our patients. I’m afraid our temper precedes our reputations. And if you have red hair you’re scarred for life. Being Ginger means you have a temper which people will want to see. But you’re different. You have a temper. I know that for sure. But somehow you’ve figured out how to keep it under control. And I wish you could teach me your secret. I suspect you’ve seen my temper. And I don’t like it. Ever since Jamie and I got engaged we’ve had some fearsome fights and I want them to stop. I don’t want our children to inherit what I have -”

“Are you saying-” interrupted Milly.

“No, I’m not. I just don’t want our children to go through the foolishness I had to go through when I was younger. What is your secret?”

Suddenly Milly looked like she had just sprinted one hundred meters.

“Thank you for saying what you just did. When I was just a kid in grade school I was teased mercilessly by a kid who had red hair. He thought it was funny I had a speech impediment. One day he pushed my buttons one too many times. I started swinging till I put the little stinker in a coma. After he came to if he saw me walking down the street he would always move to the opposite side of the street. When I was in my teens I took up boxing. I know it’s not very “Ladylike” but it’s a lot better than putting someone in the hospital and getting a criminal record. You see my dad took me to the hospital when that crumby little stinker was recovering. He managed to see his medical chart to find out exactly what tests he had. And I had every test that horrible little stinker had. And they were not fun at all. And I learned that wailing away on somebodies face was not the answer. When I was on my own and at college, I learned sex was a great way to get rid of my frustrations. Boxing helped as well when some guy tried to get in my pants for his own jollies. But if I channeled my anger into something that’s a lot more pleasurable it can really be great. Brad and I have had great fights. But the “make-up” sex is always a thousand times better. Let’s say you and Jamie just had one helluva fight. Make him pay for it by giving you the best roll in the hay you’ve had in weeks. He’ll think it’s all him but I can show you some abdominal exercises that will milk him silly and make you feel great.”

Brad and the Lotus soon arrived outside Strathpeffer Bridal. Milly waved to Brad to signal to him that they saw him and would soon be with him. When they got to the car Milly grabbed the door handle. Jessica got in the back seat while she took the front passenger seat. After Milly closed the door Brad looked in the rear view mirror.

“Where to ladies?” asked Brad with a bit of smirk on his face.

“To the castle Jeeves and floor it” Milly commanded.

“You have him really well trained. He comes when he’s called” whispered a very surprised Jessica.

“Did my dad fill you in on what happened?” asked Milly.

“He most certainly did. When Jessica phoned saying there was trouble I can honestly can I have never seen a man of his age move so quickly. I’m tempted to start calling him and Fergus the dynamic duo. But something tells me he wouldn’t appreciate my particular brand of humor. But one thing is very apparent. He really loves your mom. Speaking of your mom she’s hiding in their bedroom ashamed to show her face. She’s been crying ever since Tyler and Fergus came and got her.”

Jessica then asked the question that was already in Milly’s mind.

“As a doctor, Dr. Foster do think Milly should say something tonight or should she wait till tomorrow?”

Milly reached behind her seat and held Jessica’s hand with her left hand. She held on to Brad’s leg with her right hand. Milly discovered Jessica was just as nervous as she was. The entire episode had caused her to tremble.

“My gut feeling is to say something as soon as we get to the castle. I really didn’t understand the grief you women have to go through simply because your biology is different. Since the HRT is going through her brain there’s no way to tell what it’s doing to her memory. Tomorrow she might not even remember what happened. Now Jessica, may I make a request of you?”

Jessica leaned closer to Brad’s seat.

“Yes sir”

“Will you please, please, please stop calling me Dr. Foster. My name is Brad. Please start using it. Every time you call me Dr. Foster it makes me think I should be in a rocking chair and playing with my dentures. I’m only about ten years older than you. Think of me as an older brother with a strange accent. And if you dare say “yes sir” one more time I’m going to park the car and you’re going to walk back. Jamie can call me by my first name. I’ve heard him do it. You’ve got me halfway to the old folks home already. Call me Brad. Please”

Jessica got back at Brad in true Jessica fashion.

“OK, Brad. I’ll try. Yes, sir, I’ll try.”

“Oh, nuts.” Brad drove the Lotus off the road, slowed down, and parked. He then got out of the car. He walked about fifty feet away from the car, raised his chin to the sky and shrieked “Argh!”. Milly and Jessica started laughing. When Brad got back in the car he quickly found two arms hugging him from behind.

“If it means that much to you I’ll try. I think I see what Milly sees in you. Thank you for making us laugh. We really needed it” said Jessica.

******

After Brad shrieked he got back in the car and drove for another five minutes. He drove Jessica to her ancestral home. It looked more like a manor house but it was over three hundred years old. As she got out Milly thanked her for being with her today.

“Thanks for being here today. And thanks for calling my father.”

“T’was nothing. I was just doing my job. And that’s to keep the bride out of trouble. Give your mum my best and I hope she feels better soon.” Jessica closed the car door and went inside the McCloud family home.

Milly put her head on Brad’s shoulder.

“I need to talk to you, Hon. I don’t know what to do or what to say to my mother. Getting married should be a happy occasion. But thanks to that damn HRT therapy it’s turned my wedding into a nightmare. First mom intrudes on a very pleasant walk. Then she gooses us both and bitches about the lack of grandchildren. Then she goes all holier than thou on me and asks me if I’m a virgin. You know I’m not. Does it matter to you that I’m not?” cried Milly

“I don’t care at all. I’d be lying if I said I’m not disappointed I’m not the first male to visit the land down there.” Brad poked her in the tummy and continued. “But I also know being a virgin doesn’t carry anywhere near as much importance as it did fifty or sixty years ago. I still love you as much knowing I’m not your first. In a way I sort of glad I’m not your first. This way we don’t have to worry that I might cause you pain when we have sex during the wedding night. And if asked myself the hymen is I’d have to say that it’s nothing but a tough piece of skin. What does it do? The answer I think is not very much. So in the grand scheme of things I really don’t care I’m not your first. I’m just glad I’m just glad I’m the guy who gets to stay. As for the question about what to say to your your mom you should just say that you know it really wasn’t your mom, that it was the HRT talking, and you still love her. What happened is now old news, and that you’re looking forward to her giving you away. You might want to ask her to help you in the move. But you might want to wait on that till you hear what she says. In short I really can’t help you with this. It’s all up to you Kitten.”

“Thank you for suggesting things to say. This whole episode has put my mind in a state of shock. I may not be a virgin but you are most certainly you’re the guy who gets to stay and I want in my life. I intend to give you a real work out tonight. Slow, sweaty, clutch the sheets sex. And I’ve been exercising my Kegel muscles. If you thought I a grip before you’re in for a real surprise.”

As Brad was driving the Lotus into its parking spot Milly became visibly nervous. As she went in through the front door she looked over her shoulder at Brad with fear.

“Stick around Hon. I may need you real quick.”

As he stood in the doorway he noticed a box from Strathpeffer Bridal on the hall table. He wondered if he could take a peek at the dress. After a disapproving look from Tyler, he decided against the idea. The idea of not seeing the dress before the wedding day was just so much hokum. But the superstition meant a lot to Milly so he decided against it. Tyler, with a pipe in his mouth, leaned against the door frame separating hall from the library. Tyler very slowly shook his head when Brad got close to the box.

“Very wise decision son. If it’s of any consolation I wanted to peek too. After all, I’m paying for the damn thing and I just want to make sure my daughter wasn’t taken to the proverbial cleaners. But if Milly found out either of us peeked we wouldn’t hear the end of it. As a reward, I’ll get you a Scotch. There’s a note attached but it’s facing the floor. If I move that damn box even one inch just to read it Milly will know. Damned if I can figure out how she will know, but she will. Tilly’s got the same ability too.” said Tyler.

“I think I may be able to help,” said Brad

“Son, if you can do that I’ll make yours a double.”

All of a sudden Brad did a handstand in the middle of the hall. He waddled over the table where the box was and when he was beside the note he raised his head.

“The note reads “The first buyer. Fifty percent discount- Carter.””

“Jesus. I didn’t know you could do that. Just seeing you upside down makes me woozy. I think I’ll have a double as well. Is Milly going to see her mother?”

Brad, still upside down, turned towards the hall.

“She’s standing outside the bedroom door. She looks beautiful even upside down.”

“I’ll take your word for it. Will you please stand up properly before I lose my lunch?”

“OK, Tyler. Oh-O, Milly’s going in.”

Milly was standing outside the bedroom. All of a sudden she heard it being unlocked. She looked at Brad who was right side up again and pointed towards the door and that she was going in. Brad nodded that he understood.

“Mom. I’m coming in now. OK?” She entered the room slowly. Her mother was sitting on the edge of the bed. Milly sat on the floor and put her head in her mother’s lap.

Tilly was the first to speak

“I don’t know how you can stand to be in the same room with me. I’ve been looking forward to this day all my life. Every mother wants to help her daughter pick out her wedding dress and I ruined what should have been a happy joyous experience for you.”

Milly sat her mothers’ feet and looked into her watery moist eyes.

“OK, the experience didn’t exactly go according to plan. But the person speaking and asking those questions wasn’t my mother. That person was on a drug cocktail that just doesn’t agree with her. I love you and nothing, absolutely nothing is going to change that or ever could. I can’t pin it down exactly but it was you said that made me choose the dress. I think you’ll like it. You know the Robin Hood film you like so much? It’s very much like the dress in that film. I don’t know if Fergus told you but Brad and I are going to be working here in less than a year. And I’m going to need some help with the move. Do you think you’d be interested? When Brad and I come back from our honeymoon I want you to get the right treatment. And I’m going to make sure you get it. So dry those eyes. There are a lot of people on the other side of that bedroom door who are concerned, want only the best for you, and a few who actually love you. So let’s put raccoon eyes away and rejoin the human race.”

Tilly held her daughters’ hands and looked into her equally moist eyes.

“Do you really want a crazy old woman whose way past her prime to help you both move? You might be getting a great big headache?”

“Tilly Shine. You are not old, and you most certainly are not crazy. I want my mother to help me in the biggest move I’ve ever made.”

As Tilly rose from the bed she brought Milly up from the floor.

“You’re sure. I might go screwy again?”

“Positive. I want my mommy.”

*****

Tilly hugged her daughter and started dabbing her eyes. “I love you, Milly. I’ll be out in a few minutes. Just let me put myself back together.”

Milly left the bedroom and walked towards her father. She raised her arms and showed that her fingers were crossed. A couple of minutes later the bedroom door opened and Tilly came out. Tyler hugged and kissed his wife. “I think you can thank our daughter for me being here.” Fergus, Tyler, Mason, Jamie, and Brad started applauding Tilly and Milly.

With Tilly now back in the land of the living Brad announced that he and Milly must depart to Bosworth Market to attend to some “legal matters.” Milly took him aside.

“What do you mean we have to leave. I haven’t packed yet. There are a million things I’ve still yet to do Hon.”

“I packed for you. Everything you’re going to need tonight is already packed plus a clean change of clothes for dinner tonight, and another change for tomorrow. Our bags are already in the car. Our room at Bosworth Hall awaits us as does the tub from heaven.”

Milly looked at Brad with skepticism.

“I refuse to believe you got everything. No man can pack for a woman and do it properly. Mind terribly if I check.”

Milly went out to the Lotus and opened up the trunk. Both suitcases were there. Milly reached for her suitcase and found it suspiciously light. Yet when she unzipped it she found everything she would need. A complete change of clothes for tonight and a certain “purple number”. There was another complete change of clothes for tomorrow when they hoped to see Gil. Since they would be back tomorrow night there was no need to pack anything else. Milly was dumbfounded and flummoxed. Brad had done the impossible. Even though she would be a married woman in just two days she still found it mildly unnerving that a man, any man, could pack as well as her. He had even added little notes that separated the clothes and told you exactly when they would be worn. There was “post tub/dinner clothes”, “pounce time – bed”, and “clothes to see Gil in”. She zipped up her suitcase and placed it back in inside the trunk. Still, something wasn’t quite right. She couldn’t put her finger on it, just that something was off. She didn’t believe that someone could know anybody else quite so well or so quickly. When her dad packed there was always something that was screwed up and he’s been married longer than she’s been alive. She vowed to figure out what it was – eventually. Content with what she saw she walked back to the house. She poked her head inside the door and looked at Brad.

“OK, Schweitzer you pass. I’m not quite how you did it but you did it. Now, lets hit the road.”

As they walked to the car something gnawed at Milly. He did it and he did it really well. But something was missing. But try as she might she couldn’t figure out what was missing.

“Do you want to drive or shall I?” asked Brad

“Can you drive Hon? I’m too pooped to drive” replied Milly who looked she needed a good snooze. Brad held the door for Milly who oozed into her seat. Brad closed her door then went around the rear of the car and over to the driver’s side. After he got in Milly sort of toppled over onto Brad’s shoulder. “Mind if I snooze Hon?” Brad reached over and held her hand. “I don’t mind a bit Kitten. All the dramatics with Herman, the dress, then your mom would tire anybody out.” Milly leaned into Brad’s shoulder but with the road twisting this way and that she couldn’t sleep.

Brad had only heard Milly swear only once or twice before so nothing prepared him for what he was about to hear.

“I need a really good fuck!”

Surprised beyond belief Brad drove to the side of the road and stopped.

“Excuse me?”

“You heard me. When we get to the hall and check in I want to screw me as you have never screwed me before.” Brad started blushing not quite sure what to say.

“Why are you blushing. Is my blouse undone?” Brad started stammering.

“Nothings wrong. I’ve just surprised that’s all. In the entire time I’ve known you have never described things…oh hell…quite so graphically before. You’ve always described your desires more romantically. Instead of saying what you just did you usually say something like “the last time we made love” or “the last time we had sex”. And to be honest I kind of prefer it that way too Kitten.”

Milly started giggling. “Are you saying I embarrassed you?”

Brad thought about his reply then told her.

“Some people swear and you know exactly what they mean. You also know that it’s hard for some people to express themselves any other way. But I know you are more than capable of expressing your wants and or desires in a much more mature manner that’s far more pleasing to the ear. When we have kids would you want them going about the house saying fuck this or fuck that?”

“Of course not Hon. I know our children will learn to swear without any help from us. I want them to talk like the educated children I know they will be and I don’t want them to swear inside the house. I’m sorry this upset you so. I just wanted to tell you exactly what I wanted in a way where there could be no confusion. I need it. I need “him”. I need to feel “him” inside me. Is that better Hon?”

“That is soooo much better. Some people were born to swear. And some weren’t. You weren’t Kitten. Would you want me to start using that four lettered word that begins with “C”?”

“You start saying that word and I’ll box your ears. It’s crude, rude, disgusting, and demeaning to women. Besides, I really can’t picture you saying it. You’ve found a way to talk about her that isn’t gross, rude, or crude. And I think it’s kind of cute whenever you say “her”, “she” or “she’s”. The first time you said it you kind of looked like as if you were wondering if I was going to slap you. But you went out of your way to find a way to talk about her in a way that wasn’t offensive to me. And I really appreciated that. And you still blush a bit when you talk about “her”.”

Brad put his hand between Milly’s legs and cupped her crotch.

“Even though you’re not talking about her you’re still blushing a bit. Like what you’re doing is naughty. If I was standing in front of you and you did what you’re doing right now I wouldn’t mind a bit.”

Brad leaned over the transmission hump and slowly undid Milly’s zipper.

“And when you do that I don’t mind either. Now if you get my engine going you better be prepared to stand and deliver the goods. I want “him” and I want you on top of me. Now floor it before I figure a way to jump your bones here in the car.”

Milly was quiet for a while.

“I just realized something. Tonight’s going to be the last time I’m going to have sex as a single woman. The next time we’ll be married.”

“Don’t worry Kitten. I’ll try to make it memorable and still get it into your scrapbook of memories.”

Milly looked like she was dreaming. “I like how you think. Not dirty but just enough grime to make things interesting.”

Chapter 18 – Summons From A Far

The following morning Milly and Brad awoke with a start. Someone was pounding on their bedroom door. Milly was the furthest away from the door so it fell to Brad to answer the door.

“See who it is Hon. I’m too busy studying the inside of my eyelids,” said Milly.

As Brad opened the door a few inches he saw Fergus, remembered about Herman, and the promise to demonstrate the Foster Knot.

“C’mon you two. Let’s go see Herman. Anybody want a ride in my new Jaguar?”

This was something a car enthusiast like Brad couldn’t resist. Jaguars were few and far between back home mostly because they were manufactured in the United Kingdom, and any replacement parts had to come from the UK.

Milly was still on her side and faced away from the light streaming in from the hall. Unknowingly she made things a little difficult for Brad when she reached for the clock on her side of the bed and discovered it was only 6:15 AM.

“Tell whoever it is to buzz off and that we gave at the office. Come back to bed. I want you to warm me up.”

It was obvious to Fergus that Brad had just woken up, and Milly, who was nowhere to be seen, was probably still in bed.

“Give us ten minutes Fergus. I assure you we’ll both be ready in ten minutes.”

Brad gently slapped Milly’s rear end, something he knew Milly would not appreciate. “Get up Kitten. This what we came to Scotland for. We’re going to fix Herman.”

As Milly sat up most of her hair fell in her face.

“Who the hell is Herman and why did you slap my rear end?”

“Sorry about that Kitten. It was the only way to get you to sit up. Herman is a medical assistive device. We’re going to show off the Foster knot today.”

Milly got out of bed and pulled the shades back.

“See anything outside the window. No? I’ll tell you why. It’s DARK outside. See the clock. It’s 6:15 in the friggin’ morning. Those two things should tell you something. It’s still Night!. And at night I sleep. I don’t do early morning house calls and you should already know that.”

Milly wasn’t wearing any clothing at all. Brad tossed her robe at her.

“Put something on. Somebody outside might see you. Stop prancing in front of the window. And for heaven’s sake get dressed. Fergus is waiting!”

“I’ll have you know I have never “pranced” in my entire life. Who is this Fergus fellow? I thought we were doing something for somebody named Herman?”

Brad started growling. He looked upwards and said, “Why me Lord?”. He darted into the bathroom for a quick shave. He decided to brush his teeth as well. Milly sat on the edge of the bed in her robe. She looked at Brad and marveled as he shaved with one hand and brushed his teeth with the other. She ran her tongue along the inside of her mouth and didn’t care for the taste. She went into the bathroom and put some mouthwash in her mouth. As Brad bent over to spit in the sink Milly spit the mouthwash out. And covered the back of Brad’s head in mouthwash. Milly’s eyes became as big as saucers and she covered her mouth with her hand when she realized what she had done. As she toweled off the back of Brad’s head he made a suggestion.

“To avoid this happening ever again I’d like to suggest getting two sinks in the master bathroom. Now let’s hustle Kitten!”

******

As Fergus drove the short distance to the hospital he sniffed the air in the car. “Does anybody else smell Scope in my car”. Milly looked at Brad and Brad at Milly. Without warning, Brad offered a possible reason. “Maybe it’s a new air freshening system.”

******

Since Herman was non-human there was no need to scrub vigorously or put on surgical scrubs. But Herman was programmed to be sensitive to touch and temperature. And was more than able to say something that might put the surgeon off his or her game. When Brad put his hands inside Herman his touch sensors registered something new. “Looks like we have a lefty folks. Watch out for this guy. He’s new around here. Oh, that knot feels strong.” When it came Milly’s turn to demonstrate the knot she provided a small commentary. “When you’re tying the artery be sure to use a surgeons knot first then put an ordinary reef knot right on top of it.” All of a sudden Herman spoke up. “Oh, you have such tiny fingers. I suspect you’re new here too. You can dance through my insides anytime.” Herman now became aroused at Milly’s delicate touch. Milly was ready with a verbal response nobody expected. “Herman you’re a typical male. How would you like it if I did this knot around both your cogs?”. Herman suddenly became silent. After the faux operation was completed the videotape was checked and the recording of the Foster Knot demonstration was digitized and sent to every doctor and nurse in the hospital. As Milly was taking her gloves off she said her goodbyes stating she had yet to choose a wedding dress.

******

The plan was for Milly to arrive at the bridal store, Strathpeffer Bridal, before her mom and Jessica. Kendra was supposed to arrive shortly after Milly’s arrival since her duties at the bakery were almost over. But dealing with Herman and the hospital took longer than she had anticipated. She quietly departed while Brad basked in the glow of unexpected attention and adulation from the immediate medical community. Just before she departed Fergus let it slip that the cottage she and Fergus had discussed could be rezoned and retrofitted. She decided not to tell Brad, and to let him have his fifteen minutes of fame. Milly walked from the hospital to Strathpeffer Bridal. When she arrived she found that her mother and Jessica had already arrived. As Milly approached the store Kendra called out and soon joined her.

“I’ll do it,” said Kendra

“Do what?” asked Milly

“I’ll cater the wedding. I meant to phone Brad but I wanted to tell you first” added Kendra.

“Oh thank you. I know we should have talked about this but I need to know how much this is going is going to cost us?” asked Milly as she hugged Kendra.

“You know. I shouldn’t say this as a businesswoman or as a Scot, but I haven’t the slightest clue what the cost will be. But since there are only ten or so guests why don’t you pay me what you think it’s worth. That’ll be my wedding gift to you and Brad. I rarely, if ever say this to a client, but I wish you two could be my neighbors.”

Milly told Kendra about Brad thinking about moving to Strathpeffer, the estate agent next door to her, and about Foster Cottage. All of a sudden Brad appeared. Milly told him that Fergus said the cottage could be refurbished. Brad added one detail that Milly didn’t know about.

“He also said that refurbishing the cottage and retrofitting the cottage with everything we’d need would take almost a year Kitten. But he did talk to the dragon lady. In one years time, our new employer will be Fergus. Same rate of pay just a new employer. In short, we’ve been traded!”

Milly hugged Brad so hard his back felt a twinge. Then she asked him to translate everything he had just said.

Brad held Milly by both shoulders and smiled.

“The dragon lady just sold our contracts to Highland Central effective June 30 at 11:59 PM next year. As of July 1, our new employer will be Fergus! So you get a husband, a cottage we can help design, new boss, new neighbors, and a new country” said Brad smiling from ear to ear.

All of a sudden Kendra hugged the pair. “I’m so happy for both of you.”

“I guess you’re getting two new neighbors and two more relatives, Kendra,” said Milly with a wide, wide smile.

Kendra started smiling and the smile got bigger and bigger. “Don’t be so sure. Some nights here get pretty cold and pretty dark.”

“What you talking about Kendra?” asked Milly who was now thoroughly lost.

“Let me try and put this in terms you’ll understand. What usually happens when there’s power outage in your country?”

Then Milly’s smile widened as she realized what Kendra was talking about.

“You’re being bad Kendra Foster!” Milly covered Brad’s ears. “Imagine saying such a thing in front of this healthy young male.”

“I’m just saying that at certain times 1 + 1 does not always equal two and things can happen rather…unexpectantly,” said Kendra.

Brad roared with laughter.

“We’ve already talked about that. We don’t plan to add to the Foster population for a couple of years,” said Brad.

Kendra then pointed two fingers in their direction. One pointed at Milly and the other pointed rather pointedly at Brad.

“All I’m tryin’ ta say Dr. Foster is that frequently the plans of what you want to have happen have a habit of going poof, and what actually happens can be quite different from what you had originally planned.” When Kendra finished she laughed and entered the store.

Milly stared at her, her mouth agape, her hands on her hips.

Brad put his hands on Milly’s shoulders then gently turned her head towards his.

“She can be kind of spooky at times, and this is definitely one of those times” indicating Kendra with his thumb. “I wonder if she’s had any experience with babies?”

Milly put her finger under Brad’s jaw and brought his face closer to hers.

“Just what are you saying, Brad Foster?”

Brad leaned toward the side of Milly’s head and quietly whispered what he was thinking. Milly put both arms around his waist and looked into his eyes. “Maybe we can talk about this some more. But back to more pressing matters. Gil. Today or tomorrow?”

“You deal with the dress first. And after that, we drive to Bosworth Market. Specifically Bosworth Hall. Where you have a date with a tub I know you adore. I suggest we go to the hospice in the morning. Gil will be more chipper then. If we see Hamish we can find out if he’s willing to bury the hatchet and come to the wedding. Do you remember that sexy purple number-”

“I forgot to tell you. Mother Natures finished with me for this month. So get a good supply. I’m going to put you through your paces tomorrow. And just in case Kendra is right, make sure they’re silky smooth but super strong. The purple number makes its debut tonight! Now scoot. I’m not going to try on one single dress with you here. Go play in the traffic or build a better mousetrap. Now shoo!”

As Brad departed and Milly entered the store she saw Jessica and Kendra prowling through prospective wedding dresses. Her mother, Tilly, stood between Milly and her friends. Her expression told Milly a number of things. That she wanted to talk to her daughter, the matter was of great importance, and that it was D-E-O meaning daughters ears only. Milly went to the back of the store where Jessica and Kendra were and talked to them.

“I think my mother wants to say something to me. Probably about the wedding night. Can you give us a little privacy, please? It’s not inclement weather and it’s not cold. I really appreciate you being here and doing what you’re doing but could you wait outside for a short bit.” asked Milly

Jessica replied for herself and Kendra. “Take all the time you need. We understand. We’ll be outside if you need us.” The two got their coats and went to the front of the store. They exited the store via the doors at the front. When they closed Milly turned and faced her mother.

“What color do you plan to wear?” asked Tilly in a sharp almost biting tone.

“White of course. But if this is one of those pre-wedding talks mothers give their daughters about the wedding night I should remind you I’m a doctor and I know what to expect.”

“Are you pure?” she asked almost choking on the words.

“What do you mean by asking “Am I pure?”. What are you getting at mother?” asked Milly who was now scratching the side of her head.

“I think the world of Brad, you know I do. I’m sorry but I have to ask. Have you two been together?”

“Is that blasted HRT Therapy acting up because doesn’t this doesn’t sound like you at all. I’m a grown woman and your questions are becoming uncomfortably personal.” Milly’s frustration was starting to show.

“Have you and Brad been intimate? When a woman gives herself to a man in this manner it’s the most special kind of communication there can possibly be. Are you still a virgin? In my day when you got married, you had to be a virgin. Is Brad expecting his wife to be a virgin?”

Milly started to pace the store width. And the more she paced the angrier she got.

“It’s none of your damn business if I’m a virgin! For your information, Brad doesn’t care if I am or not. This the 21st century! People just don’t care about that anymore. And for your information when you got married it was the seventies and people cared even less then they do today. Were you a virgin mother?”

“We’re not talking about me. We’re talking about you. I-.”

Jessica and Kendra could hear raised voices and see Milly gesticulating this way and that. But one thing was clear. Milly was shocked and extremely upset. Jessica got worried about Milly when she started to turn red. She looked at Kendra and pulled out her phone.

“I canna take this anymore. They’re about to come to blows. I’m calling Dr. Shine to come and collect his wife.”

“What are you going to say” asked Kendra

“That things are not at all well and unless he wants to be a widower he better come double quick because Milly is about to murder his wife.”

Within minutes Tyler appeared on the scene. He asked that Jessica and Kendra corner Milly in the store while he got his wife out of there before she had her head handed to her. Fergus acted as the getaway driver and was most concerned. When Fergus ushered Tilly away Tyler went into the store to find out what was going on. Tyler asked very calmly what questions Tilly had asked. He also made an emphatic plea that he didn’t want to know the answers. He agreed with his daughter. The questions were none of her business. He too thought her behavior was way out of character and possibly HRT related. When Jessica and Kendra entered the store they asked Milly what was going on. Both were thunderstruck and dumbfounded. Jessica was furious. “If my mother had asked those questions of me I’d be furious.” When Milly calmed down the owner of the store approached her.

“I’m not used to speaking English. And there are some phrases that I’m not familiar with. A phrase your father said is one of them. Just before he left he said, “anything goes”. Do you have any idea what he meant?”

Milly thought for a while then gave her reply.

“That was my father’s way of saying he’ll pay for anything and everything despite what my mother may have said. And I’m still his little girl.”

“What do you plan to do about photos, flowers, and your make-up?” asked Jessica.

Those items that had completely slipped Milly’s mind. The woman who owned the store, Mrs. Carter, offered a solution.

“Strathpeffer Florist has joined forces with a photographer. He normally works out of Bosworth Hall but I’ll give Hamish a call and see if he’s available.”

Milly crossed her fingers and had a consultation with Jessica and Kendra.

“If this is the fellow I hope it is it may be Fergus’s son. Brad and I wanted to invite him to get Fergus and Hamish together again.”

“If it is you’ve pulled off a major coup. My Jamie hasn’t seen his brother in ten years” said Jessica

Milly laughed. Jessica mispronounced the word coup.

“The word is pronounced “coo”. You only pronounce the “p” when you’re talking about a car.”

“What do you plan to do about your makeup?” asked Kendra.

Again Mrs. Carter saved the day. “Our make-up artist will come to the venue and do the bride, the brides mother, and all your bridesmaids.”

Just then Hamish texted that he was available. “He’s asking about the venue,” said Mrs. Carter.

“May I” pointing at the small keyboard.

Milly texted Hamish.

Dear Hamish,

Fergus MacTaggert is allowing my fiancée and I to get married in his

home. My name is Dr. Milly Shine. You met Dr. Brad Foster at Bosworth

Hall when he wanted to propose to me.

There was a pause while Hamish composed his reply. Finally, his answer came.

My father…is he mellowing?

Milly answered enthusiastically.

He has mellowed a lot. You’ll see a real difference.

Still another pause. Only shorter.

I’ll be there. I have to see the woman a man would wear a kilt for.

Milly texted thank you and the time 1: PM.

Milly explained to Kendra that Brad proposed wearing a kilt. Jessica added that she almost ruined the engagement.  She asked Mrs. Carter if she had a dress that reflected the Celtic theme of the wedding. She said that a dress had just come on the market that just might work. Milly took a look in a catalog and announced she had found her dress. Mrs. Carter promised to have the dress ready for delivery that very evening.

cc9edc552837ce3372e16b75531d7fa3--witch-wedding-fantasy-wedding

Chapter 16 – Summons From A Far

When Milly came down the stairs she returned to the table. She whispered to Brad she had just delivered the message and that Druk was madder than a wet hen.

Fergus leaned back and looked at Milly. “Has that man of yours told yours you look gorgeous today?”

Milly blushed a bit, looked at Fergus and grasped Brad’s hand.

“Brad and I were talking last night,” said Milly somewhat nervously.

“Well, I’m glad to hear the English language is still alive and kickin’. But I suspect you’re about to ask me something” said Fergus.

Milly looked at her mother and father and felt a chill go up and down her back.

“As I said Brad and were talking last night. A lot. And the upshot is we would dearly love to be married here. In  your castle. At the end of the week before mom and dad go home. Everyone we would want at the wedding is either already here, close by, or could be here on short notice. Mother and daddy could give me away, I’d want Jessica as my bridesmaid, Brad wants Jamie to be his best man, and most importantly we both want Dr. Macbeth here. Mostly because without you and her we wouldn’t be here at all.”

Fergus scratched his chin and asked Tyler if she was always so eloquent and gorgeous.

“My daughter Milly has always been gorgeous. Just as gorgeous as her mother. Eloquent? Well, that’s a different matter. In her teenage years, it was more “I want this or I want that”. But in her twenties whenever she wanted something it was always “Mother dear…” or “Daddy dear…” This civilized eloquence would seem to be a relatively recent development. But as her father, I can only suggest you give your consent to her request or you’ll never hear the end of the matter.”

Milly couldn’t take the suspense or the character assassination any further.

“Daddy. You’re embarrassing me!”

Her father leaned on the breakfast table and addressed his daughter. “And that, my darling Milly, is one the prerogatives of being a parent. And as one of your parents, I’m allowed to embarrass you. As is your mother. Nobody else is. Just the two of us. It’s something I suspect you’ll excel at. As will Brad.”

Tyler turned his head slightly and addressed Brad.

“And Brad, if you want a little coaching on this subject I humbly volunteer my services.” Tyler turned his head towards Milly. “Milly, my dear I suggest you consult your mother. There are some things best-said man to man and woman to woman.”

But right now Milly gazed at Fergus. His silence started to make Milly crack. She put her hand on top of his. “Please?” She looked into his eyes with two moist eyes.

All of a sudden he pushed his chair back.

“Och, I canna stand all this sentimentality. I’ll give ya ma answer when you least expect it. Ask me agin and the answer will be no!”

With no warning, Milly rose from the table and ran to the bedroom crying. Fergus watched Milly run to her bedroom and heard sobbing.

Tyler and Tilly glared at Fergus with fury and anger. He had overstepped his role as host. Tyler lost his temper and started yelling at Fergus.

“I don’t have a clue what you thought you were doing just now, but if you don’t apologize to my daughter this instant Dr. Macbeth is going to have company on the plane home.” yelled an enraged Tyler. Tilly stood up for her daughter as well.

“I thought we were friends. If you don’t do something right now you can consider our friendship at an end. You seem to think you can bully people to your way of thinking. Well, guess what…you can’t! If you value our friendship at all you’ll get off your high horse and apologize.”

Fergus considered what he had said and what was being said to him. He didn’t like anyone telling him what to do in his own house, but in this case, he was clearly in the wrong. And outnumbered.

“I think I may have overplayed ma cards a wee bit. I think I better tend to this right now.”

He walked down the hall to the guest rooms. And he heard her crying into a pillow. He knocked on the door and to his surprise, Milly opened the door.

“May I come in? I’ve come to apologize. Only once before has a woman’s tears caused me to apologize or change my mind.”

“That must have been your wife. She must have a very understanding and patient woman.”

Milly sat on the edge of the bed while Fergus grabbed a chair and put it close to her.

In hushed tones, Fergus talked to Milly like a father. “What I’m about to say must stay between you and me for the remainder of time. You mustn’t tell anyone ever, not even Brad.”

Milly nodded, not quite sure what sure what she was hearing had to do with her request.

Fergus continued.

“For a lot of my life, I’ve been pig-headed, and stubborn. My stubbornness has caused me to lose my first born son. I wanted him to stay in Strathpeffer but he wanted to leave and see the world. I’d like to ask you a personal question. Is Brad your first love?”

“I suspect you already know he is Dr. MacTaggert,” she said quietly.

“Aye, I thought he was. After my son, Hamish left my attitude towards people left me an embittered, angry old goat. My attitude destroyed my marriage. It drove my wife away. I tell Jamie his mother died because that’s what happened to our marriage. It died because we both stopped trying to understand each other. I learned too late that no one fully understands their spouse. You may think at some point you know all about Brad, and he knows all about you. In a marriage, you never stop learning about the other. As for my first love lets just say it was somebody you know very well. Somebody, you’ve known all your life.”

Milly’s eyes became as big as saucers. “Are you telling me I’m you’re daughter?!” she said excitedly.

Fergus started to chuckle. “Nothing so theatrical as that. Your mother was my first love. She met your father when he and I were in med school and fell in love with him. But she wanted to study in your country. Today at the table I could see so much of your mother in you. So much of the woman I fell in love with. It was so difficult seeing you and knowing you could have been my daughter. With your permission, I’d like to be your second father if you’ll let me. The castle is yours for the wedding.”

Milly was so happy that tears rolled down her face.

But Milly wasn’t finished with her questions. Not by a long shot.

“Are you saying mom never knew you were in love with her?”

“That’s exactly what I’m saying. I never had the courage to tell her. And please don’t ever tell her. Or your father. Ever. Now that I’m through gettin’ that off my chest am I a friend of the bride or groom?. I want a good seat. I don’t want a seat way at the back.”

“You’re definitely a friend of the bride. And you get a seat with mom and dad!”

“Could I ask you a question?” asked Fergus.

“By all means fire away” replied Milly.

“Based on everything you’ve seen since your flight, even in England, do you think you or Brad would want to stay here in Scotland of a while? The reason I ask is that Highland was willed a cottage. And the hospital is simply not in the real estate business. Right now we have no use for the place. But it could serve as your first office/surgery and a home for both of you. The hospital would supply everything you need. And we would keep in touch with you via a secure internet connection. The board of directors would probably approve of the idea if they knew two newly married doctors were available. I know you probably want to see it first before committing yourself and I don’t blame you. If you agree the cottage might even become known as Foster Cottage. The hospital is simply becoming too large, and this could be an extension of the hospital but in a more rural setting. I want you to understand this is just an idea. Nothing is carved in stone yet. Who knows…maybe you or Brad may have an idea for improving on the idea.”

“Before I give you my reply is my answer connected in any way to my getting permission for my wedding?” she asked warily of what the answer might be.

“You using the castle for your wedding does not depend on your answer regarding the cottage in any way. And if I may be so bold you asking the question makes me wonder if you aren’t a Scot in some way.”

Milly gave Fergus his answer. It was not the answer he was hoping to hear.

“Brad and I both dislike working in a city to a certain extent. Working in a small town appeals to us both. But working in a big city does have its advantages too. While the idea does have some merit the question you’re asking is of such magnitude that I would feel very uncomfortable giving you what I think might be his answer. If we were to work here for even a short period of time we’d be breaking the law. When both of us became employed at City General we signed contracts. Binding legal contracts. We can’t work for anyone else for any length of time. Those contracts would have to render null and void. Then there is the matter of closing matters such as credit cards, bank accounts, moving, and everything associated with a move this large. I have a car as does Brad. We’d have to sell those. You seem to think Foster Cottage could be whipped into shape in no time flat.  The cottage would have to be retrofitted with everything we would need before we could see one single person. I don’t know anything about building permits here in Scotland but you would have to find out if you can convert a cottage into what you want it to be. If it can be converted that’s fine. If it can’t the idea is as dead as a proverbial door-nail. I won’t mention any of this conversation to Brad till you find out if the cottage can be converted. If it can be converted to what you suggest that’s when we would want to take a look at the cottage.  Brad and I have a wedding to plan and precious little time in which to do it in. Right now I’m going to find out if Jessica will be my maid of honor.”

Fergus looked with Milly with almost fatherly pride. “Right now you look and sound so much like your mother. And you make me so very proud. I was hoping to hear something very different. But you made this old man realize he was putting the cart before the horse. And like your mother you’re wise far beyond your years. It might be a good idea if you asked Jessica now. I’ve got some apologies to make to your parents.”

Milly dried her eyes, went into the hall and knocked on Jessica’s door. She was taking a nap. Milly’s loud knocking roused a sleepy Jessica. When she came to the door her red hair was all askew. She looked tired and yawned.

“I just wanted to ask you what you’re doing at the end of the week because I’m getting married and I would like you to be my maid of honor.”

“What did you say?” said Jessica not quite sure she heard Milly correctly.

“Jessica McCloud, will you be my maid of honor?”

Jessica heard what she needed to hear and forced herself to become more awake.

“Are you sure? You’ve only known me two weeks” she asked.

“That may be true but I know all I need to know” she replied.

“Then I’d be honored Dr. Milly Shine,” said Jessica.

Milly pointed to her neck then pointed at Jessica. Milly mouthed the word “hickey” and Jessica clenched her fist. “If you should see Jamie tell him Brad’s on the prowl. He wants to ask Jamie to be his best man.”

“Thank you, Milly.” As Milly walked away from the door she heard Jessica quietly chastise Jamie. She smiled and had a spring in her step.

Fergus had just finished apologizing to Tyler and Tilly when he encountered Brad and Milly in the hall.

“I’ve apologized to Milly and her parents. And I’d like to apologize to you, Brad. Your lovely bride to be has made me realize that I better mend my ways. I want to apologize for upsetting Milly, you, and your plans. I also want to know if you two will still want to come to the hospital to show your us your life-saving knot. I’m more than sure that Herman can hardly wait.”

“Herman. Just who is Herman?” asked Brad.

“Let’s go into the library where we can sit and discuss things. With a wedding to plan things will hurry by mighty fast.”

The trio wandered into the library where Brad got his first good at the library. The walls were covered in oak paneling. The shelves were stuffed with books about medicine and astronomy. Brad asked about the books on astronomy.

“When I want to get away from the world and just relax I retreat to my observatory. I built one on the roof. Being so far north I don’t have to worry about light pollution from a big city. I don’t know if you know this but in Strathpeffer, you’re closer to Norway than you are London. You can get some gorgeous photos of the heavens from up in my little observatory.” Fergus reached for a leather bound book that contained nothing but photos he had taken and handed it to Milly. Here’s what you can see up there. When you’re up there it’s like being on an island in the middle of the ocean. Only the sky is my sea. And the stars acts as a nightlight. I can truly relax.”

Milly was more than impressed. She was speechless. Her eyes slowly grew wider and wider as she turned each page. “Have you ever thought about having any of  this published?  They’re simply beautiful!” Brad looked over Milly’s shoulder. “These are really impressive Fergus.” “Och no, I won’t publish. Astronomy is just a hobby. A retreat. Medicine is my passion and my life.

Fred-Gwynne-Life-Mask-Cast-Herman-Munster-The-_1

Which brings us back to Herman. Herman is an anatomically correct dummy you can operate on. Herman isn’t alive. But he’s programmed to behave just like a real person. And to respond just like a real person. If you want to have a general anesthetic he’ll be quiet as a mouse. If you want him to have a local he can talk your ears off. You can program him to talk to you in Scottish-Gaelic, or English. Once some med students programmed the little bugger to talk like me. Herman was made in England which is why I call him a dummy. Herman is a MAD or a Medically Assistive Device. But I call him Herman because he looks like a character from an American TV show I saw when I was a boy. The show was called The Munsters.”

******

Later that day Brad and Milly walked through the town of Strathpeffer. The town had a population of only two thousand people, far from the raging metropolis it might have been. It was a quaint Victorian town with buildings that were done in the Victorian style. Many of the original structures that weren’t made from stone were painted green. Strathpeffer was a perfect example of a town where the rumor mill outdid the local newspaper almost every day. If somebody living in the east end of the town ripped their pants trying to deal with an uncooperative sheep those living in the west end of town would almost certainly hear of it just a few hours later. Only those living in the west end would hear that somebody dealing with a crazed ram was maimed and the ram was thought to be rabid. Few facts of the original story would make it intact across town. Usually, the story was morphed and contorted into something it never was by the time it reached its final destination. A pipe band started playing every day during the summer for one hour. Strathpeffer was also a town that depended on the tourist trade. The locals had to be nice to strangers. As Milly and Brad passed near a local bakery a young woman appeared in the doorway with a tray full of free samples.

Milly discovered Brad was part bloodhound. And he had a bit of a sweet tooth. He started sniffing the air. He ran across two lanes of traffic to get to the local bakery. He bought some freshly made bread and a locally made beverage that approximated a Coca-Cola.

He tore off a hunk of bread and offered it to Milly who declined. But after a few minutes, she found the smell so tantalizing she suddenly took a bite out the hunk in Brad’s hand. “Oh Lordy, that’s so good!”

When it came time to pay the woman who ran the shop she stopped to ask them a question.

“You wouldn’t be staying at the MacTaggert estate would you?”

Brad tried answering but had stuffed too much bread in his mouth. He pointed at Milly.

“What Lord Piggy is attempting to say is that we’re both staying at MacTaggert Castle,” said Milly.

The woman behind the counter wiped her hands on her apron and came out from behind the counter. She then leaned against it. Her arms were crossed.

“Is it true Fergus is getting re-married?” she asked.

Milly started laughing. “I’m sorry. I not laughing at you. I’m laughing at my overstuffed fiancée. Fergus is not getting re-married. But we are at the end of the week. In the castle. I’m Dr. Milly Shine, and the tall overstuffed fellow at my side is Dr. Brad Foster.” Milly shook her hand then Brad, who finally swallowed enough bread, managed to say hello.

“Shine. From County Mayo in Ireland?”

“That’s what the research on my family said.”

“Then it would seem we’re about to relatives of a fashion. I’m Kendra Foster. This is certainly a coincidence. My great aunts’ name was Milly and her husbands was Brad as well.”

Brad’s eyes bugged out in total surprise. He had also swallowed enough bread to ask a question on his own.

“Then you must know of Gil Whitaker. He and I had a great chat when Milly and I stayed in Bosworth market. I recorded most of our conversation but I don’t recall him mentioning anyone named Kendra.”

“He may not have mentioned me because I was born after the bombing. How long was your chat with Gil may I ask?”

Brad paused to think. After a few seconds, he gave his reply. “I don’t recall exactly, but it felt like at least a couple hours. It was a most enjoyable conversation. I just met the guy but at the end of the talk I felt like I had known him all my life.”

Kendra went behind the counter to fill another customers order.

“That sounds uncle Gil. It’s too bad he has dementia now. But I’m glad you recorded the conversation. Maybe you could burn it onto a CD. Then you’ll have it when he’s no longer with us. Have you seen the photos?”

“You mean there really are photos? The reason I say that he wasn’t making a lot of sense at the time. I thought it was simply a fragment of a thought that had nothing to do with our talk.”

“Take a look at the photos if you can. He’s got a photo of me in there I think.”

Brad brought out some change to pay for the bread. Kendra put up her hand and started wagging her finger at Brad. “You sir get the family discount. It’s free.” When Brad insisted Kendra started talking to Milly. “Is he always so stubborn?” she asked.

“Sometimes. Sometimes not. It all depends. If it’s near dinnertime he can be really cranky. And if he’s not fed and watered on time he can be rude too.” said Milly. “Hey, are you trying to sully my good name?” asked Brad. “No hon. I’m just trying to give Kendra an honest answer.” It was then Kendra spoke up “Sure sounds like a Foster to me.”

Kendra whispered to Milly there was a bridal shop in town. “If I tell them you’re coming you may get a discount. I canna promise but I’ll see what I can do.”

Chapter 17 coming next week….