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You can be my lady servant and we can be together."
"I don't think I could share you with Gilchrist," Mairi answered without hesitation. "I'm jealous of your time."
"There aren't many solutions," Cait snapped.
"We could leave Edinburgh. We could flee together to the highlands, or to the colonies."
"I have obligations and expectations. I can't run away from being a Macgregor."
Mairi wanted to argue. If Cait really cared about her, she would forget about being a Macgregor and just care about being with her. However, Mairi didn't want to spend what precious time she had with Cait fighting. She didn't want to lose a single second. The moon was sweeping across the sky and soon dawn's light would be tickling at the dark Closes. Cait would have to return to her world and leave Mairi alone in the cold bed.
Alan Wilcox was the reason they had to depend on the darkness of night to be together. They had planned meetings in the Abbey ruins and in the stables of Holyrood where they would talk and kiss and eventually began making love. When Alan Wilcox, a captain of the city guard, began following Mairi with pledges of love and pleas of marriage, their meetings became more difficult. Each thwarted tryst fueled their desire for one another and their love making took on a violent, desperate character. Talking became secondary to their need to touch and taste one another. There was nothing left to say. In the deserted cloisters, they pushed each other against the stone walls, each attempting to dominate their lust and failing miserably. Laying side-by-side, panting, sweat glistening on their bodies, they had finally discovered what could control them. Fear. Alan Wilcox's footsteps echoed across the ruins.
They had attempted to stay away from each other, but banquets at Holyrood became torture and shopping in the Lawn Market became a dangerous game of accidental brushes and stolen glances. Cait had finally followed Mairi home and now Mairi's home was the only place where they felt safe to be together. Cait came to her at least once a week, under the cover of darkness, and always left before light skulked into the Close. Dawn was creeping near, and Mairi did not want to think about Alan Wilcox or Gilchrist. She wanted to hold and be held by the person who possessed her heart.
They lay together as long as they dared. The light was gray when they embraced one last time at the door. Cait lifted the hood and disappeared down the steps in a flurry of her cloak. She quickly climbed to the top of Advocate's Close, raced across the Royal Mile where merchants were beginning to stir, and disappeared beyond Parliament House.
She thought she was clever. She thought no one spotted the cloaked figure racing through the pre-dawn light. She didn't know that another shape followed close behind, keeping just a few steps away until she reached the gates of the Macgregor home.
~ * ~
The Lawn Market was bustling with people as Caitriona Macgregor moved from stall to stall, filling the basket draped over her arm with vegetables and flowers. Her eyes glanced furtively toward the small woman a few stalls away. Casually, Cait moved to the herb vendor. She leaned over the auburn-haired girl, reaching for a stalk of parsley. Her breast brushed against the woman's shoulder, their fingers innocently grazing against each other. The woman felt Cait's breath against her cheek. She turned her head, her eyes lingering on Cait's lips before shifting to her dark green orbs. Cait smiled and pulled back, walking away without speaking a word.
Mairi's eyes followed Cait as she moved away. She watched the tall woman's hips sway as longing surged through her veins. Mairi grinned, watching as Cait stopped at a stand selling fabric. Mairi made her way to the same table, standing near her lover. "Vixen," she whispered.
Cait was fingering a delicate blue fabric.