Arabel watched, barely aware of the pain as she bit her bottom lip. Lady Isobel McLaird had entered the chapel, her red locks bound back behind her veil, the richly embroidered gown complimenting her complexion. The moment Isobel caught sight of David, she threw herself into his arms. Her twin kissed her on both cheeks and whispered something. Joy resonated on her face. Arabel silently thanked God.
Sir David's face was bleak with the finality of his task of walking his sister up the aisle to become Sir James' wife. Arabel hoped he did not split his stiches, though she had bound his thigh well. Though his gait was slow, Sir David kept his word and unlinked his arm from Isobel's when he reached Sir James. “I hand you the sister I love more than my life. So help you God, take good care of her.”
Sir James’s hand tightened into a fist at the veiled insult. “She’ll know nothing but love by my side.”
Arabel heard the rumble of the clan's anger at David's words echo through the chapel.
Some of the pain left David’s face at Sir James's reply. Moving aside, he eased himself down onto a seat in the front pew beside her. The knight's jaw was clenched and his face pale as death. Beads of perspiration appeared on his temple, the pain of his effort clear. The moment the ceremony was finished she'd have the Seneschal escort him to his chamber away from her brother's men. Once the clan was high with ale, the outsider's presence would not be tolerated.
She watched as Sir James and the Lady Isobel exchanged vows What surprised her was the look of happiness in Isobel's eyes at the proclamation of her vows with Sir James. The young woman kissed and hugged Sir James, her sage-green eyes sparkling with joy as she gazed from Sir David and back to her new husband.
"So they are married," Sir David said, his voice low, edgy.
"Aye and the bride is delighted. She'll go to her husband willing," Arabel said.
"Does that please you?" His somber gaze flicked over her.
"My brother is a good man. He'll stay true to his word and treat your sister well. You canna deny the bride is cheerful. Look for yourself."
Sir David glanced over at the couple who were surrounded by well wishers. "How can this be possible? Would that I'd had the strength to fight well that day on the battlefield. This would not be happening," he growled.
"'Tis my brother you be speaking of now. Can I remind you that he didn't take your head when he had the chance? Perhaps he should have taken your tongue."
David looked shamefaced by her words, but she wasn't foolish enough to think the shame travelled deep, not when she saw the murderous glitter in his eyes.
Arabel stood and signaled to the Seneschal who came over at her command. She slipped past Sir David and stepped into the aisle of the chapel, careful to be far enough away from David so he could not hear her. "Would you escort Sir David back to his room? Lock his door well and no matter how much you celebrate tonight keep the key on you at all times."
The Seneschal looked from the bride to her twin, Sir David. "Isobel is a beauty. The clan will take her into its heart once she bears Sir James a son, even if she is a McLaird."
"But not Sir David," Arabel finished. "I don't know what my brother's plans are for him but it is Sir James's wish that he remains alive."
"Yes, my lady."
Arabel turned. "Sir David, the Seneschal will escort you to your rooms. I'll check on you soon."
The Seneschal offered Sir David his arm to help him to his feet.
"I've no need of your assistance," David snarled.
"Do I need to stay by your side to calm you so you do not insult everyone who offers you help? For I wish you to get there in one piece," Arabel stated.
Had the look David flashed her been fire, she'd be burned to a cinder but she stood her ground. She put her hand on his shoulder. "David, your sister is happy. Do not ill-wish them with your fury in God's house."
The hard planes of his face, which were filled with pain, eased when she touched him, but he still stood unaided and walked aside the Seneschal. The clan gave him space as he passed them. Even injured and unarmed, he towered above the other highlanders, a dangerous man to encounter. Several, she knew, had felt the sting of this enemy warrior's sword. She watched his back knowing many here would be glad to thrust their dagger into him. While the men were supposed to leave their weapons outside, there was no telling whether some were concealed.