Chapter 9

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"I'll be leaving- for about a week or so," Symon states, coming up beside me. I look up from the stew, raising my brows. The heat of the stove has made the hairs curl around my flushed face. Ann moves to another table, giving us privacy.

"... Where to?"

"To meet with the associated clans in the Chattan Clan. The gathering is approaching fast."

I nod, trying to contain my glee. "Alright... when do you leave?"

"Tonight. I wanted- to let you know. I'd bring you if I could but there really wouldn't be much for you to do." I watch as he glances down at the food around me, then to the apron around my waist. Lowering his voice, he murmurs, "You do realize that it's not proper for a lady to cook and clean."

"It gives me something to do. I mean, honestly, would you rather I bugged you all day?"

"You know, I would, actually."

Rolling my eyes, I chuckle. "I'll quit once we're, um... married."

"Thank you," he says quietly, squeezing my shoulder comfortingly. "It smells good."

I stare at the wall as he releases his grip and I hear his pleasantries to the rest of the ladies in the kitchen while he makes his way out of the kitchen. I barely wait two minutes before I begin to remove my apron, turning to Mildred.

"Mildred, can you take over?"

"Aye, milady," she replies, ceasing chopping carrots. I smile wide to Ann, who glances at me curiously as I exit with a sigh. I knock on MacCallan's study, waiting for a reply. When I get it, I pull open the door and enter, fixing my hair as best I can.

"Callan-"

He glances up, and smiles unsurely. Before him is a woman sitting on the chair, her knee exposed, bleeding from what looks like a fall. She's crying, her hand over her mouth.

"Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't mean-"

"You've impeccable timing. Do ye think you could help me with something?" he says, startling me. I nod, stepping into the room further. It's my first time inside his work space. While mostly bare expect for necessary furnishings and tables, I'm surprised by the scents. His shelves are covered in medicines and herbs.

"Yes, what do you need help with?"

"Do ye have a problem with blood?"

I press my lips together. "I don't think so..."

"If you could hold the skin together while I sow. Blood will rise from the gash, fair warning."

The woman stifles a sob when I nod, settling down onto my knees beside her. I try to smile at her as calmly as I can. "I just cleaned my hands," I state, realizing then that she probably doesn't even know why I'm telling her it. Sanitation is not a key element of surgery in this century.

"I'm going to touch you now," I whisper, reaching for her leg. I clasp the folds of skin open, pushing them together gently.

"With more force, Gillian," he says, bending over my hands with the needle. I nod, pulling until the skin connects together. Slow blood cascades onto my hands but I keep them still, watching as he pierces her skin, despite her cry. She's obviously more frightened than feeling the pain.

"Did you fall?" I ask, hoping conversation will help her.

"Aye, got the skin caught on a stone. Nearly went blind from the pain."

She sucks in a breath, biting her lip. I grimace, nodding. "Yeah, once, when I was little, I fell off a porch, right into a bush- it was full of glass."

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