Living By The Land – Episode 58

“CALLUM?” she stuttered. “Is that you?”

“Yes. The Callum who disturbs your sleep.”

She flushed.

“How long have you been there?”

He had not put her down, nor pulled his face back from her own. His dark eyes were looking deep into hers and when he spoke she could feel his breath on her skin, every bit as warm as the cows’ but one hundred times sweeter.

“Long enough to know that I’ve been a fool. Long enough to know that you love me. Long enough to realise that I love you, too.”

“You do?”

“Of course. I should have seen it myself. I never get angry with people normally! Only something as crazy as love could have done this to me.”

“It seems it’s a very destructive emotion.”

“Only when thwarted, and I intend to make sure that never happens again. May I . . . may I kiss you?”

Louisa did not even need to nod; she was sure he could see her longing for him in her eyes. She nudged her head forward just a little and in an instant his lips were covering hers and he was clasping her tight against him as if he would never again let go. It was as sweet as it had been the first time. Fleetingly she thought of Betsy and hoped she would approve, but then she was blissfully lost in Callum’s embrace.

It was the clatter of footsteps somewhere nearby that eventually made the couple pull apart. Louisa glanced anxiously around.

“Who’s that?”

“I’m not sure. Let’s look.”

Callum’s arm was still firmly around her, so together they moved back to the edge of the barn and peered into the yard. Amelia was spotted, scuttling towards the dormitory door, but there was no sign of Tiernan.

“What’s she up to?” Callum asked.

“Much the same as us.” Louisa giggled. “She’s been meeting your brother.”

“Oh. Poor Tiernan. He’s keen on her, you know, and I reckon she’d be a good match for him, too. He needs someone who’ll stand up to him, or he gets too big for his boots!”

“Spoken like a true brother!” Louisa laughed. “But what about this Sally?”

Callum squeezed her waist.

“This Sally, as you call her, is no fool. She doesn’t want a husband who doesn’t love her. To be honest, I don’t think she really wants the farm, either. She told me once she wants to be a nurse, like her mother was before she married.’’

“Does Tiernan know that?”

“Yes, but Father doesn’t.”

“Perhaps, then, you could buy out her farm instead?”

“Louisa, my darling, farms are expensive and these are big ones. Really big.”

“Sorry.” Louisa pulled away a little, feeling foolish, but Callum refused to let her slip from his grasp.

“But you’re right – anything can be done if you put your mind to it, and with all Tiernan and I have learned from Robert, who knows what can be achieved? Oh, Louisa, my father is going to love you so much.”

“Your father?”

Callum chuckled.

“You will have to meet him, you know, if we are to marry. We are to marry, aren’t we?”

Louisa drew herself up, though it was all she could do to keep the giggles inside. The cows were still pressing eagerly forward, as if keen to be a part of this romantic scene, and she couldn’t help but be aware of the comedy of the moment, no matter how very important to her.

“I don’t know,” she replied as primly as she could manage. “I haven’t been asked yet.”

“No,” Callum agreed sheepishly. “No, you haven’t.” Letting go of her, he dropped to his knees in the mud, the cows lowing encouragement, and grabbed her hand.

“Miss Louisa Harris, you are the most beautiful woman in all the world, and you have captured my heart. Will you do me the honour of making me happier than I ever imagined possible, by agreeing to become my wife?”

“Callum!” Now Louisa could not keep the giggles inside. “Of course I will.”

“Nay, Louisa, you must agree properly. Our audience demands it!”

Louisa glanced at the beasts surrounding them and laughed again.

“In that case, Mr Callum Turner, I agree gladly! I will become your wife and live with you all my days.”

Somewhere deep inside, a tiny part of her quailed at the thought that that life now would have to be in Northumbria, far, far away from her dear family. But she quashed it. She would manage; with Callum at her side she would manage anything.

“Now, get up, please, before you catch your death of cold!”

She yanked him up and back into her arms and he clutched her fiercely against him for another kiss.

“Louisa Turner,” he murmured against her lips, “my wife.” And it sounded right, like the sweetest music ever.


Alison Cook