Setup: Meara is in Mother Superior's Office with the two men she saw on the road. This is the first time she ever finds out anything about her mother.
“My mother’s name is Sorcha. I never heard it before.”
This somehow angered Simon, who threw another accusing glance at Mother Superior who huffed making no verbal reply.
He reached for her hand clasping it in his large, masculine hand. Warmth flowed between their skin along with a sense of connection she never felt before. “You are,” she tried to shape the word she wanted, but it eluded her since all talk of families were forbidden because that was the past. “Family?”
Mother Superior moved faster than she had ever witnessed and pulled their hands apart. “No touching is permitted.”
Her hand felt suddenly alone after the brief touch. Worse, she lost the connection. The only time she felt a sense of belonging, outside the forest. Mother Superior spoke true; touch wasn’t permitted except in dire circumstances, such as healing or catching a sister who might be falling. Even then, if the sister was only falling a little distance she was not assisted because it could be a divine lesson. Many a sister had tripped on the uneven stones and resulting in a headfirst fall on the hard flooring.
The seated man's lips pulled down in a forbidding frown that could have peeled paint. Meara watched with interest, not only because she’d never witnessed such a display of emotions, but she’d never seen anyone go up against whatever pronouncement Mother Superior made. Inside the convent walls, she served as a direction extension of the patriarchal deity they bound themselves too, which meant a stern, unforgiving figure who hated laughter and frivolity.
Simon turned to face her with his former smile returning. “I can’t believe I finally found you. Sorcha wrote me that I’d be an uncle a donkey’s age ago.” He looked past Meara’s shoulder as he took a long, unsteady breath.
Angus stood and dropped his hand on his friend’s shoulder and squeezed. He nodded his head at Meara. “It’s hard on your uncle. Travel is never that easy between the countries, but now with the rumors of wars and the various navies crowding the sea, made it a diabolical trip, fer sure. Simon never gave up on Sorcha. We came on the university’s dime to join a team heading for Egypt.”
“Egypt,” she repeated the word, trying to think where she’d heard it before. A bump caused her to look back in the direction of Mother Superior who managed to shuffle closer while Angus spoke.
Simon transferred his gaze from the wall to her. He threw a black look back at the black-garbed nun daring her to say anything. “Forgive my behavior, it’s just, that, he paused, gulping loudly, “I always assumed Sorcha lived. My sister, your mother could be a stubborn one. She gave her love freely and strong. On the other hand, no one could hold a grudge like her.”
Angus leaned in to add, “Sorcha was known to be the right grudge holder of Galaway County. People did not cross her.”
“That she was,” Simon agreed. “My sister did everything with passion. I remember when she met your father who was visiting his people nearby. She marched home all smiles and told me she intended to marry Fulmen.”
“Fulmen,” she said the name slowly sounding it out. Even though, she’d never heard her mother’s name, having an actual father’s name made her beginning more tangible. She wasn’t a changeling, a gypsy’s git, or any of the other unflattering terms whispered about her.
“Aye, I asked her what type of name was Fulmen.”
Meara wondered too, although, the only male names she knew belonged to the saints.
“Ah, Sorcha put both hands on her hips and proudly announce the name was Druidic and meant lightning.”
A feminine gasp announced Mother Superior’s close location. The woman must have scuttled closer rather spider-like. Not a fair comparison to a creature that had never done her any harm.
Simon continued with a sad smile. “She told me he stole her heart just as fast as lightning. Sorcha was proud, as the day is long. She threw her flaming hair over her shoulder and declared she’d have no man, but him. I should have realized she meant what she said.”
“What happened?” The love story of her parents fascinated her. It’s the first love story she’d ever heard because the sisters never spoke of their pasts. If as green as she was, she knew if a woman had a great love she wouldn’t become a sister, or if she did, her beloved must have perished.
“Da, both Sorcha’s and my father, forbade the union.” Before he could continue, Mother Superior harrumphed her way into the conversation.
“Well, she should. No good would come from hooking up with a heathen.”
Simon threw her another dark look that had her sliding back a few steps. “My da, your grandda, was a great one for the church, although he attended services on the high holidays. In his grief over my mother’s death, he turned bitter and hard. The only thing that mattered to him was family. All he saw in your father was an Englishman who would steal his daughter away, one of the last living remnants of his beloved Colleen.”