The MacHugh saga continues 🙂 .
Last week I wrote a short story about Jordy MacHugh, the Canadian music teacher who inherits a derelict estate in the Scottish Highlands and decides to build an outdoor opera house by the sea.
Elizabeth continued the story and raised the stakes by introducing Jenny, a tourist from Kansas, who discovers twin babies in a basket, courtesy of the mysterious MacHugh Blessing Stone.
Maeve, the local seer, pronounces Jordy, Jenny and the twins a family, but as Jenny observes (via Kay) in Friday’s writing sprint, the whole setup screams Trouble with a capital T.
Read on to find out what happens next. Using the prompts from Friday’s writing sprint, our character(s) face a challenge. And the story includes the words equipment, belly, aimless, baffling, noise, bloke, fuzzy, clever, beekeeper, footwork, glass, dream, corduroy, setup, lump and artist.
They couldn’t go on this way. Somebody had to make this village of dreamers face reality, and apparently that someone was Jenny.
Sunday service was over, and she emerged from the small stone kirk into the sunlit, postage-stamp sized churchyard. She settled the oversized wicker basket at her feet and chatted politely with the villagers, all twenty of them. They were kind and friendly, but their warm welcome wasn’t for Jenny herself. Not really. Her true value to them was as companion-dash-housemate to the new laird, Jordy MacHugh, and as carer for his adopted twin daughters.
“Swap you!” Moira from the But & Ben bistro, a vision in purple tweed and moss green corduroy, handed Jenny a covered basket and picked up the larger one that contained Elspeth and Isla, snug as a pair of bugs in their fuzzy romper suits. She deftly lifted the blanket and checked for rattles, nappies and all the equipment required to keep the twins clean, dry and contented for a couple of hours. Then she departed for the village at a brisk clip, offering Jenny a conspiratorial grin over her shoulder that said I know what you’re up to.
She didn’t. Nobody in the village did, and Jenny intended to keep it that way.
She’d fallen into her current role through a combination of her own aimless lifestyle and Maeve from the Pointing Dog’s fancy footwork. Now people were making assumptions. She had to unwind the setup with Jordy before somebody got hurt.
The laird-come-lately let himself out of the side door that led to the organ loft, bell-tower, and Maeve-the-Beekeeper’s rooftop hives. Jordy was Canadian—an incomer like Jenny—but you’d never have known. It was baffling, but from his curly red-gold hair to his Sunday best kilt, he belonged in the Highlands. He smiled at Jenny and she swallowed her nerves down deep into her belly, where they burned worse than Moira’s infamous loganberry liqueur.
“What’s that?” Jordy raised an eyebrow at the covered basket.
“A picnic. I thought we might walk out to the lighthouse.” Jenny tried to sound casual. “Moira said she’d watch the twins for the afternoon.”
“Fine idea.” He was even starting to add a Highland overlay to his transatlantic drawl. He treated her to another easy smile that faded to a concerned frown as he met her eyes. “Right. Let’s go.”
He settled the basket on one muscular arm, offered her the other, and they strolled out of the churchyard and along the cliff path that led to the lighthouse.
“What is it?” he asked as soon as they were safely alone. “Problem? Can I help?”
“No. Yes.” Jenny dropped his arm and turned to look out to sea. High in the cloudless sky a mob of bright yellow-headed gannets plummeted at high speed, one after another, toward the glass-smooth ocean. “We need to talk about the twins’ future. To find the right person to care for them after I’m gone.”
For a full minute there was no sound but the waves below the cliff, washing gently against the rocks. Then the scuffing noise of a basket hitting the turf.
“Gone?” Jordy echoed. “What do you mean, gone?”