Cannon Thumps

This story is both my attempt at July’s genre stretch (Regency) and an answer to a word prompt from the WriYe DreamWidth (the title).  It’s the last chapter of my Genre Stretch story – set after all the action has ended and things are starting to go back to normal.

**

With the successful completion of the case, Lachlan and Ezra were both given some time off.  The captain told them that it was because they deserved a break.  Lachlan wondered if it was more to give everyone else a break from them.  After all, there had been quite the shakeup among the peacekeepers.  It wouldn’t ever be quite the same for anyone.

Ezra had taken his young daughter and headed to the south of France for a beach-side holiday.  Lachlan, however, had other ideas of what was relaxing.  He left London for the Highlands of Scotland that had been his home for so long.  It was good to be among the pack again.  After all, they were his family.  Even if he was ready to start a new path, they would always have a special place in his heart.

Actually, Lachlan was glad to get away from the city.  The mountains were quieter and things seemed to move at an easier pace.  It was, as their captain had said, a chance to relax.  So far from London, he was also away from the memories of what was probably the troublesome case of his career so far.  Of course, his career hadn’t been very long yet.  Hopefully, it would come to be the most troublesome case he’d ever have to face.

He stepped out onto the curtain wall of castle that had been his home for nearly two hundred years and sighed.  As he looked out over the rolling hills of his homeland, he could still almost hear the distant thump of cannon-fire.  When he’d first become a werewolf, the clans had just begun banding together and seeing themselves as a single people.

The world was so different now.  In some ways, it was so much more peaceful.  The clans had not only stopped fighting amongst themselves.  They’d also stopped fighting the government in London.  There were different ways of getting things done.  There were votes and referendums and petitions.  Some might even say there were better ways.  At the same time, it also seemed to Lachlan that the world was more complex now.

Before, he’d always known who his enemy was.  While it was true that he’d decided to call someone an enemy based on their homeland, at least it was clear.  Now, he lived in a world where the very people he was meant to trust were the ones that worked against him.  The idea of calling someone a friend only to have them betray that trust was foreign to him.

On one level, he knew that traitors had always existed.  There had always been one person who, for money or beliefs or a million other petty reasons, would betray those who trusted them most.  It had never been a problem he’d had to face personally.  Having faced it now, he felt adrift.

“Are you all right?” a soft voice asked from behind him.  It was Esther, his wife.

Pulled from his dark thoughts, Lachlan nodded.  “Aye,” he said.  “I’m just fine.”  His gaze drifted out over the hills and vales once again.  He sighed and let the familiar vista chase away the last of his tension.

“What are you doing out here?” Esther asked.  “I’m not sure you should be alone just now, husband.”

Turning away from the tranquil view, Lachlan saw Esther standing in the doorway.  He gave her a faint smile.  “What am I doing, you ask?  I’m thinking,” he said, his voice faint.  He gave a wry chuckle and shook his head.  “My lord would probably say that I’m thinking too much.  ‘Tis a dangerous thing, that: thinking.”

He shrugged and turned away.  “Probably, you’re right,” he said, glancing back at her.  Nodding, he said, “I shouldn’t be so much by myself, alone with such dark thoughts as I’ve been having.”

Esther sighed and shook her head as she joined him on the curtain wall.  “There’s a way to fix that,” she said, as she moved to stand beside him.  The wind ruffled her gown.  It was a long flowing thing with a waist set just under her bosom.  For a moment, Lachlan was transported to another time and place.  That had been a time of courtly grace and stuffy manners that others in the pack had chafed at.  He’d always found it rather romantic.

A smile touched his lips and he stepped closer to her.  Sighing, he wrapped his arms around Esther’s shoulders.  “I like that,” he said, nodding at her gown.  “It’s been quite some time since I’ve seen a gown like that.  I must say: it looks good on ya.”

“Everything old is new again, they say.  I look like I’ve stepped out of a Jane Austen novel,” Esther said, shaking her head.  She chuckled and added, “Though, those ladies usually wore bonnets, didn’t they?”

“They did,” Lachlan agreed, smirking.  He brushed his fingers over her cheek.  “Couldn’t let the sun kiss their flesh and make them freckle.  Aye?”

“Certainly not,” Esther said, chuckling.  Her eyelids fluttered playfully and she said, “They wouldn’t have done this either.”  Then, she leaned in to capture his lips with her own.  The kiss deepened briefly and then she danced out of his arms with a laugh.

Lachlan stifled a laugh of his own and arched his brow.  “What are you meaning to do to me, woman?” he asked, his tone teasing.

“Wouldn’t you like to know?” Esther returned.  Then she spun and hurried into the castle once again.  It was as if she were daring him to follow.

Lachlan had never been one to ignore a challenge.  Laughing, he hurried after his wife.  There were, he decided once again, some very good things about the modern era.  As romantic a time as that might seem looking back on it, the rules of propriety were always so… restricting.  Whatever Esther’s plans had been when she’d joined him, Lachlan was thoroughly distracted now.  For that, he’d have to thank her.  Luckily, he knew just how to do that.

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