The straw hat perched atop Aislin Harrison’s black hair shielded her fair skin from sun. Flipping open the fan tethered to her wrist she paused in the shadow of the courthouse. Swallowing hard she pressed a hand to her belly. The docks were still two blocks further down the street but already the crowds were thickening. It was market day. Wulfric would be on the dock making sure Lady Bess was properly loaded. They sailed for Tarveen with the afternoon tide.
She had to see him before then. This news could not wait three months.
Mopping her brow with a lace trimmed handkerchief Aislin pushed back into the crowd. She had to make Lady Bess before they left.
Arriving on Dock Street Aislin sighed. The street was a shoulder to shoulder wall of people. People buying, selling, and haggling. Gritting her teeth she fixed her eyes on the Lady Bess’ sails at the far end of the dock.
They were still in port.
Aislin moved forward, elbowing and pushing her way through the crowd. She had learned quickly that politeness got you nowhere on market day. Eyes fixed on the Lady Bess she made slow headway. She caught glimpses of men as they climbed the masts to examine rigging and guided cargo to the deck. Wulfric must have gotten a last minute shipment.
She broke onto the Lady Bess’ dock with a gasp. The fresh, salty air filled her lungs and washed the stink of pressing bodies from her nose. Wulfric. Where was he?
A satisfied, proud smile stole over her lips. He stood on the gang plank directing men on land and sea. He wore breeches, worn leather boots to the knee, and a thin cotton shirt stretched across his wide, muscular shoulders. A chuckle bubbled in her throat as she made her way toward him. Worn though his boots were she knew they never left his cabin once he left port. His calves and feet were as tanned as the rest of him.
He spotted her before she was half-way down the dock. He bellowed orders to a man on deck and descended the gang plank. Aislin could not help admiring her husband as he strode toward her. Even after two years of marriage he left her breathless. His brown hair was streaked blond from the sun and the angles of his face were sharp beneath his dark bronze tan. His uncanny green eyes seemed to be drinking her in as he approached. The possessive glint in their depths sent a thrill down her spine. Even knowing what was coming she felt her heart race.
His arms enveloped her and she felt herself tipping backward. He kissed her deeply. She held on tightly committing this moment to memory for the long months ahead. He brought her back to her feet and she became aware of hoots and cheers from the Lady Bess. Aislin flushed and hid her head in Wulfric’s shoulder. He laughed, a deep, throaty laugh that warmed her through.
“Come to see me off love?” He whispered, his deep bass like the growl of thunder on warm summer night.
“No. Well yes, but I have news.” She pulled back to look into his green eyes with her own dark brown.
“What is it Aislin? You don’t often turn sober love.” Aislin bit her lip, her wit was failing her now and he knew it. Wulfric drew her to a crate and knelt before her. She sat staring into those loving green eyes wondering how on earth she could say what was on her mind.
“Is it the trip to Tarveen Aislin? I know the danger of going back to Certania with the war but-” She shook her head. Oh how could she tell him? Why was this so hard? Wulfric’s brows knit in concern and he took her hands in his.
“What is it Aislin? You can tell me anything love. This silence worries me more than any news. Aislin, tell me.” The way he said her name, such gentleness in his voice. She blinked and felt herself suddenly near tears.
“Wulfric. When you return we’ll have to go shopping.”
“What? Shopping? That’s what this is about?” He stood and crossed his arms over his chest. “Aislin, love, you aren’t making much much sense. You hate shopping. Are you feeling well?”
Aislin shook her head and patted the crate beside her. He sat taking her hand gently in his.
“Wulfric. I’m two months late and I’ve been sick all week.”
She waited, watching him. Then she saw it. A slow smile crept over his face, then he was grinning.
“Aislin. Are there going to be three of us?”
She nodded and he burst out laughing. Great belly laughs wracked his body and he spun her around. He held her to his chest, his heart beat thudding in her ear. She heard the rumble begin as shouted up to the ship.
“I’m going to be a father!”
Aislin smiled as she heard the cheer go up and the ship’s bell ring. Yes. She’d made the right choice two years ago.
She’d chosen him.