Maud stood silhouetted in the window before the setting sun.

Maud stood silhouetted in the window before the setting sun, the tense lines of her body a contrast to the lolling form of the baby who dozed in her arms.

She had seen them ride in, had heard their laughter ringing up from the court only to drift away as they went up into the hall to meet Sigefrith.

Her heart had pounded painfully at first, but as time passed and no one sent for her or came to her, the pain slid down into her belly and made her feel ill.

It should soon be time for supper. Did Sigefrith intend to introduce Colban to his godfather then?

Where was Malcolm? Was he thinking of her? Was he longing to slip away and join her here before Sigefrith thought to send for her? Was he wondering about his baby?

If only she could somehow arrange to see him alone before they met with Sigefrith and the others in the room! She wanted him to see Colban first with her alone. If only a few minutes, let them have some time together as a family before Sigefrith came, and they would have to pretend!

Colban opened his eyes.

Colban opened his eyes as he heard a thumping coming up the stairs outside. He knew those bounding feet. It would be time for the kind of play he liked best, the soaring-​in-​the-​air kind, the belly-​kissing kind, the breathless-​laughing kind. He smiled and sighed drowsily in happy anticipation.

But his Mama clutched him tightly to her breast with a gasp and walked across the room. Colban tried to turn his head far enough to see his Papa come in, but Mama turned her back to the door. He knew only that Papa had not come in alone.