Takes place a couple of days after this post.
"So ... how is she holding up?" Anraí leaned against Tumbling Dice's stall door and watched as Cait stroked Jagger's nose. The gelding's placid acceptance of his sister's attentions had caused plenty of amazed comments from Flint Creek's hands, but right now neither Cait nor Jagger were Anraí's main concern.
"Pippa is coping," Cait replied, not needing to ask whom her brother was asking after. "Yes, she's stressed, and yes she's had some nightmares, but she's coming out of herself." Sighing softly, she gave Jagger a last pat and walked to stand by her oldest brother. "Of course she'd cope even better if she'd stop beating herself up for things that are in no way her fault. Not entirely unlike someone else I could mention." The look she gave him was pointed enough to make him fidget.
Not his fault, no. Not his fault for looking so much like Pippa's abductor that she flinched away from him without meaning to. Not her fault either, but that didn't change the fact that she was hurting. Anraí raked fingers through his dark hair in frustration. "It's not beating myself up, really. It's just ..." He let his words trail off into a sigh of his own.
"You want to make things easier for her, and you don't know how." Cait tucked her hand into his and squeezed. "Believe me, biggest brother, I understand. But you
--" Swinging around in front of him, she offered an infectious grin. "--have enough on your plate with getting married. We'll make sure Pippa has a good time at this hen night Margene's cooked up, while you relax with the boys."
Anraí smiled back and dropped a peck onto his little sister's cheek. "When did you get to be so smart, a stor?"
"When you weren't looking, of course," she chuckled. As she headed for the barn door, she looked back over one shoulder. "Are you coming up to the house?"
"In a few minutes. I've got a chore or two to finish down here first."
He could have easily delegated the handful of tasks to any of the men, but Anraí found it easiest to work out nerves by working with his hands. Not that he had the slightest of doubts about marrying Laine, he didn't. But God help him, everything involved with getting
to that point ... well, he felt entitled to hang out with the horses for a little while.
He'd just finished fixing the latch on the stall intended for the new Morgan when he heard someone come in through the tack room. Laine? No, not her footstep. His eyes widened as another familiar female voice reached him. Pippa, greeting Shithead the barn cat.
He reacted instinctively, quietly closing the stall door and letting his body shift and flow into his horse form. He didn't want to hide from Pippa, but neither did he want to scare the poor lass by popping up unexpectedly.