I sat down this evening in a writing mood, though not inspired to work on my W.I.P. and wrote the first sentence, then let my pen wander where it would. I came up with this, and a newborn love for Angus Dartmore:
"A Roguish Scheme"
Also entitled: "Can't Live With 'em, Can't Live Without 'em"
By Rachel Heffington
"Oh, wouldn't I?" The question was put in saucy tones and with a roguish smile.
"But...we can't!" I stopped beating my pen against the pad of paper--a nervous habit I have--and frowned as I read McKennit Funeral Home on the side. What a morbid idea, giving out such pens to the living.
"Listen, Kathleen." My captor leaned forward and his blue eyes sparkled like--oh why did my cousin have to be so charming? In his hands I was powerless. "You know you like my little scheme," he finished.
I scoffed. "You little scheme indeed--Angus, you've concocted a plot to pull the wool over the eyes of every person this side of the Cork and Kerry mountains."
Angus tossed his head, dashing his reddish brown hair off his forehead. He whistled the remainder of the song I had alluded to.
"Aye, Angus." I wrapped my hands around my coffee mug and nodded. "You are a bold deceiver."
"And you love me anyway?"
I threw a balled-up napkin at his head by way of a reply, and he laughed. No one could laugh like Angus Dartmore.
"So you think I can proceed as planned?" he pressed.
"I think you can plan on proceeding straight to the stocks once everyone finds out who Miss Kilkenny really is."
Angus rubbed his chin and his cheeks dimpled. "That would be a pity, for my head is much to fine to be imprisoned, don't you think?"
* * * * *
The following morning I awoke to the incessant rapping of a pair of knuckles on the door. Angus had the Scotsman's trade-mark stubbornness about him--even his knuckles were determined.
I rolled out of bed and gathered my auburn curls in a hasty ponytail.
"Hold on, Angus," I grumbled as I shuffled into the hall and unlocked the door of my flat.
Angus bounced in and planted a brotherly kiss on my cheek. "Kathleen--er, Miss Kilkenny--how are you?"
"Still not sure this is a good idea."
We ambled into the kitchen and I filled my kettle at the tap, then set it to boil. I fished four bags of P.G. Tips from an old tin and tossed them into a teapot.
"Coom noo, lass." Angus laid his hand on my shoulder and thickened his burr--he knew I loved to hear it. "Ye're a daft limmer if ye willnae goo along wi' me plan. All I'll hae ye do is write tae some o' the newspapers as the famous author, Kathleen Kilkenny, tellin' them ye're coomin' tae town."
"But Angus, there is no famous author named Kathleen Kilkenny." I put my hands on my hips and tried to defy his merry blue gaze and the cheeky lift of his chin.
"And how many people will know that? Kath, your writings are much finer than any folk give them credit for being. Act like you're famous and the doors of every house in Edinburgh will be flung open wide to you."
I rolled my eyes. Angus was a silly, dear, mischievous boy, but there was on problem--I was far from being a famous author. The extent of my literary prestige was a poem I had written as a ten year-old that had long held honored court with family pictures on my mum's refrigerator.
I rolled up the sleeves of my pajamas. "The problem with your brilliant scheme is that I'm not famous."
"You are to me."
There Angus went, trying to sway me with his darned cuteness. Shame was, it worked.
"Fine, Mr. Dartmore." I put on my British aristocracy accent. "I concede to write to your common-folk at the newspaper and perhaps deign to give an interview."
The kettle shrieked on the stove top, warning me of the imminent danger of its bubbling over at the least provocation. I poured the boiling water into the pot so the tea would steep to perfection--thick and black.
"You know the trouble with you, Kathleen?"
"What's that?" I stared at an old snapshot of me and Angus that was taped to the periwinkle wall of the kitchen. A stream of golden light with dust motes like pixie-dust floated through the window. A fragrant swirl of steam encircled my face and wrapped me in warm tendrils of contentment.
Angus beat a tattoo with a spoon against the sugar bowl. "The trouble with you is that you don't trust me enough."
I laughed, breaking the trance of sunshine, steam, and daydreams. I poured the tea into the two Prince Albert teacups and set them on the table.
"The usual?" I asked.
Angus winked and crossed his arms. I plunked three sugar cubes into the cup, then stirred in a splash of cream and four dashes from the vinegar cruet. As I did so I recalled the first time I had gone through the ceremony of making Angus's tea--I hadn't believed he was serious about the vinegar.
"Don't look so dumfounded, Kathleen. Mayhap most lads don't take their tea so, but it's my potion for charm."
I shook my head at him. "The sugar sweetens your disposition, the cream makes you smooth and the vinegar keeps you saucy?"
Angus had flashed his dear smile and beamed approval. "Crizackly, cousin," he said, and downed the entire cup.
My thoughts snapped back to present day and I sucked on a slice of lemon as I regarded my handsome cousin across the expanse of blue-checked tablecloth. "Just why should I trust you, Angus Dartmore?"
Angus put one finger under my chin and forced my eyes to meet the astonishing blue of his own. "Have I ever done you wrong, Kathleen?"
No, he hadn't. I sighed and my eyes wandered involuntarily to my pen and notebook lying nearby. Life was crazy alongside Angus Dartmore, but his was for certain a charmed existence.