To Love Again

To Love Again by Bertrice Small Read Free Book Online

Book: To Love Again by Bertrice Small Read Free Book Online
Authors: Bertrice Small
became men.”
    “You plot like a Druid!” her mother said.
    “Grandmother said the same thing,” Cailin admitted mischievously.
    “I certainly did,” Brenna agreed. “Of your three whelps, she is most like a Dobunni Celt. Berikos would approve of her.”
    “Mother,” Cailin asked, “why did Berikos disapprove of your marriage to Father?” She never thought of her mother’s paternal parent as
Grandfather
. He was rarely mentioned in her household, and she had never even once laid eyes on him. He was as big a mystery to Cailin as she would have been to him.
    “My father is a proud man,” Kyna said. “Perhaps over-proud. The Dobunni were once members of the powerful Catuvellauni Celts. A son of their great ruler Commius, one Tincommius by name, brought a group of followers to thisregion many years ago. They became the Dobunni. Your grandfather descends from Tincommius. He is proud of his line, and prouder yet of the fact that none of his family until me ever married into the Roman race. He has always hated the Romans, although for no real reason that he ever shared with any of us.
    “When I saw your father, and fell in love with him, Berikos was quite displeased with me. He had already chosen a husband for me, a man named Carvilius. But I would not have Carvilius. I would only have your father, and so Berikos disowned me. I had shamed him. I had shamed the Dobunni.”
    “He is a fool, and ever was,” Brenna muttered. “When word was brought to him of the twins’ births, a smile split his face for the briefest moment, and then he grew somber, saying, ‘I have no daughter.’ His other wives, Ceara, Bryna, and that little fool Maeve, were all preening and bragging over their grandchildren, but with my one child exiled, I was forbidden to say a word. Indeed, what could I have said? I hadn’t ever even seen the boys.”
    “But,” Cailin questioned Brenna, “if Berikos had three other wives, and other children, why was he so angry at Mother for having followed her heart? Didn’t he want her to be happy?”
    “Berikos has sired ten sons on his other wives, but my child was his only daughter. Kyna was her father’s favorite, which is why he let her go,
and
why he could never forgive her for turning her back on her heritage,” Brenna sadly explained.
    “When you were born, however, I told Berikos that if he could not forgive your mother for marrying a Romano-Briton, I must leave the tribe to be with my daughter. He had other grandchildren, but I had only your mother’s children. It was not fair that he rob me of a place by my daughter’s fire, or the right to dandle my grandchildren upon my knee. That was fourteen years ago. I have never regretted my decision. I am far happier with my daughter and her family than I ever was with Berikos, and his killing pride.”
    Kyna took her mother’s hand in hers and squeezed it hardas the two women smiled at each other. Then Brenna reached out with her other hand and patted Cailin’s cheek lovingly.
    Quintus’s marriage had been celebrated on the Kalends of June. To everyone’s surprise, including his own, he was a most proficient manager of his estates, including his wife’s vast portion. The river villa he deemed in too poor repair, and had it demolished. The fields belonging to the estate now bloomed with ripening grain. The orchards thrived. Quintus, comfortable in his wife’s lavish villa, put on weight. His devotion to Antonia was astounding. Though it was his right to take any slave who caught his fancy to his bed, he did not do so. His stepsons feared and respected him, as should the children of any respectable man. His slaves found nothing to gossip about their master. And as for Antonia, by early autumn she was pregnant.
    “It is astounding,” Gaius said to his wife. “Poor Honoria Porcius in all her years of marriage could get but one child; but her daughter ripens like a melon each time a husband comes through the door. Well, I must admit that

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