"Do ye wish to work well together for yer clan?"
"Then pretend to be meek so yer men can be strong."
"I have to do all the giving?"
Bessie sighed as if Kiera had missed the whole point.
"Malcolm and Duff are learnin' to be laird and steward of all Kinrowan, and to be a husband of a wilful woman, all without seeing it done afore. Do ye nay think they have enough to do?" demanded Bessie. "Do ye nay think enough of yerself and yer future to try? What else are ye doing that means more?"
Bessie, again, was right.
"I am creating a home here and growing a babe."
"Aye, ye are doin' a woman's life work. Ye need a calm place where yer men can forget all outside yer chamber door and just be men. A place where a family, and a clan, can grow with love and caring. 'Tis yer job as a wife, and their lady, to do all ye can to ease their way."
Her chin quivered. A fat drop fell on Malcolm's s.h.i.+rt. Bessie patted her hand. Her voice dropped, soothing rather than lecturing.
"Yer men will protect and provide for ye, yer family, and yer clan. They willna ask as they dinna ken it, but they need ye to make them a home, give them bairns, and love them. In spite of their faults, and yer own."
"I havena been good at obeying."
"Ye obey Laird MacKenzie as ye respect him. Ye ken many others are weak and canna be trusted. Yer men are nay like that. Obeyin' a man ye can trust to keep ye and yer bairns safe, who'll do what he says? That's easier done, aye?"
Kiera thought back. She'd tried to be like her brothers. She'd done the same daredevil stunts only they got praised, and she got punished. She'd snuck in the schoolroom each morning and hidden. When her older brother was asked to read, and stumbled, she corrected him, having memorized the pa.s.sage as well as being able to read it. Again, she'd been punished, this time for making him look bad. When her father had allowed her to study openly with the tutor the man had whipped her, then threatened with worse if she spoke up about it. She was still terrified of whips. She'd done her best to be Lady MacKenzie for her father but when he'd married it was as if he'd forgotten she existed. He even refused to play chess with her, which he knew she loved. As for her suitors, they only wanted her carca.s.s and possessions.
"No wonder I felt so alone."
"If ye can show yer husbands that ye love them, they will treat ye well..Dinna tell them of yer love as 'twill frighten them. And never expect them to say it back to ye. Never show them up in front of others, and never ridicule in private. Ye must give yer men all of yerself. If they hear wrong and give ye a blast and then find out the truth they will feel bad. Even though they made the mistake ye must be gracious and not throw it in their face.
Kiera groaned. "All of that?"
"Because of them ye have Kinrowan. Ye have two men who please ye in bed. Men who see ye as more than a vessel
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