So I looked for a word that started with X, I DID. It's really HARD. Incidentally, I learned that most words that start w/ the letter X are related to Botany...score for learning something.
I ended up making up a character. LOVE, by the way, even tho he's not human. ;)
Ansley, the heroine of book 2, Love's Call is nine here, which makes this thirteen years before her book and twelve before Sword's Call.
Enjoy, we're only 2 more.
“Can I call him Xander?”Murdoch looked down at the pathetic creature in his daughter’s arms. How could she want to call it anything at all? The ugly little thing had had a rough start.They both stared up at him, Ansley’s blue-green eyes just as wide as the yellow set of the orange furball. There was a plaintive mew and Murdoch was lost. He wouldn’t be able to tell her no. He sighed.Marael laughed. “Oh love, there’s no harm in her keeping the kitten.”He glanced over his shoulder at his wife. Her brown eyes were dancing as she braided her long flaxen locks. How his daughter even found the small cat this early in the morning was a mystery. Unless she’d snuck the little beast in the night before. He’d been…distracted by her lovely mother.Murdoch cleared his throat as he looked back down into Ansley’s little face. “Pets require care.”“I know, Da. May I keep him?”After another heavy sigh, he sat at the table in their cottage. As the captain of the king’s personal guard, he could have had any quarters in the castle he desired. But he was a private man, and King Nathal respected that. Since he’d married Marael almost ten turns before, they resided in the largest of the crofter cabins in the main courtyard of the Castle Rowan’s grounds.Ansley had been born here, and had never known any other home. Although, at age nine, she was already chomping at the bit to become a King’s Rider, a member of his messenger service.“I suppose so,” he told his daughter.She squealed and jumped up and down. The kitten in her arms screeched and scrambled to hold on. Ansley winced as sharp claws raked her skin.“Love, you have to be gentle with him, he’s a baby,” her mother admonished as she bustled about in their kitchen. She was tying an apron around her slim waist and she winked at him when he caught her eye.Murdoch bit back a smile before turning back to their daughter. “When you’re attending your lessons, he will remain outside.”“Aw, Da…” Ansley looked down at her kitten before locking gazes with him. “I told him he could come with me. And sleep with me, I promised Xander.”“He doesn’t know the difference.”“But he does.” Her lip trembled.“Ansley,” Mara admonished.Their daughter looked down. “Sorry, Da.”He cupped her face and tilted it up, caressing her cheek with a thumb. “You know better, love. You mind your mother and me. No questions.”“Aye, no questions,” Ansley answered, though her tone held disappointment.“Your kitten will be fine without you during the day, my love,” Mara put in, pouring some cream into a bowl. “Here, set him down so he can drink this.”Ansley beamed at her mother as she set the small bowl on the table. Murdoch winced as four small, dirty paws hit the surface. He ate at this table. But he held his tongue because both his girls wore wide grins as they watched the little beast—Xander—he corrected himself, lapping up the cream. It was probably his first descent meal in…well, ever.Reaching out, he stroked Xander’s back. He was downy soft. The kitten didn’t stop eating, but he arched his small back into Murdoch’s large hand, purring loudly.“He likes you, Da,” his daughter exclaimed. She bounced at the edge of the table. Murdoch chuckled.Mara’s hands slipped onto his shoulders and he sat back in his chair. She leaned down and kissed his bearded cheek. “Thanks for letting her keep him, love,” she whispered in the vicinity of his ear.He harrumphed. “As if I had a choice.”“I promise I will take care of him,” the little girl piped in. She locked eyes with Murdoch. He’d never seen his daughter so earnest. Pride swelled. Ansley already knew the value of her word.“I know you will, love.” He gathered his daughter to him. She clambered onto his lap.Ansley leaned into his broad chest, her small arms around his neck. She kissed him, a loud smacking noise on his cheek that had him smiling.He slipped his arm around Mara’s waist and pulled her close. Murdoch held them both. Mara smoothed their daughter’s red hair and caressed her cheek.“I love you, Da!”“I love you, too, sweeting.”The kitten mewed as he finished the bowl of cream, looking directly at Murdoch. His little purr was still going, though no one was touching him.“Look, Da, Xander loves you, too.”His wife’s laughter made him grin. If Marael and Ansley were happy, things were right in his world.
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