And more of Ægir’s…
Georgia stared out over the field. It was practically barren now. But in summer when they had first arrived, it had been awash with color. Yellow. Red. Orange. Blue. Purple. Even the White Lace that she learned was Kirsty’s favorite held far more beauty and mystery than plainness.
But it was the small brook that ran through this back portion of their home. The Holding or Homdling as her charge Monika had redubbed it. It was that stream which had first drawn her to this place. It had been just too much like the ‘safe place’ she had created in her mind for her to ignore. And as with that ‘safe place’ she came here often, whenever her soul was troubled, she sought out its beauty and serenity.
Winter was rapidly closing in now. It was well past the start of the new school year that had been the original bargain she had brokered with them when she followed Bjorn, Kirsty and Mikael into this new place and new life. A few weeks to heal and regroup had turned into months now. And that Rubicon of returning her studies had been passed. She had never even found the courage to ask them to take her back there. And they had never offered.
Escape. Denial. Avoidance. Those were her defence mechanisms now. Over two months…almost three…and she still had no plan. No long-term idea of what she was going to do. Or more importantly, how she was going to save her Mama.
She had not even heard anything directly from her since she left London. Georgia knew it was her Papa’s fault. His way of punishing her for leaving. And perhaps a feeble but surprisingly effective attempt to control her even from a thousand miles away across the sea.
Of course, she had had Mikael and even her friend Roz to check up on her a couple of times. But nothing seemed to have changed. Bruises that her mother could not hide but would never confirm. She knew that both of them had done their best to convince her mother to leave. Mikael had even reluctantly admitted that he had offered to bring her to the Holding.
Georgia sighed heavily as she picked one of the few remaining flowers in what she had learned was also called the ‘fighting field.’ The place where it was brother against brother at times. She had been shocked as she listened to Petrine and Kirsty almost laugh about the struggles that had taken place here. Petrine said that the flowers grew so well in this place because they had been fertilized with generations of blood.
She supposed in some way that should have brought comfort. Solace. Perspective. To know that all families had their struggles. Their arguments. Their fights. But it did not. There was a vast difference in equals settling their disagreements with fists and the abuse that she and her mother had endured.
That her mother still was.
She knew that going back there was the only answer. The only way. Whether that meant going back briefly on one of their regular trips to England on Ægir’s Captive or if she would return to stay, perhaps accept Roz’s offer that the woman seemed to press on her every time they spoke, Georgia still was not certain.
It all came back to one thing…hiding. She was hiding. Not just from her father’s bunches, but from everything. From an uncertain future. And an all too painful past.
Georgia slammed that door in her mind shut before it could even open more than a crack. Even as she recognized that it was the key to unlocking the future. She must find the strength and the courage to throw open the door to all that ugliness that was hidden behind her ‘safe place.’ She must face the past before she could plan the future.
But not yet. Not today. She was not ready. She did not know if she ever would be. But she knew time was running out. Whether she wanted to or not, one day she would have to face it all. If she wanted to save not just herself, but her mother…before it was too late.
Kurt watched the girl from the other side of the stream. He felt a bit like a stalker. Though that had not been his intention when he came to this place that had been his refuge since he was little more than a toddler. And as the youngest of five boys he had needed to escape from one or the other of his older brothers often enough.
It was a different type of escape he sought this time though. She was dying. Their Mama. The woman who had not only cooked and cleaned for them, but had been their advisor and guide since Papa’s death almost a decade before. He had not even been a teenager when their father succumbed to the vagarities of Njord. Jan had not yet been a man of thirty but he had taken the helm of not just Ran’s Daughter but the family. With the same iron fist that Papa had had.
Kurt shook his blond head as he pondered the decisions that faced him now. That faced them all.
Mama had been the glue that bond them together. A fractious bunch of testosterone that had constantly been vying for glory and supremacy. Being the youngest and several years behind his next closest brother Dag, Kurt had stood little chance in those games. Over looked and under estimated most of the time. Criticized and ostracized the rest.
As always, it was only Mama’s pleas that had brought him back this time. He had learned and accomplished more in the six months that he had worked for and with their hated cousins than he had the past seven years that he had spent working with his brothers.
He was happy there. At the Holding. With them. And her.
But Mama was dying…and everything was changing now. Her words ate at him… ‘They need you. Your brothers need you. We are family not them. Come home,’ she pleaded.
Still he had no answer. And time was running out. His cousins would be going back to sea soon. And as much as he wanted to be with them…to be near her…still his sense of duty, honor and loyalty called out with every one of his mother’s pleas.
“Kurt, Kurt, come quickly,” the dark look on Dag’s face told the man all he needed to know. If that had not, the tears on his brother’s face would have. Time, it seemed may have run out for him already.
He looked regretfully across the bubbling water as she picked a lone White Lace. He had even less to offer her now. The youngest of five. A fishing business that was on its very last leg. Kurt had no place in this world to call his own. Nothing to offer the woman that he had come to love, perhaps had from that furtive glance on Ægir’s Captive.
He knew that she needed someone strong and successful to protect her…and that was not him. “I’m coming,” he replied past the lump in his throat and the tears that were already gathering in his blue eyes blurred his final vision of her.
“I am not going.”
Bjorn was not sure whether to laugh or turn her over his knee and spank her like a child. Not that that would be easy given the size of her protruding abdomen which was the cause of all this. #
As far as he was concerned they had left this argument for far too late anyway. With just five weeks left to go until her due date, he had been annoying his brothers and mother for over a month to force her to keep her word to spend the final weeks of her pregnancy in Oslo near hospitals with the capability of managing a high-risk twin pregnancy.
But until now his pleas had fallen on deaf ears. Having been through all this before with Greta and Monika, Mikael had a nonchalant attitude that irked him badly. While Sven shared his concerns, he also sympathized with their wife about city life, any city.
And their mother was completely and utterly hopeless. Bjorn would have thought that given her own experience of his birth and as what passed for the local ‘sea wife’ or herbalist and midwife as the modern world would call them the woman would have had more sense but he had actually begun to fear that she would side with their wife’s completely irresponsible desire to have these babies the ‘old fashioned way.’
There was no way that they were taking the risk of having Kirsty go into labor this far from the kind of doctors and medical facilities that could prevent the type of disaster that had almost taken their mother’s life when she hemorrhaged after his birth. Even if this had been a ‘normal’ pregnancy, he would have been against the family tradition of babies being born in the same bed in which they were made.
He was glad though that even their stubborn mother had in the end stood with them. He knew that they were united in this one, “You will go to the apartment in Oslo. We are taking you there ourselves on Monday,” he answered.
Mikael reached his hand out for her, but was rejected as she crossed her hands over her chest and glared from one to another of them. As always their wife’s penchant for going for the weak link shone through, “Sven needs me here. We are just beginning to make some real progress in his therapy. And Petrine, how can I possibly miss Thanksgiving?”
Bjorn was glad to see his oldest brother sport that stern, broke no-shit Dom smile as he responded, “Don’t worry, elskling. I am going with you. Someone has to take guard duty while these two keep things running.”
Kirsty then turned her pleading to eyes to the shockingly weakest link…Petrine. “You know that this pregnancy has been text book perfect. This is all ridiculous scare mongering. There is no reason whatsoever that these little girls can’t be born right here where they belong.”
He held his breath, knowing that his mother had used almost those exact same words just days before when he had once again broached the subject.
But he need not have worried as his mother rose and wrapped her arm about the younger woman, “If this were just one baby, Kirsty, you know I would stand shield to shield with you against these…” their mother looked from one to the other of her sons with comical disdain as she shook her head, “…men.”
His uncle’s hand found her jean clad bottom and they all chuckled when Olaf growled, “Be good, woman.”
Yes, in this at least their family was a united front. And slowly they were coming together in other areas too. Olaf was returning once more to sea with them, though begrudgingly. The man had been distracted with some big project that he kept safely hidden in his workshop.
But Kurt had given into his family’s pressure and his mother’s death bed plea to return to work with their ‘cousins,’ if those men deserved such a title. Bjorn still had not forgiven them for the teasing or the attempted beating he had taken as a child. Even if he had gotten the better part of it with what his ancestors would have called the ‘berserker rage.’ Old grudges died hard…impossibly so sometimes.
So Ægir’s Captive was a man down crew wise at the most critical and lucrative of their season, the winter months when they risked the most for the highest yield and gain. With Sven’s accident, this year was especially crucial as the competition, their cousins especially, looked to gain ground and take a bite out of their edge in this struggle against large corporations and their fish farms. With the ever-increasing regulations on the industry and the decreasing schools of fish, a poor season could be the end of the way of life that their family had followed for centuries.
But they were not ready to give into modernity that easily. Any more than they were prepared to broke her disobedience in this one. He stared her eye to eye, “You are going. End of discussion.”
To which their adorable wife had the audacity to stamp her foot before turning to flee up the stairs, slamming the door to her room to emphasis her displeasure with them. “Guess none of us have to worry about who she is calling tonight,” Mikael chuckled and they all broke out in laughter.