“They're getting ready to play your song.” Haley had snuck up beside him, her dance through.

“Och… ” Mac Colla glowered, listening to the musicians start to play one of Iain Lom's odes to him. He took another deep pull of his ale to cleanse the taste from his throat. “I hate those.”

“You can't fault them.” Haley paused to listen. “You put courage into the he arts of Gaels, husband.”

“You sound like one of those accursed poems.”

She only smiled brightly, swaying to the tune.

Alasdair, son of handsome Colla, Skilled hand at sundering castles, You routed the gray-skinned Lowlanders:

And if they drank kale soup you knocked it out them.

She leaned up on tiptoe to whisper in his ear, “Maybe we can get Iain Lorn to pen something about the mysterious Dark Knight. You know, something like,” “A knight in dark armor is come to avenge, so that Clan MacDonald may reap their revenge.”

“You've had too much ale, leannan.”

She giggled as he smacked her on the behind.

Haley stared up at him a moment, her face growing serious.

In their life together, he'd seen her wear gowns and fire guns. And she'd been as beautiful to him in velvet and finery as she'd been fighting with her corset busk.

She'd bathed their babes then seen them into lads, offering scoldings and kisses both, always there with love and comfort. And now MacColla and Haley stood together, realizing how their sons had become men grown.

Though she still had much black in her hair, it was twined with gray, mirroring those bottomless gray and black eyes. Eyes that he'd watched, countless times, grow dark with passion. Laugh with him. Fill with tears. Brighten at the sight of him. And MacColla thought her the most exquisite woman who'd ever lived.

“Aw, hell, MacColla,” she whispered. “Just kiss me.”