Gracie loves to cuddle up under the covers as if she were a person, and I’m pretty sure she thinks that the other side of the bed is “her side” lmao. She’s also a friend to any and all ace and aro spec folks that need her. Just look into those beautiful, big, blue eyes and you’ll see what I mean. 💜
Lil baby Gracie! Still teeny weeny, drinking from a bottle. Our family is loving our newest little member! She was found alone in a storage yard one night, no mother or litter, likely abandoned… it hurts my heart to think of what may have happened to her litter, or what may have happened if she wasn’t rescued!
Jamie sent Claire and Julia (aka Faith) thru the standing stones of Craigh na Dun. Claire returned to her own time empty handed, believing Julia to have stayed with Jamie and died in the hours before Culloden. Upon being reunited with her husband, she discovers that Julia had not, in fact, done so. This is troublesome as Claire visited Julia’s grave at Lallybroch in 1968. Jamie asserts that no such grave exists, meaning Julia would return to her ancestral home and be buried there sometime between then (1766) and 1968.
How is this possible? Where and when had she gone?
“Abandoned toddler found in Cairngorms National Park by hiker. Unresponsive. Requesting immediate evac to Raigmore Hospital from St Vincent’s.”
The foundling had, of course, been granted permission and arrived post-haste in Inverness ten minutes ago in critical condition.
“She was wearing this?” I nudged the plastic bag containing the clothing the little girl had been found in, an audible squish coming from the soggy outfit. Homespun dress, knit sweater, and cloth nappy had all been hand made along with her crudely fashioned leather shoes.
“Aye, an’ a’ the top o’ Craigh na Dun, no less,” an orderly added.
I rolled my eyes. Granny Fiona had told my siblings and I stories of people and fairies that traveled thru the stones, but I’d never believed them to be anything but what they were: stories.
“Ye ken the standin’ stones o’ Craigh na Dun, don’t ye? ‘Tis an unlucky place, to be sure, Nurse Campbell.” he warned
The head matron snorted in derision behind me, “Dinna listen to Gavin, Katie, lass. He’s full o’ the auld tales.”
“Aye, that I be, Auntie,” Gavin grinned and shrugged, winking cheekily at her. “But who do ye suppose told ‘em to me?”
“Get on wi’ ye,” she shooed him away while trying her best not to smile.
The Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, PICU for short, was quiet tonight. I sat and held her hand as I watched her irregular heartbeat on the monitor. The room was dark and silent around us.
A sudden creak of the mattress made me jump.
Still unconscious, it hadn’t been the child. I looked to the foot of the bed and my blood ran cold.
There, sitting and holding the little girl’s other hand, was a woman I had never seen before in my life. Her clothes were as strange as the child’s had been, a green bodice and skirt made up in an ancient fashion. A breeze that I didn’t feel stirred the curls around her shoulders and I knew in an instant that she wasn’t really here.
Before I could figure out what on earth to say, she turned to me and spoke. “Please,” she begged, her voice melodic and almost otherworldly. “Save my baby.”
I simply nodded, unsure of how to respond to a request from a ghost.
The figure bent over the child and placed a kiss on her cheek, tucking the little girl’s auburn curls behind her ears. With this loving caress from her mother, the child’s heart rate became stronger and her eyelids flickered.
“Her name is Julia,” the woman whispered as she stood. Then, looking at me, asked, “You’ll take care of her for me, won’t you?”
“I will,” I vowed without hesitation.
“Julia?” The head matron repeated dubiously.
I shrugged, realizing how strange I must sound, “Call it mother’s intuition, but I think that’s her name.”
“Ye aren’t a mam, lass…” A slow grin spread across the woman’s face. “Unless this is yer way of tellin’ me somethin’.”
“No!” I shook my head, warmth spreading across my cheeks. “It’s just that I feel a sort of connection to her. She doesn’t have anyone, you know?”
“Aye, I ken, poor bairn. Just dinna get too attached to the wee thing.” She patted my shoulder as I left the nurse’s station and headed to my car.
Bzzzz. Bzzzz. Pause. Bzzzz. Bzzzz.
I knocked the phone off the bedside table in my haste to silence it. Sliding halfway off the bed, I snatched it off the floor and glared at the screen.
Six unread messages. Three from the Head Matron, my boss, and three from Gracie, my best friend and fellow nurse at the hospital.
Good Lord, they knew I wasn’t on call, right? I was just there and would be again in a matter of hours. What was so important that it couldn’t wait four more hours?
I scrolled thru the texts on my lock screen, still able to read them in the order received.
9am- HM- Yer bairn is awake.
9:15am- Gracie- OMG she’s so PRECIOUS
9:30am- HM- Any chance ye could come in early?
9:40am- Gracie- paging baby whisperer
9:50am- Gracie- PAGING BABY WHISPERER!!! REPORT TO BASE ASAP
10:00am- HM- Need you STAT
“Shit,” I muttered as I hit the button to call my boss.
“How soon can ye be here?” were the first words out of her mouth.
I yanked on my scrubs and ran towards the door, “Be there in ten!”
Fifteen minutes later.
Julia’s screams welcomed me as I pushed open the PICU doors. Thankfully, she was our only patient at the moment and wouldn’t upset any other children, but the sound was quickly tying a knot in the pit of my stomach.
“Katie’s here!” Gracie’s shoulders sagged with relief as she announced my entrance.
“What have you tried to get her to settle?” I asked, looking over my shoulder while I quickly washed my hands.
She sighed, “More like wha’ havena we tried.”
I grinned and winked at her.
I had a good track record of calming young children down when our tried and true methods failed, earning me the nickname of Baby Whisperer. It was a bit of a misnomer, though, as I was as normal as could be with infants.
Julia sat upright in bed, her cheeks red with the exertion of screaming bloody murder. A frazzled nurse looked up as I approached, giving me a thankful smile.
I greeted the distraught child in a sing song voice while still a good distance from her. Her head snapped in my direction and I continued speaking, switching to Gaelic for something new to distract her.
“Much, a eudail, chan eil caoineadh.” Shh, darling, don’t cry.
Eyes wide and suddenly silent, she stretched out her arms to me. I swept her onto my lap as I sat down on the bed. She took a deep, shuddering breath and melted into me.
“That’s the way.” I praised. Humming, I rubbed her back in gentle strokes until she was at last completely calm. I shifted her in my arms so she could see my face and smiled down at her, “You are such a brave girl, a leannan.”
Her dark lashes blinked slowly as she studied me, quite serious. A tentative hand reached out and patted my cheek as if in thanks.
I took it in mine and kissed it, warranting me a shy smile from the little girl who would quickly become my everything.