Alex's Celtic Knot Clan Wallace Crest.
Knowing Her ...again. Chapter 4
Parts 19 to end
One cold frost December morning just a few days before Christmas, Alex had left Ellie snuggled in bed, and walked over to the hotel to get the mail. As she entered the hotel, she was met by Uncle J with a package in his hand.
"Morning Alex, it's finally here!"
"Thank the good gods for that," Alex breathed a sigh of relief. "When I asked you to organise it before I left the States, I had no idea it would take so long."
It would have helped if you'd known the right size first time, my darling child." J grumbled.
"I know, I know...but what was I s'posed to do, tie a bit of string around it?? I had to find one she wears, and measure it when she wasn't looking."
She smiled in anticipation of giving this gift and collected the rest of the mail.
"See ya later, Uncle J."
He waved at her and she strode back to their croft, to find Ellie up and clasping a steaming cup of coffee in her hands, as she sat cross legged on the floor in front of the fire.
"Hmmm Hi Gorgeous," Ellie yawned and stretched. She always looked like a kitten when she did that and Alex watched her with open pleasure.
"What's in the Mail?"
Two for you, Hon"
Ellie looked at the letters and recognised Dany's handwriting. Dany and Ann were her two best friends who ran her business in America. The letter contained a cheque and Ellie looked at it.
"I feel really guilty, taking this when they do all the work."
"You started the business, my love; it still depends on your reputation." Alex quickly defended her partner's case.
"Yes, I know, you're right...but I really want to write and surely the incentive of earning a living might focus me, if I didn't have this income."
"You don't have to worry about an income, my love." Alex spoke quietly to finally raise a subject much on her mind of late.
She was aware that Ellie was looking at her and waited for the inevitable question. She had learned...No, in fact she had always known, that Ellie was a straight talker, and she took a deep breath for the next part of the conversation.
Ellie's voice was quiet but Alex felt the underlying tension and irritation in it.
"Alex, I have always been independent, and earned my own living since I was 18 years old. I have no intention of stopping now. Jus cos you are a 'rich bitch' who never needs to work again... don't start with me, Baby Blue Eyes or you will find out very quickly, that you can take the girl out of Texas, but you can't take Texas out of the girl."
Alex felt the rage from the petite blond and cursed herself for her clumsiness. She had not intended to insult her beloved and now it had all gone badly wrong...she knew she needed to do something very soon or Ellie would retreat behind her wall and be unreachable for days.
"Ellie, you don't understand...I'm sorry...I'm just such a Klutz when it comes to these things."
"Damn right there." came Ellie's stiff reply.
Alex knelt beside the love of her life...lives...and took her face in her hands.
Ellie resisted to begin with and the finally looked up into Alex's amazing blue eyes and began to forget why she was mad...
"Ellie, listen to me....I want ask you something...I was going to wait until Christmas day...but.... hey....I'm in so much trouble here..."
She drew a deep breath and took from her pocket, the package she had received from J that morning...she opened up the red box and held it up so Ellie could see it. Then she waited until Ellie reached out to take the ring from the box. She gazed at it and forgot her irritation. Shining at her was a smaller version of Alex's gold signet ring. She could see the delicate engraving of the Wallace Crest intertwined with the Celtic knot and her heart began to beat like a drum in her chest.
Alex's voice, hoarse with emotion whispered,
"There's an inscription inside."
Ellie turned the ring to see the words on the inside of the ring ...
"Together through time, forever."
Alex reached over and placed the ring on the pinkie finger of Ellie's left hand.
Ellie held up her hand and saw the firelight glint on the ring. She didn't trust herself to speak but turned to Alex and her tears overflowed, as Alex reached for her hand, and whispered,
"Will you marry me, Ellie???"
There was no reply other than Ellie's arms reaching up around Alex's neck, and holding on tightly, as she sobbed.
The next few days were lost in the run up to Christmas and the two women helped Uncle J and Jeannie to decorate the Hotel with brightly coloured lights and the biggest Christmas tree Ellie had ever seen.
Taking a break, with a cup of coffee, Ellie sat cross legged on the couch in the bar and mused. Her memories of Christmases with Dany's family were good, but as much as they had all tried, Ellie could never really join in. She kept herself away from the 'family thing,' and she supposed it was her instinct to protect herself from the terrible memories of her Father. Strange then, that this year, she found herself really looking forward to the festivities
Christmas day dawned and Ellie looked out onto a winter wonderland of crisp white snow and blue skies.
"Wow, a White Christmas!!"
She stroked the arm that held her and listened as her partners breathing changed.
"Happy Christmas, Hon." she whispered, and a sleepy voice returned the greeting and followed it with several kisses.
They had a small Christmas tree in the living room with a few gifts under it. They had each, craftily, got gifts for each other. Ellie had cornered Hamish one day at the hotel, and got him to agree to collect the gift that she had ordered for Alex, when he gone to Inverness on business. She had known exactly what she wanted to buy her lover, and had researched it on the internet whilst Alex thought she was working on her novel.
She waited though, until Alex handed her a large box. She opened it and laughter bubbled up from her as she saw a toy Highland warrior in full Scottish regalia brandishing a huge Claymore above his head. Alex reached over and pushed a button in the base and a full throated Scots war warrior whoop issued from the toy.
"I thought you could use this to practise your yeeeehah's for the next ceilidh." Alex grinned
Ellie eyes shone with pleasure at the gift, she planted a big kiss on the luscious lips presented to her and reached under the tree.
She picked up the small package and handed it to Alex with another kiss.
"What is it," Alex asked.
The blond shook her head and smiled indulgently at her partner.
"Dumb question Babe!! Just open it and find out!!"
The dark head bent to the task and carefully opened the gift so as not to tear the paper. She opened the velvet box and looked inside.
She saw a thin band of white and yellow gold twisted together and
Ellie's voice whispered in her ear,
"I know you are not big into jewellery, darlin', but I thought this little ring could nestle right next to your big signet ring so that you'll always know that I love you, with all my heart and soul."
Alex reached out and took the big signet ring off her left hand; she looked at Ellie, her voice hardly a whisper.
"Put it on for me, wouldya??"
Ellie slid the tiny band onto Alex's pinkie finger, and then returned the big signet ring so that the two rings nestled together. They seemed so different and yet fitted together so well.
Alex lifted Ellie's left hand and brought their matching rings together, only then did she trust herself to speak.
"It's beautiful, my love, thank you. I will never take it off."
They sat and savoured the moment before hugging really hard.
The two women had agreed to keep their wedding plans secret until after Christmas. They had both gone to the local Registry office to post their intent to form a Civil Partnership and had only to wait the required time for the ceremony, so all was in place.
"Uncle J and Jeannie have enough on their plates. Christmas is always a busy time at the hotel; it's pretty much fully booked." Alex remarked as they left the croft to join their family for Christmas lunch...
The Hotel was buzzing with life and twinkling lights and, the joined locals and guests alike in the festivities. The wine flowed, food was plentiful and the carol singing was lusty and, for the most part, tuneful.
Uncle J was in his element and insisted on raising a toast every five minutes; Toasts to life, love, friends, Scotland and anything else that entered his head and each toast was greeted with roars of applause.
Ellie was helping to clear the table and was on her way to the kitchen when Uncle J stopped her. He eyed her fondly and pulled her in to his arms for a hug. Ellie had come to love the feel of his arms around her and she felt completely safe there. She returned the hugs and kissed his hairy cheek.
"Great gig, Uncle J....you guys really know how to party!!"
"Thank you for bringing a smile back to Alex's face." His quiet words brought an unexpected lump to her throat, her pleasure on hearing these simple words was off the scale and she beamed at the grizzled old Scot.
"Believe me, Uncle J, it has been my pleasure!!...What you don't know is that it was Alex who put this smile on MY face!!" They both smiled and Uncle J dropped a soft kiss on the blond head.
The evening continued in much the same vein and many were a little worse for wear. Iit was past midnight when the two lovers kissed J and Jeannie goodnight, returned to their croft and feel asleep in each others arms.
As they drifted off, Ellie, who was lying in the usual place, with her head tucked under Alex's chin, whispered.
"I can't remember a nicer Christmas, thank you, my love."
"Me neither, my wee girl, sleep tight, sweet dreams."
"Always when you are right here, Alex."
Two days later, the mail brought the date and time for their wedding and both beamed at each other.
"OK, now it's time to tell Jeannie, Uncle J and the gang." Alex's voice betrayed a little trepidation.
"It's our day and I don't want a circus...Do you??"
"No of course not." Ellie replied.
The two women decided that they would tell only, Uncle J, Jeannie, Hamish, Donald and Dany and Ann in the States.
Ellie made a call to America and Alex was amused and delighted to hear the shrieks from the phone as Dany and Ann received the news. They were very happy and sent love and hugs.
The two soulmates then went to the hotel and were pleased to find Uncle J and Jeannie enjoying a drink, with Hamish and Donald.
When Jeannie had provided them with a drink, they all sat down together.
Uncle J looked at Alex and asked suspiciously,
"What's going on, Alex. You've got the same look on your face that you had when I caught you pinching my best malt, when you were 16."
"Never could fool you, Uncle J. Well, Ellie and I have some news for you."
She waited and smiled at the expectant faces gazing at her quizzically.
"We are getting married on 3rd January."
The two women sat back and waited. They were not disappointed as all hell let loose. J and Jeannie were hugging each other, Hamish had grabbed Alex and Ellie found herself being swung around by Donald as they all whooped with delight.
It took several minutes for Alex to restore order before they all sat down again. As had been expected, everyone began to organise the event, totally excluding the two guests of honour and, in the end, Alex yelled at the top of her voice.
"STOP THIS NOW!!!"
When everyone was quiet, she spoke again.
"This is our day and we will organise it. It will be a quiet affair with just the six of us. Then we will come back here for a meal. End of. Got it?"
Her tone left no room for argument and with Ellie nodding her support, the rest had no choice but to agree. However, one victory which Uncle J thought that he had won was that the wedding was to be held at the Hotel. Strange that he hadn't guessed that that was exactly what the soulmates had wanted all along!!
In the intervening days, the New Years celebration so beloved of the Scots, Hogmanay, took the pressure off the two soulmates and they were left to plan their day in relative peace.
Hamish and Donald would stand as Alex's Sidesmen, in Scots tradition. Uncle J had nearly choked on his tea when Ellie asked him to give her away, and Jeannie was to be Ellie's witness.
They had stuck with tradition and Ellie had spent the night of the 2nd January at the Hotel.
Donald and Hamish had stayed at the croft and done their damndest to get Alex drunk, but it was they who had fallen asleep on the rug in front of the fire, while Alex kept a clear head.
The day dawned and it was Alex helping her Sidesmen to get ready, as they nursed sore heads.
"Hell, Alex," Donald muttered, "Why do we never learn, Huh?"
Hamish was adjusting the white rose Alex wore on her waistcoat, and he grinned ruefully.
"I never thought I would see this day, Alex. I never thought you would ever get married."
"You and me both." Alex replied.
The three of them drove to the Hotel, which had a room specially certified for civil marriages and Alex was delighted with the way Jeannie had dressed it. The flowers were simple white roses and some gentle Scottish music played in the background.
The Registrar had arrived in good time, and Alex stood ready with her Sidesmen and took a deep breath. The door opened and Alex felt her breath taken from her as Ellie walked in on Uncle J's arm. She wore a simple dress in a soft pastel green, the coat she wore over it, a darker green that matched her eyes perfectly. She carried a single white rose and her face shone as she saw Alex.
Alex had chosen to wear Highland dress. The Wallace tartan with a Bonnie Prince Charlie jacket was complemented by a white ruffed shirt and her trademark waistcoat with the Celtic Knot. The long cream woollen socks to her knees held the traditional dagger or Sgian Dubh, and soft black leather pumps completed her outfit. Hamish and Donald were dressed in their own tartans and stood full square at Alex's side.
As Ellie reached her, Alex held out her hand and Uncle J put Ellie's hand into it. He caught his niece's eye and she saw the pride shining from his face.
The registrar began the ceremony and the two lovers exchanged the simple vows each had written.
"Ellie, I promise that I will love you for all time, care for you through good times and bad and hold you in my heart, always and ever. Even in death I will never leave you." .Alex spoke the words as she held the gaze of the beautiful green eyes of her love.
Ellie's voice was trembling as she held Alex's hand tightly.
"Alex, I never dreamed that I would ever deserve the love that we have found. You are my family and I will spend my lifetime and beyond, showing you, how precious you are to me. You are the breath of life to me, my love."
They clasped hands and touched their matching rings together for a moment and the registrar announced that their partnership was complete.
They hugged each other, Uncle J, the boys and even the registrar and tears flowed from every eye. Arm in arm, they walked out to the sound of a piper.
They turned into the dining room and were greeted by a scene the like of which they could never have imagined. It was filled with their friends from the village and beyond; and Alex's colleagues from the University. They all greeted the couple with applause and whoops of joy. Alex and Ellie stood dumbfounded as Uncle J looked at them. "Sorry, you two, everyone wanted to share the day with you, I hope you don't mind?"
The newly weds smiled and J heaved a sigh of relief.
However, there was one more surprise coming their way. A pathway cleared through he crowd and Ellie could not believe it when she saw Dany and Ann standing there, with huge grins on their faces. The three women fell together and just stood with their arms around each other, shedding silent tears.
Eventually, they moved apart, just enough, to beckon to Alex to join the hug.
"Ya didn't think we'd let this day pass without a real old fashioned Texan shindig, didya??" Ann cried.
The party was a happy occasion and they realised how nice it was to have so many friends near them on this special day. Uncle J did his usual trick of raising toasts to the happy couple, their friends from America, the registrar and everyone there.
The music began and as more musicians joined in, the party turned into a ceilidh with dancing and even the Scottish Sword dance performed by Hamish and Donald. Thankfully, Alex reflected, they hadn't yet imbibed sufficient to make the dance a dangerous undertaking.
Dany and Ann appeared dressed in Stetsons and cowboy boots and dragged Ellie onto the floor for an impromptu demonstration line dance, accompanied by raucous rebel yells. Despite her protestations that she couldn't dance, Alex was delighted to see her lover really enjoying herself, and glowed with an inner joy.
When Ellie was returned to her seat to recover her breath, Dany and Ann were taken off by Hamish and Donald for a Scottish reel.
Uncle J came over and sat next to Ellie. He eyed her fondly and pulled her in to his arms for a hug; she returned the hugs and kissed his hairy cheek.
"I need to ask you a question, lassie." he whispered, and ensured that Alex was engaged in conversation with her neighbour.
"Sure Uncle J....shoot."
"Has Alex had any nightmares since you met??
Ellie sensed the tension in his voice; she looked into his blue eyes and touched her hand to his face.
"Just one, Uncle J...just one and it was the last."
His eyes filled with tears and he smiled back at her.
"Och, Lassie, and you have no idea why that is so important do you??"
"Maybe, I do ....a little, Uncle J, and I promise you that I will spend my life making sure that that darkness never, ever tortures her again."
Their shared understanding of the promise Ellie had made, was to cement the relationship between the Big Scotsman and the little Texan closer than any blood tie ever could.
Alex had seen the interchange but had no idea what had passed between the two most important people in her life. She could see that whatever it had been could only have been good, and she smiled '
As the music began again, Ellie rested her head against Alex's shoulder and sighed.
"Happy sigh, Ellie??"
"You betcha, my love."
At that moment, Uncle J called silence for another toast, and as the room fell silent as he raised a special cup. It was silver with two delicate filigree handles on each side of it. A buzz went round the room as the cup was recognised as the Wallace Quaic. All Scottish families have Clan symbols and this one was known to be a potent symbol for James Wallace of Applecross. The Quaic had been handed down, from generation to generation, for hundreds of years and he held it aloft, brimming with fine malt whiskey.
Hamish and Donald came to stand on either side of the big man and their eyes shone with pride and love as they held above his head two Claymores, each heavily inlaid with intricate engravings and crossed together at their hilts.
Alex's eyes narrowed as she recognised her Uncle's intent; she reached for her lovers hand and pulled her to her feet. Ellie looked bemused but rose with Alex.
Uncle J's voice boomed across the room.
"I call upon all present to draw near and hear me. Today, I, James Duncan Wallace, of the Clan Wallace, welcome a new member to my family. She is to enjoy all the rights and privileges of my name and hearth, from henceforth and for all time."
He raised the Quaic and gazing into Ellie's eyes, he toasted her.
"To you, Ellie O'Brian-Wallace. Welcome, wee lassie."
He drank from the Quaic and then he, walked to where Ellie stood next to Alex. He offered the vessel to Ellie and, in stunned silence, she sipped the strong liquor. The room erupted into whoops and cheers as locals and guests alike, recognising the import of what had just happened, celebrated the tiny blond, standing in the circle of Alex and Uncle J's arms, with tears of joy streaming down her face.
The End..for now!!
And so, hopefully the scene is set for our girls to begin their lives and adventures together...again!!
Watch this space!!!. Mel R
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