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“Taking Chances”

Below is an excerpt from GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE, the ninth book in my OUTLANDER series.

Note that this excerpt may contain SPOILERS…

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We were silent for a time, and Roger’s head nodded; I thought he was nearly asleep, and was gathering my legs under me to rise and collect everyone for bed, when he lifted his head again.

"One thing…"


"Have you met a man—ever—named William Buccleigh MacKenzie? Or maybe Buck MacKenzie?"

"No," I said slowly. "Though the name sounds familiar. Who is he?"

Roger rubbed a hand over his face, and slowly down his throat, to the white scar left by a rope.

"Well… he’s the man who got me hanged, to begin with. But he’s also my five-times great-grandfather. Neither one of us knew that at the time," he said, almost apologetically.

"I see," I said, though I didn’t, quite. The name seemed familiar, though. "And so….?"

"He’s Geillis Duncan’s son by Dougal MacKenzie," Roger said quietly.

"Jesus H… Oh, I beg your pardon. Are you still a minister?"

He smiled at that, though the marks of exhaustion carved runnels in his face.

"I don’t think it wears off," he said. "But if ye were about to say ‘Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ,’ I wouldn’t mind it. Appropriate to the situation, ye might say."

And in a few words, he told me how Buck MacKenzie had ended in Scotland in 1980, only to travel back with Roger, in an effort to find Jem.

"There’s a great deal more to it than that," he assured me. "But the end of it—for now—is that we left him in Scotland. In 1739. With… erm…."

"With Geillis?" My voice rose involuntarily and Mandy twitched and made small cranky noises. I patted her hastily and shifted her to a more comfortable position. "Did you meet her?"

"Yes. Erm… interesting woman." There was a mug on the ground beside him, still half full of beer; I could smell the yeast and bitter hops from where I sat. He picked it up and seemed to be debating whether to drink it or pour it over his head, but in the event, took a gulp and set it down.

"I—we—wanted him to come with us. Of course there was the risk, but we’d managed to find enough gemstones, I thought we could make it, all together. And… his wife is here." He waved vaguely toward the distant forest. "In America, I mean. Now."

"I… dimly recall that, from your genealogy." Though experience had taught me the limits of belief in anything recorded on paper.

Roger nodded, drank more beer, and cleared his throat, hard. His voice was hoarse and cracking from tiredness.

"I take it you forgave him for—" I gestured briefly at my own throat. I could see the shadow of the small scar I’d left on his when I did an emergency tracheotomy with a pen knife and the amber mouthpiece of a pipe.

"I loved him," he said simply. A faint smile showed through the black stubble and the veil of tiredness. "How often do you get the chance to love someone who gave ye their blood, their life, and them never knowing who ye might be, or even if ye’d exist at all?"

"Well, you do take chances when you have children," I said, and laid a hand gently on Jem’s head. It was warm, the hair unwashed but soft under my fingers. He and Mandy smelled like puppies, a sweet, thick animal scent, rich with innocence.

"Yes," Roger said softly. "You do."

Return to the GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE webpage.

This excerpt was originally posted as one of Diana’s "Daily Lines" on August 18, 2016.

This page was last updated on Friday, August 26, 2016, by Diana’s Webmistress.