‘Good session, Andy.’ Margaret gave the ex-soldier a smile, though she knew it wouldn’t be returned. The poor man had some serious PTSD following a few stints out in the Middle East. He’d been at the clinic for a wee while now. Ever since Charles and Esme had heard of his devastating injuries that had landed him in a wheelchair. There was no chance they’d abandon their older brother’s best friend in the military. Especially as he didn’t have any family to look after him. She felt a swell of gratitude for Scott’s fellow firefighters—how they’d rallied round him in his time of need. She swallowed back the inevitable sting of tears. It wasn’t worth thinking about what would’ve happened if they hadn’t been around for him.
The door to the training room opened and Flora, Andy’s physio, came in with her usual bright smile. ‘Alright, Andy? Has Margaret put you and Stirling through your paces?’
His eyes drifted up to her as he reached out to pet his service dog’s head. Flora and Margaret shared a smile. It was a small gesture, but a step forward. When they’d first met Andy, he was completely unresponsive. ‘How was your date the other night?’ Flora whispered as she unlocked the brake on Andy’s wheelchair.
Despite herself, Margaret grinned. ‘Not a date.’
After she and Scott had poured their hearts out to one another, the two of them had been ravenous. They’d eaten, shared more stories, and by the end of the meal, Margaret felt she’d learnt more about Scott in the one sitting than she had in all the time they’d been together. Afterwards they’d shared a chaste kiss and had agreed to keep the lines of dialogue open. To…well…not date exactly, but…to see each other and see what happened. There was still a part of her whispering, It’s too good to be true. A part insisting she stay wary.
When they emerged from the training room, Lyle walked into the reception area, where, beyond him, a car drove off from the castle. ‘Alright, everyone?’
They said they were, except for Andy, whose eyes drifted to his German shepherd.
‘Was that Charles away to his conference?’ Margaret asked.
‘Aye. A few days down south before the next group of patients begin to arrive.’ He put up a finger. ‘Which reminds me, I’ve got a young patient and her father coming from Norway soon.’
‘Norway!’ Flora grinned at Margaret. ‘Are they trainee Vikings?’
Lyle gave her one of his serious looks. Flora shrugged it off and asked, ‘Any special requirements?’
‘The little girl, Mette, will stay up here for the first stint, but her father will need accommodation. Is the wee cottage next to yours still available to let?’
‘I think so.’ Flora’s mouth twisted to the side as she thought about it. ‘I’ll ask the owner next time I see him and let you know.’
‘Excellent. Right, then. That’s Aksel and Mette sorted for now.’ Lyle tapped the files he was carrying. ‘Best get on.’ As he went to leave the clinic, the door was opened by a big, tall bear of a man who stood to the side as Lyle passed.
Flora’s eyes shot to Margaret. ‘Another date?’
‘Dog walk,’ Margaret said firmly. ‘In the rain.’ She nodded to the inclement weather beyond the floor-to-ceiling glass reception area. ‘Definitely not a date.’
‘Ahhh,’ Flora whispered over her shoulder as she began to wheel Andy out of the clinic. ‘I get it. It’s a test.’