Scott sucked in a breath.
He knew that look.
He felt it, too. Seeing the new man he was reflected in her eyes.
He’d left Scotland a rugged, game-on-for-anything Jack the Lad and had come back a thirty-two-year-old man too wise for his years. Some—his physio for one—would say he’d become detached. He called it wary.
Wary because he knew a heart still beat in his chest and he was about to find out if the woman who it beat for would have him back. After all he’d put her through, he knew he didn’t deserve it. He’d had his reasons but he’d learnt the hard way there was no gain without the pain of trying.
‘Scott…’ Margaret’s voice was barely audible. ‘What are you doing here?’
‘Margaret.’ Her name bloomed on his lips. It tasted like sugar and meant I love you. ‘Margaret, I—’ He took a step forward.
The blonde woman—Esme, he presumed—put a hand up for him to stay where he was, then put a protective hand on Margaret’s arm. ‘Is this the Scott?’
Margaret nodded, those green eyes of hers never leaving his. ‘Esme Ross-Wylde, meet Scott Campbell.’
Instinctively he tugged his collar up around his neck where the scarring was the worst. His hair covered the burns on his scalp and his perma-stubble hid the small streaks of scarring along his jawline that would mark him for life. Not that it mattered. What had truly cut him to the core was watching his best mate lose his life in the same cruel forest fire, knowing there wasn’t a damn thing he could do about it.
Margaret’s hands flew to her mouth, stemming…what was it? A sob? Horror? Joy?
‘Scott, I— Are you alright?’
Her question exploded in his chest like fireworks. She hadn’t moved, wasn’t throwing her arms around him, but there was compassion in her eyes. The film of tears glossing over those green eyes of hers told him she could see he’d been through hell. He prayed that those unspilt tears were proof he’d come through the other side. Proof she could love him again.
Esme shot him a look so cool he actually felt the temperature drop. ‘Margaret’s actually very busy right now. What can I help you with?’
There was a knock on the door frame. A serious-looking chap around his age stepped in—mid-thirties, rusty-coloured hair, a few inches shorter than him. Maybe six foot and a bit? He was carrying a file that looked like medical records. Scott should know. He had a similar one in his duffel bag sitting in the back of his truck.
‘Lyle, hi! Perfect timing,’ the blonde woman said, sending Scott the side-eye.
What the— Had she called security?
Esme addressed Lyle. ‘Margaret’s ready to show you round the kennels for that patient you’ve got coming in. Cassandra, was it?’
Lyle looked between the three of them, visibly confused.
‘Ezz,’ Margaret said, eyes still glued to Scott. ‘If you don’t mind, I think I need to hear about the reject Scott was after.’
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