Margaret stood at the entryway to the Canine Therapy Centre in a state of shock, watching as Scott’s taillights disappeared.
She was going to dinner with her ex. Her evil ex who’d gone to Canada to be a smokejumper and had dumped her after two years without so much as an explanation.
Her not-so-evil ex who looked as though he’d been taught far too many life lessons at such a young age.
‘Margaret!’ Esme turned her round from the floor-to-ceiling windows that framed the entryway to the clinic. ‘Are you alright?’
Margaret gave a perplexed shrug. ‘I think so?’
‘You told him where he could shove it, right?’ Esme was suitably indignant for a best friend.
‘Erm… We’re going out tonight.’
‘What?’ Esme’s eyes virtually popped out of her head. ‘On a date?’
‘No.’ She scoffed. ‘It’s not a date.’
‘It’s completely a date. You’re blushing!’
Damn her Scottish complexion! No amount of freckles could ever hide her blush when it hit this hard.
‘Margaret Murray, could you please explain to me why you’re going out with the man who smashed your heart into a million pieces? Pieces I helped pick up, if you recall.’
Margaret didn’t even try to protest. Esme had been the one who’d picked up each and every shard of hurt and pain. The one who’d shaken them out, then put them back together until she was near enough the same ol’ Margaret again. Except, of course, for that piece of her heart that would always be Scott Campbell’s. There was no way she could go through that again. Fine. She’d go to dinner, listen to his sob story, then tell him to take a hike.
Esme looked up as a woman covered in a Heatherglen mac ran through the front door.
‘Alright, Flora? Wet enough for you?’ Margaret looked back over her shoulder to the clinic, where they trained patients and dogs. ‘Do you have someone who needs a session? I saw Andy earlier. I thought he was the last appointment.’
Esme harrumphed. ‘She’s only asking because she has a date tonight.’
‘Oh?’ The physiotherapist shook her head. ‘I thought you’d given up on online dating.’
‘It’s not a date!’ Margaret protested. Feebly.
‘It’s Scott Campbell,’ Esme informed Flora. Crossly.
Flora’s eyes widened. ‘The firefighting chap who…’
Esme pressed her lips together and gave a sober nod. ‘Exactly.’
‘It’s not a date!’
Neither Esme nor Flora, also single, seemed remotely interested in her opinion. The pair of them nattered on about the sheer madness of her decision-making until Margaret finally put her fingers in her mouth and blew a sharp whistle. ‘Flora,’ she said, smiling. ‘Is there anything I can help you with that is work related?’
Flora grinned, totally unphased by Margaret’s indignation. ‘I was after Cassandra Bellew’s files. I think Lyle accidentally left them down here.’
‘The woman who had the accident in India?’
‘Aye, that’s the one. She’s in hospital in Germany right now but’ll be coming in a month or so if all goes well.’
Margaret checked the clipboard behind the counter. ‘She wasn’t on my list to get a dog.’
‘No, she won’t need one. It’s physio she’s after. I think Lyle just wanted to make sure there weren’t any dogs around exactly like the one she lost.’
‘Search and rescue,’ Esme explained as she headed to her office and found the file. ‘Lots of casualties.’
Oof. That must’ve been painful. She might’ve wished many things about Scott, but dead was never one of them.
Flora thanked Esme, pulled her mac hood back over her head, then threw Margaret a cheeky smile just before she left the clinic. ‘Have fun on your date!’
‘Not a date!’ Margaret turned on her heel and stomped off to the kennels, a smile playing on her lips.