Annis fell, hands over her stinging breast instead of out to protect her. Her knee hit a boulder, her thigh scraped in gorse and she rolled over as the pain made her almost vomit. Feet thundered past. She curled into a ball of self-pity and lay there until hands grabbed her under the armpits and hauled her upright.
Her rescuer was Hamish.
“You were ahead of me.”
“I came back.”
“You won’t win now.”
Hamish shrugged. “That doesnae matter. Can ye stand?”
Annis limped to the loch and waded thigh deep, standing in the icy water until her feet went numb, then sat on the shingle, leg stretched in front of her. Her knee was starting to swell.
“McCrieff needs to watch himself,” Hamish growled.
“It was my fault. I distracted him at the wrong moment,” Annis replied.
It had been an accident, hadn’t it? Malcolm had been startled to see her, and bashing into her so brutally had not been deliberate. Her excuse sounded desperately hollow.
Hamish turned his attention to the swollen knee. He pressed a cold cloth across the swelling and held it firmly in place. Annis swallowed the whimper that rose to her lips and instead gritted her teeth and swore like John surely would. Hamish eased her leine a little higher so her scraped thigh was exposed.
As her secret was about to be if Hamish’s hands travelled upwards any further.
She pushed his hand away. “You can stop now. That doesn’t hurt.”
“I think you’re lying,” Hamish said.
“I’m not!” Annis tugged her hem down, glaring at him.
“Yes, you are. And not just about your knee.” Hamish sat back on his heels. “I know you’re a woman.”
She expected to see anger in his eyes, or the threat of lust, but there was only a trace of amusement.
“How long have you known?”
“Since last night.” Hamish grinned. “Men don’t pee squatting down.”
Annis covered her face with her hands, cheeks flaming. Something as simple as that. “I thought I’d been so clever.”
“You were. I won’t tell.”
Annis sagged with relief.
“Did you follow me here?” Hamish asked.
Annis frowned. “Why would I do that?”
“To see me again?” His eyes danced.
“After such a short time in your presence?” She laughed disdainfully. “You esteem yourself very highly.”
Hamish folded his arms and gave her a cocksure grin. “No woman has ever given me cause to do otherwise.”
With those laughing eyes and well-toned body, Annis was sure of that. Every part of her body urged her to discover what he was like as a lover, even if it meant repeating her mistakes afresh.
“And how many broken hearts have you caused?” she retorted.
“How do you know that I have?” Hamish asked.
“Because you’re a man.”
Hamish bent his head and she noticed his cheeks flushed slightly.
“Will ye let me tend your leg?” he asked. “I won’t touch you higher than the injury.”
Annis drew up her hem. If he wanted to take advantage he’d had plenty of opportunity before. Hamish examined her thigh with gentle hands. His touch made her skin sing and every muscle within her contract with pleasure. She sighed and was almost disappointed when he kept his word and withdrew his hands.
He looked at Annis with an unusually grave expression.
“The man you are looking for,” he muttered. “It’s McCrieff isn’t it.”
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