Does your head throb a bit? A general ache in the joints plaguing you? Irritability and poor recall? Good lord, look at the flowers. Stop the car. Between one sentence and the next, Julie Leonard became a different woman. She went from ignorant of her own bodily needs to awestruck by the scenery. They were passing through one of the dozens of villages decorating the Fife countryside, and even in early spring, the more ambitious shop owners had pots of flowers adorning windowsills and stoops.
She slumped against the seat. I could stare at the flowers all day. My mother loved flowers and they loved her too. Some golf, but a lot of azaleas, flowering cherry trees, artfully informal beds, a dramatic white dogwood or two. Niall turned down a road too narrow for lane markings, and pulled to the verge to accommodate oncoming traffic. She was much concerned with locations and plans, and not enough concerned with her own welfare, particularly for a woman on holiday.
I favor a quiet place to eat. While she peered at exposed Tudor timbers and rioting pots of geraniums, Niall discreetly pitched her damned gum into the nearest waste bin and made plans to have a very pointed chat with Uncle Donald. Julie had expected Scotland to be all high, craggy hills, and sea coast, with a few golf courses, a bagpiper and some and crumbling castles tucked here and there. Zero for three, Leonard. A prosecutor got used to days like that, even a good prosecutor.
Niall led her to a table at the back of an establishment straight out of the Keebler cookie Black Forest. Dark beams, brilliant white plaster, profusions of flowers at each window box. The interior was solid wood floors, deep-set windows, and low, dark exposed ceilings any Tudor traveler would have found welcoming.
Niall passed her a worn menu on green card stock. Why come to Scotland for golf, Julie Leonard? You can play golf all over America and spare yourself the jet lag and some expense. He was laughing at her again. Hilarious guy, Niall Cromarty. Julie ignored the proffered glasses. Learn from the best, forget the rest.
How could a man look philosophical, sexy, relaxed, and a touch sad while he ran a finger around the rim of his beer glass? Children are good teachers, too, and the elderly. Judges play golf. Dessert would mean squinting at the menu. Derek had said she looked like his fifth grade teacher, Sister Mary Francina, when she squinted. If the fish and chips were any indication, the sticky-toffee-whatever would be heavenly.
Also full of calories. A windy game is easy to find. Why golf, Julie? Why golf in Scotland? This was how a witness felt after two hours of hostile cross examination. Reckless, loopy even. The waitress chose that moment to approach with what looked like bread pudding slathered in a glaze redolent of whisky, topped with ice cream that had flecks of real vanilla in it.
Niall pushed the dessert across the table to Julie. We know a lot about shame and rage, here.
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Makes for interesting golf. Dig in.
One thing I learned: The Coo is an excellent place to refuel an empty belly. The ice cream was half-melted, the sauce had thoroughly soaked into the bread, and good whisky perfumed the lot. No wonder Julie was enraged, if she never finished her treats.
Niall dug in, ignoring the fact that she watched him eat dessert the way the women among gallery groupies had watched his backside. Julie fished around in the depths of her bag, a shapeless black canvas sack that screamed pragmatism on the outside, and likely lacked any sense of organization on the inside.
Niall closed his hand over hers before she could start waving bills around. The woman was absurd. Scotland is a hospitable place and you barely touched this dessert. Brilliantly warm, in fact, and bashful to the point of transforming her from a brisk, brittle, business traveler to a lady whose short game might be intriguing.
Niall saluted with his spoon. She daintily blotted the smile away, rose, and moved off to wash her hands ten times, or inspect the location of the fire extinguisher.
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Americans were odd that way. Niall finished every bite of the pudding, paid the bill and went outside into a spring day gone a trifle chilly.
Gray-bellied clouds clipped in from the east, and the breeze bore a damp warning, while the sun still stabbed down in golden shafts between the overcast to the west. Julie Leonard came through the front door, her cell phone in hand. He was smiling at her, at her determination, at her silly schedule, at her dutiful acknowledgement of the quality of the meal, and her complete lack of awareness of her surroundings. For a time, Niall had been among them. Julie settled in, buckled up, and heaved out a sigh.
I hate chess. Did you still want to take photos of the flowers in the village? His nearest neighbor, the dratted Declan MacPherson, grew flowers as a form of horticultural revenge. Megan Leonard rubbed gritty eyes, blinked, and tried not to stare. Morag Cromarty barely glanced at the guy lounging at the corner table in The Wild Hare pub.
The pub was straight out of a Robin Hood movie set—thick whitewashed stone walls, low dark beams, and an enormous fireplace full of blue and white potted pansies. To go with his plain black, pleated kilt, he wore combat boots that laced halfway up muscular calves and a denim jacket with a streak of dried mud creasing one shoulder. A perfect horseshoe of mud, open end up to catch the good luck, even. Megan still had difficulty understanding Morag, not only because she had a heavy Scots burr. Morag also spoke quickly, and tended to be halfway to her next destination, tossing words over her shoulder as she marched along.
She was nearly dozing with her eyes open when a set of small, cloven hooves and furry little knees came into her line of sight, along with the scents of fresh cut hay and expensive hand cream. He was tall and muscular, both, which was probably the definition of the word braw , and his dark auburn hair hung nearly to his shoulders. He held the sheep with one hand and his beer with the other, though one of those seventy-pound longswords probably numbered among his fashion accessories.
Your date seems a little low on charm. The sheep bleated, a ratchety, scratchy noise that would draw the attention of every hungry predator on the premises. Those with flocks will bring a lamb to the pub after the wedding, and Julie and Niall will have a good start on a herd. Morag was engaged in conversation with the bartender, but something—besides the sheep whisperer—smelled good and homey, like a grilled cheese actually being grilled.
He leaned closer, bringing those grassy, meadowy scents with him.
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Men did not intimidate Megan, not even handsome Scotsmen who could throw her across the room like one of those Viking sledgehammers at the Highland games. Men were like ferns. They had a place in some bouquets but were never the item of central interest. I might like to nibble on you too, sweetie.
Eserleri ve Katkıda Bulundukları
The members of the wedding party hook up, and a good time is had by all. Would you like to hold my lamb? Two weeks. Megan extracted the livestock from the grip of its owner, the lamb accepting the change of venue calmly. Also the most original. If I fall asleep before lunch gets here, kiss me awake.
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