Her Scottish Exile is based on a short story I wrote a few years ago as a gift for a friend. I thought it would be just the thing to publish as an Amazon/KDP short. Problem is, I lost the bloody thing. So I decided to rewrite it. Thing about rewrites, you tend to embellish and fix and add. It's turning into a lovely novel and I'm quite excited about it.
So, here is a very rough draft of a scene between the heroine -- Lainie -- and the hero -- Richard -- after their first meeting. Richard has offered to show Lainie the horses on this farm outside of Edinburgh, Scotland, in a small village called Linlithgow. It being a bit windy and chilly, Richard has gallantly offered Lainie a bit of tea to get warm and a jacket she can borrow when they go back so he can show off the horses.
He led the way and ushered her up the steps to his rooms over the barn. Opening the door, he waited until she’d stepped inside before following and closing the door behind them. “It’s no much but ‘tis comfortable. Ye can have a seat there if ye wish. I’ll put kettle on.”
She wasn’t sure what she’d expected, maybe a plain décor, if any. But his small home was nothing like that at all. He’d gone to the trouble of painting the walls a very homey yellow, hanging pictures of landscapes and, yes, horses on the walls. He’d managed a very nice sofa and a loveseat in the living room, along with a television and a stereo. The floor was carpeted and warm. There was another door and she casually walked toward it. There was a separate bedroom with a very comfortable looking queen size bed. He had a desk with his laptop sitting on top, along with a desk lamp. More pictures of horses graced the walls and there were two large bookcases – full of paperbacks and hard covers – up against the far wall. She swallowed the urge to check out his reading material and strolled back to the living room.
There was a small kitchenette marked out with a dining area attached. True to his word, he’d put the kettle on the small stove and was setting out cups and saucers. When he saw her watching, he raised up to ask, “Would you care for biscuits?”
“Um, sure,” she answered. “How long have you been living up here?”
He opened a cupboard and pulled out a tin, laying out several large cookies on a plate. “Oh, been here about a year now. I’m hoping to have my own flat soon. Something closer to university when I go in the fall.”
She sat down at the table, watching him putter away. “What do you plan to major in?”
“Uh, I mean…what’s your area of study? What degree are you going for?”
“Oh.” He hooked a stray lock of hair with his long index finger and pushed it back behind his ear. “I’m thinking of being a horse doctor, ye ken. A veterinarian. ‘Twas what I wanted to do…before.”
“Before what?” She propped her elbows on the table and leaned forward, resting her breasts on her arms.
His hand trembled a bit at that, but he managed to get the lid back on the tin and put it back up into the cupboard. He looked out of the corner of his eye at her before turning his attention back to the stove.
“I’m sorry,” she said, realizing that she’d just stepped in something. “I shouldn’t have asked. I’m really sorry. You don’t have to answer; it’s none of my business.”
He sighed deeply, then turned around to look at her. “No, you didn’t know better. It’s…just…well…”
It broke her heart to see it. He looked lost and insecure. He seemed to be wrestling with something and she wasn’t sure how to make this easier for him. She came beside him, resting her hand on his arm.
“No, really. You don’t have to tell me. It really is none of my business. But if you do want to talk, I promise never to tell a soul.”
The green eyes met hers, dark and brooding. He chewed on his lower lip for a moment, studying her. He furrowed his brow, trying to make up his mind. When his face relaxed again, he nodded at her, and poured the hot water in the teapot.
“Well, I already told Gerry and I’m sure he’s told Tessa. But I’d appreciate it if you told no one else. Please?”
She smiled up at him. “I swear it,” she answered, making a cross over her heart.
“You see, everyone else thinks I was in hospital for a time. And I was, see. When…”
“When your parents had the car accident that killed them. You were in the car too?”
He nodded. “I was a young lad. Sixteen.” He braced his hands on the cabinet, the muscles of his forearms standing out again. “Damn lorry bashed into us, doing sixty or seventy at least." His eyes darted to the corners of his eyes in a quick glance at her before returning to stare at the counter top. "Not paying attention to where he was going. Rolled our car. I was the lucky one, ken. I only broke both hips, my left leg, three ribs, and my left arm.” He chuckled to himself in a humorless fashion.
She moved closer, her arms going around his waist. He turned instinctively to her, holding her tightly. She laid her head against his shoulder, giving him her strength and silently encouraging him to go on.
With a slight quaver in his voice, he did. “I woke up three weeks later. In traction for a long time – I don’t even remember how long it was. Took me two years to learn how to walk again. Two years and four surgeries. I didn’t even get to go to my parents’ funeral.”
He shrugged, his voice artificially even and almost toneless. “I went to live with family for a while but I wanted to be on my own.”
“Don’t those stairs cause you problems?”
His voice was stronger now, the hard part had been said. “Wee bit sometimes. Only when it gets verra cold.” He disentangled from her embrace. “Here, ye best sit now. I’ll get the tea.”
She stepped back, smoothing her shirt front to have something to do. “Can I ask you a question?”
“Why don’t you want anyone to know what happened? It’s not like it was your fault.”
He froze again, but this time didn’t go into details. “Here, tea. I’ve got milk and sugar, if you want it. And lemon from one of those squeeze bottles. I don’t use it, myself, but I have it if you do.”
“No, milk and sugar is fine.”
They sat in relative silence, drinking the tea and enjoying the cookies. She wanted to take his hand, let him know that she was still there. But he seemed to have closed off again, his face revealing nothing. She started chattering, just to fill the silence. He didn’t stop her, but he didn’t seem to be listening either. After several minutes of no response, she went back to drinking her tea and let the silence take the moment.