quarters fuel the fire that crackles between them.
The woman who opened the door was a matronly sort, dressed in a somber blue that nevertheless was a pleasant color for her complexion. Her smile was an easy one, as if she had long practice at being pleasant.
“May I help you?” she asked. “If you’re a friend of the missus, she’s dining with her family now. Like as not it’ll go on for a few hours. Do you need to see her?”
The smell of food wafted out of the house. Rose was so hungry she could define each separate scent: fish stew, freshly baked rolls, roast beef, and something that smelled like fruit cake.
Her stomach growled, as if she needed reminding she hadn’t eaten a real meal in two days.
“Mr. MacIain,” she said, pushing aside both her hunger and her fatigue. “Is he here? I need to see him.”
“You’ve business with Mr. Duncan? Well, he mostly transacts his business at the mill, miss. Wouldn’t it be better to call on him there?”
She didn’t know where the MacIain Mill was. She’d taken his home address from the letters he’d written Bruce.
“I’ve come from America,” she began, and had no more said those words than she was dragged into the house by her sleeve.
“Well, why didn’t you say so from the very first? From America? All that way? And here I let you stand on the doorstep. Is that your valise? And your carriage? We’ll take care of both right away.”
The woman, matronly only a moment ago, had turned into a whirlwind.
Rose found herself being led through the house, following the scent of food until she thought her stomach would cramp. In moments she found herself standing in the doorway of a small dining room.
Dozens of people, it seemed from her first glance, were seated at the table, all of them attractive and well dressed. Some of them were smiling as they looked up.
“Duncan? This lady came all the way from America to see you.”
She couldn’t think for the hunger. She couldn’t even speak.
A man stood, and she thought that hunger must surely have made her hallucinate. Tall, brown-haired, with the most beautiful blue eyes she’d ever seen. He smiled so sweetly at her, so perfectly handsome and kind, that she wondered if he was real.
He was broad-shouldered, with a face that no doubt captured the attention of women on the street. They’d stop to marvel at that strong jaw, that mouth that looked as if it could be curved into a smile or just as easily thinned in derision.
She hadn’t expected him to be so arresting a figure. No doubt that’s why she wavered a little on her feet.
“Yes?” he said, coming around the table toward her.
“Mr. MacIain? Duncan MacIain?”
He regarded her with a direct stare so forceful she felt as if her will were being drawn out of her with that glance.
She reached out one gloved hand toward him. Suddenly everything changed. The air around her grayed. The floor rushed up to greet her instead of him. Yet he somehow caught her when she fell. As he did so, she had the strangest thought, one that troubled her even as darkness enveloped her.
This was why she’d come all this way.
writing when she was five. Her first published work was The Maple Leaf, read
over the school intercom when she was in the first grade. In addition to
wanting to be a violinist (her parents had a special violin crafted for her
when she was seven), she wanted to be a lawyer, a teacher, and, most of all, a
writer. Though the violin was discarded early, she still admits to a
fascination with the law, and she volunteers as a teacher whenever needed.
Writing, however, has remained the overwhelming love of her life.