Yesterday was the first anniversary of An American Cowboy in Scotland
“Rhona, what can I do for you?” She looked me up and down as though I was some creature that had just crawled out of the sewer.
“This is Lord Macallan. He’s the new owner of the Strathdougall estate. He needs a room,” I said.
Her gaze swept back up the bekilted American and her expression turned mocking. “I’m afraid I have no vacancies.”
I turned to the little sign in the bay window of her living room, which doubled as the breakfast room. “Your sign says you have vacancies.”
“I forgot to turn it round,” she said, staring me straight in the eye without the slightest sign of discomfort. I have to say that for a woman who had spent her life preaching to children the importance of keeping the ten commandments, she was pretty damned brazen when breaking the ninth one.
I turned my back fully to Lord Macallan as some kind of shield to the machinations of the nasty woman who used to be the helpmeet of the man who was the spiritual guide of our village and spoke sotto voce.
“Oh come on, Mrs Barclay. You and I both know you have vacancies. Even in the height of summer you have vacancies. Strathdougall is in the arse end of nowhere and nobody ever visits. Surely you can’t turn away a paying customer. I’m sure he’s house-trained, even if he is American.”
“I’ll even put the toilet seat back down after I pee,” came a lazy drawl from behind me. I groaned inwardly.
“I’m sorry, Rhona, but we’re full.”
“Mrs Barclay!” The door was being shut in my face. Lord Macallan reached out a hand to stop the door but he was too late. I caught a brief whiff of his aftershave. Damn, the smell of wet wool and aftershave was quite sexy.
“I apologise—that didn’t help but I didn’t like being spoken about in that manner,” he said.
I ran my hand through my now soaking wet dark brown hair and sighed, looking up at him. “Saying you are house-trained—it’s just British humour. I didn’t mean to offend you. She has rooms. But a lot of people in the village are antagonistic to the idea of an American inheriting the estate, even though we’ve known it was going to happen for a couple of years now—ever since the old Lord Macallan’s nephew died in that tragic boating accident.”
He waved away my apology. “So, is there another guest house?”
“Not in Strathdougall.” I shrugged. There was only one thing for it. I didn’t like it but it seemed that Karma owed me another kick in the hind quarters. “Come on. You’ll have to stay with me.”
“Oh I couldn’t put you out like that.”
I waved my hand dismissively. Of course he was putting me out—massively. But this was what happened when you didn’t do your job properly. I should have arranged a room with Mrs Barclay and done the wheedling beforehand so that she would have accepted the big Texan into her home, no matter how ungraciously. At least the poor man would have had a room.
“Honestly, Lord Macallan. It’s no bother to me. I’m just sorry you have to stay in my small, dingy and messy cottage.”
“I don’t mind staying in your cottage but I feel like you’re going to a lot of bother for me. I’d prefer you to call me Cole, though, if we’re going to be living together.” His lips quirked into a cheeky smile and I couldn’t help mirroring his expression. I bit my lip to suppress it but he knew he had got me. He obviously knew he was handsome.
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