Far From The Island – Episode 45

“You have a visitor, Miss Matheson. I’ve shown them into the parlour.”

“Thank you, Nurse McKinley,” Fiona said to her landlady, casting aside the textbook she was supposed to be studying, though in truth she had merely been staring at the pages.

After a quick check of her reflection in the dressing-table mirror she made her way down the narrow stairs. Could it be Ella? Her cousin had been so busy preparing for her new teaching role that she had not seen her for weeks. But Nurse McKinley knew Ella. Perhaps it was Matthew? But her landlady knew him, too. Besides, Fiona had seen Matthew just the other day at the clinic. Work-wise, things were as they had always been, but as far as friendship was concerned, Matthew had erected a small but perceptible barrier between them. She doubted it would ever be removed, and acknowledged that she had no right to expect it, either. So, if not Matthew, then who?

Fiona opened the door, and stopped dead in her tracks. His rugged, solid presence seemed to fill the small space. His hair had been tamed and smoothed back from his tanned face. Fiona’s first thought was how very, very attractive he was. Her second was that she had no right to be thinking such thoughts.

“Euan. What are you doing here?” Realising that this sounded most unwelcome, Fiona pasted a smile on to her face. “I mean, it is nice to see you.”

He laughed, a deep rumble of a laugh which had an edge to it.

“Nice? That is some way to greet someone who has travelled halfway across Scotland to see you.”

Was he nervous? If so, it was infecting her, too. For some reason, her knees were shaking. It was with great reluctance that Fiona let go of the handle and closed the parlour door behind her.

“Would you like some tea?”

“No,” Euan replied baldly.

Definitely nervous. Fiona edged her way into the room, stopping behind the sofa. Isabel had informed her that Louisa had left Heronsay and would not be returning. Isabel had speculated wildly as to the reasons, but Fiona had not allowed herself to hope. Taking fresh stock of Euan, she saw that the suit he wore with such an air was both new and well tailored.

“You’re stopping by on your way to visit Louisa in Edinburgh!” she exclaimed. “Is that it?” It all made horrible sense. Isabel was wrong. No man would give up someone like Louisa, who wasn’t just rich and beautiful but, by all accounts, very nice into the bargain.

“Fiona . . .”

Was that pity on his face? Colour flooded her cheeks as Fiona realised how her remark must have betrayed her.

“I am pleased for you,” she said determinedly.

“Fiona, I’m not going to see Louisa, and I’m certainly not getting married to her.”

Her heart, which had been racing, now skipped a beat, and then began to go even faster.

“She’s a lovely woman, and I’m sure she’ll make some man very happy, but it won’t be me.”

“Oh,” Fiona said again. Her breathing was as erratic as her heartbeat now. Her thoughts were whirling. Euan was not going to marry Louisa. Euan was not in love with Louisa.


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