Authors: Judy Campbell
Sometimes our first impressions of people are wrong! I have jumped to conclusions too soon about people I’ve met in the past, and I thought it would be interesting to explore my heroine’s initial response to Lachlan and her gradual understanding of his character because of his past history.
I’ve set this story, as I do many of my books, in Scotland—a place I love—and I hope you like the setting. It was fun to write—I hope you enjoy it too!
Return of Dr Maguire
Recent titles by Judy Campbell:
CELEBRITY IN BRAXTON FALLS
REUNITED: A MIRACLE MARRIAGE
FROM SINGLE MUM TO LADY
HIRED: GP AND WIFE
THE GP’S MARRIAGE WISH
These books are also available in eBook format
To Donald, patient and long-suffering
when the muse deserts me—my very own hero!
‘Cute, romantic and a hot doctor. What’s not to like?’
REUNITED: A MIRACLE MARRIAGE
not believe it!’ muttered Christa Lennox. ‘What the hell is that man doing?’
Titan, the Border terrier, lying at the foot of Christa’s desk, sprang up and looked at her enquiringly with head cocked to one side.
‘Don’t bark, Titan!’ she warned him sternly.
She opened the window and leaned forward to get a better view of the opposite wall, squinting through the dancing shadows of the trees nearby. Her gaze was riveted on a man perched precariously at the top of a ladder, hacking away at the guttering and filling a sack suspended from a rung.
Yet another thieving toerag trying to take what he could—and in broad daylight too! Well, she’d darned well show him he wasn’t going to get away with it—two burglaries in a fortnight were two too many! On top of the tragedy of dear Isobel dying so suddenly three weeks ago, it was just all too much...
Christa swung away from the surgery window and raced through Reception, closely followed by Titan. She ran towards the ladder at the side of the car park, her auburn hair escaping from its clips and springing out in a mad bob. No point in ringing the police on a Sunday—it would take hours for them to come.
She and Titan skidded to a halt at the bottom of the ladder.
‘If you’re trying to nick lead from the roof, you’re too late—it’s all gone!’ she yelled up at the man. ‘Get down now, or I’ll call the police!’
Titan joined in by barking ferociously and adding an extra growl or two for good measure. The man twisted round and looked down, frowning. He had tied a large handkerchief round his lower face so that only his eyes were visible. Trying to remain anonymous, thought Christa scornfully. ‘Titan! Titan! Be quiet!’ she commanded.
The dog lay down, panting with its tongue lolling out, and watched her adoringly. The man’s glance flicked over to Christa, slowly taking in her angry upturned face and sweeping over her indignant figure.
There was a pause before he said rather irritably, ‘Well—what is it?’
Christa, put her hands on her hips. ‘I want to know what on earth you’re doing up there!’
He raised an eyebrow. ‘Excuse me?’
‘Could you tell me why you’re on the roof?’
The man leaned on the ladder, a flash of annoyance in the clear blue eyes that met hers, then whipped the handkerchief from his face, revealing tanned good looks and an irritated expression.
‘Not that it’s anything to do with you, but I’m examining the guttering—it looks as if it’s on its last legs.’
Christa wasn’t to be put off. ‘Examining the guttering, my foot!’ she said angrily. ‘Come down now!’ she ordered. ‘I can’t carry on a conversation when you’re up there!’
He shrugged, half-amused. ‘Oh, for God’s sake...of all the bossy women...’ He descended the ladder, leaping lightly down the last three rungs, and the little dog sprang up and would have thrown himself at the man’s legs if Christa hadn’t grabbed his collar.
‘Don’t worry, Titan—I can handle this...’
Titan sank back unwillingly and Christa turned back to the man and demanded peremptorily, ‘Well? What have you got to say for yourself?’
He leaned against the wall in front of her with hands stuffed into his pockets, his eyes narrowed, ranging coolly over her. ‘Do you always sound like a headmistress? Now just what’s bugging you?’
A moment’s doubt—could this guy
be a thief? He seemed so assured, so...brazen. Surely a thief would have taken off by now? He stared at her boldly, and she decided that he was just bluffing it out, conning her into thinking he was a legitimate builder.
Christa drew herself up to her full five feet six inches and said majestically, ‘I want to know what excuse you’ve got to give for this daylight robbery—taking a chance because it’s a Sunday and the place is empty, I’ll bet!’
He laughed out loud and Christa blinked. He didn’t seem a whit worried by her threat to call the police or her accusation—in fact, he looked totally relaxed, in charge of the situation, no sign of being intimidated. She glared at him, looking him straight in the eye, and he stared impudently back at her, making fun of her. The cheeky bastard!
She shouldn’t have looked at his eyes—massive error! She was taken aback by their compelling shade of deep, clear blue, fringed with black lashes and...well, they were incredibly unusual...even sexy—which, of course, was nothing to do with the situation whatsoever, she thought irritably.
The man had a tall, spare figure, dressed in faded shorts and a ripped shirt, revealing a muscled torso. He could have got a job playing the lead in a James Bond movie or doing ads for some exotic men’s shaving lotion, reflected Christa... And for a split nanosecond she felt an unexpected flutter of excitement somewhere in the region of her stomach.
It took her unawares, made her cross because after her experience with Colin Maitland, she was off all men for a very long time, wasn’t she? She crushed the desolate, empty feeling that seemed to be a reflex action whenever she thought of that unmitigated rat, and told herself to stop reacting like a teenager being turned on by some celebrity just because the man in front of her was reasonably good looking.
She cleared her throat and said sternly, ‘If you’re not pinching lead, who gave you permission to look at the guttering—if that’s what you were doing?’
‘I don’t have to ask anyone’s permission—I own the house.’
She stared at him witheringly. ‘You
the house? Don’t be ridiculous! How can it belong to you? Dr Maguire only died three weeks ago and probate can’t have been granted yet.’
He said quietly and without apparent emotion, ‘Isobel Maguire was my mother. She left me Ardenleigh in her will.’
‘Oh, my God...’ Christa’s hand flew to her mouth, her eyes wide with embarrassment. ‘I’m really sorry—I didn’t realise...’ Her voice faltered, and she gazed at him in a stunned way. So
was the mysterious son, Lachlan, that Isobel had rarely mentioned, and who, as far as she was aware, had never visited his mother...
‘Perhaps you should make sure of your facts before making accusations,’ the man suggested coldly, an edge of sarcasm to his voice.
‘I had no idea who you were. If you’d let us know you were coming I wouldn’t have leaped to conclusions when I saw you with a handkerchief over your face on the roof,’ she protested, slightly stung that he was putting all the blame on her for not knowing who he was. ‘We’ve had such a spate of burglaries I thought you were yet another thief.’
He nodded rather wearily, pushing his spikily cut thick hair back from his forehead. ‘The handkerchief was to protect my lungs from the showers of dirt I was disturbing—but, yes, I guess you’re right. I should have told the practice I was coming. It’s all been a bit of a rush.’
Her tone softened. ‘We knew Isobel had a son, but we had no idea where you lived...’
‘I flew in from Australia on Friday and came up from Heathrow yesterday. I stayed in a pub last night, but tonight I’ll stay here if there’s a habitable room.’
‘You couldn’t make it to her funeral?’
‘No,’ he said curtly. ‘It was too late by the time I was contacted by her solicitor—I didn’t even know she’d died until a few days ago.’
Christa bit her lip. How could she have been so tactless? It was shocking that no one had known how to find him to tell him about his mother. He must feel terrible about that.
‘I’m so sorry...’ she repeated, and her voice trailed off, but the man had turned his attention back to the building. Christa looked at him more closely. Now she knew who he was, she saw the family resemblance to his mother, who had also been tall and with those clear blue eyes. There was no doubt he had inherited the good looks that ran in the Maguire family.
The man looked sadly at the vast untidy lawn, the dense undergrowth beneath the trees at the end of the garden. ‘Everywhere looks very neglected... When I was young the garden was always immaculate, and that little copse well managed. I guess my mother had no interest in the place.’
‘She was too busy,’ said Christa defensively. ‘Isobel’s work meant everything to her—and being on her own, of course, it can’t have been easy, having to look after everything.’
‘I don’t suppose it was easy, but frankly it looks as if it’s falling down. I can’t believe she left it in such a state...’
‘I know she kept meaning to have things done. There never seemed to be time...’
‘A great pity,’ observed the man with some asperity.
He didn’t seem to have much sympathy for his mother, reflected Christa, even though Isobel had been alone and had worked so damned hard that it had probably contributed to her death. There was something rather...well, callous about his attitude.
‘It may have been that latterly she wasn’t feeling very well and hadn’t the energy to turn to domestic matters,’ suggested Christa rather coldly.
Lachlan nodded. ‘Maybe you’re right,’ he conceded. ‘But just look at the state of those windows and woodwork... I used to escape through that window when I was a kid and was about to get a belting for something I’d done—I think it would fall out now if I opened it!’ He turned and held out his hand, saying briskly, ‘Anyway, it’s about time we introduced ourselves. I’m Lachlan Maguire...and you are...?’
‘I’m Christa Lennox, and I am...or rather was...your mother’s colleague, her junior partner in the practice.’
The expression on Lachlan’s face changed subtly from pleasant to wary, the blue eyes widening slightly. He repeated tersely, ‘Christa Lennox? You worked with my mother?’
‘Why, yes...’ Christa looked at Lachlan, puzzled. ‘Is there something wrong?’
‘No...no, of course not.’ Then he added casually after a pause, ‘I used to know a man called Angus Lennox—are you a relation, by any chance?’
A look of wry amusement flickered across Christa’s face. ‘Ah...the black sheep of the family...wicked Uncle Angus,’ she remarked. ‘How did you know him?’
Lachlan idly kicked a stone away from his foot. ‘Oh...he used to come to the house sometimes...’ He looked up at Christa, a spark of curiosity in those clear blue eyes. ‘And do you know what he did to deserve that reputation?’