Jess didn’t know why she’d thought she could escape. Eighteen years of marriage, of torment and fear, and she’d thought she was finally free. But could he let her go? No. It wasn’t enough that he’d dragged things out and not signed the divorce papers for months, but now he’d followed her to Scotland. It had sounded so simple. Take a trip with her girlfriends to get away for a while, leave the kids at home with the grandparents, but it was fast turning into a nightmare.
Nicholas didn’t seem to have any interest in the kids, even though they’d seen their fair share of his special kind of attention over the years. She didn’t understand why he wanted her back. Love had been missing from their marriage for a long time, if it had ever truly existed. All he did was belittle her, and that was on a good day. The other days he let his fists do the talking.
She felt the Scotsman approach, had noticed him the previous night, but the last thing she needed was a hookup. Men were the bane of her existence and she was much better off without one, right? Maybe if she found a nice man someday, one who would treat her kids like they were his own, then maybe she could see herself giving love another try. Too bad there wasn’t some magical way to know you were destined to be with someone.
She refused to look up at him. If she ignored him, would he go back to the bar?
Gently, he pinched her chin between his large fingers and turned her to face him. She saw the concern and anger in his eyes when he noticed the bruise on her cheek. It wasn’t like she could hide it.
“What happened, lass? Who did this to you?” he asked.
“We don’t need your help,” her friend Monica said, a hand on her hip. “Just go back to your buddies at the bar. If you’re looking for a quick lay, you won’t find it here.”
The Scotsman held her steady gaze, his hand still gently holding her chin. “I’ll nae hurt her. I want to help.”
“You can’t help me,” Jess said. “No one can.”
“Now, lass. That cannae be true. I swear it, if you tell me who did this to you, I’ll see you avenged.”
Her eyes widened a little. “Avenged? What exactly does that mean?”
She had visions of a sword-swinging barbarian going after Nicholas, which almost made her smile. She’d love to see the look on his face if this huge Highlander went after him with a claymore. Her lips twitched.
“Ah, that was almost a smile there, lass.” His lips tipped up on the corners and her breath stilled. She couldn’t remember ever seeing a more handsome man before. What he was doing at her table she didn’t understand. “Tell me his name, lass. I ken just aboot everyone in this town. You tell me who’s responsible and I’ll see that justice is done.”
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