Lonely Pride—Beneath Southern Skies Book 1
“You didn’t have to put yourself out on my behalf,” she thought to tell him as they walked across the car park.
In a way she knew was deliberately lustful he eyed the curves of her body before he said, “No trouble.” His gaze turned cold as he raked his eyes over her, from her wind-tossed hair to her ankles. They reached an off-road vehicle and he opened the back door, tossed her cases in, then held the passenger door open for her. “I’d do the same for any old friend,” he added as, with slight difficulty, she got in. He didn’t offer her a helping hand and she wouldn’t have accepted it if he had. Once in the driver’s seat, he flicked on the air conditioning, and Sam sat back with a sigh as the cabin filled with cool air.
Tears pricked at the backs of her lids. It took all her willpower to hold them back. He turned to stare at her profile. The last person in the world who would see her cry would be him. How she wished she knew what was going on in his head. Once she would have known--or thought she had.
Once she would have come right out and asked him.
Instead, she asked tautly, “Just how is it the successful town vet can take time out to pick up old friends anyway?” Turning to glance at his weather-creased face she swallowed a sigh when his lips curled tauntingly. Quickly she returned her gaze to the hands twisting in her lap.
“It is Sunday. And even successful vets can take a few hours off some weekends. Especially when they have a partner who can take care of emergencies if they arise.” They’d stopped at traffic lights and he gave her the full intensity of his dark brown stare, causing her to shift in discomfort.
“Oh yes, I almost forgot. The reliable Clare.” The air in the cabin, if possible, became even more strained with tension. “Your partner. How is she these days?” With a fingernail Sam scratched at an imaginary fleck of dust on her skirt. “Mum told me she’d joined your practice. There must be a great deal of work around to need the services of two vets in such a small town.”
“Come off it, Sam! You know as well as I that my practice encompasses a vast area and there’s always more than enough work to keep two vets occupied.” With an uncustomary jerk he changed gears, then shot off so fast she was sent jolting forward into her seatbelt. “And if you’re really interested in Clare, she’s as she’s always been; ambitious and able.”
“Too ambitious by far I should think for such a small town in the back-blocks of Tassie.” Lifting her hair she flicked it back with a careless motion. “Who would have thought she would return to her hometown. The enticements must have been enormous to encourage her to come back to stay.” Why didn’t she shut up? She was treading on dangerous ground. But they both knew; where Clare was concerned she’d never known how to conceal her dislike and disgust.
“Clare keeps her own counsel, as always.” His voice was terse. “Despite what you may think I didn’t ask for her reasons and she hasn’t volunteered the information. I needed a partner and she was in need of a position.” The glance he tossed at her was full of censure and they travelled for a few miles in tension-packed silence.
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