Half-naked Duncan


“Attempting to persuade me that I interrupted an intimate moment between you,” Stefan replied dryly.

Jessica’s mouth fell open in disbelief.  “What?!”  She shook her head as though the action would negate the statement she had just heard.  “Duncan, what is wrong with you?”

Stefan took in the beauty’s outrage with a small smile.  Jessica’s fiery spirit was one of the things that kept him captivated by her.  Her elegance, beauty and intelligence were all secondary to her unshakeable sense of independence.

“You promised me that your being here was not some kind of ploy,” Jessica reminded her ex-husband angrily.  “But the first chance you get, you do something like this!”

Duncan kept his gaze trained on the irate woman standing before him even though he wanted nothing more than to turn and punch that little half-smile off his rival’s face.  “I am sorry, Jess,” he said.  “It willna happen again.”

“No, it won’t,” Jessica agreed.  “I think you should get a room at the Oakdale Inn.”

There was no point in arguing with Jessica, Duncan knew.  He had been caught in the act and had no credible defense for his instinctive reaction to the man who sought to usurp his position.

“Aye, if that is what you want.”  Duncan headed for the guest bedroom where his things were located.  He did not even glance Stefan’s way.  There was no need to compound Jessica’s anger by confronting him.  But Duncan promised himself that the day would not end without arranging a private conversation with his rival for Jessica’s heart.

“I’m sorry about that,” Jessica apologized once Duncan left the room.

“There is no need.”  Stefan smiled faintly.  “After my initial instinctive reaction, I realized that it could be nothing more than a desperate attempt to foster doubt between us.”

Jessica arched a finely groom eyebrow.  “Quite confident, aren’t you?”

“Yes.”  Stefan’s tone was arrogant and unapologetic.  “But moreso than that,” he added seriously, “I was wise.”  The handsome aristocrat reached out and brushed a curl from Jessica’s cheek.  “What sane man would interrupt an intimate moment with you?  For any reason?”

From the doorway of the guest bedroom Duncan McKechnie watched Jessica melt into the other man’s embrace.  He realized, in a moment of desperate clarity, that he had to do something quickly.  Or Jessica’s love would be lost to him forever.