Duncan froze in the act of polishing Jessica’s sleek black European sedan.  His ears were surely playing tricks on him!  He could have sworn that he had just heard Jessica invite him into her bed.

Such an invitation would be the fulfillment of a dream he had nurtured for the past two years, a dream he had given up all hope of having come true.  “I’m sorry, lassie,” he stammered, unable to do little more than gape stupidly at his ex-wife.  And despite his reluctance to do so, Duncan found himself asking Jessica to repeat her words.

“Never mind,” she murmured softly and escaped back into the safety of the house.

Duncan quickly tossed aside the terry cloth he had been using on the car’s surface.  His feet took him flying across the leaf-covered expanse of yard that led to Jessica’s backdoor.  “Jessica!”

He barreled into the warmth of the kitchen where he could hear Jessica moving about.  “Jessica-”

“Just forget it, Duncan.”

It did not escape the Scotsman that his ex-wife kept her back turned to him.  The lean beauty’s back was straight and upright, symbolic of the barrier that, only moments ago down, had sprung quickly back into place. 

“Jessica…” he gently grasped her by the arm and forced her to face him.  And though her beautiful face was impassive, Duncan read easily the apprehension and reserve in her eyes.  Apprehension and reserve that his carelessness had put there.  Carelessness that he hated himself for.

“Lass, I promise ye that it isna some kind of male pride that makes me want to hear ye ask me again.  And it isna me making you beg me to come to y’ur bed.”  Unconsciously Duncan’s hands tightened on Jessica’s upper arms.  “Lass, it is all about me not believing that ye have found a way for y’ur heart to forgive me!”

“I haven’t forgiven you,” Jessica replied softly.  “But I am finally ready to try.”

At her words, Duncan’s eyes closed and his head fell forward.  He took several deep, shaky breaths before meeting Jessica’s gaze once more.  His eyes glistened with unshed tears.   “Ye dinna know,” his rich Scottish accent was thicker than ever, “how precious ye words are to my heart.  Jessica, I promise ye that I will never-”

Jessica placed slender fingers against his lips.  “You have been on your knees long enough,” she said, referring to the past two  years of overtures and apologies.  “Let’s just try to begin fresh from here.”

Duncan surprised Jessica by taking her hand gently within his large one and leading her to the bedroom.  In the past, a romantic situation such as the one before them would always inspire Duncan to sweep his ex-wife up into his arms and carry her to bed.

“For just a while,” he said, pulling Jessica – fully clothed – onto the bed beside him, “all I want is the pleasure of holding you in my arms again.”