As she got to her feet Arlo frowned up at her. ‘You know what? I’ve just remembered I need to call a couple of people back. But you don’t need to wait for me—in fact, you shouldn’t. Tell Constance I’ll sort myself out in a bit.’ Standing up, he walked over to his desk. ‘And take Nero with you, will you? Otherwise, he’ll just bug me to feed him.’
He made his calls and then, wanting to prove to himself that he could, he sat down and waded through his notes.
Finally, Nero came padding back upstairs. It was ten o’clock. ‘Okay, then.’ Pulling the dog’s silky ears, he followed him downstairs, but instead of heading to the kitchen, Nero trotted down the corridor.
He followed him into the library. It was dark, but the fire was still glowing, and opposite the fire Frankie was asleep on the sofa, a disorder of curls framing her face, the Amundsen book open beside her.
His shoulders tensed.
Should he move her? Probably not. She might freak out—and anyway that would mean taking her up to her bedroom.
He felt his body grow taut. He’d been shot, punched, and he’d suffered frostbite, but the idea of sliding Frankie’s body beneath the sheets and then having to walk away was a new, excruciating pain.
Leaning forward, he gently added a couple of logs to the fire and then, tugging a throw off the back of the sofa, he draped it over her body.
His jaw tightened. Now what? Sleeping on one of the other sofas seemed like a bad idea, but he didn’t want to leave her alone.
He glanced down at Nero. And he didn’t have to. ‘Up,’ he said quietly, watching the dog jump up onto the sofa and curl into a ball. ‘Now, stay.’
Body twitching, Arlo turned and walked swiftly out of the library, and away from a sudden, inexplicable desire to trade places with his dog.
* * *
When Frankie woke the sky was light.
She had been dreaming of Antarctica, sleepwalking across blue-shadowed frozen oceans, and for a few half-seconds the light pressing against her eyelids felt like the solid white sun shimmering above that endless polar landscape.
Except it was far too warm to be Antarctica.
Yawning, she opened her eyes and sat up.
At the end of the sofa Nero lifted his head, his tail thumping against the armrest. Her body tensed. Nero meant Arlo.
Heart pounding, she glanced over her shoulder. But the library was empty. She was alone.
She felt a flush heat her face. She hadn’t been alone last night—at least not in her dreams. Arlo had been with her, always just out of reach and hazy, as if he was walking through mist.
Her stomach did a clumsy little flip. It sounded weird, putting it like that, but dreams told you what you already knew. Her dream was simply proving that she found Arlo baffling.
Satisfied with that explanation, she patted the dog’s tousled head, her eyes following his gaze to the windows.
Surprise chased away her unease.
The trees in the garden were no longer bending over like supplicants and the sky was a dirty white instead of battleship grey.
Glancing at the clock above the fireplace, she frowned. It was too early for breakfast.
‘Come on, then,’ she said softly. ‘Let’s go and get some fresh air.’
Outside on the slopes a fine mist was making it hard to see the sea, but beneath her feet the short salt-soaked grass was speckled with tiny vivid pink-and-blue flowers.
Up ahead, Nero was bounding around in circles, clearly ecstatic at being able to have a proper run, and he was barking, yelping in excitement at something—
Not something. Someone. Arlo.
She felt a buzz go through her body.
He was walking out of the mist towards her, just as he had in her dream, his dark hair falling in front of his eyes, his long legs making short work of the springy turf.