Trapped, terrified, tense, and tactic. Words you would usually associate with bad things, but in this case, not. There’d been the big incident followed by a few smaller ones, and the dreams, and I had been tense and jumpy, and not a little cranky. Malcolm had gone out to the field to work on something, it was growing dark, and I was in the barn by myself, keeping my baseball bat in my free hand while watering the horses, startling at every noise, and constantly looking over my shoulder. Even so, I didn’t hear Malcolm when he came in.
I put my left thumb over the end of the hose to squirt it with maximum force, and spun around, swinging Willy as hard as I could.
It was already too late when I realized it was Malcolm. The man had fast reflexes. He ducked. Good thing, or I would have knocked him out. I did soak him, though.
I stood there, unable to do anything but stare at him, breathing hard, hearing only the blood pounding in my ears. I dropped the hose.
“It’s just me, Vi,” he said quietly.
He stripped his sopping shirt over his head, wrung it out, and slung it over a rung of the loft ladder. Willy clattered to the floor. Malcolm shook water from his hair. I moved back a pace, fear replaced by another emotion that elevated my heart rate.
“It’s just me,” he said again, coming forward.
He had broad shoulders and a well-muscled chest, just enough hair to run my fingers through, smooth skin highlighted by sunburn. The kilt rested on his hipbones, exposing his navel and flat abs. I moved away until I hit the wall. He came right up to me, his blue eyes pinning me in place. I could smell sweat and dirt on his skin.