BLISS. Before that day, it had been three months of bliss.
Sure, our schedules were insane and it wasn’t the way I’d envisioned things when I thought about getting married.
We hadn’t even had a proper honeymoon; we simply didn’t have the time.
As the lead actor and the makeup artist on a fantasy series set in a remote area of Scotland, my husband and I had no opportunity to sail away for a honeymoon.
I loved Scotland, but I couldn’t deny that I dreamt of beaches.
The Caribbean, Hawaii, Thailand, Mauritius, or Fiji. . . I wasn’t picky.
Any one of them would have worked.
One day—possibly as soon as we wrapped on season two and maybe right before Hugh had to start shooting a movie in New York.
He had been cast for a small-budget action flick that was set to start shooting in June. I was over the moon for him, so happy he finally had access to more roles.
A honeymoon…on a peaceful, quiet beach…
The tension in my shoulders seemed to dissipate at just the thought of warm, sandy beaches and crystal blue water. As a California transplant in Scotland, I couldn’t deny that warmer destinations called to me now and then.
I’d heard a rumor on set that we might have to move the production of season three to Morocco, and I had to admit the idea excited me, even though I never wanted to leave the little cottage where we lived.
It was nestled at the bottom of a valley, not far from the beach, though not the type I dreamt of.
It was a rainy Scotland beach.
I loved taking walks by the stormy ocean, and more importantly, it was home.
To me, it was the most enchanting place, and some days I still couldn’t believe I got to call it mine. We’d stumbled on the cottage by chance. When Hugh and I had first gotten together, we’d gone there on a weekend.
Many months later, Hugh had surprised me with a fairytale-worthy proposal, and the engagement ring came with the deed of trust for the property. The man could really think of everything . . . whenever he wasn’t set on irritating me.
At the moment, my beautiful, talented, kindhearted husband was set on making me lose my temper, for reasons to me unknown.
It was December, and a ghastly winter day at that.
The weather had been hellish all week, with below freezing temperatures and unrelenting winds. I shivered in my parka, thinking about the long hours spent outdoors. It wasn’t too bad when we were working inside a studio, but of course we’d had to spend a couple of days reshooting some outdoor scenes.
Now that was behind us—thank goodness—and we were finally on Christmas break.
It was going to be the very first year I wouldn’t be joining my family for the holidays. We used to either spend the holidays in LA or travel wherever Amira had to be for work. After the previous year’s fiasco when I got stuck at London’s airport for more than a day because of a horrific snowstorm, I decided I wouldn’t be jetting across the globe again this year.
I had seen my family three months prior, when they traveled to Scotland to attend our wedding—the surprise wedding I had thrown my fiancé.
I glanced at my phone, hoping to find a call from him.
Nothing. Radio silence.
It was our first day off and I’d wanted to spend it together, but Hugh had other ideas. Apparently, he’d promised his male costars he would go on a hike with them before we had to go to Oxford to his parents’ place.
While my husband was an outdoorsy man through and through, I could only take so much. Being out on the mountains on a cold December day was not my idea of fun.
I shook my head, thinking about how he and his friend Mika were positively insane.
On top of leaving me by myself, my darling husband had given me a list of presents for his family that I absolutely had to get.
I’d begrudgingly headed to Edinburgh to do some shopping since St. Martin, the little town where we lived, lacked a bit in the shopping department.
Christmas shopping in Edinburgh was a far cry from Christmas shopping at The Grove in LA, surrounded by A-list actors and paparazzi trying to take their pictures.
Even so, I enjoyed walking around the busy streets of Edinburgh, and the town had gone through quite the transformation since the last time I had been there. Christmas decorations were everywhere, and the streets were lined with arches of lights upon lights. I was almost a bit sad I was there during the daytime and might not have the chance to see them lit up.
Everyone from the merchants to the tourists seemed to be in a cheery Christmas mood. There was not one, but two different Christmas markets—one on George Street, and the other one at East Princes Street Gardens with vendors selling everything from food and crafts to paintings and leather goods.
Although my husband had irritated me with his list of presents for his family—on top of what I had already gotten them—I had one errand of my own to run there, so all in all, it wasn’t too bad.
But, part of me really wished Hugh could have come along. My errand had something to do with him, and now he wouldn’t get to find out what it was until later.
I looked at the handwritten list I’d gotten from him and sighed, seeing that I was finally nearing the end of my shopping trip. I had crossed off every item, and I was about ready to head back to St. Martin.
Me: I’ve taken care of ALL the Christmas shopping. I’m heading home.
His text appeared just a few seconds after.
Hugh: Not yet.
Me: What? Why?
Hugh: Just do as I say, Sam.
Me: What does it matter to you if I go home or not? You’re not even there!
Just then, my phone started buzzing. I saw his name flash on the screen and let out an irritated sigh.
“Hugh MacLeod, this is a bunch of crap!”
“Sam,” he said in a low, breathy voice. He sounded like he was panting.
What is he doing?
“Are you still hiking?”
“Why do you sound out of breath?”
I heard a male voice in the background shout something. For some reason, I couldn’t place who it was.
“Who’s there with you? You better tell me the truth!”
“Why, Sam, are you a wee bit jealous?” I didn’t need to see him to know he was grinning on the other end. Smartass.
“What do you think, MacLeod? Number one, you ditch me to go with your friends. Then, you give me a list of things to get for your . . . our family”—I corrected myself—“and then you tell me I can’t go home? What fresh load of bullshit is this?”
He laughed. It was a sound I knew so well and loved so much, it made it practically impossible to be mad at him.
“I have to confess, I do love when you start cussing,” he said with a chuckle.
“Soon you won’t be so pleased. I’m a wee bit tired and I still have so much to do. I need to pack and . . . aren’t we supposed to leave tonight?”
“Or we could leave tomorrow . . . and have a night alone without having to get up at dawn to go to work. Let me make it up to you, Sam,” he said in a lower tone of voice.
Well, that changed things…almost…sort of. If there was one who could persuade me at times, it was him.
“Hmmm, I like the sound of that.” A night alone, without the dreaded five o’ clock alarm…and he said he’d make it up to me.
If I could count on anything, it was the fact that the man knew how to keep a promise, especially when it came to keeping his wife happy in bed.
“Fine, but I’m coming home now. I don’t care that you don’t want me to come back yet . . . what’s your motive, anyway?” I asked, and I heard him exhale on the other end, but he didn’t say a word.
It was then that I realized something.
I frowned, suddenly suspicious.
“Wait . . . MacLeod, what are you orchestrating?”
“Nothing, Sam, but I have to confess that I lied to you.”
“Yes, and I’m sorry, but I knew if I told you the truth, you wouldn’t be happy.”
A deep sigh escaped my lips and a strange ache took over my stomach.
Hugh and I never lied to each other—well, except for when I’d had to lie to him about the wedding, but we always told each other everything else. It was one of the things we’d agreed on right from the start. He’d lied to me? My head felt dizzy, my knees wobbly. I needed to sit down somewhere. I was holding my phone with one hand and I had five different bags laden with Christmas presents in the other, and my husband of three months had just admitted to lying to me.
“What did you lie about, Hugh?” I let out in a frustrated tone.
“I didn’t go on a hike. I . . . I’ve been here at the house, training with Winston for one last workout.”
“Winston? You’ve been training with Winston after what we talked about?” I asked in disbelief, but I was partly amused by the absurdity of the situation. My husband was addicted to working out. Sure, it came with the role, but I’d told him I thought he was taking it entirely too far.
Now he’d gotten to the point of hiding things from me so that he could sneak in another workout before the holidays.
“We better look into some kind of rehab facility for you, mister. You are officially addicted to working out, but dinna fash, laddie. I’m on my way to rescue you from Winston Styles . . . and from yourself. I’m coming home, babe.”
“Fine,” he said in a husky, sexy-as-hell voice, the kind that made me tingly from head to toe. I could picture him, bright eyes full of mirth and a smirk on his face.
I headed toward the parking lot and started making my way home.