Penny sat on the couch and held out her hand. “I burnt my hand on the bloody fire. It’s so cold in this old place.”

“Do you have ice?” Quade asked.

“I suppose. My assistant had the place stocked up before I got here.”

Penny cradled her hand and watched Quade stride off into the kitchen, and of course Princess ran after her. “What is she, the Pied Piper of dogs or something?”

Penny was secretly pleased Quade came back today. It gave her the chance to apologize for yesterday. Last night as she lay awake, in pain and quite alone in this empty cottage, all she could do was think and replay the memories of falling and making a fool of herself.

Quade had only tried to help. She never laughed or made Penny feel silly, but Penny realized she’d been in one of her moods and taken it out on her new neighbour.

When something like that happened, the shutters of protection came down, and she knew she could be defensive and prickly.

Quade came back with some ice wrapped in a tea towel. Instead of handing it to her, Quade knelt in front of her and said, “Give me your hand.”

Unusually for Penny, she did as she was told and held out her hand. Quade wrapped the towel around her hand, and she hissed with pain.

Quade covered her hand with hers and looked up at Penny with what she could only describe as dreamy blue eyes. Oh my goodness.

Quade held her gaze and her hand silently, affording Penny the time to study the chiselled features in front of her.

When she first saw Quade yesterday, before she made a fool of herself and everything got out of hand, she had taken her breath away. In her social circle, butch had almost become a bad word, and those women who tended towards the masculine end of the scale did not look like the woman before her.

Quade looked like the butch characters whom she had read about in the romance novels she so adored. The kind of butch who strode on to the scene with extreme confidence, swept the girl off her feet while defeating the bad guys, and made lesbians hearts flutter.

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