"Hey, Laddie! This here's me property!"
Kelcie Roberts spun toward the man running in her direction. Who was this guy? Maybe she was at the wrong house. No. She'd checked more than once and this was right. It was private property near Airdrie, Scotland.
Wait. His property? Was he Mr. McGinty? He didn't look like Mr. McGinty—this guy was too young. The closer the man got, the more she could make out his large blue eyes, brown hair, and slight dimples. He was more handsome than most of the models she'd dealt with in the past.
"Are you Mr. McGinty?" she asked. "If so, you sound much older than you look."
The man slowed and approached her, his hands going to his hips. "McGinty? No. Now get off me land. This is me home. I don't like trespassers."
Trespasser? She was far from it.
"But I talked with Mr. McGinty," she said. "He owns this land. I'm not a trespasser. My name's Kelcie Roberts. I traveled here from Minnesota and was promised I'd be allowed to conduct an archeological dig…" She looked downward and stamped her foot. "On this exact spot."
"Not in my yard, you don't." He moved her baseball cap upward slightly.
"Hey. Hands off, Buster!" She swatted his hand away and straightened her hat.
His eyebrows lifted. "You're a ginger woman? Ye look like a man with that hat and ponytail."
She glared at him right in the eyes, even though he towered over her height by a few inches. Since she was about five foot ten, that made him around six feet or so. "Don't touch me or I'll call the cops." She knew her voice came out as threatening, but she was ready to call the local police. This guy was just getting on her nerves.
"Don't get so regina," he said in a flippant tone.
Her hands flew to her hips. "Regina? Are you deaf? My name's Kelcie."
He rolled his blue eyes. "It's slang and means upset, kind of like maddy."
"My name's not Maddy, either. Are you trying to tick me off or is it your natural personality?"
He blew out a sigh and pursed his lips. "I'll keep the slang to a minimum for your American brain." He assessed her hair, which seemed weird to her. "You're really tall for a woman. Do they feed you growth hormones over in the States?"
"I beg your pardon?" She narrowed her eyes and moved toe-to-toe with him in a challenge. "Are you making fun of me?" She was ready to take him down.
"Women should be short and petite." He took a step back and raked his eyes down over her. "You look like an Amazon with no meat on her bones."
She'd never been described like that before, but it told her she'd managed to reach her goal of not being recognized. However, this man was downright rude and she had to put him in his place. Being almost six feet tall was no crime. "Are you serious? Do you always speak your mind to strangers?"
"If they're on my land without me permission, I do." He crossed his arms. "Why are you still here? I told you to get off me property."
He was more than annoying. "I was to meet Mr. McGinty, who promised to help me rope off the allotted amount of space, so we'd both agree on it. He checked to make sure there were no power lines or pipes in that area and gave me permission—"
"And shouldn't have."
She was more than angry with this guy. "Stop interrupting me! I have permission—"
"It's not his permission to give." The man's mouth formed a scowl as he moved closer to her face. "Do ye know who I am?" His nose rose an inch into the air, showing his arrogance.
Her stomach fell in disappointment. "No, but Mr. McGinty promised me—"
"I'm the owner of this property," the man said. "It's been in our family for generations, passed down from my grandmother on me mother's side. I didn't give you permission to do anything on me property." He turned and pointed to the metal marker from where she'd begun counting her 26 steps to find the spot she'd been waiting to uncover. "See that? That's got me mum's family name on it. This here's the old homestead and I intend for it to stay intact. This is me home and I don't want anyone messin' with me property while makin' lots of noise, either."
All the wind was forced from Kelcie's lungs, stunning her. "But you don't understand. I was promised. I have all the paperwork. I was given legal permission by the town as well as from Mr. McGinty." She reached into her overalls pocket and pulled out the contract, handing it over to him. "I even have the workers lined up to start early tomorrow morning. Mr. McGinty gave me two weeks to dig, and even though I know that's not enough time, I'm sure there's something here I can find from the original house that burned. He told me he owned this land."
"He doesn't anymore." As the man rubbed his chin, he looked up at the cloudless sky, not even glancing at the paperwork in his hand. "I did give McGinty permission to see fit as he wanted, because I've been out of town." The man lowered his gaze to her face, narrowing his eyes to a squint. "Me answer is no. I want you to leave me land. Not two weeks from now, but now." He shoved the contract back into her hand. "Or I'll call the constable and have him remove you."
Anger rose in her cheeks, which were certainly turning red. "Go ahead. I have a legal contract, Buster, and traveled here with permission." She waved the paper in her hand. "Even the constable knows about this."
"But I have power in this country. You're out of luck." He thrust his finger toward the back of the property. "I need this land so me team can walk over to the football field I just had installed. It was very expensive and I'm not about to jeopardize you hurting me home's curb appeal." He pointed toward her car. "Now be gone, woman. This is a manly home and you're not welcome."
Her mouth fell open in shock while her shoulders sagged in defeat. What a male chauvinist pig—and a Scottish one at that. She didn't have time to play these games. However, there was no talking sense to him, reminding her of her own evil brother.
Now she'd have to go through legal channels to get the rights to dig on his land. She just hoped she could get it straightened out that day. With no extra time or money to stay any longer than two weeks, she couldn't even return home. That return plane ticket was non-refundable.
After sticking the contract back into her pocket, she crossed her arms, shooting him one last dirty look while walking away. She had the contract and the right to dig for the artifact.
The man's cell phone rang but Kelcie kept heading for her rental car. Since the paperwork was also in the constable's office, she'd have to talk to the constable and explain what was going on. She might even have to go up the chain of command to get what she wanted.
Maybe some law professional or officer in the constable's office would talk to this guy, or find Mr. McGinty and straighten it out for her. Maybe the chief constable would throw this owner in jail for being so mean. Maybe she should sue this owner guy.
She couldn't go to any unusual lengths to dig on his property. That would get out to the press and her father would be really angry.
"That's scummy, Fiona!" the man yelled over the phone, behind Kelcie.
With a final glance, she saw the guy staring at her, making her feel the same way she felt when she was a model—nothing more than a piece of meat. She took the last few steps toward the car, knowing she had to fight for what she'd been promised. If the constable said she couldn't dig, she'd have to rethink her entire dissertation, starting from the beginning, which wasn't an option. Money was the issue more than anything else. Ever since she'd told off her wealthy family, she'd been on her own. But it was their decision—not hers—to control her life, making her proud of standing up to every one of them.
Right when Kelcie opened her car door, someone grabbed her arm. She turned, seeing the mean man eyeing her from top to bottom while still on the phone. She clenched her jaw. He had to be kidding with that sudden killer smile. Now he was going to be nice to her while checking her out? She should've punched him out right then and there.
The man moved the phone away from his mouth, his gaze still on Kelcie and his hand still on her arm. "Don't go anywhere," he said to Kelcie. "You'll be perfect."
"Perfect for what?" Kelcie asked.
He didn't answer her but returned to his call, his eyebrows furrowing. "Fiona, I'm done with you. Since you have your own invitation, you're on your own for the wedding." He turned off his phone and smiled toward Kelcie. "I want to talk to you about this dilemma we have." He paused and took a breath. "I may have been a bit hasty in me denial."
She wondered what had happened to him. The more she watched his face, she could almost feel it coming. She was going to be used. "Why? Is it because of that phone call? I'm not a play thing for you." She wanted to shrug out of his grasp, but reconsidered it. She wanted to know what he was up to for some reason.
"I want to barter with ye."
"Barter? What sort of barter?" Who bartered anymore? Was it a Scottish thing?
He glanced toward the street. "Won't ye come inside to discuss this with me? I don't want the neighbors thinkin' I'm desperate."
Since there weren't neighbors close enough to see his house, she knew this was a ploy to get her inside. "Desperate for a discussion?" she asked, taking the time to check him out. "You're more pathetic than I thought."
While appearing to reign in his anger, he removed his hand from her arm and held it out for her to take. "Please? A lovely lass like you needs to be spoken to properly."
As she narrowed her eyes slightly, she studied his face. She was definitely going to be used because no one was this nice unless they wanted something—especially not someone as angry as this man who thought he was famous.
She had to know more. "Will I regret this? You seem very rude and downright nasty. I don't trust you one bit and I'm not sure I want to be alone with you." She moved closer to his face in anger, clenching her teeth. "I know karate and can take you down if I want to."
He raked his right hand through his dark hair. "I promise I'll be a gentleman. Please just hear me out."
He held out his hand again, but she crossed her arms, not trusting him.
He stared at her arms. "I see. Just come with me, please?"
"I'm not sure if I should."
He sighed. "I said please. Do you really hate me that much?"
"Pretty much. I've been treated badly and don't appreciate it."
He stared at her as if trying to figure something out. "I just want to talk to ye and apologize. I was wrong and I'm just having a rotten day. Can ye forgive me?"
She had to consider it, because she wasn't a hurtful person. Maybe they could rectify this problem without the constable and he'd let her dig in the land. "Fine. Nothing funny, buddy."
"Aye." His chuckle was endearing.
He ushered her toward the door, but she kept her distance, not trusting him. Any man who would go from cold to hot in an instant was bordering on insane.
"What would you like to drink?" he asked. "Are ye a tea drinker, by chance?"
"No. I hate the stuff." She still didn't trust his motives. "Why are you so nice? What's gotten into you?"
He grinned with such a look, fear filled her head and she moved away from him. "Maybe I should leave. I have to meet with the constable." She spun around and took a few steps toward the rental car before she felt two hands on her shoulders from behind. His mouth moved to her ear in such a hot move, she took a deep breath and blew it out slowly. This man had whatever it took to get to her, and if she wasn't careful, he could steal her heart.