Rachel & Jack Skye Series #3
The path of true love rarely runs smoothly…
When former Edinburgh police detective Jack Baxter met local author and crofter Rachel Campbell on the Scottish island of Skye, they fell in love. It was a second chance at happiness for both of them.
They both had emotional baggage. Jack helped Rachel cope with unimaginable grief after the death in combat of her soldier son, and Rachel was there for Jack after a criminal with a grudge almost ended his life. There were many bumps along the road but they believed they’d worked through and settled their differences.
However, Jack is struggling. Still suffering from post-traumatic stress, haunted by his past, and taunted by the demons of self-doubt, he feels Rachel deserves better.
Meanwhile, Rachel is busy preparing for the launch of her latest book – a book in honour of her son and aimed at promoting peace. So at first, she fails to notice just how troubled Jack is.
Can Jack overcome his demons?
Can Rachel convince Jack he deserves to be loved?
Can they finally resolve their differences and fulfil their dreams together?
Fulfilment is the third and final part in Rachel & Jack: The Skye series.
It follows on from Displacement (book 1) and Settlement (book 2).
This extract is from the middle of the book. Jack feels it’s for the best if he and Rachel split up and he’s about to tell her.
“I’m going to Edinburgh. Don’t know exactly how long I’ll be away – six weeks or thereabouts. I’m going to help Maddie out with some childcare, especially over the Easter holidays and I’m going to be looking into developing my project ideas. Ailsa and Bridget both have useful contacts and I’m hoping they can help me.”
“Okay,” I said countering the jealous twinges that the mention of his ex-wife and his ex-lover had produced with relief that his news wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d feared. “That’s good Maddie’s accepted your offer of help and even better that you’re moving things forward with your proposed venture. But why did you think you’d have to leave after telling me? Yes, it’s a surprise that you’re going but I’ve hardly got any grounds for objection. But in the meantime we need to have a bit of a catch up. Unless you’re setting off now. You’re not, are you?”
“No, I’m not leaving until tomorrow morning but I …” Jack rubbed the back of his head and neck looking even more tormented than before. “The thing is … I don’t think we … that is I think we should leave things … call a halt … you know … between us. Better for me, better for you.”
I gripped the back of one of the kitchen chairs to steady myself as my eyes filled and I felt quite sick. “What? No!” I said. “What do you mean better? Why? Is it because I’m away so much, because I’m so busy? But I … we … we can change that because I––”
“No,” Jack raised his hands as if to halt my talking. “No, Rachel. I’ve made up my mind. I love you, I do. I love you more than I’ve ever loved anybody. But I’m not right … we’re not right … I need to be on my own … at least for now. And you … you need––”
“Don’t tell me what I need!” I said, so distraught I almost choked. I want to support you, be there for you. Don’t push me away, Jack. You say you love me, said you would whatever happened but now … now … I need you Jack.” My tears began to flow freely.
Jack looked as distraught as I felt. “That’s just it,” he said, He came over to me and rubbed at my tears with his thumbs. “I don’t think you do need me … not really.” He brushed his lips against mine. But when I reached for him, tried to pull him closer, he gently pushed me away shaking his head. He turned and gripped the edge of the work top before thumping his fist down on it and turning back to me, his hands outstretched. “Look,” he said showing me how his hands were trembling. I tried to take hold of his hands but he jerked them away. No!” he said. “I don’t want to be this useless, needy, attention-seeking wreck – making unfair demands on you just like that useless ex of yours did. And when I’m with you that’s who I am. And besides that, you deserve better.”
“And like my useless ex you think you get to decide what’s best for me!” I was shouting now, tears of rage running down my face as anger overtook my fear. “I thought better of you, thought you were different. But no, you’re just like him.” I sank down onto one of the kitchen chairs.
“I think you’ve just proved my point,” Jack said, his voice now utterly flat and his expression utterly sad. He turned to leave.
“Wait,” I said as I jumped up to get between him and the door. I put my hands on his chest. “Not so fast. This isn’t all about you and your precious feelings. Don’t I get to talk about mine? Don’t I get to have my say?”
“No,” he said. “Please, don’t say any more. My mind’s made up. You and me, it’s not working. I love you too much to settle for second best – or to ask you to. I need to work and I need to focus on getting well. And I need you to let me do that.” He gently moved me to one side. “Please, don’t come after me.” And with that he left.
I don’t know how long I sat there in my kitchen trying to process what had happened.
I couldn’t make any sense of it. The abrupt switch from happy anticipation and excitement to utter desolation had caused some sort of short circuit in my brain. I don’t remember moving through to the living room and curling up on the sofa. I’ve no idea how long I lay there before Bonnie’s barking roused me from my misery – but it was getting dark outside as I sat up and responded to Morag’s shout of hallo from the kitchen.
It turned out Jack had asked her to look in on me. She knew what had happened and sensing that conversation was beyond me, she hugged me and held me tight as I cried in her arms. Then when I refused her offer of food, she made me some tea and coaxed me to drink it, before seeing me into bed with a hot water bottle and the reassurance that Alasdair would feed and walk Bonnie and see to my part of the croft rota. Morag stayed overnight with me at Burnside and she made me promise to come through to the spare room and wake her if I needed anything during the night.
I didn’t disturb her. After all, what I needed as I lay awake or drifted into short spells of light tormented sleep, was Jack. I needed Jack to hold me and dry my tears. I needed Jack beside me. I know I should have gone after him, spoken to him before he went to Edinburgh, but I seemed to be paralysed by a mixture of shock at what Jack had done and fear of making things worse.
Thank you, Anne Stormont and LoveBooksGroup.
About the author
Anne Stormont was born in Scotland and although she has travelled all over the world – including a teaching exchange to South Africa, four trips to Australia and several visits to the Middle East – it’s where she still lives.
She began making up stories as a child in order to entertain her four wee sisters. But as an adult, being busy with motherhood and working as a teacher, it took a long time and a mortality wake-up call for her to get that first book written.
She’s a compulsive crossworder, yoga practitioner, avid reader, keen walker and enthusiastic gardener. She can be a bit of a subversive old bat, but she tries to maintain a kind heart. She also loves tea, penguins and being with her grandchildren.
Fulfilment is the third of the 3 books in the Rachel & Jack: Skye Series. Anne’s books are all set in Scotland and are contemporary romances where the main characters may be slightly older but are not necessarily wiser.