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‘That’s nice,’ she said. ‘Reunited.’

‘Exactly what she always said she wanted.’ He glanced at the headstone again then at the path ahead. ‘Shall we catch up with them?’

Erin looked in the direction he was pointing. ‘Oh! Yes. We better had.’

Leo held out his hand and she glanced at it for a moment before accepting it. ‘The ground is a bit uneven and slippery too because of the leaves. At least we can hang on to each other and then if one of us slips the other one can hold them up,’ he said, feeling the need to explain his gesture.

‘Good plan!’ she said, smiling.

They followed the others and soon caught up, mainly because in her heels, Angelina was struggling to do more than shuffle along. They took a right off the main path and then walked along a smaller chalky path with wild box trees growing either side of it. Up ahead of them lay the grey stone building known as Box Hill Fort. Leo knew it had been built around 1892 and used to store ammunition and equipment as part of the London Defence Scheme. He thought it seemed incongruous in the peaceful rural setting though, even if it was a historical monument.

Erin shivered suddenly and Leo peered down at her. ‘Everything all right?’

‘I’m getting a bit cold,’ she said. ‘In spite of my padded coat.’

‘It’s a nice coat. Kind of like a sleeping bag you can wear,’ he said with a smile.

‘I’m going to take that positively although it could be kind of offensive. Like… I’m wearing a sleeping bag.’

‘I like it.’ He touched the sleeve with his free hand. ‘It seems really warm.’

‘It is.’

‘I’m guessing you didn’t need coats like this in Dubai,’ he said, then winced inwardly because the last thing he wanted to do was remind her of what she’d left behind when she’d clearly had a tough time back there.

‘No, I didn’t. Although having said that the air con out there is so amazing that you wouldn’t know the temperatures are soaring outside. Sometimes, it was so cold indoors that I did have to wrap up in layers.’

‘Do you miss it?’ he asked softly, watching her face.

‘The city or the lifestyle?’


A tiny line appeared between her brows and she licked her lips before replying. ‘Sometimes I do. It was very different to life here. Very different. But in a good way, although I did get homesick for British winters and Mum and Dad’s home cooking. And for them and Zara, obviously. And occasionally for Paul.’ She laughed and Leo joined her. She got on with Paul, he knew that, but he also knew that over the years Paul had been the typical older brother and teased Erin and Zara. It was what big brothers were for though, right?

‘Even his teasing?’ he asked.

‘Even that, especially when things got tough out there.’ She blinked rapidly and Leo hoped she wasn’t upset but then she rubbed a hand over her face and sighed. ‘I missed Paul then because I knew he’d have had a sharp word with Billy. Not that I’d have wanted him to have a go at Billy, but it would have been nice to have felt like someone had my back. And it all seemed to go wrong so quickly, like overnight.’ She shrugged then and took a deep breath before exhaling audibly. ‘I’m fine though. I’m absolutely fine and I haven’t been through anything like you so I can’t complain.’

‘Loss is relative,’ he said. ‘All pain is pain whatever you go through. It all hurts and leaves scars.’

‘And leaves you stronger and more resilient,’ she said. ‘I feel stronger because of what I’ve been through even if it still hurts at times. Kind of like a cut that I don’t think about all the time but when I get soap in it, then I feel it.’

‘Yeah, that makes sense to me too,’ he said.

‘So then I wash the soap out and I can manage again.’ She dusted off her hands as if to prove her point. ‘I really fancy a hot chocolate now, do you?’

‘I could use a warm drink.’ He nodded. ‘And probably a snack too like—’

There was a piercing scream up ahead and they both froze then stared in the direction of the noise.

‘Come on.’ Erin grabbed his hand again, and they ran, fear evident in their speed as they hurried along.

Leo knew that Erin would be thinking the same thing as he was: Had something happened to Cain? Why else would there be screaming filling the air?



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