|Angel stepped carefully down the slope toward her deerhound. “Simon, come to me,” she commanded more forcefully. As she reached to brace herself against a tree, the form of what appeared to be another dirty, ragged homeless man turned in her direction. His heavily muscled frame, imposing even while leaning against a boulder and sitting in the dirt, halted her. Dried blood crusted along his arms and legs, tangles of debris clotted through his chestnut shoulder-length hair. He wore a dark plaid kilt streaked with mud and more blood. Her breath stopped, could he be Daniel? Of course, only the man’s rugged mien and broad shoulders resembled her brother.
“Oh, Jesus, you’re wearing a kilt, and you’re injured.”
Well, that was about the stupidest response she could have made. She gave Simon another sharp command. With a whine, the dog returned to her side.
She snapped on a restraining leash. "He's not dangerous, really. I think the smell of blood has disconcerted him." She waved her hand in a vague pass toward the man’s battered body and took a step back.
"Are you in need of assistance?" The man's fierce, disturbing appearance should have caused her to run in the opposite direction as fast as possible, but she felt an unexplainable urge to help him.
"My name is Gillian Adair. My father is a doctor. You look as though you might need his help."
The man watched her; an expression of total confusion twisted his face. “Are ye my angel, then? Have ye come to take me from this hell?”
He spoke with a deep, heavy brogue. At first, she could only make out a few words. She thought he’d called her Angel. Only her family and best friends shortened her middle name, Angelina to Angel, and used it as her nickname. However, they referred to her as Angel enough times around members of the St. Andrews Benevolent Society. Could this man be a newly arrived Scotsman who recalled one of them addressing her as such? She didn’t recognize him, but covered in dirt, brush, and blood…rather a lot of dried blood, and wounds still oozing, it was unlikely she’d be able to identify him from any previous brief encounter.
Weary, haunted eyes registered a flash of fear in their deep, green depths. The sudden loud rumble of a helicopter overhead spurred the man to his feet while at the same time ducking his head. He moved with such obvious distress that he lost his already awkward perch and slid further down the steep embankment futilely snatching at passing brush until he caught hold of a sturdy bush.
If he slipped any further, he would tip over the edge and plummet several hundred-feet onto a pile of jagged rocks at the base of the embankment. Angel removed Simon’s leash, issued a harsh command to stay, and scrambled down the slope clinging to rocks and trees as she went.
She’d intended to extend the leash to help the man up, but her good intentions went awry when she slipped, fell on her back, and slid feet first in his direction.
A strong hand latched onto her arm as she tumbled past his precarious position. He pulled her up with amazing strength and anchored a muscled arm under her breasts in a vise-like grip.