Arlo felt his throat tighten. His eyes were burning. He hadn’t walked. He had run. He had turned and run away from love and kept on running until some cosmic force had put Frankie in his path...or rather in his bed.
Frankie, with her fiery curls and freckles, her permafrost-melting smile and her teasing laughter, which trailed a promise of happiness like the tail of a kite high in the bluest sky.
More than anything he wanted to turn and follow her, but—
‘I have to keep on walking because nothing’s changed,’ he said slowly.
He couldn’t change his past.
Davey cleared his throat. ‘Everything’s changed. Frankie is not Harriet, for starters. But what’s changed the most is you. You’re different with her.’
Different because of her, Arlo thought, his fingers tightening around the phone.
‘And you don’t need me to tell you what to do. Just to tell you that it’s not too late,’ Davey said softly.
But Davey was wrong, he thought, his heart swelling against his ribs. It had been too late from the moment he first saw Frankie. All this panic and doubt was just him struggling to catch up with the truth.
For so long he’d been so fixed on the idea of absolutes that he’d been blind to the beautiful potential of a life where random events simply challenged you to take new directions. Like down a causeway in the middle of a storm. Or to a crowded family party.
He swallowed past the lump in his throat. ‘Then I should probably get going if I’m going to stop Frankie catching that plane.’
Hanging up, he glanced at his watch. If he left now, he could catch her at the airport...
It took him less than ten minutes to grab his jacket, find the keys to the Rolls, and more or less run outside to where the huge gold car sat slumbering on the warm driveway.
His heart was leaping.
Three days ago the past—his and hers—had felt like insurmountable obstacles to a future where he and Frankie could be together. But she had been right. Love conquered everything, even the obstacles around his heart, and now nothing would stop them being together.
He knew now that he didn’t need or want to chase what his parents had shared.
He wanted and needed Frankie.
Together, they would make a life that was rich and enticing and joyful—but not perfect. Why would he want perfect? It was their flaws, their failings, that had brought them together, and it was in failing that they’d found strength in themselves and one another.
Turning the car around, he began rumbling over the cobblestoned causeway, tensing his muscles to stop himself from just putting his foot down on the accelerator pedal and flooring it.
There was plenty of time.
He had a full tank of fuel so he would only need to stop once.
He frowned. What was happening? The steering wheel was turning in his hands like a dog pulling on its lead, and there was an ominous choking sound coming from the engine.
His hands clenched around the wheel, urging the big car on. But he could feel the power dying, and he watched as with slow, agonising inevitability the Rolls slid slowly to a standstill.
Switching off the engine, he yanked up the handbrake and threw himself out of the car. He flipped open the bonnet and stared down at the engine. He had no idea what was wrong with it. The alternator, maybe?
But that wasn’t something he could fix right here and now. He needed another car.
He began to run back to the house. He would take the Land Rover.
His footsteps faltered. Except he couldn’t. Constance had taken it to go shopping in Newcastle. Even if he called her it would take her at least an hour and ten minutes to get back and that was too long.
The train would take even longer.
What he needed was a taxi—only of course there was no phone signal out here, and it would take him twenty minutes to run back to the house...
Heart hammering against his ribs, he squinted into the pale sunlight. He must be seeing things.