Home > Promised (One Night #1)(11)

Promised (One Night #1)(11)
Author: Jodi Ellen Malpas

‘Run along now,’ the woman says, turning her back on me and pulling a reluctant Miller with her, but her rudeness doesn’t dampen down my inner delight. I turn on my Converse, happy to leave with the knowledge of his name. I don’t turn back, either.

Sylvie’s on me like a wolf when I enter the kitchen, just as I knew she would be. ‘Holy, shitting hell!’ I wince at her burst of bad language and set my tray down. ‘He’s staring at you, Livy. I mean proper burning eyes.’

‘I know.’ You’d have to be blind or utterly stupid not to notice.

‘He’s with a woman.’

‘Yes.’ I might be pleased to have learned his name, but I’m not so pleased about that part. Not that I have any right to feel jealous. Jealous? Is that what I am? It’s an emotion I’ve never experienced before.

‘Oohh, I’m feeling something,’ Sylvie chants, laughing as she sashays out of the kitchen.

‘Yes. Me too,’ I muse to myself, turning to look back at the entrance, knowing he watched my every step back here.

I avoid him for the rest of the evening but definitely feel his eyes on me as I weave through the crowds. I feel a constant pull in his direction and struggle to keep my eyes from drifting over, but I’m proud of myself for resisting. While it’s an unfamiliar pleasure to lose myself in his steely gaze, I could risk ruining it by seeing him with another woman.

After saying my good-byes to Del and Sylvie, I push my way out of the staff entrance into the midnight air and head for the Tube, looking forward to curling up in bed and having a morning lie-in.

‘She’s just a business associate.’ His soft voice from behind halts me, stroking my skin, but I don’t turn around. ‘I know you’re wondering.’

‘You don’t need to explain yourself to me.’ I continue walking, knowing exactly what I’m doing. He’s taken by me, and I may not be familiar with the chasing game, but I do know that I shouldn’t appear desperate, even if, annoyingly, I am. I’m sensible; I know a bad thing when I see it, and standing behind me is a man who could crush my logic.

My arm is seized, halting my escape, and I’m swung around to face him. If I were strong enough, I’d close my eyes so I don’t have to soak up his exquisite face. I’m not strong enough, though.

‘No, I don’t have to explain myself, yet here I am doing exactly that.’

‘Why?’ I don’t pull my arm from his grip because the heat of his touch is working its way through my denim jacket and warming my chilly skin, setting my blood alight. I’ve never felt anything like it.

‘You really don’t want to get involved with me.’ He doesn’t sound convinced of that himself, so he must be kidding himself if he expects me to buy it. I want to buy it. I want to walk away and wipe my encounters with him from my mind and return to being stable and sensible.

‘Then let me leave,’ I say quietly, meeting the intensity of his stare with my own. The long silence that falls and lingers between us is an indication that he really doesn’t want to, but I decide for him and remove my arm from his grasp. ‘Goodnight, Miller.’ I take a few backward steps before turning and walking away. It’s probably one of the most sensible decisions I’ve ever made, even if the majority of my scrambled mind is willing me to pursue it. Whatever it is.

Chapter 3

The lingering strangeness of Friday evening was soon hijacked by Nan on Saturday morning when she said my three favourite words: ‘Let’s go sightseeing.’

We roamed, we sat, we drank good coffee, we roamed some more, we had lunch, we drank more good coffee and we roamed again, finally falling through the front door late Saturday evening with a fish and chip supper from the local chippy. Then on Sunday, I helped Nan stitch together the patchwork quilt that she’s been making for a soldier based in Afghanistan. She has no idea who he is, but the local oldies group all have pen pals out there, and Nan thought it’d be nice if hers had something to keep him warm . . . in the desert.

‘Have you got the sun tucked away in your socks, Livy?’ Nan asks as I walk into the kitchen ready for work on Monday morning.

I look down at my new canary-yellow Converse and smile. ‘Don’t you love them?’

‘Wonderful!’ she laughs, placing my bowl of cornflakes on the breakfast table. ‘How’s your knee?’

Sitting down, I tap my leg and pick up my spoon. ‘Perfect. What are you doing today, Nan?’

‘George and I are going to the market to buy lemons for your cake.’ She places a pot of tea on the table and loads my mug with two sugars.

‘Nan, I don’t take sugar!’ I try to swipe the mug from the table, but my grandmother’s old hands work way too fast.

‘You need fattening up,’ she insists, pouring the tea and pushing it across the table to me. ‘Don’t argue with me, Livy. I’ll put you over my knee.’

I smile at her threat. She’s promised it for twenty-four years and never followed through. ‘You can get lemons at the local store,’ I point out casually, plunging my spoon into my mouth to stop me from saying more. I could say so much more.

‘You’re right.’ Her old navy eyes flick to me briefly before she slurps her tea. ‘But I want to go to the market and George said he’d take me. We’ll speak no more of it.’

I’m desperately holding back my grin, but I know when to shut up. Old George is so fond of Nan, but she’s really quite short with him. I don’t know why he sticks around to be bossed about. She plays all hard-hearted and uninterested, but I know George’s fondness for her is quietly returned. Gramps has been gone for seven years and George could never replace him, but a little companionship is good for Nan. Losing her daughter sent her into dark depression, but Granddad took care of her, suffering in silence for years, silently coming to terms with his own loss and hiding his own grief until his body gave in. Then there was just me – a teenager left to hold it together . . . which I didn’t do a very good job of in the early days.

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