Home > Promised (One Night #1)(12)

Promised (One Night #1)(12)
Author: Jodi Ellen Malpas

She starts to top up my bowl with more flakes. ‘I’m going to Monday club at six, so I won’t be home when you get in from work. Can you sort your supper out?’

‘Of course,’ I say, holding my hand over my bowl to stop the flow of cornflakes. ‘Is George going, too?’

‘Livy,’ she warns sternly.

‘Sorry.’ I smile as I’m attacked by annoyed eyes, and she shakes her head, her grey curls swishing around her ears.

‘It’s a very sad situation when I socialise more than my granddaughter.’

Her words kill my smile. I’m not getting into this. ‘I need to go to work.’ I stand and dip to kiss her cheek, ignoring her sigh.


I jump down from the bus, dodging people as I hurry through the chaos of rush-hour pedestrian traffic. My mood reflects the colour of my Converse – bright and sunny, as does the weather.

After navigating through the back streets of Mayfair, I push my way into the bistro, finding it jam-packed already, just like it was last Monday when I started working for Del. I don’t have time to chat with Sylvie or apologise to Del again for the fiasco on Friday. My apron is thrown at me, and I swing into action, immediately clearing four tables of empty cups before the vacated seating is snapped up by more arriving customers. I smile, deliver quickly and clear the tables even faster. I really am a natural at this service-with-a-smile business.

Come five o’clock, my yellow Converse aren’t feeling so bright any more. My feet are aching, my calves are aching, and my head is aching. But I still smile when Sylvie slaps my backside as she passes me. ‘You’ve only been here a week and I already don’t know what I’d do without you.’

My smile widens as I watch her push through the swing door into the kitchen, but it soon falls away when I turn and come face to face with him again. I’m not particularly big on fate or things happening for a reason. I believe that you’re the master of your own destiny – your own decisions and actions are what influence your life course. But unfortunately, the decisions and actions of others impact this course, too, and sometimes you’re powerless to prevent it. Maybe that’s why I’ve closed myself off from the world – shut myself away and rejected any person, potential situation, or possibility that may take the control away from me. I’m perfectly happy admitting it to myself. Someone else’s poor, selfish choices have already affected my life too much. What I’m not happy about is my sudden inability to continue with my sensible strategy, probably when it’s most important that I do.

And the reason for this lapse in strength is standing in front of me.

The familiar feeling of my heartbeat increasing should tell me all I need to know, and it does. I’m attracted to him – really attracted to him. But what’s he doing here? He hated my coffee, and while I’ve been making endless perfect cups of the stuff all day long, I suspect that may change now.

He’s just staring at me again. I should be annoyed but I’m in no position to ask him what the hell he’s looking at because I’m staring at him, too. He’s displaying his usual impassive expression. Can he smile? Does he have bad teeth? He looks like he has perfect teeth. Everything I can see is perfect, and I know that everything I can’t will be, too. He’s dressed in a three-piece suit again, this one navy, making his blue eyes brighter. He looks as perfect and as expensive as ever.

I need to speak. This is silly, but it takes Sylvie to swing the kitchen door into my back to knock me out of my trance. ‘Oh!’ she exclaims, steadying me by clenching my arm. She scans my startled face, worried when I don’t respond or make any effort to move. Then her gaze shifts and her mouth gapes a little. ‘Oh . . . she whispers, releasing her grip, her eyes flicking from me to him. ‘I’ll just . . . um . . . empty the bins.’ She deserts me, leaving me to serve him. I want to yell for her to come back, but once again, my tongue is tied and I’m bloody staring.

He braces his hands on the counter, leaning forward, and that lock of hair falls onto his forehead, diverting my eyes just north of his. ‘You’re watching me very closely,’ he murmurs.

‘You’re watching me, too,’ I point out, finding my tongue. He’s really watching me. ‘You’re not doing very well at keeping away.’

He doesn’t entertain my observation. ‘How old are you?’ His gaze drags slowly down my body before returning to my eyes. I don’t answer, but I do frown as his eyebrow arches expectantly. ‘I asked you a question.’

‘Twenty-four,’ I answer quickly, when I really wanted to tell him to mind his own damn business.

‘Are you involved with anyone?’

‘No.’ I stun myself with my willing answer. I always claim to be in a relationship when any man shows his interest. It’s like I’m under a spell.

He nods thoughtfully. ‘Are you going to ask me what I’d like?’

By that I’m hoping he means what he’d like to drink. Or am I? Does he want to pick up where we left off? I start twisting the antique sapphire eternity ring that Granddad bought for Nan, an obvious sign of my nerves. It’s been in the exact spot for three years after Nan gave it to me for my twenty-first birthday and has been a source of twiddling ever since. ‘What would you like?’ My confidence of Friday night is nowhere to be found. I’m a wreck.

His piercing blues seem to darken slightly. ‘An Americano, four shots, two sugars and topped up halfway.’

I’m stabbed by disappointment, which is ridiculous. What’s also ridiculous is that he’s returned after claiming my coffee was the worst he’d ever tasted. ‘I thought you didn’t like my coffee.’

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