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Home > Promised (One Night #1)(13)

Promised (One Night #1)(13)
Author: Jodi Ellen Malpas

‘I didn’t.’ He pushes himself away from the counter. ‘But I’d like to give you the chance to redeem yourself, Livy.’

My cheeks heat.

‘Would you like to try to redeem yourself?’ He’s completely poker-faced, totally serious.

I should search deep to find that bad bone that Nan keeps telling me about and tell him where to go, but I don’t search very hard. ‘Okay,’ I say instead, turning towards the wretched coffee machine that I know is going to let me down. I would undoubtedly do a better job if I wasn’t under such close scrutiny.

Sending a little mental prayer to the coffee gods, I start with the first of four shots, working hard to regulate my broken breathing. I undertake my task slowly and accurately, not caring if it takes me all night. Stupidly, I want him to enjoy this one.

In my peripheral vision, I see Sylvie’s curious head pop through the swing door, and I know she’s desperate to know what’s going on. I can feel her grinning, even if I can’t see it. I’d like her to come out and break the awkward silence, give me someone comfortable to speak to, but I also don’t want her to. I want to be alone with him. I’m drawn to him, and I absolutely cannot help it.

When I’m done, I top up his takeaway cup and secure a lid before turning to deliver it to him. He’s sitting down again, and I immediately realise my error. He’s not even tasted it and I’ve already cocked up.

He focuses his blues on the cardboard cup, but I speak before he does. ‘Would you like a proper cup?’

‘I’ll take the takeaway.’ His eyes lift to mine. ‘It might taste better.’ He’s not smiling, but I get the feeling he wants to.

Walking carefully, even though the risk of spilling is minimal with a lid, I approach him and hold out the cup. ‘I hope you enjoy.’

‘So do I,’ he says, taking it and nodding at the sofa opposite. ‘Join me.’ He removes the lid and slowly blows the steam from his coffee, his already kissable lips seeming to invite me in. Everything he does with that mouth is slow – from talking to blowing steam from hot coffee. It’s all so very deliberate, and it makes me wonder what else would be. He’s beyond beautiful, if a little stand-offish. He must turn heads everywhere he goes.

He cocks a brow and indicates the sofa opposite again. My legs move forward of their own volition to take a seat. ‘How is the coffee?’ I ask.

He takes a slow sip of his Americano, and I find myself tensing, bracing for him to spit it out. He doesn’t. He nods in approval, taking another sip, and I relax, stupidly relieved that he doesn’t seem disgusted. His eyes lift. ‘You may have noticed that I’m quite fascinated by you as well.’

‘As well?’ I ask, confused.

‘It’s rather obvious you’re fascinated by me.’

What an arrogant prick. ‘I suppose lots of women must be fascinated by you,’ I retort. ‘Do you invite them all for coffee?’

‘No, just you.’ He leans closer and the look in his eyes practically takes my breath away. I’ve never been the subject of such intense focus. It’s too much.

I break the eye contact and find myself looking away, but then I remember something and force myself to confront his intensity. ‘Who was that woman at the party?’ I ask, not the least bit embarrassed to enquire. He came right out and asked me what my relationship status is, so I have every right to know his. She looked far too familiar to be a business associate. I’m not holding my breath, but I’m still hoping he is single. The idea that this man is available is ridiculous, and so is the fact that I want him be – I want him to be available . . . for me.

‘Business,’ he replies, watching me carefully, his smooth tone stroking my heated skin.

‘You’re single?’ I ask, wanting complete clarification, but for what purpose I don’t know. I’m actually wondering what my subconscious is planning, because I haven’t a clue . . . nor am I concerned, and that should really concern me.

‘I am.’

‘Okay,’ is all I say, still watching him, feeling quietly delighted. Now I want to know how old he is. He seems mature and his clothes have been of the highest quality every time I’ve seen him, screaming money.

‘Okay,’ he counters, slowly sipping more coffee as I look on. He’s like a giant mass of intensity, enticing me into . . . something. ‘I enjoyed my coffee,’ he says, placing his cup down and swivelling it, before slowly rising from the couch. My gaze follows him up until I feel small under his potent, piercing blues, looking down at me.

‘You’re leaving?’ I blurt, shocked. What was all this about? What was his point?

He shifts uncomfortably and puts his hand out to me. ‘It was a pleasure to meet you.’

‘We already met,’ I point out. ‘You nearly kissed me but walked away.’

His hand drops a little at my sharp words before he gathers himself and raises it again. ‘And then you walked away from me.’

So it’s a game? He’s unhappy because I was the one who walked away, so now he’s returning the favour, having the final say? His hand comes closer and I recoil, too scared to touch him.

‘Do you think there will be sparks?’ he asks quietly.

My eyes widen. I know there will be sparks because I’ve felt them already. His mocking injects some bravery into me and my petite hand lifts to meet his. And there they are again. Sparks. Not electricity firing off all over the bistro, causing us both to gasp or jump back in shock, but there’s something there, and instead of firing outward, it’s shooting inward, ricocheting all over my body, making my heart beat faster and my lips part. I don’t want to let go, but he flexes his palm, prompting me to release him.

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