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Home > Promised (One Night #1)(2)

Promised (One Night #1)(2)
Author: Jodi Ellen Malpas

His big hand lifted to stroke her soft, porcelain cheek and the desperation in her eyes pierced his hard heart. ‘Help me do what’s right. You don’t belong here with me,’ he said.

She nodded, and William exhaled a breath of relief. This girl was too beautiful and too reckless – a dangerous combination. This girl was going to find herself in trouble. He was furious with himself for letting this happen, despite her deception.

He looked after his girls, respected them, made sure his clients respected them, and he always kept his eagle eyes open for anything that might put them at risk, mentally and physically. He knew what they would do before they did it. Yet this one he’d let slip. This one had fooled him. He couldn’t blame her, though. He blamed himself. He was too distracted by this young woman’s beauty – a beauty that would for ever be etched on his mind’s eye. He would send her away again and this time he’d make sure she stayed away. He cared about this one too much to keep her. And it seared painfully on his dark soul.

Chapter 1

There’s something to be said about making the perfect cup of coffee. There’s even more to be said about making the perfect cup of coffee from one of the spaceship-like machines I’m staring at. I’ve spent days watching my fellow waitress, Sylvie, complete the task with ease, while chatting, grabbing down another mug, and tapping the order through the till. But all I seem to be achieving is a royal mess, of both the coffee and the area surrounding the machine.

I force the jammed filter contraption on with a quiet curse and it slips, scattering the coffee grains everywhere. ‘No, no, no,’ I mutter under my breath, grabbing my cloth from the front pocket of my apron. The damp rag is brown, a dead giveaway to the millions of other times I’ve wiped up my mess today.

‘You want me to take over?’ Sylvie’s amused voice creeps over my shoulders and makes them sag. It’s no use. No matter how many times I try, I always end up in the same pickle. This spaceship and I are not friends.

I sigh dramatically and turn, handing Sylvie the big metal handle thingy. ‘I’m sorry. The machine hates me.’

Her bright-pink lips break out in a fond smile, and her black shiny bob swishes as she shakes her head. Her patience is commendable. ‘It’ll come. Why don’t you go and clear table seven?’

I move fast, grabbing a tray and making my way over to the recently vacated area in the hope of redeeming myself. ‘He’ll sack me,’ I muse, loading the tray. I’ve only been working here for four days, but on hiring me, Del said it would only take me a few hours of training on my first day to get the hang of the machine that dominates the back counter of the bistro. That day was hideous, and I think Del shares my thoughts.

‘No he won’t.’ Sylvie fires the machine up, and the sound of steam rushing from the froth pipe fills the bistro. ‘He likes you!’ she calls louder, grabbing a mug, then a tray, then a spoon, a napkin and the chocolate sprinkles, all while rotating the metal jug of milk with ease.

I smile down at the table as I wipe it before collecting the tray and making my way back to the kitchen. Del’s only known me for a week, and he’s already said that I haven’t a bad bone in my body. My grandmother has said the very same thing but added that I’d better grow some soon because the world and the people in it are not always nice or gentle.

I dump the tray on the side and start loading up the dishwasher.

‘You okay, Livy?’

I turn toward the gruff voice of Paul, the cook. ‘Great. You?’

‘Top of the world.’ He continues cleaning out the pots, whistling as he does.

Resuming stacking plates in the dishwasher, I think to myself that I should be just fine as long as I’m not let loose on that machine. ‘Is there anything else you’d like me to do before I get off?’ I ask Sylvie as she pushes her way through the swing door of the kitchen. I envy the way she carries out all tasks with such ease and speed, from dealing with that damn machine to stacking mugs on top of each other without looking.

‘No.’ She turns and wipes her hands on the front of her apron. ‘You get off. I’ll see you tomorrow.’

‘Thank you.’ I remove my apron and hang it up. ‘Bye, Paul.’

‘Have a good evening, Livy,’ he calls, waving a ladle above his head.

After weaving my way through the tables of the bistro, I push my way out the door and onto the narrow back street, getting immediately pelted by rain. ‘Wonderful,’ I smile, shielding my head with my denim jacket and making a run for it.

I hop between the puddles, my Converse doing nothing to keep my feet dry, squelching with each hurried stride as I make my way to the bus stop.

Taking the steps up to our house, I barge through the door and rest my back against it, catching my breath.

‘Livy?’ Nan’s husky voice instantly lightens my wet mood. ‘Livy, is that you?’

‘It’s me!’ I hang my soaked jacket on the coat hook and kick off my sodden Converse before making my way down the long hallway to the back kitchen. I find Nan stooped over the cooker, stirring a huge pot of something – soup, undoubtedly.

‘There you are!’ She drops the wooden spoon and wobbles towards me. At eighty-one, she is really quite remarkable and still so on the ball. ‘You’re drenched!’

‘I’m not so bad,’ I assure her, ruffling my hair as she assesses me from top to bottom, settling on my flat stomach as my T-shirt rides up.

‘You need fattening up.’

I roll my eyes but humour her. ‘I’m starving.’

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