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Home > Promised (One Night #1)(6)

Promised (One Night #1)(6)
Author: Jodi Ellen Malpas

‘Four shots.’ He breaks the uncomfortable silence with that soft rasp.

‘Pardon?’ I don’t turn around.

‘I ordered four shots.’

I look down at the cup, containing just one shot, and close my eyes, praying for the coffee gods to help me out. I don’t know how long it takes me to add three more shots, but when I finally turn to deliver his coffee, he’s sitting on a sofa, relaxed, his lean physique stretched out, his fingers tapping the arm. His face doesn’t show a hint of emotion, but I detect he’s not happy, and for some strange reason that makes me really unhappy. I’ve handled that damn machine perfectly all day, and now when I really want to look like I know what I’m doing, I’m coming off as an incompetent fool. I feel stupid as I hold up the takeaway cup before placing it neatly on the counter.

He looks at it, then back to me. ‘I want to drink in.’ His face is serious, his tone flat but sharp, and I stare at him, trying to figure out if he’s being difficult or genuine. I don’t remember him asking for a takeaway; I just assumed. He doesn’t look like the type to sit around in back-street bistros. He looks more like a champagne bar, mingle-with-the-money type.

Grabbing a coffee cup and saucer, I simply transfer the coffee and shove a teaspoon on the side before taking steady steps over to him. No matter how hard I try, I can’t stop the chinking of the cup on the saucer. I place it down on the low table and watch as he swivels the saucer before lifting the cup, but I don’t hang around to watch him drink, pivoting quickly on my Converse and escaping.

I virtually burst through the swing door of the kitchen, finding Paul putting his coat on. ‘All right, Livy?’ he asks, his rounded face scanning me.

‘Yep.’ I dive into the large metal sink to wash my sweaty hands as the bistro phone starts ringing from the wall. Paul takes the initiative to answer, obviously concluding that I’m dead set on scrubbing my hands until they disappear.

‘For you, Livy. I’m outta here.’

‘Have a great weekend, Paul,’ I say, drying my hands before I take the phone. ‘Hello?’

‘Livy, honey, are you busy tonight?’ Del asks.

‘Tonight?’

‘Yes, I have a catering contract for a charity gala and I’ve been let down. Could you be a doll and help me out?’

‘Oh, Del, I’d love to, but . . .’ I have no idea why I said I’d love to, because I really wouldn’t, and I can’t finish that sentence because I can’t find a ‘but’. I have nothing to do this evening except faff around my grandmother and get told off for it.

‘Ah, Livy, I’ll pay you well. I’m desperate.’

‘What are the hours?’ I sigh, leaning against the wall.

‘You star! Seven to midnight. It’s not hard, honey. Just walk around with trays of canapés and glasses of champagne. Piece of cake.’

A piece of cake? It’s still walking, and my feet are still killing me. ‘I need to go home to check on my nan and change. What should I wear?’

‘Black, and be at the staff entrance of the Hilton on Park Lane at seven, okay?’

‘Sure.’

He hangs up, and I hang my head, but my attention is soon pulled to the swing door when Sylvie bursts through, her brown eyes wide. ‘Have you seen it?’

Her question quickly reminds me of the stunning creature who’s sitting drinking coffee in the bistro. I almost laugh as I place the receiver back in its cradle. ‘Yes, I’ve seen him.’

‘Holy f**king shit, Livy! Men like that should carry a warning.’ She glances back into the bistro and starts fanning her face. ‘Oh God, he’s blowing the steam off his coffee.’

I don’t need a visual. I can imagine it. ‘Are you working tonight?’ I ask, trying to divert her dribbling into the kitchen.

‘Yes!’ She swings back towards me. ‘Did Del ask you?’

‘He did.’ I unhook my keys and lock the doors that lead to the alley.

‘He tried to get me to ask you, but I know you’re not mad about night work, what with your nan at home. Are you doing it?’

‘Well, I agreed.’ I give her a tired look.

Her serious face grins. ‘It’s closing time. Would you like to let him know that it’s time to go?’

Stupidly, I’m battling off the shakes again at the thought of looking at him, and I chastise myself for it. ‘Yes, I’ll tell him,’ I declare with all the confidence I’m not feeling. Rolling my shoulders back, I walk with sureness past Sylvie and into the bistro, coming to an abrupt halt when I see he’s gone. The strangest sensation comes over me as I scan the area, feeling a bizarre sense of desertion mixed with disappointment.

‘Oh. Where’s he gone?’ Sylvie whines, pushing past me.

‘I don’t know,’ I whisper, slowly walking to the abandoned sofa and picking up a half-drunk coffee and three pound coins. I separate the napkin that’s stuck to the bottom of the saucer and start to screw it up, but some black lines catch my attention and I’m quickly unravelling it with one hand and flattening it on the table.

I gasp. Then I get a little mad.

Probably the worst Americano that I’ve ever insulted my mouth with.

M.

My face screws up in disgust, along with the napkin as I ball it and stuff it in the cup. The arrogant arsehole. Nothing makes me mad, and I know it exasperates my grandmother and Gregory, but I’m really heated with annoyance now. And it really is over something quite silly. But then I’m not sure if it’s because I failed to make good coffee when I’ve been doing so well, or simply because the perfect man didn’t approve of it. And what does M stand for, anyway?

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