This Man

Page 22

‘Enough!’ I hold my hands up. ‘I don’t want to know.’ I sit down, swinging my chair around to face him.

‘Apologies, darling. It was really good though!’ He winks. ‘Anyway, she’s in a panic because her summer ball is scheduled for July and she wants all the works completed in time. There’s not a hope, darling! If she would just stop changing her bloody mind, then we might get somewhere.’ He springs up from his chair and air kisses me from ten feet away. ‘Au Revoir, darling!’

‘Bye. Oh, where’s Victoria?’ I shout after him.

‘Appointments.’ he calls, shutting the door behind him.

I turn to face my desk as Sally places a coffee in front of me. I pick it up immediately, taking a sip while she hovers at my desk nervously.

‘Patrick called to remind you that he’s not in today.’ she says.

‘Thank you, Sally. Did you have a good weekend?’

She smiles, nodding enthusiastically as she pushes her glasses up her nose. ‘I did, thank you for asking. I finished my cross-stitch and cleaned all the windows, inside and out. It was wonderful.’ she says dreamily as she scurries off to file some invoices.

Cleaning windows? Wonderful? The girl is sweet, but good Lord, she’s as dull as dish water.

I spend a few hours working through my email to clear my inbox. I check the final clean-up of Lusso is complete and grab my phone when it starts dancing across my desk. I roll my eyes when I see who’s illuminating my screen. He just will not give up. Yesterday was a relentless bombardment of calls – all of which I rejected – and he’s still at it. I’ve got to speak to the man eventually. He has something that I need…my car.

At one o’clock, I leave the office to meet Kate for lunch.

‘Are there any decent men left in the world?’ she asks thoughtfully, dabbing her mouth with a napkin. ‘I’m losing the will to live.’

‘It wasn’t that bad, was it?’ I ask. Her date yesterday evening was a failure. When she walked into the apartment at nine thirty, I knew it couldn’t be good news.

She drops her napkin on her empty plate, pushing it away. ‘Ava, when a man gets a calculator out at the end of a meal to work out what you owe, it’s usually not a good sign.’

I laugh. No, this is not a good sign; it’s equality gone mad. The modern man needs to catch on to the fact that women want to be treated as equals, but only when it suits us. The modern woman’s fierce need for independence doesn’t mean we want to pay for our half of a meal, or that we don’t want a man to hold a door open for us. We still want to be looked after, but on our terms.

‘So, you won’t be seeing him again?’

She scoffs. ‘No, the bill saga was bad enough. When he dropped me home in the taxi and accepted the twenty I offered him, it finished me off.’

‘You were a cheap date.’ I giggle.

‘Yeah.’ She picks up her phone and starts tapping away at the screen, holding it up to show me. ‘One BLT and two waters, you owe twelve quid.’ We both have a little laugh at Kate’s failed date. I love that she can be so lighthearted about it. Kate maintains that it will happen when it happens. I’m with her on this.

‘When will your car be ready?’ she asks.

Crap! She’s supposed to be borrowing it to visit her Nan in Yorkshire on Saturday, and it’s Thursday already. I need to sort this out. ‘I’ll give the garage a ring later.’ I assure her.

‘I don’t mind taking the van.’

‘No, it’s fine. I don’t think Margo will get you there.’ She’s a twenty year old, hot pink VW camper van that spits and fires all over London on cake deliveries. Kate’s carbon footprint must be huge.

My phone shouts and Kate leans over to see who’s calling me. I whip it off the table, far too hastily. But it’s too late. I look at her nervously as I red button him again, before placing it back on the table as casually as I can. My jumpy reaction doesn’t get past Kate. Not much does.

‘Jesse,’ she says with an arched brow. ‘What would he want?’

I’ve not shared any of the hideous events of Tuesday with Kate. I’m too ashamed.

I shrug. ‘Who knows?’

‘Have there been any more suggestive texts?’

Oh, more than texts. There have been endless phone calls and the fact that he tricked me into going back to The Manor on the pretense that I was designing, only to have me trapped in one of his hotel suites so he could seduce me. Kate would thrive on my misfortune, which is exactly why I’ve not told her. If I don’t hear the words out loud, then I can almost pretend it didn’t happen…almost. I’m a fool. I’ve thought of little else, and he’s not helping me in my attempt to eradicate him from my mind with all his calls. I don’t need to be getting involved with anyone, especially someone who’s already involved with someone else. Besides, I’m just a mission for him to accomplish. The man’s a playboy and not the sort of man I need to be getting involved with. He quite obviously has commitment issues. I don’t like Sarah, but I do feel sorry for her.

‘No.’ I answer on a sigh.

She looks at me questioningly, making me feel like I’m under examination. I am. I’m twiddling my hair. I release it on a huff.

‘You deserve some fun.’ she says thoughtfully. Fun? I don’t call getting tied up with an involved man fun by any stretch of the imagination. I call it stupid! ‘After Matt, you definitely deserve some fun.’

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