This Man

Page 9

‘How old?’ she asks keenly.

Now, that one’s got me. I’m still mortified that I blurted such an inappropriate question during a business meeting. My embarrassment wasn’t even worthwhile as he was obviously playing with me.

I shrug. ‘He said twenty one, but he’s at least ten years past that.’

‘You asked him?’ Kate’s jaw hits her lap.

‘Yes, in a moment of pure brain to mouth filter malfunction, the question did slip. I’m not proud.’ I mutter. ‘I made such a fool of myself, Kate. A man’s never done that to me before. But this one, well, you would have been ashamed of me.’

A sharp shot of laughter flies from her mouth. ‘Ava, I need to teach you some social skills!’ She falls back in her chair, starting to lick the icing from her spatula.

‘Please do,’ I grumble, putting my hand out to her. She passes me the spatula, and I start licking at the edges. I’ve lived with Kate for a month and existed on wine, icing sugar and cake mixture. A loss of appetite after a break up, I don’t have. ‘He was very self-assured.’ I say between licks.

‘As in?’

‘Oh, this man knew he was sparking a reaction in me. I must have been painful to watch. I was pathetic.’

‘That good?’

I shake my head in dismay. ‘Ridiculously,’

‘He’s probably shit in bed,’ Kate muses. ‘All the hot ones are. What’s your brief?’

‘Ten new bedrooms in the extension. I thought I was going to a country mansion, but it’s a mega plush hotel come spa. The Manor, have you heard of it?’

Kate’s face screws up into a clueless expression. ‘Nope,’ she replies, getting up to turn the oven off. ‘Can I come next time?’

‘No, I’m not going back. I can’t work with that. Besides, he has a girlfriend. And I could never look him in the eye again, not after my performance.’ I push myself up from the chair, throwing the spatula into the empty mixing bowl. ‘I’ve passed it over to Patrick. Wine?’

‘In the fridge,’

We make our way up to the flat and change into our PJ’s. I dump my bag on my bed and it flops open, the calla lily Ward gave me making an appearance. Understated elegance. I pick it up and twirl it in my fingers for a few moments, then dump it in my wastepaper basket. Forgotten...

Once changed into my slob out clothes, I load the DVD player with the latest offering from the local rental shop, jump on the couch with Kate and try to concentrate on the movie.

It’s impossible. My mind’s eye is trampled with a tall, lean, dark blonde, green eyed male of a certain age, with a dribble worthy gait and bag loads of sex appeal. I doze off with the words “But I want you” pin-balling around my head. Not so forgotten…

Chapter 3

After two progress meetings with clients and stopping by at Mr Muller’s new townhouse in Holland Park to drop off some samples, I’m back in the office listening to Patrick moan about Irene. It’s a normal Monday morning affair after he’s endured a whole weekend away from the office with his wife. I really have no idea how the poor man pokes up with her.

Tom breezes in with the widest grin on his face, and I know immediately he must have pulled over the weekend.

‘Darling, I’ve missed you!’ He air kisses me and turns to Patrick, who holds his hands up in a don’t-even-think-about-it gesture. Tom rolls his eyes, completely un-offended, and waltzes to his desk.

‘Morning, Tom.’ I greet brightly.

‘I’ve had the most stressful morning. Mr and Mrs Baines have changed their bloody minds for the thousandth time. I’ve had to cancel all the orders and re-arrange a dozen workmen,’ He waves his arms in the air in frustration. ‘I got a sodding parking ticket for not displaying a permit in a resident’s zone and, to top it off, I snagged my new jumper on them hideous railings outside Starbucks.’ He starts picking the stray wool from the hem of his hot pink, V neck jumper. ‘God damn it, look! It’s a good job I got laid last night or I’d be in the depths of despair.’ He grins at me.

I knew it.

Patrick walks away, shaking his head. His attempts to tone Tom’s g*yness down to more tolerable levels have proven ineffective. He’s now given up.

‘Good night?’ I ask.

‘Wonderful, I met the most divine man. He’s taking me to the Natural History Museum at the weekend. He’s a scientist. We’re soul mates, for sure.’

‘What happened to the personal trainer?’ I ask. That was last week’s soul mate.

‘Don’t, it was a disaster. He turned up at my apartment on Friday night with the Dirty Dancing DVD and an Indian takeout for two. Can you believe that?’

‘I’m shocked.’ I tease.

‘I bloody was. Needless to say, I won’t be seeing him again. What’s happening with you, darling? How’s that gorgeous ex-boyfriend of yours?’ He winks. Tom doesn’t hide his attraction to Matt, which makes me laugh but makes Matt extremely uncomfortable.

‘He’s okay. He’s still the ex and still straight.’

‘Damn shame. Let me know when he comes to his senses.’ Tom saunters off, tweaking his perfectly positioned blonde quiff.

‘Sally, I’m emailing you a design consultation fee for Mr Ward. Can you make sure you send it today?’

‘I will, Ava. Seven day payment terms?’

‘Yes, thank you.’ I turn back to my desk and resume colour matching, reaching over to grab my phone when it starts dancing around my desk. Glancing at my screen, I nearly fall off my chair when I see the name Jesse flashing up. After a few seconds of staring, my brain finally gets the shock message and my heart commences sprint in my chest. What the hell?

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