Authors: Jackie Williams
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Women's Fiction, #Contemporary Women, #Romance, #Romantic Suspense, #Teen & Young Adult, #Contemporary Fiction, #Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, #Mystery & Suspense, #Suspense
They sat there for a while
not saying anything, just enjoying the sun shining through the windows and the crashing waves rolling in against the sea wall. Tiny rainbows danced in the air as the sun filtered through the spray.
Eventually Adam moved in his seat.
“Sorry, I don’t want to spoil this, but I really must get back to work. I’ve a couple of big projects in the pipeline. I took yesterday off to stay with you, and then I slept in late this morning, but I have to see people this afternoon and I suspect you will be needed too.” He smiled apologetically and then without waiting for her response, he put the car into gear and reversed out of the parking bay.
Caroline nodded in agreement and watched as his hand worked the gear shift, but
as she did she noticed that three of his knuckles were reddened and slightly scuffed. Her hand came up to her mouth and she covered a gasp as she remembered once again how he had rescued her.
“Adam, I didn’t thank you properly for saving me from those men and I didn’t mean to sound ungrateful earlier. I’m deeply in your debt.” She studied her hands carefully as she spoke.
He gave a small laugh.
“Yes, you are
, aren’t you and some day I may want you to repay the favour somehow, though I really don’t see how a tiny little thing like you could rescue me from anything or anybody, but you never know.” There was more of a smile in his tone and she looked over at him as they arrived back at the shop.
Cathy was gawping out of the window and Caroline noticed right away the disappointed look on Cathy’s face as she stared at them. She obviously hadn’t been
gone long enough to either have great sex or to save the shop.
“Can I call you sometime?” Adam asked
and Caroline had to do a double take.
Was he asking her out?
But he carried on swiftly. “I’ve got a bit of an idea for your shop that you may like to discuss. Might fill the gap until you can get back into a permanent unit.”
Caroline blinked at him.
“Well sure, that would be great.” She was surprised by him yet again. “Any suggestions will be welcome.”
He gave her a small nod.
“Okay then, give me a week or so to sort out my development stuff and I’ll ring you. I took your phone number yesterday.” He added when she went to pull out her mobile.
She narrowed her eyes at him.
“Oh you did, huh? Invading my privacy!” But she didn’t sound cross and he winked at her disarmingly and laughed out loud at her shocked expression.
“Well, you may be surprised but it’s not every day
that I have a beautiful young woman in my bed and really, truly, sleep with them. I have to take advantages when and where I can get them.”
Caroline’s mouth fell open.
“You cheeky thing! And you said it wasn’t your bed anyway, only the spare.” She replied, still slightly shocked as she ran her eyes over his broad shoulders and chest again. She would have guessed that he could have any number of women in his bed at any time of the day or night.
He grinned wickedly at her. “Yes, but maybe the next time you will b
e in my own bed and I can assure you I’ll be taking full advantage of the fact, but in the meantime,” he shrugged expansively, “I can always dream about it.”
She couldn’t t
hink of anything to say in response. With her heart thumping madly and her legs feeling horribly wobbly, Caroline opened the car door and stepped out onto the pavement. She tried very hard not to look back at him as she entered the shop but it was hopeless and she turned and gazed right into his dark eyes as he pulled away from the kerb and sped off down the road.
Three weeks had vanished in a deluge of flour, eggs, sugar and butter. The scent of rich, dark chocolate, vanilla essence and freshly baked cakes filled the air day after day and Caroline still hadn’t heard a word from Adam. Her arms had grown new muscles that ached with whisking and stirring and she had wiped her brow so many times she was sure she had worn the skin away.
The first week
after their conversation Caroline had been impatient for his call. She constantly checked her phone and spent hours standing in front of the shop window surreptitiously glancing over her shoulder, hoping to see his car as she directed Cathy in the unnecessary rearranging of cakes and chocolates.
The second week she was disappoi
nted not to have heard from him. She threw her phone negligently on the settee as she arrived home each night and glared at it dangerously, daring it to ring as she restocked jars of sweets and cut crystalized fruit fudge into chunks.
Now at the end of the third week she was feeling more than a little insulted. She shovelled leftover cake crumbs into the bin with a vengeance while crunching sherbet pips by the handful.
Cathy maintained that Caroline should have struck while the iron was hot
and leaped into bed with Adam while she’d had the chance. Next time she had the opportunity Caroline was to take the bull by the horns and seduce the guy. The next time she had the chance she wasn’t to be quite so slack!
Every time the subject came up
, Caroline dropped her eyes to the floor. She couldn’t confess to Cathy that she hoped very much that there would be a next time. She could barely sleep at night for thinking about him. She had his personal number saved in her mobile but she couldn’t bring herself to use it. She didn’t want him to think that she was desperate. The trouble was that she really did feel desperate, very nearly frantic if she was totally honest with herself. She wanted to see him, and talk and sit in the sunshine with him again.
She groaned as Cathy glared at her and started her daily diatribe up again.
“If only you had…” She shut her mouth quickly when Caroline held up her hand and sighed deeply at her friend.
’ sake! Stop going on about it Cath. He’ll ring when he has the time. If he ever finds the time. He’s a really busy man, remember.” She groaned as Cathy opened her mouth to speak and then rushed on. “Maybe we should be putting our own heads together a bit more. I’m sure we can come up with an idea to save ourselves, we don’t need to leave it all to him.”
Cathy threw up her hands
in frustration as she arched her eyebrows and spoke irritably.
“Well I don’t see you coming up with anything yet
Caroline. You haven’t thought of a single thing, at least nothing that you’ve bothered to share with me and the girls. Or is it just that your mind has been elsewhere rather than on the fact that we are all going to be broke and jobless in eight weeks?”
Caroline’s shoulders slumped
and she leaned on the counter as she finally admitted it to herself. The truth of it was that she just couldn’t get past thinking about Adam, let alone think of any shop-saving brainwaves. She sniffed at Cathy, desperate to show some kind of composure.
“His idea will probably be rubbish anyway, after all he is a man, and he obviously never touches cakes or chocolate. He can’t possibly with a body like that. I swear there’s not a
millimetre of spare fat on the guy.” The temperature in the shop felt as if it rose by several degrees and she wished she hadn’t thought of his huge sculpted form, and of how he’d held her so gently, his hands running through her hair.
This was getting worse!
Perspiration broke out on her forehead.
Oh, God stop it!
She shook her head as she cleared her mind and her throat. “And you don’t have to leave it to me to find our way out of this mess. I’m quite open to suggestions you know.”
lifted her chin and spoke up again.
“Well I do have an idea, as it happens, but I thought you would be going out with Mr. Muscles way before now so I didn’t bother mentioning it.” Cathy countered.
Caroline dropped a chocolate in surprise. She picked it up from the floor and tossed it into the bin by the door. She stared down the road. There was no one walking this far along the sea front any more. Nearly all the other shops had already closed up. It was obvious that she had to get out and get out soon. Caroline whirled back to her friend.
“Cathy! If you have any sort of idea, for goodness
’ sake spit it out, we’ve not got much time left here. Have you noticed that another couple of places gave up and moved out last week? We’re nearly the only ones left.” Caroline was exasperated with her friend. As the customers had dried up on this end of the esplanade, so had Caroline’s money. Georgie and Lucy had told her last week that they had interviews for new jobs and Gemma was already working in a pub.
Cathy ignored her while she placed out some freshly iced
cupcakes, making sure that the cakes were perfectly spaced on the tray. Then she turned to Caroline.
“Well. I think we should go mobile. We could have a van and sell our stuff a bit like selling ice creams. It would mean we could be anywhere along here and not just stuck in one place. We could go to the customers rather than them coming to us.” Cathy stopped at the incredulous look on Caroline’s face. “Oh don’t worry about it! I know the van will cost a bomb that we don’t have. It’s a stupid idea. Forget I mentioned it.” She muttered into her chest but Caroline grabbed her friend’s hands
and smiled gleefully at her.
“My God! I think you’ve saved us!” Caroline nearly shouted, distracted from thinking about Adam for the first time in weeks. “We’ll have to get a
licence from the council but I can’t see that there would be a problem, they hand them out to the other mobile refreshment outlets.” Her mind was already working overtime. “I wonder how much a suitable van would cost? We are being paid some compensation and that may be enough for something, but I wouldn’t want it looking like a burger bar. We need something really classy.”
Cathy was animated as she expanded on her idea.
“Well I thought maybe something like Jones butcher’s van on “Dads Army” you know, old-fashioned like. We could still do the wedding cakes from home using a portfolio on the van and we could take internet orders for all the workers in the area. We could either work out a delivery system or have them ready for collection each day. It’s always someone’s birthday or people are having a working lunch. We could really cash in on the Office Selection homemade cake tray.” Cathy sounded excited.
Caroline nodded in agreement.
“That’s a brilliant idea too. God! I have so got to get this plan on the road.” She was already flicking through the phone book to reach the council when her own mobile rang. Hardly giving it a glance, she picked it up not bothering to ask who was calling but immediately saying:
“I’m sorry, can’t talk right now. I’m in the middle of something really important, ring me back in an hour.” She shoved the phone back in her pocket and began dialling out on the landline to the council offices.
It didn’t take long to get through to the relevant person and make an appointment. They wanted to see details of her plans before they would grant any
licences and it would have to go before the planning committee. If she wanted to be considered for this month’s agenda she would need to send her application in by the end of the week at the very latest. She sat down in front of her computer and began downloading and printing out the correct forms.
Then she made an internet search of
all the van dealers in the area. She widened her search as she looked for something vintage and was pleased to see that there were a couple within an hour’s drive.
her elder brother and pleaded for him to back her proposition up with a loan to cover any shortfall if the price of the van was beyond that of the lease compensation. Then after a little negotiation she made appointments to see the vans later that week.
eeling very optimistic, she went and made her and Cathy a cup of tea before she remembered the phone call. It had been well over an hour ago and whoever it had been hadn’t phoned back.
She pulled her mobile back out of her pocket to find
out who the last caller had been. She groaned as she saw “Cavendish Mobile” come up on the screen.
“Oh no! Why did he have to wait until right now to call? He’s going to think I’m so rude. Why couldn’t it have been my dad or someone else, anyone else?” She muttered, slumping over the computer. She took a deep breath as she pushed the return call button.
She was just preparing to be apologetic when a woman’s slightly breathy and very sultry voice answered her call. Caroline stammered in surprise for a moment.
er… do I have the right number? I think Adam Cavendish called me about an hour ago. Is he available at all?” Her voice wavered slightly as she frowned in confusion
The breathy voice answered her.
“Yes, he’s here, but he’s a bit preoccupied at the moment.” Her voice sounded like melted chocolate and she gave a low laugh as she put her hand over the mouthpiece, but Caroline could still hear her muffled voice. “Adam slow down. You know I don’t like to go so fast. We don’t need to rush and we have plenty of time so you might as well enjoy the ride.” There were some throaty growls and a rhythmic low banging in response at her end and then the hand was removed from the receiver as she directed her comments to Caroline again. “He can’t come to the phone right now. He’s a little tied up. I’ll tell him you called, shall I?” Caroline was about to speak when she heard Adam’s strained voice in the background.
Nearly there now. This won’t take long. I’m coming right now!”
Caroline blanched as all the banging stopped and there wa
s a moment’s silence before she could speak again and then her voice sounded far too high pitched to her own ears.
“No, don’t worry, it’s okay. Please don’t bother him, you’re obviously busy. It was nothing important.” She put the phone down
sharply and slumped back in her chair, stunned by her own reaction to the woman’s words and voice.
It was obvious what had been going on. All that deep breathing and grunting going on in the background! She wasn’t quite sure if s
he should be disgusted or not and she wondered why the woman had bothered answering the call at all while she was having sex with him.
Maybe it was some kind of kinky voyeuristic thing that Adam got off on. Car
oline scrunched up her eyes and tried hard not to visualize him in bed with the breathy woman.
Her heart beat
faster and she felt her throat tightening as tears sprang into her eyes at the awful image she had just created in her mind. She shook her head trying to clear the mass of jumbled thoughts but it was no good.
Her whole world crumbled around her as s
he put her face in her hands and her shoulders shook while she sobbed. She gulped out the words as she told Cathy the gist of the conversation and what she had heard. Cathy came round to the back of the chair and put her arms round Caroline, trying to comfort her.
“I hate to tell you I told you so, you just can’t leave a guy like that hanging around. I mean just look at him. All those muscles and all that money. He can have any wom
an he wants. He was bound to be snapped up sooner or later.” The tone of her voice was more sympathetic than her words and Caroline looked up at her with tear-filled eyes.
She scrabbled around in her pocket for a tissue and blew her nose loudly. She took another shuddering breath before she could speak again.
“I know it’s all my own fault. I should have snapped him up while I had the chance, if I ever had a chance.” She whispered gloomily. “I shouldn’t even be upset. It’s not as if we made any firm arrangements. But after the drug thing he seemed so caring, I thought that perhaps he liked me. He seemed to like me. I didn’t realize, until right now, how much I liked him. Oh God Cathy, I know I’m being ridiculous, but I think of him all the time. Day and night. I can’t get him out of my head.” She choked out the words as she confessed her hidden feelings, her eyes pleading with her friend to understand. “I’ve spoken to him for probably less than an hour all told, but it’s more than enough. I think I’m in love with him. And now I’ve left it too late.” She paused, tears streaming down her face again.
e…He was having sex with that woman, I could hear them. She was telling him to slow down. She was gasping and he was almost panting in her ear! God! I don’t even want to think about it.” Her heart felt too big for her chest as it pounded out a frantic rhythm. “I’m sorry Cathy, do you mind if I go for a walk? I need to clear my head.” She choked out the words and feeling that she needed some fresh air, she loosened herself from Cathy’s grasp and walked outside.
She wandered along the sea front, watching the waves rush up th
e sand and draw back, leaving a soft, scummy foam along the shore. She picked up a pebble or two and weighed them in her hand as she stared out at the swirling water, wishing with all her heart that she had never made the call. She knew that she had never felt quite so miserable.