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
The days passed quickly and
Caroline threw herself into her work, trying at all costs to dispel the misery that crept into her heart.
f had worked and they hadn’t been bothered again but she felt so utterly humiliated. The way the workman had held her arm all the way off the site! She had tried to wrench herself away from him. but his grip had been like iron. She could hardly bear to think of it.
Adam’s gentle kiss had lingered on her lips
for days. The taste of the sugar and spice, the warmth that had spread through her had stayed for a long time afterwards and she thought of that far too often.
It was all so confusing. If he didn’t like her, why had he insisted on that trade? Why had he kissed her
Was it all just a game to him?
She didn’t understand him at all. Adam hadn’t called her
since and she was determined not to call him ever. She had even stopped looking at his phone number in her contacts list, but for some reason she couldn’t bring herself to delete it.
It had been horrible at first;
the ache in her chest just wouldn’t go away. Then, as it was impossible not to work, she started to become more enthusiastic about the changeover.
The new project gradually took shape.
Caroline felt very pleased with herself as she looked proudly at the back of the vintage van. It gleamed with her new logo for the mobile shop and web address.
The last few days ha
d passed in a relentless frenzy of packaging and clearing and she was delighted with the results.
The bank had been very interested in her new business plan and they had put up th
e money for the van conversion and sign writing without reservation.
had borrowed the cash from her brother David to buy the van outright and he was very enthusiastic about the new venture. He had promised to come and see what he had invested his money in as soon as he could find the time.
had gone through with the council only the week before and Cathy was now frantically ordering stock and packaging for all their bestselling cakes.
was amazed at how much they had accomplished in such a short time. They had obviously just needed a good shove in the right direction.
thelast week at the shop she and Cathy had cleared the remaining stock, promising the ever-hungry builders that they would be back as soon as the van was up and running. They had dismantled the display cases and shelves hoping to use as much as possible in the vintage van.
Caroline piled the last couple of boxes from the shop into the van and then took a last quick look round to make sure nothing was left behind. She picked up one or two sheets of paper that had slithered to the floor before giving the shop a last sweep through, determined not to leave a mess even though the place was going to be demolished.
The bulldozers were already taking down premises as close as five doors away, their noise and dust having made the last week quite uncomfortable, but today she was the finally done and she realized that she wasn’t at all sorry to see it go.
Tucking the last box under her arm, she gave a deep regretful sigh, shut the door of the shop locked it and felt a bit silly. Nobody was going to go into it now.
She stood there looking at the keys
, wondering what to do with them and when she turned she stepped straight into Adam Cavendish’s enormous hard chest. She dropped the keys in surprise as he smiled devastatingly down at her, his eyes bright with delight. She blew out a huge breath and bent down to pick the keys up again, only to crack heads with him as he bent to do the same.
“Argh!” She cried out as stars whirled around in her vision. She rubbed her head furiously where they had banged together. “What are you doing here? Making sure I’m leaving on time?” She asked sarcastically when she had recovered enough to form coherent speech.
Adam rubbed his own head, a red welt appearing above his eyebrows as he spoke. He twirled the shop keys in his hand. They jangled annoyingly as they moved. He stopped rubbing his head and frowned at her.
“Don’t be like that Caroline.” He looked
slightly put out at her words. “No, I just thought I’d come and see you on your last day here, but I’m obviously nearly too late, do you need a hand finishing up?”
His wonderful familiar scent washed over
her and her heart started jack-hammering in her chest.
“No, you’re okay. I’m done. It was only a few last bits. We’ve been running the stock down until we were sure we had the
licence go ahead with the van.” She handed back the shop keys and looked deeply into her eyes, before they flicked to the old truck parked at the kerb.
“It’s a great idea, to go mobil
e I mean, very similar to what I was going to suggest actually. I’m sorry I didn’t get round to speaking to you about it before, but when I saw the van outside the shop a while back I realized that was what you were doing anyway and I thought best not to interfere. I thought it best if I let you get on with it.” He sounded pleased with himself even though he’d done nothing. He nodded up at the side of the van. “And the website’s a must these days. Are you going straight out selling from tomorrow?”
shook her head.
“No, I’m taking a couple of days to get the inside of it sorted out first,” Sh
e gestured to the van. “I have to fix all the display cases down for a start. Fortunately we can use a lot of the shelving and bits from the shop. I’ve even managed to keep the same telephone number so I haven’t had to change too much of the stationery.” She realized that she was waffling stupidly. She didn’t owe him any explanations. It was his fault that she was moving it at all in the first place.
She wished he would go away and leave her to drown in her own misery. It was hard enough just knowing that she had been so close to being with him and that she had missed her chance. She could barely stand there speaking to him and listening to his fabulously deep voice.
The pain was back in her chest again
as well as the humiliation. She turned to go but he caught her arm and walked with her.
I’m sorry I’ve been so busy Caroline, I tried to phone you after you came down to the site but I only ever had the engaged signal. I realize that you must have been busy sorting this lot out.” He followed her round to the door of the van and kept talking as she tried to ignore him. “Look, it doesn’t often happen but I have an unexpected couple of hours free. Jim’s broken the chain on the wrecker. We’re waiting for a replacement and all my figures are up to date. There’s nothing for me to do in the office so why don’t you let me help you with this lot?” He looked into the back of the loaded van.
Caroline shook her head. He was so close to her
that she could smell his familiar scent.
’s okay don’t worry about it. Go and have some chill time if you only have a couple of hours spare.” She desperately wanted to get away from him. She didn’t want to see his beautiful face or feel his warmth or have his dark eyes burn into hers.
She especially didn’t want him to kiss her ever again. That would be too much. If he didn’t move away from her soon she was going to have to be rude
; the ache inside her was becoming far too hard to bear.
Adam dismissed her refusal of his offer to help
with a wave of his hand.
“No, I insist. I’ve neglected you horrendously, especially when I’d said I’d help. I’ll follow you and
then help you tidy your van. It’s the least I can do. You can make me a cuppa afterwards if you like. Good and strong and plenty of sugar.” He was already walking with great strides towards his car. She raised her eyebrows at him then sighed deeply an gave up with him once again as she climbed into her van.
Twenty minutes later
they pulled up outside her tiny flat. She was almost embarrassed as she remembered the inside of his fabulous house, but then she shrugged indifferently. She liked her flat and as she only had herself to please, did it really matter what Adam Cavendish thought of it?
They spent the next hour unloading boxes into her already full lounge, piling them in one corner, and trying not to touch one another as they passed in the hallway.
Adam grunted as he struggled past her.
“You will have to move house if yo
u’re going to keep this lot. There’s no way you have enough room to keep it here.” He said as the final carton filled the last square of space on her lounge floor, and he glanced around. He wiped the dust from his hands down the front of his jeans, leaving two grey marks behind.
as she closed the front door and ducked past his huge shoulder.
“Hopefully most of it will fit back in the van. I did do some kind of plan, if I can find it again amongst this lot.
Do you want to wash your hands?” She asked, trying to keep her eyes off the dust marks on his muscled thighs.
She moved round the stack of boxes
without waiting for an answer and pushed a door open so that he could see the bathroom.
wriggled through to another door and squeezed into her bedroom, leaving the door open behind her. She pulled two clean towels from the cupboard, came back and handed one to him, being careful not to touch his tanned hands. “I’m going to have that cup of tea, do you still want one?” She asked and he nodded as he turned towards the bathroom.
He took his time washing up. She could hear the water running and a lot of sloshing noises. Caroline rinsed her hands and
face at the sink in the kitchen and dried them on her towel before filling the kettle. She reached down two big mugs and put tea bags in them.
He came back as she was pouring the milk. He’
d obviously washed his face too. She could see tiny droplets of water glistening in the hair that constantly fell over his forehead.
“Better?” She asked as she handed him his tea, trying not to look into his
charcoal eyes as she passed the sugar bowl. She knew she would be lost if she did.
He tipped in three spoon
s full of sugar, stirred vigorously and then took a huge gulp of the hot liquid. He took another couple of slurps and then put the mug down on the work surface.
“Yes, much, thanks. Tea’s good. It was nice to do a bit of lugging about. I sit in that office for far too long these days.” He was standing quite close to her and she could feel the heat of his body. He didn’t add anything and the tension became almost unbearable.
He filled the little kitchen. His height and breadth overpowered the small space, making it feel almost claustrophobic. Caroline took a sip of her tea and then spoke over the rim of the mug.
“Except of course, when you’re rescuing people with the lifeboat crew.” She eventually managed, feeling her stomach flip as she spoke. She cursed herself for opening her big mouth.
His eyebrows shot up towards his hairline.
“How on earth do you know about that?” He was surprised. “It’s only
a part-time position and not something that’s generally known outside the crew. We haven’t been out on an actual rescue for ages thank goodness. The tide can be treacherous around this coast. Normally we would have been called out a couple of times by now. But we have to keep in practice. The last training run was about four weeks ago.”
tea suddenly tasted very bitter. She could barely speak, her throat contracted so violently.
“I know. That was when I saw you. I think you were a bit late.” She
whispered. She looked into her mug and swirled the liquid as she tried not to remember the day her heart broke in two.
“You’re right, I was late. I’d been stuck in traffic and the crew were trying to call me on my
mobile. It was a nightmare. Where did you see me? I certainly don’t remember you being there.”
ned her head towards the lounge, she couldn’t even look at him as she recalled the fabulously glamorous woman who had stepped out of the car and driven it away.
“I just saw you as you leapt in the boat. I’d been having a walk along the front and I saw you as you launched.” Why was she lying to him? It was none of her business
if he’d been with another woman. There was no reason for her to make up lies as to what she had seen, but she just couldn’t confess that she had seen him with the woman on the seafront and that she had heard them as they had made love only twenty minutes earlier.
Adam nodded slowly.
“Yeah, I remember it all now. They waited until I arrived and we just threw ourselves out there. Broke our launch record. The lads reckon I should be late more often if it makes us that fast. They don’t like going without me.”
Caroline narrowed her eyes, banishing the long
-legged blond to the back of her mind.
“Oh, and why don’t they like going without you?” She tried to keep her tone neutral.