‘Hello, Cleo.’ Will felt his face redden, remembering their kiss, and wishing he looked smarter. She had clearly been home to change. Instead of her work outfit of black and white, she was wearing a pair of navy three-quarter length pants with a pink shirt. She looked good enough to eat.
‘Hi, Will,’ she said shyly. ‘I wondered if you’d be here. Han only rang me this morning. I didn’t know…’ She waved a hand in the air.
‘Mum!’ Hannah appeared to give Cleo a hug. ‘Did you bring the cakes?’
‘I did.’ Cleo turned to Will. ‘I think I was only invited to provide the dessert.’ She laughed. ‘What about you?’ She indicated his outfit.
‘I didn’t know anything about the barbecue. I thought I was only driving Owen home.’
Cleo grinned, making Will want to hug her.
Cleo’s heart skipped a beat when she saw Will standing there. Although she’d expected him to be at the barbecue – Hannah had said all the parents would be there – it was still a shock to be confronted with him so soon after last night.
Today, he hadn’t bothered to change from his surf school outfit, but Cleo had to admit to herself it suited him. While he did brush up well, this was the real Will – unshaven, hair dishevelled, wearing an old pair of tatty board shorts and a scruffy tee-shirt bearing the surf school logo.
They exchanged a few words, then, seeing her eyes on him, Will reddened and put up a hand in an attempt to tidy his hair. It made Cleo want to run her fingers through it. She wondered how it would feel and shivered imagining her fingers tangled in his blond locks.
‘Thanks for bringing the strawberry flan, Mum.’ Hannah handed Cleo a glass of wine. ‘You know how much I love it. You’re looking nice. New outfit?’
Cleo glanced down at what she was wearing. ‘I made another trip toBirds of a Feather,’ she said, smiling.
‘Good choice.’ Hannah nodded, before wandering off.
‘How did it go last night?’ Ailsa whispered into Cleo’s ear, forcing her to turn quickly and check no one could overhear.
‘It went well.’ Cleo felt herself blush.Why was everyone so interested in her and Will?
Then Will himself joined them, along with Martin.
‘I was telling Martin we plan to join forces to organise some fundraising,’ he said, grinning. ‘Maybe we should all meet up. What do you say?’
‘Sounds like a good idea,’ Cleo said, but she felt a twinge of disappointment their next meeting wasn’t to be just the two of them. What was she thinking? One kiss – two, actually – and here she was throwing caution to the wind and forgetting her vow to avoid any entanglements with the opposite sex.
It was a pleasant evening. The three young people made every effort to demonstrate their ability as hosts, and the strawberry flan Cleo had provided was gratefully received. She was sad when the evening finally came to an end without any further opportunity to spend time with Will. She had noticed how Hannah hung on Nate’s every word – and the fact he didn’t appear to mind. She wondered if perhaps her daughter was misreading the situation.
On the drive home, Cleo tried to examine her feelings. Was she making too much of the kiss the previous evening? Had it only been Will’s way of saying thanks for dinner, his customary parting gesture? Somehow, she didn’t think so. But how was she to find out? Before they left, Will had arranged to meet with her, Ailsa and Martin the following Thursday. The meeting was to take place at Will’s, and Cleo was curious to see where he lived, but wished it was only going to be her and Will.
She sighed, shocked by how she had changed her opinion of Will so quickly.
Cleo had just reached her driveway when she was aware of another vehicle stopping behind her. In the dim glow of the streetlight, she didn’t recognise it, and a shiver ran up her spine. Maybe it wasn’t only young girls walking home alone who were at risk. Her heart in her mouth, she parked and got out of the car, holding her car keys between her fingers – she’d read somewhere she could use them to gouge out the eye of an attacker. She shivered again at the very thought and was about to hurry to the door when a familiar voice said, ‘I think we may have some unfinished business.’
Cleo breathed a sigh of relief. ‘You gave me a fright,’ she said, her breath coming in gasps. ‘I thought… I don’t know what I thought.’ She laughed nervously.
‘Did you think I was about to attack you?’ Will chuckled. Now he was standing under the light, she could see him clearly.
‘Sorry if I frightened you. We didn’t get much chance to talk at Owen’s, so I decided to follow you home. I hope you don’t mind. Thought you might spring to a hot chocolate or a nightcap.’
‘Oh!’ Cleo was lost for words. ‘You’d better come in.’ She opened the door and, turning on the lights as she went, led Will into the kitchen.
‘Hot chocolate sounds good,’ she said when they got there. She wanted to keep a clear head and had already drunk several glasses of wine. She probably shouldn’t have driven home.
Standing in the middle of her kitchen, Will seemed even larger and more masculine than he had the night before when they’d eaten in the dining room. Cleo swallowed as she took the milk from the fridge and poured it into a saucepan. She was trying hard to stifle her unease at being alone with Will again. Despite wanting it to happen, his unexpected appearance had sent all her nerves jangling.