‘Okay. Thanks.’ She gave him a smile which was so like Hannah’s, Will could see why Cleo had no doubt about their relationship.
His next stop was Cleo’s. Will judged she’d be home from the café by now. He was right. The door opened almost as soon as he knocked.
‘Will!’ Cleo looked so lovely, standing in the doorway, her hair around her shoulders. She was still wearing her work outfit, and her feet were bare. ‘I didn’t expect to see you today.’ She peered at him. ‘What’s happened? You’d better come in.’
Once inside, he took her in his arms before speaking, her lips too tempting to resist.
‘Okay,’ she grinned as they pulled apart. ‘What’s up?’
‘There was a shark alarm at the beach.’
Cleo’s eyes widened. ‘No! Was anyone…?’ She brought her fist up to her mouth.
‘Fortunately, not. A young boy was almost a goner, but between Owen and the surf lifesavers, he was brought to safety. Nate almost wasn’t so lucky. He went in with Owen but developed a cramp. The thing was, none of us noticed, we were so intent on the rescue of the boy.’
Will could see Cleo’s mind working overtime, thinking of Hannah.
‘He’s okay. One person did see he was in trouble. Kerri-Ann was there. She saved him.’
‘She did?’ Cleo’s eyes grew even wider.
‘So, my thinking is…’
‘You think this might change Han’s mind about her?’
‘Maybe…’ Cleo sounded doubtful. ‘How do you intend to play this? I’m sure you have some ideas.’
Will grinned. Cleo was getting to know him. ‘Well, the way I see it is… We all get together at the club tonight. You, me, Ailsa and Martin, Kerri-Ann, the boys and Hannah. I’ve already invited Kerri-Ann. Hannah can hardly refuse to be there, given the circumstances. And let’s see what happens.’
‘Will Nate be able to be there if he almost drowned?’
‘He seemed pretty okay when I left Owen and him on the beach. I drove Kerri-Ann back to Ruby’s.’
‘Right. It could all backfire, you know. My daughter’s not the easiest person. She doesn’t change her mind easily.’ Cleo paused for a moment. ‘But it’s worth a try. So, when is this to happen?’
‘Seven. And I’d better go. I still have to tell Ailsa and Martin about what happened, and let the youngsters know about dinner at the club.’
‘It’ll be such a shock for Ailsa. Nate’s a strong swimmer. Who’d have thought…’ Cleo fell silent clearly imagining how it could all have ended differently.
‘Mmm. Kerri-Ann’s a pretty strong swimmer, too. Seems she’s a marine biologist back where she comes from.’
‘She told me. I guess that means she knows how to act in an emergency.’
‘Sure does. So, see you later? Do you want me to pick you up?’ Will was really asking if Cleo wanted him to bring her home and stay the night.
‘Yes, please.’ She smiled and kissed him on the cheek. ‘I’ll be ready at quarter to.’
Cleo resisted the temptation to call Hannah as she showered and dressed for the evening at the club, choosing to wear a three-quarter-sleeved dress in a shade of turquoise which matched the stone in the engagement ring Stan had given her all those years ago. She no longer wore the ring, fearful of damaging it while cooking, but her wedding ring still sat on the third finger of her left hand. Since starting to see Will, she’d thought about removing it, but it seemed such a big step, she’d been reluctant to do so. She stared at it now and turned it on her finger. Perhaps it was time, and perhaps she should give her engagement ring to Hannah. It deserved to be worn, not to lie in a jewellery box. She remembered reading somewhere the stone was supposed to protect the wearer from danger.
At exactly quarter to seven, Cleo heard Will’s scooter draw up outside. She picked up her bag and headed out to greet him with a peck on the cheek, before donning the now familiar helmet and hopping on behind him, her arms automatically going around his waist.
Before they set off, Will patted Cleo’s hands. ‘Hold tight,’ he said as they sped off.