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‘What?’ She looked across at him. He was frowning, the crease between his eyes deep. ‘Of course not. Sorry, I was just wondering what it was about Penworth Bay that made people stay there?’

‘Stay there?’

‘Yes, Wendy told me a fair few of the volunteers who have come down to help out at Elsie’s bakery have stayed. And you’ve obviously decided to put down roots there too, despite growing up there. You’ve not moved away at the first chance, as most people do. I remember always vowing to myself that I wouldn’t live back where I grew up.’ She shifted on her feet. ‘And I kept that promise for a while, at least. I mean, I’m back living with my parents now but only until I save up enough for a deposit and then I’ll be back out of there.’

‘Now that’s one tricky question to answer.’ Turning, he joined Jessie in looking out across the water. ‘I don’t know if I can answer that. I guess it’s probably something about feeling comfortable and knowing that all of these people believe in you, have your back, so to speak.’

‘Umm.’ It would be nice to have one person to have her back, let alone a whole community. She used to think that person was Brad. She’d believed that for years and even after they’d split up she assumed they’d always have this special connection, that he’d always somehow care for her, have her back, but he’d shown her quite clearly that wasn’t the case by getting together with her sister.

‘Umm?’ Leaning closer, he nudged her shoulder gently.

‘I was just thinking how nice it must be to feel supported.’

‘You don’t feel supported?’

‘I do. My family just has other things going on at the moment.’ Taking her hairband from her wrist, she turned, so the wind was blowing her hair in one direction and bundled her hair up in a messy bun before looking back out to sea. ‘My sister is pregnant, and her boyfriend has left her because of it.’

‘Oh, what an idiot. Who does that?’ Simon shook his head.

‘Well, that’s an interesting story, too.’ She might as well tell him about the whole sorry situation.

‘In what way?’

‘Her baby’s father is my ex.’ There she’d said it. Why did it matter what he thought, anyway? She glanced at him. Yep, he looked shocked.

‘He had an affair with your sister?’ His eyes widened. ‘Of...’

‘No, no. We’d been finished for two, three months before he got together with her.’ She looked at her hands gripping the railings. ‘Even though I knew it was for the best that we’d split up, I’ve got to admit it was still a shock.’

‘Wow, I bet it was. I can see what you meant when you said things had changed between you and your sister.’

‘Yes, I know she hasn’t done anything wrong, not technically, but at the time it just felt as though she’d betrayed me a little, I guess.’ It still did.

Looking at her, Simon reached across and took her hand. ‘I can understand why you felt that way.’

‘Yes.’ She smiled as she laced her fingers with his. His skin was warm despite the wind blowing in from the ocean. Looking at him, she blinked. ‘What?’


‘Why are you looking at me like that?’ She knew why, she could feel it. She could feel it from his skin touching hers, she could feel it hanging in the air between them.

‘You’re beautiful. Do you know that? Inside and out.’ He sidled closer.

‘You don’t even know me.’

‘I know enough to know you’re a good person.’ Turning, he lifted her hand off the railing, holding it in his as he held his other hand out. Waiting.

He didn’t know her. He didn’t know how she felt about her sister’s pregnancy. He didn’t know the jealously she felt, that the ‘why not me?’ questions wouldn’t stop whirring around in her mind despite all she did to silence them. But in that moment, with him looking into her eyes and her looking into his, it didn’t matter. They knew each other enough to know that what they were about to do felt right. She leaned towards him.

‘Is this okay with you?’ His voice was a whisper, his breath warm against her lips.

‘Absolutely.’ It was her turn to lean in. The millimetres between them closed as she felt his lips touch hers.

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