Page 27

Author: Jodi Ellen Malpas

‘If we were alone, you would be against that wall and I would be fucking you stupid.’ He rolls again, dragging a whimper from me as the drumming moves into my core. I mentally curse Kate to Hell.

‘I can be quiet,’ I whisper. ‘Gag me if you must.’

He smirks. ‘Trust me, you’ll be screaming. No gag will stifle it.’ My body convulses. ‘Now, tomorrow,’ he says assertively. ‘I’d like to make an appointment.’

Huh? An appointment to fuck me? Hey, no appointment necessary!

He must catch my confusion because he starts laughing. ‘I want you back at The Manor so you can take the details you really need to start working on some designs.’

My mouth forms an O and he leans down, plunging his tongue in, attacking me with passion. I let him take me with everything he has, my knees buckling when he rolls those damn, delectable hips again.

He breaks away panting, his eyes clenched shut. ‘I don’t make appointments to fuck you, Ava. I’ll be doing that when I please.’

Oh, okay.

He seems to summon some sort of strength from somewhere before releasing me, leaving me to stand on my own. I feel abandoned and weak. He removes his hooded eyes from mine and glances up the stairs, and I know he’s cursing Kate for being home too. I can’t believe he’s just teased me with a few delicious thrusts, and now he’s going. I’ve gone from playing it cool, to mentally begging for it.

‘The Manor at noon.’ he states, reaching up and running his finger down my cheek. I nod. ‘Good girl.’ He smiles, pushes his lips against my forehead, turns and strides out.

I sag against the wall, trying to catch my breath.

‘Hey, has the Lord gone?’

I look up to see Kate hanging over the banister waving a bottle of wine. Oh, yes. That I need.

Chapter 15

The next morning, I land in the office with an almighty crash – quite literally. I’m sprawled across the wooden floor, surrounded by boxes, with Tom’s running towards me, horror plastered all over his baby face.

‘Oh God. Are you okay?’ He reaches down to help me up, brushing down my black, fitted skirt before beginning on my sleeveless blouse. ‘I’m so sorry. I was just moving them into storage.’ He flaps around me like a mother hen, babbling about health and safety and accident books.

‘Tom, I’m fine. Now, get your hands off my tits!’

He quickly withdraws his flapping hands from my breasts, giggling. ‘Oh, and what lovely breasts they are, Red Riding Hood!’

‘If you weren’t gay, I would have slapped you by now.’ I warn him.

‘Ah, but I am gay.’ he says proudly as he starts shifting boxes around.

‘What’s in the boxes?’

‘Samples, Sally took delivery of them. You would’ve thought she’d have put them in the cupboard. The girl’s useless.’ Tom moans. I scan the office and see Sally fighting with the photocopier. She really is in a world of her own.

‘Morning,’ I hear Victoria before I see her. ‘Tom, I’m never going out with you again.’ she hisses at him, perching herself on her chair.

I look to each of them in turn, waiting for an explanation, but it’s not forthcoming from either of them. ‘What’s going on?’ I ask. Tom shrugs guiltily as Victoria takes a long breath, ready to launch into an inch by inch account of her grievance.

‘He dumped me again!’ She narrows her eyes on Tom accusingly. I drop my bag by my desk and watch as Victoria fires all sorts of accusations at a very guilty looking Tom. ‘Don’t ask me to come out with you ever again,’ she spits, pointing her pen at him. ‘Friday, you cleared off with the scientist, and last night you didn’t even have the decency to go home with the same man!’

‘Tom!’ I gasp sarcastically. ‘I thought the scientist was your soul mate?’

‘He still might be,’ Tom defends himself in a high pitched voice. ‘I’m just sampling what’s on offer before I decide on what to invest in.’

Victoria scoffs and swivels her chair around, effectively blanking him out. I sit gingerly, wincing as my butt comes to rest on the soft, padded seat that feels more like iron. I get my phone from my bag and find a text from Kate.

Left early, didn’t want to wake u in case u were dreaming of all things Lord like ;-)

Baroque at 1? Have to be back for 2:30 xxx

Yes. And daydreams too. I start to text back a big, resounding NO to Kate’s lunch offer – I’m seeing a God – but then freeze mid-type. I’m supposed to be meeting Matt for lunch. I slump in my chair. My mind’s all over the place at the moment, and I’m not going to try and kid myself as to why that is. I sit drumming my nail on my front tooth, trying to work out how I can get around this. My conclusion? I can’t, so I text Kate first.

Sorry, busy busy busy. C u at home. Ax

I can’t believe I’m sat twiddling my hair as I text a lie. She would go loopy if she knew I had arranged to meet Matt. I recommence the drumming of my tooth, struggling to decide which man I’m going to be letting down. Matt sounded really low and said he wasn’t okay. Jesse wants me back at The Manor to commence design, with the possibility of some added extras. My thighs squeeze together at the prospect. I pick my phone up to call Matt.

‘Hey,’ he greets me, sounding happier than I thought he would. Probably not for long, though.

‘Hey, listen, something’s come up. Can we rearrange?’ I hold my breath, sinking my teeth into my bottom lip as I wait for his response, and yes, I’m twiddling my hair. I’m not even really lying. Something has come up.

‘Ava, please!’ he begs. I drop my lock of hair immediately. The sure, arrogant Matt’s gone again, being replaced with an uncertain, timid stranger. ‘I really need to see you.’

I slump back in my chair, completely defeated. How can I not go when he hits me with that? There must be something seriously wrong. ‘Sure,’ I sigh. ‘I’ll see you at Baroque.’

‘Brill, see you then.’ His self-assured tone has returned.

I busy myself with emails and checking up on contractor progress. At the same time, I’m thinking of all sorts of excuses I can feed Jesse. Thank God I don’t have to face him, because with me and my twiddling fingers, I’d be rumbled instantly.

Patrick comes rolling in at eleven with Starbucks. I could kiss him.

‘Cappuccino, extra shot, no sugar or chocolate for you, flower.’ He clucks my cheek, placing my coffee on my desk. ‘Don’t forget your appointment with Mikael tomorrow.’ he perches on my desk, and I hold my breath as it creaks.

‘No, I haven’t.’ I push my diary across my desk for Patrick to see the big, bold print.

‘Good girl. How did you get on at The Manor?’

I blush instantly. I didn’t tell Patrick about my second appointment, but he only has to flick through my diary to see – which he obviously has.

‘Fine,’ I squeak, my voice a few notes higher than my normal tone, my face burning up. I will him to accept my one word, abrupt answer and leave me alone.

‘Jolly good. Keep me posted.’ He lifts himself up from my desk and goes about handing out the rest of the coffees. I instinctively check underneath for splintered wood or loose screws, puffing my cheeks out in relief for both his lack of interrogation and for my desk’s wellbeing. With all of my distractions, I hadn’t considered the possibility of Patrick finding out about my extracurricular activities with Mr Ward. This could be tricky.

My phone alerts me of a text. I snatch it up quickly, finding a reply from Kate.

Get the wine xxx

I look at the clock on my computer. Eleven fifteen. I would be leaving for my noon appointment with Mr Ward about now. I bite the bullet and pull his number up, but instead of calling him, I’m a complete shit bag and I text him.

Something important has come up. We’ll re-arrange. Ring u later Ax

No sooner have I placed my phone back on my desk and untangled my finger from my hair, the office door opens and a spray of calla lilies are carted in. It’s the delivery girl from Lusso. I see Tom point to my desk, and I’m instantly flooded with guilt. I re-slump in my chair. I’ve just stood him up and he’s sent me flowers. Well, I’ve not technically stood him up. I’m rearranging a business meeting. He’ll understand. I accept the flowers, signing the delivery girl’s paperwork before finding the card.

I’m looking very forward to my appointment.

You should be too.


I drop my arms on the desk and bury my head in them, feeling like a hundred tons of shit. He went to all that trouble yesterday, pounding on Mr Baldy Jag, rescuing me from certain assault, and what do I do? I’m a complete loser and ditch him for my ex. I need help. Good Lord, if Kate finds out, I’m a goner. I need to tell him to lay off on the flower deliveries to my office, though. It won’t be long before Patrick starts asking questions.

I leave at twelve forty five to go and meet Matt, after being even more of a shit bag and ignoring ten missed calls from Jesse. I know I’ve made things worse for myself, but I gathered, after I missed his first call due to a genuine toilet break, his second because I was on the landline and then it proceeded to persistently ring thereafter, that he’s not very happy. And now I’m also thoroughly fed up with one of my all-time favourite tracks.

When I arrive, the bar is busy, but I spot Matt in the corner with drinks already on the table.

He jumps up when he spots me, smiling brightly. ‘Ava!’ He grabs me, squeezing me to his chest, throwing me out completely. He’s never hugged me like this, even when we were together. He pulls away and plants a kiss on my cheek, lingering longer than is necessary. ‘Thanks for coming. I got you a wine, your favourite. Is that okay?’

‘Sure,’ I smile. A small one won’t hurt. I break away from him and settle on a chair opposite. ‘Is everything okay?’ I ask nervously, my voice laced with all of the apprehension I really feel.

‘You look nice,’ he says cheerfully on a smile. ‘Did you want something to eat?’

‘No, I’m fine,’ I frown at him. ‘Matt, what have you got to tell me? You said you weren’t okay.’ He’s acting shifty and nervous, and it’s making me incredibly uncomfortable. I take a sip of my wine, watching him over my glass as he fidgets and plays with the rim of his pint. What’s eating him? He eventually draws a deep breath and leans across the table, placing his hand over mine. I halt mid-sip, looking down at his hand.

Realisation hits. Oh, no! I widen my eyes on him and prey he’s going to tell me that Henry, the goldfish, is dead. Please be that, instead of what I think’s coming.

‘Ava, I want you back.’ he says, firmly and concisely.

Well, I didn’t see that coming – not until about ten seconds ago. What the hell is wrong with him?

My glass is still hovering at my lips as he continues. ‘I was a total twat. I don’t deserve any second chances...’

I scoff. ‘Second chance?’

He drops his head in defeat. ‘Yeah, okay. I take your point.’ He lifts his head, his face all genuine and soppy. ‘It would never happen again, I promise you.’

Is he having me on? How many times have I heard the same old bullshit? He’s a serial cheater. ‘Matt, I’m sorry, but it’s never going to happen.’ I tell him evenly and calmly. His eyes widen with surprise. I shake my head lightly to re-affirm my statement.

In the space of three seconds, his face turns from all sorrowful and hurt, to black and suspicious.

‘It’s her, isn’t it?’ he spits across the table. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out who her is. ‘She opens her fat trap and you listen. When are you going to start thinking for yourself?’

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