In Separate Bedrooms(10)

By: Carole Mortimer

Except that he didn’t, his dark gaze challenging on hers as he maintained his grip. ‘We haven’t settled the details for this evening,’ he insisted. ‘You said dinner is out, so how about I pick you up about nine o’clock and we go and have a quiet drink together somewhere?’

How about they just forgot about the whole thing?

Except, Mattie realised Jack Beauchamp didn’t intend letting her off that easily.

‘Okay,’ she finally agreed reluctantly. ‘If that’s what you want to do.’

‘It’s what I want to do, Mattie,’ he echoed decisively.

‘Fine,’ she snapped, looking down to where his hand still clasped her arm, taking a relieved step back as he finally released her. ‘Until nine o’clock this evening, then,’ she muttered.

He gave a slight inclination of his head. ‘I’m looking forward to it.’

Well, Mattie certainly wasn’t!

What was he going to say to her? More to the point, what was he going to do about her act of sabotage on his personal life?


‘YOU changed those name cards over on purpose, didn’t you?’

Mattie, in the process of taking a sip of her glass of white wine, swallowed too hastily, the liquid going down the wrong way and choking her.

She coughed and spluttered, the wine instantly going up her nose as well as down her windpipe, her eyes and nose watering as she tried to control herself.

‘Here.’ Jack reached over and gave her a helpful slap on the back as he sat beside her in the corner booth of the country pub he had driven them to.

Almost knocking Mattie off the seat in the process!

Had there been any need to slap her on the back quite that hard? Mattie didn’t think so. Besides, it hadn’t helped—she was still coughing and spluttering, several people in the bar turning to give her sympathetic looks.

Which was more than Jack Beauchamp was doing—amusement seemed to be the main emotion in those laughing brown eyes and the curve of his mouth!

‘Blow your nose,’ Jack instructed dryly, handing her a snowy white handkerchief.

Mattie did so. Noisily. And it did help. Only her eyes were watering now.

‘Feeling better?’ Jack enquired as she mopped up the moisture from her face and eyes, at the same time sure that her mascara must have run down her cheeks.

Yes, it had, she realized with an inward groan as she looked down at what had once been a pristine white handkerchief, but which was now streaked with brown stains. Oh, well, the way she looked was the least of her problems!

And how could she possibly be feeling better after what he had just said to her? He knew she had swapped those cards over on purpose!

‘Thank you,’ she said tautly, crushing the handkerchief in the palm of her hand; she doubted he would want it back now that she had blown her nose on it!

Jack Beauchamp had arrived at the bungalow promptly at nine o’clock this evening. Which was just as well—because Mattie had been standing at the end of the driveway waiting for him. She didn’t want him any nearer in case he alerted her mother as to whom she was spending the evening with.

She had assured her mother, when she’d arrived home from work a few hours earlier, that the situation with Jack Beauchamp had been settled, that he accepted her explanation of a mistake being made, that he wouldn’t be cancelling his booking for Harry this weekend. All she had to do then was convince Jack Beauchamp of that!

His opening comment had seemed to put an end to that particular hope.

She cleared her throat noisily before speaking. ‘I did try to explain to you earlier—’ before his luncheon date arrived! ‘—that I had realized my mistake over the weekend—’

‘You did,’ he conceded dryly. ‘But your subsequent remark about a wife and four girlfriends seemed to imply something else.’ He quirked dark brows over mocking eyes.

Mattie winced as she clearly remembered making that particular comment in his office earlier.

‘Don’t you think?’ he prompted mildly before sipping the half-pint of beer he had ordered for his own drink.

Perhaps if she had thought more before delivering those flowers on Saturday— But that was her problem: she didn’t think, just acted!

She wished she didn’t have to think now, either! Because the more she thought about what she had done, the more she realized just how completely unprofessionally she had behaved. It was none of her business if one of her clients had a dozen girlfriends who had no idea of each other’s existence; she was just paid to deliver flowers, not make moral judgements. Or act on the latter!

‘You see, Mattie.’ Jack spoke pleasantly as he turned more fully towards her.