Irresistible Temptation(2)

By: Sara Craven

During his second year away, his parents had sold their house and moved to a smaller property on the coast, and she'd decided sadly that she'd never see him again.

Their meeting last year in a Bristol wine bar had been the purest coincidence. She'd been there with a colleague from work, unwinding after a long, hard day teaching computerised office systems to a particularly unreceptive bunch of secretaries.

Jeremy had been with a crowd of people at a leaving do on the other side of the room. The wine bar had been full, and not particularly well-lit, but she'd recognised him at once. Heard him laugh. Had seen his brilliant smile flash as he'd turned to trade cheerful insults with another member of his party.

When he'd gone up to the bar, she'd followed. Touched his sleeve…

'Hello, Jeremy. I don't expect you remember me…'

He turned, brows lifting in sudden hauteur, which disappeared like the sun breaking through clouds as he registered her presence.

'Livvy Butler—by all that's wonderful. I don't believe it. How long has it been?'

Too long, she thought, bathed in the warmth of that smile. Basking, for once, in his undivided attention.

'You look terrific' His blue eyes took in everything, from the streaked brown hair enhanced by a fortnight in the Greek sun, to the pink enamel on the toenails peeping from her chic, high-heeled sandals. He glanced round. 'Are you with someone, or can we talk?'

'I was just leaving…'

'No, don't do that. Look, those people in the corner are going. Grab their table while I get us a drink. Is Chardon all right?'

She'd have drunk wolfsbane if he'd offered it to her.

Moments later, they were sitting at the corner table, and he was pouring wine into her glass.

'Are you sure your friends won't mind?' she asked doubtfully.

Jeremy shrugged 'I've done my duty. The way things are going, my absence won't even be noticed.' He handed over her glass. Raised his own in a toast 'Happy meetings, Livvy. Tell me, what are you doing in Bristol?'

Waiting for you, she thought, as she raised her glass in turn. But I never knew it until this moment…

The taxi queue shuffled up, and Olivia shuffled with it, impatience building inside her. Why couldn't all these people wanting Harrods or Selfridges share each other's cabs, and save their money and her precious time?

Now that she was here, she wanted to be with Jeremy. Needed to see his face light up with incredulity and delight, and his arms opening wide to enfold her.

When it had started, it had been purely platonic. Just two old friends meeting for the odd drink—the occasional meal. Jeremy had made no secret of the fact that he was married, and she'd respected him for that.

She couldn't remember the moment when she first registered that all might not be well in his marriage. Jeremy always spoke with pride of his wife's career achievements, but was reticent—even tight-lipped—about their personal relationship, and gradually she'd found herself wondering.

Then, one day, he'd rung her at work and asked almost abruptly if she'd have dinner with him that evening. When she'd arrived at the restaurant, she'd found a candlelit table for two, and champagne waiting on ice.

It's my birthday,' he'd told her quietly. 'Unfortunately, my wife is too busy preparing a major case for the Crown Court to come out with me. Thanks for making time for me, Livvy.'

Over the evening, Jeremy had spoken openly about his marriage for the first time.

'With Maria, the job comes first, second and third,' he'd said bitterly. 'I'm not even sure I end up a poor fourth.'

'That can't be true.' She'd put her hand over his. 'You've been married such a short time. You have to talk it out—reach some kind of compromise…'

'How can you talk to someone who won't admit there's a problem?' He'd shaken his head. 'I'm not certain we've ever had a marriage at all.' His fingers had closed round hers. 'I should have waited, Livvy,' he'd said huskily. Waited for you. I know that now. Tell me it's not too late.'

'Wake up, love.' The taxi driver's strident voice broke impatiently into her reverie. 'Do you want a cab or not?'

'Oh, yes.' Red-faced, Olivia gave him her destination and heaved her case on board, collapsing back on to the seat as the cab moved off.

She hardly knew London at all, she reflected. Her only previous visits had been brief sightseeing trips when she was much younger. Living here would be a totally different matter.

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