Tessa and the Dinner Date Page Banner

Hot Evan was on the porch snogging Tessa’s grandmother when Tessa arrived for her usual Wednesday night dinner date.

The shock of it nearly had her hitting the letterbox as she swung into the drive. Hot Evan with her gran? Could her day get any worse?

Not only had it flogged rain all day and continued to do so, spray-painting sexpot Dylan Drysdale had popped in to Tessa’s modest gift shop, Tessa’s Treasures, to buy scented candles for his mum for her birthday and pointedly ignored all her attempts to flirt, leaving her flush faced and stuttering with embarrassment.

Then at lunchtime, old busybody Mrs Gibbs had hunkered down near the counter for an hour and regaled Tessa nonstop with local gossip, most of which was rubbish. She finally left with a toodle-do and the advice that Tessa would be much more likely to snare a boyfriend if she wasn’t such a sourpuss.

Tessa wasn’t a sourpuss. She was a cheerful girl with a ready smile and a generous heart. At least, she was before today.

She pulled up behind her gran’s car and glanced through the rain-slicked windscreen. The lovebirds had broken apart and were watching her. Neither appeared remotely guilty. If anything, they looked smug. Especially her gran.

Which was understandable given her recent Hot Evan snogfest.

So not fair. How the hell was she meant to compete with her own grandmother?

Tessa took her time gathering her things. The loaf of sourdough she’d bought on the way home was secure in a cloth bag, along with a box of little lemon tarts. Her hand hesitated over the bottle of white wine sitting on the passenger seat. A pinot grigio from one of the more renowned local wineries that had cost double what she’d normally pay but it was meant as comfort after a rotten day, and Gran was always good for a story when she’d had a glass or two.

Now though…

She snatched up the bottle. So what if Hot Evan had been enjoying some tonsil hockey with Gran? It was a free country and it wasn’t as if Tessa had any claim on him, and Gran was a swinging single and more than a match for any toy boy who crossed her path. A few had, if the rumours were true. Not that Gran ever admitted to anything beyond friendship with any of her male acquaintances. Leonie Buckley was very much from the “a lady does not tell” school. Which was fortunate because this was one conquest Tessa did not want to hear more about.

As for Hot Evan, who could blame him for indulging in a gorgeous, confident widow’s pleasures? He was a healthy young man, after all. Very healthy, very attractive, and very nice.

Tessa sniffed. Maybe cut the nice. If he were truly nice, he’d be snogging her to bonelessness instead of her sixty-nine-year-old gran.

‘Hi, Gran,’ Tessa called merrily when she made it to the porch, determined to hide her hurt.

She shook off the rain and kissed her grandmother’s perfectly made up cheek, catching a waft of Chanel No 5 as she did so. Gran never wore anything else. It had been Pop’s favourite and he’d bought her enough bottles over the years to last a lifetime.

‘Pressie for you.’ She passed over the wine and braced herself with a deep breath before facing Hot Evan like she would any friendly neighbour of her gran. ‘Hi, Evan.’

‘Hey, Tessa.’ He smiled. ‘Great to see you looking sunny on such a wintery night.’

‘Thanks. Can’t say I’m feeling it.’ Tessa also didn’t point out that he was telling fibs. She was tired and more than a bit miserable. Her blonde hair was frizzy with damp and her makeup end-of-day sludgy. The only sunny thing about her was the hand-knitted yellow wool jumper she wore beneath her grungy old waterproof coat, and even that had a coffee stain on the cuff.

Hot Evan on the other hand, was as sizzling as always in his plumber’s gear of snug-fitting khaki work trousers and thick blue and orange polar fleece jumper with Piping Hot Plumbing embroidered on the chest. He towered over Gran and Tessa, shoulders wide enough to carry the world and more, and regarded them with chocolate brown eyes that sparkled with humour despite him probably having spent most of the day knee-deep in sewerage.

‘This looks interesting,’ said Gran, holding the bottle at arm’s length so she could read the label without her glasses.

Hot Evan peered at it over her gran’s shoulder. ‘Gratia? That’s Digby Wallace-Jones’s place. I was out there a couple of weeks ago for a job. Dig gave me a bottle of their shiraz as thanks. It wasn’t bad.’

‘I hope Digby paid you with more than wine,’ said Gran.

Hot Evan gave one of his trademark deep chuckles, the sound turning Tessa’s insides gooey as it always did. He had the kind of chuckle that channelled a girl’s mind to naughty fun sex. Unfortunately, not with her. ‘He did. Dig’s a good bloke.’

‘Just as well. We Buckley women do like our men to be successful.’ Gran looked from Evan to Tessa and back again. ‘Well? What are you doing out here in the cold and rain? Come inside.’

Hot Evan shoved his hands in his trouser pockets raised an eyebrow.

‘Yes, Evan, that means you’re invited for dinner too.’

‘Awesome,’ he said, grinning.

Which is not what Tessa thought as Hot Evan held the door open for her and Gran. Wednesday was their girls’ night. No men. And definitely no Hot Evans. Especially lovey-dovey hot Evans.

She adored her gran, she really did, but a night exfoliating the dead skin on her feet held more appeal than sharing dinner with these two.

Honestly, could her day get any more awful?

The house was redolent with the aromas of simmering tomato and herbs. Tessa set her bag of goodies on the kitchen’s island bench and checked the oven. A large cast iron casserole with the lid off sat inside, its contents burbling deliciously.

‘It’s nothing special,’ said Gran. ‘Chicken cacciatore.’

‘All your meals are special, Leonie.’

Tessa raised her eyes ceilingward. Hot Evan might be hot, but he was a total brown-nose.

‘Good thing I brought bread,’ said Tessa, determined to act normal and not let their porch snog spoil her night. ‘And lemon tarts for dessert.’

‘And wine,’ said Gran, waggling the bottle at Tessa. ‘Mustn’t forget the best bit. Drink?’

‘Yes, please.’

Tessa arranged the tarts on a plate for later and pushed them to the end of the bench, out of the way. Hot Evan leaned his nose over to inhale their citrusy scent, then snuck a finger toward a loose corner of pastry.

Tessa smacked his hand. ‘You’ll spoil your dinner.’

‘Nothing could spoil my interest in dinner, Tessa.’ He flicked a look at her gran and lowered his voice. ‘Or other things.’

‘I’m sure,’ Tessa replied flatly. God, did the man have to rub it in?

He frowned and opened his mouth as if to reply but was interrupted by the glass Gran shoved at him. ‘Thanks, Leonie. You’re a doll.’

‘I know.’ Gran handed the other glass to Tessa and raised her own. ‘To you lovely young things, who keep an old lady feeling youthful and optimistic.’

‘What’s this old lady business?’ asked Hot Evan. ‘All I see is a woman in her prime.’

Tessa eye-rolled.

‘You’re a sweet boy,’ her gran replied. ‘Even if you are a suck.’

Hot Evan roared a laugh and Tessa couldn’t help her smile. At least he was a good-natured suck.

She sipped her wine and blinked. Wow, that was good, especially for a recent vintage. She picked up the bottle to inspect the label again. Anything to avoid their flirtation.

‘Good day?’ asked Hot Evan.

Tessa looked up to find he’d moved around to the oven side of the island. Gran had disappeared into the pantry and was humming a tune that sounded faintly like “Love is in the Air”. Tessa held in her sigh. Really? Did she have to?

‘Horrible. Yours?’

‘Great. Why was yours horrible?’

She shrugged. ‘Rain. Raelene Gibbs gossiping her head off and driving me nuts.’

Multiple rejections from sexy men.

‘You should have called me. I would have wrestled her out the door for you.’

‘And drag you away from your blocked pipes?’

‘No blocked pipes today. It was all easy bathroom fittings.’ He took a sip of wine, watching her over the rim. ‘Good wine. I met Digby’s new winemaker when I was there. Interesting bloke. Been living in France for the last three years, gaining experience. Did a vintage in South Africa too.’

Tessa tried not to feel jealous of all that jet-setting. Her single overseas jaunt consisted of an on-the-cheap trip to Bali with girlfriends. Holidays were a luxury when you ran your own small business. ‘Some people have all the luck.’

Hot Evan shrugged. ‘You make your own luck I reckon.’ He angled closer. ‘Speaking of which…’

‘Tessa darling, would you put the beans on? They’re already in the pot on the stove.’

Tessa lit the gas hob and crouched to give the chicken another check. It didn’t need it. She just wanted distance from Hot Evan. The scent of her gran’s perfume on his jumper was too depressing for words. Gran was in amazing fettle – trim and fit from golf, with a seductive twinkling gaze and boobs that refused to obey gravity. She was always expertly made up and kept her hair as blonde as Tessa’s own through regular hairdresser appointments. Half of Levenham Golf Club’s members were in love with her, or at least lust, and that included the ladies.

Apparently Hot Evan wasn’t immune either.

If they weren’t related Tessa would wail at the unfairness. Instead, she was left with the consolation that at least excellent genes ran in the family. Tessa’s Mum had just celebrated her forty-seventh birthday and looked ten years younger. Her aunt Wendy was even perkier.

‘There we are,’ said Gran as she emerged from the pantry with a porcelain butter keeper covered in roses. ‘About time I dusted off this thing.’

Tessa gave her gran her best weirded-out expression. ‘Why?’

‘Why not? It’s a special occasion.’

‘It is?’

‘Yes, darling,’ said Gran cupping her cheek and wiggling it fondly, as though Tessa were three. ‘Every night you’re here is a special occasion.’ She glanced at Evan and winked. ‘And you too, sweetheart.’

Tessa gave an inward groan. It was going to be a long dinner.

‘Shall we have some music?’ her gran asked, clearly not caring for the response. She was already skipping through tracks on her tablet. ‘Ah, there we go.’

There was a dull beep as the Bluetooth speaker connected. Tessa slurped some more of her wine. She had a feeling she’d need it.

The music started. Electronic beats leading into a clarinet-y sort of melody. Then, God help her, Madonna singing “Crazy For You”.

She took another slug of wine, catching Hot Evan’s eye as she did. His mouth was twisted to the side and he was shaking his head slightly as though even he was embarrassed by her gran’s brazenness.

‘That’s better,’ said Leonie, clapping her hands and beaming. ‘I do love a bit of Madge. Such a role model. Now, I’d better set the table.’

‘I’ll do it—’

‘Let me—’

Tessa looked at Hot Even who looked back at her. Like mirror images, they slowly lowered their wine glasses to the bench. A second passed. Then another. Then both were diving for the cutlery drawer. Her superior knowledge of the kitchen had Tessa arriving first. She twisted her hip to bump him out of the way. She needed this chore far more than him.

Hot Evan pressed his side against hers and pushed.


‘I want to do it.’

‘Too bad. I got here first.’

He pushed harder.

Tessa gripped the edge of the bench and shoved, teeth clenching with the effort of trying to move a man the size of a fridge. ‘This. Is. My. Job.’

‘Okay,’ he said, throwing his hands up and abruptly stepping away.

Tessa stumbled at the sudden release. Hot Evan grabbed her upper arms to steady her. When he didn’t let go immediately, she threw him a startled look.

What the hell?

His hands squeezed gently, his thumbs rubbing short lines across her biceps. ‘Okay?’

She blinked, looked left then right and licked her lips. ‘Yes?’

The rubbing stopped. His gaze flicked to her mouth and back to her eyes. ‘Sorry you had a horrible day.’

‘Not your fault.’ Oh god, another squeaked rising inflection. What was wrong with her? This was worse than with Sexy Dylan.

‘I know. Doesn’t stop me feeling bad for you.’ He smiled and stepped away, leaving cold patches where his hands had been.

Tessa turned wide eyes on her gran, but Gran was busily making butter curls and plopping them into the butter dish. If she’d noticed Hot Evan’s lingering touch and rubs, she wasn’t reacting.

She refocused on Hot Evan. He’d picked up his wine and was watching her closely over the rim. Tessa opened her mouth, closed it, opened it.

Brilliant. Not only was she squeaking, she was also gaping like a fish.

She shook her head and rubbed her fingers back and forth over her brow. This day needed to end. It was too surreal.

Tessa focused on the cutlery, the knives and forks rattling as she shakily gathered them. Though it was the less direct route, she wound round the opposite end of the island so she wouldn’t have to pass as close by Hot Evan.

Tessa silently cursed Gran’s open plan kitchen-dining area. She would have loved a moment in private to process what had just happened. Instead, she took her time laying out the cutlery and ensuring each set was perfectly aligned.

What was Hot Evan’s game? One moment he was snogging her gran, the next flirting with her. Assuming that was flirtation. After her efforts with Sexy Dylan Tessa wasn’t so confident in her judgement. She was sure he’d been interested, yet when Tessa had tried for some merry eye-meets and a bit of a joke he’d regarded her as though she’d grown an extra head.

‘Are you sure you don’t want a ruler to help with that?’ said Gran as she placed the butter dish in the centre of the table.

Tessa threw her a ‘very funny’ look but laid off with the precision aligning. ‘I’d better get onto the bread.’

‘I’ll take care of it,’ said Hot Evan, plucking a bread knife from the rack next to the stove. ‘Where will I find a board, Leonie?’

‘In the pantry, darling.’ When he’d disappeared, she smiled at Tessa. ‘Such a lovely boy.’

Tessa wasn’t so sure about that. In less than twenty minutes, Hot Evan had gone from snogging one woman to possibly flirting with another. There was nothing lovely about that. ‘You think?’

‘Well, yes.’ Gran regarded her with a frown. ‘What’s the matter? I though you liked him.’

Tessa shrugged. Better to be noncommittal in case Gran and Hot Evan became a proper couple and her criticism caused future awkwardness. Besides, Hot Evan was back with the bread board and Tessa didn’t believe his nonchalance for a moment. His attention was on her and Gran.

She headed for her glass of wine. Madonna had been replaced with another soppy sounding song. Tessa’s fingers twitched with the need to change the playlist to thrash metal or something else better reflecting her mood.

Hot Evan cut half a dozen slices off the bread and carried the board to the table. ‘Do you want me to lift out the casserole?’

‘Thanks, sweetie,’ said her gran, patting Hot Evan’s broad shoulder. ‘That’d be a help.’

Tessa took that as a cue to lay out the plates on the island while her gran drained the beans.

‘How many pieces of chicken?’ Gran asked Tessa, spoon already plunging into the casserole.

‘Just one.’ Despite a long day at work, she had no appetite tonight.

Gran dished two and followed up with a good ladle of sauce and half a dozen long green beans. She pushed the plate toward Tessa. ‘There you go. Now, Evan, how many for you?’

‘A couple will do.’

He got four. Tessa wondered why her gran even asked if she always dished what she liked anyway.

They settled around the table, Hot Evan next to Gran, Tessa opposite. Not where she wanted to sit but Gran’s seat was the one closest to the kitchen and Evan had beaten her to the one alongside, and she was stuck with watching the lovebirds together.

‘Anyone interesting come in today?’ asked Gran, once everyone had tasted their meal and the compliments for her cacciatore had died down.

‘Not really.’ She had no intention of mentioning Sexy Dylan. Even the thought of him and her clumsy attempt at flirtation brought heat to her face. ‘Raelene Gibbs gave me the benefit of her wisdom for an hour. Zoe brought me a coffee, which I promptly spilled on myself.’ She held up her stained jumper sleeve.

‘Zoe?’ asked Hot Evan.

‘The J.P. next door,’ explained Tessa, referring to the Justice of the Peace who ran a part-time office alongside Tessa’s Treasures when she wasn’t turning old wooden pallets and other scraps into beautiful garden furniture in her workshop on her parent’s farm.

‘Also our local celebrant,’ said Gran. ‘Gorgeous girl. Such a shame she gets around in those daggy old overalls. Makes her look like an escapee from a Dexy’s Midnight Runners music video.’

Tessa and Hot Evan shared an eye meet. Clearly Hot Evan had no idea what her gran was talking about either.

Gran waggled her knife at him. ‘You should file that away. You might need her one day.’

‘A girl in overalls?’

‘No, you silly sweet boy. A celebrant.’

Tessa choked on her bread. Gran couldn’t be serious, could she? Marriage? To Hot Evan? How long had this affair been going on?

Even worse, how blind to it had she been?

‘One step at a time, Leonie.’ He smiled at Tessa. ‘I haven’t even got to first base yet.’

First base? Tessa wanted to slap her hands to her ears and chant na na na na na na na na. Instead she stabbed sulkily at an olive only for the prongs to skid off its oily edge and catapult the olive from her plate onto her chest, where it left a tomatoey splat on her left boob before plopping into her lap.

There was a momentary silence, during which Tessa burned so hard with humiliation it was miracle she didn’t evaporate, until Gran tossed Tessa her serviette and distracted Hot Evan with conversation.

‘What about you, Evan?’ Gran asked, as Tessa retrieved the olive from her groin where it had no doubt left another stain. ‘What exciting things happened in your day?’

While Hot Evan explained about plumbing the bathroom of a new house at nearby Port Andrews, Tessa wiped herself as best she could. She picked up her knife and fork and tried to act like nothing was wrong, but her face was flaming and her cacciatore had all the flavour of a gumboot.

The discussion moved on to Gran’s golf game and the ladies’ competition that morning. Every now and then Hot Evan would glance across and a line would form between his brows. Gran’s looks were less sympathetic. Which, given Tessa had only managed to eat a leg and a couple of beans wasn’t surprising. Gran didn’t tolerate mousy eaters. Tessa just wanted the night over so she could escape home and curl up in bed with a murder mystery and pretend the corpse was Hot Evan.

Not that she really wanted him harmed. Despite the snog, her silly crush remained intact. A crush she’d nursed for four months since Hot Evan wandered over from next door one Sunday afternoon while Tessa was visiting her gran to do the new neighbourly thing and introduce himself. He’d seemed interested too, triggering all sorts of delicious daydreams about plumber’s pipes, and causing Tessa to drop by more often on the chance she might bump into him, which she often did.

Except tonight had thrown a whole new light on Hot Evan’s convenient little visits to her gran’s to adjust a leaky tap.

‘Isn’t that right, Tessa?’

She looked up from the bean she was mangling. Gran and Hot Evan regarded her with expectation.

‘Sorry, I missed that. What did you ask?’

Gran let out a long-suffering sigh. ‘You are a terrible dinner companion this evening, Tessa. I don’t know why I bothered.’

She wheeled out her usual answer when Gran tried the “I don’t know why I bothered” guilt trip. ‘Because you love me?’

‘Just as well I do. What I asked was who are you playing hockey against on Saturday.’

‘I’m not. We have a bye.’


‘It is?’

‘The Giants are playing at home this weekend,’ said Hot Evan, referring to a local football team. A flush of colour bloomed up his neck. ‘You and Leonie could come and watch me play.’ He shrugged and scraped the last of his chicken onto his fork. ‘If you wanted to.’

Tessa’s mouth opened and closed again. God, she really was turning into a fish-face.

Gran scowled at her lack of answer. ‘We’d love to.’ She enunciated her next words, her voice full of warning. ‘Wouldn’t we, Tessa?’

No, we bloody wouldn’t, was Tessa’s return thought. With her current luck she’d trip over her own feet and faceplant into the mud in front of both Sexy Dylan and Hot Evan.

She scrambled for an excuse. Like many small shops in Levenham, Tessa’s Treasures closed at lunchtime on Saturdays. ‘I have to do stocktake.’

‘In May? Surely you don’t need to be doing that yet?’

Damn. Gran had got her there.

Gran threw her a dirty look and smiled at Evan. ‘We’d be delighted. I do enjoy football. All those muscles and tight shorts. Now,’ she said, gathering plates, ‘who’s up for a tart? And I don’t mean one of us. Not you, missy. You didn’t eat all your greens. Evan? You’ll have one, I’m sure.’

Hot Evan rose and closed his hands around the stack of plates. ‘I’ll take care of those.’

A small tug of war ensued, which Gran naturally won. Normally Tessa would have joined in but that would mean exposing her stained jeans. From its pinpoint crotch landing, that olive had definitely been male.

‘You stay here and talk to Tessa.’

Defeated, he sat and fiddled with his paper serviette. Tessa kept her hands curled in her lap, looking everywhere but at Hot Evan. The speaker played Savage Garden’s “Truly, Madly, Deeply” while Gran rattled plates and sang along.

‘You don’t have to come on Saturday,’ he said softly.

She stared. Hot Evan made it sound like he was hurt by her lack of enthusiasm.

‘I just thought you might like to.’ He lifted a shoulder and smiled wryly. ‘Guess I was wrong.’

Tessa had no idea how to respond. She glanced at her gran and back to Hot Evan. ‘Gran will be there. Isn’t that the most important thing?’

‘Yeah, well, it’s nice and everything but…’ He let out a long sigh and tossed his serviette down. ‘Never mind.’

Now Tessa was totally confused. She looked to the kitchen for help. Gran was drying her hands and watching them, her face creased with concern. The awful thought that maybe her gran was worried Tessa would try to steal Evan from her crossed Tessa’s mind.

She jerked upright, her chair making a screech on the tiles. ‘Sorry. I might call it a night.’ She rubbed her temple. ‘Bit of a headache.’

Hot Evan stood. ‘Are you okay?’

‘Fine, fine.’ Tessa hurried for the kitchen and quickly kissed her gran’s cheek. ‘Thanks, Gran.’

But Gran wasn’t letting her off that easily. She set her hands on Tessa’s shoulders and studied her. ‘What on earth is the matter?’

‘I’m tired and have a nasty headache and my day was really poo. An early night and I’ll be right as rain.’

Gran pressed the back of her hand to her forehead. ‘Do you want me to take your temperature?’

‘No. It’s just tiredness, I promise.’ Tessa pulled away and shoved on her coat.

‘Evan, be a darling and hold an umbrella for Tessa so she doesn’t get soaked going to her car.’


‘No, don’t worry,’ said Tessa, flapping the hood of her waterproof coat. ‘I’ve got a hood.’

‘I don’t mind,’ said Hot Evan. ‘Come on.’

At her gran’s folded arms and “don’t mess with me” expression, Tessa gave in.

They walked the short hall without speaking, the majestic tones of Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” fading behind them.

Hot Evan opened the door onto the freezing night. The rain was even worse now, sloshing down in fat streams. The only saving grace was that it was falling straight and not being driven into them by a howling wind.

Tessa stared at her car while Hot Evan pushed open the umbrella. This was her chance to say something about his relationship with Gran, but what? That she didn’t approve? Who was she to give approval or not? It was none of her business.


She looked at him. His shoulders were hunched, one hand fisted in his pocket, the other holding up the umbrella. Faint dark stubble coloured his jaw. Hot Evan was so handsome, so friendly and nice. He could have any woman he pleased.

He could have had Tessa with a click of his fingers. Instead he’d gone for the older version.

Tessa looked at her car again and her heart sank with the weight of her misery.

‘It must have been a really bad day,’ he said.

‘The worst.’

He flicked his boot at a leaf that had washed onto the porch. ‘I was kind of hoping to make it better.’

Tessa was once more at a loss. ‘You and Gran.’ She swallowed. ‘I’m…’ What could she say? That she was pleased? ‘Don’t hurt her.’

‘Why would I hurt her?’

‘Well, it’s unlikely to last, is it?’

‘What’s unlikely to last?’

‘You and her.’ At his expression she sighed, her voice heavy with discomfort. ‘I saw you kissing when I arrived.’

‘Kissing? Yeah, in thanks for—’ He stopped, his eyes and mouth widening. ‘Holy shit, you think…’ He yanked his fist from his pocket and held up his palm. ‘No, no, no. What you think you saw? That was not…’ He visibly swallowed. ‘That was a kiss on the cheek.’

‘But I saw you.’

‘Through a rain-soaked windscreen with the wipers going flat out. Tessa,’ he said, taking her hand and squeezing it, ‘I was not kissing your gran. Not like, you know, that. I was thanking her.’

‘Oh.’ Tessa’s cheeks were so hot it was a wonder steam didn’t rise from them. ‘Right. Good.’ She blew out a breath between pursed lips, wishing she could step out into the rain and dissolve. This made her embarrassment with Sexy Dylan look like a hiccup. How could she have been so daft. Of course it was a friendly kiss. She attempted a smile, but it was all crooked and felt more like a wince. ‘Sorry.’

‘That’s okay.’ He leaned close, the umbrella shading him from the porch light, but there was no missing the spark in his lovely brown eyes as they traced her face. ‘Aren’t you going to ask what I was thanking your gran for?’

Tessa’s heart began to pound. Hot Evan was close enough she could feel his soft breath on her hot cheek. Her voice came out in a cracked whisper. Which, though awkward, was at least better than that squeaky rising inflection. ‘What were you thanking her for?’

His smile made his eyes glow. ‘She said she was going to put in a good word for me.’

Tessa’s own mouth tugged upwards in response, attracting his attention. Her heart nearly tripped over itself with anticipation. She might be a hopeless flirt, but Tessa knew what those lowered lids meant. ‘Who with?’

‘You.’ He drew his teeth across his bottom lip, the movement projecting his shared awareness of where this was leading. ‘I’ve wanted to ask you out for weeks.’

‘And I’ve wanted you to ask me for weeks.’

His smile bloomed. ‘So…’ He tipped even closer. Tessa’s heart did a crazy dance. ‘Dinner Saturday night? I’ll make sure to order nothing with olives.’

Tessa couldn’t help herself. She pulled her hand from his and placed it on his chest and plucked at his jumper, drawing his head even closer to hers, their mouths a bare centimetre apart. The umbrella tipped and blocked the last of the light. It was just her and Hot Evan and the rain.

This time her voice was a husky whisper. ‘After I watch you play football in the afternoon.’

His own whisper sounded even huskier. ‘Sounds a plan. Tessa?’

Her fingers tightened on his jumper. There was no way she was letting him go.

‘Can I kiss you?’ The smile in his voice shot a tingle down her spine. ‘It won’t be a thankyou kiss.’

‘What sort of kiss will it be then?’

‘A promise.’

‘Then snog away, Hot Evan. I’m all yours.’


© Cathryn Hein 2020

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