воскресенье, 16 апреля 2017 г.
Sun, sand and SEDUCTION
The story so far: When Emma took a summer job nannying in Brighton, she couldn’t take her eyes off her gorgeous boss, Patrick. Then she spotted his wife, Laura, getting steamy with another man...
Emma couldn't look anyone in the eye; it was like having the world's worst case of conjunctivitis. Every time she saw Laura or Dash, she pictured them in bed together, Laura's little size-zero bottom bouncing up and down.
But toughest of all was keeping the affair secret from Patrick. Emma hated having to lie to him, even by omission.
There was no point kidding herself any longer: she was mad about Patrick. Desperate to escape her feelings for him, she took the twins out of the house at every opportunity, regardless of the weather. They walked up and down the beachfront promenade a hundred times, and she spent hours teaching them to skim stones on the beach.
But the more she tried to stay away from him, the more they seemed thrown together. She'd take Bryanna and Gabriel down to the pool for their swim, and five minutes later, Patrick would turn up for a chat. They even bumped into him on Brighton Pier. It was like Cupid was playing games with her head, teasing her with what she couldn't have. Part of her would be relieved when her month nannying came to an end.
"Are you sure we can't persuade you to stay on?" Patrick said one afternoon, after she'd brought the twins back from yet another bracing seaside walk. "I've never known the children to be this quiet and well-behaved."
"Don't torture the poor girl," Laura said. "I'm sure she's dying to get back to her little bookshop, aren't you, Emma?"
And you're just dying to get me out of here before I blab, Emma thought. Not that she'd ever say anything to Patrick; much as she longed to see Laura get her comeuppance, she couldn't be the one to destroy his life.
Emma did her best to tell Laura she wouldn't reveal her secret. But every time she did, Laura simply flapped her hands to quieten her, then added another zero to the figure on the bonus cheque, "To make up for any inconvenience"
Later, as Emma started to pack her bag, she bumped into Patrick as he got ready for work. He should wear that shade of soft gold more often, Emma thought helplessly, as she watched him adjust his tie: it brought out his green eyes.
"Look, Emma, why don't you take tonight off?" he suggested. "I don't have to go to my conference dinner now; Laura and I can stay in for a change. You've been stuck at home with the twins every night so far"
"But I have plans," Laura exclaimed.
Patrick frowned. "What plans?"
"Late-night shopping," she said. "Less crowded than during the day. And it's no fun for Emma going out on her own."
"You're right, I didn't think." He looked round suddenly. "Emma, why don't you and Dash go off and do something? He hasn't lived in Brighton long, he doesn't know many people. I know he'd love to take you out, he's been talking about you all week."
Her heart plummeted. She knew there was no hope for her with Patrick, but for him to pair her off with his junior partner, and the man sleeping with Laura, was more than she could bear.
"He has?" Emma replied listlessly.
"He has?" Laura demanded.
Patrick looked from one to the other, confused. "Am I missing something?"
"No, nothing, everything's fine," Laura said quickly. "Maybe you should go out with Dash, Emma. I'm sure the two of you must have plenty to talk about."
Emma didn't like Laura using her to throw Patrick off the scent of her affair, but there wasn't much she could do about it. She threw on a boring little black dress, twisted her hair up into a loose knot, and put on the minimum of make-up, determined not to make an effort. This was not her idea of a fun way to spend an evening.
But to her surprise, she actually enjoyed herself. Dash didn't mention Laura at all, and was entertaining and attentive company. He laughed at her jokes, lent her his jacket when the sea breeze chilled her shoulders, and gallantly took her arm as he guided her down the restaurant steps at the end of their meal.
"Have you ever seen the Brighton Pavilion at night?" he asked, staring up at the starlit sky.
Here it comes, she thought. Time for Casanova to make his smooth move. "Look, it's getting late"
"Five minutes," he said, smiling at her.
Maybe it was the wine or the moonlight, but somehow she found herself agreeing. He really was attractive, she thought, as they made their way along the promenade. And it's not like she had a hope of anything ever happening with Patrick. Dash was at least single. Well, more or less.
Dash stopped as they reached the Pavilion and held out his arms. "Come here."
"We really should be getting back"
"Oh, Emma. Live a little, why don't you?"
In a moment, he'd pulled her towards him and given her the kiss of her life, a kiss that flared across her skin like a match held to newspaper. She knew she should stop, this was only going to lead to trouble, but he was just so goddamn sexy...
And then her phone rang.
Laura spent the next few days seething with jealousy and resentment. Dragging Emma back from her evening with Dash on the grounds that Gabriel was "looking a bit peaky" was just a blatant excuse to ruin Emma's night, and she was amazed Patrick didn't see through it. The way Laura was carrying on, it was only a matter of time before Patrick realised what was going on under his nose.
Twice Emma had to cover for Laura when she got back late from a date with Dash, her make-up smeared and her chin raw with stubble rash. Every time Laura's phone rang, she shot outside to answer it. Even Patrick, sweet and trusting as he was, had started to look at his wife strangely.
Emma hated being caught in the middle. She felt awful for Patrick, and while Dash and Laura might be enjoying their little game, she hated all the deception and lies. If it wasn't for the fact that she'd never see Patrick again after the next few days were up, she'd be counting the minutes till she could get out of here.
On her last day, she decided to take the children to Brighton Pier for ice creams, their favourite treat. To her surprise, Gabriel said he was too tired.
"Too tired for ice cream?" Emma teased.
She felt his forehead. He didn't have a temperature, but his breathing was shallow and laboured, and when she picked him up, he flopped like a rag doll in her arms.
Emma tucked him into bed and called Laura, who didn't answer her mobile phone. She must be with Dash, Emma thought grimly.
She left a message on Patrick's phone before remembering that he was at a conference in London. A sudden calm descended on her as she dialed 999 and asked for an ambulance. She didn't care if she was overreacting. She was in charge of this little boy and nothing was going to happen to him on her watch.
The next three hours were the longest of Emma's life. She and Bryanna clung to each other in the hospital corridor as doctors came and went, their faces giving nothing away. She had no idea what was happening, and the longer time went on, the more panicked she became.
Finally, as Emma was begging one of the doctors for some news, Patrick burst through the double doors. "Is he OK? What's happening? I got a taxi from London as soon as I got your message"
"He's out of the woods, Mr Fulton," the doctor said. "Your son has juvenile diabetes. It comes on suddenly, there's no way you could have known. Once we get his glucose stabilised, he'll be fine. It's very lucky this young lady brought him in when she did, or this could be a very different story."
Patrick put his arm round Emma as she collapsed sobbing with relief. "Why don't you take Bryanna back home," he said softly. "I can take it from here."
Emma nodded, too exhausted even to enjoy the feeling of Patrick's warm, spice-scented body pressed against hers. She got home and put the little girl to bed, then curled up in an armchair downstairs, waiting for Laura to get home.
She must have fallen asleep, because the next thing she knew, it was daylight and she was gently being shaken awake.
"Sweetheart, I need to talk to you," Dash said.
Emma struggled awake. "Is Laura with you?"
"She just got your message. She's upstairs changing so she can go straight to the hospital."
"You were with her all night?"
"Never mind that now. Forget about Laura, Emma. She's just a distraction." His voice was thick with passion. "You're the one I'm interested in! I haven't been able to think about anyone else since the moment I saw you!"
Emma pushed him away, confused. "Go away," she sighed. "I'm not interested," she said. "Anyway, how many women do you need at one time!"
"For God's sake, I told you, Laura doesn't mean anything!"
"Not because of Laura! Because of Patrick!" Emma cried, before she could stop herself.
Dash laughed. "There's no point mooning after him, he doesn't know you exist!" He roughly lifted her chin so she was forced to look in his eyes. "Emma, what do I have to do to convince you? I like you, a lot - I thought you'd be flattered! Well, you should be In fact, I haven't been able to stop thinking about you since we went out."
The next moment, Laura appeared, she flew across the room and slapped him hard around the face. "You bastard! You told me you loved me! How could you do this to me?"
"Blimey, Laura! What's wrong with you?" exclaimed Dash.
"I could ask the same thing," said a quiet voice from the doorway.
They all spun round. Patrick stood there, his face pale but composed. "Your son is asking for you," he told Laura evenly. "I came back to see why you hadn't come. I guess now I know."
Laura reached towards her husband. "Patrick, this isn't what you think..."
Emma expected Patrick to look hurt and angry but, instead, she thought she sensed relief.
Emma slipped away to pack. She was going to cash the huge cheque that was coming to her and then do her best to forget this past two weeks had ever happened.
She could hear raised voices coming from Patrick and Laura's room as she called a taxi and left. She wished she'd had a chance to say goodbye to Gabriel and Bryanna. She'd grown fond of the pair of them. Away from the corrosive influence of their mother, even the little girl had blossomed.
Thirty minutes later, Emma stood at Brighton Pavillion. She checked her watch, her train was due to leave in 20 minutes, but she couldn't face rushing to the station, back to her old life. Her head and her heart were a mess.
She was going to miss Patrick more than she could bear. There was something about his quiet honesty that had got under her skin.
He's married, she told herself, for the thousandth time. Off limits. She stared out over the sea, she had to sort her life out, do something different.
She kicked off her flip-flops and headed down to the beach, lugging her bag behind her. Plonking herself down and curling her toes in the sand, she stared out at the sunset, closed her eyes and started to give herself a telling off. Then she was vaguely aware of someone close by. She opened her eyes.
"Patrick! I thought you'd be on your way back to the hospital."
"I was. I mean, I am. We need to talk," he said, flustered.
Emma flushed. Oh God! He knew that she knew "Patrick, I'm so sorry," she started, "about Laura and Dash"
"Are you?" Patrick said, his expression suddenly watchful.
"Well, of course. You must be devastated."
"What about you?"
"You and Dash," Patrick said impatiently.
She laughed. "There is no me and Dash."
For a long time, they stared at each other. "Back at the house," Patrick said finally, "you told Dash you couldn't be with him. Because of me. Is that true?"
Emma sighed. "I..." she cleared her throat. "I... Oh, it doesn't matter. You're married..."
Patrick sat down beside her. "Laura and I have been over for a long time. We were in the middle of a trial separation when she found out she was pregnant with the twins. We've given it our best shot, but clearly..." his voice broke.
"Look, I've come to care for you," he said. "Deeply. Is there any chance you would..." he paused then cleared his throat. "Oh, Emma, I know this will sound weird, but I don't want you to go. I think I'm a little bit in love with you."
Emma laughed. Then Patrick leaned in and she kissed him. Perhaps the summer hadn't been so bad after all...