Clarissa would probably be hysterical when Sarah returned if she actually had to look after Stephen herself for too long, but for the moment Sarah just didn't care.
‘Not for a little while, anyway,’ she answered noncommittally.
He looked so pleased she was sparing the time to have coffee with him that Sarah instantly felt guilty for not initially showing more enthusiasm for the idea herself.
But she was very conscious of the fact that he was a man who had been literally jilted at the altar, and the last thing she wanted was for him to think she would be interested in helping him salve his wounds in anything but a friendly capacity. She found him very attractive, and in other circumstances—for both of them!—would have welcomed the idea of getting to know him better. But at the moment he was far too vulnerable to actually know what he was doing. And the last thing Sarah needed right now was to be involved in a rebound love.
As a way of making amends for her tardiness she took a sip of the coffee he had been making such a fuss about her drinking.
The ‘Morgan coffee’ was so strong that Sarah almost choked on it, sure that if she left her spoon in it too long the metal would disintegrate!
She gave Griff an encouraging smile as he looked at her enquiringly, seeming unaffected by the strong brew himself.
He chuckled softly as her eyes actually watered when she took a second tentative sip. ‘It's helped to keep me awake on more than one occasion,’ he explained derisively.
Sarah blinked back the tears. ‘With heartburn?’ As soon as the words had left her lips she regretted having spoke them. This man's heart had to be more than ‘burning’ at the moment, and once again she had said the wrong thing. Couldn't she do anything right where this man was concerned? ‘I'm so sorry—–’ she began.
‘Don't be,’ he cut in harshly. ‘Just forget about all that, OK?'
She was trying to, and knew he was too, but it was very difficult to forget the circumstances of his being here at all. By rights he should probably have been off somewhere with Sandra, on their honeymoon.
‘But, before we forget about it completely, I'd just like to thank you for not revealing my whereabouts to my avid colleagues the moment you realised who I was.’ His derisive expression told her just what he thought of those ‘colleagues’ at this moment.
‘It never occurred to me to do such a thing!’ she gasped her indignation, her eyes wide.
‘I had a feeling I could trust you.’ He nodded. ‘That's why I stayed put rather than disappearing again. You really are a nice lady, Sarah Williams.’ Tawny-coloured eyes, narrowed with sensual appraisal, swept over the long length of her legs, the snug fit of her shorts, to the brief black camisole top she wore, before moving to the healthy shine of her confined hair and the fresh beauty of her face. ‘A very nice lady,’ he repeated softly.
And no man had ever made her feel so completely feminine with just a look before either, making her forget completely her indignation of a few minutes ago.
It would be sheer madness on her part to let herself become involved with this man; he was only looking for a little female reassurance after being jilted by the woman he loved, before disappearing back to his own world again.
Sheer madness, she warned herself again sternly.
Her hand trembled slightly as she smoothed back her hair self-consciously. ‘I think I should be going now,’ she began dismissively, doing her best to ignore the physical splendour of the man as he sat on the lounger so close to her own, their legs almost touching.
‘Don't go yet, Sarah.’ Griff put a hand lightly on her arm, his gaze troubled.
She drew in a shuddering breath. ‘I really do have to go—–'
He sighed. ‘I meant what I said just now as a compliment, not the prelude to a pass,’ he told her wearily. ‘Besides, I thought you might stay and have a swim with me,’ he added persuasively as he sensed her resolve was weakening.
This man was too clever by half, and the blue reflected water did look inviting, the sun shining hotly overhead.
This villa was the last on this rolling hillside, high trees about its perimeter affording them complete privacy from prying eyes.
It was very tempting to accept his invitation on a day when the temperature must be in the high eighties, and yet still she hesitated, unnerved by this man. ‘I don't have a costume with me—–'
‘Borrow one of Virginia's,’ he instantly offered as he saw victory looming. ‘I noticed several of them in the changing-rooms. And, while the two of you might not have the same… measurements, I'm sure you could find something of hers that would do just for today,’ he encouraged warmly.
While not exactly flat-chested, Sarah knew she certainly wasn't as voluptuous as his sister, a fact he seemed more than aware of too.
And why not? He was probably a connoisseur when it came to women, an expert in the way they looked if his beautiful fiancée was anything to go by!
Sarah accepted that she wasn't in the other woman's league when it came to looks or sophistication. But one thing she was sure of: she would never have put any man through the humiliation of being stood up at the altar!
She didn't like the way Sandra Preston had treated Griff, and if enjoying her company for a while helped take his mind off that then why shouldn't she do what he suggested?
It was with these rebellious thoughts in mind that Sarah went into one of the changing cubicles beside the pool.
As Griff had predicted, there were several bathing costumes in there, the two bikinis she picked up first completely unsuitable: the tops of them would have looked indecent, they were so big!
But at the bottom of the pile was a plain black costume that stretched over the body rather than fitted. It wasn't ideal by any means, but it was preferable to not being able to swim at all.
Griff was already in the water when she emerged out into the sunshine, his body sleek and powerful as he moved easily down the length of the pool.
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