It occurred to her that he looked like one of the travellers who’d been such a nuisance over the winter.
They must have come back, looking for more scrap metal, thought Tavy, treading water. And he’s probably here to nick the lead from the Manor roof.
It was difficult to speak with dignity under the circumstances, but she gave it her best shot.
‘If you leave right now, I won’t report this to the authorities. But the place is being watched. There are CCTV cameras, so you won’t get away with a thing.’
‘Thanks for the warning. Although they must be well-hidden because I haven’t spotted one of them.’ Casually, he moved her pile of clothing to one side, and sat down on the plinth. ‘Perhaps you could show me a safe exit out of here. The same way you got in, maybe.’
‘And I suggest you go back the way you came, and waste no time about it.’ Tavy could feel her teeth starting to chatter and couldn’t be sure whether she was getting cold or just nervous. Or both.
‘On the other hand,’ he said. ‘This is a charming spot and I’m in no particular hurry.’
It’s both, thought Tavy. No doubt about it. Plus the kind of hideous jaw-clenching embarrassment you only encounter in nightmares.
‘However, I am,’ she said, trying to speak levelly. Reasonably. ‘So I’d really like to put my clothes back on.’
He indicated the pile of garments beside him. ‘Be my guest.’
‘But without you looking on.’ Because she’d rather freeze or get caught in the weeds and drown than have to walk out of the water naked in front of him.
He was smiling again. ‘And how do you know I wasn’t watching while you took them off?’ he enquired gently.
She swallowed past the sudden tightness in her throat. ‘Were—you?’
‘No.’ He had the unmitigated gall to make it sound regretful. ‘But I’m sure there’ll be other occasions,’ he added unforgivably, then paused as soft chimes sounded, reaching into his pocket for his mobile phone.
‘Hi,’ he said. ‘Yes, everything’s fine. I’ll be with you shortly.’
He disconnected and rose. ‘Saved by the bell,’ he commented.
‘You certainly have been,’ Tavy said curtly. ‘I was considering charging you with sexual harassment.’
‘Just for a little gentle teasing?’ He shook his head. ‘I don’t think so. Because you’d have to tell the police exactly where you were and what you were doing. And somehow, my little trespasser, I don’t think you’d want that.’
He blew her a kiss. ‘See you around,’ he said and sauntered off without a backward glance.