Miracle Under the Mistletoe - Page 8

The thought was too much. It made a mockery of all the plans she had made about how she intended to live her life in the future. What hope did she have of sticking to her decision to be in charge of her own destiny when one night working with Sean had had this effect? She had to rid herself of all these foolish memories, finally put an end to that episode in her life. Until she did so she would be always looking back, constantly comparing how she felt now to how she had felt then.

It was the way she should set about it that was the big question—how to totally and completely erase Sean Fitzgerald from her consciousness. Oh, she had tried her best over the past couple of years and thought she had succeeded too, but obviously not. He was still there in her head, a spectre from her past who refused to budge, and until she rid herself of him then she would never be free to move on. Maybe it had been a mistake to try to blot him out of her mind, to try and forget the heartache he had caused her. Maybe she needed to face up to it, to face up to him?

It was Sean who had called the shots in the past, Sean who had ended their affair too, but maybe she needed to take charge this time—instigate another affair with him and bring it to a conclusion when she decided the time was right. One of the worst things about the whole unhappy experience was the effect it had had on her self-confidence. She’d been left feeling used, feeling like a victim, and she wasn’t prepared to put up with feeling that way any more. This time neither her life nor her heart would be left in tatters. This time she would make sure of that!

‘So what’s it to be then? Are you going to wait for the next bus—a long and undoubtedly chilly wait—or are you going to accept my offer of a lift? I mean we did agree to call a truce, so what’s the problem?’

Sean dredged up a deliberately taunting smile although it wasn’t easy, he had to admit. There was just something about the expression on Molly’s face that had set all his internal alarm bells ringing. He had seen that kind of expression before on other women’s faces and had learned to tread warily until he discovered its cause. Whilst he had no idea what Molly was planning, instinct warned him that he wasn’t going to like it.

‘There isn’t a problem. Why not, if you’re going my way?’

Molly walked round to the passenger’s side and got in, leaving Sean suddenly wishing that he had never made the offer in the first place. The less time he spent with Molly, the better, quite frankly, but he could hardly renege on his offer now. He slid the car into gear and drove out of the gates, his mind racing this way and that. Was Molly plotting something, some sort of payback perhaps for the way he had treated her? It wouldn’t be the first time it had happened, although fortunately he had managed to deflect the woman’s ire before it had caused too much damage. However, if that was what Molly was planning then it might not be as easy to resolve the problem this time. The difference was that he cared about Molly and would hate to do anything that might hurt her even more.

They drove through the centre of the town in silence. Sean was so caught up in wondering what Molly might be planning to do that he found it impossible to make small-talk as he normally would have done. She lived in a tiny terraced cottage close to the river and he drew up outside with a feeling of relief. If she really was looking to pay him back then the best solution was to steer well clear of her. Fair enough, they would still have to work together, but outside of work he would make sure he kept his distance. It was only what he had intended to do after all—stay away from her—so it was surprising how much the idea stung.

‘Right. Here you are. I bet you’re looking forward to getting to bed. I know I am.’

It was meant to be an off-the-cuff remark, a throwaway comment free from any significance. However, the second the words were out of his mouth, Sean regretted them. Why in heaven’s name had he mentioned bed? Stirring up those kinds of memories was the last thing he should be doing!

‘Hmm. It’s always good to snuggle down in a nice warm bed after working nights, isn’t it?’ Molly replied in a tone he had never heard her use before.

Sean felt the hair all over his body spring to attention and then salute. Felt other bits of him follow suit and almost groaned out loud in dismay. When had Molly perfected the art of sounding so...so seductive? Two years ago he would have described her as the girl-next-door: sweet, warm, loving and giving. Now she sounded more like a siren and, worst of all, he was responding to her call! Panic overwhelmed him at that point. It made no difference that he was highly experienced in the ways of women; it still took a massive effort of will to control his baser urges.

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