‘Good?’ He raised one dark eyebrow.
She nodded. It was melt-in-the-mouth delicious, the pastry literally crumbling under her fork.
In fact, it was all delicious. The main course of silky pappardelle with beef shin ragu was followed by a tart Amalfi lemon sorbet and then coffee.
Leaning back in his seat, Arlo gave her a levelling glance, his dark eyes roaming over her face. ‘You were pale before. You have colour in your cheeks now.’
Her heart started to beat very fast.
He had the most intense gaze of any man she’d ever met. It felt as if it was pushing through her skin...as if he was inside her.
Her pulse twitched as the words repeated inside her head and blood surged through her, so that for a moment she forgot what they were talking about, forgot where she was, who she was.
Looking away, she cleared her throat. ‘It’s been a long day and a lot has happened.’
He nodded but didn’t reply. A few seconds ticked by, and then he said abruptly, ‘Yes, about that...’
Her stomach dropped as if he’d just pushed her out of a plane. She stared at him, the skin on her face suddenly hot and tight. ‘What about it?’
‘We haven’t really discussed what happened earlier.’
No, they hadn’t—thankfully.
She glanced out of the window. Outside, the wind was rearranging the trees that edged the garden.
It was unsettling enough having the whole episode playing on repeat inside her head. She didn’t need or want to replay it in front of this man with his dark, intent gaze.
Unfortunately avoiding it might not be an option.
Picturing his expression as he had carried her back to the car out on the causeway, the relentlessness in his eyes as he’d pushed back against the wind, she felt a tremor ripple through her.
Arlo Milburn was definitely the tackle-things-head-on type.
Turning her eyes to his, she shrugged. ‘There’s nothing to discuss. It was—’
‘A mistake?’ he asked.
‘Yes.’ She nodded vigorously—perhaps too vigorously, she thought a moment later, watching his face harden. ‘Or maybe not a mistake...more a misunderstanding.’
‘You think?’ He shifted back his seat, his dark brows rising up his forehead. ‘It seems fairly unambiguous to me. You kissed me and I kissed you back.’
‘I suppose that’s one way of looking at it,’ she said slowly.
‘What are the other ways?’
Goosebumps skittered down her spine as she struggled to put together a coherent sentence, or at least one she could say out loud. In other words, nothing about feeling that he hadn’t only rescued her out on the causeway but claimed her...
‘I think of it as more of a cosmic chain reaction,’ she managed. ‘You know...when things collide...like stars, planetary forces...’
‘And lips?’ Her insides tightened as he held her gaze.
‘I suppose you believe Elvis is alive too?’ He shook his head dismissively. ‘I’m only interested in facts, not half-baked theories.’
‘Not everything can be explained by facts,’ she retorted, stung by his manner. ‘Some things just happen.’
Except they didn’t, did they? Everything that happened, however ‘accidental’ it seemed, was the consequence of a collection of facts, decisions made, paths taken, feelings overruled...