Leo looked around and pride filtered through him. The launch dinner had been a resounding success. Everything he could have wished for and more. Much more. Every guest had enjoyed themself, but although Leo had made sure he spoke with everyone, there was always a part of him that had been aware of Roxy. Her poise, her grace and beauty as she mingled. Then to his surprise his father had asked to make a toast and Leo knew he would remember Joe Harding’s words forever. ‘Leo is continuing in the Harding mould and I know his great-grandpa Joe would be proud of him. And so am I.’
Leo had turned to Roxy then, taken her hand in his and squeezed it, knowing she had been the catalyst in healing the rift between himself and his parents. His mother too had come up to him and given him a hug, another unprecedented event, and murmured in his ear, ‘I was wrong about Roxy and I’d like to apologise, Leo. She is a lovely young woman.’
And the woman he loved. And soon he’d tell her that. Nerves tickled him, but he quelled them. The last few days had been magical; surely Roxy must have felt it too.
Roxy stayed in the background as Leo bade farewell to the guests, all clutching their goodie bags. The cake had been a resounding success; usually that would have exhilarated her, but right here and now her emotions were too mixed to allow her any professional pride. Though she was pleased Ava had been here to see the positive reactions to the cake and the desserts.
She headed towards Leo, stepped back into an alcove as she saw Jemima approach him. Wondered if she should join them, decided not to.
‘Leo, I wanted to apologise,’ the young woman said. ‘And don’t worry. I’ve stuck strictly to sparkling water all night. My behaviour was ridiculous the other night. I wouldn’t have come tonight except Saskia asked me as her plus-one when Giles let her down.’
‘It’s fine, Jemima. Truly.’
‘Thank you. And I wish you and Roxy well. I saw how you looked at one another tonight. You’re made for each other.’
Roxy froze, stepped farther back in the shadows as Jemima headed to the door. Made for each other. Realisation slammed her. She’d fallen for Leo. Again. She loved him with a love that had rekindled to a new strength and depth. Which made the pain all the worse; because she knew what she had to do.
Ten minutes later she straightened up and zipped her packed suitcase closed as the bedroom door opened and Leo entered, halted on the threshold of the bedroom. ‘What’s going on?’
Keep to the script. ‘I thought it would be better to leave now. We both knew it would end after the launch.’ But she couldn’t meet his eye. ‘I have to go. Ava said she would give me a lift.’
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