Leo’s anger subsided as he saw the stricken look in her green eyes. What the hell was he doing? He was supposed to be demonstrating how successful and together he was. Instead he was raking over the past as though it mattered to him… He raised a hand. ‘Apologies. That is all water under the bridge.’
‘You’re right. But…’ Reaching out, she covered his hand with hers; warmth pulsed through him along with an undercurrent of desire. A delicate pink flushed her cheeks and he knew it had impacted her as well. She cleared her throat. ‘But I am truly sorry you thought I didn’t believe you would succeed. I never meant you to think that. Don’t you remember all the hours we spent talking about the Hardingo?’
‘Yes.’ Remembered too her intense scrutiny of his designs, her supposed interest in his dreams. But when push came to shove, interest hadn’t equated to belief he would succeed. And so she had rejected him.
‘Women like successful men, Leo,’ his dad had always said. Leo hadn’t believed him. Not until he left the family company and struck out on his own, and the woman he’d been dating at the time had dropped him like the proverbial hot potato. As had all his supposed friends.
But none of that mattered now.
He sat back in his chair. ‘Anyway, back to business. I’m holding the launch party at a country house, Foxglove Hall in Surrey. I’d like Dolci to come up with a selection of desserts and a launch cake to cut up and put into takeaway goodie bags.’
Roxy leant forward and his lungs constricted—her cream blouse exposed nothing and yet his imagination supplied the deficit. ‘How about a cake that is an exact replica of a Hardingo Mark 1?’ Her face lit with enthusiasm. ‘Same size, same proportions. One wheel will be chocolate and raspberry, one will be a superlight Victoria sponge. Lots of different icings. What do you think?’
‘I think that sounds incredible.’
‘Then consider it done.’ She paused to draw breath and then stared at him. ‘What? You’re staring. Have I got ink on my nose?’
‘Nope. I’m staring because…’ I can’t take my eyes off you. ‘Because I’m happy for you. You’ve obviously found something you love doing. I’m glad.’ Leo realised he was—the small, nasty part of him that had hoped Roxy had spent the past years regretting her decision not to marry him had gone, blown away by her pride in her work.
‘Me too. Whilst I was…convalescing…Ava offered me a job I could do from the comfort of my bed. I became a taster for Dolci products. It all spiralled from there. And here I am.’ There was a silence as they stared at each other. ‘So if you give me the caterers’ number, I’ll contact them to make sure the dessert selection complements the other courses.’
And he wouldn’t see her again. The idea was suddenly not acceptable.
‘Actually, I’ve got a better idea,’ he said.
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