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Hands On

Written by Clare Connelly

Chapter Eight


His question pulls me out of my reverie. I have been staring at London as we pass its sights, seeing the lights without taking note of where we are. As we cross through Hyde Park, I turn to face Jack. Martins, Jack’s most senior driver, meets my eyes in the rear-vision mirror.

“Hampstead,” I murmur.

“Really?” Jack’s interest is piqued.

Jack’s interest is dangerous.

Oh, not because I don’t want it, but because a fully stocked fireplace sits between us, and each spark of his interest strikes a match to tinder. It will not burn gently if we let it catch fire.

I resolutely turn and look out the window.


Silence sits around us.

“Since when?”

My lips curve into a smile. “How do you know I haven’t always lived there?”

“You had your address on your résumé,” he points out logically.

“Then you should already have it.”

He pulls a face. “I don’t remember every detail about you, believe it or not. But I would have noticed if it was around the corner from me.”

My heart thumps. Stupid, stupid me to think he’d paid attention to something as trivial as my address.

“I bought a place near you. Near the office,” I correct hastily. Not him. Nothing about this has anything to do with Jack, personally.


Is that fear in his voice? Is the idea of my commitment something he doesn’t like? Strange—most employers would welcome the obvious dedication. “Given the hours I work, it makes sense.”

I hear his fingertips running over his stubbled jaw. It’s not particularly noisy, but I am singularly attuned to every movement of Jack’s. Over the last few months I have begun to decode him. I understand what his gestures mean. His fingers running through his hair—deep in thought. Palm across his jaw—questioning what I’ve said, looking for deeper meaning. A smile that doesn’t reach his eyes—thinking of Lucy. Eyes that drop to my lips—thinking of me.

“I would have arranged a driver for you,” he said softly. “To take you home at any time. To save you the hassle.”

“I like the house,” I say with a shrug. “It’s a good investment.”

More jaw-rubbing. More thinking. I turn to look at him and his eyes drop to my mouth. My stomach twists. The back of the limousine is dark, but Martins is right there. And yet, I wonder.

I wonder for a moment what Jack would do if I reached my fingers across the empty seat between us and touched his knee. If I stroked my touch higher, to his inner thigh, and then lower…

My mouth is parched. I swallow to try to bring moisture back to it; it doesn’t work. My eyes cling to his; he stares at my lips.

I am lost.

“Where is it?”

“Near the school,” I murmur, the words slightly croaky in the face of the desire that is suffocating me with its intensity.

“So close.” His eyes flash with something that I do not recognize—an emotion I cannot fathom. It is new, but I know him well enough to know I should be worried about it.

“You’ll have to invite me over sometime. For a house-warming.”

I nod, but I’m pretty sure we both know I never will.

One of us has to remember the fire that sits expectantly between us. One of us has to maintain the sparks, for risk of ignition.

And I think it’s going to have to be me.

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