‘What did you tell Carmel?’ she asked him as they sat opposite each other and perused the menus.

‘I told her you and I were going out for breakfast.’

‘Really? What did she say?’

‘She said, “‘Good.”’ He shrugged one shoulder. ‘She thinks it’s good for me to move forward with my life.’

Melody silently thanked Carmel for encouraging George. ‘If breakfast is a step forward, then I’m glad to share it with you.’ She grinned and reached for his hand.

‘This is our last opportunity to be together.’ He took her hand in his and raised it to his lips. ‘Let’s enjoy it.’ They ordered food and enjoyed a leisurely meal. ‘It’s great not having to rush anywhere,’ George remarked as he eased back in his chair and sipped his coffee. ‘It’s great just being with you.’

‘I know what you mean.’ Melody smiled, holding her coffee cup out to him. He clinked it and they both laughed. She didn’t want to talk about their impending separation, about what might happen tomorrow or the next day or the day after that. She needed to savour, memorise, absorb every detail about George.

However, when they could delay their departure no longer, Melody concentrated on the road as she navigated her way towards the frantic Sydney airport, the soothing strains of Mozart filling the car.

George rested his head, eyes closed as the music surrounded them. His internal thoughts were turbulent, his emotions jumbled up and out of control. Meeting Melody had thrown his neatly ordered world into disarray and he wasn’t sure how to put it back. He didn’t want to leave her but he knew he had to go. He wanted to kiss her, to hold her close, but every time he did so he was later visited by guilt for moving on from his memories of Veronique.

He wanted to tell Melody that she meant a lot to him, that he wanted to be with her, to investigate this attraction, but he couldn’t. He couldn’t because he wasn’t sure. He wasn’t sure he wanted to be involved in another serious relationship. He’d loved deeply once before and his world had been blown apart when Veronique had died. Was he ready to put himself out there again? To risk loving another woman?

When Melody pulled into the airport car park she didn’t turn the engine off. Instead, she swivelled in her chair and looked at him. His heart skipped a beat as he stared into her gorgeous green eyes. How was it possible she could have such a dramatic effect on him? When he saw tears beginning to gather in her eyes, his heart almost broke at the thought of leaving her.

‘Uh—are you OK to go from here?’

‘You’re not going to walk me in?’

She shook her head. ‘I don’t know if I can.’ Melody gazed into his eyes, her stomach churning with butterflies while her lower lip trembled.

He unbuckled his seat belt then reached out and cupped her face in his hands. ‘Melody.’ Her name was a caress on his lips before his mouth met hers in a hungry, fiery and consuming kiss. He never wanted it to end. He wanted to take her with him, for her to be with him for ever. Melody moaned in delight, giving everything she had to him, and, being greedy, he took it.

His phone beeped, indicating he’d received a text message. ‘It’s Carmel. She says they’re calling our flight.’ He opened the car door and climbed out, pleased when Melody climbed from the driver’s seat and came around to him.

‘Will you walk me in?’ He just couldn’t leave her—not yet. But why? Why was he finding it so difficult to say goodbye?

‘I’ll walk you to the door but I just—I can’t…’ She stopped and took his hand in hers. ‘I can’t watch you walk away from me.’

George shook his head and gathered her close once more. ‘I know. I finally understand Shakespeare’s “Parting is such sweet sorrow.”’ He kissed Melody again but when another text message came through, he knew if he didn’t hustle, he’d miss the plane. ‘I’ve got to go.’

She held his hand for a moment longer and shook her head, not bothering to choke back the tears. ‘George…’ She shook her head. ‘I—I don’t want you to go.’ Her words were broken as the emotion burst forth. He clenched his jaw and shook his head before gathering her close and kissing her deeply one last time. ‘I—I love you, George.’

He leaned back and looked at her in utter astonishment. She loved him? Before he could process her words, his name was called over the PA system.

‘I have to go.’

She hiccupped a few times, letting him go and covering her mouth with her hand. He forced himself to turn, to walk away from her, and with each step he felt as though he was walking through a quagmire. He told himself not to look back but just before he was rushed through security he gave in to the impulse and what he saw almost broke his own heart.

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