‘Shh.’ George glanced around them but no one seemed to be paying them much attention. They would just think that he and Carmel were discussing aspects of the schedule. ‘Whether I like her or not is irrelevant. We have a hectic schedule to get through and then we’ll be gone at the end of the week.’
‘We’re off to Perth.’
‘Perth, Adelaide or anywhere in between, I don’t care. The point is that I have a life waiting for me in Melbourne.’
‘I have a house. A job.’
‘Things you couldn’t wait to leave behind when the fellowship began,’ she reminded him.
George pursed his lips, knowing she had a point. When the tour had started, he couldn’t wait to leave Melbourne, to leave the grief of his life without Veronique behind. Although he was looking forward to a less hectic pace of life, he wasn’t sure Melbourne would hold the same charms for him as it had before. He knew that with everything he’d seen and experienced on this tour, he was a very different man from the one who had left, eager to escape his grief.
Carmel glanced momentarily down at her phone, which had buzzed with a message. ‘It’s the little things in life that mean the most,’ Carmel stated a moment later, a soft smile on her lips.
‘Message from Diana?’ he asked, gesturing to her phone.
Carmel’s smile increased. ‘Yes.’
‘You’ve managed to sort things out, then?’
‘Yes. Diana was jealous of that redhead we met in Darwin but I’ve assured her there was nothing going on between us. We just had to work closely together, just like this week I’m working closely with Rick and Melody.’
‘I’m glad you’re back together. It’s more harmonious for the rest of us,’ George couldn’t help but tease. He was glad Carmel was the one who had come on the tour with him. The fact that she’d been the director for other travelling fellowships and had been helping Veronique to organise this one when tragedy had struck—well—George was glad it was Carmel who had come, especially as she and Veronique had been good friends. Carmel had known his wife, had known how happy the two of them had been together, so to hear her now say that it was OK not to deny his instant connection with Melody Janeway was almost a relief.
Carmel chuckled at his words, then noticed Melody walking back towards their table. ‘Finding harmony in your life is a good thing, George.’
George followed Carmel’s gaze, his whole being mesmerised by the way Melody walked. She was so graceful, like a dancer, hovering momentarily to talk to someone before continuing her way back to him. ‘You haven’t been captivated by anyone since Veronique, which definitely means there’s something about Melody that has caught your attention.’
Carmel’s words floated over him in the background as George noticed that the small auburn curl that had escaped the bonds of the clip was now securely back in place. He wondered if her hair colour was natural. Either way, he knew it suited her and made the green of her eyes seem more intense.
He forced himself to look away as she sat back down, trying his best not to be affected by the allure of the floral scent she wore. He was intrigued by her, interested to get to know her better and the knowledge troubled him. Carmel had been right when she’d said that no other woman had captivated him, not the way Melody Janeway had. What was it about his new colleague that was causing him to behave in such a way?
‘Feeling better?’ he asked, and she smiled politely in his direction, the smile causing his gut to tighten with a need he’d thought repressed.
‘Yes, thank you. It was—um—silly of me to choke on the water like that. Then again,’ she said with a small chuckle, ‘I’m usually the person who drops their knife on the floor and or spills food on their shirt.’
With that, George’s gaze instantly dropped to her shirt to check if she’d done just that. When he realised he was staring at her breasts, he instantly focused his gaze back on her lovely green eyes. ‘You’re in the clear today.’
‘So far,’ she remarked jestingly, and he returned her smile.
‘Were you clumsy as a child?’
Melody pondered his words for a moment. ‘Not clumsy exactly…or at least not that I can recall. I’m sure if you asked my brothers, they’d have a different story.’
‘Older brothers?’ George was delighted she was talking to him about her personal life. He wanted to know about her, he wanted to know what made her laugh, what thrilled her, what made her sad. Perhaps Carmel was right and he should just accept the little moments of happiness he could experience.