I stand up before I change my mind. “I’ll take my bag to my room,” I say. She nods without turning around, chopping a kiwi with rather more force than it probably warrants.
“You’re in the big room at the back,” she says. I hoist my bag over my shoulder and go to my room, feeling deflated.
I barely see her for the rest of the day. I spend the afternoon making conference calls for work, then go back to the kitchen, looking for food. There’s no sign of Jenny, but there’s a covered plate of chicken salad with a sticky note with my name on. I wolf it down, remembering I haven’t eaten since breakfast, then hang around for a while wondering where in the house she is, or if she’s gone out. I go into the lounge and try to watch some TV but am too restless to settle. Still no sign of Jenny. In the end I go back to my room and decide to have an early night. I get into bed and lie there, staring at the ceiling, fighting the growing need to go and find her, claim her and make her mine.
After Alex goes upstairs I finish making some lunch, then sit at the table and stare at it, not hungry at all. I feel slightly nauseous in fact.
I’ve blown it. I should have told him straight away who I am. Now he just thinks I’m a silly girl playing games, and he will probably never look at me that way again. Part of me wonders if it was worth it, to at least have the memory of our kiss, but I know that just won’t cut it for long. A taste of him is never going to be enough. I want it all.
Especially now that I know he wants me too, and that is exactly why I didn’t tell him. Because of the look in his eyes when he came over and scared Brad off. The way his gaze swept over my body and his eyes went dark with desire. To have him look at me like that is all of my adolescent dreams come true. To look at me, not as his friend’s daughter, but as the woman I now am. He kissed me as though he was hungry for me, and looked at me as though I was the only woman in the world…until he discovered my identity. I could see the change in his perception of me immediately. Now I’m back to being Jeff’s daughter.
And yet…can he really forget just like that? He’s just being noble, out of loyalty to my Dad. Frustratingly, that just makes me want him even more, knowing that he has a conscience and isn’t just some kind of playboy.
I finish staring at my lunch and scrape it in the bin, deciding to go back down to my cove, I always think of it as my place, and watch the ocean for a while. I text Dad to let him know all is well and we’re both here, knowing that I’m very deliberately avoiding not calling him. I just can’t face it right now, knowing the secret I’m now keeping from him, that Alex is keeping too. I guess he’s angry at me for putting him in such a compromising position, and I can’t really blame him, but I was just so swept up in the moment, in taking the only chance I might ever get to have him see me as Jenny, not just the daughter of his friend.
Before I leave I plate up another salad and leave it for him. I mean it simply as a hostess, and because I’m worried that he might be too polite to help himself without Dad here, but I can’t help feeling a pang of pleasure that I’m preparing food for him, as though I’ve morphed into a fifties housewife overnight. Amazing what one kiss can do.
I wander down to the cove, walking through the dunes down a path that you don’t see until you’re almost upon it. It leads out to a tiny beach enclosed by cliffs. The sand is almost white and the sea azure blue, and it’s empty of all other life. I’ve seen dolphins here before. I sit near the ocean itself and wait until the tide creeps in and is lapping at my toes. The water is almost warm this time of year. Maybe I will get up early in the morning and go for a swim, it might be a good way to burn some of this frustration off at any rate.
The plan is to watch the fourth of July fireworks from here, me, my Dad and Alex. It would have been a beautiful moment, but now I’m just worried that it’s going to be awkward.