I pop into Coffee O’clock and order my usual.

“And one for your dad too?” Penny asks.

I tap my chin. “Hmm. Does he deserve a tea? He was quite cheeky to me last night.”

“Sounds par for the course.”

“True, true. I suppose I won’t cut him off just yet.”

“That’s good of you. No wonder you’re his favorite son.”

I wink at her. “Exactly.”

With the cups in hand, I thank Penny then head to Dad’s flat, where I find him locking the front door on his way out.

“Personal tea delivery service is one of my favorite features of adult children,” he says with a crooked grin, taking the tea.

“Where are you off to, old man?”

“Heading to the furniture shop. Taron got a new chair he thinks I’ll like. Or an old one, I should say. Want to work on it with me this weekend?”

I take a drink of my tea. “Sounds like the perfect way to spend a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.”

After all, I have no plans besides work—there won’t be a soul demanding anything of me after Thursday.

My schedule will be clear.

I’ll have no one to shepherd around town during the day or to hunker down with at night.

Just loads of time for my favorite things.

When we reach the shop, Taron greets us with a huge grin and a clap of his hands. His colorful red shirt billows in the summer breeze. “You are going to die when you see this piece. It reminds me of all the chairs we had growing up in Johannesburg.”

“You had so many Victorian-era chairs in South Africa,” my father teases.

“We were teeming with them. Working here is like being back home,” Taron says, and when my dad heads straight for the rear of the store, my mate pulls me aside. “So, I hear you’re into someone.”

I furrow my brow. “What are you talking about?”

He tuts. “Naveen and Anya told me about your American. Sounds like the two of you were quite cozy.”

I straighten my spine. “It was a date—that’s all.”

“You keep telling yourself that, but someday you’re going to fall hard, and it’s going to be so spectacular. Trust me, I know.”

“Trust me. It won’t happen with him. He lives across the ocean.”

Taron waves a hand dismissively. “Details.”

I shoot him a hard stare. “It’s a three- or four-thousand-mile detail. A transatlantic detail. But besides that, he’s not interested in more than a fling, nor am I. But I’m very interested in this chair.”

I divert his attention away from talk of Fitz.

Any talk of him would go nowhere, which is precisely where Fitz and I are going after Thursday.

And that’s fine by me.



Sex burns calories, but those are just extra ones as far as I’m concerned.

Bonus calories.

That’s why I hit the hotel gym, lifting weights for an hour and trash-talking Ransom via text in between reps. I send him a picture of the bar.

Fitz: You wish you could lift this much.

Ransom: I lifted that much when I was five, asshole.

Fitz: You wish you had my stats.

Ransom: I had your stats when I was in peewee league, dickhead.

Fitz: I was never in peewee league. Skipped it. I’m that good.

Natch, I finish off the thread with a GIF of Wile E. Coyote dropping an anvil on the Road Runner, because we’re mature like that.

He replies seconds later.

Ransom: How’s Emma? Is she still hot for me like she was the first time I met her?

Fitz: You ass.

Ransom: Burned.

On that note, I leave the gym, shower, and get ready to meet my tour guide. I drop my shades on, and along the way to Tower Bridge, I text Emma.

Fitz: Are you orientating?

Emma: Yes, I am pointing north now. Oh wait, that’s orienteering.

Fitz: We’ll sign you up for a map-reading class next.

Emma: I’ve mastered the Tube though. I’ll be an expert at zipping underground in no time.

Fitz: And how’s the flat coming along? It looked good yesterday.

Emma: Furnished flats overlooking quiet lanes and old bookshops are a dream come true. And speaking of dreams come true . . .

Fitz: Emma, the Stanley Cup is in June.

Emma: As if I’m talking about sports. How’s your man?

Fitz: He’s not my man. He’s just a guy I’m spending time with.

Emma: Oh, cool. So you can meet me in thirty minutes for a quick jaunt through Kensington Palace after I finish my next session? My day is over early.

Fitz: Umm . . . no. I have plans.

Emma: Because you’re seeing him. :)

Fitz: Fine. Yes. I am. We’re going to Tower Bridge.

Emma: Knew it. Called it. You two were so cute yesterday.

Fitz: We are NOT cute.

Emma: Whatever. You seem enamored with Dean, and he seems quite taken with you.

Fitz: Yeah?

Emma: Yeah, but what do you care? He’s just a guy you’re spending time with. *insert winking emoji*

Fitz: Exactly. That’s what I meant. I don’t do relationships. I don’t do boyfriends. We’re simply two adults enjoying each other’s company.

Tags: Lauren Blakely Romance
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