I’d spent the last three weeks working to stop thinking about him. It was taking me longer to get over a two-week fling than it had to get over the cohabitating thrusting bum. But here I was, right back beside Jensen, and it was painful.
“Pippa,” he said quietly, putting a careful hand over mine on my lap. “Are you angry at me about something?”
Gently, I pulled my hand away. The words bubbled up and then I bit them down, because it was just a fling.
It was just a fling.
Pippa, bloody hell, it was just a fling.
I looked back to him, unable to keep telling myself that lie. “The thing is, Jensen, what happened between us in October? It wasn’t just a fling to me.”
Jensen opened his mouth to speak again, but I beat him to it: “Look, I know I was meant to keep it casual, but my heart apparently had other plans. So if I’m not looking at you it’s because I care for you . . . and I also want to break your face a little.”
Shaking his head as if he wasn’t sure where to start, Jensen said, “Saturday night, before I called, I went by your old flat. Sunday, I emailed Ruby trying to find you. I’ve called you every four hours for the past three days.”
A hammer went to work inside my chest. “I was out with friends celebrating my job interviews on Saturday when you called. I shut off my mobile service on Sunday because I couldn’t afford it. Just over a week ago, I moved out of that old flat and back home with the Mums. I called you not long after I got back to London from Boston. Twice, in fact. You sent it to voice mail each time. Maybe Saturday seemed a little too late to return a call.”
His green eyes went wide. “Then why on earth didn’t you leave a voice mail? I had no idea you’d called. I have you in my contacts, but I didn’t have a missed call from you.”
“It was a UK number, Jensen, my home line, calling at night London time. Who else would it be?”
He laughed. “Maybe one of the fifty people I work with here in the UK office?” His voice was gentler when he added, “Do you think anyone stops working at this firm?”
I ignored his tender smile because a hot burn of humiliation was quickly spreading across my cheeks. “Don’t make me feel like an idiot. Even I know you would never send a work call directly to voice mail.”
“Pippa,” he said, leaning in and reaching for my hand. His was warm, firm. “London starts work in the middle of the night for me, and the West Coast office doesn’t close until nine at night. That means from six in the morning until around nine at night I’m in meetings, or answering the emails and voice mails people send me when I’m sleeping or in meetings. I almost never answer my phone, especially when I finally get home.”
That bitch hindsight reared her mocking head again.
I’d immediately assumed he was brushing me off, when in fact he was just doing what he did for every call, not really being a phone-talker.
“Why do you even have a cell phone?” I asked, eyes narrowing.
He smiled. “Work, for one. I can’t ignore the call when it’s my boss—who owns the firm—or my mother.”
Shaking my head, I whispered, “Don’t try to be charming.”
This clearly bewildered him. “I’m not attempting charming. I’m being honest. I didn’t know you called. I wish I had known. I missed you.”
This tripped something in me, some bittersweet reaction that I couldn’t quite name. It was nice to hear this, but it didn’t mean much. I’d been in his neighborhood for days at the end of my holiday, and he hadn’t called me after our night at his house, or shown any interest in seeing me again. And despite what we’d once said lightly, the truth was, I really wasn’t all that interested in the When Jensen Visits London booty call.
“While it’s nice to hear,” I said, “in the end I don’t reckon I want you to call me when you’re passing through London. I’ve discovered I’m not really the fling type.” I sniffed, trying to look composed. “Not anymore. I don’t think I want to go back down that road.”
Jensen paused before speaking, blinking at me a few times. “I was never the fling type.”
“You seemed to do it quite well, if memory serves.”
A smile pulled at one side of his mouth. “Pippa, ask me why I’m here.”
“I believe we’d already established you’re here for work. The London office, remember?”
He tilted his head, eyes narrowed. “Did we establish that?”
I frowned. Hadn’t we? This was all becoming rather confusing, talking about time zones and work hours and . . .
“Fine,” I said, giving in, voice flat. “Why are you here?”
“I flew here to see you.”
While my mind tried to shuffle these words into sense, he simply watched me, his tiny smile lingering before turning slightly unsure.
He smiled wider, nodding. “I came here to see you. I realized I wanted more. I came to see if you might . . . want more with me. I’m in love with you.”
My legs straightened, shoving me upright and standing of their own volition, and before I knew it, I was awkwardly stepping over his lap and tripping down the aisle to the lavatory.
The flight attendant gently called after me: “We’ll be taking off shortly . . .”
But the flight was still boarding. And I had to . . .