Jamie has a good feeling when he meets and falls in love with Connor, an Army captain destined for Afghanistan. Will that good feeling survive Connor’s deployment?
Jamie never expects to meet the love of his life in a tea shop. He never expects his lover, Connor, to be an Army officer about to return to Afghanistan for one last deployment and he certainly never expects that, after three short months together, Connor would want to spend the rest of his life with Jamie. When Connor leaves for Afghanistan, Jamie can’t help but worry that his lover might not make it back alive. He also worries that Connor, who hasn’t told his men he’s gay, doesn’t want him to be waiting at the base when he returns. Will the good feelings he has about their future together survive their separation?
He wasn’t the usual weekday afternoon customer. Normally, by three, the lunchers were gone and the blue-rinse brigade moved in, lingering over pots of tea and slices of cake.
This one sat in the corner, chin on hand while he stared out of the window. The late afternoon sun touched his short brown hair with fire. His face was turned away from the room while he watched shoppers drift by on their way to or from the Wednesday market. He was a study in stillness and silence while the old biddies chattered around him, trading recipes and knitting patterns. It was rare for anyone to walk into the tea shop and make me glance more than once. This one caused my breath to catch in my throat.
I took a deep breath, picked up a menu before walking towards his table.
He glanced up and grinned as I approached.
I gave him my best smile and handed him the menu. “Good afternoon. Can I get you something to drink?”
“A cappuccino, please. A large one.”
I scribbled the order down on my pad. “Would you like anything else? There’s the menu and there’s also the daily specials on the board.” It was the same spiel I gave to everyone. There was nothing I could put into the words to let my interest slip. Anyway, I’d promised my brother that I wouldn’t chat up the customers. I wasn’t about to start now, not while Liam let me hang my paintings on the walls. I needed all the sales I could get.
He glanced past me to the board.
“Can I have the lemon cake?”
“I think we have a slice or two left. Anything else?” I wanted him to order more, give me something nice to look at for longer than it took to drink a large coffee and eat a wedge of cake.
He studied the menu once more. “All right, you’ve talked me into it. I’ll have a piece of the stilton and bacon quiche as well.”
“Good choice.” I offered him another smile. “I’ll go and get your coffee.”
“Thank you.” He smiled back, his eyes warm.
I lost a little bit of myself at that moment.
“I won’t be a minute.” I headed back to the kitchen, stopping only to tidy an empty table and take a payment at the till.
“I saw you.” Hayley, my sister-in-law, glanced up from the sink.
“Saw me what?” I took the quiche from the fridge and put it on the counter.
“Chatting up the bloke by the window.” She smiled. “Not that I blame you. He’s hot.”
“And probably straight.” I cut a slab of quiche then slid it onto a plate. “They usually are.”
“You don’t know that.” Hayley stacked the pans neatly on the draining board. “He gave you a nice smile and watched you walk away.”
“Were you watching?”
She shrugged. “It’s a slow afternoon.”
I stared at her. “Don’t do the whole matchmaking thing again, Hayls. It didn’t work all that well last time.”
“How was I supposed to know he was married?”
“The wedding ring was a big clue, for starters.” I placed some salad greens alongside the quiche before heading towards the door. “Don’t do it again.” I paused and peered through the door. He was back to staring through the window.
“I have a good feeling about this one.” Hayley grinned.
“So do I. But it’s not for repeating in polite company.” I took a deep breath and pushed through the door into the tea room.
He turned away from the window. “That looks tasty.”
“Freshly made every day.” I set the plate on the table. “I’ll get your coffee.”
When I returned with his coffee, he’d already demolished most of the quiche. “This is really nice. Did you make it?”
“No. My brother does all the baking and cooking. I just work the front of the house.”
He leant back in his chair. “I like the paintings you have hanging up in here. Local artists?”
“Yes, they’re mine.” If nothing else, there was always the chance I could make a sale.
“All yours?” He glanced around.