Sorry guys, I haven’t been here, even though you all have. I’m writing the second book in the Zora series, so I’m focused on that. I do have a blog post in my head though, and I’ll get it written this week. Not today though, today is Monday, Cassie day. Let’s get into it. You will remember we left Cassie last week preparing for her date with Matt.
I stood in front of my open wardrobe. Really I had too many clothes, and none of them were right for tonight. I couldn’t remember the last time I had been so irresolute about my clothing. Oh wait, yes I could. It was the night I had dinner with Nathan, the night I thought he was going to tell me he was moving back in and instead… I shook my head, refusing to allow the memories in. It was also the night I met Matt, and it was Matt I was going to dinner with. It was not going to end like that other dinner.
I ran my fingers through my feathery strawberry blonde hair, noting that I should get a haircut soon. That was the only problem with shorter hair, the frequent trips to the hairdresser. Sighing, I focused again on my clothes. Flicking through the hangers I slid the one with the green shirt to the end of the rail. I hadn’t worn that shirt since the dinner with Nathan, and I wasn’t going to wear it tonight. I pulled out a pencil skirt and studied it before putting it back. It was too business like for a casual dinner.
A flash of blue caught my eye and I pulled out a deep blue blouse. It had a draped neckline and was the type of shirt that could be dressed up or down. The colour made my blue eyes darker and was flattering against my pale skin. Decision made I tossed the shirt onto my bed, and dug out a pair of black jeans. There, that was a good compromise between casual and dressy. On impulse I chose a pair of stiletto pumps and held them against the shirt. They were unrelieved black except for a thin blue line that ran up the middle of the heel. I had bought them several months ago and never worn them, and was pleased to see that the two shades of blue matched almost perfectly. There, outfit selected and it had only taken about half an hour.
Half an hour! I needed to get ready or I would be late. Rushing meant that I didn’t have time to stress any further about this evening, and that was a good thing. I still felt a jolt of adrenaline when Matt knocked on the door and chided myself on acting like a foolish schoolgirl. The stunned expression on Matt’s face when I opened the door made me rethink my clothing choice.
“What, too dressy? I can change.”
He blinked. “No, not at all. You look beautiful. I mean you always look beautiful, but tonight, well you are even more so.”
I looked down at myself, seeing nothing but me as usual. Standing back to let him in I glanced at my reflection in the hall mirror and still saw nothing but me as usual.
“Have you been sampling some wine?”
Matt grinned. “No, do you think I need to be drunk to consider you beautiful?”
He laughed. “Come on you goose. I’ve got us a taxi so we can both have some wine.”
I preceded him out the door, seeing the waiting taxi at the roadside. “How very thoughtful of you officer. No breath tests for me tonight!”
He laughed again. “Well we would never have met if I hadn’t pulled you over for a breathalyzer test that time.”
The reference to that disastrous dinner with Nathan made my insides sink a little, coming after my own thoughts about it but I shook off the feeling.
“Yes we would, I just would have been sure you were a robber in the park that morning instead of a kind police officer.”
Matt paused in the act of opening the taxi door. “You thought I was a robber? Not a man out for an early morning jog, but a person with bad intentions?”
I shrugged, sliding into the taxi. “Well you know, a girl can’t be too careful.”
Matt followed me in, shutting the door and leaning forward to give the address to the driver. Then he turned to me. “That is very true, and I suppose you were right to be cautious. But still, I’m a policeman, recognizable in or out of uniform.”
I snorted. “That is a fact, you do look like a policeman no matter what you wear.”
“What about tonight?”
I studied him. He was wearing jeans and a dark red button up shirt and looked as amazing as he always did. Not that I was telling him that.
“You look like an undercover policeman.”
Matt laughed again, and I smiled. The evening was starting out well, I felt light and happy. It had only been my silly imagination thinking that things were going to change.
That thought stayed with me for most of the evening. Matt was his usual self and I enjoyed his company and humour as I always did. The restaurant was a converted art gallery, with large murals of orange groves painted on the walls and a castle painted on the far wall. The food was excellent, the wine list extensive, and I relaxed and enjoyed myself. As the evening went on and Matt remained perfectly normal I relaxed even more, enjoying the ambiance of the place. It was a busy night, lots of people out testing the new restaurant.
It was only when I stood up to go to the bathroom that I realized I had drunk a little too freely of the wine. The room was swaying slightly, or maybe it was me. I steadied myself by holding onto the back of my chair until the feeling passed.
“You okay there Sunshine?”
“Yes, I just stood up too quickly. Do you know where the bathroom is?”
Matt pointed to the back of the room, where a large sign pointed the way.
I threaded my way between the tables, my heels making me feel clumsy. Perhaps that was why I hadn’t worn them, they seemed to be affecting my balance. Back at the table Matt proffered the dessert menu and suggested coffee. I stared at him suspiciously.
“I’m not drunk! I don’t need coffee.”
“Of course you don’t, but we usually have coffee after dinner.”
“Oh, yes I guess we do. Well ok, coffee and this.” I stabbed at the dessert menu.
Matt poured me a glass of water while we waited and I drank it, feeling quite thirsty. The dessert arrived first, a delicious looking concoction complete with a dollop of cream and a scoop of ice-cream. I looked at Matt’s dessert, it looked decadent.
“What did you get? It looks pretty good too.”
“Chocolate fudge cake, want to try some?”
I nodded and offered him some of my cheesecake. He startled me by eating it off the fork I proffered instead of taking said fork from me, but I decided that he was just keen for a taste. I took his forkful of chocolate cake from him, ignoring the slight disappointment in his expression.
“How was the chocolate?”
“It’s good, but I’m happy with my cheesecake, how about you?”
“Same, I like yours but I felt like chocolate tonight.” I handed back his fork and dug into my dessert, happy for no reason at all with such a trite exchange. The coffee came and I drank some, it was also excellent. The world was a bit steadier by the time I finished, and Matt’s face – which had begun blur a little – had come back into focus.
“I am so full, I ate too much.” I leaned back in my seat, feeling like I would burst.
“Me too, but it was great food wasn’t it?”
I nodded agreement. “We should come here again. Maybe we can come with Saffie and Ben?”
Matt looked surprised, but agreed. Then he leaned forward. “You’ve got some cream on your cheek.” He brushed my cheek with a gentle finger. “There, that’s got it.”
He didn’t lean back straight away, just stared at me. I stared back, my mouth gone dry. This close I could see the differing shades of brown in his eyes.
“You’ve got gold dust in your eyes.”
Matt leaned back in his seat. “What?”
“Your eyes, I never noticed before. You’ve got gold flecks in them, it looks like gold dust.”
“Really. Well yours have little bits of green in them. Like islands in the blue sea.”
I snorted. “I like my description better, much more poetic.”
Matt shrugged. “I’m a guy, what do you expect? Ready to go?”
I drank the last of my coffee and stood up, a bit disconcerted when the world again swayed. I really must have had too much of the wine. Or maybe it was the shoes.
“Who’s turn to pay?” We had resolved the issue of payment by taking turns.
“It’s mine, you paid last time.”
I thought about it, and I was pretty sure he was right. We had eaten at the marina and brought the kids along.
“Okay, I’ll wait at the door.”
“Good idea, get some fresh air.”
It wasn’t long before Matt came out and we wandered up the street to the taxi rank. Surprisingly, there was a taxi waiting so we were soon on the way home.
“It’s been a good night hasn’t it Cassie.”
“It has, it was nice to relax and not have to cook. And you’re always good company.”
“You too, we should go out more often.”
Matt had given the driver my address, and helped me out of the taxi when it pulled up outside. I opened the gate and walked up the drive while he paid. He came up while I was fumbling with the house key.
“Damn thing, won’t go in the keyhole.”
Chuckling, Matt took the key from me and opened the door to a rapturous greeting from Pebbles and BamBam.
“Okay okay, we’ve only been gone a few hours, not forever.”
The dogs settled down after some pats, and I let them out to run in the yard. Going into the kitchen I turned on the coffee maker.
“Want some more coffee before you go?”
Matt came over to where I was standing. “I don’t think so Cassie. I’ve got work tomorrow so I think I’ll head home.”
Stifling a stab of disappointment I said only, “I’ll walk you to the door.”
Matt followed me and stopped in the doorway. I felt nervous again, but forced it down. Matt had acted no differently all night, it was only me being silly. So when he reached out and touched my earring I jumped.
“This is beautiful. What is it?”
I reached to touch my earring, but dropped my hand when I touched Matt’s fingers instead.
It’s a star sapphire, same as my necklace. My mother gave me the set a long time ago.”
“A sapphire? I didn’t know they could look like that. It looks like a part of the galaxy.”
He slid his hand lower, picking up the pendant and studying it. The back of his had was warm on the skin of my neck and my heart started to beat faster, my skin to prickle. All the air seemed to vanish from the room as he lifted his eyes to mine.