Hot Ink Press
Claudie loves living in the countryside and close to the forests. She’s a film maker and works for the wildlife trust. One night she steps onto her patio and sees a man sheltering there. She confronts him and he runs away.
Jasper has watched Claudie for a year. He fell in love with her, but he has a secret, one that might mean he can never approach her.
Claudie couldn’t concentrate on her work anymore. She Skyped another member of the documentary team and they discussed the weekend program they were to film. It was about the influx of starlings that came for the winter and about the red kites that were now so prolific in that part of the country. Afterwards she sat back in her desk chair and gazed into space. She got up and walked to the kitchen. Maybe a cup of coffee would help, but she left the percolator bubbling, took her jacket from the hall, and walked out into the garden.
She couldn’t shake the unease that gripped her since she’d seen the man in the night. Claudie locked up and set off to walk in the woods. She chose her favorite path. It wound through the remaining elms and ash. Claudie knew the forestry commission had to cut back the trees a couple of years before because of disease. Since then they planted Scots pine in a group and the young trees were lovely.
Claudie scrunched along the path thinking about work, then about the blue man, then about the coffee that would be stewed by the time she went home.
Jasper heard her long before he saw her, and he went to lean against the tarp covered trailer.
Claudie saw the man. She knew the foresters parked there in the clearing and saw the trailer. She assumed Jasper was a forestry worker. She’d met them before as she worked or walked and often stopped for a few words. As she approached and saw him clearly, something stirred in her heart. She’d not felt attracted to a man in a few years. This man was gorgeous. He was tall, broad shouldered, muscled, and slim hipped, like some movie star. She knew she was openly staring at him, and so she greeted him as hikers and walkers often did when they passed each other.
“Hi, nice day.” It was an inane greeting, when her heart pounded at the way his jeans rode low on his hips, and his chest muscles filled out the forestry commission shirt. She couldn’t take her eyes off him as he pushed a hand through his dark hair and then smiled at her.
“It’s stopped raining at least.” Jasper heard his own voice echo in the clearing. He took a step towards Claudie. “I’m waiting for the others to come back before I unpack the tools.” He waved at the trailer, as if his tools were in there, alluding to having been dropped off, so that she wouldn’t wonder where his vehicle was.
Claudie instinctively knew he wanted to talk to her. She stopped a few paces away on the soil path strewn with red and gold fallen leaves.
“What are you going to do here? Not chop down more trees I hope. They all look healthy to me.” She smiled at him. He’d be about her age, she thought. She looked for a ring on his hand, even knowing not all men wore a wedding band. There wasn’t one. Claudie stepped a little closer. He seemed familiar. Fringed with long dark lashes, his lovely green eyes held an unspoken emotion. He’s very good looking. She stared at his inviting lips. What would it be like to kiss him? Get a grip he’s a total stranger.
Jasper watched her carefully. He saw the glance she gave his left hand, and saw her eyes darken a little as she gazed at him. His heart started to pound.
“No chopping down, just taking care of the young trees.” He hoped it was the truth and the trailer didn’t hold chainsaws.
Claudie felt drawn to him. She wondered what it took these days to show a guy you liked him. She’d not had much luck with men, never had a lasting relationship, and stopped even thinking about dating around two years ago. She didn’t expect to meet a man who instantly interested her the way this guy did. She had male colleagues and got on well with them, but as for sex or love, Claudie had given up hope for them.
She looked around her thinking about how she might continue a conversation. “Have you been waiting for the other workers long? It’s starting to get cold again.”
Jasper knew he’d have to keep lying. He didn’t like it, but there it was. “I think they’ve forgotten me.” He smiled. “I might walk down the lane and meet them as they come back. Are you going that way?”
Claudie was going in the opposite direction, but knew an invitation when she heard one.
Copyright Elodie Parkes 2013 Hot Ink Press
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