The Chocolate Lovers' Club

The Chocolate Lovers' Club by Carole Matthews

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Authors: Carole Matthews
and is probably just exhausted.
    ‘Sorry I can’t take you out to lunch,’ Crush says wearily. I feel as if he hasn’t stopped apologising to me since he’s returned when, quite frankly, it’s me who should be doing all the grovelling. ‘I have a meeting in fifteen minutes.’ He glances at his watch again. ‘They want to do a debriefing.’
    I’d like to be doing my own kind of debriefing, but I guess that isn’t going to be on the cards until we’ve got things straightened out be tween us.
    ‘You liked Australia?’
    ‘Loved it. If only you’d have been able to come out with me.’
    If only.
    ‘I wonder why no one in Human Resources kept you up to date with what was happening?’
    I wonder. Not. Those Human Resources harridans wouldn’t cross the street to wee on me if I was on fire. But I will get my revenge. One day.
    ‘You didn’t return my calls either,’ Crush says, sounding wounded. ‘Or read my mails. That hurt. I couldn’t understand it. I thought you’d be delighted to hear from me after my unexpected walkabout. I almost wondered whether you’d gone walkabout too.’ He smiles at the thought. ‘But I know why that was now.’ His smile widens. ‘You silly chump.’
    How right he is. I cannot disagree. I’m a silly chump.
    ‘I’ll probably have to work late too tonight,’ Aiden tells me. ‘After that, we can start to put all this behind us.’ He gives a relieved sigh which puts another knot in my stomach.
    ‘I thought you were here for some rest and recuperation?’
    ‘That comes later.’ He wiggles his eyebrows at me in a seductive manner. ‘Why don’t I come round to your place when I’ve finished?’
    I shrug and try to ignore the increased pitter-pattering of my easily influenced heart. ‘You’ll have jet lag,’ I say. ‘Terrible jet lag. Perhaps it would be better if you went straight home and got some sleep.’
    Crush looks slightly put out. He shrugs too. ‘Maybe.’ He puts down his cheese sandwich. Perhaps Aiden’s food tastes like plastic too. ‘This isn’t really the homecoming that I expected. I feel there’s still some distance between us. I wanted us to rush into each other’s arms and that everything would be the same, but I guess it’s not easy when we’re at work.’ His hand finds mine. ‘I want to make it up to you, Gorgeous. I’ve only got to get through today and tomorrow and then we’ll have the weekend to enjoy each other’s company.’ He kisses me gently on the cheek. ‘We can get to know each other all over again.’
    ‘I’d like that,’ I say. Tears spring to my eyes. How can I have forgotten how wonderful this man is? ‘I’d really like that.’ Then something in my sluggish brain clicks slowly into gear. How can I have forgotten that I’ve booked to go away with The Chocolate Lovers’ Club for the weekend? ‘Oh.’
    ‘What?’ Crush looks concerned. ‘What’s the matter?’
    ‘I’m going away,’ I tell him.
    ‘Away?’
    ‘To California.’
    ‘For how long?’
    ‘A few days.’
    ‘But I’ve just got back.’
    ‘I’m going to a chocolate spa. I booked it before I knew you were coming.’ I sound completely pathetic. The traffic rushes by us and the fumes choke my throat.
    Crush looks into my eyes. ‘Things are going to be okay between us?’
    ‘Yes. Yes. Of course.’
    ‘You’re not avoiding me, Gorgeous?’
    ‘No. No. Absolutely not.’ But I know in my heart that I am.

Chapter Eighteen
    C rush has come with me to the airport. He takes my face in his hands. ‘Come back safely to me.’
    ‘I’m only going to a chocolate spa,’ I remind him. ‘I think it will be less fraught with danger than your trip.’ The only danger is that instead of coming back svelte and lovely, I’ll come back fatter than I was before.
    ‘I’ll miss you.’
    I adore this man and can’t believe that I’m going to abandon him as soon as he’s returned to me. My dear chocolate addict friends and I had, indeed, rashly booked

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