'I love you.'
I come awake in a daze of darkness and rub my eyes as I sit up in the chair. It takes me a few moments to figure out where I am, but when I begin to focus, I find a handsome, dark blonde man crouched in front of me.
'Hey,' he says softly as he brushes my hair from my face. I gaze around the vast open space to try and grab a hold of my bearings.
'What time is it?' I ask sleepily.
He leans in and kisses my forehead. 'Just gone midnight.'
Midnight? I'm sleeping for England, and I could drift straight back off again, but I'm properly woken up when the shrill sound of a phone ringtone stabs at the silent air.
'For fuck sake,' Jesse complains.
I watch as he yanks his phone from the coffee table and looks at the screen. Who would be ringing at this time?
'John,' he greets calmly down the phone, 'Why?' He glances at me. 'No, it's fine...yeah...give me half hour.' He hangs up.
'What's the matter?' I ask, fully awake now.
He shoves his Converse on and stalks for the door, clearly unhappy. 'Problem at The Manor. I won't be long.'
And just like that, he's gone.
So, I'm wide awake, it's past midnight and Jesse has just disappeared in the middle of the night. How is he going to drive with one hand? I sit in the chair like a loose part and contemplate what is going on at The Manor of such urgency.
Oh no, Kate is there.
I run into the kitchen and find my phone to call her, but she doesn't answer. I try repeatedly and with each unanswered call, I get more worried. I should just call Jesse, but he seemed pretty pissed off. I pace up and down, make myself a coffee and sit at the island repeatedly dialing Kate. If my car was here, I would be on my way to The Manor. Or would I? It's easy for me to say I would, especially when there is no way I can.
After pacing the penthouse for an hour and calling Kate endlessly, I give in and go to bed, crawling into the plush, soft sheets of the spare room bed and curling up.
'I love you.'
I open my eyes and find Jesse looming over the bed. I'm somewhere between sleep and consciousness and my mouth won't work. What time is it and how long has he been gone? I don't get a chance to ask, though. I'm gathered up into his arms and transported to his room.
'You sleep here.' he whispers, lowering me into his bed. I feel him crawl in behind me, and I'm tugged back against his chest.
If I wasn't so contented, I would be asking questions, but I am, so I won't. My head hits the pillow and with Jesse's warmness surrounding me, I'm gone again.
My eyes open and I'm pinned to the mattress under a heady scent of fresh water and mint. My morning brain is desperately trying to convince me to struggle free, but my body is blocking all of the sensible instructions trying to filter through.
He sits back on his heels. 'I need to do this.' he whispers, clasping my hand and pulling me into a sitting position.
He takes the hem of my vest and slowly pulls it up over my head before leaning into me and kissing the middle of my chest, running his tongue in a light, flicking circle up to my throat.
He pulls back. 'Lace,' he says softly as he removes my bra.
I battle between my body's desperate need for him and my mind's strong need to talk. I want to clear the air before I'm dragged back onto Central Jesse Cloud Nine where I lose all cognitive reasoning. 'Jesse, we need to talk.' I say quietly as he kisses my throat and works his way to my ear. Every nerve is buzzing, pleading with me to shut up and accept him.
'I need you.' he whispers, finding my mouth and plunging his tongue in.
'Jesse, please.' My voice is a breathy whisper.
'Baby, I do my talking this way.' He grips the nape of my neck and pulls me further into him. 'Let me show you.'
My body wins.
I blank out my screaming conscience and surrender to him like the slave that I am. He wraps his arm around my lower back and eases me back down to the bed, sealing our mouths on the way, my entire being jumping to life as his hot, wet tongue slips gently between my lips and glides slowly around my mouth. We're in gentle Jesse mode, and as if he knows it, this is the best place to take me right now.
His slow, steady breaths tell me he is in complete control as he rests on his forearm and uses his good hand to run his fingertip from my hipbone, all the way up to my breast, a steady wave of tingles traveling up my body in time with his touch, leaving my breath shallow and erratic. He finishes by tracing the edges of my nipple wistfully to match the gentle motions of our tongues.
I hold on to his shoulders, feeling all of the misplaced emotions flooding back into me under his gentle touch, his attentive mouth and his hard body flanking me. My fear was completely justified; I'm lost in him again.
I whimper as he pulls his lips away from mine and sits back on his heels before he uses his good hand to drag my shorts down my legs, taking my underwear with them. 'You need reminding.' he says, looking down at me.
'This is not the conventional way.'
'It's how I do things, Ava.' He throws my shorts and knickers to the side and pulls me up, sealing our mouths. 'We need to make friends.'
I can't fight him anymore. I hook my fingers in the waistband of his boxers and press my lips further to his as I push them down his thighs. He lets out a long moan, easing me back down onto the bed, causing me to lose my grip of his shorts, so I place my foot into the band and extend my leg to take them the rest of the way. He's leaning half on me, half off, his hard, lean body spreading the length of me as he claims my mouth, pushing his body further into mine.
Weaving my fingers through his hair, I relish the friction of his long stubble against my face. It's too long to be sharp or coarse, so it feels more like a soft brush is being glided across my face.
He separates our mouths and buries his face in my hair as he cups me between my thighs and draws his palm up the centre of my body, slowly over my stomach and then gradually up between my breasts, finishing against my throat.
'I've missed you, baby,' he murmurs against my neck. 'I've missed you so much.'
'I've missed you, too.' I hold his head to me. I feel completely cocooned in strength, but he's not strong at the moment. I feel protected and safe, but I'm aware that it's me who's playing the carer at the moment. I'm feeling overwhelmed too - completely overwhelmed with intense feelings for this troubled man.
He moves himself so he's cradled between my thighs, and I soon feel the wet, slippery head of his morning erection pushing against me. My mind is a jumble of mixed thoughts, but then he rests on his elbows and gazes down at me, like I'm the only thing that exists in his world. Our eyes are fused and saying more than words ever could. I move my hands from the back of his head so my palms are on either side of his handsome face.
'Thank you for coming back to me,' he says softly as I stare up into his eyes, drowning in them, emotion flooding my entire being.
I smooth my thumb across his moist lips and slide it into his mouth, withdrawing slowly and resting the tip on his bottom lip. He plants a light kiss on the end and smiles down at me as he lifts his hips while maintaining our eye contact, my pelvis shifting to meet him.
I sigh in pure, unapologetic pleasure as he slowly, unhurriedly and reverently slides deep inside of me. I close my eyes and slip my hands to the back of his head as he fills me completely. He holds still, beating and kicking inside me. His change in breathing to quick, fast bursts of breath is a familiar trait. He's struggling to maintain control.
'Look at me,' he demands between pants, and I force my eyes open and gasp a little when I feel him jerk inside me. 'I love you.' he whispers, his voice cracking.
I inhale sharply at the words I've desperately needed to hear for so long, but does he think that's what I want to hear? Does he think that's all it takes? 'Don't, Jesse.' I close my eyes, my hands falling away from his head.
'Ava, look at me, now.' he demands harshly. I drag my swimming eyes open and meet a straight, expressionless face. 'I've been telling you how I feel the whole time.'
'No, you haven't. You were hijacking my phone and trying to control me.' I retort.
He circles his hips into me, drawing a collective moan from both of us. 'Ava, I've never felt like this before.' He withdraws and pushes deep and high. I try to rein in my scattered thoughts, but a moan escapes. 'I've been surrounded by naked women with no respect for themselves all of my life.' He places his hands over mine, pinning my wrists on either side of my head.
'You're not like them, Ava.'
He pulls back and rams back in. 'Jesus!' He stills on a few deep breaths. 'You're mine, and mine alone, baby. Just for my eyes, just for my touch and just for my pleasure. Just mine. Do you understand me?' He withdraws and slowly plunges back in.
'What about you? Are you just mine?' I ask, shifting my hips up to capture the delightful penetration.
'Just yours, Ava. Tell me you love me.'
'What?' I cry, when he hits me with a hard drive.
'You heard me.' he says softly. 'Don't make me fuck it out of you, baby.'
I'm stunned. I'm melting beneath him, crippled by pleasure and now he's demanding I tell him that I love him? I do, but should I confess under duress? It's completely as I expected, though. He's been trying to make me the opposite of everything he knows, keeping me covered, preventing me from drinking, insisting on me wearing delicate lace instead of harsh leather. But what about the sex?
'Ava, answer me.' He pushes high and grinds firmly, a sweat breaking out across his brow. 'Don't hold out on me.'
His words hit me like a lightning bolt. Hold out? He's tried to fuck a love confession out of me before - in the en-suite last Saturday when he rammed into me repeatedly, demanding I say it. I thought he was looking for reassurance that I wasn't leaving. I was wrong. How did he know?
There's another perfect grind and my internal muscles start to spasm, tremors inching their way into the epicentre of my nerve endings. My legs stiffen. 'How did you know?' I cry, throwing my head back in despair, both mentally and physically.
'Damn it, Ava, look at me.' He hits me with a full, hard strike, and I drag my eyes open on an angry yell. 'I love you.' he shouts, reinforcing his words with yet another slow withdraw and hard fast attack of his hips.
'I love you too!' I scream the words that are literally punched out of me.
He stops his movements completely, our breaths rushed and frantic as he holds my hands in place and looks down at me. 'I love you so fucking much. I didn't think it was possible.' His words penetrate me deeply, the intensity of our joining having my heart kicking into a higher gear as he looks down at me, tears pricking the backs of his eyes. He smiles faintly and slowly withdraws himself. 'Now, we make love.' he says quietly, rocking gently back into me and capturing my lips in a slow, sensual kiss, full of meaning. He releases his hold of me and my hands fly to his back, slipping across his damp skin.
His tactic has changed completely. Slowly and leisurely, he drives in and out of me, pushing me up towards complete rapture as I clasp at his damp back, holding as tight as I can. Sex with Jesse has always been beyond compare, but this moment holds a significant power that I never thought possible. He loves me.
I struggle to keep my emotions in check when he pulls back and holds his face to mine, nose to nose, eyes full of sentiment. I'm coming apart. The consistency of his controlled, deep thrusts has me shuddering and tensing around him as my core convulses and grips his shaft on each and every plunge. The sheen of sweat across his brow and his frown line deep with concentration tells me he's tipping the edge too. Tilting my hips up on a thrust, I moan as he fills me to my absolute limit, the feel of his rhythmic, meticulous tempo having me wanting to squeeze my eyes shut, but I can't drag them away from his.
'Together.' he says, his hot breath spreading across my face.
'Yes,' I gasp, feeling him expand and throb in preparation for his release.
'Christ, Ava.' A rush of air escapes his lips and his body goes rigid, but he doesn't remove his eyes from mine. My back arches on reflex when the spiraling rush of pleasure reaches its climax and sends me tumbling into a hurricane of uncontrollable feelings. I cry out in complete despairing pleasure, my body trembling in his hold. I close my eyes to blink back the tears that have developed as my orgasm begins to recede slowly and lazily with his continued even strokes.
'Eyes,' he commands softy, and I obey, opening my eyes again.
He moans deeply and I tighten all of my muscles at my core to grip him and extract his release from him. How is he keeping his head up and his eyes open? I can see the battle he's having with his instincts to hammer into me and throw his head back, but he's keeping a rein on his control. And then, you can almost hear the snap of his release as his cheeks puff out and he pushes himself into me, long and hard, holding himself there, my muscles obliging his throbbing erection and continuing with their slow, easy constrictions as he pours into me.
'I love you.' I say quietly as he looks down at me, his chest heaving. There. I've put it out there. My cards are well and truly on the table, and he didn't technically fuck that one out of me.
He rests his lips on mine. 'I know you do, baby.'
'How did you know?' I ask. I know I've never told him. I've screamed it in my head a thousand times, but I have never actually voiced it.
'You told me when you were drunk,' He smiles, 'After I showed you how to dance.'
I do a quick run through of the night when I got ridiculously drunk and relented to his persistent pursuing again. I remember admitting it to myself, but I certainly don't remember blurting it out to him. Mind you, I don't remember much after Jesse escorted me from the bar. I was in a state. That's his fault too.
'I don't remember.' I admit. I feel bloody stupid.
'I know you don't,' He grinds his hips.
'It was so fucking frustrating.'
It all comes flooding back. He really was trying to fuck a love confession out of me. He watches me as I figure it out, and his mouth forms an O on a small smile.
'You knew all along.' I say quietly.
I had beaten myself up about it for days and days, and he knew all along? Why didn't he say something? Why didn't he just talk to me instead of trying to fuck it out of me? So much could have been so very different.
His smile disappears and is replaced with a stoic expression. 'You were drunk. I wanted to hear the words when you were of sound mind. Women get drunk all the time and confess their undying love to me.'
'Do they?' I blurt.
He almost laughs. 'Yes, they do.' He drops his eyes, 'I wasn't sure if you still did after...' His teeth start a vicious workout on his bottom lip, 'Well, after I had my little meltdown.'
I inwardly laugh. Little meltdown? Bloody hell, what would be a big meltdown? Women tell him they love him? What women and how many are there? I screw my face up in my own private disgust. I'm extremely uncomfortable with how resentful I'm feeling about any other woman having him or loving him. I need to put these thoughts right out of my mind and fast. No good could come of me knowing.
'I love you.' I reinforce my words, almost grinding them out, like I'm telling all of those women who claim to love him too. I feel his whole body relax over me before he continues slowly circling deep inside me.
Pulling him down onto me, I wrap my entire body around him. I feel like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders, but then it occurs to me; I'm in love with a man and I have no clue how old he is.
'How old are you, Jesse?'
He pulls his face up and I can see the cogs of his mind start revolving. I know he's thinking whether or not he should just tell me his real age and stop with his silly diversion. 'I can't remember.' He frowns.
Oh, I might be able to play this to my advantage. I think we may have got to thirty-ish. 'We were at thirty three.' I prompt.
He smirks at me. 'We should start again.'
'No!' I pull his face down and rub my nose across his rough cheek. 'We got to thirty three.'
'You're a rubbish liar, baby.' he laughs, nuzzling into my face. 'I like this game. I think we should start again. I'm eighteen.'
'Eighteen!' I exclaim.
'Don't play games with me, Ava.'
'Why won't you just tell me how old you are?' I ask exasperated. It really doesn't matter to me. He's forty, maximum.
'I'm thirty one.'
I sag beneath him dramatically. He does remember. 'How old are you?'
'I just told you, I'm thirty one.'
I narrow displeased eyes on him and one side of his mouth lifts into a semblance of a smirk. 'It's just a number.' I moan. 'If you ask me anything in the future, I won't answer - not truthfully, anyway.' I threaten.
His semblance of a smirk falls away immediately. 'I already know everything I need to know about you. I know how I feel and nothing you could tell me will make me feel any different. I wish you felt the same.'
Oh, that's below the belt! It wouldn't make a jot of difference to the way I feel about him. I'm just curious, that's all. I wish he would just give up the ghost. I'm already distracted by him and his challenging ways and we still haven't really talked, but I do feel so much better, not empty and hollow anymore.
'You said before that I might run a mile if I know.' I remind him. 'I'm not going anywhere.'
He laughs. 'No, you're not.' He sounds very confident. 'Ava, you've found out the worst about me and not run a mile. Well, you did, but you came back.' He kisses my forehead. 'Do you honestly think I'm bothered about my age?'
'Then why won't you tell me?' I ask exasperated.
'Because I like this game.' He resumes nuzzling into my neck.
I heave a sigh and increase my squeeze around his warm, sweat dampened shoulders and my thighs around his tight hips. 'I don't.' I grumble, burrowing my face into his neck and breathing him into me. I exhale in contentment and trace my fingers across his firm back.
We lay silent and completely immersed in each other for the longest time, but when I feel his body shaking, it diverts my thoughts to what lies ahead for us. His shaking body is a reminder of the hardest challenge of all.
'Are you okay?' I ask nervously. What should I do?
He squeezes me tight. 'Yeah, what time is it?'
That's a point. What time is it? I hope I've not missed Dan's call. I wriggle under Jesse and he moans into my neck. 'I'll go check the time.'
'No, I'm comfy,' he complains. 'It isn't that late.'
'I'll be two seconds.'
He grumbles and lifts himself slightly to slip out of me and then heaves his body off of mine, rolling onto his back. I jump up to go and find my phone, discovering it's nine o'clock and Dan hasn't called. That's a relief, but I do have twelve missed calls from Jesse.
Huh? I walk back into the bedroom and find him sat up against the headboard, brazenly naked and unashamed. I look down at myself. Oh, so am I.
'I've got twelve missed calls from you.' I say in confusion, holding my phone up to him.
A disapproving look jumps up on his face. 'I couldn't find you. I thought you had left. I had a hundred heart attacks in ten minutes, Ava. Why were you in the other bedroom?' He fires the words accusingly at me.
'I didn't know how things stood.' I may as well be honest.
'What does that mean?' he asks skeptically.
He sounds offended. Has he forgotten about our little exchange of words last Sunday? 'Jesse, the last time I saw you, you were a stranger who told me that I was a prick tease and had caused you untold damage. Forgive me for being a bit apprehensive.'
His affronted look falls away instantly and is replaced with one of regret. 'I'm sorry. I didn't mean any of it.'
'Right,' I sigh.
'Come here.' He pats the mattress and I walk over to slide in beside him. We lay on our sides facing each other, our heads resting on our bent forearms. 'You'll never see that man again.'
I hope I don't, but I'm doubtful of his confidence. One drink and I could be faced with the menacing brute, who I really don't like very much. 'Will you never drink again?' I ask nervously. Now is as good a time as any to get the information I need.
'No.' He places his fingertip on my hipbone and circles lightly.
I shiver. 'Never?'
He pauses mid-circle. 'Never, Ava. All I need is you and for you to need me. Nothing else.'
I frown. 'You already made me need you, and then you destroyed me.' I say quietly. I don't mean to make him feel guilty, but it's the truth. I can feel myself falling into the needing realms again, after just one love making session, and I really didn't want to go there.
He inches closer to me so our noses are nearly touching and his hot, minty breath is spreading all over my face. 'I will never hurt you.'
'You said that before.' I remind him. Yes, he said he wouldn't hurt me intentionally last time, which was a justified cause for concern, but he still said it.
'Ava, the thought of you in pain, emotionally or physically, is appalling to me. Completely unspeakable. I feel crazy just thinking about it. What I've done to you makes me want to plunge a knife straight through my own heart.'
'That's a bit over-the-top, isn't it?' I blurt, completely shocked.
He scowls at me. 'It's the truth, just like I feel violent when I imagine another man lusting after you.' He shakes his head, as if shaking away images that are cropping up in his mind. 'I can't tell you how serious I am.'
Oh my God. He is completely serious. His face is straight, his jaw clenched. That's absolutely unreasonable. 'You can't control everything.' I say on a furrowed brow.
'Where you're concerned, I'll try my best, Ava. I already told you, I've waited too long for you. You're my little piece of heaven. Nothing will rob you from me. Nothing.' He presses his lips to mine to seal his declaration. 'As long as I have you, I have purpose and reason. That is why I won't be drinking and that is why I will do everything in my power to keep you safe. Understand?'
Actually, I don't think I do, but I nod anyway. His determination and grit is commendable but ridiculously ambitious. What does he think will happen to me? I can't be stitched to his hip permanently. Crazy man.
I reach forward to brush my thumb over the jagged line of his scar. 'How did you get this?' I try my luck. I know he won't answer me, and I know it's a sore subject, but I'm compelled to extract as much information as I can. I now know the worst of him so what harm can it do?
He looks down at my hand on his scar and sighs. 'Inquisitive this morning, aren't you?'
'Yes,' I confirm. I am.
'I already told you, I don't like talking about it.'
'You're holding back on me.' I accuse, and he rolls onto his back on a heavy sigh and rests his forearm across his face. Oh no, he's not evading this. I straddle his hips and pull his arm away. 'Why won't you tell me about your scar?'
'Because, Ava, it's in my past where I want it to stay. I don't want anything affecting my future.'
'It won't. It's doesn't matter what you tell me. I'll still love you.' Does he not understand that?
I frown when he smirks. 'I know.' he says too confidently. He's pretty cock sure of himself this morning. 'You already told me that when you were legless.' he adds.
I did? I don't remember that either. I told him a lot when I was drunk. 'So why won't you tell me?'
He places his hands on the juncture of my thighs. 'If it won't change how you feel about me, then there is little point in tarnishing your pretty little head with it,' He raises his eyebrows, 'Is there?'
'I'm not going to tell you anything if you ask me.' I sulk.
'You already said that.' He sits up and seals our lips, my arms mechanically wrapping around him, but then I think of something else.
'Did you ever find out how the gates came to be open and the front door too?' I try my hardest to sound casual.
'What?' he pulls away from me, looking perplexed.
'When I came to The Manor on Sunday, the gates opened without me pressing the intercom and the front door was ajar.' I know it was her.
'Oh. The gates malfunctioned, apparently. Sarah had it sorted out.' He pushes his lips to mine again.
'That's very convenient. Did the manual front door malfunction too?' I ask, my sarcasm potent. I bet she had it sorted, and I can't believe he bought that feeble explanation. I know what happened. The tramp intercepted my message, relishing the thought of me turning up unannounced and discovering The Manor's offerings.
'Sarcasm doesn't suit you, lady.' He gives me a very scornful look, but I don't care. That woman is a deceitful tramp. Oh, I feel full of determination all of a sudden, but slightly sympathetic for Jesse. He actually thinks she's a friend? Should I share my verdict? 'What would you like to do today?' he asks.
Oh shit! I've got to see Dan today and I can't take Jesse with me. What would that look like? I can hardly introduce Jesse to Dan. That's a disaster waiting to happen, what with Dan's older brother protectiveness and Jesse's trampling tendencies. How am I going to play this?
'Well, there's just one thing I have...' Jesse's phone starts ringing, halting my announcement.
'For fuck sake,' he curses, lifting me from his lap and placing me on the bed. He gets up and answers his phone before walking out of the bedroom. 'John?' He sounds a little impatient.
I lay on the bed, running through all of the ways I can break it to him that I really must go and meet Dan. He'll understand.
'I've got to go to The Manor.' he says sharply, stalking back into the room and heading for the bathroom.
Again? I haven't even asked him what dragged him there last night, and I notice Kate hasn't called me back. 'Is everything okay?' I ask. He looks pissed.
'It will be, get ready.'
Oh no! I am not going to that place! I've still got to wrap my head around it all. He can't make me go.
I hear the shower turn on and I jump up to go and explain my reluctance, walking into the bathroom and finding him in the shower already. He smiles knowingly and gestures for me to join him. I walk in and grab the sponge and shower gel, but he takes them from me and loads up the sponge himself before turning me around and beginning to wash me down. I stand quietly, searching my brain for a way to approach this, as he works the sponge slowly across my body. Surely he won't have a hissy fit over my unwillingness.
He kisses my shoulder blade. 'Ava?'
'I really don't want to come.' I blurt, and then scold myself for not being a little more tactful.
He pauses with his swirling circles for a few moments before he continues. 'Can I ask why?'
He can't be so thick-skinned he has to ask that question. It should be perfectly obvious why I don't want to go. And anyway, I never really wanted to go before I knew what went on there, but that was because of a certain acid tongued, pouty lipped beast. Now, she doesn't bother me so much, although we still haven't discussed her little involvement in Jesse's life. It's yet another subject up for discussion.
'Can you just give me some time to get used to it?' I ask apprehensively, while mentally begging for him to understand and be reasonable.
He sighs and wraps his forearm around the tops of my shoulders, pulling me back to him. 'I understand,'
He kisses my temple. 'You're not going to avoid it forever, are you? I still want my new bedroom designs.'
I'm in shock at his reasonableness. No questions, no trampling or sense fuck - just an okay? Have we turned a corner? This is good, and as for the new extension? I hadn't given it a thought, but he's right. I can't avoid the place forever. 'No. Anyway, I'll have to come to oversee the works once we finalise the designs.'
'What's going on at The Manor?'
He releases my shoulders and starts washing my hair with his men's shampoo. 'The police turned up last night.' he says, totally detached.
I tense all over. 'Why?'
'It's just some idiot playing games. The police rang John this morning to arrange a few interviews. I can't get out of it.' He turns me around and places me under the spray to rinse my hair. 'I'm sorry.'
'It's fine,' I assure him. I won't tell him why it's fine. I can meet Dan without worrying about a Jesse style trample. 'Kate was at The Manor last night.' The concern in my voice is obvious.
'I know,' His eyebrows rise. 'It was quite a surprise.'
'Was she okay?'
'Yes, she was fine,' He kisses my nose and slaps my bum. 'Out you get.'
I jump out of the shower, set about drying myself and use Jesse's toothbrush after he's finished with it, being too lazy to cross the landing and retrieve my own. I walk into the bedroom to find him ready, looking delicious in some worn jeans and a simple white t-shirt. He's still quite overgrown, though.
'I'm going,' He smothers my face with kisses. 'Have lace on when I get home.' He winks and leaves.
I waste no time. I grab my phone immediately to call Dan, and we arrange to meet at Almundo's, a little coffee house in Covent Garden. I run across the landing and dress in record time, calling down to Clive to order me a cab between drying my hair and pinning it up. I'm super excited.