Suzy’s enthusiasm for life has been slowly buried under the ordinary humdrum stresses of single motherhood and adult responsibilities. At only 30 years old, she already feels like all the fun parts are behind her and that there’s nothing ahead to look forward to. Then she meets Daniel, an old-fashioned gentleman with two perfect children of his own.
For Suzy, it’s lust at first sight, but when a one-night stand rapidly deepens into a genuine bond she starts to second-guess herself. She barely knows how to muddle through her own life – what if she brings disorder and disaster into Daniel’s perfect, orderly world?
Will she ever feel grown-up enough to be with somebody like him, to be his equal and his friend as well as his lover?
‘Are you all right? Do you need help?’ he asked. Suzy took the offered tissue, surprised by the weight and texture of it. Not a tissue after all – a handkerchief, white cotton, with navy initials embroidered in one corner. D.A.
The surprise of it – who even carried a handkerchief any more? – made Suzy look up and properly notice her unexpected saviour.
He had warm, mid-brown skin, the kind of shade that came from having Egyptian somewhere in the family history, or maybe Arabic. His eyes were grey, light enough that they were almost silvery, picking up tones of sea foam green and cerulean blue from the world around. His expression was concerned, kind, a gentle smile on his wide mouth.
He was dressed in a white dress shirt with a slim, 50s-style black tie and black trousers. He looked like he belonged in a Tom Ford photoshoot.
‘Seemed a shame to let you ruin such a lovely scarf,’ he went on as Suzy dried her tears and did the best she could to salvage her make-up.
‘I must look a fright, sorry,’ she apologised, handing back the kerchief when she knew she’d done all that could be managed.
‘No, no, you look lovely,’ he answered her, and somehow he made those old, stale platitudes that get handed out to messy, crying women sound genuinely sincere. ‘But are you all right?’
Snuffling a laugh, Suzy wiped at a final stray tear underneath one eye and shook her head. ‘Yeah, yeah, I’m fine. It’s the stupidest reason, honestly. I just … realised I’m a grown-up and that I don’t want to be, but there’s no going back.’
‘I hear you on that one.’ He laughed kindly and sat down on the bench, keeping a respectful amount of distance between them, not intruding into her personal space without invitation. ‘My kids eventually got to the point where they demanded that we stop going to the circus every summer, because they’d gotten far too old for it. I was heartbroken.’
She smiled at him. ‘Oh no! You poor thing. You have my sympathies.’
He gave a nod of thanks, then held out his hand. ‘I’m Daniel, by the way.’