11 Ladysmile Lane – Episode 44

Georgia was well aware of the pitfalls of mixing business with pleasure. She’d worked with her ex-boyfriend – fiancé – for their last year together. After she’d learned of his repeated two-timing and they’d split up, it had been impossible.

But looking at Neil over the table, on what was now their third lunch date, she told herself that this was quite different.

There was no “business” element to it. She had no intention of selling Number 11. How could she? Before passing it to her, her grandad had run his tailoring business from there for years, and in her mind it was like a family heirloom.

Apart from her own love for the place, she would feel disloyal selling it.

She had made this absolutely clear to Neil, who had said that he understood. That he valued loyalty in people.

Thinking about Russ and his disloyalty, Georgia most certainly agreed with that.

“I value honesty, too,” he now said, “so I’ve got to be straight with you that I hope you’ll change your mind about selling. But that’s not why I keep inviting you for lunch. I’m doing that because I enjoy being with you.”

His dark eyes held hers, waiting for a reply. But Georgia didn’t know what to say, so remained silent.

From the start, she’d suspected Neil liked her in a romantic sense. And with each meeting, this was being confirmed.

But also from the start something had held her back from giving him any encouragement in that direction. She was still too wary. She presumed it was to do with how things had ended with Russ. She’d been badly hurt.

In the circumstances, then, she was pleased they were at the end of their meal. Neil had another appointment that afternoon so he drove her straight back to Number 11.

Letting her out of his car just outside the building, he gave her a quick peck on the cheek and said he’d call her “as soon as I can, but I may have to go away for a few days depending on the outcome of this afternoon’s meeting.”

As she walked the few remaining steps to the front door, she wondered again about her reticence. Neil was attractive and successful; she enjoyed being with him; he seemed reliable – she’d no doubt he’d phone her . . .

“Are you coming in?” A voice roused her from her musings.

Alex was holding the door open. He looked impatient, as though he’d been there waiting while she dawdled along.

“Yes, thanks, I’m coming.”

She hurried to take the door from him. Their eyes met but he quickly looked away. It was still there, the tension that had built up between them after the incident at Amy’s school.

She’d tried to make him see that she understood that kissing her had been just an expression of relief that the kids were safe.

She’d said as much to him, but she suspected he was still worried that she thought it had meant more.

She sighed as she went into her office. Maybe seeing her with Neil, as he’d just now done, would help set the situation straight. She hoped so.

Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.