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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Forgotten Passions by Jan Bowles

Hannah sighed and looked at her watch. Ten more minutes and she could shut up the shop and go home. The afternoon had seemed endless with barely any customers.

Just when would her life be exciting? Since she’d split up with her boyfriend, she hadn’t even wanted to go out. The days seemed to last forever. They dragged on and on, until she finally went to bed. Melancholia had set in with a vengeance.

Her boss and owner of the chic jewellery store came through from the back office.

"You may as well shut, Hannah." He smiled, then looked out onto the street. "Oh, hold on. Now that looks promising. Man in a dark grey suit at two o’clock. Might make keeping open worthwhile."

Hannah stared through the glass doors. The rather tall muscular man had his back to her, as he peered at a display containing the most expensive of their diamond jewellery. He looked wealthy in his Saville Row suit. Tailored to perfection it fit snugly around his broad shoulders. The Crombie overcoat folded over his arm. The perfect shine to his black calf leather shoes. He’d an air about him which simply demanded attention.

Her boss went back to his office, and Hannah waited for the last customer of the day to enter.

When the well-dressed man turned to walk inside, she felt like a rug had literally been pulled out from under her. The world seemed to tilt on its axis, and for a brief moment she felt she may almost faint.

She knew that face. Knew it the moment his vivid blue eyes sought the handle of the door. Knew the sharp angle of his jaw line, and the chiselled sweep of his nose. The black hair cut neatly into the nape of his neck, and yes, the deep timbre of his voice as he finally spoke to her. She’d had a crush on Alex Sinclair since university.

"I’m interested in buying a bracelet."

Within a few moments she realised that he hadn’t recognised her. The man she’d had a crush on for years didn’t know she existed. Why would he? Hadn’t she always sat at the back of class? Kept a low profile? Learnt to melt into the background. No wonder she’d become invisible. The smile that she’d pinned to her face, faltered and slipped, until she stared coolly at him. She’d always thought herself inconspicuous, and now it had been proved right.

Her eyes narrowed on the man on the other side of the counter. She fixed him in her gaze. He might be handsome, but her faltering love life had made her immune to all men now.

"Yes, of course," she heard herself say. Better to serve him quickly. Then he would be gone.

She pulled out several trays of bracelets and displayed them on the counter.

He studied them for a while, before looking directly at her. His eyes widened slightly, as his gaze connected with hers. His brows drew together. Then he said, "What would you suggest?"

Hannah felt uneasy, as he continued to stare. Had it finally dawned on him? No, he remained totally oblivious to her. Wishing the floor would swallow her up whole, she diverted his attention back to the jewellery.

"May I make a suggestion, sir." She pointed to three bracelets in quick succession, in descending order of price. "Love, affection and friendship."

His face creased into a smile. "How very poetic." He flicked his eyes to hers. His brows drew together again, and he scratched the back of his head. "I feel I know you." He tapped a finger into the air, then clasped his hand to his chin. "It’ll come to me in a minute. I feel sure. "

"Sir, I can assure you we’ve never met before," Hannah replied defensively. Her heart now hammered in her chest.

His vivid blue eyes narrowed on her. His mouth opened as if he might say something else. Then he seemed to accept what she said, and continued with his purchase.

"The one described as affection seems most appropriate. Will you wrap for me, please?"

"Certainly, Sir." Why were all the good looking men taken? With nimble fingers she made quick work of wrapping the present, and handed him his purchase.

As he walked out the door he gave one last perplexed look over his shoulder, and then he was gone. She sagged against the counter, and breathed in. She felt as though she’d been holding her breath the entire time he’d been in her presence.

Ten minutes later she followed the crowds of commuters down onto the platform at Kings Cross Station on their homeward journey.

"It’s Hannah, isn’t it? Hannah Matthews, I knew it was you." The male voice caught her off guard, and she spun round to see Alex, just a few feet from her.

"I didn’t think you’d remember me, Alex."

"It took me a while to place you. The whole class had a crush on you; of course I remember you."

Although flattered she tried to bring some sanity back. "You must be thinking of someone else."

He grinned, and then said, "Not at all. We all wanted to take you out; we were just too scared to ask. Would you like to have coffee with me, Hannah?"

With her heart rate soaring she looked at the very attractive man standing beside her. Accepting his invitation would be a dream come true. Then she spotted the package he held. Surely he would want to spend the time with the new owner. A young sexy woman no doubt. "Haven’t you got someone to give that to?"

He smiled, and looked at the package. "It’s her birthday tomorrow, and besides my sister can wait. I’m more interested in what you’ve been doing for the last few years."

With a smile spreading across her mouth, Hannah accepted his invitation. She didn’t feel quite so invisible after all. "Thank you, Alex. I’d love to."

About the Author: Jan Bowles is a contemporary romance writer. At present she lives in the UK. When not writing, Jan loves to paint vivid landscapes. Her books, The Return and Love Lessons with the Texas Billionaire are both published with Siren-Bookstrand.

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