It was almost an hour and a half before Adrian was able to drag Lesley away to the Conservatory for a cup of coffee. After placing their order he turned to see she was still glued to her sketch pad.
“I guess I don’t have to ask if you had a good time.”
Her eyes flew up guiltily but when she saw the amusement on his face, she smiled. It was so unguarded and open that his pulse quickened.
“You should smile more often,” he said when found his voice.
“It was amazing wasn’t it?” Lesley exclaimed at the same time. “Thanks so much for bringing me. It was just spectacular!”
“Hang on! We haven’t even seen Roundhay yet. Did you know the park is spread over seven hundred acres. All those winding pathways through the wooded land, countless themed gardens and what not. A good place to get lost together,” he teased.
“Okay, okay, you can stop now," she said laughing. "I can tell you’ve done your research.”
“Yes, I’m very good at that.”
Lesley silently processed the information. What exactly did he mean by that? “Obviously we can’t see everything today. I’ll have to come back another day by myself,” she said and flipped the sketch pad around to show him what she'd been working on.
Adrian was astonished to see his own face staring back at him. Disconcerted, he reached for the drawing and studied it at length. He appeared happy and relaxed except for a hint of vulnerability around his eyes. Was that how she saw him? He was at a loss for words. “Wow! He exclaimed. "That’s…er…very good!”
Leslie, who'd been nervously awaiting his opinion, relaxed. “Do you really think so?”
“Yes, I do! You know damn well it is! I suppose the subject matter helped too.” He wiggled his eyebrows at her. “You know…easy on the eye and all that.”
In spite of the flippant response she could tell immediately that he was pleased and even a bit self-conscious.
“You’re a sneaky little thing aren’t you?”
“I had no clue you were sketching me. Are you going to frame it and place it by your bedside?”
She laughed. “Yes, of course, right beside the one of my boyfriend.”
His smile disappeared. That odd twisting feeling in his gut was not jealously, he told himself. “Boyfriend? You said you were single.”
She raised her brow at his abrupt tone. “I am! But that doesn’t mean I won’t have one in the future.”
“Oh! So you’re just trying me to make me jealous? Is that it?”
She flushed. “No, of course not, I was joking but…er…just out of curiosity, did it work?”
“Yes!” Adrian replied.
She was so taken aback to hear him admit it that she was at a loss for words. “Er…we should be getting back. It’s quite late.”
“Do I make you uncomfortable Lesley?”
She nodded. “A bit. However, I did have a lot of fun today. How about you?”
“I did! And I’m especially glad you got rid of that Miss Burke persona.”
“My terrifying primary school teacher.”
“I don’t get it?”
“The last two times we met you made me feel like a severely chastened school boy.”
Lesley tried to feel insulted but her eyes twinkled as she imagined Adrian as a little boy being reprimanded by his teacher.
“By the way, you never did tell me how old you were.”
“Old enough to be a terrifying primary school teacher.”
“And just how old is that?” he insisted.
Adrian’s eyes widened and his mouth fell open. “Are you kidding me?”
She crossed two fingers under the table and shook her head, wondering what he would say if she admitted she was actually only twenty.
“For heaven’s sake! You’re just a kid!” He suddenly burst out laughing. “I guess Tropical World was the perfect place for this outing. God! I feel positively ancient,” he groaned.
“How old is ancient?”
Lesley rolled her eyes. “Yup! A regular old codger, aren’t you?”
He gave her a hard stare. “You know what I mean.”
“Yes, I suppose I do. But it doesn’t really matter one way or the other.”
“What do you mean?”
“I like you very much, Adrian, but I don’t do relationships.”