Part Four

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Kate stopped dead as she stepped into the hotel. It was like being in some time warp. Everything was as it was five minutes earlier, yet her heart was still racing, her lips still bruised, and her world turned on its head. Her mother waved and she crossed to her, aware that she probably had mud, if not grass stains across her backside...she half laughed at the thought that it would only improve the look of the dress. Her worry was that everyone would jump to the wrong conclusions. Strolling across the room, she was glad of the dim light to hide her indiscretion.

                “You having fun?” her mother asked, Kate felt herself blush at the innocent question. “You missed your brother leaving! They look so happy!”

Kate squeezed her mother’s hand, there was always so much unsaid between them. “Have you had a great day? There’s been so much planning for you!”

Her mother nodded, “it was worth it. I just wish...” She let the comment fall away instead adding, “I wish I had more children to marry off if it means I get time to spend with you.”

Kate sighed, “I’ll try to get home more often...it’s just hard.”

As usual their conversations ended with pain and awkwardness, but Kate maintained the contact between their hands as they both talked to Aunt Hilda.

                “I’m going to bed now Elaine, Kate. I’ve had a wonderful day, but I’ve had too much of what the barman called mimosa...I thought it was fruit juice...but I feel too wonky for it to be just that!”

The mother and daughter laughed at the eccentric aunty, she was a real law unto herself.

                “Mimosa is buck’s fizz Aunty, you’ve been drinking fizz all day!”

She blushed, “will you see me to my room Kate? I think I probably drank a whole bottle of the stuff!”

Kate was still chuckling as she closed the door behind the tipsy elderly relative, then made for the party. She was ready for bed herself, but she needed to speak to her mother, kiss her goodnight, arrange to see her in the morning.  Her mother was returning to the farm as she hated to leave it without Stuart being there, plus the workers would be in as usual at five am.

Descending the stairs, she was never more aware of her muddy shoes as the reception was well lit, but cutting across to the ballroom she held her head high. People were starting to leave thick and fast, so Kate who’d managed to avoid conversations all day was pinned down by relatives who wanted more from her. She took it in her stride until she spotted the dark figure leaning against the wall opposite, despite his features being occluded by the dim lights, it could only be one person...Mason.

Dropping her head she listened to the ruminations of her Uncle and Aunt who were just about to leave. But it was like standing in the headlights of a racing car, speeding towards her at a ridiculous speed, and she couldn’t switch off to the threat. And he watched her every move.

Whilst her head screamed ‘run away’, she found his attention flattering, more than flattering, it was arousing, and she knew that she was playing up to his attention. From the way she swiped the hair behind her ears, to the coquettish way she tilted her head as she listened to stories of her childhood, and each time she swept her tongue over her bottom lips invitingly, she knew she was trying to tease him, and the look in his eyes told her it was working. She had no idea what game she was playing, after all she’d just run away from him when the image of Peter and her betrayal flashed into her mind. Now she was trying to push his buttons, to turn him on, but she wasn’t sure how she’d deal with the consequences.

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