The woman was a saint. Gwendolen didn't know how she did it, coming to work each day and going through this. The children were not only rude, they were downright threatening. And Vivvie was absolutely unfazed by the threats. She stared them all down, dark brown eyes looking slightly bored by the whole thing. It was usually effective at defusing them, but they were still belligerent, refused to answer her questions, called her names that she had never even heard before. By the end of the morning, Gwendolen was absolutely exhausted.
Vivvie looked more tired than she had that morning, but she still managed a chipper smile and a suggestion to go to lunch. Gwendolen recognized the blithe politeness of a born charmer.
"So what made you take the job at St. Basil's in the first place?" Gwendolen asked her, after they had settled with meat pies.
"I don't know," answered Vivvie. "It was an opportunity. To help people, I thought."
"You don't think you're helping people anymore?"
"Not really, no. I'm not entirely sure this is where my talents lie."
"Well, I think you're quite good at it. Although I must say, it is a ridiculously difficult job. I mean, for you..."
Vivvie smiled a little. "Why do you say it like that?"
"You're tiny. I would be fearing for my life."
"I did. I still do. But if they sense the fear, then it's much, much worse."
"I cannot believe Karen sits in that anteroom like that."
Vivvie chuckled. "Oh, Karen's the toughest of all of us. And she can send the building into lockdown with the touch of one button. I used to worry about Karen. Now I worry far more about me."
"You said this was how you met Evan?"
"Yes. Six months ago now. It was actually right after he bought the flat. I remember staring at blueprints for hours. Very romantic dates, they were."
"It was love at first sight?"
"Yes, I suppose it was."
"I saw that because six months is not a lot of time to date a man before deciding to marry a man. You must be fairly sure."
"Yes," said Vivvie, although she said it using the least sure voice Gwendolen had ever heard. "Yes, fairly sure. I haven't the foggiest idea what to do about the wedding, though."
"What do you mean, what to do about it?"
"I don't know. I just have the feeling it's going to be a disaster. All those people-"
"If you think too much about the people, you won't enjoy yourself at all. And the point of the wedding is to enjoy yourself. You're marrying the man you love. It's a splendid day."
Vivvie smiled across the table at the older woman. "You must have had a lovely wedding."
"I did have a lovely wedding. Yes, it was an absolutely lovely wedding. David was so very handsome. And we were so very happy."
"Morgan's very lucky," said Vivvie.
"He is. He's never had to worry about anything. So naturally he worries about everything."
"I didn't mean...Well, he's very lucky in that respect, too, of course, but he's lucky to have the two of you as parents. I mean, it's become very plain to me lately that it's easy to end up with atrocious parents."
"Like the Thorne-Brightons?" finished Gwendolen, knowingly.
"Exactly. I mean, poor Evan. I wonder where he came from."
"God only knows. His mother's a vindictive woman." She hadn't meant to say that. She hadn't realized how much she was still hurting.
"Because of the wedding?"
"Yes. No. Because of..." Gwendolen hesitated, then thought, Oh, what the hell. The girl was a psychologist. She might have insight. "We were pregnant at the same time."
Vivvie blinked. "You were? But Morgan is...I mean, isn't Morgan-"
"Your age? Yes. Serena Thorne-Brighton had Evan. My baby was stillborn."
"I'm sorry," said Vivvie, with so much sincerity that the platitude didn't even bother Gwendolen.
"Yes, well...It was a long time ago, and eventually I had Morgan, and really, no mother could ask for more than Morgan, but that woman sent me the most vicious note, gloating over her new baby. I suppose I've never forgiven her for it."
"I wouldn't," said Vivvie.
"Yes, well, luckily I think Serena Thorne-Brighton has forgotten all about me, or else I'm sure I'd be getting barbed messages every time Evan got up to speak in Parliament. Not that Evan isn't a brilliant speaker-"
"But the less contact one has with Lady Thorne-Brighton, the better one's life is."
"You know," confided Gwendolen, "she's the only person I make call me ‘Your Grace.' My God, does she hate it. I haven't seen her in years, but I just remember encountering her at Morgan's christening and staring her down when she called me Gwendolen. By then I was a duchess, and I had the most fun lording it over her. I think it's the only time I've actually had fun with being a duchess."
Vivvie laughed. "I wish I had a chance of being a duchess. Unfortunately, the most I can hope is for Evan to be knighted, and then I'll just be Lady Thorne-Brighton, too."
"Yes, I suppose," said Gwendolen, into her meat pie, because if she had anything to say about it, Vivvie was going to have plenty of opportunity to be a duchess.
"Can you imagine?" commented Vivvie, and now she was lost in her own thoughts. "Vivian Thorne-Brighton. I can't imagine it."
Gwendolen looked up at her. "Have you set a date yet?"
"No, not yet."
"Maybe you should get at least a little used to the name before you do set one."
Morgan had always been more than unusually fond of numbers, mostly because they were so completely understandable. They were so wonderfully predictable. They were so the opposite of, say, Vivvie Westcott.
The numbers in front of Morgan drifted off the page on him. He was thinking of other numbers. The number of freckles on Vivvie Westcott's skin, for instance. The number of times he had seen her in his life in order to develop this foolish obsession with her. Really, not enough times for him to be over the moon like a silly schoolgirl. The number of times he would have to make love to her before he would get her out of his system. He'd like to think it would be once, but it almost wasn't worth all this trouble for one time.
"Bloody hell," he muttered. His mother had had to drop by unexpectedly and bring her up. He had been doing just fine not thinking about her. Specifically not thinking about her. He had been doing a damn fine job, if he did say so himself. What could his mother have been hoping to accomplish?
"I'll admit that the economic indicators are not good, but I've been studying the amount of money the people of the country are spending on movies. It's amazing what you can learn from that statistic. Did you see it?"
Morgan looked up from the numbers. Did he see it. The pages might as well have been blank, for all the numbers he'd been seeing. He could at least give it a try. "Did I see what?"
Sir Edmund de Lancey tilted his head in speculation. "I am sorry, my boy. I thought you were cursing over the numbers. Obviously not."
"I'm sorry, sir," he apologized. It was a damn good internship. Sir Edmund de Lancey was one of the foremost experts on international currencies and rates of exchange in the world. The last thing Morgan wanted to do was jeopardize it. "What were you saying?"
"You look just like your father," remarked Sir Edmund.
He also didn't want to be reminded that being the Earl of Airesdale had gone a long way toward getting him the internship. Why was it his father had so very many old friends? "I know, sir. I-"
"When your father first met your mother, my God, he spent more time muttering to himself..." Sir Edmund, chuckling, shook his head over the sad state of affairs David Dunover had been in once upon a time. "We were all going to have him committed. Did you have a fight with her, Morgan?"
"Well, the girl. Don't be daft."
"There isn't a girl. I'm simply a little distracted."
"You've never been distracted before. You may have the rest of the day off, if you like. You should apologize to her. Women like roses."
"But there isn't anybody to apologize, too," Morgan protested.
"My God, are you like your father," replied Sir Edmund de Lancey, as he left the room.
Morgan frowned, not quite sure what to make of that statement. Yes, the general consensus among the House of Lords was that he was strongly a Dunover, but Sir Edmund had never called him on it before. Sighing, he turned back to the numbers in front of him. What had Sir Edmund been saying? And what did it have to do with the strength of the peso?
The door reopened, and Sir Edmund stuck his head in. "I told you to go home."
"I'm fine, sir-"
"I won't have you sitting about sighing those lovestruck sighs. You're bloody distracting, you are. If you're not going to go apologize to her, you can at least go home and sulk there."
"I'm not-" Morgan bit his tongue. Okay, maybe he was sulking just a bit.
"I'm offering you the afternoon off. You really should stop protesting."
An afternoon off. Morgan supposed that was fine. There was plenty he could do with an afternoon off. "Thank you, sir," he said.
"That's more like it," grumbled Sir Edmund, retreating again.
Morgan stood, straightened his papers, decided against taking them home with him. An afternoon off. Plenty of marvelous things to do with an afternoon off. He pulled on his greatcoat, said good-bye to the rest of the staff, stepped out into the brisk cold, feeling thoroughly invigorated. An afternoon off. Plenty of things to do. Why, he could go to a caf Not the cafwhere he'd met Vivvie. Another caf There were plenty of other cafes.
But the cafwhere he'd met Vivvie had those lovely apricot tarts. They were really the best apricot tarts in the city. And he felt strangely like an apricot tart.
And he sat at one of the tiny tables in the bakery with two apricot tarts and plenty of hot beverages and waited hours like a complete imbecile. And he told himself he wasn't waiting for her until he couldn't tell himself that anymore. Because then she finally walked in the door, and he literally heard angels sing, saw rose petals scatter by her on a breeze, watched her step in, bathed in the last golden ray of the setting sun.
My God. He was in an awful lot of trouble.
"I must say," said Gwendolen, as Vivvie flagged at a cab, "I'm very impressed that you do that all day, every day, day in, day out."
"Honestly, I am also sometimes very impressed that I do it myself."
Gwendolen laughed, then impulsively leaned forward and hugged her. "You're an absolutely lovely person," she said.
Vivvie was caught off-guard by the hug and the comment, but found them both to be incredibly nice. "Thank you."
"I've had a simply brilliant time today."
"Oh, God. I can't imagine why. I only hope it's enough for a column."
"Oh, more than enough. And I hope you won't mind if I ring you to ask you to tea sometime."
Looking at her, Vivvie felt a sudden twinge. She had a mother, but she didn't have anyone on earth who she felt she could go to for good, solid, female advice. Penelope and Rachel were too young to count. She felt as if she could tell this woman absolutely anything. Except, of course, for the fact that her fear of commitment was manifesting itself in a strange, completely unfounded crush on her son. But that could be avoided. And besides, she would be over that before she knew it. "I would very much like that," she said, honestly.
"Good. I'm so glad."
"Ah. Here is a cab," said Vivvie, as one came up. "You can take this one."
"Shan't we split it?" asked Gwendolen, in confusion.
Vivvie shook her head. "I have a stop to make. I might be a while. It's better for you to go home now."
"Alright. Well, I'll be in touch with you."
"Definitely," Vivvie agreed, watching her duck into the cab. Then she set about hailing her own cab. Because she felt she deserved an apricot tart. It had not been a particularly grueling day, chiefly because Gwendolen was a pleasant companion, but she thought she had a grueling night ahead. Evan would want to know, in intense detail, everything Gwen Longworth had said about him. She needed some time to assemble some lies on the subject.
Stepping into the bakery, Vivvie inhaled the scents and felt instantly better. It was always nice not to be in such a desperate state for an apricot tart that one didn't stop to appreciate the lovely atmosphere of a bakery. She settled herself in the back of the line, and then, catching sight of something in the corner of her eye, something that made her want to take a closer look, she turned her head to the left.
Morgan Dunover, hair gleaming a warm bronze in the dying sunlight that reminded her suddenly of his mother, sent her a smile that she felt like a caress low on her stomach. She had never had such a reaction before. Not to a simple smile. Something very like nausea swept over her. She was nervous. She was nervous. This was all ridiculous.
She watched him nudge a plate with a tart toward the empty chair across from him. Then he looked back up at her, devastating smile still firmly in place. It was the fact that the smile really wasn't devastating that was getting to her. Evan had a killer grin, delivered with knowledge of its lethal qualities. Morgan's smile was just a truly lovely smile. And the man had apparently bought her an apricot tart. Who could resist such a combination? Certainly not her. Nerves or no, her stomach, distinct from her heart, was focused on an apricot tart.
She found herself in the seat opposite him with no memory of the walk over to him. She watched him, in surprise, as he rose out of his seat until she sat, then sat politely opposite her. My God, had he actually risen out of his chair for her? She stared at him in confusion.
"I didn't know whether you would drink tea or coffee," he said, finally, after an awkward second.
"Oh." She glanced at the line. "It's fine. Just the tart is fine."
"Well, no," he said. "I got you both." He nudged over, in the same manner he had nudged the pastry, two cups that had been sitting in front of him.
She stared at them. "You got me both."
"But where's yours?"
"Oh, I had coffee." He was silent for a second. "I finished mine."
"Finished yours? How long have you been here?"
He cleared his throat. "Long enough to finish my coffee."
Vivvie looked down at the two cups in front of her. Steam was curling out of both of them. "But these are still hot."
"Well, it's too cold for me to expect you to drink cold coffee or tea. Do you take cream?"
"I..." She just stared at him. He stared back, completely inscrutable, the way he usually was. Why couldn't she pin this strange man down? And why had she just now discovered that he had the most beautiful eyes she'd ever seen? A beautiful green-gold in the setting sun, fringed with a dusting of long eyelashes that any woman would have killed for.
"Do you take cream?" he repeated, after a while.
"No, I don't. At least, not in my tea. You may have the coffee."
"You may have both if you like."
"And you're just going to sit here and watch me?"
"It's no hardship."
She would have thought he was flirting, except he spoke so seriously, so earnestly, not even a hint of a smile. And she desperately wanted him to smile again. She liked that pleasant, squirmy feeling it gave her. So she smiled at him, hoping he'd reciprocate. He did. Feeling better already, she said, "Please have the coffee. I'm not going to drink it. I much prefer the tea."
"Are you sure?"
"Very sure." She nudged the coffee cup back toward him.
He took an immediate sip.
She tore off the tops of two sugar packets and emptied them into her tea, stirred it in carefully, keeping her eyes on it. She was sitting in silence with a man she barely knew. And it felt completely natural.
She finished stirring the tea, rested the spoon against the saucer, turned to the apricot tart. "Well," she said, stealing a glance at him, "now you've bought me two apricot tarts."
He was watching her fixedly, in a nice way. Strange how nice it was. She thought it was because he had such nice eyes. "Yes, you'd better be careful of what I want in return."
For a second, she stared at him, surprised that he would say something like that.
Then he grinned. The effect was so startling that her breath strangled in her throat. The grin lit him up. She found herself laughing. "Now, now," she said. "I must warn you. You'd have to buy me at least three apricot tarts before I would start taking my clothes off."
"I do so love a woman with standards," he replied.
She smiled at him, as she broke off a piece of apricot tart and ate it. She knew the tart was heavenly, because it was always heavenly. But it might as well have been sawdust, for all that she tasted it. She didn't care what she was eating, as long as she was sitting here having a conversation with this fascinating man.
"Do you wait here every day hoping I'll come in for an apricot tart?" she asked, before she could help herself. Although she thought the behavior a little stalker-ish, there would also be something flattering about it.
He chuckled. "No. Although now that I know how close I am to clothes coming off, I just might." She laughed again, took another bite of apricot tart. "My mother told me she was interviewing you today."
"So I thought you might be in need of an apricot tart today. My mother has that effect on people."
"Surely you're jesting," Vivvie protested. "Your mother is lovely."
"My mother is lovely," he agreed. "But it's exhausting to be interviewed."
"Your mother has a knack of not making it feel like an interview. Really, Morgan, she's just delightful. You haven't any idea what sort of mother you could have ended up with."
"What sort of mother did you end up with?" Morgan asked, taking another sip of his coffee.
She looked up at him. He didn't look as if he were prying. He looked as if he were just interested. "I have a very sweet mother. She loves me very much. It's just that...I take care of her more than she takes care of me."
"Would it make you feel better to know that there are times when my mother takes far too much care of me?"
"Isn't family difficult?"
"Rather. Though it never stopped me from wishing I had more of it."
"I have two brothers," she said.
"Sounds like fun."
"I guess they're like having a good mother. I love them dearly, but they can be just a tad overprotective."
"I'd be overprotective of you, too," commented Morgan, taking another sip of his coffee.
Vivvie, finished devouring her apricot tart, turned her concentration to her cup of tea. "So what is it you're doing in London?"
"I'm at the London School of Economics. Well, doing an internship, currently."
"Economics," repeated Vivvie. "No wonder our paths didn't cross very often at Oxford."
"That's not why our paths didn't cross very often at Oxford."
"Why would you say our paths didn't cross very often at Oxford?"
He cleared his throat, took another sip of coffee. "What is it you do here in London?" he asked, instead.
"Well, I moved here after graduation because I thought...Well, it's London, right? The most splendid city in the world, right?"
"Where are you from originally?"
"Why, Bath is lovely. We've a townhouse in Bath."
"Oh, yes, Bath is a lovely place to visit. But what would I do there? With a degree in psychology? My father, of course, thought I'd wasted my years at Oxford because I didn't come out of it, you know, Countess of Airesdale."
"Countess of Airesdale?" repeated Morgan.
"Or some such thing."
"He thought you should have married me?"
"Well, a peer. Any peer. He's not terribly particular. Old, young, duke, earl, baron, as long as it was somebody who could have had a seat in the House of Lords."
"And what does your father think of Thorne-Brighton?"
"Evan had better be bloody good enough for my father, because he's good enough for me."
"That's a highly romantic thing to say about the man you're about to marry. ‘Well, he's good enough for me.'"
Vivvie realized how horrible it sounded. "What a dreadful thing for me to say."
"Don't worry about it."
"I didn't mean it like that-"
"Vivvie, I know you didn't meant it the way it came out. I mean, I know you mustn't-What is it you ended up doing with your psychology degree?"
Vivvie decided it would be much better to let the subject drop. She was a psychologist, after all. She didn't want to have to read into the fact that, when referring to Evan, she described him as being "good enough" for her. Morgan was right. What a highly romantic thing to say. "I-" Vivvie cleared her throat, took a delaying sip of tea. "Well, I didn't want to go into private practice. You know, I didn't want to sit around and listen to the problems of self-absorbed people. It just didn't appeal to me as a career."
"I wouldn't think so." Morgan was leaning on the table, watching her raptly. "You always struck me as being more interested in the research side of things. By which I mean, you know, creating theories and testing them. You always seemed to be doing that."
"Seemed to be doing that where?"
"At, uh, Oxford."
She regarded him curiously. Strange that he would know that about her. So she just said, "I miss doing that."
"You don't do it anymore?"
"No, I...It's an academic sort of thing, you know? How to break into..." She sighed. "I do miss the studies. The theorizing. The analysis."
"What is it that you do?"
"I work at St. Basil's Clinic."
"Oh." He blinked.
"You've heard of it," she realized.
"Yes, my cousin funds it."
"Yes, Basil. He thinks he's the Basil of the title. Nobody ever bothered to tell him that he isn't actually St. Basil."
"See, you think that was a joke."
"I didn't know he was your cousin. I never see you at the fundraisers."
"I give the money without attending the bore that is the fundraisers."
"You don't like to go out, do you?"
"I-I-Well, I wouldn't say that, I mean-I'm lots of fun."
Vivvie grinned. The man looked terribly offended. "I'm sure you are. I just meant that I never see you at events. And you're the Earl of Airesdale. Surely you're getting invited to these things."
"You know how you like to talk to complete strangers? You know how you seem to enjoy talking to these people?"
"I do enjoy talking to them. Morgan, there are so many fascinating people out there."
"Yes, well, I never seem to meet any of them. And I don't enjoy talking to the people who I do meet. So I try to avoid going out, it's true."
"You're an introvert," she remarked.
"You're not going to start psychoanalyzing me, are you?"
She sent him what she hoped was a coquettish smile. "Afraid of what I might discover, m'lord?"
"Just that I make it a point of not revealing all my secrets before the third tart."
Vivvie smiled across at him. He was smiling back. He had a mouth not quite as expressive as Evan's, not half as lush, but firm, so that the curve of his smile was even more delightful to encounter. He had a chin that was also firm without being obstinate. The dusk had faded into twilight. In the striving lights of the bakery, his hair was no longer bronze but a shade of light brown, shot through with gleaming blonde every so often. His eyes were half in shadow, looked a clear, light brown, accentuated by the flash of light that caught his eyelashes whenever he blinked.
And she heard herself saying, "Let's rectify that, shall we?"
"Rectify what?" he asked.
"The third tart situation."
He was waiting for her to vanish. He watched her while she spoke, while she laughed at whatever he was saying, answered his questions, and he kept waiting for her to vanish. Or at least to come to her senses. To remember that she had somewhere else to be. Many other places to be. Many places where he wasn't.
Instead she had settled into just looking at him. She had eyes such a deep, dark brown that they appeared bottomless, inscrutable, and they were normally so bright that one did not realize the depths the shimmer covered. Those eyes glanced over every feature of his face, then moved back to his own eyes, and she said, "Let's rectify that, shall we?"
What the hell was she talking about? Not that he minded so much, so long as she kept talking, forming words, even, God help him, his name, with those perfect, crooked lips of hers. "Rectify what?" he asked, to keep up his end of the conversation, admiring the dark sheen of her hair in the lights.
"The third tart situation."
She moved so quickly, leaping out of her seat, that he barely had time to stand as well before she had scurried over to the bakery counter. The bakery, he realized, looking around in surprise, had nearly emptied, the post-workday rush just about over. Vivvie was at the counter, ordering something, and he took a deep breath and joined her there, digging through his pocket for a few pounds.
"Great," she said, turning to him as he came up next to her. "You can carry yours." She indicated a tart and a fresh cup of coffee sitting on the counter.
"That's fine," he agreed, and glanced at the salesgirl. "What's the total?"
"Oh, I already paid," answered Vivvie, unconcerned, picking up her own tart and tea.
"Er," he said, as she walked by him to the table. He picked up his food and followed her quickly, sitting opposite her. "You must allow me to pay."
"Why?" she asked, already taking a bite of the apricot tart.
"Well, because. Don't be foolish."
"I'm not being foolish. You paid for the first round. Now, hurry and eat your tart so we can get to the secrets."
"You hurry and eat yours so we can get to the clothes coming off," he countered.
She grinned, and he settled his hands tightly around his cup to keep from reaching for her. "But you haven't bought me three tarts yet. I bought this one myself."
"Clever girl," he said.
"So I've been told," she agreed, reaching for the sugar to put in her tea. "You drink your coffee black," she noted.
He ignored the pleasantry. "You should go back to school."
"But I'm already too clever by half, m'lord," she grinned.
And when had she started calling him m'lord? And why was it that he'd never before appreciated the potential for the appellation sounding sexy as hell rolling off a woman's tongue? "You were talking before about missing the theorizing. About breaking into academia. If you go to school, get another degree, you could be a professor." She met this statement of his with silence, staring over his shoulder, out the window. He waited for a moment, then decided he'd crossed a line somewhere. "I'm sorry, I...It was forward of me."
"No, don't apologize." She pulled her gaze back into him. "It wasn't forward. It's a terribly good point. I'll have to think about it. Is that why you're getting another degree? To teach?"
"Oh, no. I don't think that's where my talents lie."
"What do you want to do then?"
"Work for the government. Or the United Nations."
"Would you have to move to the States?"
"Well, that's so many years in the future. I haven't even thought about it."
"What's your internship?"
"It's with Sir Edmund de Lancey-"
"Sir Edmund!" exclaimed Vivvie, in delight. "Oh, I love Sir Edmund."
"He is wonderful, isn't he? The man is brilliant."
"He is. He's lovely. He's one of the pleasant people that I meet when I go out."
"That some sort of veiled poke at my introverted nature?"
"I didn't think it was so very veiled, Morgan."
"You shouldn't mock my introversion. As a psychologist, you must know it can't be helped."
"Introverts need to find extroverts," she replied.
"What does that mean?"
"It means that none of us are happy until we find a person who balances us off. Introverts might think they're happy being introverted but they inevitably seek out an extrovert, somebody who will show them how much fun it is to go out and force them to find the little bit inside of them that's an extrovert. And extroverts are the same way. All extroverts seek introverts, someone who will teach them to be quiet and...and simple."
Morgan watched her, his coffee completely forgotten. She was speaking softly, reverently, eyes locked on his, and someone could have leaned over and lit him on fire and he wouldn't have looked away. "Is that what you're looking for?" he asked, his voice so low he barely recognized it. "Simplicity?"
"I wish I could find it," she whispered. "I make everything so complicated."
"But that's what makes you wonderful," he whispered back. "Everything on earth is so simple, so elemental, so mathematical. You're so complex, so complex, and so perfect in your complexity, so beautiful in your complexity...My God, Vivvie, don't wish yourself simpler. You're so painfully perfect..."
"Morgan," she murmured, closing her eyes.
"Mmm." He could count her eyelashes if he so desired.
"Please don't kiss me," she said, shakily. "Please..."
The words poured icy water over him. He sat back with a start, trying to take deep breaths to force his blood down. It was true that he had leaned far over the table toward her, but she had also leaned toward him. Upon his moving back, she also drifted back into her seat, opened her eyes, did not look at him but picked up her teacup in both hands and took a long, steadying sip.
Then she placed the cup down with an abrupt clack. "I should go. I really must go." She stood quickly.
He normally would have stood as well but did not think it quite so wise in his present state. Avoiding the sight of her, because that would really do him no good, he said, "If you give me a moment, I'll drive you home."
"Give you a moment?" she echoed.
"Er, yes," he replied, and straightened his tie because he hoped it would make him look relaxed and nonchalant instead of drawn tight with unresolved sexual tension.
"Oh." Her tone of voice led him to believe that she'd realized just why he needed a moment. "It isn't necessay. Really, Morgan, this was lovely of you. Thank you for the tarts and the tea and the conversation and the, um...the, um...Good day."