Cassie's Chance

Cassie's Chance by Antonia Paul Read Free Book Online

Book: Cassie's Chance by Antonia Paul Read Free Book Online
Authors: Antonia Paul
walked out to the edge of the terrace to watch. The fantail wouldn't take fright like the tui might have if it had sensed her. It came back, and flew close to her, perhaps in the hope she'd disturbed a little something that might provide a snack.
    Cassie stayed on the terrace after it had disappeared in search of better pastures. She relived the moment. She loved the way a fantail would circle around you in the bush, almost close enough to touch. She had made several paintings and sketches of piwakawaka in the past. The cheeky Marsden Bay visitor was a good subject for another.
    She moved herself to the table and sketched a composition.
    Her thoughts turned to Rangi. He'd been keen to admit he'd come looking for her at the hotel while she was out on the water. She expected he'd call in after finishing work; if she didn't go down to see him on the beach. And she wasn't. He could come to her.
    Cassie got the paints and continued her fantail as the afternoon wore on. She'd drawn a tree branch extending under the veranda roof, and had located the bird on it, head cocked, watching the viewer.
    As dusk forced her to finish painting, due to lack of light, anticipation took the place of disinterest.
    He'd be finished soon. She'd decided she'd tell him she was happy he saw her, but only if he stopped playing her. She didn't like being on the back foot continually, although being surprised and taken to dinner and dragged home like a trophy had been exciting.
    But if there was going to be a physical relationship - and there was, obviously - she wanted more of a say about when and what.
    The evening dragged. She'd tidied up until there was nothing else to do. Cassie walked to the road and stood in the darkness, staring toward the lights reflecting off the bay. It had got too damn late to go anywhere, and she felt pissed. He hadn't said he wasn't coming. He hadn't said he was, either, but he would have known she expected him to.
    Another day, another bus, another girl off it to take skinny-dipping? She wasn't going to let it affect her.
    She closed her door to the world, grabbed the Kindle and laid down. Bound to please had pricked her interest. She tapped the ads away and embraced Eartha's awakening in BDSM. 
     
    ***
     
    Stephen wasn't there when she arrived, late morning, at Marsden Bay Art's gallery. He was expected very soon. Cassie thanked Rachel, his assistant, and investigated some of the other things they had on show. She'd seen most of the paintings, but there was plenty of amusing local kitsch.
    "Hello, Cassandra." A now-familiar voice in her ear brought an excuse to stop examining corrugated steel sheep, and she went with Stephen to the counter so she could give him a look at her work.
    Stephen's pale green eyes twinkled at her."You're very talented," he said quietly. He held up the watercolour paper at arm's length to get another look at her tui, and moved so more light fell on it.
    "I hope you'll let me frame it for you and put it up. Even if just to show. You don't have to mark it for sale if you'd prefer not."
    Cassie felt a warm glow of satisfaction. "You can sell it," she said. "I can paint another. I love painting birds. They're so alive."
    She hadn't brought the fantail. It wasn't finished, and she wasn't sure it was coming out right. But the little bird had inspired her to capture him, and if she had to begin again, she would.
    Back at the studio, she opened her laptop. While on the all-day cruise, she'd heard a promotion for half a day of swimming with dolphins. No island visiting, just dolphins, and lots more time swimming. It sounded just what she needed.
    Cassie phoned them . She couldn't get in until the following Thursday, in the afternoon. So she'd have to decide if she wanted to stay longer. She'd think about it.
    She wondered if she'd find him on the wharf again. She shrugged. Unpredictability was the man's modus.
    Vicky had emailed. Her flatmate was curious. How many men had she dated since going on

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