The #1 bestseller is back with an uplifting, happy read that will raise your spirits and warm your heart!
This summer, sparks are flying on the island of Malta…
When Rosa Hammond splits up from her partner Marcus, her Mum Dory suggests a summer in Malta. Not one to sit back and watch her daughter be unhappy, Dory introduces Rosa to Zach, in the hope that romance will bloom under the summer sun. But Rosa’s determined not to be swayed by a handsome man – she’s in Malta to work, after all.
Zach, meanwhile, is a magnet for trouble and is dealing with a fair few problems of his own. Neither Rosa or Zach are ready for love – but does fate have other ideas? And after a summer in paradise, will Rosa ever want to leave?
The Sunday Times bestseller is back with a glorious summer read, perfect for fans of Katie Fforde, Trisha Ashley and Carole Matthews.
‘I love all of Sue Moorcroft’s books!’ Katie Fforde
‘Effortlessly engaging!’ Heat
‘Must read!’ Daily Express
Release date: June 6, 2023
Print pages: 360
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Listen to a sample
Summer on a Sunny Island
Rosa twirled her wine glass, trying to choose her words over the chatter and clatter of Gino’s pavement café and the rumble of traffic along the seafront road. Here in the busy area of Sliema, new buildings outnumbered the old and the promenade was filled with people selling harbour cruises to tourists. Rosa preferred Ta’ Xbiex, where she was staying, about a mile along the coast, with its traditional stone villas. Sliema’s air was punctuated by the sound of car horns but in Ta’ Xbiex you could sometimes catch the mellow sound of church bells rising into the blue sky above the boats bobbing on the sparkling sea.
The Maltese sun was setting in a blaze of lilac and pink. In the sea creek, a row of red and blue ferries bobbed at their moorings. Over the buzzing traffic Rosa could see their lights coming on. Beyond them, the skyline of the capital city, Valletta, on the other side of Marsamxett Harbour, was becoming a silhouette of ramparts and domes and spires.
Across the table, Zach Bentley watched her. His short dark hair was silky, eyes brown, skin golden. When he’d been working shirtless in the garden near the apartment she was sharing with her mum, Rosa had seen a tattoo of upswept wings across his shoulders. Now she could see ink above his wrist, too – a Maltese cross from which dangled a birdcage, its door swinging open.
She spoke in a rush. ‘I’m afraid I’m not exactly dating. Mum thinks I need a “summer romance” to get over my last relationship. And with her being there when you asked if I was doing anything this evening and her having been to school with your dad Steve here in Malta …’ She shrugged, silently cursing her warm and welcoming mother, Dory Hammond. ‘She trotted out “How nice! Now Rosa won’t be bored while I Skype Andy,” as if I can’t amuse myself while she chats to her boyfriend.’ It had been hard for Rosa to do anything but accept Zach’s invitation. Now, instead of brooding about Marcus, back in England, she was having to get to know this man.
Zach sipped his beer and she thought she saw amusement flicker in his eyes. ‘I understand.’ The slightest hint of Cornwall in his voice contrasted with her own short Yorkshire vowels. Then his grin flashed and he leaned forward conspiratorially. ‘To be truthful … my sister Marci and her little girl Paige are staying with me at the family apartment. As Marci’s pretty new here and you’ve just arrived, what I was actually intending to suggest was that you and Marci go out while I babysat Paige.’
‘Oh!’ Rosa almost choked on her next sip of wine, mortified heat flooding her face. ‘And Mum shoved me at you instead!’
‘Don’t think I minded,’ he assured her, eyes still dancing. ‘But not-dating me is probably a good choice.’ He seemed to have no trouble both enjoying the joke and gently turning it against himself.
Reluctantly, she gave a small laugh though she said wrathfully, ‘My flipping mother!’
He sobered. ‘Marci seems to think she has to hang around the apartment once Paige has gone to bed. She swims or explores with Paige during the day but I think it would be great for her to have an evening out now and then.’ He paused. Then, ‘I don’t think Marci would mind me telling you – she’s off work with stress. Her new boss expects a level of commitment to short-notice overtime that doesn’t work for a single parent with child care to consider.’
The nearby cars had formed themselves into a traffic jam and Rosa lifted her voice over a hooting of horns. ‘Hopefully Marci and I will get on when we meet. Mum told me she was here when I spotted Paige with you in the garden and asked who she was. Mum always knows everything about everyone.’ Dory, who’d been in Malta since the beginning of May, had also been able to inform Rosa that Zach and Marci had a younger sister called Electra, presently travelling elsewhere.
Zach seemed to realise Rosa might not be any keener on Zach fixing up a girls’ night for her than she had been on her mum wangling her a date, and returned to treating their not-date as a joke. ‘I could drive you straight home, if you want, but it might make your mum think I pounced on you or was too boring to bear. And I’ve kind of g
ot my mind on spaghetti rizzi.’
Glad to fall in with his mild teasing, she took up the menu. ‘Let’s eat. Mum doesn’t need more excuses to get involved.’
A lithe, blonde waitress halted at their table, pen poised over her notepad. ‘You are ready to order?’
The menu was printed in English as well as Maltese. Rosa saw rizzi were sea urchins. Deciding she’d have plenty of opportunity to taste unfamiliar food with her mum, she said, ‘Penne chicken and another glass of white wine, please.’
Zach gave his order then turned back to Rosa as the waitress whisked away. ‘Does your mum often arrange your dates?’
Rosa managed a smile. ‘Only when she’s encouraging me to forget my ex.’
Over Zach’s shoulder a cheer went up from a group watching football on a TV suspended from the canopy. The clientele at the close-packed tables was divided between those glued to the screens and others socialising all the louder over them.
Zach’s gaze softened and he let his joking drop. ‘In my experience you find your own pace with these things.’
Though he got points for both apparently understanding what she hadn’t said and refraining from swivelling in his seat to see whether a goal had been scored, Rosa searched for another subject. ‘If your dad was an army kid like Mum, how did your family get to own Ta’ Xbiex Terrace House?’ Her wine arrived. She thanked the waitress and took the first sip while it was still cold. Though she’d arrived on the island only two days ago, she’d already discovered cold drinks didn’t stay cold on hot June evenings.
He settled into his chair, the breeze disarranging his hair, which had begun the evening combed diagonally back. ‘My grandfather was here with the army, like yours. Grandad Harry met and married grandmother Rebekah, who’s Maltese. Nanna and my great-aunt Giusi inherited the property from their parents. When they were children the road was called Ta’ Xbiex Terrace rather than Ir-Rampa – “The Ramp”.’ His pronunciation of ‘Ta’ Xbiex’ was subtly different to Rosa’s ‘Tash Beesh’ – his ‘sh’ holding something of a soft ‘j’ that made Rosa aware of her own limitations with Maltese pronunciation. Lucky for her that English was an official language of the island.
‘“Terrace” is a good description,’ she put in. ‘I love the way it’s like an upper deck to the more ordinary road below.’
Zach nodded. ‘The house was too big to rent easily so Nanna and Aunt Giusi decided to convert it into four apartments, owning two each. After the structural work was complete they offered me the job of fitting them out.’
An image of the bathroom where she’d stood naked a few hours ago flashed through Rosa’s mind. It was odd to think Zach had tiled the turquoise and white walls. ‘Mum was delighted to find our apartment through your dad Steve on the Barracks Brats Facebook group. It’s lovely. You’ve done a great job.’
He looked almost surprised at the compliment. ‘I hope you’ll enjoy your summer there.’
She shrugged. ‘It feels odd at the moment because I’ve only lived in three homes – two with Mum and one with my ex, Marcus, all in our home town of Liggers Moor. Have you lived here long?’ Their waitress approached, threading her way through the tables to set their meals before them. Rosa shook out her napkin.
He picked up his fork and loaded it with spaghetti. ‘I was brought up in the UK too but I love Malta. I suppose I’ll have to go back eventually but I haven’t finished Aunt Giusi’s lower apartment yet. She hasn’t chosen a kitchen or bathroom because she’s tempted to sell her house in Lija and move in herself. Also, I do some of my own work and help out at a cousin’s place.’
‘Is your dad coming over for the Service Kids’ Malta reunion next week?’ Rosa had begun to enjoy herself. Her penne chicken was delicious and Zach was proving easy company.
He shook his head. ‘He’s just begun a new job and Mum has severe rheumatoid arthritis, which makes travel tricky. He’s asked Marci to go to the reunion for him.’ He paused, eyebrows lifting. ‘How would you feel about Marci going along with you and Dory?’
Rosa nodded, thinking a group situation would make it easier to get to know Marci and decide whether they might like one another. ‘Of course, if she’d like to. Aren’t you going?’
‘I think Dad and Marci have it sorted out.’ Zach laid down his knife and fork. ‘Dory tells me she hasn’t been back to Malta since she was a child.’
The next table was full of noisy tourists. Rosa had to lean in to be heard. ‘Till this summer,’ she agreed. ‘Dad wasn’t around much after I was born so money’s been an issue. She’s thrilled to be here until October. I was able to take unpaid leave from my job to be her assistant for the summer and Mum sorted out the residency permits.’
Zach’s eyes had darkened as lights came on and the last of the short dusk faded into dark night. ‘She seems to be doing OK as a cookbook writer. What’s your job normally?’
‘Events and sponsorship.’ Rosa made her reply brief, not particularly wanting to go into the whole sorry story of how she and Marcus splitting up had impacted on her career. ‘Were you in construction in the UK?’
He paused while they gave orders to the blonde waitress for iced coffee for Rosa and espresso for Zach before he answered. ‘My last job was in data and report writing for a multi-academy trust.’ He grinned at what she knew must be a blank expression. ‘You don’t have to pretend to know what that is. I collected data from the different schools in the trust, consolidating and presenting it to the trustees, managers, staff, students, parents and OFSTED.’
‘Not much like fitting out apartments,’ she observed.
He glanced away from the chattering population of the pavement café and across the seafront road to where a large tourist boat was backing up to the quay, its passengers jostling to disembark. ‘When I first left home I used to work weekends for a small building company, so I picked up some skills. I’m doing some freelance report
writing for income to live on.’ The iced coffee and espresso arrived and Zach dropped sugar into his cup.
Rosa sipped her drink, cold and creamy, glancing around at the people milling from café to café, Maltese and English mingling with other languages, palm trees rising up over nearby cars. ‘This must have been a cool place for our parents to be brought up.’
Zach shifted and his knee brushed hers briefly beneath the table. ‘I’d have loved it. It’s as if I’ve only just become fully conscious of my double connection to Malta, with my Maltese grandmother and my grandfather being stationed here with the British Army. I used to sigh when we came on family holidays, visiting relatives or trudging around old barracks when I would have liked to have been snorkelling.’ His smile flashed but it sounded as if his words came from the heart.
‘Is your grandfather coming out to stay with you?’ Rosa went on. ‘Grandpa won’t. Grandma died three years ago and he doesn’t want to come without her.’ She felt a pang as she pictured her beloved grandparents, Lance and Bette McCoy. The loss of Bette was now reflected in the distant expression she often saw in Lance’s eyes.
‘Afraid not.’ Zach’s shoulders moved as if he sighed. Around them people laughed and chattered, answered phone calls and called to waiters but Zach stared pensively towards the sea as if her questions had triggered a change in his mood.
Then he snapped back into focus and changed the subject. ‘Paceville’s the place to go if you want to get your party on. As well as the shopping area at The Point in Tigné, there’s plenty in and around Sliema. The ferry to Valletta goes from over there, where Sliema Creek becomes Marsamxett Harbour.’ He nodded in the direction of the boats. ‘The buildings in Valletta are amazing and so’s the view of Grand Harbour on the other side of the city. And don’t miss Mdina …’
Rosa blinked as Zach went on about Malta’s attractions. It was as if he’d flipped a switch that turned him into a tour guide. ‘Thanks,’ she answered, at last. ‘I’m helping Mum, starting tomorrow. She’s here to write a new book so I guess sightseeing will have to fit around that.’
He acted as if her words were a prompt. ‘I’ll ask for the bill.’
When it arrived Rosa put down enough euros to pay her half.
A corner of Zach’s mouth quirked. ‘Ah. The etiquette of not-really-dating.’ But his smile was no longer natural. He pulled out his keys and Rosa took it that he was ready to take her home.
In the car, as he reversed into the stream of headlights with the air of one who knew the other vehicles would stop, she wondered, for the mental exercise, how the evening would have ended if they had been on a date.
That sudden change of mood would have been a proper bummer.
Zach drove Rosa back to Ta’ Xbiex along the seafront road. Two lanes of cars teemed in each direction. On their right, lights flared and music blared from bars. To the left, lights between the palm trees reflected in squiggles on the black surface of Sliema Creek. The Maltese harbours and creeks swarmed with boats: motor yachts, sailing yachts and catamarans, rowing boats, inflatable boats, ferries, cruise liners, party boats, harbour cruisers and water taxis. They, and the sea in all its seasons, were as much a part of the scenery as the golden stone of which the island was built.
When he reached The Ramp he parked outside Ta’ Xbiex Terrace House. Everything in its three storeys was stone: walls, balconies and elegantly ornate balustrades. At street level stood the garages and basement. The lower apartment and terrace – presently rented to Dory and Rosa – were on the floor above and reached via a flight of graceful stone steps. The garden next to the terrace, where spiky agaves and shady palms grew behind elegant black railings, the upper apartment and the roof terrace were all reserved for the use of the Bentley family.
Rosa climbed from the car and Zach walked her up to her front door, not because he thought she needed protecting but because he felt he’d been boorish enough when, at the end of the meal, his thoughts had slithered off into the grey lands of unhappiness he knew so well. Her gaze had become wary and she’d said little on the journey home.
He hadn’t wanted to explain that neither his dad nor grandfather would be visiting him in Malta. Zach and his dad had barely spoken for the last couple of years and Grandad Harry’s dementia would transform the sunlit island he’d once loved to a frighteningly unfamiliar place. Nanna looked after Grandad so she wouldn’t come either.
Now, Rosa turned with a polite smile. ‘Thanks for driving me home.’ She put her hand on the door.
‘My pleasure,’ he returned equally courteously. ‘See you around, no doubt.’ He thought about adding, ‘Hope it was OK for a fake date,’ but decided the moment for jokes had passed.
When she’d gone inside he turned not towards the next flight of stairs leading up to the family apartment but the one back down to the street. Once on the pavement he pulled up a cab app on his phone and booked a car to carry him to the bars of Paceville.
At a small sound behind him he turned.
And there was Rosa, hesitating on the stairs.
They gazed at each other. ‘Oh,’ she said. ‘I thought you’d gone.’
‘I thought you’d be in your apartment.’ He watched her hover.
She took a few more steps. ‘It’s early. I thought I’d go and sample the nightlife you told me about.’
‘In Paceville?’ He hesitated. ‘That’s where I’m going. I’m waiting for a cab.’
‘Oh.’ She laughed uncertainly. ‘Could we share? I don’t expect you to hang out with me or anything. I fancy getting my bearings.’
‘OK. Of course … Look, you’ll get a cab home again, won’t you? Malta’s a pretty safe place but—’
She jumped more decisively down the last two steps. ‘Thanks. I’ll do that.’ They waited in silence except for the sound of traffic on the road below The Ramp.
Zach thought about the woman beside him: delicately made with freckles on her high cheekbones and light brown eyes that sparkled in sunlight. He’d seen her from the roof terrace yesterday afternoon and stopped to watch her tangly, toffee-coloured bob bounce around her head with every quick movement as she chattered to Dory. When she’d laughed, her eyes had crinkled to slits.
He’d watched her finely drawn mouth and experienced strong sexual attraction.
Being sexually attracted to someone was great. It became fantastic if the person you were attracted to was attracted to you too. Though judging by
the way she’d been at pains to tell him their evening together was not a date, this time that wasn’t the case.
That was OK. One thing he knew about sexual attraction was that though it heightened your senses and prickled your skin you didn’t have to act on it. It was like gazing at an expensive painting he liked in the art gallery in Sliema: Boats at anchor in Spinola Bay, early morning. He’d never own it but that didn’t stop him enjoying the sight of it. Beautiful things were good to look at – though a painting might not provoke the same tingling eddy of arousal that Rosa did.
His thoughts were given a new direction when headlights cut through the night and a black saloon halted at the kerb. He opened the nearest door for Rosa then went to the other side to climb in beside her. ‘Paceville?’ the driver said and grinned as if to say, ‘Clubbing, huh? With her? Wow.’ Zach sat back as the car cruised around the bend and smoothly down the slope, leaving the rarefied neighbourhood of The Ramp for the seafront road, then striking inland to cut past Sliema and most of St Julian’s Bay. The road swarmed with headlights and taillights, the journey stop-start. Rosa gazed out of the window, her expression one of serene interest.
The ironic thing about this evening, Zach thought, swaying with the movement of the cab as the driver raced a red light, was that he would have loved to date Rosa but they were living in too close proximity for anything casual and he wasn’t available for more. He was wary of relationships. Twice he’d been unceremoniously dumped and once he’d been accused of callously breaking a heart. He’d hated that.
It would be better if Rosa and Marci became friends. Anxiety had his sister in its slimy grey grip and he hated to see her so listless that even responding to Paige was an effort.
As if picking up his thoughts Rosa said, ‘So you really don’t mind babysitting your niece?’
‘Any time,’ Zach responded. ‘Paige is a big favourite with me. Maybe it’s not cool to be entertained by a four-year-old but I love her.’
It occurred to him that he and Rosa were now not-dating for the second time in one evening. It made him want to laugh out loud, which at least lightened his mood.
Not convinced Rosa would see the joke if he shared it, he turned his mind towards the booming clubs and neon-lit bars that tumbled over each other down Triq Santa Rita – or St Rita Street. Formed of a giant flight of stairs and open twenty-four/seven, Triq Santa Rita came alive at night.
For many female tourists it was Holiday Hook-Upsville and he was happy to be part of that. Sex stopped him thinking about everything that had gone wrong in the past couple of years. Everything he’d done wrong.
But now he had Rosa along. He hesitated, then said, ‘Paceville can be a walk on the wild side. Maybe you should take my phone number?’
He got the impression that she smothered a sigh, but they did exchange numbers.
When the driver pulled over in Paceville Pjazza she jumped out of the cab and meticulously split the fare with a quick, ‘Thanks!’ and took off through the crowds of holidaymakers as if to emphasise that she didn’t expect to tag along with him.
After watching her head for Triq San G·org·, which was, at least, less crazy than Triq Santa Rita, Zach threaded his way through the crowds and past the incongruously situated Arkadia supermarket. In moments he was plunging into the heated air beneath a jumble of neon signage advertising bars and clubs, the uneven steps familiar beneath his feet. Halfway down was a bar called Spirit, its name in blue neon over big glass doors set in a matte black frontage. Shisha bars stood either side and a ‘gentlemen’s club’ above. Zach liked Spirit because its clientele was made up of thirty-somethings and alcohol prices weren’t as inflated as in some of the Paceville bars. Once he’d been inside to buy a couple of pints of Cisk – one for each hand – he claimed an elbow-height table outside to lean on.
Up and down the steps nightlife lovers jostled beneath the welter of multicoloured lights, crossing from bar to club and back again. Promotion staff dished out cards that promised money off entry fees, drinks or specialised entertainment. Competing sound systems boomed from doorways.
At a nearby table, four women sipped cocktails. They looked Zach’s type. Bright, happy but not drunk, pretty but not obvious, ring fingers unadorned. When no men had arrived to join the group after a few minutes, one of the four – a cool blonde – let her gaze tangle with his, and Zach moved closer. She gave her name as Elsa and said she lived in Edinburgh. She asked him about restaurants in the Bay Street complex across the road. ‘I’m not taken by this street,’ she explained. ‘It’s seedy.’
‘That’s what I like about it,’ he told her solemnly. Her hair was long enough to blow against him and he enjoyed its silky tickle on his bare arm as she leaned closer to laugh. Her friends glanced at her and smiled but then returned to their own conversation.
Elsa had just begun telling him about her holiday when he glanced down the steps and caught sight of a group of young men. A profile illuminated by a flashing light distracted him. He shifted slightly to try and single out the face again.
Twenty-year-old Luccio, a Sicilian, triggered protective feelings in Zach, who hated to see him in his present company, a group led by a little shit he seemed in awe of – Beppe. Zach hadn’t formed bonds with many people in Malta but he felt almost brotherly towards
Luccio, who was on a youth support worker apprenticeship with Zach’s cousin Joseph at Nicholas Centre. Zach volunteered at the centre, a community youth facility, and Luccio was the staff member he was most often paired with to supervise games between the teenagers who came to the centre to hang out. Luccio didn’t seem much removed from the older children and he was always happy to carry on past his scheduled hours if a fun activity was in progress. Many of the kids came from less-moneyed homes and identified with Luccio. His parents had died when he was only sixteen and he’d had to leave Sicily for Malta when his aunt Teresa, who’d married a Maltese man, offered him a home in Sliema.
Still very young, he could definitely do with good people around him. Unfortunately, in the last year Luccio’s friendship group outside Nicholas Centre had changed and to Zach, who saw them hanging around Paceville, Beppe and his buddies didn’t look like good people. Beppe was the oldest and hardest; Luccio the youngest and most eager to please. Zach understood exactly how that combination could lead to manipulation.
Luccio’s aunt Teresa was concerned, Joseph had confided in Zach. Luccio had become reluctant to discuss his activities or hear criticism of his friends and seemed to be viewing her home like a hotel that never presented its bill. The more she tried to talk to him the more uncommunicative he became. Zach, who’d often worked with Luccio over the past eighteen months, could see the young man’s mood and attitude had changed.
Only half in the conversation with Elsa now, Zach finished his first pint and began on the second as he monitored the group fifteen or so steps below him. All of them were significantly younger than Zach’s thirty-two years. Beppe might be in his mid-twenties, he supposed, and the rest all younger. He noted the ‘friendly’ wrestling that was too rough to be friendly, despite accompanying laughter, plus the occasional ugly look from Beppe that turned Luccio’s expression apprehensive.
The easily led youth.
It was uncomfortably familiar because, back in the day, Laine Fitzmaurice or ‘Fitzmo’ had been the ringleader and Zach the easily led youth. He could almost have written the script as he watched Beppe begin to bestow smiles and Luccio blossom in response, then Beppe grasped Luccio’s arm and murmured in his ear. Luccio, though he looked wide-eyed and unsure, eventually nodded.
Shit. Luccio was being put up to something.
Zach started forward, remembered Elsa and swung back long enough to mutter, ‘Sorry, I’ve seen someone I have to talk to.’ Elsa’s eyes widened in obvious affront but, with another apology, he turned away.
Still grasping his beer, Zach took the steps casually, glancing about with a show of aimlessness. Then he let his gaze fasten on his young friend and changed direction to clap him on the shoulder. ‘Hey, Luccio.’
Luccio jumped. ‘Oh. Hey, Zach.’
Zach turned to the group as if he was their friend of old. ‘I’m glad to see you guys. I’ve been feeling like Billy-no-mates tonight.’ He shook Beppe’s hand, knowing the value of paying lots of attention to the bi
g shot. ‘Want a drink?’
From the scornful glances Beppe gave his buddies he obviously interpreted the offer as an attempt to ingratiate himself. He bent his gaze on Luccio then indicated Zach. ‘Maybe you should stay with your friend.’ He said ‘friend’ as if he meant ‘loser’. Beppe turned and headed inside and the rest of his group herded along.
‘But—’ Luccio gazed after his departing buddies.
Zach put his arm around Luccio’s shoulders. ‘We need something to soak up the beer. Let’s eat.’ Using ‘we’ was persuasive and inclusive language, Joseph had taught Zach.
Luccio frowned uneasily but he let Zach usher him up the steps towards Triq San G·org· and Paceville Pjazza. Bellowing over the sounds rocking out of bars, Zach tried to keep Luccio’s attention. ‘Think the teams promoted from the Championship will make it in the Premier League next year?’
Luccio, though usually an avid fan of British football, just shrugged.
Then, when they’d nearly reached the top of the steps, Zach caught sight of Rosa again. Oddly, as he was pretty sure those she knew in Malta was limited to the occupants of Ta’ Xbiex Terrace House, she seemed to be leading five or six laughing women in a dance along one of the steps, singing along as she wiggled and clapped. Then a swaying man, grinning foolishly, grabbed Rosa’s arm and said something with a leer. ‘Piss off!’ she snarled, glaring into his eyes. ‘Women make their own decisions about who they sleep with.’
‘Yeah!’ chorused a couple of the dancing women and one yanked Rosa’s arm from his grip.
Was it his night for rescuing people? Zach had almost forgotten Rosa while he interfered in whatever Beppe had had in mind for Luccio but he couldn’t stand by while some guy gave Rosa trouble. Hoping it wouldn’t get him into a ruckus that might catch the attention of the police, he changed course so he could loop an arm loosely around her, feeling her slight body recoil but then relax when she realised who he was. In a voice filled with bonhomie and beer he created a scenario she could easily fall in with. ‘Look, I’ve found my friend Luccio. We’re going to get something to eat. Why don’t you come along?’
After a last narrowing of her eyes at the swaying man, Rosa muttered, ‘OK,’ called a casual goodbye to the women she’d been dancing with and allowed herself to be steered away. Zach glanced back and saw the man make an obscene gesture in the direction of Rosa’s rear view. Luckily, Rosa didn’t see it and Zach thought the wisest course was to pretend he hadn’t either. He made the introductions and Luccio brightened enough to grin at Rosa. ‘You told him off.’
‘He deserved it.’ Rosa fell in beside the two men, her expression still stormy. ‘I appreciate your help there, Zach, but women shouldn’t need protection. ...
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