“I’ve contacted the estate agent to let her know that I’ll be making an offer on this place.”
“But . . .”
“It has a garden, views, a fully equipped kitchen, a fenced-in pool, it’s close to the stores and schools, and of course you’ll have your own security detail. It also has this . . .” He indicated one of the floor-to-ceiling glass walls. “It’s perfect for you.”
She nodded miserably, watching Kayla tug at her father’s trouser leg as she tried to show him something that she had spotted through the window. Bryce looked down at his daughter before dutifully following her as she tugged him toward whatever had caught her attention. Bronwyn furtively swiped at a few errant tears and moved over to join them at the window. Her heart, already irretrievably broken, had just crumbled into a million tiny shards and the sharp little fragments were tearing her apart.
“Ready to go?” he asked after a few minutes of fawning over Kayla, and she nodded when he looked up at her. He hoisted Kayla up onto his hip and rested his free hand in the small of Bronwyn’s back as he guided her ahead of him.
She expected him to drive them directly back to the house but instead he detoured down to the beachside restaurants that dotted the Camps Bay coastline, stopping outside one of the smaller places. Bronwyn gasped when she recognized it and her eyes flew to his profile. Why was he bringing her here?
“I thought we could grab some lunch,” he explained, throwing her an enigmatic look before unbuckling his seat belt and climbing out of the safe-as-houses Audi that he now preferred driving.
He rounded the bonnet of the car and held the passenger door open for her. She unbuckled her own belt and reluctantly got out of the car. He had Kayla out of her car seat before Bronwyn could react, and he once again placed his hand in the small of her back in order to gently steer her toward the familiar restaurant.
“Bryce.” She resisted and looked up at him with pleading eyes. “I don’t want to eat here.”
“I’ve already made a reservation and every other place will be packed at lunchtime on a Saturday. Besides, Kayla will get cranky if she doesn’t get her lunch soon.” Bronwyn cast a skeptical eye over her brightly smiling daughter, who was happily hugging Broccoli, her well-worn green-haired little ragdoll.
“Are you hungry, Kayla?” he asked, and Kayla nodded sunnily.
“Hungwy,” she replied, and Bronwyn, realizing that she was outnumbered, bit back any further protests and reluctantly entered the restaurant where she had first laid eyes on him so long ago.
The restaurant was the same as she remembered it. Of course, the staff was different but the menu and décor—but for a few small changes here and there—transported her back to a less complicated time. Bryce whispered something into their server’s ear and sure enough, they were led to the same table that he had been seated at on that first day. A high chair was promptly provided for Kayla, and after taking their drink orders, the server bustled off and left them to stare silently at each other. Kayla was excited by the new surroundings and picked up her toy cell phone to tell her cousin “Wees” about it.
“Why did you bring us here?” Bronwyn broke the silence with a defeated little sigh, and he shrugged.
“I was feeling nostalgic.” No. This had definitely been a deliberate decision that had very little to do with nostalgia. When he had agreed to her moving out, she had thought that he was beginning to accept her decision to get a divorce. This move, however, seemed to be the opening salvo of a counterattack.
The server returned with their drinks and for their meal orders. Neither of them had even glanced at the menu, but Bronwyn knew it by heart and ordered steamed chicken and vegetables for Kayla and chicken Marsala with mashed potatoes for herself. Bryce kept his eyes pinned to hers as he directed his order to the hovering server.
“I’ll have the milkshake. Chocolate. And the Brie and bacon burger.” The young man, clearly a much better server than she had ever been, reconfirmed their orders before leaving.
“Bryce, I’m not sure what you’re hoping to achieve here but . . .”
“You were standing over at that table when I first saw you.” He pointed toward a nearby table and she blinked over at it. “You had this look of utter panic on your face. I’d been to this restaurant several times before and knew that if you were serving at that table, then you were probably working this whole section. That’s why I requested this table.”
“You requested this table?” She gaped at him in disbelief, absently picking up Kayla’s bright-pink toy phone when she dropped it on the table and handing it back to her so that she could continue her make-believe conversation. Bronwyn had always assumed that he’d been placed at one of her tables by chance.
“I did. I noticed you almost immediately and then simply couldn’t look away.” Yes, she remembered that disturbingly intense stare. She’d been even more of a klutz as a result of it. “I was riveted, charmed, confused, and fascinated. Unequivocally and helplessly fascinated.” He gazed off into the distance, lost in his memories. The harsh lines of his face had softened, and a sweet, wistful smile flirted with the corners of his lips.
“I barely heard a word Pierre said and categorically dominated your time by calling you over for the smallest little thing,” he recalled.
“I didn’t mind,” she confessed, allowing the sweetness of the memory to claim her as well. “I was equally fascinated. I barely remembered that poor Pierre was there half of the time.”