The squeaking barrow suddenly stopped just feet from the laurel bush and Kate held her breath, lest she be heard. She saw Barnes take a swig from a bottle of water he was carrying, then wipe his mouth on the sleeve of his shirt. He had his back to her and even though he wore a shirt Kate could see the ripple of his muscles as he raised and lowered the glass bottle, and it caused a shiver to run down her spine. That man was too darned good looking for his own good.
All went quiet as Kate’s aunt left the shrubbery and headed towards the back of the house. There was silence for a moment – broken when the gardener spoke aloud.
“You can come out now Miss. Your aunt has left.”
Kate froze. So Barnes had seen her there after all. Now she had the humiliation of walking out in front of him. She pushed aside the branches of the laurel and stepped out into the open in front of the gardener, trying, but failing, to look nonchalant, as though she had a very good reason to be lurking in the bushes. He had an amused expression on his face.
“Did you like what you saw?”
An excerpt from The Gardener, a tale of forbidden love in 19th century England