“G'day.” Sean couldn't meet Emma's eyes. His mind kept going back to their last meeting, to what had nearly happened. It wasn't as if he didn't feel that it was all OK. It was, with him, and with her, he was sure. They had crossed some vital threshold, and there was no going back. That was all settled. But he was uncertain about how you dealt with a friend, a good friend, someone you liked but still in some ways an unknown. He had never connected so quickly with someone before. He was still surprised by it, by how she and he had reached across the gulf between them for Will's sake.
He had never had a best friend. He'd always been too ashamed of himself, of his family, of the succession of shabby homes he'd lived in. And though he wasn't aware of it, the impression he gave to others kept people from attempting intimacy. Will had been drawn to him precisely because he seemed so tough and brutal. It had been a while before Sean had known he was in love, despite their physical intimacy. Sean had never really had an equal relationship with a woman. He'd never been in love before. He'd half-despised the women who were in love with him. And he'd never seen them as friends, even though he'd wanted them and needed the sex with them. What he felt for Emma was entirely new.
“Come in. I'll just be a minute.” Emma had tried to talk herself into commonsense and ease before Sean arrived—she knew she would feel shy in his presence—but it hadn't worked. Everything she has planned to say went out of her head. But even though she was tongue-tied, she knew what she wanted now. She had no idea how they were going to make it work. And even though she was shy with him, she didn't feel uncomfortable. She was reassured to see that Sean was diffident. He'd seemed so strong and capable that it was comforting to know that he was human after all. And it was good to know that she wasn't the only one wondering where to look and what to say and what to do with her hands.
“Yeah, roight. A minute!” Sean's tone was sly and slightly mocking, glad to tease, filled with affection.
“Behave, poltroon.” Immediately she'd spoken, she felt she'd made a fool of herself. What did this man know about Shakespeare?
But Sean's eyes were dancing. “I am not a... what you said.” He knew she wasn't trying to make herself out to be cleverer or better educated than he was. He trusted her. This was another new feeling. A small knot of fear and anger untangled itself inside him.
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