He twiddled the thread at the end of his blazer sleeve. The deep silence was pierced by the reliable click of the Thomas the Tank Engine clock on the mantelpiece.

Normally he had something to say to alleviate the awkwardness. This time, nothing. He just couldn’t speak.

A drop of sweat traced its way down his temple as he grinned like a fool at his guest.

‘Would you like some biscuits?’ He asked. But it was just a thought. No words came out. Don felt so self-conscious in her presence that nothing he could say was deemed worthy.

The guest shifted slightly on her cushion and slowly, calmly turned to face the window. Her jade eyes flashed as they met the light of the street lamp.

Another minute passed, and still the guest didn’t utter a word. Don racked his brain for a memory; a moment that might explain his guest’s apparent contempt for him.

‘Reverse-psychology’ he thought. That’s it. Remember what Martin in the office said about being attractive. Show disinterest. ‘Play it cool.’

Don let his shoulders drop, put a hand on either knee, leant back into the sofa, and let out a long, quiet breath.

He met eyes with the guest. She looked straight at him, blinked once and held her gaze. The intensity of the look forced him to divert his eyes to the Turkish rug.

It took him a moment to compose himself.

He took a sip of the tepid milk tea and placed the mug on the coaster with more care than was necessary.

He forced a smile again and looked out the window, trying to emulate the effortless ease in which the guest moved.

He turned his head slowly but stiffly back towards her.

She was gone.

A cushion with a dent and a tabby blur of tail as she glided out the door.

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