When Gretel left for the conference Dereck told her not to worry. ‘Everything will be fine.’

‘Are you sure? Don’t eat rubbish every night, will you? There’s good stuff in the freezer. And don’t forget the bins on Thursday.’ The taxi sounded an impatient horn and she rushed off with a wave over her shoulder.

‘Good luck,’ he said, trailing off because she was already in the cab. She waved him goodbye through the window.

It was all so practical. He remembered when they’d kissed at the door every morning before parting. When had the passion stopped?

He visited the library that night.

When she got back the following week flowers were waiting on the hallstand. Roses.

‘OK,’ she said. ‘What have you done?’

‘Eh?’

‘The flowers. It’s not like you.’

‘It is now.’

She thought she’d better check the good crockery—took a nervous glance towards the crystal cabinet.

‘I haven’t done anything,’ he said. ‘Honest. I missed you. That’s all.’

‘You’re a funny one,’ she said, pecking his cheek.

He felt like a teenager again, wanting more but relishing what he had.

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