Colin wasn’t sure why he woke up with a smile in the morning. Maybe the bed was a little less lumpy last night, he thought, stretching deeply before sitting up. He could hear the birds chirping softly outside his window, where the morning sun was already glaring through his curtains. He peered out. There were a few sheep scattered on the hills, and he could see Amy walking down the garden path. He closed the curtain quickly in case she looked over. He hadn’t even combed his hair yet.
Not that he cared, he told himself quickly.
He grabbed his comb and looked around for a clean shirt. Something blue would be preferable, since most of his best dressed nominations came after wearing that color.
When he got to the garden about ten minutes later, Amy was already sitting at a table with a cup of coffee and slice of toast. Her back was to him. Colin swept his fingers through his hair and strode over to her.
“Can I join you?” he asked, sliding across from her as he asked.
“People usually wait for an answer,” she retorted with an amused expression.
“I already knew you’d say yes, though,” he replied with a shrug.
She rolled her eyes, but Colin could tell she didn’t mind. He stretched his arms out and glanced around the garden.
“Nice day,” he said.
“It’s gonna rain later,” Amy remarked, nodding towards the fluffy clouds in the sky.
“Sophie says since we’ve had, like, two straight days of sun, it’s bound to rain,” Amy said with a smile.
She lifted the toast to her mouth before hesitating. Her face scrunched up, she dropped the toast on her plate, and erupted into a fit of sneezes. Colin grabbed a napkin and handed it to her.
“Thanks,” she mumbled, her cheeks turning pink. “Stupid allergies.”
Colin reached into his pocket and pulled out a box. He handed it over to her, and she gave him a puzzled expression.
“I read online that taking the same brand of allergy medicine can actually make your body less likely to respond to it,” he said. “So I got you a different medicine when we were in town.”
He reached into his other pocket and pulled out a box.
“You’re also supposed to be using a nasal spray,” he added, sliding it across the table to her.
“When did you get these?” she asked, slowly taking the boxes.
“When you went to the bathroom,” he replied with a shrug. “I was already in the aisle, so I just picked it up,” he added quickly.
“Thanks,” she said with a soft smile.
She looked touched, he thought with a bit of pride. He felt that same rush of happiness he woke up with.
“Feel free to swoon,” he said with a wink.
“Don’t ruin the moment,” Amy replied with a roll of her eyes.
The smile didn’t leave her face, though, and Colin tried to not stare as she drained her coffee cup. She glanced at her watch, and her smile quickly faded.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
“I’m three minutes behind,” she said, stacking her cup on her plate and standing up quickly.
Colin reached over and grabbed her wrist. She gave him a confused look. He took the watch off her wrist.
“You should try going one day without this,” he suggested.
“I can still check the time on my phone,” she pointed out, trying to grab her watch back.
“Yeah, but now you won’t have a clock staring at you all day,” he said.
He put the watch in his pocket. Amy glared at him, but she didn’t look angry, he thought. Or hoped, rather.
“I’ll give it to you later,” he promised.
“Or you can give it to me now,” she said.
She lunged for his pocket, and he grabbed her hands to fight her off. Her fingers stuck in between his, and her body fell forward, almost smacking into him.
She was close enough that Colin could smell the strawberry jam on the corner of her mouth. Their eyes met. Amy quickly pushed into him to straighten herself into a standing position again. He let go of her hands, wondering if her cheeks were pink or if it was a trick of the light.
“Fine,” she said, grabbing her dishes quickly. “You can hold onto it today, but I expect it back by the end of the day.”
Colin nodded. When Amy turned to go inside, he lightly touched his cheeks. It suddenly seemed warmer. He hoped he wasn’t coming down with anything. He cleared his throat and followed her into the kitchen. While she washed her dishes, he grabbed an apron and began setting out the small dishes for clotted cream. Amy looked over and raised a brow.
“Impressed that I remember the steps?” he asked with a smile.
“I’ve only told you a hundred times,” she replied, the corners of her mouth twitching up. “You were bound to remember it eventually.”
“Wow, it’s so impressive,” Colin replied in a higher-pitched voice. “Thanks for remembering, Colin. You’re being so helpful.” He lowered his voice. “Oh, it’s nothing, Amy. I’m not completely useless, you know.” He raised his pitch again. “Oh, I know. You’re so—”
“I don’t sound like that,” she interrupted with a roll of her eyes.
“You’re right, I need the American accent.” He cleared his throat.
“Please don’t make my ears bleed this early in the morning.”
Colin slammed the clotted cream tub on the counter.
“You know, I’m an award winning actor,” he said with a huff. “I’ve never been insulted like this before.”
“Well how do you expect to grow without a little constructive criticism?” she countered.
Colin tried to fight the smile from his face, but he had a feeling Amy knew she had the upper hand in this fight. He scooped clotted cream into the dishes.
“Do I really need constructive criticism?” he asked. “I’ve already won, like, enough awards to fill my shelves. I’d say that qualifies me as a great actor.”
“Which award shows gave you those trophies?” Amy asked with an arched brow.
Colin didn’t reply.
“It looks like constructive criticism worked on your dishing technique,” she noted, coming over to examine his dishes. “They’re almost even now.”
Colin thought they still looked messy, but he wasn’t about to admit that to Amy.
“Just wipe the edges with a cloth,” she suggested, seemingly reading his mind.
She glanced at him, and her eyes narrowed.
“So, be honest, were you just pretending to be useless before?” she asked. “Or should I go into teaching if I’ve helped you make this much progress?”
“I mean, I never tried doing this stuff before,” Colin said slowly, glancing away.
“I knew it! You were totally faking it before!”
“No, I wasn’t!” Colin cleared his throat. “I mean… not totally.”
Amy tossed a dish towel at his face just as Aunt Sophie walked in the kitchen. He caught a bemused look on her face as she raised a brow at them.
“Not still fighting, I hope,” she said, turning away from them as she picked out an apron from the rack.
“I’ll go set up the dining room,” Amy said quickly.
He saw her glance at her wrist, where her watch used to be, and then look over at him. He stuck his tongue out at her, and she rolled her eyes. Aunt Sophie stared at Colin, and he tried to not watch as Amy gathered dishes and left the kitchen.
“Looks like you two have started getting along more,” she noted.
“Huh? Oh, well I guess,” Colin replied evenly.
He put away the clotted cream and began working on dishing out the jam. Aunt Sophie filled the coffee maker and turned on the hot water machine.
“I take it your date yesterday went well,” she guessed.
“It wasn’t a date,” Colin said quickly.
“It was just the two of you. Hanging out all day,” she replied slowly. “Sounds kinda like a date to me.”
“Guys and girls can hang out as friends,” Colin replied. “It doesn’t make it a date.”
“No, but all the flirting kinda makes it seem like one.”
He felt his face flush. They weren’t flirting. Okay, maybe he was a little, but Amy probably wasn’t.
“Was she flirting?” he asked in what he hoped was a casual tone.
Aunt Sophie laughed but didn’t answer. Colin was tempted to ask again, but he had a feeling she wasn’t going to tell him.
“How about your date yesterday?” he countered.
“What date?” Aunt Sophie’s voice rose a half-octave.
“I saw Ava heading here after I left,” Colin said. “You don’t have to sneak around, you know.”
“I’m not sneaking,” Aunt Sophie replied with a toss of her head. “We’re just friends… I think.”
He raised a brow at her, and it was her turn to flush.
“She’s… a very good friend,” Aunt Sophie replied. “When I moved here, she was one of the first people to show me around the island. But we’re just friends.”
“What? Did she say something?”
It was Colin’s turn to give her a cryptic smile and not answer. She picked up a rag and began scrubbing at the counter.
“Shouldn’t you be making the breakfast?” he asked.
She swore and ran to the stove.
“Too distracted thinking about someone?” he teased.
“You just hush and think about your own woman,” she replied curtly, breaking some eggs into a pan.
He smiled and shook his head.
Did Amy tell Aunt Sophie something?
He tried to think back to this morning. Was there any point when he thought Amy was flirting with him? He couldn’t remember her tossing her hair at him. Or leaning in close on purpose. Were there other signs that a woman was flirting? He was tempted to pull out his phone and google it.
Amy came back into the kitchen, and he jumped.
“I’ll put the clotted cream out,” he said quickly.
He grabbed the tray and power-walked out of the kitchen.