Out Of The Woods


Couple walking bicycles along path under willow tree Illustration: Getty Images, James Dewar

WRITTEN BY LYDIA JONES

Between lively Josh and gorgeous Adam, summer at the castle is more complicated this year…

“Miss, I can see your knickers from here.”

Josh is prone at my ankles.

“Really, Josh? What super x-ray vision you must have to see through denim.”

“I have. I’m like Superman, me.” He charges off.

I call him Jellybean Josh. He can’t keep still and of all the children in my care this summer, he is the most troublesome.

“Don’t go near the dig,” I shout. “You might fall in a ditch.”

With admonishments to the others to stay put, I give chase.

I find him: legs dangling into an archaeologist’s trench, deep in conversation with Mr Pony­tailed Perfection.

My stomach does a stupid sizzling thing

Professor Linley and the rest have been here excavating the castle since my first day, but this tanned, toned specimen only appeared recently. When I see him my stomach does a stupid sizzling thing.

“Josh! I’m sorry, he’s bothering you.”

“No bother.” He smiles: white teeth against tanned skin. Cue stomach doing total disappearing act.

“See you tomorrow, Adam.” Josh scrambles up.

Mr Perfection-now-called-Adam high-fives my chaotic charge; grins at me. Gulp!

“Can we do some digging, Miss?” Josh skips alongside.

“No, Josh. We need to leave it to the professionals.”

I’m exhausted handing children back to work-stressed parents

Somehow we get through our day and as usual I’m exhausted handing children back to work-stressed parents.

“You’ve – err – got a new recruit?” I say when Professor Linley comes to sign back keys.

His face flickers startled rabbit. “Yes.”

He signs the key-book as if his life depends on it.

My colleague suggests I do some digging…

“You won’t glean anything from that female-freaked fossil,” my colleague, Miranda says, as Professor Linley leaves. “If you’ve got your eye on his handsome young assistant, you’d better do the digging yourself.”

“I haven’t-”

“Course.”

“Miranda, you might be my work mentor but that doesn’t entitle you to badger me about my love-life.”

“What love-life?”

“OK, OK.”

“Get in there, girl. I would have done at your age.”

Easy for her to say.

Josh is missing…

Total panic until I spot him talking to Adam. He scurries back and all goes well until the boys bring me their “present”.

“Honestly,” I agonise to Miranda later “- the biggest cockroach you’ve ever seen. I’m surprised you didn’t hear me screaming back in the visitor centre. Adam heard. I saw him staring: probably thought I was demented.”

“No progress with Adonis?”

“No, and there won’t be now he thinks I’m some shrieking lunatic.”

The next day…

I manage a weak smile in Adam’s direction the following day. Mistake: the mini police are on to me immediately.

“He your boyfriend, Miss?”

“Don’t be silly.”

“You got a boyfriend, Miss?”

“Mind your own business.”

“I bet you do. What’s he like?”

“Enough with the personal questions.”

“Is he a good kisser, Miss?”

“OK. I do not have a boyfriend – satisfied? Now can we get on?”

Josh smirks. I could strangle him.

How is anyone allowed to be that gorgeous?

At day’s end, instead of Professor Linley, it’s Adam with the keys. Miranda winks, makes herself scarce.

“Actually-” He runs a hand through collar-length curls. Arm muscles ripple. I try not to stare.

“I wanted a word. Do you think the children would like to do some digging? I could sort a site we’re finished with.”

“I – I’m sure they’d love it.”

“Cool. Can I walk you down the drive?”

I nod. How is anyone allowed to be that gorgeous?

“I was thinking – we could go for a drink – err – discuss what to do with the kids,” he says as I pick up my bike.

“OK.”

“Great. The Bell, about eight?”

“Fine.”

I’m just thinking he didn’t ask my name when he flashes me the stomach-­sizzler smile.

“Thanks, Tina.”

“You know – how?”

“Josh lives next door to my parents.”

Remembering all the boyfriend questions, I giggle. I think we might just have been set up by a seven-year-old.

It just shows you never know what treasure you might find digging about in old ruins.

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Allison Hay

I joined the My Weekly team eight years ago, and I love the variety of topics we cover both online and in the magazine. I manage the digital content for the brand, sharing features and information on the website, social media and in our digital newsletters. I also work for Your Best Ever Christmas - perfect as it's my favourite time of year!