As River waited for Dominic to return, she noticed her brother staring out of the window of the shop, a slightly distant expression on his face.
"Tom, are ... you okay?" she asked hesitantly.
Tom blinked and looked at her, flushing slightly.
"Um, yeah. Why?"
"You're ... staring into space." She grinned. "Were you thinking about John?"
To her surprise, Tom flushed even deeper.
"Um, no, I wasn't actually." He looked awkward. "Yeah, I shouldn't have been thinking what I was thinking at all."
"And what was that?" she pressed him, curious.
"Well, Dominic... This is going to sound awful but ... he's pretty hot, isn't he?"
River blushed embarrassedly.
Dominic came in.
"Here we are," he said, placing the tray on the counter. "I brought biscuits as well"
He surprised River by picking one up and holding it towards her mouth. Shyly, she leant forwards and allowed him to feed her. His eyes drifted over her body like he was trying to drink her in. River didn’t find this particularly frightening or discomfiting but Tom coughed and said, "Please don't look at my sister like that."
River blushed. "Tom!" She elbowed him.
"Ow! I'm trying to protect you!"
Dominic looked at Tom and then blushed.
"Like what?" he pressed.
Tom looked down, a little embarrassed.
"Like you want to undress her," he mumbled.
Dominic gazed at Tom intently.
"That isn't my intention if that calms you down."
Tom nodded, glancing up. He caught Dominic’s gaze. River thought that if Tom thought Dominic was good-looking too, that stare must be doing funny things to his insides. And after barely a second, Tom flinched and turned away, pretending to examine a guitar.
River sighed exasperatedly.
"I'm sorry. Can I try the milkshake?"
"Sure," Dominic said, offering the drink.
River took a sip.
"Hmm, that's delicious," she murmured. She placed it back on the tray. She looked up at Dominic, trying to come up with some excuse for gazing into his eyes but failing. She couldn't just stare, though. "Um, ... how's business?"
"Pretty good," Dominic said with a smile. "Does your brother play guitar?"
River looked at Tom and stifled a laugh.
"No, um..." Tom appeared to be staring too hard at the instrument in front of him to notice. She looked back at Dominic and shook her head. "No."
Dominic laughed too. "Hey, Tom, are you gonna stare at that guitar all day?"
Tom looked up, his expression one of utter humiliation.
"No." He glared at River. "You could be more helpful."
"And say what?" she asked, spreading her hands helplessly. "Look, maybe it'd be better if you just told him."
Tom looked down. "Maybe you're right. After all, he must be rather confused." Tom took a deep breath and looked up at Dominic. "Um, Dominic, ... you're...." He trailed off, looking away again.
River finished for him. "He thinks you're hot."
"Thank you..." Dominic said hesitantly, with a slight grin.
"It's fine, he won't make a move on you," River said, waving a hand dismissively. "He has a boyfriend." She looked up into his eyes, seeming caught there. "Must admit," she whispered. "I can't stop looking away either."
"Wait, what?" Dominic now looked confused.
"Oh, my brother's gay."
Dom looked at Tom for a moment before looking at River, which must have seemed to Tom that he was only trying to distract himself.
"What was that about me being hot?" he pushed, whispering only for River's ears.
"Oh," she whispered, blushing. "I said I thought so too."
"Mmhmm," he whispered back, with a sneaky smile.
River lightly punched him playfully.
"Don't get cocky about it."
Tom wandered away from the pair, looking at the guitars again.
"Why would I be cocky when a more hypnotic being stands before me?" he asked, looking slightly sneaky again.
"More... hypnotic?" River repeated, positively spellbound.
"Well, of course," he whispered and moved to stroke her cheek but hesitated.
She frowned. "Don't stop. I'm sure Tom's not looking. And ... I have to say ... I disagree. I think ... I think you're more hypnotic."
Dominic stroked her cheek. "No, I just have looks. Looks aren't what makes someone beautiful," he whispered, stepping back, his finger slowly trailing off her face.
“Wow...," she murmured. "Yeah... Looks aren't really ... anything." She looked away. "I'm sorry for being shallow."
He looked hurt. "You aren’t shallow. Looks matter but they are more for attraction than anything else."
"Yeah, well, I don't only want to be attracted to you. I want to find love." She blushed and still refused to look at him.
Dominic tilted her face up and ran a thumb across her cheek.
"Don't we all?" he whispered.
River trembled a little.
Suddenly Dominic's eyes look to the clock. "Do you have lessons?"
River looked in anguish at her watch. It calmly told her that she and Tom would be late if they stayed for much longer.
"Oh no! Well, can we meet up?" SHh turned hurriedly to Tom. "Can I meet up with him?"
Tom looked at her, frowning slightly, then looked at Dominic.
"Yeah. If he comes round to ours."
"You want to come round to my place?" she asked. "We'll sort out details later."
Dominic hesitated as his eyes flicked to Tom for a moment before looking at River.
"Sure, I'd love to," he told her calmly, putting the hand that had recently touched her face into his pocket.
River quickly planted a kiss on his cheek before rushing out, leaving Tom in there on his own for a few seconds.
"You seem like a nice guy," Tom told the guy, who he decided was too handsome for his own good. "But if you ever hurt her, you'll regret it. And I mean it. Both my boyfriend and I will beat you up. So don't even think about trying."
"I wouldn't ever do that to a girl" Dominic replied harshly
He shrugged. "I'm just looking out for her. You know what some guys are like."
He followed his sister.