11 Ladysmile Lane – Episode 54

He still felt confident and resolute when he arrived opposite her firm’s offices. They were at the corner of a busy junction, and while he was waiting to cross, he saw Peter, the client who’d helped change his fortunes by giving him work and recommending his services, going in ahead of him.

He hadn’t cared for Peter when they’d first met. But he acknowledged now that it had just been jealousy because Peter had seemed very taken with Ruth.

He hesitated. He didn’t want an audience to what he had to say to her. But maybe Peter was just popping in with some papers – Ruth was his solicitor, after all. Or collecting some. He might not even be going any further than the reception area.

But even while he was thinking all this, he saw through one of the huge windows in Ruth’s office. Peter was entering and walking towards her, and handing something to her.

Harrison took off his specs and screwed up his eyes, which oddly sometimes enabled him to see better. It looked to him as though . . .

Harrison closed his eyes now – a trick he’d learned from Jed – the better to replay in his head the scene from just minutes earlier of Peter entering the office building.

And, yes, Peter had been carrying something. A pretty little bag, with the distinctive logo of the smart jewellery shop round the corner.

Opening his eyes, with some reluctance, he saw Ruth, still at the window, now smiling as she held something up to the light. Something tiny and shining. Like a ring.

* * * *

Back at Number 11, Georgia paced about her office. From what he’d told her, Neil would either already be back, or certainly on his way.

She was expecting his call any time and it was making her jumpy. Still – and it seemed impossible, the number of times she had gone over it all – still, she didn’t know what to tell him.

Wanting to distract herself, she went into the little side room leading off her office where Amy’s dress was hanging. But that wasn’t able to divert her attention in the same way any more – it was essentially finished. Amy was coming today after school for what would likely be the last fitting.

Mind you, Georgia reflected, that was always assuming she didn’t want anything changed to fit in better with her post-punk deconstructed romanticism notion, or whatever it was she’d said!

Shaking her head in exasperation, but affectionate exasperation, Georgia picked up her mug, intending to make a coffee and take it out into the peace of the garden area to drink.

“Georgia, I was just coming to find you.” Mel, already in the kitchen when she arrived, greeted her.

“Are you all right?” Georgia could see immediately that Mel was upset.

“My purchase has fallen through. The sellers no longer want to sell.” Mel sighed. “I was afraid something would go wrong. I told Alex about it.”

Georgia nodded, not surprised. She knew Mel often confided in him.

“Once before,” Mel explained, “when I was on the brink of buying somewhere, it all went wrong. Steven – that was my husband’s name – we’d not been married long and we’d been negotiating to buy our dream home. We were so excited! On top of the world. But then he was killed in an accident.” Mel broke off before continuing.

“I mean, making this purchase obviously wasn’t the same. Nothing like. But the excitement I felt, running round estate agents and everywhere, was similar to that other time. And that got me worrying.” She shrugged. “Ghosts from the past.”

“Oh, Mel!”

Georgia was about to give Mel a hug when the strange noise her new mobile phone made heralded the arrival of a text message.

Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.