A Jolly Good Show – Episode 46

KATE, Delia and Sally arrived for the usual Monday morning band call.

Sally was happy. Her request to Cyril Broom to rejoin the line-up of the Jolly Good Company had met with approval.

“Well, if I said no I’d be lynched by the rest of them,” Cyril said. “Especially by Nesbo.”

“Thanks, Cyril.”

He waved away her thanks.

“No, no. You’re a top-class act, Sally. I told the local Hull paper you were a principal lead in ‘Stardust’. That’s good publicity.”

“Oh, were they asking about me?” Sally was pleased and surprised.

“Well, no,” Cyril said. “Not about you exactly. They’re running a story about this death-threat business.” He saw the surprised look on Sally’s face. “You know what local newspapers are like, Sally. They’ll jump at any old news. And it’s publicity, isn’t it? Welcome back, Sally.”

As the three ladies hurried in through the stage door to escape the wind and rain, the ever-present stage-door guardian leaned out of his sentry box and called, “Any one of you chorus girls a Miss Flynn?”

“Thank you for the compliment, Tommy,” Delia called back.

“Hello, Miss Desmond. Nice to see you again. Chorus girl, I said, and chorus girl I mean.”

“You charmer, Tommy.”

“I’m Miss Flynn,” Kate said.

“Right. Message for Miss Flynn from Mr Nesbo. I’ve written it down.” He produced a scrap of paper. “You do the band call. See to equipment and props. I’ll see you later.”

“Is that it?” Kate asked.

“It is.”

She knew what to do. Kate wasn’t worried about that, but she was worried about Nesbo, and the fact that she might have betrayed his trust still worried her. But she knew that Delia would keep it to herself. Kate felt that Delia should know. It could influence the answer she gave to Max.

She and Delia exchanged looks. Delia shrugged.

“Perhaps he’s stayed over in Birmingham with his wife. Perhaps in a way it makes life simpler.”

Kate reached out and gently squeezed her arm, then Sally joined them and the three began to arrange their respective repertoires.

Delia’s band call was relatively simple and as soon as she and the musical director were satisfied she left just as Max Reynolds began his.

Kate’s main preoccupation was checking all the props, and when she and Will Griffiths were satisfied she decided to leave. No doubt Nesbo would appear when it suited him.

She stepped out of the stage door. A strong wind was blowing off the river, bringing sudden squalls of rain swirling and gusting along the narrow street.

Kate opened her umbrella to brave the elements behind its protective arc when a sudden, violent gust turned it inside out. Her skirts were swirling, her hat was in danger of taking off and her umbrella was now just a skeleton of spokes.

“Here, miss, let me!”

The mangled umbrella was taken firmly out of her hands. She looked up. A young man, a determined, concentrated frown on a pale, handsome face, was doing battle with the elements. He whipped the umbrella round and forced its spokes back into their original shape and held it over her.

“That’s better,” he said. He smiled at her.

Kate looked into warm, grey eyes and held their gaze for a second.

Still looking into his eyes, she said, “Thank you.” He was still holding the umbrella over her. As she reached to take it from his hands they were both buffeted by the wind and the sudden driving rain. He took her arm.

“Over here. Under the awning.”

A few yards away a grey, sodden canvas awning projected from the front of a large furniture shop. He guided her into its shelter and closed her umbrella.

He smiled at her. She was conscious of her hair damp on her forehead under her dripping hat.


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