Community Spirit – Episode 58

STEPH stuck her hand out to Frank before shaking hands with each of the visitors in turn. Pamela was dumbstruck, and Nate could tell everyone was taken aback.

He didn’t want to correct Steph publicly by pointing out she was his ex-wife, and found he couldn’t make eye contact with anyone as Steph ushered them up to the bar and began serving them soft drinks and coffees with all the easy charm she used to have.

She soon had the major and Frank laughing and Nate felt odd seeing her behind a bar again.

“Was your area manager pleased with the takings from the fête?” Meredith asked after they all had a drink in their hands.

Nate had told them the day had been a financial success.

“And was he pleased with progress overall?” Miss Grace added.

“Did he come with news?” the major asked.

“I . . .” Nate began.

“He came for an update, that’s all,” Steph answered, rescuing Nate, who threw her a grateful glance.

“But he must have been pleased with how things are going,” Pamela prompted. “You’ve made an astounding difference to the pub and the village.”

“Hear, hear,” the major said.

“That’s very kind,” Nate managed. “I’m sure it won’t be long before I’m able to share some news with you.”

“What are your plans beyond the six weeks?” the major asked. “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”

“Quite,” Nate replied. “I’m still working on my longer term plans.”

He glanced nervously at Steph.

To Nate’s relief the conversation turned back to the success, and the gossip, from the fête, and Steph returned to charming Frank and the major.

Arthur was talking to Meredith and Miss Grace. Pamela made sure Steph couldn’t overhear before she nodded at Steph and asked Nate what was going on.

“You can tell me to mind my own business,” she said, “but there is a girl who’s very dear to me on the other side of the village who thinks the world of you. I’d hate to see her get hurt.”

“I don’t know what to say, Pam. She turned up last night after closing time.”

“When is she leaving?”

Nate took a deep breath.

“It’s complicated,” he said. “She’s Cally’s mother.”

“Not much of a mother from where I’m standing,” Pamela said. “I take your point about blood being thicker than water and all that, but what does Cally say?”

“I don’t know,” Nate admitted.

“What do you mean?”

“She woke up to find her here this morning and she hasn’t said much. She was quite wary around her at breakfast, but that was all.”

“You need to find out what she thinks,” Pamela told him.

“Steph’s her mother. I can’t ask Cally whether she thinks I should throw her out or not.”

“Maybe not,” Pamela said, “but you could ask her whether she wants her to stay.”


Alison Cook