Community Spirit – Episode 64

NATE woke up with a heavy heart and it took him a few seconds to recall the reasons for it.

All too soon, his failure to save the Mucklebury Arms, the return of his ex-wife and the ensuing halt that it had called to his new relationship with Jeannie came back to him.

He sighed as he turned over in bed and pulled the pillow on top of his head.

He wanted a coffee, but Steph had been sleeping on the sofa in the lounge and he would have to pass her to get to the kitchen. After a few minutes plotting, he padded down to the bar to use the machine there.

Sitting in the window of the pub, he sipped his strong black brew and watched Much Mucklebury waking up.

Arthur was strolling back from the shop with his paper under his arm, and Mrs Churchill was walking Topsy, her miniature poodle who terrorised every other dog in the village so much she could only be walked very early in the morning.

The major looked like he was returning from his early morning hike through the farmland that surrounded the village.

Nate wished Jeannie were here. He felt bad for putting her off last night. He must talk to her today, but what could he say?

That he had to put Cally’s needs before his own, like she had tried to do for Tasha? Would she be able to tell that Steph coming back was the last thing he’d expected to happen?

Nate opened the front door for fresh air. It was cool in the shade, but as he stepped out into the sunshine there was enough warmth for him to feel it on his back through his shirt.

He closed his eyes and savoured the quiet and the

solitude, breathing in the fresh, earthy scents of autumn.

When he opened them Jeannie was just emerging from the corner shop, a paper and a magazine in her hands. She waved and began to cross the green towards him.

He met her halfway and they stood shyly two steps apart. He could see she was unsure how to begin.

“How are you?” he asked.

“Fine,” Jeannie replied.

“Did you go to the party last night?”

“I stopped by to wish Liv happy birthday, but didn’t stay for long.”

“That’s nice,” he said distractedly. “I mean, nice to have stopped by. Not nice you didn’t stay long.”

She made eye contact.

“I was doing my best to avoid Debbie and Fergus. I resigned yesterday.”

“Did you? That’s fantastic!” Nate exclaimed.

“It wasn’t that straightforward,” she said. “Like so much in life.”

“Jeannie . . .!”

Nate was in turmoil. He wanted to grab her and never let her go, but things were so uncertain just now. “We need to talk properly, somewhere quiet.”

“OK,” she agreed, unsure.

Nate glanced back towards the pub. He could see a shape moving around in the upstairs window. Was it Cally or Steph? The face turned to look out. Steph.

Jeannie followed his gaze.

“I’ll call you later.”


Alison Cook