Countdown To Christmas – Episode 22

NICK EVANS was among those who answered the call, and an hour and a half later he was toiling with a squad of about 20 men wielding shovels with a will to clear the thick snow from the car park.Although Ted had volunteered, too, Nick had persuaded him that he would be better indoors, preparing the hall for the evening’s performance which they were determined would go ahead.As word got around about the efforts to clear the way, more and more people were arriving, and Evelyn had organised a team of bystanders to fire up the tea urn in the hall kitchen.Megan, though, was outside, shovelling away with the best of them.“Best exercise I’ve had for ages,” she said to Nick as she worked beside him.As more and more tarmac emerged from its blanket of white the mood became quite festive, with a constant stream of banter flying back and forth.Evelyn appeared at the door, pushing a dining trolley before her laden with an unmatched assortment of mugs. She stopped right on the threshold.“Tea’s up! But you’ll have to have it out here, because I’ve had the floors cleaned ready for tonight and I’m not having you lot tramping your filthy boots all over it!”Good-natured grumbles greeted her, and Megan chuckled at Nick.“The show must go on!”George came panting along the road, wading about in wellies that were three sizes too big for him his dad’s, all he could find at short notice. He held up two bulging carrier-bags, grinning.“Mum’s sent over chocolate biscuits. Help yourselves!”“Good old Irene, she knows the way to a man’s heart!” Phil shouted, taking one of the bags and sharing the biscuits around.As she leaned against the wall with Nick, mugs of tea in their hands and a weak wintry sun taking the chill off the morning now, Megan felt more content than she had for ages. That heart-to-heart with Carole had done wonders for her. It had put into perspective her break-up with Ryan. Carole had been right they should be proud of themselves for having recognised before the big day that getting married wasn’t right for them, and for taking the (very) brave step of calling it off. They had parted as friends. Better that than bitter divorcees.If it hadn’t been for Carole’s wise words, too, Megan wouldn’t have seen sense about Nick. She knew she would have missed out on something very special. Since the evening she’d gone to talk to him, and had seen his wonderful smile when she told him that she’d changed her mind about that date if it was still on offer, their occasional dates had turned quickly into practically every evening, and she’d never been happier.She glanced up at him, his face fresh and rosy from his exertions, and she knew she was in exactly the right place at the right time, with the right man.He must have sensed her looking, because he gave her a smile.“What?”“Nothing. I’m just thinking what a lot I have to tell Mum and Dad when I go home for Christmas.”He turned to face her, and standing close together like that it was as if they were in their own little world.“I’ll miss you, you know.” “Good,” she said simply.“I mean, really miss you. I know you’ve already made your plans for this Christmas, but maybe next Christmas I could come with you? Or when you visit in the summer. Or Easter. Or . . . your birthday’s in February, isn’t it?” She was laughing, and he went on. “What I’m trying to say is, I know it’s too early to be making any promises, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to want to meet them, sooner rather than later.”He bent his head and dropped a kiss on her lips, and it was a kiss full of promise.“If that’s all right with you?” he finished and she nodded happily.“Very definitely all right.”“OK, that’s enough slacking for now!” Phil shouted, putting his mug back on Evelyn’s trolley and rallying his troops again. “If we really put our backs into it, we’ll have the rest of this lot cleared by lunchtime.”


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