Echoes From The Past – Episode 56

The weather forecast for Saturday’s wedding was not good. There was certainly going to be rain, and mention was made of a proper summer storm. The wedding planners just hoped that the reception would be over before the wind lifted the marquee off its moorings.

Holly arrived in good time, wearing the regulation uniform of waitresses everywhere – white blouse and black skirt. Anne greeted her with great relief, and introduced her to Jane, who was the caterer.

“I’m so glad you could make it,” Jane said. “I’ve so many staff off ill that I was just about to recruit Mr Hepburn.”

“Which one?” Holly asked, with a conscious blush.

“Both,” Jane said. “Though I believe Daniel has had to go to Edinburgh today.”

Holly was astonished at the pang of disappointment that shot through her.

“However, as we all know, one woman is easily the equal of two men, so we’re all set. Ah, here’s Fiona.”

Fiona Webster’s blouse was much prettier than Holly’s plain functional one, and her skirt quite a bit shorter. There was a pushiness about Fiona that Holly had only barely glimpsed before, but this time Holly was very much made to feel like the new girl in class. Fiona was possibly a year or two younger, but she was no schoolgirl. So why was she behaving like this? Could she be seeing Holly as some sort of rival for Daniel? Holly buried the thought.

The wedding menu was an all-Scottish affair – salmon terrine, roast Scottish lamb, cranachan with raspberries – and looked delicious, even before it was dished. Holly was quick to respond to instructions, and they all had the food looking perfect just as the first wedding guests arrived.

The wedding party managed to get some pretty good photographs taken against the background of the castle and its grounds before the rain started in earnest. That was when the white umbrellas came into their own. The few men on duty, who had been mostly arranging furniture and toting wine bottles, started escorting the wedding party and the guests from their cars to the marquee, while Holly and the others stood inside with trays and trays of champagne. It was a big wedding, with some very big hats, and a wonderful atmosphere of fun and happiness. No-one seemed to mind the rain at all.

It was during a brief lull before the speeches that Anne Hepburn approached Holly with a request.

“One of the guests has asked for some brochures of Daniel’s landscape gardening business. I know I have some upstairs, but I can’t take the time to look for them. Would you be able to run over to Daniel’s office and pick up a couple from there? I can tell you exactly where they are. Would you mind?”

Happy to oblige, Holly took the keys and set off with yet another white umbrella. She had just set foot out of the door into the wind and rain when she caught a glimpse of another figure emerging from Daniel’s office and locking the door behind her. She, too, was fighting the elements with an umbrella, but she was easy enough to identify.

It was Fiona, and she was holding several sheets of paper to her chest to keep them dry till she got to her flat. It was impossible to see from that distance, but Holly was suddenly sure she knew what they were. They were print-outs from Dan’s computer. She couldn’t prove it, of course, but she was sure, just the same. Eric and Maisie Taylor were blameless. It was almost certainly Fiona Webster who was stealing Daniel’s designs.

Lucy Crichton

Fiction Editor Lucy is always on the look-out for the very best short stories, poems and pocket novels. As well as sourcing enjoyable content, she enjoys working with our established contributors, encouraging new talent, and celebrating 155 years of 'Friend' fiction!