Isle Of Second Chances – Episode 18


“Helped them through their troubles, guided them into sorting out new starts and new lives for themselves. You can’t be good at everything, so stop beating yourself up – isn’t that what you tell your patients?”

“I’m not a patient,” Annie argued.

“Oh, you are. You’re my patient,” he said quietly.

“Not any more,” she said firmly. “I’m taking over my life again. I’ll be sensible, I promise.”

Sandy’s bushy eyebrows rose in silent incredulity.

“Well, sort of sensible,” she amended.

His face broke into a smile.

“We’ll see,” he said. “You always were a thrawn besom. Do you want coffee?”

“Is it instant coffee?”

“Yes.”

“Then I’ll have tea.”

“It’s teabag tea,” he warned.

Annie groaned.

“I’m going home,” she said. “Back to where people love me.”

The smile became a grin as Sandy rummaged in a high cupboard.

“How about some of Ellen’s drinking chocolate?” he asked. “You can set that against her account.”

“I’ll stay,” Annie decided promptly.

The sheepdog forgot all his training and climbed up on to her lap.

Sandy sighed.

“You spoil that dog,” he complained. “You and Donnie. It’s only a working beast, not a lap dog.”

“Then why have I caught you sleeping here with the dog curled up on your lap?” she demanded.

“Ouch!” Sandy said. “Here’s your chocolate. I made it extra strong.”

“Thanks.” Annie cupped her hands around the mug. “There’s something in Nicola’s eyes and face – I think she has the start of an idea, Sandy. I asked, but she wouldn’t tell me. However, I am starting to hope again.”

He looked soberly across the fireside at her.

“Aye,” he said heavily.

She looked at him shrewdly.

“Not even a ‘maybe aye, and maybe no’?”

He looked over at her. For a moment, his eyes were unguarded, and it was as if she saw her reflection there, and deeper, too, in his heart.

Then the wild grey eyebrows came down.

“While there’s life, there’s hope,” he said gruffly. “Win or lose, Donnie and I will still be standing at your side.”

Annie felt her eyes fill up.

“What more could I ask?” she said huskily.

 

*  *  *  *

“I was expecting a bigger boat,” Nicola said uncertainly.

“It’s big enough,” Donald replied, holding the old motor-launch against the iron ladder of the pier. “Come on,” he encouraged. “You’ll find it easier if you turn and reverse down. Grab that handrail on the floor of the pier. I’ll guide your feet.”

A few minutes later she was sitting breathlessly on one of the middle thwarts as the launch swung away from the pier, its slow engine beat deepening.

Donald leaned forward to open up the throttle a little and the boat headed out into the more open water of the bay, lifting easily to the waves.

Nicola grabbed at the gunwale to steady herself.

“Relax, you’re safe,” he said, smiling. “This is the local boat they used to send out to the ferry before the pier was built.

“They opened a side door on the ferry at water level, and handed over supplies and passengers, with the two boats lifting up and down – and half the locals on the old pier, watching.”

Nicola clung on to the rough wooden gunwale.

“Watching for what?” she asked.

“For whom,” he corrected. “They were watching to see if anyone looking even remotely like a man from Customs and Excise was landing on the island.”

“Why?”

His smile broadened.

 

lucycrichton

Fiction Team’s 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 150 years of 'Friend' fiction!