Isle Of Second Chances – Episode 27

Sandy put his arm over Annie’s shoulders.

“Come away up to the house,” he said. “The girls have been baking. There’s a high tea waiting, and you can tell us all the details.”

With the larks singing overhead, they walked through the field as a group.

At the burn, Nicola hesitated, then slipped off her shoes and stepped over the stones.

She turned to Donnie.

“Satisfied now?”

“It’ll do.” He smiled. “Just. So get your fancy shoes back on.”

After the meal, they all retreated into the lounge.

“Right, what happened?” Annie demanded. “Where do we stand?”

“Back on our own two feet,” Nicola replied. “The bank will honour cheques again, and your normal supplies from Mallaig will be on the next ferry out.”

“How did you manage that?”

Nicola went over to sit on the arm of Annie’s chair.

“Don’t be angry,” she said. “I paid them off.”

“With what?” Annie’s eyes widened.

“My own money,” Nicola said quietly. “Only cash would break that bit of the deadlock.

“Please don’t be offended. See it as an investment that I am happy to make in my aunt and the wonderful product she has built – helping people.”

“I’ll pay you back, Nicola,” Annie promised, smiling.

“‘When God made time, he made plenty of it’,” Nicola quoted. “Like you told all your female patients, you can pay me back as and when you can.”

“Maybe,” Annie said. “What about the council tax?”

“Settled,” Nicola stated. “They will send out someone to assess what we are doing, but the chances are that you will be treated as some form of charity and taxed only as an individual. That’s still to be decided – part of the eighteen months ahead.”

Annie frowned.

“You said ‘settled’. Does that mean paid? By you?”

Nicola slipped her arm round her aunt’s shoulders.

“By me,” she said.

“How can I ever pay you back?” Annie’s voice broke.

“There is another option,” Nicola said. “Your business needs to be recapitalised and to get a whole lot of new funding pumped into it. Working capital to tide us over until we generate enough income to cover our costs.”

“Will the bank do this and lend us even more?”

“No. But I can – if you’re willing to bring me on board as a partner.”

Annie blinked.

“Gladly – without a second’s doubt. You have the money?”

“Yes. Enough to keep us afloat until we turn the centre around.”

“But why?”

Nicola hugged her aunt one-handed.

“Because blood’s thicker than water. But also because I believe in what you’ve been doing, and I want to find a way to make it work.”

“But what about your own job down in London?” Annie asked.

“I’ve quit; phoned my boss. After what I’ve seen you do here for others the whole London scene seemed so . . . trivial, selfish. I wanted out.”

“Like Donnie?” Annie asked quietly.

“Like Donnie,” Nicola echoed.

She felt a big work-roughened hand close gently on her shoulder.

“Well, I’m blowed,” Sandy said. “Welcome home, lass.”

“Come on,” Donnie said. “You’ve told us only half the story, I reckon. Nobody has that amount of money sloshing around their bank account.”

“Nor had I. So I’ve sold my investments and put my London apartment up for sale. The crazy house prices down there mean that selling one, even when you only part-own it, gives you a small fortune for anywhere else in Britain.”

“And that’s where the recapitalisation will come from?”


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!