Of course, it was far too soon to be getting her hopes up, but maybe, just maybe, this could be the one, Alice thought as Rob walked her to the taxi rank across the road. He had caught the bus to the restaurant so that he could have a glass of wine, he had explained, and she had arrived in a cab.“I’ve had a terrific time, Alice,” Rob said now as they neared the rank where a taxi was sitting waiting. “Would you like to do it again some time? How about next weekend, perhaps?”“I’d love to,” she admitted with a smile. “I’ve had a nice time, too.”“Great. I’ve got your number,” he said, patting his pocket where he had put his diary after writing her number down. “I’ll ring you and we’ll make plans. It’s late I’d better let you get home.”He waved to the taxi which drew forward, and opened the door for her. As she stepped in, he dropped a light kiss on her cheek.“I’ll see you soon. Sleep tight.”Alice was in a happy daze all the way home, and as soon as she got in she checked the time. Was it too late to phone Rosie? She was bursting to tell her.She picked up the receiver and dialled before she changed her mind.Rosie’s phone was engaged odd at this time of night. Maybe it had slid off the hook. Oh, well, she would leave it till the morning.Hugging her happiness to her, she headed for bed.
Bad NewsThe phone was ringing when Rosie opened the front door, but by the time she got to it, it had stopped. Not that she could have picked it up anyway; her arms were full of all the paraphernalia they had taken with them on their day out. She had left Alan to put the car in the garage, and Ryan and Jodie were behind her, carrying the items that she hadn’t been able to manage.“Just leave the empty sandwich boxes on the worktop I’ll put them in the dishwasher tomorrow,” she told Jodie, who had brought in the picnic hamper. Ryan had a plastic bag full of empty glass and plastic bottles.“Sort them into the recycling boxes in the kitchen, will you, Ryan?”She had just put down her own armful of picnic rugs and jackets when the phone rang again. She quickly grasped the receiver.“Hi, it’s Rosie.”She listened, and as the words flowed out of the receiver, the domestic noises around her seemed to fade away, to be replaced with a white buzzing noise that swamped her senses.She was standing, the receiver locked in her hand, no sound coming out of it now except for the dialling tone, when Alan opened the door and came in, clapping his hands together.“It may have been a gorgeous day but there’s a chill in that night breeze . . . Rosie? Rosie? What is it, love? What’s happened?”She turned to look at him, and he saw that her face had gone deathly white. She tried to speak, but nothing came out. She tried again.“That was Mum. She she’s at the hospital. It’s oh, Alan, I can’t believe it. It’s Dad.”And her face crumpled as she ran into his arms.