Keep It In The Family – Episode 15

If Alice’s relationship had experienced a bit of a wrinkle, Sarah was having no such problems with her fledgling romance. After exchanging texts and e-mails with Paul, the guy she had told Rosie about meeting in the music shop, they had been seeing each other more often.Just twenty-one, Sarah hadn’t ever been in love yet, but she wondered if this was it. She couldn’t imagine being happier. Whenever she was getting ready for a date with him, she felt as fizzy as a glass of champagne. She gave her reflection a final glance in the long mirror on her wardrobe door and then went skipping down the stairs to find her mother in the kitchen, tackling a pile of ironing with one eye on the TV in the corner.“Mum! I told you I’d do that tomorrow.”Joyce folded the little top neatly before plucking another from the laundry basket and spreading it out on the ironing board.“I don’t mind. I’ve always found ironing quite soothing. I used to love ironing your dad’s shirts, making them all smooth and crisp and knowing how smart he’d look in them. I miss that.”“Tell you what I don’t have to go into college until two tomorrow, so how about I trade you by whizzing round with the vacuum cleaner in the morning, and then we’ll have a girls’ lunch out?”Sarah was rewarded with a big smile and a kiss on the cheek.“Lovely! Are you off out again with Paul? You’re seeing a lot of him. He must be special.”“I think he might be, Mum. We’re going to see a film tonight so I shouldn’t be too late back. Will you be all right on your own?”Joyce flapped a dismissive hand.“Of course. I’ve got my soaps to watch, and Rosie said she might call in. Off you go and enjoy yourself.”Sarah had arranged to meet Paul at the cinema, but when she got there, instead of going in, he took her hand and led her away. He seemed nervous.“I need to talk to you, Sarah. Can we just go for coffee for now?”“Sure,” she agreed, her heart sinking. Was he about to break up with her?There was none of their usual easy banter as they walked to the coffee shop on the corner. While she found a table, Paul brought coffees from the counter. He fidgeted with his spoon and Sarah looked anxiously at him.“What is it, Paul?”For a moment he looked everywhere but at her, as if he was searching for the right words, until finally his gaze met hers.“Sarah, I know we’ve only been dating for a few weeks, but I think the world of you.”“That’s good.” She let out a gasp of relief. “I think you’re special, too. Is that what you wanted to say?”He grimaced slightly.“I wish. I don’t know if you’ve noticed but I’ve been pretty vague about where I work.”Sarah thought back. It was true; he’d said he was a delivery driver for a local firm, but she’d never pressed him about it. But so what? Unless . . . Her father’s trucking firm had only one major local rival, Radley Transport, with whom he had had to compete for every contract. For the most part the rivalry had been healthy and respectful, but she remembered mutterings recently since Radley had appointed a new manager. Martin had been dubious about some of the new man’s methods.Sarah looked at Paul.“Are you saying you work for Radley Transport?”Paul nodded, watching her face, trying to gauge her reaction. He knew how fierce the competition between the two firms was and that things had been edgy in recent months.“Is it a problem?” he asked.Sarah sat back, thinking.“I can’t say it bothers me. I have nothing to do with the business.”His face was relaxing, and he sat forward in his chair.“So you’ll keep seeing me? I’m not dumped? Even now you know?”“Well, I suppose I could be cross that you didn’t tell me earlier. Think how much worry you could have saved yourself. But no, I don’t see why it should make any difference.” She started laughing. “What are the chances, though. It’s like ‘Casablanca’ of all the trucking companies in all the world . . . !”“So, do you still want to see the film? We can just make it,” he urged.Quickly she drained the dregs of her coffee and stood up.“You’re on,” she declared, and grasped his hand, and they were laughing as they went running up the street.In the darkened cinema, however, she found her thoughts straying from the story being played out on screen. Although Paul’s affiliation to the rival firm really didn’t bother her, she wondered if she was being nave. Was it important? Would Rosie or Adam see things differently?She’d better speak to Rosie about it, she decided, and then instantly changed her mind. Rosie had so much on her plate just now, with the changes at Willson’s and the uncertainty of Alan’s job, too, not to mention keeping an eye on their mother. And speaking to Adam was out of the question. She felt he was practically a stranger after so many years away.Her mum? Like Rosie, Joyce had so much on her mind just now that Sarah felt her own romance was too trivial to bother her with.Suddenly she pictured Freya, not much older than her, a naturally sympathetic person, and with a wife’s understanding of Adam. Yes she would phone Freya and see what she thought.


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