Keep It In The Family – Episode 37

Alice had been working flat out, partly to keep herself busy since she’d walked out on Rob at the restaurant, partly to try to expel thoughts of him from her mind, but mostly because business had really picked up in the last few weeks.Times were tough everywhere, so it was particularly surprising that of all the businesses to be experiencing a bit of a local boom, it should be that of a party planner. She reckoned people must just be so sick of doom and gloom that if they had anything at all to celebrate, they were determined to do it in style.Tonight, though, she was having a rare evening at home after several evenings out visiting families and couples to discuss their hopes and dreams for their various special events.She was so glad things were finally going her friend’s way; if anyone deserved to be happy, it was Rosie, who seemed to shoulder everyone else’s troubles as well as her own. Anyway, after their usual giggly, newsy chat that night, she had made herself a tasty salad supper, had a leisurely shower, washed and conditioned her hair, and now she was painting her toenails as the titles of the DVD movie she had rented rolled up her TV screen. She’d even opened a box of chocolates left over from Christmas and was browsing the menu to choose which one she’d eat first.“This,” she told herself, “is the life. Who needs men?”And that was when the doorbell rang.She looked towards the hall in irritation.“If that’s someone selling something . . .”She’d seen stickers in those homewares catalogues that were left regularly on her doorstep, notices that you could stick on your letter-box that said No Salesmen. She’d always meant to order some.That was what was running through her mind as she went to answer the door, so when she opened it to see an enormous bunch of flowers standing there, she was momentarily speechless.“Alice?” A voice spoke from behind the flowers, then a face looked tentatively round them. Rob.“Hello, Rob,” she said.“Alice, I know I’m the last person you want to see ” He spoke quickly, as if expecting her to slam the door shut at any second “ but can I talk to you? Please?”She tilted her head and sighed. What were her choices, she wondered. She could send him packing and never know what he’d wanted to say, and wonder about it for ever. Or she could let him in and listen, but keep a guard on her soft heart.She stepped back to let him pass.“Come in. You can have ten minutes.”He looked ridiculously grateful and thrust the flowers at her as he scurried in before she changed her mind.She took her time putting the flowers in water a beautiful selection that must have cost him a fortune. The scent drifted after her as she took them through from the kitchen and placed the vase carefully in the centre of the dining table.“OK, so my ten minutes starts from now, right?” he checked earnestly, and she nodded, trying not to smile.“Alice, I am really sorry for messing you about the way I did. I acted like an idiot. Like a juvenile idiot. When I think how great things were at the start you were the best thing that had ever happened to me, and I threw it away.”He glanced at her to test her reaction, and she simply inclined her head as though to say, “Go on, I’m listening.”“May I ?” he asked, indicating a seat, and she nodded, taking the chair opposite his uneasy perch on the edge of her sofa.


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