May The Best Team Win – Episode 04

Gerard Fay © Four members of the Smarty Pints pub quiz team Illustration: Gerard Fay

Maeve wiped her brow with a serviette and turned to reach for some glasses.

It was Saturday night and the pub was full. She, Brad and Kirsten had been hard at work all evening.

It was hectic, but she was glad that the business was doing well and she always enjoyed catching up with her friends and neighbours, as they stopped by.

The Flying Duck was a homely, welcoming place or, at least, that was what she and Brad had aimed for when they’d taken over the premises.

They’d kept the pub’s name, which had appealed to them, and Brad had found the three flying ducks that had belonged to his grandmother and fixed them up opposite the bar.

Parts of the building dated back to the 16th century and, with its low beams and open fires, it provided a cosy haven.

“Hi, Maeve, how are you?”

She looked up to see that Ali and Cam had come in for a drink. They were a lovely young couple.

Along with Ewan, who was already drinking a pint and flirting with Kirsten, they made up the rest of Priscilla’s quiz team – the Master Minds.

They were a striking pair. Cam was a builder, good-looking with a square jaw and dark hair. His wife ran a jewellery business.

“I’m fine, love,” she told Ali. “You and Cam all right, I take it?”

“Oh, yes.” Ali smiled, squeezing Cam’s hand.

Cam grinned.

“Could we have a beer and a pink gin, please?”

“Coming right up!”

As she got their drinks, Maeve noticed Cam was looking around with a puzzled expression.

“Where’s the cat, then?” he asked, as she placed two glasses in front of them.

“I’m afraid we’ve had to send it back to its owners.”

“Whose is it?”

“It belongs to a new family that’s moved into Rachel’s road.”

“What a shame.” Ali looked disappointed. “I was getting so fond of it. It was such a cute thing, wasn’t it, Maeve?”

“It was,” she replied. “We’re going to miss it, but it didn’t really mix with our canine visitors, and it turns out that Priscilla is allergic.”

Cam let out a snort.

“Our Priscilla has a weakness? Who’d have thought!”

“Don’t be mean.” Ali shook her head, but her eyes were brimming with laughter. “Poor Priscilla. I guess she must have given you a hard time.”

Maeve grinned.

“She certainly made her feelings known.

“She wanted it gone before tomorrow night’s quiz, that’s for sure.”

“I bet she did.” Cam chuckled. “Talking of the quiz, I must have a word with Ewan.”

He picked up his beer and headed in his teammate’s direction.

Ali took a sip of her drink and, as she did so, her necklace caught the light.

“Oh, that’s beautiful. It must be one of yours, Ali.”

“It is, actually.” Ali took it off and passed it to Maeve.

The necklace was silver with a large teardrop pendant containing some kind of turquoise stone.

“I could make you one, if you’d like.”

“I might just put it on my birthday list,” Maeve replied with a smile. “You’re so talented.”

Ali looked pleased, but she shook her head.

“I wish everyone thought so.”

“I’m sure they do. The business is going well, isn’t it? You’ve got some glowing online reviews.”

“Yes, I have. I’m just being silly.” Ali grimaced. “It’s something Priscilla said.”

“Oh, dear.” Maeve raised her eyebrows. “I wouldn’t take any notice. You know Priscilla isn’t famed for her tact.”

“I know, but she was quite cutting.”

Maeve felt sorry for her young friend. Words could hurt, but Maeve thought that Priscilla was unaware of the impact she had.

Her heart was often in the right place, but people skills were not her strength.

“Don’t let it bother you. She probably knows very little about your business, and I doubt she’s gone online or read the reviews.”

“I guess you’re right.” Ali managed a smile. “I think she just took exception to a bracelet that one of her friends bought from me.”

Maeve shook her head. That would be just like Priscilla. If something wasn’t to her own taste, she’d certainly speak her mind about it.

“Why don’t you give Priscilla a piece of jewellery – something more her style? She’d be a powerful advocate if you could win her over,” Maeve suggested.

Ali looked thoughtful.

“Something suited to her? Thanks, Maeve, that’s a good idea.” She chuckled. “I may have to design a piece specially for her!”

“What’s so funny?” Cam had returned. He put his arm around his wife. “Glad you’re having fun.”

“Another drink, anyone?” Maeve asked.

Ewan, who had followed Cam over, shook his head.

“No, thanks, Maeve. I just came over to talk to you two beautiful ladies. How are you this evening?”

Ali rolled her eyes and Maeve bit back a smile. Ewan was another of her regulars and she was used to his banter.

Ewan was a good-looking divorcé in his forties, did something high up in the mobile phone industry and was the fourth member of Priscilla’s quiz team.

“We’re very well, thanks, Ewan, but if you’re OK for drinks, I need to go and collect some glasses.”

With that, Maeve came out from behind the bar and left them to it.

To be continued…