May The Best Team Win – Episode 13

Gerard Fay © Neil and Rachel in their local pub Illustration: Gerard Fay

Maeve was early and she sat down at a table to wait for Rachel and Dawn.

It was a rare treat to go out for dinner and get away from the pub.

Brad and Kirsten, the barmaid, could manage without her.

“Maeve, I’m so glad you could make it.”

Dawn was coming towards her, a warm smile on her face. She gave Maeve a hug, then sat down opposite her.

“Shall we order a bottle of wine while we’re waiting?”

Maeve nodded and grinned. What a treat it was to relax and be served for a change.

The waitress had just brought them a cold bottle of white wine and Maeve was taking a satisfied sip, when Rachel appeared.

“Sorry I’m late,” she said. “I was talking to Sophie and lost track of time. I hope you haven’t been waiting long.”

“Not at all.” Maeve shook her head and watched Rachel with interest as she took off her coat and sat down.

She looked very pretty and Maeve couldn’t help thinking she was taking a great deal of care over her appearance these days.

She was tempted to ask her about it, but then thought better of it.

Maeve took another sip of wine and settled back to enjoy herself.

“So, how is everyone?” Dawn smiled round at them. “I hope you’ve had a good start to the week.”

Maeve nodded.

“I feel a lot better since the sign reappeared. I can’t think what’s been going on.”

Rachel choked on her wine and Dawn put a warning hand on her arm.

“I shouldn’t worry, Maeve,” she said firmly. “The main thing is that it’s back.”

Maeve nodded. She supposed Dawn was right, but it had been very upsetting and it was an odd business.

“Has anyone seen Neil recently?” Dawn asked, changing the subject. “Do you know how Apollo’s doing?”

“Neil hasn’t been in the pub so much lately. I do hope everything’s all right.”

Rachel looked up.

“Poor Neil, he adores that dog.”

“He certainly does,” Dawn agreed. “Perhaps I should call him. He’s been through so much already.”

“Has he?” Maeve thought she knew most of the punters very well and Neil was a regular.

He was a gentle, kind man, a man of habit. He was a successful accountant and loved dogs.

She’d known him for five years and had assumed he’d always led a quiet life.

Dawn and Rachel glanced at each other. It was Rachel who spoke.

“About twenty-five years ago he was engaged to a lovely girl – I didn’t know her very well.

“He met her at the accountancy firm. She was called Karen.”

“What happened?” Maeve was agog. She’d no idea that Neil had ever had a fiancée.

“She was killed in a car accident.”

Maeve swallowed and her eyes filled.

“Oh, that poor man. How awful!”

“It was.” Dawn nodded. “For a long time, he was broken up.”

Maeve shook her head. Life could be so cruel. What a dreadful thing to happen, and to such a lovely man.

Maeve did hope that Apollo was making a good recovery. She began to think about her other regulars.

“I’m a bit worried about Ali, too,” she confided. “She was looking so well, then the last few times I’ve seen her, she’s seemed low and distracted.”

Dawn seemed surprised but Rachel’s face was full of sympathy.

“She’s going through a bit of a rough patch at present,” Rachel confided.

“I don’t think she’ll mind me telling you that she and Cam are trying to start a family.”

“But that’s wonderful.” Maeve beamed.

She could remember those days vividly. The excitement of pregnancy, the wonder of a new life.

Rachel shook her head.

“It should be,” she said. “But they’re having trouble conceiving. Ali’s getting quite upset.”

Rachel cast a worried glance at Dawn, and Maeve knew exactly what she was thinking.

Poor Dawn and Graham had been down that road.

It was the great sorrow of their life that they’d been unable to have children.

Dawn’s face flooded with compassion.

“How awful. She’ll need someone to talk to. I’ll visit her tomorrow,” Dawn said decidedly.

Maeve thought that was an excellent idea. If anyone could understand and cheer Ali up, it was Dawn.

Maeve decided to change the subject again. It had all been a little gloomy so far. She turned to Rachel.

“I hope you don’t mind my asking,” she said, “but I’m wondering if you might have good news for us.

“Is anything happening between you and Ewan?”

Dawn burst out laughing, while Rachel turned scarlet.

“Possibly,” she replied cautiously. “We don’t know each other well, but we’ve been on a date.”

Maeve grinned.

“Good on you. How did it go?”

“It’s so long since I’ve dated, I hardly know. I think it was OK.”

OK? Maeve thought that sounded a bit lukewarm, but Dawn grinned.

“Well enough,” she said. “He’s asked her out again.”

To be continued…

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