May The Best Team Win – Episode 19

Gerard Fay © An old colleague visits Brad in the pub Illustration Gerard Fay

“Evening, beautiful ladies, gents.” Ewan had come over with his pint.

He seemed to be avoiding Rachel’s eye.

“Brad is ready to begin the tournament, so if you’d like to go through.”

Everyone got up and wandered into the room where the dartboard hung.

Brad was there with fresh chalk, ready to keep score and Rachel began to feel excited once more.

“Well, I hope everyone’s ready.” He smiled. “This is purely a friendly set of matches. Everyone will play everyone else once.

“Whoever wins the most matches is the champion.

“We’ll also have a prize for the one who’s raised the most money.”

Rachel was a bit rusty but, as she warmed up, she got into her stride and felt quite pleased with her performance.

It helped that Dawn, who had come to spectate, was cheering her on.

Rachel won a couple of matches and enjoyed watching the others.

However, what she couldn’t get over was Neil!

“One hundred and eighty!” Brad roared, as Neil hit the bull’s-eye again.

Rachel hadn’t even known that he could play.

“One hundred and eighty!”

Every time Neil came up to the line, they chanted his name. It didn’t seem to put him off.

He was as calm as a pro.

The evening passed quickly and soon Brad was announcing the winners.

“In third place, it’s Cam. Well done, Cam!”

There was a round of applause.

“In second place, Ewan.”

Ewan grinned and took a bow.

“In first place, the runaway champion, who won all his matches – Neil!”

There were hoots and cheers, as Neil went to collect his prize – a voucher for a free pub dinner.

Brad put his arm around Neil’s shoulders.

“I’m also delighted to tell you that Neil gets a free pint for raising the most money – one thousand pounds for the hospital!”

There were gasps and applause. Poor Neil went rather red, but Rachel clapped louder than anyone.

“Can you manage, Rachel, honey?” Dawn opened the car door and handed her the crutches.

“I should be fine.” Rachel smiled at her friend, eased her legs out of the car and gingerly stood up, putting her weight on the crutches.

“There we go. Mission accomplished.”

They made their way into the pub. Graham held the door and Dawn went ahead to move some chairs, so Rachel was comfortable.

Graham brought her a glass of Prosecco.

“I don’t know what I’d do without you two.”

“Well, we couldn’t have left you at home. We don’t want the Smarty Pints to be a man down on quiz night, do we?”

Rachel laughed.

“Goodness, what happened to you?” Maeve came over, a concerned look on her face. “Are you all right, Rachel?”

“I’ll be fine, Maeve. I just managed to make a fool of myself last night at the dance class Sophie and I go to. I lost my balance, fell over and twisted my ankle.”

“Oh, you poor love.”

“It’s really not that bad. I just have to keep it raised and use the crutches until the swelling goes down.”

“Well, I’m glad you’ve made it tonight.”


They all turned to see Neil standing inside the doorway looking aghast.

“Are you all right? What’s happened to you?”

“It’s just a sprain.”

Rachel explained the story all over again, while Neil sat beside her and Apollo rested his head on her lap and looked up at her with his big eyes.

She stroked his head and smiled.

“Really you two, it’s nothing to worry about.”

Neil seemed to relax and finally began to remove his coat and scarf.

“I’m getting a pint,” he said. “Would anyone else like anything?”

As he made his way to the bar, the door opened and Ewan also entered.

He looked over to where they were sitting, did a double-take, but didn’t come over.

They had exchanged texts during the week.

She hoped things weren’t going to be difficult.

Hey babe, how about a drink? he’d typed.

Rachel hadn’t known what to reply.

Missing u, sweetie. Will pick u up @ 8.

She had to say something.

Sorry, I’m busy, Ewan.

Thursday? He’d continued.

I said just friends.

A friendly drink then? Won’t be late.

It was an exhausting conversation. She’d had to put an end to it. No, Ewan. Sorry.

He hadn’t responded.

Rachel didn’t want to upset him, but Ewan wasn’t reliable. They had nothing in common, either.

She wondered why she hadn’t realised that right from the start. Perhaps she’d just been too eager to get back out there.

Well, now she’d broken the ice, maybe someone kinder, more suited to her would come along.

To be continued…

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