May The Best Team Win – Episode 23

Gerard Fay © Neil and Rachel meet outside pub Illustration: Gerard Fay

Neil rattled the pub door in surprise. It was definitely locked. He raised an eyebrow and tried again.

Then, he stepped back and stared up at the closed windows. There were no lights on.

He knew that Brad had whisked Maeve away for the weekend, but he’d expected Kirsten and the rest of the cover team to have opened up by now.

“Evening, Neil.” Graham and Dawn had arrived and were walking towards him.

“What are you doing waiting out here?”

“The place is locked up. I don’t think anyone’s here.”

Graham glanced up at the façade.

“I think you’re right, Neil,” he said. “That’s odd. Where is everyone?”

Neil had no idea.

“What are you all doing?”

Rachel, Ali, Cam and Ewan converged on the scene.

“The pub’s locked. There’s no one about.”

“Where’s Brad and Maeve?”

“Brad’s taken Maeve away for the weekend, Ewan. Didn’t you know?

“She lost her mum a year ago. He thought she needed a break.”

“Great idea. Weekend away with a lovely lady – we should all be doing it.”

Neil saw Rachel roll her eyes and smiled to himself.

He had been glad it was dark out here when she’d arrived. He’d found himself blushing like a teenager.

Since she’d hugged him at the Quiz Quartet, he couldn’t deny it any longer – he had feelings for her.

If Neil were honest, he’d cared about her for a long time, but she’d been so badly hurt by her divorce and, until now, never seemed interested in dating.

“I hope Kirsten’s all right. Why isn’t she here?” Ali looked worried. “I’m going to text her.”

“Whatever’s going on? Why aren’t you inside? It’s almost time for the Sunday quiz.” Priscilla strode down the street to join them.

“The pub is closed.” Neil told her.

Priscilla frowned and opened her mouth to reply, just as Ali checked her phone and exclaimed.

“Oh dear, poor Kirsten! She’s in bed with flu. There aren’t enough people to open up.”

“Most unfortunate.” Priscilla tutted. “No quiz – unheard of.”

“I suppose we’d better go home before we freeze. If anyone has paper, I’ll just put up a notice saying the pub’s shut due to illness.” Neil smiled.

Dawn fished in her bag and passed him a notepad.

“That’s all very well,” Priscilla remarked. “But it’s Sunday night! It’s quiz night and we need the practice.

“The Quiz Quartet semi-final will be upon us before we know it.”

“I don’t think we have much choice,” Neil said.

“There’s always a choice,” Priscilla retorted. “The Master Minds will come to my house to practise instead.

“Barry is out playing chess as usual, so we won’t disturb him. You’re very welcome to join us.”

Neil didn’t hesitate long. He saw Graham and Dawn exchange glances, but Rachel looked happy.

“We’d be delighted to accept,” he said. “Thank you, Priscilla.”

Priscilla lived in a large house at the edge of the village, backing on to fields.

It was an elegant 18th-century building on raised ground that looked down on Oak Crescent.

All of the Master Minds lived in this road. It was how they had formed their team.

“Well, come in everyone,” Priscilla said. “Leave your shoes in the rack and hang your coats here. Neil, let Apollo off his lead.”

They did as they were told and Priscilla led the way into her living room.

It was a beautiful room painted in pale blue and white.

The embers of a fire smouldered in the fireplace behind a guard.

There were tall bookshelves along one wall and some beautiful works of art. Priscilla had excellent taste.

“Do sit down,” she told them, as she removed the guard and stoked the fire into life.

“Now, what can I get you to drink? Wine, brandy or whisky?”

Soon they were all settled. Neil had managed to get a seat next to Rachel and he felt very content.

The fire was now roaring and the room was cosy, he had a glass of Bordeaux in his hand and he was ready to enjoy the evening.

“I suggest that we work in pairs and come up with twenty quiz questions each, then we will see if each team knows the answers.

“I’ll record those we don’t and we can take them away and learn them.”

Neil smiled. Priscilla certainly enjoyed organising everyone, but it was a good idea.

“Ali and Cam, Graham and Dawn can work together. I will go with Ewan, and Neil you work with Rachel.”

Neil turned towards Rachel who smiled at him and he caught his breath.

She was so lovely. He’d desperately like to take her out for dinner, but was there any chance she’d go?

Rachel had only just broken up with Ewan and would she ever be interested in him?

To be continued…

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