May The Best Team Win – Episode 29

Gerard Fay © Neil and Rachel at dinner Illustration: Gerard Fay

Priscilla frowned and a look of resignation spread across her face.

“I don’t mean to pry, but – well… Barry’s not having an affair!”

Priscilla stared.

“What do you know about it?” she asked rudely.

“I know, because he took me into his confidence,” Ali replied gently.

“I’m sorry to spoil his surprise, but you need to know this.

“He’s ordered a piece of jewellery from me for your wedding anniversary.”

Priscilla’s mouth opened.

“I believe it’s a special one – fifty years.”

Priscilla nodded.

“He has a whole range of surprises planned and he’s missing chess to arrange it all while you’re at quizzes.”

For a moment, Priscilla didn’t move. Then colour spread through her cheeks and she blew her nose.

“Thank you, my dear,” she said. “I seem to have been a silly old fool.”

Maeve wiped down the bar and turned to collect more glasses.

It was so busy today that she’d hired more staff.

As well as the usual Saturday rush, they were catering for a wedding reception.

Maeve thought it was going well so far.

They had finished serving the meal and the guests were now listening to speeches, their glasses filled with champagne.

A disco would follow – it wouldn’t be the quietest of evenings for the pub’s regular guests!

Maeve looked across to where Neil sat talking to Graham, with Apollo lying at his feet.

Priscilla was also here. She’d brought Ali and Cam out for a meal to thank Ali for putting her straight.

Poor Priscilla, she’d been so upset. Luckily, it hadn’t taken long for her to return to her usual forceful self.

A beat began to thud above them and Priscilla glanced up. She got up and came over to the bar.

“Maeve, what’s all that din? I hope it won’t go on all night.”

“It’s the wedding party, I’m afraid. It will last some time.”

Priscilla wasn’t impressed.

“Well,” she replied, her lips compressed. “I shall have to see how long I can tolerate it. Whose wedding is it?” she demanded.

“It’s Sara Grange’s. She’s just married Justin Heythrop. Dawn used to teach him years ago. He was a bit of a handful.”

Priscilla raised an eyebrow.

“Finally settling down, is he? A good thing, too. His mother used to tear her hair out over his antics.”

Priscilla went to rejoin Ali and Cam and Maeve turned to serve some other customers.

The pub looked great and she felt very proud. There was a huge floral display at the bottom of the stairs.

“Two pints, please.”

“Of course, Graham. I hope you’re enjoying your chat. I’m sorry about the noise.”

Graham laughed.

“Don’t worry about that Maeve. We wouldn’t want to stand in the way of young love.

“I think Neil’s so love-struck himself that he hasn’t even noticed.”

He winked, and Maeve looked at Neil with interest.

Maeve was just wondering whether she could ask a little more, without appearing to pry, when she was distracted by a sound on the stairs.

The groom and his best man came over to the bar and ordered whisky.

“Is everything all right?” she asked, wondering what they were doing down here.

“Absolutely fine. We just thought we’d take a break from the dancing and we fancied something stronger than wine.”

Justin grinned. Maeve nodded, expecting them to take their drinks upstairs.

Instead, they sat down and fell into conversation.

When they’d finished, they ordered more drinks. Maeve wasn’t happy. She suspected they’d had a fair bit of wine and champagne.

Normally, she’d refuse to serve them and suggest they go home, but she could hardly do that under the circumstances.

Eventually, Justin’s best man made his way back up the staircase, but Justin sat nursing a glass of whisky.

His cravat was undone, and he ran a hand through his rumpled hair.

“Don’t you think you should get yourself back to the party?” Maeve suggested. “Sara will be wondering where you are.”

He shrugged and sighed, but didn’t move. She wasn’t sure what else to say, but she felt sorry for the bride.

What could be wrong with him? He should be having a great time.

As Maeve busied herself behind the bar, she noticed Priscilla glancing in their direction now and then.

Maeve knew Priscilla was acquainted with the Heythrop family.

Well, she certainly wouldn’t be impressed with young Justin at this moment.

It wasn’t long before her inimitable customer was making her way towards them.

To be continued…

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