Rachel followed the others and they took up their positions. Neil looked round.
“Enjoy yourselves,” he said. “You’re a wonderful team and we’re capable of winning. Let’s go for it.”
They nodded and grinned, and then they were off.
Rachel was caught up in the moment, her mind focused on the questions.
The first few rounds were tough, but between them they knew a lot of answers.
Out of the corner of her eye, Rachel could see the Master Minds scribbling away furiously, too.
“And now some music questions.”
Rachel and Dawn looked at each other.
“Who composed ‘Tosca’?”
They bit their lips.
“Oh, come on,” Rachel told herself, “you know this!”
Rachel had covered lots of well-known operas in her research. She was growing tense, when suddenly it came to her.
“Puccini,” she whispered. Neil wrote it down.
The final round continued and, before they knew it, it was all over. But who had won?
The Smarty Pints rose from their seats and went in search of refreshment, whilst the scores were calculated.
“This round’s on me,” Neil told his team-mates. “You were all brilliant.”
“Goodness, that was intense.” Dawn pressed her hands to her cheeks.
“It was,” Graham replied. “But I think we did well.”
Rachel nodded. Whether they won or not, she was sure they hadn’t disgraced themselves.
It would be a close finish.
“Final scores are in!” Brad took his place to announce the winners.
“So, in alphabetical order – the Master Minds have fifty-one points.”
Rachel gasped and they exchanged horrified glances. That was the highest score of the competition so far.
“And the Smarty Pints have… fifty-two! The Smarty Pints are the winners!”
There was a moment’s silence, then everyone erupted. They’d done it! They’d won the Quiz Quartet, and beaten Priscilla!
Rachel squealed and hugged her team members. Everyone was beaming.
“We’ve finally done it!”
Neil gazed at her. His eyes were shining. Without further thought, Rachel threw her arms around him and kissed him soundly.
They turned to see Priscilla beside them and, to Rachel’s amazement, she was smiling.
“It’s about time.”
“Thank you, Priscilla. You’re very magnanimous.”
“Well,” she replied, “since I shall be joining the Smarty Pints, I’m thrilled that they’ve shown what they’re made of.”
Rachel’s jaw dropped.
“Did you say you’re joining the Smarty Pints?”
“That’s right. Ali and Cam will be giving up the quiz for a while, now they’re going to be parents, and Ewan’s work is transferring him to the city.”
“But we’re only allowed four in a team.”
“Graham and I are going to take turns attending the quiz in future,” Dawn told her. “We’ve decided to foster.”
It took Rachel a moment to digest this. She gasped and hugged her friend.
“Oh, Dawn, that’s brilliant. You’ll be fantastic foster parents. I’m so pleased for you.”
“Well, we’ve been thinking about it ever since Maeve suggested it weeks ago.”
“It’s a fabulous idea.”
Rachel smiled round at her friends and neighbours. So much good news and a quiz victory, too. What a wonderful evening.