“Where have you been?” Ken demanded when she arrived back to where the band members were standing.
Bethany burst into tears.
“It’s my grandad. He’s been taken away in an ambulance! He’s had some sort of attack.”
“Oh, er, sorry.”
“He should have been on the coach with us!” she snapped through her tears.
“There was no room when he asked,” Ken defended himself. “I didn’t know he was going to be ill.”
“He’s an old man!” Bethany sobbed. “You could have made room.”
The embarrassed band members went quiet, aware of the subtle tensions between the two. Rachel and Janine tried to comfort Bethany.
Bethany sat defeated in her seat, wishing with all her heart that she had gone with him. She switched her phone on to vibrate. Des seemed a nice man and would surely let her know as soon as there was any news.
* * * *
“Are you all right, lad?” Len asked Des, who sat beside his hospital bed.
“I’m fine. It’s you we’re worried about. Your son should be here any minute.”
Len lay back and shook his head. What a thing to happen. He hoped it hadn’t upset Bethany too much. It had been that walk from the station that put the lid on it. Perhaps he’d overdone it a bit in the heat. He’d had a few chest pains before and ignored them, and they usually eased when he’d rested a bit.
“You’ll have to stop worrying about everyone else and concentrate on getting better yourself,” Des insisted.
“I don’t like to be a bother,” Len confessed, closing his eyes.
He opened them moments later when he heard the familiar voices of his son and daughter-in-law.
Brian grabbed his hand.
“Oh, Dad. What have you been up to?” he asked anxiously. “The nurse said they suspect it’s your heart.”
Len patted his son’s hand to reassure him.
“I’m feeling much better now. I’m sorry to be such a bother, love,” he said, smiling at Diane.
“You’re not a bother, don’t be daft.” She’d had a word with the ward sister on the way in. “How long have you been having these chest pains?”
“Not long. They always disappeared when I took a rest. I just thought it was a touch of indigestion. This is Des, a friend of our Bethany. He’s been with me since it happened.”
“Where is Bethany?” Brian asked, suddenly aware that his daughter was missing.
“I insisted she went on playing. I heard the band mucked things up at Greenacres. They needed her.”
Des explained what had happened and Bethany’s reluctance to leave them. He mentioned Len’s refusal to go to the hospital until she left to play with the band.
“Stubborn old . . .” Brian began, but when Diane put a cautionary hand on his shoulder he squeezed his father’s hand, tears in his eyes.
“You get off home now, lad. We’ll have a pint when I get out of this place,” Len said to Des, shaking his hand.
The three waved as he left the ward.
“Our Bethany’s found herself a nice young man there. I hope she hangs on to him. He told them he was my grandson so they’d let him in with me. I wonder if that’s an omen?” Len relaxed back and closed his eyes, a satisfied smile on his face.
“Honestly, Dad,” Diane said, shaking her head with a smile. “One minute you’re a dying duck and the next minute you’re matchmaking. Bethany will make up her own mind!”
“Aye, stubborn, like her grandad,” Brian added with a heartfelt sigh. “Anyway, there’s one thing you mustn’t be stubborn about. We want you to come and stay with us when you get out of hospital.”
“Let’s play it by ear, eh?” Len said, opening one eye.
He valued his independence as much as he loved his family.