HOLLY’S first thought when she woke up was that this would be their first married Valentine’s Day. She put out her hand to find Corin, but the other side of the bed was empty.
They had the biggest bedroom, for the moment, the one above the dining-room, with the view over the loch. It would be gorgeous when it was decorated in the creamy yellow scheme she’d planned, especially when the morning light filtered through the curtains. She would be quite sorry when the annexe was refurbished for the four of them to move into.
Downstairs Corin, dressed in shorts, was drinking a glass of water.
“I tried not to wake you, sweetheart,” he said to her. “I haven’t been for a run for ages. Must get into the habit again.”
Holly gave him a small smile. No, she told herself, don’t mention Valentine’s Day. Besides, her mum and dad were here, eating cereal at the table. Holly got a bowl for herself and sat down.
“What are we all doing today, then?” her dad asked. “Judy and I are going to tackle the annexe.”
Their furniture from the B&B had been stuffed into the annexe, along with what Corin and Holly had brought from their Glasgow flat. Before they had any chance to paint the place, never mind move in, they had to decide what to keep for their own use and what to put into the hotel.
“I’ll give you a hand after I’ve spoken to the painter,” Holly said. “He’s coming at half eight. And Corin and I will do the bar lunches.”
Corin sat down beside her.
“Now that I’ve spoken to suppliers and know what I can get, I’ll start to plan menus. We could offer dinners before the bedrooms are ready, couldn’t we?”
“Great idea. Start the ball rolling. I’ll do a notice and try to get some publicity,” he said.
“The painter’s starting with the downstairs cloakroom,” Holly said. She put her bowl in the dishwasher. “Oh, I know what else I’ve got to do. That book-in ledger Charlie Mack showed us. I’ll go through the office yet again, see if I can find it. I wish we were getting the computer system in place before next month.”
She was in the office when Philip rang. Since that first phone call the night they’d arrived he hadn’t put on any silly voices when he phoned but he did call fairly regularly to “check up on them” as Tom put it, but not in front of Corin, of course.
Philip and Verity had made a flying visit a few weeks ago. Of course, it had to be the day when most of the ground floor had had its wallpaper stripped off and the furniture was covered in dustsheets. Verity had looked aghast but Corin had made a fabulous dinner that Philip said was worth travelling to the Wild West for.
“How’s my favourite daughter-in-law?” Philip asked now. Holly laughed dutifully. “Now, we’ve been talking at the golf club. We’d like to make a booking at the Ferryboat for the first week in May. That’s when the new golf course opens at Benlorn. Four twin rooms. For yours truly plus seven pals. Do you need their names?”
Holly tried to sound as professional as if she was back at the reception desk of the Glasgow Grand instead of in this poky room scrabbling to find a pen.
“Not at this stage, Philip. I’ll put the booking under your name. We’ll look forward to seeing you all.”
“You’ll see Verity and myself before then, of course. Set a date for the big opening party?”
Holly grimaced at the phone.
“Not yet. You’ll be the first to know, Philip.”
As she hung up she could hear Corin opening the door to the painter.
She couldn’t help remembering last Valentine’s Day, a few weeks before they got married. Their work shifts meant that they wouldn’t be able to see each other all day. But Corin turned up at the Grand with a little wicker basket containing some of her favourite things to eat on her lunch break. Underneath she found an envelope with a card and a delicate heart-shape on a silver chain.
She recalled now what he’d said in the card, and put up her hand to touch the necklace. She’d worn it every day since, even on their wedding day. She had got Corin a present for this Valentine’s Day, bought ages ago, before they moved. She’d thought the day would start with a present exchange so his was still hidden upstairs.
“Sweetheart?” Corin pushed open the door of the office. “Garry’s here. He’s to do the cloakroom this morning.”
“Yes.” Holly pulled herself together. “I’m just coming. I still haven’t found the book-in ledger.”
Garry the painter joined them later for a sandwich lunch in the kitchen.
“I’ve been looking at the hotel sign by the gate,” Tom said. “I thought it only needed repainting but it’s falling to bits. We’ll have to get a new one made. So I was just wondering ” he looked around the table “ if we might take the opportunity to change the name?”
“Change the name?” Judy repeated.
“The actual ferryboat won’t be running for much longer, will it? How about the Bridge Inn? Garry, you’re local. What do you think?”
“You can try,” Garry said, grinning.
“I’ll go ahead, then,” Tom said. “The Bridge Inn. Sounds good, I think.”
After an afternoon spent moving furniture about in the annexe, Holly went back to the hotel and had a shower. When she came downstairs, Corin was emerging from the dining-room. He shut the door behind him. Then Tom appeared in the hall, wearing his coat.
“I’m off, then,” he said, winking at Corin.
“Off where?” Holly asked.
“I’ve got a date with my best girl. See you later.”
“Where are they going?” Holly turned to Corin in bewilderment.
“Come with me.” Corin opened the dining-room door with a flourish and ushered her inside.
The room was in soft candlelight and there was a table set for two.
“Dinner is served or it will be in a moment,” Corin said. He tilted her chin up so that he could kiss her. “Happy Valentine’s Day, Mrs Grainger.”