The Ferryboat – Episode 21

JUDY stepped outside the back door. If there had been a shining moon in the sky she would have howled at it, but at six o’clock it was barely visible.

Their much-delayed opening party was happening in an hour’s time and there was still such a lot to do.

Verity and Iris had been roped in to help Corin with the food preparation but they weren’t nearly finished. Tom was tearing his hair out because a promised wine delivery hadn’t arrived. Holly was feeling peaky but refused to go and lie down. Philip was striding around looking busy but not actually doing anything. There were the extra glasses to wash and flowers to arrange in reception.

And she’d just had a text from Louise:

Surprise! Didn’t want to miss the party. We’re two miles away. See you soon!

The May bank holiday had come and gone. Louise and Eddie had exams the week after it so a visit north was out of the question. Now, a fortnight later, although of course Marilyn and Louise knew about the party, the possibility of them being able to come hadn’t arisen. School hadn’t broken up and the party was on a Thursday night. But here they were did “We” mean Eddie as well? arriving any minute and nowhere for them to sleep. Why on earth hadn’t they let her know earlier?

“Judy, are you OK?”

Judy handed her phone to Tom.

“Surprise, surprise.”

“Good grief,” Tom said, reading the text. “Well, that’s great, isn’t it? The family together after all these months.”

“Of course,” Judy said, “it’s wonderful. But ”

“I know. That’s your mother and daughter for you. We’ll have to go with the flow.”

“All the bedrooms are taken.” Judy tried to think but her brain seemed to be stuck.

“We’ll work something out. Are you coming back in? Verity’s persuaded Holly to go to bed for a couple of hours. It’s all hands on deck in the kitchen. Thank goodness Holly thought to ask Iris to give us some time this afternoon.”

Judy nodded.

“She’s a really hard worker.”

As they turned to go inside, a large van rumbled into the back yard.

Tom heaved a sigh of relief.

“That’s my delivery for the bar.”

Behind the lorry came a car. Louise rolled down the passenger window and waved frantically.

“Mum! Dad! We’re here!”

* * * *

Marilyn joined the food production line in the kitchen. Her quick, coral-tipped fingers spooned fillings into Corin’s boat-shaped pastry cases as she told them about the flight to Glasgow and the journey in the hired car up the winding road to Lorn.

Like an excited puppy, Louise ran around the hotel investigating her family’s new home.

“Wow!” she exclaimed, looking out of the window at the bridge nearing completion across the loch. “I must send Eddie a picture. He loves bridges. Will it be finished when we come up in the summer?”

“I don’t think so,” Judy said. “They keep putting the date back.” She put her arms around Louise. “It’s lovely to have you here. But shouldn’t you be at school?”

“Nah, I’m on study leave to finish my final art project. Poor old Ed’s behind with his so his mum wouldn’t let him come up. Can me and Granmar stay until Sunday? We’ve got a flight booked for Sunday afternoon.”

“Of course,” Judy said, crossing her fingers behind Louise’s back. “Why don’t you go over to the annexe and see Holly now?”

“Is she all right?” Louise asked. “Imagine. Me, an auntie!”

“She gets tired easily,” Judy said. “It’s still early days so I am a little worried about her. She’s going to have a scan in a couple of weeks. Can you help this evening, handing food round?”

“Of course,” Louise replied. “I’ll see Holls then get changed. Which room am I in?”

“Um, I’ll show you later. Look, the annexe is out the front door here and round to the side. Knock gently on the door first.”


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