The Inn On Bluebell Lane — Episode 27

Ava scooped out a handful of raisins, clutching them in one chubby fist.

“Can I eat one?” she asked, and Gwen smiled.

“Of course you can.”

She laughed as Ava crammed the whole handful of raisins into her mouth.

“Greedy goose,” she said affectionately. “Save some for the cakes.”

“Hello?” a voice called from the hallway, and then Suzanne appeared in the kitchen, holding a casserole dish wrapped in foil.

“Isn’t this cosy,” she remarked. “Are you baking with Granny, Ava?”

“Welsh cakes,” Ava said.

Suzanne smiled, but Gwen thought her daughter looked a little discomfited.

“I’ve brought you dinner.”

“That’s very kind, Suzanne, but you didn’t have to –”

“I was trying to be helpful,” Suzanne said in a slightly injured tone. “What with Matthew’s arm . . .”

“It’s not as if he did much cooking,” Gwen answered mildly as she took the casserole. “But thank you.”

She knew Suzanne needed to feel needed.

Sometimes she forgot, because her daughter was so quietly capable, and yet right now was a reminder that like everyone else, Suzanne had insecurities.

“Where’s Ellie?” Suzanne asked and Gwen told her about the playdate.

“They’re all settling in, then? I’ve been meaning to ask Ellie over for a coffee.”

“I’m sure she’d appreciate it.”

“I saw her in the café with Emma Owen. She seems to be quite busy.”

“Even so,” Gwen replied. “It’s got to be hard, moving so far away from home.”

Another thing she needed to keep reminding herself of. She turned back to Ava.

“Let’s put the raisins in.”

Suzanne watched silently as Gwen and Ava finished making the Welsh cakes.

“Can I flip them, Granny?” Ava asked as she put them on the griddle pan on the Aga. “Can I?”

“Of course you can, if you’re careful.”

Suzanne continued to watch them for a moment.

“I remember when you used to bake with Mairi.”

“Yes, I did, didn’t I?” It had been years ago now.

Now that Mairi was a full-fledged teen, she didn’t seem to have as much time for baking with her granny.

Gwen helped Ava to flip the cakes, and then take them off the pan to cool on a rack.

She glanced up at Suzanne, who had a slight frown on her face.

“Is everything all right?”

“What?” Suzanne came to herself with another little shrug. “Oh. Yes. Fine.”

“Why don’t you bring Mairi and Owen over this weekend?” Gwen said. “I’m sure the children would like to spend time together.”

“Perhaps . . .” Suzanne sounded dubious, and Gwen wondered what was really going on.

Before she could ask, the front door was flung open and Craig and Jess burst into the kitchen.

“I’m starving,” Craig groaned dramatically, before his gaze alighted on the cooling cakes. “Ooh, can I have one of those?”

“They’ve got raisins in –”

Craig shrugged.

“I don’t mind raisins.”

She smiled at that.

“Go on, then. You, too, Ava, since you helped to make them.”

“I flipped them,” Ava said proudly, and to Gwen’s surprise, Jess smiled at her younger sister.

“Good job, Ava,” she said, and for once didn’t sound surly or bored.

“Cup of tea, anyone?” Gwen asked as she went to fill the kettle, a smile spreading over her face.

This was how she’d always imagined it – a full kitchen, a full heart.

“How was school?”

“It was OK,” Jess said, and she sounded as if she meant it.

OK was a lot better than what it had been, Gwen knew.

“I’ve joined the Minecraft Club,” Craig said. “It’s pretty cool.”

“Granny, these cakes are delicious,” Ava said. “I really do like raisins.”

Gwen plonked the kettle on the stove before turning to her daughter.

“Suzanne? Cup of tea?”

Suzanne was regarding the whole happy scene with a strange look on her face.

She turned to Gwen with a quick, bright smile.

“No, no, I really must be off. I’ve got to collect Mairi from her swimming lesson and Owen has a science project.

“It’s such a busy time of year, isn’t it?”

She directed another bright smile at the children.

“See you lot later, OK?”

“OK, Aunt Suzanne,” they answered dutifully, and then Suzanne was off.

Gwen watched her daughter leave with a troubled frown.

What was bothering Suzanne? She’d have to get to the bottom of it.

She turned back to the children with a determined smile.

It was so lovely to think of something other than her own health, to have children to care for.

Maybe all they’d needed was a little time to get used to each other.

Alan Spink

Alan is a member of the “Friend” Fiction Team. He enjoys working closely with writers and being part of the creative process, which sees storytelling ideas come to fruition. A keen reader, he also writes fiction and enjoys watching football and movies in his spare time. His one tip to new writers is “write from your imagination”.