The Life We Choose – Episode 22

Hearing the slam of the door, Fleur Grant put down her teacup and arranged herself in a reclining position on her chaise longue, extending one dainty foot and withdrawing a lavender-scented handkerchief from her silk purse. She closed her eyes, waiting for the lightest of kisses that her husband would plant on her forehead as he came into the room. She would pretend to start into wakefulness, then plead a migraine and wheedle him into a trip to Paris for the good of her health.

The drawing-room door slammed. There were heavy footfalls across the room and Fleur was enveloped in a sudden shower of dampness.

“Come down, Vulcan. Bad dog.”

Her sister-in-law’s stentorian tones made the windows rattle and Fleur opened her eyes to look straight into the face of not one but two very damp wolfhounds. Vulcan had been joined by his brother, Thor, who was planting muddy footprints on the silk of her chaise longue.

Fleur sat up.

“Get these dogs out of here, Bunty. You know that they’re not allowed in the house. They’re wet.” She winced as Vulcan shook himself and a shower of droplets caught her full in the face.

Bunty poked the fire into a blaze, sat down on the fender stool and pulled off her sturdy boots.

“Of course they’re wet. It’s raining outside and we’ve just had a brisk walk.”

Fleur glared at her resentfully as the dogs steamed gently by the fire.

“I do wish you’d take them back to Edinburgh with you. They’re a nuisance left here with only the gardener’s boy to look after them.”

Bunty threw off her jacket and stretched out her stockinged legs towards the fire.

“Can’t take them back, and well you know it. A house in the New Town is no place for a pair of large dogs. No place for me, come to think of it, but it has its compensations.”

There was a pause, the only sound the crackling of the fire and the sighs of contentment as Thor and Vulcan settled down on the hearthrug.

Fleur rearranged herself on the chaise longue and closed her eyes.

“I have a migraine coming on,” she said faintly, hoping Bunty would leave the room before her husband returned.

“Lack of fresh air.” Bunty was unsympathetic. “And not enough to occupy your mind, in my opinion. You should take more of an interest in the running of the house, Fleur, or read a good book now and then.”

“When are you going back to Edinburgh?” was her sister-in-law’s faint response.

“I think I’ll stay on here for a bit,” Bunty replied. “Giles is beginning to get on my nerves. He’s taken to proposing every time I go into his bookshop. I think I’ll stay away and let his ardour cool a bit.”

Fleur kept her eyes tightly shut and felt the first stab of a real headache.

“I wish you’d stop giving away pieces of furniture to those people down in Langrigg. Are you intent on emptying the house altogether, Bunty? Do you have my husband’s permission to give things away?”

Bunty got up.

“The work done by those people down in Langrigg keeps you in some style, Fleur Grant. I can give things away if I wish, as it happens. Just ask my brother about the terms of our dear papa’s will.”

She got up abruptly, lifted her boots and padded off, followed by Thor and Vulcan. The force with which she slammed the drawing-room door behind her made Fleur wince slightly.

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”.