The Mystery Of Anna Grace – Episode 04

Robin’s mother, Mrs Cecilia, was another worry. Mrs Cecilia had had a bad chest infection before Christmas that had reminded Robin that his mother was perhaps not as robust as everyone thought.

Robin looked out the window at the darkness, trying to curb his anxiety over his family home.

When Charlie had mentioned that she would tell the guests how Anna Grace got its name, that had been the clincher.

Harriet hadn’t been so sure. Robin knew she would feel threatened by the fact that Charlie was younger, had a university degree and good solid experience.

As Katarina would say, Miss High and Mighty would not be happy even if she were living in Buckingham Palace!

However, Robin knew that Harriet had good qualities, too. She had come to work at Anna Grace straight out of school, when they still had the restaurant and bar.

In those days, it had all been easier. The restaurant and the bar had little competition, the chef had been local and there hadn’t been as many administrative hoops to jump through.

Harriet had worked her way up from waitress in the restaurant to serving behind the bar, and eventually had moved to front of house.

Then things had changed. If Robin had been paying more attention at the time, he would have noticed that more restaurants were opening up in the village.

However, he got married far too young and his marriage had broken up within a few short years.

By the time he’d moved back home after his father’s death, a chain hotel had opened up just after the nearby motorway junction and Anna Grace was losing money hand over fist.

With his mother dishing out free hospitality and their former clients booking into the new hotel, they would be lucky if they survived to the end of the year.

They needed new ideas and a change of direction.

They had closed the restaurant after it had been making a loss, and it was the chef, headhunted by the new hotel, who had suggested calling it a day.

It was like the house had been dying, bit by bit.

Robin picked up the phone and dialled home.

“Has the new girl arrived safely?” he asked his mother.

“Oh, yes, she’s having soup in the kitchen with Katarina,” Mrs Cecilia replied. “We have a full house. The Mortons dropped in and I couldn’t turn them away. They said that the new hotel up the road has no character at all, with every room the same.”

Robin tried to curb his irritation.

The Mortons, and various other friends who took advantage of his mother’s good nature, knew they would have to pay for the new hotel up the road, whereas his mother never charged them a penny.

Robin said his goodbyes and hurried out of the office, anxious to catch the train before the weather closed in.

He just hoped he had made the right decision about this Charlotte girl.

Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.