The Mystery Of Anna Grace – Episode 38

It was the most intimate thing Robin had ever said to her. It was almost as if he was finally letting his guard down.

“I love it here,” Charlie admitted. “Despite the early mornings and the temperamental WiFi and –”

“The freezing start to your stay in January?” Robin interrupted.

“That, too.” Charlie laughed. “It’s lovely to work somewhere you can be taking a cake out of the oven one minute and designing an advertising poster the next.”

“Even with all the drama of the break-in, the house falling apart and my mother still inviting half the county?” Robin teased.

“Your mother is sharper than you give her credit for,” Charlie said. “She was the one who suggested the honesty box and the new system in the laundry.”

“I think that’s more to do with you, Charlie,” Robin said. “In one year we went through three receptionists and one front-of-house manager. You have such a special way with you.”

“Your mother just wants everyone to be happy, I think,” she returned.

“You’re right,” Robin agreed. “I don’t know what we would have done if this place had closed last year. A lot of that’s down to you. What are your plans?”

“I’d like to stay here,” Charlie admitted. “I know it depends on the funding, but I can see such potential here. I really think we could make a go of things.”

“I’d like you to stay, Charlie,” he said, a note of something in his voice.

Before she could think of anything to say, Mr McNee bounded over.

“Mind if I join you? I’ve just taken the most marvellous pictures.”

“Of course,” Robin said, and the moment was gone.

* * * *

Charlie was run off her feet for the rest of the day. She helped Dean with serving tea for the afternoon workshop, while Harriet manned reception and Katarina was busy with the dinner preparations.

There was a blessed half hour when the guests went to change for dinner and Charlie was shooed out of the kitchen by Katarina.

“Go before more guests ask you to do something,” she urged.

Charlie hurried back to the cottage and changed into the dress Katarina had found in the attic.

She added a little silver locket which her late grandmother had given her for her eighteenth birthday.

The last thing she picked up was her pashmina, for even in spring the dining-room could still be chilly. Then she set off for the big house, wellies and all.

Katarina and Mrs Cecilia had set the dining-room table the night before. The leaves had been extended and the table seemed to go on for ever. The old silver cutlery had been polished.

However, Katarina had insisted on buying cheap new glasses, as she pointed out that the old glassware and crystal was mismatched and not dishwasher friendly.

“It was all very well in the days when you had millions of servants, but I am too old to stand until midnight washing glass after glass!” she had declared.

The light glittered off the lake and Charlie wished she could bottle this moment.

Did Robin feel something for her? Would she be able to stay here to work? Would the evening be enough to save the hotel?

At that moment, she didn’t mind about any of that. She just wanted to stay here. It was as if Anna herself were here with her.

Katarina was just about to put the chickens in the main ovens when the man talking on the radio stopped. The first Charlie knew about it was when she came rushing into the reception area.

“Charlie, the power has gone out in the kitchen,” Katarina announced.

Charlie went to the computer on the desk, and groaned.

“No, I think the power has gone out everywhere,” she corrected her.

They had a house full of paying guests, a dinner that wasn’t cooked, and a press photographer was about to arrive. What on earth were they going to do now?

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.