The Secret of Trefusis Cove – Episode 24

“I accept on two conditions.” Val put down her glass of water.

“What would they be?” Alexander was cautious.

“That you stop riding that poor horse at breakneck speed in the dark, and leaving her in the car park in the rain. And stop calling us dozy Sheilas!”

Alexander grinned.

“That’s three, but I agree. I’ll put Polly under the shelter in the back of the car park, beside the empty barrels, and I will ride her gently from now on. And no way are you two dozy!”

*  *  *  *

“Why did you say yes?” Betty asked next morning.

“I thought, if we were friendly, he might change his mind about his plans.”

“I doubt that. He’s what Australians call a battler. He worked hard for his money and won’t give up a chance to make more.”

“There are plenty of people who do the same.”

“You’re right, but the fact remains that he’s going to ruin this place.”

Val sighed.

“I want to talk to him about what distress he’ll cause if he goes ahead with his plans. I don’t suppose anyone’s talked about their real feelings. He’s only had petitions and grumpy folk.

“I wanted us both to be there to try to make him see the real Trefusis.”

“I wish I hadn’t pretended to have a cold,” Betty said. “I thought you’d go along with it and refuse.”

Val grinned.

“The problem now is, what shall I wear? I haven’t brought anything posh and I need to wash my hair.”

“We’ll rummage through our suitcases and see what we can come up with.”

They found a smart white blouse of Betty’s and a pair of neat blue trousers that were Val’s. A filmy scarf completed the outfit.

“I should pass muster.” Val looked at herself in the little mirror in their room.

“Alexander Grey will probably wear his surfing shorts anyway,” Betty joked. “I can’t imagine him dressing up much.

“Val, you will be careful, won’t you? Don’t let him try to persuade you to think the way he does. He may think he can influence Peter about Tangara through us.”

“Betty, it’s only dinner! He must have few friends around here and he wants to make up for being rude.

“Besides, we’re not here for long, and like Kit said at the beginning, we shouldn’t get too involved.”

She patted Betty’s arm.

“I’m a grown-up. I won’t be influenced by anything he might say. I’ll accept the meal as an apology and talk to him about the true value of Trefusis Cove. It may not make any difference, but at least I’ll have had my say.”

“Don’t be back late.”

“I won’t, Mum.” Val grinned.

They heard a car pull up outside the cottage. She peeked through the window by the front door.

“Look – a Jaguar!”

“Don’t open the door,” Betty advised. “Make him come and knock.”

“He’s getting out of the car. He looks very smart.”

Betty joined her friend at the tiny window.

“You’re right.” She grinned. “Trying to make an impression.”

As Alexander Grey knocked on the door Betty took a tissue from her pocket and covered her nose and mouth with it.

Val opened the door and he stepped over the threshold. He wore black trousers and a smart jacket with a white shirt which showed off his tan.

“You look nice,” he addressed Val.

“How’s the sniffle?” He grinned at Betty. His smile was disarming.

“Not bad,” was her muffled reply.

“We’d better get a move on. I’ve booked a table for eight o’clock.”

Reaching into his back pocket, he produced a packet of cough lozenges.

“I thought these might be handy,” he said to Betty.

“Thank you,” she said. “You really didn’t have to.”

He grinned knowingly.

“I didn’t want you to think I wasn’t concerned.”

He held the door for Val and she stepped through.

“I’ll bring her back safe and sound!” he called back.

Betty waved goodbye as they walked to the car.

You’d better, she thought.

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.