The Ties That Bind – Episode 25

Characters from the serial, Evelyn and Simon

“It was good to meet you, Dan. Safe journey back to Inverness.”

“Thank you, Mr Coutts.”

Dan’s head was spinning. That was it – the interview was over.

Minutes later he was outside again at last. He took a deep breath.

Was it really only two hours ago that he’d entered this imposing building, fighting down his nerves, desperate for the interview to go well?

I did tell them about the second year science project award I won, didn’t I, he wondered. Did I remember to mention . . .?

With an effort, he pushed these thoughts aside.

There was no point in worrying about it now. He’d done his best and all he could do was wait.

Disorientated, he stood for a moment, looking up and down the busy street.

Bristol was a bustling city and excitement tingled in his veins to think he might be making a new life here.

New city, new job, new home, new friends . . .

Friends. Remembering the arrangement he’d made, he pulled out his phone and sent a text.

Finished. Where can we meet?

The reply came quickly.

Cool. Head for the Cabot Circus Shopping Centre. Decent places for lunch in there.

Dan grinned. Matt never wasted time. Bristol was his home town, too, so he’d know the best places to go.

He was looking forward to meeting up with his mate again.

They hadn’t seen each other since university, when they’d both moved back to their respective homes, but he’d taken a chance and contacted Matt on his journey down.

It would be a bonus being around Matt again, if he secured this job.

Maybe they could look into sharing a flat again, he thought with a surge of optimism.

He called his mum as he headed for his rendezvous.

She answered right away.

“Dan? How did it go?”

“That was quick!” Dan remarked.

“I’ve been on tenterhooks all morning,” she admitted. “Do you feel it went well? When will you hear?”

“Whoa, Mum, let me get a word in.” He laughed. “I think it went quite well. I didn’t dry up anyway!

“They showed me round one of the labs. Quite a friendly lot. But they’re interviewing all day today and tomorrow, so . . .”

“I’m sure you’ll be fine, Dan. I have a good feeling about this job.”

“I didn’t know you had psychic powers, Mum,” Dan teased. “Anyway, it’s out of my hands now. I have to wait till I hear from them.”

“Good. Fingers crossed. So what are you going to do now?”

“I’m on my way to meet Matt – my mate from uni. He’s from round here, so that’s one person I already know if I do get the job.”

“That’s great. Have a good time.”

“Thanks, Mum. See you in a couple of days.”

Almost as soon as he hung up, he heard a shout.

“Dan! Over here, mate!”

Matt’s familiar face was wreathed in smiles as he hurried towards Dan and swept him into a hearty embrace.

Dan laughed as the breath was squeezed from him. Matt always had been an exuberant companion.

They hadn’t seen each other for almost two years, but to Dan’s joy it soon became clear that theirs was the type of friendship that picked up seamlessly where they left off.

Matt took him straight to one of his favourite watering-holes and Dan had no hesitation in ordering steak pie with all the trimmings.

“It’s really weird to see you here,” Matt said. “Mind you, you always looked weird.”

He grinned.

“Takes one to know one,” Dan countered.

It was good to see Matt, and he felt himself becoming even more excited at the thought of making a new start here.

“So how was the interview?” Matt asked.

“It seemed to go all right, but you never know . . .”

“It’ll be brilliant if you move down here, mate. When will you hear back?”

“Within the next two weeks, they said.”

“When would you start?”

“Ideally a couple of weeks after that. I really hope I get it,” Dan admitted. “It seemed a great place to work.”

“Well, as long as you’re here in four months’ time.” Matt winked as he raised his glass to his lips.

“Why’s that?” Dan asked, wondering at the sudden change in Matt’s expression: half proud, half bashful.

“Come on, what’s up?” he urged.

Matt placed his glass carefully down.

“I’m getting married!”

Dan was stunned.

“Well, say something!” Matt cried, punching him on the arm.

“Wow! That is news – congrats!” Dan managed at last. “So what’s the unfortunate girl’s name?”

“Trudy. She said to ask you round tomorrow.”

“Ask me round? Round where?”

“We’ve already got our own place in Stoke Gifford.”

“Really? Well, that’s great. It’ll be good to meet her.” Dan swallowed hard. “Someone has to tell her the truth about you.”

He kept up his bantering tone, but inexplicably he felt as if someone had pulled a rug from under his feet.

Things had certainly moved quickly in Matt’s life.

He looked at his friend. Matt’s expression was one of pure joy.

“Well, this is a surprise,” he repeated, “but I’m happy for you.”

“Thanks.” Matt was still beaming. “I hope you’ve brought something other than that suit, because we’re celebrating tonight.”

“I got in touch with a couple of my pals and we’re all going out on the town.”

“Sounds good,” Dan replied with a grin.

And it did. Life had been stressful lately, and after the interview today and Matt’s bombshell, it occurred to Dan that a lads’ night out was just what he needed.

To be continued…

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