The Ties That Bind – Episode 3

The main characters from the serial, including Evelyn, Phil and their children Dan and Janie.

Evelyn was ten minutes late for her date with Simon.

For simplicity’s sake, they’d arranged to meet outside the Eastgate Shopping Centre in town, and to her relief, he was still there when she arrived.

“Simon, I’m so sorry . . .” she began, but he held up a hand to stop her apology.

“Confession – I’ve only just got here myself, so we’re quits.”

When he smiled, Evelyn remembered what had prompted her to comment on his good looks.

“OK.” She smiled back.

“It’s good to see you again, Evelyn. So where would you like to go?”

“I don’t mind, as long as it’s not too far away.”

“Desperate for a drink, are you?” He laughed but his words rankled slightly with Evelyn.

“No, of course not,” she replied a little tightly. “It’s just I’m not used to walking in heels these days.”

“Oh. Right.” He glanced down at her feet but made no other comment.

“Well, how about the Beehive? It’s just around the corner.”

“Oh, no!” The words were blurted out before she could stop them and she saw his surprise.

“I’m sorry, but I – I’d rather not go there, if you don’t mind.”

“It’s not bad,” he began, “but if you don’t like it . . .”

“Oh, I do. I do like it,” she hastened to assure him, “but I’d just – rather not go there tonight.”

“OK, whatever you say,” he replied a little doubtfully. “Where would you prefer?”

“I don’t really mind, honestly.” Realising that this was less than helpful, Evelyn thought quickly.

“How about wandering up one of the side streets?” She indicated across the road.

“There are plenty of places up that way.”

Simon shrugged and nodded, which Evelyn couldn’t help feeling didn’t bode well.

They crossed the main road and within moments they were presented with a choice of places in which to enjoy an evening out in Inverness.

Evelyn stopped at the first one they reached.

“How about in here?” she suggested. “I meet Lynda here sometimes.”

Feeling that their date hadn’t had the most auspicious start, she hoped that the mention of their mutual friend would open up a conversation.

“Yes, so do I,” he said. He glanced at the surprised look on her face and laughed.

“Pub quiz nights,” he reminded her. “A crowd of us come now and then.”

“Oh, yes, of course. I’ve been a couple of times.”

Once inside and settled in a booth with their drinks and some snacks, Evelyn tried to set the record straight.

“Simon, what I said about the Beehive . . .”

“It’s not a problem.”

“No, but I’d like to explain. It’s just that I’m going there tomorrow.”

“A busy weekend,” he remarked drily.

“Yes, and I could do without it, to be honest,” she said, without thinking.

“I see.” His expression was unreadable. Evelyn felt heat rushing to her face.

“No, I didn’t mean it that way. Sorry, what I meant was – you see . . .”

As she floundered, Simon simply shrugged again, and the action suddenly made her see red.

“Let me explain something to you, Simon.

“I’ve had a very long day. I’ve worked twelve-hour shifts for the past six days.

“I was home for little over an hour tonight before I came out to meet you.

“And just as I was leaving the house my ex-husband called me up and asked to meet me tomorrow in the Beehive.

“He wanted to see me tonight but I’d arranged to meet you.

“I was tired but I was looking forward to having a quiet drink and getting to know someone new.” She paused briefly for breath.

“I’m sorry that everything I’ve said this evening has come out the wrong way.

“I’m sorry if I’ve offended you and I’m sorry if you’re regretting meeting me. You can leave if you like.”

Simon met her angry gaze silently and for a split second, the dark depths of his eyes seemed to penetrate her soul. Then he lifted his glass once more.

“Think I’ll finish my drink first,” he said at last, his lips twitching.

Evelyn laughed and raised her glass.

“Maybe we should start again,” he said, a smile on his handsome face.

“I’d like that,” she replied. “Let’s pretend this is the moment we met. What would you say to me?”

He grinned.

“OK. I’d probably say, ‘Hi, Evelyn, what kept you?’”

The ice was broken at last.

After that, Evelyn began to enjoy the evening.

To be continued…

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