The Ties That Bind – Episode 32

Characters from the serial, Evelyn and Simon with Lynda and Alex in a bar.

As the evening wore on, Evelyn felt the tension easing out of her as she joined in the laughter and teasing.

She was glad she’d taken the advice that both Lynda and Dan had given her. By continuing to go round to Phil’s house, she hadn’t been doing either of them any favours.

By all accounts, he was improving daily.

The best thing she could do now was to concentrate on getting her own life in order, which included having the occasional night out with friends.

It certainly made a pleasant change to be able to push all her worries to the back of her mind.

They didn’t win the quiz, but the atmosphere was lively and the arguments between the teams were all good-natured banter.

The added bonus was the sizeable amount of money the evening raised for a local charity.

Soon afterwards, Alex drained his glass.

“Another?” Simon asked.

“No, thanks. It’s been fun, but I’m afraid I’m going to head off,” Alex replied. “I have an early start.”

“Are you working an early shift?” Evelyn asked.

“No, but I’ve got a long drive tomorrow, so I should try to get some sleep. I’m visiting my parents. It’s their anniversary.”

“Oh, that’ll be nice.”

“Yeah, well, the trouble is, I stupidly volunteered to give my sister and her two kids a lift, too.” He ran a hand through his curls.

Evelyn couldn’t help laughing. Alex stood up.

“Anyway, we might win next time,” he said. “Good to meet you all.”

He said “all” but Evelyn realised that he was looking straight at her. Or was it her imagination?

“Seems a decent bloke,” Simon remarked dryly, looking keenly at Evelyn as Alex made his way out.

She felt her colour rising. So Simon had noticed, too.

Fortunately, the moment passed amid the noise of the bar as people began to move about once more.

“Hey, Lynda, stop playing gooseberry with Simon and his girlfriend,” someone called suddenly, laughing. “Come over and join us.”

Evelyn felt a little uncomfortable at the remark. All of a sudden, she wasn’t sure if she liked being referred to as “Simon’s girlfriend”.

And she couldn’t help noticing that Lynda seemed reluctant to move away.

Evelyn looked at Simon, but to her surprise, he was avoiding her eyes. It was unusual for him to be uncomfortable with that sort of comment.

Simon was usually the king of banter and teasing and could take it as well as he dished it out.

With a last wistful glance in Simon’s direction, Lynda moved away, and Evelyn made up her mind.

It was time she and Simon had a serious chat.

“Simon, I think . . .”

“You think we ‘need to talk’?” Simon said gently. “I was thinking the same.”

Evelyn was relieved. At least it wasn’t going to be unpleasant.

“What are we actually doing, Simon?” she asked seriously. “Are we really a couple? Do you think of me as your ‘girlfriend’?”

He drummed his fingers on the table.

“Probably not,” he admitted. “I’ve been thinking about it, Evelyn.”

He shifted uncomfortably in his seat.

“Remember I told you about my ex?”

“Yes. You’ve mentioned her,” Evelyn said dryly.

“Well, I think I’m more like her than I realised.”

Evelyn was surprised.

“You mean you wish you were back with her?”

“No. I didn’t mean that. But, like her, I think I am looking for the love of my life. That one special person and . . .” He paused.

“And I’m not the one,” Evelyn finished for him. “No, I know I’m not.”

Evelyn couldn’t help smiling at the look on his face; a comical mixture of surprise and relief.

Although she wasn’t quite sure whether she agreed with his one true love idea, she did know that Simon could only ever be a friend.

“I don’t think you’re the one for me, either,” she told him gently. “We get on well, but there’s no spark.”

“No, there isn’t, is there? Pity.” He gave her a grin.

“But you know, I think I detected some earlier, with our other team member.” Simon winked and Evelyn felt herself blushing.

“Don’t be ridiculous. I know nothing about the man. I don’t even know if he’s single.”

“He is.” Simon laughed. “He told me.”

“Is this at all relevant to our conversation?” Evelyn asked, trying to cling on to a modicum of dignity.

To her relief, Simon stopped teasing. He put his hand over hers.

“I hope we can stay on friendly terms,” he said.

“Of course we can.” It wouldn’t be difficult. Friendly terms was all they’d ever been on.

“Good.” Simon hesitated. “Well, I think I’m going to call it a night. I’m not in the mood for more socialising.”

“Me neither.”

It was true. They might not have been in love but there was still a tinge of sadness about breaking up.

“Shall we share a taxi?” Simon asked.

“Sure. I’ll just say goodbye to Lynda.”

Evelyn looked around but Lynda had disappeared somewhere in the crowd.

To be continued…

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