Together We Stand – Episode 20

It was slightly unnerving, being ordered about in such a decisive fashion by a young woman. It was against the natural order of things.

Evan mentally kicked himself. More than one of his patients had asked about Madeleine. She was a bit forward, wasn’t she? A bit too much independence.

His eye caught Madeleine’s. There was a challenge there, as if reading his thoughts.

He smiled in response – a warm, unguarded smile that escaped him before he could call it back.

Madeleine blinked. Neither bold, nor brazen, he thought, watching the faint colour appear in her cheeks. Just beautiful.

He cleared his throat, tearing his eyes away, and the message ran between them that could never be taken back. In the ensuing silence, they positioned themselves awkwardly next to each other, not knowing where to place their hands.

“I can’t see the castle if you are standing side by side,” Tanni said. “I think if the princess sits on a chair and the knight leans over her in a protective sort of way, that should do it.”

Evan obeyed. He lifted the chair into place, allowing Madeleine to settle her skirts without meeting his eyes.

He leaned towards her, pretending to rest one hand on his sword. Even keeping as much distance as possible, the faint scent of rose from Madeleine’s hair assailed his senses until he could barely breathe.

He was grateful when the photograph had been taken and he could escape to the safety of the next room to change.

“Thank you,” Tanni said as she helped Madeleine remove her costume. “I’ll feel much better when my first customers arrive.”

“It was a pleasure,” Madeleine replied automatically, her mind clearly far away.

*  *  *  *

In the smart new house overlooking the sea, Henry dug in his heels and prepared for battle.

“I have my duty to the townsfolk of Llandudno,” Andrew Banks announced. He gave his visitor a look of scorn. “You have barely been here a few weeks, Gillingham. I’d expect you to listen rather than bring your American ways here.”

“What harm will she be doing?” Henry demanded.

Andrew drew himself up.

“I will not have the good people of Llandudno subjected to immorality.” He lowered his voice, even though the maid had gone downstairs to the kitchens some time ago. “You know what disgusting tastes these places can cater for.”

“No, frankly, I don’t,” Henry replied. “Come on, Banks, be fair. Miss Phillips is a respectable young woman and the daughter of a hero of the town.

“Think of the mother, saying goodbye to her son as he goes to sea. Or the couple wishing to record their happiness on their wedding day for their children yet to come.

“Would you deny the ordinary people of Llandudno a chance to keep their memories?” He bent forward earnestly. “Have you ever lost a loved one and wished to keep the memory of how they were?”

He had clearly struck a nerve. Andrew jumped slightly.

“Weakness,” he muttered, but without conviction.

“I’ve heard that sometimes, when a child is frail and may not survive, it helps to have the memory. Who could be more suited for such a distressing occasion than a woman?”

Andrew Banks coughed.

“You should go into politics, Gillingham, with that smooth tongue of yours. No doubt you’ll be defending the suffrage women next.”

“They believe in their cause and their actions are peaceful. They believe in reason and persuasion, and the power of the democratic process, all of which I am bound to applaud, whether I agree with them or not.”

Andrew winced.

“Indeed,” he muttered.

“Very well,” he conceded at last. “I’m prepared to give the tearooms and the studio the benefit of the doubt for now. I’ll propose to the council that we leave any decision until after the next council elections.”

“Thank you.”

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.