‘Oh well,’ said Dina, looking out of the kitchen window as she loaded the breakfast dishes into the dishwasher. ‘I guess our Sunday walk is out of question now, what is it with Glasgow weather? It’s raining, hailing, snowing, windy and sunny all at once!’
‘Count your blessings,’ Billy said, as he licked the last crumb of bacon off his plate and stood up to clear the table. ‘We’ve had it lucky here, my girl,’ he said. ‘Look what’s happening to the poor people in Wales and other places in England, entire homes being washed away.’
‘True,’ she replied, ‘it’ll be nice to have a lazy Sunday indoors though. I think I’ll sort out my wardrobe, been meaning to do that for ages now. What are you going to do?’
‘I was actually thinking of making my Bucket List. Want to help?’ he asked her, getting together his notepad and pen.
‘That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever hear of William Stone,’ she mocked, ‘what on earth would you possibly put on it?’
‘I think I may have stolen some books,’ Cathy said to herself in horror.
Aborting the unpacking, she went looking for her husband, and found him in the kitchen where he was trying to rustle up a quick dinner from the contents of their almost empty ‘fridge. Neither of them had the energy or the wherewithal to go to the shops. The take-away fish supper they had planned earlier was unimaginable in this blistering heat.
‘Dan, I think we have sunk to a new low,’ she said, thrusting the two beautifully bound editions of the criminal goods at him. ‘We seem to have stolen books from the hotel’.
His expression was a comical mirror of her own, angst and mirth vying with each other, as she struggled to understand what had happened.
They had just returned from a week away at the Cotswolds. A well-deserved vacation after almost two years. And they seemed to have timed it with the one week of Indian summer that the United Kingdom had been blessed with. Scorching summer. Wall-to wall sunshine with temperatures in the thirties. The Scottish couple had not been prepared for the blast of heat that welcomed them as they stepped out of their airconditioned car.
She looked out miserably at the storm gathering force. It had come out of nowhere, a day too soon. Positioning herself at the upstairs window, she stared out, willing them to appear on the horizon which was closing in fast. She could see other people scurrying past, rushing to get home. But not her lot.
‘Yet,’ she whispered to herself superstitiously.
Today was to have been the last nice day before the Beast from the East arrived. Again. He was getting to be quite a regular uninvited guest, this wretched beast. They had both groaned last night when the late-night weather had forecast more snow for Monday.
Allan swore aloud thinking of all the plans they had made.
‘Don’t worry,’ she said to him, ‘it’s still to be lovely sunshine tomorrow. And with Evie coming, let us make the most of it.’
She saw the horror on their faces even before she heard the snap. All at once the loud, pulsating thud of the music in the hall seemed to hush, and it was the only sound that thundered in her ears, the sound of the snap of her bodice strap giving way.
She had been striding the ramp with all the elan of someone who knew she was the best. The world’s best cat-walk model and the showstopper for a leading designer at the Paris Fashion Week. The dress she was show casing could possibly pay the down payment for the flat she now rented. Her hair had taken the stylist over three hours to get just right, and she had been asked for more selfies than the designer himself.
Back-stage ten minutes ago, she knew she had arrived. She had indeed reached the top rung of the ladder she had climbed so arduously for over three years.
The buzz in the dressing room had been all about the Hollywood producer who was here in the audience looking for a new heroine for his next block buster. Annie knew she was in the reckoning and was going for the kill tonight. Her career as a model had peaked and Hollywood was the obvious next step.
Rita fought back the tears as she left the school office clutching her six-year old’s hand.
‘This was the second time, Sammy,’ she chided gently. ‘We need this to stop you know. Even Mrs MacDougal is getting a little tired now.’
The little boy said nothing as they walked back to the car. She had to wait awhile after he got in and watched helplessly as he fiddled with the other seat belt next to him, chattering happily to the empty space between them.
This imaginary friend had appeared soon after his dad had left them. The raw pain of that evening hit her again, as their cosy little world had been turned upside down with a few short sentences.
‘I’m leaving you Reet,’ Amit had said. ‘I’ve been in love with Judy for a while now, and she is expecting our baby soon.
‘What about our child,’ she had cried wildly? ‘What about Sammy?’