Angels, Lovers and Songbirds – Chapter 24 – While the Cats Still Away
They lay in the soapy water until it started to get cold and then he watched with lustful eyes as her body emerged from the water and then Jack stepped out to leave her to wash her hair under the shower.
After Kayleigh had washed her hair she left the bathroom swathed in towels and Jack went back in to shave.
He turned the hot water on and filled the basin and lathered up but halfway through shaving he became curious to know what she was doing when the hairdryer stopped so he craned his neck to look through the gap in the door and he could see her stunning reflection in the mirror and he sighed before finishing his shave, then he cleaned his teeth and applied his aftershave.
Jack emerged from the bathroom just in time to see Kayleigh, wearing a little black dress, walking through a freshly atomized cloud of perfume.
Then with the final touches applied she sat on the bed and watched Jack as he dressed.
As they walked through reception Jack felt exceeding proud to have such a beautiful woman on his arm and as they approached the restaurant he turned to her and said
“I love you Mrs Robinson”
In response Kayleigh smiled and kissed him.
“I love you too” she responded “old man”
“Old man?” he exclaimed as he watched her walk through the door ahead of him.
“Come on, keep up granddad” she called.
They were seated in a quiet section of the restaurant and the meal was wonderful and it was such a special evening and then just before the starters arrived she took a little package out of her handbag and put it on the table in front of him.
“Happy birthday darling”
“You didn’t need to get me a present, you’ve done so much already, you’ve already given me the best present I could hope for just by being here with me” he said and squeezed her hand.
“Well you’ve got a present too, so open it” she said and Jack smiled and did as she said
He tore off the paper and opened the gold embossed box inside and it contained a gold angel wing pendant inscribed on the back
“To the angel in my life. K”
“It’s lovely” he said and took hold of her hand “But I’m not an Angel”
“You are to me” she said “you came into my life like an Angel and made me feel alive again, in fact you made me live again, so you are definitely an Angel to me, and I’m really proud of you,”
“For what?” he asked
“What you’re doing for Katie Watson,” she explained
“It was the right thing to do,” he said simply
“It was the kind of thing an Angel would do” she said
The thought never crossed his mind that he was doing anything extraordinary he really was doing it because he could and because it was the right thing to do.
The delicious meal certainly lived up to his expectations and even surpassed them but to spend a romantic evening in a public place with the woman he loved so desperately was the pinnacle of the evening.
In fact the two of them were enjoying the experience so much that they didn’t want it to end and they were the last customer to leave and they had both drunk more than they were accustomed to.
“Come on then Mrs Turnoak let’s get you back to the bridal suite” he said
“Don’t assume you’re getting lucky in that four poster just because it’s your birthday” she said aloofly
“Sorry I must have misread the situation, I thought you had been looking at me with a lustful leer for the last hour” he said
“That was indigestion” she replied
“Oh fair enough I’m quite tired anyway” Jack said casually
“What do you mean “Fair enough”” Kayleigh called after him
“What I meant is, it’s alright I’m a bit full, maybe tomorrow” he said and carried on walking
“You’ll soon change your tune once I get this dress off and you see what else I got you for your birthday” she shouted
“Come on then gorgeous and I’ll let you show me your black silk teddie” he called and she tottered towards him
“How did you know?” she asked
“I peeked while you were washing your hair” Jack said
“You perve” Kayleigh said and blushed crimson red “what do you think?”
“It’s nice but I’ll let you know more when you get the dress off”
He said and then she kissed him.
A few minutes later they crossed the foyer of the hotel
“Happy birthday to me” Jack said and they stepped in the lift
On the morning after Jacks birthday treat they woke up too late to avail themselves of the full English breakfast so instead they got themselves ready and checked out and planned to stop for lunch on the way home although they hadn’t settled on where.
It was the 2nd of February, Candlemas day, the festival of the purification of the Virgin Mary, which marked the last day of Christmas.
Falling midway between the winter and spring equinox it was a time for looking ahead at the bounty ahead.
Jack thought it was quite apt because he felt their time away was like the end of one chapter and beginning of another.
Because they had to cross the Finchbottom Vale to get home to Turnoak from Sharpington there were numerous possibilities ahead of them because the Finchbottom Vale nestles comfortably between the Ancient Dancingdean Forest to the south and the rolling Pepperstock Hills in the north, those who are lucky enough to live there think of it as the rose between two thorns.
The Vale was once a great wetland that centuries earlier stretched from Mornington in the East to Childean in the west and from Shallowfield in the south to Purplemere in the north.
But over the many centuries the vast majority had been drained for agriculture, a feat achieved largely by the efforts of famous Mornington Mills, of which only three had survived to the present day and even those were no longer functional and were in various states of repair.
There were only three small bodies of water left in the Vale now one in Mornington, one in Childean and third of course was Purplemere which was where Jacks Waterside Club was situated.
But in the end it was a different waterside that they had decided on as their destination, The Waterside Inn which was located in the Dulcets
which were a collection of villages and hamlets comprising of Dulcet Meadow, Dulcet-on-Willow, Dulcet St Mary and Dulcet Green, to name but a few, and of course Dulcet-on-Brooke which was where they decided to head.
The Waterside Inn wasn’t the best eatery in Dulcet-on-Brooke that particular honour fell to the Cloche Hat but they were in the mood for pub grub.
When they first reached the Dulcets they parked on the outskirts of Kings River Woods which was a large forest between Sharpington and Dulcet on Brooke, they figured that if they parked up by the forest it would encourage them to take a walk after lunch.
As they walked towards the village they got a fantastic view of the magnificent spire of St Timothy’s Church, although to be fair, as they were to find out later, there weren’t many places in the village that you couldn’t see the spire from.
The food at the Waterside was quite delicious, not as good as the Diamond in the Rough the night before but delicious nonetheless, and they were well and truly stuffed and they both felt too fat for a walk really but that really underlined how much they needed the exercise so they roused themselves and set off, but they had only gone about fifty yards when Kayleigh stopped dead in her tracks.
“What’s the matter?” Jack asked
“Yvonne Wells” she replied
“Who’s Yvonne Wells?”
“Her son Gavin is in the room next to Carl, he crashed his motorbike two years ago and he’s…”
“Like Carl” Jack said and she nodded.
“I suppose we’d better give her a wide birth then”
Unfortunately Mrs Wells was engaged in conversation with a couple of villagers in the middle of the lane between them and their car so they had to take an alternative route and go the long way round.
There was a long winding path that led away from the village which crossed over the river and passed the water mill.
They paused briefly by the babbling water and then crossed over the bridge across the mill stream before the path dissected the water meadow on its way to the Meadowside farm and at every turn they were blessed with a fresh view of the St Timothy’s Spire bathed in the winter sunshine, and when they reached the farm they took the lane which skirted the meadow and gave them a good view of Kings River Woods and when they reached the car park they looked back towards the picturesque village.
Back in Turnoak Emily thought that having the Rooney’s working with them on Saturday they might have been able to progress from flirting to talking and the talking might then lead on to a date.
But things didn’t work out that way as they were so busy from the moment the top soil arrived at 9 o’clock.
They were so busy they didn’t even have time to stop for lunch so she had convinced herself that the day was a wash out.
And it was until Davina pointed out they didn’t have enough edging stones.
“I’ll drive over to Beaumont’s” Jimmy suggested “I can be there and back in half an hour”
“I’ll go with him” Dave said
“No it’s alright let Davina go with him” Emily said and smiled
While the other two were at the Gardens Centre Emily tried to contrive a way to take advantage of the situation but her mind went blank every time she looked at David she had never been any good at talking to men.
The fact that he was muscular and well-toned, with red hair and a lovely freckled faced, and she thought he was gorgeous didn’t help the situation.
She might have felt better had she realized that he too felt the same way about her and was equally frustrated by his failure to ask her a simple question.
He loved her pretty weathered elfin features, and short brunette hair, her slender, lean and wiry physique, muscular yet feminine, and he loved every inch of her five foot eight.
After they had been toiling together for about half an hour Emily was conscious of the fact that the others could return any moment so she said
“I can’t thank you enough for helping us today”
“No thanks required” he said “it was in a very worthy cause, Reverend Watson is a special person”
“She is” Emily agreed “But nonetheless Davina and I would never have got this far so quickly without you and Jimmy”
David was also acutely aware that his brother might return soon so he took a deep breath and seized the moment
“Well if you insist on thanks, then perhaps you might go to dinner with me tonight” he suggested “There are plenty of good restaurants in the area, your choice”
“That would be really nice” replied Emily genuinely “But I don’t think I’m up to it tonight”
“Oh ok” Dave said believing he had blown it
“But I’m sure tomorrow night would be ok” Emily added and a grin spread across her grubby face
While Emily and Dave struggled with their awkwardness with the opposite sex his younger brother Jimmy and her young assistant Davina had driven to Beaumont’s Garden Centre and loaded the required materials onto a trolley and had reached the checkout by the time Emily and David’s dinner date had been arranged.
When Davina paid the bill the girl at the checkout gave her the receipt with a voucher attached and said
“Your purchase today entitles you to a 20% off voucher for the “Tree Top Trail” in Shallowfield
“What’s that?” they asked in unison, genuinely oblivious
“It’s a trail through the tree tops with Tarzan swings, rope bridges and Zip Wires” she said excitedly “It sounds like great fun and I’ve always fancied having a go”
“It sounds great” Davina said
“Absolutely” Jimmy agreed “perhaps we should go”
“Yes, do you fancy it?” he asked and despite the fact that the thought of walking through the tree tops 30 feet above the ground scared her to death she said.
“I’d love to” because she would be doing it with him.
It wasn’t really her kind of thing at all she was one of life’s spectators while Jimmy on the other hand seemed to her to be the type of person who was up there on centre stage.
Davina had always been content to look on from the side lines whereas she suspected Jimmy was in there participating with all his might, he was a “joiner in” while Davina was an applauder of other people’s efforts, a holder of coats, a cheerer from the bleaches.
But a date was a date and that would do for starters.
As a result of their late start to the day, their leisurely lunch and the necessity of the diversion route back to the car dusk was falling by the time Jack and Kayleigh reached Turnoak.
It was always the plan for him to drop Kayleigh up at Plaxton Park, partly to maintain the illusion that they had not been away together for his birthday treat but also so she could spend the evening with her husband to assuage her guild for cheating on him and barely giving him a second thought while she was away with Jack.
Kayleigh had really enjoyed being with Jack and she wished they could have spent the rest of the weekend together, or the rest of their lives for that matter, but sadly she had a husband who she loved very much and although she had come to terms with her infidelity she had to stay his wife right up until the wire.
When they got up to Plaxton Park Jack drove in to the car park and stopped in a secluded corner where he could kiss her goodbye
“I really do love you,” he said
“I know” she replied, “I love you too”
“I’ll see you later if you like” she said
“I can’t wait” Jack said and she walked briskly towards the building as the tears arrived.