Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (38) Christmas at the Seaview Hotel (Part 03)
Since her phone call his stomach had been in absolute knots and arriving in Sharpington late didn’t untangle it in the least.
He wondered if she would be sat at the bar surrounded by admirers or sat alone in a corner the worse for drink and coiled to strike with venomous words on his tardiness.
He only hoped she was still there and hadn’t got tired of waiting.
As he sat in the pre-Christmas traffic he tried to ring her to warn her of his delay but his phone died.
So he stood in the foyer trying to summon up the courage to go further, he was so desperate to know her answer but equally terrified of what it might be, yes or no.
“Yes” meaning she was sure and she would give all of herself to him unreservedly
“No” and they would never be together.
He reran the earlier conversation through his head and tried to read between the lines to find some hidden meaning or some indication as to her decision.
He checked in the bar and there was no sign of her
“Shit” he exclaimed and unzipped his coat and walked up to the reception desk.
“Hi” he began “Do you have a message for Iain Akhurst?”
“I’ll just check for you Sir” the receptionist said
“Oh yes here we are” she added and handed him an envelope
“Thank you” he said and when and sat down to open it.
He slowly opened the envelope and withdrew a sheet of note paper which he unfolded and read the few lines
“What kept you? I thought you were impatient for an answer,
I’ve gone up, use the key, and I’ll see you when you get here”
“Well that was all cheerful and light hearted” he thought to himself “but it still doesn’t tell me anything”
So he tipped up the envelope until the key card fell out and he saw it was for one of the posh rooms on the top floor and walked towards the lift.
Iain slowly opened the door and stepped inside.
“Hi Francine” he called “I’m sorry I’m late the traffic was hell”
But there was no answer.
He closed the door and walked into the room and expected to find Francine asleep having got fed up of waiting for him.
But it was just a dimly lit little lounge area, which was empty.
Although hung on the back of a chair he noticed a coat.
“She is here” he said “But where?”
There were two doors leading from the lounge so he opened the first one which proved to be the bathroom, he hoped the other was to a bedroom and not an adjoining door to the next room.
Then he questioned whether or not she would even be in there, the fact that her coat was there meant nothing she could just have left in a huff and forgotten it.
But then something caught his eye, tied around the door handle he saw a black stocking.
“Well she wouldn’t have gone without that” he said
Iain slipped off his coat and threw it onto the armchair and walked towards the door and that was when he noticed something else attached to the stocking, it was a gift tag.
He opened it and read the words inside
“Happy Christmas Iain
All my love
And beneath her signature there were three letters
And when he turned the tag over there was only one word