Home > You And Me, Always(9)

You And Me, Always(9)
Jill Mansell

Patsy bit her lip at the memory; even now, all these years later, she could still recall his comments almost word for word. At the time, she’d memorised them, sensing that her life was about to change in a major way. She’d even fantasised that one day she would be able to tell her teenage daughters all about the magical night when their parents had first met. And the girls might laugh and squeal, pretending to be grossed out by the idea that their mother and father had ever been young, but secretly they’d love hearing the story of how their happy family unit had come about.

Except the happy family unit had never transpired. For the first few years together she’d thought everything was fine, but it turned out that in order for a marriage to really work, both partners had to be happy with it.

That had been the stumbling block. And it had come as something of a shock, too, discovering that her big, noisy, cheerful rugby-playing husband had fallen in love with someone else …

‘The birthday girl’s on her way over.’ From his position by the window, Will raised his voice to be heard above the blast of the hairdryer he was now wielding. ‘Not booked in for anything, is she?’

‘No.’ Grateful for the distraction, Patsy craned her neck to see Lily making her way across the street. Her heart lifted at the sight of her, that extravagant mane of blond curls bouncing around her shoulders, her brown eyes bright. She was wearing a dark blue Goldstone T-shirt with the Salvage & Treasure logo on the front, a pair of white shorts and light blue flip-flops. Her legs were slim and tanned from spending so much time outside. She was already waving at Will through the full-length window as she approached the salon. And everyone inside was turning to smile and greet her when she pushed open the door.

Lily was the darling of Stanton Langley; everyone loved and was protective of her following the tragic early loss of her mum. The saying ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ had turned out to contain more than a kernel of truth in Lily’s case. Over the years they had all played their part, sharing their various fields of expertise. Kath from Derring’s Farm had taught her how to feed lambs and ride horses; Will had helped her get to grips with geometry; Mary from the cake shop had taught her how to bake. Patsy smiled to herself, recalling the time she’d tried to instruct Lily in the art of applying false eyelashes. Afterwards they’d gone over to the pub, where one of the strips of lashes had ended up floating in someone’s pint of cider, and that had been that; Lily hadn’t attempted to wear them again since.

Having greeted Will and the customers, she came over to where Patsy was working.

‘Hey, you. Happy birthday.’ Patsy gave her a quick kiss on the cheek. ‘All OK?’ Everyone knew about the last letter from Jo.

‘All OK.’ Lily showed her the bangle on her wrist. ‘Look, Mum gave me a present.’ She nodded, met Patsy’s eye and mouthed, I’m fine.

‘Good.’ Patsy duly admired the bangle. ‘And to what do we owe this pleasure?’

‘The thing is, I really wanted to wear my navy shoes tonight, but one of the heels is falling off. So I wondered if I could borrow yours?’

‘Course you can.’ They were meeting later at the Star before going out to dinner in Cheltenham. ‘I’ll bring them with me, shall I?’

Lily shrugged. ‘Actually, it’s easier if you give me your key and I’ll go and pick them up now.’

Ha, like that was going to happen.

‘It’s honestly not a problem,’ said Patsy. ‘I’ll bring them over this evening.’ Now she really felt like an undercover agent; no way was she giving Lily her key.

Lily said, ‘Oh, but I could save you the trouble. And, you know, try them on and make sure they fit me.’

OK, time to put a stop to this. ‘You tried them on the other week. You already know they fit you.’ With an air of great firmness Patsy said, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll bring them tonight. Now.’ She turned back to Erica and ran a comb through the back of her hair. ‘How much did you say you wanted off?’

Chapter 6

That had gone well, then. Patsy’s stubbornness had been mildly puzzling, but by the time Lily had made her way back down the high street, she was pretty certain she’d worked out the likely reason. Patsy was house proud and tidy; chances were that she’d left the kitchen in a mess for once and was embarrassed at not having cleaned up.

Lily was amused by the idea; as if something like that would matter to her. But when people had OCD tendencies, you couldn’t sway them. Patsy liked everything in her house to be pristine and perfect, and it would bother her to feel as if she’d been seen to let her high standards slip.

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