Dark Angel II, 50

“A little bird’s been twittering in my ear, saying you and Frank would like to join us for the barbie.”

“Ahh, now that was the little bird’s idea, not ours. No, we weren’t planning on coming, Bill.” Maggie turned her mobile’s speaker on so Frank could hear the conversation.

“Well, it’s going to be just a few of us tonight. Pat and Doc have a wedding in the city, Alison’s off on some drama workshop and Janet’s still on leave so ….. just Melva and Doug, Fran and Simon, Lucy and Dan, Crystal and Jerry. With four of us now in the know, I think we’ll be able to deflect any awkward questions. If you feel up to it, I think you’d both enjoy an evening in our entertaining company.”

Maggie looked at Frank. “Yeah, okay. Thanks. We’ll be there. I’m curious to meet Melva. And Dan.”

Bill said to come whenever they were ready so he could have them all to himself before the others arrived. And so an hour later they were on the coast path leading into the township of Mundoo. They had decided a walk would let them see more of the area and take the worry out of how much of his very nice wine and whisky collection Bill was going to ply them with.

The path followed the coast, as the name suggested it would. Late afternoon, the sun still had some distance to go before it set over the sea, a lazy sea basking in the heat. The path curved around a sandy beach, at its end, a jetty and a cluster of houses on either side of the main street. They went past the general store, the pub, the town hall, a row of large gardens with houses shaded by trees and shrubs and hedges, turned a corner and there was the school with the headmaster’s residence alongside.

The gate squeaked as they opened it and their feet had barely cleared the verandah steps before Bill’s voice called from somewhere down the dark passage. “Door’s open. Come on in.” They opened the screen door and followed the passage to the back of the house which turned out to be the kitchen. There, Bill was chopping onions on a large wooden chopping block he had on the table. He beamed them a smile. “Good to see you both,” he said. “Haven’t had a chance to pop down to the shack and see you. Do you have everything you need there?”

“Yes. We’ve been spoilt,” Maggie said and gave him a kiss on the cheek. “And someone left a nice collection of reds in the pantry.”

“I seem to recollect you both have a taste for the red,” he said. “How are you, Frank? Sorry can’t shake hands …. onions …. Help yourselves to a glass of that, tell me what you think,” he added, nodding to the bottle open on the table. “And sit. Relax before the storm hits. The Melva storm,” he grinned, when they both cast puzzled glances to the window.

“I can’t wait to meet Melva,” said Maggie, accepting the glass Frank had poured for her. “You know Crystal absolutely adores her.”

“The feeling’s mutual there,” smiled Bill.

“And Cam likes her, too, which is saying something.”

Bill nodded. “We all love Melva. Cam, she was more Doug’s girl, in the garage there with him every chance she got, pottering about with engines and gearboxes and stuff.”

“Yeah, she really likes Doug. I think for a while there he became the dad she lost when she was a kid.” Maggie took a sip of the wine. Bill was watching for her reaction. The look she gave him made him smile. “And she really likes Dan. Pity that didn’t work out for her.”

“Well,” Bill shrugged, “you’ll see how it is with Lucy and Dan when you meet them. They were meant to be together. Took a while for Lucy to work that out.” He gave Maggie a questioning look. “How is Cam?”

Maggie took a slow sip, savoured the wine. “Well, you know Cam. You can never really tell what’s going on with her. But, she seems happy, content. A mate of Ian’s, also a cop, is getting massage from her regularly to help him with some sleep problem.” She looked at Bill. “Did you meet him on your last visit?”

The gate squeaked. “Yoo-hoo! Anybody home?” called a woman’s voice.

“In the kitchen, Melva,” Bill called back, then a quick whisper to them, “So, it’s Frank and Maggie, old friends of mine, having a holiday in the shack, right?”

chapter 51

Dark Angel II

Dark Angel II, 50

Alenka Co

Stonebow, Australia

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