Anna just sat down plump at the table and grinned a big, soppy, stupid grin. She was still grinning when Danny and Paul wandered into the room.
“Hello you pair. What you doing on the twenty-ninth and thirtieth of next month?”
“I’d kind of like Danny to be a witness at my wedding on the twenty-ninth. It’ll be just us and Bonnie and our witnesses with their partners. Then we’re having a big celebration party here on the thirtieth. You up for it?”
Danny grabbed her in a bear hug and mussed her hair lovingly.
“I should just about reckon we are. Ain’t we love?”
Paul pushed him aside and gave Anna a smacking kiss. “Can I be your bridesmaid?”
“Yeah. You and Bonnie. And Colin if he wants.”
“Sam’s best mate’s partner. He’s even camper than you…’
“Oh well. Does that mean Sam will be the only straight man at the wedding?”
“Yeah. Probably. But I reckon he can cope. Now. Drinks? Wine? Red?”
“Yes, yes and yes.”
Sam came in from the utility with a bottle of red wine under each arm. He opened both and poured liberally.
“I take it you two are up for this wedding business.”
“Course they are,” Anna giggled. “What about Ben and Colin?”
“Yeah. Though I had to do some fast talking to get Colin along. He had some trouble with Christina. She wouldn’t have him in the house. And if we did meet anywhere she always managed to insert the word faggot into the conversation. I explained that you couldn’t give a flying fuck about sexual orientation, but Colin was still suspicious. Then I hit on a plan. Told him Paul was going to be a bridesmaid, and was prettier than him. That fetched him!”
“Oh Sam,” Anna laughed, “that was a bit underhand.”
“True though! Did I notice some nibbles out back?”
“You did. Fetch!”
Bonnie got out of her basket and gave Sam and Anna a very old fashioned look, before retiring to the garden.
“Oops,” Danny grinned, “you’ve pissed off Bon Bon”.
“She’ll forgive us,” Anna said. “She adores Sam, but realises he’s a bit mental.”
“Thanks for the character reference, love,” Sam’s voice was amused as he returned to the room carrying a tray of olives and air-dried ham and other delicious nibbly things.
“Join the club,” Paul said smilingly. “She once told a group of our friends that I’m only pretending to be limp-wristed to get out of physical labour.”
“Yeah,” Danny agreed, “although that’s very probably true. But apart from an unaccountable attachment for my little sister, I haven’t seen any signs of mental illness in Sam.”
“Touché,” Anna howled with laughter. “I’ve missed you, you bloody old pervert. Now listen up, we’re telling everybody that the party is to celebrate Sam’s fortieth. Which is actually our wedding day. He’s mad enough to consider marrying me to be an ideal birthday gift.”
Danny smote his forehead with the heel of his hand.
“Yup. He is insane. Fancy wanting to marry a homely spinster like you.”
Anna’s voice was ineffably sad.
“Yeah. I know. I can’t believe it.”
Danny scooped her off her feet.
“Silly cow. I’m just teasing. It’s obvious that you two are head over heels. And I reckon you have a bloody good shot at a solid marriage.”
Anna wriggled until he put her down.
“I think so too. I never expected to find this. I have to keep pinching myself.”
“Don’t do that love,” Paul said gently, “you’ll bruise your happiness.”
He raised his glass.
“A toast to marriage.”
When they were seated at the kitchen table munching antipasto and drinking, Anna looked at Danny and Paul.
“Any plans between now and the wedding?”
“Would you like to borrow the camper?”
“Can we? Won’t you two be wanting it?”
Anna looked at Sam who shook his head regretfully.
“If we want a honeymoon I won’t be taking any time off between now and then, so I’m fine with it. In fact, I’ll be lucky to manage more than ten days after. It’s a bit short notice…”
Danny wobbled his eyebrows at Paul who nodded and grinned.
“We already talked about offering to Bonnie sit so you two could slip off for a few days. Get some sun on your backs. So what say we bugger off in the camper and come back for the wedding? Then we can stay with Bon Bon while you two have a honeymoon.”
Sam risked a glance at Anna’s face, which was shining with happiness.
“Sounds like a plan to me,” he grinned. “Where’d you like to go fiancée?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well why don’t I surprise you then? Is your passport up to date?”
“Right then. Leave it to me.”
Anna smiled mistily.
“I think I’d like that.”
“Good. That’s a done deal. Now I think you’d better feed me before I start stealing from Bonnie’s bowl.”
“Lay the table then. And I’ll see what I can root out.”
Sam went to the utility for place mats, cutlery, condiments, salad, and a basket of bread, while Anna opened the oven door. First to be rooted out were big jacket potatoes. Anna cut crosses in their fluffy tops before popping a pat of butter into each. Then she opened the oven again and retrieved a cast iron casserole dish, which, when she lifted the lid, filled the room with a delicious aroma.
“Oh. Boeuf bourgignon,” Paul said happily. “Anna cooked that for us the first time Danny took me home. It made me feel welcome.”
“And you are still welcome,” Anna smiled, “prickles and all.”