The meal was excellent, and everyone ate rather too much. When they were sitting with coffee in front of them, Anna smiled at her brother.
“Happy Danny Boy?”
“Oh yeah. Happy little sis?”
Sam got up and stretched.
“I’ll clear up here.”
Sam began clearing the table. When Paul would have got up to help he waved him back down.
“Sit. I’ve got this. It’s not like there’s a lot to do.”
Anna took her shopping list and headed for the larder, by the time she got back the dishwasher was loaded and working, and Sam was just wiping down the work tops.
“Where’s Bonnie?” she said a bit fretfully.
Sam pointed to the big basket in front of the Aga, where Bonnie was fast asleep with all four feet in the air.
“She’s fine love. Must have sneaked in while we were eating. I think she’s had such an exciting day she’s knackered.”
“Yes. You are right. She’s just exhausted.”
As if she knew they were talking about her, the dog rolled over in her basket and wagged her tail before going back to sleep.
“See love. She’s fine. Did I see you making yet another shopping list?”
“Yes. This morning, I only got enough stuff for today. And Paul eats as much as a Cracksman. So I’ll need to hit Waitrose as soon as it opens its doors in the morning. Now I think we need to take Danny and Paul on at poker. They owe me a million quid from last time.”
“Umm. Anna. I’m crap at poker.”
“Never mind love. I’m good enough for both of us.”
And she was, even with Sam’s absolute ineptitude they won so much pretend money that by bedtime Danny was threatening to sell Paul to the white slavers.
“Why is it you selling me?”
“Because you are much prettier than me.”
“True. I sometimes wonder how I fell for such a ugly bugger. But I did, so that’s how it is. Now let’s hit the hay. Goodnight Anna. Goodnight Sam.”
They left the room hand in hand and Anna got up from her chair. Sam grasped her wrist gently and pulled her onto his lap. He kissed the end of her nose. Relaxing against his hard chest Anna gave vent to a tiny sigh.
“Out with it, love.”
“Silly or not. Tell me.”
“I’ve been so happy all evening. But just now I came out in gooseflesh all over. In her better moments, my mother would have told me someone was walking over my grave.”
“Not silly. Just one of those things. I sometimes get it with patients. Then, deep inside me I know they aren’t going to make it. I still give them the best there is. But I know. It’s one of those things that defies explanation, although most doctors have a whiff of it.”
“Oh Sam. That must be weird. And frightening.”
“Weird, yes. Frightening, no. You learn to deal. Now stop worrying. Agreed?”
She rubbed her face in his shirt.
“Agreed. And I’ll admit to feeling a lot better because you didn’t pooh pooh my attack of the weirds. Thanks love. Now I reckon it’s time Bonnie went out for her wee.”
“It is. Come on Bon Bon. Let’s go look for some cats.”
Bonnie got up and followed Sam into the garden where she did a quick check for intruders before retiring to her chosen toilet spot in the middle of the shrubbery. When they got back into the kitchen, Anna had finished clearing up from the card party so they ascended the stairs together. Just as they got into their bedroom, Sam’s phone bleeped.
“Shit. I hope that isn’t work. I’ve had just about a skinful. Oh. It’s a text from Rod. He and Jim have been at a clay pigeon shoot somewhere in the Cotswolds. They want to come see me on their way home tomorrow. Suggest a pub lunch.”
“Now there’s a coincidence. Say that’ll be fine, and let them be surprised to find me here. I’ll cook a big roast dinner and we can invite them to your ‘birthday’ party while they are here.”
Sam’s face crinkled into his happiest grin.
“What an excellent notion. I shall send a mildly pissed text now.”
He busied himself for a few minutes then grinned again.
“How’s this sound. Good. Fine. CU morning. Not before 11. Am pissed. Will sleep late”‘
Anna chuckled. “Unexceptionable, I’m sure. And so welcoming…”
Sam sent the message and gave his intended a pained look.
“Anna we’re blokes. We don’t do ‘gosh I can’t wait to see you’ messages. Rod will understand exactly what I want him to understand.”
His phone beeped again.
“There,” he said, “CU 11. Alkie bastard.”
Anna laughed out loud.
“Okay. I know when I’m beaten. Man love is beyond me.”
“So I would hope. And it ain’t man love – that’s currently residing in the green bedroom. It’s man friendship. Now I need to sleep.”
Anna dropped a kiss on his head.
“Talking of man love, where will the boys go in the camper?” Sam asked idly as he sat on the edge of the bed removing his socks.
“Scotland. Specifically Speyside. Salmon fishing. Up to their knackers in freezing water. Some friends of theirs own a pub with fishing rights. They’ll be able to park the camper in the pub car park, and they’ll have a wonderful time.”
Naked by this time, Sam climbed into bed and held the duvet up for Anna to crawl in next to him.
“Mad,” he said. “I promise you nice and warm for our honeymoon.”
“Good. I might have had to kill you if you made me leave Bonnie for anything less.”