Sunday morning arrived too quickly for Sam. He was rousted out of bed at eight o’clock.
“Up you get sleepyhead. Grab a shower. I’ve had mine. I’ll wake the mad fishermen and go make bacon sandwiches.”
Sam sat up and shook his head.
“OK,” he said around a furry tongue. “Too much wine last night. After breakfast I need a walk.”
But he was talking to thin air. Anna had already whisked out of the room, and he could vaguely hear cursing as he woke Danny and Paul.
Twenty minutes later, he was in the kitchen eating a huge sandwich of bacon and portobello mushroom. Danny and Paul weren’t far behind him.
“Okay. Would somebody mind telling me why I have been unceremoniously ousted from my bed at sparrow-fart on a Sunday morning?”
“We have visitors arriving at eleven, and stuff to do before they get here,” Anna said firmly.
“Who?” Danny looked vaguely interested.
“Rod and Jim.’
“Oh well. Good. I think. Does this mean you will be back in touch with Patsy?”
“Yes. I can handle her now.”
“Then it is good. I was sorry to think you weren’t talking, although I understood why. We telling them about the wedding?”
“No, but we’ll invite them to the ‘birthday party’. All of them.”
Paul sighed theatrically.
“And for this she hauls me out of bed…”
But once Anna put doorstep sandwiches and bucket-sized cups of tea beside them, he even grinned.
“We forgive you,” he said magnanimously, then groaned with delight as he took his first mouthful.
“What beats me,” Danny said meditatively, “is where he puts it. My beloved eats like a horse and never puts on an ounce. If I didn’t love him so much it would piss me off deeply.”
“Yeah,” Sam agreed with some feeling. “Anna’s the same, although in her case we do know why. But that ain’t much consolation when I’m slogging away in the gym. And don’t say I could diet. I defy any red-blooded human to do that when Anna is cooking.”
“Ain’t that the truth,” Paul said happily. “Anna’s food is probably the only thing in the world worth being straight for. And I don’t even have to do that – being attached to her favourite brother.”
Anna patted his head.
“Berk. Now. Do you want to hit Waitrose with me? If so we leave here at nine-fifteen sharp. I wanna be there when they open the doors at half nine. And at the checkout when it opens at ten.”
“Yeah. Sounds like a plan. I need to stock the camper. But what will the fat boys be doing?”
“Fair enough. Now don’t anybody talk to me until I have finished this sandwich. It’s far too good to mess up with conversation…”
Anna aimed a blow at his head, and poured about half a stone of potatoes into the utility sink. Sam, who had finished his sandwich, got up.
“You want help with peeling?”
“Yes please love.”
“Whyn’t you let me peel the spuds. I’m sure there’s more technical stuff requiring your attention. And I’m quite good with a knife.”
Which proved to be more than an idle boast, as the potatoes were peeled at top speed, but also with extreme neatness. Danny patted Sam’s shoulder.
“C’mon you. We’re supposed to be walking Bon Bon. Leave the kitchen to the girls.”
He wasn’t quite fast enough to duck the very wet dishcloth his sister threw at his head. Sam dragged him out of the room before he could get himself into any more trouble.
“Get your boots on Marshall. Let’s give Bonnie a good walk.”
They went, bickering amicably, with Bonnie at their heels. Paul stood in the kitchen doorway and watched them go.
“It’s nice to see Danny so at ease with someone outside our gay circle. But I really, really wish he wouldn’t call me a girl.” Anna grimaced.
“I know. Why’d you think he got the wet dishcloth? He’s an insensitive bugger at times, ain’t he? But I guess we still love him.”
“We do. Would you be an angel and help me make a list for the camper. You know what space there is.”
By eleven o’clock everyone was back at the house, and Anna had three legs of lamb roasting, plus what seemed to Sam to be enough vegetables to feed a small city. Then he thought about Rod’s appetite, and Paul’s appetite, and…
He crossed the room and put his arms around Anna from behind. She turned in his arms and lifted her face for a kiss.
“What did I do to to deserve that?” she asked happily.
“Nothing. Except be yourself.”
He bent to kiss her again and was interrupted by gagging noises from the doorway.
“Piss off Danny,” he said amiably. “I know you don’t get it with girls, but that don’t give you an excuse to mess it up for those of us who do…”
What Danny would have said in reply was lost in the sound of a very loud set of air horns.
“Rod,” Sam said. “You all stay here, but Bonnie can come to the door with me if she wants.”
She did want. So one man and one dog went out and opened the gates to a brand-new muscle truck – in eye-watering scarlet with black wolves painted along the sides.
“Nice truck,” Sam said, as Rod jumped out to thump him between the shoulder blades. “Did you break the old one?”
“I most certainly did not. I just fancied this one! And since when did you have a dog…”
Jim came out of the passenger seat a bit more decorously. “That’s not ‘a dog’. If I’m not very much mistaken it’s Anna’s Bonnie.”
“So it bloody well is. Hello Bon Bon.”
Rod bent and smoothed the elegant dark head, then smote Sam’s shoulder one more time.
“You crafty little bastard!”
He sprinted into the house.
Sam put his hand on Jim’s bicep and looked him in the eyes.
“I just want you to know that Patsy being kept in the dark is none of my doing.”
“No. It wouldn’t be. It’d be Anna. She needed some time outside Patsy’s orbit. They love each other like sisters, and that’s the rub. Like sisters they don’t always agree. Until recently, Anna used to let Pats have her own way all the time. But she’s grown up at last. Pats needs to learn to accept that before they can be close again.”
Sam frowned as he thought that one through.
“Yeah. I kinda get that. Anna’s a bit like me. We don’t like rows.”
“No. I can understand that. Now let me go see Anna. I’ve missed her too.”
Just then, Sam heard Anna squeak.
“I guess Rod just caught up with my intended,” he grinned.
Jim held up a hand. “Listen.”
Rod’s voice was next.
“Ouch. Ouch. I give in!”
“What’s she doing to him?”
“Pinching his ear. She always does. It’s all part of the game.”
“Yeah,” Sam grinned. “Rod’s a big softie when it comes to girls. Shall we go in and rescue him?”