They leaned companionably on the worktop and Anna grinned.
“Soup and sandwiches for supper do you think?”
“Why not. Shall we get prepared? There’s chicken soup in the fridge. You wanna cut some bread? Thick I think. I’ll get some ham and cheese ready.”
They worked together companionably and we’re just about ready when Paul’s voice called from the hallway.
“Okay. Come and look.”
Anna and Colin went into the hallway, where a big screen stood to the side of the stairs. On it was a single picture. Bonnie in her bridesmaid’s wreath.
“How’d you do that?” Anna asked. Then she moved closer and saw the picture was a collage of A4 sheets.
“Clever. And it’s a lovely shot.’
“Now come in here,” Sam said.
Anna followed him into the huge dining room where the small tables were ready and waiting for lunch the next day. Here there were two more screens, one was a montage of different shots of the wedding, while the other was another collage, even bigger than the one of Bonnie. It was a simple shot of Sam and Anna, he was smiling down into her eyes and they looked happy and beautiful. Anna wiped a fugitive tear from her cheek.
“Oh. I love that. I want a copy to frame and keep forever.”
“You shall.” Paul promised. “There’s another screen in the lounge with a montage on. What do you think?”
Anna kissed his cheek, then did the same for Ben, Colin and Danny. Sam got a full-on smacker.
“I guess that means she likes it,” he grinned.
“I do. I more than like it. Now. Who’s hungry? Colin and I have soup and toasties planned.”
There was a generalised stampede towards the kitchen.
In bed that night, Anna turned a serious face to Sam.
“What’s up love? You’re not having regrets are you?”
“No. I’m happier than I thought it was possible to be. This is something else. I have to tell you a thing and it’s one of the difficult ones.”
“Will it help if I hold you while you tell it?”
Sam pulled her close and looked down into her face.
“It’s about Patsy. I’m a bit worried that people won’t be nice to her, and I don’t want that. She’s okay under the Lycra. And she saved my life.”
Anna buried her face in Sam’s chest and he stroked her hair.
“What happened love?”
“It was the knife throwing incident. I was alone in the house with Mum, and she seemed fine. Then I went into the garden to get a lettuce and she came after me with the knife. Pats was next door sunbathing. Naked. She heard me scream. Came over the hedge like an avenging goddess. Mum had the garden fork and was ready to finish me off. Pats knocked her out with a left hook and screamed for her own mother. They stopped the bleeding, carried me inside and called nine-nine-nine. The rest is history. I tried to thank them and they wouldn’t have it. I remember Pats saying that it was no more than anybody would have done and I should think no more about it. But. I do think about it and deep inside I know that I would have been dead if it wasn’t for her.”
Sam cradled his beloved wife tenderly in his arms.
“Then I owe her too. But I’m having a hard time with the naked jumping bit.”
Anna laughed a little.
“Me too, and I saw it. She was a big girl even in them days. But you can see why I don’t want her to feel hurt or excluded.”
“She won’t. I’ll see to that. Will she know anyone but you and her own family?”
“Yeah. Danny and Paul, who she loves. Ted knows her and they get on quite well. And the Patels know her. She and Anjali are actually quite friendly. Share a filthy sense of humour.”
“See. You were working unnecessarily.”
“I guess I was. I think part of it was that I needed to tell you.”
“Yes. Well. I know now.”
She lifted her face and kissed him rather seriously, and then there was nothing more to say,
Sunday morning, and Sam awoke to an empty bed. He was just sitting up when Ben’s face appeared in the doorway.
“You’re awake. Good. I’ve been sent to tell you half an hour to breakfast.”
He stepped a bit further into the room.
“Anna and Colin are working side-by-side like they’ve been doing it forever. It’s weird. Most women irritate him in the kitchen, but she’s just as efficient and economical of effort as him. They’re even talking spooky culinary shorthand. Me and the others, and Bonnie, took our coffee out into the garden. Felt superfluous. Now get up and get your shower or I reckon we’ll both be in trouble.”
Sam laughed and did as he was told, making it down to the kitchen with ten minutes to spare. Anna came over and kissed him good morning. Her cheeks were rosy, and a wisp of hair had escaped from her braid. Otherwise she was as serene and unhurried as ever. Colin dropped him a cheeky wink.
“I’ve told Anna that if she ever gets tired of you she can come work with me. I reckon we could get us a Michelin star in six months.”
Sam glowered at him, then grinned.
“Mine. Hands off!”
Anna handed him a mug of coffee.
“Out on the patio please. We’ll call you when breakfast is.”
He went, to find Ben, Danny, Paul and Bonnie drinking coffee and playing a desultory game of ball.
“I think,” he grinned, “that we are surplus to requirements. What say we take Bonnie for a walk after breakfast and leave the kitchen twins to it?”
“That,” Danny said in heartfelt tones, “is a plan”.