Sam got up to man the coffee machine, while Anna loaded the dishwasher. Jim moved his chair away from the table and stretched his long legs in front of him.
“It’s amazing,” he said reflectively “even though Patsy and Anna are all grown up now, and their personal styles have diverged, you can still feel Patsy’s mum’s hand in their food.”
“You can indeed,” Patsy agreed. “It ain’t so much what we cook, or even how we cook it, as the joy we take in feeding people. That’s what Mum gave us, joy and confidence.”
“It is indeed,” Anna agreed. “Joy, confidence and love. My own mother despised me. If it hadn’t been for aunty Pat my life would have been bleak indeed. But she took me under her wing and loved me like one of her own. I owe her a lot.”
“Not according to her,” Patsy said with a laugh in her voice. “She reckons you repaid her with love, laughter, and an enormous son-in-law.”
Sam must have looked puzzled, because Jim laughed.
“I was a sort of protégée of Anna’s and she taught me a great deal of what I know about computers. It was through her I met Pats. I was fourteen and she was sixteen. I fell like a ton of bricks. Fortunately she felt the same – although we had to wait until I was eighteen before our parents would countenance the marriage.”
“We did. But waiting did us no harm. And we’ve been married twenty years now. He was worth waiting for…”
“You too, toots, you were certainly worth waiting for. Though you are right about the wait, it taught us patience and gave us the chance to be sure.”
Then he leaned over and gave her a smacking kiss.
Sam bought coffee and a big box of after dinner mints. “Would a brandy round this off?”
“Oh yes,” Anna said, as she wiped away a sentimental tear. “Wouldn’t it just.”
And so they finished their evening with snifters of Sam’s best brandy.
“Look behind you,” Patsy said to Anna. “Gandalf and Bonnie are sharing a basket, and they are both snoring.”
Anna looked around and grinned.
“Look at the soft buggers. I reckon they are in love. But it’s just as well Bonnie has been done, I don’t fancy a Groenendael/lurcher cross.”
“No. I don’t reckon it’d be a pretty dog. Though I bet it’d be intelligent and trainable.”
Sam finished his brandy.
“Come on Bon Bon. Bedtime pees. And you Gandalf.”
The dogs followed him into the garden, and Jim went with them. Anna and Patsy quickly cleared up the kitchen.
“Blimey, Anna,” I just looked at the time. “It’s nearly two o’clock. S’no wonder I’m pooped.”
“Me too. But it’s been nice since we got our Glaswegian friend sorted.”
“Has. But it was bloody before that.”
“It was. And I didn’t help by having a wobbler.”
“You couldn’t help that. You never had anybody before Sam, and the idea he was in danger just messed up your head. That’s what happens. The first time I thought somebody had it in for Jim, I was so scared I was physically sick. I’ve had to learn that he is big enough to look after himself. Mind you, somebody going after the boys was a hard pill to swallow – though I had to put the fear away. It helps nobody. But I reckon you figured that one out for yourself today.”
“I did. It wasn’t easy. And I guess it won’t ever be easy. But you are so right about fear helping nobody.”
Patsy put a meaty arm around Anna’s slim shoulders. “Doesn’t. But noisy sex does…”
And so it was when the men came in from the garden, they found their womenfolk in each other’s arms almost weeping with laughter.
“It won’t be any good asking them,” Jim said, “even if they do manage to explain, we mere men won’t be able to understand. Best to just lock up and haul them off to bed.”
Sam grinned and locked the front door, before coming back into the kitchen. He threw Anna over his shoulders like a sack of potatoes.
“Come on giggleswick. Bed time.”
Jim grabbed Patsy around the waist and steered her up the stairs in the wake of Sam and Bonnie, and the still giggling Anna. Gandalf settled himself in Bonnie’s bed by the Aga. He wasn’t a dog who was fond of climbing stairs, or of witnessing noisy sex.
As a consequence of a very fraught day, a pretty late night, and some extremely noisy sex, nobody got out of bed very early on Saturday morning. First to emerge was Sam, who had a brisk shower before letting the dogs out and putting the coffee machine on. As soon as the beverage was ready, he took Anna a jumbo-sized cappuccino and a couple of digestive biscuits. She was just opening her eyes when he walked into the room, and her nose twitched like a rabbit’s at the aroma of fresh coffee.
“It’s no wonder I love you,” she remarked, “not only are you handsome and sexy, you also make excellent cappuccino.”
He laughed, then cocked his head.
“I think I hear stirrings down the hallway. I shall go and do hostly things while you wake up.”
He strode off, leaving Anna smiling and sipping frothy coffee. Jim was in the corridor looking rumpled.
“Sam. Thank fuck you are up. Pats needs coffee and my life won’t be worth living until she gets it.”
“Come with me, and I’ll provide you with a jumbo cup so you’ll get many brownie points.”
Jim patted him with a heavy hand.
They went to the kitchen where the dogs were sitting inside the French door surveying a very rainy garden with obvious canine disgust. Sam filled his metal jug with milk and put it under the steam nozzle.
“Here Jim, hold this while I organise cups, and breakfast for the dogs.”
Jim obliged blearily, and Sam shoved a chocolate digestive biscuit in his free hand. He grinned and ate it in one bite. Sam pushed the packet towards him before heading to the boot room where he filled two dishes with kibble.
“Bonnie, Gandalf, breakfast.”
The dogs left their contemplation of the sodden garden and came to eat.