Much Dithering in Little Botheringham – 25

‘Much Dithering in Little Botheringham’ is an everyday tale of village life and vampires, from Jane Jago and E.M. Swift-Hook.

If Ginny had wondered in her heart of hearts what a meeting of a nest of vampires was going to be like she had never for one minute imagined this.
She knocked on Agnes’ back door with considerable trepidation. The woman who answered her knock was a stunning black-haired beauty dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt that proclaimed her allegiance to an American Football team of whom Ginny knew nothing.
“Hi. You must be Ginny. I’m Jamelia. Excuse the clothing. I’ve been at the estate getting the tenants association drilled in what it needs to do and haute couture would be right out of place.” Her voice was low and musical and Ginny had never felt quite so plain and gawky in her life.
She summoned a sickly grin. “I don’t think I own any haute couture.”
“Me neither, but then we are ordinary mortals not backed by the Vanderbilt billions.”
“Billions?” Ginny was shocked.
“Nothing like,” Jamelia admitted, then laughed. “It’s just compared to the rest of us it sometimes seems like it.”
Still smiling Jamelia took Ginny’s unresisting hands in both of hers and pulled gently. “No need to be shy, none of us bite.”
Ginny had to smile back at that and stepped inside. Her new sister, the thought was a good one, closed the door and then kissed Ginny on both cheeks in greeting.
“Welcome my sister. Now come and meet the rest.”
Agnes’ sitting room was comfortably untidy and four women sat, squashed together on a three seater settee, watching a horse race on the huge TV. They were transfixed by it, oblivious to Ginny’s arrival and suddenly all started shrieking.
Jamelia winced. “They have been boozing all afternoon. And Petunia reckoned she had a hot tip for the four o’clock at Kenton Park. It’s losing.”
The race drew to a close and three of the women piled on top of the fourth in joyfully childlike retribution. After a couple of minutes they sorted themselves out and Agnes noticed Ginny.
“Sorry about that, love,” she said comfortably. “I never heard you knocking.”
“You wouldn’t. Not with the noise you lot were making,” but Jamelia sounded affectionately amused.
Agnes grinned at her. “I take it you introduced yourself.” Jamelia sighed and nodded, and Agnes gave her a quick hug. “I do know you find it trying sometimes, love, but we can’t help what we are no more than you can help what you are.” Then she turned to make the necessary introductions. “Right Ginny. This is us. You know me and now Jamelia. This is Lilian. She’s a worse gossip than me.”
A tiny woman with beaded cornrows in her hair, and a face as wrinkled as a walnut, flipped Agnes the finger before offering Ginny the kiss of welcome. Ginny recognised her as the woman she had sat beside at the meeting of the Ladies’ Association.
“Here’s Ellen. Lesbian of this parish and shouty lefty.”
“Shut up Agnes.”
“See what I mean? Shouty.”
Ellen laughed and added a muscular hug to the kiss of sisterhood.
“The one who should be looking embarrassed because she just lost the rest of us a tenner is Petunia. Veterinary nurse and useful person as long as you never take her racing tips.”
Petunia grinned and blew Agnes a raspberry before kissing Ginny on both cheeks. “You look a darned sight better than the last time I saw you.”
Ginny remembered Agnes saying that Petunia had held her head while Em fed her blood and felt the blush rising over her face. Petunia grinned.
“Don’t be embarrassed by us. You are doing really well. When I was made I knew what was happening but I still screamed for the best part of a month.”
“You did indeed,” Agnes agreed, “but you’re a bloody exhibitionist.”
“And you’re a bloody old tart.”
The smiles and laughter made Ginny realise that this teasing was all good natured, just their way of showing sisterhood. She had seen it before, especially among those who had been brought up not showing affection. Jamelia caught her eye and smiled understanding.
“It’ll settle down in a minute. Be as good as gold once Em appears. But for now. More booze I suspect.”
“Someone say booze?” Agnes thrust a tall glass clinking with ice into Ginny’s hand. She sniffed it suspiciously.
Jamelia came to her rescue again. “Mojito.”
Ginny looked at the glass in some unease. “I don’t actually drink much nowadays. I shouldn’t want to make a fool of myself.”
“I don’t think you can make a fool of yourself with this lot. And anyway, you’re a vampire now. Means you have an all but bottomless capacity for alcohol. The worst you will ever get is mildly lit like them four. And no hangovers. Ever.”
Emboldened Ginny took a sip. The drink was sweet and minty and very much to her taste. Looking up, she saw Agnes was watching and toasted her with an upraised glass. The smile she got in return warmed her from the inside.

Part 26 of Much Dithering in Little Botheringham by Jane Jago and E.M. Swift-Hook, will be here next week.

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