I was still in a fragile state when Cheryl returned from Aberystwyth.
I pointed at the TV. Another episode of that dammed TV show was just coming to an end.
“Oh. I see. It must be hard to see your old self, isn’t it?”
I just nodded and wiped a tear away from my cheek.
Cheryl came and wrapped her arms around me.
“There, there. It will be all right.”
I just stared into space wishing I was not here.
After a while, I’d recovered enough to tell her how small I’d felt with the two Policemen almost accusing me of printing and distributing the posters myself.
“I guess that some of them get a kick out of showing victims that they are in charge. That’s wrong. What did Charlie say?”
“He’d make sure that they don’t bother us again.”
“Well, that’s what you pay him for isn’t it?”
“I suppose so.”
Cheryl let out a big sigh.
“If I knew how to drive or ride your bikes, I’d suggest that we go out for a run to clear our heads. It is going to be a lovely evening.”
I held her tight.
“I’ll be fine. Seeing my old self on TV was a bit of a shock that’s all.”
“I’ll bet. Let’s hope that no one who knows you saw it as well.”
“Do you think someone did?”
“It is Daytime TV and not everyone has the ability to receive that channel. If they do and happen to watch the programme, they’ll see someone called Daniel. That person looks very different from the Monica that we know and love.”
I kissed her as my way of saying thanks for being there for me.
It wasn’t until much later that I’d recovered enough to ask her about the meeting with the Architect and the Council Planners.
“It went as well as it could have done. It looks like they will insist that we de-contaminate the whole site first.
We expected that anyway.”
“If that is all they have to say against the plan then we are home and dry.”
Cheryl shook her head.
“We shouldn’t count our Chickens too soon. This campaign to stop the project will probably mean that the full council will have to debate the issue. If it is as we suspect, Angharad who is behind the posters then her family are well known and have a lot of respect in the area.”
“Did you get all that from today?”
“Ruby gave me a lift back from town. She’s a really great source of information. Between her and the Postman we should be able to keep tabs on everything.”
“What does she think that Angharad will do next?”
“She already knows. Angharad is knocking on doors getting people to sign a petition. Mike has been spreading the word about the Doctor’s car. That might deter a few waivers from signing it. He took pictures of it with the posters plastered all over it. That evidence should deter any ditherers.”
“There’s not a lot we can do at this stage is there. When will the outline permission be debated?”
“The clerk said that it would be put on the agenda for next meeting of the Planning Sub-committee. That is scheduled for the twenty sixth of the month.”
“Will that be time enough to the architect to draw up the submission plans?”
“What do you think?” she replied smiling.
For nearly a week and almost as fast as people tore down the posters more were put up. That was until a few of the locals from the pub decided that they’ lay in wait for the vandals and nab them red handed.
Unfortunately, they’d all had a few too many pints that evening and they all fell asleep before they could confront those responsible for the posters.
Still, they meant well and it was more than it seemed that the Police were doing.
The next day, and as if to make amends for the night before, the men went around the village and removed every poster and placard they could lay their hands on. Then they took them to the old garage site and with a reporter from the local paper present, they burnt the lot.
For the next few days, the village was protest free. Then another wave of posting started and this time the target was the team of men who’d removed the last lot.
The police received more than thirty complaints and with threats to involve the local MP and the TV the police were forced into action.
Just before dawn the next morning, they arrested the culprits. They were a group of Students from the University. Amongst them was Angharad’s son Evan. It looked like it was game over at last.
With no more posters appearing life in the village settled down again. The only ripple of excitement was the arrival of the architect and a team of surveyors. They spent a whole day surveying the site and taking samples from the old petrol and diesel tanks that served the garage pumps. They also took samples of soil.
All of them were to be sent off to a lab for analysis.
For the first time in a while, we had nothing to do. That would not last for long so I began to think that a short break would be just perfect.
The perfect destination for the short break came to me during my morning run. Cheryl had cried off because I was going for the 10-mile circuit. She could manage the 5-mile one but the extra hills on the longer route killed her. The last couple of miles were hard for me but the prospect of a nice relaxing bath spurred me on to the finish.
When I’d finished my soak in the bath and was dressed, I wandered downstairs in search of Cheryl.
She was being very domestic and doing the ironing. I smiled and said,
“That’s very domestic of you?”
“It was this or clean the Hens out. I guess that the hens are all yours then?”
“Oh dear. I smell a scheme about to be released.”
“Well, sort of. Fancy a little trip to Devon?”
“Oh, to see your friend Julia?”
Cheryl thought for a moment and then said,
“As we have a bit of free time, I wonder if we could… could talk about us, here and that sort of thing?”
“Are you ready? Ready to talk about the future?”
“I think so.”
“Then why don’t we just do that. Why don’t we take a picnic and go to New Quay?”
“Why don’t we just stay here?”
“Fair enough. Why don’t I go and clean out the hens then we can talk? If I don’t do it now, it won’t get done today.”
“Great. I’ll make us some lunch while you are doing the hens. Salad Nicoise ok with you?”
“As long as mine has the anchovies!” I joked as I headed for the door.
Cheryl turned her nose up but smiled back at me.
An hour or so later we sat down to eat and more importantly talk and things.
There was a slightly strained silence between us as we ate the salad. Eventually, Cheryl started us off.
“You know that when I came here, I didn’t know what to expect. I was in a real mess than that’s no mistake. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything you have done and your patience with me these past months. I know that it could not have been easy for you. But one phone call from Holly and you came to help. No if’s, but’s or maybe’s. That’s just who you are.”
Her words filled me with dread.
“Does this mean that you want to leave? It certainly sounds like it?”
“Me leave? Why should I? I like it here. Besides… don’t we make a good team?”
I smiled back.
“We do but the important thing is what you want to do with your life and future.”
“What I want is to stay here. Stay here with you.”
“Do you really mean that?”
“Yes. I’ve never been so sure about just about anything in my life.”
As she said that, she reached over and took hold of my hand and gently squeezed it.
“You are kind and gentle. Patient as well. You have to be to put up with me at times when … well, you know I get a bit crotchety at times.”
I smiled back at her.
“But what do you want to do?”
She reacted angrily.
“There you go again! What do you want? Why don’t you tell me what you want rather than always doing what other people want?”
Her reaction surprised me. To be honest, I was a bit stunned.
“Me? That’s not important.”
“Not Important! It is very important to me. How do you feel about me? Do the rings that we bought for show actually mean anything?”
I was totally gobsmacked. I’d never expected her to be so assertive.
I sat there for god knows how long before I answered quietly.
“I love you. I have been in love with you for weeks… no months.”
“There, that wasn’t so hard was it?”
I didn’t reply.
“But you didn’t want to take advantage of me in my rather vulnerable state?”
I didn’t react.
“What would you say if I told you that I felt the same way about you and that I wanted to… be your wife.”
My eyes started welling up. All my hopes had come true but I couldn’t show it without crying. She’d demolished my seemingly impenetrable shell with just a few words.
A few hours later, I woke from a deep sleep to find that I was in bed and the afternoon sun was streaming through the open window. What I didn’t expect for find was that a naked Cheryl was lying next to me with her hand gently massaging my right nipple.
“Welcome to the land of the living,” she whispered in my ear.
For a second, I went quite rigid with fear. Then I relaxed and said,
“Now long was I out?”
“Who cares? I don’t. It is not as if we have somewhere to go now is it?”
As if we were on the set of a Hollywood film, at that very moment, I heard a diesel engine coming up the drive.
“We may not have anywhere to go but someone is coming to us.”
“Ignore them. We aren’t expecting anyone are we?”
She squeezed my nipple quite hard.
We lay there for another minute as the vehicle came to a halt and the occupants got out. I heard two doors close.
We heard one of them say,
“It is awfully quiet. Do you think they are out?”
This time I did go rigid and for more than a second.
“The windows are open. Monica never goes out and leaves them open,” said the second voice. That voice belonged to Holly.
“It’s William and Holly!” exclaimed Cheryl as she came to the same conclusion as I had.
I leapt out of bed and quickly pulled on a sweatshirt.
Then I leaned out of the window to greet our visitors.
“Hello you two. This is an unexpected but nice pleasure. We’ll be down in a couple of minutes. The kitchen door is open. Please go on in and put the kettle on.”
Holly looked up and saw my dishevelled hair and started to laugh. William just looked at his wife with a blank stare.
It took us closer to five minutes than two before we clambered downstairs to find them just about to pour the tea.
“I found some cake and cut it if that’s alright?” asked Holly.
“That’s fine,” I replied as we sat at the table with our guests.
“I hope we didn’t disturb anything?” asked Holly with a cheeky grin on her face.
“Nothing important,” said Cheryl.
I looked at her in amazement. She gave me a small but visible wink in return.
“That’s good. We were in the area so we felt that we couldn’t come all this way and not call in on you two,” said William.
Before I could answer, Holly added,
“We have some news that couldn’t wait.”
“You are not…?”
“Pregnant? No. We aren’t even trying to start a family until we can move away from them.”
“By them, my darling Holly means, my Mother and Sisters,” added William.
I handed out the small plates and loaded them with generous slices of the Cherry Cake I’d made the day before.
“So, what is so important that couldn’t wait for a phone call?”
William looked at Holly and smiled. He gripped her hand.
“We’ve bought a new farm. Holly found it on the Internet. It is not far from Pembroke. We went there today, saw it and had our offer accepted.”
“What sort of place is it?” asked Cheryl.
“Mixed. Early Potatoes and rare breed pigs with a few goats and sheep. The main income is from the potatoes.
They are all harvested by early June.”
I knew about the farms down the coast that grew them.
“Have you sold your old place yet?” I asked.
“No. That is the problem. Still now we can put every effort into selling it sooner rather than later. The problem will be keeping the news of any sale away from my Mother. She won’t be happy and may even try to put a few spanners in the works so to speak.”
“That’s why I thought of you,” said Holly.
Inwardly, I groaned.
“So how much is this going to cost me then?”
Everyone around the table laughed.
“Holly came up with this scheme. It is all hers ok?” said William disowning what was about to be said.
I looked at Holly and waited.
“If you could buy our old place then we could just leave. After a few months, I think we could sell it without interference and pay you back?”
“What about your workers? Your manager Jimmy, has been there as long as you have had the place,” remarked Cheryl.
“He knows we are looking for somewhere else and that hope to sell the farm as a going concern,” said William. Then he added,
“He’s a local lad so I don’t want to bring him and his family with us even though there is a very nice Cottage for them on the farm.”
All this time, I’d been thinking of a solution. As I reached for another slice of cake, it came to me.
“Let me buy your new farm. Then you can be my tenant and Jimmy can be yours. Then you don’t have to sell anything. Then you won’t be telling any lies to your family.”
“But….” said Holly.
William just grinned and gripped his wife’s hand.
“You would do this for us? Our new place is not exactly cheap.”
“Exactly how much is not cheap?”
“One point nine,” replied William quietly.
“What’s so funny?” asked William.
I looked around the table and saw three people wanting an answer.
“Let me be honest with you. One point nine million is about one year of interest on my money.”
There was a stunned silence. I could see Holly and Cheryl trying not to laugh.
“But…” uttered William.
“Holly can tell you all about how I came into a frankly insane amount of money on your way home. All I ask is that you don’t tell a living soul.”
Then I looked at the others.
“I might be from Yorkshire and naturally very tight with my money. However, I will help my family wherever and whenever I can. If that means doing a bit of sleight of hand to get one over on your Mother, William then I’ll do it. I certainly owe her one for moving me to the back of beyond at your wedding. She seemed to conveniently forget who was paying for the whole shebang.”
There was silence in the room.
“Can someone please say something?” I asked.
It was Holly who broke the silence.
“But you complain about the price of almost everything?”
I laughed and said,
“My father used to say, ‘Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves’. I guess I am no different. Look, no one from Yorkshire likes to throw away money. I’m no different but as I said, you are my family so if you want my help you only have to ask. If anyone but you asked me for more than the price of a pint then the answer is no. It is different for family.”
There was still silence.
“And that is all I’m ever going to say on the subject. If you don’t mind, I feel like a walk along the sea wall.”
[to be continued in 10th and final part]
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