Champagne And Shellfish
Best-selling author Pam Rhodes has written this upbeat complete story especially for the “Friend”.
SCALLOPS! Where were the scallops? Clutching her shopping list in one hand, Donna steered doggedly round the end of the supermarket aisle with the other, wondering why she always managed to find the trolley with wonky wheels and a mind of its own on days when time was tight and her choice of purchases needed her full attention.
Hams, cheeses, smoked salmon – the shellfish must be here somewhere!
Scallops were Peter’s favourite. She smiled at the memory of the first time she’d cooked them for him, using the recipe from a posh new French cookbook which was her favourite at the time.
Whoever said the way to a man’s heart was through his stomach was spot on. Peter loved the scallops – and later that first night, after their dessert had been delayed by some unexpectedly tender moments, he said he loved her, too.
He loved her tagine creations, her delicately fragranced Thai curries, her home-made bread and her mouthwatering pastries adorned with arches of spun sugar and chocolate twirls.
In those days, they ate out several times a week, often with their colleagues from the financial investment company in the City where they were both account managers.
At the weekends they would entertain at Peter’s flat in an old London warehouse which had been renovated to provide panoramic views of the River Thames.
With the lights of London spread out before them, there was nothing Donna liked more than to create her own sophisticated menus with dishes served on a candle-lit table, while the wine flowed and conversation went on long into the night.
That, of course, was before they married – and before they became the proud parents of Joshua a year later.
The love she felt for this small, demanding intruder on their ordered lives took Donna by surprise.
Even though his arrival precipitated a move out to the suburbs, Donna had always intended going back to take up her role in the City after nine months’ maternity leave. After all, just like Peter, she was recognised as a high-flyer, tipped for the top. Their shared passion and talent for the financial world had drawn them together in the first place. Well, that and the scallops! Somehow, though, as the date loomed for her return to work, Donna found herself dreading the thought of the nanny they planned to employ sharing all those special moments with the son who had become so dear to her.
And then, something delightfully unexpected happened! She hadn’t planned to find herself pregnant again, but it led to the happy arrival of Esther nine months later.
WHERE Joshua had been a challenging baby, perhaps because Donna was as new to the mother and baby relationship as he was himself, Esther was placid and accommodating, sleeping through the night and gurgling happily throughout the day.
It occurred to Donna that she was actually becoming rather good at the skills needed to be a mother. That didn’t surprise her. If she could take on the City, she could certainly manage a toddler or two!
Three, though, was something else entirely! Esther was just fourteen months old when Martha burst upon the world, displaying all the wiles and mood-swings of a teenager from the very start.
By this time, Donna had discovered that Joshua had plainly inherited Peter’s negotiating technique which was so admired by his work colleagues and feared by his competitors. To have an argument with a two-and-a-half-year-old and know