Cham­pagne And Shell­fish

Best-sell­ing au­thor Pam Rhodes has writ­ten this upbeat com­plete story es­pe­cially for the “Friend”.

The People's Friend Special - - REAL LIFE -

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

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