WEEKLY SOAP River­side by Glenda Young

Anna’s un­re­li­able sis­ter has turned up in Rye­mouth . . .

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CAROL!” Anna cried. “What are you do­ing here?” Carol strode over to where Anna was stand­ing, shell-shocked and and cling­ing to a sa­lon chair for sup­port, and wrapped her arms around her in a bear hug.

“That’s a fine wel­come to give your long-lost sis­ter!” Carol laughed, re­leas­ing Anna from her grip.

Anna stiff­ened and straight­ened her back.

“You’ve hardly been lost. I knew ex­actly where you were. What I want to know is why you’ve come back now. What do you want?”

It was then that Anna caught sight of Jenny out of the cor­ner of her eye, stand­ing by the re­cep­tion desk and pre­tend­ing not to lis­ten to this tense re­union.

“Shall I go and make us some tea?” Jenny asked.

With­out wait­ing for an an­swer, she walked off into the back room and pulled the door closed be­hind her.

Carol plonked her­self down in one of the chairs and ad­mired her re­flec­tion in the big sa­lon mir­ror.

“It’s not a bad lit­tle place you’ve got here, Anna,” she said. “I reckon we could make a go of this if we put our minds to it.”

Anna shook her head. “No, Carol. You can’t just waltz back in here as if you own the place.”

“But I do,” Carol said, smil­ing. “My name’s above the door.”

“No, you don’t,” Anna replied through grit­ted teeth. “We were sup­posed to be part­ners, re­mem­ber? But then you swanned off to Tener­ife and I haven’t seen you for months.

“You told me you were go­ing to in­vest in the sa­lon, but I’ve ended up putting ev­ery penny of my sav­ings into this place and run­ning it on my own.”

Carol nod­ded to­wards the back room, where, un­seen but eas­ily vi­su­alised, Jenny had her ear pressed up against the door, try­ing to lis­ten to the con­ver­sa­tion as best she could.

“What about that woman who’s gone to make the tea? Does she work here?”

Anna tried to keep her voice level.

“Yes. She’s called Jenny and she works on re­cep­tion, sweeps up and helps me out with the ad­min.

“She’s not a stylist, Carol. I’m the one run­ning this place, do­ing all the work, and if you think you’re go­ing to swan in here and claim half of the busi­ness, then you’re wrong.”

Carol ran her fingers up and down the arm of the chair she was sit­ting on.

“And how is busi­ness?” she asked. “Go­ing well?”

Anna sank into the chair next to Carol’s. The two women stared straight ahead, look­ing at the re­flec­tion of the other in the mir­ror.

Anna nod­ded.

“It’s go­ing very well. Too well, in fact. I’ve had to turn work away be­cause I can’t man­age on my own. I need an­other stylist.”

Carol swiv­elled round in the chair to face her sis­ter.

“Then you’ve got one. Take me on, Anna. Give me a chance. I know I promised to in­vest in the sa­lon, but I got side­tracked around the same time as you needed the money.”

“When you say side­tracked, you mean there was a man in­volved, don’t you?”

Carol nod­ded.

“His name was Juan. He had the most lovely eyes, Anna.”

“Never mind his eyes,” Anna said sharply. “What hap­pened to your sav­ings?”

Carol’s gaze dropped to the floor.

“Carol, what hap­pened?” Anna said, more softly this time.

“Juan took most of my money and dis­ap­peared,” she replied. “I haven’t seen him for months. I tried to track him down, but . . .” She slowly shook her head.

Anna stroked her sis­ter’s arm. She saw Carol’s tears ready to fall.

“You’ve never had much luck with men, have you?” she said and held out her hand to hold Carol’s. “So you’ve lost ev­ery­thing?” Carol shook her head. “Not ev­ery­thing.” With a wry smile and a wink, she pointed out­side to the red sports car. “I’ve got my runaround. And I did re­search on Rye­mouth when you e-mailed to say you were buy­ing a sa­lon here.

“Be­fore Juan got his hands on what was left of my cash I in­vested in one of the river­side apart­ments. It’s got three bed­rooms, Anna, and one of them is yours if you’d like it.” Anna sighed. “You’re ask­ing me to move into a fancy new flat with you af­ter you spent your sav­ings there rather than in­vest in this sa­lon with me?”

Carol swiv­elled her chair back to face the mir­ror.

“I had dreams, Anna.” She shrugged. “OK, so my dreams turned into a night­mare, but I’m here now. You said your­self that you need an­other stylist.

“Re­mem­ber how you al­ways wanted to live in a house with a river view when we were kids?”

Anna was silent, choos­ing her words care­fully be­fore she spoke again.

“If I let you work here, Carol, you’re an em­ployee, not part-owner. You un­der­stand?”

Carol nod­ded.

“And the bed­room with the view would def­i­nitely be mine, right?”

Carol nod­ded again and Anna stood and em­braced her sis­ter.

“Wel­come home, Carol. I haven’t half missed you!”

The back room door swung open. The sis­ters turned to see Jenny with a tray in her hand car­ry­ing three mugs of tea.

More next week.

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