Riverside by Glenda Young
Juan’s proposal to Carol isn’t going the way he planned . . .
JUAN!” Carol cried. “Get up from the floor, this instant!” Juan looked from Carol to Anna. “This is your sister, no? She is beautiful, too, but it is you who I want, Carol. Please come back to Spain with me. I will give you everything your heart desires.”
“That’s what you said last time,” Carol huffed. “Then you stole most of my savings and did a runner!”
Juan held the small velvet ring box closer to Carol, urging her to take it and accept his proposal.
“Get up off your knee!” she hissed.
Juan looked around him sheepishly. By now his actions had attracted the attention of most of the customers in the Old Engine Room, and all eyes were turned towards Carol and Anna’s table by the window.
“No, Carol,” Juan insisted. “I will not get up or leave here until you give me your answer. Will you marry me?”
Carol rolled her eyes at Anna, but before she could say anything more, a tall man in a smart black suit and grey silk tie appeared at the side of their table.
“Is this gentleman bothering you?” he asked Carol politely.
He pointed towards Juan, who was still on bended knee, holding the box with the engagement ring in it.
“Yes, but there’s no need,” Carol began. “Juan, get up!”
Juan slowly raised himself to his full height, but he was no match for the man who towered above him. “Carol?” Juan pleaded. Carol shook her head. “Never in a million years,” she said. “You had your chance and you blew it. Go – and never darken my door again.”
Anna gasped with shock. She had never heard her sister sound so assertive.
Juan turned towards Anna and held out the engagement ring towards her.
“How about you, lady? Would you like to marry me?”
“Get out, Juan,” Carol said.
“You heard the lady,” the man in the suit said.
Then he took hold of Juan’s arm and firmly escorted him to the exit.
When he returned to Carol and Anna’s table, Carol thanked him for his help.
“It wasn’t necessary, though,” she said. “He was just a little nuisance.”
Anna gave her sister a gentle kick under the table.
“But I’m very grateful for your help,” she added, shooting Anna a look.
“Would you like to join us?” Anna asked.
“I’m with some friends,” the man said, looking into Carol’s eyes. “Maybe next time? Let me give you my number. My name’s Joe.”
“And this is Carol,” Anna said quickly. “And she’s single.”
“Lovely to meet you, Carol,” he said, smiling.
He scribbled his number on a serviette before he headed back to his table.
“Well, I never.” Carol sighed. “All I wanted was a quiet lunch and it’s turned into quite the drama.”
“He’s dishy, too,” Anna declared. “Are you going to ring him? Because if you don’t, I might.”
Carol popped the serviette into her handbag before Anna could say any more.
At George and Mary’s house, the kettle was on the boil.
Mary was arranging two mugs on the tray beside the teapot. She took out the packet of chocolate digestives and popped one into her mouth while she was waiting for the water to boil, then put the packet on to the tray.
When the tea was made, she took the whole thing through to the living-room where George was sitting on the sofa with his feet up.
He’d been fiddling with his smartphone most of the afternoon, but as soon as Mary came in, George furiously pressed a few buttons and the screen went dark.
“What are you up to?” she asked, curious to know what was keeping his attention.
“Oh, nothing much,” he replied.
“You’ve been looking at it all day,” she said. “I thought you were going to have a walk out to the allotment this afternoon to check on things?”
George looked out of the window.
“I’ll go later,” he told her. “You haven’t forgotten about the fireworks display this weekend?” Mary asked.
“Is it this weekend?” George asked, scratching his head.
“I thought you’d put it in the calendar on your phone there?” Mary said.
She reached out to pick up George’s phone to check the calendar settings, but he beat her to it and snatched the phone out of her hand.
“George! What are you doing?” Mary cried.
Both of them looked at the phone in George’s hand where a text message sat, waiting to be read. The name of the sender was visible to them both – Tiger Lil. Mary didn’t recognise it.
“It’s just a friend,” George said defensively. “I’m going up to the allotment.”
George threw on his coat and scarf and stormed out of the house, banging the door behind him.
Left alone with the teapot and biscuits, thoughts whirled in Mary’s mind.
It’s not like George to be so secretive, she thought. What on earth is going on?