A pleasurable, worry-free hour later, refreshed after a second immersion in scented water and exchanging the crumpled cotton dress for the pale green silk,
to her post at the window. Her timing was perfect for Matthew
was standing by the wooden gate absorbed in a discourse with .
She ran to the door and flung it wide. Seeing her, Gerald Tomlin Matthew
jumped over his bags and sprinted up the path.
Matthew swept her
into the air, her legs swinging like pendulums, Audrey
thanked God he had arrived safely. A powerful scent of Imperial Leather filled
her senses. As soon as he put her down she held him at arms length to study
him. He was a carbon copy of Brian and
the stubble under his nose indicated the beginning of a similar moustache.
There was no trace of the once troublesome acne and the adolescent fat had
given way to a muscular physique. He looked the picture of health, stunningly
bronze and shockingly handsome.
Believing a solid English meal would be appreciated,
Audrey cooked a piece of topside and served it with
enormous helpings of roast parsnips, cauliflower and minted potatoes. Matthew licked his lips and reached for the mustard
pot, seeming not to notice she had forgotten to include Yorkshire pudding.
While they ate he described the scene in Düsseldorf, defining his new school as an old Schloss set in the middle of parkland. 'It's even got a moat,' he said, 'though I gather that's a recent addition.'
'What's it for?'
'What are the students like?'
'Most of them are the offspring of German academics. They're very enlightened. I'm not sure I'll be able to teach them anything they don't already have knowledge of.'
was often plagued by self-doubt, but he had no need to worry. His confidence
would quickly return once he settled in. He wouldn't have been given the job if
the school principal didn't think he was up to it. Seeing his worry lines, Audrey encouraged him to discuss his social life,
more as a means of changing the subject than a need to know.
'Do you date any girls?'
enquired, shovelling more potatoes on his plate.
'Don't show off,' commented Audrey as she passed the gravy boat, noticing with motherly affection the strength of his hand, the many freckles on his fingers.
Determined not to nag about the mess on his plate,
Audrey enquired if the language was a problem.
It was the doorbell, but
eyes automatically flew to the clock. Five minutes to go. Excusing herself, she
trotted into the hall and clicked the machine to the off position before
unlocking the door.
'We're having dinner. If you're lucky Matty might part with some of his.'
slipped off a long sleeved cardigan. 'I know him of old.' She stood on tiptoe
to hang the black woolly on the coat rack. 'He was always a greedy beggar,' she
proclaimed, raising her voice.
'Can't hear you,' called
'I'll whack you one,
big as you are.' Matthew Buckham
'Come on then, titchy woman. Ssee what you get.'
They made eye contact.
tried to stare him out, but eventually she blinked and looked away, and said,
'I'll make the coffee, shall I?' She darted from the room and could be heard
clattering around in the kitchen, opening cupboards and banging them shut.
'She loves it,' he said, chortling.
'I'm not so sure. She looked a bit glum.'
'Nah, she's okay. She enjoys a joke.'
'I'm not really a cream man,' he said as he poured a small measure into his cup. 'I prefer skimmed milk.'
'Not on your life.'
heaped four spoonfuls into his cup and stirred vigorously.
'I'm surprised the spoon'll go round,'
remarked. 'He sure loves his sugar, Aud.'
He scowled at
'She's put bloody salt in my coffee.'
For two days and three nights
and Matthew stayed home, neither
having any desire to interrupt their reunion. During the day they argued,
bantered and joked. In the evening they reminisced and, except for Audrey's guilty secret, brought each other up to date
with the events in their separate lives.
Not once did the telephone ring and, on the third day,
Audrey went shopping.
(to be continued)