Chapter 1: Mistletoe
Bren and Tony spend their first Christmas together.
Friday 24th December 1999, Christmas Eve
- - -
Bren and Tony got out of the taxi and grabbed their bags. It was battering down with rain and they rushed up to the pub doors. They got in, trying their best to dry off but before either of them could say anything, Hamish appeared.
“Tony!” Hamish greeted him with open arms, “You made it!”
“Alright, Hamish?” Tony grinned as the two men hugged. Tony then turned to Bren, “This is Brenda. Bren, this is Hamish.”
“How you doing?” Hamish greeted Bren, kissing her cheek.
“I’m good, how are you?” Bren smiled.
“Not bad, not bad at all. It’s nice to finally meet you, I’ve heard a lot about you.” Hamish replied.
“Oh really?” Bren smiled nervously as she looked at Tony, “All good I hope.”
“Of course! Here, I’ll take you up to your room and then you can get settled.” Hamish said, “Eileen’s in the kitchen with the bairns.”
“Eileen alright?” Tony asked as they followed Hamish up the stairs.
“Yeah, driving me around the bend as usual, you ken what she’s like.” Hamish laughed before turning to Bren, “My missus, Eileen’s pregnant again so she’s a wee bit doolally.”
“Oh right.” Bren giggled.
“She’s no too bad, just a wee bit tired.” Hamish explained. He then took the key out and unlocked the door for them, “Here we are.”
“Cheers, Hamish.” Tony said as Hamish handed him the key before leaving the room. They walked further into the room as they looked around, “It’s nice eh?”
“Yeah, it is.” Bren nodded as she put her bag down, “Shall we get unpacked?”
“Probably would be best, wouldn’t it?” Tony nodded. The two took off their coats and started to unpack their bags. Bren was putting her folded clothes into the drawers whilst Tony was putting his toiletries into the bathroom, “Woah! Bren, come look in here.”
“What is it?” Bren asked as she walked into the bathroom. Her jaw then dropped as she looked at the immaculate en suite, “Wow! I don’t think I’ve been in a bathroom this fancy.”
Tony chuckled as he squeezed her shoulder before slipping out of the bathroom behind her. Bren took another moment or so to take in her surroundings before smiling to herself and going back to unpacking. Tony was putting his clothes into the drawers when Bren came back through. Bren checked her bag for any more clothes but there was nothing so she sat on the bed. She moved around as she got comfortable, looking around the room with a small smile on her face. Tony noticed her in the mirror and he turned to her.
“You alright?” Tony asked.
“Yeah.” Bren nodded, still looking around, “Yeah, I’m brilliant.”
Tony smiled. He walked slowly before joining her on the bed. Bren turned to him when he sat down. Tony looked at her, the two quiet for a moment.
“It’s lovely here.” Bren smiled, “Really lovely.”
“I knew you’d like it. I remember when he bought this place.” Tony explained, “Hamish had not long gotten married to Eileen when they bought it.”
“How did you meet Hamish?” Bren asked.
“He used to work in that pub around the corner from the petrol station.” Tony explained, “He went down to Manchester with his parents but came back up a few years ago and started up this place.”
“He’s done a great job.” Bren nodded. She looked at Tony with a little smile. She tried to think of more things to say as the room went quiet. She didn’t want to run out of conversation and was almost willing to pick anything out of the air so Tony didn’t think she was boring, “The um, the bed looks nice.”
“It does, eh? It definitely looks big enough.” Tony turned to look at the bed. He was feeling the same way as Bren, so unsure of what to say. He felt as though he just shot himself in the foot when he said it looked big enough. There was a slight awkward pause between the two which felt like ages but it was only a couple of seconds when their door went, “Oh, that’ll be Hamish.”
They both shot up and let out a sigh of relief. A sort of ‘thank God he’s here!’ type sigh. They both headed downstairs to the pub with Hamish, listening to him talk about his plans for tomorrow. They all went into the pub which was quite busy but Bren and Tony managed to find a quiet corner.
“What do you want, Tony? Pint?” Hamish asked.
“Yeah, cheers mate. Bren?” Tony turned.
“Oh, pint as well.” Bren smiled.
“I’ll bring them right over.” Hamish winked.
“You alright?” Tony asked over the table.
“Yeah.” Bren nodded, “You?”
“I’m great.” Tony grinned which made Bren blush.
Hamish brought over their drinks and the two talked quietly before deciding to order some food which Hamish’s wife, Eileen brought through to them. Tony introduced Eileen to Bren and the two seemed to get on very well for the couple of minutes they spoke.
Tony was at the bar ordering more drinks for hun and Bren as he talked to Eileen. Eileen was pulling the drinks as she noticed Tony watching Bren at the table. She noticed the smile on his lips and chuckled.
“What is it?” Tony asked, wondering if something happened on the television they had on.
“You, you’re absolutely smitten!” Eileen grinned, “I’ve never seen you like this in all the time I’ve known you.”
“Oh shut up.” Tony rolled his eyes with a chuckle.
“You are! Look at you!” Eileen laughed, “I shouldn’t be surprised, the amount of times you’ve talked about her the whole time you’ve worked at that canteen. Even when you were married.”
“Yeah, yeah.” Tony rolled his eyes again.
“She’s lovely though, Tony. You better not mess it up.” Eileen told him.
Later on, Bren and Tony went through to the back with Hamish and Eileen after the pub shut. Bren and Tony didn’t stay too long downstairs but enjoyed a quick drink with Hamish and Eileen before heading to their room. They giggled as they walked upstairs, trying their best to keep quiet but it was hard considering that they were quite tipsy.
“I can’t get the flaming key in.” Tony laughed.
“I hope that’s the only thing you can’t get in.” Bren leaned against the doorframe before gasping and laughing, her hand covering her mouth when she realised what she had said.
“Flipping heck, Bren.” Tony laughed. He finally got the door unlocked as they laughed. He turned to her, “After you.”
“What time is it?” Bren frowned.
“Um, quarter past eleven.” Tony looked at his watch, “I think anyways. This watch is a piece of crap!”
“I guess we’ve still got time for our girls to win their fifty quid.” Bren shrugged. She found herself regretting saying that almost immediately until she looked up at Tony.
Tony just laughed. He then lifted Bren’s chin as he pressed his lips against hers. Bren wrapped her arms around Tony’s neck as they brought each other close. They backed into the room, Tony kicking the door shut with his foot.
- - -
Saturday 25th December 1999, Christmas Day
- - -
Bren opened her eyes as she looked around the room. She felt the slight squeeze of the warm arms around her waist which made her smile to herself. Bren rolled over to face Tony. Tony was starting to wake up, opening his eyes slowly to be met with Bren’s tired smile.
“Morning.” Tony smiled.
“Morning.” Bren replied.
“You alright? Not too tired?” Tony asked.
“No, I’m okay.” Bren smiled, “You?”
“I’m alright.” Tony nodded before yawning. Bren chuckled, “Well, maybe a little.” He then squeezed her shoulder, “Last night was amazing. It really was. You were amazing.”
“So were you.” Bren couldn’t help but blush. She leaned in as she lay across his chest, planting a soft kiss on his lips, “Merry Christmas.”
“Merry Christmas.” Tony grinned. He then turned his head as he looked at the clock, “What time is it? Oh, half seven. That’s way too flipping early for Christmas Day.”
Bren buried her head in his chest as she giggled, Tony relaxed into the pillows more, his arms wrapping around Bren a little tighter. Bren cuddled into his arms, sighing softly as they lay in silence for a moment.
“Are you going to go back to sleep?” Bren asked.
“Maybe. I’m thinking about it.” Tony replied.
“Are you thinking about anything else?” Bren asked, moving closer to him.
“I might be.” Tony smirked down at her. He knew what she was getting at, “Why? What are you thinking about?”
“Shall I show you?” Bren asked.
“Depends. Will I need to play some Max Boyce?” Tony asked, making Bren cackle loudly.
Later on when Bren and Tony decided to get up, they decided to get ready for breakfast. Tony was in the room as he buttoned up his shirt. He was aware of Bren getting ready in the bathroom, hearing her tinkering about faintly. The radio was on in the room and as he walked past the bathroom door, he could hear Bren quietly singing to the Christmas music which made Tony smile. He waited a couple of minutes for Bren, pacing the room a little. Tony held the little present tightly in his clammy hands, walking over to the window as he looked over the landscape. Tony turned when he heard the door unlock.
Bren walked out of the bathroom as she fiddled with a piece of fluff from her sleeve. She wore a blue button up shirt, black trousers and a pair of black ankle boots with a small, chunky heel. She wore her gold necklace that had her name on it and her hands went up to the necklace, now fiddling with that nervously. Tony looked at her as she stepped out, feeling a slight flush rise up his neck. Bren looked up at Tony and noticed his growing smile.
“What is it?” Bren asked.
“You look great.” Tony said quietly.
“Give over.” Bren giggled nervously.
“You do! You look lovely.” Tony chuckled. He then walked over to her as he handed her the small present, “Here. Merry Christmas.”
“What’s this?” Bren asked as she looked at the small box he handed her.
“Your Christmas present, you poxy lame-brain.” Tony replied.
“But you already gave me that. My brass band off my tape?” Bren said.
“Yeah, but I wasn’t going to have you not open anything on Christmas Day. Anyway, your band was for the bran tub. Go on then, open it.” Tony pointed.
Bren smiled before opening up the little present. She untied the red ribbon wrapped around it before opening up the little box. Inside was a pair of simple diamond stud earrings. Bren gasped as she looked at the earrings, looking at them twinkling in the light of the room.
“It’s not a lot but I thought you’d like them.” Tony shrugged, “We can ta-”
“Where did you get these? They would have been so expensive!” Bren said with a shocked tone.
“I sort of got them at the duty free. You know when I said I was going to go get some wagon wheels?”
“Well, I didn’t get them. I got the earrings instead. D’you like them?”
“Yeah. Yeah, they’re beautiful.”
“I’ve got something else as well actually.” Tony said as he went over to his suitcase and took something out. He turned to Bren and handed her a CD. It was her CD of the brass band she liked, “Sorry I didn’t give it to you yesterday.”
Bren couldn’t help but laugh as she looked at the CD. She then stood on her tiptoes as she went to hug him tightly.
“Thank you.” Bren said before breaking off the hug, “Let me get something quickly.”
Tony watched as she went into her bag and took something out. She held a small black box and handed it to him.
“It’s not a lot, really.” Bren shrugged, “Not as good a present as a night with Mrs. Farnsbarns of course.”
“Bloody hell, Bren!” Tony opened the box and found a silver watch inside. He took it out as he looked at the watch, “Where did you get this?”
“Duty free.” Bren replied as she put her earrings on, “When you went to get the earrings.”
Tony looked at her for a second before the two started laughing.
“It’s really nice, Bren. Thanks.” Tony smiled. There was a little pause between the two as they looked at each other, both unaware of how smitten the other was. Tony then put his hand on her shoulder, “Come on, let’s go have breakfast.”
Bren and Tony headed downstairs and had breakfast in the large dining room of the B&B. There were not many people staying at the B&B but that didn’t bother Bren and Tony. In fact they liked it a lot more. They were able to be alone together properly and not worry about anybody snooping on them. It was nice for it to just be the two of them. Of course they had been alone together before but this was different. They were able to really talk to each other and get to know each other properly. More than they would have back home, especially in the canteen.
After breakfast, they went through to Hamish and Eileen’s home where they were spending the rest of the day. Eileen was cooking Christmas dinner whilst Hamish pottered around the house. Their little girl and boy, Isla and Alex sat in the living room with Bren and Tony as they showed them their new toys. Tony couldn’t help but laugh as he watched Bren with the kids. She seemed so invested in the kids’ new toys, she even told them about her Etch A Sketch he got her.
“Kids! Look outside!” Eileen called through from the kitchen.
Isla and Alex rushed over to the window with wide eyes. It was snowing heavily. It had already covered up a lot of the garden. Bren and Tony joined them at the window, both just as spellbound as the kids.
“Daddy, can we go outside?” Isla asked when Hamish walked in.
“I don’t see why not! Make sure you’re both wrapped up though!” Hamish smiled, “I need to go help mummy with the dinner.”
“Are you not coming with us?” Alex asked.
“I need to get the dinner sorted. Why don’t you ask Bren and Tony to go out? I’m sure they won’t mind, eh?” Hamish said.
“Not at all.” Bren smiled, “Come on, let’s go.”
Bren, Tony and the kids all headed outside into the garden. Isla and Alex immediately started throwing snowballs at each other and trying to build a snowman. Bren joined them when they started building their snowman, helping roll up the base. Suddenly, a snowball hit Bren on the shoulder when she was helping Isla and she turned. Tony was standing with his arms crossed whistling, not suspicious at all. Bren started to laugh as she gathered up some snow and threw a snowball at him. This then erupted into a snowball fight between the four. They all laughed, throwing the snowballs at each other and trying to get each other with their best shot.
Tony at one point gathered some snow and chased after Bren. She managed to dodge the snowball but as Tony caught up with her, Bren slipped. Tony managed to get a hold of her but that meant him being brought to the ground too. Bren and Tony landed on top of each other, laughing as they lay in the snow. Isla and Alex laughed at them too, standing near the snowman.
“Are you alright?” Tony chuckled.
“Yeah.” Bren nodded as she giggled, “Yeah, I am. Are you?”
“I think I might be sore in the morning.” Tony shrugged, “Worth it though.”
The two laughed, Bren burying her head in his chest for a moment as Tony rubbed her back. The two looked at one another again. They were going to say more but were interrupted by Hamish calling them inside for dinner.
Tony helped Bren up as they brushed the snow off themselves and headed inside. They took their coats and shoes off so they could warm up properly in the house before they were about to go through to the kitchen but Tony stopped Bren.
“What is it?” Bren asked.
“Look.” Tony pointed. Bren looked up to see some mistletoe hanging over them in the doorway. Bren then looked at Tony who wore a small smile on his lips. He then shrugged, “It is unlucky if you don’t.”
Bren laughed, shaking her head a little. She then leaned in as she rested her hand on the base of his neck, stood on her tiptoes and kissed him. Tony brought her closer as he held her waist. They then broke it off as Bren smiled.
“Come on,” Bren took his hand, “Let’s go eat.”
Chapter 2: I Spy
Bren and Tony make the best of their surroundings.
Sunday 26th December 1999, Boxing Day
- - -
Tony checked his watch again as he leaned against the wall. He sighed, checking up the stairs to see if Bren was coming. They were going on a walk today and Tony was waiting for Bren to finish getting ready. He had come down to the dining room to speak to Hamish to kill time but now he was getting impatient.
“I thought you’d never come down.” Tony lifted his head when he heard Bren coming down the stairs.
“Sorry, I had a bit of a bra dilemma.” Bren replied, fiddling with her bra strap.
“No idea.” Tony shook his head before putting his arm around her, “Come on.”
Bren and Tony walked outside and started walking towards the large hills behind the B&B. It was cold but Bren and Tony didn’t mind too much, staying close to each other as they walked. The sun was splitting the sky and the snow that had not melted yet shone brightly.
“Let’s go up this way.” Tony pointed as they walked.
“Where does this lead to?” Bren asked.
“Just trust me.” Tony tapped his nose with a smile.
The two walked up the hill Tony had pointed to. They walked through a woodland area, occasionally nodding to any passers by.
“I spy with my little eye something beginning with… ‘L’!” Bren looked around.
“Bren, that’s too easy!” Tony replied.
“I know but just play the game.” Bren giggled.
“Leaves. Right, I spy with my little eye something beginning with ‘T’.” Tony said.
“Trees! My turn!” Bren exclaimed almost immediately, “I spy with my little-.”
“Can we not play something else, mate? This is getting boring now.” Tony sighed.
“Well, what? We could play Yes or No, Hide and Seek, um, Truth or Dare? That could be good.” Bren looked at him with a grin.
“Truth or Dare? We’re not thirteen! No, let’s just talk eh? Just walk and talk, we’re almost there.” Tony said as he gave her shoulder a squeeze, “What was the dilemma with your bra?”
“What? Oh, that. Um, I think I put it on too quickly and it got twisted. I actually had to take it off to sort it.” Bren replied.
“I’m saying nothing.” Tony said quietly.
“Ha!” Bren laughed, “Where are we going exactly, Tony?”
“You’ll see! We’ll be there soon.” Tony replied before taking Bren’s hand, “In fact, we’re just about there. Come on.”
They walked up to an opening in the woodlands which led out to a large piece of land that overlooked Loch Ness. There was a bench on the grass and a gravelled path that went around the woods.
“Flipping heck.” Bren said with a faint giggle.
“Brilliant, eh?” Tony smiled.
“Yeah. Yeah, it’s lovely.” Bren nodded.
“Let’s sit down.” Tony pointed to the bench.
The bench was thankfully dry and didn’t have any snow on it so they both sat down. The couple were quiet for a moment, taking in the scenery as they relaxed on the bench.
“How did you find this place?” Bren asked.
“I came up here the Christmas after Lynn left. I was going on a lot of walks to clear my head and I came up here.” Tony explained, “And by the time I came back to the B&B, I felt a lot better.”
They were quiet for a moment, both thinking about different things.
“What happened with Lynn?”
“I told you, she went off with another man.”
“No, I know but that’s all I know. Tell me properly.”
“She started a new job at the pub not far from the big Tesco’s and the landlord seemed to take a fancy to her and she did him. So they started seeing each other and it went on for months. Remember she didn’t come to the Christmas do?”
“Yeah, you said she was at her mum’s.”
“And that’s what she told me but I went to pick her up later on and she wasn’t there. Turns out, she was at the pub with him. Oh what was his name again? I think it was Chris, doesn’t matter. Anyways, she was with him.” Tony continued, “I didn’t know that at the time, her sister told me that later on but she left the house one day. Spilling her guts about how he was the love of her life and all the rest. You’d think she was trying to win an Oscar the way she was going on.”
“I’m sorry.” Bren said softly.
“Hey, don’t be sorry. Looking back, it wasn’t meant to be. We were never good for each other anyway.” Tony turned to her with a smile. He then put his arm around Bren, “I’m much happier now.”
“Me too.” Bren nodded, resting her head on his shoulder. She didn’t have to say much but being with Tony was better than anything she had ever experienced. Nothing could beat this.
The two sat in silence for a couple more minutes. They cuddled into each other, looking over the view.
“We should have brought a packed lunch.” Bren finally broke the silence.
“Yeah, freezing our bums off with a ham sandwich.” Tony scoffed. He then checked his watch, “Why don’t we head back? We could grab something to eat back at the pub.”
“Okay.” Bren nodded.
Bren and Tony got up and started walking down the gravelled path. Tony pointed at different things as they walked down, telling Bren stories about the sights he pointed at.
They reached the bottom of the gravelled path and started to walk towards the village where the pub was. It was quiet and the two walked as they talked.
“And then he… You have got to be kidding me?” Tony said before he was interrupted by a rumble of thunder. The two looked up at the dark clouds above them as the heavens seemed to open up and the rain battered down on them. Bren laughed as the rain fell before Tony grabbed her hand, “Come on.”
The two ran through the rain, somehow both forgetting that they had hoods on their coats. They were not far away from the pub but with the rain, they were miles away.
“Look, there’s a little shelter over there.” Tony pointed at an old, wooden, bus shelter. The couple ran towards that and got inside. They were both out of breath as they watched the rain from the door of the shelter, “It said it would be good weather all day. Bloody Scotland!”
Bren laughed, burying her head into his chest. Tony laughed with her, shaking his head as he watched the rain.
“And I was having such a good day as well.” Tony then said with a laugh.
Bren looked up at him as she laughed. They laughed together before their laughter started to die down. They still smiled at one another but Bren rested her hand on the base of his neck, leaning in and kissing him. Tony wrapped his arms around her waist, bringing her in closer. They continued to kiss as they held each other close, the kiss turning into a ‘proper snog’ as Twinkle would call it. When they did finally break off the kiss, they were too caught up by the bright sun now shining down on them to say anything. They both squinted their eyes and used their hands as shade as they looked out of the bus shelter.
“This weather, flipping heck. It was snowing yesterday!” Tony shook his head before turning to look at Bren, “You alright?”
“Yeah.” Bren grinned. She then moved out of his embrace as she took his hand, “Come on. Let’s get back. I’m starving.”
“I bet you are.” Tony raised his brows as they started walking, his sarcastic tone clearly hinting towards something else. Bren caught on, laughing as she looked up at him.
“Give over!” Bren exclaimed as she hit his chest playfully, laughing again as they continued to walk.
- - -
Monday 27th December 1999
- - -
Bren and Tony walked together as they noticed Hamish helping Alex with his life jacket at the dock. Hamish, Isla and Alex all turned when they noticed Bren and Tony approaching them. Isla grabbed two adult life jackets and rushed up to them.
“Oh thank you.” Bren said as Isla handed the life jackets to them.
“Thanks, Isla.” Tony smiled.
“You’re welcome.” Isla grinned.
“Alright?” Hamish smiled.
“Yeah. Where’s Eileen?” Tony asked as he and Bren put on their life jackets.
“The baby makes mummy sick when she goes on the boat.” Isla explained, bouncing on her feet.
“Bleugh.” Alex made a vomiting sound which made Bren and Tony laugh.
“We all ready then?” Hamish asked.
“Yes.” Tony nodded.
Hamish lifted both Isla and Alex into the boat before getting on himself. Tony then got on and turned to help Bren get in, taking her hand as she stepped onto the boat.
“Tony, mate, can you get the rope for me?” Hamish said as he started up the boat.
“Aye, aye captain.” Tony saluted and took the rope off the bollard.
They were now ready to go. Hamish steered the boat as they started to travel down the Loch.
“So is she real?” Bren asked, “Nessie, I mean.”
“No, Bren. That’s just a story.” Tony replied.
“Oh, come on, Tony. Of course she’s real! We’ve seen her, eh, kids?” Hamish turned.
“Yeah!” Isla and Alex said in unison.
“She’s a bit temperamental. She won’t appear if you don’t think she’s real. She’s smart that way.” Hamish continued.
“I guess not a lot of people believe in her then?” Tony asked.
“You can be so dour sometimes, Tony.” Hamish rolled his eyes.
Tony sighed as he turned to Bren who just simply laughed. They looked over the water as the boat went on, all quiet as they took in the scenery.
“It is lovely, isn’t it?” Bren said softly, cuddling into Tony’s arm.
“It is.” Tony smiled. He wrapped his arm around her and kissed her head.
“Daddy, the swans!” Alex exclaimed as he pointed behind him.
Hamish stopped the boat and grabbed the loaf of bread he kept on the boat. He handed the bag to the kids as they all went over to see the swans swimming to the boat.
“Be gentle now. You know how they can be if you snatch away.” Hamish told the kids as they started to feed the swans.
Bren and Tony went over to Isla and Alex as they joined in on feeding the swans, Hamish coming over too. It couldn’t be more peaceful as they fed the swans, talking quietly amongst themselves. The swans soon swam away and they decided to head back. Hamish let Bren drive the boat for a bit which she loved. Tony laughed as he watched her. She was so giddy but so concentrated on what she was doing, Tony could feel his heart skip a beat watching her. But he didn’t dwell on that for long because before they knew it, they were back at the dock and heading back to the pub in time for an early lunch.
Bren was talking to Eileen in the kitchen as the kids played around them. Tony and Hamish sat in the living room, also talking quietly. Tony watched Bren from the living room as Hamish spoke.
“Eileen was right, you know.” Hamish said.
“About what?” Tony turned to him.
“About you and Bren. You’re absolutely smitten.” Hamish laughed.
“Oh shut up, man.” Tony rolled his eyes though he could not hide his grin.
“You are! You can’t deny it. You’re always watching her, you were never like that with Lynn.” Hamish replied.
“That was different. I was married to Lynn for a while, I got used to her.” Tony shrugged.
“Nah nah, even when you started seeing Lynn, you weren’t like this. You’re right though that it’s different. Bren’s special, Lynn was a right cow.” Hamish replied.
“Hamish, mate.” Tony started to laugh with shock.
“It’s true! Nasty piece of work. Bren’s not. Bren’s lovely. And awfy bonnie if I do say so myself.” Hamish shrugged.
“Hey, remember you’re a married man now.” Tony raised a brow.
“A man’s allowed to admire the beauty of other women, even when his wife’s ready to pop!” Hamish replied before hearing the mail get put through their front door, “Oh, late mail. I’ll get it, doll.”
Hamish got up and collected his mail before coming back. Most were just late Christmas cards but there was a brown envelope that worried Hamish. Tony was saying something to Bren before turning back to Hamish with a grin that soon dropped.
“What’s up?” Tony asked.
“Eh? Oh nothing, pal.” Hamish shook his head, going back to read the letter.
“Are you sure? It doesn’t look like nothing.” Tony frowned.
“Just this letter. You know how I was having a bit of trouble with money and that?”
“Well, look. They’re saying that I’ve got three months or they’ll shut the B&B. I need that B&B though, it’s a big part of the pub.”
“Could you not ask your mum and dad to help you out?”
“Come on, Tony. You know what they’re like. Naw, I need to find another way. Probably go into business with someone. God knows who like, I don’t know many folk that work in hospitality.”
Tony wanted to say more but Eileen called them into the kitchen. They headed through and sat at the table, Bren sitting next to Tony as she turned to him and smiled. He looked vacant and it made her worry. She put her hand on his shoulder which seemed to bring him out of his thoughts.
“You alright, Tony?” Bren asked.
“Yeah. I’m great.” Tony grinned at her. He noticed the slight worried look on her face and wrapped his arm around her shoulder, bringing her close to him as he kissed her head. When he broke off the hug, Tony rubbed Bren’s back and said; “Let’s eat, eh?”
Chapter 3: Lucky
Bren and Tony get ready to go home.
Tuesday 28th December 1999
- - -
Bren sat at the dressing table as she finished her makeup. She was just putting on her lipstick when Tony stepped out of the bathroom. Tony was busy trying to tie his tie that he was in his thoughts.
“Bren, could you-?” Tony began when he lifted his head but was so caught off by how beautiful she looked. She was in the black sleeveless dress she wore to the Christmas party the year before. Boy, did that dress bring back some bad memories for Tony? He still felt horrible about what happened that night between him and Bren’s mum. The drink really did seem to get to him. Bren looked so lovely that night and also tonight too. Maybe even better. He wasn’t going to admit that he was totally smitten with her but he knew deep down, he was pretty close, “Wow, Bren.”
“Eh?” Bren turned. She noticed Tony’s slightly shocked look, his hands still on his untied tie, “You alright?”
“Um, yeah. Just having a bit of a mare with my tie.” Tony said, snapping out of his trance.
Bren got up from the dressing table and walked to Tony. She started tying his tie, Tony watching the concentration on her face.
“You look great.” Tony said with a smile as she tied his tie.
“Give over.” Bren giggled, her cheeks going a pinky colour though she hoped Tony didn’t notice.
“You do. You and your legs.” Tony leaned forward, a sly grin on his face.
“Duh.” Bren rolled her eyes. She then smoothed down his collar and stood back, “There you go.”
“Thanks mate.” Tony kissed her cheek before going off to put his suit jacket on.
Bren smiled at him before packing up all her makeup into her bag, her thoughts on the past few days they had spent in Scotland. Tonight was their last night before going back home tomorrow afternoon. They were going to a restaurant not far from the village just for a night to themselves.
“Shall I call a taxi?” Tony asked.
“Yeah. The table’s for half seven eh?” Bren lifted her head.
“Yep.” Tony nodded before dialling the number for the taxi and booking it, “That’s that done. They’ll be here in ten minutes.”
“Alright.” Bren nodded before going over to get her bag and get the things she needed.
“Fancy a quickie?”
“No.” Bren laughed.
“Oh, shame. We’ve got plenty time.” Tony shrugged, stuffing his hands in his pockets.
“No.” Bren laughed again, going over to him and patted his shoulder, “Have you got everything packed for tomorrow?”
“Yep. All sorted.” Tony smiled, watching as she walked through to the bathroom for something, “You?”
“Yeah, I just need to put little things away but I can do that in the morning.” Bren sprayed herself with perfume, “It’ll be good to get home though.”
“Yeah, I guess. We’ve got that dinner to sort out, remember?” Tony sighed, sitting on the edge of the bed.
“Oh, yeah, for the minnellium.” Bren stood at the bathroom door, “That’ll be fun, that, won’t it?”
“You just said ‘minnellium’.”
“Oh. I mean the millennium. It’ll be good though! Philippa’s been planning that for ages.”
“Well, I just want to get it over with. I’d rather be spending it at home with you. It’s our first New Year’s together and we have to work.”
“Oh, Tony.” Bren chuckled as she walked over to him. She put her arm around his shoulder as he did her waist, “I’m sure it’ll be good fun. We might even get home before midnight.”
“I doubt it, Bren. Hey, we should come up here one New Year’s, it’s always good up here.” Tony looked at her.
“Yeah, that would be fun. What is it they call New Year’s Eve up here again? Not ‘hog roast’, Hogmanay! They call it ‘Hogmanay’, yeah that would be really good.” Bren nodded. Bren then looked down at Tony and smiled. She could tell he was sad thinking about going home, “I know it’s crap going home.”
“I just wish we had more time, just the two of us.” Tony sighed.
“We will. We’ll be seeing each other all the time after work and that. Of course it’s early days but it’s not like we live a million miles away from each other.” Bren smiled.
“I know but you know what I mean. This week has been so good with it just being us. No nosey-Nora's barging in.” Tony shrugged.
Bren chuckled. She cupped his cheek as she leaned down. She pressed her lips against his softly, Tony’s other hand wrapping around her waist. They kissed for a couple of seconds before being interrupted by the tooting of a car horn outside.
“That’ll be the taxi.” Bren said as she broke off the kiss and went to grab her coat and bag.
“That was quick.” Tony frowned. He went over to the window to see the taxi outside. He then turned back to Bren, “Shame, we were just getting started.”
Bren giggled, playfully hitting his shoulder before the two left the room and headed down to the taxi waiting outside.
Once they reached the restaurant, they were taken to their table and given their menus. They looked through the menus, deciding what they wanted. Tony looked over the menu to Bren as she read. She looked so beautiful but as he watched her, Tony thought about everything that happened before they got together and all the miscommunication that had occurred. He felt so guilty about it all but the thing that kept popping in his head the most was the Christmas party and what happened with Petula. Tony never apologised for that and he felt she deserved that, even if she told him it was okay.
“Bren?” Tony said softly.
“Yeah?” Bren put her menu down, looking at him with her wide eyes and a little smile but they dropped when she saw the look on his face. She frowned then, “Are you alright, Tony?”
“Yeah. Well, yeah. Bren, listen. I think we need to talk about some things.” Tony replied, taking her hand in his. He covered her hand with both of his, rubbing them gently as Bren put her other hand over his. Bren could not help but feel queasy. She had no idea what Tony wanted to talk about or what was wrong. She tried to rake her mind but she couldn’t think of anything that could be a problem. Except for maybe Tony not liking her as much as he thought he did. She wondered if he realised that he had gone off her, that he should have brought someone else to Scotland like Jane, that Bren wasn’t really all she was cracked up to be. She shouldn’t have been surprised really, this always happened with her and men, “I wanted to apologise for… everything really.”
“What d’you mean?” Bren asked with a nervous giggle. This was it. Tony was dumping her. Great! The girls will love to hear about this, won’t they?
“I mean,” Tony took a deep breath. Bren was preparing herself now, “Last year, at the Christmas party. What happened with me and your mum.”
“Oh. That.” Bren sighed heavily. To tell the truth, she had forgotten about that or more, made herself forget about it. She knew that it was a miscommunication and more her mother’s fault but it still hurt.
“Yeah, that. Look, Bren. I’m really sorry about that night. I know it doesn’t take back anything that happened but you deserve an apology.” Tony rubbed her hands with his thumbs. His heart was beating fast, unsure of what Bren was going to say to this, “I never meant for-.”
“Tony.” Bren interrupted him, her hand going up to his mouth to hush, “It’s okay.”
“But Bren, I-.”
“It’s okay. I know it wasn’t meant to happen. You don’t need to apologise.”
“But I do. You deserve an apology. I mean, I got with your mum of all people when I was on a promise with you.”
“She told you something different, I don’t blame you for thinking otherwise.”
“I should have waited for you to come back from wherever you were. I shouldn’t have listened to her.”
“It’s done now. Look at us now, eh? Together in Scotland, I mean I never thought this would happen, d’you know what I mean?” Bren giggled though she noticed Tony’s pensive look. She squeezed his hand which made him look up, “I appreciate you apologising though, I do. I probably owe you an apology too.”
“For what?” Tony asked with a frown.
“For not telling you about Martin.” Bren replied.
“Oh, Bren, you don’t need to apologise for all that.” Tony shook his head.
“But I do. You deserved to know about it.” Bren explained, “I don’t want you to think I was lying to you or doing anything behind your back.”
“I’m not worried about that, mate. I just wanted you to be okay. Your Martin’s a nasty piece of work, you don’t deserve that.” Tony replied. Bren smiled with a little sigh. Tony then chuckled which made her look up, “I guess we have a lot to get off our chest, eh?”
“Well I’m glad we managed to get that off our chests while we’re here and not back home.” Bren chuckled, sitting back when she took a sip of her wine.
“Hi, are you ready to order?” Their waitress came over to them just in time.
“Uh, yes.” Tony nodded to Bren before the two of them ordered their starter and main.
“Tony?” Bren leaned forward a little.
“Yeah?” Tony asked.
“What happened? You know, with you and my mother?”
“Well, um, nothing really you know. We went out for a fag and we were just standing having a fag and then she kind of sprung herself on me. Obviously with the drink, I wasn’t thinking straight and um, yeah. That was it really.”
“So you um, you didn’t, you know…”
“What? Do it? No, no. Not at all. She definitely tried but I managed to pry myself away from her.”
“Lucky you.” Bren giggled.
“Yeah! Lucky me.” Tony laughed before taking her hand squeezing it again. Bren felt her cheeks heat up a little, a soft giggle leaving her lips.
The both of them wanted to say more but it did not feel right. One, because this was not the right time to be confessing such big things and two, because their starters had just been brought to their table.
- - -
Wednesday 29th December 1999
- - -
“Is that you, mate?” Tony asked as Bren came out of the room.
“Yes.” Bren nodded as she went to lock the door, “You got everything?”
“Yes. Oh.” Tony patted his coat down, “I’ve not got my boarding pass.”
“They’re in my bag.” Bren pointed to her bag, “That us then?”
“I guess it is.” Tony smiled, “I’ll take these cases down to the cab.”
Bren locked the door before grabbing her bag and following Tony downstairs. They were leaving the pub today and were heading back to Manchester. They were both quite happy to be going home but Tony was not looking forward to work.
They reached the bottom of the stairs and headed outside to where Hamish stood. The taxi had just pulled up and the driver who must have known Hamish was talking to him from the car window. When Bren and Tony came out, the driver got out and opened the boot for them.
“You two sorted then?” Hamish walked around to the boot.
“Yep.” Tony nodded as he put the suitcases into the boot, “Just need to get going eh, mate?”
“Yeah.” Bren nodded with a smile.
“Ah well, you two are welcome whenever. Don’t hesitate to come up.” Hamish replied.
“Cheers, mate. We better going then.” Tony smiled before giving Hamish a hug, “Thanks for everything.”
“Oh it’s no bother. It was a pleasure having you.” Hamish replied. He then turned to Bren and went to hug her, “And it was a pleasure meeting you, Bren.”
“I should say the same! It’s been really lovely being here.” Bren replied.
“You’re more than welcome anytime.” Hamish smiled. A door closed behind them which made them turn. Eileen, Isla and Alex were all walking over to them, “Oh here they come. Three musketeers.”
“Four, daddy!” Alex reminded his dad as he pointed at Eileen’s bump.
“Oh yes of course. Four.” Hamish chuckled.
Bren and Tony said goodbye to Eileen and the kids, telling them to keep in touch and send photos of when the baby was born. They soon clambered into the taxi and headed to the airport.
They spent a bit of time in the airport before they had to get to their flight. They went to a café for a quick coffee, watching people running for their flights.
“Oh. Here comes another one.” Tony said as someone ran past.
“Oh no.” Bren couldn’t help but giggle, “I don’t know if I could do flying all the time. It would be too stressful, I don’t do stress.”
“You would have loved it when we came back from Marbella. We nearly missed our flight home because Jane was throwing up in the toilets near Victoria’s Secret.” Tony chuckled.
“Why does that not surprise me?” Bren took a sip of her coffee.
Tony laughed, also taking a sip of his coffee. He then looked up at Bren who was looking out at the airport in front of her.
“What do you say about going to Marbella this summer? You and me, eh? Paralytic at ten o’clock in the morning?”
Bren giggled, bowing her head before looking back at Tony with a little smile on her lips. She then nodded.
“Yeah,” Bren said, “That would be good. Yeah. Though we need to make sure my mother doesn’t find out.”
“I can make sure of that.” Tony scoffed which made Bren laugh. Tony then looked at his watch, “Oh, we better get moving.”
The couple got up and headed towards the gate. It did not take long for them to get onto the plane and sat down. Tony was putting Bren’s bag in the overhead locker as Bren looked out the window. He then joined her in the seat, putting his arm around her.
“You okay?” Tony asked with a smile, rubbing her shoulder softly.
“Yeah. You?” Bren replied.
“Yeah.” Tony nodded, “You look tired.”
“I’m okay.” Bren replied before turning her head and yawning quietly.
“Come on.” Tony sat back in his chair as he brought Bren closer to him. He rubbed her back as Bren rested her head on his shoulder, “You can get a bit of kip, we’ll be home before you know it.”
Bren smiled up at Tony before getting comfortable and closing her eyes. She thought about what Tony had said as he rubbed her back, kissing her head softly. ‘We’ll be home before you know it’. It was such a small thing but she could get used to hearing that.