Chapter 1: friends
The dinnerladies are in Scotland for Christmas.
Monday 20th December 2021
- - -
“Tony!” Bren shouted through the kitchen, “Tony!”
“What?” Tony came through from the reception.
“That’s them here. I heard the car. You better go check they get in alright.” Bren replied as she focused on the bacon.
“Do you not want to go? I can finish this.” Tony asked.
“No, I’ll manage.” Bren replied.
“Okay.” Tony nodded. He left the kitchen just as Amy was passing him with an empty tray in her hand, “Cheer up, kid, it’s Monday.”
“Ha-ha.” Amy rolled her eyes, “The sooner we shut for Christmas, the better.”
“Not long, sweetheart, not long.” Tony put his arm around her, “Hey, that’s everyone here.”
“Really?” Amy brightened up, “Have they come in?”
“Not yet. Mum said she heard the car outside.” Tony replied.
“She’s like a bat, bloody hell.” Amy said.
“Don’t swear when auntie Dolly comes in. Especially if you’re in the kitchen with her.” Tony pointed.
“I won’t.” Amy sighed with a smile before heading to the kitchen.
Tony just chuckled and headed into the reception. Just as he was about to head outside, everyone came in. Jean, Dolly, Twinkle, Anita, Stan, Philippa, Tom, Ajay and Twinkle’s daughter, Liv all walked in. They all beamed when they saw Tony.
“Hello!” Tony smiled.
“Aww, Tony! Hello.” Jean went to hug him, “How are you?”
“Very good. You? How was your journey?” Tony asked.
“Hectic with all this Covid malarkey.” Dolly shook her head, “It’s just a cold I say but no, we have everyone walking about like the plague is going about.”
“It was a pandemic, Dolly. Still is.” Twinkle crossed her arms.
“Will we need to keep our masks on when walking around the B&B?” Anita asked.
“Nah. You lot are the only ones staying so it should be alright.” Tony nodded, “We’re technically shut until after New Year. Benefits of living in Scotland eh?”
“Where’s Bren?” Stan asked.
“Kitchen, doing some bacon.” Tony pointed.
“And Amy?” Ajay asked.
“Kitchen too. Probably winding her mum up.” Tony laughed.
“Do you want me to get everyone sorted, Tony?” Hamish came out of the pub.
“Yeah, cheers, mate. I’ll go get Bren and Amy.” Tony said as he went down the hall to the kitchen. He then went into the kitchen and noticed Bren and Amy talking, “What’re you two nattering about?”
“Never you mind.” Bren giggled, “Are they here?”
“Yeah, Hamish is just sorting out their rooms.” Tony nodded.
“Alright.” Bren smiled.
“Is auntie Dolly complaining about Covid again?” Amy asked.
“Yeah.” Tony laughed, “I’m surprised that the Daily Mail hasn’t hired her to be their editor.”
“No, they have stupider people for that, dad.” Amy smiled.
“Very true.” Tony chuckled.
“I wouldn’t say that to her though.” Bren smiled, “Amy, love, can you take those plates through to the couple at table five?”
“Yeah.” Amy took the plates and left the kitchen.
“She’s perked up.” Bren pointed out when Amy was out of the room.
“Well, her best friend’s here, isn’t he? She’ll be in full birthday, Christmas swing once they see each other. You don’t seem like you are though, mate.” Tony walked over to Bren, “You alright?”
“Yeah, I’m fine. Just ready to be off for a few days.” Bren replied. She looked up to him and gave him a small smile, “It’s been a long year.”
“I know but things are looking up, well, sort of but we’ve got everyone here. This will be the best Christmas slash birthday you’ll ever have.” Tony wrapped his arms around her.
“Better than when we got it together?” Bren raised her brow with a smirk.
“Hmm well, maybe not that good but still pretty good. I could make it better for you, a little reminiscent.” Tony leaned in and kissed her neck gently as she giggled. He then lifted his head, “Could get that brass band up?”
“They’ll have a bit of trouble over the Pennines.” Bren smiled.
“True. I could always get my old Trombone out and toot out ‘Happy Birthday’ to you.” Tony raised a brow.
“Tempting. No.” Bren giggled before standing on her tiptoes and kissing him on the lips. Their kiss was soon broken off by the slam of a door. They turned to see Lewis, Hamish’s youngest son coming into the kitchen. He was just taking off his coat when he smiled to the couple, “Hi, Lewis.”
“Morning, son.” Tony turned towards Lewis, his arm around Bren’s shoulder.
“Alright? My dad in?” Lewis smiled.
“Yeah, just helping our lot with their bags and that.” Tony said.
“Aw, are they here? That’ll be good. What time is the party again?” Lewis asked.
“Half seven. I’m sure your dad will make you come in earlier.” Tony replied.
“Oh, no doubt.” Lewis rolled his eyes. Amy then walked into the kitchen and almost did a double take when she saw Lewis. Lewis seemed to brighten up when she entered the room, “Alright, Ams?”
“Hiya.” Amy walked over to him, “You just come in?”
“Aye. My dad been asking where I was?” Lewis asked.
“Yeah. You weren’t out again, were you?” Amy crossed her arms.
“Not out-out. Just at my sister’s. I was in seeing the baby.” Lewis shrugged, “I only got in late because I was too busy playing with him.”
“Aww. How is he? I need to pop in.” Amy grinned.
“Yeah, he’s grand. He’s so fast when he crawls, I’ve never moved so fast trying to keep up with him.” Lewis laughed.
“Aww.” Bren and Tony said at the same time.
“Lewis?” Hamish called from the pub.
“Oh, better head through.” Lewis widened his eyes, walking through to the reception before turning back to Amy. He grabbed her hand, “Here, you busy tonight?”
“Oh, I don’t think so. I’ll probably have plans with everyone here.” Amy said, “Sorry.”
“Nah, it’s alright. Another time. Maybe tomorrow, yeah?” Lewis gave her a little wink, “See you later, Martins.”
“Bye, Lewis.” Bren waved.
“See ya, son,” Tony smiled.
Amy gave him a little wave before going over to the stove and turning it off. She put the pan into the sink before turning around. Bren and Tony were watching her with little smirks on her face.
“What?” Amy asked. They didn’t reply, “What?!” Her parents’ smiles grew bigger, “Oh no, we’re not gonna get into this again.”
“Come on, Amy, it’s so clear he likes you.” Bren said.
“No, he doesn’t. Absolutely not. No, no!” Amy went back to the sink and started scrubbing the pan.
“He does, Amy. You know, you’re not very good at lying either, sweetheart.” Tony smiled.
“I’m not lying.” Amy shrugged, “We’re just pals.”
“That’s what I said about your mum, kid.” Tony replied, giving Bren a little squeeze.
“No, we’re not gonna start this. Just because you two had a ‘friends to lovers’ moment doesn’t me and him will.” Amy turned and did quotation marks with her fingers, “He’s been my pal since I was like zero! I don’t fancy him.”
“There’s nothing wrong with liking him.” Bren giggled, “It’s fine.”
“Can we just not discuss this the now? And don’t bring this up to everyone else, they’ll be up to ninety!” Amy walked out of the kitchen and greeted everyone as they started to come downstairs.
“‘Friends to lovers’?” Tony frowned.
“It’s a trope.” Bren explained. She looked up to him and he still wore a confused look, “A trope in a book. Enemies to lovers? Love triangle? Oh, I’ll explain it later.”
Bren and Tony headed to the reception where Amy was still hugging everyone. When they noticed Bren, they all became ecstatic. Bren giggled as she saw them, going to hug Anita first.
“Hello!” Bren laughed, “How are you all? Did you get here okay?”
“Yes, it was quite pleasant, wasn’t it?” Philippa smiled. Bren went to hug her, “Hello.”
“Bren, your hair’s lovely.” Jean pointed when Bren came over.
“Oh, you think? I don’t know, I might go short again.” Bren played with her shoulder length curls.
“No, it’s lovely!” Jean said.
“It is pretty, mum.” Amy turned from hugging Twinkle.
“We’ll see.” Bren said before she smiled, “Hey, are you all hungry? D’you want something to eat? What time is it, Tony? You could have a late breakfast.”
“Half eleven.” Tony checked his watch.
“Yeah, that would be nice.” Dolly nodded.
“Right, you all go sit down in the pub. Me and Tony will get it sorted.” Bren smiled before taking Tony’s hand, “Come on, dear.”
Amy led everyone into the pub and sat down with them all. Hamish came over to greet them all before Lewis joined them. Ajay watched Amy and Lewis talk and couldn’t help but smile. He made eye contact with Liv who was sitting next to him and smiled too. They both knew what each other were thinking and didn’t need to say much more. When Lewis went behind the bar with his dad, Amy turned back to everyone. She noticed Ajay and Liv’s looks.
“Don’t start.” Amy warned them.
Bren and Tony came into the pub with everyone’s food. They started eating and catching up with each other.
“You excited for the party then?” Dolly asked.
“Yeah, where are you having it? Just here?” Twinkle asked.
“Yeah. Have it in the pub. Oh that reminds me, I need to get bunting tonight.” Tony replied as he took out his phone and started putting bunting on his shopping list.
“Oh Bren, there’s your ‘Four in a Bed’ plaque.” Anita pointed as she got up, “I forgot to ask you about that.”
“Oh yeah.” Bren giggled, “I thought you saw it when you last come up.”
“No, I must have missed it.” Anita shrugged.
“Y’know, it’ll be good fun to have everyone together to celebrate eh? After the year and a half we’ve had.” Stan said.
“I know.” Bren smiled, “It’s great to see you all.”
Chapter 2: present
It’s Amy birthday and they’re counting down the days until the big party.
Tuesday 21st December 2021
- - -
Bren opened her eyes to the dim room. She turned off her alarm and rolled over. She cuddled into Tony’s warm body. He then brought her closer to him, wrapping his arms around her.
“I didn’t realise you were awake.” Bren said softly.
“Of course I’m awake. Your alarm was going bonkers there.” Tony replied. He looked down at Bren and she smiled. Tony tucked her hair behind her ear, “I’d rather stay in bed than get up.”
“I know. I bet it’s freezing outside.” Bren moved closer, her feet moving closer to his.
“What? Like your feet?” Tony raised a brow.
“Not that cold.” Bren giggled, pressing her cold feet against his feet.
“Bren, don’t start.” Tony warned her before he laughed, “We should have a day where we stay in bed. Just a day to ourselves.”
“That’s what Boxing Day’s for.”
“Yeah, but Amy will be in the bed too.”
“You make it sound like it’s a bad thing.”
“It’s not. But we need a day to ourselves.”
“I’m sure that can be arranged.” Bren giggled before planting gentle kisses to his cheek.
“Kettle’s on!” Amy shouted from downstairs.
“Time to get up, mate.” Tony squeezed Bren’s shoulder.
“Come on then.” Bren gave him a playful slap on the chest before getting up from the bed.
The three got ready and soon left for the B&B. When they got in, they got the kettle on and started making breakfast for everyone in the B&B.
“Morning.” Dolly walked in with Jean following after her.
“Morning.” Jean smiled.
“Hi.” Amy smiled as she turned from the table she stood after setting it up, “Where’s everyone else?”
“Just coming down.” Jean replied.
“Oh right. Did you have a good sleep?” Amy asked,
“Yes, it was lovely. Those beds are like clouds. I sleep like a baby every time I come here, I really do.” Dolly giggled as she sat down.
“They are comfy beds.” Amy smiled. Everyone else started coming into the room, “Morning! Did you all sleep okay?”
“Yes, lovely, thank you.” Philippa smiled.
“Brilliant sleep, ta, Amy.” Twinkle nodded, “You sit there, Liv.”
“I’ll take your orders the now.” Amy took out her little notepad.
“I can do that, Ams.” Lewis walked into the room. Ajay started tapping his mother’s leg as she read her menu.
“No, it’s okay, I can do it.” Amy smiled.
“Nah, you sit down here. I’ll do it.” Lewis took the notepad off of her, “I need to say hello to your mum and dad anyway.”
“Alright.” Amy rolled her eyes, “Can I at least say to my mum and dad that you’re making me skive work?”
“Be my guest.” Lewis laughed.
Amy just shook her head before laughing. She left the room and Lewis took everyone’s orders. Lewis soon left too and everyone started talking.
“So that’s the famous Lewis?” Dolly said with a smile.
“They definitely like each other, don’t they?” Anita nodded.
“You’re telling me! She constantly denies it though.” Ajay shrugged.
“Are we surprised though? Bren and Tony got together the same way, wouldn’t be surprised if it happened to Amy too.” Twinkle said.
“What is it?” Amy asked as she walked in with a smile.
“Eh? Oh, nothing.” Twinkle smiled.
Bren and Tony brought through everyone’s breakfast and joined them at the table. They ate as they spoke, laughing with each other. They decided to head over to Bren and Tony’s house afterwards for a cup of tea.
“What do you think?” Amy walked into the living room in a black mini dress with long sleeves.
“Aww, that’s lovely, Amy.” Twinkle nodded, “Really lovely.”
“Yeah, you look really pretty in it.” Liv agreed.
“Bit short, isn’t it?” Dolly asked.
“Oh come on, Doll, it’s her twenty first!” Jean sighed, “What do you think she’s going to wear? A potato sack?”
“D’you remember that photoshoot Marilyn Monroe did in a potato sack? She looked quite good actually. What are you wearing on your feet again?” Bren asked.
“Those black strappy heels. You know the ones that go around your ankle.” Amy explained.
“Oh yeah.” Bren nodded.
“Ankle breakers.” Tony sighed.
“Shush. They’re nice.” Amy said before she smiled, “Just cause you’re jealous.”
“Definitely.” Tony’s eyes widened, “Wish I could get away with wearing a dress and big heels.” He put his arm around Bren, “I’d fit right in with my girls.”
“It’s 2021, dad. I’m sure you could if you wanted to.” Amy teased before going over to Bren, “Mum, can you take the tag off? I can’t get it.”
“Yeah.” Bren said as she went to take the tag off.
“What’re you wearing, Bren?” Anita asked.
“Oh, dunno. I’m sure I’ll find something.” Bren shrugged. She got the tag off Amy’s dress, “I haven’t even thought about it yet.”
“Liar.” Tony bumped her shoulder. Bren rolled her eyes.
“Is your friend, Lewis, coming, Amy?” Jean asked.
“Yeah, he is.” Amy nodded. She started fiddling with her sleeve, “I think he’s coming late. It’s his pal’s birthday too.”
“Aww, that’s a shame.” Dolly said.
“Not really bothered.” Amy shrugged, “Mum, have you heard anything from Isla?”
“Lewis seems like he likes you.” Philippa said.
“Well, yeah. We’re pals. Like best pals.” Amy smiled.
“I think he likes you more than that.” Philippa nodded.
“No. Not at all.” Amy shook her head before starting to laugh, “There’s no way. I think he’s um, he’s speaking to someone anyway.”
“No, he isn’t.” Tony frowned.
“Yes, he is.” Amy scratched her head, “Yeah, he’s seeing someone. A girl from Glasgow. Think her name’s like Morag or something.”
“Funny. The only Morag I’ve heard him talk about is our Morag.” Tony frowned.
“Well, that’s ‘funny’ you should say that.” Amy mocked her father’s accent, “He’s only started seeing her.”
“When did he start? This morning?” Bren raised a brow.
“I’m going to get changed.” Amy huffed and left the room.
“She’s as bad as you two before you got together.” Stan smiled.
“Well, she did learn from the best.” Tony shrugged.
“You weren’t that good at hiding it, cardiman. Neither is she.” Twinkle raised her brows.
“You’re right actually.” Tony sat back. He rested his hand on the slope of Bren’s back, “We never could hide it, could we, mate?”
“You hid it a lot better than me. I thought you went off me at one point.” Bren laughed.
“Nah, never.” Tony put his arm around Bren and kissed her head.
“Does Lewis deny it like Amy?” Liv asked.
“Yeah. She gets so defensive. He must be the same.” Ajay shrugged.
“He is. Just as bad as each other.” Bren smiled.
- - -
Wednesday 22nd December 2021
- - -
Amy came down the stairs as she tucked in her shirt. She looked in the mirror, fixing her long strawberry blonde curls. Amy went to walk into the kitchen as she noticed Bren and Tony in there. They both perked up when they saw her.
“Morning.” Amy smiled.
“Morning, love.” Bren grinned. She walked over to Amy and wrapped her arms around her, “Happy birthday.”
“Thanks, mum.” Amy smiled.
“Happy birthday, sweetheart.” Tony wrapped his arm around Amy and kissed the top of her head.
“Thank you.” Amy giggled up to him.
“Come on, let’s go sit in the lounge.” Bren said.
Amy opened her presents from her parents and felt spoiled by them. They soon left for work and got everything started for the day. When everyone came down, Amy went to go take their orders. They all wished her happy birthday. Amy headed back to the kitchen to give her parents the orders from everyone. Bren was flipping the bacon when she noticed Lewis walking into the kitchen. Lewis gave her a smile before putting his fingers to his lips to keep her quiet. Bren gave her a nod as Lewis crept up behind Amy and held out the present he held in his hand in front of her.
“Happy birthday.” Lewis said softly.
“Lewis!” Amy turned quickly. The two hugged, Lewis lifting her up, “You shouldn’t have!”
“I definitely should have.” Lewis replied. He put her down and handed her the present, “Here. Happy birthday, Ginge.”
Amy rolled her eyes as she giggled. She unwrapped the present and opened up the blue velvet box. Bren and Tony watched on as Amy opened it up, both standing close to each other. Amy’s mouth dropped open, looking at the necklace inside. She picked it up as she looked at it. It was a silver necklace with a single pearl pendant.
“Lewis! This is too much.” Amy shook her head.
“It’s really not. I wanted to treat you, eh? You’re my best pal, aren’t you?” Lewis gave her a nudge.
“But this would have been so expensive.” Amy widened her eyes.
“That doesn’t matter. Here, let me help you put it on.” Lewis took the necklace and unclasped it.
Amy turned around as Lewis put the necklace around her neck. He put the clasp through the hole and turned Amy when it was on.
“Pretty.” Lewis smiled.
“It’s so beautiful. Thank you.” Amy grinned before hugging him, “But I can’t believe you spent that money on me.”
“Shut up.” Lewis laughed.
“Let’s see it then.” Tony said.
Amy broke off her hug with Lewis and walked over to her parents. She showed them the necklace and they smiled.
“Aww, that’s lovely, Lewis. Really lovely.” Bren nodded with a smile.
“Yeah, suits you, sweetheart.” Tony gave Amy a gentle punch on the jaw.
“I know her well, don’t I? Good that way.” Lewis grinned, rocking on his heels.
“Lewis!” Hamish called from the hall.
“Oh bugger. I’ll see you in a minute.” Lewis went to leave the kitchen before turning back to them. He went into the inside pocket of his coat, “Ams, here. Birthday card.”
“Thanks.” Amy smiled as she took the envelope, “Good luck.”
“I’ll need it.” Lewis laughed.
Amy turned away as she opened the envelope. Bren and Tony could see the grin beaming on Amy’s face and gave each other a look. Amy opened up the card and read it. A giggle left her lips.
“Aww. What?” Amy looked up at her parents. Bren and Tony said nothing, both still wearing knowing looks on their faces, “What? No. Not today. Any day but today.”
“Alright, alright.” Bren held her hands up, “But don’t blame us when you realise we’re right.”
“You’re not. He doesn’t like me like that. Even if I did like him.” Amy shrugged. She turned around and picked up two plates, “I’ll take these through.”
“Amy, wait.” Bren went to go after her but stopped. She sighed.
“Leave her, mate. She’ll be fine.” Tony told her as he started to dish the plates.
“I don’t want her to think we keep going on about it though. I should probably apologise.” Bren went to walk out of the kitchen.
“Bren.” Tony walked over to her and took her hand. She turned around to look at him as he rubbed her shoulders, “She’ll realise in her own time. She will.”
Bren sighed. Tony brought her close to him and hugged her tightly. They then broke it off as he smiled down at her.
“Feel like I’ve ruined her birthday.” Bren shrugged.
“You haven’t.” Tony told her, “You haven’t ruined anything.”
Bren looked down at her hands as she played with her fingers. She chewed the inside of her mouth when Tony gripped her chin and lifted her head so she now looked at him. He gave her a smile.
“Don’t worry, mate. You need to stop worrying.” Tony told her. He then leaned in and kissed her softly.
“Get a room.” Amy said when she walked back into the kitchen. Bren and Tony broke off the kiss.
“Hey, it’s not just your birthday, y’know? It’s our anniversary too.” Tony brought Bren close to him, “Twenty two years, eh, mate?”
“Yeah, well, it should really be Friday. That’s when we were really together.” Bren looked up at him.
“Don’t want the nitty gritty of it, thanks.” Amy scrunched up her face.
“Not like that.” Bren laughed, “You not remember what happened?”
“Yeah, I do. You two pulled and then your ex-husband showed up.” Amy shrugged going to get the other plates, “And then you had that big do.”
“You put it so romantically, kid.” Tony sighed.
“That’s exactly how you would’ve put it.” Bren looked at him.
“No, I wouldn’t. I would have said that in front of the Christmas tree. Lights twinkling away, we finally had our first kiss and then we were interrupted by your ex-husband. And then after you explained everything, I treated you to a lovely brass band, a new anorak, an Etch-A-Sketch and tickets to go to Scotland where there was a lovely little B&B called The Braemar.” Tony held Bren tighter as he spoke. She laughed, crossing her arms, “I would put it as romantically as possible.”
“Yeah, yeah. You wouldn’t want to talk to anyone for long enough to explain it like that.” Bren smiled up at him.
“That’s true actually.” Amy laughed.
“Oh come on. I like talking to you two, don’t I?” Tony grabbed Amy’s hand and pulled her close to him. He put his arm around her, “My girls.”
“As much as I would love to have a wee family moment, I better take these through. Don’t want Dolly to give us a bad review on TripAdvisor.” Amy broke away from her father’s embrace.
“Fair enough.” Tony shrugged. When Amy left, he looked at Bren, “See? Neither up nor down. You’ve got to remember Bren, she’s like you. Bounces back incredibly easily. Sometimes a little too much.”
“Are we way too chirpy?” Bren asked with a smile.
“Yes. But I wouldn’t have you both any other way.” Tony gave her a wink before kissing her cheek, “Right, better get the rest of this through to the royal family, eh?”
Bren and Tony took the rest of the plates through and sat with everyone. They all talked as they ate, telling each other about their plans for the day. Amy then opened the presents she got from their friends. Stan and Jean got her a bottle of perfume, Anita and Ajay got her new earrings and a Dua Lipa vinyl, Philippa got her the book, ‘The Feminine Mystique’, Dolly got her a duck ornament that was clearly over thirty years old and Twinkle and Liv got her bottle of champagne. Twinkle did say she wanted to score her some speed but her old dealer was too busy with his kids going to karate. Amy was quite happy with what she got.
Bren and Amy went to take the dishes through to the kitchen. Amy put the dishes into the sink as Bren grabbed the dishtowel. She watched Amy as she washed the dishes. Amy was aware that her mother was quiet and she looked at her.
“You alright, mum?” Amy asked.
“Eh? Yeah. Yeah, I’m great.” Bren smiled.
“Are you sure?” Amy put down a plate back in the sink, “You’re quiet.”
“No, I’m okay. I don’t put a lot of pressure on you, do I?”
“What? What makes you think that?”
“We’ll, just everything with Lewis. I understand that it’s annoying.”
“No, mum, no. It’s fine.” Amy turned to Bren, “I mean, I can’t deny it is a little bit annoying but it’s not that bad. You’re not putting pressure on me at all, maybe being a bit annoying but not pressure. You and dad are just as bad as each other, you’re not the only one.”
“Oh thanks.” Bren’s eyes widened before she laughed.
“Honestly mum, please don’t worry about it. I know you don’t mean it in a bad way.” Amy replied.
“Y’know how I worry.” Bren shrugged.
“That you’re a bad mum?” Amy asked.
“Well, yeah, that’s what I’m talking about. I feel like I’m not a good mum.” Bren replied.
“Mum, you’re the best mum I could ever ask for.” Amy wrapped her arms around Bren, resting her head on her mother’s shoulder. Bren rested her head above Amy’s, “Honestly, if you had done something to piss me off, I would tell you.”
“You’re too good to me.” Bren giggled.
“You’re just as good to me.” Amy smiled.
“Good.” Bren nodded.
“You’re definitely not on level with your mum if that’s what you’re thinking. You’re not half as delusional as she was.” Amy laughed.
“Oh don’t. Honestly, you have no idea, love.” Bren rolled her eyes.
“Don’t think I want to. D’you think if she was still alive, she would say she knows Lady Gaga?” Amy asked which made Bren laugh.
“She’d probably say that rented out the caravan to her and Bradley Cooper so they could get to know each other for ‘A Star Is Born’.”
“And that she was going to replace Jesy in Little Mix but she was too larky for them.”
“And she was going to be the first female Doctor Who before Jodie Whittaker but dear old David Tennant told her that two Doctors can’t have gone out together so she declined.” Bren added as they continued to laugh. She then looked at Amy, “How do you feel about Lewis? Do you like him?”
“I mean, I guess. Not really thought about it.” Amy shrugged.
“What’re you two doing?” Tony asked from behind them. Bren and Amy turned when he came in, “You look like you’re planning something? Are you? I know what you two are like.”
“We’re not planning anything.” Bren laughed.
“Maybe just what we’re going to do after we’ve killed you.” Amy crossed her arms.
“Well, I’ve got one request and that’s to be buried in my wedding dress with a packet of fags. That’ll do me. I want a proper send off.” Tony replied, “Like how Queen Victoria went.”
“Give over.” Bren laughed. She turned to continue with the dishes but Amy stopped her.
“I’ll do the rest, mum.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah, you go sit down.”
“It’s your birthday, love. You don’t want to be doing dishes on your birthday.”
“It’s never stopped me before. Now, go sit down.”
Bren chuckled. She dried her hands before kissing Amy’s forehead. Amy watched her parents walk out of the kitchen with a smile before returning to the dishes. She thought about what her mother had asked. If she liked Lewis. Amy told Bren she hadn’t thought about it but the truth was she thought about it all the time. She just never had the balls to say anything. Amy really doubted she was going to say anything now. Why should she? Lewis didn’t like her like that, did he? Did he?
Chapter 3: ring
Today’s the day and celebrations are in full swing!
Friday 24th December 2021
- - -
It was now Friday and everyone was adding the final touches for the party. They had a birthday breakfast for Bren and Ajay to let them open their presents from everyone. The B&B was officially closed for the Christmas and New Year. Bren and Tony were in the kitchen with Morag and Anna who helped them make the food for tonight. The dinnerladies, Stan, Philippa, Ajay and Liv all helped Amy and Hamish with decorating the pub. Hamish’s wife, Eileen, also popped in after eleven to help with the food. It was fairly relaxed in the pub, they had music playing and all chatted happily as they put up balloons and bunting. Amy and Ajay laughed as they sung along to the Girls Aloud song playing through the speakers.
“What was the dance to this again?” Ajay asked, “Y’know the bit when they’re walking back and forth in front of the camera?”
“Oh, it’s like this.” Amy started walking back and forth, “Remember Cheryl and Kimberley walk really slow in it.”
“Yeah, yeah. And then Nicola, Sarah and ‘Nadine’ all walk fast.” Ajay replied as he put on a Northern Irish when he mentioned Nadine Coyle.
“‘Born fifteenth of the sixth, eighty five making me a Gemini’.” Amy quoted also in a Northern Irish accent. The two laughed. As they talked, Lewis walked into the pub. He was looking around for Amy and spotted her quickly. He rushed over to her and tapped her on the shoulder. She turned and smiled when she saw him, “Hi, Lewis. You alright?”
“Can I talk to you?” Lewis asked. Quite abruptly actually.
“Yeah. Yeah, of course. Liv, can you help Ajay with these lights?” Amy asked. She handed Liv the lights she held before her and Lewis went off to a quiet corner of the pub, “You okay?”
“Aye. Listen, I can’t stay for long but I’m not gonna make it tonight.” Lewis said.
“I know, I know.”
“I applied for a job in Glasgow. Ages ago but they got back to me last night and said I have an interview today. I need to leave now. I only saw it this morning, I’m really sorry.”
“When did you apply for a job in Glasgow? You never told me that.”
“It was ages ago. I was trying to keep my options open.”
“What’s it for?”
“Some office job. Y’know I did think about moving there, I wanted to get a job before I went.”
“Yeah.” Amy nodded, crossing her arms as she bowed her head.
“I’m sorry, Ams. I really am. I genuinely forgot about it, I didn’t think they’d get back so late.” Lewis rested his hands on Amy’s upper arms as he rubbed them, “I mean, it’s Christmas Eve eh?”
“It’s fine. You should go. You’ll do well.” Amy forced a smile.
“Are you sure?” Lewis’ eyes widened.
“Yeah! Get your life going. Don’t worry about this.” Amy replied, “I know you’ve wanted to go to Glasgow for ages. This is your time.”
“I knew you’d understand.” Lewis smiled before hugging Amy. She laughed but bit her lip. He broke off the hug, “I am sorry. I’ll get back asap.”
Amy watched as Lewis left in a rush. Liv nudged Ajay as she watched Amy and Lewis. Ajay turned to look at them and saw that Amy looked sad. He watched as Lewis looked away and he frowned.
“Stan? Could you do these lights?” Ajay turned to Stan who was just walking past.
“Roger Wilco.” Stan nodded, “Put me to good use.”
Ajay went over to Amy. She stood at the window, watching Lewis leave the B&B. Ajay put his hand on Amy’s shoulder.
“You okay, hun?” Ajay asked with a smile.
“I’m fine.” Amy scoffed. She looked back out the window, “He’s going to Glasgow.”
“What? Why’s he going there?”
“Job interview. He applied ages ago and they only got back to him last night. He thinks he might as well go.”
“And miss his best friend’s birthday party?”
“He’s wanted to live in Glasgow for ages. He’s gotta go.”
“You want him here though?” Ajay raised a brow.
“Of course I do, I… he’s my best pal, eh?” Amy looked down at her feet. She could feel a lump in her throat forming but she looked up and smiled, “I’m sorry. This is your birthday. I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer.”
“It’s your birthday as much as it’s mine, Amy. You’re allowed to be upset.” Ajay put his arm around his friend.
“You two alright?” Twinkle asked as she walked in.
“Yeah.” Amy nodded as she bowed her head but Twinkle lifted her chin.
“What’s up?” Twinkle asked.
“Lewis can’t make the party. He’s going to Glasgow.” Amy explained.
“Glasgow?! You’re kidding?” Twinkle frowned.
“Nope. He’s just left.” Amy shrugged.
“Aww, Amy.” Twinkle sighed. She brought Amy over to a table near them, “That’s really manky.”
“Tell me about it.” Amy scoffed.
“You should enjoy yourself tonight. Get rat arsed.” Twinkle nodded, “Don’t worry about any of that.”
“I know. I was so looking forward to having him here though. Like he was the only person I really wanted to see here. Except from you guys of course.” Amy explained.
“I know. But it’s your birthday, you should enjoy your night.” Twinkle gave her a smile.
Later on, everyone was getting ready for the night. Bren, Tony and Amy went back to their house. Ajay and Liv were getting ready with Amy in her room whilst Bren and Tony got ready in theirs. Tony sat on the bed tying his shoelaces when Bren walked in from the bathroom. She wore a black shirtdress that went down to below her shins with long sleeves. She wore black court heels on her feet. Her hair was more styled, her curls framing her face. She was fiddling with her earrings when she noticed Tony on the bed. Tony looked at her and smiled to which she smiled back.
“You alright?” Bren asked.
“Yeah. You?” Tony asked.
“Yeah. I did have a bit of a meltdown earlier though.” Bren replied as she walked over to the chest of drawers.
“How?” Tony frowned.
“I couldn’t pick what dress I wanted to wear. It was between this and that sagey one but I looked like I were gonna fight in the army.” Bren explained, pushing her bangles onto her wrists.
“You look great.” Tony told her. Bren started to giggle, trying to hide her rosy cheeks as she still had her back to him.
“Give over.” Bren replied over her shoulder.
Tony chuckled before getting up from the bed. He walked over to Bren as she put her jewellery box back into a drawer. As he walked up to her, Tony put his hand on her back which made Bren turn. She looked up at him and gave him a smile.
“You look very handsome. Dapper.” Bren lifted her hands to Tony’s collar, making sure it was straight.
“Dapper?” Tony scoffed, “That’s a first.”
“You do dress nice when you want to, y’know.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“It means I like when you wear a suit.”
“Well, make the most of it. I doubt I’ll be wearing a suit anytime soon. I give it a good six months at least.”
Bren laughed as she ducked her head. When she lifted her head, she looked up at him with a smile growing on her lips. Tony tucked her hair behind her ear. He gave her shoulder a squeeze.
“Hey, listen. I’ve got a present for you.” Tony said.
“Eh? You’ve already given me presents.” Bren frowned, “You didn’t need to get me anymore.”
“I know but I wanted to.” Tony shrugged. He went into his pocket and took out a small black velvet box. He handed it to her as he watched her open it up, “It was more of an anniversary present but I wanted to give it to you today.”
Bren looked at the piece of jewellery inside. It was a simple gold band with small diamonds around it. She looked up at him with a grin on her face.
“It’s lovely. Thank you.” Bren said as she wrapped her arm around his neck and went to hug him. Tony brought her close, his arm wrapped around her waist, “You really need to stop buying me so much at this time of year. Just get me one present at least.”
“You spoil me as much as I spoil you, mate. No way.” Tony smiled, “Go on then, put it on.”
Bren giggled. She took the ring out of the box and slipped it onto her ring finger with her engagement ring and wedding ring. She looked at the ring on her finger and grinned.
“I love it.” Bren smiled before cupping his face and kissing him gently.
“Mum?” Amy called as she knocked on the door. She then walked into the room and Bren and Tony turned to look at her, “Oh, you look very nice.”
“So do you.” Bren smiled, “You alright?”
“Yeah, I was just wondering when we’re leaving.” Amy asked as she played with her necklace.
“Oh, soon.” Tony looked at his watch, “Are you all ready to go?”
“Yeah.” Amy nodded, “Will you be able to get us all in the car?”
“Eh?” Tony frowned.
“Well, there is five of us.” Amy shrugged.
“We’ll get a taxi.” Tony told her.
“Oh. Oh yeah.” Amy sighed before leaving the room.
Bren and Tony looked at each other with little smiles. They then headed downstairs and Tony called the taxi. Bren was just putting her new anorak on when she noticed Amy on her phone in the kitchen. Ajay and Liv were in the living room chatting so she wondered why she wasn’t with them. Bren walked through to the kitchen.
“You alright?” Bren asked.
“Yeah.” Amy put her phone down and gave her mother a sad smile, “You look really pretty, mum.”
“Thanks, love.” Bren smiled. She then moved closer when she noticed Amy was quiet. She took Amy’s hand as she looked up, “What’s the matter?”
“Lewis isn’t coming tonight.” Amy sighed.
“What? Since when?” Bren frowned.
“This morning. He told me he had to go to Glasgow.” Amy explained.
“Glasgow?! Why did he have to go there?”
“A job interview. Remember he said he wanted to move down there. He applied for a job and only heard about it last night.”
“Oh, Amy.” Bren put her arm around her. Amy rested her head on her mother’s shoulder, “I’m sorry. Listen, you just enjoy your night. You deserve to.”
“Taxi’s here, mate.” Tony popped his head into the kitchen.
“Okay.” Bren smiled, “Come on, love.”
“You alright?” Tony asked as Amy walked past him.
“Yep.” Amy replied.
“What’s up?” Tony asked Bren when Amy went into the living room to get Ajay and Liv.
“Lewis can’t make it. I’ll tell you later.” Bren tapped his shoulder, “Come on, coats on.”
They left in the taxi and headed to the B&B. The party was already in full swing with music playing and drinks flowing. Plenty of their friends were there and it seemed like everybody was having a great time. Amy tried to have the best night she could but without Lewis there, it didn’t feel the same. Out of everyone, he was the one she wanted to be there the most. She couldn’t help the way she felt about him and she felt like him not being there was a sign that maybe she should just let him go.
As she talked to Jean, Stan and Dolly, there was a sudden cheer from a group of people near the door of the pub. Amy turned to see what was going on and that’s when she spotted him. There was Lewis standing there, back from Glasgow. He must have gone back home because he was in different clothes from before. He said a quick hello to her friends sitting at the side but looked around for Amy.
“Go see him.” Jean encouraged her.
“What?” Amy turned back to her.
“Go see him. He’s come back for you, hasn’t he?” Jean replied.
“I don’t even know what to say to him.” Amy shrugged.
“For a start, tell him how you feel. You don’t want to continue pussyfooting about it like your mum and dad.” Dolly said.
“Yeah, that took ages.” Stan nodded, “You don’t want to be waiting for eight years to tell someone you fancy them.”
Amy chuckled. She then looked back at Lewis who was still looking for her. She decided to go over to him. Amy weaved her way through the dancing crowd until she reached him.
“Lewis?” Amy said.
“Ams.” Lewis smiled. He rushed over to Amy and hugged her which she was surprised at, “You look stunning.”
“Thanks.” Amy chuckled, looking at her dress. She looked up at him, “I thought you weren’t gonna make it.”
“So did I. But see when I left for the train station right? I got another email. Apparently they sent it to the wrong Lewis. They were meant to send it to a Lewis Mclachlan and not Maclaughlin.” Lewis explained.
“Oh God. So did you go to Glasgow?” Amy frowned.
“Did I bugger? D’you know how much a return is to Glasgow and back? Sixty pounds and fifty pence. No danger, I’d be better flying down.”
“You’d be better walking.”
“Exactly. But listen, I did go into town for a bit and I didn’t want to tell you because I wanted it to be a surprise.”
“You haven’t got me another present, have you? Lewis, this is too much.”
“No, no. Well, not a proper present. I did want to get you something better but I saw this.” Lewis went into the small gift bag and pulled out a little cupcake in a box. On the cake there was a reindeer on it in icing, “It’s not a lot but thought you’d like it, being a Christmas baby and all that. A peace offering as well.”
Amy smiled. It was such a little thing but she appreciated it. And she appreciated him. She looked up then and noticed the mistletoe above their heads. Amy then leaned in, kissing Lewis on the lips softly. Lewis was surprised. He did not expect this at all. He didn’t realise she actually liked him back. Amy broke off the kiss then.
“Thank you.” Amy said.
“You’re um, you’re welcome.” Lewis scratched the back of his head before laughing, “I didn’t expect that.”
“Did you not like it? Have I done something wrong?” Amy’s heart dropped.
“No, no. I did, I did like it. And I like you. A lot.” Lewis grabbed her hands. He gave them a squeeze, “I’m glad I didn’t go to Glasgow the day. I would’ve hated not being here for you.”
The two smiled at each other but then felt themselves moving closer to each other. Lewis cupped Amy’s face as she held onto his waist when they kissed once more.
“Bren? Bren? Bren?” Ajay rushed over to Bren with two drinks in his hands.
“What is it?” Bren giggled.
“Look!” Ajay pointed over to Amy and Lewis.
Bren turned and her jaw dropped when she saw them. She looked at Ajay and Twinkle who she stood with who both wore big grins. She then looked for Tony in the room and noticed him standing talking to Philippa and Anita.
“Tony? Tony?” Bren called to him.
“What is it?” Tony asked.
Bren simply pointed over to Amy and Lewis. Tony looked and his eyes widened. He then looked at Bren and mouthed the words ‘finally’.
Later on, they did the cake and Bren, Ajay and Amy all blew out the candles together. As the night went on, people started to leave as they had to ‘get home in time for Santa’. It soon was just immediate friends and family but that was alright because that was really what they wanted. Everyone still danced and talked happily. During one of the slow songs, Bren and Tony danced together. They were cuddled into each other with Bren’s head against his chest. She watched Amy and Lewis sitting in a corner talking quietly and couldn’t help but smile.
“Look at them.” Bren looked at Tony.
“Eh? Oh yeah. Love’s young dream over there.” Tony nodded.
“They look happy, don’t they?” Bren smiled.
“They do.” Tony looked down at her, “Really happy.”
“You still happy with me?” Bren asked.
“Are you joking? Twenty two years with you? I’ve never been happier, you poxy lamebrain.” Tony grinned.
Bren laughed. She stood on her tiptoes, pressing her lips against his. As they kissed, suddenly everyone was cheering and shouting ‘Merry Christmas’. As they broke off the kiss, Bren and Tony looked around to see everyone hugging and wishing each other a Merry Christmas. The couple looked at each other and smiled.
“Merry Christmas, mate.” Tony smiled.
“Merry Christmas.” Bren grinned.
They were about to kiss again but Amy rushed over to them and hugged them both tightly. They looked at her and smiled.
“Merry Christmas.” Amy laughed.
“Merry Christmas, kid.” Tony brought her into their embrace, kissing her head.
“Merry Christmas, love.” Bren giggled.
“Come on, let’s get some proper Christmas music on. None of that Alma frigging Cogan.” Twinkle walked over to where the music was playing.
“Here, here!” Tony called over to her.