Author Topic: A surprise for Kathy by norfolk dumpling  (Read 5449 times)

Offline loopylin

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A surprise for Kathy by norfolk dumpling
« on: March 20, 2010, 11:53:13 PM »

Author's note. This story takes place just after 'one for sorrow'

Dora picked up the post. 'Bills, bills, bills- oh hang on there's a letter for you darling- postmarked Liverpool.'

Steve opened it 'Oh Blazes!' he exclaimed.

'What's wrong?' asked Dora.

'Mum's had a row with Bert. She's chucked her job in and has no money. She's behind with the rent so she wants to come here this weekend. I've got to make sure I'm in on Wednesday evening because she's going to phone to see if I can pick her up. If not she's threatening to hitch-hike. I'll have to go or else she'll do a moonlight flit again. I would like to see Bert anyway.'

Dora said 'I want to come Steve. We can leave after lunch on Friday, stay the night somewhere and sort your mum out on Saturday'

'A night away together- yes that would be good. We'll have to speak to Ron nicely to see if he'll stay over on Friday night. I dare say Bill Chadwick would help if need be.'

'Actually Ron and Hazel make a good team now- she's fast becoming indispensable and we wont be away long.There won't be enough room here so we'll need to sort a room out at Copper's rest for your mum.

They had chosen to call the poperty that Steve had inherited from Dora's uncle by that name as when they moved Copper would be stabled there together with Alex and Folly.

When Kathy rang Steve told her they would pick her up late on Saturday morning so to have her things packed and ready.He did not tell her that they were actually going to arrive on Friday.
Steve took Slugger with him to get the room ready. He would need another soon for his aunt Milly and one for himself the night before the wedding. Dora's parents had wanted her to spend her last night at the colonel's cottage with them but Dora was adamant that Follyfoot was her home and she wanted to be with Steve as long as possible.Steve hoped his mum would help to get the extra rooms ready.

Dora was now five months into her pregnancy and tired easily. when Steve and Slugger got back she was upstairs asleep. Steve got out a book on Liverpool that he'd  bought on his last visit and managed to find a reasonably priced hotel on the outskirts. He booked in for bed and breakfasrt and an evening meal for Friday night. They had swapped the colonel's sports car for an estate car so transporting Kathy's possessions would not be a problem.

Steve took Dora a cup of tea and told her that their accommodation was sorted. 'I'm going to have to pay mum's back rent you know- what with that, the hotel and petrol it's not going to be cheap.'

'Never mind darling' I've got some money left over from what mummy and daddy gave me when they arrived. As they are paying for everything to do with the wedding  we have nothing to worry about there. I don't feel like sausages tonight- can we have fish and chips instead?'

Steve laughed- these days she had a craving for fish and chips. 'I thought you might say that so I told Slugger not to bother and cook'

'Hm., I wondered why my stomach wasn't feeling queasy- no smell from the kitchen.'

'Do you want to come to the shop with me?'


Steve helped her up. 'I've sorted out with Ron about him staying Friday night  and Slugs and I called in on Bill Chadwick on the way home. He's going to be around all weekend and will come over if he's needed.'

Prudence and Arthur were glad that they were going away for a night and insisted on giving Dora the money for the hotel bill.

On Friday Dora and Steve lunched early then while she had a rest he got on with schooling a couple of horses- the job he now liked best. He was now as good as Dora and she was justly proud of their growing good reputation.

The hotel had given Steve directions from the nearest motorway exit so they found their way there quite easily. Before dinner they showered together as they usually did then lay down for a rest. Dora slept but Steve lay awake looking tenderly at his fiancee who three weeks from tomorrow would become his wife. He gently laid his hand on her stomach and in a little while felt movement there. Gently he stroked the spot then planted a tiny kiss there too. 'I love you, baby Ross.' he said softly. Dora stirred beside him. 'And I love your mummy too- more every day' He caressed her face and she opened her eyes and looked at him.

'Show me how much' she whispered.

'Are you sure it's still okay?'

'Of course- I've still got 4 months to go'

'Yes- and I'm going to make sure I take good care of you.'

She revelled in their lovemaking and felt relaxed and happy when they went down to dinner which was a delicious Chicken Chasseur followed by black forest gateau.
'Beats bangers and mash' said Steve- or dare I say it- fish and chips.'

After the meal they had coffee in the very pleasant lounge.
'It's good to have a little time away from Follyfoot isn't it?' asked Steve.

'Yes- but not for too long. It's good to be at home.'

'Soon we'll have a new home and our own family. Those months I spent here away from Follyfoot and most of all you, made me feel very unhappy. I was with my mum who should be the person I'm closest too but I felt desperately alone.'

'Steve- we've never really talked about it much- why didn't you write or phone?'

'I nearly phoned several times but I'd already upset you. If I'd told you I was not able to come back yet it would have upset you all over again. I couldn't bear to hear you cry on the phone or think of you reading a letter and sobbing all over poor Slugger. It took all my willpower to walk away from you to come here. I saw your tear-stained face every day. When mum finally told me that she didn't want me interfering in her life I just upped sticks and came back on the first available bus and there you were- still crying!'

'Well I'm not crying any more. We're together and all that unhappiness is in the past'

When Dora had gone to sleep in his arms Steve lay awake thinking about how things were going to work out wit
linda-norfolk dumpling

Offline loopylin

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Re: new story- a surprise for Kathy by norfolk dumplin
« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2010, 12:11:21 AM »
The next morning they had the luxury of a lie in till 7.30am. After breakfast they settled their bill and Steve said 'Let's go and find Bert- you'll love him.' They managed to park the car near to the tea stall. On Saturdays Bert opened at 10.30am.As he was preparing to open the front of the stall Steve asked 'Could you use a hand?'

'Steve- by all that's wonderful what are you doing here?'

'Dora and I have come to pick mum up. She's going to stay with us till the wedding'

'Oh  so this is the young lady you're going to marry. Pleased to meet you luv. I'm sorry I won't be able to come to the wedding now.'

'But Bert' said Steve 'We really want you to come. you were as much a friend to me as to mum. Please say you will.'

'Yes' said Dora 'Please do. If you hadn't lent Steve the money to pay off Kathy's debt he may have had to stay longer.'

'I don't know- I'd like to say yes. I'm very fond of you Steve
and I reckon you'll make a beautiful bride Dora. Kathy and I did not part on good terms though. I'd like to be able to put things right but Kathy's that stubborn.'
Dora looked at Steve and he gave her a cuddle.'I know all about people being stubborn she said 'but you can win them round if you try hard enough.'

'Well we shall have to see. I've got your telephone number and I'll be in touch before the wedding but for now have a cup of tea on the house.

'Thanks Bert- then perhaps you can direct us to mum's new digs.'

'Sure- it's not far'

Kathy was all packed and ready when they arrived. Steve went and found the landlady who told him there was money owing to her for milk and papers as well as the rent. There was also a tab at the local corner shop which had an off licence. Steve settled everything and they left soon after.

They stopped off on the way to have lunch with Milly who like Kathy had met Dora when she'd accompanied him to his gran's funeral the year before.

'My word Dora- you're looking bonny.' she said.

'So she should- her parents are loaded you know.'

'I was meaning that pregnancy suits her Kath. Are you sure you wouldn't rather stay here with me until nearer the wedding?'

'No thanks- you're a bit out of the way here with no car. I want to be near Steve and get to know Dora's parents and all the rest of the people I've heard so much about. I also need to go shopping for my wedding outfit.'

While Kathy was outside having a cigarette Milly said 'Watch her Steve. I know she's my sister but she's out for everything she can get.'

'When are you going to come down auntie? We'll come and fetch you whenever you want and you can have a bit of a holiday eh? There's plenty of room at the bungalow with mum.'

'How about the Sunday before the wedding? You can come to lunch again- Kathy too if she wants to of course. We can travel back to your place in the afternoon.'

'Right- that's settled then. Is there anything I can do for you while we're here? Dora's asleep and I'd like to leave her for a little while. She's still working too hard.'

'Could you get the curtains in the front parlour down for me please. I need to wash them and change them for summer ones. You can put those up for me too.'

Steve did as he was asked and Kathy came in while he was doing it. 'I've something to give you Kath- some of mother's jewellery that she wanted you to have. I was too upset at the time of the funeral' She handed Kathy a cardboard box which she took without looking at the contents.

'Ta love' she said. Steve looked at his watch and decided to go and wake Dora. Milly followed and handed her a small jewel case.

'My mum gave me this on my twenty-first birthday. I'd like you to have it and wear it on your wedding day'
The box contained a beautiful gold bangle.

Dora exclaimed in delight and hugged her. 'Thank you so much. It's beautiful. I'll treasure it always.'

'She gave you one too didn't she Kath- have you still got it?'

'No -it got pinched with some of my other stuff.'

'Oh that's a shame!'

'Well we'd best be off ' said Steve. He and Dora both kissed Milly. Kathy merely said 'See you soon love'

They arrived at Follyfoot in time for tea having dropped Kathy's luggage of at the bungalow on the way. Slugger had excelled himself providing ham salad and jacket potato.
Afterwards Steve and Dora walked Kathy home through the woods and fields so she'd know the way.

'This is a nice place' she said.'When are you moving in?'

'Certainly not until after the baby is born. We need to convert one bedroom into a nursery. We've also got to find some extra live-in help for Follyfoot- so it will be a few months yet.'

'Well maybe I'll stick around for a while'

Dora and Steve exchanged glances. Her parents were talking of staying in their London home until Christmas and making regular visits to see them and now Kathy was talking of staying longer than they'd thought.

'We've put some food in the fridge and freezer for you and there's som groceries too. If you need anything else just let us know. You might like to get your own breakfast as Slugger's bacon and eggs is an acquired taste! We'll see you in the morning- just follow the path we used tonight.'
Steve took £5 from his wallet.'Here you'd better take this.'

'Thanks son.'

On the way home Steve was very quiet. When they got to the lake, their special place, Dora stopped and put her arms round him.'What's wrong darling?'

'Mum- I don't know what she intends to do with herself while she's here. She could help Slugger out during the day but she likes to go out in the evening and we can't afford to finance that very often.

'Let's give her a chance shall we? Uncle always said everyone is entitled to a fair go. By the way my parents have invited us all to a meal on Friday- Slugger's included so Ron and Teri are coming over to keep Hazel company.'

'Your parent's aren't trying a bit of matchmaking are they?'

'Don't let Slugger hear you say that.'

'Well he did once say my mum's a good looking woman!'

'I wish we could get married here by the lake.'

linda-norfolk dumpling

Offline loopylin

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Re: new story- a surprise for Kathy by norfolk dumplin
« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2010, 11:26:50 PM »
It's so beautiful. Mummy's getting carried away with the arrangements and keeps altering things. All I ever wanted was something simple- that's what we agreed didn't we? I had such a job persuading her I didn't want a horse drawn carriage- it would bring back memories of uncle's funeral and it's going to be an emotional day anyway with him not being there. Here by the lake I feel peaceful.' She gave a deep sigh.

'A ceremony by the lake eh? Nice dream that one Dora'

Next day Kathy tottered over in her fashion boots which were covered in mud by the time she arrived. 'We'll treat you to a sensible pair' said Dora.

Kathy changed into trainers and said she'd come to help with the chores. Slugger said he would take her to town in the afternoon as she wanted to do some shopping and Dora said she could get some boots at the same time.

After lounging in the chair and smoking a cigarette Kathy went and changed the beds, a job which Slugger hated and then tackled the laundry. At lunch time she picked at her food.'

Don't worry, you'll soon get used to Slugger's cooking' said Ron.

Later Slugger took her into town as he had to pick up some groceries. He also wanted to visit his sister so he arranged to meet her outside the post office at about four o'clock.
Dora had given her money for boots and later in the afternoon she proudly showed off a sensible pair which to Dora looked expensive.

'Did you get those at Colliers?'

'Thyat's right luv, they were a good price too because there's a flaw in the leather. It's not very noticeable though. By the way, there was a notice in the post office window to say that the cafe in the high street was looking for a temporary assistant from 1pm to six. I went in and saw them and the lady was very anxious to get someone so she took me on and I start tomorrow- four days a week.'

'You were lucky to get taken on just like that'

'Well when I told them I was Dora Maddock's future mother in law and staying here till the wedding that was all they needed. It's only for two to three weeks, the regular help has a broken leg and they've been struggling to do without her- closing up early most days. I'll need someone to take me in each day.'

'Well we'll sort something out and pick you up too I expect.'
said Steve.

'Oh I won't be coming home straight after work every night. I may want to stay and have a drink somewhere.'

Steve looked a bit uneasy but said 'Well we'll see how you go. Do you want to stay for tea if not I'll walk you home?'

'Dont worry about food for me. I can take care of myself.
I bought some bits and pieces when I was out'

Later as they talked about Kathy's job Dora said 'I've got a doctor's appointment at 10 o'clock. I can go on my own to save you having to keep travelling backwards and forwards'

'No way- I always come to the doctor's with you. I'll get Ron to take mum in the land rover. I want to go and have a talk to Mrs Stevens before mum starts work in the cafe. I don't want them advancing her any money or I'll end up with more debts to pay'

Everything went well at the doctors and their next appointment would be at the hospital after the wedding.

At the cafe Steve explained that his mum was very good at her job but not so good with money so it would probably be best to pay her  after each day's shift and make it clear that it was their policy not to give advances on wages. That way there'd be no misunderstandings and no muddles.
'Please keep this conversation between ourselves' he asked.

'Of course' said Mrs Stevens.' How are the wedding arrangements coming along Dora?'

'Oh my mum's in her element. All Steve and I have to do is turn up! I'm just going to pop to the chemist to leave my prescription Steve'

While she was gone Steve said 'Emily can you do me a favour tomorrow?'

'If I can certainly' Steve then explained what he had in mind.

Slugger made sure that Ron left in plenty of time to drop Kathy off and when Steve picked her up later and asked what kind of day she'd had she seemed really happy and was looking forward to her next shift.

'Are you sure you don't want to have a meal with us- you must be tired.'

'It's okay love. Emily gave me some leftovers which I can heat up.'

'Don't forget we're having a meal at the Wheatsheaf with Dora's parents on Friday.'

'Course not love- I'm looking forward to it. Right now I'm going to have a long soak in the bath, eat my meal and maybe watch a bit of telly. I'll see you tomorrow.'

Kathy had managed to slip to the off licence just before Steve had picked her up and after she'd eaten she poured herself large gin. She put the television on. She knew she wouldn't be able to stay in every night - she wanted to sample the night life- such as it was. She was already missing Liverpool and her friends- even Bert. She needed to get hold of some more money so she could go back after the wedding. Steve was a good son and she was sure that he and Dora would be very happy but they were sooooo
boring. They only talked about horses, the wedding and the baby. If she stayed she would be expected to play the doting grandma. Everyone said what a beautiful baby Steve was but she was not given to cooing over him. She'd loved his father though and Steve certainly had the look of him now. When her husband died she really didn't want the boy any more- he cramped her style too much. If she had left him with family they would have wanted her to pay something towards his keep and leave a forwarding address.
He would have looked at her with his big eyes and asked when they were going home. Leaving him at the orphanage had definitely been the better option. Fancy him landing in a young offenders prison though- she was surprised he had it in him.Well he'd landed on his feet all right. Nice bungalow, car, his own horses and a future wife who would one day inherit a small fortune. Mustn't lose touch with him again!

She poured herself another gin. Tomorrow she had something to look forward to- her date with Johnny.
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Offline loopylin

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Re: new story- a surprise for Kathy by norfolk dumplin
« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2010, 11:25:16 PM »
Kathy had noticed that there was a pawnbrokers in the town where she could probably get rid of the jewellery Milly had given her.That was what had really happened to her gold bangle. She'd meant to redeem it but had never got enough spare money. These bits and pieces of her mother's might fetch a decent sum which with the exception of a real cameo brooch were unwanted. She fingered the string of pearls round her neck, they had been her husband's last gift to her. Together with her engagement and wedding rings they were all the jewellery that she needed. She must not let on that she had any money apart from her wages. Dora had promised her the money to buy a wedding outfit . She didn't want to be outshone by Prudence Maddocks but she had a plan of how to buy something decent and still have money left over.She just had to persuade Dora that she preferred to shop on her own and make sure she got the outfit before Milly arrived. She was feeling a bit tired now but decided to have one last drink before going to bed.

Next morning she awoke late with a headache. She felt hungry but did not feel like eating anything cooked. She cut two thick slices of bread and spread them thickly with marmalade. Two mugs of strong black coffee followed and she was ready to face the world.The walk over to Follyfoot did a lot to clear her head.

'Morning Kathy' said Ron. 'Dora and Steve are off doing wedding things. I've got to be at the dentist at half twelve so I'll drop you off. Do you fancy a spin on the bike?' He looked down at her short skirt. 'No- p'raps we'd better take the land rover.'

Kathy was glad that she'd put the unwanted pieces of jewellery in her bag. She'd be able to go to the pawnbrokers before work. When she arrived at the cafe Dora and Steve were sitting having lunch. Kathy hoped they hadn't seen her coming out of the pawnbrokers which was only a few hundred yards down the road.

'Hi mum,' said Steve. 'We're playing hookey from Slugger's stew- Dora's tummy is feeling a bit averse to it at the moment.'

'I don't blame you for eating here. The food's very good. The roast chicken is especially tasty. I'm glad you're here because I'm not coming straight home after work tonight. One of the customers asked me yesterday if I'd like to go for a drink with him. If I can't get a lift I'll get a taxi if it's too late for you- I know you're usually in bed early. Now are you two having a sweet?'

'Yes we'll both have bread and butter pudding please. I told Slugs not to bother cooking for us tonight. We'll have two teas as well.'

Kathy cleared away the plates and brought their dessert and tea.' Do you often eat here Steve?'

'No only on the odd occasion when we're in town at lunchtime.' Kathy busied herself with the other customers.

'She's good with people Steve' said Dora.

'Yeah- a bit too good sometimes. Bert told me a thing or two. Soon found herself a bloke as well!' As they left Emily gave Steve the thumbs up sign to show him she'd remembered what he'd asked the day before.

'Your Steve's a fine young man Kathy- you must be proud of him' said Emily.

'Yes he is,' she replied adding under her breath 'pity he doesn't say the same about me.'

Rev Carmichael had given Steve an envelope as they were leaving him and Dora asked Steve what it was. 'Oh just a copy of the service so I can familiarise myself with it. I haven't been to many weddings'  There was something in his eyes that made Dora wonder if he was being honest with her but she let it pass.

When they got home he sent her upstairs for a rest. He then had a word with Slugger and told him he was expecting a delivery and what he'd like done with it. He zipped through his afternoon chores. Ron rang to say he didn't feel up to coming back as he'd had a tooth out so Hazel did his share of the work. She was becoming indispensible.

Later Steve took Dora a cup of tea and told her to put on one of her pretty dresses and the hat she'd worn when they went to meet Lord Beck. After finishing his drink he went and changed into his dark navy suit which had been part of Dora's last birthday present to him. It hung in the wardrobe in the box room next to his light grey wedding suit. He put on a clean white shirt and navy tie with the matching horse head cuff links and tie pin that were also a present from Dora.

When she camo downstairs he looked at her approvingly and told her to put on her riding boots. Copper and Alex were waiting outside saddled up and bedecked with white  ribbons. He helped her carefully into Copper's saddle, mounted Alex and told her to follow him down to the lake where two garden chairs stood side by side. He dismounted and helped her down. From a box under one of the chairs he produced a small posy of red roses for Dora and a white rose buttonhole for himself.

'You said you wanted to be married here- well this is the best I can do. We'll make our vows to one another and Copper and Alex will be our witnesses.' From his pocket he took the copy of the wedding service which Rev. Carmichael had given him. He sat down beside her and said ' the ceremony we have in church will take care of legalities and satisfy your parents- this is just for us.'

'Oh Steve- how romantic.'

'Come on, let's do this before we get interrupted.'

So they spoke the age old vows to each other holding  their left hands and using their right hands to hold the vows. Steve had even brought the rings which they gave to each other but did not put on. The horses looked on seemingly very interested and Copper even managed to nod his head in the right places.

They both found the simple act very moving and had tears in their eyes at the end when Steve said 'I may now kiss the bride' and he did tenderly.

'Baby's having a kick- feel' said Dora putting Steve's hand on the spot.

'You're happy for us aren't you little one?' he said softly.
I've laid on a little celebration indoors- so if madam would like to take her bouquet and the service sheet I'll take the horses.'

linda-norfolk dumpling

Offline loopylin

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Re: new story- a surprise for Kathy by norfolk dumplin
« Reply #4 on: March 24, 2010, 11:22:53 PM »
I'll come back for the chairs later. He left Hazel to look after the horses and remove the ribbons. Indoors there were salmon and cucumber sandwiches, small sausage rolls, blackcurrant cheesecake and a bottle of sparkling white grape juice. Emily Stevens had prepared the food and picked up the other items Steve had ordered and sent them out to the farm in a taxi.
'All my favourite food' said Dora. 'After this the wedding will have something to live up to.

Meanwhile, Kathy, having finished her shift headed to the Saracen's Head for a bar meal. She had not been exaggerating when she said she was meeting someone but she had time to kill before he arrived. She'd brought different clothes with her and changed in the ladies. She still had a good figure and liked to show it off. She usually wore short skirts and tight sweaters and this was the shortest skirt she owned. She could just imagine Steve's face if he saw her in it and if Dora wore one like it he'd probably do his nut. Ron called him an old square- well she'd seen that for herself in Liverpool. The bloke she was meeting tonight was a real snazzy dresser- younger than her of course but that didn't matter- they were only having a drink. She finished her meal and went into the main bar to wait. He was on time.

'Hi Johnny'

'Hello Kathy. i hope you've eaten because I had a meal at home.

'Yes thanks- just get me a gin and tonic and then you can tell me all about yourself'

Oh I'm not very interesting- you tell me about yourself. What brings you to a sleepy place like this?'

'I'm here for my son's wedding. his name's Steve and he works at Follyfoot.'

'Oh I know the place. My father's done some work for them'

'I've come up from Liverpool and I'm staying at Copper's rest. It's Steve's bungalow.You can see it through the trees from Follyfoot. It's only a ten minute walk.'

'Yes I know the place- used to belong to Mrs. Oldcastle.
Nice place is it?'

'Yes- it's got lots of land and stables for the horses. It's where Steve and Dora are going to live after the baby is born.'

'Oh- in the pudding club is she?'

'Don't be crude' said Kathy but laughed all the same.

'Shotgun wedding is it?'

'No, nothing like that. Are you married Johnny?'

'No fear- I like my freedom too much.'

'Yes me too.'

'Another drink Kathy?'

'I don't mind if I do.'

THe Saracen's Head was not a pub that Ron used regularly. His current girlfriend, Teri had asked him along tonight because she and her friends from the Community Midwives team were celebrating the birthday of one of their number and husbands and boyfriends were invited. Uncharacteristically for him Ron arrived early and decided to have a drink. He spotted Johnny and Kathy and hastily went to another bar in the pub. Now what on earth was Kathy doing associating with Johnny Clegg!'

Ron and Johnny had once been quite good friends but had not had much to do with each other since he and Steve had had a fight  after he and his mates had been responsible for the death of some of Sam Lockwood's horses. Looking at his watch Ron found he had time to make a phone call and went to use the box outside.

When Teri arrived he told her that he needed to keep an eye on Johnny and Kathy and why. He told her he might have to follow Johnny when he left and asked her whether she would be okay. Teri was Dora's midwife and the two girls had become friends so she said Ron should do what he felt he had to but to be careful.

By ten o'clock Kathy felt rather squiffy. Having found out that Johnny's only form of transport was a motor bike she decided to phone the farm and hope Steve was still up.
Alerted by Ron's phone call Steve had not gone up to bed with Dora and had told her nothing but he had informed Hazel and Slugger.He told Kathy he would send a taxi for her and she was to tell the driver to bring her to the farm so he could pay. He did not really want to leave the farm nor did he want Kathy to have to spend the night alone in the bungalow. He asked Hazel to make up the spare single bed in her room.

When the taxi arrived at the pub Kathy thanked Johnny for a good time and said she hoped they could meet up again while she was in the area. Johnny had not noticed that Ron was there but as Kathy was leaving he strolled over.

'Hello me old mate- what are you getting up to with Kathy then? A bit old for you aint she?'

Just being friendly- that's all.'

'Well so long as you're not getting any daft ideas about causing trouble.'

'I don't know what you mean.'

'That's good because if anything bad happens to any man, woman or beast at Follyfoot I'll make sure your name is well and truly in the frame- got it?'

'I thought you were my mate Ron.'

'Of course I am Johnny, just looking out for you- that's all.'

'Who's looking out for you Ron?'

'I can take care of myself.'

'Let's hope so mate- eh?' Johnny left then. Ron waited five minutes then went to see if Teri was ready to leave but she decided to stay on. In spite of warning Johnny off Ron felt uneasy.He phoned Steve again and told him that Johnny had left but he was not sure where he was headed.

'I'm going to go and make sure everything's okay at Copper's rest  then I'll probably come on to the farm. I think I've warned him off but I can't be certain. He had this strange look in his eyes.'

'Watch yourself Ron mate. I've got to go. Mum's taxi has just pulled up. I'll have to go and pay it off.'

Ron gave Teri a farewell kiss and set off. As he approached the bungalow he could see smoke coming from the stable block which fortunately was empty. He got off the bike and began to run towards the fire. Everything went black.

Kathy was adamant that she did not want to stay at the farm and she would not be convinced that Johnny meant anyone any harm. She was threatening to walk back to the bungalow through the woods. Steve knew this was potentially dangerous and although it was against his better judgement he decided to take her back in the landrover.

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Re: new story- a surprise for Kathy by norfolk dumplin
« Reply #5 on: March 25, 2010, 11:43:37 PM »
As they rounded a bend in the road Steve saw the smoke.

'Blimey' he exclaimed stepping on the accelerator and startling Kathy who had her eyes closed. Ron was just coming round and heard the approaching engine. He staggered to his feet as Steve pulled up. 'Mum- call the fire brigade' he shouted as the fire had taken hold. 'You okay mate?' he asked Ron and helped him further away from the fire. Fortunately the wind was blowing the flames away from the bungalow and there was a clear space before the woods began.

Steve- I don't know where Johnny is. I'm going to ride through the woods to see if I can find him. I didn't start the fire mate- honest. He must have knocked me out and when I came to me fags were missing. I think he's trying to frame me.'

'He could have gone that way. We didn't pass him on the road. If you're going after him for goodness sake keep your eyes open. I need my best man all in one piece'

'Fire Brigade's on its way' called Kathy from the bungalow. Ron rode off. Steve felt torn. He didn't know whether to wait for the fire brigade or return to Follyfoot. It was only the knowledge that Slugger was at the farm that kept him where he was.Although he knew it was futile he threw buckets of water at the flames.
At the other end of the woods Johnny was waiting. He'd seen Steve arrive and Ron get up. He's hidden his bike and run through the woods. Now he heard Ron's bike coming and the sound of sirens in the distance. If he could intercept Ron he could cause havoc at Follyfoot and wait for Steve. As Ron approached he picked up a fallen branch ready to throw into the path of the bike but then he himself was hit from behind and fell to the ground where Ron's lights picked him out and he just managed to brake and swerve to avoid hitting him. Standing over Johnny with a spade in her hand was Hazel. She had decided to keep watch and gone to the far barn when Steve had left with Kathy and Slugger had gone to check on Dora.

Hazel had once told Steve that she loved the dark and was not at all afraid of being alone in darkness. Her young eyes had picked out Johnny as he moved in the woods and she'd grabbed the spade and run soundlessly after him glad that she was wearing dark clothes and that Johnny's back was towards her. Ron got off his bike and checked Johnny who was breathing but out cold.

'Well done Hazel. Go get Slugger and tell him to bring some rope. You stay indoors now. 'She ran to do as he said. Slugger and Ron tied Johnny hand and foot and carried him into the house. Steve arrived a few minutes later. The fire brigade were still at the bungalow. The stables could not be saved but they were making sure that the fire did not spread to any other outbuilding.

Ron told Steve what had happened. 'What are we going to do with this one' he said nudging Johnny with his booted foot. 'If we get the police involved Hazel might be in trouble.'

'Let's call Mr. Clegg and get him to come over.' suggested Steve.

Johnny moaned and tried to sit up. 'Don't tell my father. Just untie me and let me go and let's all forget about what's happened tonight.'

'Why should we- you're trouble- mate.' said Ron.

If you do I'll pack my things and leave for good. I was going to do it anyway. I thought I'd leave you with a little going away present. Your old lady gave me a lot of useful information tonight Steve but things didn't go as I planned and I know when I'm beaten.'
'Okay- ' said Ron. Before we let you go you're going to write out a little confession for us. It's going to be left with Mr Bricklebank, the solicitor and if you're ever seen about these parts again your father and the police are going to get to read it- is that clear? ' Johnny nodded.

'Right Ron' said Steve going to fetch a pen and paper. 'Untie his hands and sit him on the chair by the table. When you've finished Johnny we'd better take you to hospital. We'll leave you to think of a plausible reason for your injuries and remembber not to mention any of our names or you'll end up inside- clear?'


'Tell the truth in this confession Johnny because you'll be staying here until we're satisfied  with what you've written.'

Johnny rubbed his wrists and began to write. It was not an easy task as his head was hurting but at last it was done to their satisfaction.

'We'll drop your bike off at your father's yard later' said Steve. They bundled him into the land rover leaving his feet tied up, Ron was sitting in the back with him and released him as they approached the hospital. He waited until his circulation was restored and then got out of the vehicle. They watched him until he disappeared into the hospital.

Steve said 'I'm just going to drive round and check that mum's okay. You'd better see if you can find Johnny's bike'
When they got to Copper's Rest the fire brigade  were on the point of leaving, Kathy had made them tea.'We reckon it was a cigarette that started it- found the charred remains of a packet nearby. Probably a tramp went in for a smoke and panicked and ran when the fire started dropping his cigarettes as he scarpered. Probably go down as an accident unless you think differently. Sorry we couldn't save it for you.'

'It's  okay' said Steve. 'We're just glad that there were no horses in there and no-one was hurt.' Steve was glad that they hadn't seen Ron as he was looking decidedly the worse for wear. He waited until they had gone before wheeling Johnny's bike out of the woods.' 'We'll go and pick yours up now then I'll go and drop this one off.' said Steve.

Next morning at breakfast the talk was all about the happenings of the night before. Dora of course knew nothing about it and was very quiet. She went out to say 'Good morning' to the horses and Steve, knowing she was annoyed went after her. When they were alone in Copper's stable she rounded on him.

'Why didn't you tell me what was going on?'

'You were asleep.'

'I would not have gone to bed if you'd told me the real reason for Ron's phone call.'

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Re: new story- a surprise for Kathy by norfolk dumplin
« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2010, 11:55:47 PM »
'I know- but we had enough to worry about without involving you'

'Any of you could have been seriously hurt Steve!'

'Yes but we weren't and according to Ron there's no sign of Johnny's bike at the yard or the house so we can only hope he's gone for good. I hope you're not going to stay in a mood with me. I've been up since six and I haven't even had a kiss yet.' He gave her a quizzical look and the vows they'd made the previous night came back to her 'to love and to cherish, for better for worse. He walked towards her with his arms open and she was soon cuddling him lifting her face to smile up at him and receive his kiss.

'That's better' he whispered and spent the next few minutes holding her close. 'Right- you see to Copper and we'll sort the rest out between us'

At work that afternoon Kathy had to satisfy her curiosity about Johnny so she asked Emily if he had asked any questions about her. 'Well he'd seen Ron drop you off and recognised the land rover. He asked me who you were and I just said you were Kathy Ross. Is everything okay Kathy?'

'It is now- no thanks to Johnny boy! Where's the best shopping to be had in these parts?'

'Broughton I guess'

'Can you get a bus from here on Saturdays?'

'Oh yes- it's market day so there's a regular service from outside the Wheatsheaf'

'That's good. I want to go and buy my outfit for the wedding.'

After her experience the previous night Kathy asked Steve to pick her up.  'Where are we going for the meal tomorrow Steve- is it posh?'

'We're booked in for 7 o'clock at the Wheatsheaf. It's a nice pub with it's own restaurant but it isn't posh.'

'Emily's got someone coming to see her after we close so she's said I can stay at the cafe until it's time to meet you.'

'That's good- and Mum'

'Yes love'

'Have you got something er not quite so short?'

'Oh you are an old fusspot aren't you? Yes don't worry, I won't show you up.'

'It's just that Dora's parents tastes are a bit conservative.'

' And your dad was a fully paid up member of the miners union!'

'You know what I meant mum- but for goodness sake stay off the subject of politics. I have to bite my tongue a lot.'

'Do you think you can sort me out some cash on Saturday. I want to get the bus into Broughton and buy my wedding outfit. '

'Don't you want to wait for auntie? I know Dora won't be up to traipsing around but it won't be much fun on your own.'

'Come off it Steve- you know I'm a loner and I don't want to leave it till the last minute.'

The meal at the Wheatsheaf went better than Steve and Dora expected. There was absolutely no pretence about Slugger and his only concession to the occasion was his smart appearance. Gone was his scruffy old hat. His hair had been washed and combed and smothered with hair cream. He wore his second best suit, his best one was reserved for the wedding. Kathy wore a smart red shirtwaister of modest length.

'Cor Kathy- you don't 'arf look a smasher tonight' said Slugger.'

'Without that dreadful hat you don't look so bad yourself' she replied. Slugger kept them entertained with tales from his time with the travelling fair.

'What made you give it up?' asked Arthur.

' Joined the army and met the colonel. He offered me a job when we left and I've been here ever since.'

'Do you miss Liverpool Kathy?' said Arthur.

'I miss my friends and the shops but I suppose one city's much like any other.'

'And do you like working in the cafe?'

'Yes I  love it. I feel really at home there. What about you two. Do you miss London when you're abroad?'

''We don't really have time do we Arthur?' said Prudence.

'What exactly do you do?'

'Look after British interests- it's a bit hush hush really.'

'Oh- are you a spy- like James Bond?'

'Not a spy- and certainly nothing like 007!'

'Cor that's a shame' said Slugger. 'I'd love to meet a real spy!'

'Steve and Dora say that the food in the cafe is very good'
said Prudence.

'Yes it is' replied Kathy.

'You'll have to get me some of their recipes' said Slugger.

'I'll do better than that. I'll come and cook sunday lunch for you- you can watch and learn.'

'Watch and learn she says. i reckon I could teach you a few things!'

'Like how to burn stew in three easy lessons, sausage cremating for beginners and the art of ruining bacon. I think I can do without those. I'll leave a shopping list and someone can pick it up tomorrow.'

'Do you like horses Mrs. Ross' asked Prudence.

'Well I like the occasional flutter on the Grand National and watching the horse of the Year show on telly but until I came here I haven't really had much to do with them.'

'You've not had much to do with them here mum.'

'Give me a chance. I've only been here a few days.'

'Orrible great brutes most of them. I'd stay well away if I were you Kath.'

Over coffee Arthur asked after Diadem and Flamenco the Colonel's last two horses. 'Steve's been doing a lot of work with them. I can't wait to go for a good gallop on Flamenco but it's not a good idea at the moment' said Dora.

'Certainly not!' agreed Prudence.'I expect you're looking forward to having your sister here Mrs. Ross.

'It will be nice to have some company but we're not really that close'

Dora smothered a yawn. 'Better be getting  home' said Steve.'

'Nice to meet you Kathy' said Arthur. 'I expect we'll see you again before the wedding.'

THe next day Steve drove Kathy to catch her bus and pick up the ingredients for Sunday. He was looking forward to the novelty of a sunday roast with all the trimmings  as his mother was a good cook.

In Broughton  in a charity shop Kathy found a sage green dress and coat with the label still on. It was from a chain store with a branch in the town. She went there next and bought some padded coathangers which were put in a large carrier bag emblazoned with the name of the store.
She had lunch and swapped the contents of the bags. She bought shoes and a handbag in the market and a straw hat and green chiffon scarf from a shop with a closing down sale.

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Re: new story- a surprise for Kathy by norfolk dumplin
« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2010, 11:26:23 PM »
Feeling very pleased with herself and with half the money left Kathy treated herself to a burger and fries and then rang Steve too tell him to pick her up ouside the Wheatsheaf at nine o'clock as she was going to the early show at the pictures.
Back at the bungalow she experimented with the hat and scarf until satisfied with the result. The one thing she hadn't got yet was the wedding present and that she would buy when Milly arrived so they could share the cost.
Slugger reluctantly agreed that Kathy's sunday roast was a great success. 'Well' he said 'You can't go wrong with roast beef and yorkshire pud can yer?.
Dora pulled a face remembering what had happened when Slugger had attempted to cook it. Intended as a celebration on the Sunday after Steve's return from Liverpool it had been an outright disaster burned beef and yorshires and sloppy vegetables!
The wedding was now only two weeks away and this was their last sunday all together before the event as the next week was when they were going to pick Milly up. Bert had telephoned to say he was definitely coming on the Thursday before the wedding but they were not to tell Kathy as he wanted to surprise her.
Steve had flatly refused to have a stag night but on Wednesday Dora told him that Anna was bringing Callie over so she could see all the dresses on together and experiment with hair and make up. Kathy was invited to go but Dora's mother was not included.
Ron had a date with Teri so Slugger went with Steve to the pictures to see Soldier Blue- not the kind of film that Dora would enjoy.
They spent a happy evening eating crisps and drinking cola when they had finished their beauty session. At about 10pm there was a ring on the doorbell. Dora went to answer it and a young man wearing a cowboy outfit strutted in. He began to sing 'Rhinestone Cowboy' while undoing his shirt. His hands then went to the waistband of his jeans. Kathy giggled, Dora blushed scarlet and Anna hustled the two girls into the study.
Dora bundled the shirt into the cowboys arms, pushed him out of the door and shut it unceremoniously in his face.
'I suppose this was your idea' she said to Kathy.

'Come on luv- it was only a bit of fun!'

'Fun! We've got two young girls in the house. We were having such a lovely evening. Thank goodness my mother wasn't here. Heaven knows what Steve will say!'

'Oh come on- you don't have to tell him. He's such an old fuddy duddy!'

Dora opened the study door. 'It's okay you can come out now. I've got rid of him.'

'No harm done ' Anna re-assured her. I'll get Callie home now.Come on Kathy- we'll drop you off. Save Steve a job.'

When Steve and Slugger got back Steve was carrying the cowboy hat. 'I found this outside. Where did it come from?'

'Your mother's little surprise. she organised a male stripper- a cowboy while Callie and Anna were still here. I soon showed him the door.'

Steve could see that Hazel was grinning in the doorway. He put the hat on. 'I wonder if she'll lay a cowgirl on for me.'


'Sorry girl- it's just the sort of thing my mother would get up to. Don' get too uptight about it.'

'Cor- that Kathy, she aint 'arf a caution.' said Slugger.
Dora looked daggers at him. 'I fink I'll make us all a nice cup of tea.' Hazel said she would help.

'She called you an old Fuddy Duddy Steve.'

' Yeah. I know that's what she thinks of me. It's what you think that counts.'

'I love you just the way you are.'

'I'm sorry mum upset you sweetheart.'

'Oh I suppose I shouldn't have made such a fuss. Lots of brides have worse than that happen to them'

'Yes and lots of grooms too which is why, with a best man like Ron, I'm not taking any chances.'

'Don't worry. I'll threaten him with the wrath of my mother!'

The next day was Kathy's day off from her job and she wanted to try and smooth things over with Dora. She went to the farm after breakfast and asked Slugger if she could make lunch. He readily agreed and took her off to the butchers. She made steak and kidney pie with mashed potatoes and cauliflower. It was delicious and Dora thanked her.

It's just to say sorry for upsetting you last night luv. I didn't mean any harm.'

'It's okay, my hormones are all over the place at the moment and I'm stressed about the wedding.'

'How about you tell me what needs doing to the rooms you want getting ready at the bungalow and I'll sort it this afternoon.'

Steve drove them over with everything needed and Dora showed Kathy the two rooms. In one of them there was a cardboard box. 'What's in there?' she asked.

'Oh just some ornaments and things from uncles. We're donating them to the church jumble sale. Steve can drop them off when he takes you to work tomorrow. Good job you saw them- I'd forgotten they were still there and the sale is in the church hall on Thursday when we're having our rehearsal.'

After Dora had gone Kathy took a good look through the box. She took out some of the items and replaced them with ornaments of her own making sure that some of the original items were on the top layer. She thought that the things she'd removed were too good for a jumble sale and she would probably be able to sell them to a dealer. She could not do it locally so a trip to another town on Saturday would probably be the best idea. She worked hard for the rest of the afternoon and spent the evening in front of the television with a bottle of gin.
Sunday was a beautiful day. Kathy had decided not to go with Steve and Dora to pick up Milly. She had accomplished her mission selling the items from the box in Marton the day before and was pleasantly surprised at the amount she received. She travelled to The Wheatsheaf by taxi , had lunch then took another taxi to Follyfoot where she asked Slugger if he would take her and Milly into Broughton on Wednesday which was her day off in what was to be her last week at the cafe.

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Offline loopylin

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Re: new story- a surprise for Kathy by norfolk dumplin
« Reply #8 on: March 29, 2010, 11:24:57 PM »
Dora and Steve enjoyed the drive to Milly's and the lunch she prepared for them. She was surprised to learn that Kathy had found herself a part time job. 'You must have masses to do this week' she said. 'I'll help out wherever I can.'

The next morning Dora was reading the post when she exclaimed' Really Steve your mother takes the biscuit!'

'Why- what's she done- don't tell me we've got the bill for the cowboy!'

'Not quite- for her boots. She didn't pay for them with the cash we gave her but put them on our account. They weren't a bargain price either!.'

Oh hell. I'm sorry girl. I hope she can sort out her differences with Bert and go back to Liverpool.'

In the kitchen Milly was listening. She resolved to have a serious talk with Kathy- perhaps even get her to pay the money back but she wasn't hopeful.

That afternoon Steve took the box of items for the church sale to the vicarage.' There were lots of bigger items that they had put aside which were to be stored in a barn at Copper's rest and sold later in the summer with the proceeds going half to the upkeep of Follyfoot and half to 'riding for the disabled' a charity dear to their hearts and the colonel's. Steve picked up several of the items for their sale on his way home.
Slugger had the day off as arranged on Wednesday so he took Milly and Kathy into Broughton to shop. He himself was off for a haircut- 'annual event' he said only half joking.
On his advice they  bought a set of saucepans and a cookbook while he settled on a food mixer.
On Thursday the wedding party met at the church for the rehearsal. They took two vehicles from the farm as Milly wanted to visit the jumble sale and Kathy had a hairdresser's appointment. They were all meeting for lunch at The Wheatsheaf before Kathy went to work. They did not linger over the meal as there was work to be done and Dora needed to rest. Steve told Milly that Bert was expected that afternoon and that Kathy did not know.

Earlier in the week Steve had picked up a horse that major Lewis wanted him to school. It was a sleek, black animal that was proving very difficult to handle. Steve had been spending a little time each day talking to him and getting him to know and trust him. He had picked up a lot of his technique from Dora whose calm gentle manner was usually enough to get any horse to co-operate. Steve thought he was going to have his work cut out with this one and was not going to try anything too involved until after their three day honeymoon in Scarborough.
After her rest Dora came out to see what Steve was doing. It was the first time she'd seen the new horse.
'Oh Steve- what a beautiful horse! What's his name?'

'He's called Scipio and he's still a bit wild at the moment so keep well away in case he kicks out at you.'

'Steve-' she said going closer. 'I do know about horses.'

'Think of the baby, girl. One kick could do you both serious harm. I just want to walk him round for a bit so go inside and watch from the window!'

'No. I don't want to go inside yet. I came out to get some fresh air. The kitchen smells of whatever Slugger had for lunch. For heaven's sake stop trying to wrap me in cotton wool. All I get from you nowadays is Dora you need to rest more. Be careful or you might harm the baby. Don't lift that bale- it's too heavy. On and on till my head spins. I'm sick of it. I'm an adult not a child.' Steve angrily took Scipio into his stable and came out to face her.

'Well act like an adult- you're being silly and stubborn.'

'You sound like my mother.You don't own me- leave me alone'

'Now you sound like my mother!'

'I came out to help with the chores. give me something to do so I can feel useful'

'No- you shouldn't be working  on the outside jobs now.'

'But I'm bored out of my brain! What can I do?'

Anything you like that doesn't involve working out here, lifting,or getting stressed out. You could always help Slugger.'
'I don't like being in the kitchen, the smell makes me want to throw up!'

'Oh I don't know. I've got to get on because it will be time to pick mum up soon.'

'I could do that.'

'No- you don't drive well when you're angry'

'And you do I suppose.'

'I'm going to go out for a short ride . That always helps me cool down.'

'Well lucky old you. I know- don't even think about riding in your condition Dora. Well you're going out soon, so you won't be able to stop me doing anything I please!'

Steve turned his back on her and went to close Scipio's stable.' Don't you turn your back on me' she cried picking up a handbrush and throwing it so it landed against the door with a bang and narrowly missed his head. Scipio protested by tossing his head and whinnying loudly.

Steve turned round but she had fled to the door past a bemused Slugger who had come out to see what all the shouting was about.' What's wrong with you two? You haven't had a set to for months.'

'Perhaps that's what's wrong. We've been pussyfooting around each other too much letting things build up. I've been telling Dora to ease up and be careful'

'He's right girl. you need to be at your best for the wedding on Saturday.'

'Perhaps we shouldn't be having a wedding if he's going to be bossing me around all the time. I'm still the senior partner in this business.' She went inside, slammed the door and ran upstairs Slugger followed and heard the bedroom door bang and the bolt slam in place.

Steve no longer had the desire to go for a ride so he walked down to his beloved lake to try and cool down. The lake where only days ago he and Dora had said those private vows to each other. He didn't know why she was being like this. By the time he had his emotions under some sort of control it was time to go and pick Kathy up. He knew Bert had arrived and had been looking forward to seeing his mother's reaction but now he was very worried about what Dora would do. He walked slowly back stopping to talk to Alex and Copper on the way then went and told Slugger not to let Dora do anything silly.

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Re: new story- a surprise for Kathy by norfolk dumplin
« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2010, 11:48:21 PM »
'What do you think she would do?' asked Slugger.
'Go for a gallop'
'And you think I could stop her?'
'Just try Slugger-please. I'm going to go and pick mum up.'
Kathy chattered on all the way home and didn't seem to notice that Steve said virtually nothing. He dropped her off noticing Bert's battered old Morris minor in the driveway but  he did not even stop to say hello.
Supper was ready when he got back. Slugger called up the stairs to Dora. She opened the door and shouted 'I'm not hungry'

'Dora- come on..' Steve called.

'If you're going to say I need to keep my strength up and think about the baby- don't bother. I don't want to know.'
The door banged shut again.
Hazel and Ron had come in during the altercation. They had both heard the argument earlier on but had stayed out of the way.Oone look at Steve's face told Ron not to make any comment funny or otherwise.

'We've got a lovely chicken casserole tonight' said Slugger. Milly made it. Dora ought to have something.'

Steve looked at the food on his plate. It smelled delicious and it was. He didn't think he could eat but it was so good that he did. 'Keep some aside for Dora, Slugs. She'll probably be hungry later.'

'What are you doing tonight mate? 'Ron asked Steve.

'I feel like getting drunk!'

'Come down the boozer with me then.'

'No thanks mate. I may come down later but I need to find a way of sorting things out with Dora.'

'Shall I see to the horses for you?' said Hazel

'Yeah- thanks- that'd be good.'

'I'll help before I go.' said Ron and they both went outside.

When they'd gone Slugger said 'You're hurting aren't you son?'

'Yeah. I love Dora and the baby so much it makes me want to make sure they're okay. I can't leave things any longer.'

He went upstairs and tried the bedroom door but it was locked. He banged on it hard in case she'd gone to sleep but his tone of voice was free of any hint of his previous bad temper.' Dora- I'm going down to the lake. Come and join me- please. We need to sort ourselves out. I'm not angry any more. I love you. If you don't come and tell me that you love me too then I'll know you don't want me any more.' He hoped that would be enough to make her go out and talk to him. He walked slowly downstairs and outside.

Dora had been curled up on the bed her head buried in Steve's pillow. Not want him any more? Her lovely Steve. Surely he didn't really think that. They'd just had a quarrel- a bad one and she'd thrown the brush at him. It had been close- she hadn't meant it to hit him. She went to the bathroom and washed her tear-stained face. She remembered to be careful and not run down the stairs in case she tripped and hurt the baby. A fresh sob rose in her throat at the thought. She put on her coat and boots and went outside.

Steve had been walking very slowly turning round everyfew steps so he saw her soon after she left the house. He resisted the urge to run to her- no- she must come to him. He held his hand out to her. She quickened her pace and soon her hand was in his and he was squeezing it gently, encouragingly. He looked into her face and waited.

'Steve- I love you.' Her face was pale and blotchy from crying. His heart ached with love and he longed to hold her in his arms but he needed to hear the answer to his question 'Do you still want to marry me on Saturday?'

Tears welled up in her eyes again as she whisperd softly 'I do.' Once again she recalled the words they'd said here before, the words they'd said in the rehearsal this morning, the words they would say in front of their friends and relations on Saturday when they finally became husband and wife for real. She began to sob again and Steve took her in his arms and held her tightly whispering gentle loving words until the tears finally subsided and she was quiet.

'I'm sorry if you think I've been over-protective of you my darling but I couldn't bear it if you hurt yourself or made yourself ill. Now I've upset you and I'm so worried about you.'

'I should be the one saying sorry- I was horrid. I can't believe I threw that brush at you. I didn't mean it to come so close to hitting you.' She reached up and caressed his face.'

'I know. You did it out of sheer frustration, you're really under a lot of stress. I should have just let you have a good rant at me and not shouted back. Let's forget about it now and get you inside for something to eat. Milly made us a chicken casserole- it's not greasy, it's delicious and you're going to eat it. Early night for us tonight and I'm going to give you lots of TLC. It's the last night we'll spend together before the wedding.'

'No- please' said Dora.

'What you don't want my TLC tonight?'

'I want your TLC tonight and tomorrow night- and don't give me the old it's bad luck etc.,  because there's quite enough horseshoes around here to counteract that!'

Well we'll see about that tomorrow. If you really want me to stay with you I will but just don't let on to your parents!'
Slugger was relieved when they went in hand in hand. As Steve helped her off with her coat he said 'Get Dora her supper please Slugs and I'll make some hot chocolate.'

Meanwhile at Copper's rest Kathy was getting over Bert's arrival. They'd all enjoyed more of Milly's chicken casserole and afterwards Milly said 'Kath- you know I went to the church sale when the wedding rehearsal was going on- just look what I bought!' She produced a blue porcelain vase decorated with white roses.' I bought it because it's the same as the one I sent you last Christmas so now you'll have a pair.'

Kathy almost choked on her cup of coffee . 'Oh luv- I don't know what to say' she said. What she couldn't say of course was that she was the one who had sent it to the sale in the first place.

'I'm really looking forward to Saturday aren't you Kath?'

'Oh yes- a chance to show off my new clothes.'

'I hope you paid for those and didn't charge them to the farm's account.'

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Re: new story- a surprise for Kathy by norfolk dumplin
« Reply #10 on: April 01, 2010, 11:27:46 PM »
Kathy wondered how Milly had found out about the boots. Before she had time to ask  her Bert said 'Do you fancy coming out for a drink Kath. I've got things to tell you.'

'Okay- you're on.' Kathy didn't fancy the Saracen's Head or the Pig and Whitle so they went to the Wheatsheaf. When she had her favourite gin and tonic in front of her she said 'Well Bert- what is it?'

'I've missed you Kath. I know we didn't part on the best of terms but I would so like us to go back to being good friends. I've got a proposition to put to you. You see I've put the tea stall up for sale and I've bought a cafe in the Albert docks area- nice little place with it's own living quarters. I'd like you to help me run it and live there rent free.You wouldn't have to worry about any bills- I'll take care of the lot. I won't be living there as I'm keeping my own flat on.We'll have to take someone else on to help us but I reckon we could make a go of it. So what do you say? I'd like to have it open by the end of June, there'll be a lot of hard work to be done before then. It will only open on weekdays 8-5pm.'
 'I suppose this means you'll be going back on Monday. I would like to stay until Dora and Steve get back from Scarborough on Tuesday but I could do with getting a lift with you.'

'I'm actually planning on leaving early Sunday morning- will you do it though Kath? The living quarters are all ready apart from linen on the beds. I promise I won't interfere in your private life unless you seem to be heading for real trouble.'

'You've done it before- that's when we fell out, when I was dating Jerry.'

'He was a gambler, and a loser. All he would have done was to get you into debt all over again. I know I told him to clear off and leave you alone and I'm not going to apologise for that. If he'd been a man and thought anything of you at all he'd have stood his ground and told me to go to hell but he just sloped off with his tail between his legs. Let's put it all behind us and start again eh- what do you say? I need to know because if you wont help I'll need to find someone who will'

'Well, I do miss Liverpool, I like working in cafes and with you- most of the time so okay, I'll give it a go.'

'We could drop Milly off home on the way to save Steve a run. We'll tell Dora and Steve tomorrow- best not leave it till Saturday.

Friday was going to be largely taken up with last minute wedding arrangements at the colonel's. Afterwards the house would be put on the market Steve got up extra early in order to get as much as possible done before breakfast. He felt in need of a ride so when the first wave of chores were done he saddled Alex 'Come on Fella- I feel like a gallop' he said urging his friend on, letting him have his head. He came back feeling exhilarated and talked non stop to his horse as he rubbed him down 'Last time we can do this till next week mate- other things to do this weekend.' He spoke to Copper, Diadem and Flamenco too telling them he'd find time to exercise them later if he could. Hazel was taking care of Folly.
When he went indoors no-one else was up. Dora was still not eating fried breakfasts so he toasted thick rounds of bread, made tea and added blackcurrant jam for Dora and marmalade for him to the tray.She opened her eyes as he went in to the bedroom. Her face was pale and he felt a bit worried.Setting the tray down he asked 'Are you okay darling?'

'I'm nervous and the baby's playing football.'

'What are you nervous about? you're mother has everything organised.' he said massaging her tummy.

'That's partly why I'm worried. If I get anything wrong she'll feel I've let her down- and I just know she's going to hate my dress!'

'Leave your mother to me- I'll be really nice to her today. It won't be hard because I'm so happy.' He gave her a loving kiss 'Here have a cup of tea.'

'I want a cuddle first.' Steve eagerly complied and kissed her again.

'Well- that settles it. There's no way I'm going off and leaving you alone tonight. To hell with tradition and protocol. Your wellbeing is much more important and I'm not having you worried when it's not necessary. They'll have to kick me out to the loft room when you need to get ready. I'm so cross with myself for not seeing how stressed out you were yesterday.'

All of a sudden Dora felt better and liberally spread a slice of toast with jam. 'Can I walk Copper round for a bit of exercise this morning? It will be one less thing for you to do before we go out- mummy wants us over at the house by ten.'

'Yes, that's a good idea. Copper knows he has to behave himself with you. Ron and Hazel can sort the others out while I deal with Diadem and Flamenco.' He swallowed the
last of his tea. ' Take your time getting up.' he said picking up the tray. Downstairs Slugger was cooking.

'I've had toast and marmalade Slugs but I could go a bacon butty.'

'What no eggs?'

'No ta- Dora's had breakfast, we're in a bit of a hurry this morning'

'Goodness knows what tomorrow's going to be like' said Slugger.

'Wonderful!' replied Steve picking up his butty and going outside.

Milly walked over from the bungalow because she was going with them today to help. Bert was going to take Kathy to work.Callie arrived to help with the chores, she and Hazel got on surprisingly well together.

Prudence had insisted on hiring a marquee with tables and chairs. The original guest list numbered only twenty but she had cajoled them into doubling this to include people they did business with and their families.

During the morning Arthur and Steve set up tables and chairs. Prudence and Milly carefully unpacked glasses, set them on silver trays and put freshly laundered white cloths on the tables. Mrs Porter set out the cutlery and Dora the place cards and serviettes. Mr Plum arrived with the cake he had made for them and bouquets, buttonholes, corsages and table decorations arrived from the florist. The outside caterers would arrive tomorrow and take care of the hot buffet.
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Offline loopylin

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Re: new story- a surprise for Kathy by norfolk dumplin
« Reply #11 on: April 02, 2010, 10:46:25 PM »
They had lunch then sat down to make sure that everything had been covered. Steve went to sit on the sofa with Prudence. 'I reckon you've done a really good job of organising everything Nonna' he said.' You've really got a flare for this sort of thing. I bet you're a real asset to dad at official functions.'

'One does one's best. This afternoon I'm going over to the church to make sure that the flowers have been properly arranged and I'll take the service sheets with me.'

'I'll run the flowers we need back to the farm then I'm going to see Bert and Mum because I want to take us all to Luigi's for a meal tonight- you too Auntie. There's no need for you to dress up, it's not that kind of restaurant so you and Dora can stay here and she can have a rest.' said Steve.

'Arthur and I have been invited to dine with the Bricklebanks so you know we won't be able to come' said Prudence.

Over the meal that evening Bert outlined his plans. It's strange' said Dora 'We're only going to be away till Tuesday afternoon and by then all our company will be gone. '

'Perhaps we can come up for the grand opening' said Steve.

Waking up  in Steve's arms on Sunday morning in the bridal suite of the Clarence Hotel on Bridlington seafront Dora smiled contentedly. In her mind she replayed scenes of the wedding the day before. Everything had all gone so quickly.Dora Maddocks was no more. Dora Ross had taken her place. She held out her left hand and surveyed the shiny wedding ring which how nestled against her engagement ring.She took Steve's left hand where his matching ring glinted in the sunlight and gently kissed his finger.

He woke and smiled at her. 'Hello angel-goodness it's early. Did our little one wake you again?'

'Yes- 5.30am as usual.'

'Never mind. We'll have our breakfast sent up so we can have a lie in. We may as well take advantage of everything on offer. Your parents have done us proud paying for all this.'

'I was just going over yesterday in my mind trying to remember all the little things that made it special. It was such a lovely day Steve. I don't think things could have gone any better. Tell me about your special things so I can add them to mine.'

'I loved it when Ron and I were about to get into the taxi and you opened the window and with the curtain draped round you called out 'I love you Steve. I think you'd already told me about a dozen times already. Then there was seeing you for the first time in your wedding dress framed in the church doorway with the rays of the sun creeping down the aisle ahead of you. I wish I had a photo of that moment but 'll always be able to see it in my mind. You always look beautiful but yesterday the way you looked was beyond words.'

'How your mother can call you a fuddy duddy I don't know. You're so romantic. Do you know when I walked past her she was actually dabbing her eyes, auntie Milly was having a little weep too and there was Slugger with one arm round her- and blowing his nose! '

'Scrubbed up well did old Slugs.'

'When I got to the front and you gave me that gorgeous smile the baby started turning somersaults- at least that's what it felt like'

'Then before you gave Callie your bouquet you took my hand and used the flowers to cover up the fact that you'd put it on your stomach for a minute so I could feel it moving too.'

'I wanted to hang on to the bouquet because I was sure that otherwise people would see the gymnastics.'

'I think it's a good job we had our ceremony and the rehearsal because I was on auto pilot for most of the service!'

'Steve- what about Ron's speech? I thought my mother was going to crawl under the table when he said he was going to miss seeing me at the breakfast table in my nightie when we move to the bungalow.'

'Well he did make everyone laugh when he talked about that jousting match we had and how you didn't know which of us you wanted to win so you sewed favours for both of us.'

'I hope Ron and Teri stay together. He's been so much steadier since he started to date her. They looked so good together on the dance floor and they sang that duet beautifully.'

'It was also good to see Hazel and Callie enjoying dancing with the blacksmith's two sons.'

'Steve do you remember telling me about your grandmother saying life  is a treasure hunt?'

'That was when the lake first became our special place. '' You Dora, Working with you, spending my days with you- these are all treasures. We can't ask for more because more wouldn't work'' that's what I said  and you said it would. You were right- in the end we built a bridge that joined our hearts to each other.'

'Yes and yesterday I collected a whole chest full of treasure.'

Later in the day Bert's car pulled up outside the dockland cafe. 'Come and have a look Kath' he invited.

She got out of the car and looked at the sign above the door.' Did you have that painted before you asked me to work with you?'

'No- that's the name it had when I bought it. I thought it was a sort of good omen'

'Kathy's Corner Cafe. I like it!'

'Come on, I'll show you inside. You can have a free hand with the decor and the menus.'

Kathy looked around thinking that this place could be made to be as inviting as Emily Steven's cafe where she'd just finished working. She was determined that it would not be a 'greasy spoon' but would serve good homely food to suit hungry customers. She went to look at the living quarters- yes this would suit her down to the ground. 'Bring my stuff in Bert, there's a love then we'll go and have a drink to celebrate.

Over dinner that evening Steve told Dora about a little private chat he'd had with Bert. ' He's got no family or friends who can make any claim on his assets when anything happens to him. He'd like to leave mum well provided for but knowing what she's like with money he's left half of everything to her and the other half to us so that as regards the cafe she can do nothing without our say so. Of course he's hoping for a good few more years yet.'

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Offline loopylin

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A surprise for Kathy by norfolk dumpling
« Reply #12 on: April 04, 2010, 12:03:02 AM »
He'll be keeping an eye on her and seeing how things go. He hopes she'll settle down. He's given me the contact details for his solicitor.'

'Steve- what did you say to him?'

'Nothing I could say really, by the way he spoke he's got everything arranged. Evidently he started making plans as soon as mum left the city. If we ever get fed up with horses we could try catering. Anyway enough about Bert and mum- do you fancy a walk on the prom?'

'Yes- it may help Ross junior to settle down for a bit. Walking in the sea air made then tired and ready for an early night. 'I wonder how things are going back at Follyfoot.' mused Dora.

Steve was lying with his body curved round her protectively massaging her tummy and kissing the back of her neck.'That's about the first time you've mentioned the place since we've been away. I'm sure everything's fine.'

Back at Follyfoot in his stall Copper was restless. He was missing his two favourite humans very much. The others were doing their best but they didn't talk to him the way Dora and Steve did. He knew something very special had happened and that they were happy. The other day when they were shouting at each other he so wished that he could talk their language so he could tell them both he loved them and that he didn't like it when they quarelled. He knew that Steve was only trying to protect Dora when he tried to stop her working too hard. Still everything was okay now and they would soon be back. He'd quite like to meet a nice little filly himself- have a foal to carry on the line but that was just a dream.

Dora was dreaming - a lovely dream. She and Steve were walking together through a field at Copper's rest. Steve was leading a pony on which sat a little boy with chocolate brown eyes and dark hair. Dora was carrying a smaller girl with eyes and hair the same colour as her own. Folly, Copper and Alex were grazing nearby. The little girl held out her arms to her daddy. Dora took Steve's place at the pony's head while he swung their daughter into the air and made her chuckle. He placed her on the pony with her brother and steadied her as they continued their walk. Dora woke smiling.

'Our last day here and you're smiling like that!' said Steve.

'I'm smiling because I've had a lovely dream- I'm married to the man of my dreams and soon we'll have our baby. I've a feeling that it's going to be a boy. My treasure chest is full to bursting.

Kathy was awake early. Soon Bert would arrive and they would begin to clean the cafe from top to bottom.
It felt good to be back in Liverpool with its familiar surroundings. All her debts were paid and she could turn the page and start again. She went to her handbag, for once there was quite a lot of money in there-that would be her her insurance. As the days went by she would add to it just in case she ever needed to uproot herself again.

 The telephone shrilled. It could only be Bert because no-one else knew her number. She picked up the receiver and said ' Hello Bert '.

A female voice on the other end said ' I'm sorry but this is the  Royal Free Hospital. I'm afraid Mr Bert Wheeler has had an accident.

When Dora and  Steve got back to the farm the next day Slugger told them that there had been a telephone call from Kathy and she had left a number for Steve to ring. When he did so it was to learn that Bert had had a bad car accident. He had undergone an operation which had stabilised his condition and he was conscious but confused.

'What a mess!' exclaimed Steve.'Now what's my mother going to do? Dora , I'm going to have to go to Liverpool for a couple of days this weekend. Will you come?'

'Well I can't do much good here so yes I will.'

'I think I'll phone Milly and see if she'll come and perhaps stay with mum for a while.'

Kathy was really worried. She was going to have to dip into her cache of money to support herself. Without major financial input she was not going to be able to get the cafe up and running. She was glad that Steve, Dora and Milly were coming at the weekend.Thank goodness there were a couple of spare rooms. On Wednesday afternoon she took her courage in both hands and went to the hospital. She hated the smell of discinfectant but she really had to see Bert. He was lying propped up in bed looking very ill and the only thing he managed to say was 'Don't worry Kath- it'll be all right.'
By Saturday he was a little better and when Steve and Dora went to visit him he was able to talk.'Steve I need you to go to my flat...' With the key which had been locked away with Bert's wallet in the ward safe they let themselves in to locate the items he needed. His chequebook, cash and clean clothes. They returned to the hospital where Bert added his signature to some blank cheques. He gave Steve instructions for Kathy and asked him if he could come back the following weekend. Steve and Dora went back to the cafe, Dora stayed to rest while Steve took Milly and Kathy to buy cleaning materials. Kathy was told to make a list of what she required for refurbishment and Steve would come back the following week to help with ordering and payment. Bert hoped to be able to well enough to be discharged the week after. Steve took the blank cheques and most of the cash home leaving Kathy money to pay for essential items.
So it was that with support from Steve and practical help from Milly things gradually took shape. After three weeks Steve picked Bert up and took him to the cafe to recuperate feeling relieved to hand back financial reponsibilty. Kathy was told about the terms of the will and seemed genuinely grateful that Bert was trying to secure her future.The cafe opened on 1st July. Dora and Steve were in London with her parents at the time.Kathy's  birthday fell in August, while Steve was on the phone to his mum  Dora called out that her waters had broken. Mum- you could be in for an extra birthday surprise' he laughed. The end.
Dora, Steve's story continues in Rons romance
linda-norfolk dumpling