Thursday, 6 March 2008
‘The taxi’s here’ called Ella opening the front door ‘hurry up everybody, we don’t want to keep him waiting’
Martin closed his laptop and sighed, why was everyone making such a fuss about going for a meal for heavens sake, he grumbled to himself.
‘Grandpa, are you ready yet?’ asked Olivia standing in the doorway with her hands on her hips ‘we’re going to be late’
‘Just coming’ sighed Martin as he followed his little granddaughter out into the hall. ‘OK everybody I’m ready let’s get going’
As everybody was climbing into the taxi Martin’s mobile phone began to ring
‘Oh who can that be now’ I asked, trying my very best not to sound as exasperated as I felt. Just once it would be nice if he could switch the damn thing off, or better still leave it at home.
Glancing at the callers name on the screen Martin switched off his phone ‘Nothing important’ he blustered ‘they can call back later’
Sophie and I had been up to the golf club this afternoon to check that everything was going to be ready for tonight. We’d told Martin a little white lie about going down to the village for some shopping and I am sure that he still doesn’t suspect a thing.
The car park is busy’ commented Martin as we arrived at the golf club ‘I hope you didn’t forget to book a table Fliss or we will be waiting all night to be fed’
‘Stop grumbling Dad’ laughed Emma, pushing her father into the doorway of the club ‘anyone would think that you weren’t enjoying your birthday.’’
As we walked into the club Olivia asked ‘Mummy why aren’t there any lights on?’ ‘Probably another bloody power failure’ mumbled Martin as we carried on through to the restaurant.
Martin’s face was a picture when the lights came up and he saw the huge banner across the room with Happy Birthday Martin and all our fiends laughing and cheering. Within seconds he was joining in with the laughter and shaking the outstretched hands of all his golfing buddies. ‘Whose idea was this’ he asked looking at Ella and Sophie, ‘You can blame Mum’ said Sophie ‘it was all her idea. I don’t know how she managed to keep it from you for all these weeks’ ‘No laughed Ella ‘we were sure that you would find out’
Turning to look at me for the first time since we had arrived Martin said ‘I knew she was up to something, but I never suspected this’
I can’t tell you how relieved I felt. I had been worrying all day whether I should start dropping hints to Martin about the party. He has been in such a funny mood. It’s as if having the house full was all too much for him. He spent ages this morning shut away in the study. I know that he is very busy with work at the moment but surely he could have afforded to take one day of to be with his family. I was terrified that when we arrived he would go mad and storm out.
It’s strange but looking across the dance floor at Martin laughing and joking with his friends I’m getting a strange feeling about tonight. Nothing tangible, but you can’t be married to someone for a long as we have and not pick up on their moods. It’s as if Marin is acting the part of the convivial host. The smiles and back slapping all look a little to contrived, the enthusiasm for his presents a bit too enthusiastic.
‘Wonderful party Fliss’ slurs Ken Jessel ‘Martin is a very lucky man to have you. I’m sure that Lizzie wouldn’t go to all this trouble for my birthday’
‘Oh Ken don’t be silly of course she would. Any fool can she how much she loves you’
Putting his arm around my waist, Ken laughed ‘let’s face it, I’m just a typical man, can’t see what right in front of my face sometimes’
Is that it? Does Martin just need to be reminded that he has a family that loves him?
‘You look miles away’ I must have been, I hadn’t noticed Ken staggering away to the bar and Michael coming over to me. ‘You must have worked very hard putting all this together. It is a super party. I was just saying to Sonny I hope that Martin appreciates all you hard work.’
As long as he is having a god time that’s all I want’
‘Well he certainly looks like he’s enjoying himself, who’s that he dancing with?’
‘That Sophie, our eldest daughter, she’s been over here all week her children. Speaking of which I’d better go and see that they are OK’
The wine was flowing and the buffet looked fabulous. Everyone was enjoying themselves. And I must admit, even Martin looked more relaxed and happy than I’d seen for a long while. Maybe it was time for me to chill out and enjoy the evening, after all what could go wrong now?
Martin glanced at his watch and making his excuses to Malcolm Westbury hurried out of the side door of the club. Even at nearly midnight it was still warm and Martin could feel his palms sweating as he flipped open his mobile phone. Six messages from Laura, dear god, he thought, what’s wrong now.
‘I’ve been trying to phone you all evening’ Laura snapped as Martin finally managed to get through to her ‘all hell’s broken out here. Tony’s livid; you haven’t answered any of his emails.’
‘What do you want from me’ growled Martin trying not to shout ‘I told you that the girls were over here for my birthday and we were all going out tonight. I can’t just ignore my family’
‘And you can’t ignore Tony either’ she countered ‘You promised that you would get the money to him by the end of the week. Where is it? You have got it haven’t you?’
‘I explained this all you the other day. Most of the money was being sent from Japan on Friday but with the time difference I wouldn’t get it until after close of business. You can tell Tony he will have his money on Monday’
‘Monday will be too late. You had a deal Martin and Tony doesn’t like it when people renege on a deal’
Martin closed his eyes; he could feel his heart beating as if it was trying to fight its way out of his chest, he started sweating and as he felt himself falling he grabbed his arm in terror.