Thursday, 7 August 2008
That’s what’s so perfect about living in Spain, thought Cassy, you know that if you arrange a BBQ party the weather will be perfect for it.
Cassy and Liam had spent the morning preparing for the party. Liam had moved his sound system onto the patio and was busy downloading the music while Cassy organised Ollie, Sophie and Alistair into setting up the buffet table under the trees, hanging the bunting and stringing the coloured fairy lights through the branches.
‘This really is very kind of you’ said Alistair as he put the final touches to the outdoor lights ‘a party is a lovely way to get to know all our new neighbours.’
Ella smiled from under her large brimmed hat. Their partnership with Sophie and Alistair had been a godsend to them. Within three months of getting together with them their new business was nearly ready to open. The holiday apartments were finished, the bed and breakfast rooms were fully booked through to early summer next year and they even had a tour company interested in Sophie’s pony trekking venture.
After all the sleepless nights that they had endured over the past few months Cassy thought that they all deserved to let their hair down and what better way to do it than to have a party with all their friends, after all this would probably be their last chance to relax before the hard work really started.
Fliss and Martin were the first to arrive and Ollie rushed over to help them carry the salads and cakes that Fliss had prepared that morning. As he ran back from the groaning buffet table Ollie waved to his parents. Colin and Fiona smiled to each other as they made their way across the old farm yard to join the rest of the guests in the garden of the farmhouse.
Colin had been annoyed when they had arrived in Spain and realised that they were staying at Liam and Cassy’s in one of their new holiday apartments. He had promised Fiona that they would treat this trip more like a holiday rather than just an opportunity to meet his birth mother. He was hoping for a small comfortable hotel where they would be able to escape to after what he imagined might be a very fraught visit to his errant son, but Colin had soon calmed down when he realised how happy and contented his son was there. Ollie seemed to have a new energy about him, working all day in the fresh air had given him a glow and Colin and Fiona were relieved that he was happier than he had been for years.
As their guests started to arrive Liam and Cassy were kept busy filing glasses and directing people to the BBQ that Sophie and Alistair had volunteered to run. Standing under the shade of a conveniently placed parasol, Sophie felt that if she was any happier she would burst, Olivia and Grace and settled in well in their new school and already were speaking Spanish with their new friends and even Alistair seemed more relaxed when he managed to get home for the weekend in this new house than he had been in London. Watching Alistair chatting to Lizzie and Ken, Sophie’s heart filled with love for her handsome young husband. If only he could get home more often she thought, life would be just about perfect.
Gloria Westbury stood on the patio by the makeshift bar and tried to pour herself another glass of wine. When Fliss had told her that Ollie’s parents were staying at the farm she had wanted to cry off from the party but Malcolm, dear sweet Malcolm, had persuaded her that now would be the right time to finally meet her son. Watching Gloria’s hand trembling as she tried to pour the wine Malcolm gently took the bottle from her.
‘Come on old girl let me do that for you’ he said ‘why don’t you go and grab those seats under the olive tree for us?’
Gloria kissed her husband on the cheek and quickly made her way down the stone patio. That’s when she saw him, her son, standing with his wife and son chatting to Fliss and Martin. Gloria stopped dead in her tracks, it was too soon, she wasn’t ready for this, what would she say to him, how would she explain?
‘Gloria there you are. I was just telling Ollie’s folks about our golf club and how Malcolm is one of our best players’ enthused Martin ‘I was just saying that Colin should join us for a few rounds tomorrow, sorry Gloria have you met Colin and Fiona?’
Gloria stood still and stared at the handsome man in front of her and with tears welling up in her eyes she held out her hand to her son and said ‘Colin how lovely to see you again.’
Colin took his birth mothers hand and holding it very gently replied ‘I’d like you to meet your daughter-in-law, this is my wife Fiona.’
The years melted away between them as Gloria and Colin sat down on a bench well away from the other party guests.
‘I’m sorry that you didn’t get any warning before Oliver came to find you’ said Colin to this woman who looked barely old enough to be his mother ‘it must have a shock.’
‘I’m just sorry that I handled it so badly’ confessed Gloria ‘poor Ollie, he looked so hurt but I was frightened. I thought that my husband wouldn’t understand and I must admit after all these years I thought that you didn’t want to find me and that my secret was safe. But I never stopped loving you. I want you to understand that. I even have a picture in a locket. They never knew, in the hospital I mean, they never knew that I sneaked into the nursery and took a photo of you on my little camera. They really believed that I would get over it quicker if they took you away from me as soon as you were born and never saw you again. They were wrong; I never got over loosing you.’
Over at the bar Malcolm watched nervously as his wife sat talking to her son.
‘You’d better watch out Malc, I think that bloke has taken a shine to your missus’ laughed Ken as he reached across to grab another bottle of beer from the bucket of ice.
‘Oh I’m not worried it’s just that this is the first time I’ve seen my wife and her son together.’
‘Bloody hell mate’ choked Ken ‘You’ll be telling me next that young Ollie is her long lost grandson.’
Retrieving the bottle of champagne he had buried in the ice, Malcolm scooped up five plastic wine glasses and smiled.
‘That’s exactly what I’m saying Ken and isn’t he a credit to his grandma. Such a lovely young man, we’re all very proud of him.’ Making his way through the garden to his new family Malcolm felt very luck, very lucky indeed.