Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Chapter 37

She returned to the table with coffee pot in hand and did a refill for all of them. Sitting down she looked about the table. They were all waiting for her to start.

Smirking, she took a deep breath, ‘Ok, Al stands for Alice, last name Newcombe, height, same as Tico’s 5ft 2”, weight, none of your damn business! Born February 22nd 1962.’ She waited to see if they caught it. They did.

‘Holy shit! You mean your my age?’ Jon couldn’t believe her, he knew he looked good for his age of 47, but she only looked in her 30’s.

‘Yeah Kidd I’m even older than you!’ She laughed.

Tico sat stunned at her revelation; he assumed she was a decade or two younger than him, not just nine years.

The whole table had erupted into a debate over her age. Al just sat shaking her head; she should know how old she was. She got their attention back when she took hold of the biscuit tub and started to put the lid back on it. Richie soon snatched it away from her, grabbing another cookie and passing it to his brothers. All who took another cookie, all staring at Al?

‘So I’ve not robbed the cradle, well thank fuck for that!’ Tico mopped his brow and rolled his eyes. ‘Any husband I should be aware of?’

‘Dude that should have been the first question you asked this morning!’ Hugh deadpanned Tico. The others laughed. Tico nodded.

Al snorted, ‘Nope never had the inclination to marry, you guys can be such work!’ She rolled her eyes. ‘I’ve never met a man I liked enough to share my home with, let alone give up my freedom for.’

Tico wondered if someone had hurt her, seeing as she seemed adamant about not marrying. He’d have to work on changing her mind. He nearly choked on the sip of coffee, where the hell did that come from? He’d known her; he checked his watch, a little over twenty four hours, and he’d thought of marriage. Fuck!

‘What about your parent’s querido?’ He asked, trying to get his mind away from marriage.

‘They were killed nearly twenty years ago; I’ve no siblings and a distant uncle somewhere that I’ve never met.’

‘You said killed, how honey?’ Richie asked, laying his hand over hers, ‘That’s if you don’t mind me asking.’

‘No of course I don’t. They were coming home after celebrating their thirtieth anniversary; I was working nights. A drunk driver came out of nowhere and smashed into the car. They didn’t suffer, they died outright. The drunk survived with a broken leg and a few cuts and bruises. I found out when they were brought into the A&E, I met the ambulance at the door, when it opened there was my mother; my father came in the second ambulance. I took one look and knew she was dead, the world went black and I came too minutes later. My best friend May was standing over me, crying and telling me she was so sorry. She’d told staff that they were my parents.’

About the table the men were silent, taking in everything Al had told them.

‘But you don’t work as a nurse anymore do you?’ David asked.

‘Perceptive C.D, no, after the joint funeral, I tried to go back, but everytime the ambulance drew up, all I saw when they opened the doors was my mother. A month after the funeral I left and never went back.’

‘So, and if I’m being too nosy just tell me, how do earn a crust now, and how come you can afford this place?’ Jon asked.

‘Yeah you’re a nosy fucker, but I’ll tell you.’ The boys grinned, but waited to hear what she was going to say. ‘I had always been into photography and drawing, so it felt right to try it on for size. It fit well. I do sell my drawings and photos, and I own my very own art gallery not far from here, that helps. And the reason I can afford this place is because my parents were both extremely well off before they died, plus their life insurance etc. I really don’t have to work ever again, but I need too. I like working. By the way Jon, I built this place, oh I had help, but I got my hands very dirty making this run down factory into my home. Everything you see here has come from my ideas.’

All of the men looked about the house again with new eyes and respect for Al.

‘So again, how much do you want for it honey.’ Jon grinned at her.

‘Aw Jon you give blondes a baaad name, you’ve got no memory of the conversation we had earlier, poor baby.’

‘Well you can’t blame me for trying. How do you feel about houseguests?’

Tico wanted the floor to open up and swallow him! He should have known Jon would get around to asking that question, shit! ‘Jon!’ Tico glared at him.

Al’s gaze swung from Jon to Tico, who looked like he could rip Jon apart with his bare hands. ‘What do you mean houseguests, and why does Teek look like he’d like to kill you?’ She had a fair idea, but wanted to hear it from them.

‘It’s nothing querido, just Jon being an asshole!’

‘No I’m not, I asked you earlier how you thought she’d react if I asked her. I’m serious Al, I want to move in!’ He just left it hanging in the air.

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