FIVE O'CLOCK – great. And it was Friday too – even better. The whole weekend ahead without the drudgery of returning to work until Monday and that seemed a long way off right now.
Terry Mason liked his weekend out with the lads. Tonight would be an evening on the town, a few beers, something to eat and maybe a disco or a club. Saturday afternoon was reserved for football and this week they'd hired a minibus for an away fixture. Sunday was his and he spent the whole day watching TV and reading. He was 27, and alone since his mum died five years previously. His father had walked out when he was just nine years old.
Terry wasn't what you might call one for the ladies, preferring to remain in the background enjoying the company while his mates did most of the talking, but if someone interesting came along he was not too shy to engage in conversation and there had been a number of girls in the past with whom he had struck up brief, if inconclusive, relationships.
Last week, however, had been different, and this was the reason for his interest in the current weekend.
He had met Laura Davis at Tip Top, a disco in town, on the previous Saturday when they had bumped into a group of girls out and about.
They had hit it off almost immediately and there seemed to be a chemistry between them spurred on by a combination of interests which they shared.
Both groups had arranged to meet again this weekend and Terry hurried back to his flat to get ready for the evening. No need to go over the top, if she liked him last week there was no point in doing anything different, so he needed to be casual without giving the impression of disinterest – he was treading a fine line and it would be a shame to spoil it
He needn't have worried. As soon as they met she greeted him with a smile that lit up the room and, much to the annoyance of his mates, they spent the entire evening sitting in a corner talking.
She seemed perfect company and the more he learned about her the better he felt. The end of the evening came all too soon, and as they parted all his uncertainties returned. Should he kiss her goodnight or merely wave and say "See you again?" He didn't want to ruin a potentially good relationship by moving forward too quickly but Laura solved the problem with a brief peck on his cheek and a "call me" before she left in a taxi with her friends.
He did call her, several times during the following week when he could fit it in with his work schedule. The more they talked, the closer they seemed to grow and their relationship developed and blossomed like a delicate flower in a greenhouse.
Terry couldn't imagine being in a situation without her any more and he began to drift apart from his weekend friends as they spent more and more time in each other's company.
It was about three months later that the first hint of trouble reared its head and Terry found himself at a loss as to what to do.
They had spent their entire weekend together, as seemed to be the pattern now, and had become so at ease in each other's company that a number of their friends had remarked that, to all intents and purposes, they had the appearance of a married couple.
Laura had noticed a reticence in his behaviour and tried to coax him into talking about it but he dismissed her concerns.
When they parted company on the Sunday it was in a somewhat sombre mood.
If he took their relationship to the next level and asked her to marry him, would she be scared away? He couldn't bear the thought of that and yet, if he did nothing, she might consider that he was losing interest and simply leave him and look for someone else.
With no parents to use as sounding boards, Terry did what had always done in situations like this – went to see his Aunty Pat.
Aunty Pat was his mum's older sister and had been married twice, so he treated her as expert in all things romantic and matrimonial. She had been his rock on more than one occasion. She was delighted to see him and he timed the visit for a weekend when Laura was off on a course related to her work.
Pat and her husband, Harold, had lived in a cottage in a small village outside Dorking for the last 20 years.
They had no children of their own and had "adopted" him after his mum died. Harold was just like a father to him and everything was so easy in their company.
After the usual greetings and news had been exchanged, he explained his dilemma over a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon.
They listened carefully to all that he said and, at the end, told him to sit down with Laura, open his heart to her and take the consequences.
If there was no emotional or economic reason for holding back, the decision would be a simple one – they either loved each other or they didn't.
Of course, Terry had known the answer all along but it was still good to hear it from someone else, particularly those whom he held most dear. It set his mind at rest for the remainder of the weekend, and they had the most wonderful time. At the end of Sunday lunch at the local pub he had decided to make his approach to Laura and ask her to be his wife.
He arrived home late Sunday evening, too late to call her right now, and he spent a very anxious and sleepless night. He rang her the following morning but was told by a work colleague that she was busy and that she would call him back.
When the afternoon passed without a call he was disappointed and rang her again to be told that she had already gone home for the day.
He looked at his watch – it was 3.15pm and he wondered why she would have left so early and without at least speaking to him first.
He rang her home number after work but got only her answering machine. He left a message asking her to get in touch but, by the end of the evening, was still waiting and was now becoming anxious. He went round to her flat only to find it in darkness and calls to her mobile had been diverted to voicemail.
He was becoming very worried and rang Jill, her closest friend. Jill's voice seemed oddly strained and all that she would say was that Laura was unhappy about something but couldn't speak to him right now. It was clear to Terry that she was there but this seemed no time to make an issue out of it.
"Tell Laura I love her" he said.
The next day he was waiting outside her place of work when she came out of the car park and she stopped dead in her tracks. He walked up to her slowly – this was not the place for a showdown. She was very pale and was clearly unprepared for seeing him.
Their conversation was strained and awkward but she made her excuses at work and led him over to the coffee shop a little way down the street.
He started to explain how his feelings for her had developed over the weekend and that he had something very important to ask her. She held up her hand to stop him saying anything more, guessing what was about to come.
From out of her purse she produced a photograph and placed it in front of him. He could feel the colour draining from his face and a cold sweat broke out on his forehead. The face in the picture was that of his mother together with two small children.
"Dad took that before he walked out. When mum died we were placed separately by the adoption agency. That's why our names are different, but we're brother and sister, Terry, brother and sister. We can never see each other again."
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Member since: 10th July 2012
Hi, I'm Sarah. I've lived in Heanor with my family for over 10 years and I'm passionate about our beautiful little corner of this historical county. If you know of something that's great about our area,...