On Monday morning Emily arrived at White Rose Cottage to quote Jack on the new path and step.
After which she said she would phone him with a price but said that she was quite busy and wasn’t sure when she would be able to fit it in but then he explained why he needed it doing sooner and she said not to worry because she would rearrange the diary.
Afterwards he drove into Purplemere to do a bit of shopping which was when he bumped into Gemma Frost coming out of a very expensive lingerie shop.
“Hello Jack” she said and air kissed him and then she spotted him looking at the designer carrier bag she was carrying.
“No you can’t look at them” she replied to what she deduced was an unasked question
“The thought never crossed my mind” he protested
“But if you’re offering to model them for me I wouldn’t say no”
“You’re incorrigible,” she said
“I’m merely trying to be accommodating” he said and she shook her head disappointedly and then asked
“Have you got time for a coffee?”
“I do” he replied and they went into a coffee house, a nice one, not one of the chains and Jack ordered the drinks as Gemma sat in the corner.
When he joined her she said
“Tongues have been wagging about the length of time Kayleigh has been spending at your house this week”
After a brief pause she continued.
“Until it immerged that you had been discussing the Vicars palliative care arrangements”
“People have nasty minds” he responded
“People don’t know the half of it” Gemma corrected him and gave him a knowing look before adding
“Look I understand, she’s a good looking woman, but…”
“But she’s a married woman” he said
“Yes and she’s lonely and vulnerable” Gemma said “And…”
“And I love her” Jack said
“It’s that serious?” she said shocked
“Yes” he replied “Very”
“Just don’t hurt her” Gemma said and drank her coffee before adding
“That’s an amazing thing you’re doing by the way”
“Not really” he replied and quickly changed the subject
“So who is the lingerie for? Who’s the lucky man?”
“It’s a secret” she replied and blushed
“Really? So it’s Tony Vassell then” he said and laughed
“How did you know?” she asked and laughed too
“It’s all round the village” he replied
“So where are you going?”
“The Burns Night Supper at the Worsted Viper Hotel in Purplemere” she replied at the precise moment Doctor Carole Anderson walked into the coffee shop.
He recognized her immediately, even though he had never seen her out of place before, he had only ever seen her in and around the village.
She looked around briefly and then to Jacks surprise she walked towards them, she was a tall slim woman, wearing a trouser suit,
50 years old, and remarkably attractive, with a warm smile and sympathetic hazel eyes, shoulder length brunette hair.
“Hi Gemma do you mind if I join you?”
“Of course” she replied “have you met Jack?”
“Ah the Good Samaritan” she said and shook his hand “yes many times, pleased to see you again”
“Likewise” Jack said “Can I get you a coffee?”
“A large Americano please”
When he returned to the table Gemma and Carole were talking about the Burns Supper.
“Aren’t you going?” Gemma asked
“No” Carole replied
“Why not?” she asked, “That’s your kind of thing isn’t it?”
“It is yes” she replied “but I don’t want to go on my own”
Gemma looked at her with puzzlement and then said
“Why not? You’re not exactly shy”
This made her blush and avert her gaze but after a few moments she looked back at her.
“I know my ex was a useless husband who abandoned me for his cronies the moment we’d get through the door of any social event but at least he was an arm to hold on to when we arrive” she confessed “So no escort, no supper”
“Well I would offer myself, but even as a Good Samaritan, I draw the line at haggis” Jack said “and bagpipes would be too much to endure even for an evening in your delightful company”
They all laughed and then Carole said
“I thought you already had someone to occupy your arm anyway”
“Yes” he agreed proudly and then added
“There is a solution you know”
“What’s that?” she asked vaguely
“Who?” Carole asked
“Gemma’s brother Craig” he said “I’ve met him and he’s very nice”
“Yes” Gemma replied, “You’d like Craig”
“That’s as maybe but...” she left the sentence unfinished
“But what?” Gemma asked
“I’m a bit old for blind dates” she replied “And I haven’t been on a date of any kind for so many years”
“Is that all that’s holding you back?” he asked
“And I’m not sure I want a stranger knowing where I live” she admitted.
“He’s not a stranger” Gemma said
“Well not to you obviously” Carole said and they sat quietly for a few moments drinking their coffee when a thought occurred to him and he said
“Well if you don’t want him to pick you up at your house you could always meet at my house for pre drinks”
Carole didn’t speak but was considering the merits of his suggestion in silence so he pressed on
“Then you can all head off to Purplemere together”
“Do you think I should?” she asked earnestly
“Yes we do” they replied
Finally when they left the coffee house they air kissed and all went their separate ways and Jacks way took him deeper into town to complete his shopping expedition which took him just over an hour and then he returned to the car park with his purchases.