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Authors: The Wardens Daughters

Anne Douglas (37 page)

BOOK: Anne Douglas
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‘I don’t need to think about it.’ She pulled a little away, looking at him with clear grey eyes. ‘I’m free now, you see. I’m truly free. I have no feelings for Torquil, he’s gone completely from my mind. I’m myself again.’
‘Thank God,’ Paul said hoarsely. ‘Will you come, then? To my school? I don’t ask anything of you, you’ll still be free, but if . . .’ He stopped and she kissed him lightly on the lips.
‘I understand what you’re saying, Paul. I will come to your school, and we will work together. And – just take it from there. Will that be all right?’
‘All right? More than all right!’
Their kiss then was shared, a long, deeply satisfying kiss, that told them more about the future than any words, and when it was over, they left the car and walked up to the hostel’s front door, arms entwined, almost like the lovers they would become.
Sixty-Three
Frank’s wedding to Ishbel, at the end of October, provided all the balm needed to calm the village rocked by stories of what had happened on Loch Hourn and Torquil MacLeod’s mysterious departure. There was talk that he had tried to drown the warden’s younger daughter, or, that it had all been an accident, but one thing was for sure, he hadn’t tried to rescue her – that had been left to nice Mr Soutar. Sure, whatever hysterical Agnes said, everybody knew those boys of hers were wild ones, Torquil as well as Tony, and if Torquil had taken himself off, it was no loss to Conair.
Everyone invited to the kirk on that fine, autumnal wedding day, had therefore relaxed and taken comfort from the joy that flowed so clearly from the happy couple. If there were bad things that happened, there were good things too, and nobody needed the reception champagne (a present from Mr Allan at the hotel, would you believe?) to feel a sense of well-being again.
And how sweet it was to see young Monnie fully recovered from her ordeal and so calm and serene, as her father’s eyes followed her, and other eyes, too – and how good it was to know that she would not be leaving the Highlands she’d come to love, but staying on to work for Paul Soutar.
Sadly, goodbyes would have to be made to the lovely Lynette, who also had eyes following her – cheerful brown eyes belonging to Mr Allan’s chef, who was departing to start his own restaurant. Very upsetting, no doubt, for Mr Allan, who was already upset, the talk went, because Lynette was leaving, but then other rumours had it that he would find consolation with the beautiful Fionola, now in charge of Reception at the hotel. Seems she already had a new young assistant – rather plain, it was said, but a nice, willing girl who would be no threat to anyone, ‘And would never ever wear red,’ Lynette had been heard to remark, but no one knew what that meant.
The time came at last for Ishbel, lovely in blue, and Frank, still in his best suit, to leave the little cafe for Niall’s decorated car and the short trip to the Skye ferry. Everyone ran alongside for as long as they could, cheering and waving, until the car was out of sight, and then turned away, feeling the little feeling of let down that always comes at that time.
Monnie and Lynette, who had been the last to hug their father and Ishbel, were in fact now shedding a few tears, joined by Mrs Duthie, who said she always cried at weddings, never ask her why, and also Sheana, who said really she should be opening up the shop. But then everyone said, no, no, come and have a cup of tea and a little more wedding cake. Hadn’t Ishbel made it herself and was it not the best ever?
‘Talking about opening up the shop, I should be back at the hostel,’ Monnie told Lynette, over the teacups. ‘I’m in charge until the honeymoon’s over, remember.’
‘And then you’ll be moving to Paul’s climbing school, when I thought you’d be coming back with me tomorrow, to our old flat.’
Lynette sounded a little sad, but suddenly gave a broad smile. ‘No, I’m really happy for you, Monnie. It’ll be perfect for you over there, to be with Paul and to stay in the Highlands. I know that’s what you really wanted.’
‘And you’ve got what you really wanted, too. The bright lights, eh? Plus a new job and a new admirer.’
‘Scott?’ Lynette smiled. ‘We’ll have to see how that works out. Just as you’ll be waiting to see how things work out with you and Paul. It’s odd, really, how our lives have moved along parallel lines, eh?’
‘Both making mistakes first, you mean?’
‘And being giving second chances.’
The two sisters hesitated, then clung together, dashing more tears away as they moved apart.
‘The main thing is that you’re all right,’ Lynette said huskily. ‘Oh, Monnie – if you hadn’t been—’
‘I am, though. And so are you and Dad and everyone we care about. We did the right thing, coming to the Highlands – even if you are going home again.’
‘I wouldn’t have missed it, though,’ Lynette said quietly. ‘I’ve learned a lot.’
Monnie nodded. ‘Better get back,’ she whispered.
‘Want a lift?’ asked Paul, appearing at her side. ‘Car’s at the door.’
‘So is mine,’ Scott told Lynette. ‘All ready for tomorrow?
‘Always ready for tomorrow,’ cried Lynette.
BOOK: Anne Douglas
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