DISCLAIMER: This is an Original/Uber story. The main characters and story are the product of the authors imagination.
RATED NC17: For profanity and sex.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: Firstly, to Jan, for her time and talent as my beta reader. To Elaine and Jay who offered assistance and encouragement when I first drafted this story over three years ago. To Trish, as always, for her amazing support. You’re the best, woman.
FEEDBACK: If you enjoy the story please let me know: email@example.com
This story takes place in Scotland. Anna Lynch, a Detective in the Drug’s squad is sent undercover to a small Scottish fishing village. There she meets and befriends the charming Heather Keith. As the pair grow closer, Anna finds it increasingly difficult to draw the line between work and pleasure.
Detective Sergeant Anna Lynch stood amongst her peers, a cup of strong black coffee in her hand. Her eyes tracked over towards the windows that lined the wall to her left. The rain was falling from the dull grey sky. She sighed inwardly, they didn’t call Glasgow rain town without good reason. She listened to her boss detail the latest movements of a drug baron they had been after for more than two years now. They had gotten close often, but never managed to pin anything on him. The arrests were always made lower down the pecking order of his organisation. So far nothing had been linked to him directly.
It seems this time he was importing the drugs from the North East coast. There was nothing unusual in that. It was a familiar route, due to miles of isolated coastline. They had run several operations alongside customs & excise, where drugs were being brought in using this route.
What made this operation different was the allegation that there was a fishing boat involved. It would be more difficult to find any crime being committed amongst men going about their usual business. To that end Anna’s boss, Inspector Bruce Davidson, would be sending some of his officers undercover. They would stand a far better chance gathering information from within the community.
“So Lynch and McGinty you will be acting as a married couple.” Anna’s head shot round her blue eyes pinning her boss.
“Why me?” She sure as hell wasn’t the only woman in the room.
Davidson didn’t flinch, “You grew up on a farm. You and McGinty will be staying in a small farmhouse that you recently purchased. You’ve both given up your city jobs to make a go of things. We need people who at least know something about farming.”
“My folks owned the local pub, which the farmers used…I’d hardly call that growing up on a farm,” Anna answered in disbelief.
“Well its close enough. You must have picked up something.” Davidson replied in a warning tone.
“Yeah, foot and mouth.” There were a few sniggers at McGinty’s quick-witted reply.
Anna shot daggers at him “And since when did you getting sexually intimate with sheep qualify as farming knowledge?” There was outright laughter from the other detectives in the room.
“Right! Right. That’s enough.” Davidson held up his hand and brought the meeting back on course. “Anna, it’s you and Pete running the farm. You are the two best qualified for this job.”
Anna sighed resignedly. It was clear there was no way out of this. Davidson’s mind was made up already. She glared at Pete McGinty.
“You keep your paws to yourself pal. Don’t go getting any ideas.”
Davidson acknowledged Anna’s acceptance, reluctant though it was.
“Right you two, start thinking farming. I want this operation started by next Monday. Clear what work you can and spend the next five days preparing. We’ll meet same time tomorrow.”
Pete McGinty sidled up to Anna as they left the briefing room. “So, Anna, I don’t suppose you could lend me a few plaid shirts.”
“Screw you, McGinty.” His laugh could be heard all the way down the corridor.
Anna headed to the cafeteria for lunch and, after selecting a ham salad with chips, she made her way over to a friendly face she spotted at one of the tables. Lesley Hamilton had joined the force around the same time as Anna. They were cadets together although, after spending five years in uniform, their respective careers had taken on different paths. Anna had joined the Criminal Investigation Department or CID, whilst Lesley had remained in the uniformed division and, after twelve years on the force, she was now a sergeant and married with two kids. For the past three years Anna had been involved in the intelligence branch of CID as part of the drug squad.
“Hey, Anna. Where have you been hiding yourself?” Lesley offered her long time friend a warm welcoming smile.
Anna smiled at Lesley’s gentle chastisement. She really did try, but she had never been great at keeping up with friends and family regularly. Between her commitment to her job and the strange hours it entailed, she rarely had time for socialising.
“Hi, Lesley, how are the kids?”
“The kids are great, Anna. Roddy starts school after the summer and Rebecca will be starting nursery.”
Anna was rocked by this information. It seemed just a few months ago that Roddy was starting nursery, now he was going to school, which meant he was almost five and Rebecca three. She briefly wondered where all the time was going. She shook her head a little in bewilderment.
“Wow…they grow up so fast. I’ll have to visit soon or I won’t recognise my little Godson.” Anna glanced at Lesley a look of mild embarrassment on her face.
Lesley touched her friend gently on the wrist. “Its okay, I understand that you’re kept busy, Anna. They would really like to see you when you have the time though. Gordon as well.”
Anna smiled ruefully. Gordon was Lesley’s husband. They had met on the force some ten years ago. Gordon and Anna had never really gotten along but they had a kind of peace pact because they both thought the world of Lesley. Gordon had left the force before the children were born. He now worked in insurance. Anna supposed that was maybe one of the reasons they never gelled. While Anna was passionate about her work, Gordon had always viewed it as just a job. It was probably for the best he had never forged ahead with a career in the force.
“So, do you think Gordon would insure me yet, or does he still think I’m a liability?” Anna asked cheekily.
Lesley laughed and lightly swatted Anna’s arm. “You know he would, otherwise he would have me to answer to…Seriously, Anna, he knows you would do anything for his family. He respects you, even though he struggles to show you that.”
“Well Gordon is certainly right about that. I would do anything for his family.” Anna replied gently, a knowing look passing between them. Lesley had cause to be thankful to Anna on more than one occasion over the last twelve years. She knew first hand that Anna was a brave, strong woman, who could be counted on in an emergency or a potentially threatening situation.
The moment passed between them, Lesley gently cleared her throat. Anna may not be overly sociable but Lesley would never give up trying to change that.
“So, anyone new in your life?”
Anna knew Lesley would ask. She never failed. She always asked with such a hopeful look on her face that Anna almost wished she could tell her something different. She took a deep breath before answering.
“No ...,” she replied as she released her breath.
“Anna…” Lesley started, but Anna interrupted her.
“I know…I know you want to see me find someone special, someone who makes me happy.” Anna looked down and played with the food that was left on her plate. She looked back at her friend, “I don’t know, Lesley, maybe it’s just not for me.”
Lesley looked at Anna. Her friend was truly beautiful, a tall, lean frame, dark hair and blue eyes. She certainly had no shortage of admirers. Even sitting there in her in jeans, T-shirt and trainers she was attractive. Anna had a certain androgyny, combined with feminine grace. She attracted both sexes with ease. The principal problem was Anna made no conscious effort to attract that attention. Perhaps as a result of this or maybe it was just down to her personality, either way Anna gave off a very intimidating aura. It took either a very strong or very stupid person to attempt to get past that.
“Never give up hope, my friend.” Lesley replied, hoping herself that Anna would someday find love.
Anna steered her Audi into the garage she had been given directions to. She was here to pick up a Land Rover and leave her own car for the duration of her assignment. Turning off a small road on the outskirts of Glasgow and into a yard full of tyres and old cars, she was immediately suspicious of leaving her car amongst this disarray. Cursing under her breath as she pulled up outside what she assumed to be an office, Anna was grateful that she had already dressed for her trip up North, so she wasn’t feeling too out of place in her faded jeans, sweater and walking boots. She exited her car and was greeted by a man in his late forties. He was wearing faded navy blue overalls that sported oil and grease stains that no amount of washing powder could remove. She idly thought to herself that they never showed people trying to wash this type of garment on those inane TV adverts.
“Morning, darling, are ye lost?” Anna grinned at him; she could handle his playful banter. “I don’t think so. I’m Anna Lynch, looking for George Robertson.” She folded her arms and waited patiently while he gave her a quick once over. She could almost hear the wheels turning inside his head as he absorbed the information she had just given him.
He nodded once, his tone instantly turning business like. “You better come with me then.”
He led her towards a row of garages that banked the back of the yard. Swiftly opening one towards the middle he motioned Anna to step inside. Anna was immediately transported back to a time when she was just a little girl. Her grandfather had been a mechanic. He owned a small garage near where Anna had grown up. She would often go there just to watch him work. Standing here amongst those same familiar smells of oil and Swarfega brought a small smile to Anna’s normally closed features.
“Here she is.” Anna looked round at George Robertson, the added boom in his voice brought on by the enclosed space they were in had given her a slight start.
“She’s a beauty isn’t she?” George proclaimed as he thumped the bonnet heartily.
Anna began to let her eyes roam over the vehicle in question. She had to agree. Anna had been concerned she was going to be driving a vehicle that made her look like some country wannabe. Instead she was looking at an original green Land Rover, possibly even built before 1980.
She glanced at George, her appreciation of the vehicle written clearly on her face. “It’s reliable?”
“She certainly is. I use her for my fishing trips. She never lets me down.” He opened the driver door then leaned across to let Anna in the passenger side.
“It’s an old series III built in 1977. I’ll take you out for a spin and show you how all the gears work….there are twenty of them.” George grinned at her as he set off. Anna being used to only one gear lever with five gears paid very close attention for the next hour as George showed her how to operate and switch between the four gear levers.
Anna drove her car into the now vacant Land Rover spot, having secured a promise from the very helpful George Robertson that she would find her car in the exact same condition when she returned.
Anna donned her shades and removed her sweater, leaving her clothed in a light cotton T-shirt, the July sun having made an appearance from behind the clouds. She put the Land Rover in gear and began her journey. As she crunched the gears while slowing down approaching a roundabout, George’s parting words were still floating round her head. “Treat her like you own her, Anna.” She snorted to herself as she wrestled to find the correct gear.
She had been on the road now for close to three hours. As usual the traffic heading out of Glasgow on a Friday morning was less heavy than the traffic going into the city. With few road works on the main route towards Montrose she had made good time.
Anna checked her map. She had reached the village of Havenburgh with little difficulty now she had to find the farm. It was situated three miles outside the village and had its own road, which led to the actual farm buildings. It was finding this road that was proving to be the most frustrating part of her journey.
Just as Anna was about to do a U-turn she spotted a gap in the road up ahead. She indicated left and drove up towards what she hoped would be the farm.
As Anna approached she saw another vehicle already parked. It was an open bed truck, which she assumed must be McGinty’s new transport.
Anna huffed again as she considered their cover story. She and Pete had been working in the city’s financial sector and had had enough of the daily grind and long hours…so they had bought an organic sheep farm on Ebay. She knew that fact would actually raise less suspicion and would cover any ineptitude shown by herself or McGinty, but she still cringed inwardly at the thought of actually having to say that. She had been researching organic sheep farming methods on the Internet and hoped she could come off as vaguely knowledgeable. She didn’t even want to know if the police department had actually bothered to provide them with bona fide organic sheep.
They would be assisted by Dave MacDonald, who was a lecturer at the local agricultural college and actually had a working knowledge of organic sheep farming. He would pose as a friend helping out for the first few weeks. She was pleased that Pete would be the one to take care of the sheep, since it seemed that he really did know a bit about them, having spent many summers on his uncle’s farm.
Anna parked and got out of the vehicle. She took a good look round at her surroundings and at what would be her home for the foreseeable future. The farmhouse was a traditional stone building, with a slated roof. Originally ‘L’ shaped, it now had a flat roofed extension built onto where the ‘L’ shape was.
Anna knew the farm was about 124 acres all in and, to the right of the farmhouse, were several farm buildings, one of which Pete McGinty was exiting.
“Hey, Anna, glad you could finally make it.”
“McGinty.” Anna responded evenly.
“Hey, Davidson said you have to call me Pete, otherwise people will think its odd. Or you could call me darling, or honey, or….”
Anna glowered at him. “I’ll call you Pete when we are in public, but that’s it.”
Pete shrugged. “So, have you got a welcoming kiss for your husband then?” McGinty asked with a grin.
“Do you always have to be such a pain in the arse?”
“Aww, c’mon Anna, I’m just having fun. Lighten up.”
“Save it for the sheep, McGinty.” She looked intently at him for the first time since arriving. He looked different somehow. His brown hair was a bit windswept, almost in need of a cut, but that seemed to assist with his new look. He was reasonably well built and handsome, she supposed. He was usually clean-shaven, but today he was sporting a bit of stubble. With his worn jeans, cord shirt and body warmer, she thought he did look the part of a farmer, the most difficult obstacle would be them passing as husband and wife. ‘Time to bite the bullet’ Anna thought. They had a job to do and she wanted to do it well.
“Pete. Why do Scotsmen wear kilts?”
He just looked at her blankly unsure where her question had come from.
“Because the sheep can hear a zipper from a mile away.” With that she took her bags into the house, leaving McGinty staring after her slack jawed.
Anna walked across a gravel path and entered the farmhouse through a heavy oak door. She found herself standing in a large hall. To her left were the dining room and fully fitted kitchen. On her right was a spacious living room. She walked further down the hall and found another room on her right. This was the master bedroom, which Pete had already claimed as his own, assuming the luggage was his. At the end of the hall it opened out into a bright sunroom, which Anna realised was the extension she had viewed from outside. It had a warm, welcoming feel to it, with its bank of large south facing windows and cane furniture topped with overstuffed cushions. All the downstairs floors were wooden with the exception of the kitchen, which was covered with slate tiles. Anna took the stairs and found a further two en-suite double bedrooms, one of which she selected for herself. It had a double bed and a good view and that was enough for Anna.
Heather Keith pulled her white Vauxhall Corsa into an empty space outside the Marine bar. The pub was situated by the Harbour and faced out onto the North Sea. The water was currently calm with the tide gradually making its way out. Heather entered the bar and paused briefly inside to allow her eyes to adjust to the dimness of the room. Her nose was immediately assaulted with the smell of cigarette smoke and stale alcohol. Her ears picked up the direction of her intended party before her eyes did. The wolf whistles were always a give away. Heather made her way over to Greg and his crew. They had been back in the harbour for a couple of hours after being at sea for the last few days. As was the custom, they celebrated with a few beers before heading home to their families and friends. It didn’t matter what time of night or day the fishermen returned, the bar was licensed to open specially for them. Heather deftly made her way between some tables and chairs heading towards the noise coming from the far right corner. She passed the long mahogany topped bar and nodded a polite hello to Margaret who was currently serving the patrons of the bar.
Heather was greeted heartily by the six-man crew. Greg Moir, the skipper and Heather’s fiancée greeted her with a warm kiss on the lips. This action was received raucously by the other crewmembers with a few more whistles and roars of encouragement. Heather laughed it off good-naturedly. She was very used to the men’s antics upon returning from sea. There was always a sense of euphoria upon their return, which she knew would quickly give way to fatigue.
Heather looked at Greg, he had a few days beard growth and was, as usual, in need of a shower and a good nights sleep, but that didn’t matter to her. She was just happy to see him return safely and looking healthy despite his tiredness.
“Hi, handsome. Good to see you.” She smiled warmly at him conveying her sincerity.
He smiled back, “Same goes.” Greg motioned for her to take a seat. “Drink?” He asked as he nodded towards the bar.
“Sure, I’ll have a fresh orange juice, thanks.”
As Greg headed towards the bar she looked around at the rest of the crew. “A good trip, guys?”
There were a few nods, then Jake a long time crewmember and friend of Greg’s answered. “Not too bad, Heather, all things considered.”
Heather nodded knowing full well to what Jake was referring. The white fish industry was being crippled at the moment. It was a real bone of contention amongst the Scottish fishing community. They were not free to fish where they wanted anymore. There were also restrictions on the amount of fish they were allowed to land. It made for a combination of longer hours on the water locating the fish and less money to be made from the smaller catch.
The mood amongst the crew turned sombre for a few moments before Jake deftly changed the subject to a lighter topic. “So, Heather, how are the wedding plans coming along?”
“Just fine, Jake. Though it’s still almost a year away, its important to book the church and hotel well in advance to make sure we get our preferred choices for our wedding day. In truth my Mum has kind of taken charge of the organising and I have to admit that I’m reasonably happy to let her at this point in time. I will stop her from picking my wedding dress though!”
They all laughed at that statement. Most of the crew had known Mrs Keith for years. She was well known in the community particularly because she was on the board of most committees within the village. She also ran the local flower-arranging club. She was very much at the centre of village life.
Greg had returned from the bar and taken a seat next to Heather. He put his arm gently around his fiancée, while placing her drink in front of her. She glanced at him offering a soft smile of thanks. The conversation quickly turned to football and the chances of their respective teams in the coming season. Heather quietly absorbed the atmosphere around her until it was time to head home.
Home for Heather and Greg was a modest two-bedroom cottage. They had purchased the cottage over two years ago. Just a few months after Heather had finished university. Upon Heather finishing her studies, Greg had proposed to her. He was keen to set a date for the wedding within a year, but Heather was more cautious and explained to him her reasons for wanting to wait a little longer. Heather had already accepted a job offer and was keen to concentrate on establishing her career in Community Education. She wanted them to start off on a sound financial footing. After much discussion they reached a compromise, which they both found acceptable. They would wait to set the date for their wedding and in the interim they could save money for the big day. They had continued on with this plan for almost a year after Heather graduated until Greg once again wanted to set the date. Instead another compromise was reached and they bought the cottage together. This had caused Heather some problems with her family. With her parents both active in the church they had frowned upon her decision to effectively live in sin. They had instead urged her to set the date to marry Greg and live together as man and wife. Though Heather loved both Greg and her parents dearly, on this she would not be swayed. The timing just didn’t feel right for her. So she dug her heels in and she and Greg had moved in together a few months later. Her relationship with her parents had been a little strained initially, but they had come to accept her decision.
When She and Greg returned home that evening they had shared a light dinner after Greg had showered and were tucked up in bed by 9 p.m. Heather turned in bed to look at her lightly snoring fiancé, she wondered not for the first time what the future held for them both, particularly with regards to Greg’s job. Only a few months ago he had been talking of the possibility of having to decommission the boat. However, in the last couple of months he had assured her that the boat was viable. Heather understood that the boat meant everything to Greg. His family had been fisherman going back many generations. It was in Greg’s blood, it was more than a job. He loved fishing, it gave him a sense of fulfilment and every trip was like a new adventure for him. She could see the rush he got before setting of on a fishing trip. There would be a real anticipation and buzz surrounding him before he headed out to sea. She wondered how he could possibly give that up and hoped that he really could make it work despite the odds.
“Wake up, sleepyhead!”
“Mmm … Just a minute longer, babe.” He reached out to pat the empty sheets next to him, frowning a little at the coolness. “Come back to bed.” He said sleepily.
“You wish! Not even in your dreams, McGinty … at least I hope not.” Anna muttered looking at her partners sleep tousled hair.
Pete McGinty sat straight up in bed, suddenly realising where he was.
“Jesus Christ, Anna!”
“Exactly, it’s Sunday and we’re off to church. You have one hour to grab breakfast and look presentable.” She gave him an appraising look. “I suggest you get a move on, you look like you will need all the time you can get.” With that she strode out of the room and chuckled as she heard a pillow hit back of the door behind her.
Pete wandered into the kitchen thirty minutes later looking fairly presentable in a pair of navy dress trousers and a light blue oxford shirt. His outfit was completed with a pair of dark socks and brown worn in brogues. Once again Anna mused that Pete really knew how to blend in when he had to. Gone were the scruffy leather jackets, jeans and training shoes.
“There’s coffee in the pot and some eggs and bacon keeping warm in the oven.” Anna said as she threw a copy of the Sunday Herald onto the kitchen table.
Pete looked at her with appreciation, “My, my, we have been a busy little wife this morning.”
Anna narrowed her eyes at him in warning. “I’m off to get changed, be ready to leave in twenty minutes.” Anna had been up since 7 a.m. She had always been an early riser, which was great for work, but a curse on the weekends when she wanted to lie in. Instead she made use of her time and fetched a paper from the nearest newsagent. She had then showered and had coffee while she read the newspaper. After managing to use up another hour she had made breakfast for them both.
Anna returned to the kitchen twenty minutes later wearing a floral print sundress and a pair of stylish nubuck sandals. Her legs were bare, which showed off her tan. She had a small suede handbag over her right shoulder and a pair of sunglasses in her right hand. A lamb’s wool white crew cardigan was casually draped over her left forearm.
Pete stared at Anna with open admiration. He would be proud to have this beautiful creature on his arm today. The thought that everyone there would think Anna was his wife both made his heart swell one moment then sink the very next. Pete felt like he was looking at a different woman completely. The clothes had softened Anna in such a way as to show her sheer beauty. Pete knew Anna was a great looking woman, but dressed like this he thought she was simply stunning.
Anna was beginning to feel self conscious under McGinty’s stare. She wasn’t used to wearing this sort of attire often and truth be told she wasn’t exactly comfortable in it.
“Well?” She asked her voice conveying her irritation. Partly due to embarrassment and partly due to Pete’s frank appraisal
“Anna, you look stunning.” Pete replied while shaking his head ruefully from side to side. He offered his arm, “Shall we go, Mrs Thompson?”
Anna raised one dark eyebrow and gave him her best smouldering look. “C’mon, lets put on a show for our new neighbours.”
Anna and Pete sat in a pew towards the back of the church. While neither of them attended a service on a regular basis, only managing the obligatory weddings, funerals and christenings, they knew enough to get by. They had both agreed that in a small community it was important to make as many inroads as possible. Attending Sunday service was one way of doing this. Anna took in her surroundings. The deep mahogany pews contrasted spectacularly with the white walls of the church. There was a wooden frame, which was built up into the V-shape of the roof and yet another slightly more rounded structure could be seen through the archway, which opened upon the altar. Both structures were made of the same rich mahogany. Several large windows lined the walls leading up to the altar bathing the building in natural light. Behind the altar itself three arch-shaped stained glass windows faced back onto the congregation. Anna had always had a slight fascination with churches. Growing up in a family of practicing Catholics she had spent many hours looking at the inside of the church during mass. With a childlike fascination for all things religious, she had decided by the age of ten, that it was her calling to become a nun. She almost snorted out loud at that memory. Clearly her thinking had changed drastically between the ages of ten and sixteen and, instead of wanting to be a nun, she actually found herself with a crush on one, Sister Gabriel, who taught religious education classes at her high school.
Anna snapped back to the present as her eyes settled on a blonde across to her right and about three rows ahead. Cute, she thought idly.
After the service finished Anna and Pete made their way leisurely back out into the bright sunshine. The minister was greeting the congregation on the steps as they left the church.
“Good morning to you both. Are you visiting our little village today?” He was a slender man who looked to be in his late sixties, his grey hair a little unruly and in need of a cut.
“No, Reverend, we’ve just moved here. Bought a farm just a few miles outside the village.”
“Ah, and what farm would that be now?”
“Newhaven farm, Reverend.”
“Oh yes, well that’s just wonderful. So we will be seeing more of you then?” It was more of a statement than a question.
“Yes, and might I say it was a wonderful service today.” They moved to leave but the Reverend stopped them.
“Hold on a minute there. You won’t really know anyone yet will you? I know just the lady for the job.”
“Thank you, Reverend, that’s very kind.” Replied Pete.
“Think nothing of it.” He responded in kind, guiding Anna and Pete towards a group of people of to his right. “Mrs Keith.”
The woman in question turned to them “Yes, Reverend MacKinlay.”
Good God thought Anna ‘its Hyacinth Bouquet!’
“This is …?” He looked to Anna and Pete expectantly.
“I’m Peter Thompson and this is my wife Anna.”
“Peter and Anna have just moved into the Newhaven farm.”
“Oh that’s wonderful news.” Mrs Keith beamed.
“Yes indeed, unfortunately being new to the area they haven’t had time to meet anyone yet. Would you do the honours, Mrs Keith?”
“Of course, Reverend, consider it done.” She beamed with pride clearly relishing the task Reverend MacKinlay had requested of her.
“Thank-you Mrs Keith.” He turned to Pete and Anna. “I’ll see you both next Sunday then. Good day.” With that he wandered off to chat with more of the congregation.
“Thank-you, Reverend.” Anna called after him. He waved in acknowledgement without turning round.
They both turned expectantly to Mrs Keith. She was a well turned out woman, somewhere in her mid 50’s. Her hair was tastefully highlighted with soft blondes and silver, which gave her a more natural look, while hiding the grey. Her make-up was light, apart from her lips, which were a wickedly vibrant pink. She smiled winningly at them.
“It’s wonderful to see some young people move into the village.” She paused a moment then added, “Are you intending to work on the farm or just live on it?” They both sensed their answer to this question would be important to Mrs Keith.
Pete answered. “Well, we’re going to be farming sheep, organically.” He gave her his most charming smile.
“Organically you say? Oh my! All these new ideas, its hard to keep up.” With that Mrs Keith began introducing them to what felt like the entire village.
Anna and Pete arrived back at the farm some two hours later. Anna headed straight for her room anxious to get out of her dress and into more casual attire. After selecting some shorts and a T-shirt she headed for the kitchen to boil the kettle for tea.
“So what do you think?” Pete asked as he took a seat at the table, his arms resting on top of the wooden surface.
Anna pondered his question for a moment before answering. “We certainly raised our profile a lot today. I think we adopt a normal routine for the next couple of weeks, basically go about minding our own business. You have the sheep arriving tomorrow, so we can spend the next few days learning more about what looking after them entails. Then, midweek we take a trip into the village for a drink in the evening. Raise our profile a little more.”
“Sounds like a plan to me. I’m going to take a trip up to Aberdeen, within the next few days. I’ll work it around the time that Dave will be here.” Pete rubbed his hands over his face. “I plan to take it easy for the rest of the day, cause tomorrow is going to be very busy.”
Anna grunted her acknowledgement. The thought of seventy sheep being in their care was not a pleasant one.
Anna was desperate to get off the farm. It was Wednesday evening and she and Pete had mutually agreed they needed a change of scenery. Three full days with the sheep had finally taken their toll. They decided to pay a visit to the village local and hopefully make a few new inroads with the bar patrons.
Anna and Pete climbed into her Land Rover and as she gunned the engine, the sounds of T-Rex came through the speakers. Pete turned to Anna with a smirk on his face.
Anna could feel his scrutiny even before she turned to look at him. “Something on your mind Pete?”
“I just never pegged you for a fan of 70’s glam rock.”
“I’m not.” Anna replied simply as she put the Range Rover into reverse.
Pete almost sighed audibly but managed to hold it back. Sometimes it was like pulling teeth, trying to get Anna to open up about anything personal. “Anna, I hate to point out the obvious but … if you’re not a fan why are you playing the music?”
Anna shrugged “I wanted to listen to some music, I don’t have any tapes with me and the Land Rover doesn’t have a CD player. The tape was already in the deck.”
Pete smiled at Anna’s answer. Perhaps she wasn’t as complex as he originally thought. Here she was driving a Land Rover down a country road and listening to T-Rex simply because it was the only music she had. She seemed perfectly comfortable with both.
“So if you had a choice what would you be listening to?”
Anna thought about her answer for a moment while she manoeuvred onto the main road that led into the village. She shrugged, “I’m not too fussy. Something relaxing maybe.”
Pete rolled his eyes, an obvious sign of his exasperation. “Could you be more specific, even if its just because you’re supposed to be my wife! Christ, Anna, its just a question about music.”
Anna parked outside the Marine Bar and pulled on the handbrake. She looked over at Pete who had his arms folded across his chest, glaring at her. She held up her hands in mock surrender. “Alright, Pete, keep your hair on. Let’s see … Dido. You happy now?”
Pete still seemed a bit grumpy as they walked towards the entrance of the pub. “Moby.” He still said nothing. Anna tried again “Katie Melua.” That only got her a raised eyebrow so she decided to go for broke. “Snow Patrol.”
“No way!” Pete stopped right in front of the door effectively blocking her entrance.
“What? You don’t believe I like Snow Patrol?”
“It’s just…” Pete was shaking his head unable to find the right words.
“Yes…?” Anna was making him squirm. She had been enjoying toying with Pete for the duration of the ten-minute journey.
“Nothing” Pete mumbled as he turned to open the door for Anna to enter. Anna had to bite the inside of her cheek to keep from laughing. That would teach him to leave his CD cases lying around the farmhouse.
Anna entered the bar and looked around. She sensed that the conversation in the bar had suffered a lull upon their arrival. A few heads had turned to see who had entered the small establishment. Pete sidled up behind her letting his hand rest naturally on her back as he suggested she find a table for them while he got the drinks in. Anna chose a table that was reasonably near a mixed group of about eight men and women. She recognised a couple of faces in the group from the introductions Mrs Keith had made on Sunday after church. The small blonde, who she remembered was Mrs Keith’s daughter, smiled at her as she caught her eye. Anna nodded politely in return as she took a seat at her table. Pete joined her just a couple of minutes later with their drinks.
She looked around the bar, it had cream walls, which could have been white at some point in time but were now stained with nicotine. It had a burgundy carpet, with a gold crown-point motif. The walls were adorned with various fishing memorabilia, a clear testament to the history of the village. In the left-hand corner was an archway that led to the toilets and a way through to the lounge. The bar itself was a little confined which made the new comers stick out like a sore thumb.
Greg Moir watched the new couple enter the bar and saw the tall woman nod to his fiancée.
“Anna and Peter Thompson, they’ve just moved into Newhaven Farm.”
Greg nodded, “More townies buying cheap property.”
I don’t think so, Greg, they are working the farm. They’ve given up jobs in the city to farm organic sheep.”
“That’s all we need, more clueless white collar workers trying something fancy. The farms around here have been farming sheep for centuries and now that’s not good enough.” Greg took a long swallow of his beer.
Heather looked at her fiancé; these last few months had seen him increasingly frustrated with the lack of revenue from his fishing boat. She understood his frustrations, but that was no reason to be directing his anger at the new couple.
“I think we should make an effort to make them feel welcome.”
Greg looked at her. “Why? People like them are coming here and buying up the property because it’s cheaper than in the city. Then the folks who grew up here,’ he gestured around the table at the present company, “we can’t afford to buy a home for ourselves. Jake and Callum are still living at their parents’ house because of the inflated prices.”
Jake answered, “I hear you, Greg, nothing affordable has come on the market for months now.” His younger brother Callum agreed.
Heather couldn’t dispute the point Greg was making. Getting a foot on the property ladder for most young people in the village had become increasingly difficult.
“I agree, Greg, but I still think we should make an effort with them. The Thompson’s are going to contribute to the local economy and in the future might even offer employment to some people around here. It’s not like they have bought a house in the village as a weekend getaway.”
“She does have a point, Greg,” Forbes Forsyth added, offering his support to Heather’s point. “They have come here to work.”
Greg nodded, but looked like he was yet to be convinced.
Anna slowly sipped her half-pint of lager as she and Pete made idle conversation about sheep and the weather. Anna watched as the blonde got up from her table and made her way through the arch.
“Go to the bar and get me another drink, Pete.”
He glanced at her for confirmation of what she was up to. They were only about half way through their drinks. She leaned closer to him to whisper in his ear. To anyone in the bar it would look like a romantic overture. “Take your time, she might take pity on me and stop for a chat on her way back from the toilet.”
Pete took his cue and headed to the bar with the intention of making idle chat with the barman, while ordering the drinks.
As Heather returned from her trip to the bathroom, she noticed the dark haired woman was now sitting on her own. She had been looking for an opportunity to invite the couple into their company but was reluctant to butt into their conversation. She saw an opening and decided to take it.
Anna looked up at the blonde who had approached her table. She had watched her return to the bar and had been about to attempt to get her attention when the blonde took the initiative. For that, Anna was grateful.
“Hi, have a seat.”
“Thanks. Its Anna right?” Anna was pinned with warm, welcoming green eyes.
“Yeah, I’m sorry I met so many people on Sunday I’m struggling to remember your name.” Anna had the decency to look a little embarrassed.
The blonde smiled in understanding, clearly not offended. “Its Heather, Heather Keith.” She offered a warm hand, which Anna took.
Ah, yeah, your Mum was kind enough to introduce Peter and myself to a few people after church.”
Heather rolled her eyes and smiled. “She can be a little overbearing.”
Anna couldn’t help but notice the cute way Heather’s nose crinkled at the bridge as she scrunched her face.
“No, she was great. We don’t know anyone around here, so it was good to start meeting people.”
Heather nodded knowingly. “Did she talk you into going to her flower arranging classes?”
Anna’s face took on a look of mock sadness and she affected a pout. “I had to decline, because of my allergies.”
Heather laughed out loud. “I wish I had been there to see that. Not many manage to escape so easily. You’re either a quick thinker, Anna, or an unfortunate farmer.”
Anna chuckled, “My lips are sealed.” She couldn’t help but marvel at how easy it was to talk to Heather. She didn’t have to put in much effort. The conversation was just flowing naturally. It was at that point that Peter returned from the bar, having clearly exhausted all avenues of small talk with the barman.
“Peter, you remember Heather?”
Pete put the drinks on the table and offered Heather his hand. “Sure I do, yes. Nice to see you again.”
“Likewise. Listen, I was wondering if you would both like to join us for a drink.” Heather motioned to the group of people she had been sitting with. Pete and Anna both agreed and took their drinks with them over to the tables in the corner. Heather introduced them both to the rest of her company, which consisted of her fiancé Greg’s fishing crew and their wives and girlfriends.
As the evening wore on Anna found herself talking more and more to Heather. She learned that Heather was a community education worker, having gained her degree at Dundee University five years ago. Anna did some quick mental arithmetic and worked out that Heather had to be older than she looked. She originally considered Heather to be around 21, but now believed she had to be closer to 27 years old.
Being a community Education worker meant Heather was very active within the village and surrounding areas, running and integrating educational programmes and activities. She had mentioned to Anna that part of her job was to encourage members of the local community to volunteer to assist with the various programmes and groups. Apparently, the local youth club was in desperate need of additional volunteers. Anna had winced at the thought of working with both kids and animals, but knew that this could be a very good opening for her. Upon sensing a spark of interest, Heather had encouraged Anna to come along to the community centre on one of the evenings she ran the youth club. Anna had said she would give it some thought.
When they left the pub at around eleven p.m. a fog had rolled in giving the harbour an eerie feel to it. The temperature had dropped considerably and Anna felt her body shiver in response to the sudden change from the warmth of the pub to the cooler outdoors. She briefly lamented forgetting to bring a jacket as she felt the goose bumps rise on her bare arms, when she felt a sudden warmth as Pete wrapped a strong arm around her shoulder, hugging her closely to him. Over the three hours Anna had only consumed two half pints of lager as she was driving. Pete on the other hand had indulged. He walked towards the Land Rover with his arm around Anna and a smile plastered to his face as he said goodnight to everyone. Anna slipped an arm around his lower back as the rest of their company left the bar on foot. She watched closely as Heather and Greg shared a few words and a giggle. Anna suddenly felt very envious of Greg Moir and she didn’t want to think about that too much.
“Hurry up, Pete, I don’t want to be late.” Anna was just finishing up the dinner dishes. She had decided that tonight she would go to the youth club under the pretence of a tryout, but there was no doubt she would be volunteering regardless of how it went. Working alongside Heather Keith would offer Anna many opportunities to gather information and find out more about her fiancé Greg Moir. The trip to the local pub had already proven to be very fruitful, meeting the entire crew of one of the local fishing boats. McGinty decided to take the opportunity to go to the pub for similar reasons, so Anna had offered to drop him off then meet him there later.
Anna re-appeared downstairs having changed her clothes. She had chosen to wear a pair of hipster jeans with a tight fitting long sleeved white T-shirt. Opting for a casual fashionable look, on her feet were trainer socks and a pair of navy suede retro training shoes.
“You’ve got two minutes, Pete, be ready or I’m leaving without you.” Anna called as she went outside. It was a balmy July evening with very little breeze, which was unusual being so close to the North Sea. Anna started the engine just as Pete jogged out of the front door. He was freshly showered after his exploits with the sheep and looked good in his jeans and T-shirt with a pair of Nikes. Pete hopped into the Land Rover with enthusiasm. He threw a small bag into Anna’s lap and waited expectantly.
Anna looked at the package, then Pete, with suspicion in her eyes. She reached into the bag and brought out a cassette, it was Snow Patrol.
“I made a copy for you. Thought it might be a change from T-Rex.”
Momentarily stunned, Anna’s eyebrows shot towards her forehead. “That’s really good of you, Pete. Thanks very much.”
Pete was looking pretty smug and Anna had the sneakiest feeling she had just been had, but she couldn’t be sure. ‘Oh well, Snow Patrol it is’” She popped the cassette into the deck and hoped that it wasn’t dreadful.
The community centre was situated at the top of the village. It was one of the newer structures, most of the current village buildings having been built between the late 19th century and 1950’s with only a few exceptions. Anna parked in one of the designated spaces. She was beginning to love the freedom of parking that village life offered. Back home in Glasgow parking was a logistical nightmare, especially in the area of the city where she lived. One of the drawbacks of living fairly centrally she supposed. Anna entered the building and noticed an office immediately to her right. Through the glass fronted window she could see Heather Keith sitting at a computer. She knocked on the open door and waited.
Heather spun round in her chair at the sound of light knocking to be confronted with the very tall, dark haired Anna Thompson. “Anna!” Heather proclaimed, pleasantly surprised by her visitor. “Come in and have a seat.”
“I hope I’m not disturbing you?” Anna sat on a chair to the side of Heather’s desk. The office was a bit cramped, but functional. The walls were painted a duck egg blue and lay host to various notes, charts and memo’s.
“No, nothing that can’t wait. What can I do for you?”
“Well, I thought about your offer and decided I’d quite like to give the volunteering thing a try. That is if you’re still looking for someone.”
“Yes! That’s great! Really, I can always use an extra pair of hands at the youth club. So, you up for starting tonight?”
“Might as well. Just tell me what to do and I’ll give it a go.”
“Tell you what. Tonight just chat with the kids, get to know them a little, that way you can observe and get a feel for what goes on. I’ll introduce you to the other volunteers when they arrive. This evening it’s myself; Steven, who in truth more likes to come to hang around than volunteer really, but he’s too old to attend otherwise. Also, Tom will be volunteering tonight. He works offshore on the oilrigs so is only available when he’s home on leave. I should warn you, the kids are always curious when someone new is here. They will most likely give you the third degree and test the waters a little so to speak. Basically they will be trying to get a feel for who you are and to ascertain what they might get away with around you.”
“Thanks for the heads up. I think I can handle that.”
“Good.” Heather’s `animated voice turned serious for a moment. “There is one thing, Anna, I have to do a background check on you, through the police. It’s a required procedure now to run a check on any adult working with kids. Do you have any problem with that?”
“No, not at all. Just tell me what information you need and I’ll be happy to let you run the check. I understand it’s important to do this.” Anna was aware of the check that was required and, of course, she already knew the information she supplied to Heather would return a clean record. There were serious concerns regarding the amount of known paedophiles attempting to solicit contact with children through volunteering. Nobody was prepared to take any chances these days without first running the appropriate background checks.
By the end of the evening Anna was feeling quite exhilarated; Heather approached her as the last of the youths left the centre.
“So, what do you think?”
“I had a good time, it was fun.”
“Really…?” Heather drew out the word. She had been keeping an eye on Anna for most of the night and the woman had clearly been in her element, especially around the pool table.
“Ah, yeah.” Anna shrugged, half in apology.” I kind of grew up in the right environment. My parents owned a bar so I played a lot of pool and we also had a football table for a while.”
“And here I thought it was a sure sign of a misspent youth, you know too much time hanging out in pool halls with all the cool kids and the bad boys.” Heather teased.
“No, nothing so glamorous I’m afraid. So, have I tainted my bad girl image?”
“Well, maybe with me, but not with the kids. The guys think you’re cool and ah, hot I believe was one comment amongst others and the girls are worried about the amount of attention the boys are paying you.”
“Oops.” Anna laughed a little. “So, on Thursday I spend more time with the girls then?”
Heather nodded her agreement, clearly pleased with Anna’s foresight. “I think you could be good at this volunteering thing, Anna” she finished with a wink.
Anna waited behind while Heather locked up the centre, her protective instincts kicking in. Heather didn’t seem to mind, even though Anna was sure she normally locked up alone. Its not like there was much crime committed in Havenburgh, which struck Anna as ironic since ‘crime’ was precisely the reason she was there undercover.
“I’m going down to the pub to meet Pete. Can I give you a lift anywhere?”
Heather declined Anna’s offer as she lived only a short distance away. Despite Anna’s protest’s Heather assured her that she always walked home from the centre without any difficulties. Anna sat in the Land Rover and, as she watched Heather make her way home, she mused on the fact that it was difficult not to like this small blonde woman who had been so warm and welcoming. Anna knew that, despite her better judgement she felt drawn to Heather in a way that could create problems for both of them further down the line. It was a rare thing for her to feel so comfortable so quickly around another person. She sighed and started the engine this was a complication she didn’t need.
The following Wednesday brought with it some miserable weather. It had rained for most of the day in the small village. Heather decided to drive the short distance to her parents just to keep dry. She pulled her Corsa into the driveway and parked behind her Father’s navy blue Ford Focus, as she turned off her window wipers. A flash of lightning lit up the dark sky, which was followed seconds later by a crack of thunder. Opening her car door she decided to make a run for it. Bursting through her parent’s front door, Heather briefly shook off some rainwater as she shed her jacket and hung it from a peg in the foyer. She opened the glass door into the hall and was greeted by a very excited Milly, her Mothers four-year-old golden retriever. Heather immediately got onto her jean clad knees to greet her.
“Hey, girl! Wow, you’re happy to see me aren’t you?”
“Heather, is that you dear?”
“Your Father’s in his study doing his online banking. Pop in and say hello, then you can help me in the kitchen.”
“Yes, Mum.” Heather replied with a patience born of years of practice. Her father was so conscientious it would never occur to him to do his banking during work hours.
“C’mon, girl, lets go see Dad.” Heather ruffled Milly’s coat one more time then stood up to go towards the study with the dog obediently trotting behind her.
“Hello, sweetheart. How are things?” Malcolm Keith was a pleasant looking man in his mid fifties. His once dark brown hair was mostly grey now, with a receding hairline. Her Father as usual, was well turned out. Dressed conservatively in navy pinstripe suit trousers, with a cornflower blue shirt and blue striped tie. His black brogues were highly polished, with a stitch detail finish. He looked every inch the local bank manager.
Heather gave her Father a quick hug. “Oh, not too bad, can’t complain.”
“So, you’re here for your dinner and an update on your wedding preparations?”
Heather chuckled. “I’m sure I should be the one giving the update and not receiving it.”
“Ah well, you know how your Mother likes to take charge of these things, she means well, but remember, Heather, if you’re unhappy with that you just say the word.” There was nothing but sincerity in his green eyes.
She knew exactly what her Father meant. He would step in if her Mothers’ meddling got out of hand.
“I’m fine at the moment, Dad. It’s a long way off yet.” She waved off his concern.
“How’s work going?”
“Its good, it’s going well.” Heather wandered over to the window in her Father’s study. The rain continued to fall heavily, giving an oddly damp, chilly feel to the late afternoon air. Malcolm Keith watched his daughter for a moment. Years of practice told him there was something on her mind. He also knew she needed him to offer a platform to assist her to open up.
“Is Greg out in the boat?”
Heather sighed and shook her head a little despondently. “No. I asked him to come today, but he said he had things to do.”
“And does he?”
“Dad, he’s only allowed to fish for fifteen days a month. He has more time on his hands than he knows what to do with.” Heather decided to open up to her Father. If anyone could offer her sound advice it was he. “I don’t know, Dad, I’ve tried talking to him about the Laissez Faire,” Heather said, referring to her fiancé’s boat by name. We all know the white fish industry is on its knees. I’m concerned that he won’t make the right choices when the time comes.”
“You mean decommissioning the boat if need be?”
“Yes, I suppose. It was only a few months back he was talking about that possibility. I know it’s the last thing he wants to do, the boat was his father’s, it’s more than just a job to him, its his Father’s memory, it’s a way of life.” She finished, looking up to the ceiling, frustration clearly evident in her tone.
“Something’s changed, Dad, I don’t know what. I’ve tried asking Greg, but he has pretty much shut me out. He says the boat is fine and I’ve not to worry about it.”
“You don’t believe him?”
“I don’t know what to believe. He’s been fishing his quota and trying to buy, or lease, quota unused by other vessels. But you’ve heard what’s happening with that. They are effectively being held to ransom by each other, the demand for spare quota is so high. I just don’t see any improvement in the near future. There are too many restrictions imposed at the moment.” Heather finished, clearly frustrated.
“So you’re worried about your long term financial security.” Malcolm Keith didn’t miss the subtle cues from his daughter. He knew there was more, but wouldn’t push her.
“Yes, that’s a concern.”
“I can’t give you any good prognosis on Greg’s future, Heather. It’s in the hands of the Government and the rest of the European Union. Nobody knows what decisions they will make at the next meeting. Who knows, they may lift some of the sanctions, but they may stay the same, in which case the boats continue to be forced into decommission and it’s survival of the fittest. Maybe Greg has what it takes to be one of the survivors?”
Heather thought about what her Father was saying. Maybe Greg could survive, but at what cost? She hated the uncertainty surrounding Greg’s fishing future.
“Maybe he can, Dad. I just wish he would talk more to me about it.”
“Give him time, sweetheart, see what happens in the next wee while.” Malcolm Keith decided to try and lift some of his daughter’s gloom. He put his arm around her, “Now come on, your Mother will be thinking you’ve gotten lost. I happen to know she’s cooking one of your favourite dinners and I heard talk of dessert.”
Heather returned home from her parents around nine p.m. to find the cottage empty. She felt a little anger towards Greg. He normally went with her to her parents for dinner, when he wasn’t out at sea. She removed her jacket and black leather ankle boots and, sitting down on the sofa, she reached for the TV remote. Flicking through the five terrestrial channels she found nothing that caught her eye. She laid her head back on the sofa and attempted to let some of the tension drain from her body. She heard a key click in the front door lock and turned her head expectantly towards the living room door. At the sight of Greg’s welcoming smile she felt most of her anger diffuse.
“Hmm, you smell good.” Greg buried his nose into Heather’s hair, inhaling the scent of her shampoo. He kissed her neck then made his way to her lips, lingering and then deepening the kiss.
Heather responded to Greg’s passionate overture, immediately tasting the alcohol on his breath. Normally it would not have bothered her, but tonight she felt a little pissed off about it. She pulled out of the kiss and sat back on the sofa.
Greg looked at her with concern, a little confused by her actions. “Is everything okay, Heather?”
She turned to look at him, contemplating how to respond to that question. She remembered her Father’s advice from earlier about giving Greg time, but she really wasn’t sure that she had the patience to do that. Something inside her wanted to scream and she couldn’t figure out exactly where it was coming from. She sighed deeply as she laid her head back on the sofa.
“I don’t know, Greg, maybe just a little tired I guess.” She pondered her answer a moment and immediately questioned why she was holding back on the truth.
“No scratch that, Greg. I’m wondering why you didn’t come with me to my Mum and Dad’s.”
“I told you, Heather, I had some things to do.”
“In the pub?” She glared at him pointedly.
“Well, I suppose it could have been done somewhere else, but yes in the pub. I met with a guy who had some spare quota; I was negotiating buying up what he has left. Look, darling, I’m sorry I wasn’t with you tonight. I really didn’t have much of a choice, this was when he wanted to meet and I didn’t want to miss out on the chance.”
Heather softened once again upon hearing this. “I’m sorry, Greg, I know how hard you’re working to keep the boat going.” She reached for him to pick up where they had left of.
“So, does this mean we can still have an early night?”
Heather finished in the bathroom and entered the bedroom. Greg was already in bed waiting. He eyed her hungrily and could feel himself harden as she made her way to him. Heather removed her white waffle robe and slipped into bed naked. Greg turned on his left side to face her. Kissing her deeply he pulled her left leg over his hip. Heather groaned as she felt his hand slip between her legs. As his mouth sought out her breasts, his fingers swirled over her clitoris and she surged against them. Sensing she was ready for him, in one smooth motion he turned Heather onto her back. As Greg entered her, Heather planted her heels into the mattress and moved against him. Greg thrust steadily as Heather’s hips rolled to meet each stroke. As she felt her orgasm build she prayed that he wouldn’t climax before she herself reached release. Greg came quickly with a loud declaration of love, and Heather screwed her eyes shut in dismay. As her fiancé rolled off of her body and began to snore lightly, Heather contemplated what she should do. Wait for Greg to waken up or just leave him sleeping and take care of her needs herself.
The latter thought won out and, as Heather brought herself to orgasm and, just before she fell asleep, she was surprised to find a brief, unbidden image of Anna and Pete making love flit through her mind.
Anna glanced at the figure before her, taking in his rumpled appearance. He was definitely in need of a hair cut. With his unruly wavy black locks and full beard, he looked more like a mountaineer than a college lecturer.
Dave MacDonald turned around to see Anna standing in the doorway of the farmhouse.
“Morning, Anna. How are you?
“Oh I’m good, thanks. Can I get you a cup of something?”
Dave grasped the bottom of his beard in his hand as he contemplated his answer. Anna hid a smile as she observed him trying to make his decision. She wondered how he would react if she actually asked him a difficult question.
“I’d love some tea, Anna, if its not too much trouble.”
From the corner of her eye, Anna spotted a black and white fur ball approaching at speed.
“Hey, Jasper.” She petted the enthusiastic bundle of Border collie playfully. “I’ll be right back, Dave.”
When Anna returned it was to find Dave leaning against his van and smoking on his pipe. She mused on the fact that, if Dave were any more laid-back, he would just fall over. Nothing seemed to bother him and she briefly envied his ability to seemingly set his own casual pace.
Dave thanked her as she handed him a cup of strong tea.
“So what’s on the agenda this morning for you and Pete?”
Dave shrugged, “Shaving the sheep.”
Anna looked puzzled. “You mean like removing all their wool?”
“Oh no, nothing like that. Just shaving the wool around their backsides. Helps reduce the possibility of parasites from blue bottles and the like. Shaving the area keeps their backsides nice and clean … no wool for the shi …”
“Ack! I get the picture, Dave.” Anna quickly interrupted while pulling a face. She vaguely remembered reading something on this method. Since organic sheep could not be treated with chemicals or antibiotics, it was used as a preventative measure. She quickly decided that she would have to be off the farm for most of the rest of the day. No way was she having anything to do with that activity.
Anna decided to head up to Aberdeen to do some shopping. After saying her goodbyes, she went inside to pick up her keys and bag then set off on the thirty-mile journey.
As Anna approached the city of Aberdeen she was immediately taken by the clean looking visage it presented. It wasn’t her first trip there, but it never failed to impress her. She wondered if that perception had anything to do with the amount of granite used in the various buildings within the city. She remembered that after a shower the granite seemed to sparkle when the sun hit it. She headed on into the city centre deciding to shop on the main Union Street.
After purchasing some new books, CD’s and DVD’s, Anna had headed to a little Italian restaurant for a solitary lunch. As she was tucking into her pasta her phone went off. She looked at the display before answering.
“Where the hell are you?”
“Aberdeen. Anything I can bring you back … a stick of rock maybe?” she asked sweetly.
“You know where you can stick your bloody rock!”
“Now, now, Pete. No need to be like that. What’s got you so wound up?”
“Nothing.” Pete mumbled.
Anna took another bite of her pasta, clearly enjoying herself. “C’mon you can tell me. Sheep not treating you right?” Her tone was flirty and teasing.
“Listen I got a call from Jim Wallace inviting us to the pub tonight.” Pete changed the subject, not taking the bait.
“Who’s he?” Anna asked, slightly puzzled.
“The skipper of the North Star. I met him last week in the pub.”
Anna recognised the name of the fishing boat as being one Pete had previously mentioned. “Is there any specific reason for this invite?”
“I don’t think so. We just seemed to hit it off and he wants to meet my beautiful wife. I think it’s a good idea, Anna, this guy really is full of himself.”
“Okay, what time?”
“I’ll call him back and tell him we will be there at eight o’clock.”
“Good enough. See you later, Pete.”
Anna pressed the button to end the call and leisurely finished her lunch.
It was close to three p.m. when Anna took the turn off the main road that would take her back to Havenburgh. She made a last minute decision to pop into the community centre, hoping that Heather would be around.
As Anna entered the centre she glanced through the window of the glass-fronted office only to find it empty. She briefly considered her options and decided to venture further into the building. She peeked into the main hall and saw that it was full of senior citizens playing bingo. A man and woman she had never seen before seemed to be in charge of the activities. Anna then spotted Heather behind the counter at the top of the hall, apparently in charge of refreshments.
“Four and nine, forty-nine.”
“All the eights, eighty-eight.”
“On its own … number two.” Anna had to smirk at the dramatic pause. Bingo was a very popular hobby and pastime, but she just never got it. It was like a whole other world to her.
“Two and one, key to the door twenty-one.”
Suddenly, a high screech of “House” pierced the room, quickly followed by a lot of mumbling and a few groans.
Anna saw her opportunity and swiftly took it. She headed straight for Heather who was busy putting out a lot of teacups.
“Need some help?” Anna addressed the back of the blonde head.
Heather swivelled at the sound of her voice, instantly recognising those dulcet tones. “Anna!” She offered a welcoming smile to her dark haired saviour.
“You could start by taking the plates of biscuits and putting a couple on each table.”
“No problem,” Anna replied happily whilst briefly considering where her own sudden burst of enthusiasm was coming from.
It was obvious she had timed her visit to coincide with the afternoon tea break from the bingo. As she distributed her supplies, she received some polite hellos from the members who recognised her from church and a couple from the pub. The man and woman who were in charge of the activities were quickly, and efficiently, handing out the cups of tea and coffee that Heather was pouring. Within minutes everyone was served and happily chatting, sipping their drinks and dunking their biscuits.
“Thanks very much, Anna.”
“I’m not normally involved in this club but one of the volunteers is on holiday so I just have to jump in and help out when necessary.”
Anna shrugged. “I just popped in to say hi. I’m happy to help out.”
“Actually, now that you’re here, I wonder if I can ask you something?”
“Sure, go ahead.”
“I hadn’t mentioned this previously because you’ve only just started helping out at the youth club, but on the last Friday of each month they have a disco.”
Anna could see where this was going, but managed to keep a light smile on her face.
“Go on.” She encouraged.
“Well we’re a little short-handed for this months disco and I was wondering if you might be free and willing to go along with us?”
“Can you tell me a little more about it?”
“Sure. Well the disco isn’t here. We travel by coach to Montrose. The venue is fairly big and it’s usually well attended. Our job is to look after the kids and keep them out of trouble, then make sure they all get on the coach home.” Heather finished brightly.
Anna raised an eyebrow at the last piece of information.
“Ah, yeah. There have been problems in the past. Usually it goes fairly smoothly, but sometimes …” Heather shrugged “You know, teenagers.” She gave Anna her best puppy dog smile and prayed she would agree.
Anna shook her head and wondered how anyone could say no to this woman. She was adorable. She could probably sell ice to Eskimos and make them feel good about it, even whilst she was taking their money. Anna felt a wry grin come over her face.
“This Friday then?” Heather nodded hopefully.
“Okay, I can make it.”
“Great!” Heather voiced. “So, you wanna help me collect up all the cups and saucers?”
Anna gave her a look of mock horror, which quickly became a smile and a chuckle as she made her way to a table with the tray Heather had just handed her.