Chapter 9

Michael recovered quickly from his ordeal, and after treatment for his wound and several days rest he was soon out of hospital. He went home to his cottage where Mrs Jenkins had worked hard to set it to rights. Everything was cleaned and back in it’s rightful place, but he still felt uneasy, recalling his experience on the night he was kidnapped. The following day he rang Julia and collecting Barney went to stay with his sister in Carmarthen to recuperate.

He had broken off all contact with Christine telling her that he never wanted to see her again.

Christine’s brother had been tracked down eventually, and charged with grievous bodily harm and kidnap. He was awaiting trial together with his accomplice.

Christine had reluctantly taken up her position in Cardiff, leaving as soon as she could after giving notice to her present employers.

Julia and Martin were looking after her animals until a date could be fixed for them to move into White Cottage.

At White Cottage Martin had started to build sheds to house both cats and dogs for boarding purposes, and already their diary for the next few months was filling up. Martin’s chickens had already been moved across to the cottage and they had soon settled into their new surroundings, and were laying again. Martin had recently acquired two Gloucester Old Spot piglets and a piece of the back field had been fenced off for them. Julia had been busy clearing the garden, bringing with her potted plants which she had been keeping for such a time when she would move. The whole property looked revitalised, and they both felt happy at the prospect of living at White Cottage, it was their dream come true. Martin was determined to save enough money to put down as a deposit for when Christine decided to sell the property: but for now they were happy to spend a whole year renting at a very low price, and looking after Christine’s animals indefinitely.

Bob had now come to live with them, and he had settled in happily with the other animals. They took him regularly to visit Albert, who was delighted with his new circumstances, and always happy watching his dog playing with the Dylan., Martin’s Jack Russell.

***

Two months had passed since the day of Michael’s kidnapping and finally the time had arrived for Christine to move her furniture out of the cottage and Julia and Martin would be able to move in properly.

After a busy morning packing up Christine’s possessions and seeing them safely into the removal van, all three of them watched as it drove out of sight, heading for the storage depot in Cardiff.

Christine sighed. “It’s the end of an era for me” she said. “I have been here for 20 years, I moved in when I was first married” she looked down twisting her handkerchief. “If David had lived then things would have worked out differently. I hope you will be as happy here as I was with David”

Julia hugged her. “I know we will be. We’ll let you know how we are getting on and how your animals are. Don’t forget to leave me your address”

“I’m not settled anywhere yet, just staying with friends until I can find somewhere suitable to live. James is handling my legal affairs, so you can contact me through him. That is, when he gets back from his honeymoon”

Julia smiled. “I hope it works out for them both this time.” She pictured James and Jenny sailing around the coast in James’s boat. “At least Jenny knows what she’s taking on. I never did find out what happened about the Aga in Jenny’s bungalow.”

“It didn’t fit the space” Christine replied and they both laughed.

“I’ll make some tea for you before you go, so come inside”

The kitchen had only the bare essentials as Julia’s furniture was not due to arrive until later in the day. Christine’s old kitchen table and chairs had been left behind together with an old rocking chair which was occupied by her old black cat, happily sleeping away the days which were left to him. They sat down waiting for the kettle to boil.

“Have you heard from Michael?” Christine blurted out, and bit her lip as if regretting asking.

“I had a card from him a couple of weeks ago. He’s with Barney walking the Brecon Beacons. He sounds as if he is fully recovered from his ordeal now and ready to get back to work.”

They both sat quietly with their own thoughts.

“If I see him……”

“No.” replied Christine quickly. “It’s well and truly over.”

She got up and looked through the back window at Martin who was now petting the horses.

“I don’t like goodbyes, so I’ll just slip off, don’t come out with me. Say goodbye to Martin for me.”

She walked over to her old black cat and picked him up. He snuggled into her neck and purred.

“It’s hard to leave love behind” she said putting him back down on his favourite chair where he soon settled down to sleep again.

She picked up her bag and with a last look round and blowing a kiss to Julia she walked to the back door and out from White Cottage.

When she rounded the side of the building what she saw made her legs buckle and she grabbed at the gate feeling sick and faint. Of course, she recognised the car which was standing in front of the cottage.

Somehow she managed to walk to the car and getting into the passenger seat she turned to the driver. She lifted her arm and she gently ran her hand down the scar on the side of his face.

“Hello Michael” she said.

The End


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