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Things Can Only Get Better

Things Can Only Get Better

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Things Can Only Get Better

Lunghezza:
534 pagine
9 ore
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Aug 31, 2020
ISBN:
9781005606527
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

Minnie Talbot is positive that her boyfriend Dom is about to spring a surprise proposal on her, so she has a surprise up her sleeve for him too. Only things didn’t quite work out the way she planned it. When poor Minnie discovers her day has turned into the crappiest one she has ever had and so much for it being the best.

This story follows the hilarious antics of a modern working woman whilst finding out how she copes with disappointment. Only to take on a few favours and projects just to please other people, even if they don’t always appreciate her efforts. Until Minnie finally realises that the one person she can always rely on, is herself. So stay strong, tits out and carry on no matter what becomes her motto.

If you enjoy a British comedy novel filled with plenty of cringe worthy laugh-out-loud scenes and the odd F-bomb thrown in for good measure, then this is the book for you.

Editore:
Pubblicato:
Aug 31, 2020
ISBN:
9781005606527
Formato:
Libro

Informazioni sull'autore

Maureen Reil writes comic commercial fiction and has had over 35 books published, so far, but she's always working on a new manuscript so she wishes to add to that tally with lots of new titles before she's done and dusted. She was born in the city of Liverpool and resides in semi-rural Lancashire UK, but longs to live by the sea. It was always a dream of hers to become a novelist and thanks to her readers, she has fulfilled that ambition, so she couldn't be more grateful if she tried. And Maureen hopes you enjoying reading her books as much as she enjoys writing them.

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Things Can Only Get Better - Maureen Reil

Things

Can

Only

Get

Better

By

Maureen Reil

Copyright ©2018 Maureen Reil

This eBook is entirely a work of fiction.

The names, characters and incidents portrayed in it are the work of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or localities is entirely coincidental.

Maureen Reil asserts the moral right to be, identified as the sole author of this work.

Also by the author Maureen Reil

Chick-Lit By Any Other Name (Chick-Lit Collection)

Chick-Lit By Any Other Name 2 (Chick-Lit Collection)

Lily Loves To Love

Sleepyhead Shares A Secret

I Hate Me, Who Do You Hate?

I Did Write What I Know

Chick-Lit Saved My Life (Chick-Lit Trilogy book 1)

Chick-Lit Stole My Life (Chick-Lit Trilogy book 2)

Chick-Lit Staged My Life (Chick-Lit Trilogy book 3)

Chick-Lit Collection

Chick-Lit Trilogy

Mistletoe And Wine (Christmas Comedy Trilogy)

Mistletoe And Wine 2 (Christmas Comedy Trilogy)

Mistletoe And Wine 3 (Christmas Comedy Trilogy)

Christmas Comedy Trilogy

Let’s Get Married (Let’s Get Funny Fiction)

Let’s Get Together (Let’s Get Funny Fiction)

Let’s Get It Started (Let’s Get Funny Fiction)

Let’s Get Serious (Let’s Get Funny Fiction)

Let’s Get Ready To Rumble (Let’s Get Funny Fiction)

Let’s Get Physical (Let’s Get Funny Fiction)

The Finch Family Short Break (Comical Vacations Book 0)

The Finch Family Holiday 1 (Comical Vacations)

The Finch Family Holiday 2 (Comical Vacations)

The Finch Family Holiday 3 (Comical Vacations)

The Finch Family Holiday 4 (Comical Vacations)

The Finch Family Holiday 5 (Comical Vacations)

The Finch Family Easter Holiday 6 (Comical Vacations)

The Finch Family Bank Holiday 7 (Comical Vacations)

The Finch Family Christmas Holiday 8 (Comical Vacations)

A Granny Is For Life, Not Just Christmas

Let’s Get Funny Fiction 1 (Three-Book Bundle)

Let’s Get Funny Fiction 2 (Three-Book Bundle)

Let’s Get Funny Fiction (Six-Book Box Set)

Comical Vacations 1 (Three-Book Bundle)

Comical Vacations 2 (Three-Book Bundle)

Comical Vacations 3 (Three-Book Bundle)

Christmas Crackers

Wed To The Wrong Wayne

The Desperate Dater’s Intervention

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

Luck Had Nothing To Do With It

Dedicated to the Suffragettes

Table of Contents

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

Chapter 46

Chapter 47

Chapter 48

Chapter 49

Chapter 50

Chapter 51

Chapter 52

Chapter 53

Chapter 54

Chapter 55

Chapter 56

Chapter 57

Chapter 58

Chapter 59

Chapter 60

Chapter 61

Chapter 62

Chapter 1

Everybody on the bloody planet knows that the proposal of a man asking the woman he loves to marry him should be special and not something you do over a spring roll in your own dining kitchen for fuck’s sake. Only nobody bothered to mention it to my boyfriend Dom, who I’ve been seeing for exactly two and a half years before he asked me to move in with him and now exactly two and a half years later he decides to make an honest woman of me. Well I am expecting it to say the least. Mind you, if this is the best Dom can come up with at short notice after he has plucked up the courage then who am I to complain. I’m just made-up that he’s asking me at all. Really, I am.

Okay I’m not too pleased with the setting because we have dinner here most nights and keep the double doors open to watch something on TV so we can discuss it whilst we eat and miss half the show altogether as a result, but that’s our thing. Only I’m keeping the doors closed tonight, since I don’t think it’s very romantic to have an advert for nappies blaring in the background whilst Dom is trying to get his words out. It might put him off and scare the poor sod into thinking; I will want a kid exactly two and a half years after our wedding. I do want kids, but I’m not sure he’ll want them that soon. While I admit that I do have their names picked out already and even the two dogs’ names that we’ll have as pets. Being an only child myself, I don’t even want our dogs to feel lonely like I was at times so all is good in my dream existence. I cannot wait for it to begin, so bring it on I say.

I see chickens in my future too. I’d wanted chickens once I was old enough to care for them but we couldn’t have them in our rented high-rise flat, which is what my divorced mother told me. I know we only had a balcony, not a garden, but to me this meant that the foxes couldn’t get at them so they would be perfectly safe up there. As I suspected Mum was the one that didn’t allow them and not the local council. However, my hens would not be eaten (God no) not when they have names too and I love eating our feathery friends believe you me because nothing smells more like home than roast chicken does for me. Did my mother really only ever cook roast chicken? To be honest, I can’t recall her using the oven for anything else so I actually thought for a while that it was only meant for cooking chicken and nothing else. Mum would boil up a soup out of the carcass afterwards on the hob and it was the best thing I’ve ever tasted so one of these days I must ask her for the recipe since it has saved my life many a time, that broth did. Anyway, if we get the odd egg or three into the bargain then what could be better than that I say. Whilst I confess that, I have our whole life mapped out so I am rather keen to get this part of it underway. Seriously, I am chomping at the bit here people.

This is what I know so far. Dom’s mother Liv (not allowed to tell me directly) told her gardener who told his barber (at the shop Jono owns). Jono tells his girlfriend (my best mate Ella) so it got back to me. Via an excited call to warn me that Dom is having his grandmother’s ring cleaned and there’s no other reason for him to do this, other than the obvious. So that my friend is how I found out, Dom was planning a surprise proposal. Only he’s the one getting the surprise because I’m not going to simply order us a takeaway, like he suggested in the voicemail message he left me to save me from cooking dinner. After Dom told me he would be working late and that, he has something important he needs to discuss with me. I bet I can guess what that is, so I aim to have a proper celebration and turn this into an event even if he doesn’t want to make a fuss because he doesn’t like fuss. But I do, so we’re having a fuss. He’ll get over it.

OMG, I’m going to get to say ‘I do’. Not maybe tonight because that wouldn’t sound right if he asks to marry me and I say I do, but I will get to say those words in two and a half years at our wedding. Yippee! I couldn’t be happier than I am right now. What am I saying? Of course I can be happier about it, so that’s why I’ve arranged to make it extra special by inviting all our closest family and friends around to share this life changing event with us. Only they have to stay out of sight until he actually does the deed or they might put him off and I can’t have that happening because I know Dom is ‘The One’ for me. Therefore, I don’t want anything to fuck this up and that is why I haven’t invited his best friend Kane. For that loudmouthed bugger cannot keep a secret to save his life, so he was bound to tell Dom beforehand and that would only spoil the whole thing for everyone who is making the effort to keep this from him. I plan to let Kane and his missus know once that ring is safely on my finger, only then can he get his rotund ass around here to celebrate with us. Well he is bound to be Best Man at our wedding so it is only fair that he partake in the start of it. What a night to remember, this is going to be.

While I can’t believe Dom’s brother Cal is willing to leave work early on a Friday (since he is an Investment Banker and we all know money never sleeps never mind take time off for proposals) and jump on a train just to get here for this. Only Cal said he would not miss it for the world since he knows it will make his older brother squirm with embarrassment and stutter to buggery so there is nothing that he loves to do more than watch that. Now that is brotherly love for you. Whereas whoever said opposites attract knew what they were talking about, because I am messy and Dom is neat and tidy but it works for us. Dom’s job is a Town Planning Officer, but I expect he may have a prenuptial paper ready and waiting for me to sign the moment I say yes. I don’t mind, I rather like the fact that he’s organised like that.

Well I know he has more to lose than I do since I live with him in his house, which is a lovely cottage that Dom first rented and then inherited from his grandmother. (It’s the place where she was born and happily lived for most of her life so he feels like she’s still with us in a way.) Until old age and ill health meant she had to move, as she could no longer manage the stairs and different levels anymore so she bought the modern bungalow on the other side of town with her life savings, which she sadly died in and Cal (his brother) inherited that. He sold it and soon invested the money, as there was no way on earth Cal was going to move into it and give up his loft apartment.

Speaking of moving, I’d best get my arse into gear or I’ll be the one who lets the side down if I’m not looking my finest before they arrive and hide (out of sight) in the living room. Whilst I must make sure that Dom heads straight into the dining kitchen so as not to spot them in there with the light off and hopefully silent until required for celebration. Well I need to look good if these pictures are going to go straight on our social media sites announcing our engagement and in your face Ally Stomper (frenemy). For I’m not going to be the last one to marry in our gang since that will be you, now I’m marrying Dom. Of course, I invited Ally along to witness this firsthand because I want to see her plastered on a fake smile that congratulates me on the outside but on the inside, she will be seething since she just got ‘dumped’ and had the gall to say my relationship wouldn’t last either.

‘Evening, Ally . . . glad you could make it at such short notice. Come in.’ I usher her inside and show her into the living room. Hell I might have known she would be the first to arrive since she’s probably keen to see me sweat beforehand no doubt. As I do have butterflies in my stomach since I’m nervous for some reason and anyone would think I was the one asking Dom to marry me instead.

‘I got your text message. So this is it then, you’ll be officially off the market.’ She purses her full lips (courtesy of fillers) and hands me her coat but nothing else. She obviously ignored the bit about bringing something for the buffet table and booze bar. I toss it behind the sofa. Well I can hardly hang it up in the hall or Dom will see it.

‘Actually, I’m already officially off the market. Well we do live together in case you didn’t notice so I’m hardly looking for anyone else. Am I?’ Hell she always has to say something to unsettle me.

‘Oh I know that’s silly, but things can change in a heartbeat . . . look at me and my ex,’ she pouts as if it was so dramatic, but it was not.

‘You’d only been going out for five weeks so it was hardly the same as me and Dom . . . we’ve got five years invested in us.’

‘Has it been that long? I’m the one who introduced you two, don’t forget that.’ How could I, when she brings it up at every given opportunity to remind me just in case I don’t realise that I only have my entire future with Dom thanks to her and it pains me to say it but I am grateful to her for it. I dread to think of a life without him, as I cannot imagine me with anyone else to be honest. God, I am buzzing.

‘Only, you didn’t introduce us. You recommended my father’s garden centre to him when he was looking for some topiary plants for his mother Liv and that’s how we met, when I served him and he asked me out. Just to be clear,’ I said to put her straight on the details.

‘Men always fancy you more than me. You look like a pushover.’

‘I’m easier to get on with. But you did say we belonged together.’

‘Did I say that? I can’t have meant it because you two have nothing in common as far as I can see so it bewilders me why you stayed together, never mind, contemplating a lifetime commitment to one another.’ She picks up a party popper to fiddle with. She had better not let that thing off before the appropriate time, so put it down.

‘I’m sure we were destined for each other, or whatever it is that brings two souls together. All I know is that I love him to bits and he loves my bits so we’re a match made in heaven. So wish us well, eh.’

‘Minnie Talbot, I wish you everything you deserve and more. You know that, but I don’t want you to build your hopes up and get hurt.’

‘What do you mean?’ Why did I ask, when I don’t want to know?

‘I just mean it’s a long time between an engagement and the actual wedding so anything could happen, just sayin’.’ Does she have to curse it by putting a downer on everything? Why did I invite her here again, oh yeah, to see me happier than ever before? Smile through it.

‘Ooh, doorbell. Will you excuse me while I get that?’ Talk about being saved by the bell since I can only take so much of her company before I want to punch her in the kisser, but no catfights today.

‘Hey you, I hope he’s not home yet,’ said my best friend Ella and blew her long fringe out of her eyes before she came barging in the door past me carrying two large trays of something yummy and following her was her barber boyfriend Jono, who brought a box of bottles.

‘Nope, you’re fine. I don’t expect Dom for a while yet so we’ve got time to get set up and hopefully get everyone hidden beforehand.’

‘I hope they remember to park in the square and walk here because if Dom sees one car he recognises then its game over and he’ll know you’ve got visitors, so it could scupper his proposal,’ she says. I sigh.

‘I pray nothing makes Dom think he has to put it off until another time because I can’t wait any longer, now I know it is happening.’

‘I’m sure everything will go according to plan, but I know what you mean. I’m super excited for you and anyone would think it was me getting a ring on my finger, not you,’ she says and gives me a hug.

‘Huh, you’ll be getting one yourself one of these days off Jono.’

‘I don’t know about that. Maybe your engagement will make him think he has to put a ring on it, before I go off the idea altogether.’

‘Something tells me you’ll be next and my gut is never wrong.’

‘I have to beat Ally up the aisle, or she’ll never let me forget it.’

‘Me too, oh look out, here’s my mother.’ She has a new hairdo.

‘Minnie, I’ve brought you a roast chicken.’ I might have known.

Chapter 2

Then Dom’s mother Liv arrives wearing her trademark black ensemble. Liv has worn this colour ever since her husband passed away from a stroke, a decade ago. So it’s as if she’s still in mourning and this is supposed to be a happy occasion, not sad. Did she not get the memo? Does Liv think he’s still watching over her? Now that would be spooky since I try not to think of Dom’s grandmother wandering around this place in the afterlife, but he finds it comforting. Me on the other hand, well I find it off-putting, especially during sex so I try to hush it down in case we might disturb her. Dom misses his late father too but I never knew him so shame he went too early and did not live to see either of his sons settle down. Not that Cal wants to settle down. I see Liv (who works as a solicitor) has done a supermarket shop on the way here, so now I feel guilty for not having the time to arrange some caterers. As I did not want Liv to go out of her way, but she did anyway and it’s one of the reasons why I think she’ll make a fabulous mother-in-law so I struck lucky there too.

Liv gets her other son Cal to bring the goods in from her car, as they arrived together. Cal is staying at her house tonight and catching the train back first thing tomorrow. So I ask Jono to stop showing off his tats and help Cal bring it in quicker, or we run the risk of Dom seeing them if he gets home earlier than expected. Since surely my soon-to-be fiancé must be feeling funny too, so how he can work through this kind of excitement is beyond me. I can hardly function for fear of failure. What if he does not like the fact I made a fuss, so he calls the whole thing off. It’s the last thing I need to happen here. Not after all the bloody trouble, I’ve gone to, to arrange everything.

Nonsense, get that idea out of your head right away or you’ll be a jabbering mess by the time Dom arrives and it’ll be my good self who cannot say yes, I’ll marry you and spoil the whole thing. It’s going to be perfect regardless, because Dom is perfect for me. Since it’s not every day, you ‘become engaged’ so I truly want to relish in the romance in the room. In fact, I’m half-sorry now I didn’t book a harp player and a couple of chubby naked men in nappies with wings and blond wigs to shoot arrows at us. Indeed I’ve already sprinkled rose petals everywhere and brought home a couple of dead trees that I sprayed white so I could hang lit candle holders from the bare branches and love hearts, along with pictures of us. Well I do work in a garden centre so I got the petals from the greenhouse the minute I received Dom’s message, for I was not leaving work without them.

As for the dead trees, well I got them out from under the tarpaulin (having already rescued them off the tip in work when I planned for this decoration) so they were ready to go. I just had to get them here and set them up to look lovely, if I do say so myself. Fine, I admit that I may be going OTT with my thoughts so calm down or you’ll burst like a bubble any second now (your choice). There are ivy garlands and mosses with fresh flowers too, so it’s looking like an enchanted garden and smells wonderful in here. To me, there is nothing more romantic than this type of setting so I’m pleased with it and I hope Dom will not mind too much that I did this to make it extra special.

Even Dom’s assistant has made it here after he said there was no need for her to work late with him and miss her usual train. Tara with the trendy specs is a friend of Dom’s and here because she wants to witness her boss on his knees for once (figuratively speaking) although he shall be down on one knee hopefully. Well if you are going to do something then do it right I say, so he’d better not just blurt it out and expect me to accept a half-hearted attempt over a full-blown romantic gesture. If he suddenly bursts into song or whips out a guitar to serenade me, or even a book of poetry I would be all ears to hear it but we all know none of the above is going to happen. However, I would at least like some build-up to it before he pulls the ring box from his pocket. So I have to act all surprised as he tells me what I mean to him and how he cannot live without me, whilst he has to make me his wife or die trying etc. Of course, I shall still be excited as hell and probably wet my pants. I pray the ring fits my finger.

It’s starting to look like a proper get-together now our neighbour, old Mr Crowe has popped round. He still remembers when Dom’s grandmother lived here, so it means something to have his blessing for this place to be a family home again. My two other friends have arrived (Liza and Natalie) both of whom are already married and the former has even found a babysitter at short notice. The latter got off a conference early to be here claiming a death in the family, so that will make four in the last few months and they must think they are dying like flies around her. Their husbands can’t be here because they’re working (Liza’s is an engineer and Natalie’s is a male nurse). Liza has some baby spit-up on her top and Natalie (Regional Sales Manager) wears a power suit in and out of the office to gain respect. God I need this lot here by my side. It makes me well-up having them around and by the time the event occurs, I’ll be in floods of tears (happy ones granted but with smudged eyeliner all the same). I’m bound to need tissues.

‘You’ve done a wonderful job of bringing the outdoors inside, I must say,’ said Dom’s mother Liv as I tweak an ivy garland since one bit of it refuses to play ball and bend the right way I need it to. Where did I put that garden twine? She hands me it, as if reading my mind.

‘Yup, I wanted to jazz it up and make it look a bit more romantic. I pray Dom doesn’t mind the fuss. Well you know how he hates fuss.’

‘He did before he met you . . . but I think he secretly likes it now.’

‘I hope so, or I’ve done all this for nothing.’ I stand back to admire my handiwork. I really must get a picture of all this before I forget.

‘Listen, I just want to say, I’m glad he’s marrying a girl like you. He’ll never be bored since you’ll keep him on his toes, I’m sure.’

‘Cheers and I want to say, I promise to love your son forever.’

‘I can rest in peace knowing I’ve one son settled then but as for the other one, I can but live in hope he’ll meet someone like you.’

‘Oh I don’t know about that. Not if my mate Ally has her way,’ I reply as I nod at my friend trying to talk to Dom’s brother Cal with that look on her face that screams, don’t be scared of me just because I love you and she wonders why she’s still single. I feel sorry for him.

‘I notice Reenie looks ready for a top-up. Shall I get her another cup of tea?’ asks Liv about Mum and trying to be helpful, bless her.

‘Only if it’s got a shot of whiskey in it . . . my father will be here soon so she’s going to need it.’ Well, knowing Mum the way I do.

‘Ah, so it’s like that, is it . . . I recall them being divorced but I didn’t realise it was bitter between them. I’ll not mention him then,’ said Liv, before she wanders over to take my mother’s cup for a refill.

‘Min, over here, quick, I think I’m in love,’ said Ally. I could tell.

‘You always say that the minute you meet someone you fancy.’

‘What’s not to love? He’s gorgeous, just like your Dom, so I could talk to him for hours and not notice the time. That’s the type of man you want for a relationship. Is he single?’ In her dreams, he is.

‘I think so, mind you, you’ll have to get in-line behind the ladies from the bowling club . . . if you want a slice of old Mr Crowe.’

‘Ha, ha, very funny . . . you know perfectly well, I meant Cal.’

‘Oh right, easy mistake to make . . . yup, he’s single too but he’s a player so you don’t want to be wasting your time with him,’ I warn.

‘People can change. I could be the one to make him want to settle down, you never know,’ she says full of optimism. I shake my head.

‘See what I mean. Cal’s over there right now trying to chat-up Nat and she’s happily married. He has no chance, but he still goes for it.’ I point out, so Ally marches over there to put a stop to it by cock blocking him when she takes Natalie by the hand to lead her away. Is she going to follow him about and do that to every girl he meets? Yes.

‘This place is certainly fit for a proposal, so Dom had better get a move on and get here soon or I’m starting on the wine,’ said my best friend Ella as she holds up a bottle and a corkscrew ready to party. I notice her man Jono is talking to Cal. Ally is trying her best to butt in.

‘I don’t know about you but I need something stronger to quell the nerves. What if he sees all this, or finds out about you guys being here and does not end up asking me to marry him. I’ll feel such a fool.’

‘The only way to spoil this thing is, if you say no to him and I can’t see that happening because you love him and he loves you so relax. I’ll go and see if I can find that whiskey your mother hid but if not, I’m sure one of the girls can mix you up a cocktail,’ she says.

‘So your father couldn’t make it then, I’m glad, because it saves me having to make small talk when I don’t want to speak to him,’ said my mother, when she comes up to me as I swig a glass of something someone gave me to soothe my butterflies but it’s making me worse.

‘Actually, Mum, he’s on his way back here after he drops off a delivery. Well who do you think helped me bring those trees in here?’

‘Of course I promise to play nice, so you don’t need to say it.’

‘Thanks and before you ask if Dad will be coming to the wedding too, don’t build your hopes up that he’ll not be able to make it.’

‘Christ I know. Well he’ll bask in the glory of walking you down the aisle, since he thinks that’s one of the perks of being a father.’

‘It is. I wouldn’t have it any other way so please be nice to him, for my sake. It’s been donkey’s years since the divorce so you would think by now you two could be in the same room and not want to argue about every little thing because if he says black, you say white.’

‘The river runs deep, is all I have to say on the matter but I agree we should be able to bear being around each other and not bicker. There was a time when we couldn’t be in the same room and keep our clothes on, but that was another lifetime ago and once you’ve loved someone with a passion like that, you hate with a passion too.’

‘OK I get the picture, eugh. You two don’t get on so just ignore each other, if you must. I don’t want anything to spoil this for me.’

‘Now that I can do, I’d only choke on my words if I tried to say anything pleasant to him and vice-versa I expect,’ she agrees and so much for feeling the love in the room, if they bring the hate into it.

‘Good, glad to hear it. I’ll believe it when I see it.’ I roll my eyes.

To this day, I still don’t know what exactly happened between them two seeing as they don’t want to talk about it and this means that it must have been something serious. Obviously, it was for them to split up but was it something they would want to go to their graves sharing this secret. So I’m not the only thing, they have in common. Did one of them commit murder and the other one helped cover it up, since I cannot come up with anything worse than that? But the only people I can see them actually hurting is each other, so I doubt it’s something that bad. I do hope they trust me enough to tell me the truth one day.

‘Did Dom ask your father for your hand in marriage?’ asks Mum.

‘What? I never thought to ask Dad about it, but I assume he did.’

‘Well, it is tradition. Your generation probably thinks it’s too old-fashioned for a man to show respect, but manners cost nothing.’

‘I like to see things done properly too, or it might mean bad luck.’

‘Huh, I did notice you have a broken mirror so that’s seven years.’

‘Dom’s shaving mirror in the bathroom. He broke it, not me.’

‘You don’t want to be worrying about it. Forget I said anything.’

‘Shush, lights off. I think that’s Dom coming in the door,’ I insist.

‘Only me . . . don’t bother hiding,’ shouts out Dad, as he comes in.

‘Did Dom ask permission to marry me?’ Shit, the answer is no.

Chapter 3

So there I am, quietly praying that my mother and father can be civil to one another. As he eyes her with suspicion, since she’s not kicking off on him the moment he enters the room and she eyes him with evils in return for just being alive. Hell I hope to God, Dom and I never get to that stage of pure rage for something the other one did or didn’t do and let it amount to that level of resentment for the rest of our lives. Whilst I cannot imagine, never forgiving Dom for anything. I am aware; my parents do talk about me behind my back. However, I’m taking no chances of them two breaking out into a full-blown row before Dom gets home and who thought this was a good idea to have them here. Oh yeah, it was me, but I’m beginning to see why Dom would not want a fuss since dare I say it but I am starting to agree with him. Well this kind of thing is stressful to say the least. Christ, can you imagine what the wedding will be like? I can. I cringe.

While I make sure, my parents are not next to each other. I sit Dad down on the sofa beside old Mr Crowe in his Theodore hat. Once I’d booted Cal off it first and ordered him to go boil the kettle up for more tea and coffee. Even if everyone is fine for now, or they’ll be in need of the loo at this rate so that’s not good for Dom might need it too when he gets in to find one of them in it. Mind you, Ally will think it was a ruse to get Cal in the kitchen with her so she’ll thank me later even if it was not my true intention. Then I sense that Dad and my neighbour Mr Crowe are both too tired for small talk (his first name is not Russell like the actor but Rupert, for I can’t quite picture him as a gladiator). They cannot be bothered with each other as they fall silent so I offer them a plate of nibbles to munch on, since they’re stuck for conversation. It won’t be as awkward for them if they can chew their way through it instead of chatting shit about the weather. Who talks about rain? Dad has dirty hands, better not let Mum see.

My mother meanwhile, I make sure she is standing by the window and spying through the curtains on ‘Dom Watch’. Well I thought it best to give her a job to take her mind off Dad and anything he might say or do because I know her and any excuse could set her off if she’s bored. Only something is niggling at me and I cannot just shake it off no matter how hard I try, so I have to ask the question that’s playing on my mind. No, not that question about why mum and dad hate each other so much but the other one. Why did Dom not ask for my father’s blessing? Did he forget but he’s going to do it, the next time he sees him? Did he not think it was necessary so he had no intention of asking, if he takes it for granted? Either way, it’s not on as far as I’m concerned. Dom should have asked Dad. I need him to mean this and take it as seriously as I do or why are we bothering at all. Am I overreacting to his news? Probably, so I should ask what others think.

‘If you were going to ask a woman to marry her, would you ask her father’s permission first or not bother?’ I ask Cal, having wandered into the kitchen area to calm down and tell myself I’m being silly. As I come across him and Ally whilst she has him cornered like a scared hen in the foxes den so, he looks relieved to see me there frankly and gladly welcomes the intrusion. Ally, on the other hand, looks at me as if I have just stuck a knife in her back and I may as well have as far as she sees it. If looks could kill, I’d be dead now.

‘Err, tricky one that . . . I can’t see me ever being in that position but if we’re talking Dom then, I can’t believe he didn’t ask your father since that’s the type of thing he’d normally do knowing him.’

‘That’s what I thought, because it doesn’t sound like him at all.’

‘Do you think it could be because he has no intention of asking you to marry him and you’ve done all this for nothing?’ said Ally and deliberately twisting the knife she thinks I put in her back, into mine, just to get at me no doubt for not leaving her alone with her target. She can’t be right, can she, surely not? I couldn’t be that mistaken.

‘I don’t think that’s the case. Dom wouldn’t get his grandmother’s ring cleaned for any other reason than putting it on my finger.’

‘If you knew my brother then you would know Dom always claimed he would give his intended our grandmother’s ring, because it means a lot to him. Me, not so much, so I told him he could have it.’

‘Right, I’ll leave you guys to it. Whatever it is, that is going on here.’ I wink and back out of the kitchen. Ally’s face lights up at this.

‘Oh, don’t go, I have something I need to ask you . . . in private. Excuse me, but I must have a word with Minnie . . . about Dom and his err, thing,’ said Cal and moving Ally aside so he can get past her and get away from her more like to follow me out of the room.

‘What did you want to talk about?’ I turn around to face him.

‘It was an excuse to escape. Is your friend always this intense?’

‘Huh, you haven’t seen anything yet . . . but I can be a willing witness if you have to take out a restraining order, put it that way.’

‘It won’t get to that stage, will it?’ he replies and looks behind him to see if she has followed him out of the dining kitchen into the hall.

‘Relax, I was joking . . . but whatever you do, do not go into her cellar is all the advice I can give you because I would put nothing past her. Ha, you should see your face. She’s not that bad honestly. Ally would treat you like a king, but just don’t leave the castle.’ I grin.

‘Only I’m not looking for a queen so if you can get her to back off a bit, I’d be very grateful.’ I told her he was not for her but would she listen, no and now I have to be the one to set her straight, great.

‘Yeah, I’ll have a word. Now get back in there and mingle so she won’t get you on your own again or it’ll be Stockholm Syndrome for you my lad and you think I’m kidding . . . I am, but I couldn’t resist.’

‘God you had me going there . . . OK, but what if I need the loo?’

‘Take someone with you, preferably male, so Ally doesn’t think you’re trying to cop off in front of her because that’ll only make her worse,’ I say and I’m enjoying winding him up because Cal deserves to feel the heat for once, when he can never be faithful to any woman.

‘There you are, what are you doing out here by yourself?’ asks Ella, when she finds me standing behind the front door, ready to pounce on Dom the moment he gets home. But I know that’s not on, or it’ll only make him suspicious that I’m up to something and I am. However, I don’t want him to turn and run for the hills if he thinks it.

‘I was having a moment. I can’t believe Dom didn’t ask my dad.’

‘Well Jono has never asked my dad for permission to marry me, so you’re not the only one.’ Ella attempts to make me feel better and blows her long hair out of her eyes. Her boyfriend is a barber so surely he can sort her fringe out for her if it is irritating her that much.

‘Jono is not asking to marry you, not yet, so why would he.’

‘Yeah I know what you mean and I would want him to, I suppose.’

‘I’m not being unreasonable if I want Dom to do the right thing.’

‘Maybe you can get Dom to ask your father, before he asks you.’

‘No way, am I going to put this proposal on hold just for that.’

‘It can’t matter that much then so forget it and just enjoy this.’

‘Of course, what am I saying? What matters, is that Dom wants to marry me and I want to marry him so I’m over the moon about it.’

‘Then you might want to let your face know this and smile for fuck’s sake. You are about to become engaged to the man you love.’

‘Yup, fuck it. Who cares these days about stupid stuff like that?’

‘That’s more like it. Now come on, let’s go join the others,’ said Ella as she links her arm through mine and drags me back in there.

‘Oi . . . you lot will have to keep the noise down or Dom will hear you from across the street, never mind, once he gets home,’ I shout.

‘Quick, everyone duck down and turn that light off. Someone’s coming towards the house,’ insists Mum, still on Dom Watch.

‘Shit, this is it so wish me luck,’ I said to Ella who squeezes my hand as I back out of the darkened now silent room to await my fate.

‘Go be happy,’ whispers my best friend, for she’s rooting for me.

‘Why are you ringing the bell? Have you forgotten your keys again?’ I said to the front door as I headed towards it, expecting Dom.

‘Hello my love, are we too late . . . let us have a look at the ring then?’ said Auntie Ada as she stands there on my doorstep looking like she’s competing with my cousin Kara for the deepest fake tan, as she sways beside her on her impossible-to-walk-in high heels. Has Auntie Ada started celebrating already? Yes she has, on the way here in the taxi if the open bottle of fizz she holds in her hands is any indication. Who invited them two here for this, because I did not?

‘No, Auntie Ada . . . you’re not too late. Dom is not home yet so I don’t have the ring to show you but please come in, or he might see you out here because he’s due back any minute.’ I usher them inside and pop my head out to peek down the lane and back again, just to check there’s no sign of my beloved for now. My mother is no longer on Dom Watch. And there was me trying to keep the numbers down.

‘You lot can put the light back on and stop hiding. It’s Auntie Ada and my cousin Kara,’ I said, opening the door to the living room.

‘I didn’t think you could make it,’ said Mum on seeing her sister here so I gathered that my mother had invited them here. The more the merrier they say and they do not come ‘more’ merrier than these three since Mum cracks open the whiskey and Auntie Ada finishes off the fizz. Now Mum has backup, there’s no stopping her picking on poor dad?

‘Reenie, we couldn’t miss this . . . well we were beginning to think it would never happen. We always knew my Kara would get married before your Minnie of course, being that she’s prettier,’ said Auntie Ada to Mum but loud enough for everyone to hear. Whilst I realise why my mother invited them here and it’s to show off the fact that I can get a man to propose and I’m not a total failure at this love thing. No pressure, but I’m starting to feel it so I hope Dom gets here soon.

‘That was a given, but it’s happening now so we can be satisfied that my Minnie will not be left on the self any longer,’ agrees Mum.

‘You do realise I’m right here and I can hear you, so don’t talk about me as if I am past my sell by date,’ I said to them. Anyone would think I was the ugly duckling of the family and they’re grateful to Dom for taking me off their hands since they were scared of being lumbered with me for life, like I’m some sort of embarrassment to them. I can have my pick of men I’ll have them know but I chose Dom and he’s not doing it out of pity, despite what they think. Seriously, the cheek of it, I would ask them to leave but Dom might see them go so I suppose I’ll have to put up with them because you can’t exactly ‘ban the clan’ and I include my mother in that statement.

‘Take no notice, they said the same about me so that’s why I married young but the funny thing is . . . Mum wanted the big white wedding but not any grandkids yet, as it’ll mean she’s getting old.’ Kara pats her belly to indicate a baby. I had no idea she’s pregnant or that she only got married to please her mother. I’m not doing that.

‘Did your husband ask for your father’s permission before he asked you to marry him?’ I ask my cousin. It must surely happen, right?

‘Yup, he sure did and I wouldn’t have married him if

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