What shall I do, she thought. This editing lark is boring. Oh, I know.
She started a blog. I’ll write a 100-word story every day, she decided, for as long as I can be bothered. She had no illusions that it was going to be one of her little follies, that she’d abandon the idea within a month.
But she encountered something she hadn’t reckoned with: readers. They read, they liked, they commented.
I have twenty, fifty, one hundred, two hundred and forty seven readers now, she thought, I can’t abandon them.
So six months on, she’s still here.
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She did. They do. But she can’t make a decision on a matter as huge as this without giving it proper consideration.
‘Say yes, Tina. Please. You know we’d be perfect together.’
She takes a deep breath. The vessel’s in dire need of repairs, but between the two of them, they have the experience. Once it’s fixed, they’ll have a boat of their own. No more stupid orders to follow. It’s a no-brainer.
Ben’s grin widens.
There it is: their future.
As far as I’m concerned, Tina and Ben are free to sail into the sunset by themselves. But I thought I’d killed them off when I wrote the first instalment of the Salvage Series, so I’m not going to say they’ll never come back.
I will come back to Jacqui – but maybe not tomorrow. Thank you for bearing with me while I strayed from business as usual. It shall now resume.
Donna tried to engage Jacqui in a discussion about her options. She needed support. Jacqui seemed distracted – her answers came out monosyllabic, her eyes kept scanning the seaside promenade.
‘Has the time come to end it?’
‘Hm,’ Jacqui replied.
‘Are you listening, Jacqui? You’re worse than Ben today.’
Jacqui spotted something that made her perk up.
Donna searched the harbour area – she wanted to know what made Jacqui grin like the Cheshire Cat. She spotted Ben with Tina Goodrow, laughing at a joke Goodrow had made, at the café. Without delay, she took off, not hearing Jacqui’s parting words.
Ben comes home after a long day of emptying lobster pots and finds Donna’s taken down their wedding photograph. He puts it back where it belongs. Donna’s gone out. He’s tired, but not as tired as he is of her games. He waits for her.
‘Trying to tell me something?’
‘Is this what’s it’s all about? You want out of the marriage?’
‘I won’t take the blame for you. You want a divorce, you’ll have to say it.’
Donna shrugs and disappears. Ben pulls the blanket over himself. He doesn’t feel like sleeping next to her anymore.
Hope last night went well. Mine didn’t… I’ve been ditched by the private eye. He claims hubby’s clear. Can you believe it? Is it likely Ben somehow got the detective to switch sides?
I need someone to talk to. So how about I buy you lunch later? Not just to pick your brains, but also as a thank you. I don’t know how I’d make it through all this without you. I wouldn’t even have noticed Ben was going astray if you hadn’t opened my eyes to it.
One-ish, the little Italian at the corner? Say yes!
He shouldn’t blame Donna – he’s responsible for his actions. But if Donna hadn’t hurled accusations at him, he wouldn’t have thought about Tina like that all morning; with her face the first thing he saw, no wonder his oxygen-deprived brain went, ‘kiss her!’
He assesses his sweaty vest-clad reflection – it takes Bruce Willis to pull off the look.
‘Get it together, Smith!’
He’ll shower, shave, put on proper clothes and talk to the guys at the harbour. Evaluate his options. Afterwards, if he’s feeling brave, he’ll pay Tina a visit.
Ben sits on the sofa, wearing a vest that needs a wash (Donna’s parting words this morning) and faded shorts. The boat’s owner said it’s for his own good, staying at home. Ben doesn’t buy it. Once the local media find something new to blow out of proportion, he’ll find himself out of a job. So it’d be a smart move to start looking while he’s ahead.
But the accident left Ben confused. He keeps reliving the moment of his coming to, Tina’s face hovering over his. He can’t stop thinking about that kiss.