Freda slammed it shut. When it took the huff at the roughness and did it again, she checked there was nothing in the way and gave it a gentle shove into position. It finally complied with her request it remained closed.
Brushing her hair she wondered where Alf had got to. He was already an hour late and the blasted mobile was on the kitchen table.
He’d only gone for a few bits for the dinner he was insisting on making her. She did point out that the money he paid to rent her spare room was enough compensation but he liked to make himself useful. She had to admit his skills had come in handy. He cut the grass regularly and did odd jobs that she would normally have had to pay for.
She got dressed trying to ignore the sick feeling in her stomach. Her head was making up scenarios as she made herself tea and toast.
The phone rang. Her friend Shirley’s voice came was a welcome distraction.
‘I’m off to the garden centre this afternoon, get the first pick before word gets out. Do you want to come, or can I get whatever on this year’s wish list for you?’
‘I can’t think right now, Alf’s missing.’
‘Missing? What do you mean missing?’
‘He went to Tesco’s about two hours ago, he’s not back yet.’
‘Oh, call the police, he might have been abducted.’
‘Maybe I should…’
‘I was joking, honestly, he’ll have met someone, bet he’s in the café having a coffee and chin wag with one of his pals. Call him.’
‘He’s left his phone.’
‘To get away from his worry wart landlady I shouldn’t wonder. Who can’t tell him how she feels.’
‘I don’t know what you’re talking about.’
‘Freda Nichols you can’t lie to me, I’ve seen the way you look at him, he is a bit of a dish and a charmer to boot, I would have had a go myself if I thought I stood a chance.’
‘Tom’s been dead five years. You’re quite the catch yourself.’
‘Maybe once but at my age.’
‘You talk like you’re ancient, he’s no spring chicken either, it’s hardly the graduate.’
‘We’re the same age actually.’
‘Well there you go then. Talk to him.’
‘What if he’s not interested. I’d look a fool.’
‘How many times has he cooked dinner this week?’
‘And doesn’t he pick you up from choir and fellowship?’
‘Yes, every week, says he doesn’t want me walking home in the dark.’
‘I think that’s unlikely now it’s June. And all those little jobs he does… he’s not just a lodger.’
‘He’s a friend. We enjoy each other’s company. I can be friends with a man you know.’
‘I do know but not this man. Not the man that bought you flowers for your birthday.’
‘I like flowers, he knows that.’
‘They were roses Freda.’
‘Shirley Conway what are you suggesting?’
‘Don’t be coy with me. I know you’ve thought about it, even if you won’t admit it. You don’t have to marry the man…’
‘You and your silly ideas, I bet he’d run a mile.’
‘Or up the stairs… ‘
‘It’s been five years…’
‘When was he last active in that department?’
‘I don’t know. His wife left him about ten years ago, he’s been on dates since the divorce but he never found the right person, few test drives he said.’
‘Think he’s found the right one now. Even if he hasn’t you could do with a test drive yourself.’
‘Stop it. He’s back. I’ll have to go. He’s making dinner and I’m sous chef.’
‘Very domestic. Think on.’
Freda met Alf at the door. He kissed her.
‘What was that for?’
‘Don’t tell me you don’t know how I feel about you? I thought I was clear last night’
Freda kissed him.
‘I see, so you do have more than platonic feelings for me?’
Alf donned his pinny.
‘I was worried it was just the wine… we did drink a fair bit.’
‘Did you mean what you said?’
‘Yes of course I did.’
‘Well then.’ He held her shoulders. ‘Ok I was worried too. Thought you might not really want this old codger making romantic overtones.’
‘Stop it.’ She whacked him with the tea towel.
He kissed her again.
‘Perhaps, tonight, we can take this one step further.’
She kissed him back.
‘Is that what you’re doing Tom Haley seducing me?’
‘What if I am?’
‘Took you long enough.’ Freda covered her smile with her hand.
Alf removed her hand from her mouth and kissed it.
‘Dinner can wait. I have a seduction to finish.’ He led her up the stairs.