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Jane Downing

She won the Scrabble, by a whisker, but only because he could only manage a piffling ‘wit’ on the last triple word score. When it got to the stage he had to let her win, he’d know. But he’d cross that Rubicon when they got to it.

‘Are you seeing Gaby tonight?’

‘I’ll give her a bell.’

‘Well off you go. There must be something on TV for me.’ They both knew the Sunday afternoon dearth. ‘I’m beginning to see the point of women’s netball,’ she said cheerfully. The ref’s whistle stirred the crowd.


‘She sounds a hoot.’ Janice tickled her toes against Patrick’s back. Her toenails carved small half moons in his flesh.

‘Shouldn’t you cut those?.’

‘Don’t want to ruin the pedicure. Do you know how much it costs to have toe nails this colour?’

‘A pound of flesh?’

Janice bounced up and nuzzled his neck.

‘So why don’t you tell your mum about Gaby? It’s been six months since you broke up.’ There was no drag of nagging in her tone. Janice was simply, incurably, curious. She quite liked being the hidden girlfriend. Patrick, the dear, was a bit ordinary and it added spice.

‘Mum loves Gaby. After seven years, well she was like a daughter. All those Christmases and exchanged lavender soaps. How can I tell her Gaby wanted to marry an accountant with a beachside address instead?’

‘Would she like me?’

‘Mum would think you very young.’

‘Not your mother. Gaby, stupid – would she approve?’

‘I’d hope she’d be jealous.’

Janice giggled as proof she was too young. Patrick had thought to dye the grey out of his hair but couldn’t begin to imagine how you managed chest hair too.

‘Jealous that you’d snaffled a looker?’

Patrick rolled over – bringing swathes of ocean blue sheet – to better look. But she had her face an inch from his nose and he had to rely on it: to smell out her beauty.

‘Tell me what you did down at the river today?’ 

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