‘This might sting a bit,’ Molly warned him as she cleaned the cut with antiseptic solution. The gash was several inches long, quite deep and needed stitching. She wanted to make sure that it didn’t become infected. ‘Sorry.’
‘Don’t you worry, lass. It’s fine.’ Bert gave her a toothless grin. ‘I’ve had worse than this, believe me.’
‘Have you indeed?’ Molly picked up a fresh piece of cotton wool with her tweezers and swabbed his arm once more. ‘So you’re an old hand at being patched up, are you?’
‘Aye. I was a hill farmer, you see. We lived too far out of town so we were used to fending for ourselves. Me and my brother, Cedric, were pretty handy with a needle if needs be.’ He held out his right arm. ‘See that scar? Cut my arm real bad while I was mending the tractor one day. Cedric stitched it up for me and it never gave me a bit of trouble afterwards.’
‘He did a good job,’ Molly agreed, thinking what a tough life the old man must have led. She could only imagine how painful it must have been to have such a large cut stitched without any form of anaesthetic. ‘Do you still have your farm?’ she asked as she broke open the seal on a fresh pack of sutures.
‘No. I had to give it up after Cedric died. It was too much for me on my own so I sold up and moved into town. I got one of them sheltered housing bungalows in the centre of town. Moving there was the best thing I ever done, as it happens.’ Bert nodded at the elderly lady sitting beside him. ‘I met Doris there, you see. She lives next door and we’re right fond of each other. Never had a lady friend when I was younger—never had time, what with the farm and everything. I’ve made up for it since, though!’
‘Good for you!’ Molly laughed in delight. ‘You’re never too old to fall in love, are you?’
‘Definitely not. When the lightning strikes, there’s nothing you can do about it.’ Bert laughed. ‘Me and Doris are getting married next week. We’ve got the church all booked and we’re having a bit of a do afterwards at the Green Man. Thought it was time we put things on a regular footing, you understand. You must come along, Sister. We’d love to have you there to help us celebrate, wouldn’t we, Doris? And you too, Doctor. The more the merrier, as they say, and you’ll be very welcome.’
Molly glanced round, suddenly realising that someone had come into the room. Her heart lifted and then just as quickly sank again when she saw Sean. All of a sudden she felt her resolve start to crumble. Although her lunch with Adam had been pleasant enough, it wasn’t Adam who had occupied her thoughts for the rest of the day. It made her wonder if she would ever erase Sean from her life. They had spoken for—what?—five minutes, possibly. But she had then spent the next five hours thinking about him.
It was as though Sean was imprinted in her consciousness and nothing could remove him, not even spending time with another man...especially not spending time with another man, she corrected herself, remembering how often she had found herself comparing Adam Humphreys to Sean during their lunch date and finding the former decidedly lacking. It had been the same ever since Sean had ended their affair too; she had never met anyone who matched up to him and she wasn’t sure if she would. Sean might have broken her heart but he still had a hold over her and it was distressing to admit it. It was an effort to hide how she felt as Sean turned to the elderly couple and smiled.
‘I missed the start of the conversation. What are you celebrating?’ he asked, leaning his shoulder against the wall.
‘I was just telling Sister here that me and Doris are getting married next week,’ Bert explained. ‘Friday, at St Marie’s church in the town centre. We’re having a party afterwards at the Green Man and we’d be delighted if you two young folk came along and helped us celebrate.’
‘I’m not sure if it will be possible,’ Molly began, hurriedly searching for an excuse to refuse the invitation. Panic swept over her. The last thing she needed was to spend any more time with Sean.
‘If you’re worried about what shift we’re working, there’s no need.’ Sean turned to her and Molly’s heart sank even further when she saw the expression in his eyes. Sean knew exactly what she was thinking and, from the look of it, he had no intention of letting her wriggle out of the invitation. ‘I’ve seen the roster and we’re both off next Friday, so we would love to come along. Wouldn’t we, Molly?’