Katie Adams had finished painting the downstairs of Mr Grimes’s two bedroomed end terrace earlier on that afternoon and was looking forward to spending another long weekend with her partner, Jon Davies. Cutting ties with her former employers and setting up her own business as a self-employed painter and decorator had been a calculated risk, but one that had worked out for her. Arriving home, Katie made her way upstairs to her bedroom, casually stripping off her navy-blue work overalls and leaving them in the laundry basket, making a mental note that she would wash them when she came home on Tuesday. Opening the doors to the en-suite shower, she stepped in and stood underneath the hot water, washing away a minutia of splattered paint on her forehead and hands. Katie could have stayed there for at least an hour. She had better make haste if she was going to cut out the majority of the school run traffic. Tilly, her beloved Jack Russell Terrier, had been waiting patiently for Katie to get out of the shower. Having done so, Katie tied her naturally curly blonde hair up in a clamp, dried herself quickly and pulled on pair of black denims, red jumper, and grey Converse pumps. Closing the bedroom door behind her, she and Tilly bounded down the stairs. She grabbed her fluffy black cardigan, the harness and lead. Tilly barked excitedly.
‘Come on now girl, it’s almost time for us to go…but first, widdles.’ Tilly took care of Nature against the garden hedge. And having secured Tilly’s travel bed into the passenger seat of her white, diesel Renault Kangoo van, Katie knew that by the time they reached the southbound carriage way of the M6, Tilly would be fast asleep. She put both of their bags in the back of the van, climbed into the driver’s seat and reversed out of her driveway.
Her van was eight years old and a friend had installed a DAB radio for her. As she pulled into the service station on the M1 to refuel, she sang aloud to The Killer’s ‘Mr Brightside’ which was being played on Radio X. The drive to Walton-on-the-Naze, Essex, was tiresome, but always worth it to see Jon and his fourteen-year-old daughters, Gabby and Isla. Having met through a Kirsty MacColl fan group on social media, Katie and Jon were about to celebrate their two-year anniversary of dating each other. Jon had been divorced for eighteenth months and Katie had been single for roughly the same amount of time after her previous relationship had ended abruptly. The individual challenges that Katie and Jon had faced in the first few months of declaring themselves as a couple had been difficult, however, their relationship was stronger for it. This weekend with Jon was going to be an important one, and Katie had been hoping for a positive result.
She pulled over into a parking bay and gently woke up Tilly to feed her and dialled Jon’s mobile. He answered within seconds.
‘Hello, you, how are you both?’ Katie could hear his smile through his words.
‘We’re fine and dandy, I’m feeling randy. Not too far away from you now, about an hour tops. Tilly has a massive question to ask you when we see you.’
‘Hmmm, well that does sound ominous, but I like it.’ His voice was warm.
‘I’ll say bye for now, as I know I will be seeing you later.’
‘Bye, love, see you soon. Drive safe.’ Jon hung up, and Katie and Tilly got back into the van and made the final leg of their journey.
Jon waited at his living room window in anticipation of Katie and Tilly’s arrival. He had missed them both immensely, even though it had only been five weeks since they were last together. He felt bemused and wondered what she meant by Tilly’s question. Was it a guise? He had been living in hope that Katie had finally made her decision to make the bold move from renting the end-terraced house in Wigan to his home in Walton-on-the-Naze. He knew their lives would feel complete. He saw Katie pull up into the forecourt, and he went to help get her belongings. Katie gave Jon a massive hug and kissed him on the lips. Tilly started to paw at both of their legs, and as Jon went down to pat her, he saw the paper sign around her neck that said:
‘Can we move in with you?’…To be continued.