Part Seventeen

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Kate's family home was beautiful. If you bought a box of ‘British Fudge’, the postcard scene on the box was a worthy place for the picturesque farm house to appear. Ivy crawled and covered most of the front of the two story building, and it was nestled between two sets of stables and a cobbled courtyard. The winter had stripped the usually vicarious trees of their deep green leaves and any summer blossoms, but they still stood tall and proud around the home.  The lowing of the cows welcomed her as Kate stepped from her car, at the same moment Peanut the scraggy half wild ‘King Cat’ of the farm wound between her legs purring. Bending she scratched between his ears.

                “He’s a feral bastard but he always loved you!” A voice called across the yard, and she looked up to see Stuart, her brother in overalls and muddy welly boots, smiling at her from the entrance to one of the outhouses. Leaving her bags in the car, and ignoring the fact that she had on impractical shoes she rushed across the uneven ground to embrace him in a bear hug. At some point Stuart had grown from the spotty teenager into this image of a man. He was a good five inches taller than her, and slim, toned, yet strong. She felt instantly relaxed in his arms. It was the first time the two of them had been together, alone in years.

Pulling back she left one arm tucked into his elbow and looked up at him, “have you grown since the wedding?” He chuckled. “So how was the honeymoon? And how’s married life?”

He led her across to the back door to the farm, “No I haven’t grown! And the holiday was wonderful; we didn’t want to come back. Married life is...great...” He broke into a knowing smile.

Laughing Kate punched his arm, “too much information!”

                “I didn’t say anything!”

She shook her head, “your eyes spoke volumes Mr Michaels!”

As they got to the backdoor, Kate paused to inhale the heady scent of freshly baking bread. Her mother never rested; there would be food enough for an army come Christmas morning. She swallowed the pang of regret that she wouldn’t be there, and stepped into the warm room.

                “Katie!” her mother squealed pulling her into her arms. “You’re early!” Showering kisses on her hair as she hugged her daughter, she turned to Stuart, “boots off in here young man!”

Stuart laughed, “I’ve a dozen things to do, I was just escorting her!” With that he ducked back outside.

Kate looked at her mother and smiled, “it’s good to see you Mum.”

Her mother nodded and Kate could see she was fighting emotions, “it’s better than good to see you! Have you eaten?”

Considering it was only mid morning and she’d eaten a huge meal the night before, she was starving; the lack of sleep and the alcohol seemed to have consumed her energy. “I’m always hungry for home made food!”

                “Good! Sit!”

Kate watched her mother frying thick slices of bacon to slide between hand cut slices of bread, her mouth watering.

                “So,” her mother glanced across from the stove, “an extra day, I can’t tell you how great it is to see you!”

Kate nodded, “I took some more time off. I wanted to spend more time with you Mum, I’m sorry I haven’t been the best daughter...”

Her mother scoffed, “you’re the best daughter a mother could have. I promise you...”

It was the first time that Kate noted the concern lines etched around her mother’s eyes, “is the new daughter-in-law not all you thought she’d be?”

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