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Authors: Dilys Xavier

Roses For Katie

BOOK: Roses For Katie
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Roses For Katie

 

Dilys Xavier

 

 

 

© Dilys Xavier 2007

 

Dilys Xavier has asserted her rights under the Copyright, Design and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as the author of this work.

 

First published by The Wild Rose Press in 2007.

 

This edition published 2014 by Endeavour Press Ltd.

 

 

I dedicate this to my husband, Francis, my daughter, Deborah, and her husband, Fred, and my two granddaughters, Ellen and Leah. I am grateful to my editor, Rhonda Penders, for her invaluable help, support, and encouragement.

 

 

Table of Contents

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Extract from
Family Secrets
by Jenny Lane

 

 

Chapter One

 

Katie Turner cupped her hands around the large, yellow rose, and closed her eyes as she buried her face in the pink-edged petals. As she inhaled the delicate fragrance, her mind went back to the times when she and her late husband would sit in the garden and enjoy the evenings together. She remembered how the delightful scent from the rose-bed would fill the air on a summer’s day.

As though it were yesterday, she recalled how Greg had smiled mischievously, and taken her by the hand to show her the surprise he had just planted for her—a bed of hybrid tea roses.

‘It’s called ‘Peace’,’ he had told her, ‘and it’s been around for a long time. That beautiful rose was named to commemorate the day Berlin fell to the allies in the Second World War.’ He had put his arms around her to hold her close. ‘I chose it especially for you… because it’s perfect, just like you.’ Then he had kissed her tenderly, and looked into her eyes. ‘Every time you smell this beautiful rose, you’ll think of how much I love you, my Katie.’

Greg had been right. The roses did remind her of how much he had loved her. Being in the rose garden was the closest way she could find to be with her beloved husband now. With a deep sigh, she opened her eyes and wiped away a tear.

Katie wandered into the rest of the rose bed, gently touching the blooms as she passed them, when she suddenly had the feeling she was being watched. She glanced up to see her daughters looking through the sitting room window. From their expressions, she guessed they were talking about her. Well aware they had come to spend some time with her, she felt guilty because she had left them inside while she wandered alone in her garden. She waved, then picked up the trug of cut blooms, hung it on her arm and headed toward the back door.

***

‘I want to see our Mum full of the joys of life again.’ Sam swung around to face her sister. ‘Look at her… wandering through that old rose garden again; it’s always the same.’ She turned back to watch her mother again. ‘After three years, don’t you think she’d be starting to come to terms with the loss of Pop?

Tanya shook her head. ‘Ah, but he was the love of her life… her idol.’ She joined her sister at the window and curved her arm around the younger girl’s shoulders. ‘It’s okay for her to spend time with her roses if she wants… they’re her favourite flowers, and that’s why Pop planted them for her. She’ll come out of it in her own good time.’

Sam shook her head. ‘Can’t we do something to help?’ She gave her sister a pleading look. ‘She doesn’t go anywhere, doesn’t do anything, and the most upsetting thing is that she doesn’t want to. Honestly, I think she’s too young to shut herself away, isolated in this huge house. It isn’t healthy.

Tanya gave her sister an encouraging smile. ‘Come on, Sam, we shouldn’t try to live her life for her. We come to see her regularly. Don’t worry, she’ll be just fine.’

‘Think so?’ Sam sighed. ‘You could be right, but what bothers me is that she doesn’t even seem to need us. Look at her.’ She pointed to her mother. ‘We’ve come to see her, so why is she out there?’ Sam stretched her neck to look out through the window again. ‘Whatever you say. In my book her behaviour is a sign of depression, and someone’s got to do something about it.’ Then her eyes brightened, and she nudged her sister. ‘What Mum needs is someone to take her out of herself… someone to help her live again.’ She giggled. ‘Let’s find her a man.’

‘You’re joking!’ Tanya laughed heartily.

‘No, I’m serious. That’s what she needs. A nice man to take her out, or whatever.’

‘Or whatever?’ Tanya raised her brows. ‘Sam, you’re impossible, and Mum’s not stupid. If we tried that on, and she found out, she’d get upset and think we’re trying to run her life.’ She picked up a framed photograph of her parents and smoothed her fingers lovingly across the image. ‘Anyway, Mum’s pretty enough to find a man herself, if ever she wants one.’

‘Yes, but we could help her; put opportunities in her way. You know what I mean?’ When there was no immediate response, Sam went on. ‘One thing is for certain; she rarely goes out, and she ain’t gonna find a decent guy by wandering aimlessly through this old garden.’ Tanya became thoughtful and twisted her fingers through her fair hair.

Sam reached for a magazine and flipped it open. ‘Hey, listen to this.
Professional male, tall, good-looking, late forties, solvent, easy-going, seeks special lady for day trips, dining out, romantic cozy nights in, age unimportant.
Here’s another.
Attractive, well-off businessman, under 50, great sense of humour, likes holidays abroad, quizzes, walking, dancing, seeks cuddly single lady for loving relationship, age unimportant
.’

‘Where did you get that?’ Tanya grabbed the magazine. ‘There’s no telling who they are. Could be a crook, a rapist, a murderer even.’ She flung the periodical onto the coffee table. ‘There’s all sorts out there just waiting to pounce on a poor, forlorn female — and they’d be looking for a wealthy one at that.’ She gazed up at the ceiling and tightened her mouth. ‘No, Sam. Forget it!’ Tanya’s voice sounded more than a trifle impatient now.

‘I was only passing them by you for a giggle.’ Sam bit her lip while she thought. ‘But there must be ways.’ She went quiet, picked up the magazine again, and looked idly through the pages. ‘Margie is always finding herself a new man.’ She gazed into the distance for a few moments, and then the sparkle returned to her eyes. ‘Hey, I know, we’ll find Mum a man ourselves, vet him, and… ‘ Her voice was vibrant with excitement.

‘No, we won’t do anything of the kind.’ Tanya looked aghast and turned sharply to her sister. ‘Trying to vet a man for Mum could invite all sorts of problems.’ She paced the room, and then stared at Sam in amazement. ‘And as for using a dating agency idea for our mother… forget it. Right now!’

‘It works for Margie.’ Sam looked sideways at Tanya as though waiting for the next verbal blow. ‘She does it all the time.’

‘Yes, but that’s different,’ Tanya said, flopping into one of the big easy chairs. ‘Our big sister’s a law unto herself, and she’s smart enough to cope with any man she meets.’

‘Maybe so, but she hasn’t found one who’s convinced her to change her ways and settle down, has she?’ Sam said, wagging a finger under Tanya’s nose. ‘She’s still looking.’

‘I know, but in the meantime, she’s having a whale of a time.’ Tanya looked pointedly at her younger sister. ‘Margie’s no easy cop either — she’s too canny to be taken in by any man. But I think Mum would have difficulty knowing who’s genuine and who’s not. Anyway, to think that you could find someone to replace Pop is shocking.’

‘That’s not what I mean, Tanya. I know we could never replace him, but someone new and different can help fill the void, and there’s nothing wrong with that.’

‘Sorry, Sam, but your ideas are just not on.’

‘So what would you do? Stand on a corner, lasso a likely candidate, haul him before Mum for inspection, and wait for the adjudication?’

‘Don’t be ridiculous.’

The girls continued to watch their mother move around the garden, cutting rose blooms one by one. That garden had always been his pride and joy — now it was Katie’s refuge.

‘I don’t know why you’re so worried about Mum. I think things will work out all right, left as they are,’ Tanya said.

Sam straightened her mouth in a stubborn line. ‘Pop’s sudden death was a shock for Mum, and for all of us, but I don’t want to see her like this any longer. Living in the past isn’t good for anyone, and she’s got to get out and about again.’ She folded her arms protectively against yet another possible rebuke from her big sister, then she stole a sideways glance at Tanya. ‘I’m quite serious about this. Obviously Mum isn’t going to do anything about it, so we must give her a little push.’

‘Okay, maybe you’re right.’ But there was a tone of reluctance in Tanya’s voice. ‘It’s your crazy idea, so you’d better start the ball rolling. As for my part, I’ll watch out for someone nice.’ She seemed deep in thought about what she had just said. ‘Mind you, if we find someone we think is suitable, he’s not to be allowed within a mile of Mum until we know everything about him. Okay?’

‘Great.’ Sam’s face lightened up, and she was about to discuss the idea further, when Tanya pointed to the garden.

‘Hold it. Mum’s on her way in.’

Katie walked in with the roses she had cut for the centrepiece of the sitting room table. Sam watched her mother take a deep breath of the scent, and couldn’t help but appreciate how pretty she was. Looks all of ten years younger than her forty-eight years, she thought, surreptitiously studying her mother’s peaches and cream complexion — and a figure that every woman in the village envied. The twinkle in her eyes has gone, though, Sam thought, so it’s time we helped put things right.

As she placed the vase of roses on the centre of the table, Katie sighed, and brushed back a swirl of fair hair that had fallen over her forehead. ‘Shall I make coffee, or shall we wait for Margie?’ she asked.

‘Wait for Margie? Oh, no. She’ll be hours,’ Sam said. ‘You know what she’s like, always running late. I bet she’s spending money right now in some exclusive boutique. In a day or two, she’ll announce that she hasn’t got a stitch to wear and go off shopping again.’

‘Sour grapes,’ Tanya said. ‘You’re only jealous because she’s earning enough to buy whatever she fancies. You’d be earning the same if you hadn’t listened to Steve, and had Claudia so soon.’ She stared straight at her younger sister. ‘You’re the brightest of us, but I doubt you’ll ever find such another well paid job. You should never have left the computer world, so it’s your own fault.’

‘It’s all very well for you to talk,’ Sam retorted. ‘You had Becky and Mark close together, so why shouldn’t I have a baby as well?’ She folded her arms stubbornly. ‘You’re well set up now, especially since Philip doesn’t want any more kids.’

Just then Margie breezed in, casually threw her Gucci handbag onto the table, kissed Katie hello, and greeted her sisters effusively with energetic bear hugs. Suddenly the room was noisy. She tossed back the long, blonde hair that draped over her shoulders, accentuating her tall, lithe figure in the stunning apricot two-piece she was wearing. Unlike her sisters, Margie had no responsibilities and spent money freely, satisfying her every whim.

‘Take a look at this little number, Mumsy—girls, look, look,’ Margie said excitedly, tipping a multicoloured gossamer dress out of a shiny, green box, just as Katie was about to go and brew the coffee. ‘Isn’t it super? New in, and I got it for half price.’

‘What’s the occasion?’ Sam asked. ‘A date with a new man?’

‘Yes. I’m meeting George for the first time tonight.’ Margie chuckled as she shook out the garment. ‘He’s divorced. A bit older than I am, but he looks real good in his photo.’ She tried the dress against herself, and whirled around before putting it back in the box. ‘He’s a merchant banker.’ Margie changed her mind about men as often as the wind. She smiled wickedly, and winked. ‘We’ll soon see if he passes the test.’

‘Here’s your coffee, girls, the black for Tanya.’ Katie put the tray on the low teak table and gave a big sigh as she sank into her favourite chair. ‘My poor garden is so neglected,’ she said softly. ‘Your father would have a fit if he could see it now. It needs a lot of work. I should phone that man in the next village—the one who’s advertising gardening services at a reasonable charge. Maybe he’ll fit me in.’

BOOK: Roses For Katie
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