Always And Forever

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Authors: Betty Neels
was doing the right thing. Her aunt’s life had been disrupted by her sudden arrival and that must not be made permanent. She got into the car beside Josh and turned to smileand wave; she would be back on Sunday, but this was the real parting.
    There were few people about on an early Sunday morning: tourists strolling along the Shambles, peering into shop windows, church goers. Josh parked the car away from the city centre and they walked, Amabel with the cat basket and Cyril on his lead, Josh burdened with her case and the box of food.
    They knew about her at the patisserie; she fetched the key and opened the shop door, led the way through the shop and opened the door to her new home.
    Miss Trent had said that she would furnish it, and indeed there was a divan bed against one wall, a small table by the window with an upright chair, a shabby easy chair by the small electric fire and a worn rug on the wooden floor. There was a pile of bedding and a box of cutlery, and a small table lamp with an ugly plastic shade.
    Josh put the box down on the table without saying a word, and Amabel said, too brightly, ‘Of course it will look quite different once I’ve arranged things and put up the curtains.’
    Josh said, ‘Yes, miss,’ in a wooden voice. ‘Miss Parsons said we were to go next door and have a cup of coffee. I’ll help you sort out your things.’
    â€˜I’d love some coffee, but after that you don’t need to bother, Josh. I’ve all the rest of the day to get things how I want. And I must take Cyril for a walk later. There’s that park by St Mary Abbot’s Church, and then I must take a look round the shop.’
    They had their coffee and Josh went away, promising to return on the Sunday morning, bidding her to be sure and phone if she needed him or her aunt. She sensed thathe didn’t approve of her bid for independence and made haste to assure him that everything was fine…
    In her room presently, with the door open and Cyril and Oscar going cautiously around the neglected patch of grass, Amabel paused in her bedmaking to reflect that Miss Trent was certainly a trusting kind of person. ‘You would have thought,’ said Amabel to Oscar, peering round the open door to make sure that she was there, ‘that she would have wanted to make sure that I had come. I might have stolen whatever I fancied from the shop.’
    Well, it was nice to be trusted; it augered well for the future…
    Dolores Trent had in fact gone to Harrogate for the weekend, with only the briefest of thoughts about Amabel. The girl would find her own way around. It had been tiresome enough finding someone to help out in the shop. Really, she didn’t know why she kept the place on. It had been fun when she had first had it, but she hadn’t realised all the bookwork there would be, and the tiresome ordering and unpacking…
    If this girl needed a job as badly as she had hinted, then she could take over the uninteresting parts and leave Dolores to do the selling. It might even be possible to take more time for herself; the shop was a great hindrance to her social life…
    Amabel arranged the odds and ends of furniture to their best advantage, switched on the fire, settled her two companions before it and unpacked the box of food. Aunt Thisbe had been generous and practical. There were tins of soup and a tin opener with them, tins of food for Oscar and Cyril, and there was a fruitcake—one of Mrs Josh’s. She stowed them away, together with the other stores, in an empty cupboard she found in the tiny kitchenette.
    She also found a saucepan, a kettle, some mugs and plates and a tin of biscuits. Presumably Miss Trent made herself elevenses each morning. Amabel opened a tin of soup and put the saucepan on the gas ring, then went to poke her nose into the tiny cloakroom next to the kitchenette. There was a small geyser over the washbasin; at least there would be plenty

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