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“Stop it,” Evie begged. She looked at the pile of dirty dishes – her mother’s best china. Mother had insisted that everyone should come back to the house for tea, insisted on the good cups and saucers.
“Should have done them last night,” her mother repeated. “I said, didn’t I? But, oh no, too lazy for that––or too drunk.”
“Drunk?” Evie said. “You know I don’t drink.”
“Oh, really? I wasn’t cold in my grave yesterday and you were at it.”
“One whisky, Mother, at your wake – to warm me up. It was bloody freezing at the cemetery.”
“Swearing and drinking. No self-control, just like your father.”
‘Here we go,’ Evie thought. She knew nothing could stop her mother – not even being dead.
Her mother’s voice continued. “No wonder Derek left you. Typical of you, messing up a good marriage to a decent, respectable man.”
“I left him, Mother, because he hit me – the Reverend Derek hit me.”
“I never saw any marks.”
“I hid them – I hid them from everybody.”
“You probably drove him to it, with your simpering ways. He was a good, god-fearing man. He wouldn’t have meant to hurt you.”
“He put me in hospital!”
Evie could hear her mother tut, could see her vinegary pout.
“He took you on when no other man would. You with your wanton ways. You always did need a tight rein – even then you strayed.
A bleak laugh mixed with the bile in Evie’s throat.
“It was no laughing matter,” her mother said. “It was sinful, disgraceful.”
“I was eighteen. I was in love. I––”
“You were eighteen and pregnant. Disgusting little slut.”
Evie imagined the stiff clawed hands reaching out of the coffin, felt her mother’s grip on her wrist. She recoiled, breathed against the nausea, tried to slam the lid down – but her mother was still too strong for her.
“It’s just as well your father was already dead. The embarrassment would have killed him.”
Evie thought of her beloved father, saw his lovely smile as he scooped her up and sat her on his red motor-cycle. He’d died thirty years ago when she was ten – left the house one day and never came back. Eva felt suddenly bold. “You killed Daddy. Broke him with your cruel words.”
Her mother didn’t answer.
“And you killed my baby.”
Evie dared to think she’d silenced her mother’s ghost.
But then, the voice returned, “It wasn’t a baby. It was a shameful liability. I arranged to have it dealt with quickly and discreetly.”
“Shut up!” Evie slammed her hands down on the worktop. One arm curled around the unwashed crockery and swept it onto the stone floor. “Leave me alone!”
Evie gasped, drenched with the shock of unfamiliar emotions – rage, passion and joy – the sheer unrestrained joy of being alive. The coffin lid had closed.
Evie’s father had ensured that the house would pass to Evie on her mother’s death. The dark, Victorian villa in Edinburgh reeked of her mother, and selling it felt like the first nail in her mother’s coffin.
The local church was the sole beneficiary of her mother’s money. When the minister called to thank her she told Evie that the money would be split between the local women’s refuge and a church support programme for teenage mothers. “Well, that’s two more nails in the bitch’s coffin,” Evie had said, laughing.
A few weeks later, on a sunny Saturday morning in Inverness, she was on her way home from a walk in her local park. It was then that she saw it. It glinted in the sunshine as if it was winking at her. She crossed the forecourt of the motor-cycle dealership to have a closer look. It was sleek and red with chrome trims. She ran her hand along its seat, caught the scent of leather and oil, squeezed the grips on the handlebars.
“Beautiful, isn’t she?”
Evie looked round. A man stood beside her. He looked about Evie’s age and was dressed in overalls. He extended his hand. “Ted,” he said. “Ted Roberts, owner of this establishment.”
“Evie,” she replied, shaking his hand. “Yes she is beautiful and I’d like to buy her.”
Ted smiled and Evie noticed that it was a lovely, warm, open smile. “Right,” he said. “Well, that’s the easiest sale I’ve ever made! Come inside and we’ll do the paperwork.”
“Do you want it delivered or will you come and collect it?” Ted asked, when they’d concluded the deal.
“I’ll need it delivered. I don’t have a licence – yet.”
“Okay,” said Ted, smiling again. “No problem.”
Evie thought how she liked his smile, liked how Ted appeared neither mocking nor judgemental.
“Or I could keep it here – until you’re ready to drive it away yourself.”
“Oh, no, I couldn’t ask you to do that.”
“Please, I want to. You can visit the bike whenever you like. Actually, I hope you will – that way I know I’ll see you again.”
Evie laughed. “Okay, then I’ll leave it here.”
“Happy?” Ted asked, slipping his arm around Evie and smiling his gorgeous smile.
“Oh, yes,” she replied, kissing him on the mouth.
It was a year to the day since they’d met. It was wet and windy, and they had the top deck of the cross-channel ferry to themselves. Their motor bikes were stowed below. They planned to spend their honeymoon biking down through France and Spain.
Ted took her in his arms, pushed her windswept hair back from her face, and kissed her long and slow.
“I’m so glad we decided to do this.” Evie said a little while later, still standing in her husband’s embrace. “It’ll be so lovely just taking our time, doing whatever we fancy…”
“And what might you fancy?” Ted grinned.
“You, Mr Roberts – you.” Evie said, smiling back.
Ted laughed. “You’re a wanton hussy. Do you know that?”
“Yes, I am. I am!” Evie raised her arms in the air. “Wanton and proud of it!” she called to the gulls circling overheard. Ted laughed again. Evie looked at him. She’d never felt so happy.
And that was the final nail in her mother’s coffin.
Anne Stormont Biography
Anne Stormont is a Scot and is the author of four contemporary romantic novels – one is a standalone and the other three make up the Skye series. The books are all second-chance romances where the main characters may be older but are certainly no wiser. She has also published one children’s novel under the name of her alter-ego Anne McAlpine.
Although she has lived in Scotland all her life, Anne is well travelled having visited every continent except Antarctica.
She began making up stories as a child to entertain her four wee sisters. But as an adult with a busy life as a mother and teacher, it took her a long time and a bit of a dramatic wake-up call for her to get that first book written. Anne is currently writing a new novel set in the Scottish Borders.
When she’s not writing Anne enjoys reading – a lot – yoga, walking and gardening. She can be a bit of a subversive old bat, but she tries to maintain a kind heart. She also loves tea, penguins and spending precious time with her friends and family.
You can connect online with Anne and find out more about her books and writing life at the following places:
Now it’s your turn.
Don’t be shy. Say what you are thinking and respond to the others taking part in Story Chat. You have two weeks to come back again and again before the summary post.
Evie gasped, drenched with the shock of unfamiliar emotions – rage, passion and joy – the sheer unrestrained joy of being alive. The coffin lid had closed.Anne Stormont – “Nailing It”
- What do you think caused this turning point?
- Why did her mother have such a strong hold on Evie?
- Have you ever had to claw your way out of a relationship?
The local church was the sole beneficiary of her mother’s money.Anne Stormont “Nailing It”
Why do you think Evie felt the way she did when she heard this news?