Chapter 7

Dean sprang down the steps and out of the staff block feeling very content with the world. He'd showered, changed, ironed the Falmers and even rummaged out a smart tie to go with his black shirt. He sauntered down the road, looking between the parked cars for the tiny blue Fiat.

“What's wrong?” A nervous voice made him turn round.

“Tilly?” Dean had walked right past her! She looked fabulous and completely different to how she looked at work. “Hell I didn't recognise you!” He laughed. Tilly smiled and automatically put her hand up to her hair, which was twisted up into a knot at the back of her head. She wore just a smudge of makeup and an elegant, knee length black dress. Dean rearranged the 'quite trim' category of Tilly's figure to 'wow'.

“I hired a car.” She pointed to a black Astra. “But the bloody thing's like a tank. You drive there, I'll drive back.” Tilly tossed him the keys and he smirked at the badly parked vehicle. It was on a slant and taking up two parking spaces. “Pfft. My Fiat only takes up half a space.”

Dean noticed Tilly's mood changing as the drove to the golf club. She became nervous and edgy and ended up sitting in complete silence.

“You OK?” Dean asked, just for the sake of asking. She clearly wasn't OK. “Remember, we can leave at any time. You just say the word.” He parked the car and undid his seat belt.

“Dean I owe you an explanation.” Tilly grabbed Dean's arm.

“No you don't.” Dean shrugged. “I'm listening if you want to talk, but you don't owe me anything, Tilly. Whatever it is, is fine by me. Honestly it is.”

“I know and I'm so pleased it is.” Tilly sighed heavily. “I'm meeting my dad.”

“Ah right. That's fine, like I said. I'll sit at the bar.” Dean shrugged.

“No you don't understand. I haven't seen him for fifteen years.”

“Oh!” Dean said in surprise. “Well that explains why you're a bit nervous, naturally.”

“I tracked him down about three years ago but I'm not sure it was a good idea. He wrote to me telling me he'd remarried eight years ago and that all was rosie in the garden.” Tilly shrugged her shoulders. “I just want to know one way or the other. Come on before I change my mind.” She got out of the car.

“Will you recognise him?” Dean asked, opening the door of the golf club for Tilly.

“Shit he's there.” Tilly was looking straight at a couple in their late fifties or early sixties. Mr. Marsden was thin and tired looking, with watery blue eyes and a far too red complexion. Mrs. Marsden was quite a contrast in her smart skirt and blouse and her well groomed hair. Dean noticed quite a few pounds worth of gold jewellery on the woman too. “Dean ... Dean ...”

“I could stay right next to you if you like? Tilly I don't mind, just tell me where you want me to be.” Dean said gently. Poor Tilly was beside herself with nerves.

“With me.” She grabbed Dean's hand so hard that it hurt. “Please? I know I'm putting on you and I feel such a fool ...”

“Come on then.” Dean lead the way over to the Marden's table.

Charlie Marsden's jaw fell open when he saw the young woman and her boyfriend approaching their table. He stood up slowly and had to support himself on the back of his wife's chair.

“Tilly?” Charlie whispered.

“Hello. This is Dean.” Tilly dug her fingers further into Dean's hand.

“You haven't changed at all.” Charlie sank back down into his seat.

“Don't you believe it, dad.” Tilly sounded suddenly very confident indeed. Dean glanced at her. Was there going to be a scene here?

“This is Penelope.” Charlie introduced his wife, who only just managed to nod her head in acknowledgement. “Fifteen years. How old are you now?”

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