Charles Kensington frowned. Every time he saw is children they seemed to have their heads down over a book. They were working too hard, he thought, they needed to get outside and do something active and fun. Over breakfast, he mentioned it to his wife.
‘Hmmmm…’ Bess said distractedly, as she thumbed the screen of her phone, ‘Yes, they have been working very hard.’
‘What is so important on that phone, Bess?’ Charles demanded irritably.
His wife sighed, ‘Dear, you know the business can’t run itself. I need to arrange things. If I don’t have any stock, I can’t make any sales.’ She didn’t tell him she was actually arranging to meet her new acquaintance at the spa, he wouldn’t understand the social demands of running a business anyway.
Charles wanted to press the issue further but had to get to work.
Charles worked as an officer in the military. He had previously had a senior role at a large base, but had been re-stationed closer to his new home. The new base was small, and his commanding officer had warned him that it wouldn’t be up to his usual standards.
Charles found the base easily, it was close to a campground and seemed very public. In fact, the campers seemed to be using it freely as a kind of youth hostel! There were all kinds of quaint notices posted on corkboards around the site, from advertisements for cheap camping equipment to flyers for gigs.
There didn’t appear to be an officer in charge of all this chaos, so Charles busied himself with working out and practicing his chess skills.
A few hours passed by and Charles finally determined that nobody was in charge. He decided to speak to some of the teens who will milling around so freely and find out what was going on.
‘Oh, so you’re the new scout leader?’ one small boy asked enthusiastically.
Charles felt completely bemused. Was he at the wrong building? No… he didn’t think so. So what was going on?
Feeling hungry after his work-out, he made his way to the mess hall and helped himself to some of the food. Unfortunately he soon began to feel ill. What kind of berries had been in that pie? He made his way to the medical room but couldn’t find anyone there either! He helped himself to some medicine, swearing to find out who was supposed to be responsible for the place and give them a piece of his mind! Finally, he collapsed into one of the cots. He’d sleep off his illness, then he would find out what was going on with the place!
While her husband was having a small breakdown at the new military barracks, Bess was blissfully unaware of his uncomfortable situation. She spend the morning searching online auction houses for more stock to sell at her store, then decided she had worked hard enough for one day and it was time to meet her new friend at the spa.
Astor had acted non-committal on the phone, but Bess was pleased to find her new friend had called the spa ahead and listed her as one of her guests. The spa was nicer than Bess had expected, she ordered herself a drink and some snacks from the bar and sat by the pool while she waited for Astor.
Astor finally showed up (fashionably late, Bess thought admiringly) and the new friends decided to take a yoga class. Perhaps not the best move on a stomach full of tapas and cocktails, but Bess enjoyed herself nonetheless. Astor seemed keen on getting the attention of a rather frumpy looking man, much to Bess’ bemusement, but the man seemed oblivious to her charms.
(note: if you’re curious to find out why Astor was trying to get Geoffrey Landgraab’s attention you can find a clue here.)
As the evening grew darker, the two women enjoyed a late meal and a few more drinks together. Astor was keen to hear more about Bess’ royal connections, and told her about her husband’s career as a politician.
‘Really,’ she sighed, ‘he has done everything he can for this town but his colleagues are far too small-minded to understand his vision. If he just had the proper funding…’ she eyes Bess meaningfully.
Bess nodded sympathetically, but she wasn’t really interested in local politics, it just seemed like a lot of puffed-up men who enjoyed arguing with one another. And they were always nagging the family to show up at some boring event or another. As Astor continued to chatter about her family it suddenly dawned on Bess who the woman was! She knew she recognised her from somewhere. There had been a bit of a scandal when the son of a high-born socialite had married a sexy young movie star instead of the nice Simford University graduate he was supposed to be engaged to. The rumour was that the girl had married him for his money and connections. Well… this made her new friend seem suddenly much more interesting. Especially if her mother-in-law was the worldly Felicity Phillips!
Hmmm… perhaps her new home would be more interesting than she had expected.
Charles arrived home late after a long drive back from the barracks. He was still a bit ill so he grabbed himself a hot drink. There was no sign of his wife, but the housekeeper was in the kitchen eating supper.
‘How was your new job?’ Florence asked politely.
Charles laughed and shook his head, ‘Ah, don’t ask! It was terrible.’
‘Oh dear,’ Florence sighed, ‘Well, I’m sure if anyone can improve it, it will be you.’
Charles nodded thoughtfully and watched her as she began to clear up the dinner plates. Perhaps he could make the best of the situation after all.