* * * * *
Ally pushed her way into The Farthing. The familiar chatter of its patrons and the jubilant blast from the fruit machine as it chugged out the ten pound jackpot greeted her as she scanned the pub for her friends. She was late as usual and the others were already seated at a table towards the back of the pub, a good distance away from the sweaty karaoke host. They were already working their way through a bottle of wine but a fourth empty glass awaited Ally’s arrival.
‘You finally made it then.’
Ally plonked herself onto a stool, looking from her sister to her watch and back again. The karaoke host was still setting up his gear so she wasn’t that late.
Not by Ally’s standards anyway.
‘What’s up with you?’
‘Nothing.’ Freya, her face twisted into a grimace that was never usually in place for a night out, grabbed the bottle of wine, glugging a good measure into Ally’s glass before topping up the other three. ‘It’s just that we’ve been sat here waiting for you.’
‘But you do that every week.’ Ally glanced at the others. Francine and Dee didn’t appear to have taken offence at her lateness in the slightest.
‘Exactly!’ Freya dumped the now empty bottle on the table and rose to her feet. ‘We need more wine.’
Ally watched as her sister marched away from the table. ‘I’m sorry, guys. I didn’t mean to be late.’
‘Don’t worry, chick.’ Francine stretched across the table to give Ally’s hand a squeeze. ‘It isn’t you she’s upset with.’
‘She broke up with Steve.’ Dee wrinkled her nose. ‘Again.’
‘Oh no.’ Ally looked back towards Freya, who was now at the bar chatting while she waited to be served. ‘She must be devastated. She was sure it was going to work out this time.’
‘She says that every time.’ Dee shrank under the glare of Ally and Francine. ‘What? She does. They’ve been on-off for three years now.’
‘So she must really like him to keep giving it another go,’ Francine pointed out.
‘Poor Freya. Why didn’t she tell me?’
‘It only happened this afternoon. We only found out twenty minutes ago.’ Dee’s eyes darted towards the bar. ‘But shh, she’s coming back.’
Ally, Dee and Francine adopted an air of nonchalance as Freya approached the table, striking up an impromptu conversation about the weather.
‘It has been unusually warm today, hasn’t it?’
‘You’d think it was summer.’ Ha ha ha.
‘I’ve been sweating like a pig all day. Oh, hey Freya. We didn’t see you there.’
‘Yes you did.’ Freya placed the new bottle of wine on the table and took her seat. ‘You’ve also told Ally about Steve.’ Freya placed a hand on Ally’s arm. ‘Sorry I was a bit of a cow with you.’
Ally gave a shrug. ‘It’s ok. I’m sorry about Steve.’
Freya gave a wave of her hand. ‘Don’t worry about it. I’ve decided to stop moping and move on.’
‘Good for you, chick,’ Francine said. ‘That’s the spirit. You’ll find someone else in no time.’
‘I already have.’ Freya grinned at her friends. ‘I’ve just met the funniest guy. Seriously, I just nearly wet myself.’
‘You’ve met somebody else?’ Ally was gobsmacked. She knew her sister had had more than her fair share of boyfriends – the girl was a walking relationship disaster – but that was seriously fast work, even by Freya’s standards.
‘Yep. Just now at the bar.’ Freya scanned the pub, wriggling her fingers in a wave towards a table full of men. ‘His name’s Rob and he is gorgeous.’
‘Ooh, does he have a friend who’s single?’ Dee strained her neck, trying to get a good look at the table across the pub.
‘Who knows? Probably. I’ll ask him when we go on our date.’
‘You have a date lined up already?’ Ally didn’t know whether she should be impressed or horrified.
‘We’re meeting up on Friday night.’ Freya gave her hair a self-satisfied flick. ‘Anyway, looks like Keith’s set up. What are we singing?’
Ally picked up her glass and raised an eyebrow at her sister. ‘The Lady Is A Tramp?’
Freya picked up her own glass and clinked it against Ally’s. ‘She sure is. But what are we singing?’
Everything Changes But You is available from Amazon now