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Chapter Twenty One

‘There you are, loves.’ Elsie hugged Jessie and Simon before ushering them into the living room. ‘I’m afraid it’s a bit of a squeeze and just a case of finding a spot and sitting down.’

‘No problem. Thank you for the invite.’ Simon grinned. ‘Sorry we’re a bit late. My shift didn’t finish on time.’

‘Don’t worry, love. Go on, pop yourselves down. I think Diane’s going to start crying if I don’t serve up soon.’ Elsie chuckled and left the living room.

‘Too right, I am. I’ve been waiting for your macaroni cheese for months, Elsie.’ Grinning, Diane called after her.

Coming back into the living room, Elsie threw a tea towel over her shoulder and waggled her finger at Diane. ‘Dinner at Diane and Harry’s tomorrow night, then.’

‘Yes, sure. If you want burnt toast and cold beans.’ Diane giggled.

‘Umm, I didn’t say anything about you cooking. We’ve still all got jobs to go to the next day.’ Elsie grinned, the laughter lines around her eyes deepening.

‘Huh? I’m shocked. Saddened.’ Diane held her palm against her chest.

‘Sure you are, love.’ Walking towards the sofa where Diane was perched on the arm, Elsie hugged her and kissed her head. ‘You know I’m only teasing.’

‘Love you, Elsie.’ Wrapping her arms around Elsie, Diane grinned. ‘I wasn’t teasing about having to wait months to be invited to a macaroni cheese night, though.’

‘Oi, you. Stop it.’ Rubbing Diane’s shoulder, Elsie chuckled and disappeared back into the kitchen.

‘Where do you want to sit?’ Simon whispered in Jessie’s ear.


‘Come over here. We’ll move along a bit.’ Lauren patted the carpet next to her.

‘Thanks.’ Grinning, Jessie led the way, sitting down, her back against the wall as Simon sat next to her. She looked around the room. There weren’t as many people as there had been at the pub quiz. On the sofa Harry sat with Diane perched on the arm. Next to Harry were a couple Jessie didn’t recognise. Next to Lauren on the floor was Charlie and another couple she hadn’t met before. Ian was sitting in the armchair and that was it. She supposed it was because it had been a last-minute decision. Wendy and Connor hadn’t come as Hudson wasn’t feeling well, Daisy and Ollie were working, Teresa was going to one of her children’s friend’s party and Brooke and Heidi and their partners had already arranged to go to the cinema.

‘Hi, we’ve not met yet. I’m Paige and this is Owen. Lovely to meet you, Jessie.’ Paige waved from the sofa.

‘Nice to meet you both.’ Jessie smiled.

‘I’m Carrie, and this is Daniel.’ Carrie leaned across Lauren and Charlie and shook Jessie’s hand.

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