After closing the front door he suddenly remembered it was Burns Night and more significantly Carole’s blind date with Craig Frost.
The Burns Night Supper is normally held on or near the poet, Robert Burn's, birthday, the 25th January, which that year fell on a Friday.
It was significant in other ways as it was not only Carole’s first blind date ever but it was also her first date of any kind for almost 20 years.
So she was understandably nervous about dating again and unsure she wanted a strange man going to her house so she had taken Jack’s advice and was driving to his house where she would leave her car on his drive and then she could meet Craig and the others in his house for a convivial drink before they set off for the Burns Night Supper at the Worsted Viper Hotel in Purplemere.
So he had a quick tidy round and made himself something to eat then
After dinner Jack decided to open a bottle of wine and put his feet up and watch a DVD while he waited for his guests.
There were only a few DVD’s left in the lounge and the few remaining books he hadn’t packed away that he deemed fit for a Vicars eyes.
He went to the shelf and selected one of his all-time favourites “Where Eagles Dare”.
While he was watching TV and struggling to keep his eyes open he looked at the clock and saw that she would be with him in about ten minutes, and Carole was always punctual, so he thought he ought to be ready.
Right on time Carole arrived and reversed her Cherokee up the drive.
He watched through the window as she came to a stop, switched off the lights and got out.
Jack went to the front door and opened it just at the precise moment she reached it.
Carole was immaculately dressed as usual, but on this time she was in a full length green halter necked designer evening dress and a lavish faux fur shrug.
“Wow” he said, “you look stunning”
“Bless you Jack” she responded “but I’m scared to death”
She handed him the car keys, in case he needed to move it
“You shouldn’t be Carole” he reassured her “Craig will trip over his tongue when he sees you”
“But what if he doesn’t like me?” she asked with panic in her voice
and immediately looked down at the ground, Jack paused and placed his hand under her chin and tilted her head upward until he could look into her eyes.
“He’s going to love you the moment he sees you” he said to her softly
“I hope so” she replied forlornly and flopped down in an arm chair
“I’ll get you a drink” he said and went out to the kitchen where he picked up his phone and selected a number and it was answered in moments.
“Hello” Gemma said cheerfully
“Hi it’s Jack”
“Hello Jack we’ll be over shortly” she said brightly
“Can you come sooner?” he asked
“It’s Carole” he replied and added in a whisper
“Crisis of confidence”
“Oh I see,” she said sagely “I’ll be right over”
Gemma slipped on her shoes and shouted up the stairs to her brother
“I’m going over to Jacks, I’ll see you there in ten minutes”
“Ok” he called back and Gemma crossed the road and walked up the new path and knocked on the door.
“She’s in the lounge” he said “What are you going to do?”
“Massage her ego and ply her with drink until she cheers up”
She assured him and they both laughed and then she went to find her friend
“My God you look gorgeous” Gemma said
After ten minutes of ego massage Carole was in a better frame of mind altogether so when the boys arrived she was feeling very confident but her legs almost buckled when she saw Craig and Gemma gave Jack a smug look.
Well after a drink or two it was time to go and they left the house so Carole took Craig’s arm as they walked down the path to Tony’s car and never looked back.
“Have a great time all of you” he called after them
After closing the door he resumed his seat and refilled his glass and after taking a mouthful of wine he leant back into the cushions and promptly fell asleep.
He woke up just after ten o’clock, and the only reason he woke up then was because he needed a pee.
So he got up and attended to the matter in hand and when he finished attending to his call of nature, he was decidedly peckish so he went to the kitchen and made himself a snack, then he returned to his sofa, restarted the movie he began watching several hours earlier and sat eating cheese and biscuits’ as he watched Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood taking on the Nazis.
But alas before the end of the film he was asleep again, and this time when he woke up it was almost one o’clock and when he opened his eyes he was surprised to find Kayleigh sitting next to him on the Sofa.
“Hello” he said “I wasn’t expecting to see you tonight”
“So I can see” she retorted with a smile and a glance at the empty wine bottles and dirty glasses on the table.
Jack had just finished explaining about the pre Burns Night drinks and Carole’ crisis of confidence to Kayleigh when there was a knock on the front door.
Jack looked at Kayleigh and then checked the clock before he got up and walked out into the hall, then he opened the door and a rather tipsy Carole almost fell through it.
“Hello Jack” she said with a flourish.
“You had a nice time then” he said as he helped her into the house.
“I had a wonderful time” she exclaimed extravagantly.
She tottered a few steps then kicked off her shoes, which made her a little more stable on her feet, and she quickly progressed into the lounge.
All the while talking nine to the dozen about how marvellous the evening was.
So much for the crisis of confidence, little miss insecure was now nowhere to be seen.
“So Craig did like you then” he asked as she plopped down on the sofa.
“He did,” she said smiling
“And you like him?” Kayleigh asked
“Yes” she replied coyly
“Good” they said as they sat down either side of her
“So what are you doing here then?” Kay asked with a furrowed brow
“Well I saw Jacks lights were still on from the taxi so I thought I’d come and tell you all about my evening” she explained.
“Why were you in a taxi?” Jack asked, “Why didn’t you come home with the others?”
“Tony booked a room for him and Gemma at the Hotel as a surprise” Carole said and added wistfully “very romantic”
“You could have got a room with Craig” Kayleigh suggested
“No I couldn’t,” she said indignantly
“What kind of a woman do you think I am? I couldn’t do that on a first date, and I don’t think he could either, I’ll have you know that Craig Frost is a gentleman”
“So why didn’t Craig bring you home then?” Jack asked
“Well he was over the limit so he couldn’t drive and although he offered I thought it might be a bit awkward, to have him ride all the way over in the cab and then go all the way back” she explained at length
“And it would have been cruel to tantalize him with my gorgeousness for the whole journey only to dash his hopes”
This lengthy explanation bought about a burst of laughter and when she eventually composed herself she was almost laying with her head and shoulders on Jacks lap.
“That still doesn’t explain why you came here” Kayleigh pointed out
“Duh” she exclaimed “to pick up my car”
“And you can’t think why that might not be appropriate?” Jack said and Carole adopted a demeanour of intense concentration as she wrestled with the question and then her features relaxed and she said
After a cup of coffee it was decided that for appearances sake Carole would spend the night at Kayleigh’s as it was too far to drive her over to Clarence at that time of night.
But before they departed Carole needed to spend a penny and while she was using the facilities Kayleigh said
“I was hoping for a rather different end to the day”
“I’ll make it up to you” he said and kissed her
“You better had” she retorted as they heard the lock turn and a moment later Carole emerged.