|“I am sorry, Mary-Lou, but I just don’t think it’s working out.”|
Mary-Lou Trelawney stared at Gerard, frozen with disbelief. When he’d telephoned her at the museum to suggest lunch at the Savoy, she’d wondered if he was going to ask her to marry him. Now he was going to end their relationship? And in the most public place possible?
“I-I don’t understand,” she said, placing her gin and tonic carefully back onto the table and staring at him, her blue eyes wide open with disbelief.
He winced, “I am sorry, honestly. We’ve had some great times… I don’t want you to think I’m not grateful and that I don’t love you. You know I do. But – well, it’s Louise. She’s threatened to take the children away to France if I carry on seeing you.”
“I see.” Mary-Lou said, quietly. Inside she felt anything but calm.
Their waiter arrived to take away the plates from their first course. The wine waiter refilled Mary-Lou’s wine glass and she practically snatched it from his hands.
“Steady on, old thing,” Gerard said in alarm, as she drained the glass and slammed it so hard onto the table that it cracked. The restaurant was full and people at nearby tables were starting to stare.
“It’s been two years, Gerard. You told me that you'd left your wife. You told me you were already separated! I thought you were going to ask me to marry you.”
“Mary-Lou, please. I never said –“
“Do you know how stupid I feel?” Mary-Lou, to her horror, felt tears sliding down her cheeks.
Gerard glared at the other diners, then turned back to her. His expression softened. She was beautiful, even with her mascara running. Ever since the Director of the British Museum had introduced her to him during her first week of work there, he’d been smitten. But one of the most attractive things about her was her independence, the fact that she had made no demands on him. She had her own flat, a comparatively well-paid job as a curator of Amazonian artefacts with frequent leaves of absence for her archaeological exploits. He felt bad that he’d fibbed a bit about Louise, never really confirmed Mary-Lou’s impressions that he was separated, in fact – he paused – he probably had mentioned something about a divorce, but that was a long time ago and they’d never discussed it since. It just hadn’t come up during their glamorous life in London.
He hardened his heart. He couldn’t bear never to see his children again. They were only young. No, he had to give Mary-Lou up.
He sighed and handed her his handkerchief. She threw it back at him and stood up, knocking her chair over. The whole restaurant was now aware of the argument and the Maitre d’ was heading towards them.
Mary-Lou rubbed her eyes with her napkin and stood up, trying to summon up some dignity. She took a last long look at Gerard, who looked faintly surprised by all the drama, as was his way, and decided not to even waste another word on him.
“Is Madam ill?” The Maitre d’ asked, an expression of concern on his face.
“I have to leave. I’m sorry. I’ve had some bad news. Ex–excuse me.” Mary-Lou left the restaurant, breaking into a run in the hotel foyer, now openly sobbing, concerned only with getting out of this awful place where Gerard, whom she had loved so much, had dumped her in such a casual fashion.
She couldn’t see where she was going and the foyer was as busy as the restaurant. She crashed into someone, who reached out to steady her, but she pushed past, until she realised that she was outside and someone had followed her, called out her name. She turned round, wiping her eyes, hot with shame and embarrassment.
“Gerard, please leave me alone – “ She trailed off when she realised that the dark-haired man stood next to her wasn’t Gerard.
“I thought it was you – are you all right? What’s wrong?” he said. He looked concerned.
“I’m – I’m so sorry…”
“Here, calm down. Take deep breaths. You look like you’re going to faint.”
“I can’t stay here…”
“Come on,” He took her arm and led her back into the hotel, ignoring her protests. Once there, he pushed her into a small meeting room just off the main foyer and handed her his handkerchief.
For a few moments she just sat there, howling like a little girl. She was conscious of him speaking to someone at the door, but preventing anyone coming in.
“I won’t be a minute, Dan – yes, I do, she’s a family friend.”
Mary-Lou stopped crying and blew her nose. Rix Bettany sat down on the chair next to her and poured her a glass of water.
“Thanks for rescuing me, Rix. I was in the restaurant and, well, my – my boyfriend just ended things. I just took it badly, I suppose I over-reacted, and then suddenly everything went wrong. Was it you I smashed into?”
Rix tried to suppress a grin, “Oh no, that was Sir Robert Welles, one of the head trustees of my hospital. And also the chap who tried to stop you running out into the traffic was Mr Rayner, the chief consultant surgeon, my boss. I have to say it was funny seeing you knock them both flying… We’ve had a meeting here and were just about to grab a late lunch – David’s here too actually.”
He paused and looked at her, “I say, I am sorry. Was it a serious relationship?”
“I thought so – but I suppose I was wrong.” Mary-Lou thought of the calm way Gerard had broken the news and realised that what she had taken for cruelty was just his usual way of getting rid of any unpleasantness as quickly and efficiently as possible. He’d obviously told her in the dining room of the Savoy in the hope that she would take the news in her usual calm way and not make the scene she had made. She shuddered when she thought of how she’d run crying through the restaurant.
“I must look a sight,” she said, digging her compact out of her handbag and applying some powder.
“It must be years since I saw you – Bride’s wedding wasn’t it? Four years ago.” Rix said, reflectively.
“I know. I’ve not kept in touch with anyone – I’ve barely written to Joey.” Mary-Lou admitted. “I’ve been so busy with work and well, pretty much all my spare time was spent with Gerard. How are the family?”
“Fine, more or less - Look, I’ll have to go – Rayner’s bound to be looking thunderous as usual. Are you free sometime to catch up? I’ll bring David along as well, he’s more up to date with the Russell and Maynard news than me.” Rix looked away for a moment and frowned.
“I’d really like that,” Mary-Lou smiled.
Rix opened the door for her and she walked out, her head held high. A small group of four men of various ages, including David Russell, were stood outside and all of them looked at her with interest.
“I’m terribly sorry I delayed your lunch,” She said, smiling. Rix had been right, a man who appeared to be in his mid-thirties did look annoyed, although the others seemed relaxed, and she was anxious to avert any trouble for Rix and David.
“Not at all, my dear,” An older, blond man in expensive-looking clothes stepped forward and took her hand.
Rix introduced her to them at once, “Mary-Lou, this is Sir Robert Welles, and my colleagues Mr Rayner and Dr Lyndhurst. You know David, of course. Gentleman, Miss Trelawney, who is a close friend of the family.”
She shook hands all round. David kissed her on the cheek. “Great to see you again,” he said, giving her an appreciative look. Mary-Lou smiled at them all, noticing that Dr Lyndhurst was very handsome and that he walked with the aid of a stick and Rayner looked frightening even when he was smiling.
“Miss Trelawney, you will join us for lunch?” Sir Robert Welles invited, although it was more of a command than a question. He was obviously a man used to getting what he wanted.
The six of them adjourned to the restaurant, which Mary-Lou anxiously scanned for Gerard. He seemed to have gone. The Maitre d’ caught her eye and was about to speak, but Sir Robert Welles quailed him with a look.
“Robert, we really need to discuss the funding for the new wing,” Rayner said, impatiently. He sat down next to Sir Robert and motioned for Rix to sit with them, which he did. Mary-Lou sat down at the other end of the table, next to David and Lyndhurst, who smiled shyly at her.
“You look really well, Mary-Lou.” David said, pouring wine for her. “Did Rix tell you Maeve’s getting married in June?”
“No, is she? Who to? I was just telling Rix that I haven’t kept in touch with anyone since I came back from the Middle East. Apart from Joey I mean, she and I still write occasionally, and I saw Con Maynard about eighteen months ago.”
“Well, Maeve’s marrying Lyndhurst’s cousin, isn’t she, old man? I think she was trying to track you down actually, to invite you to the wedding.”
“I’ll write to her,” Mary-Lou said at once. “Is she still at the Quadrant?”
“Yep. Aunt Mollie’s gone to see Peggy in Canada again but she’ll be back for the wedding. Peggy’s had another daughter, my godchild. Bride’s expecting in September... Oh, and my parents have emigrated to Australia for good now that the twins are away at school. Sybil’s had a son...”
“Oh yes, I knew that.” Mary-Lou glanced at Daniel Lyndhurst who was looking at the menu in silence. She could tell he was shy and Mary-Lou had not been known during her schooldays as the champion butter-in for nothing. “Did David say she was marrying your cousin, Dr Lyndhurst?”
“Yes, I’ve met her a few times, she’s lovely. Freddie’s a lucky man,” he said.
“I’m pleased for her,” Mary-Lou thought about Maeve, they had been fairly friendly at the Chalet School, although it was Josette who had been one of the Gang.
“So what were you doing in the Middle East, Miss Trelawney?” Lyndhurst asked, looking grateful to be included in the conversation.
Mary-Lou told him and David about her archaeological dig in Jordan and then at length about her post at the British Museum. “It’s really what I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve been so lucky.” she said.
They discussed archaeology and travelling for the rest of the meal. As she finished her coffee, Mary-Lou glanced across and noticed that Welles, Rayner and Rix were still deep in serious conversation, presumably about the new wing.
“I’ve got the afternoon free - are you able to come for a drink?” David asked quietly. “We can properly catch up and I can tell you all the family news without us having to be polite and chat with this crowd.”
For a second Mary-Lou wondered if it was wise to go for yet another drink that day – after all, she had already had three glasses of wine – but in the end she agreed. David was very persuasive and anything would be better than going home to her little flat that had so many memories of Gerard and going to the Museum would also be awful. Gerard and she had attended so many events there and he was a close friend of the Director. For the first time, she wondered how many of her colleagues knew about the affair. She’d never had cause to be especially discreet. What if they thought she’d known about Louise and was a willing partner in the deceit?
Mary-Lou wished she had some real friends in London, but she had concentrated too much on her career. How dreadful it felt not to anyone to confide in.
At the end of the meal Sir Robert settled the bill and was nice to her when she thanked him.
“Not at all, my dear Miss Trelawney. It was a pleasure to meet you and I do hope we will meet again soon,” he said. Rayner shook her hand but he seemed preoccupied and barely gave her a second glance. The two men left in a taxi with quiet Dr Lyndhurst.
David turned to Rix and Mary-Lou,
“Rix, do you have to get back? Or can you come for a drink with us?” he asked.
Rix looked at his watch, then at Mary-Lou. She couldn’t read his expression.
“I suppose I can come for one,” he said.
“Good man, Come on, there’s a pub round the corner. Good of Welles to stand us lunch wasn’t it? Lyndhurst looked better than usual, I even got a sentence out of him instead of the usual two words. Rix, I was telling Mary-Lou all the family gossip. I suppose Maeve’s big party will be the next time we’ll all get together again.”
“Oh yes, did David tell you about the wedding? It’s in June and they’re having a big house party at the end of April. Maeve was full of it when I spoke to her this morning – something about Freddie Brentford’s mother not liking the decorations. I hope she’s not stressing Dad out too much. What would you like to drink?”
“Uncle Dick had a heart attack last year,” David explained while Rix was at the bar. “There was an enormous row going on at the time about whether Rix would go to join the San or not. Uncle Jack wanted him to go out to Switzerland but he refused. I don’t know the whole details, but it’s caused a bit of a rift between the Bettanys and the Maynards. I don’t think Aunt Jo and Uncle Jack will even come to the wedding but we’ll see.”
“Oh how awful,” Mary-Lou replied, “You were all such a close family.”
“Yes, well. I don’t see why Rix doesn’t want to join the San. It’d pay a lot more and there’s nothing really keeping him in London. I’m going to be running the Welsh San from July – I’m just having an extra year’s training at Guy’s - and I’ve offered him a place there, but he turned that down as well.”
Rix came back with the drinks, but he hadn’t heard their conversation. David at once started to talk about Sybil, his new nephew and the trip he planned to take to Australia next year.
Mary-Lou took the Underground back to her small but comfortable flat near Regent’s Park. David had offered to see her home after their drink – Rix had had to leave before the two of them - but she’d told him it was too far from his own rooms near London Bridge. She had felt he was flirting with her throughout the lunch and she didn’t yet feel ready to get involved with anyone else, let alone the nephew of arguably her closest friend.
Once she was home, she found her writing-pad and wrote to Maeve, congratulating her on the forthcoming wedding and apologising for losing touch. She also wrote a small amount about the break-up with Gerard, but didn’t mention the fact that he’d been married. It felt far too humiliating.
She also wrote to Joey Maynard, wondering if David had been correct and there was a rift within the Bettany-Russell-Maynard clan. She didn’t mention it in her letter, judging it to be none of her business.
The next morning she had to return to work.
‘I wish I hadn’t to go in,’ she thought as she got dressed. Her eye fell on the bag containing Gerard’s things that she’d packed up the night before. There was nothing of great importance, just a change of clothes, pyjamas and his shaving things. A teddy bear he’d won for her from the day trip they’d taken to the seaside that she’d held for a long time as she cried over Gerard.
She posted the letters on her way to the Museum and when she arrived, marched straight to her office with her head held high. Most of her colleagues were unfriendly to her, Gerard had always said it was jealousy that she’d become a curator so young, and Mary-Lou knew all too well how some of them would rejoice at the situation she now found herself in.
She had hoped she could get there without being spotted, unfortunately she found her colleague, Lily Ross, waiting outside her office door, a cup of coffee in her hand. Mary-Lou's heart sank down to her shoes.
“Mary-Lou! I was wondering if you’d come in today,” she said at once, her voice was full of fake sympathy. “Poor you. Mr Ellingham came in to see the Director today and he said that you were feeling poorly and might not be in. What’s wrong?”
“Oh, I had a headache, but I’m fine now, thank you.” Mary-Lou felt annoyed. Why was Gerard telling her colleagues she was ill? Did he think she would be too ashamed to show her face at work? What business was it of his anyway? She concentrated on Lily, who was a gossip, determined not to give her any ammunition.
“Is Gerard still with Anthony?” she asked, as casually as she could.
“Oh no, he’s gone.” Lily frowned at Mary-Lou calling the great Sir Anthony Melton, the Museum Director, by his first name. Honestly, it was so infuriating the way this girl – Lily was a good six years older – insisted on treating her senior colleagues like friends. What was even more maddening was that they seemed to like it! She opened her mouth to articulate this, but Mary-Lou just smiled, wished her goodbye in that calm way of hers and shut the door firmly in Lily’s face.
South of the river, Rix Bettany peeled off his surgical gloves and threw them into a bucket. He felt exhausted already and it was only ten o’clock. It was hard work assisting Francis Rayner, who was demanding and quick-tempered and also liked to schedule as many operations as he could in the shortest time possible, but Rix admired his dedication to the NHS and Rayner in turn appreciated Rix’s intelligence and willingness to work hard, so the two of them got on reasonably well. Certainly Rayner tolerated Rix more than any other junior doctor in the hospital, most of who loathed Rayner’s sarcasm.
Rayner finished his conversation with the anaesthetist and came over to the sink.
“That was good work, Richard. Can you write up the case notes – and those for the child with the tumour on her spine from yesterday? I can’t remember if I asked you for those or not.”
“I did them last night, sir. They’re in the office.”
“Excellent. Now, we’ve got another one at three, very similar case except for the size – would you be prepared to lead it?”
“Of course. I think you’re ready and it’s straightforward enough. I’ll be here. It’s all good experience for your MRCS. We’ve certainly put in the clinical hours.” Rayner gave a rueful laugh.
“Thank you, I’ll do my best.” Rix was inwardly ecstatic. Praise from Rayner was high praise indeed. Rayner smiled.
“Was your friend all right?” he asked.
“Who – oh, Mary-Lou? I think so.” Rix was surprised, he and Rayner never had personal conversations.
“Pretty girl, that.” Rayner said, looking at him in a direct way.
“I think David would agree with you, sir.” Rix replied, unable to meet his eye.
Rayner frowned. He spent one day a month at Guy’s Hospital and had come across David Russell, who was in his opinion, lazy and too fond of nights out drinking and partying with his friends. He opened his mouth to say something, but then remembered that David was Rix’s cousin and changed the subject back to the operation Rix would perform that afternoon.
Mary-Lou worked solidly throughout the day, clearing most of her administrative work. She was thankful that she had no tours or lectures booked and could therefore hide herself away. She had stopped herself wondering why Gerard had been in to see the Director before she drove herself mad. Gerard was a wealthy financier and he had supported a great deal of the Museum’s exhibitions and expeditions, as well as making charitable donations to many causes that interested him. Mary-Lou blinked away the threatened tears, determined not to act like a spineless jellyfish and wondered how long it would take to think of him without hurting.
A knock on her door startled her and she called for whomever it was to come in.
Billy the post boy entered grinning, carrying two enormous bouquets of flowers.
“Thank you, Billy,” she said, stunned.
“They all turned up at once, Miss Trelawney. There’s another one downstairs but I couldn’t carry ‘em all.” He said, leaving to presumably fetch the third.
Mary-Lou opened the first of the cards.
‘It was lovely to see you again and it would be great to have dinner one night next week – look forward to hearing from you, David.’
The second one was even more of a surprise.
‘Delighted to make your acquaintance yesterday and I do hope your problems have been resolved. With kind regards, Sir Robert Welles.’
She put the cards down on her desk, smiling at the loveliness of the flowers. Sir Robert Welles’s bouquet of white roses and lilies was especially exquisite. How kind of him, and of David too.
Billy brought up the third, which was a small bunch of tulips, her favourites. She knew instantly from whom they had come. She opened the card at once, leaving Billy to sort out the flowers and read the message.
‘I can’t tell you how sorry I am – I wouldn’t have hurt you for the world. All my love, always. G.L.R.E.’
“Oh my goodness! Is it someone’s birthday?” Lily asked, walking in and actually picking up one of the cards. “Who’s David? Are you going out for dinner with him?”
Mary-Lou nearly snatched the card back, “He’s an old friend, I know his family. I’ve known them for years.” she snapped, then instantly regretted it.
Lily looked offended. “How pleasant.” She said. “And are all these flowers from him? He must be very keen.” He must be mad, her tone implied.
Mary-Lou didn’t bother to reply. She scrunched up Gerard’s card and threw it into the bin.
“I’ll fetch some water, Miss Trelawney.” Billy offered, desperate to escape from the tense atmosphere.
“Sorry, Lily. I didn’t mean to shout at you. I’m a bit overwrought at the moment.” Mary-Lou apologised, “I do have an awful headache and I’m trying to finish my admin work.”
“That’s okay.” Lily sniffed. “I’m busy myself. I’ll see you later.”
“Bye.” Mary-Lou said, unable to bear it anymore. She decided to go and fetch a glass of water from the kitchen.
Lily followed her out and as soon as Mary-Lou had disappeared down the corridor she dashed back into the office and picked the card out of the wastepaper basket.
She was unable to stifle a gasp as she read the contents.
Lily smiled a nasty little smile as she headed back to her own office, the card from Gerard Ellingham’s flowers safely in her pocket. So Janet had been right, Mary-Lou had been dumped.
‘I’ve got you now, Mary-Lou Trelawney,’ she thought.
She had always suspected that Mary-Lou was carrying on with Mr Ellingham – everyone had. There’d been gossip and speculation for years. But he’d been careful not to leave anything that could prove he’d been unfaithful. Until now. There had to be a way Lily could use this to her advantage.
Mary-Lou wrote to thank David and Sir Robert for their flowers, but didn’t communicate with Gerard. There was simply nothing to say.
This was my first ever piece of CS fanfic from 2005. I am polishing it a little as I post. It is complete and I just need to post the chapters which I will try to do as quickly as possible!
It is in the CBB archives but the formatting has made it difficult to read there.
It is in the CBB archives but the formatting has made it difficult to read there.