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Chapter Ten – For Queen and Country

The news of his selection for international honours had not been unexpected, but the happiness it brought was undimmed by anticipation. As he took the call from England’s chairman of selectors, his face lit up, seemingly illuminated by a thousand fireworks. Really good quality ones at that, not the cheap Catherine Wheels you fished out of the Co-Op bins after bonnie night when you were a kid.

The next few days were a haze of celebration and good humour. There was a skip in his stride and she hadn’t seen him laugh as heartily since she’d agreed to pull his finger on their first date.

The weekend before the match they’d gone for a meal with her parents, and entwined in the cocoon of her adoration he’d been on best behaviour. Readily agreeing to wear his black suit – the smart one he wore to funerals – he’d moderated his language, even when he received the bill. And they were most of the way though the third bottle of house red before he started staring down her mother’s blouse.

It was times like this that she knew he was a keeper. Clutching his hand tightly she watched as the candlelight flickered across the beads of perspiration starting to appear on his forehead.

“Ooo, here come the beer sweats”, he said, pausing momentarily to let rip a Chicken Bhuna induced belch before staring into the middle distance, seemingly lost in thought.

“Was that breast a bit old and tough for you?” she’d asked

“Not at all,” replied Martin, continuing to glance into the wall mirror that was giving him a perfect view of her mother’s cleavage, ”that’s just the way I like it.”

Extract reproduced by kind permission of Ms Davina Masterson