فصل 13

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فصل 13

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CHAPTER THIRTEEN

Lunch with Beth

Huw was working down the mine. Suddenly there was a loud noise and the roof of the tunnel began to fall. He put his arms over his head, but the falling rock knocked him to the ground. He could see Megan’s hands reaching out to him, but he couldn’t quite touch them. Then more rock fell and all was black. He cried out and woke up. He sat up in bed and for a moment couldn’t remember where he was. He looked around and slowly realised that this was his hotel room in Tredonald. He was safe, not down the mine. He lay down again, but couldn’t go back to sleep.

It was five o’clock in the morning. He got up and sat by the window of his room watching the darkness disappear and the sun rise. His head was full of thoughts - Megan, Gareth, his father, Beth - and how life threw things at you when you were least expecting them. One thing was clear to him, however, and that was how he felt about Megan. He loved her. Maybe not in the same way as he had when he was seventeen, but he knew that she was still the only one for him. Being with her again felt right - it was like coming home. He wanted to be with her for the rest of his life. He was sure about this. And Megan? What did she feel about him? In the next few days, he would find out.

He got back into bed and fell into a deep sleep. It was the sound of the telephone that woke him.

‘Mr Thomas’ said a voice. ‘There’s a lady here in reception for you.’

‘Thank you,’ said Huw, looking at the clock. ‘Tell her I’ll be down soon.’

It was ten o’clock! Megan was waiting for him. They were going to Cardiff to meet Beth. He had the fastest shower ever, got dressed and was downstairs in the hotel reception in fifteen minutes.

‘Sorry, Megan,’ he said, giving her a kiss on the cheek. ‘I had a bad night. I was still asleep when the phone rang.’

Megan smiled. ‘Would you like me to drive? You can take it easy.’

‘Good idea,’ replied Huw, returning her smile. He was happy to see her and to know that they were going to spend the day together.

As Huw opened the door of the car for Megan, he saw that she was wearing a silver necklace. ‘Megan, you’ve still got it!’

‘What?’ said Megan, but her hand immediately moved to touch the necklace. ‘Oh, the necklace. Yes, of course I’ve still got it. I often wear it.’

Huw sat beside her as they drove out of Tredonald. She told him how important the necklace had been to her in the early days. It was the only thing she had from him - except for Beth, of course. Huw told her about the drawing he had of her and how it went everywhere with him.

Megan felt comfortable with Huw next to her. She, too, had not had a very good night’s sleep - too many things going round in her head. But today she felt better. She started talking about Beth. She knew that Beth was a bit worried about meeting her father for the first time, and she thought that Huw was probably feeling the same.

Megan and Huw entered the cafe where they were meeting Beth. Huw’s eyes searched left and right, looking for the right face. A tall woman with dark hair stood up and walked towards them. She put her arms round Megan and held her for a moment. Then she looked at Huw, put out her hand and said, ‘Hello, I’m Beth.’

‘Hello, I’m…’ Huw stopped himself from saying ‘I’m your father’ and said, ‘I’m Huw.’ He took both her hands in his. They looked long and hard at each other, searching for something that showed they were father and daughter.

Megan spoke. ‘Look, I’m going to do some shopping. I think it’s better if you two talk without me here. I’ll be back in about an hour or so.’ And without giving either of them time to say anything, she walked out of the cafe.

From the moment Huw and Beth sat down, they didn’t stop talking. She told him about growing up in the flat above the shop in Tredonald, about her life now, her kids, her husband. She was completely comfortable with him.

‘Mum loved you, you know,’ said Beth. ‘Even when she didn’t hear from you, she still loved you. In fifty years, she didn’t say one bad thing about you. Not like grandpa - he didn’t like hearing your name.’ Beth laughed.

‘I loved her, too,’ said Huw. ‘The first years in Canada were so difficult for me without her.’

‘She’s a wonderful person,’ said Beth warmly. ‘I hope she’s going to be happy now.’

‘I want to make her happy,’ replied Huw, not understanding Beth’s words. ‘Beth, I still love her. I want to marry her.’

‘Oh!’ said Beth, and realised her mother had not told Huw about Paul. She had to say something.

‘Huw, has she talked to you about Paul, Paul Henderson?’ asked Beth.

‘She said he was a friend - why?’ Beth was quiet and Huw added, ‘Is there something more between them?’

‘Yes,’ said Beth. ‘They’re planning to get married next month. Mum’s going to move to London.’

‘Does she love him?’ asked Huw, quietly.

‘I think so… I don’t know really… You’ll have to ask her.’ Beth liked Paul very much and believed that he was good for her mother. She thought they would have a happy future together. But she also knew that things were no longer that easy now Huw had come back into their lives. She knew her mother still felt very deeply about Huw - but it wasn’t for her to say anything. Her mother must decide for herself.

‘Have you told her how you feel?’ asked Beth.

‘No, it’s too soon. I want to give her time to love me again. Then I will. I’m not going to lose her a second time,’ said Huw quietly.

‘I’m sure Mum will tell you about Paul. She doesn’t like hiding things. And anyway, he’s coming to Tredonald at the weekend. We’re all having dinner together. Maybe you can meet him and see what you think.’ Beth looked at Huw carefully and added, ‘Please be careful. I love my mother very much. I don’t want anybody to hurt her.’

Huw touched Beth’s hand and said, ‘I won’t hurt her - not again,’

Beth smiled at him and then looked up to see her mother coming into the cafe.

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