Adam wants Meg to be more than a friend but Meg has her reasons for not wanting to move their relationship forward. It takes a stray dog, an emergency at sea and a touch of Christmas to show Meg her true feelings.
Meg didn’t have to look out through Beach Diva’s shop
window to guess at the cause of the commotion in the street. Adam
had run past her shop only a few minutes earlier, tugging off his tie
as he’d sprinted towards the lifeboat station.
Her hands shook as she concentrated on folding the new
delivery of soft cashmere sweaters. Anything to keep herself busy
so she didn’t have to think, or worry, about what might be
happening out on the ocean.
She slid the neat pile of jewel-‐‑toned sweaters onto the
narrow mahogany shelf. The street outside the shop had emptied,
and she guessed that the small crowd had gone to the lifeboat
station to watch the boat launch. Unable to resist the impulse any
longer she wandered across the shop floor and peered through the
glass straining to see the boat house at the end of the promenade.
The sky outside was grey and stormy and a sudden gust of
wind from the seafront rattled the glass, making her jump.
The doorbell pinged and Meg’s mum, Val, entered the shop
in a swirl of wool and damp, salty air. “It’s a blowy one out there
today, and no mistake. I just heard the boat go out. I hope some
poor soul isn’t in too much trouble.”
She took off her coat and headed for the small staff room at
the back of the counter.
“Are there many people in town?” Meg stepped away from
“It’s filling up nicely despite the cold. I expect people are
coming early for a spot of shopping ahead of the carnival
weekend.” Val re-‐‑entered the shop rubbing her hands together to
warm her fingers.
The New Bay Winter Carnival, held the week before
Christmas, was a big draw for the town. During the day, a
continental market was open in the town park, and on Friday
evening a torchlight parade was held through the streets followed
on Saturday night by a firework display. All the money raised
during the weekend went towards the lifeboat station.
“I promised Erin and Dan I’d go and help them tonight with
the final costume touches for the youth group float,” Meg said.
“Will Adam be there, too?”
Meg frowned at her mother. Val heartily approved of Adam
and was never able to resist urging Meg into agreeing to date him.
“I don’t know. I expect he’ll be at the Mermaid later. It
depends if he’s on call, I suppose.” Meg shrugged. Adam usually
appeared at the local pub if he thought there was a chance she
might be there, unless he was covering for one of his partners at the
town’s medical practice.
“He’ll be exhausted if he is. What with morning surgery, the
lifeboat duty and evening surgery, he works far too hard.” Val’s
forehead creased with concern.
Meg bit back a sigh. She knew the unspoken subtext went
something like, ‘he needs someone to look after him’. Her mother’s
views on women’s roles were as dated as the perm and set hairstyle
“I’m just going to pop out to the deli for a sandwich. I won’t
be long.” Meg scooped up her jacket from the staff room and left
her mum to look after the shop. Much as she loved her mother she
really didn’t want another lecture about why Adam would make a
Meg hurried along the seafront towards the tiny deli
situated on a side street. It wasn’t as if she didn’t like Adam. She
liked his dark eyes and the way they crinkled at the corners when
he laughed, his broad shoulders and slow, gentle smile. If only he
wasn’t involved with the lifeboat then she would have taken him
up on his offer of a date like a shot. It was the one thing she and her
mother disagreed on, and Meg would have thought that her
mother of all people would have been the one to understand after
what had happened to her father.
* * * *
Adam adjusted the foil survival blankets around the
shivering bodies of the two young boys the crew had plucked from
the sea. The coxswain had radioed ahead to alert the ambulance
service and to relay the news to their anxious parents that the kids
were safe. What had possessed the boys to set to sea in a
homemade boat on a cold December day, he’d never know. From
their blue, pinched faces and anxious eyes, he was certain they
regretted their decision now.
A small crowd had gathered next to the boathouse on their
return. Adam didn’t bother to see if Meg was amongst them. He
knew she wouldn’t be there. The shop was probably busy, and she
always avoided the lifeboat station. He assisted the paramedics to
transport the boys to the waiting ambulance and reassured their
parents before entering the changing room to swap his clothes for
his work suit.
He checked his phone to see if there were any messages
from the surgery. Fortunately he’d just finished seeing the last of
the morning’s list of patients when his pager had sounded. There
was nothing from the practice, only a text from his mother
reminding him that she’d invited Henrietta Swift, the daughter of
one of her friends, to stay for the carnival weekend.
Adam suppressed a sigh. His mother’s attempts at
matchmaking were relentless. Etty Swift was a junior doctor at the
local general hospital, and his mother was always hinting at how
suitable she would be as Adam’s bride. He’d met Etty many times
before and although he was fond of her, it was as a friend, not as a
girlfriend. The only girl he was interested in having as his
girlfriend happened to be a spiky brunette who managed an
upmarket clothing store on the seafront.
He slipped his mobile phone into his pocket and collected
his coat. Now he would be expected to entertain Etty all weekend
instead of trying to spend his precious free time with Meg.
“Thank you, Mother,” he muttered and slipped out of the
boathouse to walk back towards the medical practice.
The wind stung his face as he walked, prickling his skin with
tiny ice needles. He shivered and turned up his coat collar,
quickening his pace to get out of the cold.
As he rounded the corner into the side street, he was forced
to step into the inside of the footpath by a large white van turning
into the narrow road. His pulse quickened when he spotted Meg’s
distinctive red jacket coming towards him. From the brown paper
package in her hand, he guessed she’d been to the deli to collect her
“Hi Meg.” He really needed to work on his pick up lines.
“The emergency’s over then?” A pink flush spread over her
cheeks. “I thought I saw you go past the shop. Was everything
“Yes, it was two kids in a homemade boat. Luckily, we
reached them before it started to sink.” He dreaded to think of
what would have happened to the boys if the lifeboat hadn’t been
“I’m glad everything was all right.”
“Me too. Kids, hey?”
She gave a small smile. “I should get back to the shop. I’ve
been gone for ages; I got chatting in the deli.”
He stepped back to allow her to pass him. “Will you be at
the Mermaid tonight? It’s the Christmas quiz.”
“I expect I’ll be at the pub later. I’m helping Dan and Erin
get the youth club float ready for tomorrow night.” The colour in
her face deepened.
“I guess I might see you later, then.”
“Sure.” Her smile widened, and she eased past him to
continue on her way back to the shop.
Adam carried on walking to the practice, replaying the
conversation with Meg in his mind. Why didn’t he have the gift of
easy conversation with girls? Every time he met Meg, it was as if
his tongue glued itself magically to the roof of his mouth and every
intelligent thought left his head.
He’d tried hinting at taking her on a date several times, but
somehow it always came out wrong. They’d continued on as
friends, hanging out with the same group and meeting up at the
Mermaid or the seafront café where Erin worked. It was okay, but
he wanted Meg to see him as more than a friend.
His mobile rang as he reached his car. He retrieved it from
his pocket to find Etty’s number on the screen.
“Hi Adam, I hope it was okay with you that your mum
invited me for the carnival?”
“Of course, it’s always nice to see you.”
“That’s good. I’m really looking forward to a break.” There
was a wobble in her voice, and Adam knew something was wrong.
“Are you alright?”
“I’m fine, just feeling a bit stupid and getting over a broken
heart. No big deal.”
Her tone was over-‐‑bright and he suspected she was trying
not to cry.
“Nothing like a few days by the sea, and the New Bay
carnival to repair broken hearts.”
“Thanks, Adam, you’re such a good friend.” This time there
was a touch of laughter in her voice.
“Get here early enough tonight, and I’ll take you to the pub.
It’s time for the annual Christmas pub trivia quiz. I’m reliably
informed that you could win a free-‐‑range turkey.”
“You’re on.” This time her laughter was more obvious.
He chatted to Etty for a few more minutes until he was
satisfied that she sounded more cheerful. The icy wind made him
shiver, reminding him he was standing in a cold and deserted car
park. He climbed inside his car and blew on his fingers to warm
them before starting the engine.
It wasn’t like Etty to be upset, he mused as he drove. Last
time he’d seen her she’d been dating one of the surgical registrars
at the hospital where she worked. She’d been pretty loved up, but
now it sounded as if her romance had foundered.
He sighed as he paused for the traffic lights near Meg’s
shop. Beach Diva’s shop front was decked out with red and green
sweaters, scarves and hats with pretty silver glitter snowflakes
dancing across the square windowpanes. It looked Christmassy
and romantic in the dull grey light of the early afternoon.
The lights changed and he pulled away, turning towards his
family home on the outskirts of New Bay. He couldn’t help wishing
some Christmas romance would rub off on Meg. Maybe then she
might start to see him in a different light, instead of ‘good old
* * * *
The shop was full with people when Meg returned. She left
her sandwich and her coat in the staff room and went to help her
mother serve the customers. By the time the bell over the door
sounded a farewell to the last customer, Meg’s stomach growled.
She hurried into the back room to retrieve her lunch, finally
acknowledging the rumbles of complaint from her stomach.
She took a large bite from her brie and cranberry sandwich,
chewed and swallowed. “Yum, this is heaven.”
“You know if you made your own sandwiches it would be a
lot cheaper,” her mother tutted as she moved around the shop
tidying as she went.
“I do make my own most days. Some days though it’s nice
to have a treat.” Meg took another bite.
“Did you hear anything about the lifeboat call out?”
Meg licked a crumb of cheese from the corner of her mouth.
“Yes, it was two kids in a homemade boat. I met Adam as I was
walking back and he told me.”
Her mother paused as she straightened up a basket of shell
jewellery. “I’m glad everyone was all right. I assume they were all
safe?” she asked, clearly fishing for information.
Meg nodded as she swallowed another morsel of her lunch.
“Yes, the kids have gone to the hospital, but they’re fine.”
“Good job Adam was on the boat then.”
“Mum, let’s not have this discussion now. You know how I
feel about Adam being on the lifeboat crew.”
Val pursed her lips. “What happened to your dad can’t be
undone, love. New Bay men have always gone to sea, that’s how it
is. Adam does a vital job for the lifeboat. They need young strong
men like him, and his medical know-‐‑how is a real bonus to the
crew. If he hadn’t been on the boat when they pulled young Brad
out of the water a few months back, he wouldn’t be here to tell the
Meg shivered. In her heart, she knew her mother was right.
Brad had been surfing when he’d been caught in an undertow.
Without the bravery of her friend Erin’s boyfriend Dan and Adam’s
medical skill then Brad would have drowned.
“Dad went to sea because he was a fisherman. It was his
living. Adam is deliberately putting himself in danger every time
the boat goes out.” Her voice shook as she spoke.
Her father had been drowned when she’d been a teenager.
His boat had been caught in a terrible storm a few miles from the
safety of the harbour. She’d seen and felt first hand what losing
someone you loved to the sea could do.
“And if it weren’t for men like Adam there’d be more folk
lost. There’s danger everywhere, Meg. I could have lost your dad to
a road accident or cancer.” The lines on her mother’s face softened,
and she rested a gentle hand on Meg’s shoulder. “Think about it,
Meg, and give Adam a chance.”