The Spaniard's Pregnancy Proposal

By: Kim Lawrence

CHAPTER ONE


FLEUR STEWART woke up and after a few minutes of lying there listening to bird song she forced her eyelids open. Yawning, she squinted at the clock on the bedside table. It was eight-thirty.

It was also her birthday. She was twenty-five, an entire quarter of a century. She resisted the temptation to ask herself what she had done with the first twenty-five years, because that would have inevitably led to her asking herself what she planned to do with the next twenty-five.

And Fleur didn’t know.

She wasn’t making any plans at all. She was going with the flow. Because life, she reflected, pulling the duvet over her head and burrowing down, never quite turned out the way you expected.

She had only ever wanted to act. The dream had been born the day her parents had taken her to see a matinee performance of a West End musical when she was eight. It had died midway through her second term at drama school. To be precise, on the day she had badly botched an audition everyone had thought was hers and realised that the only thing standing between her and a glittering career was a complete absence of talent.

The next day, and still in the same self-pitying, despondent frame of mind, she had met Adam Moore, a final-year law student. Good-looking Adam had been incredibly supportive and sympathetic when, over her second glass of wine, she had confided her doubts. A kindred spirit, he had seen her point immediately. What was the point staying on at drama school if you were only ever going to be mediocre?

This had been a lot easier to hear than, ‘You’ve got to develop a thicker skin,’ which was the attitude her friends, who hadn’t taken her crisis of confidence seriously, had adopted.

Adam had told her that a girl with her brains could do a lot better for herself than acting and Fleur had been flattered and believed him. Or at least she had convinced herself she believed him. Deep down even then Fleur had known that what she was really doing was choosing the easy option.

Three months later she and Adam had been engaged and she’d been happily waiting tables. And if she’d ever stopped to wonder what she was doing or ask herself if she was really happy, she’d reminded herself that this was a purely temporary measure. And the tips had been very good, which had been great because it had made sense for Adam to concentrate on his studies without worrying about little things like paying the rent.

Contemplating the painful naïveté of her younger self inevitably made Fleur despise herself, so she tried hard not to revisit the past. She tried to live in the present.

The present was actually surprisingly good.

Four years on there was no Adam. Admittedly there was no stage career either, but happily she was no longer waiting tables!

She loved her job teaching drama at the local college. Her colleagues were a decent bunch, the work was challenging and she loved the buzz of being around young, and, for the most part, enthusiastic people. If ever any of her students felt like throwing in the towel, Fleur told them that, sure, they might not have what it took, but they’d never know for sure if they didn’t show a little backbone when the going got tough.

The biggest plus of the job was that nobody here knew about her recent history. That being so, there were none of the sympathetic looks she hated or ‘I do admire you, you’re so brave for getting on with your life’—as if she had a choice—remarks to deal with.

No matter how much you enjoyed your job it was still a nice feeling come Saturday to wake up and pull the covers over your head and have a nice lazy lie-in. This Saturday, birthday or no, the lie-in was not a long one. The late-August sun shining through the thin curtains of her bedroom was just too tempting. It made her think of blackberries, walking the rescue dog her friend Jane had foisted on her the previous month and the million and one things that needed doing in the garden.#p#分页标题#e#

For a town girl she had adapted to the rural existence really well.

Fleur was still in her pyjamas when the phone rang.

She set aside an unopened birthday card and took a slurp of her freshly brewed coffee before padding barefoot through to the hallway to answer it.

‘Happy Birthday!’ The sound of Jane’s voice brought a smile to her face. Jane, a fashion photographer with copper hair and a sarcastic tongue, was the sort of person whose enthusiasm for life was infectious.