By the time they reached the church, Sandy had the shakes, and seeing the crowds outside the church gates only made him feel worse.
"Look at this lot." Tony grinned at him as he parked the car inside the gates. "Any one would think you were famous, or somethin'".
Sandy grimaced. "They're not waiting for me, mate, I think someone's leaked it to the press that Gypsy was supposed to be coming to the wedding. Tough luck on them, 'e won't be 'ere." As they got out and slammed the doors shut, he added gruffly, "If I find out who opened their mouths I'll screw their necks!"
"No 'arm done, is there?" Tony slapped Sandy on the shoulder. It was like a pile driver trying to knock him into the ground.
He tried to keep the grimace of pain off his face. "It's Gypsy. He wanted things kept quiet, like; didn't want to take the limelight off Trish and me, I suppose. I told him he was being stupid."
"Well there's nothing you can do now, mate, there's a TV camera got it's eye on you, over there see? And is that at one of your guests waving to you, by the church door?"
Sandy squinted in the bright sunshine to try and make out who the distant figure was then gave a yell of excitement. "It's Gypsy, he made it after all!" He hurried up the path as fast as he could without appearing mad in front of the camera and press. Gypsy came towards him, grinning with his hand outstretched and as they shook hands there was nothing they could say, both not knowing whether to laugh or to cry. That tight handclasp said it all and Sandy refused to let go till Gaskin and the boys appeared at their side to offer their own congratulations. Gypsy was still as slim as ever but had grown a little taller, and looked quite the smart executive type in a grey three-piece suit and silver dress tie. His eyes were as bright and intense as ever and all that remained of the facial scars were fine lines that could easily be hidden by careful makeup and would blend, in time, with the natural lines of old age. As they moved in a group towards the church door, Sandy couldn't help shaking his head at Gypsy. "You're looking bloody great, man!"
Gypsy grinned up at him. "You don't look so bad yourself. I told you all that training would work."
"That you did, Mate! Where's Shana by the way, is she with you?"
"Right here, handsome." Shana peeped out of the porch at him. She stepped out onto the path and held out her hands to him, a vision of lemon lace with a white picture hat. She smiled and said, "Congratulations."
"And the same to you," Sandy laughed, and hugged her warmly. "You look real smashing!"
"I should do." Shana extricated herself from his arms and twirled round to show off the ankle length creation. "Your bride designed this for me. How's that for hiding the lump."
"Trish? She never told me."
"She wasn't supposed to. Now hadn't we better get inside the church before the bride arrives?"
"Good idea." Sandy slipped his arm round her and led her back inside the church with the others following. "How are you anyway?"
"Tired and fat but very happy, thank you."
"When's junior due to arrive, then?"
"What?" Sandy stared down at her, horrified.
"Yes." Shana laughed up at him. "And if Trish doesn't hurry up there'll be a christening here as well as a wedding." Her eyes twinkled with mischief and Sandy guessed she was pulling his leg.
Inside the porch, Tony offered to step down as best man in favour of Gypsy who would not hear of it, insisting he would rather stay with Shana, 'just in case', and Sandy began to wonder if Shana's jesting words weren't nearer the truth, the way Gypsy kept his arm round her waist during the service and afterwards, when he and Shana went down to the gate with two of their 'heavies' to talk to their admirers and appease the press and TV cameras, taking the heat off the wedding party for a few minutes.
"It's a good thing your dad is a doctor," Sandy mused as he and Trish rode homeward in the wedding car. "It won't do any harm for him to keep an eye on Shana, will it?"
Later that afternoon Sandy sighed happily as he gazed round the crowded back garden where the Beresfords had erected a marquee for the wedding feast. It couldn't have been a lovelier day, weather-wise or any other-wise. Trish's mother and her rather snobbish relatives had regarded Gypsy and Shana as a rather odd couple, till Gypsy cast his spell over them and charmed them into a state of sedate adoration; not that Gypsy gave a damn what anyone thought of him, all he cared about was that Trish and Sandy were happy and that he was about to become a dad. He and Shana were very much in love, and it showed. When the main part of the wedding buffet had been eaten, the two of them had disappeared into the quiet refuge of the Beresford's principal guest room, giving Shana a chance to rest. But now the guests were getting restless and wondering when the cake was going to be cut, and Sandy knew they could not delay the ceremony any longer.
He searched the garden for Trish then made his way into the house and found her in the rear lounge where the presents had been put on display. She was showing her paternal grandmother one of the sets of porcelain figurines they had been given and the way she stood by the window, the sunlight silhouetted her fragile figure and added a bright, almost luminous sheen to the silk and lace of her dress. He stood in the doorway, transfixed with love. She was beautiful. She looked round suddenly, realizing someone was there, and she smiled at him. Yes, she really was beautiful! Perhaps not to many people, but to him, she was the loveliest girl in the world, and he was proud of her.
"Time to cut the cake, Trish." He walked towards her, his heart aching to fold her in his arms and whisk her away to somewhere cozy and private. "I thought we ought to go and find the other two love birds first."
"And that son of mine," Gran Beresford said sternly. "He's been missing for far too long." She fussed over the tiny circlet of blue and white forget-me-nots holding Trish's veil in place, and then added "Go on now, dear, can't keep your guests waiting like this, it isn't etiquette. And give your father a ticking off from me while you're at it."
"Yes Gran." Trish kissed her grandmother on the cheek, and then taking Sandy by the hand she led him up the stairs to the principal guest room where Sandy knocked sharply on the door.
There was a short delay before the door opened, and Trish's father came out onto the landing, in his shirtsleeves and wiping his hands on a towel. "Well?"
Trish said, "We're looking for Shana and Gypsy, and your mother wants a word with you as well."
Sandy said, "We've been told to smack your 'ands for bein' away from the reception for too long, and believe me, if we don't cut the cake soon we'll 'ave a riot on our 'ands!"
Dr. Beresford's eyes twinkled. "I see? In the doghouse am I? I do have a valid reason. Shana and Gypsy won't be joining you I'm afraid."
Trish and Sandy looked each puzzled, and then Trish said, "Shana's all right, isn't she? She not ill?"
Her father shook his head and stood back from the door. "I think you'd better go in and see for yourselves."
Frowning, Trish and Sandy stepped into the bedroom and saw Shana lying in bed and looking tired but happy, her hair lay damply on the pillows and she was wearing one of Trish's old night dresses. Trish caught her breath as her mother straightened the bedclothes. "Shana! You're having your baby."
She hurried towards the bed and her mother looked up and smiled warmly. "You're a bit late with that remark, dear." She indicated a point behind and to the left of the open door as her husband walked back into the room and tossed the towel onto a chair. Sandy and Trish turned and saw Gypsy sitting back in an armchair and smiling proudly at them as he cradled a towel wrapped bundle in his arms, a tiny brown arm waving lazily from its folds.
"Oh Gypsy! Let me look!" Hurrying to his side ahead of Sandy, she gazed down at the tiny brown face. "Oh, it's beautiful. Is it a boy or a girl?"
"A girl," Gypsy said with pride. "Your god-daughter, Erica Patricia Diaz O'Riley, born at three forty this afternoon, weighing seven pounds two and a half ounces." He stood and smiled at Trish. "Do you want to hold her?"
Trish looked like a child with a new toy as she cradled the baby in her arms, but nothing could match the pride and wonder Sandy saw in Gypsy's eyes as he stood up and gazed at the miracle of his own daughter over Trish's shoulder. At that moment the baby yawned and Gypsy reached round to place a gentle finger under her chin. Then Gypsy raised his eyes to gaze across at Shana, and Sandy witnessed a look of unimpeachable love pass between them.
Beresford saw it too, and placed his arm round his wife's waist. "I think these good people need a little privacy, darling. Let's go and keep our guests from tearing the place apart."
After they had gone, Gypsy, Trish and Sandy went to sit on the bed and Shana took hold of Trish's hands, squeezed them. "I'm sorry if we've spoilt your day, Trish. Erica arrived earlier than we expected. I didn't know I was in labour till we were almost here and it was too late to turn back then, so we phoned your father and asked him to help out. Honestly, I thought it was just a bit of tummy trouble I've been suffering from lately."
Sandy wagged a finger at her. "We suspected something, the way Gypsy kept hanging onto you at the church. You took a big risk."
Gypsy shook his head. "No we didn't. When the doctors said Shana was fit to travel we phoned Trish's father just in case we could make it down here today, but we told him to keep things quiet in case we found we couldn't make it. He had everything organized."
Trish clamped a hand over her mouth, her eyes like saucers. "So that's why 'Mum and Dad have been chasing around like a pair of lunatics; the sly pair!"
"Well, I'm grateful to them," Shana replied. "They made it so easy for me."
"Well, Mum is the local midwife, you know" Trish said proudly. "It's not that important these days, all the district nurses have the same training, don't they?"
"I wouldn't have wanted anyone else, Trish," Shana smiled at her. "It was wonderful."
"And guess who helped?" Gypsy grinned. "When you have your babies, Trish, make sure this big ape is with you!"
Sandy snorted in disgust. "No thank you. Wasn't it you who told me about you 'avin' to deliver Lucia? You weren't so enthusiastic then, were you?"
"Coward, you'll think differently when it's your own kid being born. Mind you, I have the edge on you, I saw Ramon being born as well. But to get back to the present, we still haven't given you a wedding present."
Sandy shrugged his shoulders. "Not to worry, mate, we're not bothered, are we Trish?"
"But we are. That's why we've cancelled your honeymoon arrangements and substituted some of our own."
Trish frowned at him. "Just what have you two been up to?"
"I told you, we've changed your plans." Gypsy's smile widened at Sandy's look of dismay. "Now don't look so worried; who wants to go to Scotland when you, can soak up the sun in Hawaii?"
"Hawaii!" Both Trish and Sandy exclaimed and then Sandy said, "Okay tell us the joke."
"What joke? At nine am tomorrow morning our car will take you to Manchester airport, you will fly to London and from there to Honolulu, first class all the way. We have an apartment there, it used be Tony Grafton's, and his brothers took it on as an investment. It's yours for four weeks complete with domestic staff, a chauffeur driven car and a private beach. The chauffeur will make all your entertainment arrangements for you and charge everything to our own account, He's a good friend and he has instructions from me to make your honeymoon the best anyone could have. All you have to pick up your tickets at the airport, your parents have taken care of your passports and your bags."
"They knew about all this?" Sandy was stunned.
"Why, Gypsy?" Trish asked with a shake of her head. "Why do all this for us?"
"Because we love you very much," Gypsy said gently. "Sandy's been a very good friend to me and we want both of you to be happy. Hey now! No need to cry, come on, you'll mess your make-up."
Sandy reached out to squeeze Gypsy's shoulder. "'Ow can we ever thank you, mate?"
"By hurrying back. I need more songs, like yesterday."
Trish handed the baby back to Shana and wiped away happy tears as she slipped her hand into Gypsy's. "You're such wonderful friends, I don't know what to say."
Gypsy shook his head. "No Trish, it is you and Sandy who are wonderful friends, you mean a lot to us and we want you to have a happy start to your marriage. Now you two go downstairs; you have other guests to think about."
"And you, mate," Sandy said firmly. "There are folks downstairs expectin' you to do some warblin'."
Gypsy shook his head again. "Not yet, I would rather stay with Shana and the baby for a while, if you don't mind."
"Don't be silly," Shana exclaimed, "I need to rest any way."
"Are you sure?" Gypsy gazed down at her with anxious eyes, and when Shana nodded, he kissed her before rising from the bed. Turning to Sandy and Trish he said, "All right, Mr. and Mrs. Roberts, let us go and drink to the five of us. Those cousins of yours have bet me I can't match their capacity for drink, you know I can never resist a bet."
By the end of the party that night, Gypsy had fulfilled the challenge, his own bodyguards bundling the near paralytic Welshmen into available cars and driving them back to the Roberts house. Gypsy quite gallantly stayed on his feet till Sandy got him up the stairs, where he sat on the bed and gave an excellent impersonation of a snuffed out candle.
SATURDAY 15th AUGUST 1998
On the plane home from Honolulu, Sandy dreamed of a large freighter rolling along a busy road and a large white limousine traveling in the opposite direction. He dreamed of Gypsy's smiling face and that of Shana as they rode in the back of the car holding hands. He felt the car lurch across the road, heard the screech of brakes and a loud crashing sound. Shana's face faded away completely and Sandy heard Gypsy calling him from a distance, his voice and face growing fainter with each passing moment till there was only blackness. "Sandy… the pain... Can't stand it...any more...take…it away…Please…
Sandy sat up with a start, shaking violently and a worried stewardess leaned over him. "Are you all right, sir? Your wife was worried about you."
Sandy glanced at Trish sitting white faced beside him and clasping his hand tightly. "Yes, I'm all right. Dreamin', I was."
"Are you sure, I could bring you a brandy perhaps?"
"No, thank you, I'm all right, really."
"Some people do find flying rather disturbing, sir. I could give you something to calm you down and help you sleep."
"No thank you" Sandy didn't mean to appear rude but the stewardess went away, frowning, and. Sandy squeezed Trish's hand. "Talkin' was I?"
"I'll say. Something about a pain, you were calling to Gypsy, telling him to hang on, that you were coming. What's wrong, Sandy? What is it?"
"Nothing," Sandy said, but he was worried; he'd had the same dream in Honolulu, twice!
Trish's eyes filled with apprehension. "I don't believe you. It was the same when you found Gypsy…." Her voice trailed away.
For a long time Sandy didn't answer her, wondering how to tell her she was right. They had three hours flying time before reached London and he wished it were all over. At Heathrow, they dashed to a phone and called Perquita's house. At last someone answered but Sandy found he could not talk and Trish had to take the receiver from him. He watched her face as she listened. Shock registered on her face and she leaned against the booth wall. "Oh my God! Are you sure, Maria? I can't explain how we knew. We just did...Thank you. We'll go straight there. Yes, thank you. Goodbye."
Replacing the receiver on its cradle, Trish looked up at Sandy, her eyes filling with tears. "They were on their way to a gig in Manchester. They hit a lorry and rolled over. The chauffeur was killed, and Shana…Oh Sandy, Shana's dead."
They caught a shuttle to Manchester and the taxi driver who met them expressed his sympathy and rushed them straight to Withington where Gypsy's manager, Erskine Trumble met them and took them straight to ICU. The large balding man's deeply lined features wore a look of despair, and his gravel voice was unusually soft. "I might as well tell you right away, it doesn't look good. Took them two hours to cut him out of the wreckage. He's been in theatre for more than four hours."
Sandy did some fast calculating and cold fingers clutched at his heart. It had happened again, the mental link between Gypsy and himself. He had known the moment the car had hit the lorry, and the moment Shana died.
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