As the year ends, so does this story – and no, this time I won't prolong it by another sequel.
HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone!
Finally the meal was finished and Martin cleared away the dishes. "Coffee or tea anyone?"
"Tea would be lovely." Louisa said.
"Me, too. Joan agreed. "And then I want to know what this is all about."
Martin fixed the tea and served it. After pouring each a cup, he held onto his mug and breathed in deeply.
"Well, you're curious why I closed the surgery early today?" He asked Joan.
"It's not necessarily normal behaviour for you, is it?"
"No, indeed not. Well, I closed it because I wasn't able to attend to an emergency, that's why."
"Martin?" Louisa exclaimed. "You didn't tell me. Why? What happened, darling?"
He looked cautiously towards Louisa and sighed. "I had been with a patient, when Pauline put the emergency call through. I took up the details. An accident at the cliff path – at Lundy Bay."
"Oh Martin!" Louisa exclaimed, jumping up and rushing over to him, stroking his shoulder gently.
"I made a complete fool of myself. Just screamed into the speaker."
"No, Martin. You didn't make a fool of yourself. I wouldn't want you to go there on your own anyway."
"I was petrified. Suddenly I remembered the call about a year ago. I remembered everything!"
"Oh Marty! Just like that?"
"Just like that, without a warning, without slowly putting the pieces together. It was just crystal clear all of a sudden."
"What about the emergency?" Louisa asked.
"Don't worry, I'm not totally irresponsible. I informed the coast guard. They are probably more suited to help anyhow."
"I'm glad you didn't go." Louisa told him softly, stroking his arm.
"As I said, I was petrified. I couldn't move, I couldn't perform my duties. I vaguely remember Pauline asking me if she should send the next patient in. She must have noticed I was acting weird and offered to re-arrange the appointments. I was so confused, I let her and then sent her home."
"But she called me before she went, because she was worried." Louisa added.
"There I was, sitting, brooding about what had happened, who I was and what I was doing, thinking about my past – which I wasn't too happy about – and trying to figure out what that means for my future, when it stepped in."
"You mean when she stepped in." Joan corrected him.
"No – it. My future." Martin said, still fixing a spot on the floor.
Louisa beamed and pulled herself upwards to kiss his cheek. "Thanks, that was nice."
"Was it?" Martin looked over to her and she kissed him gently on the lips. He withdrew quickly. "Louisa! Not now." He whispered urgently, looking anxiously towards Joan.
"Never mind, she's a grown woman. She's not shocked by a simple kiss."
"Don't mind me." Joan assured. "But that's not everything, I presume."
"I still don't know why Louisa stood by me through the last months when I have been so…so…"
"Rude?" Louisa suggested.
"Thick-headed?" Joan threw in.
"What?…thank you very much!" Martin said evasively.
"Martin, we're just teasing you. Please don't mind."
He looked at her reassuringly.
"Well, after I told Louisa everything she…"
"Don't tell me – she finally succeeded in seducing you."
"What?!" He looked from one woman to the other, slightly panicking.
"Sorry, Martin. When you were missing I poured my heart out to Joan and told her about my unsuccessful attempt to seduce you when I poured the wine down your throat."
"I see." Martin said alarmed. "Well, maybe I can't blame you. Must have been a difficult time for you."
"The worst I ever had. I missed you so much."
Joan interrupted. "Do you have the memory now you've craved for so desperately?"
Louisa smiled broadly and just rubbed Martin's shoulder.
He looked confused, but suddenly it dawned on him. "You mean you told her…you wanted to...?"
"Sorry, Martin. I was desperate that evening because for the first time I tried to face the fact that you were…gone."
"I'm glad I came back to make an end to all that talk."
"Right you are. We are glad to have you back." Louisa cuddled close to him. "Isn't there something else you wanted to tell Joan?"
"Uhum…." He was blushing visibly. "Why don't you?"
"She's your aunt, so I think it would be appropriate if you'd tell her."
"Right," He cleared his throat. "Aunty Joan, I asked Louisa if she would marry me. Don't ask me why…" he looked down to his fiancée "…but she agreed."
Joan jumped up and hugged her nephew. "Oh Marty! I'm so glad for you!"
"Imagine…you…and Louisa." She looked over to the young woman, beaming at her fiancé. Joan brushed away a few tears. "Sorry, Marty, but it's…it's the best news."
"What about me?" Louisa laughed. "No congratulations for me?"
"Oh, Louisa! Honestly, I don't know what you see in my nephew, but it's your choice." Joan smiled and hugged the new addition to the family. "I'm glad you've got what you wanted now."
"Aunty Joan, I beg your pardon!"
"Don't mind me, Marty. I'm just so mixed up. Oh, let's look at you!" Joan looked at the couple in front of her, Louisa beaming broadly, Marty looking down shyly.
"When are you going to tie the knot? Where?"
"Joan, it's early stages. We've only just decided this afternoon to do it at all. So give us some time to plan everything, will you? You'll be the first to know." Louisa explained.
"Marty, did you give her a ring?"
Martin looked towards Louisa. "A ring? We're not engaged if I haven't given you a ring!"
"Don't worry, Martin, for me we are engaged. I don't need a ring, I need you."
"Marty, do you want to buy one or do you want to have my mother's engagement ring? She gave it to me to give it to a child of my own. Well, as that couldn't be, you'll have to do, I suppose."
Martin's eyes glistened a bit. "Thanks, Aunty Joan." Turning towards Louisa. "Would you like to have a new ring, one I buy especially for you, or would you prefer my grandmother's ring?"
"Oh Martin! It would be lovely to be the one handing your grandmother's ring into the next generation!"
"We'll talk about it later." Louisa smiled.
"So that's settled then?" Joan beamed. "I'll give you the ring tomorrow. I've already doubted that it would ever be of any use. I'm so happy for the two of you!"
Martin hugged his aunt stiffly. "Aunty Joan, thanks for everything."
"You stupid boy, you are the closest thing to a son that I've ever had! It was a pleasure."
Louisa had her arm around Martin's waist and he had his arm around her shoulder. They were a couple and finally, Martin was not afraid to show it.
I thank all kind readers, especially those who took their time to comment. It was a huge encouragement.
My very special thanks goes, as always, to my proof reader, fanficfan71, who still patiently corrects everything I throw at her. All my errors are my own.
My last but not least thanks goes to Buffalo Pictures for creating such wonderful characters. As always, it had been fun to play with them for some time. I hope, I'll return them to you undamaged.