Chapter 38: Rebecca – February 1978

The same evening Rebecca also received a proposal of sorts.  She had been getting ready to go to bed when she heard a ring on her doorbell.  She ran lightly downstairs thinking that it must be Annie or Caitlin.  She found instead Dylan on her doorstep and from the shadows behind him another figure emerged, Charles.

‘You’d better come in.’ Rebecca invited flatly.  She was at a loss to understand why Dylan had turned up again now and why Charles would be with him.  Was she being dim she wondered?  She gestured to them to sit at the table in the sitting room and brought glasses of beer for them both.  She’d completely gone off drinking alcohol since she’d been pregnant.  She sat down opposite to the two men noticing obscurely that they each looked more attractive when together.  The gypsy good looks of Dylan highlighting the blonde angelic look of Charles and vice versa.  She determined to stay silent waiting for them to explain their visit.  It was Dylan who broke the silence.  He seemed genuine in his apology for what had happened between them.  She understood from him that he also knew that he had made her pregnant although he alluded to this obliquely.  Charles then indicated that Dylan had something more he wished to say; he looked meaningfully at Dylan then got up from the table and wandered into the kitchen as though to get more beer.

Dylan and Rebecca were left alone together sitting across from each other at the dining table.  Dylan’s face reflected the inner turmoil that he was going through.  He had agreed to Charles that he should marry Rebecca.  No one in the world could have persuaded him into this action other than Charles.  Dylan loved his childhood friend more than anyone else in his life.  He was attracted to Rebecca and perhaps almost loved her but his fear of emotional involvement had always pushed him away from making commitments.  His no strings attached affair with Francesca had suited him well enough.  He could not imagine himself as a married man or as a father; in fact the though terrified him.  He had made a promise to Charles though and he knew he had to keep it.

‘Rebecca, I er think we should get hitched…for the baby y’know.’  He managed looking less than sure about the proposal.  Rebecca sat stony-faced looking across the table at the man that she had thought she loved.  He couldn’t really have thought that such a lame proposal, obviously influenced by Charles, could tempt her to spend the rest of her life with him could he?  She decided to say as much.  Her mulish expression underlined the fact that she was not desperate for him or his insulting proposal.

Dylan respected her for it.  He finally decided to pull out all the stops and applied his Gaelic charm to the task in hand.  By the end of a long evening he had managed to persuade Rebecca that he was a changed man and that he really would try to make her happy and that he would be a devoted husband and doting father.  Charles supported his friend’s declarations and Rebecca was finally convinced that it was the right thing to do.  She was not however sure that Dylan was able to live up to his promises.

It was getting very late in the evening by the time that all the arrangements had been agreed to.  Charles would not conduct the service but he and Penny would be witnesses for them at a registry office.  Charles would organise everything for the following Saturday, in the meantime Dylan was to accompany him back to Ampthill where he would stay with them for the few days before the marriage.  It was obvious to Rebecca that Charles didn’t want to let Dylan out of his sight in case he was to change his mind.  The whole evening had attained a surreal air that she couldn’t get to grips with.  Rebecca was used to organising her own life not to have terms dictated to her but this time she seemed incapable of making a decision.

She wasn’t sure that marriage to Dylan was the right choice but she felt caught up in this grander plan that was happening to her.   Thoughts of her parents’ and the relief that they would feel intruded into the numbness that had descended on her mind.  All the fears of coping with the business and the baby that had beset her were now re-examined in the light of this new development.

Marriage, marriage to Dylan she turned the thought over in her mind.  Wasn’t it what she had dreamed of?  Longed for even?  She was so tired that she couldn’t think straight.  It was with relief that she heard Charles saying that they would be going now.  He added that Penny sent her love and was looking forward to seeing her on Saturday.  So Pen knew about it all thought Rebecca, wishing that she was there to help her cope with the fog in her mind.

The next day Rebecca immersed herself in work.  They were in the midst of remerchandising the shops with the spring collections.  The Kings Road shop was in turmoil when Caitlin breezed in to see if Rebecca could snatch a coffee with her.  She had to speak to one of her friends before the adoring Mario whisked her off to the States.  She wished with all her heart that Rebecca could be as happy as she was herself.  Rebecca greeted Caitlin warmly but demurred at first to leave the chaos in the shop.  Her new assistant manager, Nicky, who had used to work with her in Liberty, waved away her excuses saying that they could manage without her for half an hour.  Rebecca gave in leaving the girls with a few key instructions before departing with Caitlin.

They ordered coffees and sat down together in a quiet corner.  Caitlin could contain her excitement no longer.  She waved her engagement ring under Rebecca’s nose with a look split uneasily between ecstasy and concern.

‘Oh my God!  Mario’s proposed?’  Becca crushed Caitlin in a bear hug; ‘I’m so pleased for you babe.’  She congratulated with genuine pleasure, ‘Tell all!’  Caitlin spilled the whole story of the evening before, the words tripping over each other in her haste.  Rebecca was amazed and delighted in turn.  When she finally got to recount her own evening it seemed even more surreal.

‘So’ she finished her tale, ‘we seem to both be getting married.’  Caitlin was in turn delighted for her friend although she was concerned by Rebecca’s lack of enthusiasm over Dylan’s proposal.

‘Are you sure Becca?’  She asked quietly, ‘It’s a big step to take if you’re not.’

‘No I’m not sure.’  Rebecca shrugged, ‘I just feel confused and sort of out of control.  What about you Caiti?  Are you sure?’

‘I think so.  He’s gorgeous and kind and thoughtful.  It’s all a bit of a rush though.  But that’s Mario I suppose he’s always in a hurry!’  She hesitated to mention her slight fears about the sex, or lack of it.  She turned this over in her mind and decided that she’d say something to her friend, if only to be reassured.  As she was about to speak of her concern Rebecca was hailed by one of her customers who she greeted in return; the moment was lost.

That evening Caitlin flew out to the States with Mario and Rebecca went around to Suzanne’s for dinner both with news of their respective weddings to impart.

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