Wayne waits alone for Deidre at the parade ring gate after the third race of the day, in which Deidre finished third, her first of two races today. His three friends have returned to the grandstand to watch the main event of the afternoon, the Cheltenham Gold Cup, a steeplechase over 3 miles and 2 furlongs. Wayne had earlier arranged to meet Deidre after she weighed in and changed after the race.

He spots her early as she approaches the gate. She has clearly changed out of her garish-coloured silks, freshly showered and dressed in smart but more muted coloured clothes, a woollen skirt around knee length, stockings or tights with short broad heels and a quilted coat against the wind which still has some late-March winter chill in it, despite the sunshine.

He can see that Deidre is wearing a wide brimmed pale yellow straw hat on over her long dark, almost black, hair tied in a pony tail which swishes from side to side as she walks. Soon, he sees her negotiate her way through the security checks on her side of the gate, showing her jockey pass which she would require to get back in, and emerges on Wayne’s side of the divide her eyes seeking him out.

She seems pleased to see him as her face breaks out into a beautiful smile as she approaches him. He walks towards her and meets her halfway.

They hug somewhat tentatively. Wayne with hesitation on his part, but as they release their hug, Deidre kisses him quickly on the cheek.

It is their first ever kiss and Wayne instantly colours up bright pink. Deidre notices, despite the tan that Wayne has acquired working outside even this early in the spring, his embarrassment so obvious. In response, she re-embraces him and looks him square in the eye.

“Your eyes are light grey-blue and smokey,” she says, “like an autumn mist.”

"And yours are as blue and sparkling as the Shannon on a grand day," he replies.

She focuses on one eye then the other for what seems to Wayne an age, stirring an agony of wants and despair all mixed up in feelings that he has suppressed for years, almost as long as they have known each other; he counts them in his head, fourteen years, if time including the last two years of physical and emotional separation.

As well as the deepening pink of his cheeks, he can feel ...

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Tony Spencer
Jun 19 2021

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