Abby Stone got out of her battered mini in the car park of the Coach and Horses. The weather was dull and drizzling, and twilight was just a few moments away, which matched her sombre mood. She was feeling a little depressed after her meeting with the Regional Manager at the brewery. He had been very nice and very sympathetic with her dilemma. But he had pointed out that under the present economic conditions, the brewery were having to consider closing some of the managed houses. The increasing cost of the beer, with the added government tax had meant that trade in most houses had dropped drastically. In her case being a widow, and not having a husband or a man on the premises to help out, and being only just profitable, meant that she must be considered as one of the houses that could be picked for closure.
She looked up at the front of the Public House. The pub sign shone brightly in the rain, and she reflected that it was not as nice as the old one which had recently been replaced by the brewery. The pub had been built in the late 19th century long before TV and even radio, and Public Houses had then been the centre of local entertainment with darts and dominoes being the main attraction, as well as the beer, and with beer that was a lot stronger, and very much cheaper. Abby had been born here, and had grown up helping her parents run the pub with her sister and brother, until her parents had both died, when she took over the license. A child out of wedlock in her teens, and a bad marriage to a semi-alcoholic work shy man, who thought that living in a public house meant that he had gone to heaven, had followed...
She was lonely, she desperately needed someone to share the burden of running the business with, and to share her personal problems, but the thought of another marriage horrified her ... She just could not risk bringing another man into her life after the traumatic experience suffered by her daughter at the hands of her drunken now deceased step father.
Abby herself was a tall 5ft 8 inches sexy blonde with shoulder length hair. She was very slim and had an engaging smile. She dressed with a sense of panache, that seemed to suit her extrovert personality. Her outgoing and friendly personality' had brought in much of the present business. The patrons liked her, and she would spend time talking with them when trade permitted. The Regional manager had noted that, and congratulated her on coping so well after her husbands tragic death. The licensing magistrates had quite happily transferred the tenants license to her, and she had hoped to keep building up the business.
He had said. "Keep on improving the trade, and your chances of staying open must improve, the Directors must go with the houses that make money, especially if you can get some male help. I know it's a problem of wages, and that your budget has been cut. Recently, like most of our houses, but that's the best advice I can give you."
But Abby was determined she was not going to ever get married again. She had been lucky that her last husband had killed himself with a little help from her, and she was not going to let any man get involved in her life again...
Meanwhile Tony Nash being young single and just out of University, was attending an interview at nearby Hazlehurst Grammar School, Tony was absolutely delighted to get his first job at such a prestigious school,. After being appointed, he decided that he needed to find somewhere to live fairly quickly. He was just 23 and very fit, as he kept himself in trim by jogging every day, and he was a big sports enthusiast. As soon as he was settled in somewhere to live, he planned to find and join a local keep fit club.
After the job interview, he was introduced to the few admin staff at the school who were available, but all of the teaching staff were still on vacation, as the school did not re-open until a month later, but then when the School Secretary a Mrs. Natalie Anderson approached Tony, and asked for his current address. Tony had told her that so far, he had not got anywhere in mind. Then she asked him "Would you mind living in a pub?." Tony laughed "Who could refuse an offer like that, no of course not, I am not a big drinker but as long as it is clean and comfortable I am interested?".
"My sister is the landlady of the Horse and Coaches the pub on the corner, she is recently widowed, and she is looking for a man to live on the premises, and someone to help her for about an hour a day with the heavy cellar work, and I am sure that you could come to some sort of arrangement about the rent. It would fit in with school hours for you, and would be quite reasonable. The brewery likes their tenants to have a man living on the premises for security reasons if nothing else, although my sister y rarely has any problems."
The Headmistress who happened to overhear the conversation said." What a good idea, look Natalie why don't you take Mr. Nash along to your sisters now. There is nothing urgent here, that can not wait until tomorrow, and then you can go on home afterwards."
As it happened the Coach and Horses was also the local watering hole for the school staff, and was only three minutes walk away on the next street corner. Tony was immediately impressed with Abby when he was introduced. He judged she was in her early thirties, and he learned that her husband had been killed recently in a car accident. Tony said to be polite." I am sorry to hear about your husband." and Abby promptly replied cynically "I'm not I am glad to be rid of the bastard..."
They talked for a while, she explained the problem that the brewery had with her tenancy, and that they liked to have a man on the premises, which Tony understood. Abby showed him the room, and Tony thought it was quite nice, and they soon agreed that all Tony would pay for, was a nominal amount for his food. The accommodation and laundry etc would come free in return for his occasional help with the cellar work averaging about an hour a day...
It had been at one time a thriving public house, and Abby told him as they talked that she was steadily building up the lunch trade, with a selection of bar snacks, and home cooking. Abby was a good cook, and she said the trade was growing steadily. When patrons ate they liked to have a beer at the same time, and if the food was good, they would keep coming back. She was assisted by two ladies who worked part-time in both cleaning and serving in the bar.
Abby warmed to Tony as they talked, he seemed nice, and he seemed respectable. She was re-assured when he told her that he rarely drank except occasionally with meals
When she was discussing with Tony about him coming there to live She pointed out with a giggle, That there is only one drawback living here, and that I have a sixteen year old daughter Sheila, and her cousin Joan who is the same age who lives with us as both her parents are in the army in Afghanistan. They both go to your school, but they can be a bit noisy at times. But they are lovely kids really, although Sheila is a bit shy with men. She had an unfortunate episode with my ex husband her stepfather, which has left her rather traumatized..."
Tony moved in two days later, and that was when he was first introduced to the two girls. They were both quite pretty blondes, and at first as Abby had pointed out, Sheila tended to be very withdrawn, especially with men, meanwhile in the following days, Tony gradually got used to sorting out the cellar work. He had worked in the Students Union bar at University so it was not all new to him. Tony also started to help by serving in the bar when the bar was busy, as well as playing the piano in the adjoining conference room for his own amusement some evenings...
The Conference room was not in normal daily use, but people hearing the piano, gradually drifted in to listen, taking their drinks with them, and quite quickly their was a noticeable increase in trade ... Gradually, his piano playing built the Friday and Saturday weekend trade up, and usually quite a sing song would take place on a Saturday evening. After a couple of weeks the increased trade was very noticeable, and Abby was talking about having to hire extra bar staff especially for the weekends...
Abby was increasingly delighted with Tony, and they grew much closer working together, especially as Tony had so much time on his hands during the holidays. Although there was a significant age gap Tony began to feel sexually interested in Abby when she was around ... She had told him to use her private lounge if he wanted to watch TV or anything. Tony did for a while, and then he suddenly noticed the girls were spending a lot more time with him. He did not try to get too close to Sheila at first, but let her talk to him, when she felt like it Her cousin Joan however loved to chat, and sometimes they started playing a few card games, with Sheila joining in and becoming more responsive to him
Abby suggested that she paid him for the extra work Tony was putting in, both in the bar, and playing the piano, but Tony refused, saying that he enjoyed it, and it was fun ... Most days Tony would leave the house for a morning jog quite early, and after about two weeks Sheila and Joan started to join him on his morning jog, quite soon they became quite close, but Sheila still seemed very nervous, and withdrawn when she was left alone with him. Then suddenly to his surprise one afternoon when he was having a after lunch nap he found Sheila laying on his bed alongside him when he awoke. For a moment she was a bit shy, and then she said "I wanted to talk to you Tony, and you looked so comfortable that I was tempted to lie down beside you."
"That's alright Sheila - no problem."
"Well it is Tony I think I am in love with you."
.... There is more of this story ...