Lady In Red

Lady in a Santa hat Illustration: Istockphoto, Mandy Dixon


Ginny has a great idea for patching up a row…

The telephone started to ring at the exact moment the tarragon cream sauce decided to turn horribly lumpy and for once Ginny hoped it was a nuisance call. Then she spotted her husband’s name flashing in bright letters on the screen.

“Hi,” she answered in her friendliest voice, still vigorously beating the sauce with her free hand.

“I’m running a bit late.” Hugh’s tone was as frosty as the mid-December temperature outside; he clearly hadn’t forgotten the silly argument they’d had last night. “I got held up at work.”

“OK, how late?” asked Ginny, her tone not quite as amicable now as she crossed her fingers that her plans for the evening wouldn’t be ruined.

She badly wanted to put things right after last night; she’d felt tired and frazzled after spending most of yesterday doing some early Christmas cooking and had flung out daft, heat-of-the-moment accusations.

She knew he would still be feeling sulky and defensive so here she was, determined to pull out all the stops and make things better.

His favourite meal was cooking nicely

Apart from the lumpy sauce, his favourite meal was cooking nicely; Michael Bublé was singing softly in the background, candles were flickering on the beautifully set table and the soft white fairy lights on the Christmas tree cast a warm glow around the room. Ginny felt certain that some very serious making-up would be achieved by the end of the evening.

“Well, I’m parked in Summer Street. I’ll be home in about twenty minutes,” continued Hugh tightly.

“OK then.” Ginny smiled; obviously Hugh was just trying to tease her. Her favourite florist was in Summer Street so he was probably selecting her a huge bunch of fabulous flowers at this very moment.

Humming softly now as she searched the kitchen drawer for a clean tea-towel she found the rather large apron her mother had bought her as a joke last Christmas. It was bright yellow with Fridge Pickers Wear Big Knickers embroidered across the front.

She’d been a bit at miffed at the time but it had given her the kick she needed and spurred her into losing over two stones.

Grinning at the memory of laughing with Betty next door about it, she went to get changed.

“Ginny! Hello!” Hugh’s voice sounded strained and a bit odd as he came in at the front door. He was obviously still in a sulk but Ginny was fully prepared to apologise first.

As he entered the kitchen, she struck a seductive pose in front of the fridge.

“Ta-daa!” she said, giving her husband a welcoming smile.

She watched his mouth drop open in astonishment as he took in the scene.

There were messy pots everywhere, something wonderfully fragrant simmering in the oven and Ginny was, well… wearing just a jaunty Santa hat, a pair of flirty scarlet high heels and a somewhat skimpy, rather saucy red frilly pinny!

With lightning speed Hugh turned and swiftly propelled their startled next-door neighbour out through the door while Ginny sank on to a chair, her flushed face almost matching her saucy red outfit.

She heard a few mutterings in the hall before the front door closed and Hugh reappeared in the kitchen, his eyes dancing with amusement.

“Well, I wasn’t expecting that!” he said, evidently in a buoyant mood now. “We must argue more often!”

“It was just a bit of fun. I wanted to apologise!” Ginny informed him through gritted teeth. “And why on earth did you bring Joe in?”

“I saw him in the DIY shop in Summer Street and gave him a lift home. He only came in to borrow a screwdriver from me.”

“But now I feel a complete idiot!” wailed Ginny.

“Joe will tell Betty and if she tells Daisy Finch then the whole street will know about this! I’ll never live it down”

“No they won’t,” Hugh reassured her. “I shoved him out of the front door pretty quickly. There’s no way he could have seen a thing!”

Still feeling utterly foolish Ginny got dressed and as she served up the special meal, carefully arranging the tarragon sauce in artistic restaurant-style blobs to hide the lumps, she reflected that Hugh had arrived home carrying only a bag of nails and a newspaper.

It was abundantly clear that he’d not been anywhere near the florist in Summer Street!

It was Ginny’s turn to host the Book Club the following evening. She felt decidedly uncomfortable discussing The Christmas Temptation which was last month’s read and when Daisy Finch looked straight at her as she suggested Lady In Red as next month’s book, she felt sure she had flushed slightly. But no-one giggled or even sniggered – so Hugh was probably right and her little secret was safe.

When everyone else had gone, Betty helped Ginny clear up.

“I’m starting my diet after Christmas,” she confided, patting her ample tummy which had just accommodated three of Ginny’s home-made mince pies.

“Then I’ve just the thing!” Ginny rummaged through the kitchen drawer and produced the large yellow apron. “Remember this?”

“I certainly do,” chuckled Betty, wrapping it around her. “We laughed about it at the time but it worked for you, didn’t it?”

“It did…” Ginny froze; she’d spotted the ties of the saucy red pinny dangling limply from the drawer. Betty followed her gaze, and Ginny just knew.

“Joe saw me, didn’t he?” she whispered, already guessing the answer.

Betty hesitated briefly, then nodded

“He did, love. But he was tickled pink, he was full of it when he came home You cheered him up no end – had a real spring in his step, he did!”

Next day Hugh arrived home bearing a beautiful scarlet poinsettia from the Summer Street florist. “Red seems to be the colour of the moment,” he said before planting a soft kiss on his wife’s mouth. “Thought I’d continue the theme.”

Ginny beamed her gratitude as she peeled off the sparkly Christmas paper.

“But no more arguments, agreed?”

Hugh nodded his reply

“And no more Ginny in a pinny!” added his wife with a wintry smile.

“Why not?” Hugh raised an eyebrow and grinned broadly.

“Because…” Ginny hesitated, still cringing, “I’m afraid Joe saw me.”

“No, love, he couldn’t possibly –”

“He saw me in the hall mirror.”

Hugh started to chuckle as realisation dawned

“And what was the silly thing that sparked our argument?” he asked, wrapping his arms around her.

“It was the new hall mirror. You hadn’t hung it straight.”

“Where did that frilly red pinny come from?” asked Hugh, his eyes twinkling.

“It was in a kitchen drawer.” Ginny snaked her arms around his neck as they rocked with laughter. “But it’s not there now, Betty’s borrowed it for a while…”

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Karen Byrom

My coffee mug says "professional bookworm" which sums me up really! As commissioning fiction editor on the magazine, I love sharing my reading experience of the latest books, debut authors and more with you all, and would like to hear from you about your favourite books and authors! Email me