Bernie helped Serena hobble slowly down to the dining room for dinner. The waiters knew Serena well by this time and Bernie poured out the Shiraz that was waiting for them.
“Cheers,” Serena said and they clinked glasses. “Oh, this is very much needed.”
Bernie watched her sidelong as she held out the menu in front of her, squinting a little. “Alright?”
“What? Yes, fine. Have you chosen?”
“Yes,” Bernie said firmly, having not even glanced at the menu, “I’ll have the, um, pasta.”
Serena grinned. “Nice save.”
A waiter collected their orders and they were sitting quietly and companionably drinking their wine when Serena’s phone pinged.
“It’s not Jason’s time,” Bernie said as Serena frowned.
“No.” Serena angled her phone carefully, “Oh, it’s Elinor. What an unexpected surprise.”
“Is everything okay?”
“Yes,” Serena scrolled slowly, “She’s fine, I shouldn’t worry about her – well, that’s ominous – and could I transfer her some money. She says she’s down to a couple of tins of beans.”
“Can’t she ask Edward?”
“Edward is swanning around France somewhere with his child bride.”
Serena’s phone pinged again and she looked at it and laughed. “Always the drama queen. Look.” She passed it over and Bernie saw a selfie of a young woman, the spit of Serena, holding two tins of beans very sadly.
Bernie laughed, “Poor thing. Better save her from the beans.”
“I’m sure I lived on beans for ages when I was a student,” Serena said as she squinted at the screen to reply to Elinor.
“Do you think you might need glasses?” Bernie asked, then cursed herself as Serena glared at her.
“Glasses? Why would I need glasses?”
“It’s just, you’re a bit, um -” Bernie’s heart beat a little faster at the look on Serena’s face, wondering if she’d ruined a good thing, “You’re -” she held out an imaginary phone in front of her, frowned at it exaggeratedly, peered at it from various angles, “A bit like that.” She risked a look at Serena and was thankful to see a grin spreading across her face.
“A bit like what, Bernie?”
Bernie repeated the pantomime and this time Serena laughed out loud .
“I suppose I do need glasses. I’ve just been putting it off.”
“Why? Don’t you get tired of having to strain to look at things? Paperwork must be a nightmare.”
“You’re not wrong. It just makes me feel like I’m getting old. And I’ll look frumpy.”
“Serena Campbell, you may look many things but believe me, frumpy will never be one of them.” Bernie lifted Serena’s hand to her mouth and kissed it, “You’ll look gorgeous in glasses. Just like you do all the time.”
S erena grinned. “What’s your favourite look of mine then Bernie?”
Bernie tickled her fingers over Serena’s palm, slipped a finger under her shirt cuff and caressed the skin there. “Oh, I think you know.”