Smiling at the image before her, Ellie quickly shared in to her friends, with the caption ‘Family day out – looks like my family got bigger!’. Once she’d posted the photo, and conscious that her Dad was likely to tell her off for messing with her phone at the meal table, as he always did, she quickly put it away again and tackled her mea, immediately glad that she’d gone for a kids meal given the size of the portion.
The four boys messed around and talked as they ate, and Ellie was pleased to be included in Lesley and her Dad’s adult conversation, although she was left disappointed that they wouldn’t let her share their wine! Still, she had a refillable coke, and was determined to make the most of this rate treat – filing her glass at least half a dozen times during the meal, something which only Lesley seemed to have noticed, although she of course didn’t embarrass the girl by passing comment.
“What’s the plan now then?” She asked, looking between the two adults, hoping that the answer wasn’t going to be that they would be heading home after they’d finished eating.
“Well, I don’t know about Lesley here and her boys, but I’d say we’ve got another couple of hours yet to enjoy the park before we need to think about heading home. Besides, I’ve had a glass of wine now so don’t want to be driving anywhere too soon.” Graham reassured his daughter, looking to Lesley for confirmation of her plans.
“Same here! It wouldn’t do for a teacher to get in trouble for drink-driving, now would it, haha. Actually, I noticed on the way in that there’s a 4D cinema here, showing the latest DinoWorld movie, how would everybody fancy that? I think the next screening is about 3pm.”
Ellie liked this idea, as she’d not seen the new film yet, and eagerly agreed. Her enthusiasm, however, was nothing to the reaction from the 4 boys who’d overheard the suggestion, and were soon jumping around giddily, practically bouncing with excitement.
“Sounds good to me too, Lesley. Although I think maybe we need a quick stop at the play area on our way over there, see if this lot can’t burn off a bit of energy first? There’s no way they’ll sit still through an entire movie whilst they’re like this!”
Shaking her head and laughing at the same time, Lesley agreed.
Having all gorged themselves on desserts, with Ellie definitely choosing from the adult menu this time, and settling for a giant profiterole volcano which she had barely been able to make a dent in, eventually sharing with the rest of the party, and still leaving a sizeable amount on her plate, Graham called for the bill and, before Lesley had been able to stop him, had handed over the voucher he’d been given along with his credit card.
“No arguments! I told you, it’s my treat. And worth every penny to have shared such a fantastic afternoon with such lovely people. Thank you, and I really do mean that, from the verybottom of my heart.”
Lesley had been ready to protest, but after hearing his words her eyes felt moist, and she suddenly found that she couldn’t speak without being in danger of crying. Reaching a hand over to Graham, she took hold of his and gave it a small, affectionate squeeze of gratitude. Beside them, Ellie took all of this in, and combined with her Dad’s earlier gesture, began to sense a spark between the pair. She could barely hide her smile, and was soon nearly as overexcited as the boys.
“Tell you what, Ell, why don’t you take the boys to find the activity area? Me and Lesley are just going to finish our drinks, then we will come and join you and make our way over to the cinema, how does that sound?”
Once more like the pied piper, Ellie led the 4 bouncing boys out of the restaurant in the direction that Lesley had indicated on the map. Normally she’d have complained, but she took the hint that her Dad wanted a few minutes alone with Lesley, and if she was completely honest she was quite looking forward to having a bit of a runaround herself, without feeling self-conscious knowing that the adults were watching. It was nice just being able to be a kid sometimes.3
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