Waiting for the phone to be picked up always increased the anticipation for Blue Clarkson, whether it took one second or twenty for the person to pick up. In this case, it only took five.
"Blue, honey!" came the loud voice of Mrs Mandy Clarkson. "How are you?"
"I'm great, Mum," Blue answered, putting the landline on speakerphone and resting it on the arm of the sofa. She beamed at the wall, wishing her mother could see her face. "How's everything at home?"
"SO great!" her mother replied enthusiastically. "Mrs Featherstone laid an egg yesterday!"
Blue's beam turned into a massive grin at the mention of her sister's "pet" chicken. "Oh my God, that's great! What did you do with it?"
"Your dad got this special incubator cheap from a friend the other day, just in case this exact thing happened, so we put the egg in there. We're hoping the egg'll hatch into an actual baby, but even if it doesn't, at least we're halfway to boiled egg for dinner."
"Mum!" Blue dissolved into tinkling giggles.
Her mother also giggled. "I'm kidding, I'm kidding. Oh, and Scarlett wanted me to tell you that she's going to send you a ticket for her school production on the sixteenth."
Blue grabbed her mobile phone immediately and went into the calendar app. "Sixteenth of April?"
"Yes, that's the one. Details will be on the ticket, but in case you want to write this down, it starts at six."
Blue's thumbs tapped away until she had entered the information into her calendar app. "Right, got it. What about Amber? How did she do in her mock exams?"
"All Bs with one C," said her mother, still clearly smiling. "She only got a C in English."
"So she got a B in Maths?!" Blue gasped. "I thought she said the exam had gone badly!"
"She did, but apparently it hadn't!" Her mother sounded as excited as Blue herself felt. "I'm certain she can go for As in the real thing exams, so she's going to study hard and make that a reality."
Blue beamed even more. "That's super! Give her my love. And Scarlett, and Dad."
"Of course. Hey, sweetie! I forgot to ask you when your first day of being a detective sergeant is!"
Blue giggled softly. "It's...tomorrow."
"What?! Hon, why didn't you tell me sooner?!"
"You were so happy to tell me everything that's going on at home," Blue laughed. "I love hearing what's been happening."
Her mother chuckled. "Alright, well, are you ready for the big day?"
"Honestly...I'm not sure. I'm really nervous."
"What about?" her mother asked.
"Everything!" Blue wanted to screech to the heavens. But what she actually said was, "I...I'm not sure. I mean, I'll be part of a major crimes unit instead of just out patrolling. I'll be solving MURDERS, Mum… I just don't think I'm completely ready for such a big step up."
"Awww…" Her mother chuckled again. "Blue, sweetie, I know you'll be absolutely fine. You're a tough, intelligent young woman who can handle anything thrown her way."
Blue giggled, blushing a little. "Mum, that's really cliche."
"It's not cliche if it's true," retorted her mother. "Oh, I have to go now. Your father and I are taking your sisters out to dinner to celebrate Amber's results."
"Oh good! I hope you enjoy that."
"I will. Love you, sweetheart."
Blue smiled. "Love you too, Mum. Bye."
"Bye bye, sweetheart."
Blue waited until her mother had hung up before putting the receiver back down and sighing softly. Even though she loved her new life in Cliffordstown, she couldn't help missing St Ossian and her family. She had settled into Cliffordstown well, but she still didn't have many friends. But it was alright: she didn't need friends so long as she had Loic.
Speaking of which...!
Blue rushed to the door of her tiny apartment and threw it open. She was greeted by the smiling face of the brown-haired man she had fallen in love with, who was holding a small box in his hands.
"Loic!" Blue beamed and threw her arms round Loic's neck, kissing him on the cheek. "Hello!"
"Hello, Blue," laughed Loic. "I come bearing gifts."
"Gifts?" Blue echoed hopefully, tightening her grip. "Plural?"
"One of those gifts is yours truly," Loic said, giving a bow that was rather stiff because of Blue hanging off his neck.
Blue giggled and stepped back from him, swatting his shoulder. "You're always a gift, Loic."
"I also come bearing popcorn."
Blue eyed him mock-suspiciously. "Sweet?"
"I have been reliably informed that sweet popcorn is an abomination," Loic responded.
"Hm." Blue nodded firmly. "Good answer."
Loic laughed and bowed again, presenting the box to Blue. "This is my final gift to you."
"Thank you, Loic," giggled Blue. She took the box and unwrapped it, opening the lid. Inside, she found a small silver duck made out of thick wires. It wasn't a very pretty ornament, especially considering the beak was slightly bent, but Blue was instantly besotted. "Oh my gosh, it's ADORABLE!" she squealed. "It's so TINY! Where did you get it?"
"British Heart Foundation in the high street," Loic replied, chuckling at her reaction.
"My favourite charity shop!" Blue beamed and kissed him on the lips. "Thank you so much, Loic!"
"You're very welcome, Blue." Loic chuckled. "Now, I'm very tired, so I might just go home and come back tomorrow."
"Oh no you won't." Blue pulled Loic through the door and shut it behind him. "You'll sleep with me tonight. It's been ages since we've been together for the night. I've missed your warmth."
Loic chuckled. "I've missed your…"warmth" too."
"Come on, then." Blue locked the door and led Loic further into the room. "Do you need a bath before bed?"
"What am I, a baby?" Loic asked mock-indignantly.
"No, I just thought you'd like me to run you a hot bubble bath and massage your shoulders to get you in a good mood so you'll let me be the little spoon."
Grinning, Loic kissed her gently. "Sounds like my idea of heaven."
"Well, good, cuz it sounds like mine too."
As Blue began walking away, Loic twisted her hand and twirled her under his arm, causing her to giggle. "Loic! I'm trying to get your bath ready."
"Hey, you know what? Let me make the bath," offered Loic.
"Aw, you're ruining my plan," Blue teased.
"I'm serious. The massage still sounds lovely, but why don't you make the popcorn while I run the bath?"
Blue blinked a few times, staring up at Loic, who was a few inches taller than her. "Somehow, you made my epic plan EVEN better."
Loic grinned. "Good. That's what I live for."
As Blue took the popcorn and went into the kitchen, Loic followed her. "So, you nervous about your first day tomorrow?"
"Go run the bath," responded Blue, shoving the popcorn bag into the microwave.
"Blue…" Loic got in front of her, his face now serious. "You can tell me."
Sighing, Blue told him the same thing she had told her mother. And unsurprisingly, Loic had a very similar response: "I understand your worry, Blue, but there's absolutely nothing to be nervous about. You're super resourceful AND reliable. Your colleagues will love you. And I bet you'll be solving murders in no time."
Blue felt her heart glow with happiness when she heard him say that. "I'll be solving YOUR murder if you don't go and run that damn bath," she said amusedly, giving him a small shove.
"Okay, okay." Loic laughed and moved away. "I'm going."
Blue watched the popcorn spinning in the microwave, the kernels beginning to pop. Her own stomach felt like it was popping from delight and love.
Thank you, Loic. And thank you too, Mum. With your support, I know I can take on anything.