The stranger took a deep breath as she sat behind the wheel of her car, surveying the main street of the village she thought she’d left behind forever. It had been more than fifteen years since she’d last been here, and she’d been so miserable in Emmerdale. She didn’t think she’d ever return, but… she knew she had to. Though having left it this long, it might be easier to stay way.
The village shop had changed, the pub looked different, and there were faces passing the car that she didn’t recognise. Maybe time had moved on. Maybe she was too late for it to make any difference at all. But she had to try.
With a sigh, she got out of the car and locked it before heading into a shop that had the sign David’s above it. She looked around it, taking in the surroundings and saw a blonde man behind the counter, tapping away on his phone absently. She walked up to the counter and cleared her throat. The man looked up, and did a slight double take, but nothing she wasn’t used to.
“Can I help you?” he asked, fixing a fake smile to his face.
“I hope so,” she said. “I’m looking for someone. Two someone’s actually, I think they still live around here. Victoria Sugden, and Robert Sugden?”
“Er… yeah they’re around here,” the man said. “Not entirely sure I should tell a stranger though.” She smiled at him, wondering where to go from here.
“I haven’t seen either of them in a while,” she said, trying to be a little charming. “I had hoped to bump into them somewhere a little more private than the Woolpack. Don’t want to make a scene. I’m sure this village hasn’t changed that much in the last few years.”
“No, it hasn’t,” the man said. But the pub’s where you’ll find Robert, he lives there.”
She frowned, not liking the sound of that one little bit. “What, is he an alcoholic or something?”
“No,” the man said with a laugh. “He actually lives there, there’s rooms above the pub.”
“Oh,” she said, taking in that information. “Thank you.” She walked out, a little disappointed. The pub it would have to be then.
“If you’re going to prop up the bar, you might have to order a drink,” Charity said, smiling at Robert.
“I’m waiting for Aaron,” he said. “He’ll be here any minute, he has a lot of work to catch up on.” He did, feeling guilty for having lumbered Adam with all of the scrap stuff lately, what with his stay at Her Majesty's pleasure, and Robert knew he was pushing himself. He didn’t complain too loudly, too pleased to have Aaron back permanently in his life, putting that nightmare behind them. Hopefully, with Aaron’s counselling, they’d never ever be in that situation again.
His phone buzzed with a text from Aaron saying he was on his way. “Fine, two pints please,” Robert said to Charity’s continued glaring. By the time they were placed on the bar Aaron was there, kissing Robert’s cheek briefly in hello. “Good day?” Robert asked.
“You know, it’s so good to actually be doing something again,” Aaron said. “Rather than be sat in a cell ticking down time to the next visit.”
“Mm,” Robert said softly. “Want to go out tonight? Or stay in?”
“Stay in,” Aaron said with eyes glowing brightly. “Charity’ll be working, we’ll have the place to ourselves.”
“Perfect,” Robert said lowly. He picked up his pint, took a sip, then promptly dropped the glass onto the pub floor, which smashed, pouring beer everywhere. But Robert’s eyes were glued to the person who’d just come in, convinced he was either hallucinating or dreaming. Because Sarah Sugden, his mother had been dead for fifteen years. She couldn’t be standing at the entrance of the pub, watching him almost sadly.