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Memories of Love

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The plane descended towards Edinburgh, it was a grey driech day in Scotland the type of rain that never really fell, it just drizzled, it was enough to make it feel like winter had arrived, even though it was mid-September. Claire gazed out of the window, she could see the iconic forth rail bridge below her, its rust-coloured iron shining up at her, majestic on this dull Scottish day.

She was jittery, she felt anchorless, her stomach had not settled since she made the unusually impulsive decision to head back to the one place where she felt safe, warm and cherished. The place where she had felt at her happiest, her best. The place where she felt love and where she found love. She wearily closed her eyes and let her memories envelope her.

Henry Beauchamp moved to Fife with his wife, Julia and their six-year-old daughter Claire, to take up a position as Finance Director at a distillery owned by Brian and Ellen Fraser. The Fraser family had warmly welcomed the small family from Oxfordshire and had busied themselves to arrange both family accommodation and schooling for their daughter Claire.

Brian and Ellen were known and respected in the county, they employed almost 300 staff at their distillery in Markinch. It had been the site of the old Haig Whisky distillery before it went into receivership. Hundreds of jobs were lost, and the local community suffered significantly as families struggled to make ends meet. The Frasers had owned and run successful distilleries up in the Highlands but had not previously ventured into the lowlands of Fife.

Their intervention and philanthropy had been welcomed not only by the community but by the council and the Scottish government. Brian had reemployed many, if not all, of the workers and had set up an interest free loan scheme where workers could apply for loans to pay off debt they had incurred as a result of their job loss. Brian Fraser was a man who had earned the love and respect of his workforce and the county.

Henry, Julia and Claire, settled into a large, detached stone cottage on the High Street in Falkland which overlooked the famous Falkland Palace. The spacious cottage had a large open plan kitchen/diner with a family room at the very end. Julia loved this part of the house; she could busy herself in the kitchen whilst listening to Claire chattering excitedly to her father the moment he stepped through the door. They would sit by the wood burner with foaming cups of hot chocolate and entertain each other with their tales of the day. There was also a formal sitting room which when adorned with the Beauchamp’s stylish furniture looked chic but warm and welcoming. In the summer the outside of the house was crammed with window boxes spouting masses of red geraniums complimented by seas of violet lobelia. The house at various times of the year would have jasmine, honeysuckle and a wash of white roses tumbling down the front of the house delivering the sweetest of aromas.

Claire’s little room was decorated with fairy lights, shades of pink, purple and white everywhere, it overlooked the palace which when lit up was simply magical, a real-life fairy tale. The palace was inspired by the grand chateaux of France, and one of the finest examples of Renaissance architecture in Scotland. One of its most famous residents was Mary Queen of Scots, the history bewitched the young honey eyed Claire. Every evening at bedtime, Julia or Henry would create a fairy tale, one which always included the palace in some shape or form. The young Claire would nestle into her Mum or Dad ready for the tall tale ahead. Falkland for the Beauchamp family was home.

The plane grounded suddenly, and Claire was rudely jolted from her comforting memory.

When the plane finally ground to a halt, she rose to wrestle her small case from the overhead locker. She had another suitcase to be collected of course, she had packed for a long visit but in truth she had no idea how long she would remain in Fife.

She made her way across the tarmac to the airport terminal, cursing the Scottish rain as she went, this would send the thick mop of curly hair into a ball of frizz if she didn’t get a move on.

She stood at the carousel patiently waiting for her luggage, completely unaware of the stir she was causing.

She really had no idea how beautiful she was. She was tall and slim with long legs which were the envy of her fellow models. Her hair was the darkest richest brown and was a blaze of natural curls which she never tamed. Her alabaster skin, amber eyes and full lips were initially what got her noticed by Elite 1, however she soon moved from photographic to catwalk to TV advertising and the rest followed.

She often carried a pair of ugly framed glasses with her, with just clear glass. Whenever she thought that someone was about to recognise her from the Chanel commercial, she would stick them on. The member of the public would grimace and realise that it could not possibly be the world-famous model, Sass Alexander.

‘Excuse me, Miss? Are you Sass Alexander?’ A small voice asked

Claire turned to see a young girl of around 15 looking up at her with wide hopeful eyes.

‘Yes, I am. Who do I have the pleasure of speaking to?’

‘My name is Lesley, and I am your biggest fan, would it be okay if we take a wee selfie?’

Claire smiled and said of course, she pulled her arm around the young girl and took her phone from her hand.

‘Let me Lesley, my arm is longer, and we will manage a better angle’. Said Claire.

‘Now, Lesley, lift your chin up and stick it out slightly to give your face definition’ Leslie squealed at the advice from one of the world’s top models.

A few minutes later, a delighted and excited Lesley was on her way, no doubt posting her picture with Sass Alexander on her Instagram page. The cat would be out of the bag. She had landed in Scotland. Mind you, who would care? Falkland was in the back of beyond, no-one would put two and to together and stalk her from there.

She had not really kept in touch with anyone from Fife after she left. Her two best friends had moved from Fife, Nancy moved to Sydney, Australia and Carole’s family had moved to New York.. Neither of these friends kept in touch with anyone from the old town although the three of them were still as thick as thieves and thanks to Claire’s job, she did manage to see them quite often.

After collecting her luggage, she ventured outside for the long trek to the car hire building. She pulled her stylish woollen Louise Kennedy coat tighter and cursed herself for forgetting how biting the east coast wind could be.

She collected her car from Avis and made her way up to Falkland, over the new Queensberry Crossing. It was chilly outside, and the wind was blowing a right old hooley, but her hands felt warm and clammy on the steering wheel. It all felt so strange, but truth be told, the moment she landed on Scottish soil her soul felt nurtured.