Holly walked around the lounge talking to the customers as was her usual habit.
She had a less graceful gait than she used to but Steve still felt a great sense of pride that he was her husband and Holly was pregnant, very pregnant.
It was two years since they had met and she had changed the course of his life entirely.
It was Christmas again and Steve Berry had always had a dislike for it, despite all the jollity.
Unlike many of his Christmas mad friends he’d had no happy Christmas memories to anesthetise him against the season.
His childhood Christmases were memories he would rather have forgotten.
So he never trusted Christmas, he believed that shit lurked beneath the coloured lights and paper chains.
That was until Holly Davis opened his eyes to new possibilities and he realised that Christmas could also magnify joy and Steve had been cured of his Christmas phobia.
Due to Holly, Steve had found himself working behind the bar in her Uncle Phil’s pub, the Pig and Whistle.
He was still, even to that day uncertain quite how she managed to affect that, but affect it she did and during the ten days working for her she had turned his life upside down and it culminated in him wishing her a Merry Christmas and kissing her at closing time.
He had thought the kiss on Christmas Eve might be the start of something.
Judging by the way Holly responded to it but it didn’t lead anywhere immediately.
Holly had responded to his advance and in fact had been hopeful of it but she knew it was far too soon to throw caution to the wind.
The effects of the kiss proved to be a slow burner which didn’t burst into flames until the early hours of New Year’s Day
The two years since had been very eventful, they became partners in January, engaged at Easter and Married in September.
However it wasn’t only Steve and Holly’s fortunes that had changed over the preceding two years since they had met but so had those of the Pig and Whistle.
It had gone from a rundown dive to a thriving pub with a growing reputation as a gastro pub.
The restaurant had always been busy right from the outset but when Steve and Stephanos were in the kitchen it was good pub grub and no more because they didn’t have the repertoire to take it to the next level.
However since Steve and Holly had returned from their New Forest honeymoon the previous year with Chef Simon Clarke the restaurant had really taken off.
Simon had been working at the same country house hotel that the Berry’s were staying at as a sous chef for an arrogant sadistic bully.
Now he was a Chef in his own right and Steve and Stephanos had grown as cooks under him.
So this contributed to the general business that night.
It was Christmas Eve and Holly, despite being told to rest by Steve and everybody else was doing her usual walkabout as hostess and as Steve looked at her he sighed because he was so in love with that girl in the maternity dress.
Just like Christmas Eve two years before it was snowing, not as hard, but enough not to want to make any unnecessary journeys.
She had had a twinge or two which she just laughed it off, she said the baby had been really active all day.
“She’s dancing to the Christmas songs” she said to Steve “she really likes the Puppini Sisters”
But by 9 o’clock in the evening it was obvious the twinges were more than Christmas Dancing and she was having contractions.
Luckily Clare Andrews was dining in the restaurant with friends
“Get Doc Andrews” he said to Petra
“Ok” she replied and ran off while Steve and one of the regulars helped Holly in the private room at the back of the bar.
“Where is she?” The doctor asked
“In here” Steve called
Dr Andrews threw her car keys to Petra
“Can you get my bag from the car please?”
“Yes doc” she replied
“Ooooooh” Holly exclaimed through gritted teeth “that was a big one”
After Dr Andrews examined her she said
“She’s definitely in labour”
“I’ll call an ambulance” Steve suggested
“No she’s too far along” Clare said “the baby is going to be born here, and soon”
“I’d be happier if we got her to hospital” Steve said
“So would I” Dr Andrews replied
“But she’ll never make it to the hospital”
“She’s really too close?” Steve asked
“Yes” Clare replied “so under the circumstance, here is going to have to do”
“Upstairs it is then” Steve said “but the first sign of an angel and three wise men and were calling an ambulance”
This was certainly different to previous Christmases’ he thought to himself as Steve looked out the door as he said goodnight to the last customers it was still snowing but still not hard.
He locked the doors and went back to where the staff were sitting, no one wanted to go to bed until the baby had been born.
So they sat around a table in the bar until half past one when Noelle Clare Berry was born.
Trust Holly Berry to have the baby on Christmas Day.