It was Christmas Eve and it was understandably busy as Steve Berry stood behind the bar drying glasses and he watched his wife Holly as she walked around the lounge bar talking to the customers as was her usual habit.
He liked it as she walked from table to table, he liked the way the flared skirt moved across her lovely legs and found it quite sensual, 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 plus the additional pride that Holly was pregnant, very pregnant in fact.
It had been 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 through her love Steve had been cured of his Christmas phobia.
After an excess of alcohol and some sneakiness from Holly he found himself working behind the bar in her Uncle Phil’s pub, the Pig and Whistle in Abbeyvale.
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 he spent working for her, she had turned his life upside down and it culminated at closing time on Christmas Eve as the church bells at St Mary’s chimed midnight, with him wishing her a Merry Christmas and kissing her.
Judging by the way Holly responded Steve hoped that the kiss on Christmas Eve might have been the start of something between them but alas for him it didn’t lead anywhere, immediately at any rate.
Holly had indeed responded to his advance and in fact had been hoping for 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 they first made love, 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 with one large open bar to a thriving pub with a sports bar, a games room and a smart lounge plus it had 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, they provided 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 Sharpington honeymoon the previous year with Chef Simon Clarke the restaurant had really taken off.
Simon Clarke had been working at the Granite Hill Country House Hotel where the Berry’s were staying for their honeymoon 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 the reputation of the Pig and Whistles restaurant contributed greatly to the busyness on Christmas Eve.
So on 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 the lovely 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 the baby Christmas Dancing and she was having actually having contractions.
Luckily Dr Claire Andrews was dining in the restaurant with friends
“Get Doc Andrews” Steve said to Petra
“Ok” she replied and ran off while Steve and one of the regulars helped Holly into 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” Claire said “the baby is going to be born here, and quite 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” Claire 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 we’re calling an ambulance”
“Christmas is never dull with Holly” he thought to himself as one by one the remainder of happy customers disappeared into the snowy night amidst a peel of Happy Christmas wishes.
“I have to give her that”
Steve looked out the door as he said goodnight to the last customer and it was still snowing but still not hard.
He locked the doors and went back inside to where the live in 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 Claire Berry was born.
“How typical of Holly Berry to have the baby on Christmas Day” Steve said with tears in his eyes.