'Ladies and gentlemen; boys and girls. A very good afternoon to you all, and a very big welcome to the very first.., PARTY IN THE PARK!'
The compere raised his arms in salute, as a roar of approval crashed around the Ashton Memorial. Several thousands of voices cheered, and shouted. People applauded; some twirled rattles and blew whistles. The happy noise rose and fell; rose again; before the compare, a presenter for the local radio station, managed to make himself heard once more.
'What a great day! And what a great turnout, for our very first party in the park. I'm Mitch Malone, and, on behalf of Lancashire Council and The Bay, I'd like to welcome all of you to Ashton Memorial; in Williamson's Park. It's gonna be a great day today. We've got a fabulous line-up for you, of some of the best local talent, and some well known names as well. I'll be here all day, along with many of my colleagues from The Bay, and we're all looking forwards to what's gonna be a brilliant festival of Folk and Jazz.'
Once more, a roar of approval from the crowd drowned out his amplified voice. It was several minutes before he was able to make himself heard again.
'Okay,' The compere beamed to the crowd. I can see that you're all raring to go. So, to start things rolling, we have a wonderful local band for you. These guys and gals have been performing locally for several years, and have a massive following. Ladies and gentlemen; I give you - Twos and Blues!'
The crowd erupted, as the group appeared, waving, on the stage. The two men were dressed in identical blue denim shirt and pants, the girls in floral dresses. They took up positions and instruments as they waited for their audience to settle.
'Glad you came, Lukas? I am.' MacKenzie's voice pulled Lukas' attention from the stage. He looked down at her.
'I can honestly say, I've never been happier.'
'Good.' She snuggled up against him, on the grass. 'Neither have I,' she murmured.
For a while, they stayed like that; Lukas sitting on the soft grass; MacKenzie tucked up in the cushion of his arms and chest; Lukas gently stroking her mass of softly shimmering, coppery hair. On the stage, the group launched into a spirited rendition of Steeleye Spans, 'All around my hat', a perennial favorite of Lukas' college days. As the chorus began, the crowd around them joined in spiritedly, and Lukas found himself singing along. To his surprise, MacKenzie joined in; her voice a strong soprano. They sang together; looking into each other's eyes until the song finished.
'You have a wonderful singing voice.' Lukas said loudly, over the tumult around them. 'I thought music wasn't your thing.'
'Not for many years. But I always loved that song.'
'It's one of my favorites.' Lukas agreed. He looked over to where Helen and Roger Bennet were wrapped around each other. He grinned, shaking his head. 'What do you think?' He asked MacKenzie, nodding across the clearing. MacKenzie twisted slightly, to look; a movement that sent all sorts of interesting sensations coursing through Lukas.
'I think it's wonderful.' She pronounced, after a few moments. 'Rogers a sweetheart, and he absolutely adores Helen. It's time she had some fun.' She glanced up at Lukas for a moment, before returning her attention to the couple across from them.
'you know, Lukas; I've only known your sister for a few days,' she said softly. 'But already, I feel like I've known her for most of my life. And I love her so much. Like a sister; but, more so, somehow. Not like I love you, of course, but..,' She let out an exasperated sigh. 'Och, but I'm not explaining myself very well, you ken?'
'I know exactly what you mean.' Lukas leant forwards and planted a soft kiss on her cheek. MacKenzie moaned a soft appreciation, and offered up her lips for the same treatment. Lukas was glad to oblige, and they passed a few enjoyable minutes in that fashion. On the stage, Twos and Blues finished their set piece, and left the stage, to rapturous applause from the crowd. Neither couple paid any attention to the jazz combo that succeeded them.
The afternoon matured imperceptibly towards dusk. The stage lighting brightened and grew, to encompass the memorial behind. The white stone shimmered; an effulgent display of muted greens and blues. As the day dimmed, so the crowd grew perceptibly; drawn towards the park by the coming firework display. Despite the increased numbers, the atmosphere in the park remained one of good humored gaiety, and the attending police and St John Ambulance members were able to relax a little.
Lukas, MacKenzie, Helen and Roger spent the hours pleasantly, chatting together and with the rest of the small group. Picnic hampers were produced, and the contents consumed. Initially the outsiders, Lukas and MacKenzie were soon made to feel welcome, and a part of the small group. Several of the women were in open awe of the medium, casting covert glances at him, when they thought he wasn't looking.
Usually uncomfortable with strangers, and in groups, Lukas was amazed at how quickly he fitted in with Helen and Roger's friends. Before long, the spaces between them lessened, as the group of friends and not-quiet friends got to know each other better. As he had suspected earlier, Lukas noticed that, as time passed, Roger became less the boisterous life and soul of the group, and more the attentive listener; one arm around Helen, as if never intending to let her go.
'I could really get to like this man.' Lukas allowed himself a smile. In all honesty, there was little not to like about Bennet. The big man was friendly, attentive to his friends and, quite obviously, completely under Helen's spell.
'Just as well. Little brother.' Again, Lukas had forgotten his sisters ability to know his thoughts. ' I intend for him to be around for quite a while.' He flashed her a guilty smile.
'He's a good man, big sister; I hope he makes you as happy as I am.'
Helen's eyes widened fractionally; she threw him her special smile - the smile she reserved for just him. 'That means so much to me, Lukey. The same for you, and MacKenzie.'
'I'll never get used to this.'
'Of course you will. Won't he, MacKenzie?'
'Most certainly.' Lukas recognized MacKenzie's thought. 'No time at all.'
He looked down, to find his agent smiling up at him. 'It's not all that difficult, laddie.' She looked across to Helen. 'Maybe it's a man thing,' she remarked. Helen grinned.