The fierce, sudden whoosh of the wind on the hilltop drowns out what Josie was saying, and Toby has to ask her to repeat herself.
“I said that this has been our best camping trip yet,” Josie leans forward in her seat so she's saying it right in his ear. Toby can feel her breath on him, despite the breeze. He grabs her by the waist and pulls her down from her deck chair to join him on the grass. She lies next to him, propped up on her elbows, and rests her head on his shoulder.
On the beach below them, Sara is paddling in the tide, expensive flip-flops dangling from one hand. Josie and Toby watch as Hugo sneaks up behind her, picks her up and drops her in deeper water. Her outraged squeals travel all the way up to the camp-site, and they laugh. Josie turns her head to look for Robin, but he's somewhere out of sight. Reading, or sulking, in one of the tents, most likely.
“I'm so glad Robin brought someone with him this year,” Toby says. “I think it made him feel more a part of the group, don't you?”
“Absolutely,” Josie nods emphatically. “You're not really one of us until you've fed the Man.”
“She was nice,” Toby continues. “I'd expected some poor dullard, but Francesca had something about her.”
“Tits,” Josie giggles. “What else do you think drew our Robin to her?”
Toby chuckles, then agrees.
“I think he'll really miss her,” Josie sighs. “Still, it has to be done. And it's over now, bless him.”
Toby kisses her on the temple and reminds her that it's their turn next year.
“Hmm,” she snuggles in closer. “There's winter to get through first, don't forget.”
Josie closes her eyes and tilts her face to catch as much of the glorious sunshine as possible. Toby decides to do the same.
The Green Man is happy, there's no doubting that. They've done their part. And although she didn't seem to take much comfort in it at the time, Francesca's sacrifice has ensured a prosperous summer for them all.