Over the hubbub of loud banging and muffled shouting from the broom cupboard, accompanied by guffaws and giggles from all present, very few people noticed the entrance of an unattractive but imposing young woman.
She walked straight up to Nick, and stood in front of him, trying to make eye contact, but failing.
''I like you.'' she said. ''I want you to come and live with me.''
''Urgh! Argh.'' said Nick, meaning every word.
Discouraged, the young woman went to the bar.
''I want a drink. Red wine,'' she said to the buxom woman behind the bar. ''And make that awful racket stop. I want to drink it in peace.''
The barmaid, who was now wearing a smart uniform with a name tag bearing the legend: Daisy O'Shea - Ask me for a free refill, glared at the newcomer, but poured her a large glass of claret, which the young woman took, turning towards the corner seats. A man was blocking her way. She glared at him too, but he did not move.
''Miss Pleasance,'' he said. ''Your manners don't improve, do they? Never were much for please and thank you, were you, Bella?''
She narrowed her bright blue, slightly too close together eyes, and pushed a strand of hair behind one exquisite ear.
''Do I know you?'' she asked. She sounded as if she cared not a jot, either way.
He put out his hand. Bella ignored it. ''McKenzie's the name. Our paths have crossed, Miss Pleasance. You seem to leave destruction in your wake. That's all I'm saying, except that eventually... your sins will find you out.''
''Pish!'' said Bella. ''Sins? Right!'' She pushed past McKenzie and went to the nearest table. She put her wine glass down and walked to the cupboard. As she put her hand on the knob, the pub fell silent.
''Don't open it!'' shouted Eloosive, Daisy the barmaid, and The Man in the Rafters, in unison, but too late. Bella had twisted the knob, and Joe burst out. He stopped. He looked at Bella Pleasance.
''I like you,'' he said. Bella's eyes locked on his. Bella smiled.