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A former teacher who specialized in English and

History. Married with two sons. Brought up in


Worcestershire and now lives in Yorkshire. An avid
reader who always had an amition to write. !ther
interests include travelling and anti"ues.
Fe l i c i t y Kn i g h t
C A R E N Z A S H E I R S
#opyright $elicity %night
&he right of $elicity %night to e identified as author of this work
has een asserted y her in accordance with section '' and '( of
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reproduced) stored in a retrieval system) or transmitted in any
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Any person who commits any unauthorized act in relation to this
pulication may e liale to criminal prosecution and civil claims
for damages.
A #/+ catalogue record for this title is availale from the British
0irary.
/1B. -'( ,(2-34 (', 5
www.austinmacauley.com
$irst +ulished 678,29
Austin Macauley +ulishers 0td.
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0ondon
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Acknowledgments
/ would like to thank my husand for his support and his
meticulous research for the historical aspects of the novel)
also ;amie) ;onathan and Wei for their /& support when the
computer goes wrong.
0astly a thank you to my sister ;udith Milne for her creation
of the front cover which shows Worcestershire with a view
of the Malvern Hills.
Part 1
1975
Chapter 1
&he hearse pulled up outside the house in .ether Heydon and
the earers waited in a deafening silence out of respect for
their charge) who was making her last <ourney in this life. &he
family was going to walk ehind the coffin to the church
which was only a few streets away ut they knew that it was
going to e the longest walk of their lives. :eorgia May stood
at the sitting room window pulling ack the curtains) which
had een drawn out of respect for her grandmother) and then
turned ack to look at everyody) particularly her mother
whom she surveyed an=iously.
>&he hearse is here)? she said sotto voce ut everyody had
heard as there was total silence in the room. An=iety was
etched on the adults? faces as they glanced at #arenza?s
distraught face which was raw with grief. &hey did not know
how she would endure the following few hours as she looked
totally roken in her sadness.
>/ can?t do it@ / can?t do it@ / don?t want to go. / can?t go)?
#arenza?s voice roke the silence as she sat in May?s usual
seat y the fire. +utting her head in her hands) she wept
copious tears for her dead mother. /t had een like this since
#arenza had found her in ed having passed away peacefully
in her sleep several days efore. 1ome people would say that it
was not une=pected considering May?s great age) ut #arenza
had een deeply shocked y the turn of events. May?s
indomitale spirit had een strong until the end ut her ody
had weakened over the past few years and latterly her heart
had not een strong.
Her children) who surrounded her) looked on aghast at
their mother. &hey had never seen this side of her efore. 1he
had always een strong) stalwart) the person to look up to and
the person who had made their world safe after their father?s
death. &wentyAyearAold :eorgia May looked from the
distraught figure of her mother to her twin sister 0ily and then
into the concerned face of *orothy) the family nanny. All three
communicated without resorting to veral language.
>#ome with me)? *orothy rounded up the younger
children.
;onty) the youngest child) crept closer to his mother not
fully understanding her distress ut feeling every facet of her
pain. .uzzling her cheek with affection and placing his arms
around her neck) he tried to lessen her heartache purely y his
presence. #arenza put her arm around him) her last precious
child) and took some comfort from his nearness. *orothy)
though) was firm in her demands.
>#ome ;onty)? she stretched out her hand to take that of her
young charge. /t had een said firmly ut not unkindly.
*orothy knew that the older twins would handle the situation)
especially :eorgia who was close to her mother. &hey had
een like sisters ever since the outurst that had occurred a few
years efore when :eorgia had een suffering from
insecurities after her father?s sudden death in a car crash.
Hugh?s appearance on the scene had led to many misgivings
ut now everything had een taken care of and the family had
een happy again) until now.
&he oy resisted at first) not wishing to leave his mother)
ut he took the outstretched hand of the nanny and followed
her reluctantly) looking ack at his mother as he left the room.
&he younger girls) Ale=a and Meredith) followed *orothy with
a feeling of resentment that they were now old enough to e
left with their older silings. ;osh) a tall eighteenAyearAold) was
summoned too. His face showed signs of ill humour that he
had een treated like a child ut he followed too) leaving
#arenza in the company of her older daughters.
>Mum) you have got to go. What would people think if you
didn?tB What would :ranny May have saidB? :eorgia was not
prepared to e roweaten y her mother who normally had
more courage than anyone that she knew.
#arenza looked up at her eldest daughter through tearA
filled eyes and managed a thin smile. >1he would tell me to go
and not e so stupid.?
>Well then that is <ust what you have got to do)? 0ily said
moving to her mother and putting her arms around her. >You
have a few minutes to get yourself ready and go and show the
world how much you loved :ranny May. 1he is the last person
you can let down at this hour.?
#arenza looked at her daughters and wondered if she had
missed them growing up) for suddenly that was what they
were) adults who knew their own minds and were confident in
their opinions. How &om would have een proud of them and
their silings. 1he stood up shakily and put her arms around
them and that was how they stood for several minutes efore
she freed herself to go and change for her mother?s last <ourney
to her resting place in .ether Heydon churchyard. 1he had
elieved that her world had ended all those years ago when
&om had died in the car crash) ut she had managed to survive.
1omehow it was different with May) the mother) who had
adopted her during the War and had remained her support and
mentor ever since. How different life would e from now on.
#arenza looked at her gaunt face in the edroom mirror)
thinking that it was only five days since May?s death. /t was
inevitale that she would not live forever ut it <ust appeared
that way sometimes. Her indomitale spirit had een strong
until the very end ut her ody had ecome increasingly frail
over the last few years until her heart had stopped eating and
she had died in her sleep.
>:ive me strength to see this through)? she whispered to
anyone who might e listening and to May in particular) >/ will
always love you. %eep safe my darling Mother.?
&here was no answer ut #arenza took comfort from the
fact that May would e listening somewhere and would stay
with her daughter in her heart for all time. !nly minutes later
the family closed the front door silently ehind them and
walked through May?s eautiful garden to the road to take up
their positions ehind the hearse. :eorgia and 0ily flanked
their mother) all three) arm in arm to walk the walk of a
lifetime.
After the service the family followed the coffin down the
nave of the old church which was washed in a myriad of
colours as the spring sunshine streamed through the stainedA
glass windows. &hey stepped out into the April sunshine where
life looked at its est. #lumps of late daffodils lent rightness
to the scene. How May would have approved of a day like this.
/n the past) she would have tended her eloved garden and if
old friends passed y) she would have leaned on her fork and
have passed the time of day. .ow) her coffin was lowered into
the ground in the plot specially chosen for her at the ack of
the churchyard under the trees) which were eginning to grow
their new foliage where there was a view of the glorious
Malvern HillsC May would sleep for the rest of time in the
tran"uility of this eautiful :arden of Eden.
&he church had een packed to capacity for this pillar of
the community ut around the grave <ust the family and the
closest of friends stood to hear the final prayers and the clods
of earth thudding onto the coffin. #arenza had stoically held
herself together for the service ut) now) the floodgates opened
as the end of May?s <ourney had truly arrived. Edgar) who had
come out of retirement to take the funeral service of a true
friend) lifted his hand to make the final lessing and then
turned to leave the churchyard to the remnants of the mourners
to pay their last respects efore the party roke up. *orothy
took ;onty?s small hand and steered the child away. He had not
fully understood the implications of what was happening and
was ewildered y the fact that his mother was crying softly
once more. $ollowing *orothy?s lead) the youngest memers
of the family turned towards the path into the full light of the
day to allow #arenza time alone with her mother. However)
#arenza was not alone for a strong male arm was wrapped
around her shoulders to give her strength and support until she
could ear to tear herself away.
>&hank you)? she said looking into the kind face of her
fatherAinAlaw) 1pencer Heston. 1he laid her head against his
shoulder as they stood in silence to pay triute to May in their
own way.
>#amilla and / will always e there for you <ust as you
have een for us)? he reassured her.
>&hank you)? she whispered again. Eventually the tears had
een shed for the moment and they left her mother alone to
sleep eneath the trees for eternity.
&he walk ack to the house where #arenza had lived for
most of her life was now a lur as she made her way around
the mourners who had returned to pay their respects and
celerate May?s life. &here were very few of May?s old friends
who had left on their last <ourney years efore) ut ;eannette
and Edgar were present with their daughter Helen who had
made the <ourney from !=ford where she was a professor of
*ivinity much to her parents? immense pride. &here were
some of May?s great nieces and nephews present and then
suddenly #arenza?s eyes alighted on Hugh :roves) who had
managed to return from a usiness trip aroad in time for the
funeral.
&heir eyes met and they smiled the secret smile of two
people who were lovers. Hugh made his way across the room
to her side) touching her hand in a gesture of true affection and
understanding. &here was still time for each other when
everyody had gone. &his would e a new eginning for their
relationship.
>Are you all rightB? he whispered in her ear.
1he shook her head in answer. 1he was unale to veralize
her thoughts without eing overcome y a well of emotion.
>We will make time later)? he added.
#arenza nodded. &heir odies parted as they went to
circulate the room separately) Hugh to find his son and
#arenza to thank others for their kind thoughtsC ut all she
wanted was to e left alone to suffer her intolerale grief in
private.
An hour later her wish had een granted. &he e=cellent
*orothy had organized for all the children to leave Hugh and
#arenza alone in May?s sitting room) which was to ecome her
daughter?s. /t had een the most eautiful of days ut filled
with such unearale sadness that #arenza did not know how
to face the future.
>!h Hugh)? she egan not knowing what to say.
>1sh)? he soothed taking her hand and kissing it as if to
make her feel etter <ust as he would a child. >You have gone
through the worst part and / am so proud of you.?
>&hank you.?
>And rememer #arenza you are not alone. You have
those children and most of all you have me.?
>/ know)? she said tiredly thinking that she really was well
lessed. >/ have een thinking that / had May for a long time
really. 1he had lived a long life) nearly ninetyAfive years. 1he
could have died years ago like some of her friends. 1he could
not have gone on much longer though could sheB? 1he looked
at Hugh for confirmation of this fact.
>1he had a good life #arenza and the fact that she had you
made her very happy and fulfilled and rememer she did not
suffer. 1he <ust went to sleep and never woke up. &here was no
suffering and if she had gone on longer you <ust don?t know
what might have happened. 1he could have suffered and you
wouldn?t have wanted that.?
>/ could not have orne it if she had suffered Hugh) ut am
/ selfish to wish that she was still hereB?
>!f course not. &hat is only natural) ut you must look to
the future. May would have wanted that.?
#arenza did not answer ut she knew that Hugh was right.
&he daylight started to fade and the April evening cooled.
&hey sat wrapped in each other?s arms watching the log fire
flicker) ut its warmth rought little <oy to #arenza?s heart.
Chapter
&he spring sunshine shone through the crack in the curtains
casting a long line of rightness across the ed where #arenza
lay) not "uite alone as she usually did. Her eyes fluttered open
and the heaviness of heart that had filled her over the past days
returned with a vengeance. /t was to e another day without
May and so would e the endless days ahead of her. 1he would
learn to cope with it) she promised herself) <ust as she had done
with &om all those years ago. 1he was not alone in the world
as she had een as a twelveAyearAold child when she had lost
her family in the 0ondon Blitz) and that was when May had
entered her life. 1he had completed the cycle for her thoughts
had een returned to May. 0ooking at the sleeping ody eside
her she half smiled despite her sadness. 1he and Hugh had
never slept in this ed together efore. &hey had still never
married despite him asking her fre"uently. &heir relationship
had een conducted at a distance from .ether Heydon at
Hugh?s flat in Worcester where ;onty would visit his father
regularly. &his had happened in deference to May whose house
they inhaited. #arenza knew that her mother would not have
minded Hugh?s presence ut she felt happier to keep the
situation as simple as possile.
Her relationship with Hugh had turned into a true love
affair that had een "uite different from her liaison with &om.
#arenza had loved oth men ut in different ways and yet
there had een similarities in their characters which must have
een what had helped form their university friendship in the
first place. Her relationship with Hugh was mature whereas her
affair and suse"uent marriage to &om had een fostered y
love and the lust of youth with less responsiility that came
with life?s e=periences. Her children regarded Hugh as a
surrogate father ut it had not een like that in the early days
when :eorgia and 0ily had resented his presence in their lives.
Yet all that had changed over the years when he had never
tried to e a replacement for &om ut was there for them if
they needed advice. His own child ;onty had ecome the apple
of his eyeC the child that he had always wanted) ut the rest of
the Heston children came a very close second.
#arenza regarded Hugh now as he slumered on. 0ast
night they had talked aout May and the children as well as
their relationship. /t had seemed the most natural thing in the
world for him to turn out the lights and follow her upstairs to
ed instead of returning to the empty and uninviting apartment
in town which fostered feelings of emptiness after the family
ustle of the house in .ether Heydon. 1he knew that they had
turned a corner and it would inevitaly lead to marriage for the
house was hers now. 1he was aware that the two men in her
life had een so patient aout her reluctance to marry and must
have loved her deeply. $ew people could have een so
fortunate in one lifetime) she mused. /t was her turn to give a
little ack. Dnpinning Hugh?s arm gently) she moved ever
closer to the edge of the ed) where she crawled onto the floor
and "uietly proceeded to dress herself in a pair of old <eans and
top which had een flung casually across a edroom chair.
:lancing at the clock) which stated that it was seven o?clock)
#arenza opened the edroom door ut heard no activity in
other parts of the house. 1he descended the stairs and put her
flat pumps on her feet when she had reached the ottom.
Dnlatching the front door she s"uinted as her eyes grew
accustomed to the spring sunshine which was still holding after
several days. &he air was fresh on her face at this early hour as
she walked once more to the churchyard to say >hello? to May
as she had done for most days of her life.
$ew people were around. An odd farm worker cycled y
ut generally it was a silent world that she inhaited at this
moment. &he churchyard gate was open) allowing her to walk
straight through until she arrived at May?s grave. /t had een
filled in now) looking like any other grave around) e=cept for
the newly dug soil covering it.
>Hello) May)? she whispered to her mother who slept
silently on. >/ will never forget you and what you did for me.
:od less.?
1he stood for a while musing on life past and present ut
feeling suddenly at peace with the world knowing that in time
she would start to heal inside. Was not time a healerB
>Hello)? a "uiet voice distured her reverie. 1he looked up
and saw Edgar contemplating her. 1he had not heard him
approach showing how deep her thoughts had een. >Are you
all rightB? he asked) his voice full of concern for the woman he
almost considered his daughter.
#arenza nodded and pulled a tight smile. >/ think so. /t was
all the sadness yesterday ut / know that she would have
suffered if she had lived much longer.? &ears once more egan
to fill her eyes. Edgar put a comforting arm around her
shoulders.
>/t will ecome easier you know. Your grief is still raw at
the moment ut give yourself time. 1he was a wonderful
woman)? he said and his face suddenly looked anguished. >/
will miss her too) her wisdom) herE?
>/ know)? #arenza cut in. >Anyway) what are you doing
hereB?
>Much the same as you)? he said. >/t was too usy here
yesterday to pay my private respects. / found it hard to sleep so
decided to come now. *id you see how full the church wasB?
>Yes. /t was a testament to how much people loved May.?
>%eep focused on the good things of life)? he said ruefully
and touched her arm to enforce his words and then turned and
walked away) his heart heavy with sadness too.
#arenza watched him go sensing that he felt almost as
ereft as she did. &urning ack to the unmarked grave she said)
>1leep tight May. / will always love you.?
&here was nothing else to do ut return home to her family
and another day without her eloved mother.
#arenza returned to a very different house from the one
that she had left. .oise emanated from the kitchen. 0ooking at
her watch) she discovered that an hour had gone y since she
had left the house for the churchyard. As she entered the
kitchen) which over the years had een the hu of the
household) she saw her younger daughters seated ne=t to ;onty
and opposite them sat Hugh in full flow entertaining them with
a succession of <okes. ;onty laughed enthusiastically at them
while the girls were trying to keep their dignity now that they
were aout to enter their teenage years ut they were failing
adly. Hugh had woken and come downstairs to make
reakfast for anyone who had wanted it. &here had een no
comment that this was Hugh?s first visit to the reakfast tale.
/t all seemed as natural as it should do.
#arenza stood in the kitchen doorway totally unnoticed.
1he surveyed the detritus of Hugh?s culinary attempts and
shuddered. ;inny) the new girl who helped with the housework
would have a fit if she witnessed this deacle. /f Hugh was to
move in he would have to e trained to e tidier she mused. As
the <okes egan to wane Hugh looked up and saw her standing
there. His smile widened and her heart melted with love.
>Would you like some reakfastB? He <umped up in order
to make her some.
#arenza shook her head. >/ couldn?t eat a thing)? she said)
>ut a cup of tea would e lovely.?
Hugh looked concerned. >You should eat)? he said) >with
all that has gone on.?
>/ know ut perhaps later.?
&hey looked at each other over the heads of the children
and smiled. >/?ll make you that tea)? he said turning away.
>Where are the othersB? #arenza asked.
>!h you know that they never want to get up in the
holidays)? Ale=a said with a roll of her eyes.
#arenza had forgotten everything that had een going on
with what had happened to May. &he older girls had returned
home from university at the eginning of the Easter reak.
&hey were in their second year now) oth at *urham. 1he had
een so proud of their achievements to gain entry to a good
university. /t was also special that they had gone together ut
that was where the similarity ended. &hey were reading
different su<ects. 0ily was an English student and :eorgia
had set her heart on History and +olitics. #arenza was not sure
where their studies would lead them in the future when they
needed to make choices aout their careers ut many young
people did not know what they wanted to do in the future.
&hinking ack to her own student days) she had known e=actly
what she had wanted to do. Her teaching career had not een
e=tensive ut she had loved it nevertheless. Her volte face
came after her interest in anti"ues grew and she had made her
mind to move into usiness. 1he knew she had to e patient
with the girls ut there was always an opening for them in her
own usiness which had proved a resounding success over the
years. But there would e no pressure to force them into it if it
was not what they truly wanted.
;osh was a very easyAgoing oy. 1he corrected herself. He
was a young man with his father?s fair hair) good looks and
easy personality. 1he only had to look at her son and she was
transported ack to the time when she had met &om. &hey
were idyllic memories without the responsiility or pressures
of adulthood. &hey had thought aout themselves with little
regard for others. How selfish they had een) she mused. Feal
life ended that dilemma when they had to work for a living and
then the responsiilities of parenthood rought them down to
earth with a resounding thud. 1he thought aout her
adolescence when she had lived as May?s only child. 1he had
een taught the value of money and it was only as she ecame
older that she had learned that she would inherit a sustantial
sum of money as well as the house where they still resided
after all this time. #arenza knew that she was to e the only
eneficiary of May?s fortune and during the afternoon the
solicitor was coming to read the will at the house. #arenza
hoped that Hugh would sit with her ut he had refused
elieving that it was not eti"uette to do so. /f she re"uired
support he had suggested her older children. &he e=perience of
such affairs would do them good he felt ut #arenza had
declined the thought and had decided to do it all y herself.
+romptly at two o?clock) +atrick !?Brian) the solicitor)
knocked and waited for admittance. He took a few steps to
look at the faGade of the property and whistled to himself at the
semi grandeur of the old Elizaethan house. He knew his client
was very comfortaly off ut the house) if it was ever sold)
would e worth a sustantial amount of money. &he front door
was opened y #arenza. 1he smiled sadly at her guest and held
out her hand. He grasped hers with such force that she visily
winced) ut her discomfort passed unnoticed.
>/?m sorry for your sad loss)? he said sympathetically in his
soft /rish rogue.
>&hank you)? she replied as she led him through the house
to the family dining room. He opened his riefcase and then
placed his papers on the well polished surface of the tale and
seated himself in front of his client.
#arenza sat waiting patiently. 1he had een told the
contents of the will although she had not known "uite how
wealthy her mother was. +atrick !?Brian looked up from his
perusal of his papers and looked straight at #arenza. He smiled
a lopAsided smile at her and cleared his throat in preparation
for what was to come.
>&he last will and testament of May $aithful is "uite
straightforward)? he said. >!ther than a few e"uests to her
nephews and their children her money is left in its entirety to
you) Mrs Heston.?
1he nodded and then a puzzled e=pression crossed her still
ereft features. >You didn?t mention the house. You <ust said
money.?
+atrick?s face roke into a smile. >&here is no prolem
there. &he house had elonged to you for some time. May
telephoned me a few years ack to place the property in your
name. 1he was concerned aout your situation after your
husand died.?
#arenza was thoughtful. &his house had elonged to her
for years without her even knowing. &rust May to think of
everything ut why had she not told herB &ears rimmed
around her lashes. Fecent events were still raw. /t was still
only a week since May?s death.
>Why did she do that and not tell meB? she asked.
>Well she told me at the time that you had too much to deal
with emotionally with theE?
>With the death of my husand)? she finished the sentence
for him) rememering ack to those soering times when
0orna had worked her evil magic upon those that she hated.
>Yes and then everything worked out and she did not feel a
need to tell you. /t was a fait accompli. 1he called me again
<ust a few months ago to make sure that everything was in
order.?
>What do you mean in orderB? #arenza was mystified y
the whole situation.
>Well) she wanted to know that the seven year rule was
still valid. &hat meant that she had lived seven years after the
property had een transferred into your name. /t has) which
means that no death duties need to e paid.?
#arenza smiled allowing her whole face to light up.
+atrick noted the transformation immediately. Although she
had reached middle age) #arenza was still eautiful with only
an odd thread of silver in her hair. +atrick was impressed.
>1he was a wily old ird even to the end)? she mused.
+atrick smiled in agreement. He had only known May for a
handful of years ut he had always een in awe of her lucid
and intelligent mind until the end of her days. Her ody had
een failing for years ut there remained an acute sharpness to
her faculties.
>&hat is the whole will)? +atrick said ringing order to the
pile of papers in front of him.
>*o you know the e=act sum of money that she leftB?
#arenza asked.
>/ cannot give you an e=act figure until all the investments
have een sorted y our financial team. /t will then pass to
proate and then released to you ut / would not e=pect it to e
less than half a million.?
>/ didn?t think that it would e that much)? #arenza said in
a state of surprise. >/ knew that she was wealthy ut it was
never anything that we discussed in detail. / had made myself
independent over the years.?
>/ know)? he said. >May was always proud of your selfA
reliance. By the way there is likely to e death duties to pay as
you will e inheriting a sustantial amount from your mother.?
>/ hadn?t thought aout that. / am sure that / will find out
soon. &hank you for everything)? she said.
>We will e in touch over the following weeks ut in the
meantime / hope that you will let us know if there is anything
we can do for you.?
#arenza led the solicitor to the front door and opened it for
him. +atrick passed through ut as he did he stole one last look
at #arenza) her face was near his as he stood on the doorstep
anticipating his departure and in a moment of madness he felt
like kissing her ut held ack <ust in time. .o wonder May had
loved this daughter of hers so much.
>Well thanks again)? she said as she closed the door ehind
him totally unaware of the well of emotions she had con<ured
up in the solicitor.
Chapter !
/t was now a month since May had passed away. #arenza was
eginning to come to terms with her loss partly ecause she
had immersed herself into her work and had kept so usy that
she had had little time to think aout anything else which could
prey on her mind ut today she had given herself permission to
have a day off. 1he was giving herself time to think on this
occasion. &here was noody at home which was a rare event
and in many ways a relief. 0ily and :eorgia had returned to
*urham for the summer term and ;osh was preparing for his
e=ams. Everyody else had school or work. Even the
redoutale *orothy had other usiness with which to contend.
#arenza took her reakfast cup of coffee into May?s sitting
room and sat in front of a comforting log fire for it was still
cold on this May morning. 1he looked around at May?s
possessions and felt only comfort) not distress as she would
have done only weeks efore. 1he knew that she was
eginning to heal inside and the old adage that life goes on was
true. Her thoughts turned to Hugh who had lived on in .ether
Heydon after May?s death. &heir life together was lessed she
elieved ut the greatest <oy was to witness ;onty en<oying
seeing his father on a daily asis. &hat had een denied him
over the years ut it was only right to give him a family life
now that she was free. $ree of May. What an awful thought.
&hat was not what she was thinking ut she had shielded May
from her relationship with Hugh. Her mother had een of the
old school of thought that marriage was etter than living
together ut she had never commented on the fact that #arenza
had never married ;onty?s father. &hat had never een her
style.
Hugh had raised the su<ect of their marriage once more
and now she knew that she could no longer refuse him. Her
fierce independence) she knew) could e rather selfish and it
was time that she did what was right for Hugh and ;onty. Hugh
had insisted that it was time to legitimize ;onty?s irth to place
him on the same footing as his silings. #arenza elieved this
was only fair to her younger son and had agreed to accept
Hugh?s proposal of marriage. &he prolem was that she did not
want a huge event. 1he had done the ig wedding with &om.
1he shuddered as she thought of her late motherAinAlaw?s
intervention all those years ago. What a ghastly woman she
had een. Hugh had few relations so she would never suffer in
that way again. /t could not take place in .ether Heydon for
Hugh was divorced) ut she supposed that they would emulate
1pencer y marrying at the registry office in Worcester with
only their small family present. /t had to e a low key affair for
she was too old to want anything else. &he contemplation of all
these proposals made her head ache ut Hugh was waiting for
her answer on his return from America where) he had usiness
dealings. A summer wedding would e the est when
everyody was home for the holidays.
&he telephone rang in the hall. 1he made a mental note
that it was time e=tensions were placed in other rooms of the
house. &he hallway seemed too much of a pulic area to hold
private conversations when the whole family was at home.
>Hello)? she said into the receiver. &here was a short
silence efore she heard someody clearing their throat efore
speaking.
>Ah Mrs Heston it is +atrick !?Brian here. / was <ust
wondering if everything was all right after our meeting a
couple of weeks ackB?
#arenza was confused y the "uestion momentarily. >Why)
yes / think we covered everything that was necessary)? she
answered pleasantly.
>Well that?s great)? he replied) his /rish rogue highly
pronounced down the line. >/ won?t other you further
unlessE? He stopped mid sentence.
>Yes)? #arenza encouraged him.
>/t doesn?t matter for now. / will e in touch soon.?
>Fight)? #arenza said) a perple=ed e=pression crossing her
face. >Well thank you for calling.? 1he placed the receiver ack
in its cradle and stood thoughtfully for a while wondering what
the call had een aout ut after a moment she shrugged her
shoulders and returned to the kitchen to make another cup of
coffee) en<oying the thought of a day of idleness ahead of her
efore the peace was disrupted once more.
+atrick !?Brian still held the telephone in his hand. He
could not "uite elieve that he had telephoned her. He knew
that he had made a fool of himself ut since the reading of the
will he had struggled to remove #arenza from his thoughts.
Any contact from now on could easily have een made
through written correspondence ut he had wanted to <ust hear
her voice again. His plan had een to speak to her every now
and then and perhaps to e ale to make another appointment
with her so that he could see her. He knew that she was not
married which might enale him to take her out to dinner.
>$rom little acornsE? &he phrase passed through his mind.
+atrick knew that he wanted a relationship with #arenza ut
selfAdout caused him a lot of heartache. His confidence was at
an all time low after his messy divorce from his wife Ava had
een finalized si= months previously. He wanted a woman in
his life once more. He only functioned properly when he was
in a relationship. He hid his feelings under an umrella of
onhomie which he did not always feel ut the /rishman in him
gave out an aura of happiness and the feeling that he had
kissed the Blarney 1tone. How wrong could the onlooker eB
&he tactics he used had to e thought through carefully
otherwise all opportunities would e lost.
#arenza was en<oying herself for the first time in months.
Her happiness was palpale. &he fact that she had made her
decision to marry Hugh and light up ;onty?s world had given
her an inner glow of warmth. &he rest of the children would e
happy for them. Even 1pencer and #amilla had urged her over
time to do something for herself. &om had een dead long
enough for them all to have moved on with their lives. 1he
clattered around the kitchen taking out aking trays and
ingredients from the cupoard. Her need for domesticity
surprised even herself. &he front door opened and shut "uietly
and the kitchen door swung open silently while she was
oserved as she went aout her usiness.
Hugh) a small suitcase in hand) smiled at this une=pected
domestic scene. His low chuckle alerted #arenza to another
presence in the room. 1he swung round and dropped a aking
tray onto the floor where the sound resonated on the red stone
flags.
>Where have you sprung fromB? Her voice e=pressed the
surprise that she felt.
His arms flew open to engulf her in a ear hug and oth of
them stood enveloped together like two loveAstruck teenagers
reluctant to pull apart. &he house was theirs without
interruption and not uttering a word they climed the stairs to
their edroom) closing the door against the world.
$eeling replete and sated they lay entwined in each other?s
arms en<oying the "uiet togetherness that his une=pected return
from America was giving them.
>Why are you ack so soonB? she asked) as her mind came
ack to reality.
>/ had finished the usiness and / wanted to return to my
woman.? His smile of happiness spoke volumes.
>My woman)? #arenza admonished. >/t makes you sound
like &arzan.? 1he tried to sound annoyed as laughter rippled
through her as she snuggled closer to him.
>Well what can / call youB You are neither my wife nor my
fiancHe. My woman will have to suffice.? His face remained
serious.
>/ suppose / could e your wife if you really wanted it
adly enough.?
>/s that soB? He raised an eyerow in "uestion.
>/t could e so if you want it adly enough.?
>/ want it adly enough ut does my womanB? His look of
love came spontaneously.
>1he wants it adly enough too.?
&hey hugged once more without speaking) knowing how
far they had moved in a commitment to each other and their
son.
/t was not long efore all the memers of the family had
een informed of the forthcoming nuptials. &here was no great
e=pression of surprise from her children. /t was a natural
progression for all of them. &hey all loved and approved of
Hugh and were glad to see their mother happy again after their
father?s death. /t had een :eorgia May who had kept her
silings? feet firmly on terra firma rememering her own
unease at the eginning of her mother?s relationship with
Hugh. &he conversation) which oth had had in those far off
days efore ;onty?s irth) remained with them even after all
this time and oth had forged a lasting ond which could not
e severed. :eorgia now older and wiser understood her
mother more and more) respecting her inner strength and how
she had held her family together after her father?s death.
>/ couldn?t e happier for you) Mum.? 1he had voiced her
feelings on a weekend home from university.
But it was ;onty?s reaction which had had the greatest
impact upon #arenza and Hugh. &heir son had een on cloud
nine. He realized now that he was old enough that his status
would change. His parents had e=plained as simply as possile
that he would e made legitimate y the union of his parents
which would make them a little family within the wider family
of his half silings. What #arenza and Hugh had not legislated
for was the arrogance that emanated from their son. He strutted
around with an unearale attitude almost as if he was etter
than anyody else.
>/ wish that we hadn?t e=plained the full facts to him now)?
#arenza said one evening after ;onty had gone to ed.
Hugh laughed goodAhumouredly. >He?ll get over it efore
long. *on?t worry aout it. &he others will sort him out if he
ecomes too ig for his oots.?
>/ hope so)? #arenza gave a wry smile. >/ <ust cannot cope
with his priggish ways for much longer.?
#arenza had not seen 1pencer and #amilla since May?s
funeral. 1he felt rather guilty at the thought. /t also occurred to
her that she should tell them face to face aout the wedding. /t
was only courteous to inform 1pencer since he had een her
fatherAinA law for so long. 1he drove to *alton one day at the
eginning of ;une. &he morning air was crisp ut the day
showed the full promise of an early summer day. 1he parked
the car and walked to the front door of the neatly kept house
oserving the compactness of the uilding. 1he had never
given it much thought efore ut the contrast with the house
where 1pencer had lived with 0orna was immense. &his had
een #amilla?s house and 1pencer had moved in after their
marriage. &hey had not wanted a more impressive home.
1pencer had had enough of the snoery that had ruled his life
with his first wife. .ow) all he wanted was a simple life with
the woman he loved. #arenza rang the ell which she could
hear echoing inside. &he front door was opened y 1pencer)
who roke into a road smile when he saw who was standing
there.
>#ome in. #ome in)? he enthused opening the door wider.
>&hank you)? she said stepping over the threshold into the
small hallway.
>/?m afraid #amilla is out. 1he has gone into town to meet
a friend)? he e=plained.
>/?m sorry to have missed her ut please give her my love.?
>!f course)? came the reply. 1pencer shepherded her into
the sunny sitting room which oozed good taste in style and
dHcor.
>/?ve come to tell you oth that Hugh and / have set a date
for our wedding. /t will e <ust a small affair ut we hope you
will come.?
1pencer looked pensive for a few minutes. #arenza
wondered if he was thinking aout &om and their first wedding
which could have een a complete disaster. 1uddenly he
looked up and gave the most genuine of smiles.
>/ am so pleased for you oth my dear.?
>;ust for a moment / thoughtE?
>&hought whatB Were you thinking that / didn?t wish you
all the happiness in the worldB *arling girl) you are overdue
some after &om and then May?s death. 1natch at every it of
happiness that you can. You know that / did with #amilla.?
>/ <ust thought that may e it upset you aout &om.?
>&om has een dead a long time #arenza. You were a good
wife to him ut even he would give you his lessing. He would
not want you to e alone in life. /t was the est day of my life
when / married #amilla so you have my lessing to move
forward with your life. You also know you would have had
May?s lessing as well.?
#arenza?s eyes filled with tears at the mention of May?s
name ut there was no sadness in her heart) only <oy that the
people who had loved her most still wanted her happiness.
>&hank you)? she said as she walked into his outstretched
arms. 1pencer had een her champion for a very long time and
for that she felt grateful. Her love for him was unconditional.