‘Hi Mum.’

‘Hello darling, nice of you to show up at last.’ Leila Sterling welcomes her son with a hug. She knew he was home, heard her other children discussing it without them knowing she’d heard. ‘You finally decided to come and see your poor old mother.’

‘Mum you’re neither poor nor old.’

‘You know what I mean.’

‘Who told you I was in town anyway?’

‘Not the usual suspects. If there is one thing your father and I did right, it was raise a group of tight knit siblings.’

Brodie doesn’t bite the bait.

‘Madam Rocha will be putting out lunch soon, but we can talk in the library.’

Brodie follows his mother up three steps and into the door adjacent to her office. The French windows in the library overlook Hyde Park. The house felt too big for her, but he understands why she holds on to it. A sense of the shared past with her husband and a reminder of the children they raised together. Those years count for something.

‘How are you darling?’

‘Good. You?’

‘Better now that I see you. How long have you been back in the country?’

‘About a week.’

‘Were you trying to keep it a secret from me?’ Leila Sterling observes her son. Brodie always does things on his terms, too independent, a trait he got from his father, and as a boy too cheeky for words. Any time she thinks of her marriage it sets her teeth one edge. Thirty years, five children, grandchildren and all for nothing, if he was having an affair she could have forgiven that, but he wasn’t. He simply woke up one morning, asked her one question, and decided he’d had enough of their life together. Five years on and she is still not over it. She will admit that to herself, she cannot forgive him for that either; people keep walking out on her like a door knob. He isn’t the first man to do that to her, mind, she’d gotten her heart broken once before and it took everything inside of her. Everything. Still, for the sake of the grand children they try to get along.

‘I wanted to lay low, needed to get some things in order, before I came to see you.’

‘But you let your siblings know.’

‘Mum.’

‘Alright. Alright.’ Leila raises her hands in surrender. Her son is home and that is all that matters. She never cared for Blu, never cared for their relationship. She loathed the fact that like a chump he followed her to New York, to live her life and not his. After all the education and privileged upbringing, to go and live a life that she did not see for him. Brodie may have done as he pleased at College and university, and flat out refused to join her in the family business, but she expected he would stay close, at least stay in the country. Not go running off with his girlfriend far away from home and doing as she pleased.

Blu Braithwaite. Daughter to Marie and Clyde Braithwaite. They attended the same boarding school together. Share a history together…

‘Mum did you like Blu?’ For some reason Brodie remembers the look on his mother’s face when Blu bolted from the altar. She was cool, didn’t even flinch whilst chaos was going on around her.

‘Why would you ask me that?’

‘It’s just a question.’

‘You loved her so I liked her fine, for you.’

‘That’s an odd way to put it.

‘Brodie what’s this about?’

‘During the ceremony when everything was happening-’

‘You mean when she jilted you at the altar and made a run for it.’

‘Yes mum, thanks for the reminder. You just sat there and didn’t even move.’

‘What did you want me to do? Run after her? Brodie where is this coming from?’

‘I simply want to know what you think or thought or felt about her. You and Blu did not have much time together, granted but I can’t shake the feeling.’

‘What feeling? What are you feeling? That I should have run after, tried to stop her? So it’s my fault that she ran off like that. I wonder did you blame your father as well or your siblings for not going after her?’

Brodie sighs, he should not have brought it up. ‘Sorry I brought it up. Never mind.’

‘Is this why you didn’t tell me you were coming home?’

‘Mum… stop it please. I’m sorry I mentioned any of this. It was just an observation that’s all.’

There is a discreet knock at the door to signal lunch.

‘Are you staying for lunch or are you going to bolt like your fiancée and blame me.’

‘Blu isn’t blaming you for any of this.’

‘So you’ve spoken to her?’

‘As a matter of fact I haven’t.’

‘Since that day?’

‘Yes.’

‘Have you called her?’

‘She’s changed her number so I guess she doesn’t want to hear from me.’

‘A coward. That’s what she is.’

‘She’s not a coward. Something happened and I don’t know what.’

‘She never mentioned anything to you, she just ran off and left you at the altar and you don’t think that’s cowardly. Really Brodie?! What did you see in her?’

‘I love her mum. That’s what I saw in her.’ He doesn’t think he’ll ever stop loving her.

Leila feels a pang of guilt, it is the first time she has seen Brodie so vulnerable. Her son puts up a good front but that rare glimpse sits heavy on her heart. In time it will pass. Dear God it has to pass or he’ll never forgive me.