Her mum’s reaction wasn’t in much doubt as far as Susanne was concerned. But she knew that her dad’s reaction might be awkward. He just didn’t seem to understand why she and her mum were so interested in unravelling the mystery surrounding Nell’s long-lost family. Any mention of it frustrated him to the point that there had been rows over it, and Susanne had noticed that the tension between her mum and dad had grown worse in recent weeks.
So unimpressed was he that, sitting at the kitchen table that evening, he argued there must be a thousand other places that would be more interesting.
“The jute mills will be gone.” His tone was uncompromising. “There’ll be nothing left to see.”
She’d been expecting it, but Susanne still felt crushed.
“Alan, don’t spoil her idea,” Beryl told her husband.
“I’m not.” He turned to Susanne. “I think it’s a great idea you and your mum going away together. But who wants to spend a holiday trailing round freezing cold streets and door-stepping people that don’t know you from Adam?”
Susanne loved her dad and knew that he meant no harm, but sometimes he had the sensitivity of a porcupine and she winced.
“I’ll get in touch with as many of the cousins as I can before we go.”
“Won’t matter.” He shook his head. “They’ll still be strangers.”
“No,” Beryl put in defensively. “They’re family.”
“Family!” Alan guffawed loudly. “For goodness’ sake, Beryl. You live on the opposite side of the world from each other.” He slapped his hand on the table. “You’re obsessed. That’s what it is.”
That wasn’t fair, Susanne thought, and she felt her face turn red. She was angry with her dad now and she wanted him to say something supportive, even if it was just that it was entirely up to her and her mum whether they travelled to Dundee or not.
“Obsessed?” Beryl said, feeling hurt.
“Too right,” Alan said quickly. Then he stood up and turned his attention back to Susanne. “Well done for being employee of the month. You’ve always wanted to take Jess to Disneyland, haven’t you?” She opened her mouth but he didn’t wait for a response. “Why don’t the three of you go off and have some fun?”
“Oh, Dad. You’re missing the point,” she said, holding back tears. But she knew from experience that his mind wouldn’t be changed, and she couldn’t help feeling sad as she watched him storm away.
Eventually, her gaze moved to her mum and she saw unhappiness in her eyes.
“It’s OK. He’ll come round. I’ll talk to him,” Beryl said.
Her mum was a natural peacemaker, but Susanne doubted she could smooth this issue over.
“We don’t have to go,” she said gently. “If it’s going to cause problems ”
“I want to go,” Beryl said. “I’d really like to see where your nan was born and where she and Jean grew up. I’d love to meet the family over there, hear about their lives and maybe find out what happened all those years ago.” Her expression softened. “It’s the best Christmas present ever.”
Susanne was pleased.
“Good on you, Mum. I’ll book our seats tomorrow.”
“What about Jess?”
“I spoke to Karen and she said she could stay at Mooraburra for a week. She’s due to spend a fortnight with her dad after New Year, anyway, so it works out perfect. I’ve checked availability and we can fly out on the twenty-seventh.”
“We’ll be in Scotland for Hogmanay.”
“Better pack our dancing shoes, then!”
Her mum touched her arm.
“Thank you for this,” she said. “Thank you so much.”