The Call Of The City – Episode 29

daily serial the call of the city the people's friend

The next several hours were taken up with chatting to her aunt’s guests, and while Grace wasn’t precisely avoiding Lewis, she was doing her best not to be alone with him.

She wasn’t ready to talk about that almost-kiss, because she had no idea how she felt about it.

Her feelings were in a ferment, as she wondered if she really wanted to risk the most important friendship in her life right now for a romance that would surely only take away from her studies.

“That went well, didn’t it?” Juliet asked when the guests, including an unhappy-looking Lewis, had all left. “Did you enjoy yourself, Grace?”

“Yes, thank you so much, Aunt Juliet.”

Although she’d managed to get over feeling intimidated by her aunt’s friends, she’d been tense all evening because of Lewis.

“I hope you’re happy here.”

Juliet eyed her affectionately, but doubt shadowed her eyes.

“You are, aren’t you, Grace? Living with me?”

“Yes, of course I am.”

She really needed to spend more time with her aunt. And ring her mum, which she still hadn’t done.

“Aunt Juliet, why have you and Mum never made up?”

Juliet stilled, a tray of empty glasses in her hands. She walked to the kitchen to put it on the counter.

Grace watched her, wondering if she’d answer.

“It’s complicated, I suppose,” Juliet said finally.

She came back into the living-room, looking tired and every one of her fifty-two years.

“We were both so angry about how things ended, and as time went on, neither one of us was willing to be the first to apologise.”

She shrugged her slender shoulders.

“As the years passed, we became different people, living very different lives.

The truth is, I’m not sure we have much in common any more.”

Grace couldn’t believe her aunt was dismissing her family so easily.

“You’re still sisters,” she protested.

“Yes, but . . .” Juliet shrugged again. “How much does that really mean, in the end?”

“I think it means a lot.” Grace thought of Kerry, whom she also hadn’t called. She would definitely ring both her mum and sister tomorrow.

Family relationships were too important to let slip, simply because you were too busy.

She knew that, and she hoped Juliet did as well, deep down.

“I don’t think it’s too late, Aunt Juliet,” she said. “Mum’s struggling, I know, with Dad being ill. I think she’d really appreciate you reaching out to her.”

As soon as she’d said the words, Grace knew she’d overstepped herself. Juliet’s expression froze, and then she drew herself up.

“I appreciate your concern, Grace, but my relationship with my sister is complicated, as I said, and I’m afraid it’s no business of yours. Now, it’s late, and I think I shall go to bed.”

With stiff, chilly dignity, she walked from the room, closing the bedroom door behind her with a firm click.

Grace stood for a moment, feeling thoroughly and miserably rebuked.

Her aunt had never taken that tone with her before, and she had a horrible feeling she might have spoiled things for good.

With a sigh she cleared more of the glasses and plates from the living-room.

The least she could do was tidy up after a party her aunt had thrown in her honour.

To be continued . . .