She realised Bev was speaking to her. ‘Sorry, Bev, what did you say?’
‘I was asking if you’d done anything further with the Californian connection.’
Cleo shook her head. ‘No. I’m tempted to contact Kerri-Ann, but Hannah is so against the idea… She and Stan were very close. I think she feels threatened at the thought he may have fathered another daughter.’ She chewed on the inside of her cheek, wondering what to do for the best.
‘Well, I’m sure you’ll do the right thing.’ Bev rose to leave, then turned back. ‘By the way, did you hear that last girl who supposedly disappeared, has turned up.’
‘No.’ Cleo stopped gathering up their empty cups. It was another thing she had been worrying about. ‘Is she okay?’
‘Yes, seems she and a friend accepted a ride to Sydney to attend a concert – and she omitted to tell her parents.’
‘Kids! I hope Hannah never does something as foolish as that. I think she has more sense.’ But did she? Did any of them? No matter how old they were or how sensible they seemed, young people seemed to become so caught up in their own concerns they forgot to consider anyone else. On reflection, that was how Hannah was treating the message from Kerri-Ann, giving no thought to the woman who had lost her mother and was reaching out to the only family she knew.
For the rest of the day, Cleo stewed over what to do about Kerri-Ann in odd moments when the café wasn’t too busy. By the time she closed up for the day she had decided that, whatever Hannah might think, she owed it to Stan to make contact with this woman who in all likelihood was his daughter. She wasn’t clear where she’d go from there but would work it out later.
It wasn’t till she reached home, that Cleo realised she didn’t know how to contact Kerri-Ann. She’d contacted Hannah through Facebook, but Cleo had always eschewed social media considering it to be a great time waster. Damn, she fumed, but perhaps she could contact Pat again. Maybe her sister-in-law would know how to get in touch with Kerri-Ann.
Putting her plan on the back burner, Cleo showered and changed from her work clothes into a pair of capris and a tee-shirt, before heading to the kitchen to make something to eat. This was when she missed Hannah most. Since her daughter had returned from uni, Cleo had enjoyed chatting with her over dinner – which they took turns to cook – while they shared the events of their day. Now she turned on the radio for company, but the disembodied voice of the newsreader didn’t provide the company she craved.
She poured herself a glass of wine, conscious of the temptation to have more than one when she was alone, and forced her thoughts back to the previous day. After their lunch, she and Will had wandered along the beach hand-in-hand talking and laughing together. The beach had been deserted and it had been idyllic, as if they were the only two people in the world. Then they’d bought fish and chips from the shop on the esplanade and sat on the rocks eating them with their fingers before coming back here where they ended up in bed.
Cleo sipped her wine as she made herself a salad with some leftover honey mustard chicken, lettuce, chopped Lebanese cucumber and snow peas, then sat down to eat it at the kitchen table. She had barely started when her phone rang, and she saw Hannah’s face on the screen.
‘Hi, sweetheart,’ Cleo said, forking up a piece of chicken.
‘Are you busy, Mum?’
‘I wanted to pop round to pick up a couple of books I need for a project I plan to do with my class. Okay if I come now?’
‘Sure. Have you eaten? I’m having a honey mustard chicken salad and can stretch to another serving.’
‘Yum. Love your honey mustard chicken. I’ll be there in the next half hour.’
Cleo ended the call with a smile. She wasn’t going to have to eat alone tonight, after all. She quickly mixed together more salad and had just finished when she heard Hannah at the door.
During the meal, Cleo and Hannah chatted about Hannah’s class and the project on marine animals she proposed to do with them, and Hannah quizzed her mother about Will Rankin.
‘You and Owen’s dad,’ Hannah said, with a cheeky grin. ‘It’s kind of weird, but nice.’
‘And what about you and Nate?’ Cleo asked. ‘Any progress there?’
‘No, and there won’t be. He prefers the woo girls who chase after him at the club. I’m learning not to let it bother me.’ She tossed her mane of blonde hair – so like her dad’s – over her shoulder. ‘We’ll never be anything but good mates.’
‘Are you sure about that?’
‘Don’t, Mum. Can we talk about something else?’
‘Okay. What about Kerri-Ann?’
‘What about her? I haven’t heard from her again, so I’m hoping she’s got the message we don’t want anything to do with her.’
‘Youmay not, but…’
‘What, Mum? You don’t mean you do?’
‘I think it’s what your dad would want, don’t you?’