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Part Twenty Eight

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When Mason finally reached the kitchen, Kate was helping herself to bacon and eggs, Stuart was eating heartily at the table, and Paula was sat next to him picking at a piece of toast. She looked up when he entered the kitchen and smiled, then getting to her feet came around the table to him.

                “I couldn’t believe it when Stu said you were here!”

Mason hugged her and kissed the top of her head, he’d watched her grow from an annoying child to a pretty girl. She was spoiled rotten by her family, but he liked her, he’d shown her around Dubai several times in the past when she’d been visiting Brandon with her family.

                “Tell me all about my nephew! I can’t believe I’m the only one not to have seen little Jimmy!”

Mason chuckled, “don’t let Sarah hear you call James that! And he’s I guess beautiful and lovely and all the things a baby should be!”

Kate and her mother laughed, before Kate commented, “you gotta love men, don’t see anything in a baby til they have their own!”

Mason turned to her, “what am I supposed to say?”

                “Nothing!” She smiled, “Nothing at all!”

They sat together Julia the clucking hen proudly feeding her brood, and the conversation was light and fun.

Afterwards, as Mason helped Kate load the dishwasher, he smiled at her, “we need to talk. Do you want to go for a walk?”

She nodded, “once we’ve finished this I’ll get my boots on.”

It was a crisp January morning, a heavy frost still touched everything in sight, and the grass crunched beneath their feet, and their breath billowed in large clouds as they tramped along the unpaved driveway to the open fields. A line of craggy bare trees protected the farm from the road, and it wasn’t until they’d passed those that they felt the slightest hint of winter sun trying to warm their cheeks.

                “I’d have loved to be brought up in the country. We visited Clarissa a bit when I was younger, Peter was only a baby then, but I used to love the freedom...my parents were both City dwellers, and my freedom then was a six foot square concrete backyard. Or an urban park. Hardly the same.”

Their hands were linked and despite thick gloves Kate could still feel the warmth from his touch, and her whole being was tuned in to that little contact. “I think you take everything for granted, I mean, I hated being stuck out here, a teenage girl wanting to go to parties, concerts, shopping...my dad was very protective of me...” she felt a lump in her throat even now talking about him, she knew she’d let him down at the end, she’d not been there for her father when she should’ve been.

Mason spotted her discomfort and dropped her hand, instead sliding his arm around her pulling her closer to him, “that’s a father’s role, to be protective. Especially of a daughter, and you turned out good, so he must’ve done everything right.”

She glanced up at him and gave a watery smile, “he was great. I just let him down, him and everyone else...”

Turning her to face him he tilted her chin, met her eyes, “when are you going to stop punishing yourself? We get passed all that we have, yet you still seemed to wear this millstone around your neck! NO ONE can criticise you for doing the right thing love, you can’t be everything to everyone all the time, but for a period of time when he was the most needy, you were everything to Peter.”

She nodded, “I know, I just miss my Dad whenever I come out here.”

He smiled, “but that’s a good thing, it means he was important to you.”

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