The Unexpected Husband(7)

By: Lindsay Armstrong

Daisy was on her feet in a flash, and she knelt in front of Lydia and took her hands. ‘Do you still miss him so much, darling? I had hoped it was getting easier.’

‘It is, mostly,’ Lydia said tremulously. ‘Just some times it’s actually harder. I don’t know why. Unless it’s because Fm afraid I’ll forget.’

‘You know,’ her sister said, ‘you worry an awful lot about me, but I can tell you that Brad loved you so much he would not want you to be unhappy for ever. And it’s been five years now. Time to stop living a half-life. Time to have no guilt about finding someone else.’

Lydia smiled painfully. ‘The problem is, I couldn’t care less if I never did find anyone else. Men don’t seem to interest me much, apart from—’ She stopped abruptly as it surfaced in her mind that Joe Jordan was the first interesting man she’d met for a long time. To make matters worse, she’d been just about to say it.

‘So there is someone?’ Daisy -said eagerly.

‘No!’ Lydia denied hastily.

‘But you said—”apart from...”?’

‘Urn—the ones you can’t have,’ Lydia improvised madly, then thought, Well, that wasn’t so far from the truth either.

‘Still, that could be a start!’ Daisy frowned. ‘Anyone I know?’

‘No. No—’

‘Is he married?’ Daisy asked, with both understanding and sympathy. ‘A lot of the best ones are.’

‘You’re right—was that Chattie calling?’ Their aunt Charlotte was universally known as Chattie Kelso, and she still lived with them in the big old house at Bronte, a beachside suburb of Sydney where both Daisy and Lydia had grown up.

Daisy rose. ‘She’s cooked roast pork,’ she said conspiratorially. ‘You know how paranoid she is about get ting the crackling crisp. We’d better not keep her waiting.’

James Kelso, who was renowned for his bush ballads and poetry written under the name of Kelso James, as well as renowned for always wearing a bush shirt and jeans, raised his glass and cleared his throat. ‘I’d like to propose several toasts. First to you, my dear Chattie, for the crispest crackling you’ve ever produced.’

Chattie, a spinster in her fifties, with Lydia’s colouring and build although her hair was sprinkled with grey now, looked gratified. She raised her glass in return and her fine eyes glinted with mischief. ‘Thought so myself, al though I didn’t like to say it.’

‘And to you, my dear Daisy—’ James inclined 1jjs head towards his elder daughter ‘—for looking sensational, as usual. No one would think you were a day over nineteen.’

Daisy smiled fondly at him. ‘Dad, you’re sweet, but you tell awful lies!’

‘May one enquire how your love life is going at present.'

‘One may—it’s going, but it’s at a critical stage, you could say.’

‘11mm. Dangerous age, twenty-nine. Would you agree, Chattie?’

‘No. They can all be dangerous. I consider myself at my most dangerous when I was seventeen, closely followed by thirty-nine. At seventeen 1 would have done anything to have a boyfriend and be like the rest of the girls, and at thirty-nine I would have done anything to have a husband.’

‘What about children?’ Daisy asked.

‘That too. I gave serious thought to having one with out a husband—’

‘Chattie!’ James reproved. ‘Don’t put silly ideas into their young heads.’

Lydia ate her roast pork and thought that if Joe Jordan were a fly on the wall he might be able to judge for himself how eccentric her family could be.

‘If you’d let me finish,’ Chattie said, ‘I decided against it because I realised it was extremely unfair to a child to deprive it of a father.’

Lydia put her knife and fork down and glanced at her aunt through her lashes. Had a whiff of Daisy’s state of mind got through to her?

‘I have to agree,’ James said. ‘For example, do you or do you not think I’ve enriched your lives, girls?’

Daisy masked her expression almost immediately, but Lydia saw her sheer horror at the thought of never having known their father, and she felt like cheering at the same time as she wondered whether her father had also divined Daisy’s dilemma...