With trembling fingers, Joey opened the envelope, and withdrew the brief letter inside. There was silence as she read, a heavy, waiting silence. Then she dropped the letter into her lap, and reached out to pat Carey’s hand.
“There, I knew you were Marie’s daughter. Now, would anyone like more coffee? Con, is there any more in the pot?” Con grinned at Carey, then checked the pot.
“There is indeed. Carey? Coffee?” Carey nodded mechanically. She hadn’t quite believed that it was true, that she could have been given a family, just like that. Con had jumped up to get something off the sideboard, and rubbed Carey’s shoulder lightly in the process. Was that what it meant, family? People who showed you affection not for any reason, just because?
Later in the morning, Joey approached Carey, as she was doing some of her laundry.
“Now, Carey, darling,” she said warmly. “What are your plans?”
“I have to go home,” said Carey, rather regretfully. “My flight’s on Sunday, from Innsbruck. I’m sorry, I should have said.” Joey waved aside the apology.
“Oh, pfft! There hasn’t been much time for thinking about those things. Anyway, I’ve been thinking. I know the rest of the family will be dying to meet you once I tell them – you don’t mind if I tell them, do you? – and I thought some of them could come out here, if they liked. *Must* you go back on Sunday?”
“It’s my job, you see. I only got two weeks’ leave. They’re expecting me back.”
“Oh, nonsense! I’m sure they’d understand and let you have another week! Call them and see – that is, if you want to.” Joey seemed to lose her confidence, and suddenly looked old and vulnerable. Carey gave in to instinct, bent, and hugged the woman who was the closest thing to a grandmother she would ever have. Joey hugged her back, her arms unexpectedly strong, then pulled away and kissed Carey on the forehead. “You dear child,” she said in low tones, then reverted to her previous breezy style.
“Well, that’s that, then. I’ll get Con to ring round, and let everyone know. She was murmuring something about getting Roger to come over, so you’ll meet him at least, and I’ll see if Len will come. She’s my eldest. Margot’s somewhere godforsaken, so she won’t be able to make it. I’ll get Con to make a list,” and she hurried off, leaving Carey smiling. Then her smile faded.
She wondered if Joey would invite Phil and Erica. She wanted to meet them, more than anyone else. After all, as Con herself had said, the others hadn’t really known Marie very well. Those two had though. They had known her and loved her. Would they love her daughter?