He’d ignored Gerard’s reference to Maone before, guided before by his dismissive attitude. He could tell by the way this man smiled over at Stolid and the look he received back that he could not dismiss this man.
He was almost certainly Stolid’s new lover, either actually or nearly: probably the reason for his lack of contact.
Timonthy was scared for Paris’s sake, not for himself. Surely he had grown out of that infatuation, although he acknowledged it took time to forget a feeling you had felt for so long, even though you knew it was no longer true.
“This is our son, Yan, and this is Koa, our doctor,” Elena said as she directed them to the table. Wondering if he had imagined it Timonthy thought she cast an apologetic look towards Stolid as she introduced Yan.
He could think of no good reason why this should be so, so he must surely have imagined it.
“Hello,” Yan said cheerfully and Koa nodded his head in their direction. He had a wary look in his eye as if he was nervous of something.
In spite of his resolution Timonthy took an instant dislike to this man and carefully sat far enough away that he would not have to talk to him. Lizzie sat by his side, obviously feeling in need of some support.
Paris sat on her other side next to Stolid. Timonthy could not believe it. He’d understood Paris’s worries about the man, experiencing the same sense of dread himself.
But Timonthy didn’t understand the intense joy she seemed to take in finding him, or even the warm smile Stolid greeted her with. He had always been a kind if slightly distant uncle.
Was it just absence making the heart grow fonder? It hadn’t had the same effect on him and Lizzie. Admittedly they hadn’t greeted him with the same enthusiasm, only a pale relief at finding him alive and safe.
He tried to restrain his own feelings but memories crowded into his head like cold sea water into a sinking ship.
Remembering the day Paris was born: a bloody affair that had been, though not compared to some he was told.
He had been left in a room with the tiny mite wrapped up in a bundle while Lizzie was taken away to have a bath, or something similar. Paris, though he could not call her that, she had no name at that point, had puked up what looked like blackberry and blueberry puree.
Then she had made a gurgling noise and looked at him with unfocused but calm eyes as if expecting him to fix the situation.
Before he had begun to panic the midwife came back and expertly wriggled her finger in Paris’s mouth so that she could breathe again.
Stolid hadn’t been there. He hadn’t even known that this speck of life was in the world, wallowing somewhere with Johnathon – looking for happiness.
That was Timonthy and Lizzie’s fault, they had kept quiet about the birth, until they were sure everything was alright. Eventually he had celebrated with them but still the man had no right to this adulation.
Gerard interrupted his thoughts by nudging him on the arm and passing him a basket of bread.
“You’re miles away,” Gerard chided and he knew he deserved that. Training the mind to stay focused was harder than it sounded.
“Will you show us around after lunch, Uncle Stolid?” Paris asked.
She seemed to be in her element here: almost reverting back to a state of childhood: appreciating the food and the company so much that it hid her previous melancholy completely.
“If you would like me to,” Stolid answered. He looked at Peter as if asking for his permission. Peter smiled happily with a meaningful look and said,”That would be a very good idea.
“Who are all of you anyway?” Yan asked at that moment, as if the question had been bothering him until that moment.
“Yan, don’t be rude,” Elena interrupted. “These are Stolid’s friends from England: Paris, Timonthy and Lizzie.”
“Well, I know their names,” Yan stuck out his lower lip. “But who are they? Where do they come from? Are we related in any way?”