Despite the fact that Lucy had often thought that her life had been a disappointment to her, she was normally a cheerful person. But the encounter with Shane had depressed her a great deal and she struggled for the rest of the week to be upbeat. It seemed to her that one of her favourite activities on weekends—which were so precious to her—namely, going to the Chinese restaurant, had been ruined. Worse, it seemed to her that she had not yet really got over her love for Shane, even as he had seemed, standing next to her table, bloated, older and less attractive. She still felt in her heart some sort of sorrow and affection for him. She knew full well that he had treated her badly and she was quite sure that if she got involved with him again he would do it all over again; he was just one of those people. So her feelings of regret and sadness were absurd. But no matter how many times she told herself this, she didn’t believe it.
Adam had not returned to Greyfallows by the end of the week. Lucy decided that the only way to keep herself sane was to do something. She decided to sort out the cupboards in her house, mop the kitchen floor and perform other mindless tasks that would keep her busy and help her to sleep from sheer tiredness. But while she was making her Saturday morning cup of tea and scrambled eggs on toast she made the mistake of opening her laptop to see what had happened in the world, and she saw, on the society pages of The Age that Adam Montpellier had squired the latest perfectly beautiful, perfectly groomed model representing Galombiks, the Melbourne department store, to a ballet at The Arts Centre. There were photos of him and the model, whose name was Jayne Beckwith; and the look he gave her as the camera caught the moment was one of great affection and love.
She closed the laptop and pushed it to one side. She stared out of the back window into her little garden. Up at the top of the hill the Greyfallows mansion stood as it had done for eighty or ninety years and she thought to herself how stupid she’d been to hope that there would be parties and that all the glamour of the 1920s and 30s would return. No doubt Adam Greyfallow would come back to Beauville, but with his wife, the perfectly beautiful Jayne Beckwith. And there might even been parties to which the glamorous and the beautiful were invited. But she wouldn’t be invited. He certainly would not spare one look for Lucinda Grady.
She forced herself to eat the rest of her breakfast and finish her tea. Her mother had brought her up to be careful with the cents. She used to say as if it were her own original notion, ‘look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves’, and smile triumphantly at Lucy as if she had produced a profound new idea all by herself. Lucy felt a sudden stab of sadness at the thought of her mother and thought again how much she would like to just leave this town and everyone in it, to never see Shane again, nor even her friend Jennifer, nor any of the children in her class. To cut ties with all her history, to start out afresh somewhere else where she wasn’t Lucinda Grady, the cast-off of the most handsome man in town, or a not very good school teacher, but Lucinda, someone glamorous and different from far away, someone who knew things, who had been places.
Despite her disappointment, she decided to tidy the house anyway and to do some work in the garden. She thought she’d start on the garden first, before it got too hot. The weather report had said the temperature would reach the high thirties and that there was a good chance of a summer thunderstorm. Putting on her floppy hat and an old flannel shirt to stop getting burnt, she fetched the trowel and started work. She watered some of the plants in the tubs and pots which were looking a bit droopy in the heat and then turned to digging out the obstinate dandelions from between the red bricks of the little pathways.
As always, the peaceful certainties of gardening helped her, and at the end of an hour she was feeling somewhat better. The garden was very pretty and she felt that by working on it she was honouring the memory of her mother who had loved the trees and flowers and had made it the beautiful place it was. She made herself a cup of tea and sat on the bench in the pergola in the shade of the wisteria. She was halfway through the cup when she heard the sound of a car. Although she told herself repeatedly not to get up and not to go and look, she couldn’t stop herself. From a corner of the house she peeped around the honeysuckle and saw Adam Greyfallow’s lethal-looking Lamborghini sweep up the road from Melbourne and turn into the entrance of Greyfallows.
With a small sigh of satisfaction—which she immediately deplored—Lucy noticed that there was no-one sitting beside him. Proud of her self-discipline, she went back into the kitchen and started tidying the house. She had no intention of calling on him and no intention of making a fool of herself again. She remembered the song her mother often used to sing to her, ‘a man is a two face’ and she thought, maybe I’m better off the way I am. It might not be thrilling but I do get some pleasure from my life, even if it is lonely. She made herself a salad for lunch and was sitting on the bench under the wisteria eating it when she heard a knock at the front door. She put down her bowl and went inside to open the door. It was Adam. He had dark lines under his eyes and a drawn face.
“Hello,” he said, “am I disturbing you?” His voice was low and husky; he sounded indescribably weary.
Cursing the blush which rose relentlessly to her cheeks, Lucinda said softly, “No, I was just having lunch. Some salad. Would you like some?”
“Oh,” he said, “I couldn’t put you out. I was just going to have some bread and cheese and maybe a beer.”
“You’re not putting me out,” she said, “Come in!” She stood back and held the door open. With a slight, self-deprecating smile, he produced from behind his back two beers, frosted and chilled. She was charmed by this evidence of foresight. They sat together at each end of the bench underneath the arbour in the scent of blue wisteria, ate their salad and drank their beer. Lucinda desperately wanted to say, “We didn’t think you were coming back,” but she knew that would reveal too much. They sat in silence for a while, and it seemed a peaceful and companionable quiet. The magpies yodelled softly in the heat of the midday from the tall gum trees, and insects hummed in the long grasses. Lucy brushed her hair back from her warm face with one hand and tucked it behind her ear.
“Are you well?” she asked eventually, “You look a little tired.”
“Oh,” he replied, “I was up late last night and left Melbourne early this morning.” Seeming to force a smile, he said, “I expect I shall sleep like a log tonight.”
“Luckily,” said Lucy, “It’s Sunday, so you’ll be able to sleep well at the Royal Hotel. It’s Saturday night that it’s so noisy. This is a country town and there isn’t much to do and the farmers like to come in from the surrounding areas to have a drink or two in the pub. They can be a bit loud.”
“Well,” he said, “As a matter of fact, I’m sleeping up at the house. It’s a bit primitive. But at least we’ve connected the pump to the borehole and so now I have water. We don’t have town water. The house had never been connected because it was up on the hill and old Josiah Greyfallow who built it … this would have been around the 1860’s … didn’t want to waste money. So they had a windmill which was replaced by a pump. Which is long gone! Anyway, to cut a long story short I decided to sleep at the house because at least it’s mine.”
Lucy felt absurdly glad that he was sleeping in the house. Embarrassed at her silliness, she blurted out, “Did you inherit it?” She immediately felt how rude this was; after all, it was none of her business, but she couldn’t unsay what had been said.