Chapter 2

Nina let herself into her parent's house with her own key after her knocking went unanswered for several minutes. She could hear the soft hum of the television as a game show played on the screen. Her father sat, seemingly engrossed, unaware of her presence. "Dad?" She said softly, trying not to startle him. He continued to stare at the screen. "Dad, come on snap out of it." Nina, said more forcefully, shaking his shoulder.

"What!" Her father snapped.

"Dad it's me, where's mum?" Nina asked.

"I don't know." He mumbled, turning back to the television. Nina took a deep breath and tried another tactic.

"Come on Dad, how about we…" His head spun so fast Nina thought he would give himself whiplash.

"Stop it Nina!" He yelled. Nina jumped back slightly startled. "Just…stop it." He said more softly.

"Is everything alright in here? John?" A soft voice asked from behind them both.

"Mum." Was all Nina said as she moved to the small woman in the doorway and drew her into a hug.

"How are you darling?" Her mother asked.

"I'm fine mum. How are you?"

"We're fine." John said gruffly.

"Stop it John." Nina's mother scolded him like she would a stubborn child.

"Don't tell me what to do Elise." And he reacted like a stubborn child.

"Stop it both of you." Nina said firmly. Elsie took in a deep breath and John once again tuned back to the television.

"Come into the kitchen sweet heart. I just made a pot of tea." Elise said taking Nina by the hand.

"Do you want to join us dad?" Nina asked. She watched him for a few silent moments before giving up and following her mother into the small kitchen area, their hands still joined. The two sat at the table nursing cups of peppermint tea.

"He's no better is he?" Nina asked, not needing to explain to her mother what she meant.

"He was. But he found a video of Grace, the one she made when she was in Paris…he didn't take it well. I came down the next morning and he was still sitting in that damn chair. He had just sat and watched a blank screen for hours after the tape had finished." Nina could see her mother was fighting back tears.

"He need's to talk to someone mum. He can't go on like this, you can't go on like this. Dr Harris is really good, I'm sure I could talk to her and I'm sure she would be happy to speak to him."

"Your father is a stubborn old fool Nina, he won't even talk to me let alone a total stranger, being a psychiatrist makes it even more unlikely." Elise scoffed.

"Well maybe he needs to. Maybe you need to as well, both of you just need to talk to someone." Nina said taking her mothers hand.

"I thought I was." Elise replied with a sad smile.

"You know what I mean mum, the two f you can't keep this up." Nina told her.

"Look who's talking child, Karlie tells me she hears you crying… a lot." Elise said with a look on her face only a mother of her years could make.

"Karlie is six mother." Nina's neck hairs bristled slightly with the response. She tried to keep an expressionless look on her face to maintain her charade. "She must be imagining things."

"Then she imagines an awful lot. Honey, you are so worried about us, but you have to look after yourself. Going to speak to that doctor of yours is one thing, but actually taking something out if it is another.

"It's fine, I'm fine, these things take time." Nina said, trying to hide the small sigh that escaped her lips.

"Then use the time on yourself." Elise replied.

"It's not that simple," Nina said "I can't drop anchor and lose it, Karlie needs me. She doesn't understand any of this.

"With time she will." Elise said.

"And Dad, you, Tara, you'll all be fine?" Nina asked getting frustrated.

"I don't think it matters how Tara is doing, she is obviously fine, and could not care how we all are." Nina was shocked at the level of contempt in her mothers voice.

"So you've spoken to her?" Nina asked.

"She called last week, I didn't speak to her, I couldn't."

"Neither can I. But I hate the idea of losing another sister." It was Nina's turn to hold back the tears.

"She turned her back on us." John said as he came into the kitchen. "I won't forgive that."

"Neither will I." Elise added.

"I know how you feel, I feel the same way. But have either of you tried to see it form her point of view. When have you ever known her to deal with something face to face? She's more than happy to cause problems but she will never fix one." Nina was breathing slightly heavier, but felt better for getting all of it off her chest.

"If I remember correctly, the last contact you had with her was when you hung up on her." John said.

"You've forgiven her." Her mother stated. Nina looked into both their eyes, the unmistakeable message sinking in, if she forgave Tara then they would not forgive her. She sighed in defeat, her head resting in her hands, palms hiding her face. Her head felt heavier, maybe stress was something that could manifest itself into a dead weight you carried with you everywhere.

"No, I haven't. To tell you the truth I don't think I ever will. But I have to try and move past it, if I'm going to be ok." Did not even realise her voice had softened to a whisper.

The three sat together and Elise and Nina had another tea while John made himself a coffee. 'Men don't drink tea!' he had always proclaimed. Nina could remember him grumbling about it for years. Even when he was sick, he would not drink what he called a 'women's brew'. He didn't care that some of the world's leading tea manufacturers were owned and run by men, it was still a woman's drink.

Nina hugged them both goodbye just after ten o'clock and told them she would call them soon. She made her way down the small pathway, opening her cell phone and dialling as she fished her keys out of her purse. This compulsive need to multitask the most mundane things was a habit she could not break. 'Get out your keys, then make the phone call.' Tyson always said with his smug grin. The phone rang four times before it was picked up on the other end. "Hello." The cheerful voice said.

"I just wanted to know if your wife was home?" Nina murmured into the phone, putting a deep husky tone in her voice.

"No actually, I haven't seen her since this afternoon. I think she may have run off with our plumber." The voice replied.

"The plumber, really?" Nina asked in surprise.

"Oh yeah, she was eyeing him off when he was here about a week ago."

"What about your daughter?" Nina asked.

"Ah, she's fast asleep." Nina heard the hesitation in his voice.

"Oh, so you're watching Finding Nemo by yourself then?" Nina asked.

"Yes I am, it really is a great movie." Nina heard a soft giggle and knew the game was up.

"Tyson you need to work on your lying skills, or at least turn the volume on the television down." She said with a soft laugh. "She better be in bed when I get home."

"She doesn't have school tomorrow." Tyson argued.

"You're a pushover." Nina said, not listening to him.

"She can sleep in." He tried again.

"No back bone when it comes to a little girl with brown eyes."

"It's getting to the good bit." Tyson said trying to take back control. "But you're daughter will be fast asleep when you get home."

"Oh rest assured dear husband, tomorrow when she is cranky and sleep deprived she will be your daughter." Nina shot back, check mate.

"How far away are you?" Tyson asked.

"About half an hour, I'm just getting in the car." Nina replied sliding into her seat.

"See you soon. Bye." Tyler said.

"Bye." Nina said shutting her phone off. Just as she was about to turn over the engine, Nina felt the hairs on her neck stand up, and the car suddenly felt unnaturally cold. As she looked into the rear view mirror, she could not contain the almost primal scream erupting from her throat as she stared into the reflection, a familiar pair of dark green eyes locking with hers.