1952

The elder Beaumont male passed away during the night at the age of seventy-two, with morphine flooding his bloodstream and a body that was emaciated from his long-lost ability to swallow solid foods.

John was granted official ownership of the family fortune and estate in court, something he could react to with admirable restraint despite feeling quite liberated inside.

He and Irene played the part of a grieving couple in public for the sake of reputation before dropping the pretence once they were in the safety of their home.

"It's all ours now. You were right to remind me that patience was vital." Irene said sweetly in one of her rare moments of gratitude while holding Patricia's hand. She gave the four-year-old an uncharacteristic smile of affection which would have convinced most that she was a loving mother indeed.

John observed the scene and wondered what the chances were of him seeing a psychotherapist without anybody finding out.


Patricia wriggled excitedly beneath the covers when John entered the room with Noddy Goes to Toyland, the book she'd marked ownership of by writing her name crudely all over the title page.

"Hooray, Noddy!" She squealed while unable to contain her joy.

John read the book in a rather apathetically as he'd done every night for the past few months, though Patricia smiled like she was only just hearing the story for the first time.

"Daddy, why do Noddy and Big Ears wear funny hats?" She asked once he'd reached the end of the book.

"Because they're elves."

"But why?"

"I don't know. Maybe the law says they should."

"Why does the law say they should?"

"Because it does. Now, that's enough. It's time for sleep."

"I don't want to..."

"Yes, you must." John insisted before kissing her on the forehead and getting up to turn off the light. She gave a little shriek as it went dark, although he chose to ignore it while walking out to encounter Irene.

"You love her more than you love me, don't you?" She muttered sullenly, crossing her arms at the sight of his face.

"Why would you think that, darling? I love you both equally..."

"Then how could you have forgotten what today is? It's our fifth anniversary. You ought to give me something made of wood."

"Oh, blast. I swear I'll buy it first thing tomorrow afternoon. Would that suffice?"

"It had better. I'll be waiting." Irene replied, flashing him a harsh look before she glided off down the hall.