Grace hugged the mug to her chest. She missed her daughter already and she'd only been gone eighteen hours. How completely pathetic.
She dropped the mug to the counter with a clunk and stood there, her arms folded and her brows pinched together. Come on, Grace! You're supposed to be the cool one, remember? The mum that all Daisy's friends wished was theirs. The mum who had once worn fishnets and thigh-high boots to parents' evening. The mum who had dressed up as Santa, complete with beard and pot-belly, when little Joseph Stevenson's dad had been too hungover to play the role. The fact that it had been Grace's tequila that had caused the hangover in the first place was neither here nor there…
But Grace didn't feel cool. For the first time in nineteen years she felt old and lonely. And not just wandering-round-not-knowing-what-to-do lonely. There was an ache deep inside her that could only have been caused by someone sneaking into the flat in the middle of the night, carving a huge chunk off her soul and stealing it away. She had a funny feeling that chunk might currently be sleeping in a youth hostel in Montmartre, but she couldn't be entirely sure.
She made the tea and forced herself to turn the light under the cooker hood on. Sitting here in the dark would only give the impression that she was depressed, she thought as she slumped into a chair and lay her head on the table. Steam curled from the mug in front of her and she watched it rise gracefully on unseen currents and drift away. Eventually, she peeled her face from the table top and reached for the mug to take a sip.
Yuck! She stuck the tip of her tongue between her lips and grimaced. What the heck was wrong with her tea this morning? Looking into the mug gave her a pretty big clue. No teabag. Lukewarm water with milk in it was really not her thing.