'We don't have to live there, you know; if you really don't want to.'
Annette lowered her book, and peered over her reading glasses at her husband. Mathew was sitting up in the bed next to her, studying her, his own book lying, unopened, in his lap.
'What makes you think I don't want to live there?' She asked, lowering the book.
'A feeling.' Mathew replied. 'I think I know you well enough to know when something's wrong. And you were awfully quiet on the trip home.' He lifted Annette's hand and placed a soft kiss on her knuckle. 'Doesn't take an idiot to work out what the problem is.' He told her.
'You should know.' Annette smiled to rob her words of offense. She stretched her legs beneath the quilt, enjoying the stretching sensation as the muscles of her long legs lengthened. 'I don't really know what I want.' She glanced at Mathew and shrugged slightly. 'you know - I'd forgotten all about the house, until I got the solicitors letter. The thought of it being mine - ours,' she corrected herself, with a smile, 'is something I'm still getting used to. And I'm still not sure that we can afford the place; there's an awful amount of work that needs doing. It might be more than we can handle. And then there's Amy to consider.' She added, almost as an afterthought. 'Is it really fair, to drag her away from her friends?'
'I thought that might be it.' Mathew replied with a slight nod. 'That little episode today.'
'Well; it was usual; you have to admit.'
'Amelia saw a reflection,' Mathew insisted, 'or a shadow, or any one a number of different things. She's a bright kid - imaginative. She just saw what she thought was a face, and it spooked her.'
'I think it was more than that.' Annette lowered her brow in a small frown. 'Amelia wasn't just spooked; she was terrified. I could see it in her face, Mat. I've never seen her so scared - of anything, and I'm wondering if this move is right for her.'
'Why shouldn't it be?' Mathew responded. 'You know how long we've talked about moving away from the city, once the right opportunity showed up. This job in Poulton is ideal; I'll be home a lot more. And Blackpool's a lot nicer place to live, than here; we both know that. That house came along at just the right time for us. We just need to give Amy some time; she'll be fine.' He lifted an arm and draped it across Annette's shoulder. 'And, if it doesn't work out, we could always do the place up enough to sell it, and get something smaller. What do you say?'
'I suppose.' Annette sounded unconvinced.
'How come you never told me you had a sister?'
Annette blinked, caught off guard by the question. Mathew waited patiently.
'I don't know.' She said after a moment. 'I haven't thought about Eloise in-' she shook her head in exasperation. 'Actually - I can't remember the last time I thought about her. I tell you; it came as almost as big a shock to me, as it was for you, when the latter arrived from the solicitors.' Annette snuggled deeper into her husband's embrace. 'I don't even remember much about living at the house. It's strange; I lived there for over ten years. You'd think I'd have at least a few memories of the place, wouldn't you?'
'Maybe there's a reason why you can't remember.' Mathew said. 'I'm no psychiatrist, but maybe something happened - something traumatic- that caused you to forget.' Annette's frown lifted, and she giggled, unsure if he was being serious or not.
'You sound like a bad television show.' She said, and Mathew laughed.
'Maybe; but it's a possibility. You told me that your mother brought you up alone; that she took you away from your father for your protection, and hers. Maybe your sister wasn't as lucky - the damage had already been done.'
'Then, why wouldn't my mum tell me about Eloise?' Annette asked. 'Why wouldn't she want to tell me that I had a sister? I told Amelia that I didn't know much about her; truth is - I knew nothing about her at all. She spent most of her adult life in a mental institution, and the first I know about it, is when a solicitor tells me I've inherited the house she died in.' Annette gave a small, harsh laugh. 'Do I come from a dysfunctional family or what?'
'You do.' Mathew drew her closer to him. 'But I love you anyway.'
'Fool.' Annette smiled, kissing the offered lips. 'Did you really mean that? Selling the house, I mean? If we can't live there?'