Wren Nightshade stormed up the stairs and slammed the door in her mother's face. She threw herself down on the bed and buried her head in the pillow. The tears came freely.
"Wren? Talk to me, darling," begged Freema, Wren's mother.
"No! Go away!" Wren tried to hide her sobs. If Freema noticed anything, she didn't let on.
Downstairs, Greg's crying grew louder. Cosmo shouted for his wife. Gregory was teething, and it was just making Wren and Freema's relationship worse.
"Wren, do you want to go shopping later?" asked Freema, as a last effort.
There was a pause. "No. Just leave me alone," said Wren shakily.
Freema sighed again and moved away from the stairs. She trundled down the stairs and took Greg from her husband's arms. He whined a bit more, but stopped when a bottle was pushed in his mouth. He started sucking and instantly calmed down.
Freema sat down heavily on the sofa with Greg in her arms. Cosmo sat beside her and placed a hand on her shoulder. Freema didn't react, she simply kept on staring at nothing.
At last the bottle was empty. Freema set it aside robotically. She looked down at her little boy. He was sleeping. She slid him onto a cushion and pulled a blanket up to his chin. Cosmo wrapped his arms around her and pulled her onto his waist. She sat back against his chest and sighed. Cosmo knew what she was thinking.
"Don't worry about Wren," he murmured into her ear.
"How can I not?" whispered Freema. "She should know."
"No. She can't know yet. Not until she's older. She wouldn't understand."
"She's clever for her age," she objected.
"She is," agreed Cosmo, "but she wouldn't understand why."