Beth Stuart was sat in her family kitchen, turning her ring round and round on her finger endlessly. She thought of the day Robert had given it to her. She almost smiled; she was so fond of the memory:
She picked up the small, blue box, feeling the velvet underneath her fingertips. She glanced up at Robert. He was holding his breath, his eyes glittering with hope and anticipation.
She opened the box and gasped, her hand shooting up to her mouth. The glittering diamond stuck on the thin band was exactly what she had suspected, but it still shocked her.
Beth didn’t want to think about how loose the ring was becoming against her skin. She just didn’t have the energy to eat, didn’t have the energy to do anything. She didn’t have the drive to get up in the morning – this was one of the rare days that she did so.
She’d not been to school since before Robert was gone. She just couldn’t face all those people giving her sympathetic looks, or wondering why she looked so bedraggled and lost. She hadn’t even spoken to Emily, her best friend, about any of what had happened. She didn’t want to have to relive it; all of the people she saw regularly had either been there or had been told by one of the Brotherhood what had happened. Isabella had told Jack what had happened in the old hunter hideout, and he had told their mother, who had told their father.
It was two months since Rosalyn had taken Robert away from Beth, from everyone who loved him.
“Beth?” her brother, Jack, said hesitantly.
She glanced up at him in response. He knew not to expect words to come from her lips; they’d been closed for two months solid. She had spoken no words but she regularly sobbed herself to sleep. These were the only noises she made now. Talking was just another thing she didn’t have the energy to do.
“Isabella’s here to see you,” he said softly.
She nodded, silently telling him to let her in. She’d noticed everyone was giving her the space she needed. Isabella had wanted to see her a few times, but not many. Onyx had come once, and he’d looked almost as heartbroken as she was. Almost. The person she’d been spending the most time with, however, was Lucius, Isabella’s son. He never said a word to her, just sitting with her, holding her in a comforting embrace when she started to cry. The silence between them comforted her. She never felt pressurised into speaking when she was with him, and she never felt as though he was trying to take advantage of her; he was simply looking after her.
Isabella walked into the kitchen. She sat down opposite Beth slowly, as if cautious about how she was going to react to what she had to say.