Mad About You

Mad About You by Sinéad Moriarty

Book: Mad About You by Sinéad Moriarty Read Free Book Online
Authors: Sinéad Moriarty
you’re next door.’
    Carol smiled. ‘You’re welcome.’
    I heard Lara ask Claire if she was their new minder.
    ‘Yes,’ Claire said.
    Lara looked her up and down. ‘Well, you’re not beautiful like a princess, but you’re a very good helper.’
    Claire had the royal seal of approval.

    The following Monday, I woke up with a pit in my stomach. It was my first day at work and, worse, it was the children’s first day at school. Yuri kept asking me who he was going to play with. He was so anxious about his new class and, although I kept trying to reassure him, I could see he was scared at the prospect of a new place and new children. My heart was breaking for him. I had to will myself not to give in and keep them both at home.
    After Claire’s tale of being bullied, I was even more worried about the new school. I’d have to keep a close eye on Yuri and Lara to make sure it didn’t happen to them. The good thing was that they had taken to Claire. In the short time she’d been in their lives, they had become really fond of her. She had come in for a few hours each day, since Wednesday, so they could get used to her and, so far, she had been great with them – taking them to the park, doing Lego and jigsaws with them, painting and baking. I was so relieved to have found her. I knew the children would be happy in her care, which made me feel a little less guilty about going to work so soon.
    From today onwards, Claire would be picking them up from school at twelve thirty and bringing them home. I was hoping to be back by five thirty. James was working late a lot, so his times were unpredictable. He was obsessed with winning his first game in three weeks’ time, and I could see the pressure he was under so I tried not to nag him about being in work all the time, but it did bother me. I was lonely. I hadchanged my outfit five times by eight a.m. It was ridiculous, but I wanted to look nice and not as if I was trying too hard, for both the school gate and for work. In the end I opted for a lilac sundress with a cream cardigan and silver ballet pumps. I rarely wore heels to work because makeup artists spend most of their time standing, so comfortable footwear was essential. I had applied my makeup very carefully so I looked fresh and glowy. I appraised my image in the mirror and decided it would do. I could relate to how Yuri was feeling – I was nervous of all the newness, too.
    I decided to send Lucy a photo of my outfit and ask her opinion. We had barely spoken since the dinner – she’d been swamped with work and I was sure she was avoiding me because she knew I’d bring it up. She texted back:
Perfect, mad busy, b in touch soon
. I replied,
We must meet up, let me know when u r free
. She didn’t reply.
    I went downstairs and found Claire chatting to the kids while giving them their breakfast. She had agreed to come in early two days a week to do laundry and light housework. James was trying to make conversation with her.
    ‘Do you live around here?’ he asked.
    Claire nodded. ‘Shepherd’s Bush.’
    ‘Excellent. It’s just you and your mother, is it?’
    ‘Yes.’ Claire went back to encouraging Lara to eat. ‘Come on, one more for the elephants … one more for the zebras …’
    James whistled when he saw me. ‘Wow.’
    ‘I like your dress, Mummy,’ Lara said, between spoonfuls.
    ‘You look great,’ Claire added.
    ‘Thanks, guys. I need all the confidence I can get today.’
    ‘Right, well, I’m off. Good luck today, everyone, on your first days. I know you’ll all be fine.’ James kissed the children and me, then headed off to work.
    It was incredible. He just strolled out of the door withouta backward glance. While I was feeling physically sick about the children’s first day, guilty about working, fretting about Claire being the right person to look after them and worrying about all the things that could go wrong, James was off to work, thinking only of his day. Men just

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