This is a new scene. Christopher is in hospital in the UK and things aren't going quite the way Grace hoped. So far, he hasn't asked to see her. He's told her, through his parents, that he doesn't want her to visit.
“He’s with the physio. Phone back in about an hour.”
Grace looked at the clock on the mantelpiece. “Yea, I’ll do that.” She wanted to ask how Christopher was, how he was doing but the nurse’s tone put paid to further questions. She thanked her and put the phone down. It seemed such a simple wish, to hear his voice, to hear him say that he loved her. Grace rubbed her eyes and stared at the fog. It cloaked the house in silence and a grey chill that crept into her bones. She had an hour to fill – a long, empty hour. No racing on television, the papers already read from front to back. She’d even done the crossword puzzle. The yard was quiet. Evening stables was hours away and her father had gone racing. Grace found her jacket and boots and walked out into the mist. Even the crows were silent, sulking in a ragged gathering in the black trees. Allonby nickered softly when she turned the corner into the yard. His star shone a brilliant white in the grey gloom. Grace sorted through the bits of paper, empty bute sachets and cellophane in her pockets until she found the mints. She held her hand out and Allonby lipped the mint from her palm, his muzzle warm velvet against the chill of the day.
“What do I do now, eh?” Grace rubbed his nose. “He won’t phone me back. Why doesn’t he want to speak to me?”
The colt nibbled at her hair. His breath was scented with hay.
“No, I didn’t think you’d have an answer.” She tugged his ear and headed to the tack room. If she mucked out now, there wouldn’t be so much to do at evening stables.
Grace walked back to the house after an hour, two rows of stables skipped out. She sank into a chair, picked up the phone and hit the ‘redial’ button.
A different nurse answered. Grace asked for Christopher.
“He’s just come back from Physio. Hold on, I’ll just fetch him for you. Who shall I say is calling?”
“Grace.” She waited, hearing the nurse set the phone down. “Captain Beaumont?” Her voice was distant but cheerful, speaking of an easy familiarity with Christopher. “There’s someone called Grace on the phone for you.”
Grace tightened her hand around the receiver and felt a sharp little stab in her gut. She was ‘someone called Grace’, someone who this nurse, who knew him, hadn’t heard of. She wished she hadn’t phoned. Grace pressed the phone to her ear, straining to hear Christopher’s voice. There was a distant murmur and then the brisk footsteps of the nurse.
“I’m sorry, miss. Captain Beaumont can’t come to the phone at the moment.
“Oh.” Grace’s fingers cramped. She wrestled with the sudden tightness in her throat. “All right. I see.” She didn’t. She couldn’t see at all. Her eyes burned. “Just tell him to phone me some time.”
“I will.”Grace thought she heard sympathy in her voice. That made her hurt even more. “Thanks.” She hung up and fought an urge to crawl into bed and cry herself to sleep. The dull glint of the sapphire on her finger was a bitter reminder. For a moment, she was back on the beach, warm in Christopher’s arms. She wanted that Christopher back, the affectionate one, irresistible and charming. Grace wondered if she’d ever see that man again.