Rob liked things simple. But he was also loyal, so when things started to get complicated he thought he ought to try to stick it out. Paula insisted she still loved him. It was just a different kind of love. And the kind of love she used to have for him she now had for Rose. And it wasn’t his fault. And the kids would get used to it.

Now here he was picking a birthday present for Rose, who he really had come to like. Astrid, their smallest, was with him. She told him Rose liked purple. ‘Right-o, then purple it’ll be.

‘Shall I wrap it?’ said the sales assistant.

Rob looked at Astrid, who nodded. ‘Yes,’ he said. ‘That’d be good.’

‘And who is it for?’ The girl behind the counter pulled out a range of papers to choose from.

He looked at her blankly.

‘Wife? Mother?’

He really had liked it when things had been simple.

‘A family friend,’ said Astrid, jabbing him sharply with a patent leather toe.

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