Blacklight Blue
floors, white-painted wattle and daub transected by ancient oak beams, was in the process of renovation. Staff were washing out the kitchens in the Maison des Tanneurs restaurant, with its Alsacienne specialities of
choucroute
and
tarte flambée
. It exhaled tantalisingly warm air at them as they passed. A revolving bridge led them across the river to where the Hôtel Regent had established itself in an old mill which had once served tanneries lining the riverbank.
    As they trailed across the foyer to the reception desk, wretched and cold, Enzo noted with some satisfaction that a room cost nearly three hundred euros a night, and
petit-déjeuner
another twenty. Raffin would be less than happy with a bill on his credit card of more than six hundred euros.
    Their rooms were high up in the roof, with windows overlooking the water below cutting deep into steeply sloping walls washed by subtly concealed lighting. The original supporting beamwork was painted white. Enzo carried Kirsty’s bag into her room and they shed sodden coats. She went into the bathroom to fetch towels and threw him one to dry his hair.
    He perched on the luggage rack at the end of her bed, weary and defeated, and loosened his hair from its band before rubbing it briskly with the towel. His skin was stinging in the warm air of the hotel room. He looked up and saw that Kirsty was flushed, and that her eyes were raw and puffy. He stood up. ‘Come here.’
    And she dropped her towel and let him fold his arms around her.
    ‘We’re going to be alright.’ He wanted to say that they should make the most of their time together, because there was so very little of it left. But he didn’t have the heart to tell her that he was dying. ‘Have you finally forgiven me?’ he whispered. And she immediately drew away.
    She looked at him with a strange, distant hurt in her eyes, like a pet dog that has just been kicked by its trusted master. ‘No,’ she said simply. ‘I’m not sure I can ever do that. You stole half my childhood, and that’s not something I can ever get back.’
    He wanted to tell her it wasn’t like that, but there didn’t seem any point. Linda had used her as a weapon against him and ended up poisoning her own child in the process. All he could think to say was, ‘I’m sorry.’ As he had said a thousand times before. ‘If I could do it all again…’
    ‘You’d what? You wouldn’t leave us for your French lover?’
    ‘I never left
you
. If I could have taken you with me I would.’ But in his heart of hearts he knew that even if he could have done it all again, he would still have left for Pascale. And as he looked his daughter in the eye, he knew that she knew it too.
    She said, ‘When you came back into my life, you brought the pain back with you. And I had to confront the realisation then that the reason it hurt so much was because I loved you. And still do. Even if I can’t forgive you.’
    They were both startled by the shrill ring of his cellphone. The emotion between them dissipated like smoke in the wind. He glanced at the display and saw that it was Sophie, and he realised the irony in that. She was jealous of Kirsty and the place that her half-sister had in her father’s heart. She might have taken some satisfaction from knowing that she had interrupted an intimate moment between them. But the thought quickly vanished when he heard the distress in her voice.
    ‘Papa, there’s been a disaster!’
    ‘What is it, Sophie? What’s happened?’ He glanced up to see Kirsty watching him with her mother’s dark eyes.
    ‘There was a fire tonight. Bertrand’s gym’s been burned to the ground.’
    Enzo closed his eyes and felt Bertrand’s pain. At first, he had disapproved of his younger daughter’s boyfriend. He was seven years older than her, wore studs and earrings and gelled his hair. But time had revised first impressions, and Bertrand had earned his grudging respect. He knew how much the gym meant to the boy. How he had

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