Extract From Chapter One

Jo glanced across to the passenger seat. Chris was thinner, now, and the short haircut she had persuaded him to try had revealed more grey. But it suited him, suited the change from broad relaxed figure, content in a large body to this flinty, sharper character.

When Jo first met him, he was everyone’s favourite school adviser; such a nice man, so kind and understanding, you’ll love him, and she did. He guided her through a difficult first year as she led her troubled primary school into calmer waters, but then she had to watch as his own troubles tumbled from nowhere and a sadder, more restless side surfaced. His wife’s affair burrowed deeply into his confidence, left him with a chasm of bitterness he was trying, but struggling, to come to come to terms with. The hurt and anger were creeping into other areas of his life and Jo had felt the need to challenge him about it.

‘You never used to be like this,’ she’d said during one of his visits to her school when he referred to another headteacher with uncharacteristic sarcasm. ‘You used to be optimistic, see the good in everyone.’

‘It does something to you,’ he’d responded, ‘changes you. I’m suspicious of everyone’s motives, now and I constantly question my own judgement. How could I not have known?’

Last year, in the weeks after Diane walked out, Jo had been his sounding board. She had listened, comforted, ensured friends were on hand to keep him company. In August, she saw him off to France to stay with his brother’s family. When he returned, the anger had gone, replaced by a quiet sadness and a determination to do what his wife had done and move on.