That he was a hot guy with a hipster beard and a cage-fighter’s body certainly didn’t hurt, but Daisy wouldn’t have cared either way. All she’d wanted was to connect with someone who knew Mickey, really knew him. She didn’t want to hear about the criminal empire – she could find all that online and in the papers. She didn’t want to hear her mother’s bitter tales of betrayal and abandonment, or her grandparents’ dire mumblings about the tainted family tree. She wanted to know what the man was like. What kind of dad he was. What films he liked, what his favourite pizza topping was. She craved mundane details, something beyond the sound and fury she’d always been fed.
He was her dad. Her blood, and she knew nothing real about him. It had eaten away at her all her life and she wished she’d had the courage to reach out to him before he died. Talking to a friend of his might be the closest she’d get now.
So yes, as she drove back to Islington, she did feel lighter than when she’d left. It was a lightness that quickly dissipated as she parked outside the period home she shared with her mother, step-father, and step-sister. She loved that house. The right mix of elegant and cosy, set in a huge garden and sheltered from view from the road by a row of pretty laburnum trees, it was usually welcoming. Stella loved to bake and the house was always redolent with the scent of fresh bread, spices, and burnt sugar. At this time of year, with the cold air and icy ground, those smells were a siren call, ushering you out of the cold and into pure, wholesome home.
Not so today. When Daisy pushed the front door open, there was no smell of baking, no music playing. She kicked off her boots in the hall and cautiously made her way to the lounge, where she knew Stella would be waiting.
The lounge was toasty warm, the open fire roaring. Her mother sat wrapped in the same silky bathrobe she’d been in this morning when Daisy left the house, her face bare of make-up and her hair piled on her head in a messy bun. She looked artfully distraught, Daisy thought, then felt a flash of guilt. She knew her mother wasn’t faking her distress, but as with everything, Stella always had to put a bit of gloss on it all.