Chapter 10

John Grainger stared sadly at the photograph of the Hardwickes. It was the only memento he had from those distant days. They had been happy memories, he acknowledged that. But now he would never be able to look back at them in the same light. They would always be tarnished by what Mrs Hardwicke had tried to do to Elizabeth. It was difficult for him to understand how his old friend could have nurtured such hatred throughout all those years but the Sheriff had made enquiries and discovered that she had suffered a breakdown following her daughter's death. Her mental health had deteriorated so severely that her husband had employed a full-time nurse to care for her and stop her from harming herself or anyone else. However, when Jack died, she had dismissed the nurse and set out to track the Graingers down.

Logically, John Grainger knew he wasn't responsible for the circumstances that had led to Sarah's death and Olivia's breakdown. He knew it wasn't his son's fault either. And his daughter-in-law and granddaughter could certainly not be blamed. Nevertheless he couldn't help but feel partly responsible for what had happened. It had, after all, been his decision to move away to a bigger ranch in Texas. However hard he tried to defend himself, his actions had led to Sarah drowning herself on that beautiful spring day when her life should have been beginning not ending.

He sighed. He couldn't change the past even if he wanted to. And, anyway, he didn't regret the move to Texas, nor did he regret that his son had married Laura. Without those two events, he wouldn't have Stacey and Elizabeth, the two people who were now the center of his world. They were his future and gave meaning to his life. He was just thankful that Libby was making a good recovery and seemed to have suffered no long-term harm from the ordeal.

He picked up the photograph, looking at the faces of his old friends for one final time. Then he walked over to the fireplace and threw it into the flames.