Benjamin had felt lonely in Belladona Cove. There had been something so depressing about staying in the town your wife left behind, staying in the town you moved to in order to make her happy once upon a time. Most days it had made him feel like an old, sad dog whose owner had moved on to better things. They’ve stopped talking about Beth and he wonders how much Mireia thinks about her mother these days, how much she thinks about being abandoned. He had decided to move here partly because of that, too, to give his kid a better chance of forgetting their past.
It’s a nice change, overall. Barchester is different and comes with new faces and other associations than the familiar streets of their last home town. He’s found a good job here – the law firm he works for transferred him with no questions asked, it’s part of the job, part of the career to move about, never be static even if you’re merely a low-ranking assistant – and in time he’s certain they’ll be able to find a few friends as well. The flat they rent is nice enough even if he’s never been much of a interior designer and prefers function over form any day of the week. The neighbourhood isn’t in the best parts of town, but it’s full of people like them, so they fit right in.
But even so, Barchester feels as lonely as Belladona. He misses having a family. A partner, someone to talk to and laugh with. As Mireia grows up he misses having a baby, too. He’s always wanted a large crowd under his roof, but Beth was satisfied with one and he could hardly force her to change her mind about that and now he fears it will never happen. He’d have to meet someone new, someone young enough to want a handful of children with him and he’s not exactly expecting that to happen any time soon. Hope, though, is a different thing. A faint flicker of a flame in his chest.
He couldn’t ask for a better kid, though, even if he’ll only ever have one. Mireia is clever and capable and independent – sometimes a little too independent, he concludes one of their first days in Barchester when she returns home from school with a new hairstyle – and seems to settle down in her new home fairly quickly. She’s got grand plans for the future and a head full of vivid dreams and ideas.
He listens to her talk about things while he cooks and she does her homework at the kitchen table – or sometimes she pretends to do her homework, judging by her grades. And over dinner, they talk.
She tells him she wants to be a cop. Fight crimes and help find missing people.
Benjamin just hopes she can focus her mind enough to do her homework and get through school in one piece. It will be enough for him.