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Royal CourtsThey walked slowly out of the building; through its long shadows, down the stark white steps and into the sunshine. It was only then he realised how chilled the stone had been, and how muffled the sound as it’d bounced around the cavernous architecture.

He glanced up at the arch as they came out under it. The building seemed to glow in the sunshine. The sky a blue back-drop. In any other circumstance, he may have paused to appreciate it more.

He was suddenly aware of a group of people clustering around the family who had come out just ahead of them. Men with cameras, a woman holding a microphone. Press.

He guided Geena in the opposite direction, and closer to him, thankful that the family had come out before him..and that they were not interested in them. In the grand scheme of things – they were small fry.

He glanced at Genna as they crossed over the Strand and made their way down Arundel Street, towards Temple Tube Station. Her shoulders shook under his hand every so often as she took another gulp of breath. They hadn’t said a word to each other for hours.

But, what do you say?

His attention was caught by a young black man standing outside a coffee shop. He wore a long black robe that fell to just above his ankles. He was holding a white wig under one arm; his other hand held a thin cigar, which he drew on every so often before it collaborated in making another point to his companion. 

He realised that it was the smell of the cigar that had caught his attention. It took him back to the last time he’d smoked one, thirty odd years ago, when his son had just been born.

With two girls already, he’d really wanted a son. He’d have been happy with either, of course. But, he’d secretly wanted a son. So when he’d arrived at the delivery room, and the nurse presented him with a wriggling bundle in a pink blanket, he was slightly dismayed.

Geena laughed at him. She’d looked blotchy and knakered. Her gown was in disarray, and the top of her breasts were streaked with blood. She was beautiful. 

And then he realised, as the nurse, half smiling too, opened up the blanket.

“We ran out of blue ones today,” She’d said, apologetically.