Jean felt like she was running on autopilot. She had ever since Lucien had gone. After all, what was the alternative? She had survived losing Christopher, and now she was surviving the loss of Lucien. In whatever way she could.
When he had spent all that time searching desperately for his wife and daughter, she had thought he was the lucky one. Unlike her, he had hope. There was a chance he would find them alive - as indeed he did.
But now, she wasn't so sure.
Yes, there was hope. But everything was so uncertain. How could she plan for any kind of future? What did she even call herself - was she a widow once more?
Would it be easier to know the worst?
If he wasn't dead, he was out there somewhere.
One thing she was certain of was that he would never leave her, unless he had no choice. And what that would mean didn't bear thinking about.
She couldn't grieve for him, that would feel like giving up on him.
So on she went. She looked after the house, she cleaned and cooked dinner for Matthew and Charlie every night - and, increasingly, Alice too.
She didn't mention the nights that Alice's coat remained on the hook alongside Matthew's, next to the front door far beyond what could be described by anyone as a reasonable hour. It was always gone by the time she got up in the morning, however. Although whether that was out of worry for their own reputations, or out of respect for her own loss and unwillingness to parade their happiness in front of her, she wasn't sure.
Of course, it was an open secret. Due to how obvious their connection was, which made Jean realise just how it was that everyone had known about her and Lucien almost before they did. You can't hide that sort of happiness, however much you try.