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Everything Changes

Guest Red Ranger 1

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Yes, Red Ranger's gone crazy on at least two counts:Starting two fictions on the same night and writing another one with Melody in.But it was one of those ideas that was just too good to resist.And hopefully you'll all agree.

Story Title: Everything Changes

Type of story: Long fic

Main Characters: Melody, Geoff, Nicole, Annie, Jai, Miles, Kirsty, Aden and others

BTTB rating: T/A

Genre: Drama(Relationship based)

Does story include spoilers: Yes

Any warnings: Sexual content:Mild to moderate.Violence:Mild.Language:None.

Summary: Geoff and Nicole have just got back together.Then Melody arrives back in town with a secret that could change everything.


Nicole bleerily open her eyes and rolled over in bed.It took her a second to remember where she was, then the memories of the previous night came back and she smiled.That had been some make up…

She kicked off the covers, looking around for some sort of dressing gown to cover herself up with.All she could see was an oversized shirt…which wasn’t exactly surprising when she realised who it belonged to. She pulled it on before heading out of the bedroom.

Geoff was in the kitchen, still only half-dressed, putting the finishing touches to a breakfast tray.He looked at her in disappointment.“I was going to bring this in.”

“Sweet,”Nicole commented,“But that wasn’t the breakfast I was looking for.”

She wandered over and kissed him, gently but intensely.He smiled…and passed her the breakfast tray.“I made croissants.”

She sighed and took the tray over to the table, taking her place next to him.“Thanks.And thanks for last night.I mean, not just…you know, the fact you were willing to do it at all.I mean, I know that sort of thing means a lot to you…”

“It does,”he confirmed,“And so do you.”

She smiled, blushing slightly.Geoff might not be her typical boyfriend but he was the only one that could really make her feel that…girly.“Thank you.”

“And I think I’ve kind of got past the point where I can say I don’t do that.”

“Well, look on the bright side.If you do go to hell, I’ll be there with you.”

Geoff smiled awkwardly.“Yeah.Have to run that one past the minister, I think.”

“So…no regrets?”

He linked his hand with hers.“Only that it took us so long to get our act together.Can we just promise that we don’t let any petty troubles get between us this time?”

“Hey!”she protested,“Who says we’re going to have troubles?”

When Miles heard the movement on the porch, his first thought was that it was Kirsty or Jai forgetting something or possibly one of the caravan park guests coming to pay their rent.Then he heard the tentative voice asking,“Miles?”

He quickly hurried through from the kitchen and saw her standing nervously in the doorway.She was wearing a thick sweater about two sizes too big for her and on her back was a rucksack about three sizes too big for her.Both of them combined to make her look suddenly very small.“Melody,”he greeted her, not sure what else to say.

“Um…can I come in?”

Miles hurried forward quickly, guiding her into the house and taking the rucksack from her back.He was so surprised by the sudden weight that he almost dropped it.“What have you got in here?”

“Everything I could fit.”

Miles decided to let the comment go for the moment.He needed to make a few things clear first. “Melody…of course you can come in.This is your home.”

There was a wistful, almost hopeful hint to her response.“Home…”

“I mean, not your real home obviously, that’s with your mum.But, well, this didn’t stop being your home when you moved out, you’re welcome back here anytime, I told you that.”

She looked at him anxiously.“Do you mean that?”

“Course I do.”He looked at her carefully, so many unanswered questions still running through his head. “So, what is this?A visit?”

“Um, not exactly, I kind of…I’m sorry, I didn’t know where else to go.”

Miles saw the tears in her eyes, the ones she was desperately trying to hide, and felt suddenly very concerned.“Melody, what’s wrong?”

“I just…I need somewhere to stay.”

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Thanks for your comments, everyone, hope you like this.


Miles placed the rucksack on the floor, next to where Melody was seated, before sliding into the other chair.“Look, you’re welcome to stay here,”he told her,“But it would help if you told me what was going on. I mean, has something happened with your mum?”

Melody paused, seemingly trying to decide just how much she should say.“We had a fight,”she said at last.

Miles was well aware just how out of hand Melody and her mother’s fights could get at times.“You mean..?”

Melody shook her head quickly.“No, nothing like that.It’s just…”Once more she seemed uncertain how much to say.“I did something.Something that she disagreed with.And she wanted me to do things her way and I tried to get her to change her mind, I kept talking to her but she wouldn’t listen.And I told her that I couldn’t cope with her constantly pressuring me, I needed to have space to think for myself and…in the end I had to get away.”

“Does she know where you are?”

Melody nodded.“I told her.I thought for a moment she was going to stop me leaving but…then she just let me go.It was almost like she’d just given up on me.”

“Or…maybe she just didn’t want to lose you completely?”Miles suggested tentatively.

Melody shrugged.“Maybe.”

Miles looked at her carefully, wondering exactly what had transpired, what had been so bad to derail the fresh start she’d been so desperate to have.“If there’s something that bad, would it help to tell me about it?”

“I…I want to but…I think I need to sort things out in my own mind first.Can I just…go and lie down for a bit?”

“Yeah, of course.”

“My old room still there?”

Up until that point, Miles hadn’t realised that there was so much Melody didn’t know.“Um…actually, there’s been a few changes since you left.Kirsty’s back here now…”

Melody smiled.“That’s good.”

“Yeah and, um…Nicole’s living here now as well.”

The smile faded slightly.“Nicole?”

“Yeah, it’s a long story.I mean, your room’s still there, your bed’s still there, it’s just…she’s sleeping there as well now.”

Melody seemed to consider this for a long moment.“I guess I’d better take advantage of the quiet while I can then.”

Nicole gripped onto Geoff’s hand tightly as they walked along the beach, pleased at the sensation of feeling it there again.“So are you ready to announce we’re back together?”she asked him.

“Yeah, of course,”he responded,“Why?”

“Well…little sister at three o’clock.”

Geoff followed Nicole’s gaze to where Annie was sitting with Jai and nodded.“Okay.They can be the first.”

“Hey, guys,”Nicole greeted the pair loudly as they got within earshot.

Jai looked bemused at the enthusiastic greeting.“Hi yourself.”

Nicole nudged Geoff who coughed, embarrassed.“Um…we’ve got something to tell you.”

“You’re back together,”Annie responded simply.

Geoff looked slightly disappointed.“How did you know?”

“Well, for starters you’ve got your arm round her,”Jai pointed out.

“And the walls are fairly thin in our house,”Annie added.

Geoff looked suddenly worried.“Really?Um, what did you hear?”

Annie stared at him in confusion.“The two of you coming back last night.Why, what else would I have heard?”

“Er, nothing.”

“So, you guys want to hang out?”Nicole asked, breaking the awkward silence.

“Sorry, can’t,”Jai apologised,“Miles has got me on caravan duty this afternoon and I really need to get back.”He kissed Annie on the cheek before heading back up the headland.

Annie looked at Geoff and Nicole, suddenly feeling slightly like a gooseberry.“So, er, what do you want to do?”

“Melody’s back?”Jai repeated.

Miles nodded.“Uh-huh.Just turned up with her bags and said she’d had a fight with her mum.”

“And that’s all she said?”

“Pretty much.She’s been upstairs for three hours now.Hasn’t left her room.Said she needed time to think.”

“Do you want me to have a word?”

Miles nodded gratefully.“Maybe you’ll have better luck than me.”

Jai headed up the stairs, stopping outside the door to Melody’s old room, the one Nicole had been using. He knocked once on the door.“Melody, it’s me.Okay to come in?”Without waiting for a response, he pushed the door open.

Melody, lying on the bed, sat up, startled, a scared look in her eyes, as though she’d been suddenly caught out.It took Jai a few seconds to realise why.The jumper she’d been wearing when she arrived at the house, the one that had been too big for her, was lying discarded on the bed.Without it, the curve to her stomach, the one that had sprung up in the few months she’d been away, was all too obvious.Jai knew that either her appetite had increased a great deal…or she was no longer eating for just herself.

He let out the breath that he suddenly realised he’d been holding.“No way.”

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Jai wasn’t sure how long he stood there, staring.It was probably long enough for him to have come up with something more original than “Where did that come from?”

The question did at least cause Melody to regain some of her spark.She scowled at him.“Are you really expecting me to answer that?”

“Well, did anything happen after you went to live with your mum or..?”His eyes widened in horror.“It wasn’t Matthew Lyons, was it?”

“Of course not, I never slept with Matthew.”Melody seemed to realise that she wasn’t going to get away with not answering.“It…it was while I was in Melbourne.”

“That Archie guy that Miles met?”

“No, no,”Melody replied quickly,“Before that.It was a guy I met at the hostel.I guess…I was lonely and he was there and I just needed someone to comfort me.”

Jai sat down on the bed with her.“And let me guess.When your mum found out she spewed.”

Melody sighed.“She tried.I know she did.She didn’t get angry with me, she didn’t start reading passages from the Bible about what a sinful girl I was but…it was like she saw it as this problem that she had to fix.I tried to tell her what I wanted but she just couldn’t look past what she wanted.In the end, it got so I couldn’t think, I had to get away.”

“Mel, you have to tell Miles and Kirsty about this.”

Melody shook her head empathically.“No way.I need to think about this on my own.”

“They’re not going to try and control you, Melody, they’d want to help you.Anyway, what else are you going to do?Keep wearing the wrong sized clothes for nine months?”

“Well, there’s only four to go now.”Melody caught his look and nodded.“Can…can you tell them?”

Miles led Kirsty and Jai up the stairs before pausing on the landing.“Maybe I should do this alone.”

“You sure?”Kirsty asked.

“Yeah.I mean, we can discuss this as a family later but right now, I think I need to give the talk.”

“The talk?”

“Yeah.Well, not the talk, I guess it’s too late for that, this is more like the ‘oh, you went ahead and did it anyway’ talk.”He noticed their concerned looks and waved it away.“No, look, I know what I’m doing.Me mature and approachable parent.”He crossed his fingers.“Wish me luck.”

Kirsty waited a few moments after he’d gone into the bedroom before taking Jai’s arm.“Okay, let’s wait downstairs.He doesn’t need us listening in.”

“Do you know what we’re going to do?”Jai asked.

“Nope, haven’t a clue.But I think we should keep this to ourselves for now.”

“Well, there is one person we’re not going to be able to hide it from.”He saw Kirsty’s confused expression.“You know, shares this house.Shares that room…”

Kirsty winced.

Miles had taken Jai’s place, sat at the other end of the bed from where Melody was lying.“So what exactly did happen with your mum?”he asked,“Did she want you to get rid of the baby?”

Melody shook her head.“Not like that, she wouldn’t.It’s not what she believes in.She wanted me to put the baby up for adoption.”

“Well, I think most parents would do that.I mean, you’ve only just turned sixteen, a baby’s a big responsibility, especially when you’re your age and you’re on your own.”

“Would most parents bring the lady from the adoption agency home to see you and start drawing up the papers there and then?”

“Well, no, I guess that is a bit extreme.So is that not what you want?”

Melody closed her eyes momentarily, as though trying to stem the flow of tears again.“I don’t know what I want.”

Miles leaned forward, placing a consoling hand on her knee, looking her in the eye.“Sorry.”

Melody blinked, surprised.“Why?”

“You were supposed to feel safe here.It wasn’t supposed to end up like this.”

Melody shook her head.“I do feel safe here, that’s why I came back here.It’s the only place I ever really have felt safe.I didn’t run away because I didn’t like living here, I did it because I didn’t really like myself.”

Miles smiled gently.“Well, we like you.And no-one’s going to force you to do anything you don’t want to and everyone in this house is going to support you.”

Melody nodded towards the other bed in the room.“Everyone?”

It felt good to be kissing Geoff again.That was one thing Nicole was certain of.Kissing other boys was fun, of course, but it didn’t quite feel as good.She’d have happily done it for hours…

“So, what do you want to do?”he asked suddenly.

Nicole sighed.“We were kind of already doing it.”

“Oh!Right.”He looked at her uncertainly.“You don’t want to go out or something?”

“Why, have you got a prayer meeting?”

“No, they’re Thursdays.”Geoff shifted uncomfortably.“What if I did?”

“Then I guess I’d let you go.”

“Or come with me?”

Nicole thought about this.She knew that getting back with Geoff meant both of them making a few more changes to their lives, working to accommodate the other, but still…“I guess that’s something we’ll have to negotiate.”She leaned forward to kiss him again.“Afterwards.”

Neither of them paid much attention to the phone ringing, leaving Annie to come bounding down the stairs, pause a moment to roll her eyes then pick up the receiver.“Hello?Oh, hi, Kirsty.Yeah, she’s just here, do you want me to..?What?That’s awesome!Can I come round and..?Oh.Okay.Yeah, okay, I’ll tell her.Um, tell her I’ll call round soon.”

Although she’d been trying to ignore the conversation, Nicole had picked up enough of it to know it was something that should interest her.“Did Kirsty want to speak to me?”

Annie nodded, uncertainly.“Yes, she said that you need to go home.Because there’s something they need to tell you about.”

“What was the rest of it about?”Geoff asked.

Annie looked even more uncertain, still puzzled at the way she’d been asked to keep her distance for the moment.“She said Melody’s back.”

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“Melody?Pregnant?”Nicole was trying very hard to keep the amusement out of her voice.“Well, I wasn’t expecting that one.”

“Play nice, Nicole,”Kirsty told her warningly.

“Oh, yeah, of course.”Nicole once more tried and failed to stop smiling.

“Look, it’s not something anyone was expecting,”Miles agreed,“Melody included, I suspect.But she’s here and she needs the help and support of everyone in this family.And that’s what we’re going to give her. Everyone understand?”

Nicole nodded.“Yep, crystal clear.”She headed for the stairs.

“Um, where are you going?”Miles asked.

“To make her feel welcome.”

Jai waited until Nicole had disappeared before leaning closer to Miles.“Um, should we be getting ready for fireworks or what?”

Miles thought for a moment.“Give them ten minutes, then we’ll go upstairs and check for blood.”

“Hey there, roomie.”

Melody looked up sharply at the voice.She’d been so lost in thought that she hadn’t seen Nicole come in. But there she was stood, a broad but not completely friendly grin on her face.Melody nodded towards the other bed.“Miles said that one was yours.”

“Yep.”Nicole went and sat on it.She stayed there, looking at her.

Melody wasn’t sure what to expect.It would be an exaggeration to call them enemies but it was certainly true that they’d had more than their fair share of run-ins since they first met, over one thing or another. Mostly one thing.“He told me about your dad too.I’m sorry, I mean, I didn’t know him that well…”

“Yeah.He mentioned you’d had a falling out with your mum.”

It was one subject Melody didn’t feel like discussing.She was sure Miles had filled Nicole in on all the important details.“You and Geoff?That’s going okay?”

“We had a bit of a rough patch but we’re getting things back on track now.So if you were thinking you were in with a chance…”

Melody glared at her.“You really think getting back with Geoff is something I’d be thinking about at the moment?”

“Guess not.”Nicole’s gaze seemed to settle at last on the all too visible pregnant bump.“Are you scared?”

“A bit.”Melody sighed.“A lot.I don’t really know what to expect.”

“I can understand that.”Nicole seemed to notice Melody’s unbelieving gaze.“I thought I might be pregnant once, after the first time with Geoff.It was probably the scariest few hours of my life and if that test had come out positive, it would have been even scarier.”

“Having a baby…it looks kinda painful.”

“Well, I’m sure all those films with women screaming and everything exaggerate it.You’re definitely going to have the baby then?”

Melody shrugged.“I guess so.I mean, I don’t know what I’m going to do afterwards but…yeah, the giving birth bit, that’s definitely going to happen.”

“Guess that only leaves one question then.Do you snore?”

“Not as far as I know.I haven’t really had anyone sleep close enough to tell me that often.”

Nicole arched her eyebrows slightly and nodded towards the bump.

Melody sighed.“No.Not even him.”

It was fairly early the next morning when Nicole arrived back at the beach house.Geoff and Annie had finished breakfast and were waiting to hear what had happened.“So did you see Melody?”Annie asked.

Nicole nodded.“Oh yeah, she was there all right.”

“And is it all right for me to go round and see her yet?”

Nicole looked from one to the other.“Miles wanted it kept quiet until she’s ready but I guess you two are her friends.Melody’s pregnant.”

“What?”asked Geoff, astonished.

“Melody?”Annie was even more astonished.“But that would mean she’s…”

“Yeah,”Nicole confirmed,“Makes you think, huh?”

“But what’s she doing back here?”Geoff asked.

“Had a fight with her mum when she found out, didn’t have anywhere else to go.”

“So, the father’s someone she met in New Zealand?”

“No, it was when she was in Melbourne apparently.”

“I’m going to go and see her,”Annie decided.

“No,”Geoff replied,“I’ll go.”

“We’ll both go then…”

“No,”Geoff insisted,“I…I need to see her on my own.”

Miles had told Geoff that Melody was in her room and to just go up;apparently, it was where she’d been most of the time since she’d got there.Geoff knocked gently on the door before pushing it open.“Mel?It’s me.”

She was lying on the bed as always, her eyes on the door.She obviously registered his lack of surprise at her appearance.“Nicole told you then?”

Geoff nodded.“Me and Annie.She wanted to come and see you but…I thought we should have a chat first.”

“I guess you would,”she replied, not giving anything away.

“So, are you okay?I mean, morning sickness or whatever?”

Melody smiled slightly.“That’s normally in the first three months…and I didn’t even realise I was pregnant then.I just thought I had a bug or something.”

“Nicole said you got pregnant in Melbourne.So I guess that’d make you about five months gone?”

“That’s right.”

She knew what he was saying, what he was asking her.He could tell that.But she wasn’t going to let him get away with it.She was going to make him say the words.

“Is it mine?”

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Miles had just been leaving the house as Geoff arrived and told him that Melody was upstairs on her own. He cautiously opened the bedroom door, not sure what her reaction would be.“You up to a visitor?”

Melody smiled at him, the first genuine smile he’d seen from her in months.“Geoff!How are you?”

“Shouldn’t I be asking you that?”

Melody shook her head slightly, indicating her uncertainty.“Getting there, I think.I know I’ve made some pretty crazy decisions lately, taking off to Melbourne being the latest.”

“I was worried about you.”

“I know.”She obviously saw the surprised look on his face because she carried on.“I saw you looking for me at the bus station.It was almost enough to make me tell you all I was there.I didn’t realise you still cared.”

He sat down on the bed with her.“Of course I care, Melody, I always have done…”

“But you love Nicole,”she sighed, finishing the thought for him.

He shrugged.“Yeah.”

“So how’s that going?”

He thought back to recent events.In truth, Nicole had been a bit full-on lately, even for her.“She organised this dinner party the other night.”

Melody looked amused.“Nicole?That doesn’t sound like her sort of thing.”

“I think she was hoping to make some friends.”

“So how did it go?”

“Um, the cooking took so long that everyone left before we ate, then she came pretty close to setting fire to the kitchen and left me to clean up.”

“Hmm, that sounds more like Nicole.Didn’t put you off though, did it?”

“No…”He tried to sound certain but all the same…

She smiled at him.“Geoff, if you’d wanted a girlfriend who wouldn’t cause you any drama…Well, I’d say you’d be dating me but that hasn’t really been true recently, has it?”

He returned the smile.“Thanks, Mel.”He kissed her on the cheek.It was all he was intending to do but suddenly being that close to her, it felt…familiar.Instead of drawing back, he brushed his lips against hers, gently kissing her.

She stared at him, surprised, and he was preparing to stammer out an apology when she kissed him back. He responded, holding her close to him, feeling her body against his.And then…

He wasn’t sure why they did it, whether it was comfort or curiosity or some nostalgic attempt to recapture a relationship they knew was long over.He wished he could say he didn’t enjoy it…but that would have been a lie.

They lay there in silence for a few minutes then abruptly he got up, recovering his discarded clothes.He could hear Melody doing the same behind him and felt her gaze on him.He turned and met that gaze.“I’m sorry,”she murmured.

He hoped that the look in his eyes conveyed everything she needed to know, that he didn’t blame her, that they’d both done this, that whatever regrets he was feeling had nothing to do with her.Because at that moment, and until he left, he didn’t feel able to say anything.

He didn’t see her again until the day she’d left.He sat there awkwardly while she said her goodbyes to everyone else, before hugging him and murmuring,“I’ll always remember you.”Only the two of them knowing exactly why.Even by then, it had begun to affect his relationship with Nicole.He knew that was why he’d been so moody towards her, why he’d been so paranoid about her and Trey:Because he’d already cheated on her.

And now here they were again.In the same room where it had happened.On the same bed, he reflected.

“Yes it is,”she replied simply.

“Are you sure?”he asked, without missing a beat.

Melody scowled at him.“I don’t sleep around, Geoff.”

“I know but…”He sighed, the memories coming back.“While you were away, I was dating this girl, Claudia, and she got pregnant and she told me it was mine, then she told me it was someone else’s and…I don’t want to have to go through that again.”

If he’d meant to reassure her, he failed.She looked even more disappointed.“So me, this Claudia…I suppose you’re sleeping with Nicole again too, now?”He looked away slightly, confirming it.“That really makes me feel special.For the record, there’s been no-one else for me.It’s definitely yours.”

It was his turn not to feel especially reassured.“Why did you come back here, Mel?”

“Because Miles is here and Jai and Annie and I know I can count on them.And I need people around me that I can count on, so if I can’t count on you…”

“Mel…I tried to be there for you before, as a friend.I don’t need to feel guilty about things ending between us, I stood by you, you broke up with me, remember?Then when you changed your mind you tried to break up me and Nicole.”

“Well, it didn’t take you long to forget about me, did it?”She looked at him accusingly and he knew any answer he gave would seem inadequate to her.“Are you going to tell Nicole about this?Anyone?”

Geoff floundered.If this was his child, and deep down he knew it was, had known the moment he’d found out about it, then he knew he had a responsibility.But he and Nicole were only just getting back on track, if people found out…

Melody seemed to sense his thoughts because she looked away.“Then I guess we just forget this conversation happened.The father was a guy I met in Melbourne.End of story.”

By the time Geoff reached the bottom of the stairs, he was more confused than ever.He knew Melody had a right to be disappointed in him, he was disappointed in himself.He knew Nicole and Annie and everyone else would be disappointed if they found out too.He’d never considered himself the sort of person to turn his back on his child.

His train of thought came to an abrupt halt when he went into the living room and found Annie standing in the doorway, as though she wasn’t sure whether to come in or not.“Annie, what are you doing here?”he asked, surprised.

“I know you told me to wait but…are you done talking?”

Geoff nodded.“I think she’d be happy to see you.”

Geoff didn’t look back as he left the house, so he didn’t see that Melody had come down the stairs after him.Annie saw her though.The two girls stood at opposite sides of the room, neither of them sure what to do.“Are you okay?”Annie asked.

Melody opened her mouth to answer…and instead burst into tears.

Annie crossed the room quickly, putting her arms round her friend, letting her bury her face in her shoulder.“Um, it’s all right,”she said quietly, hoping that her tone sounded soothing,“It’ll be all right.”

Five days passed without Melody seeing Geoff again.Of course, the fact that she hadn’t left the caravan park in that time probably contributed, but the fact that he’d stayed away spoke volumes.Maybe the fact that she hadn’t gone looking for him did too.

Annie had been a frequent visitor, for which she was grateful.She knew the sight of her looking the way she did made her friend uncomfortable but she knew also that Annie would never say anything, that she’d try and hide the shock she felt at someone she knew being in that situation.

They were sitting just outside the kitchen door, enjoying the sunshine, when she noticed Annie’s gaze drift down towards her bump.Normally she averted her eyes again quickly, not wanting to be caught staring.But this time she asked,“What does it feel like?”

Melody tried to think of a suitable answer.“Heavy,”she said at last,“You know when you’re just eaten a lot and you feel really full inside?It’s kind of like that, only all the time.”

“What do you reckon it’ll be like when the baby comes?”

“You know, I’ve been trying to ignore the fact that pregnancies usually result in babies.I’ve got absolutely no idea what to do with one.”

“I’d offer to help but…I don’t really know either.”

Melody smiled at her.“Thanks anyway, I guess.”

Miles appeared in the doorway.“Er, Melody.There’s someone here to see you.”

Puzzled, Melody got to her feet and went through into the house, Miles and Annie just behind her.

She was standing there, looking even more nervous than when she’d last visited Melody at that house. Maybe because they both had a few more harsh words to add to all the other memories.She held her hands out invitingly, or perhaps she just didn’t know what else to do with them.“You’re looking well, darling.”

Melody swallowed hard.“Thanks, Mum.”

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Christine seemed to eye the other occupants of the room warily.“Darling, can we talk in private?”

Melody could see the point of her request and she wasn’t quite sure why she didn’t feel inclined to agree to it.Pure stubbornness perhaps.“Anything you want to say to me you can say in front of Miles and Annie.”

Christine seemed about to argue for a moment then she just nodded.“Very well.”

Miles gestured towards the seating area.“Maybe we should all sit down.”

Christine seemed comfortable taking the smaller chair so Melody sat at the end of the sofa nearest her, Annie and Miles just behind her.She waited for her mother to take the lead and it seemed to take a few seconds before she gathered her thoughts.“Melody…I accept that I didn’t handle things very well when I first learned about your…condition.Maybe it was wrong of me to try and force you to make a decision but I still see you as my little girl, I’m supposed to look after you.”

“I know that,”Melody agreed,“But this is my baby.I need to make the choice.”

“Melody, when you’re a parent yourself…”

“I am.”

Christine shook her head.“In a sense, yes.But I don’t think you fully understand what it’s like to have another person completely dependent on you.You say to yourself that you’re going to protect them from harm, do whatever it takes to make sure they have a good life.You know what I mean, Mr.Copeland.”

Melody glanced back at Miles who seemed torn between supporting her and speaking his mind.“Your mum’s got a point,”he said at last,“But in the end, your children have to choose for themselves the life they want and then it’s up to you to support them.”

“Yes, that’s true as well,”Christine agreed,“And for that reason, Melody, I’ve decided that whatever choice you make I’ll support it.The adoption papers are still there but whether or not you sign them is your decision.If you want to keep this baby and bring it up yourself, then I’ll help you.”

“And what if I want a termination?”

Christine faltered for a moment.“Is that still an option?”

“If it is and it’s what I want…what would you do?”

Christine seemed to be choosing her words very carefully.“I won’t lie to you and say that I agree.But you will always be my daughter and I will always love you.Nothing that happens will change that.”She let the words hang in the air for a moment before continuing.“I have an open return ticket home.I was hoping you’d come back with me.”

Melody wasn’t sure why the offer surprised her.It would have been uncharacteristic of her mother not to make it, after all.But suddenly she found herself on the back foot.“I…I was planning to stay here.”

“Well, is there any reason to stay here?”

Melody wasn’t sure if Geoff counted as a reason.She didn’t know if he wanted her to stay or even if she wanted him to want her to stay.“My friends,”she said.

“You wouldn’t rather be with your family?”Christine sounded hurt, disappointed.Before Melody could answer, she had taken a pen and paper out of her bag and scribbled something down.“I’m staying at the Sands.If you want me, you can call me on this number.”She handed the paper to Melody without looking at her before getting to her feet and gathering her things.“Thank you for letting me see Melody, Mr.Copeland. I can see myself out.”

Part of Melody wanted time alone to think but part of her didn’t feel like being alone at that moment.She’d asked Annie to come with her for a short walk through the caravan park, a chance to gather her thoughts. Annie was silent for a long time, just as she had been during Christine’s visit, before finally she asked,“Are you really thinking about a termination?”

Melody shook her head.“I just wanted to know what Mum would do if I did, whether she was serious about supporting me whatever.I don’t want to get rid of this baby and I don’t want someone else bringing it up.”

“Then…I guess the only question is whether you do it here or with your mum?”

Melody sighed.Everything had seemed so certain when she’d had the Tasman Sea between her and her mother.But seeing her again had left everything confused.“Before all this happened, Mum and I were getting on better than we ever had done, it was…it was nice.And maybe if she’s accepted this baby, accepted me being pregnant, then it’ll be like that again.”

Annie looked disappointed.“You’re really thinking of going?It feels like you’ve only just got here.”

“You could come and visit?I’d like you to, I want you to meet this baby.But…”

“You’ve got to do what’s best for you?”

“I’ve…got to do what’s best for both of us.”

Annie put an arm round her friend, hugging her slightly as they walked along.“You sound like a mother already.”

Melody had had several offers from people to be there with her that morning but this time she’d wanted to be alone when she met with Christine.She waited in the living area until her mother appeared in the doorway.“I got your message.I wasn’t expecting to hear from you so soon.”

Melody nodded and gestured to the table.“Do you want to sit down?”She waited until they’d taken their seats before asking,“Do you really think we can bring up this baby?”

“It won’t be easy.I’m working, you might want to go back to school, but yes, I think we can sort something out.”

“It’s what I want to do, Mum.I want to keep this baby, I want to be a mother to it.And…I want to do it in New Zealand with you.”

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There had been something different about Annie that morning.Geoff was sure of it.She’d spent most of her spare time for the past week with Jai and Melody at the caravan park.To start with, she’d given Geoff blow by blow accounts of what they’d done and encouraged him to see Melody again but when he repeatedly came up with excuses she’d eventually decided he wasn’t interested and stopped talking to him.

He wished it was as simple as not being interested.But despite Melody giving him permission to stay away, to stay out of her life, out of their baby’s life…he thought about it a lot.But every time he thought about it, he found himself with the same two questions:What did he want and what was the right thing to do.And no answer to either.

The only bright side was that someone else was spending as little time at the caravan park as he was.

Nicole came in through the back door without knocking and dropped onto the sofa beside him.“Got anything planned?”she asked.

He smiled at her.Being with her was the only thing that took his mind off the problem.“We could go down the beach,”he suggested.

“Could do,”she agreed, before kissing him softly,“Or we could find something to do here…”

He surrendered to the kiss for a moment, relaxing in her touch.“Have you seen Annie this morning?”he asked suddenly.

Nicole shot him an amused look.“Okay, if kissing me makes you think about your sister…”

“No, it’s just, she seemed a bit, I don’t know…out of sorts.”

Nicole shrugged.“Well, it’s bound to be hard on her.”

Geoff nodded in agreement.He knew Annie well enough to knew she must have mixed feelings about Melody’s pregnancy, even without knowing the identity of the father.“Yeah, I guess so.”

“On the plus side, it means we can hang out at my place again.”

Geoff didn’t understand the remark.“Er, what?Why?”

“Well, no more baby dramas, no more having to share my room…”

Geoff was suddenly aware that there was something he hadn’t been told.“Melody’s moving out?”

“Yeah, she’s going back to her mum’s.”

“Her mum’s?In New Zealand?But…I thought they fell out.”

“Sorted it out apparently.I left them all round there doing the big farewell scene.Didn’t Annie tell you?”

“No, I…”Geoff suddenly cursed the way he’d stonewalled all her entreaties.“I guess she thought I wasn’t interested.”

“Well, she might still be there if you want to say goodbye…”

Geoff was on his feet before he’d really had a chance to think, still not sure about those two big questions but knowing he’d have to think of an answer soon.“Yeah, I might do that.”

“You want me to come with?”

“No,”Geoff replied hastily.This was going to be hard enough as it was without having to do it in front of Nicole.“I won’t be long, help yourself to the food, help yourself to the TV.”He kissed her on the top of the head before heading for the door.

“Love you!”she called after him.

He paused in the doorway and nodded.“I love you too,”he told her seriously.And thought how much simpler things would be if it wasn’t true.

Melody thought that Annie wasn’t going to let go of her this time, she was hugging her so hard.“Promise you’ll keep in touch this time.”

“I promise,”Melody answered,“I’ll make sure this baby knows its auntie.”She did her best to return Annie’s smile, wondering how she’d react if she knew just how accurate the description was.She looked at Jai.“And its uncle.Thanks for persuading me to talk.”

He hugged her in his turn.“No problem.Talk again soon.”

“That goes for all of us,”Miles added, pulling her to his chest briefly and stroking her hair,“You’ve got two families now, okay?”

“Which means we want to see lots of baby photos when the time comes,”added Kirsty, giving her a quick hug.

Melody nodded, looking at all four of them in turn.“I don’t know how to thank you…again.You’ve always been there for me when I’ve needed you and I’m not going to forget that.”

Christine stepped forward slightly, seeming uncomfortable with the farewells.“Ah, Melody darling, we need to be on our way.”

Melody smiled at her and took her arm.“Okay, Mum.”

Geoff appeared in the doorway just as they were heading through it, stopping in front of them, out of breath.“Melody…”

Melody looked at him in confusion.“Geoff, I was just leaving…”

Geoff shook his head.“Mel, you can’t leave.You can’t do this.The baby…”

“I don’t mean to be rude, Geoff,”Christine put in,“but it’s hardly your decision where Melody chooses to live.”

“No, you don’t understand.The baby…”Geoff paused, suddenly aware of how many people were there, how many people were looking at him.For a moment Melody thought he was going to stop, to make some excuse.But then he said it.“I’m the father.”

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Christine’s expression was cold as she looked at Geoff.“I see.Well, perhaps you could repeat that to the police?”

Geoff gulped hard, only the fact that everyone else was looking at Christine in astonishment giving him the confidence to continue.“What?”

“My daughter was only fifteen at the time, wasn’t she?”

Miles stepped between them awkwardly.“Christine, I don’t think this is helping.”

“And I don’t think you’re a part of this decision, Mr.Copeland,”Christine retorted,“I trusted you to look after my daughter and instead you let this boy take advantage of her.”

She didn’t seem to notice the way Melody was looking at her.Not until she spoke.“What happened between Geoff and me happened because I wanted it to.When I was living with you, it nearly happened when I didn’t want it.And you didn’t want me to go to the police then, did you?!”She ran back upstairs, looking close to tears.

Miles glanced at Jai who seemed to understand the silent message.“I’ll see if she’s all right,”he said, following her out.

Geoff suddenly realised that his sister’s gaze had been fixed on him since his announcement, her face a picture of shock and horror.“Annie…”

Before he could say any more, she’d run out of the back door.“I’ll go after her,”Kirsty told him.

Which just left the three of them standing there.Miles looked from Geoff to Christine before gesturing to the table.“Maybe we need to sit down.”

Jai had sat down next to Melody on the bed, silent for the moment.“So…Geoff, huh?”he asked.

Melody sighed.“I’m sorry I lied to you.It just didn’t seem fair to tell everyone when he hadn’t really come to terms with it.”

“Melody…you and Geoff broke up about a year ago.If you’d got pregnant then…”

“It was later,”she confirmed,“When he was with Nicole.What I told you was sort of true.I’d just started seeing that counsellor, I was just starting to realise how much I’d upset everyone and then Geoff came along and he was nice to me and…I just wanted to know that someone cared.That I hadn’t made the whole town hate me.”

“So what now?”

“I don’t know.When I thought Geoff didn’t want to know, going away seemed like the best option.But now…”

“It was easier when it was a stranger, yeah?”

“No.”Melody took a deep breath.“Geoff was my first boyfriend, the first boy I loved.So I’d rather he was my first time, I’d rather he was the father of my baby, than some guy I didn’t really know.But I don’t think everyone’s going to see it that way.”

“Your mum was pretty full on.”

Melody nodded.“She was almost like she used to be.”

“She wouldn’t really set the police on Geoff, would she?”

“I hope not.”

Annie was at the edge of the caravan park when Kirsty found her, sat on an upturned log.“Annie?”she asked cautiously.

Annie looked back at her, her face strewn with tears.“How could they?”

Kirsty sat down next to her.“I don’t know, sometimes you do things that seem right at the time and then later on you have to deal with the consequences.”

“But they lied to me, Kirsty, they both lied to me.My brother and my best friend.They went ahead and they…did that.I’ve been trying to help her all this week and she never once told me Geoff was the father.”

“Maybe she thought it was up to Geoff to tell you.”

“And he’s worse,”Annie complained,“I was so proud of him for the way he was with Nicole, how he didn’t need to sleep with her to show that he loved her…and it turns out he was sleeping with Melody behind her back!”

“We don’t know the full story yet,”Kirsty pointed out,“Why don’t you come back to the house and we can try and sort this out?”

“I don’t think I can face them right now, I just…I don’t want to see them.”

“Okay.”Kirsty helped the girl to her feet.“How about I take you home then?”

It almost felt like a council of war with the three of them sat at the table, Miles at the head with Geoff and Christine either side of them.“I think Geoff knows he did the wrong thing,”Miles said gently,“But I don’t think getting the police involved, forcing Melody to give a statement or go to court, is going to help anyone.”

For a moment, Christine seemed about to argue, then she nodded.“No, I suppose not.”

“I am sorry, Mrs.Jones,”Geoff insisted,“I know I shouldn’t have done what I did.But…I don’t think I made Melody do anything she didn’t want to.”

“Do you love her?”Christine asked.

Geoff looked helplessly at Miles who just shrugged.“It’s a fair question.”

“I care about her,”Geoff replied,“I like her.Maybe, in a way, I do love her, as a friend.”He took a deep breath.“I love Nicole.”

“And you think this other girl will just accept that Melody’s having your baby?”Christine asked.

“I don’t know.”

“I imagine she’d be pretty mad,”Miles pointed out.

“I know.And for a while there, I did think it would be best for everyone if I kept quiet, if Nicole and I carried on as normal, if I didn’t have anything to do with Melody and the baby.But when I heard she was leaving…I realised I don’t want my baby growing up in another country.I want to be a part of his or her life.”

“That’s not really your decision, is it?”Christine asked.

“Er, guys?”Jai quietly interrupted.He pointed to Melody, standing beside him.“Mel wants to say something.”

“I need to talk to Mum,”Melody explained,“Can the rest of you just leave her us alone for a minute?”

“Sure,”Miles replied, getting to his feet and beckoning to Geoff and Jai,“We’ll be outside.”

Christine stood there, facing Melody, until they were alone before speaking.“I’m sorry for the way I reacted, Melody.”

Melody shook her head.“You were just looking out for me.I guess I’d rather have a mother that cares too much than one who doesn’t care at all.”

“That’s all I’ve ever tried to do.”

“But you don’t know how.”Melody let the comment hang in the air.“That’s why I’ve changed my mind.I need to stay here with Miles and Kirsty and Jai…and Annie, if she’s still talking to me.And Geoff.”

Christine’s eyes were cold again, disapproving.“Do you think he’ll marry you?”

“No,”she sighed,“I stopped thinking that was going to happen a long time ago.But if he wants to be a father to this baby, then…I think he deserves a chance to do that.”

“What about me?”Her eyes were pleading now.“You’re my only child, Melody.You’re my baby.Don’t I get a chance to be a parent?”

“You could move back here?”

Christine seemed stunned at the suggestion.“But…my life is in New Zealand now, we’ve only just moved out there…”

Melody sighed.“Then…I guess this is goodbye.”

Christine paused for a moment then stepped forward and hugged her, kissing her hair softly.“Let’s make sure it’s not for too long.”

Geoff watched from a distance as Melody and Christine came out of the house.He saw Melody hug her mother, then Christine got into the car and drove away.Melody stood watching until she was out of sight then indicated for Geoff to join her.Accepting the encouraging looks from Miles and Jai, Geoff went over to her.

“Mum’s going back to New Zealand,”she explained,“I’m not.”

Geoff nodded, relieved.“So what now?”

“What do you want?”

He took a step closer, placing a hand on her stomach, feeling the life growing there.Their baby.“I want to be a father.”

She smiled slightly.“Then I guess you’ve got your wish.”

“Do we need to…tell people now?”

“Well, I think most of the important people just found out.There is one person you need to tell now though and I’m not looking forward to her reaction.”

Geoff nodded awkwardly.“Yeah, I think compared to speaking with Nicole, telling your mum’s going to seem easy.”

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Nicole had a strong feeling that there was something going on she didn’t know about.It had started when Geoff had run out of the house, keen to leave her behind.Then Annie and Kirsty had turned up, Annie looking as though she’d just been crying, and gone straight upstairs to Annie’s room with barely a word to her.

She waited until Kirsty came back down before asking,“Is she all right?”

“I think she just needs to be on her own for a bit,”Kirsty replied.

“Guess Melody’s goodbye was really emotional, huh?”

Kirsty nodded awkwardly.“Yeah, things…got a little difficult there.”

It seemed to Nicole that Kirsty was choosing her answers very carefully, giving away as little information as possible without resorting to an outright lie.She also noticed that she kept looking at her watch.“You late for something?”

“I’m meant to be at the Diner but I don’t want to leave Annie alone when she’s like this.”

“I could keep an eye on her.”

Kirsty looked uncertain.Maybe she was worried that Annie would tell Nicole what was really going on or that she’d start asking questions if she was alone with her.“Okay,”she said at last,“Just stay down here in case she needs you.”

As Kirsty headed for the door, she almost collided with Geoff as he came in.“Kirsty, hi,”he babbled, “What’s been going on?”

“Annie’s upstairs,”Kirsty told him,“And I really think you need to talk to her.”

“Yeah, okay, but I need to…”He nodded towards Nicole, further cementing her belief that there was something going on.

Kirsty’s expression made it clear that she knew exactly what he was talking about.“Good luck,”she told him before leaving them alone.

Nicole forced a smile onto her face.If no-one else was giving anything away, she wouldn’t either.“So Melody get off okay?”

“She…didn’t go,”Geoff answered awkwardly.

“Why not?”

“Because I asked her not to.”

It wasn’t exactly the answer she’d been hoping for.Why would Geoff do that?Was there something going on between them?Geoff had been with her most of the past week, since Melody had come back, there didn’t seem to have been a chance for them to have a secret tryst.And Melody seemed to have been telling the truth when she said she wasn’t interested in getting back with him so…“Why?”

Geoff sat down at the opposite end of the sofa.He seemed to be having a great deal of difficulty looking at her.“Melody’s baby.I’m the father.”

Nicole felt like a large chunk had suddenly been ripped out of her.This was Geoff she was talking to.Of all the boyfriends she’d had, he was the one she’d least expected to announce he’d got another girl pregnant. “What?But that means…the two of you…”She did a mental check of the dates and didn’t like the answer she came up with.“When?”

“Just…just before she left.Things were awkward between us at the time, you were hanging out with Freya…”

“What, so I get a new friend you don’t like and that gives you the right to jump into bed with your ex?”

“No, of course not…I didn’t plan any of this, Nic.”

“But you thought I did.”The memories of that time were flooding back now.“When we went back to the island, you accused me of only bringing you there so I could have sex with you.And you’d just had sex with her!”

“I know, I’m sorry…Nicole, I love you and I really want to make this work.But this is my baby, I can’t just turn my back.”

Nicole looked at him in disgust.“I don’t even know who you are anymore.”She stormed out of the house. Whatever else he had to say, it wasn’t anything she wanted to hear.

Part of Geoff had wanted to go after Nicole, to explain and try and make her understand.But he remembered Kirsty’s words and knew there was someone else he owed an explanation to as well.He knocked lightly on the door.“Ann?”When he didn’t receive an answer, he pushed the door open.

Annie was lying there, facing him.He wasn’t sure if the tears on her face were new or if she’d had them ever since she’d been there.“I don’t want to see you right now.”

Geoff swallowed hard before taking a few steps into the room, sitting down on the bed.“Melody isn’t leaving.I’ve told her I’ll help out with the baby, I want to do the right thing.”

“This isn’t the right thing, Geoff,”she insisted,“This isn’t what we’re supposed to do.First you slept with Nicole and then it was Claudia.And Melody…She wasn’t even your girlfriend, you were with Nicole.”

“I know and I know I did the wrong thing.”

“You both did the wrong thing, Geoff, and now your lives are ruined.And I can’t look at either of you.”

“We’re trying to do the right thing now, Annie.We both want to do the best for this baby.”

“All week,”Annie continued,“I’ve been round there, trying to help her, while she lied to me, while she pretended the baby wasn’t yours.And I kept asking you to go as well and you wouldn’t.You wouldn’t help with your own baby.”

“I…I needed time to get my head round it.”

Annie turned over, facing away from it, effectively ending the conversation.“Well now I do too.”

Melody still hadn’t been keen on the idea of leaving the house but Miles and Jai had told her that if she was going to stick around permanently she was going to have to come out of her room some time.She’d eventually accepted their offer of a quick walk to the beach and then back home.

“That wasn’t so bad, was it?”Miles asked as they got home.

“No,”Melody admitted,“Even though there were a few people who seemed to need a second look at me.”

“They probably think it’s this year’s new fashion accessory,”Jai decided,“Wondering if they can get one.”

“Maybe we should warn the maternity ward,”Miles suggested.

Melody smiled at them both.“Thanks.”

“What for?”Jai asked.

“Not treating me any different.”

They were interrupted by a loud thud from upstairs.“What was that?”Miles asked.

“It…sounded a bit like someone dropping something,”Jai mused.

They all hurried upstairs, Melody finding it a fraction more difficult than the other two.They were greeted by the sight of Melody’s rucksack lying in the middle of the landing, several of her clothes scattered around it.The explanation for the sight came quickly as Nicole stormed out of their room with a large armful of clothes and dumped them on the pile.

Miles caught her arm before she could head back inside to retrieve any more.“Hey, hey, hey, what’s this?”

Nicole shot Melody an angry look.“Don’t you know what she’s done?I am not sharing a room with the two-faced cow that slept with my boyfriend!”

Melody looked away, shamefaced.She was quite prepared to stand up to Nicole when she was being unreasonable but this time…this time she knew she was right.“Maybe I should stay in one of the vans.”

“Or maybe Nicole should stay in one of the vans,”Jai suggested sarkily.

Nicole looked at him angrily.“Why are you on her side?”

“Hey, hey, hey,”Miles said firmly,“This isn’t about sides.Melody knows she’s done something wrong but she’s a part of this household, same as you are, Nicole.Now I’m not asking you two to like each other or even talk to each other.But no-one is being thrown out of this house.Is that clear?”

Nicole glared at Melody.“You keep over your side of the room, you don’t talk to me, you don’t even look at me.As far as I’m concerned, you don’t exist.”Miles let her go and she slammed the door behind her.

“She hates me,”Melody sighed.

“Yes she does,”Miles agreed,“But she’ll get over it.”

“And if she doesn’t?”

Miles didn’t answer.

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The beach was almost deserted and the sound of the waves was soothing.Melody wasn’t sure how long she sat there.In a way it was a kind of haven.With Annie and Nicole both knowing what had happened between her and Geoff and neither of them happy about it, moments of peace and quiet at home had become rarer.

She heard heavy footsteps beside her, ridiculously heavy given that they were on sand, telling her that someone was announcing their presence.She glanced up to see Aden grinning at her, amused yet sympathetic.“The rumours are true then?”he asked.

“About me being back?”

“About that and a certain other event,”he replied, sitting down beside her.

Melody hadn’t wanted company but Aden had been good to her in the past and she didn’t have the heart to tell him to go away.“What have you heard?”she asked.

“That Geoff got you pregnant.”

“I guess that’s pretty accurate.So the whole town knows?”

“Probably.Although they probably haven’t all had Nicole on the phone to them twice a day moaning about it.”

“Guess most of them think I did the wrong thing.”

“Don’t you?”

Melody wished she could avoid the question but he kept looking at her like he was expecting an answer. “I guess,”she admitted.

“Then I shouldn’t worry about everyone else.There’s been times when they’ve all thought I’ve done the wrong thing but…people forget.And when you really need help and support, I think most of them are more likely to give it than to kick you when you’re down.”

Melody smiled gratefully, feeling a bit better.“So what about you?I heard you and Belle had an… interesting few months.”

“It got a bit hairy at times,”Aden agreed,“But we made it through it.As the wedding invite heading in your direction should prove.”He noticed the uncertain look on her face and patted her gently on the shoulder. “Gotta get out there some time.”

“Jai, are you ready?”

Jai heard the shout from the doorway and poked his head round the corner.“Yeah, there in a minute, Annie.”

“Well, come on, we don’t want to be late.”

Jai checked his watch, confused at her haste.“We don’t have to leave for ages yet.”Then he realised why she really wanted to leave.The same reason why she hadn’t been round the house so much recently.“You could even stay and talk to Mel for a while.She’ll probably be back soon.”

Annie suddenly seemed unable to look him in the eye.She shook her head slightly.“No, we should be getting on.”

“Annie, you’ve been ignoring her for the last week.Don’t you think you two need to sort this out?”

“Look, Jai, I know you don’t understand but I have certain beliefs and I thought Geoff and Melody did too.Sex is supposed to be something special, it’s supposed to mean something.It’s not something you just do because you feel like it, especially not when you’re going out with someone else.”

“Well, maybe if you actually talk to them you’ll see that they know they did wrong.You could try forgiving them.Isn’t that part of your beliefs too?”Jai snatched up his bag and brushed past Annie on his way out, leaving her no option but to follow him.

“Annie, is that you?”Geoff asked as he heard movement in the kitchen.He didn’t hear an answer so he headed out of the bathroom, checking how much time he had before school.He stopped when he saw who was there.“Nic.”

Every time he’d seen Nicole for the last week she’d looked angry.He wasn’t sure if that was how she looked all the time or just how she looked around him but he was pretty certain he was the cause of it.But now she looked different, calmer.“Can we talk?”she asked.

“Um…yeah, course.”He gestured towards the sofa, wondering how to start.“Nic, I’m sorry,”he said at last,“I didn’t mean to cheat on you and I didn’t mean to act like a jerk towards you afterwards.I guess it just shocked me, I didn’t think that was something I’d ever do.”

“Was it just the once?”

He nodded.“Yeah, I mean…we both felt bad about it afterwards, we knew we’d done the wrong thing.I know that doesn’t make up for it…”

“Geoff, do you love me?”

The question seemed to come out of the blue but he knew the answer.“Yes, I do.”

“I love you too.This last week, being without you, not seeing you, has only made me realise how much.I mean, don’t get me wrong, I spent most of the week hating you.But every time I felt bad, I just wanted to talk to you about it.I spent most of my time on the phone to Aden, bending his ear off but it wasn’t the same.It never has been, not with anyone.You’re the only guy that’s ever made me feel this way.”

Geoff couldn’t quite believe what he was hearing.“Are you saying..?”

“Melody and the baby,”she said quickly before he could finish,“What are you going to do?”

“Well, we’re not getting back together,”he told her,“But it is my baby.I need to face up to my responsibilities.”He wasn’t telling her the whole truth.He knew that.“I want to,”he corrected,“I want to be a father for this baby.”

“That means that they’ll always be in your life.”

“I know.”He wasn’t liking the way the conversation was going.“Nic, I understand if that’s too hard for you…”

“Geoff, it took us a long time to get back together and when we did it only made me realise just how much I’d missed you.I don’t want to go through that again.I don’t know if we can make this work but I know if we don’t at least try I’m going to regret it.”

He looked at her in astonishment.“You mean I’m forgiven?”

She smiled, the first time he’d seen her smile since he broke the news to her.“Let’s just say you’re on probation.”She kissed him gently.“So, you want to make up?”

“Isn’t that what we just did?”

She pulled him to his feet and began leading him towards the bedroom.“No, I mean a proper make up.”

When Melody heard footsteps outside, she assumed it was someone coming home for lunch.So she was shocked when she heard the timid knock at the door and even more shocked when she was who it was. “Annie!”She looked at her friend in confusion, aware she’d been a less frequent visitor recently and painfully aware why.“Um, Jai isn’t here.”

“I know.”Annie took a tentative step into the house.“I asked him to let us talk alone.”She gestured nervously in Melody’s direction.“Are you all right?”

“Yeah.I mean, nothing new.And…no more secrets, I promise.”

Annie looked at her in silence for a long time before giving an embarrassed smile.“I’ve been a cow, haven’t I?”

Melody found herself returning the smile.“I think that’s my line.”

“Jai was telling me earlier that I should be more forgiving and he’s right.It shouldn’t have made any difference that Geoff was the father.”

“I didn’t want to lie to you but…it didn’t seem fair to tell people when he wasn’t comfortable with it.”

“Mel, you’ve been almost like a sister to me and I guess now you’re a bit more like a sister.”

“Kind of stuck with each other, aren’t we?”

“Guess so.”Annie seemed to hover nervously for a moment then she took the step over to Melody and flung her arms round her.Melody returned the hug, feeling an overwhelming sense of relief.

“I was afraid this baby wasn’t going to know its auntie,”she commented.

Annie released her slightly, looking as though the thought had only just occurred to her.“That makes us sound old, doesn’t it?”

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