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Everything Changes

Guest Red Ranger 1

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Thanks for all your comments.


“Were we supposed to meet up?”Nicole asked.She was certain Geoff hadn’t mentioned walking to school with her.

Geoff shuffled uncomfortably.“Actually, I’m here to see Melody.”

Nicole tried very hard not to let her annoyance show.She wanted to be with Geoff and that meant making this crazy set-up work, her room mate having her boyfriend’s baby.But she’d be lying if she said it didn’t still hurt seeing them together and that she didn’t still resent them.“She’ll be down in a minute,”she said at last before heading for the door.

“If you wait, we could walk in together,”Geoff offered.

Nicole barely broke stride.“No, I’ll leave the two of you alone.”

Geoff looked after her regretfully.He hated seeing her upset like that but he’d made it clear when they got back together that there had to be a place for Melody and the baby in his life.In their life, he corrected himself, hoping that one day Nicole would see it that way.

His train of thought was halted by Melody’s entrance.“Hi, Geoff,”she greeted him.

“Hi.”He wasn’t really sure where to go after that.He’d said he wanted to be involved but he was having a hard time working out what that meant, especially when there wasn’t actually a baby yet.“Is there anything I can do for you?”

“Well, I get a bad back sometimes so if you could just massage my shoulders…”

Geoff blinked rapidly, aware how much trouble he could get into if the wrong person came in.All the same, he had promised.“Um, yeah, okay…”

“Geoff.”There was an amused look on her face.“Joke.”

“Ah!”He tried not to look too relieved.“Well, what about school?I mean, I could get some work for you or something…”

Melody sighed.“I’ve decided I’m not going back.Not at the moment.I mean, I’d only have to leave in a few months anyway and…this one comes first.”

The news surprised Geoff although he wasn’t entirely sure why it did.He could understand her reasoning. “What are you going to do?”

“Miles and Kirsty have been great but I’m thinking I need to start paying my way around here.Especially if there’s going to be two of us.I was thinking of getting a job.”

“Are you sure?I mean, I’d be happy to help…”

“Geoff, you’re in Year 12, you can’t drop out now.”

“Maybe not but…”Geoff realised with relief that there was something he could do.“Maybe there’s another way I could help you.”

“Love, are you sure about this?”Irene sighed.

“She’s a good worker,”Geoff claimed.

“Hmm.That’s not what Alf Stewart was saying when she was helping him out at the bait shop.”

“Yeah but…she’s grown up since then.”Geoff gave her a pointed look.“She’s had to.”

Irene found herself torn.Geoff had been pretty enthusiastic when he turned up at the Diner, eager to do the right thing, and she didn’t want to discourage him.And he was probably right about Melody.All the same… “Look, love, I’m proud of you for facing up to your responsibilities, I know it can’t be easy for you, especially when you and Mel aren’t together anymore.But seriously, what do you expect me to do with a worker who’s going to go on maternity leave in a couple of months?”

“Well, maybe I could take over her job when she leaves.And then I can earn the money to support her and the baby.”

“That’s not going to work, Geoff, and you know it.You’ll have your exams to do in a few months.”

“Well, okay…So maybe in a few months you’ll need to look for someone else.But most of your casuals are only there that long anyway.Can’t you just give her a chance?”

He was giving her that earnest look, the one like a wounded puppy that she always felt bad saying no to. She rolled her eyes.“All right, Geoff.Tell Melody to come in this afternoon for a trial.”

Waiting tables in the Diner wasn’t the most glamourous job on offer, even in Summer Bay, but Melody could at least take comfort from the fact that almost every other teenager in town had done it at one point or another.And she was grateful to Irene, even if it did expose her to looks from Colleen who seemed convinced that any unmarried mothers should be hiding away in shame.

The look that Nicole gave her when she came in though made Colleen’s pale in comparison.

“Can I get you anything?”Melody asked, hoping that Nicole’s directive to not look at her or speak to her didn’t apply in this instance.

Nicole’s look seemed to get even more angry at the comment and as she took in the fact Melody was wearing an apron and had a coffee cup in each hand.“You’re working here.”

“Yes, Geoff…”Melody tailed off, the words red rag to a bull drifting through her mind.

“Geoff what?”Nicole demanded.

“He asked Irene for me.Don’t be angry with him.”

“Oh, I’m not.”Nicole stormed into the kitchen, forcing Melody to follow her, and glared at Irene.“Did you clear this with my dad?”

Irene seemed unmoved by the outburst.“Surprising as this may seem, darl, I don’t clear every staff change here with your father.”

“Well, maybe I should tell him what’s been going on.”

“And what exactly are you going to tell him?That a single mum came here asking for a job and you want me to fire her?”

Melody stood there on tenterhooks, not daring to say anything, afraid of making the already volatile situation even worse.Then Nicole turned to her, the smile on her face the most forced she’d ever seen. “Latte, please.And don’t expect a tip.”

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Thanks for all the comments.I was a bit worried that last chapter wouldn't please anyone so I was glad to hear from you.People arguing over whose favourite character is behaving best:As Sydney Newman would say, that's creative tension, man...


“Well?”Melody asked nervously.

Jai and Annie sipped their coffees.“You’re improving,”Annie told her.

“Definitely your best coffee yet,”Jai confirmed,“You could have a career in it.”

“So how are you finding working here?”Annie asked.

“Well, it’s not really what I planned on doing when I left school,”Melody admitted,“But it’s good of Irene and Leah to give me a go and…I have got a family to support now, I guess.”

Jai grinned at her.“When did you get all responsible?”

“Just after the blind panic phase was over, I guess.”

Annie checked her watch.“We should probably be getting off.”

“Yeah,”Jai agreed,“Maybe see you at lunch time, Mel?”

“Okay.See you both.”

Melody couldn’t help feeling a twinge of sadness as she watched them both go.They were still her friends and she was grateful for that but they were leading the life that was over for her now, the life of school and homework and no responsibility.

The appearance of Geoff at the counter was a quick reminder of that fact.“Um, two coffees to take out, please.”

Melody filled his order in silence before asking,“The other one for Nicole, is it?”

“Yeah, I’m on my way to meet up with her, we’re walking to school together, I thought it might be a good idea to bring her a…”

“She’s just outside, isn’t she?”

“Yeah.”He shrugged, embarrassed.“She thought it might be best if she didn’t come in.”

Melody let the fact pass without comment.She had something else she needed to discuss with him anyway.“Um, Geoff.With everything that was going on at the time, the fights with my mum, I missed my 20 week scan.”

“Oh!”He looked at her, worried.“Is that a problem?”

“No, no, it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong…It’s just, Irene’s given me the afternoon off tomorrow so I can go to the hospital for an ultrasound and I just wondered if you want to come.”

Geoff nodded eagerly.“Yeah, yeah, I’ll be there.Just tell me the time.”

“What are you thinking?”Nicole asked quietly, her head resting on his shoulder as they sat on the couch.

“I don’t know,”Geoff replied,“Just…wondering how long we’re going to be able to do this.”

“What, you mean when you’ve got nappies and babysitting and stuff to sort out?”

He smiled slightly.“Yeah, something like that.”

“Well, I guess we’re just going to have to make the most of it while we can.”She propped herself up on one elbow, giving him a sly smile.“In fact…”


“Well, I wanted to surprise you but…I was thinking we might do something tomorrow?I spoke to Martha and she said we could use one of the fields at the farm, I was thinking we could go out there, have a picnic and, you know, anything else that might take our fancy, spend the day together…”

For a second, Geoff found the idea appealing…then he remembered.“I’ve got to be back in the afternoon. Melody’s going for a scan.”

Nicole looked put out.“Well, can’t she go on her own?”

“She could, yeah, but she asked me and I told her I’d go.I want to go.”

“But I made all these arrangements, I wanted to do something nice for you, for us…”

He took her hand gently.“I know, Nic, and it was really good of you.But maybe we could do it another day.Or maybe I could spend the morning with you.”

She shook her head and dragged him to his feet.“Come on, let’s sort all this out.”

Nicole had headed straight home and up to the room she and Melody shared, dragging Geoff behind her. She found Melody in there as expected…which meant she could get straight to the point.“Geoff’s told me about this scan of yours tomorrow.”

“Right.”There was an awkward pause as Melody tried to work out where the conversation was going next. “Did you want to go too or..?”

“Yeah, I’m just dying to see your baby,”Nicole replied sarcastically,“What I want is for you to rearrange it.”

“Nic, that’s not really possible,”Geoff tried to cut in.

“Geoff, I’ve made plans!”Nicole protested.

Melody spoke in a calm matter-of-fact voice that only served to annoy Nicole more.“Nicole, I had to take time off work, I had to book time at the hospital, I can’t just cancel…”

“Geoff’s supposed to be spending the day with me!”

“I said he didn’t have to come…”

Nicole rolled her eyes.“Oh yeah, like that’s gonna happen.You know he’s too much of a nice guy to say no.”

“Look, Nic, I think we just need to accept that tomorrow’s not going to go the way we hoped,”Geoff told her gently.

“Why single out tomorrow?”Nicole could feel herself losing her already fragile grip on her temper but she was past caring.“For the past month nothing’s gone the way we hoped.Or was it before that?When you were ‘comforting’ her on the bed over there?”

“Maybe we need to sit down and arrange things together in future,”Melody suggested,“So we don’t clash.”

“I don’t need to ask you for permission to spend time with him,”Nicole snapped,“I’m his girlfriend, not you.”

“And I’m the mother of his baby, not you,”Melody fired back.

It was an innocuous enough comment in itself.But it summed up the whole situation, the way that Nicole’s position was being undermined, the way she was being made to feel insignificant.In that moment, she saw red.

Which was why she slapped her.

Melody sat down heavily on the bed, looking more stunned by the fact it had happened than by the blow itself.Geoff, of course, was at her side in an instant, sitting down beside her and putting his hands on her shoulders.“Nic, she’s pregnant!”

Nicole tried not to make eye contact with them, not wanting them to see the shame there.She glanced at Melody, putting on that whole little girl lost act that had always annoyed her.Except this time, maybe more times than she cared to admit, it wasn’t an act.She really was lost, as confused and frustrated by the situation as Nicole herself was.

But she wasn’t going to say any of that.“Like I could forget,”she replied bitterly before leaving them alone.

It was two hours before Nicole plucked up the courage to return home and the only person around was Kirsty, just starting the preparations for dinner in the kitchen.“Is Melody still in her room?”she asked.

Kirsty shook her head.“Annie and Jai took her down the beach.”

“And Geoff?”She found herself dreading the answer.

“He went home.”

Nicole slid into one of the seats at the kitchen bench.“They tell you I hit her?”Kirsty’s shrug confirmed it. “I know it was a dumb thing to do but…A few weeks ago, I was happy, Geoff and I were back on track and then she turned up and ruined it.”

“Her own life’s pretty messed up too at the moment,”Kirsty reminded her.

“Yeah but that’s not my fault, is it?Why should I be nice to her when she did everything she could to split us up?”

“I gather you didn’t exactly give them an easy time when they were together.”

Nicole reluctantly let her thoughts drift back to that period:The bet with Aden, trying to split Geoff and Melody up…Not exactly her finest hour.“Okay,”she admitted,“But I’ve changed since then.”

“I know you have,”Kirsty agreed,“And people were willing to give you a chance, to see that you were trying to be a better person.”

Nicole had the feeling there was a moral coming up.“So..?”

“So…maybe you need to do the same for Melody.Maybe you need to accept she’s not trying to cause trouble for you.”

“It just feels like there’s three people in this relationship.”

“There is.”Kirsty’s response surprised her.“When you become a parent, your priorities have to change. You can’t just think about yourself or even your partner.You have to put your child first.”

“So you’re saying I have to spend the rest of my life being second best?Great.”

“I’m saying that if you really want this relationship with Geoff to work, you can’t ask him to choose between you and his child.Because you might not like the answer you get.”

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Thank you for all your comments, hope you like this one.


“I wasn’t expecting to see you,”Geoff commented.

Nicole was standing in his front room, looking about as uncomfortable as he’d ever seen her.“I thought I should come round and apologise.”

“Have you apologised to Mel?”

“No…I’m kinda working up to that.I thought I’d start by apologising to you.It seemed the easier of the two.”

She was relieved when he smiled.He stepped forward and hugged her, holding her there.“I’m sorry too.I know none of this is easy on you and I know you didn’t ask for any of this.”

She pulled away from his grip so she could look him in the eye, touching his face gently.“I asked for you. Most guys, if they found out a one-night stand was pregnant, they wouldn’t have wanted anything to do with her.That didn’t even occur to you, did it?”

“It occurred but…I don’t really think I could have done it.”

“All the guys in this town and I had to fall for the one who has to do the right thing.Aside from cheating on me, of course.”

She saw the hint of shame and embarrassment in his eyes for a moment then he avoided her gaze, walking away from her and sitting down on the sofa.

She slid into the seat next to him.“I was joking, okay?If I hadn’t forgiven you, I wouldn’t be here.”

He touched her leg tenatively.“I know that but…I am sorry.”

“You don’t wish it hadn’t happened though, do you?”

He was quiet for a long while.At first she didn’t think he was going to answer.Then his eyes met her again and she could see that earnest face that it was always hard to argue with.“I wish I hadn’t cheated on you. But I could never wish my baby away.”

“Wow.”She wasn’t sure she’d ever seen this side to him before.Despite the circumstances, she found she quite liked it.“You really do sound like a parent.”

“I’m trying.I’ve got to.And the scan this afternoon…”

“That’s part of it.Yeah, I get that.Like I said, I fell for the guy who does the right thing.”Almost on impulse, she leaned in and kissed him.

“What was that for?”

“Well, you did say we could spend the morning together…”

Melody glanced at the clock.2.58.Nearly time for her appointment.They sat there in the hospital waiting room, her and Miles, ignored by everyone except the occasional person who looked at her as though they’d never seen a pregnant sixteen-year-old before.She wondered who they thought Miles was.Her father?Her older boyfriend?She pushed the thoughts out of her mind.There was something more important to worry about.

“He’s not coming, is he?”she asked.

“He might do,”Miles replied.But he didn’t sound too convinced.

“If he did, he’d be here by now.”

“Fair point.But that might not mean anything.”

“It means he’s not bothered.”

“You don’t know that,”he reminded her quietly,“There could be any number of reasons why he hasn’t come.If he’s been in an accident or something and you’re sat here thinking the worst of him, then you’re going to feel pretty bad when you find out, aren’t you?”

She didn’t think Geoff had been in an accident.But she did take Miles’ point.“Guess so.”

“And if worst comes to the worst and it turns out that Geoff has decided he doesn’t want anything to do with this baby, and I don’t think for a second that he’d do that but if he does, then…just remember you are not going to be alone in this, okay?”

She smiled at him.She hadn’t heard words like that very often, much less spoken to her.And she knew in that moment that, Geoff or no Geoff, she’d made the right decision staying here.“Thanks.”

The nurse stuck her head out of the examination room.“Melody Jones?”

Melody looked round, hoping to catch a sight of the late arriving expectant father.She didn’t.“That’s me,” she said at last.

“If you’d come through, please.”

Melody hesitated.“Do you want me to go in with you?”Miles asked quietly.

She smiled at him gratefully.“Please.”

Melody had tried to stay calm on her way over, to remember Miles’ words, that there might be a perfectly reasonable explanation for why Geoff hadn’t turned up.Whatever good intentions she had evaporated when Nicole answered the door.“Is he here?”she asked, pushing past her without waiting for an answer.

Geoff was sitting on the sofa, looking lost in thought.He turned his head at her entrance, blinking slightly in confusion.“Sorry, Mel, has something happened?”

Melody threw the photo, mounted inside its little card, down on the table in front of him.He picked it up and stared at in without recognition.But then, she had to admit that to the uninitiated it did look a bit like a fuzzy blob.“That’s our baby, Geoff.If you’re interested.”

She saw the realisation in his face as he looked back at her.“Oh, Mel, I’m sorry, I completely forgot…”

Melody couldn’t help shooting a glance at Nicole.“What, did you get distracted?”

Nicole took a step forward.“You can’t talk to him like that,”she began.

Geoff waved her back.“It’s okay, Nic.”

Whatever reaction Melody had been expecting, it wasn’t this.Geoff seemed completely deflated and it didn’t seem to be anything to do with her.Even Nicole seemed subdued.She suddenly found that she couldn’t muster the energy to be angry with them.But she’d gone there to stay something and she was going to say it.“If you don’t want to be involved with this baby, let me know.I’ll do it on my own if I have to.”

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Thank you for all your comments.Feel free to think about it as much as you like, it lets me know you're reading it and it keeps me on my toes.

Well, once again I tried really hard not to leave people with the wrong expectations and once again I failed.Hope this doesn't disappoint anyone but when they sling a plot in your direction it seems churlish to refuse.


Nicole entered the room without a word, as she tended to do lately.She sat down on her bed, remaining silent for a long time, before looking directly at the bed where Melody was lying.“Belle’s ill,”she said eventually.

Melody wasn’t sure what was the bigger shock, the fact Nicole had voluntarily spoken to her or what she’d said.“Ill?”


Melody struggled to pull herself upright, twisting her body round until she was sat on her own bed facing Nicole.“What sort of cancer?”It didn’t seem a very important point but she couldn’t think what else to say. But Nicole’s answer proved very important.

“The sort you don’t recover from.”

Melody felt stung.She didn’t really know Belle that well but from what little she’d seen of her she liked her.Someone only a few years older than them facing that…Then she realised why Nicole had told her. “Geoff knows?”

Nicole nodded.“Her and Aden went round at lunchtime and told everyone.That’s why he forgot about the scan, it’s been a shock to everyone.”She paused for a long time, as though trying to muster up the courage to say the next part.“If he hadn’t, he would have gone.He was looking forward to it.”

“Really?”Melody couldn’t help feeling pleased at that.But then reality set in and her mood saddened. “Geoff and Annie must be cut up.”

“They are,”Nicole confirmed,“So the last thing they need is us two at each other’s throats making things worse.”That pause again, the one that seemed to signify something that Nicole didn’t want to say but knew she had to.“I’m sorry about the slap.”

“I’m sorry for…anything you think I need to be sorry for.”

“I think you’ve already apologised for everything.I just haven’t been listening.”Another pause and then, “I’m not the one you need to be talking to.”

Melody waited until Geoff had let her into the house before hugging him as if on impulse.“I’m so sorry.”

“It’s okay,”he whispered,“But, um, if someone came in now…”

She released him and gave him a reassuring smile.“It’s okay, Nicole and I talked things through.We’re quite pally now.Well…as pally as we’re ever going to be.”

“I’m sorry about before…”

“Well, I don’t suppose I can blame you in the circumstances.I guess I should have listened to Miles when he told me not to think the worst until I knew the full story.”

Geoff nodded but he still seemed distracted.He walked over to the table and picked up a card before sinking into the sofa.It wasn’t until he opened it that she realised it was the photo she’d thrown down there, the one of the ultrasound.“All the same, I told you I’d be there and I should have been.”

She carefully lowered herself into the seat next to him.“It’s more than that, isn’t it?You really wanted to be there.”

Geoff sighed.“If someone had asked me about becoming a father, how I imagined it happening, how I wanted it to be…this is about as far away from the answer as you could get.”

“This isn’t really how I imagined becoming a mum either.”

“But this is how it’s happening.And I think…I think it’s meant to be, that this baby…it’s a gift.So no, I didn’t imagine myself becoming a father this soon or this way but…I guess I kinda like the idea.”

She nodded.“That’s good because…I’ve got a suggestion.And don’t worry, I’ve run this one past Nicole first.”

“Two scans in as many days,”Nurse Julie commented as she turned the screen round to face them,“You’re lucky we had that cancellation.”

Melody hadn’t expected it to affect her so much the second time round.But it did.That fuzzy, blurred image of what was inside her, of that person she was going to meet in just a few short months…The feelings were almost overwhelming.

Geoff was sat beside her, staring at the screen in rapt concentration.A smile was playing across his face, the first smile she’d seen since before he’d had that devastating news.“Wow,”he murmured.

She smiled back at him.“Wow is right.”

The photo he’d seen before didn’t do it justice, she knew that.Not compared to the sight of a living, moving human being.Geoff gestured to the screen.“Did he just wave at us?”

Melody didn’t have the heart to dampen his enthusiasm and was relieved when Julie gave him an indulgant smile.“The baby can’t normally see you through the screen, Geoff.”


“What do you mean ‘he’?”Melody asked.

“Well, you can see his…”Geoff paused, turning his head sideways to get a better view.“Oh, hang on, is that a leg?”

“I can tell you if you like,”Julie offered.

Melody glanced back at Geoff.“I’d kind of like it to be a surprise.”

His smile vanished, his good mood along with it.“I’ve had enough of surprises lately.”

She regretted the comment but still…“Wouldn’t this be a nice surprise?”

Geoff seemed to consider this for a long while before looking at Julie.“We’ll wait.”

“No problem.”Julie removed the sonography stick from Melody’s stomach.“I’ll give you a moment alone.”

Geoff waited until she left before talking again.“I’m sorry to bring the mood down, it’s great you set all this up, it’s just…Belle was really good to me when she first found out about the baby, she helped me get my head around a few things.And now she’s never going to see it.”

Melody was shocked.Nicole had told her it was terminal but she hadn’t realised…“It’s going to be that soon?”

Geoff nodded.“Matter of weeks.”

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Thanks for all your thoughts, everyone, hope you like this.


Melody wasn’t entirely sure she should be there.Seven months pregnant and attending the funeral of someone she’d only spoken to on a handful of occasions.Yet there she was, sat there at the back with Miles and Kirsty.

Jai was near the front with Annie.In the front seats, she could make out Irene, Aden, Geoff and Nicole, at her boyfriend’s side as usual.

Aden looked like a ghost of his usual self.She could understand why.Only six weeks ago, they’d all gathered to watch him and Belle promise to spend the rest of their lives together.And now Belle’s life was over.

And a new life was growing inside her.She didn’t know how Belle had felt about that.But she hoped it had brought her some comfort.

Nicole kissed Geoff gently on the cheek.“Irene and I are going to take Aden back to the house.Are you coming?”

He stood there at the graveside.“No, I, um, I’m going to stay here for a while.”

“Okay.I’ll see you later.”She walked over to where Aden was standing, Irene’s hand resting on his arm. She placed her hand on his other arm and together the three of them began the slow walk out of the cemetery.

Jai and Melody kept a careful distance away from Geoff and Annie, letting them pay their respects.They saw Annie bury her face in her brother’s shoulder, sobbing silently.They saw Geoff slip his arm around her without looking at her, his gaze never leaving the coffin, whatever emotions he was feeling held in tight.

Annie detached herself from him and walked over to her friends.They both hugged her gently.“You all right?”Jai asked,“Or is that a stupid question?”

Annie wiped the tears from her face.“I think I’m done here.”She glanced back at Geoff.“I’m not sure about him though.”

“I can stay with him if you like,”Melody offered.

Annie nodded.“Thanks.Come on, Jai.”

As her friends left, arms around each other, Melody walked cautiously to Geoff’s side.She touched his hand and although he still didn’t look at her, she felt him grasp her hand in his.

Nicole had paused on the edge of the cemetery, letting Irene and Aden get into the car first.She saw Geoff and Melody together and couldn’t help feeling that twinge of jealousy she always felt when she saw them. She knew that Geoff loved her, she knew she was the one he wanted to be with.But that could change. Melody was the mother of his child and she knew that was a bond, a connection, that would never change.

Irene seemed to sense her mood.“You all right, love?”

Nicole nodded and slid into the back seat of the car.“Yeah, I’m fine.”

“You don’t have to walk back with me,”Geoff told her as they walked down the path.

“Well, I kind of do,”Melody pointed out,“Miles and Kirsty have left already so short of calling a taxi…”

He looked at her, concerned.“Are you all right walking?”

“Yeah…so long as we keep it slow.”They lapsed into silence for a while before she ventured,“The antenatal classes?”

“What about them?”

“Well…I understand if you’re not up to going this week, I mean, Kirsty said she’ll go with me if you need time to yourself or if you want to spend time with Annie or something…”

Geoff stopped.“Mel, I’m not going to want to be less involved with the baby’s life just because of what’s happened to Belle.I mean, if she thought I was neglecting you, she’d probably wallop me.”

“I get that.It’s just with everything that’s happened…”

“Mel, this baby is the one positive thing to have happened recently.”He paused before adding,“Well, one of the two.”

“You mean you and Nic getting…close again?”

He nodded.“She’s been just amazing these past few weeks.I really didn’t know she could cope with having that much put on her.I mean, I know you two aren’t the best of friends…”

“No but I’m starting to understand what you see in her.”As they started walking again, Melody couldn’t help adding,“Even if she does still do crazy things sometimes.”

Nicole was just heading round the back of the house when her mobile rang.She checked the caller ID and saw it was Geoff, before pressing the answer button.“Geoff, hi!No, we left Aden at the house a while back. He said he wanted some time alone…You want me to come over?No, it’s no problem.Yeah.Yeah, I’ll stop over if you want.Just give me a few minutes to sort everything out here.”

As she ended the call, Nicole realised she’d reached her destination.She glanced around quickly to make sure no-one was watching her, then threw the half-finished packet of contraceptive pills into the bin.

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Wrote this one in a bit of a hurry so I hope it's all right.Let me know what you think.


Nicole stood in the kitchen doorway, watching Geoff hard at work at the table, pouring over his textbooks. “Do you really have to do that now?”she asked.

Geoff afforded her only the briefest of glances.“Well, yeah, exams are only a few weeks away.”

She walked over to him, giving him her most appealing smile, and sat down on his lap.“But don’t you think there are…other things we could be doing?”She kissed him gently.

Geoff returned the kiss for a few seconds before pulling away.“Um, is it me or have you been a bit more…frisky than usual this last week?”

Nicole raised an eyebrow at his tone of phrase.“Frisky?”

“Yeah, you know…wanting to…do things more?”

“You know, Geoff, if you’re doing it you should be able to say it.”She noticed that he was having difficulty looking at her and decided not to press the point.“If it’s a problem…”

“No, no, it’s nice, I’m just not sure how much studying I’m going to be able to do with you here. Especially if you carry on sitting where you are now.”

Nicole clambered off his lap, doing her best to hide her disappointment.“Okay, I…guess I’ll have to find some other way to amuse myself.”

“Or you could do some studying of your own?”

Nicole nodded.“I guess I’ll see you later then.”

Melody had had an early finish at the Diner so by the time Jai and Annie had finished their lunch she was free to walk part of the way with them.They were taking the shortcut along the beach, Jai and Annie heading back to school, Melody heading home.

“So how long have you got now?”Jai asked.

Melody didn’t need to ask what he was talking about.“Seven weeks or thereabouts.”

“I think Geoff’s got it circled on the calendar,”Annie noted.

Melody couldn’t help smiling at that.“And to think when I came back here I thought he wouldn’t want to know.”

Annie put her arm round her friend’s shoulder, giving her a gentle half-hug.“Well, just so you know, the rest of us are here for you if you need anything as well.Right, Jai?”

“Hmm?”Jai looked less certain.“Oh.Yeah.So long as it doesn’t involve nappy changing.Or babysitting.Or anything else that requires looking after the baby.”

Melody smiled at them both and nodded further up the beach.“You’d better get going, my walking pace isn’t as fast as yours.”

Annie nodded.“Okay, see you tonight.”

Melody watched them as they increased their pace and headed on up the beach.Then her attention was drawn to a figure sitting on his own, up near the pathway.It took her a few seconds to realise who it was. She began staggering in that direction until eventually she was within shouting distance.“Aden?”

She hadn’t seen him since the funeral, a week before.Nicole had told her he’d barely left the house in that time and only answered the door to people about one time in four.He looked as though he hadn’t shaved for days and he had a large and half-finished bottle clutched to his chest.“I’m all right,”he told her, his voice suggesting anything but.

“You don’t look all right.”

He glared at her angrily.“I said I’m all right!God, I am so sick of all you do-gooders with all your advice and your shoulders to cry on and your casseroles and your sympathy.I don’t need any of you!”

She sat down next to him awkwardly.“Well, maybe we need you.”

He looked at her, some of the hostility disappearing, curiosity spreading across his face.Then he said the last thing she’d been expecting.“Marry me.”

She blinked in surprise.“What?”

“Marry me.”He nodded eagerly, some part of his alcohol-soaked mind apparently having got hold of the answer to all his problem.“Yeah, that would work.I mean, we get on okay and your baby…your baby’s gonna need a father.”

“It’s got a father,”Melody pointed out,“Geoff.”

“Geoff?”There was a bitter tone to Aden’s words.“He’s already got a girlfriend, why should he have a baby as well?Me…I’ve got nothing.Belle was all I ever had and now…”He seemed close to tears.“Now she’s gone…”Melody touched his arm but he shrugged her off, suddenly angry again.“Leave me alone, okay?I don’t want any of you!”

He got to his feet and staggered off down the beach.Melody watched him go for a moment, then scrambled up and hurried in the opposite direction.

“Miles!Kirsty!”Melody looked round the house as if expecting an answer then remembered they were still at work.Jai would still be at school.But…Nicole was on study leave.Melody ran up the stairs to Nicole’s room and pushed the door open.

Nicole looked up from her books angrily as Melody came barging in.“Knock much?”

“This is my room,”Melody pointed out.

“Well, what if I’d had Geoff up here?’Cos we do still do that, you know…”

“I just saw Aden.”

Nicole’s annoyance seemed to vanish, replaced with concern.“How is he?”

“He’s a wreck.He’s drinking, he’s saying…some odd stuff.Nic, I’m worried he might do something stupid.”

Nicole nodded and took her hand, dragging her towards the door.“Okay, let’s go.”

The front door wasn’t locked.They found Aden sitting there, the bottle resting on the table in front of him, the rest of its contents now gone.“Aden, what are you doing?”Nicole asked.

“What’s it to you?”he fired back.

“Because much as you like to think you’re alone, there are still people that care about you.”

“Oh, people care about me.So what, you think that means I should care about them?”

Nicole folded her arms, looking at him angrily.“Oh, so you think that’s your answer, is it?Turn your back on everyone that cares about you?Like Belle?”

Aden stood up, turning on her angrily.“Shut up!You don’t mention her!”

“Why?Because you know how pathetic she’d find all this?You wasting away here like some useless drunk?She’d wonder why she ever wasted any time on you…”

“Shut up!Shut up!”

Melody could see what Nicole was doing, trying to make Aden angry.It might work but still…“Aden, why are you drinking?”she asked quietly.

Aden looked at her, the sudden change in tone apparently having stunned him out of his drunken anger. “Because…because it hurts too much otherwise.”

“Drinking helps you forget?”

He nodded.“Yeah.”

“Forget what?”She saw him looking confused.“Forget Belle?Do you want to forget Belle?”

“No.”He was shaking his head vehemently.He sat back down, looking away from them, his voice soft and sad.“No, I don’t want to forget that.”

Melody sat down next to him.“So why are you drinking?”She saw Nicole moving round behind Aden, not wanting to interrupt.

Aden looked at Melody, his expression like that of a little boy.“Because…it hurts too much.Every time I think of her, I just remember that she’s not here.That she’s never going to be here.I loved her so much, Mel. We were meant to be together forever.We were meant to have a family.And now she’s gone…”He lowered his head, tears running down his cheeks.“She’s gone…”

Melody and Nicole both reached for him together, putting their arms round him.The two girls held him, not saying a word, until the sobs finally ended.

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Melody and Nicole had been left alone downstairs.They stood in the sitting room, neither of them sure what to say.The experience, Aden’s grief, had been so intense that neither of them really felt comfortable discussing it.

“Sorry if I interrupted you,”Melody said at last.

Nicole shrugged.“Hey, good cop, bad cop.We’re practically made for the roles.”

“I couldn’t have done it without you.”

“I know you couldn’t,”Nicole replied.But she said it with a smile.

“Guess we’ve finally got something in common.”

“I think we’ve always had something in common.That’s kinda been the problem.”She glanced up at the stairs as she saw Rachel coming down.“How is he?”

“He’s sleeping now,”Rachel replied,“I’ve given him a sedative so he should sleep until morning.And he’s agreed to attend some grief counselling sessions.”

“So he’s going to be all right?”Melody asked.

“Well, he’s got a long way to go as yet.But I think whatever edge he was on, you two pulled him back from it.”

“Thanks for coming out,”Nicole told her,“I know you’re still meant to be on maternity leave…”

“Oh, it’s no problem,”Rachel assured them,“I left Tony looking after Harry.”She smiled at Melody. “Always make sure the father does his bit.”Then she suddenly seemed to remember what the situation was and looked awkwardly at Nicole.“Sorry, I meant…”

“What about Aden?”Nicole interrupted, obviously not comfortable with the subject,“Do we just leave him alone?”

“Well, I was thinking of talking to Irene,”Rachel replied,“Asking if he can stay in Belle’s old room for a while.I think it’s probably the best place for him.”

Nicole nodded in agreement.“I’ll sleep over here in case anything happens during the night.You two can get off.”

“Are you sure you’ll be okay on your own?”Melody asked.

“Yeah, sure.You two need your rest.It’s not like I’m going to be a mother or anything.”

As Melody left with Rachel, she had a strange feeling that she’d missed something significant in that last comment.

“So how is he?”Melody asked as she and Annie walked through the caravan park a few days later.

“At first he didn’t want to leave his room,”Annie replied,“I mean, Belle’s room.”

“Guess it holds a lot of memories for him.”

Annie nodded.“But we all went in and talked to him, made sure he wasn’t alone for too long.Made sure he had his meals with the rest of us.He even came out and sat with us for a bit in the evening last night.”

“And how are you?I mean, I know Belle meant a lot to you too…”

“I know but I’ve got Geoff and Irene.And you and Jai, of course.I’ll be okay.”She glanced at her watch.“I was supposed to be meeting Jai…”

Melody nodded.“You go on.”

“What are you doing?You can join us if…”

Melody sighed.“Miles asked me to sort out the bin clearance.It’s been nearly two weeks…”

“Um, okay, I’ll leave you to it.”Annie hurried on her way.

Melody went over to the large bins behind the house, the ones that were used by caravan park guests.She opened it up…and something caught her attention.In among the bin bags was a tiny box.Curious, she picked it out and examined the label.Contraceptive pills…

She suddenly had a very worrying feeling about what it signified.

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Melody sat in the front room, twirling the box in her hands, until she heard someone coming:the person she’d been hoping to speak to.“Nic?”

Nicole glanced across at her.“Oh, hi, Mel, didn’t see you there.”Her eyes wandered down to the box, the expression on her face telling Melody her guess had been right.

“I found them in one of the bins,”Melody explained,“You know what they are?”

“Pills.I mean…the pill.”

“They’re not mine…”

“Well, no, that’d be kind of like locking the stable door after the horse has bolted.”

“I thought they might be Kirsty’s but why would she throw a half-empty box away?She and Miles gave up trying, didn’t they?”

“After all the trouble it caused, I think that one’s pretty much on hold.”

“Could it belong to one of the guests?”

Nicole was biting her lip nervously, perhaps seeing a way out.“Could be…”

“Nicole…are you trying for a baby?”

Nicole hurried to sit down across from her, looking at her anxiously.“You can’t tell Geoff.”

Melody had suspected but her eyes widened in astonishment anyway.“He doesn’t know?”

“No…”Nicole put her head in her hands briefly, looking torn.“I just thought that maybe if I was having his baby too it’d be easier.That he’d have a reason to stay with me.”She looked at her in resignation.“Guess you’ve got your chance now.”

Melody didn’t understand the comment.“Chance for what?”

“To tell him what I’ve done.To make him hate me.”

“Nicole, I told you, I’m not after Geoff.”

“So you’re telling me that if Geoff suddenly turned up here and said we’d broken up and he wanted the three of you to be a family, you’d turn him down?”

Melody wished she could say that she would.She accepted that things were over between her and Geoff, that he’d moved on, she’d even done the same in a way.But she still remembered their time together and how happy she’d been then and there were times when she wished things could be that way again.But she also remembered sleeping with him and how wrong it had felt.If she hadn’t known it was over before then, she had afterwards.

“We can’t go back,”she said at last.

Nicole looked at her, as if trying to work out if she was lying.Then she realised she wasn’t.She looked distraught again.“Oh god, what have I done?”

“Are you pregnant?”

Nicole shrugged.“I don’t know.I mean, I only stopped taking the pill a week ago.Maybe nearer two…”

“And you and Geoff have slept together since then?”

“A few times, yeah…”

Melody recognised the emotions playing across Nicole’s face.The same ones she’d felt when she finally went to the doctor’s and found out exactly what was wrong with her.The sudden realisation that your life could be about to change completely and irreversibly.“Do you want to find out?”

They’d retired to their room to wait it out, the two of them sat on Nicole’s bed, the pregnancy test sat on the dresser where hopefully they should be able to ignore it.Not that there was any chance of that.“How much longer?”Nicole asked.

Melody checked her watch.“About half a minute.”

“What did they think when you got it?”

Melody smiled at the memory.“A pregnant girl buying a pregnancy test.I think it’s probably the only time someone’s said it’s for a friend and been believed.”

Nicole sighed, burying her face in her hands again.“Oh god, what if it’s positive?I mean, what was I thinking?I don’t know anything about having a baby.”

“Neither do I,”Melody pointed out but Nicole was in full flow.

“And what am I going to tell Geoff?”

“He might be okay with it, I mean, he accepted it with me…”

“Oh, yeah, that’ll work well.‘Hi, Geoff, you know how your life got turned upside down when you found out you were having a baby?Well, good news, you’re having two, except this one was actually planned…’”

“It’s time,”Melody interrupted.

Nicole glanced nervously at the test stick, not sure if she wanted to know.Finally she grasped hold of it, looked at it and stopped.“Um…what does that mean exactly?”

Melody looked at the tiny window on the stick, looked at the instructions on the box and announced,“I think it means…negative.”



“As in..?”

“As in not pregnant.”

Nicole leaned back against the wall, relieved.“For a moment there, I thought my life was over.”She suddenly realised what she’d said.“Oh gosh, I didn’t mean…”

“It’s okay,”Melody sighed,“I know things are going to be…”She winced suddenly.

Nicole looked at her in concern.“Are you okay?”

“Yeah, it’s just…baby kicking.”

“Can I..?”Nicole stretched out a hand tentatively, placing it on Melody’s stomach.For a moment, nothing happened.Then she felt the gentle thump of something moving about inside her.Someone.She gave a gasp of astonishment.“Okay, I’m still glad that no-one’s going to be doing that inside me but…that was kinda cool.”

“You realise that you’re sort of going to be the stepmum?”

“More like a wicked stepmum.”Nicole grinned.“Come on, don’t tell me you weren’t going to say it.”

Melody smiled, embarrassed.“Well…maybe I was thinking it…”

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“Have you got time to talk for a minute?”

Melody was surprised to see Aden there.It had been two weeks since she and Nicole had gone to his house, since he’d collapsed sobbing in their arms.To her relief, he seemed to be in better shape now.She gestured to a table.“Well, I only came in to pick up my last pay cheque so I guess I’ve got time.”

“You’ve packed in the work?”

Melody smiled ruefully as they took their seats.“I think Leah and Irene finally decided that a waitress who’s got somewhere to rest her tray isn’t much of an asset anymore.”

Even though he was the one that had wanted to talk, Aden seemed to be having difficulty deciding what it was he was going to say.Eventually he spoke.“I guess I should thank you.”

“Well, you already have.I mean, Nicole passed on your message.”

“Yeah, what’s going on with you two anyway?Past few months every time your name’s cropped up she’s been moaning about how much you’re messing things up for her.Now she’s suddenly talking as though you’re best friends.”

Melody shrugged.“I guess there’s some things you can’t go through without bonding.”

“Like talking some crazy guy down from a ledge?”

“How have you been anyway?”

“Well, they’re letting me move back home so I guess I’m off suicide watch.”His smile faltered and she saw it.Not the overwhelming grief of two weeks previous.Something deeper, a profound sadness and loneliness.“I miss her, Mel.Not just having her here, I miss…I miss the way she made me feel.I loved her.I mean, I really loved her.I thought about her all the time, I looked forward to when I next saw her.And I don’t know what my life’s going to be like without that feeling.”

Melody chose her words carefully.“I guess…if you can remember a time when you loved someone and they loved you, that’s a good memory to have.But there has to come a time when you accept that it’s in the past.And you have to leave it there and build yourself a life without it.”

Aden looked at her in surprise.“When did you get so wise?”

Melody touched her bump gently.“Guess I have to be, for when this one starts asking me for advice.Mums are supposed to be wise.That’s what I hear anyway.”

“Then I guess you’ll do a good job at it.”

Nicole slammed her book shut and buried her head in her hands.“I swear if I have to look at one more quadratic equation my head will explode.”

Geoff just smiled, used to the outbursts.“Break?”

“Please.”She was glad Geoff understood that a study date with her meant having to deal with regular meltdowns.

“Actually, there was something I was meaning to talk to you about.I was speaking to Mel earlier…”

“Oh?”Nicole couldn’t help feeling nervous.She and Melody had been getting on well recently but she was still the only other person that knew about her pregnancy scare.If Geoff found out about it or, worse, the reason for it…

“What are your plans for after exams?”

The question seemed to come out of left field and took her by surprise.“It’s still three weeks away, I guess I hadn’t thought…”

“Well, Melody assures me she can do without me for the week so I was wondering if you fancied going away together?”He reached into one of his textbooks and, as if by magic, pulled out a brochure from between the pages.

Nicole studied it, stunned.The hotel was in an idyllic area, every luxury she wanted…“You’ve arranged this?”

“Yes, which is kind of why I’m hoping you’ll like the idea.”

“Geoff, I love it!But…why?”

He took her hand gently.“Nic, the baby’s important to me and I know you respect that and I love you for it.But you’re important to me as well.And after the baby’s born, I’m worried I’m not going to be able to show you that as often as I’d like.So I want to do this for you.Let’s just do one last thing that’s about us.”

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“Geoff, this is gorgeous!”Nicole gasped in delight as she looked around their hotel room.She dashed to the window, looking out at the countryside all around them.“And the view is beautiful.”

“Not as beautiful as you,”Geoff replied.She looked at him in surprise and he shuffled, embarrassed. “Sorry, was that cheesey?”

“A bit,”she confirmed,“But it was nice anyway.”She walked back to him and kissed him.

“I meant what I said, Nic.I want this to be special.”

“Well, it’s already feeling pretty special…”

“So, do you fancy going for a walk?Or maybe we could check out the hotel pool?”

“Or maybe…”-she looked at him flirtatiously-“we could stay here for a while?”

He smiled at her, understanding, and kissed her, the kiss growing deeper and deeper.He lowered her onto the bed and started to undo her top.

It should have felt perfect.But it didn’t.There was a voice nagging away at the back of Nicole’s mind, that fear of being discovered.The idea of ignoring it for a week suddenly didn’t feel right.So she knew there was one thing she had to do.“Geoff, stop.”

Geoff pulled away from her slightly, a confused look on his face.“Did…did I do anything wrong?”

“No.I did.”She pulled herself up into a sitting position and sighed.“I tried to get pregnant.”

“It’s going to be weird not having Geoff around for the week,”Annie commented.

“He wanted to do something nice for Nicole,”Melody reminded her.

“Yeah.Who’d have thought, my brother the romantic?Shame other boys aren’t like that…”

Jai turned his attention away from the action movie he’d insisted they watch, as if sensing he was being got at.“Huh?”

“Never mind.”Annie looked back at Melody.“So, anyone looking like taking you for a romantic break?”

Melody raised an eyebrow.“At eight and a half months pregnant?Not getting many offers of marriage.” She smiled slightly.“At least, not many serious ones…”

Annie looked at her in surprise.“Is there something you haven’t told me?”

“Well, I’m not sure I should tell…”Melody suddenly winced in pain.

“Was that the baby kicking again?”Annie asked excitedly,“Can I have another feel?”

Melody shook her head, looking concerned.“That didn’t feel like the baby kicking.It felt like…”She shook her head.“No, it can’t be.”


“A contraction…”

Jai had swung his head round again, obviously having picked up that there was something serious going on.“Is it that thing where you have fake contractions?You know, when you don’t actually give birth?”

“It must be, I’m not due for another two weeks.”Melody looked at her two friends worriedly, looking for reassurance from them.“Right?”

“You stopped taking the pill?”Geoff repeated.

Nicole pulled herself round so she was sitting on the edge of the bed, alongside him.“That…makes it sound worse than it was.”

“Why would you do that?”

“Geoff, another girl is having your baby.You’re going to be sharing in this big, amazing experience and, however much you try and involve me, I’m not going to be a part of it.I just wanted us to be able to do the same.”

“And you didn’t think to tell me?”

“I’m sorry,”she snapped back,“I don’t recall you asking my permission before you went out and reproduced.”

He held her gaze.He didn’t seem embarrassed or sad or angry, none of the emotions she usually saw there. Instead she saw a kind of resolve.“Nicole, I know I did the wrong thing.But we’re never going to be able to move past it if you keep bringing it up every time we have an argument.”

Nicole sighed.“I know.I’m sorry.You did all this, tried to make it special for us…I’m glad it didn’t happen, I mean, I am so not ready to be a mother…”

“I would like us to have a baby some day,”he told her,“Just…when the time’s right for both of us.And preferrably not when I’ve already got a baby on the way.”

She smiled at him.“So I’m forgiven?”

He returned the smile.“Well, maybe I’ll just save getting mad at you until we get home.Be a shame to waste the room…”

She leaned in and kissed him again, all her worries flowing away in his touch.He lowered her onto the bed again…and this time it did feel perfect.

And neither of them noticed Geoff’s phone lying on the dressing table, urgently flashing in response to the incoming call.

Melody was leaning against the rear of the sofa, resting her hands on it, bracing herself for the next of the surges of pain that seemed to be coming at fifteen minute intervals.Annie stood beside her, awkwardly massaging her back.“Er, I don’t mean to worry you, Melody, but it does look as though you’re having the baby now.”

Melody nodded wearily.“Yeah, I think you might be right.”

Jai broke the phone connection in frustration.“I keep trying Geoff’s mobile but I’m not getting any response.I think he must have it on silent.And the hotel switchboard say they’ve got the phone off the hook.”

“Why would they do that?”Annie asked puzzled.

Jai thought about answering her for a moment then turned to Melody.“How are you going?”

“Fine, yeah.Just reminding myself that people have been doing this for years.Nothing to worry about.”

“When are Miles and Kirsty due back?”Annie asked.

Jai shrugged.“Could be hours.”

Melody shook her head.“I really don’t think I can wait that long.I need to get to Maternity now.”

“Maybe I should ring for a taxi,”Jai suggested.

“Or an ambulance,”Annie put in.

“Whichever’s quicker.”Melody gasped as she felt another contraction.“Oh boy…”

Jai quickly thumbed in a number.“Hi, can we have a taxi, please?”He glanced back at Melody.“Quickly as possible…”

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