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Before I Come Undone

Guest Louise_2983

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Story Title: Before I Come Undone

Type of story: Short/Medium Fic

Main Characters: Aden, Nicole, Geoff

BTTB rating: A

Genre: Romance, angst, drama

Does story include spoilers: UK only and it's the Belle spoiler

Any warnings: Story deals with death, language, sexual content

Summary: Nicole is pregnant and her

recently widowed

best friend is the father. How will they cope?

Chapter 1 - And Baby Makes Two.

He couldn’t bear to look at her in that moment.

Belle was dead and she was overflowing with life.

“Aden” she whispered, her voice trembling as she stood before him feeling small and unimportant.

“Say something please”

“Who’s the lucky guy?” he asked, the word lucky brimming with spite and disdain.

A resounding crack reverberated throughout the small house as her flat palm forcefully made contact with his cheek. He stumbled backwards, slightly in shock but mostly due to the pure strength she

had transferred into the furious slap.

“I’ve seen the tape remember?” he reminded her bitterly, rubbing the point of contact which was now flushed crimson, as he regained his composure.

“The whole town has”

“It’s not Trey’s” she told him in a murmur.

“I’m almost 12 weeks gone and I know I don’t need to remind you what we did three months ago” she told him glancing around the room.

“On that couch” she continued anger suddenly bubbling up inside of her.

“In the kitchen” she added venomously, gesturing towards the next room.

“Upstairs in the same bed you shared with Belle”

“Do not bring Belle into this!” he snapped like a frayed elastic band, yelling so loud that she recoiled in horror smacking her body into the sofa behind her and almost toppling over it.

“I’m sorry” she whispered regretfully.

“I shouldn’t have said that, I was angry and I’m confused and ...and pregnant Aden” she sighed balancing on the arm of the sofa, her hand subconsciously covering her flat tummy.

“What are you going to do?” he regarded her with little feeling, almost as though she was a stranger.

“Don’t you mean what are we going to do?”

“You’re the one who’s pregnant” he shrugged nonchalantly.

“Well I didn’t knock myself up did I?” she hissed, hurt by his lack of interest or concern. She hadn’t meant to make it sound so crude and crass but that was how it felt to her right then. That was how he

was making her feel.

She had known that this would be hard but she had never imagined the empty and unfeeling expression on his face or the cold, void eyes staring back at her.

“I was in love with Belle” he mumbled, his words overflowing with raw pain and regret.

“I’m still in love with Belle”

“I know” she nodded wanting to reach out and comfort him but resisting knowing her touch would be unwelcome.

“I’m not asking you to love me Aden”

“Then what are you asking of me?” he lifted his eyes and finally met hers.

“I don’t know” she murmured, her voice breaking as tears began to drip slowly down her perfectly blushered cheeks.

“I didn’t ask for this”

“And you think I did?!” he bellowed furiously.

“Do you think I wanted to lose Belle forever two weeks after marrying her? Do you think I ever wanted to end up like this?” he yelled gesturing to his sorry state.

Unkept and unshaven he reeked of alcohol and the dark circles under his eyes almost hit her in the face they were so obvious.

She shook her head slowly but didn’t say a word, hugging her hands tighter around her body. She felt invaded and empty and out of control and she didn’t know what to do. She knew now, from the

dead look behind the pain in his eyes, that he would never be able to guide her.

“I know you’re hurting Aden” she sighed softly.

“But you’re not the only one. I miss Belle too”

“Please” he scoffed.

“You barely knew her”

“You’re right” she told him quietly, nodding her head in agreement.

“So if I hurt and miss her then I can’t even begin to imagine what you’re going through”

“I wish it was me Nic” he told her, staring right through her even though he was addressing her by name.

“I wish I was dead”

“Don’t say that Aden” she sighed still resisting the urge to comfort him.

“Don’t ever say that”

“Why?” he snapped angrily. Angry at her, at the world, at Belle, at himself.

“It’s not like anyone would care. My Dad’s a drunk, my brother’s in jail, god knows where the other one is, my Mum abandoned me years ago and my wife’s dead!”

“I’d care” she whispered before his words registered with her and she looked up at him, her eyes wide in shock.

“Your mum what?!

“You heard” he shrugged as though he didn’t care when in reality it had been slowly eating away at him ever since he had accidentally discovered the truth a few years back.

“I thought she was...you said she was...”

“Dead?” he laughed even though it wasn’t remotely funny.

“That’s what he told us. My Dad. He told us that there’d been a car accident and we were too young to go to her funeral. But she wasn’t dead Nic, she left. She left him and she left us with him! My whole

life I never meant anything to anyone...”

“Until Belle” Nicole finished his sentence for him.

“And then she left me”

“No she didn’t” she objected shaking her head.

“Please do not give me any of that she’s always with me crap because I’m sick of it Nic, she’s gone and there’s nothing anyone can do about that!”

“That’s not what I meant” she told him quietly.

“I meant that she didn’t choose to leave you. I know that the thing that hurt her most was that she would have to leave you. She wasn’t scared for herself Aden, she was scared for you”

“Didn’t change anything though did it?” he sighed wistfully.

“No but if she could have she would have done anything. You meant the world to her Aden”

“And now she’s dead and I don’t mean anything to anyone”

“That’s not true” she told him finally reaching out a hand and gently resting it on his forearm.

“There are so many people who care about you Aden”

“Then why do I feel so alone?” he asked, his eyes radiating pain and sheer heartbreak.

“Did Belle know?” she suddenly questioned him.

“About your Mum?”

“No” he shook his head, guilty and almost ashamed that he’d never shared that information with her.

“It was easier just to pretend that she was dead rather than face up to the fact that she’d just left me...”

“Thank you” Nicole whispered gently squeezing his arm and he looked down at her in confusion.

“For telling me” she clarified.

“For letting me in...you don’t have to be alone Aden”

Instantly his expression changed, a mixture of anger and disgust flashing across his attractive features as he flipped his arm upwards and knocked her hand away from him.

“I didn’t mean like that!” she hurried to explain, sensing the reason for his sudden return to anger.

“I think that got us into big enough a mess last time don’t you?!” she snapped herself feeling fury rise within her that he could think she would even contemplate putting any sort of move on him when

he’d just lost the love of his life.

His face stern and uncaring he stared at her flat stomach before lifting his gaze to meet hers.

“How long have you known?” he questioned, his eyes scanning her face for any sign that her answer was dishonest.

“A while” she told him honestly.

“How long?” he demanded once more.

“Since...since the day I found out about Belle” she admitted in a murmur.

A horrifying thought struck him like a bullet.

“Did Belle know?”

“No!” she rushed to respond.

“God No! No Aden! What type of cruel ....do you think I am? As if I ever could have told her that I was doing the one thing she probably wanted more than anything and would never get to do”

He turned away from her and when she heard a tiny sob escape from his strong body it almost broke her.

“You’re wishing it was the other way around aren’t you?” she asked him knowingly.

“That Belle was here carrying your baby and I was dead?”

“No!” he objected turning around to face her but the tinge of guilt in his blue eyes told her that for the tiniest fraction of a second he’d considered the possibility.

She didn’t blame him.

“I’d never wish you dead Nicole” he told her honestly but as he did so he couldn’t shake the image of Belle standing before him, happy and healthy, glowing even. Her belly rounded and swollen with his


He would swap anything for that given the chance.

A chance he knew he would never get.

“Sometimes I wish I was” she admitted despite telling him he never should think that.

“Because at least then I wouldn’t have to feel this...emptiness. Then I wouldn’t feel so pointless and alone”

“You’re not alone though are you” he told her perching down on the sofa next to her and for a minute she thought he meant that she had him but when he looked down at her tummy her heart dropped

as she realised that hadn’t been what he meant at all.

“My Mum couldn’t care less” she announced sadly.

“My Dad’s chose to turn himself in and go to jail, my best friend would gladly trade me in to get his wife back, my boyfriend avoided sleeping with me for months and then jumped into bed with some

hillbilly the minute we were over and I live in a house surrounded by people who don’t really want me living with them they just feel like they have to let me live there!”

“You forgot the sex tape you made with the freak who tried to blow you up” he reminded her his face completely serious and she let out a tiny giggle.

“I suppose that’s at least one thing I can be grateful for” she smiled genuinely.

“At least it’s not his baby”

“What are you going to do?” he asked again and she repeated her earlier response.

Don’t you mean what are we going to do?”

“I can’t Nic...” he sighed rubbing his furrowed brow.

“I can’t deal with this right now”

“And you think I can?” she scoffed, tears threatening to break free as she moved away from him.

“It’s your body” he told her quietly.

“And it’s our baby” she reminded him angrily.

“It’s your body” he repeated again.

“I can’t make this decision for you Nic, it has to be yours”

“And if I decide to keep it, then you’ll be there for me?” she asked trying to be hopeful but feeling crushed as her hands covered her tummy.

“There for us?”

“I...I don’t know” he admitted avoiding her gaze in shame.

“I don’t know if I can Nic...I can barely get out of bed in the morning”

“And Belle wouldn’t want that” she reminded him hesitantly.

“She’d want you to be happy and maybe this baby is how we both find happiness”

“Will you stop bringing Belle into this?!” he suddenly yelped.

“How the hell do you know what she would want?! I don’t want to be happy with anyone but her Nic!” he cried losing his composure once more, tears beginning to slosh down his distressed face.

“If Belle was here” she began already knowing the answer but needing to ask.

“If none of that had happened and she was stood here telling you that she was pregnant, would you have known then?”

“I’d have been shocked probably” he admitted with a nod.

“But it would have been our baby, mine and Belle’s. Of course I’d have known”

She headed for the door without a word, twisting back to face him as she opened it.

“When I came here I didn’t know what I was dealing with” she mumbled trying not to cry.

“I still don’t” she admitted wiping away her tears with the back of a perfectly manicured hand.

“But at least now I know that whatever it is, I’m doing it alone”

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Chapter 2 - "Woke up in a panic, Like somebody fired a gun, I wish I could be dreaming, But the nightmares just begun"

“You’re back then” she declared without looking at him as he flopped down on the sand next to her, his legs crossed beneath him.

She pulled her knees closer to her chest and stretched out the material of the oversized black top she was wearing, conscious of concealing the gentle curve of her belly which had developed since the last time she had seen him.

“Looks like it” he sighed staring out at the tranquil sea before them, the sun’s rays bouncing off the crystal clear waters.

“Right” she nodded, her gaze still focused on anything but him.

“Aren’t you going to ask where I was?”

“Well, I wasn’t important enough to be told before you upped and disappeared or for the entire four weeks and three days you were gone so why should I care now exactly?” she asked spitefully

suddenly realising that she was angry with him. She’d been worried sick about him for weeks, wondering where he was and if he was safe, if he was ok and now he was back, so close that they were

sharing body heat, all she could feel was fury.

“I’m sorry Nic” he murmured sheepishly, twisting his head to look at her profile.

“I just had to get away...I couldn’t cope. Belle asked me to look after Irene and Annie...she wanted me to be the strong one and I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t be the person she expected me to be, who she

needed me to be. I’m not strong at all Nicole, I’m feeble and weak and I let everyone down. Everyone who needed me”

“You’re not weak or feeble” she told him her anger instantly dissolving as she turned to look at him, reaching out to tenderly rest her small hand over the strong one he had placed in his lap.

“What happened to Belle affected all of us Geoff and some days it’s hard enough just looking out for yourself and making sense of what’s going on in your own head without having to look after other

people too” she whispered as he turned her hand over i his so her palm was facing upwards as he stroked it gently.

“She asked me to look after Aden and I made a mess of that too”

“She gave you the toughest job” Geoff tried to comfort her, a tiny smile forming on his full lips.

“Aden’s lost more than any of us...and at least you stuck around and gave what she asked of you a go”

“Don’t beat yourself up about it please” she murmured shuffling her body sideways on the warn sand so that she could face him, the self loathing in his eyes breaking her heart.

“She asked you to look after Irene and Annie and me to look after Aden but I think she forgot to remind us to look after each other” she whispered rubbing her thumb gently over his as he continued to

stroke the delicate skin of her palm.

“Just because other people are hurting more than us it doesn’t make our pain any less real”

“I’m sorry Nic” he sighed regretfully.

“I should have stuck around for you too”

“And I should have been there for you” she squeezed his hand gently.

“Then maybe you wouldn’t have needed to leave in the first place”

“Are you really not going to ask where I was?” he questioned, disbelief ringing in the tone of his voice. He knew how nosy she was. He thought the curiosity would have been killing her by now.

The curiosity was killing her but she forced herself to shake her head adamantly.

“It doesn’t matter where you were then, so long as you’re back for good now” she told him, a tiny smile dancing on her glossy pink lips. She had missed him. Just being able to look at him

again made her feel a tiny bit better.

“I am” he smiled reaching over and carefully pushing a stray wisp of hair that had stuck to her made up lips in the breeze, behind her ear.

“I missed you Nicole”

“I missed you too” she sighed softly.

“And if it makes you feel any better from what I saw Irene and Annie are holding up ok. Annie’s been going to church a lot and she’s back with Jai so that’s good”

“Yeah it is” he nodded glad to know that his little sister had someone to be there for her when he couldn’t.

“But what about you Nic?” he asked full of genuine concern.

“How are you holding up?”

“Well” she sighed dramatically.2

“Trying to talk to Aden is like conversing with a brick wall, he’s either drunk or hungover or a combination of the two, he barely leaves the hou-“

“Nic!” he interrupted, gently tugging on her hand to stop her rambling.

“I expected Aden to still be a mess. He lost his wife. But that’s not what I asked. I asked how you were”

She gasped involuntarily. Shocked that someone genuinely cared.

“I still can’t believe that Belle’s gone Geoff” she sighed wistfully.

“She was our age, she had her whole life to live and just like that she’s gone...it’s so surreal”

“I wish it wasn’t real” he whispered, his blue eyes misty with tears.

“Me too” she nodded.

“I wish my whole life was just a really bad dream I could wake up from”

“Your whole life?” his eyes widened at the generalisation of her statement.

“Last week” she began sniffling.

“My Dad was sentenced to 14 years for manslaughter and another 7 for perverting the course of justice”

“I’m so sorry Nic” he murmured as she wiped away the warm tears inching down her cheek, taking a smudgy trail of mascara with them.

“It’s not so bad” she tried to smile as she shrugged her shoulders.

“Apparently if he’s a really good boy he’ll be out in 10 or 11 years”

“Still” Geoff sighed rubbing her arm comfortingly.

“That’s a long time, in ten years you’ll be 27. You could be married by then...have a few kids of your own”

“A loud sob escaped from her as he pulled her close and tried to hug her but she moved away, her gaze focused on the top of her knees which were still pressed against her chest.

“More than likely” she whispered in distress.

“Because I’m pregnant now Geoff”

The colour instantly drained from his face as the shock hit him.

“Trey?” he asked in horror.

“No” she shook her head with a tiny chuckle.

“It’s bad but it’s not that bad”

“How bad is it” he asked mentally listing the potential candidates in his head.

She took his hand and carefully placed it over the swell of her stomach so he could feel how far along she was.

She held his hand there for a few minutes until she saw something click in his eyes.

“Aden?” he gasped and silently she nodded.

“Wow!” he exclaimed in a whisper.

“That isbad”

“I see why you did a runner” she laughed softly.

“You’re not too good at this comforting thing”

“Sorry” he sighed feeling guilty for his instant reaction.

“But god Nic, Aden? Of all the people it could have been...”

All the people?!” she snapped angrily.

“Sorry” he sighed again.

“I didn’t mean it like that. Maybe I should have just stayed away. You’re right I’m terrible at this”

“No” she shook her head.

“No you’re not. I’m glad you’re here Geoff” she told him, squeezing the hand he was still resting on her tummy.

He felt her tiny bump under his long fingers and looked up at her inquisitively.

“How far along are you?”

“It’ll be seventeen weeks on Tuesday”

“Does he know?” he asked slightly suspiciously.

“Does anyone else know?”

“Aden knows” she confirmed with a curt nod.

“I told him about a month ago now. He...he doesn’t want to know. He said it was my body, my decision, my baby as far as he was concerned”

“Jerk!” Geoff cursed before he even realised what he was about to say.

“No, he’s not” she shook her head sadly.

“He’s doing a good impression of one right now but his whole life has fallen apart Geoff. He doesn’t want a baby. He just wants Belle”

“That’s no excuse Nic. Unless you got yourself pregnant?”

“I’m not saying the way he’s behaving is right or even that I understand why but I won’t judge him for it Geoff. I’ve done some stupid things myself remember? Especially since my Dad...”

“So you’re been dealing with this alone?” he asked knowingly.


“And you’re keeping the baby?”

She shrugged with a sigh and reached over for the handbag next to her on the sand. She tipped it up and let the contents come spilling out.

“I don’t know” she confessed as he surveyed the clutter before him. Leaflets on abortion, a fact sheet about adoption, a thin book entitled “How To Cope As A Single Parent”.

“I just don’t know Geoff!” she was suddenly crying and he hugged her close to him, her head slotting underneath his chin as she cried.

“I’m 17! How am I supposed to be someone’s mother?! How am I supposed to do this by myself?”

“I don’t know” he confessed feeling useless.

“But whatever you decide there are people who will help you Nic”

Whatever I decide?” she arched her eyebrows at him.

“Of course”

“So if I terminate this pregnancy you’ll still be able to look me in the eye afterwards?”

“I...” he hesitated before he pulled her closer into his embrace.

“I wouldn’t judge you Nic not if it was what you thought was the right thing to do. I’m done judging people for failing to live up to a moral code I can’t even live up to myself anymore. Whatever you

decide I’ll respect it and I’ll do my best to help you. I’d even go with you to the clinic if that was what you wanted”

She twisted her head slowly and pressed her lips to his cheek in a soft kiss.

“You’ve changed” she told him quietly.

“Not too long ago you would have been offering to be my baby’s father”

“Yeah well I think I’ve spent enough time thinking of myself as a Dad to another man’s child don’t you?” he reminded her of the whole Claudia debacle.

“I care about you Nic and I’ll support you whatever but I can’t be something I’m not”

“And I don’t want you to be” she sighed snuggling into him.

“I’m happy with you as you are”

“Then you’ve changed too” he laughed softly.

“Because you were never happy with who I was before”

“That’s not true” she objected.

“I was happier than I realised Geoff...it took losing you and everything that’s happened since to make me realise exactly what I had when we were together. I was onto a good thing and I threw it away”

“I think we both played our part in that” he admitted knowing he hadn’t been so innocent in their break up either.

“Yeah” she sighed, looking down and realise his hand was still on her bump.

“You might want to move that” she told him.

“I don’t want someone to see and figure it out”

“Sorry” he cringed pulling away from her, slightly unnerved by how natural it had felt. Her in his arms, with his hand rested over the life growing inside of her.

“It’s ok, I put your hand there in the first place remember?” she smiled thinking about how right it had felt.

“I just don’t want this all over town before I’ve even made a decision about what I’m going to do”

“You’re not going to be able to hide it much longer Nicole” he pointed out unhelpfully.

“The longer you leave this, the bigger you’re going to get”

“I know that!” she snapped and instantly felt guilty.

“I’m just so confused Geoff”

“Don’t you even have the slightest idea what you want to do?”

“Sometimes” she nodded.

“Sometimes I feel like being a mother could be exactly what I need, Something to focus on. Someone to love and nurture and then...” she looked down almost in shame.

“Other times I feel like my body’s being invaded and I don’t have any control and that I’d be a useless mother and the kid would be better off without me or...”

He rubbed soothing circles over her back as she hyperventilated a little.

“For the record” he smiled sincerely.

“I think you’d make a great mum”

“Thanks” she smiled.

“But I still think that’s your former judgemental side creeping around me so I don’t have an abortion”

He laughed with her before pressing a kiss to the top of her head.

“I told you, whatever you decide...”

“I’m really glad you’re back Geoff” she told him honestly.

He sighed deeply.

“I’m sorry I ever left”

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Chapter 3 - The Last Letter

“Just do me a favour and don’t mention this to Nicole” Geoff told Indigo as they stood, huddled close together by his locker, speaking in hushed tones.

“Mention what to Nicole?” a familiar voice questioned from behind them and sheepishly they twisted their heads to look at her.

“Nic” Geoff gulped, his eyes instantly drawn to her bump despite the fact that it was concealed by the chequered dress which skimmed neatly over it.

“So what don’t you want her to tell me?” she asked not bothering to greet them properly.

“It’s nothing, really” Indigo batted away her question dismissively but Nicole remained visibly unconvinced as she glared, unimpressed at her former boyfriend.

“If it matters enough to keep it from me then it’s not nothing”

“Trust me Nicole, you really don’t want to know” Geoff sighed, sensing that he was stuck between a rock and a hard place.

“Too late” she shook her head adamantly, her blonde tresses swinging behind her as she did so.

“You guys aren’t...together are you?” she asked her heart plummeting to the depths of her stomach.

“No!” Indigo responded as if the mere idea was ludicrous.

“It’s Aden” Geoff caved in.

“Indigo saw him on her way back from lunch”

“Let me guess” Nicole sighed, slightly tired of the scenario.

“He was drunk”

“Well he might have been” Indigo told her matter of factly.

“But I could barely see him behind the trashy bottle blonde he was making out with on his doorstep so I wouldn’t know”

“He was what?!” Nicole spluttered, her pretty face instantly flushing ruby red.

“I told you that you didn’t want to know”

“Right that’s it!” she fumed spinning on her Louboutin heels and heading for the exit.

“Nicole!” Geoff shouted after her.

“We’ve got class”

“You might have” she called back, rotating her upper body to look back at him.

“But Belle asked me to look after Aden and I am not going to let him sleep with some cheap sl*t and demean everything he had with Belle! I’ll drag him off her if I have to!”

“Nic. I really don’t think that’s a good idea!” Geoff tried to protest but she was already gone, storming out of the school and pounding across Summer Bay until she was at the front door of her former


She didn’t bother to knock.

Barging straight in she found them in the lounge. He was sat on the coffee table, his shirt unbuttoned revealing his taut chest, his blonde hair tousled and his face hard like it was chiselled in stone.

She didn’t even bother to look properly at the scantily clad female draped on the sofa, choosing instead to crouch down and retrieve her handbag from the floor.

She lifted it slowly, touching only the tiniest fraction of material between her thumb and forefinger.

“Fake” she announced as she examined the Gucci knock off in her hands and thrust it into the blonde’s chest in disgust.

“Figures...I guess it matches your scraggy hair extensions and that terrible fake tan”

“And you are?” Aden’s “guest” questioned as she looked the school girl’s uniform up and down with a sneer.

“Someone smart enough to know that even if you can only afford fakes you should at least make them this season’s!” Nicole snapped dragging her up by the arm.

“Now get out!”

“Are you just going to let her talk to me like that?” the blonde looked down at Aden but he simply continued to stare into the empty void in front of him.

“OUT!” Nicole repeated forcefully as the girl did up the open buttons exposing her pink lace bra.

“Whatever!” she spat in disdain.

“It’s not like he actually delivered the goods anyway...you’re welcome to him little girl!” she announced before flouncing out, her kitten heels clacking against the soles of her feet as she did so.

Nicole followed her to the door, quietly closing it behind her before turning to look at Aden who was still in the exact same position he had been in when she’d arrived. He hadn’t even flinched.

She watched him for a few moments as he gazed at the wall in front of him, his blue eyes pained and empty. She hurt for him and had to bite her lower lip forcefully to keep back the tears.

Leisurely she crossed the room until she was in front of him. He still didn’t move an inch until she knelt down before him and he flicked his head to the right to avoid making eye contact with her.

Gently she took his face between her hands and tried to turn his face back towards her.

“Look at me” she insisted as he resisted her attempts to turn his head.

“Please Aden”

Finally he let her twist his head towards her. Tears had begun to slowly inch their way down his distressed face.

“Why would you even want to look at me right now?” he asked her in self loathing.

“I don’t even want to look at myself”

“I don’t get it” she told him quietly.

“I don’t understand how this helps, but I refuse to judge you for it”

“I deserve to be judged” he sighed regretfully.

“Belle’s been dead all of seven weeks and I’m picking up girls in the middle of the day...after everything it took me to be with her in the first place”

“Girls?” Nicole repeated, no hint of judgment in her voice.

“Plural? Aden, has this happened before?”

He nodded sadly, his face still between her hands as it moved up and down.

“Once but I couldn’t go through with it Nic, either time. I didn’t do it, I don’t want this. I thought it would make me forget but it just makes everything worse. I feel like I’ve cheated on Belle just

contemplating it”

“Aden” she sighed softly, relief flowing through her that he hadn’t gone there.

“Belle loved you and she forgave you so much. Including sleeping with me”

He flinched at her words, not needing to be reminded of how he had betrayed Belle and wasted precious time together. Knocking her hands away he bit back his tears and sniffled.

“She wouldn’t like this” she told him sadly.

“But she would understand how much you are hurting, She knew that her death would destroy you. That’s why she asked me to look after you and why she wrote those letters. She hated to think of you

like this Aden but she really believed that you could get through it, because you have been through so much and come out of it this amazing guy, the guy Belle loved. She believed that you would get

through this...and you have to believe that too”

“I can’t get through it without her Nic” he sobbed, rubbing his rough, unshaven cheek in anguish.

“I don’t want to do anything without her”

“I know” she cried herself, his tears breaking her heart.

“But you have to. I wish you didn’t. I wish Belle was here and you were all newly married and loved up and rubbing it in everyone else’s face. But she’s gone Aden and right now it feels like you are too.

It feels like we’ve lost both of you but the big difference, the one big difference is that we have a chance of getting you back...”

“What if I don’t want to come back?” he murmured in monotone, his expression dark and void.

“Then screw you Aden Jefferies!” she bellowed angrily, whacking his chest forcefully so he toppled backwards before she rose to her feet again.

“Because the guy Belle Taylor loved was strong and determined and a fighter! He wasn’t some spineless jerk who gave up when things got too tough for him! So if that’s what you’re going to do then you

may as well run after your little friend and nail her because just giving in would probably hurt Belle even more than that!” she fumed.

“In fact I know it would!” she announced turning her back on him and stomping into the kitchen, banging a few cupboard doors on the way to vent her anger.

The place was a mess so in an attempt to calm herself she began to clear up. Loading the dishwasher and setting it going before beginning to wipe clean the work tops. It didn’t even cross her mind to

wonder why she hadn’t just left.

In the middle of her cleaning she heard Aden stir in the lounge before he plodded upstairs. Still fuming at his refusal to even try to get through this she ignored him and carried on cleaning until she

could have eaten her dinner off any of the sparkling surfaces in the kitchen.

She turned around to find Aden staring at her as he rested his arm against the archway. His hair was damp from the shower, his face clean shaven and he was wearing clean clothes.

She gasped loudly and the dish cloth she was holding dropped unnoticed to the tiled floor.

“You were right” he told her quietly.

“I have to get through this. I don’t know how I’m going to do it but I have to try at least... for Belle”

She smiled softly before walking into the lounge and taking an envelope from her bag.

Returning to the kitchen she gently placed it in his hand. Immediately he recognised the familiar scrawl on the front of the envelope, his name written out in her usual script.

“It’s the last one” she told him in a murmur.

“I can go if you want to be alone to read it?”

“No” he shook his head and handed the letter back to her.

“Will you?”

“Aden!” she gasped almost in horror.

“Are you sure?”

“Please Nic” he nodded, his eyes big and pleading.

She couldn’t say no to him so she simply tore open the envelope and pulled out the paper covered in yellow dots. She unfolded it cautiously, Belle’s words greeting her before she began to read them

aloud to him.


If you’re reading this it means that you laughed without thinking about it or that gorgeous smile that always made me melt crept onto your face before you realised what you were doing.

It means that you’ve started to consider life without me by your side as being something you might one day be able to handle.

And I want you to know how happy the thought of that moment makes me. Because I love you and I want you to be happy. I want you to smile and to laugh and to enjoy your life. Because if anyone deserves that, you do.

When I asked you to marry me it wasn’t just because of what I knew was going to happen soon. You should know that. It was because I love you and I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you, no matter how long or short that would be. And I got what I wanted. I spent the rest of my life with you. And I wouldn’t change a single second of it.

Every day I had with you was worth any pain I ever went through. I had the best days with you, my last days. But I know yours are still to come and I want you to grab hold of them and cherish every single second because you never know when it’ll all be gone.

Please don’t feel guilty for living your life Aden. For laughing, for smiling, for succeeding like I know you will. Because I want all that for you. I want the best of everything for you.

Save a space in your heart for me but please don’t make it too big to never allow you to let someone else in. Your love helped me through so much and you deserve to love and be loved too.

Aden, this is my last letter. I will be gone soon. I can feel it. It should break my heart to leave you but I can only bring myself to be thankful for the time we had together and the love we shared. I feel sorry for the people who never get that. And jealous of the ones who get it and get to grow old together. But any time with you was time I was so lucky to have.

Please be strong for me and know that I will love you forever.

Belle xxx”

Nicole looked up from the letter, now sodden by her tears, to find Aden crying too. He let out a muffled sob, as she wrapped her arms around his neck and held him close.

His tears fell onto her shoulder like rainfall as she gently rocked him in her arms.

They stayed like that, locked together, until a sudden movement between them caused them both to gasp loudly,

“Was that...?” he asked in shock, looking down at the space between them.

“It can’t be” she shook her head even though she knew what she had felt.

“It’s way too early” she insisted as the baby kicked once again.

“Oh my god!” she gasped as Aden’s hand covered her tiny bump and they marvelled at their baby kicking a steady rhythm against her tummy.

“That’s amazing” Aden sighed, a tiny smile playing on his lips that instantly made her feel terrible.

“That’s our baby growing inside of you Nic”

“Aden” she sighed as he continued to press his hand over her tummy despite the fact that the baby had stopped moving.

“Aden” she said again when he didn’t look up, his gaze still focused hopefully on her bump.

“I’m having an abortion”

“What?!” his head snapped up instantly.

“Nicole, you can’t!”

“Yes I can” she told him, avoiding his gaze.

“And I am. Tomorrow. It’s all arranged” she admitted tears welling up in her eyes. The decision had been hard enough to make without having to feel the baby move inside of her before she went

through with it.

“You can’t” he whispered in distress as the baby gave another swift kick that took her breath away.

“Yes I can” she repeated again. It had taken her so long to reach a decision she wasn’t going to let him make her doubt herself.

“Nic, that’s our baby in there!”

“Oh so it’s our baby now is it?!” she snapped angrily. She knew he'd been a mess but coping with this alone had been the hardest thing she'd ever had to do.

“What happened to it’s your body you make the decision Nicole?!”

“I’m sorry” he murmured.

“But I was a mess Nicole...please don’t do this...” he begged, his eyes wide and pleading.

“This baby, our baby, they are all I’ve got...”

“I’m sorry” she told him with a shake of her head.

“But the decision’s been made”

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Chapter 4 - "As he spoke, he spoke ordinary words, although they did not feel, for I felt what I had not felt before, and you'd swear those words could heal.

Her long, sharp nails were pinching his hand so tightly that he visibly winced as she held on to him but he didn’t let go. She needed him, he knew that.

“Nic?” he murmured softly and she twisted her head to look at him, shifting uncomfortably in the hard plastic chair as she did so.

“If you’re having second thoughts then...”

“No, I’m not” she shook her head, her voice wavering and undermining her words.

“I’m just really nervous, I shouldn’t have left it so late Geoff” she sighed scrunching the glossy leaflet she held in her other hand into a ball.

She knew it word for word. She’d spent hours the previous night going over and over it. She knew exactly how the procedure would be carried out. She knew it would be more difficult because she’d left

it so long. She knew she would have to undergo surgery rather than just pop a pill. And she knew that feeling her baby moving inside of her all night, keeping her from sleep, keeping her from doing

anything but read the damn leaflet had made things a thousand times worse.

“You needed to be sure” he tried to reassure her, squeezing her hand tenderly.

“Yeah” she nodded as Geoff looked at her, still uncertain that she was sure.

“Don’t look at me like that Geoff, please...” she pleaded, averting her eyes from his gaze.

“Like what?”

“Like you’re waiting for me to change my mind”

“I’m not” he insisted knowing that she was doubting herself enough without having him doubt her too.

“I love that you care enough to come here with me” she told him softly.

“But I don’t need this on top of everything else Geoff”

“Need what?” he asked in obvious confusion.

“This!” she pulled her hand from his and gestured to him with outstretched palms.

“You pretending that you’re ok with this when you’re clearly not. I know that you’re trying to be a good friend and support me but you don’t agree with this, I know you don’t. Not judging me and

actually supporting me though this are two separate things and whilst I appreciate you not judging me I can’t expect you to hold my hand whilst I do something you’re clearly not comfortable with. And

don’t say you’re fine with it because I can see it in your eyes Geoff”

“I hate it” Geoff admitted with a sigh.

“I hate this place, I hate what happens here”

“Then leave” she told him softly, completely understanding.

“I’ll be ok”

“No” he shook his head and took her hand back in his.

“Because more than any of that I hate the thought of you going through this alone”

“I’ll be fine” she insisted but he felt her grip on his hand tighten and knew she was trying to convince herself as much as him.

“Well I wouldn’t be” he told her with a soft smile.

“I’d just be worried sick about you all day. I’m not leaving you Nicole”

“Thank you” she mouthed unable to actually get the words out as relief flowed through her and warm tears stung the rims of her eyes.

“I’m scared Geoff” she squeaked, the leaflet getting scrunched in her clenched fist once again.

“I know” he told her quietly, not sure of what else he could say.

He wanted to tell her that everything would be alright but he couldn’t because even once the procedure was over he couldn’t even begin to imagine how she was going to feel. All he knew was that he

would be there for her. He’d make sure of it.

He squeezed her hand tighter as a deep voice behind them caused them both to turn around.


“If you’re here to beg me not to do this then save your breath” she told Aden as she glared at him.

“And if you’re thinking of doing something really stupid like proposing to me then just don’t!”

“I’m not” he shook his head as he looked down at her sadly.

“What? Going to propose or beg me not to do this?”

“Either” he shook his head once more.

“Then why are you here Aden? I find it hard to believe you were just passing!” she snapped wishing she wasn’t angry with him. Knowing he didn’t need her against him as well as everything else but he’d

left her to deal with this alone and she was doing it, she didn’t need him interfering and making her doubt herself now.

“I just thought you might need some support” he shrugged and instantly she felt guilty.

“You’ve been a really good friend to me...since Belle” he murmured pain still flashing across his eyes as he thought of his late wife.

“Before Belle even...and I didn’t want you to be alone but you’re not. Geoff’s here, so I’ll go”

“No, Aden wait!” she called desperately as he turned to leave, reaching out her hand and grabbing hold of his.

“Please stay”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes” she nodded, pulling him down into the seat next to her.

“I want you to stay”

“Then I’m staying” he nodded with a soft smile as he squeezed her hand in his.

Still holding on to her other hand Geoff shifted uncomfortably in his chair.

“Then I guess I’ll go”

“You can if you really want to” Nicole told him quietly.

“But I’d like it if you stayed too”

He could see in her frightened eyes that she meant it. So he simply smiled and squeezed her hand too.

They sat there, the three of them in a row, linked together by their hands like a chain of paper people as a clock ticked loudly above their heads.

Nicole thought about Natalie. Of how she must have felt, pregnant at 13. She wondered if abortion had ever crossed her mind. She wondered how her parent’s lives would have turned out if she had

never existed. She wondered if they’d ever wished that she didn’t.

Aden thought about Belle. That was nothing new. She was all he thought about. He thought about the life he and Nicole had created, the life he had felt move under his fingertips little more than 16 hours

earlier. His mind contrasted the amazing feeling with that of holding his wife in his arms, life having slipped away from her. She had lost life when she had wanted it so much, life he had wanted for

her so much and now they were going to take life away from this child before it was even born. The irony caused pain to rip through him but he simply gritted his teeth and held on tighter to Nicole.

Geoff tried to think about anything but where he was and what was going to happen. But no matter what he tried to think about...footie...school...the bible...he always came back to where he was and

what was going to happen. And more than anything how worried he was about Nicole.

“Nicole Franklin” the nurse called her name and she instantly rose to her feet, without letting go of either of the males’ hands, pulling them both half up with her.

She realised what she was doing and let them both go.

“You can come through now” the nurse nodded to the doorway and Nicole instantly looked back at Aden and Geoff, her eyes begging one or both of them to come with her. Any hint of independence left

her in that moment, she couldn’t do this alone.

“One of your..erm friends” the nurse began not sure what exactly was going on with the unconventional arrangement before her.

“Can come in with you and see the doctor whilst he explains the procedure”

Nicole looked back at them, not wanting to have to choose between them. She didn’t want to oush either of them away.

“I guess Aden should...” Geoff whispered quietly.

“He’s the fa-“

“Ok” Nicole interrupted him not wanting to hear him refer to Aden as a father. Because that would make her a mother. A mother who was getting rid of her baby.

Aden flinched. Completing Geoff’s sentence silently in his head. He was a father. In that moment he was a father. He was something again. Somebody again. His life had some sort of purpose. But

before long he would be nothing again.

“Ready?” The nurse asked Nicole and she nodded, taking Aden’s hand back and pulling him through into the doctor’s office as Geoff sat back in the hard chair ready to wait.

Nicole wasn’t listening as the doctor explained the procedure to her. She didn’t need to. She could have probably given carrying it out a pretty good shot herself she’d read the information about it so

much. She squeezed Aden’s hand tightly but didn’t look at him as tears began to drip slowly down her face.

She felt the baby move a little and gasped, a quick intake of breath.

“Nicole?” the doctor paused mid explanation.

She looked up to find both him and Aden looking at her expectantly.

“I’m fine” she smiled a fake smile.

“Carry on” she instructed and he did. And before long she wasn’t listening again. Instead she was trying to commit to memory how it felt to feel her baby inside of her, realising it was something she

never wanted to forget. Never wanted to...

“Stop!” she suddenly ordered.

The doctor’s words trailed off and they were both looking at her again.

“I can’t do this”

“I know it sounds scary Nicole” the doctor told her quietly.

“But we know what we’re doing, you have no reason to worry”

“No I didn’t mean that I can’t do it” she rambled looking to Aden for help. He looked back at her blankly and she wished she’d brought Geoff in with her. He would have known.

“I meant...” she hiccupped in between her tears.

“I don’t want to” she whispered letting go of Aden’s hand and pressing both hands over her tummy.

“I want this baby...my baby

“Nic?” Aden gasped, trying to fight a tiny smile of delight as it began to spread across his plump lips.

“Are you sure?”

She nodded letting a smile creep onto her own lips.

“I want this baby” she repeated with another nod.

“I want to be their Mum...I already am their Mum. And I love him or her. I was just alone and in denial”

“You’re not alone anymore Nic” he whispered softly.

“I want this too”

He did want this. He wanted to be a father to his child. To be the father his own father had never been. He wanted to protect his baby more than anything, he found it difficult to comprehend how, given

that, he’d been willing to support Nicole through an abortion. He guessed he must care about her more than he realised too.

He knew he could never fully get over losing Belle, but just maybe this could help.

“Then let’s go!” she instructed, jumping to her feet, already half way to the door. She couldn’t stay in that room a second longer. It made her feel almost dirty, reminding her of what she had almost


“Sorry we wasted your time” Aden told the doctor apologetically before following Nicole out of the door and into the tiny corridor separating it from the waiting area.

She was pressed back against one of the walls, a serious look on her face as she gulped.

“Nic? Are you ok?”

She nodded taking his hand and pressing it to her tummy. The baby was moving again. They looked down at her bump, both of them smiling, until the baby stilled.

She looked up at him with happy tears flooding her eyes.

“We’re going to have a baby Aden”

“Does that scare you?” he asked needing to know she wasn’t completely confident either.

“Totally” she laughed taking his hand and pulling him into the waiting area.

The chair was empty and cold.

Geoff was gone.


Nicole flung the front door open and heaved a suitcase through it.

“Nicole!” Aden jumped up and rushed to the door taking the case from her.

“You shouldn’t be carrying that not...” he trailed off as she glared at him for treating her with kit gloves.

“I’m fine!” she insisted as Morag trotted in from the kitchen and looked at them dubiously.

“Nicole” she greeted her with a nod as she surveyed the heavy pink suitcase in Aden’s hand.

“I hope you have an inability to travel light and that’s just for a visit”

“No, it’s not” Aden shook his head feeling like a naughty school child about to be told off by the head.

“Nicole’s moving in”

“I thought your father said he didn’t want you living here?”

“He did” Nicole nodded nervously.


“But nothing Nicole. Now I suggest you turn around, go back to Summer Bay House and we all forget this ever happened”

“I’m pregnant” she blurted out with a wince like she was ripping a plaster off her knee in one go.

“With my baby” Aden clarified, taking Nicole’s hand in his own.

“Oh!” Morag’s eyes widened in shock.

“Well that puts rather a different spin on things doesn’t it?”

“It was months ago” Nicole told her not wanting her to think badly of either of them.

“When Belle was in rehab and they weren’t together”

“Right” Morag nodded her expression hard to read.

“And you two are what? A couple now?”

“No!” Nicole protested whipping her hand out of Aden’s in case that was adding to the confusion.

“We’re friends”

“Who happen to be having a baby together” Aden added.

“And will definitely be sleeping in different bedrooms!” Nicole finished.

“And does Roman know about this arrangement?”

“Yes” Nicole nodded.

“He knows everything”

“He does?” Aden asked looking down at her in shock, this was news to him.

“Yeah” she nodded again.

“I went to see him this afternoon, I was just about to tell you...”

“Was it really bad?” Aden winced remembering Roman’s reaction to finding out they had slept together in the first place. He almost felt like he should be getting his things and heading off for a night on

the beach.

“He was shocked but no it was...” she paused trying to find the right word.

Nice actually”

“Nice?” Aden looked at her dubiously.

“Yeah” she smiled a little.

“He understood. He was 14 when my Mum had me, I think he realised he had no right to judge, He told me he loved me and that he just wanted me to be happy” she told him, tears inching down her

softly blushered cheeks.

“I really miss him Aden” she sniffled.

“It’s not the same, seeing him once a month from behind a glass screen”

“I know” he nodded, wrapping a comforting arm around her shoulder and squeezing gently.

“There’s more” she murmured.

“What?” Aden joked.

“He forgave you but he’s putting a hit out on me?”

“No” she giggled.

“Of course not, he thinks of you as family too you know that”

“He used to” Aden sighed.

“He still does” Nicole told him adamantly.

“He’s going to arrange for a visit from his solicitor. He’s signing the house over to us and opening a bank account in our names that he’s going to put a lump sum into and then pay money into every


“Seriously?” Aden gasped in shock.

“I tried to object, I said it was too much and that we would manage. But he said it’s not like he needs any of it in there anyway and he wants to make sure that we’re ok. He wants our baby to have

everything he or she needs and for us to be able to enjoy it, not working every hour god sends to provide for them. He said you should go to uni if that’s what you want to do...”

“It’s too much” Aden shook his head.

“I know but it’s what he wants Aden and we’d be stupid to turn it down, having a baby to look after isn’t going to be easy you know”


“He won’t take no for an answer so don’t worry about it. He wouldn’t be doing it if he didn’t want us to have it”

“It’s too much” Aden repeated, feeling like he was taking advantage.

“No it’s not” Nicole smiled cheekily.

“He’s our Dad, we’re meant to take all his money!”

“Ok” Aden grimaced.

“If he’s both of our Dads and we’re having a baby together, that’s wrong on so many levels Princess”

“Well I know he thinks of you as his son so just accept it and spend his money!” she laughed softly before turning back to Morag who she’d forgotten was actually there for a little while.

“So if this house is going to be yours” she asked knowingly.

“Can I presume that you would like me to move out as soon as possible?”

Aden hesitated not knowing what to say, If it was up to him Morag could stay, she had been good to him. But it was going to be Nicole’s home too.

“No” Nicole shook her head looking up at Aden for confirmation and he nodded.

“It would be nice if you stayed”

“Really?” Morag asked still uncertain.

“Really” Nicole nodded.

“This is your home too...and besides” she grinned cheekily.

“Our baby’s going to need a Grandma”

Morag tried to keep a straight face but the tiny twitch of her lips betrayed her.

“Don’t push it madam”


“Nic?” he asked quietly as he found her on the beach staring out at the waves as they crashed against the shoreline.

“Are you ok? It’s cold and late”

“Yeah” she nodded as he took off his jacket and wrapped it around her shivering shoulders.


“No problem, Nic should you be out after...you now?”

“Oh!” she gasped suddenly realising he didn’t know.

“Geoff” she smiled realising that he was still looking at her exactly the same way as he had before even though he thought she’d gone through with it. He wasn’t judging her at all, just like he had


“I didn’t have an abortion. I couldn’t, I’m keeping the baby”

“You couldn’t?”

“No” she shook her head.

“I couldn’t do it. I want this baby and Aden needs this”

“He needs it or he wants it?” Geoff questioned dubiously. He didn’t want Nicole to keep this baby just for Aden’s sake, she had to want this too.

“Both I think” she whispered.

“I think we both do. This baby is our chance to be happy and to get our lives back on track”

“As long as it’s really what you want Nic...”

“Are you saying you would have been happier if I’d had an abortion?!” she asked in disbelief.

“No!” he responded instantly.

“But I don’t want you to do this just because you think it’s going to help Aden, Nic. You need to want this too because if he freaks out you’re going to be the one left holding this baby”

“I don’t think he will freak out” she told him honestly.

“But if he does then it doesn’t matter, I want this baby. I’m their mum Geoff, it’s my job to love him or her. I already do...”

“Then I’m glad you didn’t go through with it” he smiled over at her, the moonlight illuminating his face softly.

“You left” she suddenly blurted out.


He shrugged.

“You had Aden, he’s your baby’s father. I didn’t think you needed me”

“I need you Geoff” she reached over and took his hand.

“Now more than ever, so please don’t do anymore runners!”

“Ok” he nodded with a smile.

“So, how is this going to work? Are you going to share custody when the baby’s born?”

“Ah” she grimaced a little hoping he wouldn’t take this the wrong way.

“I moved back into The Town House earlier, Roman’s signing it over to me and Aden”

“Oh” he mumbled clearly not sure how to react. “We’re in separate bedrooms” she told him not sure why she felt like she had to explain, but she did.

“We’re friends who are having a baby together nothing more. Aden loves Belle and I...” she paused looking into his big blue eyes, her heart pounding against her chest.

“You what?” he whispered, squeezing her hand in encouragement.

“Don’t feel that way about him” she finished unable to say what she had really wanted to. She was having a baby, the last thing she needed was to complicate her life even more right then.

“Right” he mumbled wishing she’d said something differently entirely but happy at least that she didn’t have feeling for Aden.

“So what are you doing out here?”

“I just...I’m a little scared Geoff and I saw my Dad today and that just reminded me how much I miss him and I just needed some time alone to think about things”

“Right, sorry I’ll leave you to it” he mumbled getting to his feet but she instantly reached up and pulled him back down onto the sand.

“I meant from Aden and Morag, not you. You can stay” she told him, wrapping his arm around her shoulders and resting her head against him.

“Good” he smiled against the top of her head.

“Because I didn’t really want to go”

“Glad to hear it” she smiled, wrapping an arm around his waist as he held her tighter and they simply sat together in silence, enjoying being together, as they gazed out at the moonlit sea.

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Chapter 5

She wasn’t sure why some days were bad and others good, or if not good at least bearable, for him. She didn’t know why some days he could laugh and joke with her and on others he would almost appear to be dead inside. She knew she could never understand, that she shouldn’t even begin to try, that she should just do her best to be there for him.

That was why when she arrived home after school to find him sat motionless on the couch staring at a full bottle of whisky he was clearly contemplating drinking she didn’t say a word. Instead she watched him for a few minutes, the emptiness behind his eyes breaking her heart, before she strolled into the kitchen and poured herself a juice. She wandered into the courtyard, sitting down at the table and idly flicking through a pregnancy magazine, all the while distracted with the thought of him, broken inside.

After a while she slapped the magazine shut and made her way back into the lounge, this time finding that the whisky had made its way into a glass, the amber liquid sloshing around as he held it and simply looked at it, wondering if it was the answer to all of his problems.

Again she didn’t say a word, she merely shuffled past him, before heading upstairs and retrieving what she needed from her room. With it clutched in her hand she plodded back down the staircase and stood right in front of him. Again she said nothing, taking a last look at the scan in her hand with a soft smile before she placed it on the coffee table next to the open whisky bottle, its pungent aroma

wafting up her nostrils as she did so.

She took one last look at him and retreated to the kitchen once more, where she could only wish that the memory of the love and hope that had flooded through him as they had watched their baby

move and listened to their strong heartbeat at her scan a few days ago would be enough to bring him out of this.

She began to make coffee to distract herself and then realised she couldn’t drink it. As she drained the sludgy liquid down the sink he joined her in the kitchen making her jump as he snapped a magnet

off the front of the fridge and stuck the scan there, in pride of place.

“Sorry” he laughed softly and she wasn’t sure if he was apologising for making her jump or for drifting away again.

She smiled gently as he rearranged the bright pink alphabet letters she herself had stuck to the fridge when she had first moved in with Roman. Currently they listed the things one of them needed to

buy at the store, milk, veggies and finally chocolate being Nicole’s addition to the list.

He jumbled up the letters, picking out the ones he needed until they spelt out “Baby Jefferies” under the scan.

She smiled before shaking her head.

“Franklin” she stated simply, offering no further explanation that that.

“Nu-uh” he shook his head back at her.

“Ya huh” she laughed wiping the coffee cup dry.

“When you work out a way to push this baby out of one of your orifices instead of me doing it then I might let you have more of a say!”

“I guess you’ve got a point there” he smiled.

“But we’ve got almost 5 months for me to change your mind yet”

“Not happening!”

“We’ll see” he smiled, his fingertips running tenderly over the image of their baby.

“I like Amy”

“Who’s Amy?” Nicole asked slightly disturbed, surely he wasn’t trying to move on from Belle already?

“Oh!” she blushed feeling silly as she realised he was suggesting a name for the baby.

She walked into the lounge and retrieved the whisky bottle and full glass he hadn’t touched. Tipping the contents of the glass down the sink and placing the bottle back in the drinks cabinet.

“Amy? Really? I don’t know...I was thinking...Coco”

“As in the clown?” Aden spluttered.

“Well no as in Chanel but now I’m thinking clown! Thanks for that!”

“If it means our baby isn’t called Coco then you’re welcome Princess!”

“It wasn’t that bad a suggestion” she mumbled taking offence a little.

“What about if it’s a boy?”

“Well that’s obvious” he told her, pouring himself a cup of coffee from the pot she had made and earning himself a jealous glare. She was missing caffeine.

“Don’t even think about suggesting Aden!”

“Actually” he smiled softly.

“I was going to say Harris”

She gasped.

“After Dad?”

He nodded with a smile.

“Aden...that’s perfect” she smiled back at him before saying the name aloud and rolling the vowels over her tongue.

“Harris Franklin”

“Jefferies” he corrected her before taking a big gulp of steaming coffee.

“Yeah we’ll see” she humoured him having no intention of giving her baby a surname which wasn’t her own.

“Anyway, we better get ready”

“For what?”

“Dinner at Irene’s remember?” she reminded him.

“She invited you?” he looked shocked.

“Well no, she invited you” Nicole told him what he already knew.

“I’m just tagging along because Geoff asked if I could come too” she told him before running upstairs for a quick shower.

Once she was done she dressed in her favourite white dress, which she had to admit was getting a little snug now but still looked good, and expertly applied her make up before curling her blonde

tresses so the waves fell softly around her face. She wasn’t quite sure why she was going to so much effort. Partly she wanted to feel and look good for herself and part of it she had to admit to herself

was for Geoff’s benefit. But mainly she needed to look good when people saw her as pregnant for the first time.

“You’re wearing that?!” Aden asked in horror as she came down the stairs and he saw that her bump was clearly visible in the dress which was fitted and clung to her belly rather than hanging over


“Gee thanks Aden, you look great too!”

“I didn’t mean it like that” he hurried to try and explain.

“You do look great” he told her honestly.

In fact she looked beautiful. Radiant even. Pregnancy suited her.

“But there’s no hiding that you’re pregnant in that dress is there?”

“I don’t want to hide that I’m pregnant Aden!” she told him slightly annoyed.

“I’m not ashamed of this! Are you?”

“No!” he protested.

“Of course I’m not, it’s just...they’re....they’re Belle’s family Nic and I’m”

“Worried what they’re going to think?” she finished his sentence for him.

He shrugged feeling guilty for feeling that way.

“I guess” he sighed.

“Belle’s barely been gone a few months Nic and we’re having a baby together!”

“And that would have been happening even if Belle had still been here Aden” she reminded him softly, placing a hand on his upper arm.

“It’s not like we’ve been together since Belle...you know”

“I know” he sighed.

“I just, don’t want them to think that I’ve just moved on and forgotten about her because she’s never out of my mind Nic”

“I know” she nodded.

“They won’t think that. If they care about you like I think they do they’ll support us” she smiled.

“And anyway, they already know”

“They do?” he gulped.

“Yeah, I asked Geoff to tell them. I thought it would be better that way. Give them time to process it rather than me just walking in, pointing at my bump and yelling surprise!”

Aden couldn’t help but laugh.

“Come on” he told her nodding towards the door for them to leave.

“We’ll be late if we’re not careful”

“We weren’t careful” she quipped as they exited the house.

“How do you think I ended up pregnant in the first place?!”


“Hi” Nicole smiled weakly at Geoff as she and Aden entered the kitchen.

“So is it true?” Annie asked expectantly from the lounge.

“Are you really preg-“ her sentence trailed off and her eyes widened as her gaze fell in Nicole’s bump.

“Yeah” Nicole smiled placing a protective hand over her tummy.

“It’s true”

“Four months” Aden told them all even though Geoff already knew.

“It was when Belle and I had broken up”

“You don’t need to explain to us love” Irene smiled softly sensing the fear and uncertainty radiating from both Aden and Nicole in that moment.

“We want to “ Nicole smiled gratefully at Irene.

“You need to know that we’re not together and just because we’re having this baby it doesn’t mean that either of us has forgotten about Belle or how much she meant to all of us and to a lot of people in

this town. We don’t really know what it means...” she smiled softly.

“But it’s not that”

“It means that you get the biggest piece of chocolate cake for dessert” Irene smiled, rubbing Nicole’s arm as she passed her to continue preparing dinner.

“After all you are eating for two now darl!”

Nicole smiled at Irene feeling more at ease than she had seconds earlier.

“Thanks Irene” she grinned.

“I knew there had to be some perks to getting fat!”

“That and the gorgeous baby you’ll get at the end of it” Annie grinned and Nicole gave her a quick hug. For some reason Annie’s reaction had been the one she had worried most about.

“Well there is that” Nicole’s smiled, her volume decreasing as her gaze landed on Aden who was gazing at a photograph of Annie and Belle on Belle’s hen’s night, a recent addition to the bunch of photos

on the side board.

He stared wistfully at the photo for a few minutes before replacing it on the sideboard and without a word he disappeared in what had once been Belle’s bedroom.

“Should one of us go after him?” Annie asked unsure of what was the right thing to do.

“No” Nicole shook her head.

“Leave him, I’ll get him when dinner is ready. Now, is there anything I can do to help?”

“I was right the other day!” Geoff exclaimed loudly, laughing as he did so.

“You have changed!”

“Oh watch it you!” she slapped him on the chest but couldn’t help but smile.

“Just joking” he grinned at her and she felt her heart flip.

“And anyway you should be putting your feet up”

“Geoff, I’m pregnant not ill!” she told him slightly annoyed.

“And I want to help”

“Well everything’s almost done love” Irene informed her.

“But thank you for the offer”

“You could help me set the table?” Annie offered and they set to work putting the cutlery out.

“So have you thought about any names yet?” Annie asked excitedly.

“Yeah, we’ve tried” Nicole laughed.

“But Aden isn’t happy that all the names I like related to food and drink!”

“Like what?” Annie asked confused.

“Well first there was Coco and then I suggested Honey...”

“If it’s a girl” Annie smiled as she laid the last set of cutlery on the table.

“You could call her Belle?”

“That’s a nice idea Annie” Nicole smiled softly.

“But I don’t think that would help”

“Well I’m ready to serve up” Irene announced before looking at Nicole.

“Do you want to get him or shall I?”


She stood in the doorway to Belle’s old room in silence. She didn’t want to intrude. This had been Belle’s private space, the space he had shared with her a lot of the time and the place where she had died. She didn’t belong there but leaving him alone felt wrong too.

Before she could decide what to do he raised his head as he sat on the bed in silence and smiled softly at her before holding out his hand.

Hesitantly she entered the room, taking his hand and allowing him to pull her down to sit next to him on the bed.

He placed his hand over her bump tenderly, gazing down at it, as his wedding ring sparkled in the sunlight which streamed in through the window.

The baby kicked beneath his hand and Nicole let out a tiny giggle as she squirmed a little.

“She does that every time you touch my tummy you know?” she asked him with a smile.


“Or he” she clarified with a giggle.

“But if it is a boy then I don’t think he’d going to appreciate the amount of pink I’ve got planned!”

Aden suddenly let out a loud sigh.

“Aden, it’s ok. It was a joke. If it’s a boy then everything will be blue I promise!”

“It’s not that” he smiled, rubbing his hand over her tummy.

“I was just wondering how Belle would have felt about all of this”

“She would have struggled with it” Nicole replied bluntly.

“Anyone would if another woman was having their husband’s baby...but I think she would have wanted you to be there for your baby anyway”

“Yeah” he nodded knowing that she was right.

“She would have”

Nicole smiled rubbing his back gently.

“And if she could see us now, and who knows maybe she can?, I hope she that she would be happy that you have something to focus on and someone who is going to love you no matter what for the

rest of your life”

The expression on Aden’s face instantly changed to one of shock and confusion and Nicole hurried to clarify.

“I meant your baby you big idiot! Your son or daughter...you are going to mean the world to them Aden. But I do love you...just not like that”

“Me too Nic” he smiled softly.

“Belle would have been a great Mum” he whispered sadly and she sniffled slightly as she nodded.

“Yeah... and you’re going to be a great Dad Aden” she told him, pressing her hand over the one he had rested on her bump.

“And we’re going to get through this...together...we’ll get through all of it

“I hope so” he smiled back at her before looking around the room.

“You know Belle died in this room and ever since then I haven’t been able to come in here without feeling empty, like I had no hope at all and all I could see was Belle lying there lifeless in my arms. But

now” he whispered stoking her tummy as the baby moved again.

“Now I can think about the happy times and see her smiling face and hear her laugh. And now there’s life and there’s hope”

“Belle would have wanted that” she told him quietly.

“She did want that” he smiled.

“And you’re right, we are going to get through this, because I’m not going to let Belle down...or you and our baby”

“That’s good to know” she sighed resting her head against his.

“Because we need you Aden, you’re our family”

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not really sure what I think bout this yet!

Well you haven't got long left to decide because this is the last chapter...

Chapter 6

4 months later...

She lifted her head out of the textbook it had been buried in for the past half an hour as Geoff pulled his bleeping phone out of his pocket and silenced it by opening the text message which had just come through. He scanned it as her pen hovered over the frantic notes she had been making before placing his phone down carefully on the table.

“It was Annie” he explained with a nod. His little sister was staying the night at Ruby’ so they could study before their final exam in peace.

“Kirsty has had a little girl. Jessica May Copeland, 7 pounds 3 ounces” he informed her with a smile.

“Annie’s more excited than Jai by the sounds of it”

“Great!” she put on a fake smile and hoped he wouldn’t notice the false sincerity in her words.

He noticed.

“Nic? Are you ok?”

“Fine” she sighed dramatically, dropping the pen she was clutching so it clattered onto the open book below her on the table.

“You can’t fool me Nicole” he told her, his hand reaching for hers and gently squeezing it.

“Are you worried about the birth it that it??”

“No...well not much” she shook her head with a giggle.

“That’s scary but I’ll be ok, I’m planning on having every form of pain relief going. It’s just...” she paused hesitantly, her slender fingers entwining with his.

“Just what? You can tell me Nic...” he told her sincerely as his thumb brushed over her palm tenderly.

“I know it’s just...if I tell you this then don’t for one minute think that I mean you because I don’t. You have been so great with all this, I don’t know what I would have done without you Geoff” she

whispered gazing intently into his big blue eyes as he looked back at her concerned.

“What is it Nicole?”

“I just feel like everyone in town has been really supportive of Kirsty and made a fuss of her and the baby and all they do when they see me is avoid making eye contact or cross the street or talk about

anything but the baby. And all because I’m having Aden’s baby six months after his wife died”

“Nic” he sighed not sure what to say, knowing that she was partly right. There were people in town who were uncomfortable with the situation and others who were judging her, but as far as he was

concerned they were the people who didn’t matter.

“It’s not even like I want a baby shower” she told him referring to the lavish bash Martha and Colleen had thrown as a surprise for Kirsty around a month earlier. The one she telling hadn’t received an

invitation to.

“But it would be nice to have people who cared enough to throw me one”

“People do care” he told her with a soft smile.

“Me, Aden, Annie, Irene, Ruby...”

“I know” she hurried to reassure him, worrying that he words had caused offence.

“I told you, I don’t mean you. Ignore me, I’m just being silly. I’ve got you guys I don’t need anyone else” she paused with a wistful smile.

“Well except maybe my Dad...”

Abruptly he stood up, tugging her hand gently so she would follow him.

“I’m not meant to show you this but...”

“Geoff!” she grinned cheekily as he pulled her down the hall.

“If I didn’t know you better I’d think that was a come on!”

“Nicole!” he groaned his hand on the gold door handle of what had once been Belle’s room.

“I can’t help it!” she protested with a grin.

“I’ve got hormones flying all ov-“ her sentence trailed off as he swung open the door and her mouth gaped open in shock.

“Damn!” Geoff muttered with a cheeky glint in his bright blue eyes.

“I left my phone on the table, no one is ever going to believe that Nicole Franklin was speechless without photographic evidence!”

“Geoff!” she gasped breathily, advancing into the room which had been completely transformed into a beautiful nursery, decorated in soft and warm shades of silver and ivory, with animals painted

artistically in a border across the room and a gorgeous vintage style crib where the bed had once been.

“I know it’s a bit plain” Geoff told her as she span around in a circle trying to absorb every minute detail at once.

“But we thought we could add pink or blue or whatever colour you want later”

Nicole shook her head with a smile, her hand resting instinctively over her bump, which at 8 months along was ample.

“Geoff... it’s beautiful” she sighed happily.

“Well we figured the baby would need somewhere to sleep when we’re babysitting” he told her watching her smile in delight until a horrible thought stuck her and her expression turned to one of concern.

“But...Aden?... This was Belle’s room”

“It’s ok. He knows all about it Nic. We wouldn’t have done it without asking him first. He thought it was a great idea for this room, he even helped with the painting and we built the crib together”

“I don’t know what to say” she whispered, tears beginning to fall softly down her smooth cheeks.

“Don’t say anything” he told her. Wrapping an arm around her shoulders and squeezing gently.

“Especially not to Irene, Annie or Aden. You have to act really surprised when they do the grand unveiling” he chuckled.

“I just wanted you to know that people do care about you Nic...a lot

“I told you I was being silly” she grinned through her tears.

“I’m really lucky to have you guys” she smiled rubbing her hand affectionately over her bump.

“And so is the baby”

“There’s more” he told her unable to contain his excitement pulling her out of the room and towards his. Reluctantly she took one last delighted look at the nursery and let her lead him to the bedroom at

the front of the house where he presented her with a long, rectangular wooden box.

“I was going to wait until the baby was born to give you this but I finished it last night and I can’t wait” he grinned looking at her expectantly.

Slowly she slid the lid off the box and pulled out the beautiful Noah’s Ark mobile nestled inside. She gazed at it in amazement, each animal hanging from the centre had been lovingly hand carved from

wood and painted with complete precision.

“Did you...Did you make this?” she asked in awe, her fingertips sliding over the smooth wood.

“Yes” he nodded proudly.

“I picked up a little bit of carpentry when I lived on the farm”

“Geoff, this is amazing!” she grinned wrapping her arms around him and hugging him tight.

He shrugged as she pulled away and returned her attention to the mobile.

“It’s just a bit of wood and string and some paint”

“And it must have took you forever!” she exclaimed holding it up in the air before her.

“Well yeah” he shrugged again not wanting to make a big deal out of it.

“But it’ll be worth it when that’s hanging over the crib next door”

“No” she shook her head as she carefully placed the mobile back in the box and replaced the lid.

“It should be in the nursery at my house so the baby sees it every day”

“Whatever you want” he told her as he perched on the edge of his bed and watched her with a smile.


“Nothing” he shook his head and blushed a little.

“I’m just glad you liked it”

“Liked it? Geoff, I love it. It’s the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me”

“I told you, I care about you Nic. I just want to see you happy”

“I love you” she blurted out in response without even thinking. His heart leapt at her words.

“Oh god I didn’t mean that”

Like it was on a rollercoaster his heart plummeted once more. She saw the crestfallen look on his face and groaned.

“Well of course I meant it, I just didn’t mean for it to come out like that!”

“You meant it?” he whispered, a glimmer of hope back in his eyes.

She smiled softly, sitting next to him on the bed and taking his hand in hers.

“I love you Geoff Campbell” she told him softly.

“I think I always have but I”

“No buts Nic” he interrupted squeezing her hands gently.

“Geoff, I’m pregnant!”

“Yes, I had noticed” he rolled his eyes slightly towards the heavens.

“Oiy cheeky!” she giggled hitting him square in the chest a little more forcefully than she had intended.

“But seriously Geoff, I’m having a baby. Someone else’s baby and you’re going to go to uni and be amazing and you don’t need this...”

“Nicole” he told her brushing her cheek gently with his fingertips.

“I love you too and I love this baby because they’re part of you. I want to be there for both of you. I know it’s going to be weird and that Aden will always be in your life and he will always be your

baby’s dad but I want to be in your life too Nic. I can’t imagine my life without you”

“I don’t even want to try to imagine mine without you” she admitted in a whisper.

“But uni?”

“I’ve got a place on a sports course in the city so I can commute. That way I can live here...well maybe not here here” he chuckled gesturing to the house around him.

“But in Summer Bay so I can be close to Irene and Annie and you and the baby”

“I love you” she told him again, this time with a beaming smile.

“I love you too” he whispered taking her face between his hands and kissing her tenderly.

She moaned in satisfaction against his soft lips, her arms snaking around his neck as she tugged at the downy hairs at the nape of his neck.

He shuffled them further back onto the bed, his hands twisted in her hair, his lips not leaving hers as he increased the intensity of the kiss.

She kissed him back ardently, pressing herself closer to him as he peppered her collar bone with kisses before slowly beginning to pop open the buttons on the front of her azure dress.

“Geoff” she sighed, looking up at him wide eyed as her hand stopped his from going any further.

“We don’t have to. I love you. I can wait, you shouldn’t feel like you have to. I want to be with you whatever. And it’s not like I’m at my most attractive right now is it?” she gestured to her present state.

”Nicole, you have no idea how beautiful you are right now and...I want to” he told her with a sincere smile.

“I slept with Claudia because I didn’t want to ruin another relationship by not doing that. I thought if we were together that way then it would work and I wouldn’t get hurt again. But it was never going to

work because I was with the wrong girl Nicole....it was always you, it should have been you”

“Now it is me” she smiled propping herself up and kissing him gently, running a flat palm down his chest before helping him remove his t-shirt and pressing a spray of kisses over his toned chest.

“The baby?” he asked as she lifted her head to kiss his lips once more.

“It’s fine” she assured him, pulling him back down onto the bed with her.


He scanned the crowds of nervous students for her pretty face, anxious more about seeing her than actually sitting his final exam. She had left before his alarm had woken him from slumber and the quick note she had placed on the pillow next to him advising that she would meet him at school gave nothing away. He didn’t want her to regret it, he didn’t regret it. Being with her again was the best thing that had happened to him in a long time.

His heart leapt into his throat as he spotted her sat on the staircase at the end of the hall reading over her revision cards. As he walked towards her she lifted her head and a beaming smile spread

across her face causing all doubt within him to dissolve.

“Good morning lover” she grinned as he sat down on the step below her.

“Nicole! Sssh!” he blushed checking around to make sure no one had heard her.

“Relax!” she giggled leaning down to press a quick kiss to his lips.

“No one heard”

“So” he looked at her nervously.

“No regrets?”

“None at all” she smiled.


“Nope, none” he grinned back at her unable to conceal his happiness.

“Good” her smile widened as she kissed him once more.

“I love you”

“I love you more” he objected with a smirk as she grimaced.

“Nic? Are you ok?”

“Fine” she lied through gritted teeth as the doors to exam room were opened and the students filed in.

“Nic?” Geoff asked again, following her as she found her allocated desk and began to arrange her pens, pencils, calculator and water in a row upon it.

“Nic?” he asked once more as she ignored him and breathed deeply instead.

“Oh my god!” he exclaimed in horror.

“You’re in labour aren’t you?!”

“Sssssh!” she hissed.

“People will hear you!”

“I’m phoning an ambulance” he announced reaching for his phone and then realising he’d left it at home for fear it would go off in the middle of the exam and get him disqualified.

“No, you’re not! Nobody is!” she announced forcefully before sitting down at her desk.

“Now go and find your seat!”

“Nic, you need to go to hospital” he insisted.

“No I don’t. It’s only just started it could be hours...days yet and I have worked too hard not to take this exam so go and find your seat!”


"This is all your fault anyway!" she exclaimed batting off his attempts to persuade her otherwise.

"My fault?! How is this my fault?!"

"Well sex brings on labour you know!" she hissed slightly too loudly for his liking.


“Geoff, I won’t tell you again. Go and sit down” she told him forcefully as the examiner announced they would start in two minutes.

Reluctantly he trailed to his desk a few rows before hers and took his seat.


“You’re amazing, you know that?” he told her as he exited the exam hall and found her already walking towards the school gates. Throughout the entire exam he’d been distracted, watching her

nervously but she had got on with it and finished the paper despite her obvious discomfort.

“I just didn’t want to have to retake it after all the studying I’ve do-arghhh!”

“Right, come on” he told her nervously as she bit her lower lip and let the pain wash over her until the contraction ended.


“No” she shook her head.

“Nicole!” he protested in disbelief.

“You’re having a baby!”

“And I need my things. The bag’s all packed we just need to go and get it” she insisted.

“They’re still six minutes apart, we don’t need to go to the hospital until they’re four minutes apart and my house is on the way anyway”

“Ok” he told her intending to run in and get it in a few seconds but by the time they had made it to The Town House she needed the toilet and ended up trailing around adding more things to the bag

before she went.

He waited anxiously for her by the door, tapping his feet, desperate for her to see a doctor so he wouldn’t be the only one around if something went wrong.

He heard her let out a loud cry of anguish and within seconds he was upstairs, watching her as she clung on to the end of her bed, screaming through another contraction.

“Ok now I’m phoning an ambulance!” he told her adamantly, hating seeing her in so much pain.

“And Aden” she gasped through her pain.

“Call Aden”

“Ok” he nodded as she panted , her hair stuck to her clammy forehead.


“Ok that was less than 4 minutes!” he told her as he got her phone out of the clear pencil case she had dumped on her vanity table.

“I think it’s too late” she announced in distress before he could even dial one number.

“I need to push”

“Oh god Nic” Geoff looked on in horror and the sheer panic on his face scared her.

“What?!” she gasped.

“Your baby’s got blonde hair” he told her in disbelief as she looked down to see the baby’s head already emerging.

“I told you it was too late” she tried to make light of the situation but he saw the fear in her eyes and instantly went to her, holding her hand as she crouched on the bed and screamed again.

“You can do this” he told her adamantly as she clung on to him.

“I’m going to be useless but you can do this”

“I don’t think I have a choice” she giggled as she gasped for air and one final contraction ripped through her.

Suddenly Geoff was holding her baby in his hands and it was over.

“What’s wrong?” she asked in horror as her baby remained silent.

“The cord” he panicked as he tried to unwrap the umbilical cord from around the new born baby’s neck where it was cutting off their oxygen supply. Within a second he’d done it and a strong, healthy cry

filled the room as Nicole gasped in relief and then started to cry too.

She looked up at Geoff, tears inching down his own cheeks as he held her baby in his hands as though he had never been trusted with anything so precious before.

“Hello” she whispered to her baby, laughing with delight.

“Welcome to the world baby, I’m your mummy”


“Nicole!” Aden announced as he ran into the house in a panic in contrast to the calmness that reigned in the house.

“Hey Daddy” she smiled at his from the sofa where she cuddled her baby, glowing with happiness and love.

“Come and say hello to your daughter”

“Daughter?” he whispered as he advanced closer to them and Geoff and Rachel quietly moved into the kitchen to give them some space.

“Yeah” Nicole flashed him a beaming smile.

“And she’s beautiful”

He looked at the baby girl snuggled up in her mother’s arms, her big blue eyes gazing up at him curiously as she wrapped her tiny fingers around Nicole’s necklace. Her hair was as golden as the sun

and without even touching it he knew it would be as soft as silk.

Nicole was right. She was beautiful.

“She has your eyes” Nicole smiled as he perched next to her.

“And my mouth and button nose”

Suddenly he couldn’t breathe, he gasped, struggling for air as she continued to list who her daughter had inherited each of her features from.

“Do you want to hold her?” Nicole asked offering the baby to him.

“I can’t” he announced in a panic.

“Aden, she won’t bite” Nicole giggled pushing her daughter closer to her father.

“She doesn’t have teeth, give her a few months yet!”

“I just...” he sighed turning his head not even able to look at the baby girl, her beautiful features reminding him of everything that he had lost.

“I’m sorry I just can’t!” he yelled loudly, causing the baby girl to cry as he rushed out of the house slamming the door so forcefully behind him that the whole house shook.


“Aden? Mate?” Tony approached him hesitantly as he sat on the pier staring out to sea blankly.

“Rach told me what happened, are you ok mate?”

“I’m a Dad” he told the older male without turning to look at him.

“Yeah” Tony nodded.

“Rachel told me. I would say congratulations but you don’t look too happy about it”

“It’s not that” Aden shook his head slowly before turning to face Tony.

“I freaked out and now I can’t go back”

“Aden” Tony grinned.

“Fatherhood is terrifying. When Jack was born I hid outside having a cigarette for over an hour. And I don’t even smoke! And with Lucas and Harry it was just as scary, but you learn and it’s the most

rewarding thing you can ever do”

“I’m not scared of fatherhood” Aden said with a soft smile as he thought of his daughter.

“I want to be her Dad, I want all of that”

“Then what?” Tony asked slightly confused as Aden sighed.

“I freaked out because...whenever I’ve imagined having children they’ve always been Belle’s children, our children, and I always thought they’d be gorgeous and look just like her and it never even

crossed my mind that my baby was going to look like Nicole. I know it’s stupid and obvious but I just didn’t think about it until my daughter was staring me in the face and she didn’t look like Belle and

that was why I freaked out. She doesn’t look like Belle and I freaked out and Nicole will hate me for that”

“Mate, she won’t hate you” Tony assured him, resting a hand gently on his shoulder.

“As long as you don’t tell her that the children you imagined having with Belle were better looking than the one she’s just given you” he laughed.

Aden let out a tiny chuckle.

“She’s beautiful Tony...my daughter” he said the words aloud as they began to sink in.

“She doesn’t look like Belle but she is beautiful”

“Then how about you go home and have a cuddle with this beautiful daughter of yours?” Tony asked with a smile.

“Because I heard you didn’t get that far and mate that’s the best bit...”


“I’m sorry” he told her as he sat down next to her and Tony went to find Rachel in the kitchen.

“It’s ok” she told him with a smile, curling her legs underneath her and placing a comforting hand on his arm.

“I worked out what was wrong and it was my fault”

“You worked it out?” he asked thinking there was no way she could really know the reason for him running out like that.

“Yeah” she nodded sadly.

“I was sat there telling you she had my mouth and my nose and you were thinking about what Belle’s baby would have looked like”

“You’re more perceptive than I thought Princess” he smiled rubbing the hand she had placed on his arm.

“So I was right?”

“Near enough” he nodded.

“But it wasn’t your fault Nic and I’m sorry. I freaked out on you when you needed me, when you’d just given me the most beautiful daughter anyone could ask for...”

“She is beautiful isn’t she?” Nicole beamed proudly, her face flushing with happiness.

“And you came back Aden, that’s all that matters”

“So where is she? I’m ready for that cuddle now” he told her just as Geoff entered the room holding the tiny baby girl in his arms.

“Good luck getting her off God Daddy here” Nicole grinned at Geoff’s obvious enchantment with the little girl he had helped bring into the world.

“God Daddy?” Geoff gulped in shock.

“Yeah” Nicole grinned at the look on his face.

“Don’t expect anything too religious and bear in mind that I will only be doing it for an excuse to dress her up in a christening gown but yes I’d” she paused and looked at Aden waiting for him to nod

before correcting herself.

We’d love you to be godfather to our baby”

“I’d be honoured” Geoff beamed looking down at the beautiful little girl in his arms.

“But that still only makes you the second most important guy in her life bible boy!” Aden reminded him holding out his arms for his daughter.

“Oh of course you hold the number one spot” Nicole grinned as Geoff transferred the little girl into Aden’s waiting arms.

He went quiet, simply gazing at the baby girl who looked back up at him with eyes that were his. He felt his heart swell with love and his life overflow with purpose once more.

“I’m a dad” he finally whispered happily, holding his daughter as close as he could and pressing a kiss to her forehead, memorising her sweet scent and feeling content for the first time in a long time.


“Who knew babies needed so much stuff?” Nicole giggled as she charged into The Beach House with her daughter in her arms and Aden followed behind laden down with baby supplies.

“Surprise!” the crowd gathered in the lounge shouted out gleefully as Nicole almost tumbled back in horror and had to hurry to steady the baby in her arms.

“What’s going on? I thought we were coming over for dinner?” she asked her mouth agape as she took in the pink balloons and presents piled high.

“Well we were planning a baby shower for you for next week” Ruby announced gesturing to the gifts and food that had been set up.

“But she went and spoilt it by arriving early”

“Yes, we’ll be having words little miss!” Leah teased as she peeked at the baby girl over Nicole’s shoulder.

“Guys” Nicole sighed not knowing what to say, looking up at Geoff who was the only person in the room who knew what this really meant to her. He was smiling happily back at her and she couldn’t help

but cry.

“Hey! No tears” Aden told her squeezing her shoulders gently before addressing the huddle of their friends.

“They’re like a tag team, one stops and the other starts” he grinned stroking his daughter’s golden hair gently.

“Like mother, like daughter” Geoff grinned pressing a kiss to Nicole’s cheek and playing with the baby’s tiny fingers.

“So does she have a name yet? It’s been two days” Annie asked in obvious excitement.

“Yes” Nicole smiled looking up at Aden.

“Yes she does”

“Well don’t keep us in suspense then, at my age the curiosity might literally kill me!” Colleen exclaimed and a chuckle made its way through the room like a Mexican wave.

“Ellie Rose” Aden announced with a grin looking down at his daughter.

“Ellie Rose Harris” Nicole finished for him.

“Harris?” Geoff questioned in surprise.

“Yes” Nicole nodded softly.

“I’m taking my Dad’s name”

“We both are” Aden told their friends who were clearly surprised by this development.

“It just feels right” Nicole whispered softly as Aden rested his head against hers and nodded too.

“Yeah, it does”


“I’ve got something for you” Geoff announced pulling her away from the party and into his room before presenting her with a small box beautifully wrapped in pink paper.

“Geoff, you already helped with the nursery and made that beautiful mobile”

“It’s not for the baby, it’s for you. You’re just as special as she is” he grinned as she tore off the paper and opened the jewellery box to find a gorgeous silver necklace nestled inside with a heart shaped

pendant decorated in diamonds.

“Geoff, it’s beautiful”

“So are you” he told her as she kissed him softly and he held her close.

“And so is Ellie and I am here for both of you no matter what”

“I love you” she told him with a delighted smile before kissing him once more.


Aden cradled his daughter close to his chest, showing her the nursery that had been lovingly decorated for her at The Beach House. He showed her the crib and the mobile dancing above it, he showed

her the animals painted on the ivory coloured walls and the stuffed toys lining the shelf above the changing table until finally all that was left to show her was the window. He sat them both down in the antique rocking chair intentionally placed next to it and twirled the mobile which was still close enough for him to reach.

The tinkling sound it created soothed her and soon she was still. She was still as he told her the story of how climbing through that window had changed his life in ways he would never have imagined. And as he gazed loving down at her, feeling her tiny weight against his chest and a heart full of love as she drifted to sleep he knew she would change his life in ways he couldn’t imagine yet too.

“Thinking about the way she loved me

There's a hole in my pocket

That's about her size

But I think everything

Is gonna be alright

I look at you, warm in your dream

While your mobile dances above

And I think to myself

It's a beautiful night

And I know everything

Is gonna be alright

Yes now I know

It'll be alright”

Will’s Lullaby – Joshua Radin


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