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Forever Young

Guest TelephotoMarigold

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Nic finished her make up and walked slowly down the stairs. Miles took one look at her face and poured out a glass of milk and got a plate of cookies. He placed them on the table and she smiled and went and sat down.

“Milk and cookies?” she asked with a raised eyebrow.

“Worked for Ollie.” He murmured.

She chuckled briefly.

“You don’t have to tell me Nic but I’m here you know.”

She nodded.

“Thank you Miles. It’s a bit confusing at the moment.” She murmured.

“Anything to do with that empty box I saw in the bathroom bin earlier?” he asked her.

She sighed and then nodded, then burst into tears and totally ruined her mascara.

He patted her back awkwardly for a moment before putting his arms around her.

“It’s going to be ok Nic. There is plenty of time to decide things. “ he said softly. “And well you’ll always have a place here.”

She sniffed and opened her mouth to tell him the problem but another sob tool its place and she collapsed in his arms.

He held her until she stopped crying.

“I’m sorry Miles.” She said eventually. “I just keep causing trouble for everyone.”

“Nic, no one thinks that.” He murmured. “You paid for Belle’s treatment and that took a lot of organising.”

She gasped at the mention of Belle’s name and burst into tears again.

“Nic what is it?” Miles asked her. “You can tell me.” He added softly.

She looked at him and groaned.

“I’m pregnant.” She muttered. “And I think it’s Aden’s.”

“Think?” Miles asked.

“I can’t remember.” She looked at her perfectly manicured fingernails and had the sudden desire to start chewing them.

“Ok. I can see that being awkward.” Miles said quickly. “You need to calm yourself down and get the pregnancy confirmed so you can take care of yourself.”

“I might not..” she began to say keep the baby but she knew from the moment she saw the blue crosses she wasn’t going to have an abortion despite all the complications. She only had a part time job and was due to start at college in a few months, let alone the father.

Miles said nothing and just looked at her.

“Ok I’m keeping my baby.” She said possessively and placed a hand on her stomach.

He nodded, again with no comment but she found that soothing. The non-judgemental Miles she needed right now, she felt guilty enough about the father.

“If you can’t remember could it be Liam’s?” he asked.

She shook her head.

“No we weren’t sleeping together.” She confessed.

Miles took a drink of his coffee.

“Drink your milk.” He instructed.

She smiled and reached for an Oreo cookie. She dunked it in the milk before talking a bite.

“Thank you.” She whispered softly.

“Just doing what your Dad would have Nic.” He murmured softly. “And yes I miss him too.”

She grinned and patted Miles’ hand before giving him a cookie.

He laughed.

“Thank you.” He murmured.

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Aden paused after he opened the door of the house. He looked at Belle before picking her up and holding her in his arms.

“What?” she gasped. “Aden what are you doing?” she asked him laughing.

“I’m carrying my bride over the threshold.” He murmured with a smirk.

“You already did this.” She told him with a giggle.

“I know.” He said carrying her over to the sofa and laying her down. “But no harm in doing it again.”

She looked up at him before lifting her arms to him.

“Come here.” She said an inviting smile on her face.

He looked at her lying there, the smile, the glowing complexion and her beautiful eyes.

“Belle Taylor Jefferies, I love you.” He said.

She looked into his face and smiled.

“That’s funny because I love you too.” She said and her voice sounded almost bubbly with happiness.

He moved over to the sofa and lay by her side feeling her arms wrap around him and gently pressed his lips to hers. After a minute his kisses became more passionate. It had been a long time without her arms around him let alone anything else. She kissed him back just as passionately.

After a few minutes he stood easing away from her and haled out his hand to her.

“Are you getting frisky with me Aden Jefferies?” she asked him.

He chuckled.

“Something like that. Now come on woman.” He muttered.

She giggled and eased to her feet placing her hand in his. He pulled her gently into his arms dancing her around the room before he picked her up and carried up to their bedroom. Even he gasped when he saw the room. He’d asked Nic’s advice on romance and she’d looked at him before hitting him with one of her magazines telling him to look for himself. He’d opened the magazine and looked at the article. Come to think of it Nic had been a bit moody lately.

Coming back to the present he saw candles scattered around the room ready to be lit. A bouquet of roses on the dresser and rose petals scattered all across the bed. It beat the single rose he’d placed on her pillow next to a box of her favourite chocolates.

He grinned and turned to Belle.

“I didn’t do all of this, babe.” He admitted with a cheeky grin.

She smiled.

“No.” she murmured. “I asked Nic to help. I wanted it special for you too.”

Belle looked up at him and they kissed again before she moved slowly round the room lighting the candles, watching as they cast a soft warm glow around the room.

With shaking hands he peeled off their clothes and they lay on the bed kissing and touching until they made slow love.

“I love you Belle, I’ve missed you so much.” He murmured.

She sighed aloud his name against his passionate kisses.

“I can’t believe how much I missed you.” She murmured. “I was so lonely for you.”

Nic got as far as the beach before she stopped looking out on the horizon. There was no way she was going to disrupt Aden and Belle’s life not after they had been though so much.

“Princess.” Geoff called walking towards her. “Are you heading to Aden’s?” he asked.

She nodded.

“Going the long route only you passed their road about five minutes ago.” He pointed only coming to stand next to her.

“I know.” She said lying, she’d had no idea where she was. “I was giving them some more time.” she improvised.

“Ok.” he said accepting what she said. “How about we sit for a bit or go down to the diner?” he suggested.

“I’m happy standing.” She muttered and lifted her chin as she glared at him.

“Er.. Nic?” Geoff asked looking worried.

“What is it?” She snapped.

“I wanted to talk to you about something but this obviously isn’t the time.” he said quickly.

She glared some more at him before turning away.

“Whatever it is will have to wait.” She said grumpily. “I’ve got more important stuff to think about.”

Geoff gave her a disappointed look before turning away.

“You know Nic, every time I think you’ve changed you just go and act like the old Nicole.”

She flew around looking at him.

“Grow up Geoff Campbell.” She sneered and walked off.

“I am the one who’s grown up you’re the one acting like a child.” He replied quickly.

He shook his head and turned ready to walk away when he felt her hand on his arm.

“Listen.” She muttered. “I’m 18, my best friend just had cancer, I’ve got a mortgage to pay off and I’ve just sat my HSC. I have no idea what I’m going to do…” she paused. “for the rest of my life.” She added, although that hadn’t been what she was going to say.

“Ok Nic.” Geoff murmured hold up his hands.

“So forgive me Geoff Campbell if I’m not exactly in the mood to be chatty.” She screeched at him before suddenly bursting into tears.

Geoff looked at her standing in front of him and took her quickly into his arms, He patted her back awkwardly not altogether sure she wouldn’t suddenly have another go at him.

“It’s going to be ok.” he said.

She shook her head.

“No it’s not.” She moaned.

“Oh Nic.” Geoff murmured.

He placed his hand under her chin and lifted her face pressing a kiss to her lips.

“Geoff don’t.” she gasped trying to pull away.

His arms were wrapped around her and she could feel the strength of them and also the warmth. She sank into the embrace and felt his lips pressing so gently yet so firm on her own. There was no one who kissed her like Geoff Campbell kissed her and she felt her knees go weak. Then she thought of the baby and pulled back.

“Stop I said.” she shouted and pushed at him.

He overbalanced and fell back on the sand.

“Nicole Franklin you are a self centred Princess.” He ground out.

“Better to be a Princess than a choir boy.” She returned and spun around storming off.

“I was never a choir boy.” He shouted after her.

Without turning she shouted out a last insult.

“That’s probably because they didn’t want you either.”

He sat on the hot sand glaring at her back as she walked away and he couldn’t help his glance going down and focusing on her cute behind as she moved away.

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Nic eventually got to Aden and Belle’s. She heard laughter coming from inside when she knocked on the door.

“That’ll be her.” she heard Aden say.

He opened the door and she saw Geoff sitting on one of the sofas and she felt her face fall.

“Come on in Nic.” Aden murmured.

She shook her head.

“You know I’ve remembered a thing I need to do back at the thing.” She said evasively. “Good to see you Belle.” She added and turned and ran down the path.

Aden looked at her retreating back in shock before he felt Geoff run past him.

“Nicole.” Geoff shouted.

She spun around tears pouring down her face.

“Did you have a good laugh?” she asked.

“Nic, look I don’t know what’s going on but you came to say hello to Belle and she really wants to see you so if it’s a problem my being here I’ll leave.” He told her. “Only..”

She shook her head.

“I’ve got to go I can’t do this.” She moaned and twisted away.

Geoff sighed and let her walk away before going back in the house.

Aden looked at him sympathetically.

“Mate.” He said patting his back.

“I’ve been trying to talk to her for weeks.” He muttered. “What did I do that was so wrong?” he asked puzzled.

Aden looked at Belle and saw her raise an eyebrow in query.

“Do you want to talk about it?” Aden asked softly.

Geoff looked at him.

“Er…” he began not sure what to say.

“Sometimes it helps if you talk about it.” Aden murmured. “I know it’s not easy to talk about this sort of stuff.”

“Er…” Geoff muttered.

Aden nodded at him.

“Aden babe?” Belle murmured to him.

“Yeah?” he asked.

“Where did that come from?” she asked.

He shrugged.

“Nic hit me with a magazine and I sort of read it.” he confessed turning red.

Geoff laughed.

“Thank God for that.” He said. “I thought you were turning Gay!”

Aden looked at Geoff and groaned.

“Blame Nic.” He said before he started laughing.

“You know I would but I’m scared. She’s liable to kill me the mood she’s been in lately.”

“You boys know nothing.” Belle murmured to them.

“Enlighten us oh wise and knowing one.” Aden said smiling at his beautiful wife.

She grinned up at him.

“Well I don’t suppose you thought that maybe its well…”

Aden and Geoff looked at each other in horror.

“Er… boyfriend trouble…” she finished.

They collectively sighed.

“I think they broke up.” Aden murmured, sinking on to the sofa next to Belle.

She took hold of his hand.

“Well there you go then.” Belle told them.

Geoff looked at Aden.

“Are you sure?” he found himself asking.

Aden nodded.

“Well he’s left the Bay. And it might explain her mood.” Aden grinned thinking they had the problem solved. Although he still hadn’t been able to pin her down over the money thing and she seemed reluctant to talk to him.

Geoff sighed.

“I thought maybe it had something to do with that night.” He said finally.

Aden looked up.

“Have you spoken to her since?” he asked suddenly.

Geoff shook his head.

“Me either. Not really.” Aden murmured.

They turned and looked at Belle.

“Oh no.” she said. “Guys no way.”

“But you’re a girl.” Aden pointed out.

She nodded.

“Doesn’t mean I can figure out Nicole.” She pointed out.

“I’m not sure anyone can.” Aden muttered under his breath.

“Hey.” Geoff muttered.

Aden looked up.

“You like Nic?” he asked him quickly.

Geoff looked over at him.

“I would have thought that was obvious.” He ground out folding his arms across his chest.

“No I mean you like like Nic.” He said.

Geoff rolled his eyes.

“Yes.” He muttered.

“Then you should go to her.” Aden murmured.

He looked over at Aden and Belle and shook his head.

“If I go after her tonight you might end up having to reclaim my body in the morning.” Geoff pointed out. “But I will leave you two alone.” He added with a grin. “But don’t stay too long in bed in the morning I don’t know how long I’ll be able to stop Annie from coming over.” He warned them.

Belle and Aden exchanged a look before grinning.

“Thanks for looking after him for me Geoff.” She said softly as they were saying goodnight at the door.

“I’d say it was a pleasure but he was so grumpy without you.” Geoff said with a laugh walking down the same path Nic had earlier. He kept thinking about her and before long found himself walking to the Summer Bay house. He knocked on the door and saw Nic curled up on the sofa with a cup in front of her and a box of tissues. It was obvious she had been crying.

“Can I help Geoff?” Miles asked.

“Just wanted to see if Nic was ok?” he said still looking at her.

She eased up off the sofa and nodded at Miles’ enquiring look.

“Ok then.” He murmured. “I’ll just nip out the back.” He added going through the other door.

“Nic, I don’t know what’s going on with you but I’m here you know.” He said quietly.

“I’m leaving the Bay.” She burst out. “I’m going to live with my Mum.”

“Wait!” he exclaimed moving over to her. “You can’t.”

She shook her head before looking at him.

“It’s been arranged. I leave in two weeks.” She declared.

He shook his head again as he tried to understand what she’d just told him.

“Nic wait you can’t.” he said paraphrasing himself.

She looked at a spot on the wall behind him not able to make eye contact.

“Yeah well I’ve decided I don’t want to do the cookery course after all so I’m leaving to go do something else.” She said trying to explain.

He nodded then accepting what she said feeling something inside him go suddenly sad.

“Well if that’s what you’ve decided.” He said looking at her. “I’ll leave you to your film.” He added referring to the film she was watching.

She nodded and waited watching him move away out of the door. She was still standing there when Miles walked back in.

“Are you sure…” Miles began to ask.

“That I’m making the right choice?” she asked back.

“No. Are you sure you want to watch Titanic?” he questioned. “Because I warn you I’m going to cry my eyes out.”

She looked at him them and burst into tears.

Miles sighed and moved over to her.

“Nic?” he asked.

“I’m in love with Geoff.” She gasped. “And the timing sucks.”

He patted her back awkwardly and sighed.

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Belle saw Nic in the distance sitting on the beach. She sighed and moved over to her.

“Nicole?” she called out.

The other girl stood up and wiped hastily at her eyes before she turned around.

“Hey Belle?” She murmured pinning a smile on her face.

“How are you Nic? Only we haven’t seen much of you lately. I understand you are leaving soon.” Belle rushed out with.

Nic nodded.

“Yeah I need to get away.” She said in response and mentally kicked herself for using that phrase in front of Belle.

“Well it will be nice change I suppose.” Belle murmured in reply.

Nic nodded.

“Miss the beach though?” Belle asked.

Nic nodded again biting her lip now as she looked over at the long stretch of beach.

“Maybe.” Nic said and shook her head back so her hair fell over her shoulders.

Belle smiled at her.

“Why don’t we go get a coffee?” she suggested.

Nic looked at her watch and nodded, turning to walk alongside Belle as they made their way to the diner. She looked round and saw Geoff sitting in the corner with Aden.

“You know I’ve just remembered a thing I have to do with Miles.” Nic said trying to slip away.

“Sorry Nic.” Belle instructed and placed her hands in the middle of Nic’s back and pushing forward.

“Stop.” Nic cried. “I can’t do this.”

“Nic it will be ok we’re your friends.” Belle murmured softly.

She sighed and walked forward to the table where they were sitting. Belle of course sat next to Aden leaving her no choice except to sit next to Geoff. She glanced at the two of them before looking down at the tabletop.

“Nic.” Geoff murmured. “Hey.” He said, nerves making him sat the words in the wrong order.

She nodded.

“We understand you’re disappearing on us Princess.” Aden began. “And well there are a few things we need to settle first.”

She looked up then.

“What?” she asked folding her arms across herself.

“Well there is the money to start off with.” Aden muttered.

She shook her head.

“Doesn’t matter.” She said quickly.

“It does to me.” Aden said feeling himself get angry.

She looked at him and saw Belle place her hand on Aden’s arm to calm him down and she felt suddenly so sad.

“I didn’t do it for you to feel like you owed me something.” Nic said quietly. “So fine you want to pay it back I’ll send you my bank details.” She looked up wiping at a stray tear. “So if that’s if I’m going to go I’m pretty tired.” She went to stand up and felt the room start spinning.

“Nic.” Geoff gasped out.

“I’m ok.” she said and pulled away from the hand he put out to help her. She felt as though flashing lights were dancing in front of her eyes and her heart seemed to be beating so fast.

“Sit down.” Aden muttered.

“I have to go I can’t stay here.” She gasped out as the room swum into blackness and she sank down into a dead faint.

Geoff moved fast and caught her, he couldn’t prevent her sinking to the diner floor but he managed to slow her fall so she landed gently.

“Oh my stars!” Irene gasped rushing over to the prone girl.

“Call for help.” Geoff said quickly and Irene grabbed the phone.

He knelt by Nic and held her hand checking for a pulse.

“I think she’s just fainted.” Geoff murmured and they head Nic moan as she started to come around.

“What?” she gasped.

“Stay still.” Geoff instructed.

“No I’m fine. I need to get home.” She said trying to sit up.

Geoff placed his hand and pushed her gently back on the floor.

“Nic please.” He said.

“Stop fussing.” She said angrily to him and eased up.

Belle caught sight of Nic placing her hand on her stomach and gasped causing Nic to look at her in shock. She shook her head before her eyes went to Aden.

“You’re pregnant.” Belle exclaimed and glared at Aden. “Who’s the father?” she ground out.

Nic shook her head and stood up pulling herself upright with difficulty.

“It’s nothing to do with any of you.” She said.

“So what are you going to go away and deal with it?” Geoff asked her disgust written all over his face.

“In a manner of speaking.” Nic said easing into a chair and moaning sickly.

“Leave her alone.” Irene told them handing Nic a glass of water. “She’s had enough.”

She took a sip and felt her stomach rebel.

“Ok Darl?” Irene asked her.

She nodded and looked at the others.

“Well Nicole who is the father?” Geoff asked her.

She shook her head.

“Doesn’t matter.” She told him. “It’s just not going to work out that way.”

He glared at her.

“It does matter because I love you.” He shouted at her.

She paled.

“No.” she moaned. “Don’t say that. Not now.”

Belle looked at each of them.

“Well just what did go on while I was away?” she asked and no one answered her.

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“Maybe one of you should take Nic home.” Irene suggested.

Nic looked up in silent appeal but murmured.

“I’m fine.”

Belle looked at the other girl and took in the pale complexion and the bunched shoulders feeling sorry for her in that instant before remembering the small detail of her looking directly at Aden when she’d said the girl was pregnant. She looked over at her husband for a second before looking back at Nic.

“Well Nicole.” She said in a frosty voice. “Just when did you sleep with my husband?” she asked her.

Nic flinched.

“I didn’t.” she gasped but was unable to make eye contact.

“How could you?” Geoff groaned.

Nic shook her head tears overflowing and easing down her pretty face.

“Wait.” Aden gasped out able to speak now that the shock of the accusation had eased off. “I so did not sleep with her.” he muttered looking at Belle.

She glared back at him in return.

“Well somebody did unless you expect me to believe this is another Immaculate Conception.” Belle said with a roll of her eyes.

“Hello I’m right here.” Nic said bitterly.

“Yeah and a lot of good that is.” Aden told her. “Why don’t you start by telling us who the father is?” he added.

She shook her head, her blonde hair falling in her face. She pushed it back with a shaking hand before looking at him and then round the diner. Irene was busy in the kitchen and there were only them seated inside it. She sighed and then looked directly at the three others sitting round the table.

“The father is Liam.” She lied. “Now that you’ve pried into my business can one of you please take me home?” she asked.

Belle looked her dead in the eyes.

“Just one thing Princess.” Aden said after a pause. “You weren’t sleeping with him remember?”

She moaned.

“Its nothing to do with any of you. I just want to go home.”

Suddenly Nic stood up and put her hand to her mouth. She gulped in a deep breath and ran to the ladies room. They heard the door slam shut behind her before they looked at each other.

“Belle I swear that I never laid a hand on her.” Aden said folding his arms across his chest.

He looked over at Geoff and slowly smirked.

“What?” Geoff asked at the look.

“Well you and whisky and strip poker.” Aden grinned. "Do you have any flashbacks of carrying her up the stairs?"

“Oh my god.” Geoff exclaimed standing up and backing away from the table.

“Looks like Bible boy is about to have a bible baby.” Aden chuckled.

“But why would she react like this…” Geoff began and looked at Aden. “I was wearing your T Shirt.” Geoff pointed out. "She must have thought it was you. No wonder she;s been avoiding the both of us."

Aden laughed even though Belle was now glaring at them furiously.

“This is so funny even for Nic.” Aden grinned and then groaned as a furious Belle slapped him.

“Now do you want to tell me what is going on.” She asked.

Aden smiled at her and leaned over to press a kiss to her lips.

“We started drinking some of Roman’s whisky.” Aden began.

“And well. “ Geoff added. “You know maybe we should see if she’s ok?”

Belle looked at the two men who were now looking at her.

“Fine.” She said quickly and stood up moving to the ladies. She saw Nic leaning against the sink her forehead pressed to the cool surface of the mirror.

“Hey.” Belle said softly.

“I’m fine. It’ll go in a minute.” Nic said weakly.

Belle nodded before reaching for some of the paper hand towels and wetting them. She bathed Nic’s face and then around her neck with warm water.

“Ice chips in the mouth.” Belle said quietly. “Used to be the only thing that would stop my nausea.”

Nic nodded pulling herself upright and without saying anything she moved back through the door into the diner.

“Nic.” Geoff said standing up and walking over to her.

“I want to go home.” She murmured in a quiet voice.

Geoff nodded.

“Come on I’ll take you.” He told her putting his arm around her waist and guiding her out before she could protest.

“So t shirts?” Belle asked sitting next to Aden.

He looked at her.

“Geoff borrowed my T shirt and when Nic left that morning she must have thought it was me.” Aden worked out. “But Belle I swear it wasn’t.”

Belle gave him one of her famous looks before she relented and smiled at him.

“I believe you.” She said with a grin. “Now lets go home ourselves.” She added with a certain look in her eye.

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Nic walked slowly beside Geoff in silence thinking about everything and nothing. She wanted to hold on to this memory of him knowing she was leaving in the morning. She couldn’t put it off any longer, the sooner she left the sooner they could move on with their lives and Belle would never have to know what happened. She looked up into the dark sky and one more marvelled at how clear it was over Summer Bay. You could see all the stars and knew in an instant she would miss that almost as much as she would miss being next to Geoff. She gasped back a sob hiding the emotional outburst by pretending to cough. She kept her eyes adverted so that any betraying glitter in them wouldn’t be seen.

“I borrowed Aden’s T-shirt.” Geoff told her suddenly stopping in the middle of the dark road.

She nodded and carried on walking. After a moment she stopped and turned round to him.

“Say that again?” she said quickly.

“I borrowed Aden’s T shirt, the white one with the green logo on it. “ he explained.

She shook her head.

“No.” she said clearly the word carrying on the quiet night.

He nodded.

“It can’t be.” She added.

“Would you like to believe you are the kind of girl that would sleep with her best friend’s husband?” he asked her.

She glared at him for a moment before a look of relief crossed her pretty face.

“Nic.” He began and then took a deep breath. “I’ve been trying to talk to you for a long time. You see that night was special.” He started to explain looking down at his feet and not at her. He knew that he was about to tell his own shoes he loved them but well, looking at her right now might steal the last of his courage. “I’ve been trying to tell you this ever since. I love you Nic and well I know you were pretty drunk but you told me you loved me too.” He gulped at having said the words and finally lifted his head to look at her.

“Is that why you’ve been all weird?” she asked and then burst into tears.

“Er…. Nic are these down to hormones or are you upset with me still.” He basked.

She nodded and he grinned.

“We’re having a baby.” He murmured and then felt her hand connect with his ribs. “Hey!” he added.

She looked up and dashed the tears from her face.

“You should have told me earlier. I thought that I slept with Aden and it’s been horrible.” She muttered.

“Well I’ve been trying. “ he burst out. “I kissed you on the beach and you acted like I was evil.”

She gasped.

“You were trying to tell me then?” she said.

He nodded and reached out taking hold of her hand.

“Nic.” He said softly. “Every time I’ve spoken to you since that night you’ve spat at me like an angry cat.” He murmured wondering if one day he would ever tell her that it had been more like a rabid dog than angry cat but had chickened out from saying that. Mainly because well, she was hormonal and he wanted to keep his private parts, and groaned at the various animal reference scuttling around his brain.

“Geoff.” She said softly. “How do you feel about the baby?” she asked him.

He smiled.

“I love you Nic, and well any time you want to say those words back I’d appreciate it, I’m thrilled that we are having a baby and well even if it were Liam’s or well anybody’s I would still be thrilled. I’m going to be a dad.”

“Really?” she asked.

He nodded.

“I’m going to be the best dad.” He promised.

He moved then and stood next to her placing his hand on her belly as he put his other hand around her and lowering his lips to hers. She sighed and welcomed his kisses. In a flash she felt the memories of that night come back. Geoff laughing at her as the two of them, him and Aden teased her before Geoff picked her up and carried her up the stairs. She’d asked if he were doing this because he needed sex and he’d replied no, he was doing this because he loved her.

“I remember.” She whispered against his lips.

He nodded easing away slightly to look in her eyes.

“Do I get my answer now?” he asked her.

She nodded.

“Yes.” She said softly. “I’ll marry you and we’ll be as happy as Aden and Belle.”

“I love you Nic.” he murmured kissing her again.

She thought back to that night, lying secure in Geoff’s arms thinking of everything they had gone through, nowhere near as dramatic as Belle and Aden and then Geoff had whispered that he could spend forever just like that with her in his arms. She’d chuckled and told him that it would make it a bit hard to do her shift in the diner but she would give it a go. He’d told her then that he meant it and would she marry him. She’d gasped before telling him that she would give him his answer in the morning. No wonder he’d been puzzled when she kept pushing him away.

He took hold of her ahdn and carried on walking her home.

“I’ll need a really big diamond.” She told him.

He laughed.

“You’ll be lucky to get a wedding ring.” He mumbled.

She turned and looked at him.

“Why you and Aden are out all the time on the trawler.”

He nodded.

“But I’m only taking a percentage so that Aden can pay back, well you.”

She gasped.

“I thought I was doing a good thing.” She murmured. “Paying for the clinic.”

Geoff nodded.

“It was the best thing and something the old Nicole would never have thought of. I think that’s part of why I fell back in love with you.” He told her sounding so serious. “But well we all love Belle and we all wanted to do something for her in our own way.”

She nodded her understanding.

“Miles is still up we better tell him.” she siad.

He grinned.

“I’m not like going to have to ask his permission am I?” Geoff told her. “Because going to see Roman was enough.”

She stopped and looked at him.

“You spoke to my dad? When? He doesn’t know about…” she stopped and put her hand on her stomach.

“Yes, I visited him. The day after we slept together. And I don’t think so, after all I didn’t know.” He answered all her questions seeing the look of relief crossing her face.

“Miles.” She called.

“Nic.” Miles answered standing up from the sofa and looked over at them as they walked in.

“It was Geoff.” She said quickly.

Miles nodded.

“I had a feeling it might have been. Your dad mentioned he visited.”

“Oh why didn’t anyone tell me?” she cried out emotionally.

“Well I was scared.” Miles said. “I mean well your dad is ex-SAS and in jail but well that’s got nothing on you and those hormones of yours.”

She looked at him furiously before grinning and running over to him.

“Thank you.” She said and put her arms around the other man.

“Your dad and I figured that if Geoff was the right one for you he’d do something to stop you leaving.” Miles told her. “And failing that I was going to come up with a plan or something.” He added with a grin. “So are you two set?”

Geoff grinned.

“She’s going to marry me.” He said happily.

She smiled over at Geoff.

“He loves me so I’m taking pity on him.” she told Miles.

Miles laughed at the expression on Geoff’s face before watching the other man stride over to Nic and kiss her quickly.

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Geoff took hold of her hand and strode to the door and knocked confidently. After a few minutes the door swung open and Aden stood there in shorts and barefoot, pulling on his T-shirt.

“Is this too early for you?” Geoff asked him mockingly.

Aden grinned.

“What can I do for you?” he asked them ignoring the question. “And it had better be good.” He added.

“Who is it babe?” Belle called out from upstairs. “Send them away and come back to bed lover.”

Nic looked at Aden and watched with particular enjoyment as he coloured.

“We have something to tell you.” Nic murmured after a moment.

They looked up as Belle started walking down the stairs. She was dressed in a long blue dress and was carrying a pair of sandals she pulled on as soon as she reached the bottom of the stairs.

“Hello.” She said to Nic and Geoff.

Nic grinned and looked at Geoff who was smiling and looking at her.

“Oh my god.” Belle exclaimed. “Tell me more.” She added pushing past her clueless husband.

“We’re engaged.” Nic said finally.

“And having a baby.” Geoff added still more pride in his voice than panic.

“Oh. My. God.” Belle said jumping up and down in excitement.

Aden glared at all of them before striding into the kitchen. They heard some muffled words before he came back out a cup of coffee in his hands.

“Aden?” Belle said curiously.

“I wanted to join in with the general excitement but I needed some caffeine.” He explained. “There’s plenty for everyone.” He added at Belle’s glare.

Nic laughed.

“Come on in tell me everything.“ Belle instructed.

“Well not a lot to tell.” Nic murmured. “We’re going to have a quiet ceremony in a month.”

She said moving over to the sofa and collapsing on it. Geoff sat next to her and they immediately held hands.

“You’ll need a place to live.” Aden murmured softly. “You’ll be a family.”

Geoff looked at him before looking proudly at Nic.

“Family.” He said to her and saw her smile at him in turn.

“Well we have been doing some thinking about things.” Nic told them. “Miles has plenty of room.”

“But this is your house Nic.” Belle pointed out.

She stood and started pacing the floor before looking at a suddenly worried looking Aden.

“I think of this as just as much Aden’s home. Of course I’m not kicking you out. And well there is the money.” She looked at Aden. “If you are serious about paying me back then well there won’t be much left over for rent will there?” she asked.

Aden sank onto the opposite sofa and looked at them before looking at Belle.

“I can’t afford it.” he said his tone strangled.

Nic nodded.

“So we were thinking.” She began and looked at Geoff.

“If you wanted to house share?” he finished for Nic.

“House share?” Belle asked. “All of us together?”

Nic nodded.

Belle looked at Aden.

“What do you think?” she asked him.

He smiled.

“We could try it.” he shrugged draining the contents of his cup and placing the empty one on the floor.

“Of course when the baby comes we’ll have to make sure it’s working out.” Nic told them. “Because well it wouldn’t be fair for you to have to deal with sleepless nights and nappies and stuff.”

Belle sank next to Aden and took hold of his hand.

“Well?” She said.

He smiled at her.

“I’ve lived with her before you know.” He began.

Belle laughed.

“But you survived.” She pointed out.

“You want to do this?” he asked her.

Belle nodded.

“I think it would be good.” She said. “And well I’ve heard Nic is a pretty good cook these days.”

Nic glared at her.

“Don’t worry I’ll teach you how to cook.” She said to her after a minute.

Belle grinned at her and stood up picking up the cup to take it into the kitchen. A second went past before Nic followed.

“There was something I wanted to ask you about.” Nic told her.

Belle nodded.

“I thought there might be.” Belle said suddenly serious. “There is still a chance.” She added quickly.

Nic nodded.

“How much of one Belle?” Nic asked.

“I had some of my eggs frozen before I went for Chemo. “ she told her. “But well with whole body radiation there is a chance that it will never happen.”

Nic smiled sadly.

“Belle if this is going to be in anyway upsetting for you then please tell me.” She said putting her arms around the still too thin girl and hugging her.

She pulled away from Nic and looked at her wiping a tear from her eye.

“I can’t believe how grown up you are.” She said to Nic, looking at her sparkling blue eyes and her wide smile.

Nic looked around the kitchen feeling strangely embarrassed.

“I’m not. I nearly made a huge mistake.” She pointed out looking over at Aden and Geoff sitting in the lounge. “I nearly left the Bay without telling him I loved him.” she added.

“You still haven’t told me.” Geoff shouted out.

Nic giggled and them blushed.

“Yes ok.” she began. “I love you Geoffrey Campbell.” She told him.

He stood up and moved quickly towards her taking her into his arms and kissing her.

Aden watched them before moving over to Belle and taking hold of her hand.

“You do realise they will be like this a lot.” He pointed out to her.

She nodded.

“I’m sure we can compete.” She told him grinning.

“No!” Nic cried out. “This is not a contest.” She said still wrapped in Geoff’s arms.

“Well we would win Princess.” Aden told her. “I can guarantee that.”

He pulled on Belle’s hand and took her into his arms, turned around in a perfect circle before dipping her over his arm and kissing her.

Geoff and Nic grinned at the display.

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“Push.” He murmured.

She glared at him again.

“Would you like to tell me what I’ve been doing for the last hour?” she muttered

“I’m only trying to encourage you.” He pointed out. He moved to the end of the bed and started to rub her back slowly in smooth circles. “You are so close now. We’ll soon have our baby.”

She smiled over at him.

“Has it been worth all the effort?” she asked with a grin.

He nodded.

“I love you.” He murmured leaning over to press a kiss to her lips.

Turning he picked up the cloth from on top of the cabinet beside the bed and gently wiped her face.

“You are beautiful.” He told her.

She smiled and then grimaced as the next contraction began.

“Ok this is it.” Rachel called out. “I need a big push.”

“Ok.” she told Rachel gasping with the contraction.

She let out a scream she couldn’t hold back as the pain tore through her.

“I am so not coming near you again.” She hissed at him.

“The baby is nearly here. Just the shoulders to go and then all the hard work is over.” Rachel told her hiding her grin at the last pronouncement.

“That’s what you flipping think.” She gasped looking over at Rachel. “I don’t see you volunteering for nappy duty.”

Rachel chuckled.

“Of course not. Do I look that stupid? I had Tony deal with all of Harry’s” Rachel murmured.

She grinned then gasped.

“Another one.” She groaned.

“That’s it bear down.” He said to her taking in a gulp of oxygen.

He was feeling just a little bit faint and how would that look if he fainted at his baby’s birth. He’d never be able to live it down.

She looked over at him biting her lip as she pushed.

Suddenly they heard the baby start to cry.

“Congratulations you have a little girl.” Rachel told them softly.

“A daughter?” He questioned blinking suspicious tears away.

The baby was soon cleaned up and checked over before being placed gently in her mother’s arms.

“Well hello, little one.” She murmured looking down at her.

She saw wispy blonde hair and bright blue eyes before counting the fingers.

“She has all ten toes too.” Rachel told her with another grin.

“Sorry.” She murmured.

“Don’t be, it’s natural. She’s going to be a heartbreaker. She’s already got fabulous high cheekbones and the cutest lips.”

“Are you getting broody doctor?” she grinned as she asked the other woman.

Rachel nodded.

“Just a little.” Rachel confirmed. “Then I focus on dirty nappies and sleepless nights and it soon goes.”

“But worth it?” He questioned, his voice breaking with emotion as he looked upon his baby daughter.

Rachel nodded before slipping back in doctor mode.

“We can get you in your room now.” She told them. “We’re just going to take her away for a few moments.”

She looked down and stroked the baby’s cheek gently before handing her over to the nurse. Leaning back tiredly she rested on the pillows and soon drifted asleep. When she awoke she was in her room in the hospital, the baby lay in a crib beside her and her wonderful husband was asleep in the chair by her bed.

“Hey.” He mumbled waking up and looking at her. He rubbed his hand over his adorable face and blinked a couple of times before smiling at her.

“Hey yourself handsome.” She told him. “We have a daughter.” She murmured softly.

“I know. She’s as beautiful as her mother.” He grinned and leaned forward to press a gentle kiss to her lips.

“What are we going to call her?” she asked a worried frown on her face. “It has to be serious this time I am not calling her Tinkerbell.” She added in a fierce mutter.

He grinned.

“That was a valid suggestion.” He said stroking her hair away from her face and meeting her velvet gaze.

“Valid my…” she began to say before looking worriedly over at the crib beside her.

“She’s asleep.” He confirmed. “And anyway she’ll soon be used to you swearing.” He added with a chuckle.

She glared at him for a long moment before her face softened into a smile.

“Name.” She said bossily.

“Well there are so many to choose from.” He moaned. “I was hoping for a boy so we could call him after me.” He added.

“Junior?” she sneered. “I so don’t think so. One of you is enough to handle.”

He chuckled.

“Fair point. Ok, how about after that someone special who got us here?” he asked.

She nodded.

“I was thinking that as a middle name.”

He grinned some more and kissed her again.

“How about August?” he asked.

“As a name?” she murmured in response trying it out.

He nodded.

“It was August when you came back to me.” He pointed out.

She smiled and reached out to touch him. He caught hold of her hand and held it before pressing another kiss to her lips.

“I love you, thank you for my daughter.” He said softly.

She smiled up at him blinking back tears of happiness.

“We should tell the others.” She pointed out after a minute.

He nodded.

“We do have some people champing at the bit outside.” He said softly.

She chuckled.

“Hand me our daughter I want to hold her.” she whispered slowly.

He smiled and gently picked up the baby placing her equally as gently in her arms watching emotionally as he looked on them.

“You are beautiful.” He told her.

They shared an intense look before he walked over to the door and opened in.

“You can come in now.” He told the people waiting outside.

He stood back and let them come in.

“She’s gorgeous.” Nicole burst out.

Geoff nodded and leaned down to pick up his son, Justin Aden Campbell. Nic looked over at them and smiled. The boy looked just like his dad she thought proudly.

“Baby.” Justin murmured waving his hands enthusiastically.

“That’s right.” Aden grinned at his godson. “Baby.”

“How was it?” Nic asked moving over to sit in the seat recently vacated by Aden.

“Only a few bad bits.” Belle smiled at her. “I’m so tired though.”

Nic grinned.

“Well good luck with the sleep bit.” She murmured with a sideways look at her son.

Aden paled.

“A few bad bits?” he echoed. “I liked the bit where you were trying to tell Rachel to have another baby.”

Nic chuckled.

“We all do that.” She pointed out. “Have you seen Harry lately he is so cute.”

She and Belle shared a look.

“So what are you calling it?” Geoff asked Aden.

“It?” Belle asked him.

The two men smiled at each other.

“August Nicole Jefferies.” Aden said quickly diffusing the ticking hormonal bomb.

“That is so cute.” Nic gasped out.

“Gust.” Justin echoed.

“Close my boy.” Geoff said with a laugh.

“Pretty.” Justin said clapping his hands clumsily before pointing at the baby and smiling as she opened her eyes and pursed her lips before blinking over at Justin.

Aden and Geoff looked at each other.

“No way.” They said together.

Nic and Belle smiled.


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