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Story Title: Hope (Sequel to Faith)

Type of story: Long

Main Characters: Nicole Geoff and Roma, Charlie and Angelo, Roman, Miles, Ruby, Annie and Aden

BTTB rating: A (V/D, L)

Genre: Drama, Crime, and Romance

Does story include spoilers: No

Any warnings: Will warn at beginning of chapter if required

Summary: Something tragic happens in Summer Bay and the residents have to reveal some deep secrets to unravel the mystery. Can they bare their souls? Will they be forgiven their sins? Will there be a happy ever after? And how will they cope with the aftermath?




Authors Note: The song lyrics used in this story belong solely to the songwriters and no copyright infringement is intended.



WARNING: This chapter contains some scenes that some readers may find upsetting




And this house just ain't no home anytime she goes away - (Ain't no Sunshine - Bill Withers)





Nic sat at the table. She remained quiet and dry eyed. Geoff stood a little way off his gaze on the white frosted cake with the pink icing. He wanted to say something but no words could come past his frozen lips.

“It’s my fault.” Nic said at last, breaking into the silence that had grown between them.

“No Nic.” Geoff said but there was none of the man she loved in that voice.

She looked up at him them and in the space between them the cracks grew and deepened until there was nothing she could do to reach him. The door opened and Roman walked in with Charlie and Angelo following behind. In the silence they looked at one another feeling the dawning horror of the situation.

“Nic.” Roman said reaching the side of his daughter. He gave Geoff a glance wondering why the other man wasn’t comforting her and then in a fit of violence Geoff picked up the birthday cake and threw it as hard as he could at the wall with a scream that tore the heart out of Nic.

“Geoff.” She said holding out an unsteady hand to him.

He looked at her and then around at the other faces in the room feeling his rage and grief overwhelm him. Annie and Aden walked through the door followed by Miles, obviously hurrying into the house because they had heard the commotion.

“No.” he said and saw Nic recoil even though the word wasn’t directed at her. “No.” he repeated again. “NO!” he shouted. “No one is going to take our little girl away from us.” He screamed.

Nic burst into tears and pulled away from Roman stepping towards Geoff. She took a deep breath and then another releasing them slowly fearing the worst rejection yet. She stepped forward and in a heartbeat she had put her arms around Geoff.

He clung to her then feeling the strength of her as she held him.

“We need to look in Roma’s room.” Angelo said quietly.

Roman nodded leaving the couple together as he led Angelo up the stairs and to his granddaughter’s pink princess themed bedroom. He looked at the bed and thought how small it was to fit such a big personality as Roma’s. She made everyone smile and now she was gone.

“Roman.” Angelo said softly.

He stepped back and looked at the other man.

“Find her please.” He said the words that had been hovering on his lips.

“The first seventy two hours of a missing child search are the critical ones.” Angelo found he was saying and bit his lip. Quoting statistics wouldn’t help this family in their time of grief.

“What do you need?” Roman asked him.

“Do you know what she was wearing?” Charlie asked from behind them when she noticed Angelo had stopped talking. Her eyes met with Roman’s and she glanced hurriedly away.

“A pink party dress.” He told them. “Home made. Nic ran it up on her sowing machine.”

“Ok that is good.” Charlie said.

“Can you describe it to us?” Angelo asked.

Roman looked at them and then pulled out his phone. He clicked it open and scrolled through the menu until he found the picture of her and showed it to them.

“Can you send that to me?” Charlie asked.

Roman nodded and with a slight glance at Angelo he asked for her number. She recited her number and within seconds felt her phone buzz. She checked the picture had come through and then made a call speaking to someone back at the station.

“We need a physical description.” Angelo told him.

Roman nodded then told the other man his granddaughter’s height looking over at the measure on the other wall where they marked her height every year. He felt an emotional lump in his throat as he saw the mark Geoff had placed there just a few days ago when she’d begged to be measured saying she wanted to know if she got any bigger after her birthday. They’d laughed at her insistence commenting how like Nic she was.

“Blue eyes, pale complexion. Freckles.” He recited. “Left handed. She sucks her thumb when she is upset and never sleeps without Foxy.”

Angelo nodded writing down everything knowing some things would have no relevance.

“Distinguishing marks?” he asked the final question and their eyes met.

“A birthmark on her thigh and a small scar on her chin here.” Roman said pointed to a space on his own chin.

Angelo looked round the room seeing the dolls all lined up neatly on the windowsill all in their party dresses. He took in the sight of the teddy still tucked up in bed.

“That is Foxy.” Roman told him. “Named for his reddish brown fur.” He added the unnecessary detail.

Angelo nodded once more. He hoped like hell that this was just a lost child and not the unthinkable. Of all the crimes he knew about the taking of children from their homes for whatever reason chilled him inside. He thought to his little boy sitting at home being looked after by his aunt Ruby and waiting to find out if there was going to be a birthday party today and he felt a wave of revulsion go over him at having to explain why it was cancelled.

The three of them walked back down the stairs. They saw Miles and Annie on their phones cancelling the party and Roman looked on helplessly. Aden was in the kitchen clearing up the mess of broken cake.

“We’ll need to take statements from all of you.” Charlie told them. “We need to construct a timeline of what happened today.” She didn’t add about how they did this to eliminate suspects.

Roman nodded and looked over to Geoff and Nic still clinging to each other in their distress and then around the room seeing people looking at him and then looking quickly away or maybe that was just in his imagination.

“Do you have everything you need?” Nicole asked her voice cold.

Charlie walked over to her in the kitchen.

“Tell us again the last time you saw her?” she said softly.

“She was in the garden playing with Bubbles.” Geoff said feeling Nic squeeze his hand.

“And then?” Charlie prompted.

“We heard the traffic noise from the front of the house and we went out looking to see what it was.” Nic said quietly.

She looked past them all to the spot in the garden they had placed the body of the small kitten that had been an early birthday present to their little girl.

“And you found the cat?” Angelo asked them.

Geoff nodded.

“We thought that it was Roma who had been hit.” He said and his voice broke when he spoke her name.

“But it was her cat.” Nic said. “Oh Geoff how are we going to explain to her what happened to Bubbles?” she asked bursting into tears again.

“We carried her into the garden and called for Roma.” Geoff said his voice sounding like tears weren’t far away for him. “But she was gone.”

“Do you have a time for this?” Charlie said hating that she was pushing them.

“2:43.” Geoff said. “The party was set for 4 o’clock.”

She looked at Angelo and he nodded moving past them and outside to the shrouded body of the small kitten. He stepped back inside after a moment.

“We’ll be down at the station.” He said quietly.

Geoff and Nic looked at each other and then at him.

“What?” Nic asked fearfully.

Angelo wanted to hold back the information but a look at the couple made him speak.

“The kitten was killed. Its neck was broken.”

“Couldn’t that have happened in the accident?” Roman asked softly.

Angelo shook his head.

“No.” he said. “Whoever took Roma killed the kitten either luring her out with it or.” He stopped.

“Disposed of it after he got her.” Geoff finished and felt Nic shiver with reaction beside him.

“Poor little cat.” Annie said her eyes filled with tears.

Aden looked at her and walked over to her placing his hand on her pregnant stomach.

“Annie.” he said quietly.

“I’m fine.” She dismissed his concern, her eyes on Nic and Geoff.

“No Annie. You need to sit down.” Geoff told his sister. “Please.” He added.

She looked at him and then nodded moving over to the sofa and sinking down on it.

“You’ll need this.” Nic said thrusting a picture into Angelo’s hand. He nodded taking the snapshot that showed the little girl in her school uniform.

“Do you have a list of people that knew about the party?” Charlie asked.

Geoff nodded and pulled the list off the fridge door. It had all the names of everyone who had been invited. Including the people in Roma’s class she didn’t like because she said it was wrong to make them feel left out and maybe she would make friends with them. A whole new lump rose in his throat and he reached out an unsteady hand to Nic.

She nodded knowing what he was thinking and led him out of the room and up the stairs needing to give him some privacy and needing some for herself. She found her lips moving in silent prayer to whoever would be listening begging almost for the return of their daughter and felt guilty because only with Roma’s disappearance had she found some common ground with her husband. A husband that up until an hour ago had not touched her in months and a husband that had told her he wanted a divorce.

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Believe it or not, everyone have things that they hide (Nickleback - Believe it or not )

Geoff looked at Nic over the other side of the room. The cool shade of blue she had painted the walls was lit by the late afternoon sun coming in through the cream blinds at the window. He glanced at the bed and found his stomach twisting at the yellow cover on the bed remembering the amount of times they had made love in the bed. Remembering too the time he used it in the back garden to make a fort for Roma to play in. He gasped as a wave of pain ran though him and looked over at a now dry eyed Nicole. She had scrapped her hair back into a band and her face was devoid of make up and he wondered why he had not noticed that before now.

“I can’t do this.” He told her after a time when the silence went on.

“Do what?” she asked in reply her voice devoid of emotion.

“Pretend any longer. I know we agreed to keep the news about the divorce quiet until after her party but there doesn’t seem much point now does there? She’s gone.”

“Are you writing her off?” Nicole asked her eyes flashing blue sparks as she looked at him.

He made no reply but she caught his expression and gasped. Standing she moved to the window looking out on the trees outside and in a voice like ice she told him that at that point she wished him dead and a part of her meant it. She had risked everything to comfort him a while ago and he could only think of himself. Her daughter was missing and he was thinking of himself.

“Get out.” she told him. “Out.” she added in a voice she didn’t recognise as coming from herself.

“Nicole.” He said scathingly glaring at her.

“My daughter is missing and all you can think about is yourself.” she told him her hands moving in agitation.

“I’m not the selfish one here.” He told her bitterly. “I’m not the one who slept around behind your back.”

She sank to the floor crumpling the weight of everything that had happened falling on to her shoulders.

“Is that what you think?” she asked eventually. “Is that what this had been about?”

Nic eased in through the hotel room door with Liam following behind. She giggled when she tripped in the tall spindly heels and staggered feeling his hands grab hold of her waist.

“Are you drunk Nicole?” Liam asked.

She nodded.

“I’m a mum now.” She declared loudly.

Liam laughed.

“I know.” He told her in turn gabbing hold of her to steady her.

She swayed against him.

“I mean I’m a mum so I don’t drink.” She explained scowling at him as she tried to get her eyes to work.

He smiled down at her before helping her over to the bed. He bent down and removed her shoes putting them to one side before grabbing a bathrobe and putting it on her over her party clothes. She patted his head before turning and crawling up the bed where she grabbed the spare pillow and hugged it.

“Proud of you.” She said tiredly.

She had been to an awards dinner with him as he was honoured with a music award. They had sat through hours of talking before he was called upon to collect the award and make his acceptance speech.

“Me too kid.” He said leaving her to sleep.

He stood and moved to the door picking up the key to her room. With a last look at the woman fast asleep on his bed he made his way down the corridor and into the other hotel room he’d booked. Sighed he made his way to the bed and collapsed on top of the covers. He threw a hand over his eyes as he drifted to sleep. At least he told himself, he had a glamorous blonde in his bed it was just a pity that he was in another room. He grinned and thought about how hard she would hit him if he suggested they have a bit of fun. Not that he would of course because she was in love with her husband and he was crazy about her. It made him admit to himself that he should probably find himself a nice girl and settle down. Perhaps make a few kids for Roma to play with he mused thinking of the little girl that called him Uncle Liam. He grinned at that and slowly drifted to sleep.

Minutes later the phone rang beside the bed. He reached for it still more than half asleep in a desire to end the noise than answer the call.

“Yes.” He said into the receiver. “Liam speaking.”

He heard something before getting a click and the dial tone. He let it drop to the floor as he rolled over pulling up a blanket over him. He was worn out but at least he wouldn’t feel as bad as Nicole in the morning.

She woke up her head throbbing looking for the sound that had brought her round. Liam handed her a coffee and she sipped cautiously.

“What happened?” she asked fiddling with the bathrobe.

He looked at her and then grinned.

“Nothing I slept in your room.” he told her leaning over to kiss her on the forehead. “Hey!” he grouched when she sighed with relief. “That’s reassuring for my ego.”

She blushed.

“Sorry.” She told him. “But for a horrible moment I thought I’d done something stupid.”

“You mine like after Faith.” He said referring to her baby daughter who had tragically died. And for a time Nic had been drinking heavily.

She nodded.

“No.” he said. “Talked about Geoff a lot and then telling me all about Roma. Then you staggered into my room and I put you to bed.” He told her. “Of course I could have slept here but the thought of meeting Geoff in a dark alley afterwards scared me.”

She let out a giggle.

“He’s more likely to persuade you to go to church than anything violent.” She pointed out thinking of her handsome husband and his amazing faith.

“That is what I was scared off.” Liam told her.

She stood up form the bed and collected her shoes before leaving the bathrobe behind and made her way to her hotel room to get packed and changed ready to go home to her beautiful family. She didn’t see Geoff standing near the elevator watching her come out of Liam’s room.

Nicole turned and looked at him.

“It wasn’t what it looked like.” She told him.

He folded his arms.

“So Roma didn’t hear some strange man talking when she called you and I didn’t see you coming out of his room.” Geoff said his voice bitter sounding.

She laughed making an unearthly sound in the sudden quiet of the room.

“Well there is your proof. I slept in Liams room. I told you I got drunk. Liam used my room. That’s why she heard him on the phone.” She looked up feeling hope building inside herself and hating herself for it. “But it doesn’t matter. Go tell them I don’t’ care anymore.”

Geoff looked at her for a long moment before leaving her in the room by herself. He wanted to go over and hold her but a feeling of hopelessness washed over him. What if it was true? He’d put them through hell for nothing? And then there was Roma. He loved his little girl.

He heard Nic sobbing and warred with himself before going back into the bedroom. He went over to her and picked her up holding her in his arms.

“Nic.” He whispered.

“I’m so mad at you.” She told him.

He nodded holding her in his arms as he sat on the bed pulling a cover around her shaking form letting her cry knowing that she needed to.

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You've chosen the moment

And you're awaiting the pain,

So it's clear..

You've chosen... You've chosen to stay...

( Chosen to stay - Agent Steel)

Aden looked over at Annie handing her the glass of water he’d fetched her. She took a sip her eyes meeting with his. She didn’t return his smile and he once more sighed.

“Annie.” he said softly.

“Aden I’m trying.” She hissed at him looking hastily around the room at the others there and checking that they hadn’t heard her comment.

He flinched away from her and stood up looking over at Miles who was giving him an enquiring look. He half shook his head and moved away from her and into the kitchen.

“Aden.” Roman murmured.

“Annie is fine.” He told him knowing that the other man would ask.

“She seems pale.” Roman commented.

“Wouldn’t you be in this heat under these circumstances?” Aden snapped back.

Roman looked at him and then away.

“What were you doing around 2pm today?” Charlie asked him.

Aden flinched.

“Am I a suspect?” he said and then bit his lip. “Annie and I were at home.” He said after a pause. “She was resting. The pregnancy you know.”

Charlie nodded.

“See or hear anything suspicious over the past couple of days? Like someone hanging around that stood out. Or maybe a car moving down the street that you noticed. Perhaps it did it a few times. Anything like that?”

Aden thought for a moment before shaking his head.

“Aden.” Annie called from the other room.

He looked at them before walking through to the doorway between the kitchen and the lounge.

“I need to go home and lay down.” She told him.

“Ok.” he murmured. “Charlie is there anything else?” he asked turning to look at the other woman.

“Not at the moment but if you could think about what I said and if anything comes to mind let us know.” She told him.

Aden leaned over and helped Annie to her feet. He kept his arm around her waist as he led her out. Once outside she shook his arm off and they walked down the path.

“They wanted to know where we were at 2pm.” Aden said quietly.

“What did you tell them?” she asked glaring at him.

“I said you were resting.” He murmured. “That is the truth isn’t it.”

She gave him a look and then gasped as she felt the baby moving inside of her, reminding her of it’s presence. She moaned and looked at him seeing a look of revulsion on his face.

Annie sat on the sofa and looked at him. She saw him though narrowed eyes trying to work out what he was thinking.

“We’ll just say the baby is mine.” He murmured.

She shook her head.

“It’s not that simple.” She moaned as tears once more threatened.

“Isn’t it?” he asked. “You’re pregnant and you want to keep the baby.”

She nodded pressing a hand to her round stomach.

“What if he comes back?” she asked worriedly looking at the door.

“Then you decide what you want to tell him. He doesn’t deserve you or to know the baby after what he did. I will marry you and look after you both.” He promised.

She shook her head again and tears fell down her face.

“He is the father of my baby I can’t just walk out on him.” she moaned.

“But he won’t marry you.” He told her sitting next to her on the big sofa.

“No but its not simple. He loved Belle and he married her. “ she said easing away from him.

Romeo leaned forward.

“Annie I came back for you. Call me stupid but I did kind of think you would wait for me.” He told her.

She moaned again.

“How could I wait?” she muttered. “You left to move to America. I didn’t think you were coming back.”

“I loved you Annie you must have known that.” He protested.

“If you loved em you would have taken me with you Romeo but you left and I moved on and to come here now and tell me this stuff isn’t fair.”

“All’s fair in love and war.” He told her with a quirky grin.

She watched him stand and pace the room before he turned and looked at her.

“I want you Annie. Please come away with me. We’ll get married and I’ll give you and the baby my name.”

Annie eased up form the sofa feeling the baby kick inside of her almost like it was protesting this stress she was putting on it.

“No I can’t marry you.” She told him after a long silence.

He stepped forward placing his hand on her stomach and looking into her velvet eyes. She looked back at him and took a deep breath. He sighed too and leaned over and kissed her. He felt her arms wrap around him and he smiled before pressing her back toward the sofa. He eased them down kissing her running his hands over her body until he pressed once more on her pregnant bump. She flinched away from him and would have fallen off the sofa but for his quick reactions. Pulling herself upright she straightened her clothes and looked at him from under her lashes.

“You need to leave.” She told him. “And not come back. I’m with Aden and we are having a baby.”

He stood and looked at her seeing her face. She had a pinched expression and looked almost as though she was in pain.

“Whatever is between Aden and I is none of your business Romeo.” She added in a bitter tone. “You can’t swoop in here and make out you are here to rescue me.”

“Annie.” he protested.

“No.” she moaned. “No. Get out Romeo and don’t come back.” She screeched, finally losing control.

He looked at her in horror before backing away.

“I never meant…” he began.

“Never meant what? To come here and pick up where you left off? To think I would be waiting for you like some returning hero? To think I wouldn’t find someone else.” She shouted at him. “Well tough Romeo, life moved on while you weren’t here and I was happy.”

He shook his head and moved to the door and pausing he cast a last look at her before going out of it. The door slammed shut behind him.

She watched him go before the tears came and she collapsed to the floor sobbing her baby kicking inside of her.

“Aden.” She said quickly.

“Is the baby mine?” he asked.

She gasped and nodded.

“Of course this baby is yours how could you even doubt that?” she moaned looking at him tears falling down her face.

“Because you got pregnant so fast.” He told her. “And Romeo snuck into town to see you.”

Annie looked down at the ground and felt herself become dizzy. She swayed and would have fallen if he had not grabbed her in time. She tried to pull away only for him to hold her close to him.

“Annie don’t be stupid, ok.” he muttered angrily. “What am I going to think?”

“You were there?” she gasped looking at him.

He nodded.

“I heard everything.” He told her.

“Than you heard me tell him that I want to be with you?” she said although it came out as a question.

“Yes, I heard that. Right after I saw you kiss him.” he said leading her into their house and helping her sit on the chair.

“It wasn’t what you think. Is that why you asked…” she trailed off and pressed a hand to her stomach as the baby kicked again wincing.

“Annie you said you were happy with me and then I come home to you and him.” Aden said finally his tone full of hurt.

“Aden I was happy.” She moaned feeling pain across her middle. She ignored it and looked at him.

“But you want to be married.” He said it as a statement. “I thought you understood.” He told her. “About me and Belle.”

Annie stood up and gasped once more as pain rolled over her. She felt a gush of liquid down her legs and looked at him in horror.

“Annie.” he said quickly rushing to her side.

“Not now.” She moaned. “I can’t have the baby today what about Roma?”

“It will be ok.” he told her in a calm voice. “We need to get you to hospital. “ he said and moved up the stairs quickly grabbing her already packed bag. He came back down and ran back to her leading her out to the car. She clutched his arm as panic took hold of her.

“It will be ok.” he told her again and she gave him a strained smile.

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No use for your worry the time is now. – Misteeq

“I can’t do this!” Annie wailed.

Rachel looked over at her and gave her a smile.

“It’s ok Annie.” She said trying to reassure her.

“No you don’t understand.” Annie cried. “I can’t do this, Roma is missing.”

Rachel gasped.

“Oh my god.” She said.” How? Why? What happened?”

“We don’t know.” Annie said breathing heavily.

“Well I know its going to be difficult but you are going to have to focus on this delivery Annie. You are 5 cm dilated so it won’t be long.”

“And that’s another thing.” Annie moaned. “I don’t want a baby without being married.”

She shook her head agitatedly and burst into tears.

Rachel looked over at her and reached out her hand to stroke Annie’s long hair back from her face.

“Have you talked to Aden about this?” Rachel asked her after a minute.

Annie nodded.

“Not really. I was happy but then the thought if anything happens will God look after my baby?”

“Oh Annie you can think like that. Soon you are going to have a wonderful baby that you and Aden are going to love.” Rachel murmured.

Annie turned her head and looked at the mint coloured wall.

“He took Faith.” She said. “And what about Roma? How could he let their little girl be taken?” She moaned and then gave a whimpering cry as another contraction began.

The door flung open and Aden marched in. He took hold of Annie’s hand and looked into her eyes. She looked up at him.

“How is my baby doing?” Aden asked with a smirk.

Annie gave him a glare and feebly hit him with her hand. She noticed then the man standing behind him.

“Aden what…” she asked.

“You want to be married.” He said simply. “And I know this isn’t ideal timing but Annie I have a licence and a ring and a reverend. “

Annie gasped and looked at him a look of love shining in her eyes.

“Really?” she asked.

Aden nodded.

“I was planning to ask you a while ago Annie but we got caught up in Baby stuff.” He whispered. “I know this isn’t the most romantic moment I could have chosen but well.” He paused and got down on one knee. “Annie Campbell will you marry me?” he asked her.

She looked over at him and nodded.

“Yes please.” She said simply.

He smiled and eased up.

“Ok.” he said to the reverend.

“I don’t mean to be a killjoy here but I’m going to need two witnesses.” Reverend Willis murmured.

Aden looked in appeal to Rachel.

“Hang on.” She cried and rushed out of the room.

Annie looked up at Aden and grabbed hold of his hand.

“Are you sure?” she gasped. “I’m not beautiful like Belle.”

Aden looked at her and gave a small smile before he leaned over and looked her in the eyes.

“We both know Belle was beautiful and we will always love her but you my Annie are my soul. You are so loving and compassionate. I want to be the man who puts a ring on your finger and tell the whole world you are mine. Not because this is my baby but because being without you will rip my heart out.” he leaned over and kissed her gently on her lips. “Annie, I love you.” He murmured.

She looked at him and blinked back tears.

“Aden I love you.” She gasped before clutching tight at his hand. “Better tell Rachel to hurry.” She moaned through her teeth as the contraction shook her petite frame.

Rachel moved into the room then with a couple of the nurses. Aden recognised Julie and returned her smile. Each of them were carrying something. Rachel had a white hospital gown and moved over to the bed dressing Annie in it quickly. Nurse Julie handed her a bunch of flowers tied together with a strip of gauze bandage in a big flamboyant bow. She moved to the top of the bed and tied a similar strip around Annie’s hair before tucking a flower behind her ear. Aden smiled at their efforts and saw Annie touching the flower uncertainly.

“You look lovely.” He told her, his voice ringing with truth.

Nurse Julie turned to him and pinned a flower to his T-shirt hearing his gasp of surprise. The other nurse added a vase of flowers to the bedside table before lighting the candle she placed there too. They helped Annie to sit upright adjusting the bed to make her more comfortable.

“Ready?” Reverend Willis asked them.

Aden looked at Annie and saw her nod.

“Please.” He asked the Reverend.

“Dearly Beloved.” He intoned. “We are hear to witness the union of these two people. They have declared their lover for each other.”

Annie looked up at Aden and clutched at his hand squeezing it tight. She gritted her teeth biting back the cries as another contraction began.

“Do you Aden,” the Reverend began to ask.

“Yes I do,” Aden interrupted and heard a smattering of laughter.

“Do you Annie?” the Reverend turned and asked her.

“Yes I do.” She said her voice rising at the end of the sentence.

“Then I declare you husband and wife and you may kiss the bride but I think you’ve already done that.” He intoned.

Aden looked over and Annie before leaning forward and pressing his lips to hers.

“Right then, everyone who doesn’t need to be here should leave.” Rachel called out moving over to them.

“Wait.” Annie cried out.

She raised her arm and threw the bouquet in the air. It sailed across the room before Reverend Willis caught it. He looked at it in puzzlement as if he couldn’t believe he had caught it. Annie laughed and looked over at him.

“You should meet my friend Ruby.” She told him.

Aden let out a slow chuckle watching, as the puzzled reverend became an embarrassed one.

“I think we should focus on having a baby before you get Ruby married off.” He told her and then dug in his pocket. “I forgot this.” He added.

He opened the blue velvet jewellery box and slid the white gold wedding ring on Annie’s finger leaning over and kissing her again.

“I love you Mrs Jefferies.” He murmured softly seeing her eyes fill with tears again at the name.

“My baby is going to have your name.” She murmured.

Aden nodded.

“Our baby.” He corrected.

He looked at her face and knew that she was thinking of Roma again and he put his arm around her shoulders.

“It will be ok. I don’t know how but everything will be ok.” he promised softly knowing that he would anything to make it so.

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  • 3 weeks later...

He's more than a man

And this is more than love

(Unfaithful by Rhannia)

Roman looked over at the woman.

“Did anyone know you were coming?” she asked.

“No.” he said quietly.

“They are going to need to know where you were at the time Roma disappeared.” She said looking anxiously around.

“I know that and I have a record that makes it worse.” He muttered folding his arms.

He paced a little way up the beach and then back to her.

“What do you want me to say?” he asked her.

She shook her head, her long dark hair falling around her face.

“I don’t know.” She cried.

He nodded and turned looking out to sea.

“It shouldn’t have happened.” She muttered.

“But it did.” He said.

“That doesn’t help does it?” she gasped out freshly hurt by his statement. “I’m married.” She muttered.

“I know that and I feel just as guilty as you.” He muttered stepping back over to her.

She shook her head.

“Stay back Roman.” She instructed.

“Maybe I can’t.” he explained softly.

“Don’t do this ok, it was a one off. We were tempted. It won’t happen again.” She said frowning.

He stepped forward and looked into her velvet eyes.

“Is that what you really believe?” he asked.

She gasped before his lips met with hers and she wrapped her arms around him and kissed him back.

“All on your own?” Roman asked sipping a beer in the surf bar.

Charlie nodded.

“My husband was supposed to meet me here but he’s got tied up.” She said quietly.

“Angelo.” Roman said a note entering his voice.

“What is that for?” she asked him glaring at him.

Roman shrugged.

“Nothing.” He said.

“No Roman if you have something to say then you should say it.” she muttered.

“I wasn’t around when the rest of Summer Bay forgave him.” he said softly.

“Meaning?” she said her anger growing.

“Forget it Charlie.” He said after a long pause.

“No you have something to say about him?” she said. ”Spit it out.”

“Charlie I don’t want to get into an argument with you.” He stated.

“You know something Roman you never did.” She sneered.

He gave her a look and then stood up draining his beer before placing the empty bottle on the bar.

“And you dear Charlie never respected boundaries.” He murmured turning and walking away from her. She watched him walk out of the door and swallowed the last of her orange juice before she followed him. She caught up with him by his car placing her hand on his arm.

He reacted, spinning her around and pinning her against the car door. His hand coming up and placing it on the side of her face as he looked into her eyes.

“What do you want Charlie?” he asked softly.

She licked her suddenly dry lips.

“Nothing.” She stammered.

“Really?” he asked.

“Let me go.” She said huskily.

“Why did you follow me?” he asked her his finger tracing the outline of her lips.

“Because you were wrong.” She said quietly.

“What was I wrong about?” he asked his blue eyes burning into hers.

“Us.” She said. “Angelo.” She corrected herself.

He looked at her and then glanced around before his lips descended on hers. She kissed him back hungrily. He eased back and looked at her.

“I heard you tell me that you thought you were falling for me Charlie.” He said quietly.

“That was a long time ago.” She gasped. “I’ve moved on.” She added.

“But I wasn’t ready to hear those words.” He said quietly.

“No you still loved Martha.” Charlie protested.

“No. I was messed up because of what I did.” He told her.

“What are you saying Roman?” she asked him puzzled, her lips still tingling from his kisses.

“Nothing or everything.” He said looking at her. “Come home with me.” He said after a pause.

She looked at him and shook her head.

“I’m married Roman, I have a son.” She said.

“I won’t ask you again.” He murmured.

She stepped away and he opened the car door moving to climb inside.

“Wait.” She said after a moment.

He turned and looked at her.

“Just talk.” She stated.

He nodded.

Moving around the car she climbed into the car next to him and went home with him. He showed her inside the small neat apartment and poured her out a glass of wine. She sipped from it nervously.

“I shouldn’t be here.” She said quietly.

He nodded.

“This is wrong.” She said again.

“I’m not forcing you. I’m not even touching you.” He said.

“Maybe I would feel better if you did,” she said before she could censor herself.

He moved then and sat with her taking the glass from her nervous hand and placing it on the table in front of them.

“You still wear your hair long.” He commented.

She nodded and then sighed as he brushed it slowly through his fingers.

“Still feels like silk.” He said softly.

“Kiss me.” She begged huskily.

He smiled and placed his lips on hers. She wound her arms around his neck as he lowered her to the sofa. His fingers found the edge of her blouse and he slowly peeled it away kissing the flesh he exposed hungrily.

“Yes.” She moaned through taught lips.

Roman moved his hands up her body until his fingers tangled with hers. He felt the metal of her wedding ring cut into his hand and he didn’t care.

“We shouldn’t have done that.” Charlie said to him.

“What do you want me to say?” Roman asked her. “I don’t regret it.”

“You should, it was wrong.” She moaned putting her hand to her mouth.

“How can I regret it Charlie?” he asked her his eyes burning into hers once more. “Either just now or this afternoon.”

“Which brings us back to what are you going to say to Angelo?” she asked nervously.

“That I was asleep alone and I don’t have an alibi.” He decided.

“But that isn’t the truth.” She gasped out.

“You want me to tell him that I was making love to his wife and she told me that she hadn’t felt like that for a long time?” Roman asked her feeling stung for a moment and lashing out.

“Oh god no.” she gasped. “Please don’t.” she moaned.

“Then I’ll tell him I was alone.” He murmured.

She looked at him and felt the pull of attraction between them.

“Roman.” She said quietly her lips trembling.

“You better go.” He said to her.

She nodded.

He nodded too.

They looked at each other before Charlie turned around and began the lonely walk away. She placed a hand to her stomach and sighed. She and Angelo had been trying for another baby but so far nothing had happened and she’d just had unprotected sex with Roman. How could she have been so stupid? She cursed herself and felt a small feminine part of her inner self rejoice with a strange feeling of hope.

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  • 1 month later...

Cover my eyes

Cover my ears

Tell me these words are a lie

It can't be true

That I'm losing you

The sun cannot fall from the sky

(Tears of an Angel by RyanDan)

Nic looked at Geoff from her seat in the kitchen and sighed.

“Ok.” she agreed.

“You know I wouldn’t suggest it but “ he stopped and looked over at the wall, at some distant point unable to finish the sentence.

“It’s Annie and she deserves to have some fuss made of her and the baby.” Nic agreed her voice breaking on the word baby.

He nodded and walked over to where she was sitting kneeling in front of her.

“I’m sorry Nic.” He said softly his hand reaching out to her.

She flinched away from his touch.

“I know you are.” She told him her blue eyes filling with tears.

Geoff stood and eased away folding his arms across himself.

“I’ll go and pick up the present we ordered for her if you want a few minutes to get ready?” he asked.

Nic eased up from the hard wooden chair feeling her legs protest after sitting still for so long. She stepped towards the door and looked at him.

“I think I’ll take a shower.” She told him in a voice that was heartbreakingly normal.

“Ok.” he said. “I won’t be long.”

Nic nodded once more unable to say anything to him as she climbed the stairs slowly and moved into the bathroom. Geoff waited hearing the shower come on before he opened the front door. He saw one of Roma’s toys discarded on the front porch and gasped as a wave of pain washed over him. Picking it up he sat down wiping tears from his face. He clutched the rag doll to him as though it were his little girl and began to cry.

“Dada!” Came Roma’s high-pitched voice as he walked through the door.

“Hello.” He called hanging up his jacket behind the door.

Roma began to toddle over to him and he knelt down and picked her up.

“How are my favourite girls?” he asked carrying her as he walked over to Nic and kissed her.

“We are fine aren’t we Roma?” Nic sang out including her daughter.

“Dada.” Roma said once more.

Geoff smiled at his family and carefully put Roma on her feet so that he could kiss Nic properly. She wound her arms around his neck carefully keeping her flour-covered hands from touching his shirt.

“Hello.” He said softly after another breathtaking kiss.

“Hey Husband.” Nic said with a sassy grin.

He felt Roma tug on his trouser leg trying to get his attention again and he smiled.

“You say she takes after me one more time Geoff Campbell.” Nic warned.

Geoff grinned and swatted Nic on her behind loving that surprised look on her face. She pulled away from him and moved back to the pastry she was making.

“I think you should give Roma her bath.” Nic suggested smiling at his grin.

“Bath.” Roma agreed lifting up her hands in a plea to be picked up the word sounding sweetly like ‘baff’.

He reached down and put his hands on her waist lifting her easily into his arms. He leaned over and kissed Nic one more time before carrying their daughter up the stairs and into the bathroom. He left her watching the water filling the large white bathtub while he moved into her room and picked out fresh pyjamas to put her in. Walking back into the bathroom he saw she had put her rag doll into the water.

“What’s this?” he asked stifling a giggle.

“Dolly baff.” She lisped with a smile.

He knelt down and fished the doll out of the water turning off the taps.

“Well I can see that but this dolly doesn’t like the bath.” He tried to explain.

Roma pouted and he was forced to put the doll back in the water stopping himself from laughing at how stubborn she was already.

“What is all this giggling about?” Nic asked peering round the bathroom door.

“Roma decided to baff her dolly.” Geoff told his wife.

Nic chuckled and moved over to Roma.

“Who is a stubborn minx?” she asked her tickling her. “I think Dolly only just dried out from her baff last night.”

Geoff looked at his smiling wife and his laughing daughter and grinned.

“Dolly play. Roma play.” Roma explained in her lisping voice. “Baff.”

Nic laughed at her daughter’s logic before feeling Geoff’s lips on hers as he kissed her once more. This was all he ever wanted, his family, happy and safe.

Nic looked up and turned the shower off climbing out and pulling on her satin bathrobe. The steam ran out of the room as she opened the door. She heard it then and ran down the stairs pulling open the door.

“Geoff.” She cried out.

He looked up tears pouring down his face.

“Oh Geoff.” She said softly easing down next to him on the front doorstep. She placed her arms around him and held him feeling sobs shake his frame.

“I need her back.” He cried out.

“I know.” Nic said softly.

He found a comforting strength in her embrace and sighed

“Oh Nic.” He gasped out. “Why has it all gone wrong?”

“Shush.” She cried out her hand stroking down his back as she held him.

He eased away and looked at her.

“Nic.” He murmured his eyes burning into hers.

She nodded and stood leading him into the house and over to the sofa. He kissed her feeling her hands clutch at his top. His own hands reached for the belt of her robe and he loosened it as he bore her back to the sofa all the time his lips on hers.

“Tell me you want me.” He begged huskily.

Nic’s eyes closed for the fraction of a second before she looked at him again. She lifted her hand to his face and stroked it gently.

“Geoff.” She murmured.

“Sorry.” He said easing away.

“No.” She protested. “Geoff, I want you.” She added in a husky murmur.

He looked into her eyes before he kissed her again and moved his hands down her body. Peeling the damp bathrobe away he pressed kisses along her neck and down to her lush breasts. She shook underneath him her hands touching him in turn.

“Make love to me.” She whispered to him.

He gave her a small smile before easing himself between her thighs. He felt her hands caressing him and he moaned against her neck stifling his cries of pleasure. They began to make love slowly relevantly, holding one another as they reached their peak together.

“Nic.” He murmured sadly his breathing still ragged.

She turned her face away and closed her eyes.

“I’ve lost you too haven’t I?” he asked.

“We lost each other.” she said quietly.

He stood and adjusted his clothes before reaching out his hand to hers trying not to flinch when she ignored the outstretched hand and sat up pulling her robe around her.

“Do you still want to see Annie?” she asked him.

He nodded unable to say anything.

“I’ll get dressed.” She murmured and walked up the stairs.

He watched her go before standing up and moving back to the doorstep to pick up Roma’s rag doll. He held it to him for a moment before placing it carefully on the box of toys they kept for her in the front room.

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Stop callin', stop callin',

I don't wanna think anymore!

I left my head and my heart on the dance floor.

(Telephone by Lady GaGa)

Angelo knocked on Roman’s door and waited for a couple of heartbeats before he knocked again. The door swung open and he peered through the screen at the other man.

“Any news?” Roman asked reaching out and undoing the catch on the screen door.

Angelo opened it and walked inside.

“Sorry nothing yet. I need to know your whereabouts at the time Roma was taken.” Angelo said quietly.

“Yeah I know. Sorry mate I have no alibi I was here alone. In fact I was even asleep.” Roman said. He avoided eye contact thinking it was funny how guilty he felt.

“Mind if I look around. It’s routine in these cases.” Angelo said after a pause.

Roman shrugged.

“If you think it will help.” Roman invited the other man in, stepping to one side.

He folded his arms looking around the room himself hoping there was nothing to give away his affair with Charlie that the other man could find.

“You say you were alone?” Angelo asked coming out of the bedroom.

Roman nodded.

“Interesting that there were two indentations on the pillows.” Angelo murmured. “What was her name?”

Roman shrugged.

“I was on the couch.” He pointed out truthfully. “I haven’t used the bed since last night.” He added lying.

“Still I need a name Roman.” Angelo insisted.

“Sorry mate. We didn’t do names.” Roman added another lie. He thought he had made the bed earlier but obviously forgot to fluff his pillows.

Angelo nodded and pulled out his notebook.

“Alone and asleep.” He murmured as he wrote in his book.

“Seriously, you can’t think I would have taken my own granddaughter do you?” Roman asked him an edge of aggression entering his voice.

“Its not unheard off.” Angelo pointed out. “Otherwise we wouldn’t have to ask these questions would we.”

“I don’t think I like your tone.” Roman said taking a step forward towards the other man.

“Tell me how much strength would it take to brake a kittens neck.” Angelo began. “Or even a little girl’s?” he added.

“What are you trying to insinuate here?” Roman asked his tone like ice as he took in the other man’s stance and words. All aggression left him at the realisation that somehow Angelo knew about him and Charlie. His eyes scanned around the room looking to find out what Angelo had seen and he bit back a sigh. The wineglass he’d washed up. The pillows he definitely should have thought about the pillows he cursed himself. Perhaps the other man had noticed a hair on the pillow one of Charlie’s long brunette strands.

“You are right I’m being too aggressive. It’s just that this sort of crime is the worst to investigate.” Angelo was saying bringing Roman out of his guilt-ridden reverie.

“Angelo I don’t envy your job here and I hope you find whoever had Roma.” He didn’t need to add the words before I do because the look on Angelo’s face showed Roman that he understood.

“I have a little boy not that much older than Roma. He adores her.”

“I don’t blame him. She’s an adorable little girl.” Roman said feeling the impact of Roma’s kidnapping for the first time, he’d only just stopped himself from using the past tense to describe her.

“Made Charlie and I decide to try again you know, to see if we could have a daughter this time.” Angelo murmured.

“Really?” Roman asked.

He couldn’t help his thoughts drifting back to earlier and the way Charlie was with him. How guilty she was and he sighed.

“I need to go.” Angelo murmured. “If there is anything you can think off that might help you should let me know ok.”

“Don’t worry I will.” Roman murmured and turning he escorted Angelo to the door watching as the other man moved to his car and drove off before pulling out his phone and dialling Charlie’s number.

“I can’t get to my phone right now please leave a message.” He heard Charlie’s voice say through the speaker.

“Give me a call.” He said simply and clicked his phone shut.

Charlie looked at the caller display and deleted the last incoming call before turning to Ruby.

“What were you saying?” she asked her sister.

“Who was that on the phone Charles you look pale.” Ruby murmured walking back into the kitchen.

“Oh it was a sales call. I think I need a coffee.” She announced putting the jug on to boil.

“I was thinking that we should visit Annie at some point. I know that Roma is still missing but it seems horrible that we aren’t making a fuss of her and I’m dying to see the baby.”

“I know.” Charlie said slowly. “But all I can think about is Roma. What if they had gone after my boy too? You know they are together more often than not.” She paused and looked at her sister. “How selfish do I sound?” she added. “Poor Nic and Geoff going through this. I feel helpless and I’m a police officers I should be doing more.”

Ruby looked over at her before walking to her and putting her arm around Charlie’s shoulder.

“It’s ok Charles I think we understand. Angelo sent you home to get some rest didn’t he. So why don’t you put your feet up for a while and then go back down to the station.” Ruby suggested.

“I think I will. Thanks Rubes.” Charlie collected her phone and the cup of coffee she had made and moved through to the bedroom she shared with Angelo. She felt a grimace cross her face before she sat on the bed. Opening her phone she dialled voicemail and listened to Roman’s message before deleting it.

Standing she went over to the door and closed it before dialling his number.

“Leave me alone.” She told him as soon as he answered.

“I wanted to let you know that Angelo was here.” Roman said smoothly.

“Oh.” Charlie gasped out. “And you said what you agreed.” She murmured in some sort of code.

“Just like we agreed.” He bit out and hung up the phone.

Charlie looked at her caller display before deleting the last called numbers from the caller list. She moved back to the bed and lay on top of the covers an unknown thrill of excitement running through her.

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This is the way you left me,

I'm not pretending.

No hope, no love, no glory,

No Happy Ending.

This is the way that we love,

Like it's forever.

Then live the rest of our life,

But not together.

(Happy Ending – Mika)

Aden looked at Geoff and Nicole walking towards him and grimaced. Normally the other couple held hands or was touching in some small way but the way they walked seemed so separate.

“Geoff, Nic.” He greeted them.

“Aden.” Geoff said softly coming over and shaking hands with him.

“I take it there is no news.” Aden murmured and saw Nic shake her head her eyes on Geoff.

“No nothing.” Geoff said quickly.

“I think you should know that .” Aden paused looking at Nic in that moment seeing how pale she had gone. “Nic?” he questioned.

“I’m fine.” She said slowly blinking up at him.

She reached out in seeming slow motion before all strength left her and she fell forwards. Geoff moved quickly taking her deadened weight in his arms and picking her up as she collapsed into a dead faint.

“Bring her into this room. “ Aden said indicating the free room next door to where Annie lay with their new daughter. He rushed down the corridor and had them fetch Rachel before turning and going back to the room. He saw Geoff leaning over a still unconscious Nic.

“Geoff.” He murmured. “Rachel is coming.”

“It’s ok. She hasn’t eaten anything.” Geoff said slowly.

“Neither have you from the looks of it.” Aden pointed out softly.

“Yesterday, I think.” Geoff muttered pushing his hand through his hair.

Rachel pushed the door open and stepped inside.

“Hello Geoff how are you doing?” she asked softly.

“Fine.” He dismissed her question focusing on Nic.

Rachel moved over to the bed and began an examination of the unconscious girl on the bed. She moved to the edge of the room taking something off the shelf unit before going back to the bed. They heard a click before watching Rachel place a capsule under Nic’s nose, moving it back and forth, the modern equivalent of smelling salts.

“Come on Nic wake up.” Rachel said gently. “Nic.” She called the other girl’s name and watched as she started to come round.

“Wha…” Nic moaned.

“You fainted.” Geoff burst out with walking over to the bed and taking hold of her hand.

She reacted quickly pulling her hand away from his grasp.

“I’m fine.” She muttered trying to sit up.

“Steady.” Rachel murmured placing her hands on Nic’s shoulders and keeping her in the bed. “Perhaps Aden you could take Geoff outside for a coffee.” She suggested watching as they reluctantly moved outside.

“I’m fine.” Nic said again sitting up.

“Nic.” Rachel murmured her name.

Nic looked up and wiped at the tears filling her eyes.

“Have you told him?” she asked and saw Nic give a quick shake of her head. “Don’t you think you should?”

Nic sighed looking at Rachel.

“It’s not that easy.” Nic told her thinking back.

“It’s no good Nic, I appreciate the flowers and the candlelit supper but I want a divorce.” Geoff said keeping his voice low.

“What?” she asked him thinking that she had misheard him.

“I want a divorce.” He enunciated clearly.

“Why?” she asked puzzled feeling her heart pounding in her chest.

“This marriage isn’t working. I’ve moved my clothes into the spare room. I’ll sleep in there.” He tossed the linen napkin to the table and looked at her seeing the way the candles lit up her beautiful lying face.

“What makes you think I want you in this house?” she hissed at him.

Geoff stood up and looked at her.

“Keep your voice down.” He instructed her. “I don’t want Roma upset.”

“Oh by all means lets not upset Roma. “ Nic said sarcastically.

He turned away from her and moved to look out of the window at the shadows outside in the back garden.

“Obviously this is upsetting for both of us.” He began focusing on keeping his voice level. “But we have a daughter and we need to keep things going for her at least.”

Nic gave a strangled moan lifting the napkin to her mouth as nausea threatened to take over.

“You’ve thought this out?” she gasped out.

“I’ve done nothing but thing for the past few weeks Nic. I can’t do anything else. Out marriage is over. I’m sorry.” He murmured the words wondering why he was the one apologising.

“You’ll forgive me for not clearing the table.” Nic said standing up and running out of the room. She made it to the bathroom in time turning on the taps in the sink to muffle the sound of her being sick before leaving the bathroom and crawling into bed. She lay in silence hearing Geoff come up the stairs. He paused by the bedroom door before moving down the hall to the spare room and only when she heard that door close did she give into the tears of shock and hurt that were falling down her face.

“I know about Roma.” Rachel was saying when Nic came back to the present. “But I thought you were going to tell him?”

Nic looked down.

“Geoff wants a divorce.” She found herself telling the other woman and the first time she had told anyone.

“Oh Nic.” Rachel said softly. “Is that why you haven’t told him?”

Nic nodded and wiped at the tears on her face.

“It’s all gone wrong and it’s all my fault.” Nic moaned putting her arms around herself and rocking back and forth on the bed.

“Ok Nic. “Rachel murmured. “I’m going to give you a light sedative and admit you for the night. I think we need to get you calmed down.”

She moved back over to the end of the room and collected a syringe filling it with a clear liquid before heading back to Nic and wiping her arm with a sterile dressing.

“It won’t hurt the baby?” Nic asked looking up at her.

“No Nic it won’t harm your pregnancy, ok.” Rachel said easing her back on the bed. “Stay here ok.” she added discarding the needle in the sharps bin before disposing of the syringe.

Nic nodded, closing her eyes and pressing a hand to the curve of her belly.

“I want Roma back.” She moaned as she drifted to sleep.

“I know sweetie.” Rachel told her stroking the hair back from her face. She pulled up a blanket over her before heading out to talk to Aden and Geoff wondering what she was going to tell them.

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Every breath you take and every move you make

Every bond you break

Every step you take, I'll be watching you

(Every Breath you take – Police)

Miles looked round his kitchen before putting the last of the food away. He’d brought home the food from Nic and Geoff’s place that they were due to have at the party thinking that with it out of the way it would be one less thing for them to worry about. He and Roman had taken down all the decorations too, leaving the house looking somehow sadder for the removal of the balloons and streamers and although Roman hadn’t said much he’d picked up on the other man being distracted.

He turned and looked in the doorway seeing Angelo about to knock.

“Come in.” he called out to him.

“Miles.” Angelo murmured looking at the other man.

“You look tired.” Miles commented. “Can I get you a drink?”

“I’m fine thanks Miles.” Angelo muttered. “I need to…” he stopped and looked at him.

“Ask me my whereabouts?” Miles said. “I was here for most of the afternoon. I took a walk on the beach and that’s it.”

He eased into a chair at the table and motioned for Angelo to sit.

“Thanks Miles.” Angelo murmured softly.

“I imagine this is difficult. Having to ask us where we were and all.” Miles told him.

“Not half. I mean Roman had no alibi. Said he was asleep. I had to search his place.” Angelo said softly. “I have to speak to Nic and Geoff too.”

“What about Hugo?” Miles asked quickly. “Is he still in Prison?” he referred to the man that has assaulted Nic and then tried to kill her when she returned to the Bay.

“Already checked that out.” Angelo told him. “He’s been transferred to a jail in Victoria. He’s still there.”

“Do you think it’s someone close to them?” Miles asked.

“I don’t know.” The other man said rubbing his hand over his face. “Is there anyone you can think off that would have a grudge against Nic or Geoff?”

Miles shook his head.

“There is also Roman.” He pointed out.

“Elliot Gillen is still in jail.” Angelo said.

“Gardy?” Miles suggested.

“No trace of him since Roman went to jail.”

“I’m sorry Angelo I’m not much help here.” Miles said to him after a long silence.

He thought back to earlier in the day, he and Roman had been having a beer in the surf bar. He closed his eyes as he remembered Charlie walking in as he had left. He’d been on the beach and he saw. What was it he saw? Nothing Charlie and Roman talking and then Roman left.

“You’ve remembered something?” Angelo was asking him bringing his attention back to the other man.

“No. I was just thinking about Roma.” He prevaricated. “She must be so upset about Bubbles.”

Angelo nodded.

“I can imagine. My little boy has been bugging me for a puppy.”

Miles grinned and stood up. He walked over to the coffee pot and poured out two cup bringing them back to the table.

“Thanks.” Angelo murmured accepting the cup and taking a long drink.

“What about Geoff. Is there anyone he encountered while he did missionary work that might have a grudge.” Miles suggested.

“I would have thought so. We’ll be asking him that of course.” Angelo shrugged. “I did hear that Romeo was back in town for a visit. Did he come here at all?”

“Romeo? No I haven’t seen him.” Miles frowned and moved over to check his phone. “No, no messages.” He added in a puzzled tone of voice.

“I’ll have to get in touch with him.” Angelo noted.

“This is his number.” Miles said reciting Romeo’s number from memory.

“Thanks. I need to go.” Angelo stood. “One last think though I need to take a look around.” He added flushing.

“Well the keys to the caravans are there, I’ve only got two booked out at the moment and of course Colleen.” Miles murmured softly.

“I hate this Miles.” Angelo confessed. “I mean how long have you been here and I have to treat you as a suspect.”

“Well normally I insist on dinner first but in your case I’ll make an exception. Come on lets get this done.” Miles told the other man picking up the keys and leading Angelo out.

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  • 2 weeks later...

'cause if you're not really here

then the stars don't even matter

now i'm filled to the top with fear

but it's all just a bunch of matter

'cause if you're not really here

then i don't want to be either

i wanna be next to you

(Black and Gold – Sam Sparro)

Geoff paced outside the room where Nic lay asleep. Rachel had told him some story about nervous collapse but he couldn’t ever imagine his Nic collapsing with nerves and that had him worried. He couldn’t lose her too.

He was brought up short by that thought and the easy acceptance that Roma was gone form them forever. Sighing he moved over to the nearby chairs and sat down in one feeling his legs shaking with the effort of keeping him standing. Even if Nic never forgave him for the mistake that ended their marriage he couldn’t stand the thought of a world without her in it. And he hoped to god that after they got their daughter back Nic would give him a chance to make up for what he’d done.

“You should go home.” Rachel told him. “She needs rest.”

“I know. But I don’t have anything to go home for Rachel. My whole life is here right now.” Geoff told her.

“So what is this story that Nic told me about you wanting a divorce?” she asked quickly moving over to sit next to him. Her petite frame sinking down on the hard wooden chair.

Geoff looked up, his eyes meeting her compassionate gaze and he felt his heart crumbling.

“I made a mistake.” He muttered rubbing a hand over his tired face. “I thought she had an affair but I was wrong.”

Rachel sat back one hand resting on his arm and the other wrapped around her midriff.

“You have proof?” Rachel asked not really sure why she had uttered the words.

“I saw her tiptoe out of Liam’s room one morning. I thought that she…” Geoff stopped lifting his eyes to the ceiling seeing the fluorescent lights and the cream tiles above him. “Well I thought wrong.” He muttered defensively. “I should have trusted her.”

Rachel nodded, her thoughts drifting back to her own past situation.

“Maybe.” She said softly. “But that is in the past. Surely you can move on from it?”

“I want to Rachel. I want to go in there now and just sit holding her hand just so she isn’t alone tonight.“ he murmured. “Even if she hates me in the morning I just don’t want her to be alone.”

Rachel found her eyes welling up at his words and nodded gravely.

“Go on.” She said quietly.

Geoff looked at her and back at the door to Nic’s room.

“I can’t.” he said after a moment.

“Why? You just gave the most romantic speech I’ve ever heard so what is stopping you?” Rachel asked him puzzled.

“I’m scared that I’ll hurt her more.” He confessed. “Maybe I should be out looking for Roma. Or I don’t know.” He said slowly. “And instead I’m in there with her.”

“If it were me. I would want you to hold my hand.” Rachel said after a time.

Geoff looked once more at the door before standing up and walking over to it. He put his ahdn to the door handle and paused, taking a deep breath before opening the door and moving inside the room. He was at Nic’s bedside within in five steps and he sat down next to her. She was deep asleep and looked like an angel. He thought of all the times they had looked in on Roma and thought the same thing and sighed once more. He saw Nic start to twist on the bed as a dream overtook her and reached out slowly to stroke her hair away from her head. She eased back into a deep sleep once more as though she knew he was there watching over her.

“Nic, I love you.” He said quietly but his words still filled the room.

“Love you too.” She said still asleep before snuggling down under the covers.

He looked at her before a slow smile crept on to his face.

“We’re going to get through this and get our little girl back.” He promised her. “I love you so much and I’m so sorry.”

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