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Just the Once

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My latest fiction, hope you enjoy.(I'd come up with a longer intro but Holby City's on in a minute...)

Story Title: Just the Once

Type of story: Long

Main Characters: Xavier, Mink, April, Romeo, Indigo, Dexter and others

BTTB rating: T/A

Genre: Drama

Does story include spoilers: No

Any warnings: Violence: Don't think so.Sexual content: Mild to moderate.Language: None.

Summary: Mink returns to town to see Romeo and his friends and the inevitable drama ensues.


“Knock knock!”called out a familiar voice.

Alf, Miles and Romeo all stopped what they were doing and came cautiously out of the kitchen, peering round the corner towards the door.“Mink?”Romeo asked,“What are you doing here?”

Mink gave her most innocent look.“What, I’m not allowed to pay my little brother a visit?”

“As a rule, no.”

“No offence but are you short of money?”asked Miles.

Mink put a hand to her chest and gave a mock offended look.“Miles, I’m hurt.I am now a top professional surfer and I can pay my own way.”

“In that case, welcome back, your room’s still there.”Miles took a large bite from a slice of toast and headed back into the kitchen.

“I, ah, might go and check everything’s set up down the bait shop,”Alf suggested before making a hasty exit of his own.

Mink grinned at Romeo.“Well, I still know how to empty a room.”

“I think they’re pleased to see you deep down,”Romeo assured her.

“And you?”

He smiled at her.“Yeah, me too,”he replied, giving her a hug and leading her towards the sofa.

“So, how have you been?”she asked him, giving his school tie a playful tug,“How’s being back at school suiting you?”

“It’s good, yeah,”he assured her,“I’m doing well, I’ve got myself a girlfriend, things are great here.What about you, still happy hanging around on beaches?”

“It’s a hard way to make a living but it does me.”She pulled him to his feet.“Come on.”

“Where to?”

“It’s time to show me round the rest of town.”

Xavier and April came running out of the water, Xavier shaking himself dry as they did so.April shot him a look of mock indignation.“Do you mind not getting me wet?”

“You’re already wet,”Xavier pointed out.

“Yeah but I’m wet with my water, not your water.”

Xavier thought that over for a moment.“That makes no sense.”

April’s face was a picture of innocent.“Doesn’t it?”

They reached the spot where their towels were laying, with Indigo and Dexter sat on the sand next to them.“You should have come in,”Xavier told them.

Dexter shook his head.“No, the view’s better from here.”

“What view?”asked Xavier.

Dexter looked at him as if the answer was obvious.“The hot chicks in bikinis.”

Indigo shot him an annoyed look.“What do you do when I’m wearing a bikini?”

“Find someone better to look at.”

Indigo gave up, glancing up and down the beach instead.“Wasn’t Romeo supposed to be meeting us down here?”

Xavier paused in drying himself, taking a look himself.“Guess he must have got held up at home.He’ll probably meet us at the Diner.I’m sure it’s nothing major.”

“You know Mum was here a few months back?”Romeo asked as they walked through the caravan park.

Mink nodded.“She came to one of my comps.Sober, which made a nice change.Offered me some of Dad’s life insurance.”

“What did you say?”

“Told her to hang onto it in case I needed it some time.Hey, I’m not above having a back-up plan.”

Romeo’s pace slowed slightly.“Mink…how can I say this without causing offence…are you here to cause trouble?”

“Relax, little brother,”she assured him,“I just fancied coming down here, chilling out, seeing what you and the gang are getting up to.”Silence hung in the air for several seconds, Romeo sensing she wanted to say more.“I don’t make friends easily, okay?Didn’t have many people to share down time with.Thought I’d look you up again.”

Romeo relaxed slightly, even if her comments didn’t entirely reassure him.“Well, I’m glad you did.”

She took his arm.“Come on, you’ve still got to introduce me to all your friends.”

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First, massive thanks for all the comments.It's my first time using a lot of these characters and I thought the lack of more popular ones might mean I'd have very few readers so thank you all for coming along.Hope you enjoy this one.


“Hey, guys!”Mink announce loudly as she approached the table at the Diner.

It took Xavier a few seconds to control the choking fit that erupted at her approach.“So, you’re back, are you?”he asked at last.

Mink patted him on the shoulder.“That’s what I like about you, Xav, you’ve got a real talent for grasping the facts of the situation.”

“Mink’s staying in Nicole’s old room for a while,”Romeo explained.He gestured to the others at the table. “That’s April, Xavier’s girlfriend.”

Mink grasped April’s hand briefly before glancing at Xavier.“What happened to the one you were with last time I was here?”

“Ah, she’s moved to the city,”Xavier explained awkwardly.

“And that’s Indi, my girlfriend,”Romeo continued, eager to keep the conversation moving.

Mink gave Indigo a wave.“Glad to see he finally found someone daft enough to take him on.”

“It’s my good deed for the year,”Indigo agreed with a smile.

“And that’s her brother Dexter,”Romeo concluded.

Dexter made a show of clearing his throat before getting to his feet and offering Mink his hand.“Pleased to meet you, my dear.As you can see, I’m the good looking one of the group.”

Mink patted him on the arm.“It’s good that you think that.”

Dexter gave her a tight smile then sat back down.

“And this is my sister Mink,”Romeo concluded.

“Unless my reputation precedes me?”Mink suggested, looking around the table expectantly.

“Not that I’m trying to get rid of you but are you staying long?”Xavier asked.

“A few weeks,”Mink confirmed,“Don’t worry, plenty of time for us to catch up on old times.”

“Great.”Xavier raised his eyebrows slightly.

Mink sat down at the table.“So, have things got more fun round here in the last few months?”

“Am I right in thinking there’s a bit of a history between you and Mink?”April asked once she and Xavier had managed to make their excuses and head off to school on their own.

“Not so much a history,”Xavier replied carefully,“More of a…kiss.”

April raised an eyebrow.“You kissed her?”

“She kissed me.”Xavier noticed April’s sceptical look.“It’s true!It was completely one-sided, she just kind of pounced on me this one time.”

“And you didn’t enjoy it at all?”

“No, no way.”

“A hot older girl jumps on you and kisses you, yeah, I can see why that would be hell for you.”April put an arm round his shoulder in mock consolation.

“So, you don’t mind then?”

“Mind?”April had one of those expressions where he was never quite sure whether she was serious or not. “A girl that once kissed my boyfriend comes back to town?I guess I’m going to have to challenge her to a fight over you.We’ll arrange it for lunchtime, you can come and watch if you like.Might even be some mud involved if you’re lucky.”

Xavier smiled.“So we’re good?”

“You can think of any reason why we wouldn’t be?”

“No.”Xavier thought for a moment.“It’s just…Mink can do some pretty far out things at times.I mean, she seemed to be getting better before she left here and I think she has actually calmed down a bit.Yes”-he noticed April’s bemused look-“that was her calmer.Just…not sure how much she’s calmed down.”

Gina Austin, principal of Summer Bay High, was not used to people barging into the school, calling out her name and flinging their arms around her.So when that happened, it took her a good few seconds to regain her composure, extricate herself and comment “Hello, Mink.”

Mink nodded.“Just thought I’d drop by and say hello.”

“And here was me thinking you were going to come and join us.”

Mink shook her head.“Not likely.I’m a celebrity now.Kind of.Although I hear you have had a couple of celebrity teachers here recently, how’d that work out?”

“Ah, Mink’s staying with us for a few weeks,”interjected Romeo, who’d been standing off to one side during the conversation.

“Your taste in boyfriends still as bad as ever?”Mink asked, looking back at Gina.Her response was a reproachful glare that caused Mink to raise her hands.“Okay, okay, not going to start a fight with him.Just wondering.”

“Well, thank you for your interest, Mink, and it is good to see you again but you’re really not supposed to be in school.”

“Already on my way, Gina,”Mink assured her, taking a few steps back towards the exit,“Just pretend I was never here.”

Romeo waited until Mink was gone before shooting Gina an apologetic look.“As you can see, she’s as full-on as ever.”

“Well, I’m glad that you’re still in touch with her and having her back is certainly going to make things… interesting.”A worried look crossed Gina’s face.“I just hope it isn’t too interesting.”

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Wow, even bigger thanks to everyone!Glad to know you're all enjoying it.

First, massive thanks for all the comments.It's my first time using a lot of these characters and I thought the lack of more popular ones might mean I'd have very few readers so thank you all for coming along.Hope you enjoy this one.

Maybe that works in your favour. You're using characters which aren't used or are used very little in other fics. I've never read any fics with Indigo, Dexter, April and Mink.

There did seem to be a rush of fics with Indigo in during her stint last year and I did give Mink and April cameos in my last fic(plug, plug).But if people are enjoying reading about characters who don't get used often, I'm glad.


“Okay, seriously, how can you guys not die of boredom?”Mink was standing by the group’s table at the surf club, apparently in too much of a hyperactive mood to sit down like the others.“I mean, you’ve got a beach and it’s a great beach but there’s only so many times you can surf or sunbathe or whatever.You play pool, you play pinball…I’ve been here three days and I’ve done everything you can do in this town.”

“I could take you shopping,”Indigo suggested.

“Thanks but the money I’ve got isn’t going to last forever and Miles has been getting me to contribute to luxuries like food.”

“I tried to start a bear wrestling club once,”Dexter mused,“It didn’t take off.”

“I’m assuming a book club isn’t your thing?”April asked.

Mink sank into a chair with a sigh.“You know something?Give it another week and I might be desperate enough to try.”

“Mink, you’re a surfer chick,”Romeo reminded her,“It’s meant to be your…thing.Go and catch a wave or something.”

“Already caught them all.”Mink looked around the group.“Okay, it’s settled.Tonight I am taking you all out and showing you some real fun.”

Romeo took Indigo’s hand awkwardly.“Um, actually we’d already arranged to do something tonight.”

Mink nodded.“Okay, not gonna stand in the way of young love.Any others?”

“I’m helping Dad feed the giraffe,”Dexter replied.

“And it’s my turn cooking tonight,”April added,“Irene’d probably kill me if I missed out on it.”

“Xav?”Mink put an arm round his shoulder and put her pleading face on.“Come on, you can’t be responsible for a young and beautiful girl wilting away to nothing out of inactivity, can you?”

Xavier looked at April for help but she just shrugged.“You did say you were at a loss with your mum and Mr.Palmer going out for the night,”she reminded him.

Xavier looked back at Mink.“Okay, looks like you’re showing me some real fun tonight.”

Mink patted him on the shoulder.“Xav, you are not going to be disappointed…”

“You sure you’re okay about this?”Xavier asked as he and Gina stood waiting in the lounge.

Gina gave him an amused look.“What, you’re asking your old mum’s permission, are you?”

“Kinda hoping you’ll give me an excuse to pull out…”

“Sorry, kiddo, this one’s down to you.”Gina’s expression switched into one of motherly concern.“Look, I like Mink.But if you think she’s going to drag you into something you’d rather not be a part of…”

“Mum, it’s fine,”Xavier assured her,“I mean, she’s a nice girl, deep down.She’s not gonna get us into any trouble.”

“Knock knock!”Mink called out, pushing the door open.She looked Gina up and down, taking in the clothes she was wearing for her date, and gave a whistle.“Scrub up well, Geen.”

“Thank you, Mink.”Gina glanced at Mink’s khaki and leather ensemble.“You look…as good as you normally do.”

“Right, if we’re on our way then,”announced John Palmer as he emerged from the bedroom, pulling on his jacket.He stopped when he saw they had company, taking an almost unnoticeable step backwards. “Mink.”

“Hi, Mr.Palmer,”she returned,“Never offered my congratulations on you landing yourself such a great chick.”

John put an arm around Gina.“Thank you,”he replied, his tone level.

“John’s taking me to the Italian restaurant in Yabbee Creek,”Gina explained.

“Really?Maybe we’ll see you there.”Mink took Xavier by the arm.“Come on, time to hit the road.”

“We’re going to the Italian restaurant in Yabbee Creek?”asked Xavier as they walked away from the house.

“No, that was just me winding up your mum and Palmer,”Mink reassured him.

Xavier was surprised when he found a car at the end of the drive.It was hardly top of the range, looking pretty banged up, but seeing Mink unlocking the door threw him slightly.“Hop in!”she called.

Xavier slid into the passenger seat.“Where’d you get a car from?”

“Guy round the corner.If he’s daft enough to leave his keys in the ignition…”She saw Xavier’s horrified look and laughed.“You really do think I’m a delinquent, don’t you?It’s mine, okay.I’ve gone up in the world.What, you think I’ve been taking the bus to the comps?”

“Okay, okay.Just checking.”Xavier paused for a moment before asking,“Does it go?”

“Watch it, kid,”Mink told him as she pulled away.

Mink had taken so many twists and turns down country roads that Xavier wasn’t entirely sure where they were.Somehow though she’d found the bar she was looking for and dragged him inside.He’d been tempted to order an alcoholic drink, since it didn’t look the sort of place that cared about ID, but in the end he’d settled for a juice.Mink had ordered a beer but it was sitting mostly untouched on the table next to her as she monopolised the pool table, Xavier’s contribution to the game largely being confined to standing by the table with an unused cue in his hand.

“Black, left hand pocket,”she announced, before downing the ball and shooting Xavier a grin,“Watch and weep.”

Xavier was too busy watching the other patrons.The clientele looked rough to say the least.“Where did you find this place?”

“The internet.”

“What did you search under, police raids?”

“It’s where all the interesting people hang out.”

Xavier couldn’t help noticing that some of those interesting people seemed to be heading towards them. About five youths, in their mid-20s, who seemed to have bought their matching sleeveless leathers from the same shop.The tallest of the group fixed his gaze on them.“We want to use the table.”

Mink barely gave him a look.“Yeah, well, we got here first.”

He took a step towards here.“This is our bar, okay?And we want to use the table.”

Mink straightened up, staring at him defiantly.“Fine.I’ll play you.”She took an unwilling Xavier by the arm.“Me and him against you and…whichever one of these is your girlfriend.And just to make it interesting, we’ll wager fifty bucks on it.All right with you?”

The group’s spokesman gestured to one of his friends, choosing him as his partner, before nodding to Mink.“Deal.”

It became increasingly obvious to Xavier over the next few minutes that winning the game probably wasn’t the best thing for them to do.Something about the increasingly hostile air and the way that almost everyone in the bar seemed to be glaring at them.Unfortunately Mink didn’t seem to have realised that and was downing balls like there was no tomorrow, until finally the black went down.“Yes!”she cheered, “Eighteen months of nothing to do but play pool pays off.”She held out her hand to her opponent.“Fifty bucks.”

He looked down at her scornfully.“Whistle for it.”

Mink’s lip curled in annoyance.“We had a deal.”

“Yeah?Well what are you going to do about it, little girl?”

Mink glared at him for a few moments…and then socked him one.

“Oh great,”sighed Xavier as pandemonium broke out around him.He ducked a punch aimed in his direction and managed to shoulder barge the youth in front of him out of the way, grabbing Mink’s arm and pulling her towards the exit.

As they made it out into the air, Mink pulled free of his grip.“Who says I want to leave?”

Xavier glared at her and held out his hand.“Fine.Give me the car keys and then you can stay here and have a chat with them.”He nodded to the crowd surging out of the bar towards them.

Mink took a second to consider and then they both ran for the car, Mink slotting the key into the ignition as Xavier landed in the passenger seat next to her.Before he’d even closed the door, her foot was down on the accelerator and they were speeding away, the angry mob spilling out of the bar and waving fists in their wake.

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Thanks for the comments.I'm going on holiday for a week from Tuesday so this is probably the last update until I get back.Hope you enjoy it.


Throughout the journey home, Xavier had been plagued by visions of biker gangs chasing after them and forcing them off the road.So he felt a large amount of relief when they arrived back at his house.

Mink dropped down onto the sofa with a relieved but also somewhat exhilarated sigh.“What a rush.”

Xavier looked down at her in annoyance.“That’s your idea of a good night?”

“Well, you’ve got to admit we met a more interesting class of people at that place.”

Xavier sat down next to her, giving her a disapproving look.“Mink, we nearly got beaten up.”

“I had it under control.”

“God, you’re exasperating!Why did I ever let you..?”

She suddenly kissed him, full on the lips, letting it linger and deepen.He didn’t respond but he didn’t push her away either, waiting until she’d finished.

He blinked and looked at her.“What was that for?”

“Adrenaline’s rushing.Think we need to burn off some energy.”

She kissed him again and this time he did respond, a kiss burning with suppressed passion.And despite the tiny voice in his head telling him it wasn’t a good idea, when she started leading him towards his bedroom, he didn’t resist.

Xavier pulled his clothes back on, feeling as uncomfortable as he’d ever done in his life.The fact that Mink was still lying in his bed didn’t exactly help.There was a mischievous smile on her face.“Well, that certainly did the trick.I think I could sleep for a week.”

He shot her an embarrassed look but couldn’t hold her gaze for long.“We shouldn’t have done that.”

“Don’t worry so much.We were a bit wired and we needed to unwind.”

“Then…we should have played video games or something, not…that.”

She grinned.“Relax, Xavier, you’re a man now.”

“What?”His eyes widened.“No, hang on, that wasn’t…I mean, I’ve…That wasn’t the first time, okay?”

“What, you and April get a lot of action here, do you?Thought the bed felt a bit used.”

He suddenly felt uncomfortable again.“We…we’ve been waiting.But I’ve slept with other girls, loads of them, well, two…”He stopped.“You need to go.”

She raised an eyebrow.“Way to make a girl feel welcome.”

“No…if you’re still there when Mum and Palmer get home then…that’s a conversation I don’t wanna have.”

“Okay.”She gestured for him to turn around, then once he had his back to her she got dressed.She turned him round and planted another kiss on his lips.“See you in the morning,”she noted before slipping out the door.

Xavier sat down on the bed, too shell-shocked to form any sort of thought about anything.

“Morning!”Mink called out when she came downstairs.

Romeo nodded a greeting from the breakfast table, gesturing to the woman clearing up.“This is Marilyn, she lives here as well.She’s been away for a bit.With Indi’s dad,”he added, with all the implied “be good” warning it involved.

Marilyn held out her hand.“Hi, you must be Mink!That’s a funny name, isn’t it?”

“I had funny parents,”Mink replied drily.

“Oh, yes!Your mum was never one for detox or Pilates.But if you ever want me to introduce you to the benefits, I’ll be more than happy.”

Mink looked at her new housemate, unsure what to make of her.“I’ll bear it in mind.”

“How did your evening with Xavier go?”Romeo asked.

Mink gave an enigmatic grin as she headed for the exit.“Let’s just say I managed to show him a good time.”

“Hello?Earth to Xavier?”

It took Xavier a moment to gather his thoughts and remember that he and April were in the Diner.He looked at her.“Sorry, what were you saying?”

“Boy, Mink must really have tired you out last night.”

He looked at her guiltily.“I wish you’d been there.”

“Well, I can understand that, you’re only human.So long as you forced yourself to have a good time without me?”

Mink suddenly appeared from nowhere and sat down in the seat next to them.“Morning, Xav.You feeling the effects as well?”

“Um, yeah,”he answered awkwardly.

“Me too.”She dropped a handful of coins into his palm.“Get me a coffee, will you?”

Xavier hesitated, the idea of leaving Mink and April alone not being very appealing.April nudged him. “Go on, Xav.We can manage without you.”

Xavier reluctantly went over to the counter.“Coffee, please.”

“Yes, of course, dear,”Colleen answered,“Need to wake yourself up in the morning, do you?I don’t know, you young people staying out so late, you really need to think about the consequences…”

Xavier shot a worried look over to where Mink and April were talking.“Yeah, can you make it quick?It’s just I’ve got to get to school.”

Colleen gave him an icy look but served him the coffee without another word.He carried it back to his place and pushed it across the table to Mink.“I was just filling April in on last night,”she told him.

April kissed him on the cheek and smiled.“Don’t worry, I still love you.Even if a girl did beat you at pool.”

Xavier gave an awkward grin, glancing over at Mink, her expression unreadable.“Guess I haven’t got any secrets from you…”

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Thanks for the comments.After my little break, I've finally managed to cobble together the next chapter.Hope you enjoy.


Romeo and Indigo were alone in the lounge.“So, how’s having the big sister around going?”Indigo asked.

Romeo shrugged.“Well, it’s giving me a new respect for Dexter.”

Indigo glared at him.“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Well, just that big sisters can occasionally seem to take pleasure in making fun of you and however nice a person they are, you wouldn’t want to spend too much time with them…”Romeo trailed off under her gaze.“I’m just digging myself deeper and deeper here, aren’t I?”

Indigo nodded.“I think you’d better stop talking.”

“Okay.”He kissed her.

Mink walked right past them, turned on the television and sat down in the chair nearest them.It took her a few seconds to notice their glares.“What?”

“Don’t you have somewhere else to be?”Romeo asked.

“Oh, don’t mind me, you just carry on.”

Indigo sighed.“I think I’ll get myself a juice.”She kissed Romeo on the cheek, then pushed herself off the sofa and headed through to the kitchen.

“A little bit of privacy would be nice,”Romeo suggested to Mink quietly.

“Your room’s upstairs, if you want privacy go there.”Mink lapsed into silence for a few moments before turning and looking at him.“Things are going well between you two then?”

Despite the casual tone, Romeo sensed a slight shift to seriousness in her conversation.“Yeah, they are.”

“How do you know?”

“Well, you just interrupted…”

“No, I mean…how did you know you liked her?”

Romeo glanced back into the kitchen.“Have you seen her?”

“Oh, right, it’s not her personality you’re interested in then.”

“Well, yeah, that comes into it, I guess you just get to know someone and…you just know, okay?Like you just know that you…like eating ice cream or something.”Romeo paused.“Mink, is this you asking me for relationship advice or something?”

“No!”Mink folded her arms, looking away, but couldn’t avoid his gaze.“I don’t do relationships, okay? And it’s not like there’s anyone around here I could be interested in anyway.”

Xavier and April were back on the beach, drying themselves down with towels.“You got something you want to tell me?”April asked lightly.

Xavier started at the sudden question.“No, what?”

“It’s just you’ve been unusually quiet these last few days.It’s making me nervous.”

He gave an awkward grin.“Yeah, sorry about that.It’s nothing important.”

“Look, if something’s wrong…”

He kissed her, awkwardly at first but quickly relaxing in the embrace.They fell back onto the sand, their bodies entangling as the kiss continued, both of them lost in each other’s touch until finally they rolled apart.

April was the first to talk, giving a genuine if slightly embarrassed smile.“Okay, I guess nothing’s wrong.”

Xavier smiled back.“I’m really glad you’re my girlfriend, you know that?”

“So you should be.”She kissed him again, lightly and briefly.“It’s nice to see you smiling again.”

He leaned back on the sand, putting his arms behind his head.He had nothing to worry about, he knew that.Mink seemed prepared to put what had happened behind them, things were good with April.He could put the temporary act of madness aside and just enjoy what he had.“I’ve got a lot to smile about.”

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Thanks for all your comments, hope you like this.


“Mind if I sit here?”Mink didn’t wait for an answer, slipping into the seat next to April in the Diner.

“Doesn’t look like it,”April commented with a smile,“I’m surprised you’re still around here, haven’t you got any more competitions coming up?”

“Guess I have stayed longer than I expected,”Mink confirmed, a momentary flicker of emotion in her eyes before the barriers went up again,“What about you?”

“Me?I’m kind of stuck here, what with school and all.”

“Yeah but you like it, don’t you?”

“Well, yeah, I guess I do.I mean, I like the town and the people and the scenery…”

“And Xavier.”

April gave a slight smile.“And Xavier.”

“You sure about that, though?I mean, if it’s just a casual thing between you two…”

“Well, I’m not going around dating loads of other guys, if that’s what you mean.”April shrugged.“He’s sweet, in a dorky kind of way.”

“And pretty mean between the sheets too?”Mink saw April’s shocked expression.“Hey, I’m just guessing, from looking at him.It’s the sweet but dorky ones you’ve got to watch.We’re both women of the world, right?”

April’s smile was strained.“He can be pretty attentive.”

“Yeah but you can tell me…”

“What’s going on?”Xavier had suddenly appeared at the table, a worried look on his face.He glanced at April.“I thought we were meant to be meeting up.”

“I was just keeping her company until you got here,”Mink replied,“Thought we should have a little chat, seeing as how we’ve got so much in common.Or not, as the case may be.”

Xavier’s expression was dark.“Yeah, well, I’m here now so…”

“Already gone,”Mink assured him,“I’ll leave you two love birds to it.”She gave him a quick smile before heading out.

“I know she’s Romeo’s sister and everything,”April remarked as Xavier sat down on the opposite side to where Mink had been,“but she can be really funny sometimes.”

Xavier glared after Mink.“Yeah, she’s a real laugh.”

“I need to talk to you,”was Xavier’s opening gambit as he found Romeo taking a shower down by the beach.

“Yeah, sure, what’s up?”

“It’s about Mink.”Xavier glanced around quickly, making sure there wasn’t anyone nearby, then took a deep breath.“I slept with her.”

Romeo’s face showed a mixture of shock and anger.“What?When?”

“About three weeks ago, that time we went out for the night.”

Romeo shook his head in disgust and stormed away.Xavier ran after him.“Look, Romeo, please…”

“Please what?”Romeo demanded, turning on him angrily,“You come up to me and tell me you’ve cheated on your girlfriend, who’s a friend of mine, with my sister?How do you expect me to react?”He paused a moment.“I should tell her.”

Xavier looked at him in confusion.“Mink?”


A wave of fear washed over Xavier.“You can’t!”

“Why not?Suppose it was her that had slept with someone else, you’d want someone to tell you, wouldn’t you?”

“Please, you can’t, it was a mistake!I love her!”Xavier saw Romeo falter.“I love her,”he repeated.

Romeo shook his head.“Then…why Mink?”

“Because I’m dumb?”Xavier wasn’t sure he’d won Romeo over but he pressed ahead anyway.“She keeps hanging around April, dropping hints, trying to wind me up or something.I know I’ve no right to ask but please, mate, can you talk to her?Get her to stop?”

Romeo looked at him for a long moment.“I’ll talk to her,”he said at last,“Not promising any more than that.”

Mink had to admit she felt a pang of guilt about her behaviour earlier.Whatever else you could say about April, she was a nice girl.Mink didn’t really have anything against her and she didn’t know why she’d felt the sudden compulsion to make fun of her.Jealousy, she suspected.Maybe she had slept with Xavier when April hadn’t.But the way April had spoken about him, the fondness that existed between them…Mink knew she’d never experienced that.

The train of thought almost succeeded in distracting her from the box in her hand.It was silly, anyway.The chances were infinitesimal.She didn’t even know why she was doing it.Better to be safe than sorry.Better to put her mind at rest.

Mink checked her watch then looked at the pregnancy test.The writing in the window said “Positive”.

Mink let out a loud sigh.“Great.”

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Thanks for all the comments(and belated thanks for the holiday wishes, I had a good time, thanks). Hope you enjoy this chapter.


Romeo braced himself before stepping into the house.Confrontations with Mink never seemed to go well but, although he wasn’t entirely keen on doing Xavier’s dirty work for him, it looked as though that was what was needed.He found her sitting on the couch.“We need to talk,”he said firmly.

She barely looked at him.“Not now, Romeo.”

“Yes, now.I’ve been talking to Xavier.”

Mink laughed.“Guess I should have known it wouldn’t take him long to start bragging to you.”

“He wasn’t bragging.He’s ashamed.”

“Guess that shouldn’t surprise me either.”

The conversation wasn’t going the way Romeo had expected at all.He’d expected Mink to be confrontational.Instead she was as subdued as he’d seen her in a long while.“He said you’d been hanging around April, stirring things.”

“Look, if it makes you happy, I promise to leave your friends alone.Now can you just..?”

“What’s that?”Romeo noticed the object resting in Mink’s lap for the first time.He scooped the pregnancy test up and examined it.“Positive?”He looked back at Mink.“You’re pregnant?”

Mink shrugged.“That’s what it says there.”

It took a second for the connection to form in his mind.“Xavier?”She didn’t answer.That was confirmation enough.He sat down next to her, taking her hand.“Look, Mink, whatever help you need, I’m here, okay? And I’m sure Xav’ll be there too when you tell him.”

Mink pulled her hand away.“Don’t be nice to me, Romeo, I’m not sure I can handle it right now.”

Romeo was stung.“Mink, I want to help you.”

“Fine.”She looked him in the eye.“Then let me deal with this on my own.”

Romeo sat at one of the tables in the Diner, idling playing with a mat, hoping he wasn’t giving too much away about how he was feeling.Xavier suddenly appeared and sat down next to him.“Well?”he asked nervously.

Romeo looked up at him, their previous conversation almost forgotten.“Well what?”

“Did you talk to Mink?”

Romeo sighed and nodded.“Yeah, I talked to her.”

There was a moment of silence, Xavier obviously expecting more.“And?”he asked at last.

“She says she’s not going to cause trouble for you and April.”

Xavier breathed a sigh of relief and patted Romeo on the shoulder.“Thanks, mate, I owe you one.”He got up to leave.

“She’s pregnant.”

Romeo’s comment had Xavier landing back in his chair with a thud, staring at him.“April?”


Xavier had known that.Just as he knew the answer to his next question.“And it’s..?”He couldn’t even say the word, he just gestured to himself.

Romeo shrugged.“She didn’t say so but that’s the impression I got.”

“So…so what happens now?”

“I don’t know, Xav, my best mate’s never got my sister pregnant before,”Romeo answered testily,“What do you think?”

Xavier thought, swallowing hard.“I need to talk to her, don’t I?”

Romeo nodded.“That would be my guess.”

If Mink had moved from the sofa since Romeo had left her there, there was no evidence of it.Xavier knocked once on the door then walked nervously into the house.“Hey there,”he greeted her awkwardly.

Mink glanced round.“Hey, yourself.”Her tone remained subdued.

“I was talking to Romeo and…”

“Knew he wouldn’t be able to keep it to himself,”Mink interrupted, annoyed.

Xavier took a moment to try and think of something else to say.“It’s true then, you’re pregnant?”

“Yeah, it’s true.”

“Okay, well then…”

“Well then what, Xavier?”she snapped,“What are you going to do, ask me to marry you?”

“No but…”He crossed the few steps between them quickly, crouching next to where she was sat.“I’ll take responsibility, I’ll tell people it’s mine.I’ll…I’ll help you out, I mean, change nappies or whatever…”

She looked at him, a ghost of a smile on her face.“That’s sweet of you, Xav, but I’ll be fine.”She patted his hand.“Go on, you’re off the hook.Go back to your uncomplicated schoolgirl girlfriend.”

Xavier shook his head.“I can’t do that.I mean, this is my baby too.Right?”

There was a pause and Mink shrugged.“Well, you’re the only guy I’ve been with so…”

Xavier laughed in spite of the situation.“You mean recently, right?”She caught his gaze and held it and the smile froze on his face.He stood up sharply, looking down at her in shock.“Wait a minute, you’re saying that you were…that you hadn’t…”

“There weren’t that many opportunities in juvie, okay?”The bitter tone was back in Mink’s voice.“Guess you really have got something to brag about to your mates now.”

Xavier struggled to regain his composure.“I wouldn’t…that’s not the important thing…I just…”

“Listen.”Mink fixed him with a steely glare.“I told Romeo and now I’m telling you.This is my problem and I’m dealing with it.So butt out and leave me alone.”

Xavier ran through all the things he could say to that.None of them seemed appropriate.So all he could do was turn and leave.

And try not to think about how alone she looked.

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Once again, huge thanks for all the nice comments people have left.Hope you enjoy this one.


“Okay, ten o’clock.See you then.Thanks.Bye.”

Romeo caught the end of the phone conversation as he came downstairs.He shot Mink a quizzical look.

“I’ve booked an appointment at a clinic,”she said simply.

He felt a slight lurch in his stomach at the casual, matter-of-fact way she said that.“Are you sure it’s what you want?”

“Oh, come on, Romeo.”She gave a cheery smile that he almost believed was real.“Can you seriously imagine me as a mum, being as big as a house and eating crazy stuff and then having to push a pram around and burp the thing and clean the parts of the body I don’t want to go near?It’s best all round.By lunchtime, the baby will be gone and so will I.”

The last part pulled him up short, the argument he’d come up with flying out of his brain.“What do you mean?”

“Reckon I’ve worn out my welcome round here.Time to move on.”She saw his sad face and gave him a friendly punch on the arm.“Hey, don’t worry, little brother.I’ll turn up again sooner or later like the bad penny I am.”

He pulled her into a tight hug that she didn’t seem to mind reciprocating.“You don’t have to do any of this, you know,”he said quietly.

She disentangled herself, the smile slipping slightly.“Yeah, I do.”

Whatever Romeo might have said next was interrupted by the appearance of Alf and Miles coming downstairs.“Are we missing out on something?”asked Alf.

Mink’s smile was back in place, enough to fool them.“Good news, guys, I’m getting out of your hair.”

“Awww.”Miles pulled a mock disappointed look.“Who am I gonna try my recipes out on now?”

“You’ve done a good job feeding me up, Miles, but time to cut loose.Waves to catch, prizes to win…”

Marilyn came striding in from outside at a brisk pace.“Ah, it’s a lovely morning out there.You should all enjoy a nice brisk stroll through the clear air.”Mink suddenly surprised her by grabbing her in a hug.“Oh! This is unexpected.Nice but unexpected.”

Mink released her with a smile.“Living with you, Maz, has been a real experience.Thank you.”

Romeo sidled away from the group.“I’ve got a lot to do before school so I’ll see you all later.Catch you next time you’re down, Mink.”

He saw the look of disappointment on her face, not sure if she’d wanted him to try and talk her round or just hang out with her a bit more.Either way, it couldn’t be helped.And at least she’d been too busy saying her goodbyes to notice him pressing redial.If his idea worked, she might end up thanking him.

Xavier saw Romeo appear in the doorway.His presence startled him slightly, he wasn’t aware they’d made any plans to go to school together, but given the slight tension between them recently he wasn’t going to throw away the gesture.“Hang on, I’ll just get my bag,”he told him, heading for his room.

Romeo took hold of his arm, stopping him.“Mink’s booked an appointment at a clinic.”

Several things clicked into place in Xavier’s mind at that moment, all the things Mink had said about sorting things.“Clinic?”

“Abortion clinic.”Romeo said it matter-of-factly before giving a shrug.“Just thought you should know.”He pushed a piece of paper into Xavier’s hand.“She’ll be there at ten o’clock.”

Xavier watched Romeo leave before looking at the scrap of paper.There was a hastily written address on it.The implication was obvious but what to do about it?If anything?

He heard movement from down the corridor and hastily pushed the paper into his pocket as John came in. “Oh, hi, Xavier.I thought I heard you leave.”

“No, Romeo just popped in for a moment.I’m still here.”John seemed to accept the explanation and he went over to the breakfast counter, unaware Xavier’s gaze was still fixed on him.Was he really that desperate?Xavier made a mental check on the alternatives and realised he was.“Can I talk to you about something?”

John glanced around the room quickly, as though checking there was no-one else there he’d missed.“Me?” He shrugged.“Well, yeah, go ahead.”

“What do you think of abortion?”

John gave him a curious look.“Is this supposed to be some sort of ethical debate?”

“No…”Xavier sighed.“Imagine that two teenagers have got themselves into a spot of bother.Do you think abortion’s the right way to go?”

John leaned on the counter.“Well, if they think they’re too young and too dumb to handle being parents, yeah, it might be the best thing all round.”

Xavier sagged, unable to argue with the statement.“Yeah.”

“On the other hand, it is pretty permanent.So they probably shouldn’t go ahead with it unless they’re both absolutely, 100% sure it’s what they want.”

Xavier raised his head at that, suddenly galvanised into action.“Thanks.”He made for the door.

“Ah, should I be telling your mother about this conversation?”John asked.

“No,”Xavier called over his shoulder, slamming the door behind him.

John looked after him, not seeming at all convinced.“Righto…”

Xavier came hurtling through the door, ignoring the look from the receptionist who seemed undecided whether to call for security.He caught sight of Mink among those waiting in the reception area and sat down next to her.

She gave him an exasperated look.“Do you and Romeo tell each other anything?”

“You don’t have to do this,”he blurted out.

She sighed.“Yeah, I do.”

“No, you don’t!We could work something out, I mean, I’m sure Miles would let you stay on and my mum will help us out once she knows.”

“The simplest thing is if I get rid of the baby and get out of here.Then you can carry on being happy with April and I can go back to the circuit and we can forget this ever happened.”

Xavier thought for a few moments, considering what she’d said.“You’re right, that would be the simplest thing.But there’s no rush, is there?I mean, you don’t have to do this now, we can talk this over, make sure it’s what we both want.”

“Now listen here, Xavier,”Mink snapped,“I don’t care what you want, what delusions you’ve got about playing happy families.It’s up to me whether I have this baby and I’m not going to.”

“And you’re sure you can live with that?”

She shrugged.“I’ve lived with a lot worse.”She saw the defeated look on his face and sighed.“Look, you’re a good kid, Xav.And one day, when you’ve got a good girl and a good job and you’ve started shaving, you’ll make a decent dad.But this isn’t the time and I’m not the girl.”

A nurse came through the door near the reception desk.“Mink Carpenter?”

“Here!”Mink called.She got to her feet, then bent for a moment and kissed Xavier on the cheek.“Just get on with your life, okay?”

She followed the nurse through the door without looking back.

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Thanks for your comments, here's a short chapter for you to be getting on with.


“I waited for nearly an hour,”Xavier told Romeo when they met up later at the caravan park,“In the end I went and asked at the desk where she was.They didn’t seem to want to tell me anything at first but…then they said she wasn’t there anymore.She must have gone out the back way or something.”

Romeo nodded.“Her car’s gone and all her clothes.Looks like she’s left town.”

Xavier looked at him awkwardly.“Mate, I’m sorry.”

Romeo waved a hand dismissively.“Don’t worry about it.”

“Yeah, but…she was your sister, I know you liked having her around.Maybe if I’d done things differently…”

Romeo looked at him hard.“It was your baby.Don’t you think you’re affected by this as much as me?”

“Yeah.”Xavier shrugged.“Guess I never really had time to get my head round the idea.I was going to be a dad, now I’m not…I dunno how I feel about that.”

“Sorry, mate.”Romeo patted Xavier’s knee awkwardly.“Mink’ll turn up again, she always does.I doubt this’ll have scared her off.She’ll probably come running through that door in a few months, large as life, acting as if nothing had happened.”

“Is that what we’re meant to do?”Xavier asked,“Act as if nothing’s happened?”

“Sounds like a plan.”

“But…how do we do that?”

Romeo looked at him for a moment.“You seeing April?”

“We talked about meeting up this evening but after everything that’s happened…”

“Do it.”Romeo saw Xavier’s sceptical expression and shrugged.“Seems like the best way to move on.”

“But…how am I gonna hide everything that’s happened?”

“I dunno, mate.But if you want to stop yourself from going crazy, you’re going to have to.”

April nudged Xavier’s arm as she caught him staring off into space for the third time since he’d got to the Diner.“Am I boring you?”

Xavier looked at her and forced a smile.“Course not, sorry.Just thinking.”

“That’s not like you.About anything in particular or just thought you’d give it a try?”

“You know about Mink leaving?”

April nodded.“Yeah, seemed a bit sudden.”

“That’s Mink for you.Always the impulsive type.”

“How’s Romeo taking it?”

“He’s okay.Thinks she’ll turn up again some time.”

“So is that what you’re worried about?Your bromance floundering?”

Xavier gave her another grin before asking,“Have you ever thought about having children?”

April gave him a surprised look before thinking for a moment.“I don’t know, I guess it’s always been something I thought I’d do in the future.Why?”

“It’s not something I’ve ever thought about.It’s just recently I’ve been wondering about what it’d be like, what I’d be like…”

April looked at him worriedly.“Xavier, you’re not suggesting that we…”

“No, no!”Xavier replied hastily,“Just a passing thought.”He noticed she still didn’t look convinced and did his best to give her a reassuring smile.“Ignore me, I’m just being a dweeb.You’re right.There’s no need to be thinking about that now…”

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Thanks for all your comments once again, hope you like this one.


“Morning,”Romeo greeted Indigo as he arrived at the farm a few weeks later.

She gave him a quick hello kiss before noticing the pile of envelopes in his hand.“What’s that?”

“Oh, I collected your mail on my way in.”

Indigo took the envelopes from him and began flicking through them.“Three bills, Dad can deal with those.One of those weird magazines Dexter subscribes to.Oh-one for me.”

“So, what do you fancy doing today?”Romeo asked as she opened up the letter and read its contents, “Head down the beach, top up on our tans?Or I could shout you a milkshake?”He noticed that her attention seemed focused elsewhere.“What’s up?”

Indigo looked up, distracted.“It’s from Tracey, one of my friends from the city.She…I dunno, it’s really weird.She says she needs to see me as soon as possible.It sounds really urgent.”

“You’re going to go?”

“Well, I’ve got to, she’s my friend.I need to pack a bag, it might take a while.And I need to tell Dad what I’m doing…”

“How are you going to get there?”Romeo asked.

“I dunno, I guess I’ll have to take a bus…”

“Look, we’ll all go.”

Indigo looked at him, surprised.“All?”

“Well…I’ll go.And I’ll have a word to Xav, see what he and April are doing.”

Indigo shook her head.“You don’t have to do that.”

“Look, this has obviously got you worried, I want to help out.”

Indigo nodded slowly.“I’ll have a word with Dex, see if he fancies coming too.It’ll get him out of the house for a bit.”

“Okay.We’ll meet at the bus stop in about an hour.”

“So, why did you ask us along?”Xavier asked once they’d met up at the bus stop.He and Romeo were standing a little way apart from the others.

“Just figured Indi could use some support,”Romeo replied cagily,“I mean, she seemed a bit worried about this friend of hers…”

“Are you sure that’s the real reason?”

Romeo caught his friend’s piercing gaze and sighed.“And…I thought maybe you could do with a change of scene for a bit.”

“Look, I appreciate it,”Xavier replied,“But seriously, it’s been two months since Mink left, I’m over it. What about you?”

“Mink coming to town without warning and leaving just as suddenly?I think I’m used to that by now.”He saw Xavier wasn’t looking convinced and nodded over to where Indigo and April were chatting.“Look, if nothing else it gives you and April some time together.That can’t be a bad thing, huh?”

Xavier smiled.“Guess not.”

Dexter, who had been standing near the two girls, came over to them.“My darling sister and your other half is giving your other half a rundown of all the shops in the city and how good their shoes are.I thought I’d come over here and see if I can find a conversation about football, beer and who looks good in a swimsuit.”

“What do you know about this Tracey?”Romeo asked him.

Dexter thought for a moment.“She’s a girl.And she’s friends with Indi.”

Romeo waited, expecting more.“That’s it?”

“I did know her inside leg measurement once but it’s gone right out of my head.”Dexter sighed.“I didn’t really know her that well, just one of the girls Indi used to hang out with after school and giggle about boys with.Think she was dating some guy, don’t remember his name.”He looked over their shoulders.“Oh!Bus.”

Romeo looked for himself then waved to the girls.“Let’s go and meet this girl you didn’t notice then.”

Indigo led the way down the street before stopping in front of a particular house and checking the piece of paper in her hand.“I think this is the one.”

Romeo gave her a funny look.“Wait a minute, she’s your friend and you don’t know her address?”

“Of course I know her address,”Indigo retorted,“I just don’t know where it is.”She saw that the comment hadn’t calmed anyone and gave an apologetic shrug.“She was living with her parents last time I saw her. She told me her new address in her letter.”She led the way up the path and knocked on the door.

The girl who answered it was in her late teens but shorter than most of the group.She looked harrassed and worried, only relaxing slightly when she recognised her caller.“Indi!”

Indigo nodded.“I got your letter, it sounded urgent.”

Tracey, as she obviously was, scanned the rest of the group, picking out the other face she recognised.“Hi, Dex.”He gave her a cheery but slightly awkward wave.She continued looking at the others uncertainly.

“Ah, this is my boyfriend Romeo,”Indigo explained, taking his hand,“And those are our friends, Xavier and April.Everyone, this is Tracey.”

Tracey gave them a nervous smile before looking at Indigo.“I didn’t realise you were bringing friends.”

It was April who broke the awkward silence that followed.“We’re sorry, we didn’t realise this was something private.If you want to speak to Indi alone, we can go and loiter at the bottom of the street for a bit or maybe go to a motel..?”

Before Tracey could answer, there was the sound of someone crying from inside the house.Not an adult. A child.A young child.Tracey ran back inside without a word.

The others waited awkwardly on the doorstep for a few seconds before Indigo led the way into the house, gesturing for the others to follow.

They followed the cries to what seemed to be a bedroom or nursery, with a cot set up in the middle of the room.Tracey was holding a baby, making gentle cooing noises and rubbing its back soothingly.“It’s all right,”she said quietly,“No need to cry, Mummy’s here.”She realised she had company and turned to face them.While she didn’t relax completely, there was a proud smile on her face as she showed them the child. “Indi, everyone, this is Ben.”

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