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Postcards from Hawaii

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Story Title: Postcards from Hawaii

Type of story: Long Fic

Main Characters: Roman and Ella, George and Irene, Mike, Danni, Brett, Aden, Belle, Nic, Geoff, Gabby, Jacob, Toby, Amy-Belle,

Other Characters: Georgie, Sophie, Meggy, Sammy, Lily, Liam, August, Fleur, Kai, Daniella, Jennie, Taylor, Robbie, Mira, Marcus, Leah, Rachel,

BTTB Rating: A (L,SC)

Genre: Drama, Romance

Does story include spoilers: No

Any warnings: Will warn at the beginning of each chapter if necessary

Summary: It is six months after what happened with Roman returning from Witness Protection and the events in the Diner. Unable to cope with the repercussions of that Roman and Ella got divorced. Roman ended up being a part time father and hating his new role. He never blamed Ella for the bitter divorce and custody battle after all he wasn’t a model husband or father but suddenly being confronted with what he’d lost caused a whole load of questions. What if something keeps drawing you back to the other person that you’ve lost and you just can’t in spite of everything that has happened, turn away from them. What do you do if you fall (back) in love with the one person you shouldn’t? Can you make it work a second time knowing just how bad things can get?

Chapter One

Roman Harris was running along the beach. He was late, his shift started in just a little bit and he normally ran in the mornings but last night Sophie stayed over and he’d had to get her up and off to school. A mammoth task in itself, he could remember Nicole being a pain in the backside but this was worse. To say his daughter was rebelling was a slight understatement. It had started when she’d put pink streaks in her hair and then got her nose pierced before her refusal to wear school uniform, forcing both him and Ella into meetings with the headmaster about her behaviour. It didn’t help that the headmaster was Miles who had also bathed Sophie as a baby along with being their lifelong friend.

The meeting had been uncomfortable not only for that reason but also because he and Ella had only spoken through lawyers for the most part apart from those awkward communications when the children were being handed over.

And then Ella had turned round to him and said in her picky voice, which he hated by the way, that Sophie was not going to quit her job as she wanted and he had to make sure she turned up for her shifts. He’d given her a look and was going to reply but thought better of having a slanging match in the middle of the car park on school grounds, especially as Miles was standing nearby giving him that soppy eyed pitying look.

Thinking of everything that had happened he forced his focus back on his run and after checking his watch, a cheap digital replacement for the designer one that Ella had bought (because keeping that one involved remembering better times and he hated thinking about how they were compared to now), he decided to take the longer route for his run.

It involved heading up hill for about twenty minutes increasing his cardio, stretching his legs and taking him along the path at the top of the beach. Up ahead this path would split into two distinct routes. If he continued on his present route he would start to run along a curve around the coast, his path would then run parallel to the road taking him up and over to the lighthouse before he would have to head back. The other one simply went back along the beach and on a day like this with its stresses he knew he needed to get a good run in. He checked his watch and worked out that if he pushed it he could carry on along the lighthouse route and still make it in time for his shift.

As he ran on he didn’t notice that one of his shoelaces was coming undone so intent was he on increasing his fitness and lowering his current stress level. Just a few short months and his relationship with Ella had broken down to the point where they couldn’t even talk to each other without a third party in the room. His kids were amazing though; despite Sophie’s new hair colour, but after the way he’d been side-lined from seeing Nicole whilst his elder daughter was growing, he’d never wanted to be a weekend dad and found the little contact he had with his kids, well that was tough. At first Ella had been generous with contact but then after a while when school had started back there had been a downturn with the amount of time he had with them. That and along with his now working as many shifts as possible because he was once again paying a mortgage.

Yeah, a flipping mortgage. He’d forgotten what it was like to worry about bills. His money had bought groceries and paid most of the bills while Ella’s money had been spent on the kids, school uniforms, clothes, toys, games, laptops, and more. When he’d bought his house he’d got the biggest one he could afford and ended up with only three bedrooms. The kids had to share bedrooms, the youngest ones in together and then the older kids in what looked like a dormitory. It had also meant that he’d had the smallest room for himself, ending up in a three quarter bed that was supposed to be bigger than a single. He could tell them, in depth and with a number of swearwords in some languages they hadn’t even heard of that it wasn’t.

With his mind elsewhere he wasn’t fully concentrating on where he was going and somehow managed to step on his own shoelace. Unable to move one foot he felt himself tumbling forward as he tried to manage his forward momentum. He felt the impact before he saw the person he'd bumped into, reaching out instinctively trying to stop them both from crashing into the ground.

"Hey!" he exclaimed, his hands reaching to clasp the person who'd managed to knock him off stride. Falling forward, he knew that he would land awkwardly if he didn’t try and control their descent and somehow managed to twist sideways but wasn’t able to stop the other person falling with him. As he landed on his side he felt his elbow hit the ground with a smacking sound and knew that it would be bruised. He couldn't stop the swearword that escaped past his lips at the impact.

"Hey Soldier if that how you normally greet women perhaps you should brush up on your technique!" Ella called out regretting the words instantly.

He looked up in surprise at her words as she pushed back away from him and managed to get into a sitting position beside him, he noticed then that she had her camera strapped to her and that she was wearing shorts that left her long legs bare and a skimpy vest top.

She brushed off the camera first, before turning and looking at him. He grinned at the blush on her cheeks knowing she would be embarrassed with the slip back to their first ever meeting.

He eased himself to a sitting position beside her and looked at her properly for the first time in what seemed a long time. Taking in her long hair and general appearance he gave her another grin.

"Hello." he said for want of something better right at that moment.

Ella glared at him before she winced, feeling pain coming from her ankle. She flexed it and cried out before silencing herself by pressing her lips together.

He pushed himself to his feet and after checking his shoelace was tied he extended a hand to help her up. He knew that she would need the ankle looking at and didn’t want to accept his help.

She stood up slowly testing how much weight she could put on her damaged foot.

"It’s fine I can ...." she began to tell him she could walk on it when he shook his head and picked her up and began carrying her.

"Your car?" he murmured.

“At the diner.” She confessed.

Roman gave a little groan.

“Fine.” He muttered and began walking the way he’d come.

“I can make it.” Ella said narrowing her eyes as she looked at him.

“Ok.” Roman murmured dropping her down on to the ground and walking away.

Ella muttered something under her breath and slowly eased up back on her feet. She took a cautious half step and cried out.

“Really?” Roman asked turning and looking at her. “You are really going to walk on that foot rather than accept my help?”

Ella nodded.

“Yup.” She told him.

He glared at her before moving back over to her side and lifting her back into his arms.

She put her camera to one side so she could put her arms around his neck to help him carry her before sighing loudly.

“Not jostling you am I?” he asked quietly.

“No, It’s just I said I’d take Georgie out surfing later.” She admitted.

“I’ll take him.” He immediately offered.

Ella nodded before leaning her head on his shoulder.

“Soon have you at mine.” He told her.

“Yours?” she squeaked lifting her head up and glaring at him.

“It’s closer than the diner and I can get some ice for that ankle.” He commented.

Ella mentally called him a few names grinning at the frown that crawled over his face.

“I’m doing you a favour and you are calling me that?” he murmured chuckling when she blushed guiltily. “I knew you were calling me names.”

“Just high handed.” She murmured trying to sound innocent.

“Uh huh.” He said and heard her suck in a sharp breath as she moved in his arms. “Nearly there.” He told her moving her slightly in his arms and gesturing with his head.

“You live here?” Ella muttered. “It’s a dump.”

“Thanks.” Roman said sarcastically.

“Sorry.” She murmured immediately feeling guilty.

He checked the traffic before crossing over the road.

“Think you can put your hand in my pocket.” He asked her.

Ella giggled, her breath fluttering across his neck.

“You used to be more subtle.” She told him.

“And you used to be lighter.” He shot back. “Now can you get my keys out?”

Ella laughed.

“You carried me upstairs when I was pregnant so don’t tell me you are struggling.” She told him before biting her full bottom lip and going suddenly quiet.

“Yeah, but that was when I might have got some sex.” He said softly. “Now I’ve only got a small bed and the fun possibilities are minimised.”

Her head shot back and she looked at him seeing him give her a smile, before she too offered him a tentative smile in response. She reached down and fished in his pocket tugging out his house keys.

“Good work.” He said, once again his tone was soft. “Think you can unlock the door? It’s a double turn of the key.”

She nodded, her hair covering her face before he approached the door walking carefully up the front path and then stopped, easing down slightly so she could reach the lock.

“Third key.” He told her. “The one with the plastic over the fob.”

She nodded again and eased the key in the lock before slowly turning it. The door lock clicked as it opened and he straightened before pushing the door open with his foot. He guided her into the house before heading into the lounge and then carried her over to the sofa, where he laid her down being careful with her once more. He left her for a moment while he sorted out the door and fetched them both a bottle of water from the fridge. Taking a long swallow of his, he moved over to her and handed her the other bottle before kneeling down in front of her.

“Ok.” He murmured beginning to look at her foot. He eased her trainer off and looked at the swelling in her ankle before checking that she hadn’t got any broken bones. He found himself sucking in a breath when she did as he carefully moved her foot.

“You’ve got my picture up.” Ella exclaimed looking around the place.

He looked at her before looking where she was looking.

“It’s for the kids.” He told her, lying.

Despite everything he liked being able to see her image, although for the most part it was tucked away behind the open hallway door. He just felt better knowing it was there, that even through everything he wasn’t going to relegate her to being a bad memory.

Ella reached out and touched his face uncertainly and he found his gaze meeting hers.

And that is how they met, again.

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Chapter 2

Roman dropped Sophie off after her shift. He was glad that she worked for tips on the grounds that only when she was being nice to the customers was he able to hear her talking the rest of the time she was sulking and refusing to talk to him.

“Fine then, don’t thank me for the lift.” He muttered as she climbed out of the car.

She turned to him and glared before lifting her hand and flipping him a rude sign before she turned again and ran into the house.

Swearing himself he turned off the engine and approached the house before being shocked when the front door sprung open and Sophie came back out, followed by Ella.

“Our daughter wishes to apologise.” She told him prodding Sophie in the back.

“Yeah.” Sophie grunted.

“Sophie Nicole Harris, you will display some of those manners that we instilled in you or you will be grounded.” Ella muttered. “And then you can go put August and Fleur in bed and explain to them why they shouldn’t copy your charming hand gestures.”

Sophie paled before flushing dark red.

“I’m sorry.” She told her Dad.

“Now go see to your sisters.” Ella murmured.

Sophie looked up at her dad her eyes big in her pale face before she nodded and walked back inside.

“Ok then.” Roman said, approaching the veranda slowly his eyes meeting hers. “Should you be on that ankle?” he asked her.

Ella shrugged.

“Rachel gave me a set of crutches.” She confessed.

“Uh huh.” He murmured.

“We’re coming to the shack after school tomorrow.” She told him, deciding that suddenly.

Roman grinned.

“I’ll be there.” He told her.

Ella nodded and blushed reaching for the tie on her cardigan to focus her attention on something.

“Ok then.” she said.

Roman looked at her before checking behind her as he moved quickly and kissed her before easing back and looking into her eyes again. A smile twisted his lips and he chuckled at her expression.

“Woah!” she gasped out her fingers touching her lips.

“Tomorrow.” He said turning and going to his car.

Ella watched him drive away before she limped into the house/ She saw Meggy sitting at the table doing her homework and Lily and Liam watching tv. Georgie, she knew was over with Mike and Sammy was in his room. Checking on everyone she made her way over to the stairs and struggled up them before heading into the nursery. Big girl beds had replaced the cots and she sighed before looking in on them as they snuggled down in their beds.

“Soph.” She called softly seeing her daughter in the bathroom doorway where she’d obviously been tidying up after the twins bath.

“What now?” Sophie muttered.

“Come here.” Ella muttered back feeling defensive and tried to remember that teenagers did that to their parents.

Sophie stomped over to her and stopped just in front of her.

“Why are you giving your Dad such a hard time?” Ella asked slowly.

“He left us.” Sophie shot out before claming her lips shut tight. “Forget it, you are only going to come up with some BS reason why we should all be friends and quite frankly I wish I was born to different parents.”

Ella gasped at the cruelty of her daughter’s words but before she could respond Sophie spun around and marched off heading up the stairs to the attic rooms. She watched her go before a last check on the twins and then headed back down the stairs to see to Lily and Liam.

“Come on you two. Bed time.” Ella called softly.

“Me?” Meggy squeaked out.

Ella giggled, sobering quickly when her kids looked at her in shock.

“No babes,” she told her daughter softly. “It’s these two.”

“Me’s mama?” Lily asked trying to look innocent which only made her look guiltier.

“You’s Lily squeals.” Ella said.

Lily slowly stood up from the sofa and started walking towards the door. She half turned and gave Liam a look and he sighed before getting up and following her.

“I’ll be up in a minute.” Ella told them as they walked out of the room. She watched them for a moment before going over to Meggy and giving her daughter a kiss on the top of her head.

“I take it I haven’t laughed for a while?” she asked her softly.

Meggy shook her head.

“I’m sorry.” Ella murmured quietly. “I know things have been tough.”

“It’s ok.” Meggy told her quickly putting her pen down and looking up at her mother. “It’s just horrible because we only just got him back and he’s gone again.”

“I can appreciate that.” Ella said quietly, feeling guilty about the divorce and guilty about seeing Roman again, not that she was actually seeing him she assured herself hastily and ignoring the fact that she was blushing. “But we still love you.”

“We know that too, I guess we just can’t understand how you can’t still love each other.”

“Well Megs, babes, I don’t fully understand it myself.” Ella told her feeling raw inside at the confession. She looked at her daughter and with a new trust in her daughters maturity she spoke again. “We just, I don’t know, drifted apart after everything with Alexi and even when we tried it didn’t feel right.”

She didn’t tell her about the sniping arguments they had or the screaming matches, or even the fact that Roman slept on the floor most of the time at the end of their marriage as they tried to get through it. But then came the end of the line when she’d found out he was looking for a place to live, not from him but from the mortgage adviser he’d gone to see.

That had turned her from angry but trying to work things out to furious and wanting him dead. He’d moved out that night leaving her to explain what was going on to the kids and even though they’d listened and been understanding she knew that they still blamed her for sending their father away.

“Does that mean that it’s over for good?” Meggy asked her. “You can’t try again?”

Ella felt herself paling as she looked at her daughter and thought about her meeting with Roman the other day when something seemed to flare into life between them.

“I think it does.” Ella told her. Not altogether sure that she was telling the truth.

“Well then, I’m sad and I don’t like feeling that I have to choose.” Meggy admitted.

Ella sighed and looked at her.

“I’m sorry that I made you feel like that. If you want to spend more time with your Dad I think he would like that.”

Meggy groaned.

“I want to live with him.” She blurted out. “I don’t want to be around Sophie when she’s like this.”

Ella rocked back on her feet and blinked once, then twice before she gave her a nod.

“I’ll ask him.” She told her before kissing the top of her head again. “Now I need to go see to Lily and Liam before they destroy the house.”

Meggy rolled her eyes.

“And what was that look for Missy?” Ella asked.

“You used to say the same thing about me and Sammy, and I bet you said it about Sophie and Georgie.”

Ella nodded.

“I admit it, I did.” She murmured on her way out of the room. “But up until now it was always a joke.”

Meggy’s giggle followed her out of the room and halfway up the stairs as she made her way over to the Lily’s and Liam’s room. She saw her wonderful babies already in their pj’s and grinned at them.

“Are you ready for bed then?” she asked them.

“Me’s sleepy.” Liam told her.

Ella smiled and moved over to her little man and lifted him up for a cuddle and kiss before placing him in the bed. She kissed his forehead and tucked him in.

“Now then, do you want a story?”

“Of course Mama.” Liam said to her.

She smiled before turning and lifting up Lily and placing her in her bed. She picked up their storybook and began reading. She could feel herself relaxing as she heard her voice reading out the words and after a time looked down to see the children were asleep. She sighed before closing the book and placing it back. She looked at them for another minute before easing out of the room switching off the light and leaving the gentle blue light of their nightlight casting it’s friendly glow around their room.

Walking into her bedroom she closed the door and lay across her bed reaching for her phone. She frowned at the envelope symbol on the screen meaning that she’d missed a message and opened up the phone reading the message. She grinned immediately at seeing it was from Roman and then clamped down on her happy feelings. Maybe he’d decided not to see her tomorrow? Maybe he thought it was better they didn’t pursue the resurrected feelings of the other day.

“Hey, how’s Sophie?” he’d put.

Ella groaned mentally beating herself up for feeling disappointed that there was nothing about them and closed her eyes for a brief moment, calling herself all kinds of idiot and stupid and cursing herself for acting like a teenager before she spotted the second message from him. She groaned once more and with a shaking hand on the phone opened it up and read it.

“Lookin 4ward 2 coffee.” He’d put and then added a single “x”

She grinned and giggled and rolled on to her back in the bed rereading it before sobering and looking at the display again. With a shaking hand she dialled his number and waited for the call to connect.

Across the Bay, a sleepy Roman reached for his phone as it buzzed across the table. He expected it to be a message and frowned at seeing the incoming call. Maybe she’d decided not to meet him for coffee after all and he was tempted to let the call go to voicemail. He mocked himself for acting like a teenager and then called himself a coward in the space of seconds before answering the call on the last ring.

“Hi.” He squeaked out before taking a deep breath. “Hey,”

“Hey.” Ella said and promptly burst into tears.

Roman swore as he was forced to listen to Ella crying and knowing she was all the way over the other side of the Bay. And then beat himself up for the fact that during their nasty divorce he must have made her cry a lot.

“El,” he said quietly. “I need some words if I’m going to be able to help.” He offered to her.

“Meggy wants to come live with you.” Ella muttered and burst into noisy sobs again.

His Meggy. She was a Daddy’s girl. He should have seen this coming. And maybe stopped it.


Ella sniffed and looked into the phone like something was going to come out of the plastic and bite her before speaking quietly.

“Yes?” she whispered.

“I’m sorry she can’t possibly live here. I can’t take care of her full time.”

Ella laughed. She laughed. She laughed at his noble gesture.

“Liar.” She told him. “She asked me so I’m saying yes.”

Roman groaned.

“Fine, I’ll have her for the weekend and just not bring her back with the others?” he said wondering if he could change her mind or change Ella’s mind or, he didn’t know, something that wouldn’t cause Ella to sound so upset.

“I think that would be best.” She murmured.

“Are we still…”he stopped and clear his throat. “Are we still meeting for coffee tomorrow?”

Ella nodded and then blushed.

“You nodded didn’t you?” he asked her after a moment of silence.

“No, I was er..” she said and heard him laughing. “Fine, I nodded.” She admitted with a sigh. “I have to go and see to the kids.” She added after a minute.

“Ok. Er … see you tomorrow?” he said softly.

“Yeah.” Ella mumbled cutting the connection and closing the phone. She gave herself a talking to and stood up heading out the room and down the stairs.

“Hey Kiddo.” She called to Meggy. “I’ve spoken to your Dad and he said yes.”

Meggy looked up at her.

“Really?” she asked. “And you are ok with that?”

Ella nodded.

“Of course I’m not.” She told her. “But I will be in a while. Now it’s bedtime.”

Meggy nodded.

“Can I sleep in my old room?”

Ella frowned, wondering just how bad things were with Sophie before she nodded.

“If you want, the bed is made. Can you go get Georgie from Mike’s for me?”

Meggy nodded and gathered up her books before putting them in her bag. She eased out the back returning a moment later and heading to the stairs.

“He’ll be here in a couple of minutes. Night.”

“Night babes.” Ella said leaving it a second before picking up the remote and finding something to watch. Laying down on the sofa she pulled the throw over her and closed her eyes for just a second.

Georgie moved in through the back and looked over at his Mum. He walked over to her and arranged the throw to cover her better before he turned down the main light and left her sleeping.

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Chapter 3

“It’s mum.” Sophie announced in the kitchen.

Roman turned and looked at his daughter in surprise. Surprise because she had spoken to him and well, hadn’t used swear words.

“What about her?” he asked slowly.

“She’s here. She obviously doesn’t know that you are here.” Sophie shot back.

Roman gave a slow nod.

“I’m sure that we can be civil.” He said, not altogether directing his response towards his ex wife.

Sophie glared at him before spinning around and approaching her mother.

“What are you doing here?” she hissed out.

“I’m getting a coffee, and these are having milkshakes.” Ella said as she moved the twins on to seats before helping Lily and Liam.

“Dada here?” Lily asked.

Ella looked at Sophie.

“Is he here?” she asked already knowing the answer.

Sophie nodded.

“Maybe you should come back some other time.” She said quickly.

Ella shook her head looked round the shack. Roman had given it another coat of pale blue paint and added seashells on shelves giving it a seaside feel. He’d also been beachcombing she noticed seeing driftwood and a small fishing net along with other bric a brac and found herself smiling as she looked around the place.

“So are you taking our order or just standing there?” Ella asked.

Roman moved quickly out of the kitchen and over to them a tray in his hands. He kept his face neutral as he looked at Ella before smiling as Lily jumped up on her chair and waved at him.

“Hello.” He said softly.

“Hello.” Ella responded.

“I have coffee and some very special milkshakes.” He began taking them from the tray and placing them on the table.

“What do we say?” Ella murmured looking around the kids.

“Thank you.” August and Fleur said at the same time.

Roman smiled at his youngest daughters before leaning over and placing a kiss on Lily’s upturned face.

“Alright, Lily Squeals?”

She giggled.

“Sit down babes.” Ella said softly.

Lily nodded and eased back down on her seat grinning even more as Roman tucked the tray under his arm and moved the chair closer to the table. He did the same with Liam.

Ella sucked in a sharp breath before slowly breathing out again.

“Want to..” she stopped feeling Sophie glaring at her. “join us?”

Roman looked at her.

“Perhaps in a bit.” He said trying not to sound so eager. “Just need to tidy up the kitchen.”

“Dada?” Liam asked giving his dad his best sad face.

“Soon babes.” Ella told her son placing her hand on his leg and stroking it.

Liam nodded and looked round the others before he reached for his milkshake and took a drink.

“Yum yum Dada.” He announced smacking his lips.

Ella turned and looked at Roman adopting a steely-eyed look.

“Ice cream?” she asked him knowing he added that to his milkshakes when he was doing his so called special ones.

Roman gave her a grin.

“Two scoops.” He announced.

She glared at him and primly picked up her cup and took a drink of her coffee.

Roman looked round them before heading back into the kitchen, He pulled out his phone and sent a quick text message before hastily putting his phone away as Sophie walked into the kitchen.

“Well at least you didn’t totally…” she began.

“Since you won’t accept me as your father Sophie, you can respect me as your employer so get your backside out there and clean down every table before you come in here and wash up these pots. “ he told her abruptly.

She stood looking at him her mouth opening and closing before turning and stalking away. He watched her go before he sighed and began clearing down the kitchen tops.

Ella felt her phone beep and looked at the children before she slid it out of her pocket and looked at it. She grinned as saw the message was from him and opened it.

“wish u’d chosen a milkshake?” he’d put and even added an ”x” at the end.

She sent him a sad face and put the word yes, debating with herself about adding an X to it before finally adding it and clicking send. Putting the phone on silent she popped it back in her pocket and looked at her kids grinning as she heard his phone beep in the kitchen and heard him laugh.

She’d noticed a sullen Sophie stalking outside with a tray under one arm and a cloth in the other and sighed before feeling a shiver go down her spine. Without turning she knew that Roman was behind them and she gave a smile before turning and looking up at him.

“Is it ok?” He asked her.

Ella nodded and watched as he pulled up a chair and sat down next to her. He placed his cup on the table in front of him and grinned at Lily as she slurped from her drink.

“Steady.” He and Ella said at the same time.

“Dada funny.” Lily said giggling.

“Uh huh.” Ella muttered before she felt Roman place his hand on her knee under the table. He rubbed his thumb in a small circular motion on the inner part of her knee and even though she was wearing jeans she could feel the heat of his hand through the material not to mention the warm darts of sensation that were shooting up from her leg. She bit her lip to stop herself squeaking with surprise and shot him a look, glaring as he sipped from his coffee as though nothing was happening. She gave him a broad smile before sipping at her own coffee and felt his hand still on her knee.

“So what have you been doing today?” he asked looking round his kids.

“We’s had school.” Lily told him in a sad voice.

He nodded hiding his grin at the tone of her voice as she told him. They’d decided that they would send Lily and Liam off to school at the same time despite the difference in their ages.

“Me’s like school.” Liam said grinning before frowning as Lily glared at him.

“Lots of other boys for you to play with?” Ella said encouraging her son.

Liam nodded.

“Fred’s me friend.” He announced.

“We’s don’t like Fred.” Lily told her brother.

“Me’s does.” He shot back.

“I hope you two aren’t going to fight?” Ella called softly.

“No’s Mama.” They chorused smiling innocently at their parents before glaring at each other again.

Roman smiled and placed his cup down.

“What about you babes?” he asked August.

“Colours.” She told him with a sad sounding sigh.

“Still not liking Crèche?” he asked Ella.

She shook her head.

“Daniella and Kai are in the one at the college.” She told him quietly. “So they miss them.”

He nodded sympathetically before grinning at Ella.

“There is a way you can solve that.” He murmured.

She gave him a look noticing the way his eyes creased up as he grinned innocently at her.

“Really?” she asked him. “What is that?”

“Take some classes yourself.”

Ella shook her head and rolled her eyes before she leaned forward and took a long drink of her coffee.

“Well?” he asked her. “Kids will be happier and you’ll get something out of it.” He kept his voice low encouraging her with his eyes to at least think about it.

“Ok.” She murmured.

He smiled again feeling weirdly happy before focusing his attention back on the children. He gave a small hiccupping gasp when he felt Ella’s hand stroking his thigh or more importantly when her fingers brushed up against his, well his thing. He gave her a look feeling himself blushing and wanting to say something when Sophie walked back in.

“I’ve done all the tables.” She said quietly.

“Thank you Sophie.” He called out equally as quietly. “Why don’t you take a break now?” he suggested.

She looked at him and nodded, disappearing into the kitchen.

“Problems?” Ella picked up on the atmosphere between them. She could feel her shoulders tightening thinking about her daughter and her new attitude and frowned.

“No.” Roman said to her. “She’s ok.”

Ella avoided looking at him, knowing that she would see the truth in his gaze and instead reached out to help August with her drink.

Roman watched for a moment before glancing at the door. More customers were starting to drift in and he sighed before slowly standing.

“I’ve …” he began.

“We need to go anyway.” Ella said sensing his disappointment and feeling the same herself. “Maybe we’ll go to the beach tomorrow?” she said more in the form of a question.

“Ok.” He said back.

He moved over and helped her with the kids, watching as she walked them out to her car before he cleared the table and moved into the kitchen.

“It won’t work.” Sophie told him,

Roman moved until he was facing her thinking of replying when he stopped himself and waited.

“She won’t want you back. Not after what you did.” Sophie muttered. “And if she even thinks about taking you back I’ll leave.”

Roman gave a small nod and looked into his daughter’s eyes.

“You know what Sophie, you are a lot like your sister.” He muttered. “When she first came to the Bay to find me.”

Although the words were innocent enough she registered the potential insult behind them and turned, flouncing out of the kitchen and out of the shack. Roman watched her go before he picked out his phone and saw the message symbol flashing. He grimaced and opened up the phone seeing two messages on there. One was from Frankie, his, well his girlfriend and the other was from Ella. He wasn’t surprised when he opened Ella’s first.

“Not fooled. Will be having words with Sophie, C U 2mrw? Xx” he read before swearing. The other text from Frankie meant she was back in the Bay and well, he was now two timing his wife and his girlfriend. He frowned then as a silly smile went over his face at still thinking of Ella as his wife.

Before he could stop himself he typed back that he would see her tomorrow. Maybe in the morning after she dropped of the kids he suggested. He waited looking at his phone expecting a new message through before eventually putting it back into his pocket forgetting all about Frankie.

“Mama happy.” Lily called out.

Ella sighed and looked over at her impossible daughter as she drove them home.

“Mama is happy.” She agreed with her. “So do we have homework?”

“No’s Mama.” Lily said quickly.

Ella looked at her daughter again quickly before glancing at Liam and seeing his frown as he looked at his sister.

“Really Lily squeals?” she asked quietly.

“Maybes a little.” She amended holding up her thumb and finger.

“That’s good, we can do that then and you can go swimming.”

“Me’s swimming too?” Liam called.

“And you.” Ella said pulling into the driveway. She grinned as all of the kids started trying to get out at once and she moved quickly lifting them out one at a time and carrying them over to the veranda. Pushing open the front door she took the time to listen to the silence before chaos descended in the form of her older kids. Walking through to the lounge she sat the twins in front of the tv and took Lily and Liam over to the table watching as a reluctant Lily sat down and pouted at her.

“So is it reading?” she asked her.

Lily nodded.

“Come on babes?” Ella called quietly. “We know you are a clever girl and know all your letters.”

Lily nodded.

“Me’s no like.” She told her Mum. “Boring.”

“What is Squeals?”

Lily pointed to the book.

“Oh do you want to read something else?” Ella asked her.

Lily nodded.

Ella nodded back and looked at her before she grinned and moved away. She went into her study and looked along her bookshelf before finding a book and bringing it back out to her daughter. She handed it to Lily and grinned at the excited look on her face.

“Me’s read?” Lily asked.

“Yes, it’s a very long story and there are no pictures.” Ella told her. “But my Lily girl can read that if she wants.”

Lily nodded and excitedly turned the cover of The Secret Garden. She immediately began reading, her lips framing the words.

“I need to hear some too.” Ella told her.

Lily looked up and nodded before she began reading. She finished the first paragraph easily and lifted up her big blue eyes to her mother.

“More Mama.” She murmured. “pleasssse.” She asked looking up at her.

“Go on then, go sit with the twins and take it with you.” Ella chuckled as her daughter hopped down and moved over to the sofa sitting on there and beginning reading again. Ella waited a moment before she pulled out her phone and snapped a quick picture of her daughter before sending it to both Mike and Roman before putting the phone away. She’d spotted the envelope symbol on the screen but would read the message later after she sorted out the kids. Turning to Liam she grinned and picked out his book.

“Me’s read book too?” he asked sounding sad.

“You read this one first.” Ella murmured. “Show me how clever my Liam is.”

He grinned at her and turned the pages in the book before reading it.

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Chapter 4

Ella looked over at Roman as he ran along the beach towards her. He had a smile on his face and after a quick look around he stopped and sat next to her.

“I didn’t think you’d make it.” He said quietly. “You didn’t text back.”

She looked at him.

“I got busy with the kids.” She murmured with a shrug. “What are we doing?”

“Dating?” He said knowing he was asking her.

“Doesn’t that seem redundant? We have kids, a lot of kids, and we’re divorced.” She murmured her arms folding around her upturned knees.

“Shall we just …” he stopped realising that he was about to suggest that they get married again.

“We can’t do this to the kids.”

“So it wasn’t just you got busy you were thinking about not showing up?” he asked her and saw her half nod her head.

“We’re divorced. You hated me. We couldn’t have a conversation without screaming at each other.” She said punctuating each sentence by rocking back and forth with her body. He watched her and sighed before reaching out and touching her face gently.

“Ok.” He said. “I’ll leave you alone.”

He stood and began walking away from her feeling as though he’d just ripped out his heart and she’d stomped on it. She was allowed to be cautious. She had the kids to think about. He’d moved on, hadn’t he. Hadn’t he? He asked himself mockingly.

Turning quickly he moved back to her side and knelt down next to her.

“The thing is,” he began. “I shouldn’t have left. I should have fought harder to save us. I shouldn’t have looked into buying a house in a fit of pique because we’d had a fight and I really shouldn’t have made you cry.”

Ella turned her head and looked at him blinking back tears as she gave him a cautious smile.

“Really?” she asked. “A fit of pique?”

He nodded.

“You see we’ve always had bad times and bad fights and been ready to leave each other but we’ve never slept apart for three months and we’ve never got to the point where we can’t even stay in the same room before.”

She sighed.

“So you left and looked for a house?” she whispered. She was afraid of the conversation they seemed to have started but at the same time they needed to talk about this stuff. However hard it was, she thought with a sigh.

“Yeah.” He admitted looking horror-struck by the admittance. “But it was just a fleeting thought, an idea. I went and looked at houses and then came home and …” he stopped as the emotion choked him up. “You with Liam.” He murmured thinking of how he’d walked in and she’d been with the little boy trying to sooth him after he’d been ill. A look at her face and the tears she’d been trying not to cry as she held their little boy and all thought of leaving disappeared. Until two weeks later having forgotten all about his house search the mortgage company decided to ring and ask him if he were still interested. Speaking to Ella in his absence and then it all snowballed.

“So your saying it’s my fault?” she asked forcing her voice to stay calm. Inside she was angry and tired and upset.

“No, it’s our fault. We did this together. I should have talked to you.” He said slowly urging her not to get upset; he doubted he could take her tears right now. Well not without crying himself.

Ella sighed.

“Do what do we do now?” she asked him. “Do we just forget how nasty we were to each other and pretend that nothing happened?”

He shook his head.

“I doubt we can forget it. There were a lot of things going on between us. Things we haven’t resolved.” He said slowly.

She nodded and turned looking out to sea watching as the waves splashed gently on to the golden sand.

“Marriage guidance.” He said suddenly processing the thought himself. “We went before.”

“We’re not married anymore.” She pointed out.

“Still got to be worth a shot isn’t it?” he reasoned.

“Roman.” She protested.

“Are you telling me that the other day you didn’t feel anything?” he asked. “You know when I carried you to my house and we started kissing and you held me and put your hands in my…”

“Alright!” she interrupted loudly remembering where her hands were. She blushed at his smirk. “I was er.. in pain, and trying to distract myself. “ she invented. “Didn’t mean anything.”

“Well I have to say another few minutes of that stuff that didn’t mean anything and you would have had a surprise.”

She looked at him and couldn’t stop herself giggling.

“Well, still waiting for my answer.” He said after a moment.

“On certain conditions.” Ella said eventually suddenly looking serious.

“Name them.” He shot back.

“The kids don’t find out.” She murmured.

“How do you think that is going to work?” he said. “With the amount of looks that Sophie was giving us yesterday?”

She shrugged.

“We continue to see each other in secret.” She muttered.

He looked at her as though she had just said something crazy to him.

“It could work.” She protested.

“Yeah, because right now on a public beach I don’t want to kiss you.” He said in a sarcastic tone.

She shot him a look before standing and walking down to the sea. He noticed that there was still a hint of a limp to her walk and knew that her ankle was still hurting her. Checking around he stood too and walked down to where she is standing.

“I don’t want to sleep with you.” Ella announced without turning around to check if he were there and that made him smile.

“Ok.” He agreed.

“So if it is just that you want….”

“I can manage without.” He said quietly. “So any other conditions?”

Ella turned and looked at him.

“Hey.” He said holding up his hands. “I didn’t mean that in a negative way.”

“Well it sounded like it.” She snapped at him. “Like this is just some ….”

“Ella Harris.” He said and saw her flinch.

“Addison.” She corrected in a quiet voice.

“You went back to your maiden name?” he asked in an equal quiet voice.

She nodded.

“When I said I wanted nothing to do with you I actually meant it.” She told him.

“Ok.” He murmured folding his arms across his chest as he thought back to her threat to remove part of his anatomy. “Anything else you actually meant?”

Ella shook her head thinking back before she grinned and looked at him.

“Still got them haven’t you?” she asked.

“Only just.” He grinned at her. “I thought that you were going to get them in the divorce settlement.”

She gave him a look before they both laughed.

“Come on El,” he encouraged. “Don’t we owe it to ourselves to try?”

“Fine ok.” She murmured looking around them before holding out her hand. “We’ll give it a go.”

Roman nodded and shook her hand.

“Great,” he said and grinned.

“You can let go of my hand now?” Ella told him after a minute.

“I’m pretty sure if I do you’ll disappear on me.” He said softly.

“You think that soft soap is going to get round me?” she shot back. “Like I don’t know you at all Roman Harris.”

He sighed and lifted her hand up to his lips placing a kiss on the back of her hand before he let it go. He wondered what it was about Ella that made him do the romantic stuff that made him want to do the romantic stuff. Was it the light in her eyes or the fact that she smiled at him in that way, he asked himself.

“So…” he murmured.

“So…” she echoed, her eyes shinning with merriment.

“How about a date Ms Addison?” he asked smiling at her.

“Friday.” She said. “Lunch.”

He nodded.

“I can do lunch.” He agreed. “my place.”

She shook her head.

“No, some place up the coast.”

“Don’t trust me?” he asked her pouting.

“Of course not. I did used to be married to you.” She shot back at him.

He looked at her and laughed again.

“I’ll find a place.” He told her. “And we meet at the lighthouse and go from there.”

“11:30.” She told him.

“We’re agreed.” He said finally. “Although it feels more like an assignation than a date.”

“Well if you don’t want to…”

“Forget it.” He murmured grinning because she sounded like her old sassy self again. “I’ll see you on Friday.” He promised. “Wear something nice.”

“With stockings?”

He tilted his head to one side like he was considering it and grinned as she poked him in the ribs.

“Fine then, don’t wear stockings.” He murmured with a grin. “Or underwear.” He added under his breath.

Ella turned and gave him a look before stalking off.

“So is that a yes?” he called out carefully.

She turned and gave him the same hand gesture that Sophie had two nights before and he laughed.

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Chapter 5

Ella looked over at the lighthouse before glancing at her watch again. It didn’t make any difference it was still five minutes to twelve. She swore that she’d give it five minutes and then go home, but then she’d sworn that five minutes ago. She sighed and looked through the windscreen, flicking on the wipers to clear the rain that was pouring from the leaden grey sky. She could see that her breath had fogged up the windows and grimaced.

Roman looked over at Frankie. She was sitting on the sofa telling him all about her trip to Perth and taking an hour to drink a cup of coffee. He couldn’t get to his phone to text Ella and he couldn’t seem to get Frankie out of the house. He’d tried to tell her he had stuff to do and that didn’t work and then he’d tried to tell her that it was over between them and that hadn’t worked and now he was missing out on the chance of being with Ella because he was a stupid flamin’ idiot.

He bet that she was wearing something nice too and would have done her hair and make up. All he could think about was her and here he was stuck, hadn’t even had the chance to get changed let alone shower and yeah, he had been planning to shave too. Not that he was expecting to get any kisses of Ella, just wanted her to know that this was important to him.

“Hell.” He muttered under his breath.

“Sorry am I boring you, Darling?” Frankie asked him. “Poor you, I bet with all your kids you haven’t been on holiday for a while?”

Roman looked at her and wondered not for the first time in the last hour what he’d even seen in her. She had long blonde hair and brown eyes, a change from dating women who had a resemblance to Ella in some way. Or most likely a reaction because Ella had thrown him out and hurt his pride.

“I have to be at work soon.” He prevaricated.

She pouted at him.

“Didn’t you just come from work?” she asked him.

“This is at the Diner.” He invented.

“Oh.” She murmured and gave him another look.

“So, I need to go get ready.” He added looking at her. He could have added a couple of swear words when she just looked dumbly at him and then a knock at the door sounded and his heart sank because he knew it was Ella.

Ella looked at her watch again before turning the keys in the ignition and starting the engine. She debated with herself about going home before she found herself heading in the direction of his house. Pulling up opposite she parked the car and climbed out of it. Her high heels clicked on the road as she ran across it, darting through the rain showers before reaching his door. Lifting her hand she knocked.

“Shouldn’t you get that?” Frankie asked him.

Roman swallowed and nodded walking slowly to the door. He opened it and peered out, seeing Ella standing there in a hot sexy red dress with her hair pinned up and long golden earrings in. She had full make up on including sexy glossed red lips and his heart plummeted.

“Ella.” He murmured unable to stop his glance back to the woman sitting on the sofa.

She looked at him taking in his clothes and frowned.

“Did we have the wrong day?” she asked folding her arms and giving him a look.

“Wrong day for what?” Frankie asked moving from the sofa to stand next to Roman.

He looked from one to the other and opened the door wider knowing that he couldn’t stop this meeting.

“No, I just got …”

“Busy.” Ella finished quietly.

His eyes met hers and he begged her not to misconstrue the situation, although knowing Ella she already knew just what was going on.

“Are you going to introduce us Darling?” Frankie said to him before placing her hand through his arm and moving closer to him.

Ella watched the display and looked Roman straight in the eyes.

“Ella, this is my girlfriend Frankie.” He said to her knowing that everything was over now. She wouldn’t forgive him for this. He felt a massive weight of depression settle on his shoulders and he had no clue how to fix this.

“How do you do?” Ella said politely holding out her hand to the other woman.

Frankie took a half a step back before she held out her hand in return.

Ella smiled and shook Frankie’s hand before she let it go and looked over at Roman.

“We were going to talk.” She said covering for him.

He looked at her and wanted to push Frankie away in that instance and take Ella into his arms and never let her go again. She was wonderful and amazing and brilliant and all the other things that he didn’t have words for right now because his head was whirling.

“Yes, about Meggy.” He murmured. “But as I was just telling Frankie I have to be somewhere.”

Ella looked at him and raised an eyebrow.

“Darling,” Frankie murmured placing her hand on his arm. “I can entertain Ellie whilst you go get changed or whatever.” She offered looking at the pair of them.

“Actually it’s Ella and there is really no need to put yourself out on my account. I’ll just send you a text later.” She murmured looking over at Roman as she said the last part.

“Fine.” He said slowly and had to watch as she walked out of his life, again. He wanted to hit something or someone and knew that really he needed to hit himself for getting into this mess. He saw her skirt across the road and over to her car before he closed the door slowly and turned looking at Frankie.

“I have to say that your ex wants you back. You should do something about that before it becomes embarrassing.” Frankie told him moving back to the sofa.

“You’re right, I do need to do something.” He muttered under his breath.

“So what is this about Meghan?” she asked him pronouncing his daughters name wrong. He reminded himself in that moment that although he was trained to kill it wouldn’t be right to take care of the problem of Frankie in that way. No matter how he was tempted.

Looking over to the other woman, he sighed before folding his arms across his chest.

“Nothing serious.” He said slowly his eyes drifting over to her. He watched as she sipped from the cup and could have shouted at her that the damn coffee was cold by now.

“Oh, is that the time?” she murmured. “Silly me, I must dash.”

She placed the cup back down ignoring the coffee that slopped over the side of it and looked at him before standing once more.

“I have to …” he began before opening the door wide.

She walked over to it, collecting her handbag on the way past before leaning up and offering him her cheek to kiss. An awkward minute passed before she looked at him and pouted.

“Ok then.” she murmured. “I’ll text you later darling.” She promised and walked out in the rain.

Roman watched her go making sure she left before he grabbed his phone and keys and ran out to his car. Climbing behind the wheel he put his foot down and sped all the way to Ella’s. As he pulled up in the driveway he saw her sitting on the front veranda sipping from a beer and he swore. It took all of his strength to get out of his car and go over to her and he wasn’t surprised that his hands shook by the time he was stood in front of her.

“Ella.” He began.

“Not like you to double book yourself.” She said.

He met her eyes and sighed, it hadn’t gone unnoticed that she changed out of the dress and was wearing a long baggy jumper and jeans. Her feet were bare and her face scrubbed clean of make up.

“Ella.” He said again. “It’s…”

She held up her hand.

“You moved on, it’s ok, we’re divorced.” She murmured calmly. “I’d appreciate it if you left my property before I have to call the police and have you removed.”

She gave him a look and stood up beginning to go over to the door with her now empty bottle.

“Ella.” He said for a third time.

She turned and looked at him. Waiting.

“Yes, I’ve been dating. It’s not serious. She’s been away so I haven’t been able to end things.” He muttered feeling defensive.

She nodded.

“Doesn’t matter. Maybe I’ll start dating too.” She said to him. “As there is nothing going on with us.”

She gave him a last look before going into the house and shutting the door behind her in his face. He lifted his hand and knocked before he heard the lock sliding into place.

“Ella.” He called desperately once, twice, before finally giving up hope and walking away and getting back in his car.

He’d been so happy just a couple of hours ago and now he felt like his world had ended. He drove the thirty-minute journey back to his house and once he’d got inside he acted like a love struck teenage boy and threw himself full length on the sofa burying his face in his hands.

Ella looked at the bottle before she took it through to recycling. She turned around and slipped out the back running across the grass to the pool house. Going up the steps she knocked on her Dad’s door and waited.

“Hey Princess what can Id o for you?” George asked slowly.

“Can you pick up the kids?” she asked quickly. “I’ve got a headache.”

He nodded and she tried not to notice the way he was looking at her.

“Is this headache got anything to do with someone’s car being here a few minutes ago?” he asked gently.

She felt her eyes overflow with tears and trickle down her face. She angrily dashed them away before looking back at her dad.

“No.” she told him in a small voice. “Just a headache.”

He nodded and moved over to press a kiss to her forehead.

“Well I hope that it gets better soon.” He murmured.

She nodded knowing that she hadn’t fooled him before turning and running down the stairs and across the garden.

“She ok, Darl?” Irene asked moving to stand next to her husband.

“Not really.” He muttered. “I might just have to pay that Roman a visit sooner or later.” He added looking at the way his daughter had gone.

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Chapter 6

Lily stood on the front veranda, her arms folded and her foot tapping as she glared ferociously at the driveway.

“How long are you letting her stand out there Mum?” Georgie asked.

Ella looked up from the book she was reading and smiled at her son.

“Until her father comes and picks her up I imagine.” She commented.

“You can’t let her go.” Sophie muttered.

“I can let her go, because she has made up her own mind about seeing him.” Ella said softly and saw her children exchange a look between themselves before looking back at her.

“She’s packed a suitcase too.” Sammy commented looking at the small pink Barbie case on wheels. “And her school backpack.”

Ella nodded.

“So is she like moving out too?” Sophie asked shooting a look at Meggy.

“Hey, don’t drag me into it.” Meggy cried out shooting her sister a look back.

“Girls if I have to break up another fight between you I’ll send you both back to boarding school.” Ella told them before she stood hearing a car coming up the drive. Without looking she knew it was Roman and she sighed heading to the front door.

“Hey Lils, is that Dada?” she asked her daughter.

Lily turned and nodded.

“All packed?” she asked going over to her daughter and kneeling in front of her.

“Liam?” Lily asked in a sad voice.

“He wants to stay here this weekend. But you’ll have a lovely time with Dada, and Meggy is coming too.”

Lily nodded before shooting another fierce look towards Sophie through the open door.

Roman pulled into the drive slowly seeing Lily standing on the front veranda, he watched as Ella came out of the house and moved in front of their daughter and he knew that something was wrong. He climbed out of the car and walked over to the veranda his heart pounding only able to stand there and look at them.

Ella stood up slowly and looked at him.

“The children have decided not to go with you this weekend.” Ella said slowly.

“Not me’s Dada.” Lily cried out. “me’s come.”

Roman met Ella’s gaze.

“Why?” he asked her slowly wondering if she’d said something and then kicking himself, knowing she wouldn’t do that to the kids even though she was mad at him. Although she seemed not to be angry with him, resonating with a quiet hurt. He preferred her to be mad at him, now that he could deal with. He could tease her out of her anger or match it or any one of the one hundred and one things he used to do.

He watched as Ella shrugged and looked up at him. If anything she had a neutral look on her face and that worried him. He didn’t like not knowing what she was thinking or feeling.

“Seems the news of your new girlfriend has spread.” She commented slowly. “Sophie heard about her from Colleen.”

Roman took a half step back thinking of how Ella could have found out about Frankie. Having the kids come home and tell her. If the other woman hadn’t have shown up then they would have had their lunch and she would have come home to this. He groaned and looked into her eyes framing words of apology that he couldn’t say.

“I see.” He said eventually instead of looking like a stupid mime.

Ella nodded.

“I’m coming too.” Meggy declared coming out of the house with her bag.

Lily nodded and began wheeling his case towards Roman. She frowned as it got caught on the step and then the gravel.

“Dada help.” Ella said to her daughter as she pouted and pulled angrily at the handle.

Roman mentally shook himself and moved over to Lily picking her up and also the case.

“This is heavy what have you got in it?” he asked her in a soft voice.

“Me story.” Lily told him. “Me blankie, me kitty.”

“Ah, of course.” He said and mock-groaned picking it up and taking it over to the car. Lily giggled at him smiling at he put her in the car and put the little suitcase in next to her. He removed her backpack and put that beside her too before he did up her seatbelt. Easing back he looked at her before he closed the car door.

“Front seat Megs.” He murmured to his elder daughter.

She grinned and moved around the front of the car to get in the passenger side.

Roman stood the car keys in his hand and he faced Ella. He found he played nervously with the keys as he stood there.

“I’m sorry.” He said looking at her urging her with his eyes into believing him.

“Lily needs to be back at 6pm on Sunday. Don’t be late.” She said and turning she walked back into the house and closed the door behind her. Shutting him out again. Dismissing him.

He found himself looking at the closed door feeling a longing to kick it down and go in there to grab his wife and kiss her until she agreed to come back to him and he groaned thinking that would take only the next few centuries to do.

Turning slowly he walked back to the car and climbed behind the wheel and slowly set off.

“He’s gone.” Sammy called out.

Liam looked at his brother and sighed before he picked up the throw and walked over to the sofa and climbed up on it. He lay down and lifted the throw over his head hiding himself from everyone.

“Should we be worried about him?” Sophie asked in a high-pitched voice gesturing to her brother.

Ella gave her a look and she flushed.

“We should go do something.” Sammy muttered. “Maybe play…”

“No.” Ella interrupted. “I want you to clean and hoover your rooms. Sammy the rabbits need cleaning out.” She announced and heard groans in response. She looked at them and saw they were planning on protesting when she held up her hand and then pointed. She hid a half grin as they moved out of the room before she went over to Liam.

“Hey my little man?” she called softly. “Are we going to get a film to watch?”

He shook his head underneath the cover and she sighed.

“Are you missing Lily?” she asked and saw him nod. “You could have gone to see Dada too babes.”

He reached up and peeled down the cover and looked at her,

“Babies no go.” He said quietly. “We’s look after babies.”

Ella nodded.

“And you do a wonderful job there my little man, but Mama can look after babies too. Why don’t I call Dada and get him to come pick you up?”

Liam shook his head stubbornly before sitting up and looking over at August and Fleur. He saw his sisters sitting quietly holding hands and he frowned.

“Let’s put on a film for them and maybe get some chocolate out?” she asked and saw him give a nod.

“Come on babies.” Ella called to the girls, “Come and sit with Liam.”

She smiled as they moved from their seat on the other sofa helping each other climb down before heading over to their brother. Ella lifted them up and settled them down with cushions around them and placed the cover around them before she stood and went over to the tv. Looking through the films she selected Ice age and put it on casting a look over at the children before heading into the kitchen and taking out the secret chocolate stash, not that much was ever secret she thought savagely thinking about Colleen telling Sophie about Roman’s girlfriend. She grabbed a large bar for herself and moved into the lounge sitting with her babies and handed out chocolate bars to them before she opened the wrapper and started eating.

‘Great, ‘ she mocked herself. ‘Comfort eating!’

Roman and Meggy watched as Lily wheeled her pink suitcase up the path and into the house. She took it over to the sofa and opened it up taking out her blanket and her cat. Roman watched her with a solemn look on his face as she moved to the long sofa and climbed up on dragging her blanket with her before snuggling down and hugging her cat. She looked around before giving him a look from her big blue eyes.

He pinned a smile on his face as he placed their other bags down and moved over to the tv switching it on and finding some cartoons for his daughter to watch.

“How about a drink?” he asked glancing at Meggy as he spoke.

“Orange juice?” she asked slowly coming into the room and making sure the door was shut behind her before going over and sitting with Lily. “Oh look it’s Dora, we like Dora don’t we?” she asked her sister.

Lily nodded and hugged her cat closer to her.

“Here you go.” Roman murmured coming over to them and placing the beakers of drink in front of them. Meggy reached for hers and took a long sip looking over at Lily before shooting her Dad a worried look. He pinned a smile on his face and tried not to look as worried as he felt.

Usually when Lily was quiet it meant that you needed to go find out what she had done and it generally wasn’t a good thing. Last time she was like this they’d discovered that she had used permanent marker to draw on Daniella’s face.

“What do we want to eat?” he asked softly. “Who wants to help me cook?”

Meggy shot him a look.

“Do I look like Sophie?” she asked with a sassy grin.

“Sophie.” Lily said softly before looking at her Dad and busting into tears.

“Come on babes.” He said swallowing the lump in his throat as he moved to go pick her up. She sobbed louder when he held her despite his best efforts to comfort her.

“Let me take you home to Mama.” He suggested eventually feeling completely out of his depth.

Lily clung harder to him and shook her head.

“Shall I ring Mum?” Meggy asked quickly.

Roman shook his head.

“It’s ok babes.” He said to both of his daughters. “Why don’t you go up into your room and take the bags with you?” he suggested trying to give Meggy something to do knowing she would be feeling as helpless as him right now. She nodded and moved out of the room taking her and her sisters back packs with her.

Roman sucked in a breath and reached for his phone. With a shaking hand he typed out a text message and sent it as Lily continued to sob against his shoulder. He remembered when she was first home how she rarely cried and he had to suck in a breath to stop himself moaning in distress. There was nothing worse than one of the children crying and being unable to help them.

“Come on Lily squeals.” He whispered rubbing her back.

“She not settling.” Meggy said walking partway down the stairs and looking over at them, her voice emotional.

Roman nodded.

“I might have to take her back.” He commented and half grinned as Lily shook her head. “Well then you need to stop crying Lils.” He said and was about to say something else when there was a hesitant knock at the door.

“I’ll get it. “ Meggy called coming the rest of the way down the stairs and moving over to answer the knock at the door. She eased it open and gasped before looking back over at her Dad and then opening the door wide.

“Lily.” Liam cried out running over to them,

She lifted her head and looked round still crying.

“El?” Roman asked as she gave the rest of the kids a push to get them inside.

”Sophie, pizzas in the kitchen.” She began giving instructions. “Boys take your games console upstairs. Meggy help them with their bags please.”

“They don’t have a tv up there.” Roman said the first thing that came into his head in his shock at seeing Ella there and not only there but coming to him and bringing the kids.

“We brought a tv too.” Georgie told him as Sammy took the box with games console in over to the stairs. Georgie turned and picked up the tv carrying that and going up with Sammy.

Ella ushered the twins into the room and walked over to Roman taking Lily from his arms and over to the sofa. She patted the space beside her and Liam climbed up next to them.

“August Fleur, why don’t you show Dada what films you brought with you,” she said softly.

They ran over to him and handed the two films to him.

“Wow.” He said kneeling down in front of them. “Which one shall we watch?”

“This one,” they chorused pointing to Ice Age.

He nodded and went over to the dvd player putting it on before turning and looking at Lily. Ella had stopped her crying and was wiping her tears away with a tissue.

“Blow.” She instructed holding a tissue to her daughters nose and he grinned at the unladylike noise she made.

“M’k mama.” Liam asked looking at his sister.

Ella nodded.

“We’re fine aren’t we?” she asked looking at Lily.

Lily nodded slowly.

“Come on then.” Ella told her sitting her on the sofa next to the twins and Liam. She moved the blanket over then and handed Lily her cat before standing and taking the used tissue through to the kitchen. Roman followed slowly.

“Sophie upstairs.” Ella said to her daughter grinning as she pouted and moved out of the room. She waited a moment before turning to him about to say something when he spoke first.

“How did you get here so fast?” he asked looking at her.

Ella frowned.

“Fast?” she asked.

He nodded.

“I sent you a text.” He admitted.

She shrugged and pulled out her phone from her pocket and looking at it seeing the small envelope symbol. She read the message and shrugged.

“Liam was unhappy so I ordered the kids in the car. We brought dinner with us. I doubt Lily would have come home with me even if I fetched her. She’s stubborn.”

“Like her mother.” He commented and looked at her a cautious smile on his face.

“Can’t be like her father I don’t know who that is.” She said back looking around the kitchen.

Roman grinned watching her before he pointed out the bin and watched as she threw the tissue away and then washed her hands. He caught her looking at him as she dried her hands on a towel and he sobered.

“El.” He began.

“No I don’t want to talk to you. I’m not going to put the kids through anything else tonight. So it’s pizza and then I’m going home.” She stated clearly before her eyes met his.

He stepped back and looked at her seeing that she was hiding just how hurt she was by him and his actions and he didn’t like it. He didn’t like her bottling up stuff and he didn’t like not being able just to step over to her and hug her with gratitude that she was there and relief that she didn’t appear to want to kill him and just plainly because he wanted to.

“Ok.” He said eventually, nodding.

“Fine.” She told him and moved to the pizza boxes opening them and looking at the toppings.

“Plates are in that cupboard.” He told her.

She shot him a frosty glare as he grinned watching her move around his kitchen. He found the bottles of soda she’d brought with her and began pouring some out for the kids before accepting a plate with some pizza on.

“Thanks.” He said quietly not wanting to embarrass her that she’d automatically served him first out of habit.

She took though a plate to the babies and chuckled as Lily reached for the pizza first.

“Hold the plate babes.” She told her daughter. “Share with everybody.” She instructed. “There’s more if you want some.”

Lily nodded and reluctantly let go of her cat to take hold of the plate so they could eat from it.

“Kids dinner.” Ella called out and heard the thud of footsteps across the upstairs floor before they started to come down the stairs.

“Yeah, I need soundproofing.” He told her.

She tried not to smile but the corners of her mouth twitched and she grinned at him before walking back into the kitchen and collecting her plate. Sitting back down on the sofa she looked up at Roman. He shifted his weight from one foot to the other looking slightly uncomfortable before she gestured to the space beside her and he moved to sit down next to her looking across at Lily as she bossily portioned out the pizza. He found himself sharing a smile with Ella.

Neither of them noticed that the other kids had paused on the stairs to grin and nod at each other as they saw their parents sitting close together on the sofa.

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Chapter 7

Ella rolled over and sighed. She threw back the cover that Roman had supplied and with another sigh stood up and moved to the stairs. She told herself she was an idiot. That this was a bad idea. That he’d take advantage of the situation but still she found herself climbing the cream carpeted stairs and moving to stand outside his room. With another sigh she slowly turned the handle of the dark wooden door and slowly pushed it open before stepping inside. She saw him in bed his back to her, his cover covering up to his waist.

Roman woke when he heard the door opening. Rolling over he saw her coming into his room and sighed. She looked lost and frightened and uncertain. He hated seeing her look like that. Lifting his bedcovers in invitation, she nodded and after closing the door quietly she went over to the bed and climbed in.

“This doesn’t mean anything.” She told him in a fierce whisper.

“That’s fine.” He answered pulling her closer to him and carefully putting the covers around them. He tried not to sigh when she put her head on his shoulder and moved closer to him.

“Your bed is really small.” She said softly struggling to keep any distance between them. After a moment she gave up and sank into his arms mocking herself that maybe it was where she wanted to be anyway.

“Told you.”

She chuckled and closed her eyes feeling herself relax finally.

“I never slept with her.” He muttered from out of nowhere. “It didn’t ever get that far.”

“I don’t…”

“I know you aren’t interested but well you are in my arms in my bed and it seemed important to tell you.” He murmured kissing the top of her head before closing his eyes and trying to go to sleep. She smelt exactly the same as always, of strawberries and cream and the evocative mix of her perfume. It made him feel envious that now she was free she could have had a boyfriend of her own and he had no right to complain. Some one who would hold her like this and kiss her. He groaned just thinking about it, his arms tightening around her.

“It seems that you having a girlfriend is something you should have told me about when you started trying to date me again.” She pointed out.

Roman chuckled.

“It’s not a laughing matter.” Ella hissed at him pulling out of his arms.

“Come here you spitfire.” He murmured pulling her back. “I forgot about her.” He said slowly.

“You forgot you had a girlfriend?” she asked slowly.

She felt him nod and bit back the giggle that wanted to escape.

“I was way too focused on the fact that I thought my marriage was dead. I didn’t think that my feelings for her would ever come back to life,” he whispered.

She turned in his arms and felt him turn too, just like old times. He wrapped his arms around her and spooned close.

“Why?” she asked him softly.

“Why did they come back to life?” he murmured. “Or why did they die?”

“Either.” Ella asked slowly.

“They died because I didn’t take care of them.” He muttered his voice still quiet. “I shouldn’t have put her through so much and expected her to just keep dealing with it. I knew that she was vulnerable and I kept throwing more and more stuff at her. ”

“That’s an easy answer.” She said yawning. “But it doesn’t really solve anything does it? You were angry with her. With me.”

Roman groaned pressing his lips together to stifle the sounds before he sighed loudly.

“Yes I was.”

“But no longer?” she asked raising her eyebrows.

“It’s not that simple.”

“Never is with us.” She commented.

“I was angry that she, that you, pushed me away so many times. And you said you understood why I went into witness protection but you kept getting upset about it and that would lead to an argument and we’d go round in circles.” He said after a moment.

“When did you ever really see it from my point of view?” she asked him. She forced her tone to be calm, her voice quiet.

“Ella.” Roman protested his voice rising.

Ella leaned up and kissed him quickly shutting off his words.

“Shush.” She said urgently.

He smiled and felt her groan and pull away from him as his lips curved.

“El.” He said in a softer voice. “How about you put yourself in my place. Away from me, the kids, everything you know.”

She shook her head.

“I wouldn’t do that to the kids.” She said quickly. “Not after…” she broke off.

“After Elliot?” he guessed and felt her nod her head. “Then how are we ever going to get past this?” he asked after a moment.

“Do we want to get past this?” she replied biting her lip.

“We?” he questioned stroking his hand down her back as he pulled her closer to him. “I do, do you?”

She nodded again still biting her bottom lip.

Roman looked at her in the half-light of the moon coming in through the window from outside and he groaned before giving into temptation and kissing her. He felt her hands clench into fists before she began to caress him, stroking the smooth skin of his chest, teasing his small nipples with whisper soft touches. Suddenly as if she’d only just remembered that they were not together she stopped, her palms resting flat on his chest.

Roman sighed.

“Go to sleep El,” he murmured eventually, stroking her hair back from her face and watching the play of emotions across her beautiful face before he slowly lay his head back on his pillow.

“We’re talking.” She protested her voice sleepy.

“We can talk tomorrow.” He promised her.

“Anyway, I’m not your wife.” She added before finally going to sleep.

“Soon will be.” Roman said promising himself. “Just need to get you to trust me again.”

“Cold day.” She said. “Hell.” She added talking in her sleep.

He smiled at that before he fell asleep.

Mike relaxed slowly tucking one arm behind his head and breathed out focusing on sleep. He closed his eyes and tried to switch off his brain.

“Jennie isn’t settling.” Danni called out.

Mike sighed and eased off the sofa padding barefoot into the babies room. He looked at his daughter and reached out touching her forehead testing to see how hot she was. A moment passed and he ended up picking her up anyway just as a sleepy Danni came out of the bedroom.

“I’ve got her.” He said sounding sterner than he’d intended.

“I was awake anyway.” She said ignoring his tone. She didn’t want another argument she thought feeling sad as she looked at him.

“She’s a bit hot.” He commented in a quiet voice.

Danni nodded turning on the overhead light in the living room. She padded through to the kitchen and took out the digital thermometer and took that over to their daughter. Pressing it gently to her ear she pressed the button and watched the display.

“A couple of degrees.” She said to Mike. “We should keep a check on it.”

He nodded before looking over at Danni.

“You look tired.” He said softly.

“I am.” She agreed. “But then so do you.”

“It’s sleeping on the sofa.” He murmured. “If I’d known I would end up sleeping on it I would have picked a different sofa.”

Danni looked at the floor without commenting and sighed.

“We need to talk about it sooner or later.” He said finally. “Or we might as well just end things.”

“If that is what you want.”

“Always trying to protect yourself aren’t you?” he muttered before heading back into the nursery with their daughter. He placed her back into the cot and after carefully tucking her in he turned on the mobile listening for a second to the gentle tune before walking back into the living room.

“How could you turn this round on me?” Danni hissed at him.

Mike shook his head at her.

“This is my house, if you want to stay you can sleep on the damn sofa.” He muttered and walked into the bedroom. He left the door open as he climbed into the bed and pulled up the covers.

After a few minutes he saw the lights click out and sighed before grinning as she moved into the bedroom and over to the other side of the bed. She climbed in and settled down beside him.

“Don’t think that talking like Roman crap is going to get me.” She muttered.

“I’m guilty ok, I did it.” Mike muttered. “But if you think that I haven’t paid for that one moment then you are crazy.”

Danni groaned before rolling over and looking at his profile.

“How do I know that you won’t hurt me again?” she asked him.

“You don’t. Just as I don’t know that you won’t hurt me again.” He murmured. “You keep saying that you are going to marry me and I’m still waiting. You say that you want to return to work and so far you haven’t applied for a single job. You say you want us to move out and get a bigger place away from the parents and yet we’re still here.”

“So everything is my fault?” she gasped out feeling hurt.

“No Danni of course it isn’t.” he said after a moment. “I just think that after everything that has happened between us you’d rather make hurdles than move on.”

“How can I move on when you kissed someone else?” she gasped out. “And not just anyone, my best friend.”

“Because you know that I’m sorry and that it was just a moment. A single moment that in the history of us will seem insignificant.” He sighed and turned looking at her. “You know that you are my only girl and I want to marry you.”

“I don’t know that.” She gasped out feeling tears gather in her eyes. “Because…”

“Danni, stop clinging to that moment. Do I keep reminding you of the time you handed my ring back and said you wouldn’t marry me? Do I point out that you dated other men when we were apart?” he muttered.

She groaned and made to move out of the bed only to have him grab hold of her arm.

“Stay.” He said slowly.

She turned and looked at him.

“Please.” He asked.

She nodded and settled back down in the bed beside him.

“We should get some sleep.” He added after a few minutes and he felt her nod again.

Turning towards her he pulled her gently into his arms expecting her to struggle and half groaned half sighed when she didn’t. He wrapped his arms around her and closed his eyes. Within moments he’d fallen asleep. Fallen asleep with his woman in his arms for the first time in months.

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Chapter 8

Roman rolled over and looked around the room. He saw that he was alone and looked at his watch checking the time. Easing out of the bed he grabbed his robe and padded barefoot down the stairs. The kids were in the lounge and Ella was gone. Biting back a sigh he moved through to the kitchen and poured out a coffee.

“Morning.” He called to the kids.

“Mum has gone home.” Sophie announced looking at him carefully.

“Did she say if you lot had to be back at a certain time?” he asked keeping his voice neutral.

“Six Dada.” Lily called out.

He smiled as his daughter and watched as she smiled back. She was that much happier than the night before.

“Ok then. Lets go to the beach and then lunch in the diner.” He said.

“Really?” Sophie asked. “Is that all you can offer us?”

“Well I could take you home now and I’m sure your Mother will find you something to do.” He said draining his coffee and putting the cup to one side.

Georgie turned and looked at Sophie silently daring her to say something else before grinning as his sister backed down and moved away to sit down.

“Can we go surfing?” Sammy asked.

“Your boards aren’t here are they?” Meggy muttered glaring at her brother. “What do you suggest he does? Buy you a second one?”

“Meggy.” Roman called. “I know that there is a lot going on with you and your siblings but please don’t use that tone with him or with any of them for that matter. No Sammy, I can’t leave the little ones and take you out. Besides we’ve already missed the high tide.”

Sammy flushed and looked at Meggy as though expecting her to be gloating. She looked down refusing to meet his gaze and he felt sorry for her.

“Sorry.” She whispered to her brother.

“That’s ok.” He said quickly.

Roman nodded slowly looking at his kids.

“Does anyone need breakfast?” he asked. “I think there may be leftover pizza here somewhere.”

Meggy grinned at him.

“Do I have this to look forward too? Leftovers?”

Roman nodded.

“And doing all the laundry.” He stated. “and..”

She shook her head cutting him off.

“I so don’t do laundry. Don’t you remember what happened when I tried to wash a tablecloth?”

Roman frowned for a minute before he remembered and grinned.

“Yeah, has your mother forgiven you for that yet?”

Meggy shrugged.

“It’s ok, she thought Sophie did it.”

Sophie rolled her eyes at her sister before smiling at her.

“Dada me’s hungry.” Liam called out.

“Ok.” Roman murmured. “Eggs and toast?”

August walked up to him and tugged on the bottom of his robe.

“Yes Gust?” he murmured copying Lily’s nickname for her sister.

She grinned happily at him and cast a look at Lily before looking back at him.

“Me wants ghetti.” She told him.

“For breakfast?” he asked her and watched as she nodded. She comically rubbed her belly; something that she’d picked up from her brother Sammy and grinned at him.

“Pleases.” Fleur called out.

“Both of you?” he said.

“Make that me too.” Sammy muttered. “What, if he’s cooking…” he added as Georgie good-naturedly pushed him.

“With tomato sauce?” Roman asked looking at them.

“Cheese.” Sophie answered before clapping her hand over her mouth.

Meggy grinned at her sister before she nodded.

“Yeah, cheese.” She said softly.

Sophie smiled and moved over to her putting her arm around Meggy and hugging her.

“So let me get this straight.” Roman said looking round his kids. “You want spaghetti with sauce for breakfast.”




He grinned at the different voices before moving into the kitchen proper and looking through his cupboard gathering the ingredients together. He found that August was watching him intently, looking up at him with her big blue eyes and he grinned at that too. He started off chopping onion and pepper and putting that in a bit pot with some olive oil frying it gently.

“Smells good already.” Sammy commented flushing when the others looked at him.

“Me wants eggs.” Lily stated stubbornly looking around them.

“You can have eggs.” Roman called to her.

She narrowed her eyes as she looked in his direction.

“We’s have eggs.” She stated stamping her foot.

Roman bit back a smile and looked over at the kids watching their reactions.

“Still mad at us Lils?” Sophie asked her sister. “But we came over to see you, even Mama.”

Lily tilted her head to one side and looked at Sophie.

“Yes.” She told her folding her arms.

Meggy giggled and moved over to Lily lifting her up and cuddling her.

“You are so like Mummy.” she told her.

Lily shook her head.

“Mama says me’s like Dada.” She announced. “Stubborn.”

Roman let out a bark of laughter before going over and kissing the top of Lily’s head.

“What else does Mama say?” he asked before moving back into the kitchen.

As he got busy chopping the rest of the ingredients and cooking the pasta he heard his phone ringing in the other room and let out a small groan. Ages ago he’d assigned Ella her own ringtone when they had been together and he hadn’t got around to changing it, although he suspected that was because it still meant something to him. He knew from the tune that it was Ella calling him and he quickly wiped his hands and moved to grab his phone hoping that the kids wouldn’t connect the music with their Mother, or at least recognise that the song was Make you Feel my Love by Adele. He always had associated the line ‘holding you for a million years’ with Ella, no matter where he was or where they were personally.

“That’s Mummy.” Sammy muttered looking at the display.

Roman looked too and nodded even though he knew who it was before picking it up. He tried not to see the look that Georgie shot him, obviously recognising the tune. He looked back and dared him to say something knowing his teenage son would be more embarrassed at recognising the music than he was at assigning that tune to Ella, although, as he felt his face growing warm, not that much more embarrassed.

“Hello.” He said answering the call and quickly glancing at the children who had fallen remarkably silent at the same time.

“Hi, something has come up. I need you to keep the kids for a couple of days.” Ella said slowly.

“Ella.” He said once again quickly and was about to ask just what had come up when he caught sight of the all too eager faces looking back at him. He grinned as they made sounds of disappointment when he moved through the door and out of the house, heading down the path a ways to be sure of nothing being overheard.

“Is everything ok? With us?” he asked once safely out of earshot of the kids. “You were gone this morning.” He added worriedly. “If I said anything last night…”

“I had a phone call and needed to leave.” She explained cutting through the conversation. “Now can you keep the kids or not?” she added in a mutter.

“Of course.” He said quickly thinking that something must be up. He made up his mind to go over there on some pretence and make sure she was ok.

“Ok, I have to go.” She muttered again through the phone and hung up.

He frowned at the display before putting the phone in his pocket and heading into the house. Wherever she was she was driving somewhere and he frowned all over again.

“What is it?” Sophie asked immediately.

“Your Mum has asked for you to stay here a couple of days.” He said breaking the news to them in a calm voice.

“What? No, she can’t do that. I need my school bag.” Sammy cried out.

“Samson.” Roman said hurriedly going over to his son and putting his hand out to him. “It’s ok. We can skip school and hang out on the beach.”

“Cool.” Meggy muttered and then flushed as everyone looked at her. “Oh, you weren’t serious.” She said looking up at him hopefully. “Were you?”

“No.” Roman said shaking his head. “And stop hanging around with Nicole.”

He moved into the kitchen and poured out a coffee for himself, secretly worrying about Ella.

“You do know that you just went outside in your pj’s.” Sophie told him.

Roman nodded.

“It was nice of you all to be quiet so I could answer my phone.” He told them pointedly as he moved back into the kitchen. He finished up the two sauces for the pasta and put them in serving bowls and out on the table with slices of toast with garlic and herb butter on. He saw them sitting round the table, squeezing on to the two benches either side letting the twins have the chairs at either end and grinned as they helped themselves to pasta. Sophie automatically spooned out small portions for the twins and chopped up the pasta for them.

“Dada?” Lily called out.

“Eggs are coming squeals.” He answered her unspoken question.

“Me’s too?” Liam asked, even though he was eating pasta.

Roman nodded.

“And solders.” He murmured smiling as they grinned back at him before moving once more around the kitchen and seeing to the food. He placed the eggs in front of his two babies and had a laugh as Liam put down his pasta covered spoon and reached for the eggs.

“No seriously, what are we going to do about clothes and schoolbags.” Sammy said after a few moments.

“If you can be trusted to stay here and not misbehave I’ll go over and see your mother.” Roman murmured slowly.

Lily turned and gave him an innocent grin and he chuckled.

“Me’s good.” She announced.

“Yeah, about as good as Meggy.” Roman murmured.

“Hey!” Meggy grumbled as the others laughed.

He pulled up at the front of the house and sighed at seeing her car out the front. He’d tried ringing to speak to her but had only got her voicemail so as soon as the younger ones went down for a nap he’d left Georgie in charge and hopped in his car to come over. He still felt nervous about coming over to the house considering how he left it and then there was the whole did he knock or didn’t he? Not that he had keys anymore; Ella had made sure that she took them from him before he left.

Walking swiftly across the gravel and up on the veranda he raised his hand to knock on the door when it swung open.

“What the…” he muttered seeing Ella standing there with a baby over her shoulder.

“This is Jessica.” She told him in a soft voice. “She’s literately just got to sleep so if you wake her up I’ll kill you.”

“Er Ella, why do you have a baby?” he asked puzzled.

“Because Docs still have me down as a foster parent and asked me if I could take her in as an emergency case.” She explained looking at him a hint of amusement in her eyes. “You planning on doing anything with that hand?” she added looking at his still raised hand.

“No.” he said flushing and lowering his arm to his side. “Why are you giving me the kids?” he muttered.

“Because they’ll get attached to the baby and I’ll be giving her back when her Mum is out of hospital.” Ella explained.

Roman nodded.

“She is kind of cute.” He told her looking down on the baby.

“And don’t you get any ideas.” She told him turning and walking into the house.

He waited a couple of heartbeats before following her inside, treading softly over the hall carpet and into the lounge. He saw that she had moved around the furniture since he was there last and frowned before forcing his face to relax as he took in everything.

“Here.” Ella said holding out her car keys to him.

“What’s this?” he asked taking them from her and looking at them feeling dumb.

“You’ll need my car for carting round the kids. I’ve stocked it up with clothes and school stuff and toys for the little ones.” She explained.

“Oh,” he said putting them in his pocket. He drew out his and held them out to her. “Better have mine then, in case you need a car.” He shrugged. “Or if you need to move it.”

Ella stepped forward, Jessica still fast asleep in her arms and leaned close to him.

“I’ve got my jeep on the road.” She confessed. “Do not tell Sammy.”

“Er why?” he asked in the same conspiratorial tone.

“Because he thinks that he’s going to get it someday.” She murmured.

Roman laughed softly placing his keys down on the coffee table before reaching out and touching the baby on her cheek.

“Want a cuddle?” Ella asked and saw him nod before he stopped himself. She smiled at him and reached out placing Jessica in his arms. He smiled and drew the baby close cuddling her.

“She’s cute.” He commented and earned a mocking look from Ella. “What, she is.”

“Yeah, but you aren’t thinking cute baby you are thinking this will make her go gooey and let me back in.”

He nodded grinning at her.

“Will it work?” He asked moving to sit on the sofa.

“No.” she told him sitting next to him and lifting her feet up on to the table.

“I rang you by the way.”

“Yeah, sorry I was busy.”

Roman nodded looking down at the baby.

“I can imagine.” He said.

“We aren’t keeping her.” Ella said looking at his expression.

He could have teased her about using the term ‘We’, or he could have said about how nice it was holding a baby again and being home, as it were, but he looked at Ella and his breath caught in his throat. She was so beautiful, looking happy and relaxed, that tired sad expression that she’d had the night before was gone and he smiled before reaching out and touching her face, stroking his knuckles across her cheek.

“Hey you.” He murmured softly.

She smiled back at him and leaned forward.

Roman sighed before he too, leaned forward and their lips met. Lips teased against lips as they kissed, gently, softly, like new kisses discovering each other again. He pulled back when the baby stirred in his hold and sighed before his eyes went to Ella’s face.

“That was different.” He commented feeling the need to fill the silence between them.

She nodded.

“I don’t know what this means.” She said finally, the sound of worry back in her voice.

“I thin it means that we should take some time to figure it out.” He said and waited for her response even though he hadn’t phrased it as a question, he knew that there was a big question mark on all of this anyway.

“Are you going to be patient?” she asked him after a few minutes.

Roman nodded.

“You mean you don’t want us to rush into anything and well, sleep together?” he asked her.

“Yeah.” She said sounding uncertain again.

“I think I can do that.” He told her.

“Well we can sleep together but not necessarily sleep together. I mean we know that we well, er, get on but I want to make sure it’s not physical.” She tried to clarify. “I just want to be sure.”

Roman reached out and put his fingers under her chin lifting her head, he gave her a grin of amusement as she bit her bottom lip before speaking.

“I’m not stupid Ella, I know what you’ve just told me means. I think there is something between us and I’d be an idiot not to see you. I will be happy just holding you and kissing you with nothing further.” He smiled at her. “I promise.”

He said with another smile urging her to remember those words from a long time ago and maybe give him one of her smiles.

She nodded before giving him that smile, the curve of her lips lighting up her beautiful face.

“And do you always keep your promises?” she asked him still smiling.

Roman nodded.


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Chapter 9

“What?” Sammy muttered, his mouth full of biscuit.

Roman jangled the keys.

“Go to the car and start getting the stuff in.” he repeated slowly. “Take your brother with you.”

“Why do we have to do because we’re boys?” Sammy said putting his comic to one side and glaring at his dad.

“Because I said so.” Roman told him grinning at the familiar phrase.

“Is Mummy alright?” Meggy asked him.

“She’s fine.” He told her. “She’s got a project on at the moment and wanted some space.”

Meggy tilted her head and looked at him. She didn’t call him a liar out loud but her expression did. He grinned at her before winking and moving over to where Lily sat with the twins. He didn’t see Liam and worried for a moment until Sophie pointed to under the table.

“Liam.” He called out. “What are you doing under there?”

“It’s me Den.” Liam explained. “No girls.”

“Ah.” Roman nodded. “Well come and look at this.”

He placed the large storage tub on a clear space on the floor and took the lid off revealing the toys inside.

“Mama sends me?” Liam asked crawling out and running over to pick out his favourite bear.

“Yup.” Roman said grinning.

“Me too?” Lily asked.

Roman grinned some more as his daughter moved over to him and looked in the box.

“Gust.” She called out picking out the toy rag doll that was August’s favourite toy. “Fleur.” She said grabbing the other rag doll and holding that out to her other sister. Roman couldn’t help the smile that crawled on his face when his daughters collected the two dolls and cuddled them.

“Mama good.” August told him.

“She is.” He agreed with her leaning over and kissing his daughter on the top of her head. “See what else is here.” He told them and eased up stretching out the kink in his back before moving through to the kitchen. He saw a scattering of plates on the top and breadcrumbs littering the surface and chuckled to himself softly. Definitely Sammy and Georgie, his two boys had an appetite. Although calling Georgie a boy was a bit much considering that he was nearly as tall as him. Toby was also the same height and he suspected the same with Sammy. Not discounting Sophie, she was up to his shoulder and had slimmed down, as she grew taller, giving her a willowy look to her. She was a beautiful girl, even with the pink hair.

“So what is Mummy doing?” Meggy asked him coming to stand in the kitchen.

“She’s just doing some photography.” Roman murmured, telling her the excuse that Ella had asked him too. A day or so and Ella would sit down with the kids and tell them about the fostering herself.

“Oh,” Meggy murmured frowning.

“Oh, Missy?” Roman asked as he poured himself a coffee.

“Just oh.” Meggy said giving him a shrug.

He waited a moment looking at her.

“Well, it was kind of sudden wasn’t it?” she murmured folding her arms.

Roman hid his grin at the sight of his daughter doing his favourite arm thing back at him and nodded.

“Worried she’s trying to get rid of you squirt?” he asked.

“Well I am staying here to escape the others you know.” She told him in a grown up voice.

“And hows that working out for you so far?” Roman asked a smirk on his face. He picked up a cloth and wiped an imaginary spot on the worktop in front of him before taking out a glass from the cupboard and then the apple juice from the fridge. Meggy watched him with a puzzled expression on her face before she chuckled and moved to sit on one of the breakfast stools the other side of the worktop.

“It’s not so good.” She said with a nod. “Better keep them coming.” She added as he poured a measure of juice into the tumbler. “It’s going to be a long night.”

Roman nodded at her before he turned and routed in the cupboard finding the peanuts. He placed them in a small bowl and put them in front of Meggy, grinning as he noticed she’d drank the apple juice. He quickly poured out some more.

“You should take it easy on that stuff.” He cautioned in a Hollywood movie type accent, only just staying in character as Meggy giggled at him.

“Just keep ‘em coming barman.” Meggy said grinning at him as she watched him pouring her another drink.

“What’s this?” Sophie asked coming over to them.

“Can I get you a drink?” Roman asked slowly wiping the top and peering at Sophie.

“Can I get a martini?” Sophie murmured sitting on the second stool and peering at her dad.

Roman gave her a look before he nodded and moved over to the cupboard. He grabbed a jar of olives and undid it before pouring lemonade into a glass. He added a dash of lime juice before slotting the olive in it. Sliding that over to her he watched as she grinned back at him.

“So…” she murmured.

She took a drink and reached for some peanuts.

“You expect us to believe that hogwash about Mum?” she said to him.

“You asking me?” Roman murmured back. “I’m just a barman.”

Sophie looked at him about to say something when she caught Meggy’s gaze and nodding towards the little ones. She clamped her lips shut for a moment before leaning forward and talking softly.

“She ok?” she asked quickly.

Roman reached out before he could stop himself and stroked Sophie’s cheek.

“She’d fine, promise.” He said feeling strangely emotional.

Her eyes met her Dad’s and she gave into the comfort of his touch for a few seconds before pulling back and giving him a glare. Roman watched her face and was so struck by her resemblance to Nicole when she first came to the Bay to find him. He gave Sophie a sad smile before moving over to where the little ones were playing. He looked into the storage box Ella had send over and saw Finding Nemo dvd stacked on the top of other films and he grinned when he spotted the post it note with Ella’s hand writing on.

“Dada?” Lily asked watching him carefully.

“Your Mama is sneaky.” He murmured.

“What does it say?” Sammy asked looking over at him.

“Dada can keep this copy. We have 2!” he read out loud.

“Lils watch.” Lily told him.

Roman rolled his eyes and groaned.

“Dory funny.” Lily explained to him. “Jus’ keep Swimming.” She added doing a wavy gesture with her hand to imitate the movement of a fish. Roman couldn’t help the smile that crawled on his face and reached out picking up Lily before standing. He swung her back and forth in the same wavy motion grinning as she giggled.

“Jus keep swimming.” Lily called out inbetween laughing.

As they watched Meggy turned and caught Sophie’s expression and frowned. She gasped when she abruptly stood up and moved out of the room heading to the bedroom. Georgie gave Meggy a look and she could only shrug in response. He nodded at her and picked up a couple of their schoolbags before walking up the stairs. He tapped on the door with his foot, both hands were full with the bags before pushing it open with the same foot and walking inside.

“Hey Soph.” He called softly.

“I can’t do this.” She cried out shaking her head.

“I know its hard.” He murmured dropping the bags and coming over to her. He sat next to her on the bottom bunk, a pull out double bed that was folded away by day into a sofa. He put his arm around his twin and hugged her close as she cried.

“I….sob…. hate…. Being…. Nasty …sob… them.” She muttered.

Georgie nodded unable to say anything to help his sister. He looked up when Meggy came in and rushed over to them putting her arm around Sophie too.

“We can stop.” Meggy said quickly. “Admit everything to the parents.”

Sophie shook her head.

“They will only get mad at us and probably argue.” She cried out wiping at her eyes ineffectually as more tears escaped from her blue eyes. “We agreed that this was the way to go.”

Meggy looked at Georgie and shrugged.

“I hate being nasty to Dad. Look at him with Lily. I remember him doing the same with me when I was her size.” Sophie cried.

“And me.” Georgie added.

“Still does the same with me.” Meggy put in and smiled when her sister gave her a quick grin.

“So this plan of our has to work. It has to be worth this.”

Meggy nodded.

“I think it is.” She told Sophie, “Look at them the other week, sitting close on the sofa and ..” she stopped looking at the other two. “I think…” she continued in a whisper. “That she went into his room.”

“Megs?” Georgie asked quickly.

“Well I saw her walking down the stairs.”

“She could have been using the bathroom.” Georgie pointed out slightly disturbed by the image of his mother sneaking into his Dad’s room for a booty call.

“Er… where do you think I was heading?” Meggy said looking embarrassed.

“Er, ok,” Georgie muttered. “Er, yeah, ok.” He said again.

“I think you’ve grossed him out.” Sophie told her sister.

“It was worth it to stop you crying. Come on, it’s finding Nemo.”

Sophie nodded.

“I need a few minutes or he’s going…”

“Forget it.” Meggy told her. “If he’s sees you upset we’ll just tell him it’s that time of the month and he’ll get the chocolate out.”

Sophie groaned but let her sister pull her up from the sofa and together they went down the stairs and to the lounge.

“Ok?” Roman asked quietly on seeing them.

Sophie nodded as she made her way over to the long sofa. She sat down and lifted Lily on to her lap hugging her sister to her.

He watched her carefully before moving into the kitchen and getting out a pan to make hot chocolate. He mixed the ingredients and put the pan on the stove heating it slowly. He heard Lily giggling as Dory came on the screen and found the corner of his lips twitching. How many times had he watched this movie? All the times Ella had put it on when, he stopped and turned looking at the twins, not August and Fleur but Sophie and Georgie.

‘You haven’t watched Finding Nemo this month.’ He’d said innocently to Ella, that long ago day before he’d been sent off to Afghanistan and she’d looked shocked. Dammit, why hadn’t he picked up the signs then? Maybe she wouldn’t have had such a hard time with the twins. There were so many signs that he should have noticed during their marriage. Things he could have done differently.

It was a good job he was making hot chocolate as he had just depressed himself.

“Here we go.” He announced taking the drinks over to them.

“Thank you.” Sammy murmured reaching out for his cup.

“Are you joining us?” Sophie asked looking up at her dad.

He nodded before lifting her and Lily up and sitting down pulling them both on to his lap. The shock of his action caused gasps around the group before he settled them down.

“Daddy we’re too heavy.” Sophie cried out giggling.

“Never.” He said stroking her hair and putting his arm around her and also her sister.

“Dada funny.” Lily murmured.

Meggy grinned and met Sophie’s gaze seeing her sister smile back at her.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Chapter 10

Danni looked over at the house seeing the lights come on and frowned, it was late for Ella to be up especially since she knew the kids were over at Roman’s. Looking down at a wakeful Jennie in her arms she decided to go up to the house and just check on things. She grabbed a blanket and covering up the baby she stepped outside and began walking towards the house. She sighed as she reached the veranda and knocked once before stepping inside the house.

“What?” she gasped out looking around at Ella and seeing the scattering of baby things and the small wrapped bundle in Ella’s arms. “I don’t remember you being pregnant.” She told the other woman with a frown crossing her face.

“Shush,” Ella said rolling her eyes exaggeratedly. “I saw her outside the supermarket and I had to bring her home.”

Danni’s mouth opened and closed before her eyes met Ella’s. She had a kind of shocked fish look about her as if she wasn’t quite sure if Ella was joking or had just stolen a baby from someone.

“I’m fostering her.” Ella said softly putting the other girl out of her misery after a moment of enjoying watching the internal debate reflected on Danni’s face.

“Phew.” Danni muttered before flushing as Ella grinned at her. “Not that I …er totally believed you there.”

Ella chuckled before stepping into the kitchen and putting the kettle on to boil. She moved back to the dinning table and eased down in a chair gesturing to one of the others.

Danni sighed and eased into it looking at Ella.

“So.” She murmured.

“So my daughter.” Ella murmured back. “This is Jessica by the way, she’s four months old and her mother has had to be rushed into hospital for an operation.”

Danni nodded automatically smiling as she looked at the cute baby. Not that her own sweet Jennie wasn’t the cutest in the whole world but.

“So you are giving her back?” Danni checked.

Ella nodded.

“I’m getting too old for night feeds.” She confessed. “All I want to do is sleep.”

“But Ella that is all you want to do anyway.” Danni said rolling her eyes.

Ella laughed at her and nodded.

“That might be true.” She conceded.

“You are going to ask.” Danni said after they both fell silent.

“What am I going to ask?” Ella murmured slowly.

“How things are?” she murmured back.

She couldn’t help looking at the poolhouse and sighing. Mike was in the city giving her a break and actually, she wasn’t sure which one of them suggested it in the jumble of arguments they were having but she was sure she didn’t like the feeling of being on her own. Jennie was a lot of hard work and she needed Mike to help her and give her a break from her. She missed working and having her own money and being in the city. And she actually missed Michelle, despite everything that happened between them.

Ella shook her head.

“Look, you know that Roman and I have flirted around the so-called other person in our relationship.” Ella began.

“Are you and Roman…” Danni began not altogether certain how she was going to finish the sentence. She watched Ella’s face carefully and saw the telltale flush of colour on her face. “You so are.” She cried out triumphantly.

“We’re not.” Ella said slowly.

“So not going to believe that.” Danni crowed.

Ella shook her head.

“We are just talking because of the kids.” She told Danni quietly and could have bitten her tongue out when Danni seemed to collapse in on herself.

“So,” she whispered cradling Jennie closer to her. “You aren’t going to get back together.”

Ella shook her head.

“That doesn’t mean that you and Mike are doomed.”

“But you always get back with him.”

“Danni, we are not you and Mike.” Ella said firmly cutting through the argument that Danni was about come up with. “And maybe it’s time you stop punishing Mike for not being whatever it is you expect him to be.”

“I’m so not doing that.” Danni gasped starring at the other woman.

Ella stood slowly and moved over to the basinet, placing Jessica down in it before covering the sleeping baby with the pale lemon wool blanket. She watched for a moment before turning and going over to the kitchen. Within moments she’d made two cups of coffee and took them to the table sitting back down opposite Danni.

“Roman and I have twenty years of history. We’ve been through everything,” Ella grinned suddenly. “And I do mean everything.” She rolled her eyes for emphasis. “But maybe we weren’t meant to be together this long.” She added slowly. “Maybe things worked out like this for a reason.”

Danni nodded slowly feeling strangely let down by that answer.

“Doesn’t mean that you and Mike are over.” She pointed out.

“How do I trust him again?” Danni asked slowly.

“How did he trust you again?” Ella murmured. “After you ended things and left him.”

Danni sighed and looked down at her daughter.

“I don’t know. Time?” she asked Ella and saw the other woman nodding. “So that leaves..” Danni trailed off again.

“Deciding if you want to carry on living here. We didn’t take sides Danni, not when it happened before and certainly not now and I know that you think it’s because we had other things going on but it wasn’t that at all.” Ella stopped and took a long drink of her coffee, feeling the warm brew slipping down nicely. “We gave you space to sort things out. There is nothing worse than everybody having an opinion.”

Danni sighed.

“Like us going on about you and Roman?” she pointed out.

“That’s different. We’re your parents. Obviously you don’t want us to split.” Ella smiled at Danni’s sudden guilty expression. “How about giving me a cuddle?”

Danni sighed.

“It’s not that I’ve been keeping her away from you.” She explained as she handed over Jennie, still frowning at letting her go to another woman.

“You have.” Ella grinned cuddling her granddaughter. “Why?”


Ella looked at her.

“Well?” she asked prodding the other woman.

“Every problem and we run to you. Me and Gabby, and Nic did. I just wanted to do it myself.”

“Fair enough.”

“You aren’t upset?” Danni asked.

“No, babes, she’s your baby. Just don’t want you to take on too much.” Ella said looking down on the sleeping Jennie. She smiled at seeing Mike’s features in the baby’s face before looking back at Danni.

“I want to be back at work. Part time.”

Ella nodded.

“Why don’t you ask for shifts in the diner?” she suggested. “Until something comes up for you, or speak to Nic and see if there is anything going in her shop.”

Danni sighed.

“I don’t know.” She said thinking about it. “Who would look after her?”

“Gabby? Amy-Belle? Or a crèche?” Ella pointed out. “Both of them attend college part time.”

“You not offering yourself?”

Ella shook her head.

“I’ve got other plans. I want to start doing photography again.”

“Really?” Danni asked shocked.

“Yeah, really. “ Ella said in a mocking voice. She leaned down and kissed the top of Jennie’s dark haired head before handing her back to Danni.

“I didn’t mean the surprise there.”

“Danni, I’m not offended you dote. I just need to do something with my time other than be a full time Mum. Need to teach my lot to be independent a bit more.”

“Not Sophie, she’s way too…”

“Totally agree with that one.” Ella said before Danni could finish and the two of them laughed. “I don’t mean to kick you out but I need some sleep.” She added after a moment.

Danni nodded and stood up. She walked slowly out the back and down to the poolhouse turning as she walked in and smiling when she saw Ella checking on her.

Ella waited an extra moment and closed the door. She put the empty cups in the sink and picked up the basinet and the stand before making her way up the stairs and into the bedroom. She placed the basinet gently on the bed before fixing the stand and then putting the basinet on the top. She checked Jessica was still asleep before climbing wearily in bed. As she settled down under the covers she noticed that she’d had missed calls on her phone.

As tired as she was she couldn’t resist checking it feeling like a teenager when she saw that Roman had messaged her. She read the text and grinned before sending one back to him hearing the beep from her phone when it was delivered. Sighing she kicked off her slippers and climbed under the covers pulling them up over her. She was never going to admit it but she did miss being able to warm her feet on him. Her phone beeped again and she gave a small gasp of surprise before reaching for it.

“Thought I’d be asleep didn’t you?” he’d put.

She giggled softly as she read it before dialling.

“Hello you.” He answered immediately.

“Hey.” She said back. “No.”

“No?” he murmured. “So you were hoping to wake me up and make me all cranky ‘cause you weren’t here?”

“Would that have made you cranky?” Ella asked finding that she was holding her breath.

“Yeah.” He admitted in a husky voice.

She giggled suddenly feeling nervous and glanced at the phone before she spoke again.

“So,” she said.

“So,” he mirrored.


“Yeah, I was thinking that maybe you could come to the diner and see the twins. They are missing you.” He murmured softly and childishly crossed his fingers at the lie.

“Yeah, and I was thinking that I like not having them around.” Ella said back.

Roman chuckled at her comment.

“I’d believe you if I hadn’t seen you crying the first time I had them for a weekend.” He murmured softly remembering how much of a bastard he felt for taking the kids just for a day.

Ella sat up in the bed and glared at an imaginary spot on the wall.

“I knew you’d seen that.” She muttered.

He grinned.

“I did.” He admitted.

“And that is why you brought them back on the Saturday night and not the Sunday.”

“Maybe.” He conceded slowly.

“You…” she began and sighed.

“So tomorrow?” he changed the subject back.

“Yeah.” Ella said softly. “I’ll come to the diner. It will be after lunch though, I’m going to take Jessica to the hospital to see her Mum.”

“Not getting too attached are you?”

“Of course not.” Ella said indignantly.

She heard Roman laughed at her and she sighed.

“Maybe a little.” She admitted.

“So,” he murmured after a moment.

“So?” Ella said feeling suddenly tired once more.

“How do you want to end this phone call?”

She grinned as she moved back down in the bed.

“Maybe.” She told him in a husky voice.

“Maybe?” he asked her his own voice growing husky.

“We could…” she murmured.

“Ella Harris.” He groaned when the name slipped out and heard her laugh at him.

“Do I need to wear a name badge?” she asked still giggling.

He sighed suddenly.

“I don’t suppose you want to change your name back just so I can remember it?” he suggested.

“Is that a proposal?” Ella asked.

Both of them sucked in a deep breath before Roman broke the sudden silence between them.

“No.” he said. “Not yet anyway.”

“Not yet?”

“You know where this is going.” He pointed out. “I just want us to get to know each other and get back…”

“Back? Oh Roman.” Ella sighed with disappointment.

“Back.” He started again after giving the phone a glare. “To being in love with each other again.”

Ella shook her head feeling tears gather in her eyes.

“We can’t keep going back.”

“Did you just hear what I said?” he asked paitently.

“I heard, but it’s all tied up with this ongoing theme that you want me to somehow go back to being the Ella you first met.”

“No. I want you to be the Ella who was confident and happy.” He stated hating the argument growing between them. “I loved that Ella so much. She kept me on her toes and then when I grounded her with a load of kids and a house here in the Bay she began to change. You can’t go back to being her and I accept that, just as I’m not going to be the same Roman, thank god.”

Ella sighed and wiped tears from her face.

“Why don’t you want to be the same Roman?” she asked him.

“Because he forced you to stay here, gave you babies when he should have taken care of you and because he was really selfish with your love.”

“Roman.” Ella said breathlessly.

“I mean it. The first year we were together I was so smug El, because I had you where I wanted you. Mike coming home every weekend and Nic getting married and moving out, finally, and I stomped around telling you that I wasn’t going to talk about the important stuff and I never gave Mike the attention that I should have done.”

She sucked in a deep breath.

“You never tackled me about that El.” He murmured. “Why? I should have been a better father to him.”

“Because you didn’t know how to be a dad.” She finally admitted after a long moment. “Not until you had to do the night feeds and the nappies and you bonded with them.”

“Why didn’t you ever tell me that?”

“I don’t know. Maybe because you would have retreated from me or maybe simply because you would have been hurt.” She whispered.

“So yeah,” he said gruffly. “I want us to talk about all this stuff.”

“Really?” Ella asked him. “Even if it’s …”

“Even if it’s hard.” He told her. “This time it’s for keeps El. I want to know that I’m going to wake up next to you in ten years time.”

“Ten years huh?” she said softly.

“Ten, twenty, as many as I can get.” He murmured.

“Not at all greedy.”

“Only where you are concerned.” He told her and that husky tone was back in his voice.

“You are thinking about sex again aren’t you?” she asked him with a sigh.

“It’s not sex with us El and you know it.” He murmured and grinned as he heard her make that breathy sound. “It’s about kissing you and pleasing you and having you make those little sounds that tell me you are enjoying me as much as I’m enjoying you.” He told her.

“Roman Harris I’m hanging up on you now.” She told him.

“So you don’t remember how we used to …”

Ella groaned.

“I do.”

He laughed softly.

“Still hanging up on you.” She told him. “I need some sleep.”

“And I need a cold shower.” He responded.

“You did that to yourself.”

He laughed at her choice of words before hearing the click as the call disconnected.

“Nite you.” He typed out and added “xxx”

He grinned as his phone beeped and he saw her message back.

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