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Postcards from Hawaii

Guest TelephotoMarigold

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Chapter 11

Roman kept looking at the door of the diner. Then he would look at his watch, sometimes the clock on the wall. Following that he would look at his phone, checking for a message or to make sure that the time was correct just in case his watch or the clock were wrong for some reason. He didn’t notice Leah giving him strange looks.

“Dada!” he heard called and checking the pan on the stove moved out to where August and Fleur were seated.

“What babes?” he asked them.

“Mama?” Fleur asked back.

Roman felt the back of his neck flush as he sensed Leah’s eyes on him and he forced himself not to react to the question she was no doubt thinking.

“She’s…” he began not entirely certain how he was going to finish the sentence.

“Here.” Ella murmured from behind him as she began manoeuvring the pram into the small space beside them.

“Hello.” He turned around and looked at her trying not to smile and failing. She gave him a grin in return and it was all he could do not to kiss her.

“Mama?” August murmured looking up at her.

“Hello my babes.” Ella said sliding in the seat beside them and lifting them both into her arms for a cuddle.

“I’m pretty sure that you weren’t recently pregnant.” Leah murmured coming over to them. She grinned at Roman’s expression before peering into the pram. “Oh she’s gorgeous.” Leah cried.

“I know.” Ella said softly. “And she’s only with me a few more days until her Mum is out of hospital.”

“It’s a pity she’s asleep.” Leah commented.

“No.” Ella murmured shaking her head. “It’s great she’s asleep.” She added with a yawn.

“Mama baby?” August asked her.

“Mama is taking care of a baby.” She spoke quietly to her daughter. “Because her Mama is poorly sick.”

Roman could only watch as his daughters tilted their heads in the same way as they absorbed the information. He knew if he responded in any way, Leah would tell Colleen, who would tell Irene and she would tell George who had threatened to get him sent overseas if he so much as looked at Ella. And he’d believed him.

“Not nice.” August told her. “No like sick.”

“No, we don’t like being sick do we?” Ella translated.

She grinned and kissed her daughter’s before hugging them close and Roman bit the inside of his cheek not to sigh at the happy look on his wife’s face. He kept the neutral expression on his face as he looked at Ella.

“Coffee?” he asked her.

“Please.” She muttered instilling a frosty tone in her voice.

Roman nodded and disappeared into the kitchen followed by Leah. He heard the other woman sigh as he moved around the small space getting the drink for Ella.

“Alright, what is it?” he asked her.

“I thought that you and her were…”

“Were what Leah?” Roman said keeping his face adverted as he smirked. “Divorced?”

“No, getting closer.” Leah told him with another sigh.

“Well as you can see we aren’t.” he said and lifted the cup and saucer before walking out of the kitchen and over to where Ella was. He placed it in front of her.

“Thank you. Have they been behaving themselves?” she asked all too aware of the curious people trying to listen in.

“Just about.” He answered. “My shift is over so I was about to take them home.”

Ella nodded and reached for her cup, she blew on the dark liquid before taking a sip.

“Ouh.” She murmured in appreciation.

Roman chuckled at her.

“So,” he murmured, “What are your plans for later?”

Ella raised her eyebrow as she peered at him.

“Not sure.” She replied evenly.

“Have you had lunch?” he asked her.

“Me’s ghetti.” August called out.

Ella laughed and looked at her daughter.

“Again? Didn’t you have that for breakfast?”

“No’s.” August shook her head exuberantly and looked over at her sister. “We’s had eggs.”

Fleur nodded.

“Me’s not runny.” She told her mother sounding sad.

“Your yoke wasn’t runny?” Ella asked her. “I think your Daddy should be better at eggs considering he’s a chef.”

Fleur nodded agreement and looked over at her father, giving him a soulful look.

“Thanks.” Roman muttered folding his arms. “I was dealing with Lily.”

August nodded.

“Squeals norties.” She announced.

“Oh dear, what did she do,” Ella murmured to her daughter. The ‘now’ part of the question was silent but she caught Roman smirking as though he knew she’d added that silently inside her head.

“She told off Meggy.” Roman murmured in a smug voice. “And Sammy.”

August nodded.

“Me’s too.”

“She told you off?”

August nodded again snuggling closer to her mother.

“Anyway,” Roman said slowly. “Lunch?”

“Yes Mama.” Fleur told her.

“Ok then.” she agreed. “But not ‘ghetti.”

“Ah no.” August said immediately.

“Baby likes.” Fleur told her trying to be sneaky.

“Miss Flower, baby has bottles.” Ella told her laughing before Fleur launched herself on her mother and hugged her, the two of them giggling.

Roman looked on feeling a little bit distant from them, although he knew that was only because he had to stand back or the Summer Bay rumour mill would start up again. He smiled at his daughters before slipping away and going into the kitchen.

“Taking your….” Leah began.

“I’m going home.” He cut through whatever she was going to say. “And yes, Ella is coming with me. Because of the kids we are keeping things civil.”

Leah gave him a look meeting his gaze before she sighed.

“Well take some of that cheesecake with you. It might help keep things ‘civil’.” She stated.

Roman looked at her as if her were about to say something else before he finally nodded and reached for one of their cake boxes. He added four slices of the cheesecake and closed it up.

“See you tomorrow.” He called cheerfully as he walked out of the kitchen. He went over to where Ella was standing by the door waiting for him. She had the pram in front of her and the twins were standing excitedly.

“Did you pack up their things?” he asked her.

She nodded back at him.

“That something from Leah?” she asked gesturing to the cake box.

He nodded.

“Come on Gust.” He called out taking hold of her hand leaving Ella with the pram and Fleur. He guided them over to where his, well hers really, car was parked and let go of August’s hand long enough to dig out the keys and unlock the car.

“Right you.” He murmured to August.

“She playing you up?” Ella asked him and head Fleur giggle as he turned and gave her a look. “Is that a yes?”

He nodded once as he lifted a squirming August into the car. He managed after a fashion to get her strapped in before turning to Fleur. She pursed her lips and looked up at him before letting go of Ella’s hand and running to his behind her legs.

“Not in the car park babes.” Ella called softly. “Need to watch out for fast cars.”

Fleur stopped and pouted before slowly toddling over to Roman and letting him lift her into the car. He checked they were both fastened in before turning to Ella.

“Where, er, you want to come with me?” he asked slowly.

She shook her head and pointed to her jeep parked over the other side of the car park.

“Meet you there.” She told him softly smiling at his jumbled words.

“Ok.” He said and slowly climbed behind the wheel of the car. He started the car and eased out of the parking bay before indicating and pulling out on the road. He kept checking the rear view mirror to see if Ella were following and found himself frowning when he couldn’t see her jeep. Pulling up outside his place he stopped the car and climbed out and took the twins with him inside the house before making a second trip for the cheesecake.

He settled them with drinks before making himself a coffee and looking through the fridge to see what food he could prepare. Distracted he didn’t hear the door open and Ella come in.

“Mama.” August called out happily.

“Shush baby girl, Jessica is sleeping.” Ella cautioned as she moved the baby inside, carrying her in the top half of the pram, letting it act as a cot for the sleeping infant.

“Hey!” Roman called out, his voice low.

Ella held up his keys and he grinned.

“How come I keep forgetting how sneaky you are?” he asked her.

“Me sneaky?” she grinned over at him. “And I suppose getting me here for lunch by asking in a packed diner wasn’t just as sneaky.”

“Of course it wasn’t.” he told her with that little boy grin on his face again.

She smiled before moving over to the side of the room and placed down Jessica. Checking that the little baby was ok and warm enough she moved back to the sofa where the twins were and sat down snuggling up with them.

“So have we been keeping Dada busy?” she asked them.

Her two blonde babies launched into stories about what they had been doing and she grinned happily, cuddling them and giving them kisses. She had missed them so much she thought, catching sight of Roman looking over at her. She gave him a smile before yawning.

“Mama sleeps?” Fleur asked her.

“Yes.” Roman answered for her.

“Oh really?” Ella muttered at him.

He gave her a grin before coming over to where they were sitting.

“Fingers and mash.” He told the girls.

“Mmm yum!” August called out.

“You like?” Ella asked her.

August nodded her hands reaching out for the bowl.

“Sit up then.” Ella said to her.

She helped the pair of them to sit up on the sofa as Roman handed over the plates and the spoons. They started eating hungrily, spooning up the mash and the small vegetable fingers.

“And for you.” Roman said softly handing her a plate.

Ella looked down and saw the toasted sandwich and sighed with bliss.

“How did you know?” she asked him.

“Just guessed. You haven’t been in the diner much.”

She shook her head and their eyes met. He didn’t comment but walked over to kitchen and fetched his sandwich moving back to the sofa and sitting next to Ella.

“Thank you.” She said to him when she’d finished.

“You’re welcome.” He said back politely and the two of them laughed before he stood and cleared away the plates and the twin’s empty bowls returning with a damp cloth to clean their hands and faces before letting them watch some cartoons for a little while. Then he and Ella took them up the stairs and put them down for a nap taking Jessica to their room too. He smiled at Ella when she yawned too before guiding her to his bedroom.

“Roman.” She protested.

“Tired?” he asked.

“Yeah and a little concerned as to why you’ve brought me into your room?”

He grinned before lifting her up and taking her over to his bed, not that there was a great deal of space in his bedroom. He lay her down on the bed and took off her shoes.

“Under the covers.” He instructed.

“I was hoping for some desert.”

“Me too.” Roman said back.

She glared at him even as she blushed.

“So you expect me to…”

“Ella Addison.” He grinned at her look of surprise when he got her name right. “Under the covers.” He said again.

“You too.” She shot back.

He sighed.

“You want me…”

“To sleep with me.” She said quietly looking down at the floor.

Roman sighed before kicking off his shoes. He smiled as she moved over in the bed to let him in. She felt the mattress dip and then the warmth of his arms as he held her.

“Missed this too.” She told him sleepily.

“So have I.” He answered back.

He watched her as she fell asleep before his own eyes closed.

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Chapter 12

Roman heard the quiet beep from his phone even though it was in his pocket and he had been dozing. He lifted his hand to his face and rubbed at his eyes before yawning and looking over at Ella. She was curled up in his arms and he smiled before frowning as he eased out of the bed carefully. It took a moment for her to reach across and grab his pillow, hugging it to her whilst still sleeping. He couldn’t help leaning down and kissing her.

“Hey.” She grumbled.

“Sleeping beauty.” He called.

Ella sighed.

“Time to get up?” she mumbled snuggling back into the covers.

“Afraid so.” He said.

He disappeared to the bathroom for a couple of minutes before heading back into the bedroom. Grabbing her shoes he placed them on the edge of the bed before leaning down and picking her up.

“What?” she asked coming awake.

“Need to put you on the sofa or the kids will be suss.” He murmured tugging her close. He managed to grab her shoes with his hand before turning and walking with her down the stairs. He heard her chuckling softly, her lips so close to his neck that he was waiting for her to kiss him there, and sighing when she didn’t.

“Wanted me to kiss you.” She mumbled sleepily.

Roman chuckled.

“Maybe.” He conceded and heard her giggle.

Reaching the sofa he placed her gently down before placing the shoes on the floor beside it. He smiled as she snuggled down on the cushion when he placed the throw over her.

“Jessica ok?” she asked.

“She’s sleeping.” He murmured. “So are the twins.”

“Picking up kids?” she asked.

Roman smiled at her knowing she was talking in her sleep. She must have been kept awake all night by the baby to be this tired. He leaned down and kissed her again before easing away and out of the house. Within moments he’d got in the car and was headed towards the school that Lily and Liam went too. Parking up he caught sight of the other parents waiting some of them looking in his direction. He wondered why for a moment before climbing out of the car and going over to the gates.

“Dad.” Nic called seeing him.

Roman turned his head and smiled at his daughter.

“Hello Nic.” He said softly feeling strangely cautious about talking to his eldest daughter. They hadn’t spoken much since his divorce from Ella.

“How are you?” she asked stiltedly.

“I’m fine.” He murmured quickly. “Here for Mira?”

Nic nodded.

“Yes, she’ll be out last like normal. Where is Ella?”

Roman smiled before he could stop himself at the mention of Ella and knew that Nic had noticed. He turned to her and saw her shake her head.

“I don’t believe it.” She hissed out folding her arms across herself. “You and Ella. Again?”

“Nic,” he said holding out a pacifying hand towards her.

“Let me guess it’s not what I think.” She muttered.

“Nicole.” Roman said raising his voice to get through to her. “Ella and I are talking. Simply talking. I would have thought that would be a good thing.”

Nicole shook her head and looked across the playground seeing the school doors opening before she looked back at him.

“If I were Ella I wouldn’t be talking to you.” She told him bluntly. “You’ve still got no idea what you did.”

Roman fixed her with a look.

“Enlighten me.” He muttered.

“She spoke to Geoff about counselling for you and then finds out that you’ve looked at houses and what do you do? You leave, only not just leave, you walk out making Ella tell the children.“ She all but hissed at him. “You couldn’t even stick around for them but then that is you all over.”

Roman shook his head as her words hit him before he stepped forward and pulled his resisting daughter into his arms. He held her as she began to cry, her sobs muffled by his chest.

“I’m sorry.” He told her. “I am sorry Nic. I made you choose between us, didn’t I?”

Nic nodded and sniffed, trying to pull herself together.

“And it seems that she and Lily are keeping their friendship a secret from us.” She muttered.

“Oh really, that must explain it.” He said with a chuckle.

“Explain what?” she asked him.

“I’m looking after the kids this week and I’ve noticed that Lily comes home with different clips in her hair.”

Nic laughed before accepting a tissue from him to wipe her eyes.


He nodded before holding her arm and leading her behind the tall pillar of the school gate shielding them from being seen and placed his finger to his lips before pointing. Nic looked to where he was pointing and saw Millie, holding hands with Lily who was holding hands with Mira. Lily was wearing different clips and bands in their hair than when he’d sent her to school that morning and he looked at Nic and she nodded.

“Looking at the girls?” Lee called to them pushing the pram in front of her.


“They do that all the time?” Nic asked.

Lee nodded.

“Ella thinks it’s cute. She sometimes waits up the street to give them a few more moments of playing time and then we swap hair slides.” She told them. “Where is Ella?”

Nic looked at her father and saw the faint colour on his cheeks before she turned and smiled at Lee.

“Where is Liam?” Roman asked ignoring the question.

Lee grinned.

“Over there on the monkey bars. Where else?”

Roman looked over to the play area before he whistled. He spotted Liam coming to a halt and looking over at him before he murmured something to the boy he was playing with and ran towards his Dad. He stopped turned around and picked up his lunchbox and his jumper before starting his run back over to them.

Roman and Nic turned to each other and smiled.

“Sammy.” They said at the same time.

Lee laughed softly at them.

“Dada?” Lily called shooting a look at Mira.

“Lily.” Roman said back.

“Oh.” She said.

“It’s ok.” He murmured. “Have you got your lunchbox?”

She nodded and half twisted showing him her backpack.

“See Dada.”

“Ok, say bye to Mira and Millie.” He told her.

“Dada.” Liam called to him out of breath from running.

Roman smiled at his son before holding out his hand to him, thinking about how small Liam’s hand was compared to his own. He looked up at Nic and smiled at her.

“Let’s do something soon, huh?” he asked suddenly at a loss of what to say to her, reaching out and stroking her arm too.

Nic smiled before leaning over and kissing his cheek.

“Ok, that would be good.” She murmured. “Come on Mira wave goodbye to Grandpa.” She asked in a cheeky voice.

Roman smiled and waved back before looking down at Lily.

“Shall we go pick the others up?” he asked her.

She shook her head.

“It’s peaceful.” She told him in explanation.

“You’ve inherited your mothers sense of humour.” He told her still smiling as he led them over to the car. He didn’t see Lee and Nic exchanging a look behind him and he didn’t hear Nic telling Lee excitedly that she thought her parents were getting back together as Lee laughed at her.

“Where’s Gust and Fleur?” Lily asked as they reached the car.

“Oh no did I leave them somewhere?” he asked.

“Dada no’s.” Liam cried out.

“In the car we better go get the others before I forget them.”

Lily frowned and put her hands on her hips before she began to tell him off. She even lifted her hand and waved her finger. He bit back his smile as he lifted her in the car and made sure she was belted in before climbing behind the wheel and driving over to the high school. When he got that he noticed that Lily was seated in her seat with her arms folded and glaring at him.

“I’m sure we’ll find them somewhere.” He told her.

“No speak Dada.” She turned and told Liam.

Roman smiled at her before the door was opened and Meggy climbed in. He grinned as Lily spoke to her first.

“Dada lost the babies.” She announced.

“Oh.” Meggy said looking over at him. “That’s naughty of Daddy isn’t it?”

Lily nodded.

“No talk Dada.” She told Meggy.

“Who?” Sammy asked climbing in after Meggy.

“We’re not to talk to Daddy, he lost the babies.” She explained to him.

“What?” Sammy gasped looking over at his Dad and frowning.

“What’s going on?” Georgie asked. “Sophie is going to the diner to do her shift.” He added looking at his dad.

“Oh is she?” he muttered. “She’s not roistered on.”

Georgie flushed.

“That is what she said.

“Wait here.” Roman murmured climbing out of the car and walking over to the school. He saw Angel walking out and noticed that she saw him and then lowered her head before walking past him. He looked past her and saw Sophie coming out of the same building. His daughter looking like she’d been crying and he sighed before cheering up at the thought that Ella was back at the house and could take care of things.

“Car now.” He called out.

“I’m working.” Sophie cried.

“No you aren’t.” he murmured. “So car now.”

She gave him a defiant look and they locked eyes before she lowered her gaze and walked over to the car climbing into the back and shutting the door with a slam.

Roman looked upwards and then back to where Sophie had come out from seeing Steve looking sheepish. He gave him a narrowed eyed look before going to the car and driving them back to his. For once it was surprisingly quiet on the ride home with no one talking, to him or each other and half smiled.

He parked up and they climbed out before he led them into the house. He smiled at seeing Ella still there on the sofa before frowning when Sophie ran over to her and woke her up before bursting into tears.

“Diner.” Ella called out to him sitting up and hugging Sophie.

“Fine.” He groaned and turned ushering the kids out.

“Babies?” Lily called.

“Upstairs of course.” Roman told her.

“K’s Dada.” She smiled at him and he chuckled.

“Ok they’ve gone.” Ella said looking at the closed door. “What has Angel done now?”

Sophie shook her head before sobbing.

“I know she’s causing trouble.” Ella said softly wondering if it would be rude to go fetch a coffee and letting Sophie cry fro a bit.

“She kissed him.” Sophie said finally before sobbing once more.

“Ok.” Ella murmured stroking her daughter’s hair and holding her for a moment. She eased off the sofa then and padded to the kitchen barefoot looking around it before slowly working out where the cups and everything were. Making a coffee for herself and a cup of chocolate for Sophie she dished out two slices of the cheesecake and brought them over to the table.

“Here you go.” She told her sitting down next to her and eating the cheesecake with a blissful sigh.

“Mum are you ill again?” Sophie asked after a while, looking at her. “Only you are here and sleeping and you wanted to get rid of us for a week.”

“Is that what you think?” Ella asked and sighed. “No, I’ve been fostering a baby.” She murmured before taking hold of Sophie hand and leading her upstairs. They found the babies had woken up and she kissed them before lifted them to the floor. She picked up Jessica and showed Sophie the little baby.

“She is beautiful.” Sophie whispered, trying no to wake her.

“I know.” Ella said back. “I didn’t want you lot to get attached.”

“Or try and persuade you to give us a brother or sister.” Sophie said giving her mother a look.

Ella gasped.

“Yeah, that too Missy.” She said with a soft laugh.

She placed Jessica back in her makeshift cot and covered her over gently before lifting it and carrying it down the stairs with Sophie leading the twins. She saw the door opening and the others walking back in with Roman and Georgie carrying takeaway boxes.

“We brought dinner.” He explained. “Although you look like you found the cheesecake.”

Ella nodded.

“I did.” She murmured back. “And it was very nice wasn’t it Sophie?”

Sophie smiled shyly at her Dad and saw him mouth ‘Ok?’ to her. She nodded back before going over to the long sofa and sitting back down.

“Er… am I the only one to notice that Mum is here and actually appears to be holding a baby?” Sammy asked.

“A baby?” Meggy squealed excitedly rushing over to her as Lily went and hugged the twins. She sat at the tv and reached for a movie giving her dad a sly look.

“Alright.” He told Lily nudging Liam who moved and sat with her.

Roman placed the takeaway boxes in the kitchen and went to the tv putting on the film and turning the volume down so as to not disturb the baby before he sorted out drinks for everyone. Maybe it was a bad idea to have kept Ella here but he kind of liked having her around and he could see that she had missed the children from watching her introduce baby Jessica to them.

“I know you have things to do but we got some food for you if you’d like to join us?” he murmured slowly.

Ella rolled her eyes looking back at him.

“Fine I’ll stay.” She told him feeling the kids looking at her.

“Can I?” Meggy asked as Jessica stirred in her cot.

“Yes.” Ella said. “Be careful with her.”

Meggy nodded and picked up the baby cradling her with Sophie moving to stand with her as they “cooed”. He caught Ella grinning at him and shook his head in return.

“Want a bottle warming?” he asked her.

She nodded and reached for one out of Jessica’s bag taking it over to him.

“Thanks.” She said politely and saw his lips twitch in a smile.

He busied himself in the kitchen as Ella saw to the baby and the kids made a start on homework. It all seemed remarkably normal and he caught himself looking at Ella with the baby thinking how nice it would be if there was another one when they got back together. Biting back a groan he mentally shook himself. No, they were not going to have anymore babies, he told himself sternly, making a mental note to make himself a doctor’s appointment.

Ella left after dinner was finished, giving all the children lots of hugs and kisses before she went and he felt disappointed. He thought of what Nic had said about Ella reaching out for counselling and groaned, wondering why she hadn’t mentioned it herself before he got distracted with the kid’s bath’s and their bedtime.

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Chapter 13

Ella watched as Jessica’s mum drove away. She’d been released from the hospital earlier that evening and unable to leave her daughter any longer she had made arrangements to come and collect Jessica. Ella had made the other woman stay for some food while she packed up all of Jessica’s stuff, smiling at how the house had been full of baby’s things again. By then it was too late to go and get her own kids back from Roman, knowing that the younger ones would already be in bed. Getting herself a coffee she walked over to the long sofa and sat down putting on a film and forcing herself to watch it. Then as the credits rolled she made her way up the stairs to bed. She showered before climbing under the cool covers and trying to relax. The house was too quiet with no baby or kids cluttering up the place.

Groaning she rolled over and thumped the pillow trying to get comfortable. Her eyes were drawn to the keys on the bedside table next to her phone and she muttered something under her breath. Rolling over again she looked up at the ceiling and blinked. With a groan she threw back the covers and sat up at the same time.

“Dammit.” She cried out.

Padding barefoot over to the dresser she opened the drawer and pulled out a pair of denim cut off shorts, slipping them on before tugging off her long cotton nightdress and dropping it to the floor. She grabbed a vest top and pulled that on before slipping her feet into shoes and going over to the bedside cabinet, snagging the keys and her phone. Racing out of the house she got behind the wheel of the car and began the short journey over to Roman’s house. Using his keys she let herself in and slipped off her shoes picking them up as she padded barefoot to his room.

Roman rolled over when he heard his door open expecting it to be one of the kids waking him up, he’d half-remembered having a vague dream about Ella, but that wasn’t unusual these days.

“El?” he muttered inhaling sharply as the scent of strawberries reached him.

“Hey.” She whispered closing the door behind her. She placed her shoes on the floor and tucked her phone and keys in them before going over to his ridiculously small bed.

Roman smiled and lifted up the covers as she came over to him. He grinned as she climbed in the bed next to him.

“You smell.” He told her.

“Oh thanks.” Ella muttered.

“No, it’s nice.” He whispered leaning close and inhaling. “Strawberries.” He added before kissing the back of her neck. “And cream.” He added hearing her stifle a chuckle.

“Go to sleep.” She murmured.

“Jess go back?” he asked.

Ella nodded.

“You’ll miss her.”

She nodded again.

“Get the kids back though.”

“I know.”

“You want a baby don’t you?” he asked.

“Yes,” Ella sighed. “And no.”

Roman laughed pressing his lips against the back of her neck to prevent him from making a sound.

“Me too.” He said after a minute.

“Well we…”

“No.” he interrupted her.

She giggled pressing her lips against the arm he’d slotted around her when she’d snuggled up to him.

“I’ve got plans.” She admitted after a couple of minutes silence after she’d sobered. “I want to do some things.”

Roman nodded before making sure the covers were tucked around her.

“That’s a leading statement considering that you aren’t wearing underwear.” He told her.

“How do you know that?”

He ran his hand down the side of her body, feeling the press of body through her clothes before he sighed.

“Because you’d had a shower, and …. I er.. noticed that you weren’t supported.”

“That’s why you want to get me pregnant, you want them even bigger.” She whispered and felt the rise and full of his chest as he laughed.

“I wouldn’t say no.”

Elal gasped.

“I thought you were a leg man.”

She turned in the bed to face him before lifting her leg and rubbing it down one of his legs and grinning as he gasped.

“Woman, unless you’ve changed your mind about making love with me then you better stop it.” He growled near her ear.

She eased back and kissed the end of his nose before looking into his eyes.

“Are you…” she began to ask and grinned as Roman shook his head before she’d even finished her question.

“I respect your decision.” He told her in a husky voice. “And I like that you are here trusting me to keep my hands to myself.”

Her eyes lit up as she looked at him.

“Well maybe you don’t have to do that.” She said running a finger down his chest.

Roman smiled at her before he leaned forward and kissed her.

“The walls are thin, the bed is small and you want to drive me insane and still keep it quiet.”

Ella pressed her mouth to the side of his neck to muffle her laughter before she eased back and kissed his lips.

“Guess I’ll just go to sleep then.”

He nodded and smiled as she pressed herself closer to him, if that were possible and lay her head on his shoulder.

“El,” he whispered.

“Yeah?” she asked sleepily.

“I’m sorry you are feeling sad but I’m glad you could come to me. I’d like to think that I’m making up for some of the mistakes I’ve made in the past few months.”

He waited a moment to see if she responded and sighed as he saw she’d fallen asleep in his arms. He made a mental note to wake her before he woke the kids just as he fell asleep himself.

Roman awoke suddenly, wondering what had woken him. He rubbed at his eyes and frowned at the way his arm felt, as though he was just getting feeling in it and he smiled as he remembered holding Ella for most of the night. Half sitting up he looked around his room searching for her and smiling as she was sitting at the open window. He smelt the salty tang of the sea air and met the blue-eyed gaze of Ella.

“The twins are awake.” She told him softly.

“They usually are.” He said back before yawning. “You ok?”

Ella nodded before beginning her climb out of the window.

“Woman, what are you doing?” he asked throwing the bedcovers to one side and standing up quickly.

“Leaving.” She told him with a sassy grin.

She levered herself out of the window and shifted along the windowsill.

“Ella Harris get back here.” He muttered rushing barefoot through his bedroom to the window.

Ella paused and looked at him a gin on her face before leaning back in and kissing him.

“Addison.” She corrected. “And you should remember this bit?” she added before turning and reaching out she clutched at the branch of the tree that was outside his property.

He watched her with an expression of horror on his face imagining her plummeting to the hard floor below.

Ella pushed herself up until her waist was level with the branch. She grinned as she lifted her leg and hooked it over the branch so that she was straddling it. She scooted towards the trunk and used the remaining branches to climb her way to the ground eventually standing by the tree and looking back up at him.

Roman shook his head at her but even he could see the flush of colour in her cheeks and the happy smile she had on her face. She blew him a kiss before turning and running across the road to her car. He watched as she got in behind the wheel and set off before the bedroom door crashed open behind him.

“Dada breakfast!” Lily demanded.

“Coming Lils.” He stated grinning and turning to look at his precocious daughter.

“Me wants eggs.” She instructed him.

Roman chuckled before closing the window and moving over to grab his robe and slip his feet into slippers. He found himself still smiling as he cooked breakfast and got the kids off to school. In fact he noticed that he was grinning as he stood in the dinner cooking during his shift. He wondered when he would see Ella again and imagined her wanting to ease back a bit, she’d said she had plans that she wanted to do and he found himself frowning, his earlier good mood disappearing. Thinking some more he moved out of earshot of everyone and picked out his phone and dialling to make the appointment to see the doctor, remembering their discussion, however brief it was, about more kids. Yeah, seeing Ella look after a baby the past few days had been a wonderful thing but he wasn’t going to risk her getting ill again, not to mention that they had grandbabies now.

He supposed that part of the reason their kids had gotten married and had their own families so soon, thinking of Gabby and then Danni and Mike, was because of the way that Ella had ensured they were involved in taking care of their brothers and sisters.

The call made he moved back into the kitchen and finished out the rest of his shift.

Ella walked out of the sea pushing a hand through her wet hair as she carried her surfboard up the beach to where she’d left her towel. She was wearing an old bikini in pale turquoise blue, very conscious that when she’d bought it she hadn’t filled it so well. Also, conscious that she could possibly fall out of it she thought looking around before checking that it was still in place. She didn’t see Roman standing at the top of the beach watching her, his mouth hanging open as he saw her deal with her board. She spread out the towel and sat down on it before reaching for her suncream. Roman was forced to watch her smooth the white lotion over her arms and then her legs. He groaned and reached into his pocket and pulled out his phone.

“Hello?” Ella answered the call on the first ring, grimacing at the way her hand was slippery from the sun lotion on the back of her phone.

“You are trying to make me explode aren’t you?” Roman bit out between taut lips.

Ella sat up straighter and looked around before she saw where he was standing. She grinned as she looked over him before laying back down on the towel.

“Now what makes you think that?” she asked in a slow husky voice.

“Oh I don’t know, perhaps it was when you came out of the sea looking like a mermaid.” He muttered. “Or that little wiggle you did as you adjusted your top, and then there was the bit where I had to watch you put cream all over yourself.” He said glaring at her as she laughed at him.

“I’m getting some time back for myself, I would have thought you’d be pleased.”

Roman half nodded.

“I’m very pleased.” He told her. “But well there was the midnight visit where you slept in my arms and then the crazy balancing act you did this morning that gave me a heart attack and now this?”

Ella sighed before rolling over to lay on her front.

“Want to come and put lotion on my back?” she asked him and laughed when she heard his swear.

“You are going to get something Ella Addison.”

“We’re close to your place…” she told him huskily.

“Is that why you chose this beach?” he asked. “To tempt me?”

“No, but now I’ve been in the sea here I could use a shower.” She pointed out and giggled as he swore again.

“My place.” He told her. “And you have,” he paused as he looked at his watch. “fifty two minutes until I have to go and get the twins.”

He hung up the phone and watched as she did the same before she stood and slowly reached for her sarong. He was transfixed as she tied it around her waist and lifted her arms up so she could fix her hair. Of course she knew what that did to the bikini top he thought with a groan before he turned and climbed into his car heading home. He was there a few minutes before her and as soon as he heard her car outside he yanked open the door and reaching for her arm dragged her inside.

His lips crashed down on hers and he groaned as she pressed her body against him.

“How long do you want to wait?” he asked her.

“Fifty minutes?” she murmured and heard him sigh at the joke.

“El, I think we are both aware of how much I want you right now. If you want to wait…”

She eased back and looked deep into his eyes.

“I do want to wait.” She admitted.

Roman nodded before he lifted her up into his arms and took her over to the sofa laying them down on it before he kissed her again. He felt her hands stoking down his back as she returned his kisses until she slide them under his shirt and touched his bare skin.

“Very nice.” He murmured as he kissed her.

“If I wanted..”

“I’m going to go as fast or slow as you want El.” He said softly.

She nodded pressing herself against him.

“Thank you.” She whispered and kissed him again.

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Chapter 14

Ella looked over at the children sitting quietly and doing their homework. They’d settled easily into the routine of being back home. She’d left them there for the full week and the weekend, using the time to go to the studio and do some photography, not that she told Roman that bit. She’d also enrolled at the same college as Gabby and Amy-Belle, to take a couple of English classes and still didn’t know quite why she’d done that.

“Hey Mum?” Mike called from the doorway his voice breaking through her thoughts.

“Yeah?” she answered quickly standing up from the sofa.

“Danni has kicked me out for the night. Any chance that you are ordering pizza?” Mike told her a rueful grin on his face and making Sammy laugh at him.

“Uh huh Samson, perhaps you need to go finish that in your room.” Ella said going over to where her son was seated and placing her hands on his shoulders.

“Cool.” Sammy said.

He looked at the others and frowned.

“Go on babes.” Ella said feeling him tense up.

He nodded and gathered his stuff before walking out of the room.

“He’s missing Meggy.” Sophie told her mother, injecting a note into her voice.

“We all are.” Ella said forcing herself to ignore her daughter’s tone of voice. “But you’ll see her at the weekend.”

“And for like what? Five minutes and then you get to see her.” Sophie snapped.

“Enough.” Ella said in the same calm tone of voice and held up her hand. “Take your books into your bedroom too.”

Sophie slammed her folder and text books shut before gathering them up and stomping away up the stairs.

“Great, do I get kicked out too?” Georgie asked her.

“You use that tone on me again and you will. Go look after the twins while I have a cup of coffee with your brother.” Ella said giving him a warning look.

Georgie sighed and stood from the table going over to where August and Fleur were seated in front of the tv. He smiled at them as he sat down and began talking softly to them.

Ella watched him for a moment before she went into the kitchen followed by Mike.

“What did you do?” She asked him as she busied herself with the kettle.

“I picked up Jennie when I should have been letting her sleep, oh and I also get under her feet when Danni is trying to keep the place clean and any number of things.” Mike grimaced and shrugged. “Anything I do is wrong really.”

Ella turned and gave him a smile.

“Are you sure you don’t want to go have a beer with Roman? I’m sure he’d appreciate that more than me.”

Mike shook his head.

“Don’t need sympathy Ma I need a reason not to quit on my relationship. I’m obviously making her unhappy.”

Ella sighed and reached for the cups making two coffees. She handed one to Mike and moved over to the door to sit outside on the veranda. Smiling as he joined her.

“So,” she began. “What are you doing for a job?”

He grinned at her question, designed to deflect him, before he shrugged.

“Miles offered me a job.” He confessed, “Was that your doing?”

Ella shook her head in surprise.

“Nope, not me.” She stated. “I thought you were still doing your dissertation?”

Mike shrugged.

“I sorta finished most of it while I was away.” He murmured and they both knew he was talking about when he went back overseas. “Nothing like that for clearing the clutter from your mind and focusing you.”

“Well, does that mean my superbrain son is a Phd now?” She asked him.

“Not quite, but close. If I want to go back to that.”

Ella sighed and took a drink of her coffee.

“I’ve signed up at the college.”

“Ma?” Mike questioned.

“Just a couple of English classes a week and it means that the twins can be with Kai and Daniella.”

“That’s a good idea.” Mike told her a grin on his face. “Dad has…” he began and stopped when Ella lifted up her hand.

“I know Roman has always wanted me to finish my degree. It was his suggestion.”

“I didn’t know you were talking to him again.” Mike said a note entering his voice.

“I have to talk to him.” Ella said quietly. “Won’t do the kids any good if we hate each other.”

“Yes, well.”

“Too close to what is happening for you?” Ella asked him.

Mike nodded.

“I kissed Michelle. I admit it. One kiss. And I immediately backed off and told Danni about it. But it’s like it’s being used as another excuse not to marry me.”

“Well don’t marry her.” Ella said to him. “Play hard to get, move into the stables and leave Danni to cope on her own if she thinks she can do that.”

Mike shook his head.

“I’ve thought about it.” He confessed. “But the point is she isn’t coping. She yells at Jennie sometimes and she cries. She says she wants to go back to work but then she spends most of the day sitting around in her nightdress. I can’t get her to see Rachel and well, you are the spawn of Satan.”

“Because I “cope” apparently.” Ella told him.

Mike nodded.

“If I left her that would be one more reason to get rid of me.” He muttered looking over at the poolhouse in the distance. “permanently.”

Ella nodded sympathetically.

“So what are you going to so about the job offer?”

Mike grinned.

“Do you think the brats will handle me teaching them? I’d have to go through checks but that shouldn’t be a problem.”

“As opposed to handling everything else they’ve gone through?” Ella murmured raising an eyebrow at him.

“Do I need to talk to them about it?”

“Sammy maybe.”

“He’s missing Megs a whole lot isn’t he?”

Ella nodded again.

“Me too if I’m honest. I never thought it would come to this. Luckily though the divorce happened before Lily was a teenager.”

Mike laughed imagining his younger sister being as stroppy as Sophie and maybe just a touch of Nicole in there. Although he knew that Nic was having her own problems with Angel.

“Think that she would have given you problems?” he asked amusement dancing in his eyes.

Ella nodded exuberantly.

“Not half.” She said with feeling. “And you can guarantee that she would have ended up living with her father, whether she wanted to or not.”

Mike let out a bark of laughter before sobering and grinning at his mother.

“The only custody dispute where you are both arguing to ensure the child lives with the other party.”

Ella gave a small smile.

“Ouch.” She told him.


“No it is funny, but.” Ella shrugged. “Roman and I weren’t pleasant to live with were we?” she asked referring to the divorce.

“No, but then you’d bent over backwards to try and keep the relationship going at times.”

“Mike you don’t have to…”

“Say that?” he grinned over at her and leant forward putting his elbows on his knees and looking up at her. “After the attack, and Sammy, there were moments that were tough.” He began seeing Ella pale at the reference. “Then came the Martha stuff, Elliot, William, Alexi. And through it all you and Roman were there, mostly together and keeping the kids focused on school and encouraging them to act like kids.”

Ella sighed.

“All I think is that one day in the future they are just going to hate us for putting them through everything.”

Mike grinned.

“I didn’t hate you did I?” he asked her.

“True but then you aren’t normal.” Ella chuckled at the expression on his face before she drained her cup and put it on a table next to her. “Take the job, tell her if things don’t change you’ll have to move out. Or she will. And stop supporting her.”

Mike raised his eyebrow and looked at his mother.

“You mean financially?”

Ella nodded.

“She wants to work, give her a reason to work so that she doesn’t keep trapping herself with guilt over leaving Jennie.” Ella said slowly her eyes on the poolhouse.

“Ok mother I will try it.” He said softly.

“Now then, I believe you mentioned pizza.”

Mike laughed softly.

“I did indeed.”

“Make sure you get enough for Danni. I’ll have Sophie run it over to her.”

Mike laughed again.

“Is that wise?” he murmured. “I have this image of my sister turning …”

Ella shook her head.

“Your sister is lovely.” She told him. “Don’t let the pink hair and black clothes put you off.”

Mike chuckled again before standing and gathering the empty cups he moved into the kitchen and took the phone from the cradle. He telephoned the order through asking for extra salad and a gateau for desert before going back out to sit with his mother.

“So you and Dad.” He began.

“Just talking.” Ella said in a soft voice. “And don’t start stirring things up. The kids are…”

Mike laughed.

“When is it just talking with you two?” he pointed out.

“It is this time. I’m done being back in the same arguments Mike, my money, his past, secrets, lies,” she sighed, blowing out a breath through pursed lips. “After he moved out I went through everything. I still used the same shampoo and body lotion because he liked it. After his, well before, I bought a mouthwash that I liked and not one that we used to buy and it made me realise that I compromised over a lot of stuff to keep him happy. Even if it were just the little things.”

“Not just the little. You stopped your photography.”

“Yes, well.” Ella brushed that off. “That was different. But we stopped going to the studio. We never went away because he didn’t want to, not really. And he thought that if we did go away I would be paying for it.” She shrugged again. “It’s only when the relationship breaks down that you really realise a lot of the little stuff is actually the worst.”

Mike sighed.

“So no chance that you’ll get back together?” he asked a hopeful note in his voice.

“I can’t Mike. Not. “ Ella stopped and looked behind him seeing Sammy standing in the doorway. “Samson?” she asked softly.

“I heard what you were saying about Daddy.” He muttered folding his arms. “And you want her back with him?” he added giving Mike a glare.

He shook his head before turning and running back through the kitchen and up the stairs.

“I’ll go.” Mike said immediately.

“No.” Ella stood. “I think I need to talk to him.”

She moved past Mike and through the way that Sammy had gone and knocking on her son’s door. He refused to answer so she turned the handle and found it locked. She swore under her breath and suddenly felt guilty about all the times that she’d done that to Roman. Turning around she went into her bedroom and over to the window throwing it open. She was getting a lot of practice at this recently she thought climbing out of it and walking along the narrow ledge that was the top of the veranda. She stopped outside the window to Sammy’s room and slowly opened it before climbing in.

“What the…”

“Finish that sentence and you’ll be grounded.” Ella told him as she swung her legs into the room. “And when I knock on the door you need to open it.”

Sammy glared at her before he turned away and reached for his Ipod.

“Samson.” Ella said going over to him and pulling the headphones out of his ears. “Listen to me. I love your Dad, I love him for giving me you and taking care of me and a hundred and one other things and Mike knows that. He also knows that your dad and me get back together even after we split up. He’s entitled to ask. You asked often enough.”

Sammy looked down at his shoes.

“But I didn’t know…”

“Your Dad has had to do some compromises too. He accepted the cats even when he doesn’t really like them. Then there was letting me buy the horse for Sophie and your rabbits and guinea pig. Moving into this house. Building the poolhouse.”

Sammy sighed as he thought about it.


“So finish up your homework because the pizza will be here soon.” She murmured heading towards the window.

“Mum.” Sammy cried out stopping her. “The door.” He said.

She gave him a grin and he laughed before climbing off his bed and going over to her.

“Mum.” He said again as he hugged her.

“I know this is tough for you guys to deal with but the important thing is that your Dad and me are still your parents and we’ll never stop loving you.” She murmured quietly. “Now how about tomorrow night I arrange for you to stay over at your Dad’s so you can catch up with Meg’s?”

“Really?” he asked his eyes lighting up.

Ella nodded.

“I’ll go give your Dad a call now.” She promised. “Now let’s go, I think I can smell the pizza.”

Sammy looked at her and giggled before they both walked to the door and after unlocking it moved into the hallway. Ella stopped and walked into her bedroom, closing the door behind her as she went over to the bed and took out her phone. She looked at it for a moment before talking a breath and dialling.

“Hello Roman’s phone.” A female voice answered.

“Is Roman there?” Ella muttered frowning.

“He’s a bit busy right now.” The other woman said.

“Too busy to talk right?” Ella said feeling suddenly jealous. “Well when he’s not so busy would you like to tell him that I need to talk to him urgently.”

“Sure thing,” the woman murmured and disconnected the call.

“You are so dead Roman Harris.” Ella said quietly giving the phone a glare. She stood putting it in her pocked and made her way down the stairs collecting Lily and Liam on the way, the two of them deciding to play in their room, well at least Lily decided and Liam had to go along with her.

Walking down the stairs she moved into the lounge with them and saw that Mike had set the table and got all the kids sitting round it.

“Sophie can you take Danni’s pizza over to her please.”

Sophie looked up before nodding.

“Ok.” She said.

“She could probably do with a girlie chat.” Ella said to her quietly.

Sophie gave her a quick smile and moved out the back with the box that Mike handed her.

“Could tell her there is chocolate cake here.” Mike added before watching Sophie go across the grass.

“More for us.” Sammy grinned.

“Uh huh.” Ella said slowly as she sat down and picked up a slice of pizza, her head was still on the phone call to Roman and she paused about to take a bite as she realised who the other woman had been. That Frankie. God, she felt … she stopped mid thought as she examined just what she felt. Angry. Yeah, very angry. She spotted Georgie giving her a look and realised that she’d been holding a slice of pizza for a few minutes and gave him a grin before taking a bite and chewing slowly.

“Mikey.” Lily began pushing her salad to one side. She smiled sweetly at her brother and fluttered her eyelashes at him. “Chocolate cake pleases?” she asked softly her lisp back in place.

Ella threw her head back and laughed.

“You are a minx.” She told her.

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Chapter 15

“Look Frankie,” Roman began looking over at the other woman. She’d helped herself to a glass of wine whilst he’d been upstairs with Meggy he noticed a scowl on his face as he watched her take a drink of the red liquid. He frowned some more when she smiled at the taste as opposed to wrinkling her nose up and scowling at him the way that Ella did when she tasted his wine. He smiled at the thought of Ella before focusing back on the woman in front of him.

“Did she get off to sleep alright?” Frankie asked him.

“What?” Roman asked puzzled before his head cleared of confusion. “No, my daughter doesn’t go to bed at 7 o’clock at night.” He murmured with a smile.

Not even Lily went to bed at that time, he though with a grin.

“Oh, so she’s like still awake?” Frankie asked taking a long drink of her wine.

“I told you not to come over.” Roman stated folding his arms across his chest. “I really don’t want to see you again.” He added.

“I totally understand.” She murmured. “It’s their mother isn’t it? Causing trouble for you?”

Ella had always been trouble from the first moment he met her. A wonderful, amazing kind of trouble and he was crazy in love with her, again. He smiled at the thought of that and remembering being with her here in this room a few days ago, her bikini top draped over the tv where he’d thrown it as they’d fooled around. Shifting uncomfortably as the memory struck him he focused once more on Frankie.

“It’s has nothing to do with their mother. I’m not ready for anything serious.”

Frankie pouted, placing the now empty glass on the coffee table in front of her. She stood and turning, looked at him.

“So are you actually dumping me?” she asked him.

Roman nodded once forcing himself not to soften the blow. If he hadn’t had been so determined not to hurt her last time he tried this then he and Ella would have been a lot further along than they were now and he wouldn’t have hurt her or his kids, remembering his stubborn daughter, Lily, crying in his arms that night.

“I’m dumping you Frankie. It never would have worked between us. You are too different and I don’t think you would have liked being a step-mother.” He stated and watched the expressions on her face carefully. She couldn’t disguise the look of unease when he put her in the role of being a mother figure to his kids. He was suddenly struck by her resemblance to Natalie, Nic’s Mother and shuddered. What the hell had he been thinking when he’d hooked with her?

“I’m sure that I could try. You haven’t given me a chance with the children.” She told him petulantly.

Roman shook his head.

“No, because when I tell you I’ve got them you avoid me. Don’t take my calls.” He snapped out before taking a deep breath, feeling himself getting sucked in. “Let’s face it Frankie, if you’d known that Meggy lived with me you wouldn’t have bothered coming over tonight.”

Frankie pouted.

“But darling, “ she drawled.

Roman narrowed his eyes as he looked at her. One thing he liked about being with Ella was that they rarely called each other Darling, or Sweetheart. Not that he’d have an objection if Ella did it, and felt the corners of his mouth twitch before stopping himself from smiling. No, it just felt forced when Frankie called him that and he suspected that she did that to a lot of people.

“There are no buts. Frankie, please leave. I don’t want this dragged out further.” He stated clearly.

“Fine.” She muttered and walked to the door. She paused as if to tell him something before her mouth closed and she walked out slamming the door behind her.

Roman groaned and rubbed a weary hand over his face before putting his wine away and collecting the used glass from the table.

“Is she gone?” Meggy asked from the stairs.

“She has and I thought….”

“Yeah, yeah, not to be rude to your girlfriend but seriously Daddy, her?” Meggy moved down the rest of the steps and rolled her eyes expressively. “Meghan…for gawd’s sake.”

Roman couldn’t stop himself from smiling that time and he grinned at his daughter.

“One day you are going to meet someone that calls you Megan and think it’s special.” He promised her.

“Like you called Mum, Ella.”

Roman nodded.

“Exactly.” He murmured.

“Then no thanks.” She said folding her arms as she moved to the sofa. “Because it doesn’t end well does it?”

Roman sighed moving into the kitchen. He looked around the small space for something to occupy his hands with before turning back to his daughter.

“Megs, we still care a lot for each other you know.” He said finally.

“Caring doesn’t mean anything when I’m stuck here and everyone is happy over there.”

“I can take you…”

“Home?” Meggy shook her head. “Only if you make it up with mum and move back home too.”

“Meggy.” He said with a sigh, twisting a tea towel in his hands before he looked at her. “It’s not so simple as that.”

“It seems simple to me. You ran out on us Dad, not just Mum you left all of us.” She said with all the pain of that night entering her voice. “What do you think it felt like?”

Roman felt his heart thump in his chest before he dropped the tea towel and moved to sit with his daughter.

“Meggy, I’m sorry. It reached the stage for your Mum and me where we were hurting each other too much.” He murmured softly imploring her to understand that whole situation when he didn’t fully understand it himself. “If I’d stayed then…” he stopped thinking off that night.

It had been raining. Walking in he felt the tension immediately and seeing the kids weren’t in the lounge like they would normally be had struck him with unease. He’d gone in search of Ella and found her in the bedroom sitting on the end of the bed, her face pale and dry eyed. It was only later that he’d realised that he’d hurt her too deeply for her to cry, that time. She’d turned to him and told him that he’d had a phone call before adding that it was from his mortgage lender before asking him to pack his bags and leave. Yeah, he so should have fought harder, he thought, if I’d stayed maybe they would have argued and hated each other for a while but then again maybe they would have got through it. Yanking his mind back to the present he looked at his daughter.

“I’d sorry Meggy. I know it doesn’t make much sense to you….” He began and saw her shake her head.

“I’m going to go get my stuff. I think I want to go home.” She whispered.

“Megs, if you want to go home, of course I’ll ring your Mum and get her to fetch you.” He told her his heart breaking all over again.

How smug had he been secretly when she’d come to live with him, stopping him from feeling like the bad guy all the time?

“Why can’t you just take me?”

“I’ve been drinking. Only a glass but your mother made me promise that I wouldn’t…”

Meggy shook her head before giving him a smile.

“Let me guess she’s been drinking too?”

“I doubt it.” Roman said with an answering smile. “If all else fails there is Mike or Gabby or…”

“Granddad and Nanny Rene?” Meggy added still smiling.

“And probably Lily.”

“Oh yeah, but only if Liam comes.”

Roman put his arm around Meggy and hugged her.

“I ended things with Frankie.”

“Oh about time.” She said rolling her eyes.

“Don’t be cheeky Missy.”

Meggy chuckled.

“She reminds me of Nic’s other mum.” Meggy told him after a minute. “You know her real one.”

“Natalie.” Roman supplied.

“Yeah, that’s her. I wish Sophie and Angel would make up.” She added changing the subject quickly just in case her Dad started thinking about his other girlfriends instead of her mother.

“Me too.” Roman said with added feeling. “I need to spend some time with Nic.” He murmured.

Meggy looked at him.

“Maybe Mum will have a bbq if we ask her.” She suggested. “now you are talking again.”

“I don’t think so.” Roman said biting back a sigh. “But it was worth trying.”

Meggy giggled.

“If you do want to go home Megs?” he asked softly.

“I don’t know. I miss it but then…” she shrugged.

Roman sighed before reaching for the remote from the arm of the sofa. As he picked it up he knocked his phone to the floor and muttered something under his breath.

“If I’m going to stay you are going to have to do something about the swearing.” Meggy said. “It’s getting worse than Lily’s.”

Roman groaned as he handed the remote to Meggy and she clicked on the tv. She found something to watch as he picked his phone off the floor. He saw the message icon and clicked it open to read the text from Ella.

‘Sam wants 2c Megs. 2mw nite. Unless ur gf is still there.’

“Meggy honey.”

“Ot oh…” Meggy said looking at him.

“I’m about to swear again.”

“Daddy?” she asked puzzled.

“Never mind. Will seeing Samson tomorrow night cheer you up a bit?” he asked and smiled at the grin on her face. “That’s a yes then.”

She nodded.

He dialled Ella’s number and it went straight to voicemail.

“Meggy says yes please to Sammy coming over.” He said quickly. “I’ll call you tomorrow.” He said with added emphasis before disconnecting the call and settling down to watch tv with his daughter.

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Chapter 16

Meggy walked over to the car with Sammy behind her. In addition to his school bag he was carrying a holdall.

“S’up?” he murmured breathlessly, to his father.

“Where is your mother?” he asked looking round for Ella.

“She’s stuck somewhere so Mike came for Sophie and Georgie.” Sammy explained getting into the car and sitting next to Meggy. He manoeuvred his bags in the back and grinned at his sister.

Roman swore under his breath and chuckled when he caught Meggy giving him a look.

“So she said I could stay over and like do this every week.” Sammy explained to his dad.

“That’s good Sammy.” Roman said distractedly as he put his hand on his phone and began to pull it out of his pocket. Nine messages left on her voicemail, at least twenty text messages and she couldn’t reply to one. He muttered something else under his breath as he climbed behind the wheel.

“S’up with him?” Sammy asked his sister.

“I think Mummy is making him mad.” Meggy said back in a whisper although she made it loud enough for her father to hear.

“Why would she do that?” Sammy answered back in a whisper.

“Enough.” Roman told them quietly. “What have you got in that bag?” he murmured pulling out of the parking spot and heading home. “Not sneaking Lily over are you?”

“As if.” Meggy said rolling her eyes. “That bag is so not big enough to fit her, Liam and the twins in.”

Roman grinned and looked at them through the rear-view mirror.

“What do you want for dinner?” he asked.

“Aren’t we going to the diner? Like as a treat?” Sammy murmured.

Meggy grinned at him.

“No,” she said. “But there might be leftovers in the fridge. He brings them home every day.”

“Megan Hope Harris.” Roman said softly.

Sammy grinned before putting his arm around his sister to give her a hug.

“So anyway, I’ve got games and…” Sammy shot a look at his dad before he continued. “Some sweets.” He confessed.

Meggy giggled, leaning closer to her brother. She missed seeing her dad smiling at them before he pulled up the car outside the house and parked. Climbing out he opened the back door for them and helped carry assorted bags into the house.

“Ok, get your homework done guys.” Roman murmured as he moved into the kitchen and put the kettle on. He took out a plate and put some biscuits on it before getting two glasses of drink for them smiling at the easy way they were both sitting at the table with their books out. He couldn’t resist placing a kiss on Meggy’s head as he stood near her before doing the same to Sammy.

“Yuk!” Sammy cried out.

“Getting too old for that Samson?” Roman asked his son with a laugh.

Sammy grinned at him.

“No.” he said shaking his head.

Roman smiled before heading back into the kitchen. He finished making his coffee before going and sitting on the long sofa. Picking up one of Georgie’s surfing magazines he began flicking through it until he found something to read.

Ella packed up the last of her books into her bag and eased up from the desk. She watched as others slipped out of the room before noticing the tutor looking over at her.

“Ella Addison, right?” he asked.

Ella nodded.

“I’m sure that I was easy to spot.” She grinned and gestured to the empty desks around her. “Being the oldest in the room.”

“Yeah, your zimmer frame gave it away. That was an interesting discussion.”

Ella blushed thinking of the class discussion on the quality of so-called classic literature. She’d been on the opposite side to most of the class.

“I just think that many of the books we list as classic today are because of people’s exposure to so called fashionable literature.”

“I quite agree with some of your hypothesis, however can you state that with explanation and reasoning in a 2000 word essay?” he asked.

“Mr Robinson, are you giving me my first assignment?” Ella murmured giving him a slow grin.

“Not yet, and call me Scott please.” He smiled back at her.

“Scott.” Ella murmured.

“You’ve got some good ideas, I’m sure that your essays will be talking points.” He predicted.

Ella felt herself blushing.

“I’m not sure about that.” She told him. “I’ve not written anything like that for a long time.”

Scott nodded before moving around his desk and hitching one leg up as he perched on it, keeping his other leg straight. Ella tried to force herself not to notice the way his muscles moved against the fabric of his trousers or the stretch of his shirt against his taut abs. She found her eyes drawn to the strong powerful muscles of his arms as he folded them across his chest.

“How about you I set you a few practice essays to get you going?” he suggested.

“That might be good. I’ve been looking online for that sort of thing.” Ella said moistening her suddenly dry lips.

“Well here.” He turned and picked up the text book from beside him. “Look on pages 36 and 37.”

“Page 36?” Ella repeated feeling her cheeks heat.

“Yeah,” he said and held out the book towards her.

Ella nodded and moved over to him. The black writing danced on the page as she looked at it before she blinked and began reading.

“If you do 1000 words on this question and then do another 1000 words taking the opposing view to your original answer that should get you in the right area.”

“So, essentially when does this have to be in?” Ella murmured.

“No rush, say next week.”

“Oh great.” Ella muttered her mind wondering.

“Is there a problem?” Scott asked quickly.

“No, no problem. Just imaging going home to my kids and explaining that I have homework.” She said slowly.

“I understood that your children were in the crèche here?” he said with a frown on his face.

“The youngest ones yes. I have twelve kids, fourteen if you include my stepchildren.”

“Er wow.” He said easing back.

She could feel his eyes on her glancing up and down her body and she smiled.

“Yeah, three sets of twins, two adopted. “ she said slowly.

“So that is why Ella Addison stopped her photography.” He said softly.

Ella shook her head.

“No it wasn’t the kids’ fault. Just got a lot busy doing other stuff in my life.” She explained taking a half step back. She wondered what aftershave he was wearing because he smelt gorgeous and if she wasn’t careful she’d be sniffing his neck at any second. “Well anyway, I have to go.” She began. “Got to get the twins home.”

She took another half step back, gave him a smile before lifting her hand in a half wave and disappearing out of the door. Her heart was racing in her chest as she pulled out her phone and clicked it open. With shaking fingers she typed a text message out and hit send before she could change her mind as she raced to pick up the kids. Their excited chatter about what they had been doing kept her preoccupied as she went out to the car and seated them safely in the back. She stowed her large bag on the passenger seat as she climbed behind the wheel and set off him. She felt her phone vibrate in her pocket and smiled.

Roman put his empty cup on the table. His eyes going over to the kids seated at the table.

“Are you going to be ok if I disappear for half hour? I need to go check on something at the diner.”

Meggy looked up and chuckled.

“Does that include getting us dinner?” she asked cheekily.

“Not tonight. “ Roman answered her back a half smile on his face. “I think there are leftovers in the fridge.”

Sammy and Meggy exchanged a look.

“Almost as good as what you’d get at home these days. Mum is so busy.”

Roman looked quickly at his son, his head framing all kinds of questions but he forced a neutral expression on his face.

“Your Mum is always busy running after you lot.” He commented patting himself on the back for his calm tone of voice.

He stood and stretched before picking up his empty cup and walking into the kitchen. He put it in the sink before moving over to the table.

“So what is your answer?” he added.

“We’ll be fine.” Meggy said sounding slightly disappointed.

Roman gave his daughter a searching look before he nodded and leaning down to plant a kiss on her head and then Sammy’s he moved out. They watched him go a solemn look on their faces and waited until he’d gone before turning to each other.

“He didn’t look like he was missing mum.” Sammy commented.

“Maybe we were too subtle?” Meggy murmured.

Sammy looked at her before he stood up from the table and walked over to his bag bringing out a box of tablets and handing them to her.

“Where did you get these?” Meggy asked quickly.

“From the medicine cabinet. They’ll do won’t they?”

Meggy grinned.

“If she comes round again.” She murmured a sadistic look on her face.

“Oh good.”

Meggy put the packet away in her pencil case so that her father wouldn’t see it.

“So what is so important that you had me leave the kids alone?” Roman asked looking over at her.

“I needed to see you. What did you tell them?”

“That I was needed at the diner.” Roman murmured a puzzled expression on his face.

“Well you are needed.” She said softly before she moved over to him and after winding her arms around his neck placed a hot kiss to his lips.

“Ella Addison, what are you doing?” Roman muttered easing back and looking at her. He glanced around where they were in the sand dunes and smiled at the expression on her face.

“I’m kissing you.” She told him. “Or has it been so long that you’ve….”

“Ella.” Roman said forcibly and put his hands on her arms pulling them from around his neck. Although how he did it he didn’t know, his whole body was throbbing, especially a certain part of it. “You’ve been avoiding my calls and my texts. You don’t even show up at school to collect the kids and…”

“I was at college.” Ella said suddenly a hurt expression on her face.

“And you couldn’t tell me.” He said echoing her hurt.

“I wanted to keep it a surprise.” She whispered.

“I suppose you’ve been doing some photography too?” he muttered folding his arms and glaring at her. “Actually scrap that.” He added thinking of her being up by the lighthouse with her camera that day.

“Roman,” Ella began spreading her hands and looking at him in appeal. She bit her bottom lip anxiously before glaring at him. “You know what, forget it. After all, it wasn’t my phone that was answered by someone else was it?”

“Oh that’s right put the blame on me.” He ground out his eyes on her mouth. He watched the way her white teeth nibbled anxiously on her bottom lip. Her full pink bottom lip and the way her eyes lit up. He wanted nothing more than to stop having a stupid argument with her and get back to the bit where they were kissing. And of all places to meet she’d picked the sand dunes. How many times had they sneaked here to make love? He asked himself and moved uncomfortably as his body hardened at the memories.

“This was stupid. I should have known better.” Ella snapped out.

“Yeah, you should have done. What did you expect Ella?” he frowned. “A quick roll in the dunes….”

“No, I expected to feel something instead of looking at another man and thinking it would be so easy to …”

“To what?” he ground out.

The image of Ella and another man went through his head and he roared before reaching out and grabbing her. His mouth crashed on to hers possessively and he ravished her soft lips. A part of him told him to slow down, to stop but he was jealous and angry and it had been too long without her. He groaned some more when she responded to his passion and wrapped her arms back around his neck pressing herself close to him.

He ran his hands possessively down her body before easing her on to fine sand below them. She seemed to pull him closer, sighing softly against his lips and he forced his mind to concentrate on making sure his weight didn’t crush her. Not that she would have objected much, he thought feeling her hands moving down his back and pulling on his t shirt.

“Stop.” He muttered pulling back and looking at her. “I thought you wanted to wait?”

Ella shook her head before lifting it to kiss him once more. She could reach his lips as he kept his head angled away from her so she pressed kisses along his jaw before she heard him sigh again.

“Ella Addison.” He moaned against her lips as he kissed her. He stopped long enough to ease away and pull off his shirt before kissing her again. He found his hands had opened her shirt and were caressing her. A vague part of his brain knew that if he didn’t stop them soon then it would be too late. Not that he wasn’t dying to make love to her but she wanted to wait and whatever was driving her now would have her making…


He pulled back and looked into her face.

“Better tell me about this other man.” He muttered pulling away from her and breathing heavily to regain control.

“Oh god.” Ella cried.

She struggled to sit up and pulled her blouse together. Her hands shook as she attempted to do up the buttons.

“Ella.” Roman said softly.

“I can’t believe….” She groaned out shaking her head thanking that she’d left her hair loose so that it shielded her face from him.

“Come on El,” he said trying to get her to look at him.

“This was a mistake.” She announced scrambling to her feet. “I shouldn’t have…”

“Used me as a sex object?” he asked.

“Yes.” She hissed.

Roman laughed and reached out catching hold of her wrist and tugging her back down to kneel on the sand. He lifted his other hand and reaching out stroked her face. Her beautiful expressive face.

“Ella, “ he murmured quietly. “My beautiful Ella, if I didn’t know that you wanted to wait before we made love again you could have used me any way you wanted.”

Ella sighed.

“I do want to wait.” She said. “But well, I..” she stopped and bit her lip.

As she looked up at him their eyes met and they both dissolved into giggles.

“Come here.” He told her and pulled her into his arms down on the sand. “Now tell me.” He said.

“My tutor is really hot.” Ella said before gasping and lifting her frightened eyes to look up at his face.

“That’s ok.” Roman said quietly. Although it clearly wasn’t ok, his Ella being interested in another man, how the hell had that happened?

“And well, the only think I could think off was…”

“This is the part where you say me.” He growled out.

“Well yes.” She muttered feeling defensive. “And sex.” She added. “Hot steamy sex.”

“Uh huh.” Roman rubbed a hand over his face. “I have to get back to the kids.” He looked at her. “And have a very long cold shower.”

Ella giggled again feeling tension leave her.

“And just in case you get any ideas like that again…”

“Don’t tell you?”

“No you are definitely telling me. Showing me is good too.” He murmured. “We need to sort out a date.”

“A date?” Ella squeaked.

He nodded.

“A date,” he confirmed.


“Really?” he asked her stroking her hair back from her face.

Ella nodded shyly.

“I’d like that.”

Roman looked at his watch and sighed.

“Better go back.” He said before leaning down and kissing her. He felt the simple kiss ignite between them and groaned against her lips before reluctantly standing and leading her out of the dunes.

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  • 1 month later...

Chapter 17

She had no idea why she was so nervous. Perhaps it was because it was the first date she had been on since before she’d married Roman. The first time. Perhaps because she knew that this was really important. They’d chosen to have dinner in the city, she was staying overnight in her studio. She had no idea where Roman was staying, she’d offered for him to stay there too but he’d declined.

Walking from the bathroom into her bedroom she saw the dress she’d picked out and the pink lace underwear she had to wear underneath it. She’d gone shopping twice to get the perfect outfit and now looking at the very expensive clothes she’d got nervous all over again. Maybe it was too much, or too dressy. He hadn’t told her where they were going. What if she misread the signals?

Taking a deep calming breath before sighing she reached for her favourite perfume and sprayed a generous amount on to her neck and wrists and then with an extravagant hand she sprayed it around her legs and between her breasts. Placing the bottle down she picked up the underwear and pulled it on before taking out the stockings she’d also picked out. They were shear and delicate and she was gentle as she pulled them on to her legs and fastened the tops to her suspenders.

Glancing in the mirror she flushed at the look on her face. Like she was planning to seduce him and that wasn’t the plan at all. No. It wasn’t. She emphasised her denial before grinning as she did a slow twirl in front of the mirror checking out her appearance. Pulling on one of her favourite silky wraps she sat in front of the mirror and began to apply make up ignoring the ever so slight tremor to her hand.

Make up done she focused on her hair next. The plan was to pin it up but she knew he liked to see it down so she frowned at her reflection dithering before groaning at the way she was catering to his ‘likes’, first the stockings and the underwear and now her hair? She sighed and began pinning it up like she’d planned allowing a few tendrils to escape and curl around her neck. She turned her head from side to side checking on her hair before hearing her phone beeping from the other side of the room.

Sprinting up from her seat she saw the message envelope and frowned before slowly opening it. If he cancelled on her she would not be impressed she thought with a groan, just remembering her manoeuvring to get a night off. First she had to persuade her dad and Irene to babysit and then she had to invent a reason to spend the night away in the studio. She’d invented a dinner with her publisher to explain her absence when the kids started asking questions.

‘Meggy dropped off. C u soon! Xx’ he’d put. She reread his message before grinning and then frowned at the time he’d sent it. Well over an hour ago and she’d only just got it!

“Bloody hell!” she cried out racing over to where her dress was. She shrugged out of her wrap and pulled on the slinky hot pink number fastening the zip at the side. Smoothing down the dress she gave herself another critical look in the mirror before reaching for the very high very sexy shoes she’d bought herself. Slipping her feet into them she grinned at the whole look before gasping.

“Earrings.” She muttered going over and putting in the diamond studs she’d treated herself too as well. She added a slim gold watch and debated about putting on her wedding ring. Looking at it she sucked in a breath before leaving it in her jewellery pouch and picking up the small clutch bag she put in her purse, keys, lipgloss and phone. Not that the lipgloss would last long she thought with a smile.

Heading through to the longue she poured out a quick drink for herself to stead her nerves and nearly spilt it when she heard the buzzer go.

Stepping over to the door she pressed the button down and spoke into the intercom.

“Hello” she murmured softly.

“Pizza.” Roman murmured from downstairs.

He laughed when he heard her sigh through the intercom before she buzzed him into the building. Stepping inside he checked over his appearance and then looked over the bouquet of flowers he’d bought and slowly climbed the steps. He saw that his hand was shaking as he reached for the door handle and smiled as the door opened before he got there.

“Hey,” he murmured after a moment.

He looked at her in a skin tight hot pink dress, her hair pinned up and glittering earrings in her ears. He couldn’t help taking a deep breath in as he inhaled the sexy perfume she was wearing.

“You look amazing.” He said at last before remembering to hand over the flowers. “For you.” He added redundantly.

“Thank you.” Ella said smiling at him. “You don’t look too bad yourself.”

Of course she’d noticed that he was wearing a black suit and even a tie, his shoes polished.

“Thanks.” He grinned at her. “I’ve booked the restaurant for 8.” He added feeling his throat closing.

“Let me put these in water and then we’ll go.” She said taking the flowers over to the sink. She looked into the bouquet and frowned. “What?” she asked turning to look at him.

Roman grinned and came over to her side.

“Well on a first date I’m informed that I should make a good impression, maybe with flowers or chocolates.”

“You didn’t tell Nicole did you?” Ella muttered.

“Are you kidding?” he chuckled. “I’m pretty sure she would have hired a skywriter to let everyone know we were on a date.”

Ella laughed feeling the momentary tension leaving her.

“So?” she asked.

Roman smiled loving the way her cheeks flushed and her eyes were shinning. He reached into the bouquet and took out the small jewellery box and placed it in her hand.

“But as this isn’t just any ordinary first date I wanted to do something special.” He told her softly.

Ella placed the flowers down to one side before she opened the box. She smiled at the contents before a bubbling laugh escaped.

“Do you like it?” he asked.

“I love it.” Ella cried out taking out the Finding Nemo keyring. “Absolutely perfect.”

She leaned up to kiss him on the cheek and wobbled slightly in the high heels causing him to put his arm around her to save her. She fell against him and felt a jolt of awareness go through her. He was wearing her favourite aftershave and she inhaled deeply before kissing him on his lips. He responded unable to prevent himself from trying to kiss off her lipgloss. He eased away and looked at her a smug grin on his face.

“You are…” she trailed off giving him a look.

“We should go.” He murmured.

She gave him another look before putting the flowers in the sink with some water and then fetched her bag from where she left it.

“Shall we?” she murmured.

Roman nodded and led her out of the building waiting while she locked up behind them. He guided her over to his car opening the door for her before he walked around it and got in the other side. He checked she was in safely before he set off driving them to the restaurant.

“So,” he began.

“So.” Ella echoed a hint of amusement in her voice.

“Did you have a good day?” he continued grinning at her.

“Yes it was pleasant.”

“I’ve not seen that dress before have I?”

Ella chuckled.

“Can you see me wearing this back in the Bay?”

Roman shot her a look before he gave her a devilish grin.

“I think that a few heads would turn.” He admitted.

“Nicole’s amongst them.” She grinned.

“I take it from that it’s a designer dress.”

“It might very well be.”

“And you wasted it on me.” He commented.

“Wasted?” Ella muttered her tone angry.

“Well you know that I don’t have a clue about what is a designer dress or not and anyway I much prefer you out of your clothes.”

Ella stuttered and blushed at the same time.

“We’re here.” He announced a while later.

Pulling the car to a smooth halt he parked it up and half turned to her.

“Seriously.” He murmured. “You look amazing.”

Ella sighed her hands nervously smoothing down the dress.

“Thank you.” She said softly.

Roman climbed out of the car and moved quickly around the front of it to her side and opened the door for her, offering his hand to steady her as she climbed out. He placed his arm around her waist as he guided her inside the exclusive restaurant.

“Table for two, under the name Harris.” Roman said slowly to the Maitre’d.

They were guided to the table and eased down into seats. Music played softly in the background and there were lit candles dotted around the room and in the centre of the table.

“Can I get you two a drink to start off with?” they were asked as the menus were handed out.

“A mineral water for me, and for the lady, a vodka and diet coke.” Roman said watching the waiter disappear with their order.

Ella looked at him and saw him grin in response.

“I..” she began.

“So,” he said again mirroring his earlier conversation. “What do we talk about?”

Ella shrugged.

“What do normal people talk about on a date?”

“I think they talk about their family and what they do.” He murmured. “Do you have kids?” he added.

Ella started before she grinned.

“I have 50 kids.” She told him.

“That is a lot.” He commented. “How do you manage to keep up with them?”

“Oh I don’t, they live with their father. I occasionally send them postcards.”

Roman laughed before reaching out and catching hold of her hand.

“Sounds like a perfect solution.” He smiled.

“I thought so.”

“So I suppose that has freed up a lot of spare time?” he asked.

“It has indeed. I er.. am going back to college.”

“That sounds amazing. I’m sure that has made a lot of people proud of you.” He said softly.

“I can see that it has.” Ella said realising that Roman was proud of her for going back to finish her degree. She smiled over at him and they stayed like that for a moment before their drinks arrived.

“Thank you.” Roman said quietly. “Ready to order?” he asked her.

Ella nodded and the two of them gave their orders before the waiter disappeared.

“Where were we?” Ella asked taking a sip of her drink.

“I was telling you that I was proud of you.” He told her quietly.

She nodded again.

“I think we can move on.”

He smiled as she blushed at his words his thumb rubbing small circles on her hand.

“What about you?” she asked him. “No plans to take up your art again?”

Roman smiled at the question.

“No, I don’t think so. I don’t have time for one thing.” He chuckled at her expression.

“Seriously?” Ella blurted. “Not even a few minutes?”

He grinned over at her.

“No, I do two shifts a day to cover my mortgage and then I’m with the kids.” He admitted.

Ella sighed and leaned back in the chair her eyes meeting his.

“El?” he asked.

“Just.” She said.

“I’m happy.” He said. “I’ve got a job I enjoy doing and a good relationship with the mother of my kids.”

“Don’t you want more?”

Roman shook his head.

“No.” he admitted. “At least,”

“At least?” she asked him.

“At least not yet.” His eyes met hers. “I know what I want, although hope for is more accurate.”

“And you hope for what?” she asked him.

“Us.” He answered simply. “I hope that I can make you happy again.”

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Chapter 18

“Come in.” Ella offered.

“You know if I come in we’ll make love.” He protested.

He was protesting? What the Hell?? Like seriously, to quote one of his kids. He looked over at Ella seeing her face and sighed.

“One coffee.” He agreed. “No kissing.”

She chuckled before leaning over and kissing him. He groaned against her lips as he kissed her back.

“So necking in the car.” He began.

“Is allowed on a first date.” She finished for him.

“Good.” He said unclipping his seat belt and reaching for her.

Ella moved closer and into his arms. He chuckled before kissing her again feeling her press herself closer to him. He felt his arms tightening and held her close as his lips dominated hers. He grinned as he pulled back from her and looked at her lips seeing her lipgloss had once more vanished.

“I still can’t believe that you get a kick out of it.” She murmured easing back from him.

“I have no idea why I do it.” He confessed. “Perhaps it just marks you as my woman in some way. Or maybe it’s that light in your eyes that shines when you have been thoroughly kissed.”

Ella shook her head before she looked up at her studio.

“Coffee?” she murmured reaching for the door handle.

“We both know it will be a bad idea.” Roman told her.

She turned and gave him a last look before climbing out of the car and going over to the door. He watched her as she went inside. Sucking in a quick breath he pulled the keys out of the ignition and climbing out of the car followed her inside.

“One coffee.” He told her.

Ella turned at the top of the stairs and grinned at him as he followed her. They walked inside together and Ella went over to the kitchen area and began to make the coffee.

“Is it wrong that I’m still hungry?” she murmured.

“Considering what I just paid for that meal? Pretty much.” He said feeling a little uncomfortable.

She chuckled before reaching into the cupboard and taking out a packet of biscuits giving him a look that reminded him of Meggy when she opened the packet and took one out.

“Want one?” she mumbled.

He gave her a look before smirking.

“Yes.” He said slowly.

She grinned at him before walking slowly over to where he was standing. She held the packet out to him and smiled as he slowly took a biscuit from her.

“I thought it was romantic when you ordered two spoons for the cheesecake..” he told her.

“It was very romantic. Just not practical.” She shrugged before leaving the packet in his hands and going back to finish making the coffee. She took the two cups over to the sofa and sat down kicking off her shoes and curling her feet up. “Come join me?” she asked gently as though sensing he needed encouragement.

“Thank you.” He murmured sitting down next to her and placing the biscuits on the table next to their cups. He smiled when she sighed with contentment as she sipped the coffee.

“I could put the tv on or some music..” she trailed off looking up at him.

“I’m going as soon as I’ve had this.” He told her his voice sounding strained.

“Roman.” Ella turned and looked at him.

“No it’s ok.” He murmured putting his hand out and gently stroking her shoulder and down her arm. When he reached her hand he laced his fingers with hers and lifted her hand to his lips placing a kiss on the top of her hand. “You don’t want to make love yet. And I want to respect that.”

“I sorta do,” Ella whispered.

“We’re not ready for that.”

She nodded at his words and a single tear slipped down her face.

“Ella.” Roman murmured.

He abandoned his coffee and also placed hers back on the table before lifting her up and placing her in his lap. His arms went tight around her and he kissed the tears away before claiming her lips.

“It’s ok.” He said softly. “I’ve really enjoyed being with you tonight and I’d like to think that we’ve got lots more dates lined up.”

She sighed before resting her head on his shoulder and leaning into him.

“I just want to wait for a bit longer.” She said biting her lip.

She gave a groan when he shot her an amused look.

“Fine I will stop doing that.” She muttered.

“Oh don’t I think it’s adorable.” He said before he could stop himself.

Ella chuckled.

“Ok then, when are we going to get another date?” she asked him.

“I’ve got no idea. When are you free?”

Ella grimaced before slowly easing up off his lap. She went over to her handbag which she’s left on the table earlier and took out her organiser before going back over to him. She looked at him before easing back into his lap, hearing him chuckling. He wrapped his arms around her as she opened up the organiser.

“Right.” She began looking through the pages.

“Next week looks like it’s not going to work.” He commented.

“Speaking of work,” she stopped and gave him a cautious look.

“Yes?” he asked.

“Are you flexible with your shifts?”

“Fairly.” He told her wondering why she was asking.

“Only I’ve got a study thing coming up.” She added.

“Study?” he muttered feeling his shoulders tense.

Ella nodded unaware of his tension.

“Just a study group thing.” She said before looking at him. “What’s up?”

“nothing.” He told her.

“No something is I can tell from your expression.”


“You’re jealous?” she gasped out.

“I’m not..

“Yes you are.”

Ella eased up from his lap and back over to her seat. She curled her arms around herself defensively.

“I thought you were proud of me for going back to college to finish my degree.” She told him in a small hurt voice.

“Listen you little hellcat.” He began lifting her back into his lap before she could protest. “I am incredibly proud of you as I know our kids will be, however, you admitted yourself that you found another man attractive and as I know that you won’t act on that.” He stopped remembering the kiss she’d given Angelo and frowned for a second, long enough anyway for her to start struggling. ”I can’t help but be jealous.” He concluded and groaned as he had to let her go.

“I can’t go on getting punished for that…” Ella stopped and looked at him in horror.

“I’ve never brought that up.” He said slowly. “I’ve never said a word about it. I promised you.”

Ella groaned feeling guilty that she was the one who’d mentioned the thing from their past.

“I’m sorry.” She whispered.

“Now come back here.” He forced his voice not to reflect how upset he was.


“Call me darling.” He said suddenly.

She looked over at him a puzzled expression on her face.

“Darling.” She said slowly.

He grinned suddenly before reaching for her and kissing her.

“Oh what just happened?” she was forced into asking.

“I hate being called darling.” He murmured.

“Er, I never call you darling.” Ella said puzzled before she gasped and looked at him. “You!” she muttered.

“Hellcat.” He said again when she slapped his hand away from her and tried pulling away. “I’m glad you don’t call me darling.” He began and growled when she pressed her nails into his hand. “Watch it! One date with you and I’m covered with scratches.”

Ella met his gaze and the two of them burst out laughing.

“You guessed right, she called me that.” He said slowly. ”And I hate being called darling apart from when it comes from your sweet lips.”

Ella tried not too but she felt her heart sighing before she glared at him.

“What a load of…”

He kissed her again before she finished the sentence and laughed softly when she responded kissing him back.

“You are so amazingly beautiful Ella, my Ella.” He murmured looking into her eyes.

“Stay tonight.” She whispered. “It’s been so amazing I just want to stay with you.”

“Oh god, I wish I could but I have to do the early shift in the diner tomorrow.”

Ella sighed as she looked at him.

“Fine.” She said pouting.

He smiled before reaching out and letting his thumb stroke her full bottom lip. He felt her tremble at his touch and sighed before reaching out and pulling her tighter into his arms as he manoeuvred them down to lay on the sofa. She reached up and trailed her fingers along his jaw before kissing him.

“Just for a bit longer.” He said.

“Yeah I often think that.” She commented and heard him groan before she giggled.

He mock scowled at her before kissing her again and then sighed when he ran his hand down her body.

“Stockings.” He muttered.

“Of course.” She answered although she knew it wasn’t a question.

“You were determined to seduce me weren’t you?” he said slowly.

“I’m sure you could resist me if you wanted to.”

“Wanted to?” he queried.

She gave him a slow smile and looked at him from under her lashes. She looked innocent and mischievous at the same time and he grinned at her.

“Well you’ve always had control.” She said softly. “I’ve rarely made you lose control.”

“You have your moments.” He confessed. “Times when you’ve made me explode.”

Ella giggled and he felt his heart warming with the sound and couldn’t resist hugging her.

“Hey?” she queried.

“I’m going to miss staying tonight but I really need to get home.”

Ella sighed and nodded before easing up so he could stand up too.

“I had a nice time.”

“We didn’t sort ..”

“Out our next date?” Roman finished for her. “I know. But if you keep me hear much longer I’ll be forced to take you to bed.”

Ella giggled again before taking hold of his hand and leading him to the door. She smiled at him even though she didn’t want to let him go.

“Goodnight.” He told her and kissed her briefly on the lips before slipping out of the door.

“Text me when you get in.” she told him her voice wavering.

He nodded and disappeared down the steps and out the other door. He waited the other side until he heard it locking and then went over to his car and climbed behind the wheel. His eyes strayed to the upstairs window and he saw the lights go out indicating she was going to bed. He groaned again before getting out of the car and grabbing the bag from the back seat went back over to the door and buzzed to get back in.

“Hello?” she asked cautiously.

“I need to leave very early.” He told her.

“How early?”

“You still be sleeping by the time I get back to the Bay.”

The door unlocked and he went inside and climbed the steps two at a time smiling as the inner door opened for him. He shook his head when he saw what she was wearing, obviously he’d caught her when she was about to get ready for bed, she was wearing one of her many silky wraps over the top of her very sexy underwear, her hair unpinned and falling around her shoulders in soft waves.

“Tell me again we aren’t going to be making love.” He begged huskily.

“Do you want to make love?” Ella asked him. “Only I think I might be ready now.”

Roman could only nod helplessly, watching as she lowered the wrap and let it fall to the floor.

“What,” he began gruffly. “Changed your mind?”

“Oh, well, I think it was knowing that you really wanted me but were ready to go home and wanting this to be special for me. You better come in.” She said softly standing to one side and watching as he walked in. She raised an eyebrow at the overnight bag and he felt his cheeks warm with a blush. She shut the door behind him and locked it before leading him through the darkened lounge and over to the bedroom.

“Maybe, I had hopes that we would make love.” He murmured feeling her fingers teasing the palm of his hand as she led him into the bedroom.


“Oh yeah, a lot of hope.”

“But you didn’t want to stay.”

“Oh no.” he told her. “I always wanted to stay, either making love or holding you. But I didn’t want you to feel that you’d been pushed into it.”

Ella turned and gave him a smile, his smile. He fell in love with her again just in that moment, seeing the sweet sexiness in the way she was standing in front of him with a mix of alluring innocence and he moaned before yanking her into his arms and kissing her.

“I love you so much.” He said against her lips before she giggled once more and led him the rest of the way into her bedroom.

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Chapter 19

“I have to go.” Roman said again.

Ella giggled as he kissed the back of her neck again his arms sliding around her waist.

“Ok.” She murmured. “As I said about an hour ago.”

“But you were so soft and warm and you snuggled. “ he pouted before smiling as she turned in his arms again and put her arms around his neck. “I’m going to be so late.”

“Really?” Ella giggled again as he kissed her again, his lips pressing on hers. “But aren’t you opening the diner?”

Roman groaned.

“I think that I’m not going to make the early morning delivery.”

“Come on, do I have to kick you out of bed? What time is it anyway?”


“Oh, that early!” she sighed as she yawned. “What time do you have to open up the diner?”

Roman stopped kissing her neck and looked into her eyes.

“7.30.” he said.

“God man you’ll never get there. Get up now.”

Ella moved over of his arms and threw back the covers.

“Come back here.” He called out. “I want some more …”

Ella turned and looked at him, putting her hands on her hips. She glared as Roman laughed before he shot out of bed and over to where she was standing.

“Seriously, that look would work if you weren’t completely naked.” He told her leaning down and kissing the end of her nose. Looking around he searched for his trousers and picking them up off the floor where he’d thrown them last night he reclaimed his phone. Grinning at the way Ella was still standing there naked he sat back on the bed arranging the pillows behind him as he dialled.

“Yeah, hi Leah, yes I know what time it is. I’m not going to make it in time to open up before the delivery.” He spoke quickly before pausing as he heard the other woman’s response. Ella giggled at his expression before scouting out of the room and over to the bathroom. She used the toilet and splashed water on her face before cleaning her teeth quickly and then heading out of the bathroom and over to the kitchen. She reclaimed her silky wrap and pulled it on tying the sash in a bow around her waist and set about making coffee.

“Very nice.” Roman commented coming over to her, he’d pulled on one of the spare robes she had hanging up in her wardrobe and she smiled at the way he had relaxed being here. “Thanks for the girlish giggling there, Leah didn’t quite believe that I’d come down with a bug.”

She smiled over at him.

“Like she believes anything you tell her.”

Roman glared at her before spoiling it by sighing and coming to stand behind her. He wrapped his arms around her waist and rested his head on her shoulder.

“Last night was wonderful.” He murmured.

“But?” Ella asked ignoring the way she felt in his arms.

“But nothing. It was wonderful, holding you and kissing you.” He intoned before kissing the side of her neck.

“So what time do you need to be back now?”

“Not until Meggy needs picking up.” He said slowly before grinning at her happy expression.

“Coffee.” She murmured turning and placing a cup in his hands as she eased away from him and collected her own cup. She wandered over to the table and eased down on a seat before grinning at him.

“What do you want to do today? Did you have anything planned?” he asked suddenly thinking that maybe she was busy. Better not get ahead of yourself Harris, he thought to himself.

“I don’t know. I was going to drive back.”

Roman felt disappointed as he sat opposite her and couldn’t disguise the slump of his shoulders.

“Well,” he murmured and cursed when even that single word sounded dejected.

“How about a nice leisurely breakfast and then a walk somewhere?” she suggested slowly.

“How leisurely were you thinking?” he asked looking over at her.

“Oh, very.” She said standing up and walking over to him.

She put her cup on the table before reaching for the belt of her wrap and opening it slowly. She saw that he was watching her carefully before she reached out and took his cup from his hands before she moved to sit slowly in his lap, her legs straddling his and she put her arms around his neck. He groaned pressing his lips to the side of her neck.

“Witch.” He muttered his hands going to her and steadying her.

“You love it.”

Roman laughed softly when he felt her hands loosening the belt on his robe and pushing it open. He sighed when he felt her hands sliding over his skin, her touch so familiar and at the same time a little bit cautious. He loved that about their lovemaking last night, rediscovering each other again and being so gentle with one another. He felt her love even if she hadn’t said the words. He wasn’t going to take them for granted anymore, either those three words or their relationship.

“Looking pensive.” Ella commented.

“Just thinking.” He murmured before kissing her. “Love you so much.” He whispered against her lips.

Ella drew back and lifted her hand to his face feeling the rough rasp of his beard growth against her hand.

“Thinking? When I’m sitting in your lap mostly naked?” she said slowly. “Am I doing something wrong here?”

It took him a few seconds to realise that she was teasing him and he sighed slowly.

“I’m sorry.” He groaned when she looked at him. ”I guess I’m more used to us arguing than making love like this.”

Ella sighed too before leaning forward and kissing him.

“We both have scars.” She said sadly.

He nodded.

“Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I really enjoy fighting with you.” He murmured his hands stroking down her back and arms. “Making up is fun.” He added leaning forward and kissing her and sighing as she leaned forward into his kiss. “But there were times when it gets so hurtful.”

Ella leaned back and looked into his eyes again.

“So what do we do?” she asked, her voice rising at the end making the question sound a little panicky. That made him smile, not that she was vulnerable, no, never, not his Ella, he hated that she could be hurt in any way, but that she wanted this to be right as much as him.

“Counselling.” He announced. “It’s the only thing I can think of, it helped us before.” And was struck by how desperate his voice sounded.

“Ok.” Ella agreed quickly. “I need to fit it in with college and the kids but we can do this right?”

Roman nodded.

“Yup, totally.” He agreed just ask quickly.

They both looked at each other before laughing.

“I love you Roman.” She said softly when they’d stopped. “I do.”

He nodded, needing to lower his head and hide the relieved expression on his face for a moment as he absorbed her words.

“Let’s make love.” He whispered. “Not here.”

He stood from the chair suddenly and walked carrying her with him into the bedroom and laying her gently down on the bed.

She smiled at the way he hadn’t tidied the covers obviously expecting to come back to bed with her.

“Stop grinning woman.” He mock growled before laying down next to her. He reached out and stroked the hair back from her face before kissing her.

“Why?” she asked sounding happy.

“How mean would I be to even try to think of a single reason to stop you looking and being this happy?” he asked her sounding serious again, before kissing her.

She trailed her fingers down his chest loving the smooth feel of his skin under her fingertips before lifting her eyes to his and seeing her happiness reflected in them.

“I love you.” She told him again.

“I’ll never take your love for granted again.” He promised. “I’ll never …”

“Shush.” Ella whispered kissing him.

He moved over the top of her and sank between her legs with a strange but happy sense of homecoming.

“I love the way you touch me.” He whispered kissing down her neck until her found all those interesting little hollows. He worshiped her breasts, teasing them with feather light touches and gentle kisses. Each time he heard her moan and gasp and respond he felt like he was king of the world and then he would look into her beautiful blue eyes and it was like his heart was in danger of exploding from happiness. Her hands touched him all over and he yielded to the soft gentle caresses feeling his skin tingle.

“Make love to me.” She whispered pressing herself close in invitation.

There was an exquisite fumble as they moved in the bed and stripped off the robes they were wearing, still needing to touch and tease with kisses as they moved and then, he joined his body with hers.

“Love you so much,” he whispered.

“Not as much as I love you, love this,”

“This?” he asked.

“Being joined with you, this close.” She gasped feeling the movement of his body within hers and smiled at his smug expression.

“I love this too.” He whispered kissing her again.

Words slipped away as the intense sensations overwhelmed them with pleasure. When they whispered words again, they were punctured with kisses and more caresses until they slept in each others arms once more, their hearts beating together.

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Chapter 20

Roman looked up and across the diner to the door as he saw Ella walking through it guiding a sullen looking Lily, the twins and carrying Liam. He frowned, putting his pan to one side and grabbing a cloth to wipe his hands as he quickly walked over to her.

“What are you doing here?” he asked equally quickly.

“Liam’s ill.” Ella responded and he picked up the frightened note in her voice.

Roman finished wiping his hands and moved over to her side touching his son’s forehead checking for temperature. He frowned at Ella.

“What are you doing here?” he asked forcing his tone to be grumpy when all he wanted to do was reach out and hold her.

“Dropping off the kids with you, before I take him into the doctors.” Ella said giving him what she hoped was one of her looks.

“El,” Roman said quietly knowing they were the centre of attention, with Leah looking over at them along with Colleen.

“It’s ok.” She told him just as quietly. “But well, Dad has taken Irene out and I can’t ask Danni.”

Roman shot her a quick look before he nodded.

“Ok, you’ll…”

She looked at him again and nodded.

“As soon as he’s seen Rachel.”

Roman had to stand there want watch her walk back out of the diner before he led the twins to the table with Lily.

“Sit down there.” He said to them. “I’ll be back in a minute.”

He turned and ran out of the diner and over to where Ella was seating Liam in the back of the car. He was struck by how pale his little son was and he paled himself.

“It’s ok.” Ella said softly without even turning and he couldn’t help but smile at the way she knew he was there. Since their date just a few days ago he hadn’t been able spend even a few minutes with her and he had to admit that made him mope like a lovesick kid.

“He’s..” he stopped looking into her frightened eyes. “Hey!” he exclaimed stepping closer to her.

“He’s really ill Roman.” She moaned as he looked around quickly before pulling her into his arms. He sighed feeling her shake before easing back and looking into her face. “Kids have been told to come to the diner and I’ll text when I know anything.”

Roman swallowed the lump in his throat before his lips twisted in a parody of a smile.

“He’ll be fine.”

“He’s my little prince.” She moaned feeling overwhelmed.

“El, I don’t have words here, I’ve got to get back to the others.” He muttered. “I love you.” He whispered.

“I was hoping you’d tell me that you promise he’s going to be ok.” She said slowly wiping at her face.

“I promise.” He whispered quietly.

“Liar.” Ella groaned. “Right now I hate that we are keeping us secret, I just want to be with you.”

“I’m glad, not about the secret bit, but that you still want me.”

“Were you getting nervous?” Ella grinned suddenly as Roman nodded.

“Take our boy to be looked after.” He said changing the subject suddenly.

Ella gave him a quizzical look before realising that they were being watched from the diner by Lily. She nodded and got behind the wheel of the car and he watched her pulling away from him before she drove off. How he stood still and let her go he didn’t know because all he could think of was their boy was sick and Ella knew it was serious. He hated standing there while she left. But he did so because he knew that what they had was too precious to reveal to anyone yet.

Turning he went back inside to take care of his kids.

“Ella come on through.” Rachel called out to her.

Ella nodded and stood carrying Liam into Rachel’s office. She sat him on the examination bed and bit back a groan at seeing how sick he was. The freckles on his nose stood out even more against his pale skin and his eyes looked dull, nothing like the usual twinkle of mischief he had.

“Oh, we do have a sick boy here don’t we?” Rachel commented grabbing the electronic thermometer and walking over to the bed.

“I no need doctor.” Liam snuffled looking up at his mum.

“Babes, promise, no needles today.” Ella told him feeling her son clutch tighter to her.

“Hey Liam, I need to pop this in your ear ok?” Rachel said softly.

Liam looked up before he nodded weakly and allowed Rachel to take his temperature.

“Any rashes?” Rachel asked slowly.


“What about you Liam, does your neck hurt?”

Liam moaned and pressed closer to his Mum.

“Come on my little Prince.” Ella whispered to him. “Be brave for me. It’s not nice being ill but Rachel can make you better.”

“Dada promise?” he lisped weakly.

“Dada promise.”

Liam nodded and eased back letting Rachel finish taking his temperature.

“How did you manage to get so hot little man?”

“I plays lots.” Liam said sounding a little like his normal self.

Ella smiled at that before kissing the top of his head.

Rachel smiled too before she looked at Liam.

“Have you eaten anything funny?” she asked.

“He’s not been sick at all. Just tired and well like this.” Ella supplied.

“Ok, can you take his top off?”

Ella nodded knowing that Rachel was worried about the possibility of meningitis and she reached out slipping the t shirt off her son. She’d already checked him over but she yielded to Rachel and watched as she looked.

“Mama.” Liam snuffled.

“just a minute babes and then you can have your t shirt back on.” Ella told him smiling at her son.

“I think we want to keep him in for observation.” Rachel told her and placed her hand on Ella’s arm when she immediately paled. “It’s fine.”

“I know.” Ella pinned a smile on her face and looked at her son. “Doctors need to look at you and find out what’s wrong with you.” She told him. “Once we get you all tucked into bed I need to let everyone know and fetch some pj’s and stuff.”

Liam began to cry before he held his hands so his t shirt could be placed back on.

“Come on babes, it’s just like when Sammy was in hospital when you were really little.” Ella cajoled.

“When he had his ‘pendix out?”

“That’s right. Only you don’t have a poorly tummy so the doctors have to find out what is wrong.” Ella explained to him.

Liam nodded before moving closer to her and snuggling.

“I’ll just make arrangements and then you can get him settled.” Rachel told her.

Ella nodded even as she lifted her little man up off the bed and held him in her arms. She felt a twinge in the muscles of her back and dismissed it in her worry over Liam.

“So do we get a drink?” Meggy muttered looking at the others.

“Why don’t you ask him since you get on so well with him.” Sophie snapped out.

“Perfect, perhaps with a bit less attitude.” Sammy said slowly. ”Otherwise Sophie will get grounded.”

“Oh like I have anywhere to go anyway.” Sophie muttered kicking at the sand with her foot. The four of them were walking to the diner after school as per instructions. Although, it wasn’t the four of them it was five, she thought with a scowl glancing back at her twin who was walking behind them with Buffy. The two of them laughing and joking like they were best friends already, jeez. She caught Meggy looking at her and realised she’d been glowering.

“Sorry.” She said quietly.

Sammy stopped and looked at her causing Meggy to bump into him.

“Steady.” He muttered.

“Well look where you are going.” Meggy said back.

“Er quit it.” Sophie said quickly pulling at Meggy’s arm and tugging her away from their brother and beginning to walk again. “So what is it this time? More college work or is she off meeting her publisher again? Like we believed that one.”

“Soph,” Meggy muttered.

“I was in character.” Sophie protested at the censor in her sister’s voice.

“No you weren’t you were being a bitch.” Sammy said from behind them.

“Yeah, I’m with him.” Meggy sighed.

“Fine, but you didn’t see her all happy and smiling. She only looked like that when…” Sophie stopped and turned looking at her brother and sister in horror. “She’s got someone.” She added in a sad voice.

“She can’t have.” Meggy denied. “I haven’t got rid of that Frankie for Mother to go and shack up with someone.”

“Got rid of?” Sammy questioned looking at her. “You used the tablets?”

Meggy shook her head at him.

“No not yet, but if she comes back I will.”

“What tablets?” Sophie asked quickly. “You aren’t going to do some…”

“Laxative.” Sammy muttered.

“Samson.” Meggy groaned.

Sophie gave them both a look before she started walking again.

“I think that you’d get into trouble.” She said softly.

“Oh, like we won’t get into trouble for this little scheme?” Sammy shot back. “Well we will.” He added when Meggy glared at him.

“Yeah, if you blurt it out like you normally do.”

“Enough.” Georgie called out from behind them. He said something to Buffy before jogging over to them and looking round them all. “Do we need to be separated for real?”

Meggy paled and shook her head quickly.

“I’m sorry.” Sammy said quickly to his sister. He knew that her being away from them, although only at Dad’s, was tough on her, and well, he missed her too.

“It’s ok.” She said back smiling at him.

“Keep moving. Or we’ll get grounded.” Georgie pointed out, glancing at his watch. “We’re late as it is.”

Sophie rolled her eyes at her twin before she speeded up with the rest of them She shot Buffy a look as the other girl moved off.

“So you er…” she began.

“Nothing. We had science together.” Georgie said softly. “And she’s into someone else.”


“Soph, you don’t even like her.” Georgie said.

“Doesn’t matter about me does it.” Sophie told him. “If you like her,”

“I’m not, not now or ever going to be with someone you don’t like.” Georgie stated bluntly. “And that includes Buffy.”

Sophie blushed and looked at him before Sammy knocked into her and started walking again. They swapped to the path and the walked along to the diner. Meggy walked through the door first and stopped dead.

“Jeez will people stop doing that.” Sammy moaned when he bumped into her.

“Whatever it is its pretty serious.” Meggy proclaimed.

“Come on over here.” Roman called to them. He was holding a crying Lily in his arms and trying to sooth the twins and quite frankly if the other hadn’t turned up then he was going to call Jacko and Pete, for reinforcements.

“What is it?” Georgie asked folding his arms and looking at his dad.

“Well first off, your mother has taken Liam to see a doctor and second, you are doing the arm thing, at me?”

Georgie flushed and looked down at his arms before unfolding them.

“What’s wrong with him?” Sophie asked her father.

“At the moment I don’t know. Sophie, can you help out Leah for me?”

Sophie nodded and dumped her bag under the table before heading into the kitchen.

“Can I do anything?” Meggy asked quickly.

“Your homework.” Roman told her dryly.

Meggy groaned when Sammy and Georgie laughed at her before she slid into the seat beside the twins, the others sitting down too.

“So how long has Lily been crying.”

August looked up the question.

“r’eva.” She lisped, nodding sagely.

Sammy laughed at his baby sister, earning a glare from a still crying Lily.

“Hey,” Roman greeted when Ella came through the door, and over to them. The diner was in the throes of closing, with Sophie doing most of the work whilst he had hold of Lily. He frowned when he saw that she was alone, with no Liam.

“Hey.” She called back, walking quickly over to them. “I’ve collected some stuff for Liam, he’s got to stay in for a bit.”

“Mum?” Meggy cried.

“It’s ok, he’s got a temperature, and they are running tests.” She explained to them.

“Mama?” Lily lifted her head from Roman’s shoulder and looking at her.

“She stopped crying then?” Ella asked.

“How did…. Never mind.” Sammy looked back down at his book.

“Can you look after her while I talk to your dad?” Ella asked Sammy pressing a kiss to the top of his head.

Sammy nodded, looking up as his dad stood and handed over Lily.

“Ok?” Roman asked him.

“We’re good.” Meggy told them.

“Thank you.” Roman said before he put his hand on Ella’s arm and guided her away.

“He’s ok,” she told him quickly. “But well I’m going to stay with him.”

“You going to be ok doing that?” Roman asked her quickly.

Ella half smiled and nodded.

“Really?” he asked.

“no not at all. But I’m still going too, I have to, he’s my little prince.”

“I really want to kiss you right now.”

Ella smiled at that.

“Well you can’t, but what you can do is take the kids home, well, “

“El,” he prompted.

“My place.” She whispered biting her lip. “they will have to pick up stuff and it’s getting late.”

Roman nodded.

“You can stay too.” Ella added in a quiet voice.

He nodded again casting a look at the kids.

“I think that you should take Lily with you.” He murmured.

Ella looked at him before she nodded. She felt the muscles in her neck tighten and realised how tense she was. She could see that Roman had noticed and the desire to go into his arms and let him hold her almost outweighed their need for caution. Looking at him she saw him smile as he realised what she was thinking and she gave a small brief smile in response. The unspoken as comforting as the spoken.

“Yeah, if she wants to go.” Ella said louder.

“You think Lily won’t want to go check…” Roman stopped when Lily eased out of Sammy’s grasp and ran over to them.

“That so Squeals?” Ella asked her daughter.

“Me goes.” Lily announced wiping at her face and giving her most innocent look to them.

“Who is going to look after the twins?” Roman asked her.

Lily turned and narrowed her eyes before she pointed at Sammy.

“Me?” Sammy squeaked.

Ella half smiled before she picked Lily up and cradled her close.

“I’ll text you.” She promised.

“Kids.” Roman called out watching with a half smile as they all came over and gave their mother and Lily a hug before she went out of the door after handing over the keys to the house. He grinned when he saw the Finding Nemo key fob before turning and organising the kids.

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