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Postcards from Hawaii

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Chapter 21

Ella sat by Liam’s bed. She was tired, a lot more tired that she’d been for a long time. Lily was asleep in the bed next to Liam, until Mike came to fetch her, and well her little man was hooked up to a drip looking pale and ill. She hated seeing him like this and it upset her, especially when she thought about his birth and how lucky she thought she was to have him.

“Hey,” Aden called quietly coming into the room.

“Hey yourself stranger.” Ella replied in a soft tone.

“How is he doing?”

“Rachel can’t find out what is wrong with him.” Ella murmured. “Tell me what’s up with you?”

Aden smiled over at her and she grinned back despite the circumstances of bumping into him again.

“Well, Belle and I are doing ok, Brett is fine and Amy-Belle and Kai are good. Tyler you see at school with Sammy.”

Ella nodded.

“Still it’s been a while. I’m sorry for pushing you away.”

“Hell, Ella, you weren’t the only one. After you divorced, well for Belle anyway, it was easier to stay away.”

Ella acknowledged what he was saying and nodded again.

“I guess I didn’t realise how it would affect everyone.” She murmured a sad tone entering her voice.

“I don’t know,” Aden pulled up a chair and sat down. “Seems to me like there were a few bad years and we all just focused on ourselves and not being a family. But El, it’s times like this that you realise how much people mean to you.” He said gesturing to Liam.

Ella pulled her knees up, resting her chin on them and balancing the heels of her feet on the chair. She glanced at Liam and then at Lily before looking back at Aden, seeing not the young man she’d first met when she came to the Bay but someone older, more defined. His blond hair was a darker shade and he had lines from the corner of his eyes, a result of his penchant for smiling.

“Well, Nic isn’t talking to me, and as far as I know, her father, Angel and Sophie are at each other’s throats. Danni and Mike still aren’t doing so well and Gabby,” she stopped and gave a sly look to Aden.

“Yes, Gabby and Brett, we still aren’t supposed to know about them are we.” Aden chuckled softly.

“Only by staying up the coast has Toby managed to stay reasonably unaffected.” Ella said with a self-depreciating shrug.

“Well there is one way you could fix it?”

Ella turned her head and looked at him.

“What is that?”

“Get back with Roman.” He told her seriously.

She groaned at him and rolled her eyes.

“Seriously?” she muttered.

“You are talking from what I heard.” He pointed out. “Can’t you do a bit more talking and maybe some flirting.”

“Were you not there when the arguments got bad?” she asked.

“I’ve been there when a lot of arguments went bad, and seen it when it gets incredible between you too.” He pointed out gently. “That is why I will never believe that it is really over for you.”

Ella sighed and looked over at her son. She was saved from answering when a soft knock sounded on the door and Roman walked in.

“See.” Aden said with a smirk watching her expression.

Ella blushed and kept her head down.

“Thought Mike was coming?” she asked.

“We swapped.” Roman told her. “Hey,” he greeted Aden.

“I’ll see you later no doubt, I’m on night shift.” Aden told Ella before he stood, slowly easing out of the chair and going over to Roman. The two men embraced before Aden slipped out of the room.

“And how is he doing?” Roman asked her.

Ella shot out of the chair and raced over to him feeling his strong arms go around her.

“They have no idea what is wrong with him. He’s on a drip to replace his fluids and they’ve taken bloods.” She explained before snuggling into his chest and feeling his strength and the warmth of his embrace.

Roman kissed the top of her head as he felt her shake in his arms. He loved her so much and he hated being in this position, where not only wasn’t he able to protect her but that their baby was sick and he couldn’t do anything.

“He’s in the best place.” Was the only thing he could offer her.

“I know.” She eased back and gave him a half smile. “I still hate hospitals.” She pouted.

Roman shook his head before he lowered his lips to hers and kissed her. He felt her press herself closer to him as she responded to him and he felt the passion ignite.

“Woah.” He whispered easing himself slowly away.

She smiled up at him.


“I can’t imagine the hospital being too impressed when we find the janitors closet again.” He murmured.

Ella immediately turned and looked at Liam, her beautiful amazing boy and she sighed.

“Come on.” Roman said going over to the chair she’d vacated and sitting in it. He pulled on her hand and she moved over to him and eased daintily into his lap feeling his arms go around her again.

“Kind of puts paid to our plans.” She said softly.

“I’ve rearranged the counselling for next week. The kids are sorted out; Nic is going to help with ferrying them to and from school for the next few days.”

“You have been busy.” She told him with an acknowledgment that she would have resented him doing that a mere six months ago. Maybe they were moving on and letting go of the past. “Thank you.” She said feeling humble.

Roman smiled at her.

“Is that ok?” he asked.

She nodded.

“Very ok.” She told him before kissing him again.

“I’ve missed you.” He admitted.

“It’s only been a couple of days.”

“A long couple of days, I can’t wait until I can hold you all night and wake up next to you again.”

Ella sighed and leaned even closer into him if that were possible.

“Maybe we should..”

“No.” he interrupted her. “We’ve already gone further than you wanted. We’re going to take this slow.”

“Oh I er.. wanted.” Ella said and blushed when he looked at her.

“I wanted you too, but I need you to know..”

She placed her finger on his lips and he lapsed into silence.

“I know.” She told him huskily. “It was right, it felt right to take that step. I want you so much Roman Harris, just like back in the day, I was ready and well the sleeping curled up in your arms, I do kinda miss that.”

She blushed at his look before sighing when their lips met again.

“I need to get Lily home.”

Ella nodded.

“You do.” She agreed a sad note entering her voice. Why did she miss him when they weren’t together, she mused. Like, seriously she was beginning to mope more that Sophie.

“Give me a kiss that will keep me going for a few hours.” He begged huskily and chuckled when she immediately pressed her lips on his, her arms tightening around him. They broke apart slowly pressed more kisses together before finally easing away from each other.

“Will that keep you going?” she asked him.

Roman nodded.

“Straight home where I will need a very cold shower.” He admitted.

Ella giggled before kissing him once more and easing off his lap allowing him to stand up. He moved over to Liam’s bed and kissed his son before collecting Lily and going over to the door. Glancing back at Ella he smiled as she blew him a kiss before he went out of the door. He saw Aden standing at the end of the corridor watching and he smiled before carrying his baby out to the car and took her home. Home. That sounded good he thought with a grin looking down on Lily as he carried her inside and up the stairs.

“Dada?” she murmured waking up and blinking up at him.

“It’s ok Lils, I brought you home so you can get some sleeps.” He said quietly as he eased past the squeaky floorboard and into her room.

“Liam?” she asked in that sleep voice of hers.

“He’s still at the hospital, you can see him tomorrow.”

“Twins?” she murmured snuggling in his arms.

“Sleeping, just like you should be missy.” He murmured.

“K’s” she said closing her eyes before opening them again.” Dada stay?”

“Dada stay.” He said choking up at the expression on her face.

“Me sleeps with Dada.” She announced and pointed to the door of his and Ella’s bedroom.

He grinned and nodded carrying her into the room. He smelt Ella’s perfume as soon as he opened the door and he smiled feeling a little less lonely because of it.

“Alright squeals, slip out of your clothes while I go get you a nightdress.” He murmured placing her on the bed.

She looked up at him and blinked before nodding and peeling off her top. Roman walked into Lily’s bedroom and collected her nightdress and her cat before heading back into the bedroom. He saw she’d stopped undressing and had fallen asleep again. Slipping the nightdress on her slowly and carefully removing her skirt and socks he slipped her under the covers and tucked her in with her cuddly cat, smiling as Fudge wondered into the bedroom and sprang up on the bed.

“Hello you.” He whispered stroking his cat. He could feel himself getting emotional, being home with his family, seeing his cat and now sleeping in his old bedroom He promised himself that he would soon be sleeping there with Ella back as his wife, and as everyone knew, he always kept his promises.

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Chapter 22

Ella let herself in through the front door and walker straight up the stairs. She pushed open the door of her bedroom and smiled. Slipping out of her shoes and clothes she pulled on her nightdress and walked over to the bed.

“Hey you.” Roman whispered.

“Hey.” She smiled at him. “In my bed, really?” she asked him.

“Lily made me.” He defended his voice sleepy.

“Uh huh.”

Roman lifted the covers and smiled as Ella climbed into the bed next to him.

“How’s Liam?” he asked as she snuggled next to him.

“Aden kicked me out to get some rest.” She began. “Told me he would ring if there were any change.”

“Still the same then.”

He felt Ella nod and sighed before kissing the top of her head.

“Ouh hot.” He commented.

“I know. Not feeling the best.”

“El.” Roman sighed, his arms tightening around her.

“I know.” She sighed her eyes closing as she relaxed. “Got to sort kids for school and get back to Liam so I can’t afford to be ill.”

“Maybe you’ve caught whatever Liam has.” He said quietly.

“No, jus’” she began and lapsed into silence as she fell asleep.

“Mama?” Lily mumbled.

“She sleeps.” Roman whispered.

“Liam?” she asked.

Roman smiled at how like Ella his young daughter was.

“He’s still poorly sick. Aden is looking after him.”

“Goods.” Lily said and rolled back over asleep once more.

He smiled at her and then frowned. Ella was snuggled one side and Lily the other and curled up on his feet was the cat. He was completely trapped and couldn’t move, even if he wanted to. Closing his eyes he let himself relax into sleep feeling the warm body of his wife by his side. Well, maybe technically she wasn’t his wife at the moment but he’d soon be sorting that out.

“I’m telling you I heard Mum come home a few hours ago.” Sammy insisted as he moved to the table with Meggy.

Sophie looked up and then nodded at the kitchen.

“Morning.” Meggy called out loudly.

“Morning.” Roman said from the kitchen.

“He’s still here then.” She murmured in a whisper to Sammy.

Sophie sniggered before putting her folder, pencil case and text book away and focusing on her breakfast.

“Dada?” Lily called out. “Me’s eggs?”

“Are coming.” Roman called back.

“Does he get this much hassle in the diner?” Sammy asked sitting at the table and reaching for toast.

Sophie chuckled.

“Colleen has her moments.” She commented.

Sammy grinned as he spread peanut butter on his toast.

“s’up.” Georgie muttered coming in through the back and turning off his Ipod. He was dressed in his standard jogging outfit of shorts, trainers and what Roman suspected was one of his old t shirts. He made a mental note to talk to Ella about it and then turned and focused on finishing Lily and the twins breakfast.

“Phew!” Sophie grimaced wrinkling her nose up at her brother.

“What?” he asked pulling out a chair and sitting down. “You could do with going for a run.”

“Georgie shower.” Roman called out.

Georgie chuckled and stood up grabbing a piece of toast from Sammy’s plate and moving out of the room.

“Oi!” Sammy muttered at him.

“Too slow Sammy.” Meggy grinned at him.

Sammy glared at her for a moment before he grinned at her and reached for another piece of toast.

“Dada.” Lily called.

“Here.” Roman called back walking out of the kitchen with hers and the twin’s breakfast. He set it in front of them and sat down himself.

“Is there any word from Mum?” Meggy asked slyly.

Roman looked at her before catching Lily smirking at him.

“She’s asleep. Aden kicked her out to get some rest.” He murmured before looking back at Lily. He could see from her expression she was about to tell them that he and Ella had slept together and he frowned wondering how to stop her.

“Hey.” Ella called from the doorway before walking over to them

“Mama!” Fleur and August chorused.

Her arrival stalled Lily and he sighed gratefully.

“Hello my babes.” Ella called back to them. She walked over to them and leant down kissing the top of their heads before slotting into a seat next to Lily, and incidentally Roman. She focused her attention on Lily even though she felt Roman place his hand on her knee under the table.

“Do you want a coffee?” he asked after a minute, his tone slightly stilted.

Ella turned and looked at him.

“Yes.” She muttered giving him a look.

He half nodded, inclining his head briefly before standing and moving into the kitchen.

“So Liam?” Sophie prompted.

“He’s the same. Still listless with a temperature.”

“So they don’t know what is wrong with him?” The question came from Sammy.

Ella shook her head.

“They should have a better idea this morning. They took some blood to check for infections.” She explained looking into their faces and checking to see if they understood what she was saying.

“So do we go to school or not?” Sophie asked quietly.

“School. I don’t have anyone to take care of you.” Ella stated slowly, “Keep you focused.”

Sophie nodded and looked to Sammy and Meggie.

“Alright what did I miss?” Georgie asked walking into the room.

Ella looked at her son and sighed. He was now officially as tall as her and if his growing spurt continued he would soon tower over her. She remembered when she’d first noticed Mike was taller than her and sighed, suddenly feeling old. Still, she half grinned, Roman was older.

“Liam is still the same. They are checking what could be wrong with him.” Sophie told her twin.

“Here.” Roman said after a moment placing a cup in front of Ella.

She nodded and reached for it, their fingers touching for a second before they eased apart. She caught the look in his eyes and knew he’d done that deliberately just to touch her and she felt her lips twitch in a smile before calming herself down.

“Thanks.” She muttered.

“Mama and…” Lily began giving her parents a sly look.

“I think Lily wants to go to the hospital with you.” Roman said quickly.

Lily nodded and smiled innocently at her mother.

“Yeah, no.” Ella said looking at her daughter. “You need to go to school and play with your friends. Then you can visit after school if you are good.”

“Mama me’s good.” Lily protested pouting.

Meggy spluttered and choked as she laughed at her sister.

“Ok.” Sammy asked patting her on the back.

“Lils, Mama is never going to believe that one.” Meggy said when she’d recovered.

“Certainly won’t, having dealt with you Missy.” Ella smiled over at her daughter.

“Mama and Dada…” Lily began again give a sly look at both of them. “Cuddles.”

Ella looked over at her daughter and smiled at her.

“That’s right, we had a cuddle.” She murmured.

Roman shot her a look before he assumed a blank expression and moved around the table clearing away the breakfast things. Ella stood and walked into the kitchen away from the kids. She poured out more coffee into her cup before slowly turning and looking at him.

“Can you take them to school and creche?” Ella asked him.

“Yes,” he said quietly. “I can pick up the twins and have them for the afternoon.”

Ella nodded and sipped from the cup.

“I’ll fetch Lily and take her to the hospital.”

“Ok.” He murmured. “Will you call if there is any news?” he asked.

Ella nodded again before looking over at the other kids. She could see from their expressions that they wanted to eavesdrop and she bit back a sigh.

“Shall we walk to diner after school?” Georgie asked slowly when everyone went silent.

“Yes please,” Ella murmured. “Hang on, you have footie training.”

Georgie nodded.

“I can skip it.” He announced.

Sophie flushed and looked at the table top.

“I should tell Nic.” Ella murmured.

“I can ring her.” Roman offered and watched her nod before he turned and finished loading the dishwasher. He stood and looked at her a smile twitching his lips as she gave him a bland expression in return. “Ok then. Kids come on.”

Ella moved through to the twins and lifted them down before turning and doing the same with Lily. She led them out of the longue and up the stairs into the bathroom to have faces washed and so they could brush their teeth. She grabbed her phone and keys before leading them back down the stairs and over to where Roman was standing by the door.

“Kids ready?” she asked him.

He nodded.

“Already in the car.” He murmured.

“Ok. I’ll talk to you later about what we do tonight.” She said and watched him lead the twins and Lily out and into the car before she moved over to her car. They set off together Ella driving to the hospital and Roman to the school. By the time she pulled up and parked she heard her phone ringing and knew it was Roman.

“Hey.” She greeted.

“I thought Lily was going to out us.” He murmured.

“Yeah, I noticed the panic in your voice.” She smiled and looked over to the large building in front of her. “I loved the bit where she tried to blackmail you.”

“Yeah you would.” He groaned.

“Let me get inside and see Liam before I call you back.” She said slowly.

“Leah is taking my shift this morning.” He said quickly before she hung up.

“Coming here?”

“Yes. Even if I can’t do much of anything, I just want to be there.”

Ella smiled at that as she climbed out of the car and locked it.

“See you soon.” She murmured and hung up before walking inside.

“Did you hear what Lily said?” Meggy asked quietly.

“About the parents?” Sammy whispered back.

She nodded and looked into her text book before glancing at the white board at the front of the classroom.

“I saw Dad coming out of the spare room.”

“Oh.” Meggy frowned at him.

“No talking in the back.” Their teacher called out glaring at them.

Meggy gave him a glare before looking back at her book. She read the page again before sighing as the words jumbled in front of her eyes. She realised that she was beginning to cry and blinked to get rid of the tears before shaking her head.

“Megs?” Sammy asked worriedly.

“Just need a minute.” She whispered and pulled the textbook closer to her and pretended to read it while she got herself under control.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Chapter 23

Roman walked into the hospital room and smiled at a sitting up Liam. His boy looked brighter and more like his normal self. He glanced over at a relieved looking Ella and smiled at her.

“What’s all this then?” he asked slowly. “Thought you were poorly sick.”

Liam nodded and pointed to the drip they had him on.

“See Dada.” He told him.

“He woke up demanding ‘ghetti.” Ella explained from her perch on the bed next to her son.

Liam nodded and rubbed his stomach.

“Pleases Dada.” He told him.

“Sorry babes.” Ella answered for him. “Need to speak to the doctors and then hopefully we can take you home.”

Liam nodded solemnly.

“Sees Lily.” He murmured looking from one to the other.

“Lily is at school right now, but hopefully you can see her later.” Roman told him seeing that Ella had become teary. He shot her a look before walking around the bed and sitting in the chair next to it, reaching out he touched her hand softly and she smiled at him before turning back to Liam.

“We need to go talk to the doctors.” She told him. “So the nurse is going to come in and sit with you for a bit.”

“K’s Mama.” He said slowly. “Drinks?”

Roman stood quickly and standing next to the bedside unit he poured out some water for his son from the pitcher placed there into the beaker and fixed the straw so he could sip it. Holding the straw to his lips he watched as Liam sucked thirstily.

“Steady.” He and Ella said at the same time exchanging a look between them before smiling.

“Mama happy.” Liam asked her.

“Mama is very happy now that Liam is better.” Ella said leaning down and kissing his head.

Liam grinned up at her before taking another noisy sip of water.

“Hello.” Rachel called softly easing into the room. She saw Roman and Ella almost standing together and smirked before catching Ella giving her a glare.

“Hey.” Roman murmured.

“Looks like someone is feeling better.” She commented looking over at Liam.

He nodded at her before speaking.

“Home?” he said his voice rising at the end of the word making it sound like a question.

“Possibly.” Rachel said trying not to smile at him. He was a cute little boy and she knew why Ella loved him so much, remembering the difficult birth Ella had endured to bring him into the world.

“Oh.” He moaned.

Roman grinned at his son before placing the beaker to one side. He looked briefly at Ella before easing back and away allowing Ella the space to stand up off the bed and walk with him out of the room. They fell into step behind Rachel and slipped out of the room. They passed the nurse as she went inside to keep a check on Liam and walked along the corridor to Rachel’s office. He looked at Ella and bit back his sigh. He should be holding her hand, offering her some comfort. He knew how much she hated hospitals, let alone anything happening to their children.

“Rachel.” Ella muttered.

“Come on,” Rachel said opening the door to her office and showing Ella inside and looking at Roman as he followed. Moving inside herself she walked past them and round to her desk sitting down and opening a folder and looking inside at the paperwork.

Roman gently touched Ella’s arm as they sat down in the chairs facing the desk. He wanted more than anything to sit closer to her and take hold of her hand but he knew that Rachel was already giving them suspicious looks.

“Tell us the worst.” Ella said.

“We’re pretty sure that it was a virus infection. He’s over the worst of it now and in his words he can go home.” Rachel began before looking at Ella.

She glanced at Roman before looking back at Rachel. She felt herself paling even before the other woman began to speak again, sensing bad news was coming.

“We did find that his blood count was off.”

“Are you…” Ella stopped and reached out her hand to Roman. He took her hand within his own feeling Ella beginning to tremble.

“We want to do further tests.” Rachel said quickly. “Nothing is certain at this stage.”

“But you suspect Leukaemia.” Roman said softly hearing the word slip out of his lips and knowing that with saying it he’d just verbally stabbed Ella. Her own battle with the disease had taken a toll on the family and if her were honest it had unmanned him seeing her so fragile and preparing to leave them. Luckily she’d been in remission for a long time. He glanced at her now, not wanting to linger on the look on her face because he couldn’t do anything to help her with other people watching and he hated that too.

“It’s true.” Rachel said quietly, her eyes on Ella too.

“Fine.” Ella murmured. “It’s fine. We need to know, be prepared. I fought it, and Liam can too.”

Roman swallowed and looked at her before looking back at Rachel.

“So what do you need? More bloods?”

“Simply put, yes.”

“You don’t need to go into detail.” Ella said slowly. “We know what happens next.”

Rachel inclined her head briefly before looking at them.

“It’s possible that it could be…”

“Rachel.” Ella interrupted the other woman. “Do you think you could give us a moment?”

Rachel nodded and with a look at Ella she stood and eased out of the room closing the door quietly behind her.

“Say it.” Ella bit out.

Roman started and looked at her.

“El,” he began.

“No, I can read your mind.” She said her voice louder than normal. “You blame me for this.”

He looked at her puzzled and then sighed when she got up out of her seat and moved to sit in his lap pulling his arms around her. He felt her half sob before he nodded, understanding that she was putting on an act for Rachel’s benefit.

“He will be ok.” He whispered before raising his voice. “Oh for god’s sake of course I don’t blame you. Ella gave him a sad smile before kissing him. She broke away after a second and climbed off his lap.

“He’s my,”

“I know,” Roman interrupted in a quiet voice. “He’s our little Prince. And I promise you he’s going to be fine.”

She shot him a look and kissed him again before breaking away and moving over to look out of the window just as Rachel stepped back inside. He could tell looking at the other woman’s face that she’d overheard the mock argument and he had to force himself not to smile at the slightly disappointed look she had.

“If you do the tests now can I take him home?” Ella asked.

Roman tried hard not to let that question get to him. It was when she used the pronoun ‘I’. He couldn’t wait until they would start using the word ‘we’ again and a look at Ella’s face confirmed she’s been similarly affected.

“Yes.” Rachel confirmed unaware of the underlying tension between the two.

“Ok.” Ella murmured.

Rachel turned to lead them back out missing Ella running her hand across Roman’s shoulders as she moved past him. He stood slowly and walked out after them and they followed Rachel back to Liam’s room, the other woman pausing to collect a blood testing kit before walking into his room.

“No more needles mama.” Liam cried out as soon as he saw them and also what Rachel was carrying.

“Just a quick test.” Ella told him pinning a smile on her face as she walked over to the bed.

“No.” Liam folded his arms across himself and glared at her and then Rachel.

“Really Liam?” Roman said to his son. “You are doing Daddy arms.”

Liam glared at him before looking down at his arms.

“No Dada.” He denied quietly. “Doing she not getting me arms.” He added glaring at Rachel.

Ella bit back a chuckle and gave Roman a look before she sat on Liam’s bed.

“If I let Rachel use the needle on me first?” she said to him.

Liam shook his head adamantly.

“Liam.” Roman said using his stern voice. He saw Liam immediately straighten up his shoulders and glare at him.

“William Roman Harris.” Ella said softly using the full name shout.

“Fine.” Liam muttered. “But I wants ice cream.”

“Deal.” Roman said glancing at Ella.

Liam gave Rachel another meaningful look before he held out his arm to her. They watched as Rachel pulled on a pair of gloves and began the blood test filling up several vials before taking out the needle and putting a cotton wool pad on there. She nodded to the nurse who took over for her and swapped the cotton pad for a plaster.

“All done.” Rachel told him. “You can take out the drip too. We’re discharging him too.” She addressed the nurse.

“About time.” Liam muttered making everyone laugh at him.

Ella looked over at Roman before pointing to the cabinet at the side of the bed. He nodded acknowledging the unspoken communication. He walked over to it and took out Liam’s clothes as the nurse detached the drip placing another plaster on his other arm. He looked at them before smiling up at his dad as he took out his clothes.

Ella stood and walked out of the room following Rachel as she walked to the nurses station and handed over the blood samples giving out instructions.

“Need to sign some paperwork.” Rachel told her. “Nice to see you and Roman together.” She commented giving her a sly look.

“How long until we get results through?” Ella asked her.

“I’ve put a rush on it. Should be two days.”

Ella nodded.

“Thank you.” She murmured.

Turning to the nurse she checked over the paperwork and signed in the relevant places before saying goodbye to Rachel and then walking back to Liam’s room. Roman had got him dressed and packed up all his things.

“Dada take you to the diner for ice cream?” Ella suggested “and I’ll meet you there.”

Roman smiled over at her before lifting his son up and carrying him and his bag out of the room. They walked to the exit together and then over to Roman’s car first before Ella left them and went to collect her car. She pulled out of the car park just after him and followed his car all the way to the diner. She felt sad that she wasn’t in the car with them and even sadder that they were still keeping the relationship a secret. She needed him right now, especially if the worst happened and Liam was ill.

Parking the car next to Roman’s in the diner car park she smiled feeling some of her sadness leaving her.

“I know.” He said when he saw her as she climbed out of the car. “Like karma is matchmaking.” He added gesturing to the way their cars were parked together. He lifted out Liam and then walked over to door, Ella falling into step beside him.

“Can I have milkshake?” Liam asked them giving his dad a pleading look.

“Along with ice cream?” Ella murmured to him as they moved over to sit at a table. Roman ensured that Liam was seated safely before he looked over at Ella.

“Coffee?” he asked her.

She grinned at him.

“Banana milkshake.” She requested.

Roman shook his head and leaned over to murmur in her ear.

“If that is your way of telling me something we need to talk.”

She chuckled at him feeling his hot breath floating across her skin.

“No,” she told him. “At least I don’t think so.”

He pulled back and looked at her before seeing the teasing light in her eyes.

“Gottcha.” She teased. “Just hospital makes me feel queasy and if Liam is having one…”

“I’ll stop panicking then and get the drinks and ice cream.”

“Hurry up Dada.” Liam told him.

Roman chuckled at his son before disappearing into the kitchen. He spoke quietly to Leah explaining that Liam needed more tests as he sorted out the drinks and food. Ella moved closer to Liam and hugged her son.

“Squishing me Mama.”

“Tough, I’ve missed you.”

“Lily miss me too?” he asked.

Ella nodded.

“Everyone missed you.”

Liam nodded and sighed.

“It was quiet.” He commented softly.

Ella laughed before kissing him.

“I imagine that is what they said about you too.”

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Chapter 24

Ella looked at her phone seeing the missed call from Rachel. She found her hand was shaking as she held the phone and considered whether to call the other woman back or have a complete meltdown. Liam had been home three days and it was like he hadn’t been ill, running around with Lily and the twins. She couldn’t bear it if he was ill, not dealing with the hospital day in and day out, especially knowing what chemotherapy was like. Sucking in a deep breath she placed the phone down on the table and eased back on the sofa tucking up her feet and glaring at it. Slow tears fell down her face before she gave in to the sobs that she’d been holding inside since learning of his possible diagnosis. She was alone and more than anything she wanted Roman to be there. Turning and burying herself under the throw she pressed her face on to a cushion to stifle her cries as she fell apart. She didn’t hear a car pulling into the driveway or a soft knock at the door before it was opened.

“Hey.” Roman called opening the door and cautiously stepping inside. He caught sight of Ella on the sofa and closed the door before walking over to her. “Hey you.” He said teasing the throw back and looking at her. “Rachel called.”

“S’know.” Ella stuttered.

“Ok honey can you sit up?” he murmured, a half grin on his face at the childlike way she had sometimes when it came to facing up to something. Like now.

Ella gave him a look before scrambling up and looking at him. She wiped at her eyes and sniffed.

“It’s not Leukaemia.” He stated quickly wanting to ease her fears.

“It’s not? Seriously.”

He shook his head before gasping as she threw herself into his arms and planted kisses all over his face.

“El,” he murmured easing back, his hands on her arms.

She pulled back and looked at him.

“I missed it and couldn’t call her back.” She told him in a rush. “Just thought about…”

“He’s still ill.” Roman interrupted. “Anaemic.”

Ella sighed before wrapping her arms around his neck and leaning against him.

“I guess we need to …” she stopped as another sob caught hold of her and she pressed herself close to him. “It’s my fault; I’ve been so busy I didn’t even notice that he wasn’t eating properly until this past week.”

“Ella Addison soon to be Harris.” He muttered and felt her pull back as she starred into his face, her mouth open in a gasp. “That is right.” He told her. “I’m planning to marry you.”

“Er..” she stuttered. “Again?”

He nodded.

“Well, don’t we .. er.. “ she lapsed into silence as she considered it. “If that is your proposal it stinks.” She decided. “I’m not even wearing anything nice.”

“You’re wearing those cute jean cut offs I like and what looks like one of my old T shirts.”

Ella looked down and frowned pulling at the T shirt.

“Anyway, no it wasn’t a proposal. More like a statement of intent. We need to talk.”

Ella sighed before leaning against him again her arms around his neck.

“Liam.” She stated.

“He’ll need…”

“I know.”

Roman pulled back and looked at her.

“I’ve got some vitamin tablets with iron. And his diet needs to be looked at. I er.. think he’s been not eating meat.” She confessed.

“I knew one of them would take after you.” Roman said with a sigh.

“Are we going to argue about this?” Ella moved off his lap and stood up.

“No of course not.” He told her. “Where is your organiser?”

“My?” she muttered. “Why?”

“Need you to check if you are free on Monday morning.”

“Again, why?”

“The counsellor had a cancellation and offered us the spot.” He told her and watched as she smiled.

“I’ll just get it. You want a coffee?”

“No thanks.” He murmured watching with a smirk as she walked away from him and moved into the study. He decided to follow her in there and chuckled at the untidy room. She had papers and books everywhere.

“I’m in the middle of an assignment.” She explained feeling her face flush.

“In the middle of something.”

“We can’t all be neat freaks.” Ella muttered again tugging on the T shirt. She wished she’d worn something else now, regretting the sentimental impulse that had her reaching for this from out of her drawer that morning.

“What is the assignment?” he asked her.

“Comparing two poets.” She said before launching into detail about the poets she’d chosen to use. Looking up after a minute she saw his smile and once more lapsed into silence.

“You do know that your eyes light up when you are talking and you gesture with your hands.”

Ella groaned rolling her eyes before laughing softly.

“Fine, I’m enjoying it.” She admitted.

“I’m glad.” He told her moving closer and capturing her hand tugging her to him. His lips claimed hers and together they moved over to the long sofa and collapsed on it. He had his arms around her and she pressed herself closer to him as she wrapped her arms tight around him. She moaned against his lips as his hands reached up under her, or rather his, T shirt and he stroked her back chuckling when he was proved right.

“No bra.” He moaned feeling his body harden at the thought of her bared breasts.

“Well … er…”

His eyes shot to hers before he slid a hand down the waistband of the jean cut offs and felt her wriggle against him as he managed to cup her pert behind. Her pert bare behind.

“Ella Addison.” He groaned feeling his body throbbing with need. “You never used to dress like this.”

She leaned back and laughed at him before his lips met hers once more and he kissed her passionately sliding his hands around her waist and up underneath the disputed t shirt to cup her heavy breasts. His thumbs ran across her aroused nipples and he chuckled at her soft moans.

“I could tell you to go home.” She threatened.

“You could.” He agreed with her. “But I really need to…” he stopped and kissed her again. “pleasure you.” He finished after a moment.

“And nothing to do with wanting to do something with this?” she asked him stroking her hand down the bulge in his shorts. She heard his gasp and her eyes met his.

“Carry on like that and I’ll have to punish you.” He moaned kissing down her neck. Ella chuckled again before easing away and pulling the hem of the T shirt up and over her head. She heard him moan again as he looked at her and then gasped when his lips sought out her nipple. He teased the aureole with his tongue before moving and sliding her underneath him. His hands sort out the snapper on her shorts and he opened it before sliding down the zipper.

Kissing his way down her belly he pushed the shorts open and swirled his tongue around her belly button. He felt her wiggle under his lips and lifted his head to look at her.

“Thought…” she began and gave up talking when he licked her stomach. She put her hands on her waistband and impatiently pushed at her shorts wanting more of his kisses. She heard his chuckle and flushed.

“Shall we go upstairs?” he asked her.

Ella moaned again but eased off the sofa and reaching down to grab her t shirt she led him out of the room and up the stairs to her bedroom hearing him laughing.

She stopped and turned looking at him.

“I can always change my mind you know.”

He reacted by tugging the t shirt out of her nervous hands and dropping it to the floor. Stepping closer to her he caught hold of her head between his hands and leaned down kissing her gently.

“If you don’t want to, it’s ok.” He told her.

She moaned against his lips kissing him back.

“I want to make love.” She said slowly.

He lifted her off her feet, holding her pressed against his body his arms wrapped tight around her as he kissed her again and again feeling her tongue teasing his, her lips pressing on his and her arms wrapped around his, her fingers teasing the back of his neck.

“Ella.” He moaned feeling his body suffuse with heat at her simple touches. He lowered her slowly to her feet and reached down pulling his top off and dropping it to the floor. He grinned as he felt her hands on his waistband undoing his shorts and with a gasp pushing them down. She moved as she did, kissing a trail of passionate kisses down his torso and lower until she was kneeling in front of him.

“Ella don’t you dare.” He said quietly. “I want to enjoy you.”

“Dare what?” she asked him looking up innocently.

“You know what.” He muttered hoarsely.

She giggled her breath fanning his overheated flesh and he moaned before groaning as her mouth enclosed him, teasing his length.

“I will explode.” He groaned even as his hands tangled in her hair. “oh god.”

She eased back after a while and looked up at him again.

“Witch.” He said helping her stand up and pressing her against his naked body. He kissed her again feeling the heat of her kisses as she kissed him back while his hands clumsily pushed at her shorts. He got them down to her mid-thigh before lifting her over to the bed and pealing them down the rest of the way and discarding them in a pile with his clothes. The last distraction removed he covered her body with his and sighed when she touched him, pulling him closer to her.

“So in answer to your question, I’m free on Monday.” She whispered.

Roman let out a throaty laugh before kissing her again. He felt her stroke down his back and sighed.

“I think I am in love with you.” He muttered “or at least the way you touch me.”

Ella giggled kissing his neck, her hands stroking his shoulders and down his arms, He caught hold of her hands and entangled her fingers with his own, bringing her arms up and pinning them over her head. He looked at her, lying underneath him, her lips swollen from his kisses and her eyes shining with passion. He groaned and kissed her again.

“I want to drive you crazy.” He told her.

“Oh I’m already crazy.” She moaned lifting her head and kissing down his neck. “I’m so so crazy.”

Roman chuckled before moving one hand to stroke down her body. He ran his fingers teasingly down her thigh and then across. Teasing her with gentle touches. She moved restlessly underneath him gasping before he succumbed to the pleading note in her eyes and joined his body with hers. She pulled her hands free and reached for him, moving underneath him, her body arching against him.

“Perfect.” He proclaimed. “I love you.”

Ella laughed softly before she leaned up and whispered in his ear.

“I love you so much.”

He groaned and claimed her lips once more.

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Chapter 25

Roman walked out of the en suite looking sheepish at the ruffled bed covers covering a naked Ella. He grinned when Ella gave him a look before she blushed.

“What time did you say the kids were back?” he asked putting the towel to one side and dragging on his clothes. He frowned briefly at the wrinkles in his t shirt before smiling as Ella leaned over to him and kissed his shoulder. She teased her hands down his bare back and he breathed out a sigh when she moved them slowly back up and began to massage his shoulders.


He chuckled before turning his head and placing a kiss on her hand.

“Pick up the twins in an hour.” She commented.

“An hour huh?” he asked her.

“I’ve got to get showered and dressed.” She told him and saw him pout in the reflection in the mirror of her dressing table. She grinned at him before kissing his neck and climbing out of the bed. He watched her walking across the room naked and smiled.

“I’ll er…”

Ella turned and looked at him, placing her hands on her hips.

“Finish getting dressed and make me a coffee?” she suggested.

“And where is everyone?”

“You are asking now? I mean you were extremely noisy just now.”

Roman flushed and looked at her before smirking as she stood there naked. She caught his grin and glared before spinning around and heading into the en suite. He heard the shower come on and smiled again before standing and pulling on his wrinkled t shirt. He bent down and picked up her clothes and after folding them placed them on the blanket box at the end of the bed. He tackled the bed next, smoothing out the crinkled sheets and straightening the covers. He smiled at the wet towel he’d left on the floor and picked it up walking through to the bathroom.

“What’s up?” he asked seeing Ella paused in the shower.

She started at his voice before shaking her head and switching off the water.

“Just thinking.” She proclaimed before stepping out and grabbing a towel. Wrapping it around herself she dried off quickly before hanging it up again. He watched her with a half smile thinking how comfortable they were with each other again, even though he loved the shy Ella who’d been with him at the apartment, remembering the way she’d pulled the sheet up to cover her breasts when she’d sent him to get her a glass of water.

“You’ve lost weight.” He murmured looking over her.

“Have I?” she asked him stepping through to the bedroom and looking at herself in the mirror. She shrugged her shoulders before bending and reaching for underwear pulling on a set in pale pink cotton and then heading to wardrobe and topping it with a pink sundress, also in cotton. She smoothed her hands down it and glanced over in the mirror.

“So, coffee?” he asked.

Ella nodded once and smiled.


He held out his hand to her and she placed her hand in it and led him out of the room and down the stairs into the kitchen. He began preparing the coffee and grinned as Ella prepared two plates of food for the twins covering them with cling film before putting them back in the fridge.

“Think the twins will grass us up?” he murmured giving her a look.

“What are you plotting?”

He gave her a little boy grin as he handed over her cup of coffee.

“Maybe going to the beach with them.”

She paled as she looked at him.

“Forget it. Bad idea obviously.”

“No.” Ella said quickly putting her cup to one side and moving over to him. She placed her hands on his arms and leaned up to kiss him. “I just want to be careful. Maybe after counselling I can relax a bit.”

Roman sighed.

“Talk to me.” She begged huskily.

“I’m disappointed.” He began, his voice stilted. “I mean, I didn’t come here expecting us to make love obviously.”

“Er ok.” Ella said before grinning as he flushed.

“You know what I mean.” He said scowling before smiling again as she leaned up and kissed him.

“You are disappointed because you want to be home with us and telling everybody we are trying again.” She said softly.

“I obviously,” he began frowning at his use of that word again. “know that I’ve hurt you and we have issues.”

“Let’s not overlook that I’ve hurt you too.” She said quietly and saw him smile again.

“So you are being sensible.” He acknowledged with a shrug.

“Does it help that it does take a lot of willpower not to just go into the diner and shout out that we are seeing each other?”

Roman chuckled before putting his arms around her and sighing.

“What time on Monday?” Ella asked him.


She nodded before resting her cheek on his shoulder and sighing, her breath fluttering across sensitive points in his neck and he shuddered in response hearing her throaty chuckle when she realised why. She eased slowly away from him and collected her cup and walking through to the study. He grabbed his own cup and followed her, smiling as she walked around the desk and switched on her laptop at the same time as looking at her organiser.

“I should probably let you know my schedule over the next two weeks.” She said slowly.

“Er ok.” He murmured. “Does this mean I’ll have to get a diary?”

Ella looked at him and frowned.

“And how do you keep up with Meggy’s activities?” she asked him.

“She tells me in the morning what she is doing and usually by lunch I’ve forgotten.”

Ella groaned and shot him a look before sitting at her desk and using the laptop. She paused only to sip at her coffee as she printed off a full schedule for her and the kids. Going over to the printer she collected the pages and stapled the top before handing it to him.

“Thanks.” He told her quietly.

Ella sat down again before writing the appointment for the counsellor in her organiser. She glanced at him and sighed.

“How, I mean…”

“You want to know how we get there?” he asked her.

“Well I could drive, but I sorta had this idea we’d do this together, go there together and walk in together.” Ella flushed thinking how that sounded. Like she was trying to get a head start on the type of activities the counsellor would advise.

“I’d like that if I’m honest.” he admitted.

“Would you also like to come here tonight for dinner?” she suggested suddenly. “It’s the night you drop Meggy off so it won’t seem so out of the ordinary if I invite you?” she asked him biting her bottom lip.

Roman sighed before standing and going over to her. He leaned down and kissed her before easing back.

“Sorry.” She told him.

“Don’t apologise.” He murmured.

She grinned suddenly and looked into his bright blue eyes loving the creases at the corners when he smiled at her. She lifted her hand and touched his face before leaning forward and kissing him again.

“I’ll come for dinner.” He said.

Ella nodded her eyes filling with tears. She looked down at her cup covering up by drinking the contents and moving around the desk.

“Got to collect the kids.” She said quickly.

Roman stepped back before claiming his cup and draining it. He followed her out of the room and into the kitchen placing his cup next to hers in the sink. Reaching out a last time he slid his hands around her waist and nuzzled the back of her neck.

“See you later.” He promised before kissing the side of her neck and dragging himself away. He gave her a last look before going out of the door and over to his car. He smiled at Ella as she went over to her car and got in. She started the engine and slowly pulled out of the drive. He followed her after a second, his car behind hers. After a while they reached the section where they would go in different directions and he saw her reach up and blow him a kiss via her rearview mirror and he chuckled before lifting his hand and pretending he caught it pressing his closed fist to his heart. She disappeared off into the distance and he went home alone until it was time to go and get Meggy. He couldn’t help looking forward to spending more time with them as a family.

“Sorted.” He asked Meggy for the ninth time.

She finally nodded and he led her out to the car stopping when she squeaked and ran back into the house. He waited a moment before watching as she gave him an embarrassed smile and walked back out of the house pulling the door shut behind her.

“Come on,” he called and she chuckled before running over to him.

“I forgot my maths book.” She said. “And I know how important my homework is.” She added with a roll of her eyes.

“How about I collect your surfboard today and we hit the waves this weekend.” He suggested to her putting his arm around her shoulders and leading her to the car.

“That would be cool.” She squealed before stopping and looking at him. “Wait is this one of those things were I have to do something in return?”

He shook his head.

“Nothing aside from getting up early.”

“Oh no.” Meggy gasped. “Have you forgotten I spend the weekends with Mum.”

“I’m sure we can juggle.” Roman assured his daughter before opening the car door for her. He smiled as she blushed before climbing into the car and sitting back while he shut the door after her. Walking around the car himself he got in the drivers side and started the car before pulling slowly out and heading over to Ella’s. He had to admit that he felt slightly nervous.

“But what about Sammy?”

“You mean taking him surfing?” Roman asked.

“Yeah.” She muttered. “And Georgie.”

“Georgie is camping this weekend.” Roman said thinking of the schedule that Ella had handed over earlier. “But well, I’m sure that Sammy wouldn’t mind.”

“We’ll see.” Meggy murmured bending down and putting her maths book in her bag.

It didn’t take long to get to the house and he pulled up slowly wondering how Ella was planning to play it. He didn’t have to wonder long when the door opened and she stepped out on to the veranda.

“Surfboard.” Meggy prompted.

“Yeah.” Roman agreed using that as an excuse to get out of the car. He walked over to the edge of the veranda and looked at Ella about to ask about the board when she gave him a look.

“I need you to get Aden for me.” She told him.

“Not Liam.” He asked immediately and sighed with relief when Ella shook her head.

“Sorry, the house is in a bit of chaos. Better come in and have a coffee while I explain.”

He frowned and walked in after her and Meggy, who’d gotten out of the car while they were talking, and saw the kids sitting around the lounge with Mike cradling Jennie looking pale. Walking with Ella into the kitchen he accepted the cup of coffee she poured out for him and followed her out the back.

“What…” he began.

“Danni threw Mike out.” Ella said sinking down on to a chair. “So he kicked open the door and removed Jennie. She’s bolted herself back in and won’t stop crying. I can’t get through to her.”

Roman sighed and nodded.

“Ok.” He said and smiled at her. “sneaky.” He added in an undertone thinking of the way she was including him so that it wouldn’t look so odd when not only he stayed but also so he could speak to Mike too.

She gave him an innocent look and stood going into the longue.

“Your Dad has agreed to stay for dinner. Georgie can you order some food and get started on a salad. No homework tonight unless there is something you need to finish for tomorrow.”

Meggy squealed and then flushed as they all looked at her.

“Want me to take the baby?” Sophie asked Mike.

He shook his head before looking at his mother.

“Why don’t you and Meggy go up and fetch the bassinet down from the nursery?” Ella suggested to them.

“Guess that leaves me choosing the film to watch.”

“Nemo.” Lily cried out.

Sammy rolled his eyes and shook his head at the same time.

“Something else.” He declared feeling everyone looking at him. He half turned his head and grinned when August and Fleur gave him a look.

“Ok.” Roman began stepping in through the back.

Ella turned and walked over to him gesturing for him to follow her. He nodded and moved down the garden out of earshot of both Mike and the kids.

“I need you to pick the lock.” Ella told him “and get me inside.”

Roman stifled his laughter too late as she reached out and poked him in the ribs.

“Sorry, just that you tell me off for that stuff.”

“Do it.” She instructed in her stern voice.

“Aden is on his way. Not that you really needed me to phone him.” He said giving her a look and wondering if he could kiss her and get away with it. She shot him a look back and he grinned at her before heading over to the poolhouse. She watched him inspect the locks before he walked back to her.


“In the utility room where it’s always been.” She murmured her hands on her hips.

He looked at her before going past her towards the house.

“Going to spank you later.” He promised her.

She shot him a look and watched as he disappeared inside returning a moment later with the tool set and headed down the garden. Within minutes he set to work on the door. She moved down the garden after him and waited. A few more minutes passed and he’d removed the door from its hinges.

“Ok.” He asked her.

“Thank you.” Ella said and disappeared inside.

He grinned suddenly before balancing the door to one side and leaving the tool box there for later he moved back up to the house. Reclaiming his cup from where he left it he took it through to the kitchen before going to sit with the kids. He knew Ella would call him if she needed him.

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Chapter 26

“Danni, shush.” Ella said taking the other woman into her arms and holding her. “It is going to be ok. We’re going to get some help for you.”

“Don’t deserve it.” She sobbed. “I can’t take care of Jennie.”

“Of course you do.” Ella scolded softly stroking Danni’s hair back from her face. “And Jennie is a beautiful contented baby so you must be doing something right.”

Danni eased up off the bed and looked around the room, seeing untidiness and piles of dirty clothes everywhere. She just had no energy. Looking over at Ella she scrubbed childishly at her face wiping away some of her tears.

“Look” she muttered gesturing to the state of the house.

“Danni talk to me.” Ella said quietly.

“I can’t feed her. I’ve tried but it’s just so hard all the time.”

Ella eased off the bed and pulled on Danni’s hand tugging her upright.

“Ok let’s go get a drink and you can wash your face.” Ella announced pushing her towards the bathroom. She left her there while she moved into the kitchen and quickly cleared down all the tops and put the kettle on. Her eyes moved around the room and she sighed before absentmindedly tidying up and clearing two spaces to sit on the sofa. It was obvious that Danni had been feeling unwell for some time and she kicked herself for not noticing.

“Ella.” Danni murmured in a small voice.

“Come on, I have a coffee here.” Ella answered her unspoken question.

Danni sniffed before walking towards her. She paused when she saw the door removed from its hinges before moving to sit next to Ella. She sighed when Ella put her arm around her and handed her the cup.

“I should clean up.” Danni muttered.

“You should tell me what’s wrong.”

Danni flinched from her question before wincing at the sudden movement.

“It’s, “ she stopped and a single tear fell down her face. “I’ve been feeding her but it’s so painful.”

“In what way?” Ella prompted softly.

“They are swollen and sore.”

“Hun, I think you might have an infection.” Ella suggested to her remembering her bought with something similar when she was breastfeeding. “Wait here.”

Ella stood and picked out her phone. She dialled Roman’s phone and grinned when he answered it one the first ring. She asked for him to bring her a cabbage out of the fridge and the empty laundry basket before sitting back down with Danni.

“Cabbage?” Danni muttered.

“We’re going to put some leaves in your bra and it will help with the infection.” Ella told her. “And I have Aden coming over to see you so we can get you some medication.”

“And Jennie?”

“Will have to have bottles for a while. She’ll soon be needing to go on solids anyway.”

“Hello.” Roman called out from just outside.

“Oh no.” Danni cried.

Ella stood and moved to the door collecting the items from him. She placed the cabbage on the kitchen counter before moving around the room and collecting laundry filling the basket before taking it over to him.

“Can you do this for her?” she asked him.

“No problem. Anything else?”

“Send the girls round to help clean.”

Roman nodded again and disappeared the way he came.

“You and Roman.”

“He brought Meggy over.” Ella pointed out.

“Yeah.” Danni said glaring at her.

“Promise.” Ella told her.

“Oh my god.” Danni squealed excitedly. “But why are you keeping it secret? It’s like….”

Ella held up her hand and Danni trailed off slowly her face falling.

“Because we are going to counselling and trying to sort everything out before we tell everyone. I’ve only told you to cheer you up.”

Danni grinned before she stood and ran over to where Ella was standing. She threw her arms around her and sighed.

“I suppose this means I can’t tell anyone.”

“You do and I’ll start calling you by your name.” Ella threatened returning the hug.

“Oh Mum, why does it always have to go wrong?” Danni sobbed.

“So you can appreciate all the good things.” Ella told her.

“Mum?” Sophie called from just outside.

“Come on in girls.” Ella responded. “Danni needs some help cleaning.”

Sophie turned to Meggy and smiled before they walked in and moved over to the kitchen. Ella watched proudly as they set about cleaning down the tops and putting all the dirty pots in the dishwasher. Within a few minutes they had the kitchen straightened.

“Collect up all the laundry.” Ella encouraged.

Sophie nodded and moved to find the laundry basket. She walked through into the nursery and began cleaning in there whilst Meggy moved into the bedroom.

“Sit down.” Ella murmured guiding Danni over to the sofa. She placed the cup back in her daughter’s hands. “Drink,” she told her before disappearing into the bathroom. She frowned at the state of the room before setting about giving it a quick clean and tidy up. Throwing open the window she let in the fresh air before rinsing down the large bathtub. Putting the plug in she began filling it with hot water and adding some of the bath stuff that she knew Danni liked. Turning she collected the towels and took them out to the laundry basket before selecting fresh ones from the cupboard. Placing them on the towel rack she turned off the taps, checked the water before going out of the bathroom and over to Danni.

“Come on, Aden will be here soon, so take this chance to freshen up.” She told her.

Danni looked at her and knew that there was no point arguing and stood letting herself be led over to the bathroom. She undressed quickly; it didn’t take long to slip out of the shapeless dress she was wearing and her underwear before stepping into the bath. She felt the hot water meeting her skin and sighed blissfully.

“Better?” Ella asked picked up her discarded clothes. “I’ll go fetch your bathrobe.”

Danni nodded and leaned back in the water and closed her eyes. She sighed with contentment as she began to feel clean again.

Ella deposited the last of the things in the laundry basket and looked round the place seeing the rubbish had been taken out and the surfaces cleared and clean.

“Thanks girls.”

“You’re welcome Mummy.” Meggy said back coming out of the bedroom with a pile of sheets and dumping them on top of the load. “We made her bed.” She explained.

Sophie followed on behind.

“Can we do anything else?” she asked.

“No, you’ve been great.” Ella told them. “Off you go.”

Meggy ran to her mother’s side and hugged her.

“Hey troublemaker.” Ella murmured quietly and hugged her back leaning down to kiss the top of her head. “We’ll catch up in a bit.” She promised.

“It’s ok.” Meggy said to her giving her a smile.

The two girls moved out of the poolhouse and ran up the garden, Ella heard them talking and smiled before heading into the laundry and putting a load on to wash. She turned and moved into the bedroom and collected a clean nightdress and underwear for Danni and took them through to the bathroom. Kneeling by the side of the bath she wet the sponge and began to wash her back.

“So you and Roman.”

“We’re taking it very slow and sorting everything out. I don’t want us to ever go through this again.” Ella said quietly. “But let’s talk about you and Mike.”

“nothing to talk about. It’s over.”

“Is it?” Ella asked her daughter. “Nothing is ever really over.” She murmured with a wry smile.

“How do ..” Danni sighed and turned her head away from Ella.

“Hello.” Aden called out from the other room.

“Out in a minute.” Ella answered for them. “Finish up in here.”

She stood and eased out of the bathroom, closing the door behind her.

“Hello Ella.”


“So.” Aden gestured to the missing door as he stepped over the threshold.

“Danni has been feeling unwell recently.” Ella began to explain when the bathroom door opened behind her and Danni came out. She had a towel wrapped around her hair and was wearing the nightdress Ella had picked out.

“What Ella is about to tell you is that I’ve been struggling to feed Jennie and well I think I’ve been depressed.” She said in a quiet voice.

“Shall we go into the bedroom so I can give you a check over? Sounds like it could be mastitis.”

“Really?” Danni asked hopefully. “So it could be medical?”

Aden gave Ella a half smile before he moved through to the bedroom with Danni. She watched them before heading into the laundry and sorting out more of the laundry. After putting another load on, she walked through to the kitchen and looked in the fridge and the cupboards making a shopping list of groceries that would be needed only looking up from the notepad when Aden and Danni came out of the bedroom.

“It is mastitis. “ Danni murmured.

“I’ve prescribed a course of antibiotics for her.” Aden added when Danni went silent.

“Well give that to me, I’m sending Roman shopping. He can pick them up.”

“Yeah what is with your ex-husband sitting on your sofa?” Aden drawled slowly giving her a smirk.

“He brought Meggy over and I used him to sort out the door for me.” Ella told him before sticking her tongue at him.

“Yeah, ok, I believe that.” He shot back.

Ella grinned catching Danni’s eye.

“You can still breastfeed her.”

“Yes, in fact remember, you’ll need to express your milk even while you are on antibiotics.”

“I think it would be easier to swap to bottles.” Danni sighed feeling guilty for even saying it.

“It would, free up time for you and Mike could help out more.” Ella told her in a matter of fact voice. “Believe it or not, not all of my kids were breastfed.”

Danni gave her a hesitant smile before looking at Aden.

“Thank you.” She told him.

“You’re welcome. It’s nice to see the place again.” He said with a hint of irony.

“Fine.” Ella groaned.

Danni gave a small laugh before glancing at Ella.

“You’ve done so much.” She murmured gesturing to her tidy house.

“Barely done anything. “ Ella paused. “Why don’t you get dressed and come up to the house and have some food.”

“Yeah, Roman mentioned that the pizza had been delivered.”

“Grr, why didn’t you say earlier.” Ella muttered.

Aden and Danni looked at each other and laughed.

“I will.” Danni told her.

Ella nodded before going over and looping her arm through Aden’s and leading him out of the poolhouse.

“How is Liam?” he asked her.

“Seriously?” she grinned. “You can have him back in the hospital if you want.”

Aden chuckled and then smirked as he saw Roman give him a jealous look.

“Now then you aren’t going to tell me that nothing is going on are you?” he murmured to Ella with a gesture at Roman glowering at them from the house.

“Woah, he needs more fibre in his diet.” Ella commented and heard Aden laugh at her.

“I need to get back.” He said with a sigh.

“You and Belle, come over for dinner, yeah?” Ella said quickly.

“I’ll get Belle to give you a call.” He told her smiling happy.

Leaning down he kissed her cheek before walking around the house and over to his car. Ella watched him go before stepping up on the veranda and going into the house.

“Mum?” Mike asked standing up and coming over to her.

“Danni is fine.” She told him and saw the look of relief on her son’s face. Turning to Roman she gave him her innocent smile and watched as he frowned.

“What do you want?” he asked her folding his arms.

“Go to the shop for me?” she asked in her cajoling voice.

Meggy giggled from the other end of the room where she was sitting eating a slice of pizza and earned a glare off her dad.

“Fine.” He said turning to look at Ella.

She handed over the list and the prescription that Aden had written out watching as he looked at it and nodded.

“Won’t be long.” He told her in a soft voice.

Ella rocked on her feet as she resisted the urge to kiss him watching as he headed out before grabbing a slice of her pizza and going over to the sofa and sitting down.

“Danni?” Lily murmured looking sad.

“She’s fine squeals.” Ella told her daughter.

Lily nodded,

“Me’s no like Mikey sad.” She informed everyone with a pout.

“No we don’t do we?” Ella confirmed.

Mike placed Jennie in the basinet and settling her down before coming over to Lily. He stopped in front of her before kneeling down and hugging her. He felt tears spring into his eyes when she patted him on his back.

“There there Mikey, it’s going to be oks, promise.” She told him. “dada promise.” She added.

Ella gave a little gasp and her eyes filled with a mixture of sad and proud tears and she felt her heart thump in her chest. She’d never let Lily know how proud she was of her for this because who knew what her daughter would try and get away with next.

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Chapter 27

Roman eased out of his car and smiled as Ella opened the front door. He walked over to her side.

“I got everything. Do the boys want to take it to the poolhouse?”

“No, you can do that.” She told him sweetly and watched his expression change.

“So spanking you later.” He promised and walked back to the car taking out the groceries.

“And you can put the door back on.” She instructed and saw him mouth a swearword before he smirked and took the first two bags out of the back of the car and carried them around the side of the house and down to the poolhouse. He made a second and then third trip before taking the door and hanging it back on its hinges. He fixed the door jamb from when Mike had kicked the door in and collected the tools back up before walking up to the house. Pausing on the back veranda he sighed before stepping foot in the house.

“We’re in here Daddy.” Meggy called out. “Your pizza in is the oven.”

Roman smiled before taking the tool kit into the utility room and putting it back on the shelf. Washing his hands he dried them on the towel and walked back into the kitchen retrieving his pizza before walking through to the longue and sitting at the table.

“So,” he murmured automatically looking for Ella.

“She’s upstairs putting the twins to bed.” Sophie told him. She was seated across the table from him, texts books and folders in front of her.

“Ok.” He said picking up a slice of pizza and biting into it. “So what are you doing?”

Sophie looked up in shock before she sighed.


“Yuck.” He said without thinking and heard her laugh.

“Yeah, it is pretty sucky.” She told him. “Georgie seems to get it just like that.”

“Bet Georgie doesn’t cook.” He told her gently. “Bet he can’t make a soufflé or bake bread and know the ingredients in his head for dozens of recipes.”

Sophie focused on her book for a moment before looking up and smiling at her Dad.

“Thanks.” She told him.

“No worries. At least this way I don’t actually have to help you.”

Sophie laughed before she pushed one of the textbooks towards him.

“Algebra.” She stated.

Roman pushed the book back at her.

“Sammy.” He stated.

“What?” Sammy muttered from across the room.

“Your sister needs help with maths.”

“Ok.” He said immediately and stood up moving over to the table and sitting next to Sophie. “Oh, algebra. Cool.”

Roman smiled before looking over at Lily and Liam. He noticed they were being unusually quiet and he frowned before noticing Ella coming into the room.

“Ok you two, you’re next!” she murmured.

“Mama we’s been good.” Lily protested and Liam nodded.

“Fives more minutes!” Liam told her holding up his hand with his fingers spread out.

“Five more only.” Ella told them, “And remember that you need to be extra quiet not to wake Jennie.”

Lily nodded and Liam made a shushing motion with his finger on his lips before they looked back at the tv where Cars was showing. Ella stepped past them and over to the table.

“Thanks for doing the shopping.” She told Roman. “Did you keep the receipts?”

“I have them in the car.” He murmured giving her a look. “Did you say Jennie?”

“I’ve got her tonight whilst Danni and Mike try and sort things out.” Ella explained.

Roman nodded before finishing off his pizza.

“Want to take Lily and Liam up?” she asked him.

His eyes lit up and he smiled before nodding.

“I think I can do that.”

“Five more minutes.” Liam called out overhearing them.

“You’ve had your five minutes.” Ella responded taking Roman’s used plate through to the kitchen, smirking as he stood and followed her into the other room. She placed in on the side before passing him some kitchen towel to wipe his hands.

“Thanks.” He said, meaning more than just thanks for handing him the kitchen towel. He watched as she smiled at him and forced himself not to grin back.

“You’re welcome.” She said in a stilted voice her eyes glancing over to the archway where she knew the kids would be listening in.

“So did Danni use the cabbage leaves?” he asked her.

Ella nodded.

“Sceptical at first.” She added with a laugh.

“Cabbage?” Sophie called out overhearing.

Ella moved to look around the corner of the archway and peered at her daughter seeing a flush of colour enter her cheeks.

“Cold cabbage leaves remove some of the swelling.” She explained slowly.

“Yuck, I’m too young for this conversation Mother!” Sammy groaned from his spot next to his sister.

Sophie laughed at him as she saw red colour flash on his cheeks before he blushed totally.

“Don’t.” he added giving his mother a look. “I do not want to hear about…..”

“Samson.” Sophie murmured laughing louder. “Come on help me with this.” She indicated a problem in the maths book and he focused on it trying not to look up.

Ella grinned before she pointed to Liam and Lily sitting over on the long sofa with Meggy. He smiled at how quiet they were being before discarding the paper towel in the bin and beginning to walk over to them.

Lily looked up and groaned.

“No fairs Dada.” She muttered. “We’s got five more minutes.”

“Which was 7 minutes ago.” Ella called out softly before joining them. She moved past Roman to sit next to Meggy collecting the remote control and stopping the film.

“Mama.” Liam protested.

“Go with your Dada.” She murmured a smile playing on her lips at their petulant expressions.

Liam glared at her before standing and moving over to the door. He turned and gave Lily a look and she pouted back at him before standing and following him.

“Thanks.” Roman murmured in a tone of voice that screamed sarcasm. He looked at her innocent expression and his eyes narrowed.

“Come on Dada” Lily muttered. “We’s waiting for you’s now.”

Roman muttered something under his breath before ushering them out of the room and up the stairs.

“Hello you.” Ella said to Meggy putting her arm around her daughter.

“hey.” Meggy grinned and snuggled.

“So how are you?”

“I’m good Mum. Can I..”

“What babes?”

“Well there are gymnastics try outs at school and I want to do it.”

“You want some help?”

“I can do handstands and cartwheels.” Meggy told her. “I know I’m not going to be as good as you but.”


“It’s ok Mum you don’t have to say anything, I’m happy. I just want to learn some stuff and Casey is on the team.”

“Casey.” Sammy snorted.

“Hey, I’m allowed friends outside….”

“Shush.” Ella said interrupting an argument she suspected they’d had before. “Sure, next Tuesday is good for me, I can come over and we can go to the beach and do some practice.”

Meggy grinned at her.

“That would be cool.”

Ella smiled at her and leaned over to kiss the top of her head.

“What are we watching?” she asked her.

“Er,” Meggy flushed. “The end of Cars.”

Ella chuckled before putting the film back on, loving being able to sit with her kids and just enjoy spending time with them. She smiled and leaned closer to Meggy, smelling the violet undertones of the perfume her daughter sometimes wore reminding her that she was growing up.

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Chapter 28

Danni looked over at the bathroom door. She could smell the shower gel that Mike always used seeping in with the wisps of steam that curled around the barely closed door. She eased off the bed and padded over to it, her hand reaching for the handle before she could stop herself. She paused thinking about what she was doing; just hours ago she hated him but now all she could think about was the way he would be standing under the hot water. The way it would caress his naked body. She stopped to lick her suddenly dry lips as she pictured it. She hadn’t wanted him in so long and now, suddenly, she did. She wanted to see him and touch him and even put her hands and lips on his skin and know that she was pleasing him with her touch.

Pushing the door open slowly she peered round the edge and saw him standing under the hot water. He had his arms up as he shampooed his hair, the white foamy lather slipping down his arms teasing across his muscles and her breath caught in her throat at the sight of his biceps flexed. He was so strong, could easily lift her up and carry her. And the times she’d seen him work out, push ups, sit ups, running, and weight lifting. Sculpting his body into this Adonis-like specimen. She looked at him now, seeing him turn under the water as he rinsed off the shampoo and sucked in another sharp breath. He must know she was watching him surely? She mocked herself for becoming a voyeur but couldn’t tear her eyes away from him.

His skin was satin smooth, golden brown, not from sunbathing because he was rarely still enough for that always needing to be busy, to be moving in some way, no this was a deeper tan, from the sun and wind when he was running or swimming or surfing, until lower where it faded and disappeared. She had often teased that line between where his tanned skin stopped and that pale white skin started telling him he should sunbath naked to get rid of it. Now she looked at it and sighed remembering happier times before her breath caught in her throat as he turned and she caught sight of his sex. He was perfect in every way she thought with a softly issued moan slipping out from between her lips. Even now she couldn’t drag her eyes away from it, from him. The powerful thighs and muscular legs. Perfect.

She felt her body flare into life watching him. Felt the hot brand of desire scorch her soul.

He turned again presenting his profile to her and she watched still fascinated as he reached for the shower gel once more and holding it up he let it pour out of the bottle and straight on to his skin. She watched the way the blue liquid moulded his muscles as it slid down his body before he put the gel back and ran his hands over his body foaming it into a lather. She licked her lips watching him as he touched himself all over washing himself with his hands. She watched helplessly when he moved down his body washing his sex, his hands cupping himself as the white foam slipped down his thighs just like her tongue wanted too. She moaned again at the way her thoughts were going before darting back out of the bathroom and to the safety of the bedroom.

Mike looked over at the door and smirked. Did she really think he washed himself like that all the time? Running his hands over his body like that, almost like she would have done if she had been sharing the shower with him? And then to battle with the automatic turn on that knowing Danni was watching him.

Reaching out he turned off the hot water and grabbed a towel running it over his body before ruffling his hair. He needed to find time for a hair cut at some point and mocked himself for trying to think of things that would distract him. He and Danni needed to talk and he groaned as his body began to harden at the thought of Danni again. They hadn’t made love since Jennie had come home and he hadn’t minded at first but now it was months later and he was a man. A man had needs. Danni had needs too his traitorous brain injected. Swinging the towel around his waist he stepped out of the bathroom before he needed to take a cold shower and walked into the bedroom in search of boxers and t shirt to wear to bed.

“Hi.” Danni squeaked out, her face flaming.

“Hey.” He called back opening the drawers and taking out something to sleep in. Not, that he was going to get much sleep recognising she’d used her favourite bath stuff. And her hair was hanging to her shoulders in soft waves just like he liked it.

“We still haven’t talked.” She muttered, her voice sounding breathy.

“Thought you were tired.” He murmured making his voice low and he held his breath in case she thought he was accusing her of something again. A similar comment earlier got him kicked out.

Her eyes strayed to the bed and she licked her lips before focusing on what he was staying. My god, didn’t he know how good he smelled with that blend of him and sandlewood and everything else.

“I… I…a.. am.” She stuttered realising she’d been starring at his chest.

Mike looked at her before he dropped the towel to the floor.

Her eyes followed the movement and she starred at him once more.

“Danni.” He began trailing off when he caught her licking her lips again.

He walked around the bed and stood naked in front of her trying not to smirk as her hands shot out to touch his chest.

“How long has it been?” she asked him.

“Since before Jennie was born.” He commented.

“You must have been frustrated.” She whispered feeling sad that she’d been so wrapped up in her stuff that she hadn’t noticed him.

“No.” he told her before leaning down and kissing her softly. “Just lonely.”

Danni gasped before she responded to his gentle kiss. She sighed against his lips and wrapped her arms around him.

“I don’t like you being lonely.” She told him. “Is that why…”

“Yes.” He said cutting off what he knew she was going to say.

“Oh.” Her mouth opened in a round shape before she closed her lips and kissed him again. “I won’t let you get lonely again.” She promised him leading him over to the bed.

Mike breathed in and out slowly urging his body not to react to the husky note in her voice. He needed to know that she was ok with them making love and well, he didn’t want it to be over too quickly he thought with a half smile.

“Ok.” He said softly kissing her, he teased her hair back from her face before lowering his lips to the side of her neck.

“Oh.” She murmured again.

He chuckled and continued to kiss her.

“Do you like that, my beautiful gift?”

Danni shuddered at the husky words feeling his hot breath shiver over her skin. She turned her head and sought out his lips before pressing him back on the bed and moving over the top of him. She heard his laughter and giggled before her lips trailed down over his chest and lower.

“I love you.” He told her.

Danni lifted her eyes to his and smiled.

“I love you too.” She told him quietly before pressing her lips to his.

He smiled before reaching out and tugging at her nightdress finally dragging it off and throwing it to the floor next to his wet towel. He heard her laugh before he rolled them over in the bed and kissed her again.

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Chapter 29

“Getting late.” Roman commented looking over at Sophie.

She sighed and put her pen down.

“I’m beginning to see things from Meggy’s point of view. Homework sucks.” She muttered and rubbed at the spot at the top of her nose between her eyes.

“Yey!” Meggy cried from her seat next to her mum.

“Uh huh Missy.”

Meggy looked at her before she leaned up and whispered in her mum’s ear.

“Oh no, that isn’t such a good idea.” Ella said in response sighing as Meggy’s face fell.

“What isn’t?” Sammy asked.

“I wanted Dad to stay over,” Meggy pouted.

“Well you are talking.” Sammy pointed out looking from one to the other.

Ella felt colour flare in her face.

“And?” she asked her son.

“So we can trust you not to argue.” Sammy told them not hearing Ella’s sigh of relief. For a moment she’d thought that their cover had been blown and she smiled at her thoughts before looking over at Roman.

“I should go.” He commented.

Ella nodded.


Meggy pouted at her.

“Please.” She asked. “I know you don’t like him anymore but it would be nice if he stayed.”

Ella sighed before pulling Meggy close to her.

“You know it’s not that.” She told her. “I just don’t want you to think…”

“Meggy, “ Roman called standing up. “I have to go I’ve got nothing with me for staying over. “

“Actually,” Ella found herself speaking before looking over at him. “I’ve got a spare toothbrush and something you could sleep in.”

Roman had to force himself not to smile at her as he nodded.

“Ok, if it won’t be too weird.” He said slowly.

Ella nodded before looking to Meggy.

“Alright?” she asked her daughter. “It does mean you sharing with Sophie.”

“Yeah, I can do that and I promise we won’t argue.” Meggy grinned before kissing her mum and after jumping up she ran over to her Dad and threw her arms around him before kissing his cheek. “Thank you.” She told him.

“Go on up then.” Ella prompted.

She grinned as they reluctantly moved out of the room and up the stairs.

“Want a beer?” Ella asked him smirking as he grinned at her.

“Is that allowed?” he asked back.

Ella stood and walked past him smiling as he reached out his hand and touched hers. He grinned at her when she shot him a look and she felt herself blushing. Looking away she scooted into the kitchen and took out a glass for herself before pouring vodka and orange juice. She glanced at it before pouring him out a whisky and then taking both drinks through.

“Trying to get me drunk?” he asked her quietly.

Ella blushed again before handing over the glass.

“On one whisky?” she shot back after a pause.

“Good point.” He teased back moving to sit in the sofa. Ella watched him before she sat next to him. She leaned over and handed him the remote for the tv and grinned at his expression.

“Is this where I chose something and you find fault with it and kick me out?”

Ella looked at him puzzled before catching his glance towards the door.

“I thought we were making an effort to be civil.” She snapped out a smile playing on her lips. “But if you are going to snipe at me then you may as well clear off home.”

Roman covered his mouth to stop himself laughing as they heard a distinctive sigh coming from the stairs.

“Ella just admit it you are only like this because you are madly in love with me still. We should just stop this nonsense and get married again. Let’s have a few more kids too.”

“I’ll only have more kids if the others go to boarding school.”

“What? No!” Meggy gasped from the doorway.

“Go to bed.” Ella called out standing up and walking to the doorway catching them listening in.

“So you aren’t getting married again?” Sammy asked a plaintive look on his face.

“No, but if you really want to go to boarding school I can arrange it.”

Sammy’s face changed and he grinned before Sophie and Meggy glared at him.

“Maybe not.” He conceded.

Ella pointed up the stairs and watched as the kids reluctantly trundled up them. She grinned as Meggy shot her a look to see if she was still there and sighing as she went up the next stairs.

“Goodnight.” Ella called out and heard Meggy sighing again. She waited an extra moment before going back into the lounge and sitting back on the sofa.

“Finally gone up?” he asked giving her an innocent look.

“You!” she groaned. “You do realise that they will now be dropping hints about wedding dresses. And God help you if Lily finds out.”

Roman chuckled before reaching out and catching hold of her hand giving it a squeeze before letting go.

“Maybe I need the back up.” He murmured.

Ella shook her head at him before she grinned and laughed.

“So you found us anything to watch?” she asked.

“not a lot on.”

“How about a dvd?” she asked looking at him.

“Anything except Finding Nemo.”

Ella sat looking at him for a moment.

“Do you.. Is there…”

“It makes me sad.” Roman told her finally.

“Okay, because?” Ella asked after a pause.

She’d never noticed. Surely she should have noticed that.

“Because you watch it when you are unhappy.” He murmured draining his glass.

“I never noticed.”

“It seemed to help you so I..” he shrugged and looked at her. “I didn’t tell you.”

“Is this the kind of stuff we need to talk about in counselling?” She asked him after a while.

Roman nodded.

“You feel this is important don’t you?”

“Don’t you?” she shot back.

“I feel.” He stopped letting the significance of the word sink in for them both. ”That we are already a long way from the people who couldn’t sit on a sofa like this even for the sake of the kids.”

“That must mean that you don’t hate me anymore.” Ella said in a subdued voice.

“I don’t hate myself either.” Roman acknowledged after a long silence.

Ella listened to what he was saying trying not to feel hurt or sad but she couldn’t seem to stop herself from brooding. Looking up she saw Roman giving her a look and she held out her hand to him.

“I’m going to bed.” She told him. “I’ve got a lot to think about.”

“I’ll go up too, save having you show me where I’m sleeping.”

Ella smiled, in so much as her lips twitched before she stood.

“Are you drinking that?” he asked pointing to her full glass on the table. She sighed before picking it up and draining it in one go. Handing the empty glass to him he stood and collected his own before walking into the kitchen and putting them by the sink. He turned and saw the lights had been switched out and Ella was standing at the bottom of the stairs. Walking over to her he suddenly became nervous. It was one thing to sleep with her when the house was empty and another if the kids were there. He found himself following her up the stairs silently his nerves growing with each step until they reached the top and he was stood outside their bedroom.

“Wait here.” She told him.

Roman sucked in a breath as she walked inside and disappeared out of sight. She came back after a moment and handed him a T shirt, pair of shorts that he recognised as his and a new toothbrush.

“Thanks.” He said drily.

Ella gave him her most innocent look and pointed towards the spare room watching as he walked inside. She turned and went into her room closing the door behind her. She thought she heard his sigh but couldn’t be certain and smiled anyway. Heading over to the en suite she took a very quick shower freshening up, brushed her teeth and then smoothed her favourite moisturiser over herself before going to the door and slowly, silently opening it. Checking that there was no one about she tiptoed silently down the hallway and over to the spare room. She opened the door and moved inside closing the door behind her.

“El?” Roman whispered rolling over and peering at her in the darkness.

“You were expecting someone else?” she asked him.

He could only smile as she climbed into the bed next to him before he wrapped his arms around her and kissed her.

“Strawberries.” He muttered and heard her muffled chuckled as she pressed her lips against his neck.

“You love it.” She told him in a quiet voice.

“Love you.” He said and bit back a moan as her hand ran down his body and encircled him. “Are you in a hurry?” he gasped out.

“Little bit.” She commented stroking him.

“Slow down.” He said.

Ella shook her head and heard his gasping laugh before leaning down and kissing him. She smirked as his hands reached for the hem of her nightdress and pulled it up her body and then over her head before dropping it to the floor by the bed. He ran his hands over her body sliding them down her back before lifting her over the top of him until she straddled him.

“Now who’s in a hurry?” she whispered.

“uh huh. You made me.” He countered in a similar whisper.

He put his hands between them and pushed down his shorts before helping them join together.

“Oh god” he cried out before chuckling as she kissed him to shut him up.

She rose and fell moving until she found her rhythm smiling down at Roman. He put his hands to her waist helping her before running his fingers up her spine as she arched back and bit back a groan.

“You like this?” he said to her.

Ella nodded before gasping as the door crashed open and Lily stood in the doorway. She gasped again and covered her breasts with her hands.

“Dada?” she gasped out.

“Go back to bed Lily.” Roman called out his hands reaching to steady Ella. He could feel her cringing in front of him and could say nothing to stop it with Lily still listening.

“Bad dream” Lily pouted.

“Dada be with you in a minute.” Roman promised.

Lily nodded and turned walking away leaving him with a stricken Ella.

She yanked herself away from him staggering off the bed and searching on the floor for her nightdress before finding it. She pulled it over her head with shaking fingers.

“El.” Roman said quietly.

“They are going to know now aren’t they?” she bit out not bothering to keep her voice quiet. She was mortified, her cheeks glowing bright red.

“I’ll talk to Lily.” He stated swinging his legs over the side of the bed. He pulled up his shorts and fastened them before walking towards the door.

“I hate you.” Ella said to him. “She shouldn’t have seen any of that.”

Roman could have pointed out that it was only natural and he was surprised that in all the years they had been married and indeed all the places they had ended up making love that only Mike and now Lily had caught them in a compromising position but he knew that it was Ella’s past, indeed Ella’s pain that was going through her head right now.

“Ok.” He said and walked out of the door and along to Lily’s room. He saw that Liam was fast asleep and chuckled.

“Dada kissing Mama.” Lily called out to him.

“That’s right.” Roman agreed with her.

“I tells Sammy.”

“Really?” Roman said wondering how he could diffuse this situation. He spotted Fudge on the end of her bed and half smiled. “You could tell Sammy but…”

“Buts Dada?”

“It’s a secret and you know Sammy can’t keep secrets.”

Lily tilted her head to one side before she grinned.

“K’s Dada I tells Meggy.”

Roman hid a grin at his daughter’s logic. He turned and looked at Fudge.

“Mama and Dada had a secret cuddle but it doesn’t mean that we aren’t still divorced. If you tell well I’ll have to have Fudge come and live with me.” He said improvising and smirked at her pout. “Because he is my cat and well Mama and Dada are divorced.”

Lily folded her arms and glared as him.

“Me no like Dada.” She stated.

Roman sighed wondering if this being secret business was worth it.

“Hop into bed.” He instructed.

Lily gave him a look and lay down in the bed. Almost as though Fudge had understood him his cat walked up the bed and lay down next to Lily. If he were paranoid he’d swear that the cat pouted at him too.

“No more bad dreams.” He told her pulling up the covers over his daughter and the still pouting cat.

He escaped out of the room and walked back to the spare room seeing that it was empty. He wanted to go to Ella and make sure she was ok but he couldn’t risk them being seen again. With a muffled curse he climbed into bed and collapsed tiredly on the pillows. Within a few minutes he was asleep.

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Chapter 30

“I didn’t think you’d come.” He groaned before tugging on her hand and pulling her into his arms. He held her acknowledging the rapid beat of his heart just how nervous he was. They hadn’t had any contact since Lily had burst in on them. Ella hadn’t answered his text messages or calls and hadn’t even been home when he’d picked up and dropped off the kids at the weekend he thought remembering the stilted conversation with George and Irene who’d appeared equally puzzled by her absence.

“I, “ she stopped and eased away looking at him. “We wanted this, didn’t we?”

Roman nodded and took hold of her hand, interlacing his fingers with hers before he led her inside the counsellors office. He announced their arrival to the receptionist and took a seat as instructed. He smiled as Ella perched on the sofa next to him pulling down her skirt with her free hand. He smiled too, because she’d dressed in a smart skirt and blouse, her hair pinned up in one of those bun things on the back of her head. She looked cool and sophisticated and he liked it when she dressed up as much as when she wore her long skirts and floaty tops. He glanced down at the trousers he’d put on and the shirt, and smirked at himself.

“Yes we did.” He confirmed to her having texted her last night and told her he was still planning to come to the appointment.

Ella nodded again and smoothed a nervous hand down herself.

“Then,” she stopped as a door opened to the left of them.

“Ms Addison and Mr Harris, if you’d like to come through.” The counsellor called out.

Ella looked up in shock before smiling over at Roman as he stood up. He led her into the counsellors’ office, following on behind the other woman, his hand still holding tightly on to hers. She gave him a brief nervous smile as they stepped into the office.

“I’m Eloise Cornwell, I’ve been a marriage guidance counsellor for quite some time. Ok then, lets start with some history.”

Ella shot Roman a look before she reached into the handbag she’d placed on the floor by her side. She took out some folded pages and separated the copies before giving one to Roman and the other over to the counsellor. She shot Roman a look when he opened his copy up and looked at it.

“3 pages?” he asked.

“I went with bullet points.” Ella murmured. “Thought it would save some time.”

“So what am I looking at here?”

“Our history.” Roman filled her in. “From the beginning. When we met, what happened, to meeting up again and marrying and then the last 15 years.”

“I do have to say that in all the years I’ve been doing counselling this has never happened.”

Roman smiled at her before looking back at the pages.

“Shouldn’t you have concentrated on your assignment?” he asked Ella and saw her smirk at him. “Fine, that has rubbed off from you and getting the kids homework sorted.” He admitted.

“If you look on the end page I’ve put some areas I think we need to work on.” Ella explained.

Roman shot her a quick look before he turned over the pages and looked at them. He frowned as read through them and then turned his attention to Ella.

“What about what I think we need to work on?” he asked her.

“I thought you’d say that now.” She murmured in a quiet voice.

“If I do, I need you to listen.”

“I’m going to listen, you’ve seen my list.” She said in that defensive tone.

Roman nodded.

“Right then.” He shot her another quick look before looking over at the counsellor. “Ella’s sexuality.”

“My what?” Ella gasped feeling hurt immediately.

“We both know that you have certain hang-ups.” He continued in that same calm voice. “Like the other night for example.”

“Yeah, just because I don’t want our kids to watch us screwing doesn’t mean I have hang ups.”

“I don’t necessarily think that the kids’ walking in on us is a bad thing. Obviously those things are going to happen. We’re not exposing them to anything except us being loving with each other. You are being over cautious.”

“I’d rather be over cautious than have them…”

“Have them what?” Roman prompted.

“traumatised.” She finished her lips pressed together making them look like a scarlet gash in her pale face.

He winced from the look of pain she gave him before he began to speak again.

“The house.”

“What?” Ella gasped again.

“How long did it take to remove my things from the house?” he asked her.

“Don’t throw that at me. It’s not my fault that you don’t have a lot of stuff.”

“I had enough to fill a house.” He pointed out. “But well I’ve seen what you’ve done with the place since and it’s like I was barely there.”

“What did you expect with the way we split up?”

“Perhaps I expected there to be at least one photo of me.” He said after a moment.

Ella sucked in a breath and folded her arms across herself.

“The kids have them.” She told him in a hurt voice. “But as for any photos of us. No, it hurt too much to have them out.”

“Ella.” He said quietly.

“It’s not just about that is it? We only started again when I noticed you had a photo of me in your place. Although that was for the kids wasn’t it?”

Roman shook his head.

“No.” he turned and looked at her. “I wanted to see an image of you. I liked that it was there. I liked being able to see you even though we were over. I didn’t want to deny all the good things about us.”

Ella sucked in another breath before looking at him.

“I was different. Every little thing that you’d touched reminded me how much I’d lost. How much time I’d wasted.”

“Wasted? As in loving me.”

He flinched from her words. He’d known that counselling wasn’t going to be easy but he didn’t expect for it to hurt this much.

“No.” Ella told him softly before reaching for his hand. She interlocked her fingers with his and he turned his head to look into her eyes. “How much time I wasted being mad or upset about something when I should have let go of the negative stuff and instead focused on being happy.”

Roman found tears springing into his eyes and he squeezed her hand tight before blinking and focusing on the counsellor.

“What else were you thinking about the house Roman?”

“I think we should move.”

“Are you kidding?” Ella shot out.


“So what?” Ella turned and glared at him.

“I’ve got my house. I can sell that and put towards it.” He began slowly.

“Assuming that we do move. What do you suggest I tell Mike and Irene and Gabby?”

“No reason they have to move is there?”

Ella rolled her eyes.

“Well we’ll be selling.”

Roman sighed.

“Obviously I’m raising this as an issue for me. I mean I know you put my name on the deeds but well, I got thrown out so…”

Ella pulled her hand away from his and placed both of her hands in her lap. She turned and looked out of the window unable to speak.

“Right, I think the issue isn’t the house it’s the way that Roman felt shut out of things.”

“What do you expect?” Ella asked him. “You told me to pack your stuff up.”

Roman sighed looking over at her.

“I don’t know.” He said. “I wasn’t thinking very clearly at the time.”

Ella shrugged and looked over at him mirroring him.

“And exactly how many boxes did my stuff fill?” he asked after a moment.

“12.” Ella snapped back.

“And how many would it take to pack up your things? Taking into account how much stuff you’ve got at the studio too.”

“Roman, I admit it I have a lot of stuff. But well, some of that is what was given to us. I asked you, admittedly via the solicitor, if there was anything else you wanted and you said no.”

“You expected me to remember anything?”

“If it mattered to you then yes, I would have expected you to remember it.” She pointed out.

Roman sighed and held out his hand to her. She automatically put her hand into his and felt him give her a reassuring squeeze.

“So the house and stuff is an issue.” Ella said quietly.

Roman smiled at her encouragingly before his smile faltered as he looked back at the list.

“What is it?”

“You put that witness protection was an issue for you. We won’t be able to resolve that.” He stated simply. “We both have different views on it.”

“Before you start, let’s look at what you both want to gain from this,” Eloise interrupted.

“We want to get married again.”

“I thought we wanted to be together again.” Ella answered.

“Not married?” Roman turned to her.

“Not if you are going to make me wear a dress again.” Ella began before biting her bottom lip worriedly. “I just,” she shrugged. “I just want to be with you. I want it simple.”

“I think that we can have that as a starting point.” Roman told her before glancing at the counsellor.

“Starting point?” Ella questioned. “Does that mean you are going to work on me until I give in?”

Roman shot her a sheepish grin which turned into a smile when she gave him a half smile in return.

“So we can put that as the desired outcome of the counselling.” Eloise murmured making some notes on the pad in front of her.

Roman nodded his eyes on Ella.

“Yes, we want to be together, regardless of being married or not.” Roman stated clearly.

Ella sighed at his declaration and half turning towards him she reached out and placed both her hands on his hand. He grinned happily at her before focusing on the counsellor.

“So I see from this that you’ve been through counselling before so you are aware of the some of the basic exercises we would do.”

“We are.” Roman spoke again.

“Would you agree that you need to work on your communication skills?” she asked them looking from one to the other.

“This is why one of my issues is the witness protection.” Ella said quickly. “I know why he did it but when we talk about it, we see it from different views and just get bogged down in arguments.” Ella sucked in a quick breath determined to get this said. “But he gets so wrapped up in defending what he did he doesn’t listen to what I’m saying. It’s done, we can’t change it. So we have to accept it and put it in the past.”

“El, how can we put it in the past when you refuse to see it from my point of view?” Roman asked. He knew that his shoulders had tensed and he wanted to change the subject just like always when they talked about this.

“I could ask you the same question?” she pointed out and saw him give her a rueful smile as he acknowledged her point. “How about this, I leave the kids with you for a year and not tell anybody where I am.”

“Thanks, but how will that help?” he asked her with a note of panic in his voice at dealing with a crying Lily for that long.

“You’ll have to deal with their questions and their upsets. Alone. For a year.” She murmured. “And making sure homework is done, take them to all their school activities, deal with Meggy and Sophie growing up and dating, buying uniforms and clothes, Christmas and birthdays. Sleepovers, boy/girl parties.”

“I coped when you were taken away by Elliot…” he began before the boy/girl party thing got to him and he paled again.

She grinned over at him knowing he was thinking about the girls growing up and having to cope with that. She bet that he’d rather deal with that than the bad guys.

“If by that you mean when Sammy began sleeping in our bed, Mike disowned you and Miles considered going to an AA meeting, coping then yes, you did.”

“Hey!” Roman muttered. “I would have coped eventually.”

Ella gave him one of her 100 megawatt smiles and he grinned back.

“Fine, we need to resolve this.” He agreed and felt some of his tension slipping away. “Although you really aren’t planning on doing that, are you?” he asked her.

Ella looked at him before grinning.

“Worried about Lily?” she asked and he nodded.

“She does tend to cry a lot.” He muttered rubbing his free hand over his face.

“Until she gets her own way.” Ella commented.

Roman turned and looked at her.

“She cries until she gets what she wants?” he asked surprised he hadn’t thought of that before.

Ella nodded.

“So when you dragged the kids round that night you knew that she wouldn’t stop crying until what? Either they turned up or until I brought her home?”

She chuckled.

“You wouldn’t have got her home, she’s too stubborn for that.” She murmured.

“Lily that’s your 5-year-old daughter, right?” Eloise asked slowly looking down at the paperwork in front of her.

“Yes.” Roman confirmed. “She’s five alright.”

Ella giggled at him and he felt his heart pound in his chest. He’d been so fearful that she wouldn’t be there; that she’d decide reuniting with him wasn’t worth the effort. But she’d turned up, looking beautiful as always and more than that she’d put real thought into what they needed to do to get back together for good.

“I take your point.” Roman said after a moment. “I couldn’t have coped with the kids. You know I’m not as good as you with them.”

Ella looked at him before looking over at the counsellor.

“We do this a lot.” She explained. “Prop each other up over the kids. Roman is their hero. They adore him and more than that they love him but he doesn’t see that, no, that’s not it exactly, he doesn’t accept it is more accurate.”

“And how do you feel about what Ella just said?” Eloise asked him.

Roman felt immediately defensive before he breathed out slowly.

“I love them too.” He began. “I leave them to Ella a lot, more than I should do perhaps.”

Ella shrugged when he looked at her for confirmation.

“I think it’s a bad habit we’ve got into.” She said after a moment. “But look at the kids, Meggy is with you, Sammy is half and half and Lily, well she nearly killed everyone when they said they weren’t coming for the weekend.”

“Still.” Roman frowned. “the issue is we need to do more sharing of the parenting.”

Ella waited before she spoke again.

“I can agree to that.” She said quietly. “But also we both,” she murmured looking to him for confirmation. “Need to start accepting that we are good parents.”

His lips twitched at that and he inclined his head at the sneaky way she’d brought that issue into counselling.

“Agreed.” He murmured feeling a little blackmailed.

“Really?” She asked him in that tone of voice that suggested she didn’t believe him and he smiled at that too.

“No, I know what you are saying.” He began. “You need to continue with your degree and photography and…”

“No, “ Ella interrupted him. “Obviously I’m going to do those things but not have you slot in like a babysitter, you have to step up to being a parent.” She said and bit her lips worriedly.

Roman glanced over at the counsellor and wondered what she’d do if he were to grab Ella and kiss her senseless in the middle of a counselling session. His lips twisted in another smile before he turned and looked at Ella.

“What do you suggest?” he asked her.

“I don’t know.” She admitted. “But you know everything about them…”

He nodded.

“Perhaps if instead I stop congratulating myself that because I know Meggy is trying out for gymnastics and Georgie has been promoted in his cadet unit.” He shrugged and caught Ella smirking. “Fine,” he said sitting back in his seat and pouting at the way he’d just proved Ella right. He couldn’t even fold his arms across himself because he was still holding on to her hand.

“Ok, why don’t you have a go at sorting out Angel and Sophie.” Ella suggested.

“Because I’m not suicidal.” He said back immediately and heard her chuckle before smiling at her. “Why haven’t you done it?”

“Nic and I weren’t on speaking terms.” Ella commented in a quiet voice.

“Ah.” He nodded understanding. “You know a wedding is a good way of getting people together…”

Ella giggled again and shot him a look.

“No. But good try.” She said softly.

“We should have a bbq.” He began.

“I’ve been thinking that a while. The kids miss them.” She spoke quietly and he knew she was thinking of when he’d been gone. He gave her a rueful smile and squeezed her hand and she squeezed back offering him understanding in that simple gesture. He felt some of the hurt leaving him and sighed softly.

“The session is nearly at a close. I’m going to take some of the things we discussed here and look to draw up where we need to focus.” Eloise murmured. “Are there any last thoughts from you?”

Roman sighed again before he shook his head.

“It doesn’t actually feel like we’ve sorted much of anything out.” Ella began feeling Roman tense beside her and her lips twitched.

“Actually.” He interrupted before she could speak again. “We’ve identified the major issues. We’ve acknowledged…” he stopped when Ella grinned at him. “You were about to say that weren’t you?”

She nodded.

“To recap then,” Eloise murmured. “The house. Witness Protection. Taking a more active role in parenting.” She paused. “Ella’s sexuality.”

Ella blushed at the last one.

“Yeah.” She muttered glaring at Roman.

“Nagging.” Eloise murmured.

“Nagging?” Roman glanced down at the list before looking at Ella. “I don’t nag,” he muttered his voice a slightly higher pitch than normal.

“Pick up the towels, do your photography, don’t clean, clean,” Ella said gesturing with her hand. “Not much you don’t.”

“And you nag me.” He shot back quickly.

Ella raised her eyebrows and looked at him.

“See you are doing it now. You’ve got it down to such a fine art you don’t even need words.”

Ella giggled before leaning over and pressing a quick kiss to his lips and he smiled over at her.

“Ok time is up.” Eloise said slowly. “If you’d like to make your way to the reception and sort out arrangements.” She added graciously.

Ella nodded and picked up her handbag from the floor as she stood up. She found that Roman stood at the same time and they walked out holding hands.

“I’ll pay.” Ella told him in a quiet voice. “It was my recommendation.” She added as explanation.

He shot her a quick look and finally nodded as they walked over to reception desk.

“Look, I don’t want to throw money at you, not after the way I behaved in the divorce but the simple fact is that you have a mortgage and I don’t. Plus you’ve been missing a lot of shifts recently looking after the kids.”

Roman gave her hand a squeeze.

“I can…”

“I didn’t argue when you paid for that ridiculously expensive meal did I?” she murmured.

He looked at her before watching as she took out her card and began paying. She made no effort to cover her pin as she entered it into the card reader and he smiled at that too. How ridiculously happy was he? He wondered before looking over at her as she took out her organiser. He watched as she flicked through pages before looking to him.

“Next Thursday morning seems good for us.” She said slowly.

He looked at her in shock before reading the notes she had on the page and seeing she’d listed what shifts and things he was doing and he found himself suddenly speechless. He sucked in a breath and nodded.

“Thursday.” He agreed softly.

Ella made arrangements for them to come in at 10am on the following Thursday and he escorted her out into the fresh air. He felt so many things all at once and knew that he couldn’t find any words to describe what he was feeling. Ella moved closer to him after putting her organiser away and once more slid her hand into his.

“Your place.” She told him.

“My place.”

“For the sex.”

He chuckled and stopped before turning to her and wrapping both arms around her.

“I do love you.” He said softly, thinking he’d found the words after all.

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