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Postcards from Hawaii

Guest TelephotoMarigold

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Chapter 31

Mike looked over at Lily and sighed.

“She really did that?” he asked her teacher again. For the second time and saw the teacher nod.

“We couldn’t get hold of her parents so Liam suggested we contact you.” She continued.

“Right, I’ll take her home.” He announced and moved towards his sister. “Lil’s” he said softly kneeling down in front of her.

Lily looked up at him and sniffed and pouted at the same time and he bit back his grin.

“Taking you home.” He told her.

“Liam?” she muttered.

“Just you and me ok.”

“Ok, Mikey.” She agreed.

She slid off the chair and glared at the teacher before putting her arms around Mike’s neck indicating she wanted picking up. He grinned at her and stood lifting her with one arm before moving out towards his car. Fishing in his pocket he pulled out his keys and groaned as Lily burst into tears.

“Hey, squeals.” He murmured climbing into the car before leaning over and seating her in the passenger seat and doing up the seatbelt. “What’s the matter?”

“Can’t tell you it’s a secret.” She muttered wiping at her eyes.

“I’m very good at secrets. Look in the back seat.”

Lily turned her head and saw a bouquet of flowers he’d bought for Danni and a box of chocolates. She looked at them and then at him.

“Yup, they are for Danni, secret presents.” He told her.

Lily looked up at him and then smiled as he reached for the chocolates and opened the box.

“I don’t think she will mind if you have one.” He said to her and offered her the box.

“Ta.” She said stuffing a chocolate in her mouth.

“Now then, what is this secret?” he asked her.

Lily shook her head thinking of losing her cat.

“Better take you home then.” He said after a minute.

Lily nodded before giving him a sad look and he grinned before handing her the chocolates.

“Buts Danni?” she murmured picking out the next one.

“I’ll buy her some more.” He told her and chuckled as Lily nodded even as she stuffed a chocolate in her mouth again. Starting the car he pulled out of the parking lot and set off home. He smothered a grin when Lily kept sighing next to him before she gave a grin.

“Danni chocolates.” She told him.

“What about them?”


“You want us to go shopping?” he murmured glancing at her and seeing her nod. “Mama won’t like it.”

Lily sank back in her seat and sniffed looking like she was going to cry again and he chuckled at that.

“Fine, shopping.” He agreed and she grinned at him. “You are a devious little miss.” He commented.

“No mes Mikey!” Lily murmured grinning at him. She had a rim of chocolate around her mouth and had finished off the top layer.

“Well you Missy, save the rest of them chocolates or you’ll have a poorly tum.” He commented and could have laughed at her expression. He steered the car towards the big shopping centre and put the car in the multi-story carpark before turning and looking at Lily. He took out a wetwipe from the packet he kept in the glove box and wiped her face before smiling at her.

“Now then what is this secret?” he asked her.

“Mama and Dada were kissing.” Lily gasped out even as she shook her head to say no, she wasn’t going to tell. Just like Meggy would she covered her mouth with her hand and looked at him.

“Really? That isn’t really a secret. They kiss all the time.” He commented.

Lily looked at him and nodded before she lifted her hand from her mouth.

“But Mama wasn’t wearing anything!” Lily gasped out. “and she was sitting on Dada’s lap.”

“Ouh really?” Mike smirked feeling his own cheeks warm with embarrassment. He could only imagine what shade his mum went remembering his interruption of their nocturnal activities. “Was this the other night when Dada stayed over?” he asked her and she nodded without saying anything her blue eyes seeming to fill up her face.

“And Dada said if I told he would take Fudge!” she gasped again.

“I’m sure he wouldn’t.”

“Fudge is me cat. Dada left.” Lily pouted.

“So what are we doing here?” Mike asked her trying not to laugh.

“You buys Dada kittens.” She explained. “So he not takes me Fudgie.”

Mike threw back his head and laughed at his sister’s sneakiness. He guessed that if Roman and his mum were having sex they would sooner or later live together and adding a couple more cats wouldn’t hurt. He nodded.

“Ok kiddo.” He collected his keys and climbed out of the car moving around her side and opening the door for her and helping her out. Shutting the door and locking the car he took hold of her hand and led her over to the lifts at the end of the carpark. He pressed the button and called the lift.

“Mikey,”she called out. “Me’s tired.”

He looked down to see her give him her sneaky look before her expression changed and she yawned.

“Is that your way of telling me you want to be carried?” he asked her.

Lily nodded and fluttered her eyelashes at him.

“Come on then.” He murmured picking her up. He made out that he was going to drop her and heard her gasp. “Shouldn’t have eaten so many chocolates.” He told her.

Lily giggled at him.

“Agains” she cried out.

“No agains… I’ll end up with a bad back.”

Lily wrapped her arms around his neck and grinned as the doors opened and they walked into the shopping centre. He walked over to the information board and checked it before heading off in the direction of the pet store.

“So two kittens?” he asked her.

Lily nodded.

“Mama tolds me one kitten is ok but two keeps each other comp…” she paused. “comp and nanny.” She murmured.

“Company.” Mike corrected.

“That’s rights.” Lily nodded solemnly. “Likes Sammy’s thumpers.”

“Ok then.” He murmured pointing ahead to the pet store. “And you know what; I think we’ll send them to Dada so that it will be a nice surprise for him.”

“Oks.” Lily agreed and he could tell from the look on her face that she was plotting something.

“What Lil’s?” he asked softly.

“How wills Dada knows not to take me Fudgie?” she asked him.

“I think you can write him out a nice card to go with it.” He murmured.

She looked at him her mouth opening and closing before she spoke again.

“I left me colours in the car.”

“You can use my pen.” Mike said grinning at her.

Her eyes went even wider and she mouthed the words ‘your pen’ before gasping.

“But Mikey, it’s a big boys pen!” she murmured her eyes still round.

“I’m sure it will be ok if you use it.” He told her in a soft voice.

She giggled at him before her eyes ran round the store he’d carried her into.

“Mes down.” She demanded.

“not yet missy.” He confirmed collecting a trolley and walking to the cat care isle. He collected a cat care book, cat treats and a litter tray, choosing the bright pink one.

“Prettys!” Lily called out pointing to the cat collars and smiling at the one with diamantes on.

Mike looked at where she was pointing and smiled before picking up one of the collars and handing to her to look at it.

She grinned happily and put it in the trolley.

“For fudgie. She told him.

“I don’t think he’ll like a pink collar.” Mike told her.

“He wills.” She insisted with a pout.

Mike looked at her before picking up a blue one with diamantes on and put that in the trolley. He picked up a couple more plain ones and added them to the growing load, and then cat litter and kitten food before walking over to where the animals were kept. He lowered Lily to her feet and chuckled as she ran around excitedly looking at all the animals. She stopped and pointed to a small black lop-eared dwarf rabbit and gave him a sad eyed look.

“No chance missy.” He called out.

“For Danni?” she asked him pouting.

“Danni is busy looking after Jennie.” He told her before realising he’d fallen into her devious trap when she grinned at him. Damn, did she ever take after their mother.

“Me looks after thumper.” She offered sneakily.

“Kittens,” he pointed out.

Lily shot him a look from under her lashes before she moved with him to the kittens. He was glad there were only two available from the five in the cage or he imagined he would have been taking more kittens home from the look on his sister’s face. She turned and grinned at him.

“The white one and the black one.” Mike told her kneeling down and pointing them out to her.

“k’s Mikey.” She said before looking at him. “Dada likes?” she asked.

“Dada will like.” He promised.

He picked her up again and walked over to the tills to arrange paying.

“I’d like the two kittens you have left. They are a gift for someone so can you deliver them?” he asked.

“Er, I dunno, I’d have to ask the manager.” The kid behind the counter murmured.

Mike nodded as the he called the manager to the checkouts before looking at the card display by it. He chose one and showed it to Lily who grinned and nodded and he added that to the pile of stuff getting scanned through the till.

“Is there a problem?” A second person appeared at the checkout and Mike nodded before outlining the plan to forward the items and the two kittens to Roman. He saw the other man nodding before he moved away and picked up the phone making arrangements. He came back to them after a moment and nodded.

“For a small fee.” Mike was told.

He looked at Lily before sitting her on the top next to the items taking out the card and the two diamante collars. He peeled the wrapping from around the card and put it on the top before handing Lily his pen. She took it in her right hand and looked at it like he’d offered her a gold medal and he smiled.

“It’s a grown up pen.” She told him.

“I know, but you can use it.” He encouraged.

Lily grinned and began making out her letters. He smiled as he read over her shoulder.

‘Dear Dada, Fudge is me cat. You no have him. So got you cats. Love Lily xxx.’

“You wants to put your names?” she asked him.

“No, I think what you’ve done is great.” Mike told her and grinned when she beamed at him. She carefully recapped his pen and handed it back to him watching as he put the card away in the envelope before he used his pen to write out Roman’s address. He handed the card to the manager who nodded and passed it to another colleague who turned up with a cat carrier with the kittens inside. The rest of the items were boxed up leaving Mike with the job of paying. He took out his wallet and handed over his debit card paying for everything and the delivery fee.

“Do you do id discs here?” he asked looking down at the collars.

“We do sir. You can have them done in a matter of minutes.” The manager assured him.

“Ok, do you think you could have one done with the name Fudge on…”

“Me’s fudgie.” Lily told them pointing to herself.

“And property of Lily on the reverse side.”

Lily giggled and nodded before giving him a full sized smile when he took off the pink collar and wrapped it around her wrist twice before doing it up.

“Lily prettys.” She murmured waving her hand around and looking at the way the light caught the diamantes.

“Now you and Fudge can wear the same.” He told her lifting her up and balancing her on his hip. He made sure he collected his pen and the second collar before they handed him the engraved disc he asked for. He pocketed it and the receipt for the purchases before leaving the store with Lily.

“We goes home now?” she asked sounding sad again.

“We do.” He confirmed. “Just after we buy some more chocolates for Danni.”

“Oops.” She murmured grinning at him.

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Chapter 32

Ella looked across at the collar one more time before she swore, again. She was on her way over to Roman’s and she wasn’t happy. The day had go so well, first the counselling, when they seemed to be getting somewhere and of course the little detour to his place afterwards. She felt her cheeks heat up thinking of his small bed and what he’d managed to do in it, before blowing out a sharp breath as her anger mounted once more.

Then she had got home to not only find out that Lily had needed to be picked up from school but had also been suspended from school. For two days. She was five and had her first suspension. Not only that but she’d somehow managed to eat an awful lot of chocolate and didn’t want her dinner. Then had come the tantrums when Lily was sent to her room before that chocolate made a return and her little girl had been a lot sick.

But really, it had been when she spotted the cat collar and the small metal disc that the story came out about Lily’s dad threatening to take her cat if she told anyone about seeing them. Her eyes narrowed as she thought about her daughter being upset and she put her foot down on the accelerator.

She’d summoned Mike over to take care of them grinning at the look on his face when he’d muttered something about disturbing a romantic night with Danni, and then telling him that he needed to keep an eye on Lily because she was sick. That someone had given her a load of chocolates. He’d looked suitably guilty and she’d just smiled at him and told him to wait until she was babysitting Jennie and could return the favour.

She pulled up outside Roman’s place and saw lights on both downstairs and up and smiled softly to herself as she parked up and hopped out of the car. Running across the road she moved to his front door and knocked.

Roman looked up as the knock sounded at the door. He put the remote on the table and eased slowly to his feet before walking over to the door and opening it.

“El?” he murmured before his eyes shot to the stairs.

“I want Meggy to get packed.” She bit out. “And I’m taking her home.”

“What?” He muttered rubbing a hand over his face.

He looked behind him before taking a hold of Ella’s arm and pulling her inside before closing the door. Glancing around the room he spotted the kittens and sighed remembering the scene earlier when he’d had to run outside wearing just a towel and catching the white one as she made a bid for escape.

“What is this about?” He asked her.

“Blackmail.” Ella bit out too angry to back down.

Reaching into her pocket she pulled out the cat collar and threw it at him.

He caught it on reflex and looked at the small metal tag.

“Ah, Lily,” he said.

“Yes, Lily.”

“Look, I didn’t ask her not to tell anyone, I just…”

“Threatened her with taking her cat away,” Ella sneered. “And she’s been suspended from school for bad behaviour.”

“Hey, can’t…”

“I can and do,” Ella told him. “I do blame you. Are you stupid? I mean you know what Lily is like when she’s worrying about something. “

Roman felt the injustice of her attack slide away under the knowledge that he did know what Lily was like and his comment would have worried her, even though he’d forgotten about it.

“El,” he appealed to her.

“Meggy,” She told him folding her arms across herself and narrowing her eyes as she looked at him.

“Ella, you really want to upset her?” He asked.

“I think you are an unfit father.”

He sucked in a breath at the wave of pain that went through him at her comment and then thought back to sitting with her in counselling and the way she’d built him up.

“You want Meggy back you get a court order,” he shot out.

“I have one,” she pointed out. “It states that you see them alternate weekends.”

He flinched from the anger in her voice.

“Ella, calm down.”

He reached out his hand and tried to touch her when he heard footsteps on the stairs and saw Meggy peering round the corner; she was clutching one of the kittens and had a frightened look on her face.

“Mum?” she murmured.

“Pack your things Meggy, you are coming home,” Ella said before noticing the black ball of fluff she was holding in her hands. “And what is that?”

“That would be a kitten,” Roman told her. “I now have two cats,”

Ella glared at him.

“So it wasn’t enough you threatened to take Lily’s cat you had to go out and get some.” She stopped and looked at him unable to finish the sentence with Meggy in the room; otherwise she would have finished it with ‘when you knew that you were probably going to be moving home’.

Roman looked at her and sighed before rubbing a hand over his face before crying out as the white kitten started climbing up his leg, again.

“Oi,” he muttered bending down and removing her claws from his leg.

“They are probably hungry Dad,” Meggy pointed out when the kitten she was holding mewed.

“Yeah I got that.” He said before handing over the white ball of fluff to Ella as he moved into the kitchen. He saw her cradle the small kitten in her arms as he walked over to the kitchen and began putting more food out. He noticed that the kitten had rolled over in Ella’s arms and was letting her tickle her belly and he hastily removed the smile he had on his face. Something inside him when gooey whenever he saw Ella smile like that.

“Your leg is bleeding.” Ella told him quietly.

Roman looked down and saw the red spots on his leg before ripping off a piece of kitchen roll and dabbing at them as Meggy giggled at him.

“It’s not funny Missy,” he grumbled at her.

Ella turned to her daughter.

“That one keeps escaping through the front door and this one jumped on his back when he was in the shower,” Meggy told her.

“Come on scraps,” Roman called.

He watched as Meggy lent down and let the black kitten down on the floor grinning as she shot across the room and over to where he’d put their dishes on the floor before seeing Ella reluctantly put the white kitten down too.

“So what is going on?” Meggy asked slowly starring at the both of them.

“You are coming home.” Ella told her. “Go get your stuff.”

“Why?” Meggy shot back, her tone angry.

“Because I said so,” Ella told her. “Your father needs to do some thinking.”

“Hey!” Roman shot out. “And what about the discussion we had earlier? You know today.”

“Yeah, maybe you should have mentioned what you’d said to Lily during that conversation we had earlier!”

Roman flinched again before looking down and removing the kitten from his leg.

“Stop that you terrorist!” he murmured to the kitten looking into her green eyes and having to stop himself from smiling when the kitten started purring. He placed her carefully on the floor before walking over to Ella. “Accepting that it wasn’t the smartest thing I could say to Lily,” he muttered. “You can’t…”

Ella giggled as he broke off what he was saying to lean down and remove the kitten again. He glared at her and then the kitten before sighing and accepting that he’d have to cradle the kitten while he was arguing with his wife. Maybe he could try and appeal to soft centre in her.

“Meggy,” Ella spoke her daughter’s name in the tone of voice that brooked no argument and she sighed before turning and going upstairs leaving them alone.

“Ella Addison,” Roman began and swore as he realised he couldn’t fold his arms across himself when he was holding the kitten before looking at Ella. “We talked about a lot of things earlier and I thought we were making progress but now you’ve just gone back on all of it. What is the point of…” he stopped and looked down as the black kitten was halfway up his leg. “I hate you,” he groaned out detaching it from his leg and was forced to stand there holding both kittens as Ella laughed at him.

She walked over to him and took the white kitten from him before kneeling down and showing her the food bowl. The kitten looked up at her before diving into the food bowl and beginning eating.

“Good girl,” Ella murmured. “See, it’s lovely dinner.”

Roman smiled before he moved over to where Ella was crouched and lowered the black kitten, directing her to the food too.

“El,” he murmured.

“Don’t bother, I’m angry at you. How could you do that to Lily? You …”

“Stop,” he interrupted. “I get you are mad but you need to be clear what you are mad about here, is it that I said something stupid to Lily or the fact that she saw us making love?” he asked in a quiet voice his eyes going to the stairs to make sure that Meggy wasn’t going to overhear the conversation. “Are you having second thoughts about us?”

Ella glared at him before she stood up and walked over to the door without answering him. She collected the collar she’d thrown at him earlier and tucked it in her pocket.

“Fine,” he muttered.

“Meggy!” Ella called.

“I’m coming,” Meggy shouted back clunking down the stairs and shooting her dad a look before she moved out of the door with her mother. She had a sullen look on her face and pouted as her mum led her out. “Bye Dad,” she called out.

Roman swore as he watched them go before looking down at the kittens. They seemed to be giving him a reproachful look.

“Mum,” Meggy began halfway to the house.

“I know,” Ella grimaced. “I overreacted.”

“Too right, do I get pizza as a reward because you know he only feeds me healthy stuff.”

“Oh great, so now I’m a bad parent because I give you junk food!” Ella groaned.

Meggy giggled.

“Of course not you silly goose,” she told her.

“I’m sorry Megs, I’m all over the place lately.”

“Are you doing too much Mum, ‘cause you sound tired. I mean me and Sophie can help with the little ones more.”

Ella sighed.

“I don’t know Megs, I think I need to have a break, maybe a weekend away in the studio.”

She pulled up out the front of the house and switched off the engine.

“Go on in, I need to take a minute.”

Meggy nodded and hopped out of the car before going into the house she shot her mother another look before closing the door behind her.

Ella pulled out her phone and looked at the caller display seeing two missed calls from Roman. She groaned again and dialled his number.

“El,” he answered on the first ring as though he were holding his phone in his hand when she’d called.

“I’m angry that she saw us, and I’m angry that you blackmailed her. Roman, of course I didn’t want her to tell anyone but threatening a five year old girl? How could you?” Ella glanced to the living room window and saw Mike looking at her.

“I talked to her and mentioned something about Fudge that was of so little importance that I forgot it. If she wasn’t like you so much she wouldn’t have …”

“How bloody dare you?” Ella snapped out. “You had to find a way of turning this around on me didn’t you? Better contact your solicitor because you aren’t seeing the kids ever again!” she snapped and hung up the phone.

It rang immediately and she clicked it on ignore before putting her phone away and getting out of the car. Heading into the house she met Mike’s gaze and half smiled before speaking.

“It seems Roman has some kittens. Know anything about that?”

Mike chuckled.

“Only that he is lucky he didn’t end up with a couple of thumpers too,”

“uh huh son,” Ella rubbed at a spot between her eyes before heading over to the kitchen and getting out the milk and pouring herself a glass. She sipped it slowly feeling worse by the second.

“Look, why don’t I keep an eye on the kids and you go for a lay down?” Mike suggested looking guilty.

“You know of course.” Ella muttered.

“I do and I think it’s great.” He said looking over his shoulder at the kids behind him. “Can’t let this…”

“Can’t I?” Ella asked interrupting him. “I’m tired of having the same arguments with him and being the parent all the time.”

“Hard for him to parent when you take the kids off him,” Mike pointed out a note of bitterness in his voice, his gaze travelling over to the poolhouse.

“Hard for me to trust him when he keeps screwing up.” Ella said. “You’ve got the kids, I need to go lay down.”

She walked away from him and up the stairs checking on the twins who were fast asleep before looking in on Lily. Her daughter was asleep her arms around Fudge. She smiled at her before heading into the bedroom and pulling out the phone from her pocket. There were another half dozen missed calls and the envelope was flashing. She glared at it before putting the phone on her bedside table and laying back on the covers. Within a couple of minutes she was asleep.

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Chapter 33

Roman looked at his phone before turning and looking at the white kitten that was climbing up his leg again.

“What do you want now?” he asked her and found himself stroking her head between her ears. “And more importantly what do I do now?”


“Thanks, that helps,” he groaned before standing up and taking the kitten over to her sister. He settled her down before grabbing his keys and heading out of the house and driving over to Ella’s. Pulling up outside, he kicked himself for this being a very dumb idea before climbing out of the car and going over to the door. He sucked in a breath when he realised he should knock and how would Ella react? Yeah, he was a coward when it came to Ella. And she knew it. Debating over he reached for the handle and opened the door.

“D…d..dad?” Sammy stuttered when he saw him coming through the door.

“Hey son,” Roman fixed him with a smile. “I need to see..”

“If it’s Mother you want she’s in bed.” Sophie shot out coming down the stairs and looking at him. She stopped just behind Sammy and gave him a gentle push encouraging him to go down the remaining steps.

“Actually I want to speak to you,” Roman told her.

“Me?” Sophie raised an eyebrow and gave him a look that Roman couldn’t work out whether it was something she got from her mother or from her sister, Nicole.

“You, can we go into the study?” he asked.

Sophie shot Sammy a puzzled look before she walked gracefully into the study. She looked around the room before clearing a pile of books off the sofa and sitting down. Roman noticed the way she smoothed down the back of her skirt before she perched, crossing one leg over the other at the ankles.

“How may I help?” She asked him politely.

Roman bit back a smirk before he closed the door and moved to sit next to her.

“I need to know what is going on between you and Angel.” He stated slowly.

“Why?” she shot back, a hostile note in her voice again.

“So that I can fix things.”

“Ain’t no way you can do that!” Sophie shot out standing up and glaring at him.

“Sophie please sit down,” Roman spoke softly and could have grinned at the way her expression changed. She glared at him before sinking back down on the sofa.

“Fine,” she muttered folding her arms across herself.

“Please tell me what happened.”

“She kissed him. In front of me.”

Sophie glared some more at her father before she lifted her hands to cover her face and burst into tears.

“It’s ok Sophie,” Roman said putting his arms around her and comforting her. He felt her tense at his touch before she sighed and sank into his arms letting him hold her. He sighed too, and gave her a reassuring squeeze and couldn’t help remembering how she would run into his arms for a cuddle when she was smaller. He felt his heart thump in his chest and smiled at the emotion going through him.

“No it’s not ok Dad, it’s not ok at all.”

“Listen to me, Angel is jealous of you,” he began quietly feeling her shake in his arms. “You used to be so close, almost like you and her were the twins instead of you and Georgie. She’s obviously been missing you.”

“Missing me?” Sophie sniffed. “Then maybe she shouldn’t have snogged my boyfriend!” She added indignantly.

Roman hastily wiped the smile off his face remembering the way Ella had said something similar about Martha a while back. Sophie even managed to sound just like her.

“No, she shouldn’t,” he agreed. “And I’m sure she regrets it. Remember Princess and how she went riding with you even though she didn’t like horses?”

Sophie eased back and looked at him, her eyes narrowing.

“Remember buying her that necklace that said best friends forever? Do you still have your half of it?”

Sophie flinched but nodded.

“Can’t let all those memories fade can you?” he asked her.

“She doesn’t respect me.”

Roman eased back and looked at her.

“I’m sure that it isn’t that. If you are willing to give it a go I’ll talk to Angel.”

Sophie glared at him before a few minutes she nodded slowly and stood up.

“Think your Mum will be up to having a BBQ this weekend?” he asked softly and saw her face light up at the suggestion. Ella was right; they had missed the family getting together.

“I don’t know,” she whispered her voice falling. “She was pretty upset earlier and well, she dragged Meggy home.”

“I know I’m sure I can sweet talk her!” he shot Sophie a grin and saw her smile tentatively in response.

“Ok then if she agrees and supposing Angel will talk to you.”

“Sophie,” Roman began before trailing off.

How did he tell his daughter that he loved her and he was proud of her? She got mostly A’s, she kept her job in the Shack and occasional shifts in the diner. She cooked and helped look after the younger kids. And despite the pink and now purple streaked hair she was beautiful.

“Dad?” she prompted her voice losing the hard edge it sometimes had to it.

“It’s going to sound really lame,” he murmured looking away from her for a moment as he steadied his voice. “But I love you.”

“Dad?” she squeaked out the question and hastily tried to think of reasons why she didn’t throw herself back into his arms. Mum, she thought suddenly, whatever had happened between them to cause her Mum to be upset had to be something. Clutching at that she fixed her gaze on him and glared. “Yeah, well, that really isn’t something that bothers me,” she muttered ignoring that it didn’t really make sense.

Standing she shot him another hostile look, and walked across the room to the door.

“I’m proud of you too,” Roman told her too in a quieter voice ignoring the lump that had entered his throat at her words.

Sophie inclined her head briefly in the manner that that was so familiar to him because it was just like Ella would have done before she opened the door and moved out of the room. She walked steadily over to the longue where everyone seemed to be gathered and slowly eased down on the sofa. She kept her facial expression neutral and looked over to the tv.

“What are we watching?” She asked slowly.

“Johnny English Reborn,” Sammy supplied a curious expression on his face.

“Cool,” she murmured.

Roman heard the exchange and felt his heart plummet before he stood and moved out of the study and over to the stairs. He shot a look at the kids sitting together before walking up them slowly and going into Lily and Liam’s room. Kneeling down next to Lily’s bed he gently woke her.

“Dada, what..” she sniffed and opened sleepy eyes looking over at him.

“Dada wants to say sorry,” he began leaning down and pressing a kiss to her forehead. “He was just teasing about taking Fudge.”

Lily gave him a sleepy smile.

“Mama ‘plained Dada,” Lily told him. “S’ok’s!”

“Did she?” He asked her.

“Yeses!” Lily nodded. “Mama and Dada cuddles sometimes is all.”

Roman smiled at her.

“Yes we do,” he said slowly.

“Fudgie no like yous anymore anyways, see…” she pointed to the ginger cat curled up at the bottom of her bed asleep.

“So I see and thank you for taking such good care of Fudgie,” Roman told her quietly. “I think he would miss you.”

Lily gave him a loving look before nodding.

“Me miss him too,” she confirmed.

He leaned forward and kissed the top of her head.

“Goodnight my Princess,”

Lily looked up at him before yawning. She turned on her side and snuggled down under the covers half smiling when Roman tucked her in.

“Mes and Fudgie say nite nite toos,” she told him in a sleepy voice.

Easing out of the room he found himself looking over at Ella’s room and groaned before walking up to the door and knocking softly before turning the handle and walking inside closing the door behind him.

He saw Ella lying on the bed, her face pale and dark shadows under her eyes. Going over to her side he sat down on the bed and gently shook her awake.

“What?” She gasped out before rolling over to the other side of the bed and vaulting off it to run into the bathroom. Roman frowned as he heard her being sick before he paled. He eased up and followed her, wetting a flannel to wipe her face.

“Ella?” he asked slowly, unable to phrase the rest of the question.

“I’m ill.” She whispered.

“We had sex.”

Ella looked up from where she was sitting next to the toilet.

“We did? When?” She drawled out before groaning.

“Ella,” Roman groaned too before he put his hand on her back and stroked a smooth circle.

“I’m not pregnant,” she muttered to him. “I’m on the pill.”

“I’m,” he stopped wondering how to tell her he’d had an appointment to discuss a vasectomy. He was just waiting for a date to come through before he went ahead with it. “Ella I have something to tell you.”

She fixed him with a glare.

“And you think now is the time to tell me?”

He sighed and rubbed a hand over his face.

“I’m getting a vasectomy.”

Ella reached out and slapped him.

“Get out.” She cried out before bending over the toilet and throwing up again.

Roman groaned and reached forward to help her before she slapped his hands away. He shook his head feeling rejected again before reluctantly standing and walking into the bedroom leaving her alone. He sank down on to the blanket box at the end of the bed and waited.

Finally Ella eased out of the bathroom and looked over at him. He couldn’t help but notice that her freckles stood out even more on her pale face.

“So is that what you came over to tell me?” she murmured in a soft voice.

He shook his head.

“So when were you going to tell me exactly?”

“I don’t know,” he shrugged. “It didn’t seem to be important.”

As soon as the words were out of his mouth he knew he’d just hurt her again. How was it possible that him getting something like that done so that there would be no more children not be important, he asked himself.

“I see,” she told him.

“Ella, that isn’t why I came to talk to you.”

She faced him, standing straight, her shoulders back before meeting his gaze.


“I want us to have a BBQ this weekend. With the family.”

Her eyes narrowed.


“El, I want to try and get the family together.”

She folded her arms across herself.

“Now you care about the family?”

“Fine if you want to be like that.”

He stood up and faced her.

“You should leave.”

Roman nodded before turning away and heading over to the door. He turned and glanced at her one last time before going out of the door and down the stairs. Stopping before he reached the front door he looked in on the kids.

“All sorted Sophie,” he told her. “I’m off to see Nic and Aden now and organise the rest of it.”

Sophie nodded coolly watching him leave the house before she felt the eyes of the others on her face.

“Dad is trying to mend things between me and Angel,” she said in a subdued voice. “He’s organising a family BBQ.”

“Oh,” Meggy said before she shot up and screamed out excitedly. “That is awesome,”

“What is awesome?” Ella asked from the doorway having come down the stairs without them noticing.

“Having a BBQ,” Meggy squealed. “I’ve so missed them. Thanks Mum!” she added and launched herself over at her before hugging her.

“We’re…” Ella stopped and swore silently before easing away from Meggy. “Sophie?” she said after a minute.

“He’s trying to fix things.” Sammy supplied. “Isn’t that great?”

“I see.”

Ella stood there with the kids looking at her and gave them a slow smile before she moved into the kitchen and took out a bottle of water from the fridge. She turned when Sophie entered the room behind her.

“You said no, didn’t you?”

“What did he say to you?” Ella asked ignoring the question.

Sophie burst into tears and ran over to her mother flinging herself into her arms.

“I miss.. Angel so much and you never fixed it…” she sobbed out falling over the words.

“Because I can’t fix everything,” Ella murmured her arms tight around her crying daughter. “Some things you have to sort out for yourself.”

“Mum!” Sophie groaned and eased back looking at her.

“You stopped talking to her when you started dating Steve.” Ella chided gently. “There were bound to be some times when you fell out. Got to learn what to cling on to and what to let go.”

“Like you and Dad?” Sophie muttered pulling back and glaring at her mother. “Because you hung on to a load of stuff to throw at him didn’t you?”

“I’m done Sophie, either you want me to hold you and help you or you want to scream at me either way I can’t deal with it right now.” Ella eased away placing a hand on her stomach as it somersaulted.

Sophie glared at her before she turned and ran out of the kitchen and up the stairs. The sound of a slamming door sounded after a minute and Ella sighed before taking a long drink of the water. Walking through to the longue she saw Georgie giving her a look and Meggy and Sammy looking subdued.

“Have you eaten?” she asked slowly.

Georgie nodded.

“Though we could probably do with a pizza?”

Ella half smiled half grimaced before recognising that she could probably do with some food.


Sammy grinned and jumped up racing over to the phone.

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Chapter 34

Ella pulled up outside Roman’s and grimaced. He was not going to be happy with her but she knew she had to go and see him. They had things to sort out. Hopping out of the car she crossed over the road and walked up to his front door and knocked on it.

After a minute the door opened and she saw Roman standing there, his phone pressed to his ear. He gave her a look before gesturing for her to come in.

“No that is what I’m trying to sort out.” He muttered into the phone.

Ella stepped over the threshold and walked inside. She spotted the kids laptop open on the table and a stack of paperwork beside it before smiling slowly and turning to Roman.

He sighed before speaking into the phone once more.

“No, don’t put me on hold,” he said and groaned.

Ella could hear the music coming from the phone as he was placed back into the queue and she could see his frustration. He glared at the phone before disconnecting the call and folded his arms across himself.

“What do you want?” he asked.

She gave him a quick smile at his impatient tone and saw him rub a hand over his face.

“Sorry.” He muttered. “Just having….”

“The bank called me.” Ella interrupted.

“They did? Why?”

“I’m not sure why, I assume for some reason they still have the house phone as one of your contacts.”

“Well I’m sorting it.” He growled out.

Ella looked down and heard him sigh.

“What did you do Ella?”

“I put some money into your account.”

“Oh great,” he swore before noticing that Ella flinched at his tone and moved quickly over to her. “I was trying to sort it, you can’t just…”

She looked up as he trailed off and met his expression, biting her bottom lip anxiously.

“I assumed that as we were talking about getting back together then money shouldn’t be an issue.” She began. “And well, we’ve never really argued about money are we going to start now?”

“Sit down.”

Ella heard the hurt tone in his voice and moved over to the long sofa and sank down on to it leaning back against the cushions. She forced herself not to flinch when Roman sat opposite her, perching on the coffee table.

“Why have you..” he stopped and rephrased the question. “You can’t throw money at me and expect it to fix the problems.”

Ella sat back against the cushions and glared at him.

“I assumed that helping you out would stop you worrying about your mortgage and the bills.” She muttered.

“Oh great!” he swore again.

“Stop!” Ella shot up and glared at him. “I put money into your account so that your mortgage got paid. Then you could keep the roof over your head and not have to worry about working all the hours just to pay the bills.”

“Controlling me.”

“Fine,” She went to move past him when he shot up off the table and grabbed hold of her arm.

“You can’t come storming in here one day and have a go at me and then act like we are a couple the next.”

“In that case you better knock next time you turn up at my house.” She shot back smirking as his face flushed.

“Coffee?” he asked after a moment and saw her nod. “How much did you put into my account?”

“You don’t want to know, you’ll only get mad at me again,”

Roman chuckled feeling his anger leaving him. He wasn’t mad at her, not really but himself. He’d paid for the meal in the restaurant accidently using his debit card and not his credit card. The money had come from his account and meant that he was short on his mortgage and would have made his debits bounce.

“Come here.” He told her.

Ella slipped into his arms and hugged him.

“I was going to suggest that you do some jobs around the house to pay me back.” She murmured. “If you wanted to that is.”

He gave her a look before easing away and moving into the kitchen, coming back a moment later and handing her a cup before sitting down on the sofa with her.

“Is that all you came to talk about because you still have a pensive look on your face.”

Ella shrugged before sighing.

“Obviously not,” he surmised.

“I was in the wrong for insisting Meggy come home.” She began and bit her bottom lip before looking up at him from under her lashes. “So I was going to suggest that I talk to them and find out what they want.”

Roman chuckled.

“I think you’ll find they will want us to move in together,”

Ella laughed.

“No chance.”

“Oh thanks,” Roman gave her a hurt look.

“I meant that we will decide when it is right for us to take that step.”

He gave her that little boy look and managed to pout at the same time making her giggle at him before she leaned forward and kissed him.

“Ok, so in essence you are going to …”

“Empower the kids and give them more freedom. I think it’s the next step isn’t it? Trusting them to maybe walk to the diner and here after school.” She bit her lip again and looked at him anxiously.

“Are you going to be ok doing that?” he asked her after a minute.

“I don’t know, but I need to try. Mike had way more freedom than them. I can’t let my hang ups keep controlling them it’s not fair.”

He reached out and took hold of her hand entwining his fingers with hers.

“Brave step, my El.”

“About time wouldn’t you say?”

“Maybe, “

He leaned over and kissed her.

“Roman,” she murmured easing back and looking at him. “Are we..”

“Still going on Thursday? Better believe we are.”

She looked down at their joined hands and sighed.

“It will be ok Ella.” He said suddenly.

“But we are still…

“Us.” He finished. “We are allowed to get mad at each other and fight, just got to stop letting it build into the end of the world type stuff.”

“Ok, who are you and what have you done with my husband?” she said and immediately flushed at the slip.

Roman smiled before leaning over and kissing her softly.

“I should have told you about the vasectomy.”

Ella nodded before reaching into her handbag and taking out a small white wand. She handed it to him looking at his face as he realised what it was.

“Not pregnant then.” He commented looking slightly disappointed.

“Ah ha, I knew it.” She muttered giving him a look. “You wanted me to be pregnant!”

Roman shrugged and handed the white stick back to her.

“Maybe I did, you do happen to look beautiful when you are pregnant.” He sighed. “But I can’t let you risk having another baby, besides we are getting old Ella,” he grinned at her ‘hrumph’, “And we are only just getting time back for ourselves. I want,”

“What?” Ella prompted.

“I want to do more with my life,” he admitted. “Not that our marriage and the kids aren’t wonderful achievements but well I used to want to run my own restaurant.”

Ella sighed before she put her empty cup on the table. She noted that he had barely touched his drink and looked at him.

“You do the facts and figures and I’ll invest. We’ll do everything above board on the same terms I subsidised the diner refurbishment. “

Roman sighed.

“I can’t accept El, I have to do it on my own or not at all.”

She shrugged off the pain his refusal wrought within her.

“Don’t answer me now, but what is the difference between accepting a bank loan or a loan off me?” she said forcing her voice to be even.

“I can answer you now, you believe in me El, you want me to be happy and you honestly don’t care if I pay back the money or not.” He looked at her and saw the expression she used when she didn’t want anyone to know she was upset inside and he sighed before lifting her up and placing her in his lap, his arms going around her.

“Couldn’t do this to your bank manager,” she murmured in a quiet voice.

“I could, he might not enjoy it as much as you do though.”

Ella gave him a small smile.

“See, we’re only talking about it and you are upset. El, I’m not even sure that I want the hassle of a restaurant. It didn’t work out so well last time I did one here in the Bay.”

“Then what is the solution? You need to be happy Roman, not just with us,” and he smiled when she stroked her hand down his arm to emphasis the ‘us’ part of her sentence. “We need to be happy,”

“You make me happy El, don’t ever doubt that. But with you doing your photography and your degree, I just don’t want to …”

Ella sighed and leaned into him.

“You won’t lose me.”

“I already have, too many times before.“ He couldn’t control the shudder that went through him and lifted his head to look into her eyes. “We are so lucky to be here, to be trying again, after everything, I don’t want to do anything to jeopardise that. And taking on a huge loan, and a restaurant seems to be too much right now even though I know I need to do something.”

“Like what then?” Ella prompted in a voice he recognised from when she was encouraging the kids in whatever they were trying out and he smiled at that too.

“If I knew, I’d probably do it.”

Ella giggled as she felt tension leaving her.

“We have just gone around in a great big circle.”

“I know. I think part of it is that I know you believe in me, in anything I do and that is great, so great that I can’t even explain just how amazing that makes me feel. But,”

“But?” Ella said slowly.

“I think I need to believe in myself a bit more.” He admitted.

Ella looked at him before leaning closer and pressing her lips to his. He pulled her closer, if that were possible and wrapped his arms a bit tighter around her. She had no idea how beautiful she was, or how loving she was.

“How are you going to do that? What do you need?” She asked when they broke apart.

“I don’t know.” He said back, his voice husky.

“If you were to close your eyes and think about where you want to be in five years, what would you see?”

Roman looked at her and grinned at her earnest expression. He closed his eyes and thought about where he wanted to be, what he wanted for the future. He could only see Ella and their kids and working in the diner. As he opened his eyes he saw Ella, his Ella and smiled at her.

“You,” he murmured. “Our kids, the diner, that is all I saw.”

“Maybe that is all you need for the moment.” Ella suggested before kissing him again.

“I know I need you to make me happy.”

She groaned against his lips before giggling as he eased her back on the cushions of the sofa and began kissing her.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Chapter 35

Ella looked at the four kids sitting opposite her at the table as she eased into a chair and faced them.

“Have we done something wrong?” Meggy asked. “Is this about Dad?”

“In a sense,” Ella sighed and bit her lip.

“What now?” Sophie muttered assuming an expression of boredom.

Ella sucked in a deep breath.

“I think that you need to have more responsibility.”

“Does this come with more housework?”

Ella smiled at Sammy’s question. “No, I mean walking to your Dad’s or the Diner after school.”

“What?” Georgie said and she looked over at her eldest son smiling as he flushed. “It’s just that you always have to know where we are.” He explained.

“I know..”

“That is my fault,” Sammy interrupted her.

“No, it’s my fault. I needed to know that you were safe, but well, you are growing up now so it’s time you had a bit more responsibility and freedom.”

“Does this freedom come with an increase in allowance?”

“Oh Meggy!” Sammy groaned at his sister’s question.

“I think you can have a small increase because no doubt you are thinking of going to the diner in your lunchbreak too?” Ella worked out and saw Meggy half nod in response.

Sophie looked at her sister before speaking. “We don’t go now, but our friends do and well…” she trialled off losing her courage.

“Thank you guys, I’m sure that wasn’t easy for you,” Ella sucked in another breath before looking at Sophie and then Georgie in turn. “You two are also going to be babysitting the others.”

“What? By ourselves?” Georgie shot out feeling his twin’s excitement.

“Yes, Mike was looking after you for short periods of time when he was younger than you are now.”

“Well cool, when do we break into the drinks cabinet and have a party?”

Ella laughed at Sammy’s question before she looked round each of them.

“Is that ok?” she asked her voice tremulous.

“It’s pretty cool Ma,” Georgie told her having picked up the familiar term from Mike calling her Ma and she smiled that that. It told her just how close a bond her children had.

“Good,” she said feeling emotional tears prick her eyes, “Now then about seeing your dad, I don’t see why you can’t split your time between us.”

Meggy shot the others a look before lowering her head and remaining silent as they began to talk about it.

“How will it work?” Sophie asked finally. “Because most of our stuff is here.”

“I assume that you’ll get yourselves organised enough to have what you need over there. You have plenty of clothes so you can keep some there, and that includes uniforms.”

“Ok, cool!” Sammy said nodding.

Meggy sat there, thinking that no one had asked her about what she wanted. She’d heard her Dad say that he hated her Mum, how was she supposed to deal with this she was a kid? What was she supposed to say? Looking at Sammy’s excited face she felt so guilty because she didn’t want her parents back together like they did. She didn’t want to stay with her Dad and listen to him try and justify things. She nerved up the courage to say something when her mother pulled out her phone and dialled.

“Roman, you are speaker.” Ella announced into the phone before placing it on the table.

“Who am I speaking to?” Roman asked from the other side of the Bay. He’d grinned at hearing her voice despite the hour they’d spent together earlier. That is how he knew he was in love with her again. Either that or he’d turned into a lovesick schoolboy.

“Sophie, Georgie Meggy and Sammy,” Ella told him.

“Hey Dad!” Sammy said loudly flushing when the others laughed at him.

“So,” Roman murmured.

“I’ve told them that they can come and stay with you when they want,” she bit her lip and sucked in a breath before she spoke again, “and that they can walk to the diner or your place after school.”

“And lunchtime,” Sophie said quickly.

“So essentially you are going to trust them to behave? And before you answer that, remember they are related to Lily.”

Ella laughed feeling the tension of earlier leaving her.

“I think they will be ok.”

Georgie chuckled, “Does this mean like, you and Dad are talking again?”

“Yeah, are you talking to me again?” Roman asked.

Ella’s eyes narrowed as she looked at Georgie and then the phone in turn.


Roman chuckled at her tone.

“Fine, I’ll deal with that. About the BBQ on Saturday,”

“Have you spoken to Nic?” Sophie butted in.

“I have, and Aden. Everybody is looking forward to it, Soph.”

Sophie nodded and leaned back in her chair; she gave a little gasp as Meggy reached out and took hold of her hand giving it a little reassuring squeeze.

“I’m speaking to Angel tomorrow, if that was worrying you Soph,” he murmured into the phone.

“She had another go at Sophie today,” Sammy announced.

“Ok,” Roman murmured quietly.

Ella didn’t have to see Roman to know that he would have a frown on his face, he’d already admitted he was conflicted by this whole situation, on the one hand he was desperate to protect his daughter but how could he hurt his granddaughter in the process.

“Thank you Samson,” Ella said into the silence.

“Speaking of the BBQ, we need to discuss a few things,” Roman said quickly.

“Like what?” Ella asked equally as quickly.

“Like food and drink,” Roman smirked before he spoke again, “I think you should come over tomorrow night so we can discuss it.”

Ella shot a look at the kids before she grabbed the phone and clicked it off speaker. She caught them all looking at her and walked barefoot out the back and on to the lawn.

“What are you playing at?” she asked just loud enough for the kids to hear as she walked away before getting far enough that they couldn’t overhear, “Are you crazy?”

“Dinner, tomorrow and shopping on Friday hopefully,” he replied with a laugh.

“Roman, surely we can discuss it after…”

“No,” he sighed into the phone before moving across the room and lying down on the sofa. “We know how much that counselling takes out of us and exactly what we are going to discuss tomorrow.”

“I don’t think that she looks very happy,” Sammy announced to the others from his position at the door where he was peering at his mother.

Ella groaned.

“You mean sex,” she began.

“We can have sex too, but I was thinking about dinner, talking, and sorting out the details of the BBQ.” Roman murmured deliberately misunderstanding her.

“I hate you,” Ella muttered and heard him laugh.

“Seriously, El, would you do me the honour of coming to dinner tomorrow night?” Roman asked formally. “I would like to spend some time with you.”

Ella eased down on to the long bench at the bottom of the garden.

“Fine,” she muttered keeping her tone the same despite the fact she had turned to goo inside at his question. “It depends on getting someone to look after the kids though.”

“Sophie,” Roman said immediately.

“Oh God man, don’t push me!” she cried and heard his laughter.


“Don’t even finish that sentence, this is hard enough for me,” Ella stood and walked restlessly to the house.


“I’m ignoring you now.”

“Be brave my El,” Roman encouraged.

Ella stepped into the house and looked at Sophie.

“If I go to see your father tomorrow night do you think you could babysit the younger ones?” she asked her daughter.

Sophie paled and turned her head to look at her brother when she felt Georgie putting his hand on her shoulder.

“She can do it,” he said with quiet authority.

Ella felt tears pricking her eyes as she thought how proud she was of her son and nodded before speaking into the phone.

“Seven pm.”

“See you tomorrow at seven,” Roman paused and his voice went husky, “Love you Ella Addison.”

Ella rolled her eyes.

“Bye,” she muttered curtly and heard him chuckle again. She disconnected the call and put her phone away and walked over to the sofa smiling as the kids came too.

“You really think I can look after Lily and Liam and the twins?” Sophie asked looking worried.

“Of course I do, I’m just nervous because I..” Ella stopped as Sammy looked at her. She had to swallow past the lump in her throat.

“She’s nervous because of me getting kidnapped,” Sammy supplied. “She’ll be fine, won’t you Mum?”

Ella nodded and smiled as Meggy moved to her side and pulled her arm around her.

“You ok?” Ella asked.

“I’m fine and Sammy and I will help Sophie,” she murmured.

“I know you will, I do trust each of you and I know that you’ll be fine. I just worry a bit too much about you.”

“It’s nice that you do,” Sophie began, “I mean there are some kids at school that don’t have this, a family that cares.”

“Like Casey,” Meggy murmured.

“Is that why you like her?” Sammy asked his sister.

“A little bit, but she’s like really funny and she doesn’t laugh that much though,” Meggy shrugged.

“Maybe you should have Casey over for a sleepover?”

“Where Mum? I mean do I live with Dad or you?”

Ella sighed feeling her daughter’s pain at this broken family before leaning over and kissing the top of her daughter’s head.

“My lovely Meggy girl, you live with your Father and Me, and you get to choose, which is what this is about. I want none of you to feel guilty about seeing your Dad, and I want it to be natural to go to him.”

“Like with problems and stuff?” Georgie asked slowly.

“Exactly, I know there has been a lot of emotional fallout from us splitting up and as the older kids you copped a lot of it. Well it’s time that we stopped you from having to deal with it. Another couple of years and you’ll be doing your HSC and then college or Uni,”

“And after we all move out you get to do it all again with Lily!” Sammy said quickly.

“No chance I’m shipping her off to your father and running away!” Ella said with a laugh.

“Come on, let’s put a film on and chill,” Georgie told the others with that quiet authority he had and Ella was struck by how much like his father he was turning out to be. She supposed she had to get her head around the fact that he would go into the army like Mike but not right now, no tonight she would focus on how amazing her kids were and enjoy them before worrying about what they would do as adults.

“Anything except Finding Nemo,” Ella told them and saw all four of them look at her in surprise. “I’m trying to give it up!” she added and watched them laugh at her.

The snacks came out and they settled down to watch National Treasure, Sammy’s choice of film.

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Warning: Some reference to Abuse!

Chapter 36

“Come through,” Eloise murmured to them.

Ella looked over at Roman and sucked in a deep breath before easing up from her seat and walking into the counsellor’s office. She felt the heat from his body and he walked in behind her and sighed quietly when he placed his hand in the small of her back and guided her over to the long sofa away from the two seats near the desk. She knew why he did it of course, he was planning to talk about her sexuality, her ‘hang ups’ and wanted to make sure she was ok, that she knew he was there for her and that made her sigh again.

“Please sit down,” Eloise said easing into a seat opposite the long sofa herself. Ella and Roman sat down and Roman immediately took hold of her hand. “So how have things been?”

“Pretty ok,” Roman answered, “We’ve been doing our usual,”

“Arguing and making up.” Ella put in earning a look from Roman.

“Ok, are you spending much time with each other?”

“A little,” Ella began.

“We’re having dinner tonight,” Roman said at the same time.

The two of them looked at each other and laughed. Ella’s laugh was nervous and uncertain and she hated the vibration in her voice that was giving off how hard she was finding this. On top of her decision to give the kids more freedom she was finding that she was very vulnerable.

“That seems to be a step in the right direction,” Eloise smiled at them, “How is things with you and the children?”

Ella sucked in a breath before turning to Roman; he nodded at her and began speaking.

“I’ve arranged a BBQ at Ella’s for this weekend so that we spend some time with each other, and well, I’m mediating between my daughter Sophie and my granddaughter Angel. Trying to get things back on track.”

“Is this something you wouldn’t normally do?”

Roman nodded.

“Ella is right; I leave the kids to her to parent. Too much. It’s past time I stepped up as a parent,” he murmured feeling the warmth of Ella’s hand inside his own. He glanced at her seeing faint lines of strain around her mouth and frowned.

“I’ve given the older ones more freedom,” she said slowly. ”They can choose who they want to stay with, and well, see their dad after school.”

“Ok, and how are you going to police that?”

“Police?” Ella asked slowly.

“Well if they say they are at their Dad’s and instead, say, they are with a friend?”

“They wouldn’t lie.” Roman muttered giving the counsellor a glare. “Our kids aren’t like that.”

Ella bit her lip and looked anxiously at Roman.

“El, seriously, they know how big a deal this is for you,” he murmured transferring hold of her hand to his other hand freeing him up so he could put his arm around her.

“I know but what..” She sucked in a breath and blew it out again before sighing, loudly. “No, it will be fine. The kids can be trusted. I’m worrying needlessly.”

Roman sighed too before he met Ella’s glance.

“Well done my El,” he murmured rubbing soothing circles on her back.

“Still,” Eloise said slowly.

“The kids will be fine.”

Ella thought she’d spoken aloud before realising that it was Roman who said that and then realised that those simple words has eased her fears. How she hated him for the ability he had of calming her down when she was about to panic and her eyes narrowed as she looked at him and saw the smirk he had on his face, did she also have to mention that she hated when he read her mind too?

“So, what do you want to discuss today?”

Ella turned at Eloise’s question.

“I don’t want to discuss it but it seems that we have an issue with my sexuality.”

Roman sighed next to her, his hand momentarily stilling on her back before he spoke.

“It’s not that you aren’t amazing El, just that there are certain things we’ve never discussed and I want to make sure that we can do that.”

“Like what?” Ella snapped.

Roman smiled knowing that she wasn’t upset she was being defensive.

“Like the kids accidently walking in on us for example,” Roman murmured.

“I told you,” Ella groaned feeling her face flush.

“Ella,” Eloise murmured in her no-nonsense voice, “Perhaps you’d like to expand on the reasons behind that?”

“Perhaps I wouldn’t,” Ella shot back.

She suddenly decided she didn’t like the other woman, not because it felt like she and Roman were ganging up on her, and it did feel like that, no there was something else, something she couldn’t put her finger on, something that made her feel suddenly uneasy.

“El,” Roman prompted.

“Fine,” Ella turned to Roman and in a quiet voice she began to speak. “My mother had lovers. A lot of lovers and one day, I was about eight, I saw them. She didn’t know I was there but he certainly did. He,” she had to stop to suck in a breath remembering the scene. “Well he put on a show, I was trying to get away but they would have known I was in my mother’s room when I shouldn’t have been. Michael dared me you see.”

“El,” Roman said again moving closer to her. He’d had no idea of the horror she’d endured as a child despite the little bits she’d told him over the years.

“Anyway, when it was over my mother found me, and I said that I’d tell my father and that is when she broke my arm.”

Roman eased even closer to her on the brown fabric sofa and pulled her to him. He pressed a kiss to the top of her head.

“El, I knew something happened.”

“It’s not that I’m ashamed of us, it’s that I don’t want them to be uncomfortable.”

“And you believe if they do happen to stumble in on you and Roman they would be uncomfortable?”

“Wouldn’t you if you came across your parents having sex?

“I would, however, this is about you and Roman. I’m sure that if you approach this in a more mature fashion you’d realise that it is need not be a big issue,” Eloise addressed her remark to Ella, “I feel that at the moment you are approaching it as if you were still the little girl who was shocked by the image of sex.”

As Ella listened to the counsellor she examined what she felt about the kids seeing them, the older kids understood what sex was, and had been around when she was pregnant, so it wasn’t a case of hiding what sex was from them just protecting them from potential embarrassment.

Turning to Roman she looked into his face.

“You aren’t doing what she said,” he muttered and in those few words Ella felt a weight lifting off her shoulders. “It’s not like she’s keeping sex a dirty secret from the kids. She’s the one who explained the facts of life to the older ones. She did it in a matter of fact way and allowed them to come to understand things in their own time.”

Ella looked down as she heard Roman defending her to the counsellor before lifting her eyes to look at the other woman.

“So what do you think the issue is?” Eloise asked.

Roman looked at Ella before standing up and tugging on Ella’s hand.

“We wanted counselling because there are issues we need to deal with in order not to fall apart again, but I’m not going to let you or anybody else make Ella feel bad about herself. She is more wonderful and loving and amazing than I can even describe and she is allowed to want our love making private. I was in the wrong for even broaching it,” Roman muttered before turning to Ella, “Come on let’s get out of here and go do something fun.”

Ella gave a little gasp and nodded before laughing as he strode out of the counsellors office, past a startled receptionist and then out into the fresh air and on to the street not stopping or easing his pace until they were at the car. He turned and looked into her eyes before lifting his free hand to her cheek and grazing his knuckles softly against her skin.

“My Ella, my wonderful Ella,” he murmured his voice soft and tender, “You are the most special and lovely person and making love to you is like stepping into heaven. I will not let anyone make you feel…”

“Like Gardy did?” Ella murmured.

“Yes,” Roman said controlling himself from flinching at the name. “That is what she was doing wasn’t it? I could see your face, yes, going through that when you were a kid was horrible and embarrassing and it’s natural that you want to protect the kids from feeling the same but you weren’t thinking so much about that were you?”

Ella shuddered, she couldn’t help herself.

“I just remembered what it was like to be defenceless.”

Roman nodded before tugging her close and holding her against him. He could feel her heart beating a fierce tattoo in her chest and felt his own joining hers. Words that had been banging inside his head for a while found their way to his mouth and he began to speak.

“When Alexi took you into that other room I got so angry,” Roman began.

“I noticed you killed him.”

“No with you, for letting him take you away without a fight. I know it’s not rational El, there was nothing you could do to stop him but hell woman, seeing you there with him on top of you.”

Roman closed his eyes and swallowed feeling a lump in his throat.

“Is that why you …” Ella stopped and pulled away from him her eyes brimming with tears. “We should talk about this somewhere else.”

He looked at her seeing how pale she seemed and here he was talking about stuff that would hurt her. He was a monster, a cold unfeeling monster.

“Ok,” he said slowly.

Ella nodded and moved away round to the passenger side of the car waiting for Roman to unlock the car. Once inside she fastened the seatbelt and glanced over at Roman as he did the same. She couldn’t help but notice the tremor in his hands as he fiddled with the catch doing it up. Looking at his profile she saw that his jaw had clenched revealing how hard he’d found this. She turned her head and looked at the fuel gauge and reached her hand out to him, placing her hand on his knee as he started the car and pulled out of the carpark.

“El,” he murmured some time later.

“Take a left,” She instructed looking at the road in front of them.


“Don’t ask just do it.”

Roman let out a slow chuckle before glancing at her as he did her bidding.

“Where are we going?”

“I don’t know,” Ella murmured. “Just where the roads take us.”

“Don’t you have to be at college this afternoon?”

“I did but this is more important.”

“Ella, your… “

She giggled cutting through his argument.

“I know that college, and school, are important but so are we. I think we need to get out of Summer Bay, if only for an hour and just sit on a beach somewhere and talk.”

Roman nodded before he grinned his little boy grin and shifted gear, he pulled out of traffic and overtook the car in front before indicating and easing down a side road and gradually increasing his speed. Her gaze was on his hands and arms as he turned the steering wheel and used the controls of the car. She was completely aware of him as a man in a way she hadn’t been in a long time, despite still enjoying and active sex life with him.

“What are you thinking?” he asked cutting into her thoughts.

“Oh just stuff,” she prevaricated thinking that there were some things a girl needed to keep to herself.

“Is this stuff that will…”

“Relax,” She interrupted.

“Uh huh,” he shot her a glance before indicating again and this time pulling into a car park at the side of the road. Smiling as he watched her looking around.

“This is nice,” she murmured looking at the view across the beach.

Roman nodded and switched off the engine before he turned his head and looked at her.

“Do you want to get out?”

Ella shook her head.

“Maybe in a bit,” she said finally.

He nodded and unsnapped her seatbelt before seeing to his own and then reaching across into the cool bag he kept in the car he took out a bottle of water and handed to her.

“A little warm.”

Ella nodded accepting the drink and taking a long swallow.


Roman inclined his head.

“That is why I couldn’t…”

“Roman?” Ella prompted.

“After what happened in the diner, I couldn’t make love to you because I was angry.”

Ella had thought that there was nothing left to hurt her but this admission, in Roman’s normal matter of fact voice robbed her of breath for a moment as she gasped at the pain going through her.

“I didn’t want to hurt you the way that they did,” he added.

“And you couldn’t talk to me?”

He turned then and looked at her, his eyes meeting hers.

“Not like this, not then, too much had happened and I was dealing with too much,”

He stopped not wanting to use the word pain but that was what he felt at the time, not because of Ella but because of that single moment when he’d been glad he killed Alexi, when the adrenaline had been coursing through his body and he’d enjoyed the fight. That hurt him, knowing that within the space of a few minutes he’d forsaken all his years of being at peace with who he was and was back to being a soldier. Turning to Ella, his voice hoarse at the pain he was feeling he told her exactly that and then cried as she turned to him and held him. Her lips kissed away his tears before she spoke again.

“I’ve spent a lot of years fighting that part of you, a lot of years hating it. But Roman, I’m at peace now, with the army stuff. Michael wouldn’t have wanted me to hurt because he died and he certainly wouldn’t have wanted us to fight over it.”

“Could you have told me that a few years ago?” he said dryly.

“Of course I could, if you’d been able to accept it.”

Roman groaned before reaching out and catching hold of her. He looked deep into her eyes before placing a searing kiss on to her lips.

“I love you Ella,” he murmured against her lips feeling the emotion in the core of him.

“I love you too,” she paused, “My sexuality, was it just..”

Roman eased back against the seat wishing he wasn’t sitting in a car with her because he could do with holding her. How could he reassure her if he couldn’t hold her?


“So there was something else.”

“Will you listen without overreacting?” Roman muttered feeling defensive before he’d even said anything.

Ella turned and shot him a look.

“Of course not.”

He sighed and rubbed a hand over his face, an all too familiar gesture these days he thought with wry humour.

“I think you are amazing, you know that, when we were first married it was incredible. It still is in many ways, just over the years out sex life dimmed in places,” he resisted looking at her, “And it certainly isn’t anyone’s fault; it’s just the way things go.”

“So what exactly are you saying?” Ella bit out.

“I’m saying would you like to go over to the sand dunes there and ….”

“You pig!” Ella huffed and reaching out she hit him before giving into the laughter bubbling inside her. “I was ..”

“You are amazing, and I love making love to you, for five minutes or all night, but most of all I love holding you,” he told her his voice husky.

Ella moved in the car until she was kneeling up on her seat and leaned over she kissed him before stroking her hand down his arm.

“Five minutes, huh?” she murmured. “Who exactly is looking at a clock because I’m usually a bit busy.”

Roman laughed before putting his arms around her and holding her to him.

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Ok, this isn't the best chapter. I've been going through some stuff. Anyway, I have a question for you, if these stories were to be made into a TV series who would you chose to play Ella and the kids? Not forgetting all the other characters, Amy-Belle, Gabby, Toby, Brett, Jacko, Pete, Papa Joe......

Chapter 37

It took all of Ella’s willpower to leave Sophie in charge of the kids. Not that her daughter wasn’t going to be able to cope but this was the first time she’d done it. Of course Mike and Danni were down the garden in the poolhouse, as were Irene and her father. For that matter Gabby and, cough, cough, Brett, were in the stables. She had nothing to worry about. Still she shot another look in the direction of the house as she pulled out of the drive and headed towards Roman’s for dinner. She’d made no effort with her appearance before coming out on account of not wanting to make out this was anything more than just a dinner and that kind of sucked. She wanted to enjoy her time with him, wanted to enjoy being romanced before they were caught up in being parents again. And well, yeah, she wanted to wear a pretty dress and having him compliment her. Not that she always believed him, of course.

Pulling up outside his house she switched off the engine before climbing out of the car. Picking out her large handbag she locked her car and made her way over to his house. He answered the door on her first knock.

“Hey,” he murmured.

”Hey yourself,” Ella responded stepping into the house. “Now close your eyes.”

“Er ok,” he said puzzled, but he turned and shut door and remained standing there facing it.

Ella looked at him before she peeled off her jeans and t shirt and pulled out the dress she had in her hand bag. She grinned as she shook it out and pulled it over her head before taking out the band holding her pony tail in place and finger combing her hair out so that it fell down onto her shoulders in soft waves before she folded up her clothes and put them away before taking out her compact and giving her appearance a quick check over.

“Ok,” she told him.

Roman turned slowly around and sucked in a breath. His Ella looked beautiful and more than that, she looked happy.

“You, well, hot,” he muttered, his words muddling.

Ella glanced down at the dress she was wearing, white cotton with a lace frill on it. Nothing dressy at all she thought and smiled as she felt herself blushing at his intense gaze.

“Hot or nice?”

“I’m not falling for that one, whichever option I choose I’m going to be in the wrong!” Moving over to her he leaned down and placed a soft kiss to her lips. “Would you like a drink?”

“I’ll have a beer,” Ella said feeling butterflies in the pit of her stomach. He’d showered, and shaved, and that told her that he thought this was important, which of course made her smile.

Roman smiled over at her as he reached for the drinks. He considered pouring it out into a glass and then caught sight of her. He handed over the bottle and they exchanged a brief smile.

“Are you nervous or is that just me?” he asked leading her to sit on the sofa.

“You!” Ella replied cheekily.

He reached out and put his arm around her before leaning in and kissing her.

“No lipgloss?” he queried. “I was expecting that watermelon stuff you wear.”

She smiled up at him and he was struck by how happy she seemed and how her eyes were sparkling. If he had to walk through hell he would just to see her this happy.

“I thought it would be a waste of time.”

Roman threw back his head and laughed.

“Usually is.”

“See,” she murmured leaning up and kissing him again.

“Stop,” he said after some time, “I need to feed you and we need to talk and if you carry on like that I’ll be forced to take you upstairs and prove how small my …” he stopped talking when she giggled at him and flushed as he got why she was giggling, “Bed is.” He finished and heard her snigger.

“Of course, your bed,” she grinned.

Roman narrowed his eyes and looked at her before he stood and led her over to the table, pulling out her chair for her too. She shot him a look before sitting down.

“Now then, we need to talk about Sophie and Angel,” he began.

Ella shook her head at him.

“I so don’t think so.”

“I’m sorting it out but I need to talk to you about it,” he said slowly collecting their beers from the coffee table and putting hers in front of her whilst he took his through to the kitchen. She watched as he put the bottle to one side and began finishing the meal he’d prepared and couldn’t help the smile on her face as she watched him work. Looking over at her he grinned.

“What is that for?”

“Just remembering old times before we had the kids, when we’d spend nights like this,” he murmured softly. “We should make sure we do this once a month.”

Ella flushed and then sighed.

“What?” he asked quickly.

“I don’t know, I feel that the pressure to somehow…”

Roman moved quickly to her side and pulled out the bench seat and sat next to her.

“I don’t know how to keep explaining it to you, I love our kids you know I do and I wouldn’t change us having them for anything, but a part of me knows that we went from being a couple to being step parents and then parents. We’ve rarely had this time have we? Unless we are in a bad place and then we scrape back a little time for ourselves.”

Ella sighed again feeling somewhat deflated.

“I just want to be able to be us as well as parents.”

“I get that, I really do, and of course I want that too, but the constant ‘get back to how we were’ theme just makes me feel,” Ella stopped and looked at him before biting her bottom lip, “nagged,” she finished finally.

“I do get that, but there is no other way I can talk to you about it.”

“Well no, not after you beat the marriage guidance counsellor up.”

Roman groaned before meeting her gaze and smiled ruefully.

“I er.. defended you.”

“I know you did and I can’t tell anyone,” Ella sighed before flushing as he chuckled at her.

“Anyway, dinner,” he said after a moment realising he managed to get lost just looking into her sapphire eyes. Standing he walked back into the kitchen and returned a second later with a basket of fresh warm bread and dipping oils, one was olive oil and herbs and the other olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

He grinned as Ella nodded approvingly and reached for a slice of the bread, tearing off a section and dipping it in one of the oils before putting it in her mouth.

“Good?” He asked after a minute.

“Very good, but then you know I like this.”

He chuckled at her before placing a selection of ‘tapas’ on the table, potatoes in a garlic mayonnaise, olives, a Spanish omelette and a mixed salad and then sat next to her once more.

“So the BBQ,” she began.

“I’ve drawn up a list of things to buy.”

“Uh huh, I’m not shopping with you,” she told him and pressed her lips together to stifle her laughter as he pouted.

“I like you shopping with me,” he told her earnestly.

Ella shook her head before giggling as he shot her a little boy look.

“Aden and Geoff are bringing the beer,” he paused to pick an olive out of the bowl and put it in his mouth.

“Well I should think so the amount of times they’ve drunk me out of beer.”

Ella stopped and looked at her arm before frowning. Pushing back the chair she stood shakily rubbing at her arm.

“El,” Roman said standing too and walking over to her. “What’s wrong?”

“Home,” Ella gasped as tears sprang into her eyes.

Roman nodded and put his arm around her before tensing. He reached into his pocket and pulled out his phone.

“It’s Soph,” he explained to Ella as he answered the call, “Sophie?”

“Dad, come home quick, Lily fell and she’s crying, but like real tears not her fake ones and it’s…”

“Calm down Sophie, we are on our way…” he said as the phone went dead. Looking at a pale and shaken Ella he moved into action, putting his phone away before going and checking the kitchen to make sure the cooker was switched off. He looked back over at Ella and saw that even though she was shaking with reaction she had the presence of mind to grab her clothes and get changed back into jeans and a t shirt before they both ran out the door. Roman shot her another look as he got behind the wheel of his car and started the engine with Ella climbing into the passenger seat.

“I don’t care,” she muttered seeing him shoot her a look before he put his foot down. Roman knew that she didn’t like him driving fast, and both of them had been drinking, albeit only a beer. Glancing across at her he noticed her hands clench and unclench before she got control and folded her arms across her stomach. He pulled up outside the house and she shot out of the car before he’d even switched off the engine and ran inside leaving him to follow her.

“Sophie,” Ella called.

“In here,” Sophie answered from the longue.

Ella ran inside looking at a pale and shaking Sophie, Meggy and Sammy standing with her before her eyes went to Lily. Her baby daughter was lying on the long sofa looking broken.

“What’s happened Sophie?” Roman asked distracting his elder daughter as Ella moved to Lily’s side to check out their daughter.

“She fell,” Meggy jumped in when Sophie remained quiet.

“Down the stairs,” Sammy added. “Georgie is upstairs looking after Liam and the twins.”

“Ok.” Roman said to them before he looked at Ella. She nodded at him and he grimaced before moving over to Lily picking her up and carrying her out to the car.

“We’ll call you,” Ella promised as she grabbed a throw and ran out after Roman.

The trip to the hospital was a blur as was getting someone to look at Lily. She and Roman were ushered outside and made to wait while Lily was checked over.

“What if..” Ella began pacing back and forth.

“Are you about to say something you will regret?”

Ella shook her head but her eyes met with Roman’s.

“Sophie is great with the kids,” Roman murmured taking hold of her hand and tugging her over to the bank of chairs and making her sit down.

“I know she is,” Ella said as she eased into a chair, “We don’t know what happened aside from Lily fell.”

Her voice broke on the last part of the sentence and she looked over at Roman feeling shaky. He put his arm around her as they sat and waited for news of their daughter.

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Chapter 38

Roman stepped in through the front door. The house was quiet, subdued and he frowned before moving further inside and into the longue. The kids were seated around the table their schoolbooks in front of them although they looked like they weren’t studying much. Sophie looked up at him and even from that distance away he could tell that she had red rimmed eyes from crying.

“Hello,” he said to them.

“Mum is in the study,” Georgie told him, “She said for you to go and see her when you came over.”

Roman nodded before turning and easing out of the room, crossing the hallway and into the study. He had this strange urge to knock on the door before schooling himself and slipping inside the other room.

“Hey,” he said quietly.

“Oh hello,” Ella looked up from what she was doing. She had a highlighter pen clamped between her teeth and a pen stuck through her pony tail with her books spread out around her. “Kids ok?” she asked taking out the highlighter and holding it in her hand.

“Unusually quiet, I take it they didn’t want to go to school?”

She shook her head, “Can you blame them?”

“Not really,” he sighed. “Sophie blaming herself?” He asked already knowing the answer from seeing his daughter’s expression a few minutes before.

“I can’t go with you today, Scott sent through an assignment that has to be in on Monday.”

Roman found himself tensing at the way the other man’s name came so easily to her and frowned at the jealous feelings coursing through him. Now was not the time to give into them, there was a lot to arrange. A lot to sort out. He lifted his gaze and looked at Ella wondering how she could be this calm and just focus on her studying when everything that had happened last night was so fresh in his head.

She pushed away the books and eased up off the sofa, stretching as she walked over to him. He watched her warily remembering how upset she’d been before he opened his arms and she moved into them. He could feel her heart beating so very quickly in her chest and knew his was matching hers beat for beat.

“Hey you,” he murmured quietly, “Missed you last night, I could have done with holding you for a few hundred years.”

Ella laughed before easing away and looking into his eyes.

“Missed you too,” she whispered, “we should go speak to them about the arrangements.”

Roman nodded before he eased out of the room just ahead of her and led the way into the living room and over to the dining table.

“Kids,” he began.

“Here it comes,” Meggy muttered and earned a puzzled look from Sammy who was sitting next to her.

Ella moved past Roman and sat down on a spare chair.

“Your Dad is going to stay here this weekend.”

“Are,” Sophie began then lapsed into silence.

Roman shot a look at her before he moved to sit down at the table also.

“I have to go into town and sort some things out.”

“Meggy, Sammy, you should go with him and get out of the house for a bit, Georgie, I know you wanted to go for a run.”

“What about me?” Sophie muttered.

“I think that leaves you keeping an eye on the little ones while I finish my assignment.”

“What?” Sophie gasped and shot up from the table her chair falling backwards and clattering on to the floor. “You can’t? No, I’m not…. I…”

Ella turned and looked at her daughter.

“I have an assignment to get finished so of course you can keep an eye on them,” she told her daughter fixing her with a look.

Sophie shook her head and ran from the room.

“She’s still…” Georgie began.

“We know,” Ella told her son in a gentle voice, “She’ll be ok.”

“Right then,” he said looking to Meggy and Sammy before he stood up and gathered his books together.

“Have you finished your homework?” Ella asked looking at Meggy first and smirking when her daughter gave her a shifty look in return.

“But I’ve only got a little bit left,” Meggy cried when they laughed at her.

“That’s ok, books away.”

Roman looked to Ella and she nodded.

“Come on then,” he said to Sammy and Meggy standing up and tucking the chair under the table. He moved over to where Sophie had tipped over the chair and picked it up and tucked it under the table just has he had done with his own. He felt his face colour as Ella shot him an amused look at the way he was tidying up before leading the kids out leaving Ella with Georgie at the table.


“I know son, it’s going to be ok,” Ella murmured standing up. She walked over to where he was sitting and placed a kiss on the top of his head. “Why don’t you go ask Mike if he wants to go for a run with you? I’m going to go see your sister.”

Georgie nodded and watched her go before he shot out of the back and down to the poolhouse.

Ella climbed the stairs and moved to Liam’s room seeing her son playing with the twins quietly. He was making up some adventure with their dolls and telling them a story.

“No fair Mama!” he muttered when he saw her.

She smiled at him before walking over to where he was and leaning down pressed a kiss to his head before doing the same with the twins.

“Are my babies ok?” she asked.

“I is keeping them happy,” Liam explained shooting her a grin.

“I can see my man,” she grinned at him before turning and looking at Lily’s bed. She sighed as she felt tears springing into her eyes at the way the toys were discarded around the bed. Walking carefully over to it she bent down and picked up Lily’s toy cat and holding it in her arms for a moment, stroking it. “Hey,” she whispered.

“Mama?” Lily whispered back sleepily.

“Is my Lily girl too sleepy to help me?”

“No’s Mama,” Lily murmured lifting her hands and pushing at the covers. She frowned at the cast on her left arm before whimpering.

“Mama helps?” Ella asked her and saw Lily nod.

Ella reached down and eased back the covers before helping Lily sit up. Lifting down her dressing gown she carefully put it over the arm with the cast before putting in on her other arm and then doing up the belt. Checking that it was done up ok she slid the slippers in to her feet and then picked up the sling and hooked Lily’s arm in it before lifting the strap over her head.

“Ok?” she asked Lily.

“It’s heavy!”

“I can imagine, can you remember when you were tiny, tiny and Mama had a cast on her leg?”

“Liam was a baby,” Lily said with a nod, “Me’s wouldn’t like that.”

“No it’s not nice,” Ella said and guided Lily out of the room and up the stairs to that attic rooms. Lily sighed softly looking around the rooms before she shot her mother a look and grinned.

“And what is that look for my Lily girl,” Ella asked her.

“When me’s is as big as Sophie me’s have this room?” Lily asked her fluttering her eyelashes at her mother.

“I think Sophie might have something to say about that.”

Ella laughed before knocking on Sophie’s door and opening it.

“What?” Sophie called mutinously before turning around and seeing Lily with her mother.

“Mama tolds me to helps you,” Lily said to her, “Is my Sophie sad?” she asked seeing that Sophie had been crying.

“I think she is,” Ella knelt down and spoke softly to Lily, “She thinks she should have watched you better.”

Lily shook her head before tugging her hand out of Ella’s grasp and ran over to where Sophie was.

“Me’s and Liam was playing,” she explained. “Me’s fell.”

Sophie looked at her mother and then eased off the bed and kneeling in front of her sister.

“But I should of ….” She began to say when Lily shook her head before hooking her good arm around Sophie’s neck and hugging her.

“There there Soph,” Lily said patting her on the back.

Sophie eased back and wiped at her eyes before looking at her mum as she stood up too.

“The only person who is blaming you is yourself,” Ella said quietly, “I certainly don’t blame you and Lily doesn’t, do you Squeals?”

“No’s Mama,” Lily grinned at her sister before turned to her mother, “Maybe’s we needs some chocolate?”

Ella grinned and walked over to where they were standing and put her arm around Sophie before kissing her cheek.

“Go on, go get some chocolate and take it to the little ones while I go and finish my homework.”

“Does Mama has a lot of homework?” Lily asked.

“A fair bit, why Squeals?”

“Me’s want to watch Nemo,”

“Maybe Sophie will find you something to watch?”

Ella smiled as Sophie nodded and took hold of Lily’s uninjured hand and led her out of the room and down the stairs. She followed at a slower pace remembering last night in the hospital when they were waiting for Lily to go in for a CAT scan, her small baby daughter looking so pale and fragile in a too big bed. She couldn’t help the comparison between seeing Lily there and just a few short weeks before when Liam had been in hospital. Roman had sensed her worry and pulled her close into his arms before breaking away as Aden walked into the room. One look at Aden’s face had told them both they weren’t fooling him and one more person now knew about them.

Looking over at the sofa she saw that Sophie had collected all the kids and sat them on the long sofa with the throws covering them. The film she’d selected was Ice Age, August and Fleur’s favourite and she grinned before going over to them and picking up one of the chocolate cookies Sophie had put out.

“Enjoy the film and don’t give Sophie a hard time,” she cautioned before leaving them to it and disappearing back into the study. Time to hit the books once more, even though she wanted to have a nap.

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Chapter 39

“Hello?” Nic called out softly as she pushed open the door and stepped timidly inside. She felt rather than heard Geoff’s amused laughter from behind her and shot him a look over her shoulder.

“Come in,” Roman called from the kitchen.

“Wow, do you think they are going to make an announcement?” Nic looked at Geoff as she asked the question and flushed when he laughed at her again.

“Mum,” Angel cried overhearing the statement, “you are so embarrassing.”

Nic looked at her daughter again wondering how she could have changed so much from the sweet child she’d been just a couple of years ago but like always these days she refrained from commenting. Commenting resulted in arguing. Which led to grounding and not even being penned in the house without her phone or laptop seemed to work.

“Come on Robbie let’s get this stuff into the kitchen,” Geoff said guiding his son through the house and into the other room.

“Hey Grandpa!” Robbie called with a grin on his face.

“Hello there,” Roman turned and looked at his grandson, “What have you got there?”

“Dad said to bring snacks so I’ve got some crisps and stuff.”

Roman grinned at him before taking the box of things from his hands and putting it on the top.

“Thank you,” Roman grinned as the simple words made his grandson beam with pride, “Sammy is outside with his rabbits if you want to go see him?”

Robbie looked at his dad before he shot out of the back.

“Angel is here.”

Roman nodded and moved over to check the food he was cooking, switching off the cooker before he grabbed a beer and two cans of drink. Looking at his hands for a minute he moved through the house and gathered together Angel and Sophie and taking them into the study with him.

“Ella,” Nic called moving out into the garden with Mira.

“Hey,” Ella replied from her seat on the bench at the end of the garden. She put her book to one side and stood stretching before going over and hugging Nic and then Mira. “The young ones are all in the playhouse,” she murmured to the little girl.

Mira looked up at her mother.

“Off you go,” Nic said with a laugh before her daughter even said anything and watched as Mira ran off to play. “So Dad and er… “

Ella laughed.

“how are you planning on finishing that sentence Nicole?”

“Depends, is there going to be a lot of wine later?” If so, I’ll just ask you later.”

Ella looked at her and giggled before easing back on to the seat. She smiled as Nic sat next to her crossing one leg over the other and primly pulling on the hem of her skirt.

“I’m surprised he called the peace summit between Angel and Sophie. Teenage girls were never his forte,” Nic said a trace of something in her voice.

“You ok Nic?”

She turned her blonde head and looked at Ella.

“To be honest no, he fought to be with your kids …”

“But not you?” Ella finished for her before putting her arm around the other girl.


“I’m sorry Nic, that must be painful.”

Nic sniffed but held her head up and looked up towards the house.

“So why the BBQ? Just to sort out Sophie and Angel?”

“I think your Dad wanted to reconnect with the family,” Ella surmised.

“You didn’t talk about it?”

“We talk about the kids mostly,” Ella said slowly and hid her grin at the disappointed look that crossed Nic’s face. “You know you can come over any time don’t you Nic, I know it was rough for a while but with things calming down …”

Nic shook her head.

“To be honest it doesn’t feel right without Dad here,”

“Oh,” Ella found herself paling at the words. She knew that she’d brought it on herself, cutting both Nic and Aden out when Roman had left her and even her relationship with Miles and Leona had changed. She sighed thinking about it before looking back at Nic. “If I say I’m sorry will that help?” she asked slowly.

“Does your sorry come with a credit card?” Nic shot back and despite the teasing note in her voice there were faint lines of strain around her mouth.

“Of course not,” Ella murmured. “But it was a good try.”

Nic looked down at her feet for a long moment before turning to look at Ella.

“I didn’t think it would happen, you know, not you and Dad, not after all this time.” She shrugged. “I thought, give it some time and they’ll sort themselves out.”

“I know you did.” Ella said quietly after a few moments of silence. “Maybe that is why I shut you out, because I couldn’t deal with your pain too. Your Dad left me Nic, he walked away. This time it wasn’t me getting pissed with him.”

“And now, now that you two are talking?”

“I don’t know what to tell you, we’re talking, communicating again but that is as far as it’s gone.”

Nic smiled before turning her head and looking at the other woman.

“And absolutely no sex?”

Ella automatically found herself blushing as Nic shot her a sly look before smirking at her.

“Dammit!” Ella groaned.

“I’ll take that as a yes,” Nic murmured smugly, “And Aden owes me some money; he said I wouldn’t be able to get you to say anything without getting you to drink copious amounts of wine!”

The two of them looked at each other for a moment before giggling. Ella put her arm around Nic’s shoulders and hugged her close.

“Daughter I have missed you,” she murmured.

“I missed you too Step-mama,” Nic told her back.

“Hey, what is this? Are you two bonding or plotting someone’s doom?” Belle murmured with a tinkling laugh.

“Hey,” Ella said springing up and hugging Belle quickly turning away after a second to wipe at her eyes as she felt the emotion welling up in her.

“Has she admitted anything? I mean the last time we got invited over to a BBQ like this Roman proposed,”

Ella looked at the two women and shook her head.

“No and if he does I’ll can certainly tell you where I’ll be sticking the bbq tongs.”

Nic giggled at Ella’s comment before patting the space next to her on the bench and smiling as Belle moved to sit next to her.

“I think that it won’t be long before they make an announcement.”

Ella shook her head.

“Sorry girls, not going to happen,” Ella began and frowned when she saw Gabby and Brett coming out of the Stables and beginning to walk over to them. It looked as though they’d had another argument. She hoped that it wasn’t about Jacob again; Gabby’s soon to be ex-husband, although she knew her daughter wasn’t keen to serve the man with divorce papers when he was overseas.

“Trouble in paradise?” Nic murmured looking at the couple.

“Now you know you shouldn’t be talking about them in front of me, I’m still not supposed to know,” Belle murmured shooting a look over at her son.

“Like anybody can keep secrets around here,” Nic shot a sly look at Ella again and grinned as the other woman flushed.

“You are incorrigible!” Ella groaned and collected her book from where she left it and moved away up the garden. She heard Belle and Nic giggling behind her and smiled.

“Angel do you think you have something to say to Sophie?” Roman said quietly.

“No,” Angel muttered.

“See I told you it was no use,”

“That is something that we can both agree on,” Angel shot back.

“Angel, why did you start causing trouble?” Roman said thinking that Ella had really dropped him in it this time. He would much rather be facing Gardy or Elliot or any number of bad guys.

“That’s right take her side,” Angel muttered folding her arms and glaring at Sophie.

“At the moment I am taking no-one’s side, but first there was the rumours you started spreading and then you made a move on Sophie’s boyfriend,” Roman murmured quietly, “I’m surmising that you’ve missed spending time with her and all this is just acting out.”

Angel looked visibly shaken for a moment before she assumed a neutral expression her eyes meeting Sophie’s.

“I want to know why Angel, you were my best friend, you were closer to me than my own sister and you used things I told you in confidence against me.”

Roman heard the hurt resonating in his daughter’s voice and bit back a sigh. He had to remain impartial to try and mediate between them but how could he do that and not just want to hug and protect them both in this difficult situation. He really didn’t know how Ella did it so many times, sorted them all out and somehow manage to always be there for them.

Angel looked so much like her mother, long blonde hair and big blue eyes not to mention the exact same nose. All in all, his granddaughter was beautiful and he knew that he needed to tell her that, and not only her, he needed to re-connect with Nic too.

“You forgot me,” Angel cried out, “You started working in the diner and the shack and cooking and Steve,” she sniffed and looked over at her again.

Roman looked from one to the other seeing the resembling hurt looks on their faces.

“I didn’t forget you,” Sophie said in a small hurt voice that Roman instantly recoiled from because it was so similar to the one that Ella used. “How could I forget my best friend? But when I got with Steve you started pulling away from me, you didn’t want to spend time with us.”

“What and be a third wheel while you were all kissy kissy!” Angel said scathingly.

“We were not all kissy kissy!” Sophie cried indignantly, “We were very careful not to be like that around others, Georgie was Steve’s best friend so he didn’t want to upset him or make him feel uncomfortable. We kept trying to include you Angel and you kept refusing!”

Roman had frowned when Angel mentioned kissing and his daughter in the same sentence. All the years that Ella had teased him about their daughter dating paled into nothing when he was actually faced with it. He tried not to be upset that his daughter had been ‘kissy-kissy’ but she was so young and despite everything innocent.

“I think that Angel felt left out of things and retreated. It’s obvious that because you two weren’t talking that things escalated,” Roman murmured, proud of himself for sounding like Ella for a moment, “I don’t think that your relationship is irretrievable.”

“I don’t want to be friends with her again,” the two of them said at the same time before glaring at each other. Roman was about to say something when the two girls dissolved into giggles and launched themselves into each others arms and hugged.

“Missed you…”

“Missed you more…”

“Don’t ever think you aren’t my absolute best friend because you are… ok..”

Roman nodded slowly and stood easing out of the room and heading back into the kitchen where he found Ella talking to Aden and Geoff as she opened a bottle of white wine.

“Oh, how did it go?” she asked him.

“I’m still not certain,” Roman murmured thinking of the way the hostility seemed to have melted away in the face of hugs and giggles.

“Well, I think people are going to be wanting food soon,” she said hooking up three glasses and heading out of the door.

“Er, Ella,” Roman murmured her name quickly. “Why have you got three glasses?”

“I’m very thirsty!” she said winking at him as she walked away.

He watched her walk down the garden wriggling her hips and swore under his breath catching sight of Geoff and Aden looking at him.

“So there isn’t anything going on?” Aden murmured smirking.

“There might be if she drinks that wine…” Geoff said also smirking. “Remember how she gets when she drinks it!”

The two men chuckling when Roman began to look more and more uncomfortable, his face suffusing with colour.

“We should stop teasing him,” Aden drawled.

“Yeah, if we want some food!”

Roman glared at them before collecting the steaks out of the fridge and walking over to the BBQ and putting them on to cook, next to the chicken. He looked over the garden taking in the soft lighting and the tables set out for people to sit at. Meggy had put table cloths on each one along with candles and a small jar of flowers she’d picked and the boy’s had set up the bar. Georgie was sitting there talking to Sammy along with Robbie and Tyler who were also there. He smiled as he watched them before heading into the kitchen and sorting out more food.

Brett shot Gabby another look and sighed just as Danni began to come out of the poolhouse with Jennie standing he ran over to help her not noticing that Mike had done the same thing.

“Hey,” he called softly.

“Brett,” Danni said slowly.

“Let me help,” Bret offered.

“Here,” Danni murmured handing over Jennie without thinking. Their eyes met as Brett cradled the baby in his arms before looking down at her.

“No, oh no!” Mike shouted out looking at them.

Danni gasped and spun around her eyes shooting to Mike’s. She lifted her hand to the throat before dropping Jennies blanket and grabbing hold of her daughter from Brett’s arms.

“Mike,” Brett cried looking from one to the other before his eyes were dragged to Mike’s again. He saw hurt and anger in the other man’s face and flinched from it before he looked at Danni.

“Tell me it isn’t’ true?” Mike shot out looking to Danni, “That she’s mine? That Jennie is my daughter?”

“Mike,” Danni called desperately.

“You bitch!” he screamed out before turning and lifting his arm, his hand clenched into a fist. Not even all the good memories of how Brett had been his best friend for years could prevent him from hitting out at the other man. He’d betrayed him; he’d slept with Danni, his Danni. The blow shuddered through his arm all the way up to his shoulder and he grunted with a strange sense of satisfaction before he went to hit him again. The second blow was blocked and Mike felt his instincts taking over as he moved to punish Brett.

He felt hands grabbing him suddenly and moved against them trying to escape before he was finally subdued and pulled away.

“No son!” Roman gasped out surprising him as he hadn’t even noticed the other man coming up the garden let alone getting so close. He could almost hear his old sergeant mocking him for losing his objectivity and getting too close. ‘Survey your surroundings, don’t get surprised,’ the man had barked constantly and in the heat of his anger he’d forgotten the basic rule.

Struggling against Roman’s grasp he could only watch as Aden led his son away from him.

“This isn’t over!” Mike snarled out.

“Mike, come on,” Roman said trying to pull him back.

“no!” he yelled out.

“Mike,” Ella placed her hand flat on his arm and he stilled at the simple touch.

“Did you know?” he asked her.

“No,” Ella murmured softly.

Mike looked into his mother’s eyes, seeking the truth before seeming to collapse in on himself and falling into Roman’s arms.

“Take him to your place, get him..”

Roman nodded before Ella had finished the sentence and led Mike away and down the garden disappearing into the house.

“Mum?” Georgie called out.

“Get Sophie and you two manage the Bbq,” Ella began.

“I’ll give them a hand.” Geoff offered looking at Nic. She nodded at him and he moved away.

“Ella,” Danni murmured through her tears.

“I think you should take Jennie inside and sort out some things.”

“You are throwing me out?” Danni gasped.

“Can’t expect my son to support you when you’ve passed off someone else’s kid as his,” Ella murmured hating herself for being so nasty to her daughter.

“Oh,” Danni’s eyes filled with tears again.

“You can stay with me,” Nic said looking at Ella who nodded at her.

“Oh, “Danni said again before she moved into the poolhouse away from them and out of earshot.

“You were hoping I’d say that weren’t you?” Nic asked.

Ella sighed and turned to look at her wiping tears from her eyes.

“She needs to sort herself out, and stop messing Mike about. If this is the reason then it’s out in the open now and we can move on,”

“Yeah let’s all move on,” Gabby sneered from nearby.

“And you young lady can book yourself a flight and sort Jacob out so that you aren’t in limbo.” Ella snapped out too upset to handle her daughter with tact. She turned and moved down the garden and over to the children. Within minutes she’d calmed them all down and got them organised, the younger ones watching a film and the older ones playing a board game until the food was sorted. She noticed Angel helping Georgie and Sophie and smiled.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Chapter 40

Ella knocked on the white painted door and eased just inside Sophie’s room. She grinned as she saw Angel, Sophie and Meggy all together, their chattering eased and they turned to look at her.

“Hey Mum,” Meggy called out to her.

Despite the trauma of earlier they all seemed ok, although she knew that they would have questions later.

“I brought important supplies for a sleepover,” Ella said softly and eased into the room with a box of make-up and facepacks and nail polish and all the other stuff like make up and nail polish removers and cotton wool. She heard the girls shriek with delight and rush over to her examining the box.

“Oh wow!” Angel said quietly still a little bit reserved around them.

“Ok?” Ella asked stepping into the room and placing the box at the end of one of the beds. “Now, your Mum and Dad are in the stables as is Aden and Belle if you need anything.”

“Are you going to see Mike?” Sophie asked slowly glancing at Meggy before looking back at her mother.

“I am, won’t be long, the little ones are asleep but if you can keep an ear out for them I’d be grateful.”

“Wow, Sophie looks after the kids?” Angel asked quickly. She had that pinched expression on her face before she frowned and gave a quick half shake of her head, her expression easing slowly.

“Yeah,” Sophie looked down at her feet.

“It’s cool,” Angel told her quickly, “I guess, I just miss.. I mean I’m older and Mum don’t let me look after Mira, and well…”

“Doesn’t she?” Ella asked softly, “Maybe you should tell her you are ready to babysit?” she offered the suggestion carefully, mindful herself of the tenuous relationship between Angel and Sophie.

“She can help me can’t she Mum?”

Ella nodded.

“Of course she can, and have you told her about the diner?”

Sophie squealed.

“No, sorry, totally forgot,” she turned and looked at her niece and best friend. “Mum has said we can go to the diner at lunchtimes now so we can have lunch together!”

“Oh cool!” Angel muttered and hugged Sophie before turning to Meggy and hugging her.

“Ok, I’m going to go, I won’t be long.” Ella promised and handed Sophie the baby monitors for the twins and Lily and Liam’s rooms. She watched her daughter put them carefully on the side before easing out of the room and going down the stairs. She’d gotten the boys a new game for the x-box and a couple of DVD’s and she grinned thinking of the little presents she’d tucked in the bottom of the box for the girls. Mini hair straighteners for Angel, French nail polish kit for Sophie and some funky coloured clip in hair extensions for Meggy, although she expected them to mix and match!

Heading out to her car she climbed behind the wheel and set off to Roman’s place, grinning as she realised she could drive the route blindfolded by now, the amount of times that she’d been there. She pulled up slowly outside and parked up, the trip taking less time than normal because of the lack of traffic on the road before heading over to Roman’s front door. She knocked once and grinned as the door opened and dishevelled Roman answered.

“You aren’t the pizza I ordered,” he pointed out looking behind her just in case the pizza was following.

“Now if I’d known there was going to be pizza…” she leant up and kissed Roman’s cheek before stepping past him and into his house.

“Hello Mother,” Mike said peering at her from his slouched position on the couch.

She could tell from the slurred words and the nearly empty whisky bottle on the table that Mike was drunk and she sighed before going over to him.

“Son,” she greeted helping him to sit up.

She removed the bottle and the glasses and took them through to the kitchen before Mike realised what she was doing and took out a couple bottles of water before going back and sitting next to him.

“Thanks!” Mike drawled sarcastically when she handed the bottle to him.

Roman joined them shooting a look at Ella.

“And how did you manage that?” he asked her having tried wrestling the bottle away from Mike for the past two hours.

“Magic,” Ella grinned at him and Roman was immediately reminded how she could quiet Liam or Lily when they were in the middle of a tantrum with just a few words. She was magical he thought, and sighed happily.

“Ok,” he said realising that she was looking at him expectantly. “I’ve amended the pizza order,” he added and grinned at the change of expression on her face.

“Mum,” Mike muttered.

“I didn’t know Mike, but it’s out in the open now isn’t it?”

“What is that supposed to mean…”

“It means that you and Danni can talk and work things out,” Roman told him in a calm voice.

“I don’t want to….” Mike stopped and shook his head before squeezing his eyes shut. His shoulders hunched and he leaned forward. They heard him moan before his shoulders shook and he began to cry. Ella immediately drew him to her and held him. Her eyes flew to Roman and he nodded back.

“Francesca?” he murmured reading her mind and watched as she nodded once, her lips tightening as she pressed them together. He sighed deeply feeling the breath expand his chest before it slipped out of his lips leaving him feeling bereft. “I don’t know that I can El,” he whispered hoarsely.

Ella nodded once more, her unspoken communication as eloquent as her words and he frowned before feeling her hand reaching for his. Their fingers locked attaching one hand to the other and even as he felt the tremor go through her at the mention of their lost child he felt her strength. Taking his cue from her he began to speak.

“Mike, I once thought your mother had been unfaithful to me, I thought the child she carried was someone else’s and I fell apart.”

Mike sniffed sounding much younger than he was and reminding Roman instantly of Sammy, the two of them so close and so similar. He gave a small smile thinking of the two brothers before sobering. Mike looked up then, the tears still evident on his cheeks and he wiped at them with an unsteady hand.

“Whaddyamean?” he muttered.

“Exactly what I said son, when your mother lost her memory we discovered that she had been seeing someone. Nearly every time she went on a photography assignment she saw him,”

“Wait, that was Nate though…” Mike muttered giving them both a look.

Roman nodded before he released Ella’s hand and stood, moving over to answer the knock at the door. He collected the pizzas and paid for them before bringing them over to the coffee table, glancing over at Ella as he turned and walked into the kitchen collecting sodas from the fridge and a pile of napkins. He opened one can and took a long drink as he sat down next to Mike. They were mostly silent for a while before Mike stopped eating and looked at them.

“How does that have any relevance to what Danni did to me?”

“It doesn’t, not in any real sense. But you don’t think I stood back and let your mother off the hook do you?”

“What did you do?”

Roman shot Ella a look and she nodded.

“I pinned her against the wall and tried to strangle her,” Roman admitted.

Mike lurched up from his seat and knocked the pizza box away from Roman, he pulled the other man out of his seat before landing a mistimed punch on the other man. He shook his head as the blow jarred his already injured hand and moved to thump Roman once more when he felt the gentle hand of his mother on his arm. He turned his head and looked at her before sinking in on himself once more.

“God,” he muttered.

“Mike, do you think I was proud of myself for hurting her?” Roman asked slowly bending down and restoring order to the room. He cleared away the rest of the paraphernalia from their late night meal and stood in the kitchen for a moment looking at a subdued Mike and then at Ella looking pale and fragile, her hand still placed on Mike’s arm.

“I have no excuses for what I did, and what made it worse was that your mother was pregnant at the time and I deliberately put my hand on her neck and squeezed. I’ll never forget the look on her face to the day I die.”

Ella turned and looked at him, a simple look of compassion on her face.

“But that isn’t the important thing,” she murmured softly.

“I still don’t see…”

“Mike, I accepted your mother and the baby she carried without knowing that she was seeing her brother and not some ..” Roman’s lips curled up in a sneer as the old feelings of jealousy coursed through his blood. “lover,” he finished, “To me in the end it didn’t matter about another man or the biological father it was just being with the person I loved.”

Mike flinched as the words sank through his alcohol muzzled brain and he looked at his parents with a new understanding.

“So are you saying I should…”

Roman moved over to sit with Mike again, reaching out with an unsteady hand he cupped the other man’s head and looked into his eyes.

“You are part of your mother and part of me; you’ve managed to pick up all the best bits of us. From your beautiful loving mother you get your heart, so I know that you will always love Danni. That even if things don’t work between you it will take a long time before you let yourself fall in love with anyone again,” Roman sucked in a sharp breath feeling emotional, “and I’m not quite sure what you get from me, apart from this loyalty to your family.”

“Oh and your sense of humour,” Mike drawled.

Roman let out a little laugh before looking back to Ella.

“Thank god Sophie got the cooking or he’d sulk.”

Mike looked at both of them and laughed before he collapsed into his father’s arms and clutched at him as he began to cry once more. All he thought about was Danni lying in his arms and all the time she was deceiving him. How could she not have told him about Jennie? He would have understood after a while, would have …. He stopped and realised what they had been telling him. Jennie was his, whether biologically or not. She was his daughter, his beautiful Angel and he knew that he would fight to keep her.

“Jennie.” He whispered slowly.

“Love isn’t just about DNA son,” Roman told him. “I love you and I’m sorry that it’s taken me so long to tell you.”

Ella breathed out slowly feeling emotional tears clogging the back of her throat at her husbands, sorry ex-husbands words. Dammit, maybe she’d have to do something about that, she thought with a slow smile.

“Come on,” Roman added leading an exhausted Mike out of the room and up the stairs. He came back down after a while having got Mike settled in Georgie’s bed and looked over at a sleepy Ella waiting for him on the sofa. Going over to her he grinned as she reached for his hand.

“I need to get back to the kids,” she began.

He nodded even as he sat down next to her and pulled her into his arms.

“I miss her.”

She heard his simple declaration and knew that he was referring to Francesca.

“Me too.”

“I couldn’t think why you wanted me to go there tonight but then…”

Ella reached up and kissed him cutting off his words. She wrapped her arms around his neck. She pressed herself close to him and felt his strong arms going around her pulling her tight against him.

“I could have asked you to talk about Meggy or Lily or Aden or even Mike … because they were loved by you even with doubt over their paternity or the biology stuff. But I wanted you …” Ella stopped her eyes filling with tears, “I remembered how the Martha stuff felt for me so I knew how you felt before it was revealed that I was seeing my brother, Nate.”

Roman sighed and pulled her closer to him if that were possible before he kissed her. Not the passionate kisses that told him they were going to make love but a relevant gentle kiss that was a true reconnecting of their souls. He felt a shudder go through him and his arms trembled. He could feel her heart beating against his and he moaned thinking of their unique connection. Easing away he looked into her eyes and everything that he felt was mirrored in hers.

“I love you Roman Harris,” she whispered.

“Good,” he murmured smugly, “Because I sure do love you too.”

“Get a room already!” Mike shouted out from upstairs.

Ella looked at her husband for a moment before they both laughed and then she sobered as she thought about the two times she referred to him as her husband. She was definitely going to have to do something about that.

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