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In the Adult World

Guest Red Ranger 1

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This fiction follows on from my two earlier fics, Where the Heart Lies and The Honeymoon's Over.If you haven't read those and want to, the links are on my profile.Hope everyone who wanted a sequel isn't disappointed!

Story Title: In the Adult World

Type of story: Long fic

Main Characters: Romeo/Ruby, Xavier/Indigo, Ric/Matilda with Dexter, Casey, Sasha, Nicole and others

BTTB rating: T/A

Genre: Drama

Does story include spoilers: No

Any warnings: Sexual content: Moderate. Violence: None. Language: None.

Summary: Three couples were expecting to live happily ever but find life has a habit of throwing drama in their direction.


“Well, here’s to being adults!”Ruby announced with a grin.The six friends clinked glasses together.

Indi looked at her glass of orange juice without much enthusiasm.“I can’t believe you two managed to drink this stuff for nine months,”she remarked to Ruby and Matilda,“I’ve got another three months of it and I’m already dying to cut loose.”She noticed Xavier looking at her warningly.“Not that I will.”

“So have you two got anyone tagged as a babysitter yet?”Ric asked,“Because Auntie Roo’s always keen to get her hands on Elizabeth.”

Ruby nodded.“Grandma Charlie’s the same with Julia.”She looked at Ric.“Actually, you and I should try and co-ordinate it.We are family.”

Ric looked at her in bemusement.“We are?”

“Well, yeah.Morag was married to Ross, who was my grandfather I guess, and she’s your grandfather’s sister so that makes us…”Ruby floundered.

“Step-second cousins,”Matilda supplied.

“Right!We’re practically brother and sister.”

Indigo drained her glass and handed it to Xavier.“Want to get your six months pregnant girlfriend another drink?”

“How come I have to get it?”he complained.

“I’m a firm believer in the tradition that the women have the babies and the men pick up the bar bill.”

Romeo nudged Ric.“We’ll go with you.”

The three boys went over to the bar, leaving their respective partners at the table.With so many concerns of work and children occupying them, the three couples hadn’t had much of an opportunity to see each other in the last few months so the night out at Angelo’s restaurant had appealed to all of them.

“Looks like it’s going well,”Ric remarked.

Romeo glanced back at the table.The three girls were engrossed in their own conversation.“Can you two keep a secret?”

“Yeah, what?”

Romeo took a deep breath.“I’m going to ask Ruby to marry me.”

Ric gave a broad grin.“Mate, that’s great.And speaking as a still newlywed, ish, you’ve got a lot to look forward to.”

“And I’m just surprised you’ve taken so long,”Xavier commented.

Romeo looked at him cautiously, aware things had been awkward on that score in the past.“You’re okay with it?”

“Hey, not up to me.But yeah, I think you should do it.”

Romeo nodded.“I asked her once before, when she was pregnant, but the timing wasn’t great.But now…I think it’s good.”He sighed.“As long as she says yes.”

It was about an hour later that Xavier and Indi arrived home.Since Indi had discovered she was pregnant, Xavier had moved in with her and Sid.“It was a good night,”Xavier remarked as they arrived in the front room.

Indi turned round and kissed him.“Night’s not over yet.”They continued kissing, the contact becoming more intimate and enticing.

“Where are you going with this?”Xavier asked, amused but not displeased.

“You know what they say about pregnant women getting frisky.”

“Isn’t that supposed to have worn off by now?”

“Guess I’m doing overtime.”

“Do I have to see this?”complained a female voice from the doorway.

Xavier and Indi looked round at Sasha.Indi’s half-sister had come to live there a month previous, joining the Year 12 class of Summer Bay High, and was certainly making her presence felt.“I’m just showing your sister how much I love her,”Xavier replied with a smile.

“Well, can’t you show her somewhere else?You’ve got a room, haven’t you?”

“She’s got a point,”Indi remarked, taking Xavier’s hand as they headed towards her bedroom.

Sasha sank into the sofa with a sigh.“Great.Now I’m going to be thinking about what they’re doing.”

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Thank you for all your comments.My chapters seem to be coming out a bit short at the moment but I hope you like this one.


“You need to take her to the garage with you,”Matilda insisted.

Ric looked at her, frustrated.“Morag’s never minded you taking Elizabeth into the office.”

“But it’s not Morag at the moment,”Matilda reminded him,“She’s on holiday and this guy she’s got covering for her is starting.I want to look professional and turning up with a baby isn’t gonna do that.”

“What and having a baby in a garage is a great idea?Health and Safety would love that.”

“The childminder’s sick, Ric, someone needs to take her.”

“Can’t we get another childminder?”

“Well, you’ll have to find them, ’cos I’m gonna be late at the office.”

Ric sighed.He’d had a feeling it would come to this.“Okay, I’ll sort it.”

“Thanks.”Matilda kissed him on the cheek.“See you later.”

Ric waited until his wife had left before walking over to their daughter, Elizabeth, who was resting in a baby chair nearby.“You heard all that, I guess?”he asked her.She stared back at him, eyes wide open.“It’s not that I don’t want you around, it’s just it’s not really ideal.”She continued to stare at him.He sighed and patted her on the head.“Don’t worry.Daddy will sort it.”

Matilda stood outside the office door for a long time, straightening her outfit, adjusting her hair and doing her best to look as professional as possible before taking a deep breath, putting a respectful smile on her face, opening the door and stepping inside.“Hi, I’m Matilda Dalby.Mrs.Bellingham’s assistant.”

“Martin Shepherd.”Morag’s replacement accepted Matilda’s outstretched hand.“You’re related to Mrs. Bellingham, aren’t you?”

“Only distantly.”Matilda sensed he was waiting for more information.“I’m married to her great-nephew.”

Martin smiled.“Well, Morag speaks very highly of you.And I know she isn’t one to praise someone out of sentiment.So I suppose you must have something going on for you.”

“Thank you.”

“So I hope you’ll prove her right and do a good job for me while I’m here.”

“I will, Mr.Shepherd.I promise.”

“Good.Well, you can start by bringing me up to date on the cases you’ve been working on.”

Ric set up the pushchair in the corner of the garage.He looked Elizabeth straight in the eye.“Okay, so you’re going to stay quiet, watch Daddy do his work and not cause us any trouble, right?”Elizabeth just looked at him.“Good girl.”

Romeo watched him from over by the car they were working on.“If someone came in and saw her here, they’d close us down, right?”

Ric shrugged nonchalantly.“It’ll be fine.”

“She’d be a lot better off with Matilda.”

“Yeah but…sometimes it’s easier just to do as you’re told.”He went over to join Romeo.“And besides… don’t tell Mattie but it kind of helps not having to pay for a childminder for once.”

“Because of this place?”Romeo asked cautiously.

Ric nodded.“I’m grateful to Grandad and Auntie Roo for buying it for me but…we’re not getting much business, are we?”

“They’ll come,”Romeo said encouragingly.


“I dunno.Maybe we could have a word with Indi, she’s the one doing the business course.”

Ric shook his head.“She’s got enough to worry about at the moment.”

Indi was lying on a towel on the beach.Julia, Ruby and Romeo’s daughter, was lying on another towel next to her, giggling with delight as Indigo tickled her stomach.

Ruby came out of the water, surfboard tucked under her arm, and went over to them, retrieving her own towel to dry herself off.“Surf’s pretty good if you want to try it.”

Indi rubbed her pregnant stomach.“Not really in the right shape for it at the moment.Anyway, Julia and I are having a lot of fun, aren’t we?”

Ruby was pleased that she and Indi were back on friendly terms.A year ago, she couldn’t have imagined it could happen but somehow, with everything that had happened with April’s suicide and Xavier and Indigo’s relationship problems, the bad blood that had existed between them since Ruby got together with Romeo behind Indigo’s back was gone.Gone so much that they’d ended up spending their day off from uni together.Of course, she sensed there was another reason for Indi wanting them to hang out.“Getting in practise?”

Indigo gave a weary sigh.“Yeah.”

Ruby sat down.“How are you feeling?”

“A bit scared, to be honest.”

Ruby nodded.“I think most first time mums feel like that.”

“Oh, the voice of experience, hey?”

“Well, I had Nicole to help me through it.Only fair I pass on my experience to you.”Her manner became more serious.“But you know, if you ever do actually need any help…”

Indi gave a grateful smile.“I know.Thanks, Rubes.”

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Well, one advantage of Home and Away not being on, I had a free evening and managed to update both my fics!Hope you like this one.


“Hey, I’m home!”Matilda called as she arrived back at the flat and dumped her bag on the sofa.She went over to Elizabeth in her baby chair and picked her up.“Mummy could do with a hug,”she told her,“You pleased to see me?”

Ric came through from the bathroom.“Pizza’s in the oven, it’ll be about another ten minutes.How was your day?”

Matilda sighed.“Well, Martin’s still a problem.”

Ric looked confused.“I thought you liked him.”

“Well, I do.Kind of.I mean, he’s not a mean boss or anything.He smiles and he’s polite.And then he asks me to go on the coffee run or do some filing.He hardly ever lets me near any of the cases, he never lets me see any of the clients…Morag trusted me with stuff, she asked my opinion on things, she let me take on small cases.And now it’s like I’m his secretary.”

Ric kissed her on the side of the head and put his arm round her.“Morag’s only gonna be gone a couple of months,”he pointed out,“Can you manage until then?”

“I’m not sure if I can.”

“Well, have you thought about talking to him about what’s worrying you, about how you’re feeling?He might let you do more.”

“Yeah or it might make things worse.”

“Well, can they get any worse?It’s not like he can fire you or anything.”

Matilda considered this.“Yeah, okay, you’ve got a point.I’ll have a word with him.”She smiled at him. “Sorry, I haven’t even asked you how your day was.Everything okay at the garage?”

Ric forced a smile onto his face.“Yeah, couldn’t be better.”

Xavier stuck his head round the door of the front room.“Is Indi home yet?”

“Nope,”replied Sasha sullenly from where she was sat reading a magazine,“Apparently uni students have to work later than lifeguards.”

“Well, don’t get many people surfing or swimming once the sun goes down.She’s probably in the library or something.”

“So I guess you’ll have to wait a bit longer for your next make-out session.”

Xavier was tempted to go and wait for Indi in his room, like he normally did when Sasha was in one of her moods. But they all had to live together and he felt he needed to make the effort to get on with her.So instead he went into the front room and sat down.“Are you okay?”he asked her,“About living here, I mean?”

“Well, why would you think I wouldn’t be?”she asked sarcastically.

“I dunno, maybe the fact that you spend all your time doing a very good impression of a sulky teenager.”

Sasha glared at him.“Well, you try being surrounded by happy couples all the time when you’ve got no friends.”

“Have you tried to make friends?”

“What’s the point?I’ll be finished at school at the end of the year.”

Xavier stared at her in silence for a few moments.“Look, you can sit here alone if you want but if you want to get to know the rest of us…”

“I’ll let you know,”Sasha replied, returning her attention to her magazine.

Xavier sighed and went to wait in his room.

Ruby came back into the front room, where Romeo had set up dinner at the table.“Sorry, Julia was being a bit grizzly.It took time to get her settled.”

“Hey, that’s okay, I’ve been there,”Romeo answered, pouring her a glass of wine before sitting down opposite her.

“So how did we manage to get this place to ourselves?”Ruby asked.

Romeo shrugged innocently.“Leah took VJ to the movies and your mum went out with her work friends so…”

“So you just happened to have an elaborate meal planned?”

“I…may have given them a bit of encouragement.”

Ruby looked at him hard.“You’re hiding something from me.”

“No, I’m not,”Romeo claimed, avoiding her gaze and concentrating on his food.

“Romeo, tell me what is going on,”Ruby insisted.

Romeo put his cutlery down and looked at her.“Well, I was going to wait until dessert but…”He got up, producing a jewellery box from his back pocket and went down on one knee in front of her.He opened the box up to reveal a ring.

Ruby looked at it agog, eyes wide open.“Oh…my…god.”

“Ruby Buckton, will you marry me?”

Ruby gave a scream of delight, flung her arms round him and kissed him enthusiastically.“Oh wow!I… yes!Yes, I’ll marry you!”

Romeo got to his feet and slipped the engagement ring onto her finger.Ruby stared at it in wonder for a few seconds before throwing her arms round him again.He hugged her back, lifting her off her feet, the happiness on both their faces conveying more than words could say.

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Thank you for all your comments, glad you're enjoying this.


Romeo popped the champagne bottle cork to loud cheers and began filling up glasses.“About time you made an honest woman of her,”Miles remarked as Romeo passed him.

“About time you were able to afford a decent glass of champagne,”Roo added.

“That was Grandma Charlie’s doing,”Ruby replied, putting an arm round her mother’s shoulder.

“You don’t have to call me that when Julia’s not here,”Charlie reminded her.

“Yeah, but it’s such fun.”

The impromptu gathering was taking place the morning after Romeo’s proposal.Charlie, Leah and VJ, Alf, Miles and Roo, Ric and Matilda, Xavier, Indigo and Sid had all made it there.Colleen was also stood in a corner making comments about how people used to get married before having children.No-one was entirely sure who had invited her.

“Well, I’m glad she said yes this time,”Ric noted.

Xavier looked worriedly at Indigo as her glass was prepared for the toast.“Are you sure you should be drinking that?”

“One glass won’t hurt,”Indi complained.She looked at Sid.“Right?”

“The alcohol content is fairly small and this is a special occasion,”Sid agreed warily,“So long as this is a one off?”

“Of course,”Indi replied quickly.

VJ reached for one of the glasses but Leah slapped his hand away.“One glass won’t hurt,”he complained.

“You keep telling yourself that.Just stick to the lemonade in the meantime.”

“Speech!Speech!”Ric called.

“Oh, right, yeah.”Romeo cleared his throat.“Well, as you all know, after a bit of a false start a while back, Ruby has agreed to be my wife.And I’m happy about that and I think she is too.”

“I am,”Ruby confirmed, snuggling close to him as he slipped his arm around her.

“And I’d just like to thank all of you, our friends, for coming here to celebrate with us.”

“To Romeo and Ruby,”Alf proposed, raising his glass.Everyone echoed the toast.

Romeo gestured to Xavier.“Can I have a word with you in the kitchen?”

Ruby nudged Charlie.“Bedroom.”

As the two pairs headed off in opposite directions, Matilda looked at Ric.“Are they doing what I think they’re doing?”

“I think so.”

“Thought they might have asked us.We asked them.”

“Yeah but we did ask a lot of other people first.”

“So what’s this about?”Xavier asked as he and Romeo took shelter in the kitchen.

“Well, there’s something I wanted to ask you,”Romeo replied,“I know it might be a bit strange, given that when you first found out about me and Ruby you basically punched me in the face, but I think we’ve got past that now.”

“Yeah, of course.”

“So…would you be my best man?”

Xavier blinked in surprise.“Really?”

“Well, yeah.You’re the oldest friend I’ve got around here and I think I can count on you keeping me on the straight and narrow.”

Xavier nodded cautiously.“And hey, maybe one day Indi and I will get married and you can be our best man.”

“Wouldn’t that be a bit weird, what with me being Indi’s ex?”

“Well, Ruby’s my ex.”

“Oh yeah.”Romeo shrugged.“Just another day in Summer Bay.”

“Sit down,”Ruby told Charlie once they were in Ruby’s bedroom.

Charlie did as she was told.“Okay.”

“Charlie.Mum.About the service, the wedding.There was something I wanted to ask you.”

“You want me to give you away?”

“Actually…I was kind of hoping you’d be my bridesmaid.I mean, I’ve phoned Nicole and she’s agreed to do it but I’d kind of like you to do it too.Actually, given that she’s married and you aren’t, does that make you bridesmaid and her matron of honour?I can never remember how that works…”

Charlie was simultaneously shocked and delighted.“You want me to be your bridesmaid?Really?”

“Well, why not?Guys have their fathers as best man so why can’t I have my mother as bridesmaid?You’re still hot enough to pull it off.”

Charlie got to her feet and hugged her daughter.“Ruby, I would be delighted.”

“Good, ’cos that would have been kinda embarrassing if you’d said no.”

Xavier rejoined the main party and made a line for Indi.“You’re not feeling unwell after that drink or anything, are you?”he asked.

Indi rolled her eyes.“Xav, it was one drink.I’m not gonna start chucking up or anything.”

“Wow, really?”asked Ruby, who had also rejoined the group,“When I was six months gone, pretty much any smell could set me off.”

Sid was looking at Indi with quiet concern.“You’re feeling okay, then?No queasiness or stomach pains?”

“Seriously, I’m fine,”Indi assured him,“If it wasn’t for the extra weight, I wouldn’t even know I was pregnant.”

Sid tried his best to sound nonchalant.“And the baby kicking, that hasn’t been disturbing you?”

“Actually it’s been pretty quiet lately.”

Xavier had picked up on Sid’s line of questioning.“Everything’s okay, isn’t it?”

“I’m sure it’s fine,”Sid agreed,“But I think I’d better get you checked out at the hospital, just to make sure that everything’s as it should be.”He indicated for the bewildered and slightly worried Indi and Xavier to go ahead of him.“Sorry about this, everyone,”he called out,“We’ll be back as soon as possible.”

Sid was waiting out in the reception area while Indi and Xavier sat nervously in the examination room, Indi lying on the bed while Nurse Julie set up the equipment, Xavier holding her hand.“Everything is all right, isn’t it?”she asked.

“Well, that’s what we’re going to find out,”Julie replied,“Your dad just felt we should set your mind at ease.”She turned on one of the machines and held part of it to Indi’s stomach.She adjusted the speaker on the machine.No sound came out.

“Is everything okay?”Xavier asked nervously.

“I’m…just having trouble finding anything at the moment.Let’s have a look at the ultrasound.”She turned on the ultrasound monitor, waving the instrument over Indi’s stomach.

Xavier gestured to the screen.“There, see?That’s the baby.Everything’s fine.”He wondered why it sounded like he was trying to convince himself.

Julie put down the instrument.“I’m just going to get Dr.Young to have a look at it.”She headed for the door.

“Why, what’s wrong?”Indi asked, on the verge of panic.

Julie tried to sound calm but there was a nervous hint to her voice.“I think the doctor should have a look.”

“Tell me what’s wrong with my baby!”Indi demanded.

Julie looked at her sympathetically.“When I looked at the ultrasound just now, I couldn’t see your baby’s heartbeat.I’m sorry but…your baby’s died.”

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A big thank you for all your comments.I hope no-one was too upset by the ending of that last chapter, I'm finding it emotionally draining myself.It did occur to me as I sat here on Christmas Eve that this story isn't exactly very festive.

Warning: Some readers may find this chapter upsetting.


Sid had joined Derek Young in the room as he confirmed Nurse Julie’s information.Xavier held Indi tight as she let out a series of painful sobs, hiding his own grief as he tried to comfort hers.“How did this happen?”Indi asked tearfully.

“There’s no answer to that,”Sid told her,“Even at this late stage, sometimes a developing child can just give out without any medical reason.There’s nothing anyone could have done to prevent it.”

“But what happens now?”Xavier asked.

“We need to end the pregnancy,”Derek explained,“And…at six months, the best way to do that is to induce labour.”

It took Xavier a few second to realise what he meant.When he did, he give an involuntary shudder of horror.“You mean…you want Indi to give birth to our dead baby?There’s got to be another way, surely?”

“We could remove the foetus surgically,”Sid admitted,“But this is by far the safest option.”

“You can’t put her through that!”

Indi pulled away from his grip slightly, straightening her hair and trying to appear calm and composed. “Do it,”she told them,“I just want it over with.”

Derek nodded.“All right.I’ll arrange the treatment.”He left the room, Sid going with him.

Xavier gripped Indi’s hand tightly.“I’m going to be with you all the way, all right?”

Slowly, Indi nodded.

The party had dispersed when the news came in.No-one felt like celebrating anymore.Ruby busied herself in the kitchen, clearing away plates and leftover food.Romeo came in behind her.“Are you okay?”

“No,”Ruby said quietly,“A few hours ago, I was happy, this was the best day of my life.And now all this has happened.And I wish we could still be happy because this, us, is a happy thing.And then I feel guilty for feeling like that because we’re still going to be engaged tomorrow and we’re still going to get married but Xavier and Indi…their baby’s gone for good and they’re never going to get it back and I just feel so bad for them…”

Romeo walked over to her and hugged her.She buried her face in his chest and he kissed the top of her head, gently stroking her hair.“I don’t know how to feel either,”he admitted,“I want to go and see them both but it kind of feels like rubbing their noses in it when we’ve got everything they haven’t.”

Ruby wiped tears from her eyes.“I think we should go down there.”

“You’re sure?”

“If they don’t want to see us, then we can go.But it might make them feel better to know we care.”

Romeo kissed her on the forehead.“Okay.Get cleaned up and we’ll get moving.”

Sid sat in the hospital waiting area, wanting to give Xavier and Indi some privacy.They were going through the most traumatic experience he could imagine a couple experiencing and it needed to be about the two of them.

“Dad?”asked a tiny voice from the entrance.

Sid looked round and saw Sasha standing there.His youngest daughter looked as upset as he’d ever seen her, tearstains across her face.She ran to him and he stood up and hugged her.“It’s okay,”he said quietly.

“How’s Indi?”

“She’s…”Sid shuddered slightly, unable to complete the sentence.“She just needs some space right now. We can see her later.”

“Should we…should we tell people?”

“I called Miles and asked him to spread the word.John and Gina are out of town, we haven’t managed to get hold of them yet.I called your brother, he and Casey should be here tomorrow.”

“I just…I don’t know what to do.I know I moan at her a lot but…Indi’s my sister.I feel like I should be doing something.”

Sid put an arm round her and guided her into a seat next to his.“There’s nothing we can do,”he admitted, “This is up to them.”

Xavier gripped Indi’s hand, resting her head on his shoulder as he gently stroked her hair and made soothing noises.He felt as though he should say something but he had no idea what.They’d both lost a child but he had no idea what she was going through at the moment.Indi wimpered at another labour pain, somehow finding the strength to obey Julie’s instructions and push with the contraction, feeling something leave her body as she did so.

Julie gently wrapped the tiny dead form in a sheet.“It’s okay, Indi,”she said quietly,“It’s over now.”

“What is it?”Indi asked.

Xavier had wanted to ask the question too but he had been afraid it would be too upsetting.“It’s a girl,” Julie told them,“Would you like to see her?”

Xavier cautiously released Indi’s hand and walked over to the bundle Julie was holding, moving aside the sheet to look at the tiny face.If it wasn’t for the pale, deathlike palour, he might have almost thought she was sleeping.“Can I hold her?”he asked.

Julie silently passed the bundle into his arms.Indi sat up in bed.“Bring her here,”she told him.Xavier placed the bundle in her arms, putting an arm round her whilst keeping one hand holding their daughter. Indi gently stroked the child’s face, a single tear rolling down her cheek.“Goodbye, baby,”she whispered.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thank you for bearing with me, everyone, things are now mostly back to normal and I hope this chapter is worth the wait.


Indi had barely moved since the nurses took their daughter away.She had just lain there, with her back to him.Xavier sat, rubbing his hands together awkwardly, unsure if he should try and comfort her.“Can I get you anything?”he asked.

There was a long silence.“No,”she said at last.She remained silent for a few moments longer.“Where do you think they’ve taken her?”

“I don’t know.The mortuary, I guess.”

“Jane.”Indi looked over her shoulder at him.“I want to call her Jane.”

Xavier nodded.“Jane.Right.”

“Do you think they’ll let us have a funeral?”

Xavier spread his hands helplessly.“I don’t know.Maybe.I could ask your dad?”But Indi had lapsed back into silence.

Sasha appeared in the doorway and Xavier went over to her.“How is she?”she asked.

Xavier just shrugged.He felt too powerless to do anything else.“I don’t know.”

“I could sit with her for a bit.If you like?”

“You’re sure?”

Sasha nodded nervously.“Yeah.”

Xavier gave her shoulder a grateful squeeze and headed out into the corridor.

Sasha took a few steps closer to the bed.“Indi?It’s me.”She was met with silence.“I know I…maybe haven’t been the best sister since I came to live here but…if there’s anything I can do to help you, I will.”

Indi turned over and looked at her.“What can you do?”

“I don’t know.But I can try.”

“Can you give me my baby back?”There were tears in Indi’s eyes as she said it.

Sasha felt tears in her own eyes.“No.”

“Then there’s nothing you can do.”

In the corridor outside, Xavier was exchanging hugs with the newly arrived Romeo and Ruby.“How are you both bearing up?”Romeo asked.

Xavier shrugged.“Indi’s a mess and to tell the truth I’m not too far behind.I don’t know what I’m supposed to do or anything and I don’t know how I’m gonna help her.”He turned to Sid.“Indi was wondering if we’re allowed to have a funeral.”

“Given what happened, the baby will be registered as a stillbirth so, yes.”

“Jane,”Xavier interjected,“We’re calling her Jane.”

Sid nodded.“All right.Jane.”

Sasha came back out in tears.“I’m sorry, I…I tried to hold it together but…she’s just so upset, nothing I said could make any difference…”

Romeo put his arms around her and hugged her.“It’s okay.I don’t think any of us can say anything to make her feel better right now.”

“Is it…is it okay if I go see her?”Ruby asked.

Xavier shrugged.“Can’t hurt.”

Ruby made her way cautiously into the room.“Indi?”She sighed.“I’m trying really hard not to say the wrong thing here because everything I come up with just sounds stupid.I know that you’re not all right and I know I’ve got no idea what you’re going through.But…if you need a friend, I’m here, okay?”

“What was it like?”Indi asked suddenly.

Ruby stared at her, confused.“What was what like?”

“When you gave birth to Julia.How did it feel?”

Ruby was worried about how her response would sound but she knew Indi wanted honesty from her. “Well, it was painful but…I guess it was amazing.I was handed this little baby that was a part of me and Romeo and, I dunno, I guess I just felt this sudden rush of something, like I knew if anyone ever tried and harmed her I’d kill them.”

Indi nodded.“Me too.When I looked at…at Jane, I knew that she’d been counting on me and Xavier to look after her.But we couldn’t, could we?I couldn’t.”

Ruby went over to her friend and put her arms round her as Indi sobbed on her shoulder.

Matilda rubbed her eyes, hoping her make-up hadn’t run, trying to hide the fact she’d been crying.When she’d received the call from Martin asking her to come into the office, her first instinct had been to make an excuse but Ric had pointed out that she wouldn’t achieve anything by staying away and she’d been waiting for him to give her more responsibility.

Martin pulled the door to the office open before Mattie had finished pulling herself together.He looked at her as though sensing all was not well.“Matilda, are you all right?”

“Fine,”she claimed but she could tell he wasn’t convinced.“A friend of mine had some bad news earlier.”

“Oh.Well, I was going to ask you to sit in on a client with me but if you’re not up to it…”

“It’s fine,”Matilda insisted,“I’m all good.”

“All right, well, if you’re sure, come on through.”

Matilda sat silently next to Martin, taking notes as he quizzed the client.“So, Mrs.Conway.This is about a car accident.You intend to claim damages from the other driver?”

“No, no,”Mrs.Conway corrected him,“It’s that mechanic.”


“Yes, I’d booked my car in for a service the previous week.I got it back, he told me it was fine, and next thing I know my brakes have failed!I took the car to another garage and was told that the brake pads had worn clean through.Yet the mechanic who did the service insisted that he’d replaced them!”

Martin nodded.“Well, it definitely sounds like you have a case for negligence, Mrs.Conway.May I ask the name of this mechanic?”

“Dalby.Eric Dalby.”

Matilda froze and nearly dropped her pen in shock.She spoke quietly to Martin.“Mr.Shepherd, can I have a word with you?”She waited until she and Martin were in the outer office before blurting it out.“That’s my husband!That’s my husband’s garage!”

“Oh.”Martin looked slightly bemused.“Well, I don’t suppose it’s too unethical, I’m the lead solicitor in the case, you’re just assisting…”

Matilda had the feeling her point wasn’t being entirely recognised.“We can’t take this case!”

“Why not?She seems to have a prima face case.I intend to represent her.I’d be happy for you to assist me but if you feel the personal conflict is too great you’re welcome to step down.It’s up to you.”

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Thanks for all your comments.Short chapter to keep you going, hope you like it.


“Martin, can’t you think about this?”Matilda asked.

“I’ve already told you you don’t have to do it,”Martin reminded her.

Again, Matilda had the feeling he didn’t quite understand her objections.“I don’t mean the job, I mean the whole thing.Do we have to take this case?”

“I’ve already explained this to you, Matilda,”Martin replied with almost patronising slowness,“Linda has a perfectly valid complaint and if we don’t help her bring a case against your husband then someone else will.”

Matilda raised an eyebrow.“It’s Linda now, is it?”

“I don’t think my being on familiar terms with the client is really the issue here.”Martin held the envelope out.“Are you going to take this or not?”

Grimacing as she did so, Matilda took it from his grasp and headed out of the office.

“Have you any idea how Xavier and Indi are getting on?”Ric asked as he and Romeo worked on a car at the garage.

“Indi’s out of hospital this morning,”Romeo noted,“The funeral’s next week.”

“I was thinking about going round to see them but I don’t really know them that well.”

Romeo shook his head.“You’re better off out of it.I don’t think anyone can say anything to cheer them up right now.”

Ric was about to answer when he realised his wife was standing in the doorway.He put his tools down and went over to her.“Hey, Mattie, what’s up?Did you..?”

“Eric Dalby?”she interrupted, her tone formal.

Ric looked at her perplexed.“Mattie, what’s up?”

“I’m from the law firm representing Linda Conway.She’s instructed us to serve you with this.”She handed him the envelope then turned on her heel and made a rapid exit from the garage.

Romeo looked on in confusion as Ric opened the envelope and looked at its contents.“What’s going on?”

Ric looked up, bewildered.“We’re being sued,”he explained,“And…my wife is their solicitor.”

Xavier had his arm around Indi as he helped her into the house.“Why don’t you sit down?”he suggested.

Indi pulled away from him.“I’m not an invalid,”she snapped,“And I’m not pregnant either.”

“I know that,”Xavier agreed, trying not to show his hurt,“but you’ve been through a rough time.”

“I lost a baby, Xavier.That doesn’t mean I need you wrapping me up in cotton wool or patronising me or…”

“Hello, anyone at home?”called a cautious voice from the doorway.Dexter walked in, his boyfriend Casey just behind him.He saw his sister and walked over to her, hugging her.Indi didn’t react but didn’t make any objection until he released her.“Indi, I’m really sorry about what happened and about how long it took us to get here…”

Indi shook her head.“Not your fault.”

Casey and Xavier stood awkwardly in the background.“How are you going?”Casey asked.

Xavier shrugged.“I dunno, as you’d expect, I guess.Er, Indi?”

“Yeah, Xav.”

“Now Dexter’s here do you mind if I pop out for a bit?”

“No, sure, go ahead.”

And even though he’d suggested it, part of Xavier was disappointed that she hadn’t said no.

Xavier wasn’t entirely sure what part of his brain led him in the direction of his old house but somehow he ended up standing outside it and he quickly noticed the car that had just pulled up onto the drive.Gina and John were in the process of getting out and when Gina saw him she ran over to him and hugged him. “Xavier, how are you? We came back as soon as we could, I’m so, so sorry.”

“Yeah, me too,”John added as he joined them,“Can’t think of a worse thing that could happen to a couple.”

Xavier shook his head.“I’m fine, Mum,”he insisted,“I’m just worried about Indi, she’s not coping that well.”

“Well, that’s understandable,”Gina agreed,“But are you sure you’re okay?”

“Don’t worry, all right?”

“Well, you know I’m going to do that anyway.Do you want to come up to the house for a bit, have some lunch with us?”

“I’ll join you in a minute.Just give me a moment.”

Xavier waited until he was alone, then took a series of deep breaths.He was not going to cry.He was going to stay strong for Indi’s sake, he had to.

He was not going to cry.

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Thank you for all your comments, hope you like this update.


Dexter sat next to Casey, on the opposite side of the room from Indi, looking at his sister in concern.He’d expected her to be upset but he’d never seen her such a shadow of her usual self.She seemed content to just sit there in silence, not wanting to have anything to do with anyone.

“I’m home!”called out Sid as he came in the door.

Indi got up.“I might go to my room for a bit.Give you two a chance to catch up.”She kissed Sid on the cheek before disappearing from view.

“Hi, Dex,”Sid greeted his son, giving him a brief hug.He nodded towards his son’s boyfriend, who was still seated.“Hi, Case.”

“Doctor Walker,”Casey responded.

Sid nodded in the direction Indi had departed.“How is she?”

“Quiet,”Dexter replied,“Xav was here when we got here but he decided he couldn’t take the happy vibe as well.”

“Yeah, they’ve both been like that since it happened.Hopefully now you’re here they’ll start opening up a bit more.”Sid looked slightly uncomfortable.“So, have you two worked out where you’re going to sleep?I mean, I’m afraid we gave Sasha your old room but if you like I can sleep on the couch and you two can… have my room.”

Dexter raised an eyebrow.“Wow.And you almost said that without grimacing.Nice work, Dad.”

“Thanks for the offer, Doctor Walker,”Casey interjected,“But we’ve already booked into the caravan park.”

Sid nodded with just a hint of relief.“Well, so long as you both know that you’re welcome here any time.”

Ric thumped the bonnet of the car they were working on in fury.“I don’t believe it!”

“Ric, calm down,”Romeo attempted.

“How could she do this?”

“I don’t know but…the customer’s gonna want that car back without dents in it.”

Ric struggled to control his anger.“Seriously though, how could she take the case?”

“Well, I guess it was up to that new boss of hers.”

“She didn’t have to be involved in the case though, right?”Romeo only offered a shrug in reply.Ric thought hard.“I bet that was why he called her in last night.And I told her to go, like the idiot I am.I was actually pleased things seemed to be going well for her, that that Martin was letting her in on cases.”

“So…this is good for her job then?”

Ric sighed.“Oh yeah, it’s good for her job.Not so sure about mine.”

Xavier had continued his wanderings after having lunch with John and Gina.Somehow he didn’t feel like going home and dealing with Indi, which worried him, he knew he shouldn’t be feeling like that.He was on the verge of steeling himself and going back when a voice called out to him.“Xav!Hey, Xav!”

He hadn’t even realised he was near Ruby’s house but there she was, coming down the drive.He managed to force a smile.“Hey, Rube.”

“I guess you’re fed up with people asking you how you are.Is Indi home from hospital?”

“Yeah, Dexter and Casey are here, I left them with her.”

“Oh.”A worried expression crossed Ruby’s face.“Casey’s back?”

Xavier couldn’t help smiling.He wasn’t sure if Ruby had had a chance to talk to Casey when he’d come back the previous year.It looked like the fact she’d cheated on him with Romeo was still very much on her mind.“I think he’s over you by now.”

“Right.Yes.Of course.”Ruby cleared her throat, embarrassed.

Xavier looked at her in silence for a moment.“Well, I’d better be getting on,”he said at last.

“No, Xavier, wait up, sit down.”Ruby guided him to sit on the wall outside her house.“You know that me and Romeo are here for you if you need to talk, right?I mean, there was a reason why we wanted you to be our best man, you’re one of our best friends.”

Xavier sighed.“It’s just…I thought this baby would bring me and Indi closer together and even when we lost her, I thought we’d get through it together.But it feels like she’s pulling further and further away from me and I don’t know how to stop it.”

Ruby gripped his hand comfortingly.“She loves you, Xav, you know that.Just give her time and she’ll be there.”

Romeo was walking near the beach on his way home from work when he heard a snivelling sound that told him someone was crying nearby.He changed direction towards the long grass and saw Sasha, sitting there, still wearing her school uniform.“Shouldn’t you be on your way home?”he asked her.

Sasha shook her head.“I can’t face it.”


“No, I can’t face it, okay?”she repeated,“Indi’s gonna be there and she’s just gonna be upset and Xavier too and…I’m not gonna be able to deal with it.I know I should be there for them, cos they’re my family, but I’m just no good at that sort of stuff.”

Romeo sat down next to her.“Well, I don’t think any of us are really.You’ve just kind of got to muddle through.But I’m sure they’d want you up there with them.”

“Yeah, well, I’m guessing I’m just a horrible person because I don’t want to be up there with them.”

“You’re not horrible.It’s…it’s this whole thing that’s horrible.But people have a way of working through things.You just need to hang in there, okay?”

He put an arm round her shoulders and she lent her head against him, her crying ceasing.

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


Dexter rapped lightly on the front door as he and Casey arrived at the farmhouse.Both were already wearing their suits.Sid came out to greet them.“Hey, thanks for coming.”

“Well, couldn’t exactly not come.”Dexter fingered with his tie.“Is this too black?”

Sid looked as though he wasn’t quite sure how to answer.“It’s fine, Dex,”he said at last.

“And it’s those cute little weird bits that keep a guy interested,”Casey noted.

Gina came through.“I’ve set everything up in there for the wake.Are you sure you don’t mind everyone coming back here?”

“Well, it kinda seems appropriate,”Sid replied.

John appeared at the front door, having been waiting outside.“The cars are here.”


Xavier appeared in answer to Sid’s call.“Yeah?”

“It’s time to go.”

Xavier took a deep breath.“Right.”

Xavier knocked on the bedroom door and went in.Indi was sitting on the bed with her back to him, wearing her black dress.“Indi?They’re waiting for us.”

Indi shook her head.“I’m not sure if I can face this.”

Xavier came in and sat next to her.“Look, I know this is going to be hard, it’s going to be hard on both of us.But…we’ve just got to get through today.If we don’t, then we’re just going to feel like we let her down.All right?”

Indi looked at him hard for several seconds and then nodded.

Xavier kissed her lightly on the lips and then put his arm around her, helping her to her feet.They walked outside to where the cars were waiting to take them to the funeral.

Ruby found her gaze drawn slightly to where Casey was sitting with Dexter and Sasha in the second row from the front.She forced herself to look away and turn her attention to where Xavier and Indi were sitting in the front row, along with Sid, Gina and John.

“Do you think they’re okay?”she asked quietly.

Romeo shrugged.“Don’t see how they can be.”

Ric was staring straight ahead while Matilda tried to catch his eye.“Look, Ric…”

“Not now,”he snapped without looking at her,“Let’s just do this and then we can argue when we get home.”

At the front of the church, Elijah cleared his throat.“When we’re faced with the loss of a child, we’re tempted to ask why.Why did this happen, why was it allowed.Why did it happen to this family, who have done nothing to deserve it.I don’t have the answers to those questions.I can only say that when a tragedy like this does strike, I think it demonstrates the strength of a family’s commitment to each other that they’re willing to help each other through the pain.Now, Xavier, Jane’s father, would like to say a few words.”

Looking and feeling somewhat self-conscious, Xavier got up and stood facing everyone.“I’d like to be able to talk about our daughter,”he said quietly,“About her first smile, her first word, the first time she looked at us.But I can’t, because she never got to do any of those things.We never really got to say hello to her.We just get to say goodbye.”He turned and looked at the tiny coffin.“So, I guess all I can say is that we love you and we’re never going to forget you.”

Ruby had been separated from Romeo after they’d left the church and was trying to find her way back to their car to go to the wake.When she noticed Casey waiting by one of the other cars, she decided her best option was to turn round and walk in the opposite direction.

“Hey, Rube!”he called.

Ruby winced and turned round, plastering a smile across her face.“Casey!Hi, didn’t see you there.”

“So why did you turn and go the other way?”

“I forgot something?”

Casey sighed.“Look…I’m not saying that what you did didn’t hurt me at the time but it’s nearly two years ago now and I’m happy with Dexter so, maybe we should put it behind us?”

Ruby breathed a sigh of relief.“I’d be happy to do that.”

“I hear you and Romeo are getting married?”

“Yeah, we were hoping to do it next month but…well, I guess it’ll depend on how everyone’s feeling.”

“And your daughter?”

“Julia?Yeah, she’s well.She’s at the grabbing stage at the moment, where anything you put within reach of her gets picked up and played with.”

“Well, I hope everything goes well for you.”

Ruby smiled.“You too.”

Xavier and Indi were standing by the small grave.“It was good what you said in there,”Indi said quietly,“I don’t think I could have said it.”

Xavier shrugged.“Well…I just said how much she meant to us.Do you want to go back to the house?”

Indi pulled away from his grip slightly.“No, I think I’ll wait here for a bit.I need to be on my own. You go on.”

Xavier tried hard not to take the comment personally but it still felt like a rejection.“Okay,”he replied.He kissed her on the cheek before walking away from her, both of them alone again.

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Thanks for your comments.Sorry for the gap between updates, with two and a quarter fictions on the go here plus other stuff I'm kind of forgetting how long it's been.


Ruby was gently bouncing Julia on her lap as Romeo came home.He planted a kiss on the top of his girlfriend’s head.“Good day?”she asked him.

“Well, Ric’s still worrying about this court action,”Romeo noted,“But at least I’ve still got a job for now.Which should help pay for the wedding.”

“Yeah, now we just have to worry about being poor after we’re married.”

“Hello!”a female voice called from the kitchen,“International celebrity requiring warm welcome here!”

Ruby was thrown by the unexpected interruption, although there was something naggingly familiar about the voice.“Who is that?”

Romeo gave a weary sigh.“There’s only one person that could be.”He raised his voice.“In here, Mink!”

His sister came hurrying into the room and flung her arms around him.“Hey there, little brother! Have you grown?”She glanced at the room’s other occupants.“Hey, Ruby.”

“Mink,”Ruby greeted her with a strained smile,“It’s been too long.”

“I love how you manage to say that when you’re clearly thinking it’s not been long enough.So how did you manage to convince him to marry you?”

“I bewitched him with my evil powers.”

“Thought so.”Mink sat down next to her soon-to-be sister-in-law and tickled Julia’s chin slightly. “Still I’ll say one thing for you two.You make cute babies.Has this little one got a smile for your Auntie Mink?”

“So, we weren’t expecting you..?”Romeo interjected pointedly.

“Yeah, well, when I heard that you were being made an honest man of, I thought I’d better come round and help you with the preparations, give everything the once over…”

“We don’t have any room for you to stay here,”Ruby noted hastily.

“No sweat, I’ve already been round to Miles and blagged a room off him.By the way, is Xavier still around?I’ve kinda got a plan to go round and give him a shock.”

Romeo and Ruby exchanged a look.“You might want to go easy on him for a while,”Romeo said quietly.

Xavier kissed Indigo intensely as he lowered her onto the bed, feeling her relax in his arms.He began removing her clothes, unbuttoning her blouse, unfastening her jeans, caressing her body as she let out a low moan.Then, suddenly, she pushed him away, rolling over and sitting up.“I…I can’t.”

Xavier stared at her in confusion.“Did I do something wrong?”

“No, it’s not you.”

Even though he didn’t want to, Xavier could feel himself starting to get annoyed.“This was your idea!”he shouted,“You told me you wanted to make love!And now you’re acting like I’ve tried to force myself on you!”

“I don’t want to get pregnant, okay?”Indigo shouted back,“I can’t go through that again!I can’t have sex with you, I’m sorry!”She got up and stormed out of the room.

Mink was lifting Julia up in the air and then placing her back on her lap, letting her niece gurgle in delight.“You’re being a good girl for your Auntie Mink, aren’t you?Hey?Aren’t you?”

Romeo and Ruby exchanged a bemused look.“It’s nice that you’re bonding,”Romeo commented.

“Course we are.”Mink spoke to Julia in a stage whisper.“Don’t let your mum turn you into one of those girlie girls, okay?Being the tough chick’s a lot more fun.”

“Nice to know you’re not going to teach her any bad habits,”Ruby sighed.

Mink looked over at her.“So, last time I was here you and Xavier were getting back together, now you’re with my brother and he’s dating your ex?How does that work?”

“You were gone three years,”Romeo reminded her.

“A fair point.”

“You are going to go easy on them, aren’t you?”Ruby asked.

“Hey, I might be blunt but I’m not heartless.They’re working things out though, aren’t they?”

Romeo nodded.“I’m sure they’ll be fine.”

Indigo hadn’t quite worked out what she was going to say to Xavier but all her ideas went out of the window when he emerged from their bedroom carrying a packed suitcase.She gazed at him in shock. “What’s going on?”

“I’m going to move back in with Mum and John.”

Indi was aghast.“Because I wouldn’t sleep with you?”

“No, because me being here isn’t helping you.It isn’t helping either of us.I’ve just lost my daughter and I’m trying to help you through it and you won’t let me.Every time I try and do something for you you push me away.And I can’t cope with it any more, Indi.I can’t.”

Indi scowled at him.“Fine, then, go!See if I care.”

“Look, I’ll be in touch later, okay?”Xavier went to kiss her on the cheek but she pulled away from him.Sighing, he headed out the door.

Indi didn’t think she had any tears left.But as she collapsed onto the sofa, somehow she found some.

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