Jump to content

The Mistakes We Make

Guest Red Ranger 1

Recommended Posts

This is the next installment (Part 4 of Where the Heart Lies) of the seemingly endless saga previously told in Where the Heart Lies, The Honeymoon's Over and In the Adult World.If anyone hasn't read those and wants to, the links are in my profile.

Story Title: The Mistakes We Make

Type of story: Short/Medium fic

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

BTTB rating: T/A

Genre: Drama

Does story include spoilers: No

Any warnings: No bad language.Mild to moderate sexual content.Violence/Death.

Summary: Five years on from the events of In the Adult World and the once teenaged couples have a number of new problems to deal with, from parenthood to unemployment to unexpected illness.


Ruby transcribed the last note on her board screen before turning triumphantly to her class.“Okay, it’s a simple enough tune.So what we’re going to concentrate on is timing, okay?”A set of bored faces looked back at her.“You’ve all got your keyboards?”

There was an unenthusiastic chorus of “Yes, Mrs.Smith.”

“Okay.Get the beat first and then start when I indicate.”Ruby started up the metronome on her desk. She gave the class a few bars to become accustomed to the time then conducted them to begin playing.A staggered chorus of instruments started up.“Keep the beat!”she called,“Listen to each other, you should be in unison!And now slowly increase the pace.”She adjusted the metronome up to the next level.The students’ response was somewhat ragged but at least they persevered.“Right, good!”she called encouragingly.

The sound of the bell at the end of class rang down the hall.Everyone immediately stopped playing and looked at her expectantly.

Ruby bowed to the inevitable.“All right, class dismissed.”

Ruby quickly picked out her husband’s car on exiting the school and clambered into the passenger seat next to him, giving him a quick kiss.“How was your day?”Romeo asked.

“Well, the HSC students are fine,”she noted,“But my last lesson was the usual bunch of bored Year 9s who can’t wait to drop the subject.”

Romeo winced.“Ouch,”he remarked,“We get that at the gym as well, overweight guys whose doctors have suddenly told them they’re on the verge of a heart attack or girls whose usual form of exercise is riding a pony going there to oggle the instructors.They don’t usually last long.”

“Good job you’re such an understanding manager.Guess it’s a good job we picked tonight to unwind.Table at Austin’s is booked for six?”

“Yeah, time to go home and get changed.”

Ruby studied his face closely.“You look a bit down.”

“Ah, just having to deal with Plunkett.Same old thing.”

Ruby was aware that Romeo didn’t have the best relationship with the gym owner.“If you just want a quite night in…”

“Nope.”He patted her knee affectionately.“We chose to go out tonight and we’re going to do it, okay?”

Given that the restaurant had been called Angelo’s for so long that most people had forgotten there was an actual Angelo at one point, it had taken a bit of adjusting when Xavier and Indi had taken it over and renamed it Austin’s.But in the end, they’d got used to it.

The couple greeted Romeo and Ruby with a smile when they arrived.“Welcome to our establishment, Mr. and Mrs.Smith, your table is ready,”Indi greeted them,“Would you like to see a menu?”

“Well, thank you, madam,”Ruby responded,“My compliments to the management.”

“Where are Julia and Colin tonight?”Xavier asked,“You haven’t locked them in the attic or something?”

“No, Charlie’s collected them up from school and given them their tea.We’ll pick them up in the morning.”

“We love them dearly,”Romeo noted,“but you need to have a night off every once in a while.”

Indi’s smile became slightly strained.“Call us when you’re ready to order,”she told them before leaving the table.

Xavier followed her.“Hey, are you okay?”he asked quietly.

Indi nodded awkwardly.“Yeah, fine,”she replied in a tone that wasn’t entirely convincing.

Xavier looked at her.Ever since Indi had miscarried their daughter, Jane, six months into her pregnancy all those years ago, they’d failed to conceive again.The doctors had assured them there was nothing wrong with either of them yet somehow it just hadn’t happened.“We’ve been married long enough for me to know when you’re upset.”

“I’m…I’m just being silly,”Indi replied at last,“No point crying over what can’t be helped.”She forced a smile onto her face.“Come on, we’ve got a restaurant to run.”

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you for all the comments on the first chapter!Hope you like this one.


Matilda kissed Ric on the cheek as she arrived back at their flat and ruffled the hair of their daughter Elizabeth, who was sat at the table doing some drawing.“Now have you been a good boy for Daddy?”she asked her.

“Yes,”Elizabeth answered lightly.

“You’ve been an angel,”Ric confirmed, kissing her on the top of the head.

Elizabeth held up her drawing.“I drew you, Mummy.”

“Oh!”Matilda did her best to interpret the scrawl in front of her.“That’s…very good, Elizabeth.You carry on drawing, I’ll just get myself some food.”

Ric followed her into the kitchen.“How’s the case going?”

“Are you really interested or are you just being polite?”

“Bit of both?”

Matilda sighed.“I don’t know why Morag put me in charge of this case.I feel like I’m out of my depth.”

“But the client’s innocent, right?”

“Well, I think she’s innocent.But they found the gun used in the robbery in her flat.She says her boyfriend planted it there but there’s nothing to tie him to it.”

Ric patted her arm consolingly.“If there’s a case to be made, then you’ll make it, okay?”

Matilda smiled.“Well, at least you believe in me.”

Xavier and Indigo arrived at the Walker farm and Xavier rapped on the door.“Anyone home?”

Sasha poked her head out of the lounge and smiled broadly.“Hey, you’re here!”

Dexter and Casey appeared from the direction of the bathroom.They had moved back to Summer Bay a couple of years previous, once Dexter had finished at uni.Although they had a place together in town, they still seemed to spend most of their time at Dexter’s old family home.“Haven’t you two got a restaurant to run?”Dexter asked.

“We’ve got staff, silly,”Indi pointed out,“That’s the advantage of being your own boss.”

“Well, I wouldn’t know, being only one of the poor exploited workforce.”Dexter, like Casey, had taken a job in the city, where he was an assistant at a medical research lab.

“Sid’s working at the hospital till late,”Casey noted,“So you can give us a hand with dinner.”

“That’s kind of like a busman’s holiday for us,”Xavier pointed out.

“More of a busman’s night off,”Indi added,“But we’d be happy to help out.”

Xavier looked slightly disgruntled.“I don’t know if ‘happy’ is the right word…”

“Don’t worry, we’ll give you a hand,”Dexter assured him, putting an arm round Indi’s shoulder as they headed into the kitchen.He glanced over his shoulder at Sasha.“Right, sis?”

“Ah, right,”Sasha confirmed,“I just need to go and check on the barn.”She slipped out of the house.

Indi sighed.“Nothing like a bit of sisterly solidarity, is there?”

“And that was nothing like a bit of sisterly solidarity,”Dexter agreed.

Sasha waited round the corner of the house, hoping he’d take her hint and follow her out.She smiled when he appeared.“Fancy seeing you here.”

“Yeah, like you weren’t expecting it.”He pushed her back against the wall, kissing her passionately. She trailed her fingers through his hair, feeling his body pressed against hers.

“Do you think anyone will miss us?”she asked,“I mean, do you think..?”

He shook his head.“Dex and Indi are too busy arguing over what to cook.I reckon we’ve got plenty of time for…”


“For whatever comes up.”

Sasha grinned and kissed him again.Casey unbuttoned her blouse and put his hand on her thigh. Sasha eagerly unbuttoned his trousers and pulled him towards her.

As ever, she felt a pang of guilt at what they were doing.She wasn’t quite sure how her brother’s boyfriend ended up becoming her lover and she knew that if her family ever found out they’d hate her.She’d only just survived the fallout of making a move on Romeo when he was engaged to Ruby and she wasn’t sure she’d be that lucky again.But somehow, that realisation had never been enough to make her give him up.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for all your comments, hope you like.


Romeo was directing one of the gym’s clients to use the weight machine.“We’ll set you at fifty to start off with,”he told him,“Then if you’re doing okay with that, we can step it up a bit.”

“Romeo!”snapped a voice from the doorway.Romeo looked round and saw the owner, Plunkett, standing there.“I want to talk to you for a moment.”

Romeo beckoned to one of his assistants.“Pat, can you keep an eye on Mr.Peters for a moment?I won’t be long.”

Plunkett was holding a large red book that Romeo recognised as the gym accounts.“Takings are down,”he noted.

Romeo was already aware of that fact.But he didn’t like the insinuation of Plunkett’s tone.“They’re always down around this time of year,”he argued.

“Yeah?”Plunkett didn’t seem very impressed with the assertion.“Then why aren’t you working to drum up business?Poster campaigns, special offers?”

“I’ve been doing all that…”

“Well, either you’re not trying hard enough or you’re just not good enough.Either way, you’re fired.”

It took Romeo a few seconds to process what had just happened.“I’m what?”

“You heard me, you’re fired.I’m gonna find myself a manager who can do the job.”

Romeo glared at him angrily.“You’ve never liked me running this place, have you?”he asked,“You just want some sort of yes-man.”

“I want a manager who’ll do the job I tell him to do,”Plunkett retorted,“Still, I’m not heartless.I can let you have three weeks’ notice…”

Something in his condescending tone caused Romeo to snap.“Stick your notice,”he retorted,“I’m out of here.”

“Okay!Today we are going to learn about different types of wind instrument,”Ruby told her class. She was greeted with groans from the students.“Yes, I know, you’d rather be out in the yard kicking a ball about.I’d rather be in the staff room drinking coffee but guess what?We have to be here.So, name me some wind instruments.”

There was a long silence before someone tentatively suggested “Flute?”

“Yes!Thank you,”Ruby answered, writing the suggestion on the board,“Anything else?”

“Saxophone,”someone offered.

“Recorder,”added someone else, causing mild laughter.

Ruby went to add the suggestions but suddenly she felt dizzy, a wave of nausea going through her body.She shook her head to try and clear it, clutching the edge of her desk for support.“Miss, are you all right?”one of the girls asked.

“Yes, I’m fine,”Ruby replied, trying to sound cheerful.But she still didn’t feel brave enough to let go of the desk.

“If you want to go and have that coffee, we’ll be fine,”one of the boys offered.

Ruby forced a smile.“I just need to pop out for a moment.Amuse yourselves.”

Once she got out into the corridor, she took deep gasps of air.It didn’t help much.She sat down on the seat outside the classroom, trying to recover her balance.

“Ruby?Are you all right?”

Ruby looked up at the question and saw Gina standing over her.“Yep, fine, Gina,”she insisted.She got up and immediately the sense of vertigo overtook her again, causing her to put a hand on the wall to steady herself.

Gina gave her a knowing look.“Oh?I think most of the students are better at lying to me than that.”

Ruby sighed.“I’m just feeling a bit faint at the moment.”

“Well, you’re no good here in this state.I’ll get someone to take over your class for you.Are you all right to get home?”

“Yeah,”Ruby replied with a confidence she didn’t entirely feel,“I’ll manage.”

Casey had accepted his pass at reception and confirmed he knew where Dexter’s lab was.He knocked once on the door and then walked in, finding his boyfriend hunched over a microscope. “You nearly finished?”

Dexter looked up at him irritably.“Case, I’m on the verge of curing the common cold here!”


“Yep.I’m sure I’ll have it sorted in a decade or two.”

Casey sat at the opposite side of the bench to Dexter.“Well, I don’t want to stand in the way of scientific progress but we were supposed to be having lunch together.”

“Just give me two minutes.”Dexter waggled two fingers in the air without looking up.

“Okay.”Casey kissed Dexter on the forehead.Dexter paused and looked up and Casey kissed him lightly on the lips.

“Okay!”Dexter said at last,“I’ll just get my coat.”

Casey smiled at him fondly.He loved Dexter.Which only made his feelings of guilt worse.He knew what he was doing with Sasha was wrong yet somehow she managed to tap into some part of him that he’d kept hidden for a long time.He just hoped the day when Dexter found out never came.

Ruby had expected to have a few hours to work out what to tell Romeo but he arrived home earlier than she’d anticipated.“What are you doing here?”she asked him, realising he was probably thinking the same thing about her.

But if Romeo was bothered by her being home in the middle of the afternoon, he didn’t say anything.Instead he just sank into the sofa next to her.“I was fired.”

“What?”Ruby didn’t think anything could make things worse than they already were but it seemed she was wrong.“How?Why?”

“Because Plunkett hates me.Because he’s been looking for an excuse to get rid of me ever since my ideas of what gym equipment to buy turned out to be better than his.Some excuse about the takings being down.”

“Romeo, you’ve got to go to him, you’ve got to get your job back.”

Romeo shook his head.“Forget it.Let him hire some manager that’ll help him run the place into the ground.”

“Romeo, we need that job.”

Romeo seemed to pick up on her slightly nervous tone, and the fact she was at home, at last.He stared at her.“Rube, is something wrong?”

Ruby bit her lip nervously.“I’m pregnant again.”

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for all your comments!


Romeo and Ruby sat in silence for a long while.“I’m going to have to give up work,”Ruby said at last,“I mean, for maternity leave.Maybe for longer, if I have to look after the baby when it’s born.”

“Yeah, I know that,”Romeo replied testily.


“So, I’m not going to go back to Plunkett,”he said firmly,“I’m not going to beg him for a job he won’t let me do.”

“Okay!”Ruby knew from long experience that it was no use talking to her husband when he was digging his heels in.Calming him down before he went into a full-on rant was the best she could hope for.“What are we going to do then?”

Romeo shrugged.“I dunno.I’ll have to look for another job, I guess.Maybe when the kid’s born I can be one of those stay at home husbands.”

“It’s helped us, though.Both of us working.Now that Julia and Colin are at school, we’ve been able to go back full-time.Now we’re left with not working or hiring a childminder again.”

Romeo nodded.“It’s not good timing.”

“This isn’t fair,”Ruby sighed,“We’re having another baby, we should be happy.Instead we’re worrying about work and money and it’s not the baby’s fault, it’s just us being stupid.”

“Hey.”Romeo gripped her hand firmly.“Whatever mess we make, we’re going to love this kid like we love the other two and we’re going to do our best by them.We’ll be okay somehow.I’m not quite sure how yet but we will.”

Ruby smiled at him, not entirely reassured but grateful for him making the effort.“So…do we tell people?”

“Well, I think we should keep it to ourselves for a bit.”

Ruby nodded.“There is one person I want to tell though.”

“Table for two, if you don’t mind,”Ric noted as he and Matilda arrived at the restaurant.

“Well, you’re in luck,”Xavier replied, handing them both menus,“Because we do still have a few seats free.”

Matilda glanced around.Whilst the restaurant was hardly empty, only about half the tables were full. She noted Romeo, Ruby and Charlie sat at one of them.“I didn’t know they were coming here.”

“Last minute thing,”Indi noted,“Just came in about half an hour ago.Anyway, what about you two having a night out?”

Ric rubbed Matilda’s shoulders gently.“This one here could do with relaxing.”

“Well, it’s all right for you,”Matilda protested,“The garage is doing well and you can just get on with fixing cars.I’m left trying to convince a jury that a seventeen-year-old girl with a history of petty misdemeanours isn’t an armed robber.”

There was suddenly a delighted shout of “Oh my god!” from Charlie.They looked round to see her flinging her arms around Ruby and only just stopping short of doing the same to Romeo.

“Do you think something’s gone on over there?”Xavier asked ironically.

The four of them headed over to their friends’ table.“Something you want to share?”Matilda asked.

“These two are…”Charlie bit her lip.“Er, nothing.Nothing at all.”

Romeo and Ruby exchanged a glance.“So much for keeping it quiet,”Romeo noted.

Ruby smiled.“We’re having another baby.”

“Wow,”Matilda observed,“You’re brave.”

Ric shook Romeo’s hand.“Congratulations, mate.”

“Yeah, same here,”Xavier added.

“Three babies, eh?”Indi asked.Then she smiled and gave Ruby a hug.“I’m sure you’ll be as great a mum to this one as you are to the other two.”

“Thanks, Indi,”Ruby answered.

“Hey, why don’t you come and join us?”Charlie suggested,“Xavier, get us some champagne.It’s not every day I hear I’m going to be a grandmother.”

“No,”Ruby agreed, shooting Romeo a look that conveyed her mixed feelings,“Not every day.”

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you Jarliefan, Zetti and pembie!Hope everyone likes this.


Casey felt the soft fabric of the bed underneath him as he lay in silent contemplation.Sasha moved closer to him and he put an arm round her naked form.She looked up at him and he managed to return her smile.“We should get dressed,”he said quietly,“I’m due back at work in a quarter of an hour.”

“What are you doing tonight?”

A part of him wanted to lie to her but if there was one person he could be honest with it was her. She already knew the worst secret he had:the two of them.“Dex and I are going out to a movie.”

He saw her bite her lip, feeling the same awkwardness as him at the real world, and the reality of what they were doing, intruding on their conversation.He supposed it was good that they still felt guilty, even if it never seemed to be enough to stop them meeting up again.

She disentangled herself from him and swung herself out of bed, gathering her clothes.He clambered out as well and hurriedly got dressed.

“When can I see you again?”she asked.

“I don’t know,”he answered,“Maybe in a couple of days.”

They stood in silence for a few seconds before he kissed her hurriedly on the lips.He let her out of the flat, locking the door behind them, both of them going back to their separate lives.

“Right, I have ice cream, I have chick flick DVDs and I have understanding brother with a sympathetic face,”Dexter noted as Indi let him into the flat.

Indi followed him into the front room, a doubtful expression on her face.“Is there a reason for this intervention?”

Dexter looked at her with his best sympathetic face.“I’m concerned.”

Indigo raised an eyebrow.“Concerned?”

“About you.And about Romeo and Ruby.And about a certain piece of joyous news they just shared with the world.”

“I’m fine with Ruby being pregnant.”

“Ah-ha!”Dexter had a triumphant look on his face.“So you know it’s about Ruby being pregnant then?”

“Is there some other joyous piece of news they’ve shared recently?”

Dexter looked slightly deflated at the response but carried on regardless.“I know that the whole baby thing is still a touchy subject with you and Xav…”

“So, are you going to go and see Xavier with ice cream and action movies?”

“No, I don’t want him to think it’s a come on.Plus your taste in movies is better than his.”

Indigo sighed.“Look, Xavier and I decided a long time ago to just stop stressing about all this.If a baby happens, it happens and if it doesn’t…well, we’ve managed up till now, haven’t we?I managed to get pregnant before when we weren’t even trying so it could still happen.”

Dexter processed this.“So you don’t want the ice cream then?”

Indi snatched the tub from him.“I didn’t say that.”

Matilda took a long drink from her glass of water as she listened to the witness’ testimony.Sergeant Haines had, under the guidance of Matilda’s opposite number Mr.Henry Portillo, delivered a rather damning set of evidence against her client.Finally, satisfied, Mr.Portillo turned to her.“Your witness, Mrs.Dalby.”

Matilda acknowledged him with a nod and got to her feet.“Sergeant Haines, you say the weapon used in the robbery was found in my client’s flat with her fingerprints on it.”

“That’s correct,”Haines confirmed.

“Only her fingerprints?”


“Isn’t that unusual?That no-one else had ever handled the gun?”

“We assume that Miss Gale wiped it.”

“She wiped it but left her own fingerprints on it?”Matilda let the question hang in the air.

Haines shifted uncomfortably.“She was careless.”

“You interviewed the service station cashier, Mr.Matthew Freeman, about the robbery?”

“I did, yes.”

“Was he able to identify Sophie Gale as the robber?”

“No.The robber wore a mask and didn’t speak.”

“But he gave you a description of the robber?”

Haines looked as if he knew where the line of questioning was going.“He did.”

“I have here Defence Exhibit C, Mr.Freeman’s statement, if you need your memory refreshing.” Matilda handed the sergeant the paper.“How did he describe the robber?”

Haines glanced over the paper.“Six foot two, heavily built.”

Matilda made a point of looking over at where Sophie was sitting.“Unless I’m mistaken, isn’t Miss Gale significantly shorter and lighter than that description?”

“We believe Mr.Freeman made a mistake.”

“You also interviewed Miss Gale after her arrest.Did she offer any alternative explanation as to the identity of the robber?”

“She claimed it was her boyfriend, Mr.Martin Collins.”

“Does Mr.Collins match the height and build that Mr.Freeman gave for the robber?”

“Objection,”Portillo interjected,“Speculation.”

“I’m not inviting Sergeant Haines to offer an opinion,”Matilda pointed out,“Just to state the facts.”

“Overruled,”the judge confirmed.

“Yes, he does,”Haines admitted.

“No further questions.”Matilda turned away, giving Sophie a reassuring smile as she did so.She let out the breath she’d been holding during the interrogation.She hadn’t been quite as relaxed and confident as she’d made out.

Then she realised she couldn’t breath.

She stopped and clutched at a table, gasping for breath.Her vision began to go grey and she felt her body shaking.

“Are you all right, Mrs.Dalby?”the judge asked but she didn’t have the breath to answer him.Her legs buckled under her and pitched her to the floor.The last thing she heard before she passed out was the judge calling “Someone get the paramedics!”

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you, Beezzz, Jarliefan and pembie!Hope you like this one.


Matilda lay in the hospital bed, Ric at her side, both of them looking anxious.Although the pain and breathlessness she’d felt had subsided soon after she’d arrived, the doctors had still run a battery of tests to try and find out what had caused her collapse.She found herself dreading the answer.

“Have you found anything?”Ric blurted out as soon as Sid came back in.

“We have,”Sid confirmed,“We think you suffered an angina attack.”

“Angina?”Matilda repeated, dumbfounded.Surely angina was something that old or unfit people had, not her.

Sid nodded.“We’ve had a look at your ECG and there’s evidence of an ischaemic heart disease.Is there a history of heart trouble in your family?”

Matilda thought for a moment and then it hit her.“My dad.He died of a heart attack.Do you think this has something to do with that?”

“It is possible that it’s hereditary.”

“Well, what are you going to do?”Ric asked,“Are you going to operate?”

Sid held up his hands reassuringly.“It’s probably not going to come to that.At the moment, I think it would be best if we tried to manage your condition with medication.Now hopefully, that will allow you to lead a fairly normal life without your blood pressure getting too high.So long as you involve extreme stress or physical exertion you should be fine.Okay?”He looked at both of them and they nodded.“I’ll give you a moment.”

Ric waited until Sid was gone before looking at Matilda.“How are you feeling?”

“I don’t know.I don’t know if I’m relieved they’ve caught it in time or worried I’ve just been handed a death sentence.”

“Hey.”Ric gripped her hand soothingly.“You heard what Sid said, they can manage this.You’re going to be fine.”

“Ahem.”They both looked round to find Morag standing in the doorway with a bunch of flowers. “If this is an inopportune moment, I can contrive an excuse to go away for a bit.”

Matilda grinned.“No, Morag, it’s fine.”

Morag looked at Ric.“I’ve spoken to your grandfather and Roo, they said they’ll be in as soon as possible.”She turned back to Matilda.“And I’ve just come from the court, I thought you might like to know how the trial went.”

“They’ve come to a verdict?”

Morag nodded.“Not guilty.And the police have reopened the case to investigate Miss Gale’s allegations.”

Matilda smiled.“Thanks, Morag.”

“Oh, it was you that laid all the groundwork, I just summed it up.Miss Gale thought the same.She gave you these”-she indicated the flowers-“to express her gratitude and wish you a speedy recovery.I trust that’s likely?”

Matilda glanced at Ric who gave her a reassuring smile.“I have heart disease,”she said quietly,“It’s okay, I’m not going to drop dead or anything but…I may have to take things a bit easy.”

Morag nodded.“Whatever you need, we’ll accommodate you.”

Ruby came back through from the children’s bedrooms.“Well, I’ve told Julia and Colin they’ve got five more minutes playing with their toys until they have to turn their lights off.How are things?”

“Bad,”Romeo answered.He had a large pile of bills and bank statements laid out in front of him. “Our savings are pretty much non-existent, your wage for this month is only going to cover half of these and I can’t help because I can’t get a job and they won’t pay me benefit because Plunkett told them I quit.”

Ruby put her arms around his waist and kissed the back of his neck gently.“We could still talk to Matilda about sueing him for constructive dismissal.”

“Except that’ll take too much time and too much money and he can probably afford a better lawyer than us.”

“Something’ll come up soon, okay?”

Romeo took her hand and gently pulled her down into his lap.“Thanks for being okay with all this, I know I’ve messed up.”

“Well, what else am I going to do, take the kids and go running back to my mum’s?”

“Some people would.”

“Well, I guess you’re lucky I’m still crazy about you.”She kissed him softly but was interrupted by an insistent knock on the door.She sighed.“I’ll just go and shout at whoever that is.”

When she opened the door, she found two smartly dressed men standing there.“Mrs.Smith?”one of them asked.

“Ah, yes?”

“We’re acting on behalf of your landlord, Smithers Estates.They inform us that you have failed to meet your last three months’ rent, despite a number of reminders.”

Romeo came up behind his wife.“We’ve had a few cash flow problems lately but in the next couple of weeks…”

“I’m afraid it’s too late for that, Mr.Smith.”The spokesman of the pair thrust a piece of paper into Ruby’s hand.

“What’s this?”she asked.

“It’s an eviction notice, citing the infringement of the terms of your lease.You have twenty-four hours to vacate the premises or the owners will prosecute you for trespassing.”

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you for all the comments!Hope you like this one.


Charlie wasn’t expecting to find Romeo, Ruby, Julia and Colin all gathered around the back door that morning.And she was expecting even less to find them laden down with cases and bags, all of them fit to burst.Ruby gave her an awkward smile.“Hey, Mum.”

“Ruby,”Charlie responded, trying to betray as little of the surprise she felt as possible.She knelt down in front of her two grandchildren.“I wasn’t expecting to see you here today.”

“We’ve come to stay, Grandma,”Julia informed her.

Charlie looked quizzically at Ruby, who looked even more awkward if that was possible.It was Romeo who provided the explanation.“We’ve been evicted.”

Charlie lowered her eyes momentarily, feeling both disappointment and sympathy towards her daughter and son-in-law.“I guess you’d better come in then,”she said at last.She took Julia and Colin’s hands.“Come on, you two, I’ll show you where you’ll be staying.”

“Do we have to have one room?”Julia asked.

“I’m afraid so.Unless you want to come in with me?”

“I don’t want to share with her, she’s a girl!”Colin protested.

“Well, you’re a boy,”Julia retorted logically.

Romeo saw Ruby sag as their children’s voices receded and felt a pang of guilt at not being able to do anything to prevent this.He put his arms around her and kissed the top of her head.“I’m sorry.”

She shook her head slightly.“It’s okay, it’s my fault as well.We should have seen this coming.We can’t even put a roof over our kids’ heads.”

“There’s a roof over their heads,”Romeo pointed out,“It might be someone else’s roof but it’s a roof.We’ll manage, okay?”

Ruby tried to keep Romeo’s words in mind as she got the children settled in one of the spare rooms. After a few teething problems, they eventually seemed to be quite happy playing in there and she took the opportunity to slip away.

Charlie was alone in the kitchen when she arrived back there.“I’ve spoken to Leah,”she told her, “She’s happy for you to stay here as long as you need.You’re lucky VJ’s at uni, otherwise we really wouldn’t have room for you.”

Ruby sank into a seat at the table, resting her elbows on the top wearily.“I’m sorry, Mum.”

“Hey!”Charlie took her daughter’s hand reassuringly.“Don’t think you’re putting me out, I’m more sorry for you than for me.When Julia and Colin and number three in there are grown up, if they come to you for help, you’ll be more than happy to give it.I quite like having you around.”

“That’s the thing though, isn’t it?”Ruby pointed out,“I’m married, I’ve got two kids with a third on the way, I’m a teacher…and I’m back living with my mum.”

“I’m thirty-eight and I’m still living in someone else’s house and never married.Things don’t always work out the way you think they will when you’re young.The important thing is we manage.”

Ruby sighed.“I hope so.”

Romeo placed another cardboard box onto the table of the increasingly bare looking flat.Looking at all his family’s worldly possessions was pretty depressing.Xavier placed another box alongside it. “Any idea what you’re going to do with this stuff?”

“I spoke to Miles, he said anything that won’t fit in Leah and Charlie’s place we can store at the caravan park.”

“Maybe we should start putting them in the back of the ute,”Indi suggested.

“Guess so.”

Ric was staring at a wall.“Are you going to take these pictures with you?Because personally, if there’s a bright side to being evicted, I’d say it’s that you can pretend to lose them.”He noticed the others’ looks and shrugged.“Just trying to lighten the mood.”

In truth, Romeo was grateful that the three of them had offered to help out.The task would be even more depressing without them there.“Take a box,”he told Ric, dumping one into his arms.Ric shuffled off down the stairs.

“Ah, we were thinking,”Indi interjected,“We’re short staffed at the restaurant so how do you fancy coming to work for us?It’ll just be bar work and the pay’s not that good but at least it’s something.”

Romeo looked at the couple carefully.“Are you making up a job for me?”

Xavier and Indigo looked at each other, then back at him.“No?”Xavier attempted.

“Look, okay, we weren’t exactly looking for someone,”Indigo admitted,“But the job’s there if you want it.”

“So how about it, mate?”Xavier pressed.

Romeo stared hard at them.In truth, there wasn’t much choice.He needed a job and here was one.He tried to smile.“Looks like you’ve got yourself a new barman.”

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you for the comments, pembie and Jarliefan!Hope you like this one.


Romeo let out a deep sigh as he arrived home.Ruby heard him from the front room and came through into the kitchen, hugging him and giving him a light kiss on the cheek.“How was your shift?”

“Well, it’s a job,”Romeo answered,“Which is about all you can say for it.”

“I know it’s not want you want but…”

“Yeah, I know.We need the money.And the work’s not that bad really and it was nice of Xavier and Indi to give it to me.I guess…I remember I used to have all these dreams of owning my own business like they do and now…I’m a bit jealous of them, to be honest.And I really don’t like myself for saying so.”

Ruby nodded.“Yeah, if you’d told me five years ago that we’d end up back here, with Charlie playing with the kids while we try and balance our wages again, I’d never have believed it.I’m twenty-four, we’re supposed to be the grown-ups now and instead…”

Romeo hugged her again, kissing the top of her head.“I guess we don’t do too badly,”he said at last.

“Well, it’s nice of you to say so.”

“No, really.I mean, I know I said I’m jealous of Xavier and Indi but I think they’re jealous of what we’ve got.You can tell that they really want to be parents but it just hasn’t happened.And we’re going to have three great kids soon.”

Ruby nodded slowly.“Yeah and what about Mattie, having a heart problem?It was bad enough when I found out I was diabetic but at least I’m okay if I take my insulin and watch what I eat.She’s got to make these whole lifestyle changes.”

“So we’re not doing too badly,”Romeo pointed out.

“No, we’re not,”Ruby agreed,“I think the only ones that have got a stress free relationship are Dexter and Casey.”

“So, how’s the new wage slave going?”Dexter asked, as he and Indi walked up the path towards the Walker farm.

“It’s just bar work, Dex, not rocket science,”Indi pointed out,“Romeo’s doing okay.”

“It’s nice that you’ve grown as a person.I remember a time when you were holding a tiny little grudge against Romeo.”

“Dex, that was, like, ten years ago!”

“Closer to five but I take your point.”

“It’s obvious Romeo made the right choice going with Ruby and it meant I can be with Xav so everyone’s happy.Is Casey still hung up on Ruby?”

Dexter adjusted his collar slightly and gave a satisfied sigh.“No, I believe he goes for a different class of partner these days.”

They pushed open the door to the house.“Dad?Sash?You here?”Indi called.

They were met with silence.“Well, I guess that’s what happens when you call round unexpected,” Dexter noted,“No-one knows to greet you.”

“That’s odd,”Indigo mused,“I’d have thought someone would be here.”

“Dad could have a late shift at the hospital.Another reason for us to check things before we came here.”

“Well, what about Sash?”

“I dunno, she’s probably out with her uni mates, getting drunk, picking up guys and taking Class B substances.Happy days.”

“Dexter, you never did any of that while you were at uni.”

“No, but I read about it.”

Indi went through to the kitchen.“No-one here.”

“Well, no, if there was they’d have heard us hollering.”

“Check the bedrooms, they might be asleep or something.”

“Okay, I’ll try Dad’s, you try Sasha’s.I’m not going to walk into a young lady’s bedroom, especially when it’s my sister.”

“Yes, that kind of went without saying.”Indi headed down to Sasha’s room and pushed open the door…to be greeted by the sight of Sasha and Casey hurriedly pulling their clothes on.They froze, the looks of guilt on their faces making it clear what had been going on.

“No-one there,”Dexter noted as he came to Indi’s side.Then he saw what she’d seen.

The four of them looked at each other, none of them quite sure what to say.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Big thank you, Aden Belle, pembie, Jarliefan and Beezzz for your comments.Here's another chapter for you.


Dexter walked out of the farmhouse as slowly and deliberately as he could manage, his head a mailstorm of emotions.“Dex, wait!”Casey shouted as he ran out of the house after him.

Dexter turned on him angrily.“What was that?”

Casey stammered.“I…I…”

“You came round to see me, bumped into my sister instead and took your clothes off because you were hot?!”


“Or did you just have sex with her?”

Casey sighed.“Yes,”he admitted.

Dexter looked him up and down.“So what, you’re straight now?”

“I don’t know what I am,”Casey replied.

Dexter carried on regardless.“Ruby put you off girls for a bit and now you’re okay again?And you thought you’d see what cheating was like into the bargain?”

“Neither of us enjoyed this!”Casey protested,“Sasha and I, we both hated ourselves but…there was some sort of connection there.”

“Yes, I’m sure you did a lot of ‘connecting.’”

“Neither of us meant to hurt you.”Casey placed a hand on his arm.“We love you.We don’t love each other.”

Dexter pulled away.“That just makes it worse!I think.It certainly doesn’t make it any better.In fact, why am I the one walking away here?You’re the one that did something wrong and you’re the one that doesn’t belong here.You go.”

Casey looked appealingly in his boyfriend’s eyes but Dexter didn’t flicker.He lowered his gaze and carried on down the track.

“Stop shouting at me!”Sasha moaned tearfully.

Indi ignored the interjection.“What did you think you were doing?That was Casey.Dexter’s boyfriend.You remember Dexter?Our brother.The guy that thinks the world of you.Why did you think he deserved that?”

“I wasn’t trying to hurt him,”Sasha protested sobbing,“I just didn’t think.”

“So this was a one-off?”

Sasha bit her lip, the guilt showing on her face.Indi looked away in disgust.

Dexter came back in, giving Sasha the coldest look she’d ever seen him give anyone.“Do you really hate me?”

“No!”Sasha ran to him desperately.“I don’t hate you, Dex, I didn’t mean to hurt you, I’m sorry…”

Dexter stepped back, away from her attempt to grab hold of him.“I just don’t know how to react to you.You’ve been sleeping with my boyfriend.Am I supposed to hate you?Am I supposed to hit you, get all territorial?”He sighed.“Can you…can you just go, okay?I don’t want to have to deal with this right now.”

Sasha shot an appealing glance at Indi, who looked away.Feeling utterly wretched, she left the house.

Sasha wasn’t sure how she ended up on the beach.She’d got on the first bus she came to in a daze and walked through town.She wandered across the sand onto the rocks and clambered over them, wanting to get as far away from people as possible, from the way Indi and Dexter had looked at her.

When she reached the most distant rock she could find, she sat down on it, hugging her knees to her chest, tears rolling down her cheeks.

Ric and Matilda were walking down by the beach.“So, how are you getting on with adjustments at work?”Ric asked her.

Matilda rolled her eyes.“Morag’s wrapping me up in cotton wool.”She noticed Ric’s bemused expression and laughed.“I know, who’d have thought it?But it’s true.And kind of scary.She keeps checking up on me three times a day, asking if I’m feeling okay.She gives me the most mundane cases imaginable, like someone complaining next door’s fence is half a metre into their property…I swear she’d be checking my pulse if she thought she could get away with it.”

“Well, it’s good that she cares, I guess.”

“Yeah but it’s so frustrating.I’d just won that case and now I’ve got this whole heart thing that means I have to take it easy.”

“I don’t know, maybe when we’ve all got used to it you’ll be allowed to handle more important stuff?”

“Yeah, maybe…”

Ric nodded towards the surf club.“I just want to go and chat to Romeo for a minute.You coming?”

Matilda shook her head.“I’ll wait here.”

“Okay.”He gave her a quick kiss.“See you in a bit.”

As Ric headed up to the surf club, Matilda looked along the beach and saw Sasha sitting on the rocks, waves washing over her legs and feet.With a sudden stab of concern, Matilda realised she was crying.She made her way across the sand towards the edge of the rocks and called out to her.“Sash, are you okay?”

Sasha got up and turned round…and her foot slipped on the wet rock.She fell forward, her head slammed into the rock with a sickening thud and she slid off it into the sea.She didn’t resurface.

Horrified, Matilda scrambled to where she’d fallen and looked into the water.There was no sign of her.She hesitated for a moment then jumped in, praying she could find Sasha quickly.

“Ric, you know as well as I do the garage only makes enough for one wage,”Romeo remarked as he and Ric exited the surf club.

“Hey, I could do with having my old offsider back,”Ric protested.

“Xavier and Indi have already invented a job for me, I don’t need you to do the same…Hey, what’s going on over there?”

Ric followed Romeo’s gaze out into the ocean and saw Matilda struggling to support the dead weight of Sasha.As one, the pair of them ran to the water and swam out to help her, Romeo taking Sasha’s weight off her while Ric helped Matilda swim back to shore.She collapsed in his arms and he hugged her shivering body close.

“How is she?”she asked Romeo as he dragged Sasha out of the water alongside them.

Romeo didn’t answer.He checked Sasha’s breath, finding none, and started CPR.Ric and Matilda looked on in agony as he tried again and again to force the water out of her lungs.

Then Sasha coughed and opened her eyes, gasping for air.

The others all breathed a sigh of relief.Ric looked down at Matilda, who smiled up at him.

Then her eyes closed and she slumped in his arms.

Ric felt as if his heart had stopped as the realisation of what had happened hit him.“Oh no, Mattie!” He frantically tried to find her pulse, his gaze flickering desperately at the crowd of people that had suddenly gathered around them.“Help her!Someone, please, help her!”

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you, Beezzz, pembie, Jarliefan, Zetti and Aden Belle for your comments.Here's another chapter for everyone.


Ric didn’t know why he was still there, staring down at the brass plaque on the coffin:Matilda Harriet Jane Dalby.1990-2018.The funeral was over, everyone had dispersed.He wondered if Matilda had known how many people had loved her.Her brothers and sister had been there with their families.Sally had come back, joining his own makeshift family of Alf, Roo, Morag and Miles.Aden and Nicole had been sitting with Romeo and Ruby, all their old friends from school had come back. Their new friends from these last few years in the Bay had been present as well:Indi and Xavier, Dexter, Liam and Bianca and Charlie, along with the old faces of Irene, Colleen and Leah.Casey had sat quietly at the back while Sasha had sat with her father.Ric suspected he should have said something to her but, if he was honest, he had no idea what to say.

He didn’t realise he had an audience until Lucas and Drew were suddenly standing next to him. “Cassie’s taken Elizabeth back to the flat,”Lucas remarked conversationally,“She had to pick up Summer from the child minder anyway so…”Ric gave a brief nod at the information and Lucas lapsed into silence.His daughter had been as quiet as anyone had ever seen her during the service, her young mind somehow managing to process the fact that people were talking seriously about her mother.

“If you want to talk,”Drew offered.

Ric sighed.“Why did she do it?She knew she had to take it easy, she knew she could be in trouble if she pushed herself.Why didn’t she…call for help or something?I was only a few yards away, so was Romeo.It should have been us diving in there, not her.”

Drew shrugged.“From what everyone’s saying, if Matilda hadn’t acted when she did that girl would be dead.”

“And if she’d let that happen, then she wouldn’t be Mattie,”Lucas added quietly.

Ric nodded slowly, appreciating them both talking to him like this, even though there was nothing any of them could do.“You don’t have to stay,”he told them.

“We’ll stay as long as you do,”Drew answered.

There had been an impromptu wake at the caravan park, a low key affair made even more low key by the absence of Ric and most of Matilda’s other old friends.Charlie and Leah had taken some of the leftover food home and were putting it in the fridge when Romeo and Ruby came home with Julia and Colin.“Did Aden and Nicole get off okay?”Leah asked.

Ruby nodded.“They’d have liked to have stayed a bit longer but they needed to get home for George and Ellie.”

Charlie took her two grandchildren by the hand.“Did you have a good time over at Jacob’s mum’s house?”

Julia smiled gleefully.“We had ice cream.”

“Two scoops,”Colin added.

“Wow, two scoops, eh?You’d better be careful you don’t get fat.”

“We’re too little to get fat,”Julia claimed.

“Don’t know if a nutritionist would agree with that,”Leah noted.

The two older women and the two children wandered through into the lounge, leaving Romeo and Ruby alone in the kitchen.Romeo slipped an arm around his wife’s shoulder.“How are you doing?”

“I was just thinking about April,”Ruby said quietly,“First she died young and now Mattie.You kind of wonder who’s going to be next.”

“There’s no point thinking like that,”Romeo told her.

“I just keep thinking about what I’d be like if it was you.I don’t know how I could cope.So I don’t know how Ric can.”

Ric found Cassie sitting on the sofa when he got back home.“Elizabeth’s in her room with Summer,” she told him,“I can get her for you…”

Ric shook his head.“No, let her enjoy herself.I’d only depress her anyway.How is she?”

Cassie shrugged.“She’s missing Mattie.But then I guess we all are.I might not have seen much of her these past few years but I always thought of her as my best friend.”

“I must have seen her pretty much every day for fourteen years,”Ric reflected,“We were together for twelve of them, married for six.It’s pretty hard to imagine life without her.I just want to…punch something, or someone, but I know she wouldn’t want that.Got to be there for Elizabeth, I suppose.”

“I can’t imagine having someone that big a part of your life,”Cassie noted quietly,“You were lucky to have each other.”

Ric looked at her curiously.“How come you never got married?”He saw her avert her gaze and realised he’d crossed a line.“Sorry, I didn’t mean…”

“No, it’s okay.”She shrugged.“I guess being HIV positive and a single mother isn’t very appealing for guys.There was one, shortly after we went to Thailand, another tourist…He made me feel like a woman for the first time since I got the diagnosis but…then he left and I never really found anyone who was willing to take that risk.Do you remember when I first found out I was positive?”

Ric remembered that day vividly, going to the hospital on hearing she was in there only to overhear her arguing with Henk.And all the trips to the clinic that had followed, as he and Mattie and the rest of their friends tried to support her while she couldn’t bring herself to tell Sally.“Yeah.”

“I thought I’d been handed a death sentence.And now Mattie’s dead, Belle’s dead and I’m still here. And they were the ones who had husbands who loved them.You wonder who decides things like that.”

Ric looked at her carefully.“How do you think Summer would feel if something happened to you? You can drive yourself crazy thinking like that.I think if they’re both looking down on you, they’d want you to be happy.”

Sasha sat on the beach, still wearing the black dress she’d worn for the funeral, feeling utterly wretched.Sid had invited her to go back to the house with him, Indi, Xavier and Dex but she couldn’t face them.In truth, she couldn’t face anyone.The only reason she’d gone to the funeral was because it would have been even more cowardly not to.As it was, it was only the memory that Matilda had died making sure she stayed alive that stopped her from walking out into the sea and finishing the job.

She didn’t hear any foosteps so it was a shock when a dark-haired young man sat down next to her. Or it would have been if she wasn’t too numb to be shocked.She recognised him as one of Ric’s friends.

“I saw you at the funeral,”he noted, before holding out his hand,“I’m Drew.I was at school with Mattie.”

Sasha gripped the hand briefly then let go.“I’m Sasha,”she said quietly,“I got her killed.”

She was expecting Drew to start shouting and hurling abuse at her.She’d been expecting it for the last week.Instead, everyone aside from her dad had just ignored her, which was worse.But Drew didn’t do either.He just looked her up and down.“You’re the girl she saved?”

Sasha bit her lip and nodded.

“Well, it’s not like you meant to nearly drown.”

“You don’t get it,”Sasha sighed,“People hated me even before Matilda died.That’s why I ended up in the water, I just wanted to be on my own.Because my brother just found out I’ve been sleeping with his boyfriend for the past three months.”She saw Drew’s embarrassed look.“Yeah, top that.”

“I slept with my girlfriend’s mother.”

Sasha stared at him.“Seriously?”

Drew nodded.“And yeah, a few people hated me for it for a while.But there isn’t anyone in this town who hasn’t done anything dumb or hurtful in their time.Sooner or later, they’ll forgive you.Who knows, they might have done already.”

“I just…I feel so guilty it hurts.I think I hate myself as much as everyone else does.”

Drew put an arm round her shoulder and she allowed herself to rest her head against him.“I guess you need to do some forgiving too,”he said quietly.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.