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Make Your Own Family

Guest Red Ranger 1

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And here's the other sequel I was asked for.New readers are advised to check out May to September and Single Parents, which this follows on from.

Story title: Make Your Own Family

Type of Story: Short/Medium Fic

Main Characters: Dexter, Leah, VJ, Dallas, Xavier, April, Sasha, Indi, Sally, Miles and others

BTTB rating: T/A

Genre: Drama/Romance

Spoilers: No

Any warning: Sexual content:Mild.Violence:None.Language:None.

Summary: When Dexter and Dallas hit troubles, he starts spending more time with Leah and Stephen, while some old faces from Phuket return to the caravan park. Part 3 of May to September.


“Dexter, can you get your…toys off the table?!”

Dexter adopted a hurt face in response to Dallas’ admonishment.“Don’t say it like that.”

Dallas didn’t seem in any way calmed by his response.“Don’t say what like what?”

“Don’t say ‘toys’ like it’s an insult.”He began collecting his action figures off the table.“These are highly prized collectibles.”

“Not when I’m trying to set the table for dinner, they’re not.”

“Well, I’ll help you then…”

“No,”Dallas snapped quickly.

Dexter looked hurt again.“I’m only trying to be helpful.”

“Well, you know how we always tell William and Louis not to play with knives?The same goes for you.If I actually thought you’d be a help, I’d let you but I’ve already got two children to look after and I can do without you being a third!”

Dexter had the strong feeling that he wasn’t going to be able to charm his way out of this one.He adopted the most dignified expression he could manage and headed for the door of the flat.

“Where are you going?”Dallas demanded.

Dexter looked at her stiffly.“I’m taking my ‘toys’ where they might be appreciated.”

“Hey, Veej,”Dexter greeted the boy cheerily as he arrived at the house.He had to do a mental check over the fact VJ was now sixteen and in Year 12.The five years since Dexter had been in his place, taking the HSC, seemed to have just flown by.

“Hi, Dex,”VJ responded distractedly.

“Is your mum in?”

VJ gestured in the direction of the living room.“In there.”

Dexter followed VJ’s gesticulation and found Leah, reading a story to their four-year-old son Stephen on the couch.Stephen seemed to lose all interest in it at the sight of Dexter, his eyes lighting up.“Dad!”he cried, jumping down and running over to him.

“Hey, little guy,”Dexter greeted him,“You want to play with Daddy’s toys?”He held up the action figures.

Stephen nodded eagerly.“Yeah.”

“Now you remember the rules, okay?Most collectors keep these things in vacuum safes and never let them see the light of day under any circumstances.Now I’m being a generous old person and letting you play with them on condition that you’re very, very careful.Understand?”


“Okay, there you go.”

“Stephen, why don’t you go and show them to VJ?”Leah suggested,“And if he complains that he’s doing his homework, tell him that I sent you.”

Stephen ran off into the kitchen.

Dexter cocked an eyebrow at Leah’s serious look.“Anything up?”

“Dexter, why are you here?”

Dexter looked slightly sulky.“I came to see Stephen.If it’s a bad time…”

“You know I wouldn’t stop you seeing Stephen.But why aren’t you with Dallas and the boys?”

Dexter sighed and dropped onto the sofa.“Lately…it seems all Dallas and I do is argue.”

Leah sat down next to him.“Well, all couples do that.”

“Yeah but…I’m beginning to think that she’s reaching the same conclusion that all girls seem to do about me.That I’m great as a friend who helps you with your homework, not so great as a boyfriend and father of your children.”

“Have you spoken to her about this?”

“Not straight out.”Dexter gave her his best puppy dog look.“Can I hide out with you for a bit?”

Leah gave him a kindly smile.“Sure, Dex.”

Alf gave a slight smile as he heard a car pulling up outside the caravan park house.A few seconds later, there was a noise at the door and a voice called out,“Alf?”

“In here, Sal!”Alf called, coming out of the kitchen area to see Sally and Miles standing there, laden down with bags.

“Hi, Mr.Stewart,”Sally greeted him, dropping her bags and giving him a warm hug.

“Hey, Alf,”Miles echoed, shaking the older man’s hand.

“Well, after all these years, I never thought I’d see you two back in Summer Bay.Even if this is still technically your house.”Alf’s gaze fell on the girl with them.“Good lord, is that little Pippa?You’re bigger than your mum.”

Pippa shot a glance across at Sally to check there was still a couple of inches between them.“No, I’m not.”

“Well…you’re bigger than she was when I first knew her anyway.”

“That is actually right,”Sally confirmed,“I’ve enrolled Pippa in Year 8 at Summer Bay High.Shame I threw away all my old uniforms, eh?”

“Come on, Pippa, race you to your room,”Miles offered, dashing towards the stairs.

“Uncle Miles, that’s not fair,”Pippa complained, running after him.

Alf looked after them with a smile.“I take it those two are getting on fine?”

“They’ve certainly bonded,”Sally agreed.

“So what has brought the two of you back here?”

“Guess I finally got tired of missing the place and decided to do something about it.”

“Well, the house is still where you left it.Most of the town too.Not sure you’ll remember that many of the people though.”

“I’m sure I’ll get used to it.”

Alf smiled at her.“Welcome home, Sal.”

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Thank you for the comments, hope you like where the story goes.


“Well, this is something I never expected to see again,”Irene remarked as she handed Sally and Miles their coffees and Pippa her milkshake.

Miles shrugged.“We came in late, didn’t fancy cooking.”

Pippa rolled her eyes.“She meant the three of us being in here, Uncle Miles.”

“I knew that.”

Irene smiled at the girl.“Last time I saw you, Pippa…”

“I know,”Pippa sighed,“You can’t believe how much I’ve grown.”

“We’ve had that reaction from Alf already,”Sally explained.

Irene nodded understandingly.“Sorry about that, kiddo.There’s just a few of us around here who remember you when you were little.”

“Talking of which,”Miles mused, nodding towards the door.

Sally and Pippa looked round to see Leah, Dexter, VJ and Stephen standing there.“Hi!”Sally greeted them enthusiastically.

Leah gave her a cautious hug.“Hey, Sal, I didn’t know you were coming back.”

“Yeah, we wanted to surprise everyone.”

“Are you back for good?”

“Well, we’ve asked Mrs.Palmer about work at the school and she says there’s positions open for us so it looks like it, yeah.”

“Well, it’s good to see you again.You too, Pippa, Miles.”

Pippa barely seemed to acknowledge Leah’s presence.Instead she was looking at another member of the group, a smile on her face.“Hi, VJ.”

VJ shifted uncomfortably.“Hi.”

Sally and Leah smiled to themselves.Pippa had developed something of a crush on VJ when he and Leah had visited them in Phuket two years earlier.By the looks of things, it hadn’t diminished.

Miles knelt down in front of Leah’s other son.“And you must be Stephen, I take it.Put it there, buddy.”He held his hand flat and Stephen tapped it with his own hand cautiously.

“Oh, yes, sorry.”Leah realised she’d been somewhat lax with the introductions.“Stephen, this is Miles, Sally and Pippa, some old friends of ours.”She gestured towards Dexter, who’d been hanging back from the reunion, looking left out.“And this is Dexter, Stephen’s father.He’s been spending the evening with us.”

Dexter raised a hand awkwardly.“Hi, Mr.Copeland,”he greeted the only member of the group he recognised.

“Hey, Dex,”Miles answered.There was an awkward pause.

“I might just head home,”Dexter decided,“Leave the six of you to catch up.”

Dexter wasn’t sure what to expect when he got in.Dallas yelling at him, probably, angry at him for walking out and not telling her when he’d be back.Which, he had to acknowledge, was fair enough, he had disappeared rather abruptly.It was becoming something of a habit.He suspected neither of them had adapted that well to the grown-up life of homes and children and landlords.

What he hadn’t expected was silence.

Dexter looked around the empty living area cautiously.“Hello?”he called out,“Dallas?”There was no answer.“William?Louis?”Still no answer.They must have decided to go out for dinner.He’d have to rustle up something for himself.

He went into the kitchen and saw a note with his name on it resting on the kitchen table.He scooped it up, looking over its contents as he rooted through the cupboards, then froze as he realised what it said.

I’m sorry for doing it like this.I know it’s the coward’s way out.But you know things haven’t been right for a while.I wish we could work things out but I’ve got William and Louis to look after, they don’t deserve us fighting all the time.So I’ve gone back to Yabbie Creek, a friend’s offered to put us up for a bit.You can come and see the boys whenever you want, you’re Louis’ father and you’re the only father William’s ever known.And the only person I’ve ever really loved.Maybe that’s why I want to end it now, before we end up hating each other.Love, Dallas.

Dexter stood still, reading the letter over and over again, not sure how to react.

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Many thanks for all your comments, hope you like this one.


“Wow, man, that sucks,”Xavier remarked sagely.

Dexter gave him a long, hard stare.“You’ve got your best friend staring into the abyss here and needing you to pull him back.That’s really the best you can do?”

Xavier floundered for a moment.“I guess you’re not happy then?”

“I think what Xavier is trying to say,”interjected April, who was sat next to her husband,“is that we understand this is a hard time for you and we’re here if you need to talk.”She looked from one of them to the other and sighed.“How about I give you two a chance to grunt at each other in peace?I’ll go get an ice cream.”

She eased herself out of her chair and waddled her way across the surf club, the task of negotiating the floor made all the more difficult by being heavily pregnant.Dexter saw the way Xavier’s eyes followed her as if pulled in her direction by strings and sighed, remembering how nice it was to have someone to look at like that.

“When are you two due?”he asked.

“Couple of months,”Xavier answered, before looking suddenly awkward,“That’s not gonna be a problem for you, is it?”

“No.Can’t expect the human race to stop procreating just because I’m not living with any of my children.”

“Do you reckon there’s any chance you and Dallas will get back together?”

Dexter shrugged.“I tried to ring her last night but got no reply.I’m thinking that maybe she’ll ring when she’s settled.I’m meant to be allowed to go on seeing the boys after all.”

“Well, she’s not going to stop you doing that,”Xavier argued.

“Who knows how the minds of women work?She might decide she wants them to have a new father.One who won’t embarrass them at the school gates.Who doesn’t own more toys than them. Who doesn’t try and teach them the periodic table at six months.”

Xavier looked at him sternly.“Come on, man.Those boys don’t care that you’re not cool, they just care that you’re Dex, like the rest of us do.If she was after a father for her children, she couldn’t find anyone better.”

Dexter gave him a curious look.“How come you’re trying to cheer me up and it’s actually working? I’m meant to be the sensitive one here.”

April came over, a tup of ice cream and a plastic spoon in her hands, and sat down with them.“Have I given you enough time?”

“Your husband has been convincing me that I’m a good father,”replied Dexter,“And showing that he’ll actually be quite a good one himself.”

April smiled and kissed Xavier on the lips.“I know.”

Dexter rolled his eyes.

“Wow, Mr.Stewart wasn’t joking about there being a few changes around here,”Sally remarked as she and Miles entered Angelo’s Restaurant,“What happened to the surf club?”

“I think they knocked it down and rebuilt it,”Miles answered,“Either that or they had some really good decorators.”

“They do good dinners here, though?”

“Hey, my information’s nearly five years out of date, remember?I’m as at sea here as you are.”

Liam was cleaning glasses behind the bar as they approached.“May we see some menus?”Sally asked politely.

Miles was less polite.“You’re still here, are you?”

Liam grinned at him.“Miles!They actually let you back into town?”

“Yeah, I guess the border patrols must have mislaid my photo.”

“You two know each other?”Sally enquired, amused.

“We used to work together,”Miles explained.

“At the school?”Sally looked at Liam curiously.“So how come you work here?”

“Creative differences.”Liam hastily picked some bound pages up off the counter.“Oh look, your menus.”

“Sorry, I’m being rude,”Miles realised,“Liam Murphy, rock star-turned teacher-turned bartender, this is my sister, Sally.”

Liam smiled as he took Sally’s hand.“So you’re the famous Sally Fletcher?”

Sally raised an eyebrow.“I had no idea I was such a legend around here.I remember you, though.Bit of a star in your time, weren’t you?”

Liam kissed the back of her hand before releasing it.“For that, drinks are on the house.But you still have to pay for your food.”

“Why thank you.If you show us to a table, we’ll let you know when you’re ready to order.”

“Right this way, madame.”Liam swept out from behind the bar.

Miles leaned in close to Sally.“I see you’re getting reacquainted with the locals then,”he remarked, amused.

Sally gave him a playful swat with her hand.“Stop it.”

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Thank you for the comments, everyone!Hope you like this.


When VJ saw Pippa waiting at the top of the beach, he almost turned and went in another direction. But somehow he didn’t really feel like doing that.He found Pippa extraordinarily embarrassing most of the time, yet somehow he found he quite liked her as well.

“Have you been surfing?”Pippa asked as he reached her.

Given that he was carrying a surfboard under his arm and she’d likely seen him out in the water, VJ thought that was rather obvious.“Yes,”he confirmed.

“Could you teach me?”

VJ was slightly thrown by the question.No-one had ever asked him to teach them to surf before.He remembered Brax giving him a few pointers when he’d first started out and wondered if there was anything he could pass on.He bit his lip, considering the matter.“Maybe,”he offered.

Pippa looked slightly disappointed.“Do you think I won’t be good enough?”

“It’s not that,”VJ reassured her hastily,“I just don’t think I’d be a very good teacher.”

Pippa relaxed.“I’m sure you would,”she told him.

“You’d be better off taking one of the classes at the surf club,”VJ continued but, noticing her downcast look, he added,“but if you ever get yourself a board and a wetsuit, maybe I could give you a few tips.”

Pippa grinned.“Well, now I know what to ask for for Christmas.”

VJ considered walking off at that but decided to stay and chat for a bit.“Does it feel weird being back in Summer Bay?”

Pippa looked around.“I kinda remember it.I remember your mum used to look after me and you’d play with me sometimes.And I remember living with Mr.Stewart.Mum and Uncle Miles are glad to be back here anyway.Everyone seems to like them.”

“Yeah, they’re really great,”VJ agreed.

Pippa smiled at him again.“See?You always say the right thing.”

VJ couldn’t help smiling back at her.“I need to go back to my place to get changed.You want to come along?I’ll shout you a milkshake afterwards.”

She nodded eagerly.“Yes, please.”

Leah was just about to put the tea out when she was startled by the sight of someone in the doorway. “Dexter!What are you doing here?”

Dexter shifted uncomfortably.“I dunno.I was out for a stroll, found myself passing this place, thought I’d check in, see how you are, if Stephen wanted any monsters chasing away…”

“What monsters?”asked Stephen, who had wandered in during the conversation.

“Aren’t there monsters under your bed?”


“Oh.”Dexter looked at Leah and gave a shrug.“We have one well-adjusted kid.”

Leah looked at him curiously, sensing there was more to the visit than Dexter was willing to admit. “Do you want to stay and have dinner with us?”

Dexter hovered uncertainly.“Have you made enough?”

“Yes, actually.VJ texted me ten minutes ago to say he and Pippa were eating at the Diner so he wouldn’t require the food I took an hour making.”

“Well, his loss is my gain.And Pippa’s, possibly.”Dexter lifted Stephen into his chair.“What do you say, little buddy?Are we going to show VJ he’ll be sorry for missing Mummy’s cooking?”

Stephen grinned.“Yeah!”

“Is he settled?”Leah asked as Dexter came through from Stephen’s room a couple of hours later.

“Yep, his bedtime story kept him happy,”Dexter confirmed.

Leah looked at the book in his hand.“Star Wars?”

“Hey, it’s culture.”Dexter opened the book at the first page.“A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away,”he intoned.

“Dexter, you weren’t just passing, were you?”Leah asked.

Dexter closed the book abruptly and sighed.“No.Have you ever lived alone?”

“Well, it’s just me and the boys here and it was just me and VJ before that but…not completely alone, no.”

“No.It’s not fun.Rattling around the flat on my own.Microwave meals for one.Wii games for one. No-one to complain about my jokes.I thought I’d get out.I could have gone to Indi and Heath’s but I was worried Heath would challenge me to an arm wrestle.Could have gone see Dad and Sasha but they’d probably start dropping hints about me moving back in.So I thought I’d come here.”He paused, thinking this over.“Not that I’m suggesting you’re a last resort or anything.”

Leah smiled.“Well, you’re always welcome.”

He looked at her hopefully.“Really?”

“Really.”She gestured to the book.“For a start, Stephen’ll want you to finish the story.”

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Thank you for all the comments, hope you like this one.


Liam picked up the bottle and poured more of its contents into Sally’s wine glass, filling it up again. “So, how did a woman like you end up in a place like this?”

Sally smiled and glanced around Angelo’s, as if taking in all the details.“Still kinda trying to acclimatise myself to being back here.It’s like when you go back to where you grew up and everything’s bigger and the people are different and they’ve knocked down the phone box where you had your first kiss.Not that I had my first kiss in a phone box,”she added hastily,“That was on the back porch.It’s like you know you’ve been there before and half the time it feels like you’ve never been away but the other half feels like some sort of parallel universe.”

“I never go back to where I grew up,”Liam replied,“Got to keep moving forward.”

“And yet you were here when Miles left and you’re still here,”Sally pointed out.

“Guess the place has a habit of getting under your skin,”Liam admitted.

“So, what’s the life of an ex-rock star living in Summer Bay like?You married?”Sally saw his bemused look.“What?It’s the first thing a girl asks.Indulge me.”

“Tried it a couple of times.Didn’t work out.You?”

Sally sighed.“Once.He…he died some years ago.I guess I never really felt like going back there again.Almost did once but…”

“You are open to the idea then?”Sally looked at him in surprise and he gave a casual shrug.“Like you say, it pays to know these things.Just so we’re clear what the rules are upfront.”

“I think I’m a bit old to start…dating.”

“Come on, what are you, thirty-five?”


“Still not exactly past it.”Liam leaned forward.“Tell you what, how about you come back here one time and I’m on that side of the counter with you and I buy the drinks instead of pouring them?”

Sally looked at him carefully.“Are you asking me out?”

Liam pulled back slightly.“Possibly.If you’re okay with that.Or, if I’ve just made things really uncomfortable, then…”

“No, no, it’s okay.”Sally was slightly taken aback.It had been, she had to admit, quite a while since anyone had asked her out.“Can I think about it?”

Liam nodded.“Sure,”he agreed,“No pressure.”And he suddenly noticed another customer who needed urgent attention.

Dexter wasn’t sure why he’d felt the need to get changed after work but he had.And now he was standing in front of a mirror, carefully brushing his hair in all directions to see which way he liked best, despite being fully aware that the wind would demolish it as soon as he stepped outside.He wasn’t sure why he was doing that either.

He grabbed his jacket, opened the front door…and found Indi and Sasha standing on his doorstep, Sasha’s hand raised to knock on the door.“Surprise!”she announced once she’d regained her composure.

“It certainly is,”Dexter murmured as they walked past him into the flat.He raised his voice and put on his best welcoming voice.“Fellow fruits of my father’s loins!What can I do for you?”

“We are your support crew,”Indi announced,“In a not-at-all patronising way, of course.”

Sasha held up a large bag.“We brought all your favourite DVD box sets, munchies and lots of sympathetic looks.We just think you’ve been spending too much time alone lately.”

“That’s…very kind of you,”Dexter observed,“But I wasn’t actually planning on spending the evening alone.”

Sasha looked closely at him.“Has that shirt been ironed?”


“Have you got a date?!”Indi demanded.

“No,”Dexter insisted,“And why is that so wrong anyway?”

“Apart from the fact you’re Dex, you only broke up with Dallas a few weeks ago.”

“Are you asking us to go?”Sasha asked.

“Kind of,”Dexter admitted.

“I missed out on a night out with Casey for this!”

“And I promise that if I ever get a date, I will cancel it for you.”

Indi sighed.“Come on, Sash.Let’s see if we can find someone who fancies munchies.”

Sasha paused by Dexter on her way out.“I want details.”

Dexter was somewhat surprised to find VJ in the house when he arrived.Normally he was out.“Are you joining us for dinner?”

VJ stared at him.“Why, did you want me to go somewhere else?”

“No, no.Just thought you might be out with your girlfriend.”

“She’s not my girlfriend,”VJ snapped, even though Dexter had no idea who he was talking about, and stormed out of the room, passing Leah as he did so.

“Oh, hi, Dex,”Leah greeted their guest,“Did you say something to upset VJ?”

Dexter considered this.“Has he hit that age where he feels awkward about liking girls?”

“I think so.”

“Then, probably, yes.”

“Well, no doubt he’ll settle down once he smells dinner.”

Dexter sniffed the air.“Ah, I can taste it already.”

“Not that I’m not pleased to see you but shouldn’t you be spending time with your family?”

Dexter looked slightly hurt.“I thought we were family.”

“You know what I mean.Aren’t your dad and your sisters missing you?”

Dexter shrugged.“They’ll get over it.”

Leah smiled and held out a spoon from one of her saucepans.“Here, try this.”

Dexter licked the spoon and smiled.“Ahh, your cooking really is to die for.”

“Thank you.You can come again.”

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  • 2 weeks later...

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


Sally’s insistence on going somewhere a long way away from Summer Bay for a drink had struck Leah as odd at first:Given the amount of time her friend had been away, she hadn’t expected her to be sick of the town already.However, when she discovered the topic of conversation was the manager of Summer Bay’s sole licensed premises, things began to make a lot more sense in Leah’s mind.“So what’s the problem?”she asked as she took a long sip of her cocktail.

Sally stared at her.“He asked me out.”

“Liam Murphy asked you out.Would have been a time when a lot of groupies would have given anything to be in your shoes.”

“Well, maybe he should have asked one of them.”

“He didn’t though,”Leah pointed out,“He asked you.Doesn’t that tell you something?”

Sally shrugged.“That he feels sorry for me?”

“No, that you’re young and attractive and he’s noticed that.”Leah saw Sally still wasn’t sure.“Come on, Sal, you know how this works.If you like him, you say yes, if you don’t, you say no.”

“What if I like him but..?”Sally trailed off.

“But what?”Leah prompted.

Sally sighed.“It’s just…it’s been a while since I went on a date.Last one was, I don’t know, Brad. I’ve kind of shied away from that sort of thing since then.What if, I don’t know, I’ve forgotten how to act on a date?”

“Well, if you go on a date with him, then maybe you’ll find out.You know, see if the two of you as…people who date would work.”

“Okay, okay, I’ll give it a try.”Sally smiled at her.“Thank you for being my calm and more experienced best friend.”

“Experienced?Hardly.With a sixteen-year-old son sulking about the place and a four-year-old running about the place, the only male company I get is…Dexter.”

“Yeah, how is he?”

“He’s been over at our place a lot.I think he wants the company with Stephen.”

“Sure it’s not you?”Sally asked playfully.

Leah laughed.“No, I don’t think so.”She stopped, thinking of all the times he’d hung around even when Stephen wasn’t there.“No, I’m sure it’s not…”

Dexter was still there when Leah got home.Somehow, she’d had a feeling he would be.“How’s Stephen been?”she asked.

“Settled down like the cute little munchkin he is.”

“Any sign of VJ?”

“Came in about an hour ago and went straight to his room.Can’t hear any video games so he probably went straight out as well.”Dexter got to his feet.“Well, I’d better be off…”

“Stay for a drink?”Leah asked.

Dexter sat back down again.“Don’t mind if I do.Coffee?”

Leah produced a bottle of wine and two glasses.“Well, since this is two grown-ups drinking, I thought we might have a grown-up drink.You do..?”

“I drink wine,”Dexter confirmed testily,“Every now and then.On special occasions, like Christmas and birthdays and the anniversary of Star Wars’ release.”

“So, it’s a few months before you’re due another glass then?”

Dexter gave an awkward smile.“I could probably make an exception.”

Sally could hear the sound of a guitar being played coming from the caravan.She was relieved, since that meant he was still up.She knocked on the door.

Liam answered it a few seconds later.“Sal!”he exclaimed in surprise, unconsciously brushing a hand through his hair in an attempt to tidy it,“I wasn’t expecting you.”

“When?”Sally asked.

Liam stared at her.“Er, when what?”

“The two of us going for a drink, when were you thinking?”

“Er, any time.That’s covenient for you.Tomorrow night?I mean, if that’s good…”

“Yep, tomorrow night is good.Around half past seven?And, should we meet there or do you want to go together?”

Liam nodded towards the house and grinned.“Well, since you’re on my way, I think I can pick you up.Can you be ready by quarter past?”

“I’ll do my best.See you then.”She walked away, an enigmatic smile on her face.A smile that stayed in place all the way back to the house.

Even though Leah and Dexter had been sat talking for the best part of an hour, they’d barely touched the wine bottle, which was still more than half full.Their glasses rested on the table next to it, the contents unfinished.

“So how are things between you and Dallas now?”Leah asked.

“Well, I’ve made the occasional weekend visit to take William and Louis out for the day,”Dexter replied,“We’re at the stage where we can make polite mutterings at each other during changeovers.”

“But you don’t think there’s any chance of the two of you getting back together?”

“Doesn’t seem very likely, no.”

“Then I guess it’s okay for me to do this.”She leaned forward and kissed him lightly on the lips. “Do you mind?”

Dexter looked slightly shellshocked.“Uh-uh.”

“Good.”She kissed him again, longer this time, and felt him respond.The kiss broke.

Dexter stared at her.“Um, does this mean we’re going to..?”

“Do you want to?”

He nodded.“Oh yeah.”

“Well then.”They kissed again, laughing.Then they linked hands and headed for the bedroom.

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Thank you, everyone, for your comments.Hope you like this one.


VJ was munching his way through a bowl of breakfast cereal when he heard someone coming from the direction of the bedrooms.He was expecting to see his mum or possibly Stephen.He was not expecting to see Dexter, clad only in a pair of boxers.

Dexter leaned against the kitchen door, a slightly giddy smile on his face.“Morning, Veej,”he greeted him in a forced casual manner.

VJ lowered his head.“You didn’t.”

“Well, without you finishing that sentence, I can’t be sure.But I strongly suspect that I did.”

Leah also appeared from the direction of the bedroom, looking at the two of them.“Morning, Veej. Morning, Dex.”

Dexter stared at her.“You’re dressed.”

“Yes, well, I don’t usually walk around in my underwear in front of my son.”

Dexter looked from Leah to VJ and then back again before pointing in the direction of the bedroom. “Should I put my clothes on?”

“Might be an idea.”As he began to move away, she caught his arm.“Dex.”She turned him round and kissed him.

VJ watched, with the same compulsion he might watch a car wreck, as they wrapped their arms around each other, continuing the kiss for longer than he really thought was necessary, before Dexter finally headed off to get dressed.

Leah sat down opposite him and raised an eyebrow.“Something you wanted to say, Veej?”

VJ sighed.“Were you careful this time?”

Leah coloured slightly and averted her gaze.“Yes.”

“Good.”VJ finished his breakfast as quickly as possible.

Pippa saw VJ sitting on the beach and smiled.She often found herself smiling when she saw him.She knew that he only saw her as a friend or a surrogate younger sister but he let her spend time with him and she enjoyed it.And maybe one day he’d change his mind…

She hurried over to him but when she got nearer she saw that he was frowning.“What’s the matter?” she asked.

He looked up briefly, his expression not changing.“Nothing.”

“Yes, it is,”she persisted.

He sighed.“You can’t tell anyone, okay?Not even your mum.I don’t know if my mum wants people to know or not.”

Pippa felt suddenly touched that he trusted her.She sat down on the sand next to him and touched his hand tentatively.“What is it?”

“I think Mum’s got a new boyfriend.”

Pippa smiled slightly at the idea that that would concern him so much.“Is that all?”

“It’s Dexter.”

Pippa faltered.“Dexter?Well, he is Stephen’s dad, I guess…”

“He used to be my friend.I mean, before him and Mum.I don’t know what she’s doing.”

“Is she happy?”

“Yeah,”VJ admitted reluctantly,“Which is good, I guess.And I thought he wasn’t going to stick around after Stephen was born and he has, so that’s good as well.Guess I’ll have to see what happens.”

Pippa smiled, pleased that VJ seemed to be in a better mood.“My mum’s going out with Liam Murphy.”

VJ looked surprised then shrugged.“Liam’s cool.”

“So’s Dexter,”Pippa replied.VJ gave her a funny look.“In some ways,”she amended.

“You actually said yes?”Leah asked.She and Sally had once again managed to find an out of town bar to have a private conversation.

“Well don’t sound so surprised,”Sally retorted,“I might be on the verge of turning into an old woman but I do know something about these things.”

“No, sorry.Good on you.Where’s he taking you?”

“I don’t know yet.”Sally looked suddenly concerned.“I don’t know what I’m going to wear.”

“You must have some posh clothes.”

“Yeah but they’re all formal.I can’t turn up for a date with an ex-rock star looking like I’m going to meet the Queen.”

“Well, there’s only one way to settle this.”Leah gave a delighted smile.“Shopping trip.”

Sally looked even more concerned.“Oh no.”

“Come on, how long has it been since the two of us have gone shopping together?We are going to have you looking even more gorgeous than you already do.”

“Maybe we should get something for you as well and see if Liam’s got a hot mate.”Sally noticed Leah avoiding her gaze and her eyes widened in surprise.“Leah Helena Adara Patterson, are you holding out on me?”

“No,”Leah insisted.

“I know that look, you’ve got your eye on someone.”She noticed Leah flush.“More than your eye?”

“It’s very early days,”Leah answered,“And that’s all I’m going to tell you.”

Sally linked arms with her as they both slid off their stools.“Well, let’s see if we can find something that both Liam and mystery man will like.”

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Thank you for your comments, hope you like this one.


Liam tried straightening his hair again, picked some fluff off the leather jacket he was wearing, then knocked on the door.A few seconds later, Miles answered it.“Is Sal ready?”Liam asked him.

Miles turned and called back into the house.“Sal!Your boyfriend’s here!”

Sally came rushing into view, shooting daggers at him.“Miles!”

“Just practising being the obnoxious brother.How did I do?”

“Pitch perfect,”Sally told him testily.

Miles grinned and disappeared from view.

Liam looked Sally up and down, taking in her knee length black dress.“You look great.”

She gave an embarrassed smile and curtseyed slightly.“Thank you.”

He offered her his arm.“Shall we?”

She took it.“Why not?”

“Daddy!”Stephen shouted joyously, running to hug his father as he appeared in the doorway.

Dexter bent down to receive the hug.“Hey there, little fella.You grown at all today?”

“Maybe a bit…”

“Good to hear.”Dexter straightened up as Leah came through.“Is VJ joining us?”

“No, he’s eating at Pippa’s.”

Dexter thought for a moment.“Isn’t Sally out on her date with her new rock star boyfriend tonight?”

“Yeah, Miles is keeping an eye on them.”

“Ah, good.Pippa might try and take advantage of him otherwise.”

“I am not ready to think about anyone ‘taking advantage’ of my son,”Leah told him warningly.

“Do you get the impression he thinks the same about his mother?”

Leah stepped towards him and kissed him softly on the lips, letting it linger.“Dinner’ll be a few minutes as yet.Stephen, why don’t you show Daddy your new comic until we’re ready?”

Sally glanced around the bar Liam had taken her to while she tucked into her meal.“Do you come here often?”

Liam shrugged.“A few times.So, what’s it like being back in the town where everyone still sees you as the little kid?”

“I think in most people’s eyes I went from being the little kid to senior citizen as soon as I started working at the school.Kind of missed out on the inbetween stage.”

Liam nodded.“Yeah, people tended to treat me differently when I worked there.”

“The people I’m teaching now weren’t even born when I was a student there, which really does make me feel old.”

Liam whistled in sympathy.“The kids I see around the place keep telling me their mums really liked me.I always thought I was being young and hip.”

“Guess we’re turning into a couple of old has-beens.”

Liam glanced across the bar.“Well, maybe not quite…”

Sally followed his gaze and saw a man, apparently the bar manager, appear on the stage.“Welcome to open mic night,”he announced,“And we have a special celebrity guest who’s asked to start off tonight.”

Sally looked back at Liam.“You haven’t.”

“Liam Murphy!”the manager answered for her.

Liam headed up on stage, taking the guitar the manager handed him.“This one’s for a very beautiful young lady who kindly agreed to be my escort for this evening.”

Sally saw every head in the bar turn to face her.She managed to smile through the blushes.

Dexter was scrubbing up the pots in the kitchen.Leah appeared behind him.“Do you need a hand?”

Dexter placed the last dish on the shelf and laid the cloth out on the kitchen surface with a satisfied sigh.“No, I think this is another mission successfully accomplished.How’s Stephen?”

“Well, I read his comic to him but he says I don’t do the voices as well as you.”

“Ah, well, when he’s experienced the talents of a master…”

“But he’s settled in bed now.”

Dexter turned round to face her, leaning against the work surface in what he hoped was a sophisticated manner.“So…”

Leah raised an eyebrow teasingly.“So..?”

“So…are we going to do the same?”

Leah took a few steps towards him and kissed him.He responded, both of them holding and caressing each other, as they headed towards the bedroom.

“So, really, how embarrassed were you?”Liam asked as they walked up the drive to the caravan park.

“It was a nice gesture,”Sally replied diplomatically.

“But don’t do it again?”

“I didn’t say that.”She stopped by the side door.“This is my stop.”

“So should we do this again?”

“Well, I don’t see why not.”

“Good.”There was a long pause.“So, should I get in touch with you some time to arrange a time and place?”

Sally nodded.“That’s a good idea.”

“Right.I’ll see you then.”Liam made to go, then turned and grabbed Sally, planting a long, lingering kiss on her lips.“See you.”

Sally watched him go, then headed back inside.

Miles, in the kitchen, looked up as she entered.“What’s that smile on your face about?”he asked.

“Shut up,”she retorted as she headed upstairs, still smiling.

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Thank you, Jarliefan, JosieTash, Romeo Indi Forever and pembie, for your comments!Hope everyone likes this one.


There seemed to be noises coming from the kitchen when Sally came downstairs but it abruptly ceased as she entered.She looked round to see Miles and Alf standing there, kitchen implements suspended in mid-use, and raised an eyebrow.“Something up?”

“Just wondering if you’re feeling more talkative this morning,”Miles answered.

Sally glared at him.“If you think I’m going to discuss my love life with my brother and my…Mr. Stewart, then you’re going to have a long wait.”

Miles didn’t seem fazed by the announcement.“So you are saying you’ve got a love life?”

“It’s a figure of speech.”

“Look, I’m not asking for details, love,”Alf replied,“In fact, I don’t even want details.I just want to make sure that everything went all right for you last night.I mean, you did go on a date with Liam Murphy.”

“And that’s like throwing myself to the lions?”

“To a certain point, yes.”

“Well, if it makes you feel better, Liam was the perfect gentleman.”

Alf didn’t look entirely convinced.“Just how perfect are we talking?”

“Important question,”Miles interjected,“Was he wearing aftershave?”He saw Alf’s puzzled look and shrugged.“These things matter.”

“Okay.”Sally grabbed her jacket.“I’m going to have my breakfast at the Diner.Where I can have a girlie chat with actual girls.”She stalked out.

Miles leaned in closer to Alf and spoke in a conspiratorial tone.“He was wearing aftershave.”

Not too long afterwards, Sally was in the kitchen at the Diner with Leah and Roo.“He really serenaded you?”Roo asked.

“I wouldn’t call it serenading,”Sally replied, blushing slightly,“He was putting on a performance. That’s what singers do, right?”

“So I hear.But it does kind of suggest he’s slightly serious about you.”

“Well, I might be slightly serious about him.”

Leah looked at her in mock outrage.“Sally Fletcher, tell all and don’t even think of skimping on the details.”

“There aren’t really any details.We went out, we had a nice evening and at the end, he…kissed me.” The amused looks on her friends’ faces didn’t really stop Sally from reddening.“And it was rather nice.Anyway, what about you?”

Leah looked thrown.“Me?”

“Yes, what about that mystery man you’ve been seeing?”

“Mystery man?”Roo repeated,“Tell me more.”

As Leah floundered, Dexter appeared in the doorway of the kitchen.“Hey there.”

Leah seemed to suddenly freeze up.“Dexter.Hi.”

Dexter looked at her for a long moment, sizing up the situation.“I, ah, just wanted to let you know that I got Stephen off to the childminder okay.And I’m due on shift at the hospital in about forty minutes, so I’d better go.”

Leah was grateful at him for covering for her but she’d noticed the hurt look flash across his face. Asking him to keep them a secret, as if she was ashamed of him, wasn’t fair.“Dexter, wait.”Making a sudden decision, she walked over to him and kissed him, long and hard, making sure no-one could mistake it for a platonic gesture.“See you tonight.”

Dexter nodded, smiled and left.Leah turned to face Sally and Roo, who were gazing at her in shock. “What was that?”Roo demanded.

Leah gestured after Dexter.“Mystery man.”

“Dexter?”Roo asked, sounding horrified.

“Well, it can’t be that great a surprise, we do have a child together.”

“He’s a bit young,”Sally observed cautiously.

“I’ll say,”Roo agreed,“What’s Sid going to say when he finds out?You’re old enough to be his…”

“To be his what?”Leah demanded,“I’m thirty-seven, he’s twenty-two.What’s the big deal?”Sally and Roo didn’t answer, but their expressions didn’t look that supportive.“Well, I’m sorry you find my love life so disgusting,”she snapped,“I thought I could count on my friends.Obviously not.”She stormed out of the kitchen.

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Dexter looked down at the four-week-old baby Xavier was cradling in his arms.“Okay, I’ve got to admit, she is pretty cute.”

“She certainly is,”Xavier agreed, looking every inch the proud father,“Aren’t you, Jenny?”

Dexter sought a way to divert his friend’s attention before he forgot he was there.“Is April in?”

Xavier shook his head.“Nah, she’s out campaigning.”

Dexter raised an eyebrow.“She’s really serious about running for council?”

“I think she’s just looking forward to the idea of bossing people about.”Xavier turned his attention back to Jenny.“Which is fine with us because we get to have fun on our own, don’t we?”

Dexter wondered if he’d looked that ridiculous when he’d had his children.He suspected he had. “Sorry to take up your quality time but friend in crisis looking for a man-to-man chat here.”

To his credit, Xavier paid attention at that one.“Oh yeah, I heard that your older woman fetish had raised its head.”

“It’s not a fetish,”Dexter protested,“I’m just…seeing Leah again.Or seeing Leah for the first time. I’m not sure if the other time actually counts as ‘seeing her’.”

“You’d know better than me.I didn’t even know you were interested in her.”

Dexter sank into his friends’ couch wearily.“Neither did I.I mean, we’ve always been close because of Stephen.But I was with Dallas, I was happy with her and William and Louis.And then suddenly they’re all gone and I’m spending more time with Leah and Stephen and…suddenly it’s like Leah’s replaced Dallas in every way possible.”

“Well, that’s not necessarily a bad thing,”Xavier suggested,“I mean, me and April kind of just fell into getting back together and look at us now.”

Dexter mulled the point over.“That’s true.”

“Just run with it.You never know where it might go.”

Leah was sitting by the beach, looking out to sea.A shadow fell across her and she turned to find Sally standing there.Sally gestured to the bench.“Is this seat taken?”

Leah gave a non-committal shrug which Sally seemed to interpret as an invitation.She sat down.“I get the feeling you’ve been ignoring me for the past few days.”

“Not ignoring you,”Leah replied,“I just haven’t been to see you.”

“I know Roo and I might have overreacted a bit but…you’ve got to admit, there is a bit of an age gap.But that’s all I’m going to say, I get that you’re both adults and if this is what you both want, I’m happy for you.”

Leah smiled slightly.“Thanks, Sal.So what have I missed with you and Liam?”

“Not much.We went out again the other night.Enjoyed each other’s company again, had a few more nice kisses.”Sally took a deep breath.“You and Dexter.Is it serious?”

“Does it have to be?”

“No, no.Just wondering.”

“Sal, all my adult life I’ve either been in a serious relationship or I’ve been single:Vinnie, Jesse, Dan, Elijah, even Miles.Is it wrong for me just to want to enjoy myself for once?”

Sally shook her head.“I felt the same way once.But, I think things can only stay ‘just fun’ for a very short time.I mean, you can mess around with someone, have some laughs, have great sex…”

“It isn’t just about sex,”Leah rebutted,“I mean, that’s great too but he’s got a kind heart, he’s a good father, he gets on well with VJ.I wouldn’t do this if it was just physical.”

“Okay.So long as you’re both getting what you want out of it, that’s fine.And whatever you want, you know I’ll support you.”

Leah smiled again.“Thanks, Sal.”

Dexter didn’t spend much time at home anymore.There wasn’t much point, given that there was no-one else there.But VJ had put in a request for an afternoon of study without any distractions so he and Leah had agreed to meet up at the flat.When Dexter heard the knock on the door, he at first thought it was her…until he opened it.“Dad!”

There was a brief pause, neither of them sure what to say next.“Can I come in?”Sid asked.

Dexter stepped aside and let him in.“So, um, was there anything special you wanted?”he wondered, although he had a feeling he knew exactly why Sid was there,“Heard any interesting gossip lately?”

“I had heard about your new girlfriend,”Sid confirmed.

Dexter winced slightly, as much at the description as anything else.“Look, Dad, I realise you’ve got an obligation to give me the concerned lectures but…”

“Dex,”Sid interrupted,“I think you know that my main concern is that you’re happy.Even if that means you being in a scenario that I don’t necessarily think is best for you.So if being with Leah makes you happy, that’s good enough for me.”

Dexter smiled.“You really are cute and cuddly deep down, aren’t you?”

“That said, I do feel the need to ask you if you and Leah have any idea where this thing between you is going.”

Dexter looked pained.“I don’t know, Dad, we haven’t really gone into all that.We’re just kind of running with it.”

“Okay, well, as long as you know I’m here if you need to talk.”Sid turned to go and nearly bumped into Leah, who’d just arrived.

“Sid!”she exclaimed, looking suddenly worried.

“Leah.”He nodded back towards his son.“I’ve said everything I need to to Dex so I’ll leave you alone.”

Leah waited until he’d gone before going over to Dexter.“What did he want?”

“Nothing,”Dexter said quietly, putting his arms around her,“Just a father/son chat.”

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