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Breathe Me


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Chapter Six

“Well look what the cat drug in,” Irene muttered under her breath as the door opened.

“Hello Irene, I waited until the last customer left before coming to see you, thought this better be private,” Roman said slowly. Plus, well he may be in the SAS but there were some things that scared the living out of him. Irene in one of her moods was one of them.

“Why would you do that? Not like we have anything to talk about Roman Harris.”

She presented him with an expression that made his testicles retreat into his body but he sucked in a breath and approached the counter anyway. The diner had changed so much since he was a part owner, not just in the cosmetic but a glance at the board on the wall indicated that the menu had changed again. Despite all the changes he felt a feeling of nostalgia for the place and of course, Irene looked just the same as always, barely a day older than when he’d left Summer Bay.

“I owe you an apology and an explanation….” he began.

“I would say that both are pretty redundant after all this time. I knew there was something dodgy about you. Can’t say I’m pleased to be proved right…”

‘Of course you are…’ he thought silently, then aloud, “Irene, I was messed up when I came here. Lots of things happened in Afghanistan and other places.”

“Even if that was a factor I notice you seem to be wearing a uniform.”

Roman inclined his head once before lifting it again to meet the other woman’s gaze.

“I accepted recall papers as part of the deal I made. Whilst the court-martial found me not guilty of culpable homicide they found me guilty on all the other charges. I volunteered to serve my time in the army rather than,” he paused and shrugged, “Besides my men, the ones who were still alive anyway, vouched for me. I should have called any one of them except Gardy. That is what I’m here to apologise for. That I dragged him into the Bay and for letting things escalate.”

“Well,” he noticed that her voice softened as she spoke, “I imagine that if Leah is okay for you being here then we can put the whole thing in the past where it belongs.”

“If that is the case,” he broached after a couple of minutes had passed, “could you please tell me what Nic has done that has upset you?”

Irene shot him a look that if it had been loaded would have gone straight through his heart. She slammed down the cloth she had been using to wipe the table and folded her arms across herself. Even though he recognised the defensive gestures he still took a half step back before meeting her fiery gaze.

“I never said that girlie had done anything,” she muttered finally.

“She happened to mention that you didn’t seem that receptive to her being back in the bay,” he said slowly.

“I… er… “ Irene muttered something under her breath before she spun on her heel and stalked into the kitchen area.

Roman looked at the ceiling for a fast second before he followed her. Dammit, landmine clearance was an easier task than getting Irene Roberts to talk about something when she didn’t want to. He found her clattering pots about in the sink as she began to wash them up noisily.

“It’s not that I don’t want her here,” she said at last.

“But it is something? Come on Irene,” he encouraged.

“Geoff is here,” Irene said eventually after shooting him another of those looks.

“She mentioned it.”

“I see.” Her tone of voice spoke volumes even if she didn’t.

“Stuart, Nic’s fiancé is a nice guy Irene; he’s pretty into family and commitment.”

She pinned him into place with a look from her fierce blue eyes, “But he’s not Geoff is he?”

“No-one could be,” Roman said slowly.

“They shouldn’t be in the same place together, it’s only gonna get them hurt,” Irene muttered turning her back to him once more and clattering the pans again.

“I trust my daughter, she’s made her fair share of mistakes but then who hasn’t,” Roman began.

“I trust Geoff, but well remember the island Roman Harris, they denied it but something happened out there between them. I don’t want a repeat of that; my Geoff has been through enough.”

Roman stood there, his body had automatically formed the ‘at ease’ position with his feet planted at shoulder width apart on the floor, his back straight and his hands clasped loosely behind him. Realising what he’d done put a brief smile on his face before he focused once more on the issue they were discussing.

“I’ll keep Nic away,” he said slowly.

“I’ll do likewise with my Geoff,” Irene said back.

“But can you please stop giving her a hard time. I’m only here for a week and if she can’t come into the diner to get food I think she might actually starve to death.”

Irene turned and glared at him (again) before she gave into laughter.

“I can be nicer to her,” Irene murmured after a minute had passed, “but if she starts anything, the deal is off!” she added in warning.

“Deal, now move out of the way, you’re scratching this pot.”

He stepped forward and took the scourer out of her hand before discarding it and selecting a clean dishcloth to wash the pots up. Irene’s mouth dropped open in shock before she laughed again and moved aside to let him do the task.

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Chapter 7

Nic stepped out of her car and looked over at the tall imposing building in front of her. No, not a church because she could handle one of those, it was only a building at the end of the day right? She was unaware that she pouted at that moment before chewing anxiously on her bottom lip. She’d faced Stuart down in his office one day in front of his secretary and everything, she thought with a groan remembering her embarrassment afterwards. He’d sent her a ridiculously expensive present in the early days of their dating and in her temper she’d stormed into his office and practically threw it at him with a pious little speech about how he couldn’t buy her. So intent on her mission, she’d been unaware of the two suited business men sitting in the same room until she’d turned to leave and spotted them staring at her. A small smile curved her lips as she remembered the flounce she’d done on leaving the room.

Now, today she was uncontrollably nervous about seeing the vicar and sorting out using the small but quaint church to get married in. Not that all of Stuart’s guests would fit in it, the idea was to have a smaller than planned ceremony here and then later on a reception to accommodate all his friends and business associates. And those of his parents.

If anyone saw her at that point they would have noticed that a small pained expression crossed her face at the thought of Stuart’s extended contacts and even his family. Not that she didn’t love him enough to accept that her life would change dramatically after their marriage, already Stuart was dropping hints about her cutting back on her fashion designing and spend more time being his hostess for various functions.

Forcing herself to put aside the sudden negative emotion flooding her she lifted her hand and knocked loudly on the door. A second knock finally had the door swinging open in front of her.

“Aden?” Nic gasped out, “Aden Jefferies?”

“Nicole, Nicole Franklin!” He responded and she automatically glared at the smirk that crossed his handsome features.

“Let me see, last time I saw you was before….” She paused for effect sucking down the small shaft of pain that ran through her, “before you ran out on me.”

Aden’s face flushed, “So what are you doing here?”

“I’m here to see the vicar, presumably it isn’t you?”

“Maybe it is,” he folded his arms across his chest and took a half step back inside the building.

“No, seriously?”

Aden tilted his head as he looked at her and she began to tap her foot impatiently as she waited for his response.

“Aden who is at the…” Geoff’s voice trailed off as he reached the door.


“Nicole, you obviously are my 10 o’clock bride.”

“I..er… am.”

“In answer to your question Nicole, Nicole Franklin, I’m not the vicar, Geoff is.”

Nic glared again at Aden before hearing Geoff murmuring for her to come in. She swept past Aden who was holding the door open and accidentally managed to poke him in the ribs on the way past.

“Oumpf,” he muttered.

Nic pretended that she hadn’t heard anything and gave Geoff an innocent expression as he looked around before they moved into what was obviously his office.

“So, please take a seat,” Geoff told her as he moved around to sit behind his desk.

She watched as he opened up his laptop and seemed to be engrossed in what was on the screen for a few moments before she took her seat opposite him.

“It’s good to see you, pretty…”

“Surprised to see me here?”

“Yes, very much so,” Nic offered him a smile, “thought you were still overseas.”

“I’ve been back a while, took over the parish.”

Nic nodded before she reached into her bag and pulled out her organiser. A paper version and not the electronic one that Stuart wanted her to use. She found that sometimes when she out and about she saw something or wanted to sketch something and couldn’t do that with the small tablet version he wanted her to use.
Clicking the pen a few times she found herself stalling for time as she assimilated the knowledge that Geoff and Aden were back in Summer Bay and that they seemed to be living together.

“So you are here to discuss a date to get married?”

She started at Geoff’s question before forcing herself to get it together. A small shudder ran down her back and she found herself frowning for a millisecond.

“Yes,” her voice was husky, “the date I have in mind is the 23rd,” she added quickly.

“Next month?”

“Yes,” she echoed herself and felt herself flushing when he looked over at her.

“Normally I see both parties before accepting a booking for a wedding.”

Now she felt herself paling, “Stuart is busy. He works in finance in the city. I’m arranging things this end.”

“I see,” Geoff commented his voice sounding neutral.

“He’d be here if he could but his schedule…” she trailed off feeling guilty that she’d rushed to defend her fiancé. Stuart was lovely in so many ways, she added silently, he didn’t need her to defend or explain him to anyone else. Still she felt that familiar prickle of unease that had started up as soon as she returned to the Bay.

Geoff seemed lost in thought for a moment before he nodded at her, “I have you provisionally booked in for the 23rd, next month.”


“Until I meet, er Stuart wasn’t it?”

“You need to meet him?” She squeaked out.

“Nicole,” his use of her full name ensured that she paid him her attention and she frowned at that and at the emotions Geoff saying her name brought up within her,
“Without going into the whole religion side of things, I’m sure that you are aware of the sanctity of marriage. Of course I cannot marry you without meeting your fiancé first and spending some time with the two of you.”

She blinked.

“Er,” she mumbled.

“Perhaps when Stuart comes to the Bay we can set up an appointment?” He suggested smoothly.

“I er… yes,” Nic muttered closing her organiser and putting it in her bag before standing up and walking back out the way she’d come. Only when she reached her car had she realised she hadn’t asked either of them how they were and what they’d been doing. Not really. Geoff. Of all people.

She got behind the wheel of her car and instead of heading into Yabbie Creek to do her shopping she made her way to the diner. Definitely a coffee and cake day. Maybe two cakes, she thought remembering the way that Geoff looked as he sat behind the desk. He hadn’t changed much in the intervening years and as her thoughts drifted she pulled into the carpark at the diner and let those memories loose.

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