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Keep On Keeping On

Guest Red Ranger 1

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I advertised this one as Loco Parentis, then looked at my notes and found out I'd already given it a title so I've used that one instead.Reading of my previous fiction Wedded Miss is recommended.

Story Title: Keep On Keeping On
Type of story: Small/medium
Main Characters: Heath, April, Dexter, Ruby, Bianca, Sasha, Maddy, Spencer
BTTB rating: A
Genre: Drama/Romance
Does story include spoilers: No
Any warnings: Sexual content: Moderate to strong
Summary: A year on from the events of Wedded Miss:An accident sees Heath and April's marriage come under pressure, while Dexter and Ruby's relationship faces a new challenge.


April woke up as the sunlight penetrated the bedroom curtains.She glanced in the direction of her bedside cabinet.Her clock informed her it was half past seven.She glanced the other way to find Heath, her husband for longer than she’d known, still asleep alongside her.She nudged him gently. “Heath?”
After several nudges of decreasing gentleness, he finally woke up.“What’s up?”he demanded, not bothering to open his eyes or turn in his direction.
“I’m due at the hospital in an hour.”
“Great.I’m really pleased for you.”
“I thought you might want to say goodbye to me before I go.”
“Well, wake me up when you’re about to go then.”
April smiled mischievously.“That wasn’t the sort of goodbye I had in mind.”
That was enough to get Heath’s attention.He grinned in anticipation, then rolled over on top of her and kissed her passionately.“One thing you’ve got to say for this marriage, we were never going to have a quiet sex life.”
“My thoughts exactly,”April agreed.
They devested themselves of the few clothes they’d slept in and didn’t say anything for quite a few minutes after that.

Dexter caught Ruby round the waist as she headed into the living room bound for the kitchen, raining kisses on the back of her neck.“It’s too early to get up,”he complained.
“Dexter, if we get back in that bed we are not getting out of it,”Ruby pointed out.
“Well, we don’t have to use the bed,”Dexter suggested, turning her round to face him.She gave him a disapproving look.“What?We do have the place to ourselves these days.”
“Yeah and I’m still feeling kind of guilty about that.”
“Nothing to feel guilty about.Indi’s off travelling with Chris, doing the eternal student thing, and Sasha’s a lot happier living with Maddy.”
Ruby sighed.“Happier than she was living with me, you mean?”
“Will you stop putting yourself down?”Dexter chided her,“There is one person who is very glad that you moved in here.”He punctuated his speech by kissing her lightly on the lips.“And that…is…me.”
The kiss deepened, becoming increasingly passionate as their hands roamed about each other’s bodies, holding each other close and feeling the pleasing sensation of that closeness.Then Ruby pulled back, gasping to get her breath back.“Dexter…as nice as this is…if we don’t get our hands off each other, get some breakfast and get out of this house, we’re not going to make it to college.”She looked at him in bewilderment.“And when did I become the responsible one in this relationship?”
Dexter smiled.“Guess my influence is rubbing off on you.”

Heath sat up in bed watching as April got dressed, pulling on the skirt and blouse she wore for her placement.“I could always ring up the hospital and say you’re sick,”he suggested,“You have to stay in bed all day.”
April smiled, leaned over and kissed him.“Tempting as that is, I need to turn up in order to get my degree.Someone in this marriage has to be earning the big bucks.”
There was a knock on the door and a moment later Tamara came tumbling into the room.Brax, Ricky and Casey had all moved on in the last few months, meaning she and Kyle were the only ones left in the main house.They’d invited Heath and April to move in with them but the pair had decided to hang onto their privacy.
“Can you wait after you knock?”Heath asked,“We might have been busy!”
Tamara’s face did various contortions as she thought about what they might have been busy doing and then wished she hadn’t.But her demeanour was serious as she looked at April.“We just got a phone call.Bianca’s been in an accident.”

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Thank you for the comments, Jarliefan, JosieTash and pembie!


Heath and April dashed into the hospital and ran up to a nurse.“Bianca Scott,”Heath snapped,“Where is she?”
The nurse looked at him blankly.April looked around and saw a familiar face.“Nate!What’s going on?”
Nate gestured for them to remain calm.“Bianca was in a car accident while on her way to the nursery.The other driver skidded on a wet road and swerved over into her lane.They hit each other head on.”
“What?”April asked,“Is she all right?What about Domina, was she with her?”
“She was,”Nate confirmed,“But…”He gestured behind them and they turned to see Hannah approaching with Domina.
“I’ve checked her over and she’s fine,”Hannah told them,“She was in the back seat so she was protected from the impact.Just a bit shaken.”
Heath gratefully took his daughter from Hannah.“What about Bianca?”
“She’s not so fine,”Nate admitted,“Now, I don’t want you to worry yourselves:She’s conscious and her injuries aren’t life-threatening.But…well, you’d better come and see for yourself.”

Nate led the pair into Bianca’s room.Irene and Leah were already there with her.She was lying flat on the bed with straps to stop her moving.
April went over and kissed her sister on the forehead.“How are you?”
Bianca’s eyes looked frightened.“I can’t move my legs.”
Irene touched her gently on the shoulder.“Now don’t go upsetting yourself, love, the doctor’s already explained that.”
April looked at Nate, stricken.“She suffered some spinal damage in the crash,”he explained,“We’re waiting for the swelling to come down so we can judge the extent.Now, we’re optimistic that the paralysis won’t be permanent but we are looking at a long recovery.”
“I like the ‘we’,”Bianca commented sarcastically.
“Now come on,”Leah told her placatingly,“We all want to help you.”
“So, will she have to stay in here?”Heath asked.
Nate sighed.“We’re looking at at least a few months here.I’m not sure we can keep her in hospital that long,”
“Can she come home?”Leah asked.
“It’s a possibility but what she really needs is to be admitted to a rehab clinic.There they can focus on helping her with her recovery.”
April looked back at Bianca, squeezing her hand.“What do you want?”
Bianca sighed.“I just want to get better.”
“Then we’ll do everything we can.”

An hour later, Heath and April were at the reception desk, sorting out the paperwork for Bianca’s transfer.“How did you get the money for this?”Heath asked.
“Rang my dad and told him he had twenty years of birthday presents to make up for,”April replied, “Said I’d cancel the debt if he paid for Bianca’s treatment.”
Heath nodded.“Thinking like a Braxton.”
Nate came off the phone.“Well, that’s everything sorted.Bianca’s place at the clinic is confirmed and an air ambulance will be transporting her there.We just need to make her ready to be moved.”
“Hang on,”April interjected,“We’ve forgotten something.”
Nate looked at his papers.“No, I don’t think so.”
“Who’s going to look after Domina?”
Nate looked at her pointedly.
Heath and April looked at each other.Suddenly they felt very concerned.

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Thank you for the comments, Jarliefan, Zetti, JosieTash and pembie!Hope everyone likes this one.


April tried desperately to manoeuvre Domina’s arm into the sleeve of her cardigan.The girl wasn’t doing much to help her, wriggling around with a disgruntled look on her face.She had spent the night in the flat with them but it hadn’t exactly been an easy sleep, with her being restless most of the night. And it hadn’t even seemed to tire her out.
“Domie, can you work with me here?”she sighed.
“Want Mummy,”Domina complained.
Heath crouched down next to his daughter.“Come on, kid, we explained this.Mummy’s not well and she’s had to go away for a while so the doctors can make her better.You get to stay with Daddy and Auntie April for a bit.That’ll be fun, won’t it?”
“Not Mummy,”Domina retorted.
Heath sighed.“Yeah.”
April had finally managed to use the distraction to get Domina’s cardigan in place and button it.She patted the girl on the head.“Good girl.”She and Heath moved a short distance away.
“This is so hard,”April sighed.
“Yeah,”Heath agreed,“I thought that we got on well together but…she’s so used to Bianca being around.”
“Well, we can take her to visit her as often as possible.”April could see Heath was downhearted and touched him on the arm.“Hey, she knows you’re her dad and you love her.It’s just she’s not used to this, it’s outside her routine.And routines are very important to some people.Trust me, I know.She just needs to get settled.”
Heath grinned.“Now that’s why I keep you around.Apart from the other stuff.”He kissed her lightly on the lips.“You okay to drop her off at nursery?”
“What?”April suddenly realised Heath was heading for the door.“Me?”
“Well, yeah, you’ve got most of the morning free and I’m working at the gym.”
“You’re her dad!”
“You’re her stepmum…aunt…something.”He gave both her and Domina waves.“See you later!”
April looked at Domina.
Domina glared back at her.
April sighed.

Sasha came out of her bedroom in the flat she and Maddy had moved into after leaving school, yawning as she attempted to wake up.“Tea’s in the pot,”Maddy told her.
Sasha sighed.“Well, you’re disgustingly awake.”
“Yeah, the early morning run woke me up.”
At that moment, almost at the same second, the phone began ringing and there was a knock on the door.“Toss you for it?”Maddy asked.
“I’ll get the door, you get the phone,”Sasha decided,“Walk will do me good.”She headed to the door and found Dexter standing there.
“Greetings, female of the species,”he announced.
Sasha sighed.“Did you want something, Dex?”
“Just wanted to check in on my favourite half-sibling that lives here.”
“And where’s your girlfriend, getting her anti-psychotic medication checked?”
Dexter gave her a weary look.“That’s what I love about you, Sash, the warm and supportive glow I get from your presence.”
Maddy had been talking on the phone during their conversation but now she hung up and turned to them.Sasha noticed the worried look on her face.“What’s up?”
“That was Chris,”Maddy explained.
Dexter was suddenly concerned.“Is it Indi?”
Maddy shook her head.“No, she’s fine.”She looked back at Sasha.“We have to talk to Spencer.”

Spencer was just about to leave the beach house when Sasha and Maddy appeared in the doorway.He looked at them bemused.“My two exes showing up.That’s worrying.”He noticed they weren’t laughing and his demeanour became more serious.“What’s wrong?”
Sasha hesitated.“Can you sit down?”
Spencer did so, looking apprehensive.The two girls sat on the sofa.Sasha looked at Maddy hopefully.Maddy took a deep breath.“We got a call from Chris.He wanted someone to tell you in person rather than you hearing over the phone.”
“Hearing what?”Spencer demanded.
“There was a fire at your parents’ house.Two nights ago.”
“The investigators think that a heater was left on overnight,”Sasha added,“It overheated and caught fire.”
“But Mum and Dad,”Spencer interjected,“They’re okay, right?”
Maddy shook her head sadly.“From what Chris heard, the smoke overcame them and…they just never woke up.They’re both dead, Spence.”

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Thank you for the comments, Jarliefan, pembie and JosieTash!


Heath finished piling up the towels on the gym shelves and looked at the clock irritably.Spencer was meant to be sharing the shift with him but as yet he was a no-show.He heard footsteps and looked round hopefully but it wasn’t Spencer but Maddy.“Don’t suppose you’ve seen boofhead on your travels, have you?”
“Spencer’s…not coming in today,”Maddy answered.
“What?”Heath glared at her angrily.“Well, when did he decide that?I’ve got a kid at home that I’m meant to be looking after because her mother’s in hospital and he decides to throw a sickie?”
“It’s not like that,”Maddy protested,“He’s had some bad news.”
“What, they’ve put the price up on his favourite aftershave?”
“His parents are dead.”Maddy’s announcement brought Heath up short.“They were killed in a fire.”
Heath looked awkward.“Right.Yeah.Well, obviously he can take as much time off as he wants.I’ll let Indi know.”
“She already knows.Chris.”
“Yeah, of course.Well, if you speak to her, then tell her I’ll keep running the place.”
“Do…you need a hand?I mean, just for today, until you can sort something out.Or longer if you want.”
Heath looked at her uncertainly.“You?”
“Well, I know the equipment as well as Spencer and I’ve got you here if someone asks anything technical.”
“Okay.Yeah.Sure.Er, you do know you’re a girl, right?”
“I had noticed, yeah.”

Dexter had only gone to the beach house to give Sasha some support but somehow it had ended with Sasha in the kitchen and Dexter sat with Spencer.“I have no idea what I’m meant to feel,”Spencer sighed,“I mean, I didn’t get on with my parents, that’s no secret, but…never seeing them again… knowing what happened to them.”
Dexter tried to think of a response.“Have you heard about the funeral?”he asked.
Spencer nodded.“Yeah, it’s next week.Chris is flying over, we’re going to meet up.”
“Right.I’m going to go and check on Sasha.”Dexter hurried into the kitchen.“Sasha, you talk to him,”he hissed.
“Why me?”she returned.
“Because you’re the one with all the history with him and you’re the one with the dead parent.”
Sasha stared at him in disbelief.“Thanks for bringing that up.”
“Sorry!I’m nervous.I’m not too good with emotion.I tend to make stupid jokes or say the wrong thing or…”He took a deep breath.“Okay, I can do this.”He walked back into the living room, sat down and looked at Spencer.He tried to think of something inspiring but finally he just sagged. “Sorry, I don’t know what to say.”
Spencer gave him a brief smile.“That’s okay.I’m not sure I do, either.”

April had managed to get Domina into a pushchair and was lifting it over the steps of the flat when Kyle and Tamara emerged from the house.“You still here?”Kyle asked.
April gave him the most insincere smile she’d ever given.“Obviously.I was thinking I could drive her to the nursery, then I remembered I don’t drive.”
“I’d offer you a lift but we’re going the other way.”
“I’ll come with you,”Tamara offered,“I’m sure the boss will let me come in late.”
Kyle rolled his eyes.“Yeah, fine, see you later.”He gave her a quick kiss goodbye then hurried off to the car.
Tamara fell into step next to April.“You know, if you and Heath are short of space with Domie being here, you’re welcome to move into the house.Kyle and I are just rattling around on our own in there.”
“Thanks.But you two haven’t been married long, you don’t want us getting in the way.”
“Okay.Offer’s there if you want it.”

Ruby sat in the living room of the farm, drumming her fingers nervously on the chair arm.There were so many things she could be doing:She should be in college, she could have followed Dex to check up on Spencer, she could be checking out her closet to make sure Dexter hadn’t alphabetised and colour grouped it when he was feeling bored again…But she’d had another job that she hadn’t been able to put off.
She checked her watch, leaned forward and lifted the pregnancy test off the table.
It read positive.
Ruby sighed deeply.

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Thank you for the comments, Jarliefan, pembie, JosieTash and Zetti!


Heath was carrying Domina in one-armed as he arrived home.The girl seemed to be bubbling happily, although her demeanour changed somewhat when it dawned on her exactly where she’d been taken. “Now come on now, Domie, you’re not going to get upset, are you?”he asked,“It’s fun staying with us, right?”
April came over and give Heath a quick kiss, before stroking Domina’s hair affectionately.“Well, you seem to be a bit more settled.”
“Yeah, she’s enjoying being a little surf chick for a while, aren’t you?”
“Well, I’ve given the place a clean and removed any sharp objects.It’s finally back in order.”
“You’ll make someone a great wife one day.”
April raised an eyebrow.“Oh, you’re saying I don’t already?”
There was an innocent expression on Heath’s face.“I don’t think that’s what I said.”He carried Domina over to her cot.Luckily they’d had one set up in the flat some months previous for overnight stays.April came to stand by his side as he pulled the blanket up over her.The girl was tired and soon dozed off.“Seriously though, we’re lucky to have you keeping an eye on things.Darce will tell you the same.”
April felt a sudden lurch of fear as she began to suspect she’d forgotten something.“Darce?”
“Yeah, next week.She’s staying with us then, remember?”
“That’s next week?”April could feel herself starting to hyperventilate.“Heath, we’ve already got a baby in the house and you want to have a twelve-year-old staying here as well?”
“It was all arranged long before Bianca got hurt and can you keep your voice down?You’ll wake up Domina and she gets cranky when she wakes up.”
“She gets cranky?Heath, stick around and you’ll find out what cranky is.”April dropped onto the sofa with a loud huff and folded her arms.

Ruby was sitting on the edge of the bed when Dexter came home.“How was Spencer?”she asked.
“Pretty much as you’d expect,”Dexter answered,“Irene’s home now so she can keep an eye on him. He’s heading home tomorrow.”He looked at her closely, seeming to notice something different about her expression.“Is something up?”
Ruby took a deep breath.“There’s something I need to tell you.”
“Okay, now I’m worried.”
“Yeah, so am I.I’m pregnant.”
Dexter’s face lit up.“You are?That’s great!”
Ruby looked at him cautiously.“Yeah, I guess it is up to a point but we need to think…”
Before she could finish the sentence, Dexter was kissing her.Seriously kissing her, before pushing her back on the bed.She gave up trying to talk and went with it.

Keeping out of someone’s way in a small flat is a difficult thing to do but Heath had been doing a good job of hanging around in the background while April sat on the sofa.Finally, he went over and sat down next to her, taking her hands in his.“Sorry,”he said quietly.
April looked at him curiously.“What for?”
“Don’t know.It was just a kind of general sorry.Cover all the bases.”He took a deep breath.“I know that I’m leaving you to do a lot of stuff with Domie on your own.”
“Well, I guess this is all kind of my responsibility.Aunt, stepmum.Need to step up to the plate.”
“Yeah but I’m her dad and your husband, I should be doing my bit.And if Darcy staying here is going to be too hard, then I can ring her up, tell her we haven’t got room with Domina here, say we’ll do it another week.”
April shook her head.“No, she’s your daughter, I don’t want to get in the way of that.We’ll cope somehow.”
“And I promise I’m going to be a lot more involved from now on.”
April smiled.“Thank you.”She leaned forward and kissed him, softly but intimately.He pulled her towards him, their arms encircling each other…and then Domina started crying.
They pulled apart and sighed.“Rain check?”Heath asked as he got up to see to their daughter.

Ruby sat on the edge of the bed, pulling her clothes back on:She picked up her top, the last item remaining, from the floor, then paused in the act of putting it on.“Okay, great as the celebratory sex was…are we actually celebrating?”
Dexter was still lying in bed behind her.He pondered the issue.“Having a baby, pretty sure that counts as a good thing.”
Ruby pulled the top back on and straightened her hair out.“Dex, can we think about this for a minute?”She turned and looked back at him.“Both of us are still in college.We’ve only got this place cos your dad pays for it and even then we’re barely covering the bills.Most of your family are only just about tolerating me, how are they going to feel when they find out we’re having a baby together?”
Dexter looked more and more concerned throughout the speech.“What are you saying?”
“I’m saying…I’m saying we’ve got options and we should consider them.”She saw the disappointed look in his eyes and felt a part of her heart break with it.“I’m not saying it because of you.I want to have a baby with you one day, there’s no-one else I’d want that with.But does it have to be now?”
“Well…not if you don’t want it to,”Dexter answered carefully,“But…if I get a vote, can I say ‘Yes’?”
Ruby gave him a sad smile.“I’ll bear it in mind.I just think we’ve both got a lot of thinking to do.”

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Thank you for the comments, Jarliefan, JosieTash and pembie!


April carefully rifled through the contents of the fridge, relieved that for once she’d managed to convince Heath to do a decent shop.“Okay, Darce, what do you want for lunch?”
“Chocolate,”Darcy said instantly.
April looked at her suspiciously.“How about we do a deal?You can have a chocolate bar so long as you take some fruit with you too.”
Darcy considered this.“Okay.”
“And we’ll do you some sandwiches as well.Peanut butter do you?”
Darcy smiled.“Thanks, April.”
“You are welcome.”
“April!”Heath called from the bathroom.
April winced and heard Darcy giggle next to her.“Yes, Heath?”
“Where’s the talcum powder?It’s not in the cabinet.”
“That’s because you took it out of the cabinet.It’s next to Domina.”
There was a lengthy pause followed by “Oh yeah.”
“We make a good team, don’t we?”April asked Darcy quietly.Darcy smiled and nodded.
Heath emerged from the bathroom, carrying Domina.“Swap?”
April checked her watch.“Oh, gosh, yes, nursery.You’re okay to drop Darcy off at school?”
“And finish her lunch?”
April grabbed Domina off him and hurried out the door.Then she stuck her head round the doorframe.“And make sure she takes an apple!”

April had made it to nursery in time and handed Domina over to the manager.She was just about to head off when she heard a squeal of delight behind her.“Oh my god, April!”A blonde girl came over to her, babbling her head off.“I can’t believe I’ve seen you here, I didn’t think I was ever going to see anyone from Summer Bay again, which was my choice, kind of, but wow, you’re here and you’re looking great and have you seen Sasha lately?”
It took April a moment to place the face.“Rosie, right?What are you doing here?”She winced. “Dumb question, right?”
Rosie nodded.“I was just dropping my daughter off.But what about you, are you..?”
“No, no,”April said hastily,“I was dropping off my niece.Stepdaughter.Whatever.I’m married to Heath now…”
Rosie looked confused.“Heath?As in..?”
“As in it’s a long story.What about you, are you still living with your dad?”
“No, I lived with him while I was pregnant but after that the house was a bit full, so he got a flat for me nearby but I still see him loads and loads and he’s got me a job, waitressing but it means I get to meet lot of nice people, and how are Sasha and Spencer, have they got any babies yet?”
April raised an eyebrow.“You really have been out of the loop, haven’t you?”

Maddy was checking over the equipment at the gym while Heath eyed her cautiously.“You do know what you’re doing, don’t you?”
“No, Heath, I haven’t a clue.That’s why we’ve had so many accidents since I’ve been working here.”
Heath nodded.“Yeah, that’s what I thought.”
“Well, this sounds familiar,”Spencer remarked as he entered the gym.
Maddy ran over and hugged him.“How was the funeral?”
“I dunno.Much as you’d expect.I’m glad I went though.”
“These things help,”Heath agreed,“I didn’t exactly get on with my old man but I’m glad I went to his funeral.”
Spencer looked at him curiously.“Didn’t your brother shoot him?”
“Okay, maybe it’s not really the same thing.”

Sasha was crossing the square at college when Dexter grabbed her arm and pulled her to a nearby table.“Dex!”she exclaimed in protest,“I get that we haven’t done much sibling bonding lately but kidnapping me when I’m late for a lecture isn’t on.”
“Ruby’s pregnant,”Dexter announced without any preamble.
Sasha looked pained.“Are you sure?’Cos I remember one other time when she said she was pregnant and she wasn’t.”
“I’m sure.”
“Yeah, okay, fair enough.Much as I hate to admit it, she does love the bones out of you.Which, I guess, could be considered another mark against her mental state…”
“I’m sure because…I don’t think she’s happy about it.”
It was at that point that Sasha finally took in Dexter’s mood.She’d have expected him to be doing cartwheels at the idea of being a father.Instead, he seemed pensive, worried.“Come again?”
“She’s coming up with all these reasons not to go through with the pregnancy.And the worrying thing is a lot of them make sense.Can you talk to her?”
“Me?It’s not like we’re friends or have ever been friends.”
“I get that.But maybe someone who’s never been a friend will have more luck than I did.”

“You really didn’t need to start back at work straightaway,”Maddy told Spencer as he helped her clear the mats away.
“Yeah, I know but it helps me keep my mind off things.Actually, there’s something I was meaning to tell you…”
“Haven’t you done yet?”Heath demanded as he emerged from the office.He glared at Spencer. “You’re a bigger girl than she is.”
“Okay, one of us just got insulted and I’m not sure which,”Maddy commented.
“Heath!”April called out, hurrying in.
Heath smiled and greeted her with a kiss.“Hey, gorgeous, what are you doing here?”
“Well, I was bringing an old friend to show her the sights.”
Maddy’s eyes lit up as a familiar figure appeared behind April.“Rosie!”She ran to hug the girl.“What are you doing here?”
“The usual.Followed someone else.”Rosie looked at Spencer.“Don’t I get a hug from you?”
Spencer smiled.“Course you do.”He enfolded her in his arms.
“Sorry about your parents,”she said quietly.
Heath was looking nonplussed.“Sorry, who are you again?”
“Rosie,”April hissed,“I’ve mentioned her, right?”
Heath shrugged and held out a hand.“Hi, I’m Heath.”
“I know.”Rosie accepted the hand.“You’re Casey’s brother, you used to live with Miss Scott and you were April’s first time.”
“Er, right.”
“Hey, do you need me now Spencer’s here?”Maddy asked.
“Er, no?”Heath ventured, slightly unsure about where the conversation was going.
Maddy put an arm round Rosie and led her towards the door.“Okay, we have got to let Sasha know you’re here.”

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So has Rosie kept her baby in this story?

Yes, she has.Which I think is what happened on the show?She was pregnant last time we saw her, right?

Thank you for the comments, Jarliefan, pembie, Zetti and JosieTash!


Ruby got off the bus in Summer Bay and checked her watch to see when the bus that would take her up to the farm would arrive.Then she heard a shout.“Hey, Ruby!”

She looked round, saw Sasha running towards her and grimaced.Pretending she hadn’t heard her, she started walking in the direction of the farm.

Sasha caught up with her and stood in her path, stopping her from going any further.“Dexter told me your news.”

Ruby winced even more.“Look, this wasn’t planned, okay, I’m not trying to trap Dexter, I…”

“I know.And I guess I should say congratulations, that is my niece or nephew after all.”Sasha tried to look upbeat but couldn’t ignore the disconsolate expression on Ruby’s face.“Dexter seemed to think that you might not be too happy about this.”

Ruby sighed.“I’m twenty-one years old, I’ve got no family left, I’ve been to jail, I’m struggling at college and my partner’s family are all hoping he’ll dump me one day.So no, I don’t think this is the best time to be having a baby.”

“I get it, I really do,”Sasha promised her,“I thought I was pregnant after the first time with Casey and it was like this big black hole waiting to swallow me up.But Dex…Dex would be a brilliant father.And the rest of us would muck in.We don’t hate you that much.Actually…I’m not sure if we hate you at all anymore.Can you just think about this?”

Before Ruby could answer, there was a shout of “Sasha!” from across the field.Sasha looked round to see Maddy and Rosie hurrying towards her.

Sasha’s face lit up.She threw her arms round Rosie in a hug, lifting her up off her feet.“Wow, you’re so tiny!You must’ve got your figure back well.How was all that, giving birth?”

“It was great,”Rosie confirmed.She thought for a moment.“Bit painful but I was kind of expecting that, I didn’t mind.”

“We were thinking we might have a catch-up,”Maddy explained.

“Well…”Sasha looked round at Ruby, only to see that she’d taken the opportunity to walk several yards down the road to the farm.She sighed and turned back to her friends.“That seems like a good idea.”

Rosie smiled broadly.“You have got to tell me everything you’ve done in the past eighteen months.”

“So, you’re coping okay with being a mother?”Maddy asked, once the three of them were back in Sasha and Maddy’s flat.

Rosie nodded enthusiastically.“It’s great!You should see the outfit I bought for her the other week, it’s really cute.And when she smiles at me and calls me Mummy, it’s like the greatest feeling ever. You two should totally try it.”

Maddy shook her hand in mild bewilderment.“I really can’t imagine being a mum for…years as yet. But I’m glad it’s going well for you.”

“Have you got any photos of her?”Sasha asked.

Rosie gave another animated nod and took out her phone, thumbing through the photos on it before handing it to Sasha.“That’s her there.”

Sasha looked through a long stream of photos of Rosie and a small blonde-haired girl playing together and grinning at the camera, interspersed with a few of the girl on her own.“Wow, she’s a real cutie.What’s her name?”

Rosie grinned broadly.“Sasha!”Sasha’s face froze in horror and Rosie laughed.“Only joking.She’s called Daisy.”

“Is flower names a family thing?”Maddy asked.

Rosie looked confused.“No.I thought of it myself.”

“Well, you’re certainly looking very happy,”Sasha noted.

“We are.What about you two?You’re both single?”

“Yes,”Sasha confirmed,“And we’re happy with it.”

“And Spencer?”

“He’s single too.”

“Why are you wondering about Spencer?”Maddy asked slightly suspiciously.

Rosie avoided her gaze.“Just wondering.”

April moved her textbooks around the coffee table, wincing in frustration.With room having to be made for Darcy and Domina, both of whom had retired to bed, she wasn’t left with much space to study in.Her concentration wasn’t helped by Heath sitting down next to her.“Are you finished yet?” he asked.

“No, Heath,”she snapped irritably,“I’ve only just started.”

Heath began massaging her shoulders.“Wow, you are tense.”He began kissing the back of her neck.

April gave a groan that was part pleasure and part frustration.“Heath, that isn’t helping.”She turned her head and let him kiss her on the lips.The kiss deepened and he pushed her down onto the sofa, their bodies aroused by their increasingly passionate embrace…

Darcy pulled back the curtain surrounding the area that had been designated her bedroom.“Dad…” She paused as she realised what she was looking at and her face reddened.

“It’s okay, Darce,”Heath said reasuringly, as they hastily sat up,“I was just, um, rearranging April’s clothes.”

April glared at him.“Nice euphemism.”

“I’ll…just pretend I understood what that means.”

“I, um, just wanted a glass of water,”Darcy ventured.

Heath nodded.“Okay, get it yourself.”As Darcy scurried off to the kitchen, he lowered his voice. “We really need more room.For study.And other stuff.”

“We do,”April agreed,“Actually, Tamara offered to move in here with Kyle so we could all move into the house.”

“Really?”Heath mulled this over.“Well, tell the pipsqueak she’s on.”

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Thank you for the comments, Jarliefan, pembie, JosieTash and Zetti!Sorry this took a while, it's rather hectic at the moment.


Darcy was standing in the middle of Casey’s old room, looking around her with delight.“I’ve really got my own room?You’re not just saying that?”
Heath, April, Kyle and Tamara were all grouped in the doorway.“Nope, it’s all yours, whenever you stay here,”Heath confirmed.
“Er, we haven’t actually negotiated that yet,”Kyle pointed out.
“You and Minnie have the flat, me, April and the kids get the house.Seems like a win-win.”
“Don’t call me that,”Tamara sighed.
“Whatever you say, Grumpy.”
“It does kind of make sense,”April admitted before turning to Kyle and Tamara,“But only if you guys agree, we don’t want to take your home away from you or anything.”
Kyle looked to Tamara for support but she just shrugged.He looked at Darcy’s hopeful face and sighed.“Fine.We’ll swap over permanently and…Darce can have a room here for when she visits.”
Heath smiled.“Awesome.”

Ruby sat at the breakfast table, stirring her cereal with a spoon and letting it drip from the utensil without making any effort to eat any of it.Dexter emerged from the bedroom and came through.She lifted her head and allowed him to give her a good morning kiss.“You got up early,”he remarked.
She shrugged.“Couldn’t sleep.”
“I…get the feeling we need to talk.”
Ruby bit her lip nervously.“I don’t want to disappoint you.”
“But if you need to, you need to.”Dexter looked at her as seriously as she’d ever seen him.“You know that I’d love to see a little rug rat running around here.Might even give me a legitimate excuse to buy more toys.But I’m not about to force you to have a baby.”
Ruby felt even more guilty, not least because she knew he meant it.“I do really want to have a baby with you one day.Just…not today.”
Dexter sighed.“Guess that’s it then.”
“I got in touch with a clinic.They told me they had a slot next week but I wasn’t sure if I should take it.”She looked at Dexter, wanting him to give her permission, to take the choice off her.But he just looked at her in silence.The choice was hers.“I guess I’ll do that then,”she said quietly.

Rosie was sat in the gym, pumping weights at the lowest possible setting, shooting looks across at Spencer.“How am I doing?”
Spencer shot her a look back.“You’re doing great.”
“Good.Because I want to get fit.Have a really fit body.”
Rosie got up from the exercise machine and went over to where Spencer was checking equipment. “Because, I mean, you’ve got a great body.A really…great…body.”
Spencer looked at her, bemused.“Rosie, are you coming onto me?”
“No!”Rosie insisted, backtracking desperately, before pausing,“Um, unless you want me to? Because if you do ever want to ask me out, then that’d be fine.I’d probably say yes.Or if you don’t, then that’s fine too, you can say you think of me as a sister and I can say that I think of you as a brother and we can forget all about this conversation and not be awkward.”
Spencer stared hard at her for a moment, considering.“Well…I guess we could do lunch some time?”

“Spencer just asked me out,”Rosie announced as she walked straight past Sasha into the flat.
Sasha wondered if she should say hello to her visitor but decided that since the conversation had already started she might as well join in.“Congratulations?”she ventured.
Rosie’s eyes lit up hopefully.“Really?”she asked, then controlled herself and became businesslike again,“Because I just want you to know that I’m not going to do anything to hurt our friendship. There’s a girl code and I’m going to stick to it.So if you don’t want me to date Spencer, I won’t. You’re far more important to me, even though I really really want to say yes to him.Er, ignore that last part if you want to.”
Sasha walked over to the shorter girl and put her hands on her shoulders.“Rosie…do you want to go out with Spencer?”
Rosie studied her closely, as though trying to tell if the question was a trap or not.“Yes?”she offered at last.
“Then you do that.You’re a great girl, Spencer’s a great guy and the fact that my flatmate also used to go out with him should show you that I can cope with the weirdness.”
Rosie hugged her.“You are the best best friend ever!”She dashed out the door.“I’ve got to tell him and then work out what to wear.”
Sasha looked after the hurricane that had visited her.“Good luck,”she said, bemused.

Darcy was hovering in the doorway of the house.“Come on, Darcy, say goodbye to your dad and… April,”Connie urged her, slightly impatient and with the vague distaste she often used when talking about her granddaughter’s stepmother.
“It’s not fair,”Darcy complained,“I only got to sleep in my new room two nights.”
“Well, it’ll still be there next time you come and stay,”Heath pointed out.
Darcy’s face lit up.“Really?”
Darcy hugged them both in turn.“Bye, Dad.Bye, April.”
“We’ll, er, talk about that other visit another time,”Connie decided before steering Darcy down the drive.
Heath closed the door and leaned against it with a sigh, drawing April into a hug.“We did it.”
“We certainly did,”April agreed.
Heath smiled.“And you know what?Now we have this whole house to ourselves.”He tilted April’s head and kissed her.
They were interrupted by a whine of protest.Domina was sitting on her playmat nearby, glaring at both of them.
Heath sighed and put an arm round his wife’s shoulders.“Almost.”

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Thank you for the comments, Jarliefan, Zetti, pembie and JosieTash!


Kyle and Tamara were curled up in bed together.“You know I kind of like this flat,”Tamara remarked,“Nice and cosy.”
“It has its advantages,”Kyle agreed.He bent to kiss her, the pair beginning to become amorous.
Heath walked in.“Either of you seen Domina’s red giraffe?Fluffy one, about this big?”He held his hands a couple of inches apart.
The couple sprang away from each other, Tamara pulling the sheets tightly around her.“Heath!”she shouted in protest.
Heath didn’t seem the least bit perturbed.“Yeah, be out of your way in a minute.”He rooted down the back of the sofa.“Ah, here it is.”He pulled the animal out and left.
Kyle and Tamara sank back on the bed, sighing deeply.“We definitely need to change the locks,” Kyle decided.
Across the passage, April looked on with mild reproach as Heath returned to the house, holding up the giraffe.“You left that there on purpose, didn’t you?”she predicted.
Heath shrugged.“Well, need to give little brother a shock now and then.”He tossed the giraffe onto the sofa and locked the door.
“What are you doing?”April asked, in a tone that again suggested she knew the answer to the question.
Heath walked over to her and lifted her up so she was sitting on the table.“Domina still having her nap?”
“Yep, baby monitor’s all set up.”
“Good.”He kissed her and lowered her onto the table.“Because I think there’s still a few spots we haven’t christened.”

Dexter had a feeling that making eye contact with anyone else in the waiting room would be inappropriate so he was staring hard at a wall.It was a lime green colour that he suspected he’d now committed to memory.“They should get some pictures,”he decided.
Ruby had been looking down at her feet but roused herself at the comment.“What of?”
“Well, babies would be kind of inappropriate.Safe sex advice would be rubbing it in.Maybe a nice landscape.Sunset.”
Ruby smiled slightly.“Movie posters?”
Dexter smiled back.“Now we’re talking.”
Ruby’s smile disappeared as abruptly as it had appeared.“You know this isn’t to do with you?You’d be a great dad.It’s me.I’m the screw up.”
“You’re not a screw up,”Dexter said calmly,“And I think you’d be a great mum, whenever you feel ready.”
Ruby looked at him in surprise but before she could say anything a nurse called “Ruby Buckton?”
Ruby and Dexter stood up.“Do you want me to go in with you?”Dexter asked.Ruby shook her head. “Okay, I’ll wait out here.”
Ruby took a few steps towards the nurse and then she stopped.She turned and walked back to Dexter.“Take me home.”
Dexter looked at her, confused.“What?”
“Take me home.I may have gone crazy here but I’m thinking about what a great dad you’d be and how much I want us to have a family one day and I’m thinking, well, why not today?And, you know, I can’t really think of a reason.”
Dexter started to smile, even though he wasn’t sure if he should.“You mean..?”
She smiled back, a smile that lit up her face.“I mean.”She turned back to the nurse.“I’m sorry for messing you around, call the next person on your list, tell them you’ve had a cancellation…”She turned back to Dexter and kissed him softly.“I love you.”
He grabbed her hand and they hurried out of the clinic, smiling.

Rosie thumbed through her phone until she found the latest photo and then handed it to Spencer. “And that’s her this morning, I picked out that outfit for her at the weekend, she’s so cute in it.”
The two of them were sat at a table in Angelo’s and during the course of the meal Rosie had shown Spencer several photos of Daisy.“She’s a cutie,”he agreed, with a nagging feeling that he’d given that response several times before.
Rosie seemed to notice and cringed.“I’m annoying you, aren’t I?”
“No, you’re not,”Spencer tried to assure her.
But Rosie just sagged.“I’m one of these obsessed mums who can’t see a life outside their child and goes around showing complete strangers baby photos.I’m, like, social death or something.”
“I think it’s good,”Spencer attempted,“It shows you care about her.”
Rosie sighed.“I do.I really do.She’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me.And if that means I have to be desperate and dateless for the rest of my life, or at least until she leaves high school, that’s how it has to be.”
“It doesn’t,”Spencer told her.
“It’s nice of you to say so.”
Spencer turned her face towards him and gave her a lingering kiss on the lips.
Rosie breathed heavily a few times.“Okay.Wow.That was…wow.”
“So do you think we could make it to a second date?”Spencer asked.
Rosie swallowed hard.“Mmm-hmm.I think we could manage that.”

April and Sasha were sat together in the Diner, April with Domina on her lap.“So how’s the primary carer thing working for you?”Sasha asked.
“Well, if you ignore the bitter resentment from her because of not being her mother and taking her father’s attention away, fine.”
Sasha looked sceptical.“She isn’t even two yet, right?”
“Right.I think Bianca must have been feeding her wicked stepmother stories.”
While they were chatting, Dexter and Ruby entered the Diner and went over to the counter.Irene noticed the big grins on their faces.“Well, something’s made you two happy.”
“It has indeed,”Dexter confirmed.He looked at Ruby.“Can I tell them?”
“After what we went through to get here, sure.”
“Okay.”Dexter cleared his throat and turned to address the patrons.“Can I have your attention?I have an announcement to make.My darling Ruby here and I are having a baby!”
There was happy murmurings from many of those present and Irene, Leah and Roo all quickly started congratulating the pair.But Sasha noticed that April’s face had become even more miserable.
“I have to get Domina home,”she said quietly and made a quick exit.

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Thank you for the comments, pembie, Jarliefan and JosieTash!


April had put Domina down for a nap when she got home, then stood in the centre of the lounge, unsure what to do.She heard footsteps and looked round to see Tamara standing in the doorway. “Knock knock,”the other woman said awkwardly.
April sighed.“What can I do for you, Tamara?”
“Not sure really.Just you’re looking kind of down.”
“Ruby’s pregnant.”
Tamara digested the news.“Okay, well that’s good news for her and Dex, I guess.”She looked closely at April.“You’re not wishing it was you, are you?”
“Well, I’m not wishing Dex had got me pregnant if that’s what you mean.I’m way past that.It’s just…he’s got the life that we’d always planned and…Have you and Kyle ever talked about having a family?”
Tamara blinked at the abrupt change of conversation but decided to go with it.“Not really.I guess I’d want to some day…”
“We’ve never talked about it either.Heath and me.Don’t get me wrong, I love Heath but…it feels like I’ve just become a part of his life, moving in with his family, looking after his children.What happened to my life?When’s that going to happen?Is this it?”

Bianca’s rehab was going well, or so she was told, but she was still encouraged to lie still on her back most of the time in order to avoid further damaging the spine.When she heard the footsteps, she turned her head slightly, in order to see who her visitor was.“Well, I wasn’t expecting to see you here.”
Ruby hovered nervously within her field of vision.“I can go if you want.”
“No, no.”Bianca gestured to a chair without moving her arm.“I don’t get many visitors.Irene and Leah once a week and I think April brought Domina in once.”
Ruby eased herself into the chair and took a deep breath.“I’m pregnant.”
Bianca was silent for a moment, processing the information.“I’m guessing Dex is the father.”
Ruby grimaced at the question.“Yeah, I’m not that much of a skank.”
“No, I just meant…I’m a bit out of touch here.Congratulations?”
Ruby smiled.“Yeah, it is now.Took me a while to get there.But I still need to talk to someone.I guess I could have gone to Irene or Leah but…I wish Charlie was here.”
“So do I sometimes,”Bianca agreed,“And I think that, once she’d got over the shock of being a grandma and finished berating you, she’d have been pleased for you.”
Ruby nodded.“Guess I’m going to have to tell this one lots of stories about her.”
“Guess you are.So, given that I haven’t got anywhere else to be at the moment…what do you want to know?”

Sasha and Maddy both fixed their gazes on Rosie who was sitting in their flat nursing a glass of juice. “So…spill,”Sasha instructed her.
Rosie looked innocent for a moment then grinned broadly.“It was great!”
“We want details,”Sasha pressed,“Did you..?”
“No!”Rosie protested in horror,“I’m not easy!”She paused, looking confused.“Do you have to be easy to sleep with someone on the first date?”
Sasha flushed.“Depends on the circumstances.”
Maddy came to her rescue.“So what did happen?”
Rosie smiled awkwardly.“He kissed me.More than once.And it was real ‘oh my god’, butterflies in the tummy job.And I do really really want to go further with him some time.”
“Well, you’re talking to the only people who know what that’s like,”Sasha pointed out.
Rosie looked at Maddy in confusion.“I thought you two didn’t..?”
“Oh no, not when we were together,”Maddy confirmed,“Last year.We got a bit curious and we were both single so we thought ‘Why not?’”She reddened slightly, realising she was giving too much information.“So are you going to see him again?”
Rosie nodded eagerly.“Yeah.I’m not really sure when, though.He said there was something else he had to see to.”

Heath was at the till in the gym when Spencer came in.“About time,”he snapped,“I need you to tidy up the changing room.”
“Heath, there’s something I need to talk to you about,”Spencer stated awkwardly.
Heath stopped rumaging through drawers and looked at him.“Okay.Go on.”
“When my parents died, Chris and I ended up inheriting a lot of money.”
“Good for you,”Heath replied,“All my dad left us was debts, police investigations and a bunch of old enemies looking for payback.”He realised he was straying from the point.“Sorry, carry on.”
“Well, I was wondering what to do with it and then I got in touch with Indi and…she’s agreed to sell me the gym.”
Heath froze as his mind realised the implications.“This gym?The gym where I work?”
Spencer nodded.“You’ll still have a job here…”
“But I’ll be working for you?”
Spencer looked awkward.“Yeah.”
Heath considered the matter for a moment.“Stuff that,”he decided at last and walked out of the gym.

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