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Debated Heart

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Story Title: Debated Heart

Type of story: Long Fic

Main Characters: Roman, Martha,  Nicole, Miles, Ella, Mike, Toby, Gabby

BTTB rating: A (L, SC,)
Genre: Drama, Angst
Does story include spoilers: No
Any warnings: Will warn at the beginning of each chapter if necessary
Summary: Roman Harris woke up one morning married to Martha Holden and living a sedentary life in Summer Bay but something wasn't right. Something was missing.  Despite these feelings, he had no urge to change the status quo and convinced himself he was happy.  But then something came along and his quiet easy life exploded into fractured pieces around him. Was love the missing component in his life?  

Authors Note: This story can be read as a stand-alone story in the Roman and Ella series. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter One

 

 

Roman Harris rolled over in bed peering up with just-opened eyes at the cream ceiling above, he was still tired but the alarm had gone off and he needed to be up to do breakfast. Groaning he swung his legs out of bed and shivered as his feet touched the cold floor below.

“Get me a coffee.”  The woman sleeping beside him in the bed muttered and he grinned before muttering something and stuffing his feet into slippers.

Walking over to the wardrobe he dragged on a dressing gown and tied the sash around his waist shrugging at the excess weight he had on his stomach now, no longer the hard muscles of his youth. He resolved to start running again but knew that it was a foolish thought; he never had time anymore now he was a married man with a family.

 Moving out of the bedroom he went along the landing, avoiding the squeaky floorboard, and into the bathroom where he used the toilet before splashing some water on his face as the toilet flushed noisily behind him.  He knew the noise would start the wake-up process and he grinned sadistically to himself and then heading out of the bathroom he head down the stairs. His gaze sought out the figure camped out on one of their sofas and he groaned before he saw the nearly empty wine glass on the low wood coffee table. 

“Nicole.” He called loudly to wake his elder daughter.

“Shush, five more minutes!” she muttered rolling over and snuggling into the sofa.

He glared at his elder daughter with a look of distaste pinching his face. Struggling to hold back his comments he walked over to the table and collected the glass and the all-bar-the-dregs red wine bottle. He noticed a number of bright red rings on the immaculate table and swore under his breath knowing that his wife would not be happy with that on her precious table. Walking through to the kitchen he deposited the glass in the sink and the bottle in the recycling before grabbing the washing up sponge and after rinsing it out he went back to clean the table.

“This can’t go on Nicole.” He said slowly. “You’ve got a job to go to and you need to pull yourself together.”

“Five more minutes I said,” Nicole muttered stroppily pulling up the cover over her head,

“I take it you haven’t got my coffee yet?” A third voice asked from the stairs, a touch of petulance in it.

“Just about to do that,” Roman said standing up and walking back into the kitchen. He put the kettle on to boil and stood near the sink, his gaze going out the small window and into the back garden. He found his fingers pressing into the cold steel of the sink as his clasp tightened.  It was no secret his wife didn’t like Nicole and vice versa. And since his daughter had moved back in there was no end of drama and arguments and more drama and he hated being caught in the middle.

“Come on sit at the table and Daddy will get you your breakfast.”

Roman turned at the words and saw his daughter being helped up into a chair. She looked like her mother, with nothing of him in her. Stepping over to the cupboard he took out her favourite bowl and placed it in front of her.

“Which cereal do you want Lindsay?” he asked softly.

“Coco Pops.” She called out.

He grinned and reached for the chocolate cereal ignoring the frown that her mother gave him as he tipped them into Lindsay’s bowl.  Adding a dash of milk he presented it to his daughter before passing her a spoon.

He turned his attention to the coffee, making instant and not the cafetiere that he preferred, before passing a cup to Martha. She accepted it with a look before sitting at the table next to their daughter.

“So what are you doing today?” she asked him, a slight tone to her voice.

“The usual; dropping off Lindsay at school and then heading for the diner for my shift,” Roman said quietly.

Martha nodded, “I said that I would go to see Granddad.”  

Roman nodded too, unconsciously mimicking her.

‘Is this it?’ He asked himself. The entire sum of my life middle aged, married, with kids doing the same job I was in a decade ago. Where is the restaurant I wanted to open? Where did my life go wrong? He sipped from his cup looking over at Martha expecting her to say something else, maybe even start up about his daughter Nicole again, and her drinking. Not that he wasn’t worried about the fact that Nic was drinking too much himself but there wasn’t a lot he could do about it.  Nicole didn’t want his advice or his help; he could only hope to be there for when she did.

Silence descended between them once more except for the scrapping of the spoon in Lindsay’s bowl.  It was oppressive he no longer searched for things to say to his wife to fill the silences between them. Or the moments when they should have spoken. It seemed that they only really talked when it was about Lindsay. The daughter that sometimes he felt he stole from Jack Holden, Martha’s first husband.

“Any coffee for me?” Nicole asked coming into the kitchen. She reached a delicate hand into her pocket and after pulling out a crumpled pack of cigarettes shook out the last one and put it between her lips.  Martha immediately shot her a look of disgust which Nicole ignored as she stepped barefoot out the back to stand outside and lit up. A hint of smoke travelled through the open door and he saw Martha wrinkling up her nose in disgust she opened her mouth to say something before closing it again and pressing her lips together.

Roman gave her a quick searching look before he stood and made a black coffee and took that out to his daughter. He saw Nicole fiddling with her uniform before she ran her hand through her blonde hair. He watched as she perched the cigarette in her mouth as she lifted her other hand to her hair and somehow managed to put a band on it and tie it back neatly.

“Thanks, Dad,” Nicole said slowly accepting the cup from him. She blew out smoke and removed the cigarette before taking a long drink.

“So when are you going to sort things out?” he found himself asking and saw her expression change immediately.

“Did she put you up to that?” Nicole hissed out gesturing with her cigarette towards the house where Martha was sitting.

Roman shook his head but he could see from her expression that she wasn’t going to pay attention to his denial. He half smiled before turning and heading into the house. He paused long enough to finish his coffee and put the cup in the sink before heading up the stairs and into the bathroom to shower.

He couldn’t shake the feeling that this wasn’t the life he was supposed to live…

 

 

If you want to read on, this story is also published on my blog - Debated Heart - Chapter Two

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Chapter Two

 

Liz Addison-Smith stowed the last of the empty suitcases away and looked around her bedroom. She was back in Australia, back in her home, the studio apartment she’d bought with the proceeds of her first royalty cheques, although back then it had been a run-down ex-factory building that she’d painstakingly had renovated to house her studio downstairs with and an apartment above.

There were still industrial aspects of the building that let people see the history of it, exposed metal beams, thick glass windows, and exposed brickwork.  Her original plan was to build other apartments within the building in order to provide another income stream but then she’d met and married Christopher Smith and ended up moving to America.

“That the last of it?” Roman asked quietly from behind her as she stood looking around her bedroom.

“Yup,” Liz said quietly to her son. “The twins ok?”

“Mucking up the bedroom as we speak.”

Liz sighed.

“Going to manage to share a room with them?”

Roman grinned.

“Well it won’t be for long will it?” he asked her. “I’ll be back in boarding school.”

Liz sighed once more before moving with him over and into the small kitchen area. She looked around it before unpacking the groceries she’d had delivered.

“Are you actually going to cook?” Roman asked.

Liz grinned at him.

“You have noticed the tins haven’t you?” she pointed out leaving out two tins of soup on the top. Different flavours because her children could never agree on a compromise.

Roman opened the fridge and started stacking the food inside leaving out the bread. He looked over at his mother and sighed again.

“Okay, out with it kiddo.” She murmured as she tipped the contents of a tin into a saucepan.

“It’s about being home in Australia.” He said finally and she was struck by how American his accent sounded. Maybe being back at school here would cure that.

“Yeah,”

“Well is Chris going to keep causing trouble?”

Liz shook her head, her long dark hair falling around her face. She pinned it back behind her ears and looked over at Roman.

“Maybe.” She said honestly. “But it’s not your concern Roman, I need to sort him out. “

Roman nodded his head slowly.

“But Mum, you’ll be here alone. If he’s going to come after you…”

Liz stopped what she was doing and looked at her son. She sucked in a breath and let it slip slowly past her lips not sure if she was playing for time before she answered or if she was upset that her son, Roman, was so worried about her.

“He isn’t. He’s getting a good divorce settlement and that will keep him in the US. Plus, if does contact me in any way he’ll be in breach of a court order,” she stopped and sucked in one of those sharp breaths again as she thought of her brief marriage to Christopher Smith.  He’d proved to be a liar and a cheat and at the end of the marriage, violent. He only wanted her for her money and didn’t want the large family she did. The final nail in the coffin that contained the remains of her marriage was when she’d discovered that he’d had a son with his first wife. The wife she hadn’t known he’d had, and had also seemed to have left in order to pursue her.

“The twins will miss him.”

Liz groaned.

“Well, I know. But he isn’t their father,” she began slowly, remembering dealing with the twins upset when Chris had shouted out that at them. He’d convinced them that he’d been the one to have the romance with their mother that resulted in their conception without her knowing and when she did find out the damage had been done. Chris hadn’t tried that trick on Roman knowing that her elder son, although only by a few months, had been fully aware of where he’d come from.

“I think they knew anyway.” He said slowly. “They…” he stopped and looked at her wondering why he’d agreed to broach this subject, oh yeah it was the blackmail over them finding a certain magazine under his bed before they left the US. “They…”

Liz turned to him and looked into his eyes, reading his expression.

“Yes?” she prompted gently.

“They want to find their real dad.” He bit out, his face going red.

Liz nodded hearing the words she’d always dreaded. Maybe that was why she’d let Chris assume that role in their lives.

“Well, I don’t know where he is.” She said quickly.

“But you know people who can find him,” Roman said slowly. “And well, he does have  a unique name.”

She couldn’t help but smile at that.

“True, I’ll make a few calls and see what I can find out.” She said finally deciding that way she could put off searching for Gabby and Toby’s father for as long as possible.

Roman tilted his head to one side and looked at her. She recognised his expression as one she used and bit back a groan.

“I will.” She said.

“Yes, mother.” He said clearly not believing her. “But well, we took the liberty of calling Uncle Jacko earlier.”

Liz groaned and swore under her breath.

“I wish you hadn’t done that.” She said knowing that she couldn’t disguise the bitterness in her voice. She’d hoped to buy some time before having to make any overtures into finding Roman Harris.

“Well, I kinda wanted to meet him too. I am named after him too.  They must have wanted you to get back with him.”

Liz shook her head and busied herself with heating the soup. She kept her back to her son as she tried to process what he was saying.

“It’s not simple.” She said finally. “If we find him he might not want to be a dad.”

“Is that why you didn’t tell him you were pregnant?” Roman asked quickly.

“Oh Roman, it’s complicated. I don’t even know if I understand it all myself and you want me to tell you, an eleven-year-old boy, what happened and then explain it to them.” She gestured towards the bedroom where the twins were no doubt hiding until Roman had finished talking to her. “And on top of that, I’m still reeling from getting a divorce. I never thought I would put my kids through that.”

“But Mum,”

She groaned at the tone he used, he called her Mother mostly when he was embarrassed, Ma when he was trying to soft-soap her and then Mum when he was trying to appeal to her logically.

“Mum, nothing.” She said quickly. “What did Jacko say?”

“Just that he could pass on a message for you if you wanted him too… “ Roman said finally. “So do you want to?”

Liz couldn’t answer him, she had the feeling that the ground was moving under her feet and she didn’t know what to do. Gabby and Toby should know their father. Roman should know the man he was named after but she had no idea if she could be in the same space as Roman Harris and not totally fall apart inside.

 

 

If you want to read on this story is published on my blog -  Debated Heart - Chapter Three

 

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Ah if you carry on posting this story on this site I will be able to stay up to date with it I kept losing track of it on your blog..

I remember you saying what the twist was so I know why everything is so different to how it normally is :wink:

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Chapter Three

 

Jacko pulled up in the carpark of the diner in scenic Summer Bay. The engine idled for a few minutes before he turned the key and switched it off. He felt nervous and couldn’t shake the feeling that this was a mistake. Liz shouldn’t have got involved with Hardcore the first time around let alone tracking him down. Still, he smiled, there was a good reason he supposed remembering the bright blue eyes of Gabby and Toby. There was only one person they could have inherited those from.  He grimly smiled before climbing out of the car and heading to the diner.

Come to think of it didn’t he owe the other man a hard time for not revealing he was a cook? Whatever sort of occupation was that for someone like Hardcore Harris? He asked himself as he walked in through the door.  Surveying the people in there he noted that some of them were quiet as he moved through the place and he chuckled to himself thinking of the dark glasses and the dark suit he was wearing, obviously out of place in a small town like this. He took off the glasses and moved to a seat at the back sitting himself down and looking around before picking up the menu.

“What can I get you Darl?” a pleasant woman asked him moving to stand near his table.

He looked up and smiled.

“I see you have lasagne on the menu.” He said. “Is that cooked by Roman?”

“You know our Chef?” Irene asked him.

“Sure do.  I have the lasagne and chips. With a coffee. “ he murmured pleasantly. “And if he’s not too busy tell him that Jacko says hello.”

“Sure thing darl.” She murmured and moved away toward the kitchen.

He waited a few minutes and then grinned as he saw Roman striding towards him.

“What are you doing here?” he asked.

“Waiting to talk to you. “ Jacko said quietly mindful of people listening in. Like the bustling woman in the loud print dress who seemed to have been wiping the same table for the past ten minutes.

“Well, I don’t want to talk to you.”

“Fair enough,” Jacko said quietly.

Roman gave him a searching look before he turned and began striding away.

“I’ll tell Ella that you said hello.”  Jacko murmured watching as the other man stalled mid-step before carrying on. He disappeared into the kitchen and Jacko smiled knowing that he’d got to him. He waited sitting calmly at the table as his meal was sent out of the kitchen and then drank not one but three cups of coffee until finally, he was the only one left in the diner.

Roman stepped out of the kitchen and ushered Colleen and Irene out of the door. He locked it before heading over to the table where Jacko was seated and pulled up a chair sitting opposite.

“Okay.” He muttered.

“You look like ****.” Jacko proclaimed.

“And you look like a male model.” Roman shot back.

“Now the introductions are done let’s get down to business. I was asked to look you up.”

“Ella?” Roman asked feeling dread in the pit of his stomach. His entire life was about to change and he had no idea if that was a good thing or a bad thing. He thought of Martha sitting at home and frowned.

“Yeah.”

Jacko watched the other man carefully, taking in his breathing and the way his eyes drifted at the mention of Ella. He pulled out the photograph that Ella had supplied, or rather Liz, and placed it on the tabletop between them.

He’d originally wanted to go for subtle but well Hardcore had made chatting about old times impossible.

***

What are you showing me here?” Roman asked swallowing compulsively as he looked down at the photograph.

“You know what it is Hardcore.” Jacko drawled.

“She had my kids.”

Kids, plural, Roman thought with a smug emotion going through him before he sobered and thought about what this meant for everyone.

“Yes.” Jacko murmured. “And they are back in Aus.”

“They want to meet me,” Roman said knowing that Jacko could tell that he wasn’t asking a question. The other man nodded anyway and was watching the play of emotions on his face Roman thought unable to control his expressions faced with memories of Ella let alone the thought of children. His children. “I need to tell people.” He said finally.

“Give me a call when you are ready,” Jacko said sliding a business card across the table towards him..

“Security?” Roman asked glancing at the details on the embossed card.

“Yup, we is doing quite well too.”

“We?” Roman asked despite his natural inclination to keep back.

“James, Pete and I,” Jacko said quietly. “Ella got us into it when we came back.”

Roman flinched at the mention of Ella again let alone the other men of his unit They were reminders of a past he didn’t want.

“Ella.” He breathed her name like a sigh and paused looking up at Jacko. “She single?”  he asked against his will.

“In the process of getting a divorce.” Jacko murmured calmly. “She’s pretty busy with three kids.”

“Three?” Roman muttered folding his arms.

He didn’t like the idea of Ella being with someone else let alone having their kid and knew that he hadn’t been quick enough to hide his expression.

“Yeah, there is a brother to them.”

“What are their names? When is their birthday?” Roman asked feeling those and more questions rising up in him.

“Toby and Gabby.” Jacko hid a grin at seeing the expression on the other mans face.

“Tobias,” Roman said immediately.

Jacko reached for his cup and took a sip of the now cold coffee not giving anymoe away than he’d already told him.

“It is isn’t it,” Roman said slowly.

Jacko nodded once.

“Why didn’t she…” Roman trailed off and looked up at Jacko.

“Bit hard to tell you anything with you in prison.” Jacko murmured quietly. “We told you not to take the blame for what Gardy did.”

Roman flinched at the other man’s name before he felt the weight of depression settle down on his shoulders.

“So, what does she want?” Roman settled for asking.

“The kids want to meet you.”

“Not Ella?” Roman picked up on.

“She’s not called Ella. Her name is Liz.”

Roman flinched again feeling a strange pain go through him like the reverting back to her former name was in some way a rejection.

“Fine. So just the kids. “

Jacko nodded and placed the cup on the table. He seemed like he was waiting a moment to see if there was going to be anything more said before he stood but all Roman could think about was the photograph in front of him and how everything was going to change now.

“I’ll call,” Roman said quietly when Jacko was near the door knowing he needed to say something and watched as Jacko nodded again.

“Sure thing Hardcore.”

Roman watched as his old friend moved through the door and looked back at the picture.

“Twins.” He said slowly, his finger tracing the outline of their faces in the picture and his heart sunk as he realised that to meet them he would have to face Ella, or rather Liz, and he had no idea if he were strong enough to withstand seeing her.

 

Link to Chapter Four on my blog - Debated Heart

 

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Roman's just got a bad case of butterflies in his stomach he will be fine when he sees Ella Its Martha he has to worry about and maybe Nicole

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Chapter Four

Roman cleared the table after dinner was finished.  He could feel the photo of the two children burning a hole in his pocket as he framed the words to tell his wife that he had children with another woman. She fussed over Lindsay almost totally excluding him or maybe it just seemed like that.  He sighed as he stacked the dishwasher and then again as he made coffee.

Nicole was on the late shift, partnering with Charlie Buckton while Georgina Watson, her normal partner was on maternity leave. It felt strange knowing his daughter was a policewoman when one of her first encounters on arriving in the Bay had been with the police when she was stopped for speeding in the ridiculous car her mother had bought her. He wondered how she would take the news she had a brother and sister out there somewhere. He knew that she and Lindsay had never really formed a bond as sisters, Martha had seen to that, finding his elder daughter a threat in some way. Some illogical female way.

Taking out the picture again he looked at it and tried to picture Ella as she would be now. Her hair would be shorter, back then it had been down to her waist and curled when she wet it, loose tendrils springing up and framing around her face. She had rarely tied it back, unless she was working and he was always fascinated by the wild tangles, especially later when they were in their bed.  He shifted uncomfortably at the memory of her before straightening and glancing over at where his wife was sitting through in the other room. Just remembering Ella had him feeling guilty. Like in some way his memories were making him unfaithful to his wife.

Stuffing the picture back in his pocket he finished putting everything away before grabbing a beer.  Not his first of the night he thought with a grimace before putting the unopened bottle back in the fridge and swapping it for a bottle of water.  He felt self-conscious about the way his body had changed. He’d seen the surprise in Jacko’s face when he’d looked at him seeing the extra weight he was carrying around the middle. Hell, he couldn’t remember the last time he’d gone running or to the gym or even thought about exercising. He knew instinctively that Ella wouldn’t have put on any weight even with pregnancy.

“Just going out for a bit.” He called out and disappeared out of the back door before Martha could stop him.

He stretched out his legs, warming up the muscles before he began a gentle jog to the beach.  There were a few people about and he nodded greetings to those he knew and was glad it was nearing dark and the red puffy face would be hidden from view.  Forced to stop and walk for a bit whilst he got his breath back he focused on how much it would take to get fit again before his feet started pounding the pavement back to the house.  He was still carrying the bottle of water and took a long drink, cooling off.

“Where have you been?” Martha asked as soon as he walked in the door.

“Just for a run.” He answered. “Needed to stretch my legs.”

“Oh, ok.” She looked over at him and he wondered what she saw when she looked at him. Did she see a middle-aged man she hated looking at him because it meant she had to face up to the fact that she was older too or maybe she just hated him for whatever crime he’d done?

How had they slipped into this relationship?  She’d been with Jack until his death and then needed someone, relying first on him and then Hugo, until the other man left. Then they had drifted into being together before she’d fallen pregnant with Lindsay.  That’s when he’d married her, not wanting another child of his out there growing up without him, and felt the sting of not being with Ella whilst she was having his babies.

‘Damn’ he cursed silently, thinking of Ella again. How could she do that to him? Didn’t she realise how much it would hurt to be denied his family? He groaned rubbing his hand over his face before moving through the house and to the stairs.

“Don’t wake her up.” Martha cautioned, referring to their daughter.

He nodded and stepped carefully up the steps, skirting past Lindsay’s room and her partially open door to step into the bedroom he shared with Martha. He saw the too pretty floral paper on the walls and the matching bedspread and knew that Martha had chosen the pattern to punish him in some weird small minded way.  He kicked off his shoes and changed into his robe taking his laundry with him into the bathroom and dumping it in the hamper.

The shower chugged into life spilling lukewarm water down on to him as he stepped into it. He grabbed his shower gel and poured out some on his sponge. Running it over his body he frowned once more at the way his body had changed over the years. He tried to tell himself that it was natural that he thought that but knew the reminder of Ella was the reason he now admitted to himself how disenchanted he was with his life. Stepping out from the shower he turned off the water and reached for a towel and wrapping it around his body as he dealt with the shower. He noticed that his legs ached from the run as he began drying off.  Pulling on his bathrobe when he’d finished he headed back into the bedroom. He saw Martha had climbed into the bed and had her back to him. Pulling on his pyjamas he climbed up in the bed next to her and settled down.

It took a couple minutes before he thought about the photograph and he gasped in the dark room remembering leaving it on the bed before he’d taken his shower.

“Who are they?” Martha asked and he knew that he couldn’t not tell her about them or Ella.

“My kids.”  He admitted finally.

“How could you?” Martha gasped out.

“How could I what? It was before I knew you.”

“Doesn’t matter. It seems that you’ve left a trail of kids around Australia.” She said in a hoarse whisper. “Get out. Go sleep elsewhere.”

Roman rubbed at his face before he swung his legs out the side of the bed and stood up. He saw the photograph on his bedside table and ignored it as he stalked out of the room and down the stairs. He knew even as he settled down on the sofa that the discussion was far from over.

 

 

Link to Chapter Five on my blog: Chapter Five

Comments always welcome.

 

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Chapter Five

 

“Mum.”

“I’ve got one pair of hands Toby,” Liz called to her son.

“Well anyway,” Roman said again.

Liz looked around at them. Gabby seated in front of her because she wanted her hair plating and Roman bouncing up and down on the sofa and then Toby in the other room. She wondered why she hadn’t sent the lot of them to boarding school and then moved. Like to Borneo, or Kuala Lumpur.  She lifted her fingers to her mouth and whistled loudly.

“Pay attention. You have one mother not three so I suggest you wind it in.”

“I think it would be confusing,” Roman said first before the others could get in.

Liz turned and looked at him.

“What would?” she asked blowing out a breath between pursed lips as she focused on finishing Gabby’s hairstyle.

“If I use the name Roman.”

Liz stopped what she was doing and turned to look at her son.

“What are you going on about?” she asked, her accent sounded British at that moment and she could see her kids look at one another knowing that she only sounded like that when she was about to lose her temper. She rolled her eyes and breathed out again, slower this time if that were possible.

“I mean, he’s like called Roman isn’t he?” her son continued. “And with Toby not being called after him it would just get confusing for when he meets us.”

Liz sighed before she fastened the band around Gabby’s hair. She looked over at Roman and smiled in a sad way as she thought through what he’d said.

“Come on.” She told them and moved over to the long sofa.

She sat down and patted the seat next to her. Gabby sprinted over to her whilst Toby sauntered and she smiled at the difference in her twins. Toby was cautious even as Gabby dove in head first usually.  They reminded her so much of her and her brother Michael, Roman’s natural father.

“A long time ago, when I was 19 I met a man called Roman.” She began slowly looking around them all, watching as they took in her words. “He looked at me and then the camera strap I had around my neck and christened me Ella.”

“I like that name,” Gabby said in her soft voice.

Liz smiled at her.

“So did I.” she agreed with her daughter remembering the way that Roman used to say it. The name slipping out softly between Roman’s lips like he was giving her a verbal kiss each time he said it. “Well anyway, your Dad.” Liz stopped herself for a moment when her voice broke. “he knew me as Ella.”

“Then he’s going to get confused about you being called Liz.” Roman pointed out logically. “You should change your name too back to Ella.”

“Yeah.” Gabby agreed.

“Might be a good idea,” Toby said after a minute.

She looked at them all before sighing.

“I don’t think so.” She murmured. “It was a very long time ago. He may not even remember.” She added trying not to actually think about him, Roman Harris the one man she’d never got over.

“I think he does. I mean he gave you the name.” Gabby said.

“Ah bless babes.” Liz murmured reaching out and stroking her daughter’s hair. “But no, I don’t think so. “

Toby and Gabby exchanged a look before looking at their mother.

“You should change your name, Mum. Ella is nicer than Liz. We know loads of Liz’s but well not many Ellas’.” Toby said with a shrug. “And well he will probably call you that anyway so when you see him it’ll be confusing.”

She could see from the serious expression on her son’s face that he had been thinking a lot about meeting his father and she couldn’t deny that he looked a lot like Roman and she didn’t mean his brother. They had a point; she conceded this name business would be confusing.

“I will think about it.” She told them. “But if we don’t call you Roman what name do you want to use?”

“Mike,” Roman answered immediately. “My name is Roman Michael Addison and my dad was known as Michael more than Mike isn’t that right? So if I use Mike I won’t make you sad.”

She gulped as his words hit her like blows.

“I’m not sad thinking of him. I mean sometimes of course I am, and your Mum, Jennie. They were both so young but they gave me something special, they gave me you to raise.”

Roman nodded.

“And I think they wanted you to find him.”  He told her. “So they called me after him to keep him in your thoughts.”

“Did you love him?” Gabby asked.

Liz eased up from the sofa and moved over to the unit along the far wall. She opened a drawer and took out an old battered photo album. She’d shown them a picture when she’d first told them about Roman but the bulk of her things had been in storage including this. Walking back over to the sofa she placed the album on her lap and opened it up.

The memories came flooding back. They’d been so happy. And in love. The year she’d spent in Afghanistan she felt so incredibly alive especially falling in love with Roman Harris. He’d been so protective and caring, and romantic. He’d made her feel like she was the most important woman in the world.

“Here.” She said after a moment feeling a lump in her throat. “This is Roman Harris.”

They looked at a different picture of the man that was changing their lives.

“I look like him,” Toby told them an excited note in his voice.

“You both have his eyes,” Liz said to them.

“And this is..”

“You know very well young lady this is your uncle Michael who is  Roman’s real dad.”

“And you don’t think it’s going to get confusing,” Roman said logically. “Being called the same as him. Especially when I’m not his son?”

“Fine, let’s all change our names.” She muttered. “From now on you are called Fifi and Goose and you are Mike….”

“And you are Ella,” Gabby told her. “Although I think I’ll still call you Mum.” She added in a sad voice.

“Okay.” She said to her daughter.

“Will we meet him soon?”

“We will,” Liz said softly. “In the next holidays.”

She was prepared for Gabby and Toby to look subdued at the announcement but not for Roman, well Mike to look crestfallen.  She bit back more words resisting the urge to promise them something that she couldn’t deliver just to stop the hurt looks on their faces.

“Hey.” She murmured reaching out and touching Roman’s hand, well Mike. And rolled her eyes at the way her brain refused to think of the new name as she thought of him.

“It’s ok.” He shrugged off his disappointment.

She looked at them all before standing and leaving the photo album resting on Gabby’s knee. Walking over to the table she picked up her phone from where she left it and dialled Jacko’s number.  He answered on the first ring and she spoke quickly into the phone as she eased out of earshot of the kids. She came back into the room after a moment and looked at the three kids.

“Mike get your laptop out.” She instructed and grinned as ‘Mike’ looked blankly at her.

“That’s you, idiot,” Toby muttered poking his brother in the ribs.

“Oh er…” ‘Mike’ stood up quickly his face going red and ran into the bedroom collecting his laptop.

“That was funny,” Gabby said giggling. “Maybe I would like to be called Fifi.”

Liz rolled her eyes as she looked at them before groaning as Toby fixed her with his intense gaze.

“Ella.” He told her. “You have to be Ella.”

“I..” she trailed off as he continued to look at her with his father’s eyes. How could she resist? She’d never been able to resist Roman when he looked at her with the same appeal in his gaze. “Fine.” She all but whispered.

Toby nodded once in confirmation before turning and looking at his brother, ‘Mike’. He grinned and moved towards them as Mike set up his laptop on the table. His mother, ‘Ella’, moved to sit in front of it and soon she was surfing places to stay around somewhere called Summer Bay.

 

 

Link to the next chapter on my blog: Chapter Six

Happy Easter

Also,  there will be a new Roman and Ella story posted soon....

 

 

 

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