Best For Me: Chapters 1 to 5

There was really one clear winner in the ‘Name your favourite story for reposting’ thread. Although there was also a huge write-in vote for Le Marais (of which, more anon, my friends).

So, it is with the greatest of pleasure that I present the first five chapters of Best for Me.

Disclaimers: Thomas Lynch and the Insane MTV Posse own SON. The good doctor owns this story. And I own every season of Murder, She Wrote on DVD. Big up the Jessica Fletcher massive!
Rating: Safe for work.

Soooo… You wanted BFM. This was my first really HUGE story. I mean, I wrote Circles and Circles before this, but this was the first saga I wrote. It was so loved I couldn’t HELP but write LM. So, yeah, thanks guys. I’m chuffed. –> Clom

* * * * *

Chapter One

Spencer bit her lip and frowned as she tried to manoeuvre her car into a space that was just large enough to take it. Some idiot had parked two large SUVs over the line, and Spencer’s rather smaller car just fit in between them, with not a lot of room on either side. Blowing the blonde tendrils of hair that had escaped her ponytail off her face, she put the car in park and turned around. Smiling at the little girl strapped into a car seat in the back, she signed with her hands, saying the words as she formed them.

“We’re here.”

She was rewarded with a gorgeous smile, the same smile that had melted Spencer’s heart for the last four years, and an excited look in the eyes. Shaking her head slightly in disbelief over how lucky she still felt, she squeezed her way out of the car and got the back seat open. Fumbling with the catches, she managed to get her daughter out in one piece – thankful that she was so small – and set her on the ground next to the car. Warning her with a look and a quick sign to stay back between the cars, she found her various bags, and locked up. Taking the small hand in hers, and looking both ways for cars, she made her way to the lift, her heart beat stepping just a beat faster as they passed the same sign they passed month in and month out: Callaghan Memorial Children’s Hospital.

They emerged on the eighth floor, and Spencer felt Elly tug on her hand, pulling her along the corridor. For her daughter, this was a fun place, full of toys and kind people. For Spencer, this was a place of mixed emotions: a place where they were told how sick their daughter was; a place where they were told there was a chance to make her better; and a place where she’d held her infant daughter in her arms and cried, pouring her heart out with thanks that she was going to be all right. All of that had been two years ago, but Spencer could feel every emotion tucked away neatly inside her. Taking a deep breath, she let Elly pull her along.

They got to the ward in plenty of time, Elly jumping out of her skin with excitement. The playroom in the children’s ward was enormous, and the kids almost universally friendly. Not that Elly didn’t have enough toys at home, but, being an only child, she got lonely. When they got to the half-doors separating the play room from the corridor, the young girl stopped in her tracks, and Spencer peered in to see what had made her so suddenly uncertain. Instead of being filled with laughing, screaming, crying, paint-covered, playing children, the inhabitants of the ward were all seated neatly and, amazingly, sedately on the ground, surrounding a young woman on chair.

She was about Spencer’s height, or so she estimated. Brown curls hung on her head, loosely pulled back, but with enough loose to create gorgeous tendrils down the sides. She was strumming a guitar lightly and singing along, the children’s voices gently joining in. From the angle Spencer was standing at, she couldn’t see her face, but her voice was sending shivers down the blonde woman’s spine.

She felt Elly take a step back into the shelter of her legs, gripping Spencer’s hand tighter and looking unsure. Spencer reached out and put a hand gently on her shoulder, and looked down into her daughter’s face, encouraging her to step forward. She heard a voice, as beautiful in speech as it was in song, murmur at them from across the room.

“It’s okay, come on in.” The sentence was said in the most inviting tone possible, and without the speaker missing a strum on the guitar. Changing keys, she went on with the song, smiling at Spencer and Elly as they came in and sat down. Spencer looked at the musician’s face and tried to put her thoughts back into some coherent order.

God, she’s beautiful, she thought.

Elly, still scared, held a tight hold on her mother’s hand. They sat down, and Spencer crossed her legs, pulling her daughter into the shelter of them on her lap. Hugging her arms around the little girl, she swayed slightly, torn between watching her daughter and watching the girl on the guitar. Elly had a look of wonder on her face. She couldn’t take her eyes off the lady at the front of the room, her head moving slightly to the up and down motion of the strumming hand. Spencer was taken aback by her daughter’s fascination, but had to secretly admit her own. There was something very beguiling about this woman.

In a few short songs it was over and the children scattered to all edges of the playroom. Spencer stood up, a slight blush tingeing her cheeks for no obvious reason, as Elly drifted off with the other children. The brunette carefully put her guitar back in its case and walked slowly over to the blonde, who was standing carefully, hands in pockets.

“Hi,” the musician offered a hand, “I’m Ashley”

“Spencer,” Spence replied, shaking the hand. It was a good handshake, firm but not too firm, gripping but not squeezing, and no sweaty palms. She liked it. “You do this a lot?”

“Yeah,” grinned the guitarist. “I’m a music therapist here. We do this once a week. It’s great for the kids, and,” she smiled and Spencer watched it run all the way to her eyes, “I love it, too.”

“You’re really good,” she murmured in reply.

“Aw, thanks. Your daughter seemed to like it.” Ashley nodded at Elly who was now patiently building a tower out of blocks. The precarious nature of the construction was an omen of a collapse shortly to follow. “You should bring her more often.”

“Yeah,” said Spencer softly. “Actually I don’t understand why she liked it so much.” Ashley looked surprised and a little insulted. Spencer hurried to explain, “No, no, it’s great, it’s good. It’s just that she can’t hear it. Elly’s deaf.”

“Oh.” The brunette understood. “That’s okay, there are ways around that.”

Now it was Spencer’s turn to look at the other girl like she was crazy.

“Um, it’s music, doesn’t hearing come into it somewhere?”

“Not always,” grinned the other girl, sending Spencer’s heart into a whirl. “Come back next week, I’ll show you.”

“I’d like that.” The blonde checked her watch. “Oh, crap, we have to go or we’ll miss Ell’s appointment. Hey, it was nice to meet you.”

“You, too,” said Ashley, smiling to herself and appreciating, with slight guilt, the ass in the jeans as it walked out the door.

Wow. Definite yummy mummy.

* * * * *

Chapter Two

Spencer pulled into the underground carpark, her heart already speeding up with expectation. This was crazy. She was crazy. No, no, she was doing this for Elly.

Then, why are your palms sweating?

Spencer swore lightly when someone stole her space, grateful that her daughter couldn’t hear. In a way, it was a blessing, because some of the language the girl would have picked up from Gray by now, well… Spencer told him off all the time, arguing that she could see and would eventually learn. She tried not to do it herself, although traffic sometimes got the better of her. Gray didn’t listen. Gray never did.

Finding another space further from the door, Spencer glanced at her watch for the millionth time in an hour. Early. Still. She hustled them out of the car and into the lift, smiling along with her daughter in anticipation, accepting that it was almost certainly over different things. They hit the eighth floor and were at the playroom, Spencer feeling light-headed.

To her disappointment, there were only children, making a God Almighty mess. She let Elly join them, warmed by the sight of her daughter enjoying herself. She was leaning against the door frame, watching the fun, when she heard a soft, nerve-stimulating voice behind her.

“You came back.”

Spencer turned to find Ashley standing behind her, a large sack in one hand and a crooked smile on her face. Spencer moved to let her pass through. “Yeah, you said we should.”

“I’m glad.” The musician moved over to a small table and put the sack down. “I’ve got something good today, and I think your daughter will get something out of it.”

Spencer’s curiousity was duly piqued.

Ashley emptied out the sack one-by-one. There were big drums, little drums, a metronome, and a bunch of other things Spencer recognised and didn’t recognise. The guitarist clapped her hands, to the notice of all the kids except Elly, and the noise in the room died down. Spencer tensed, but Ashley put her at ease, walking over amongst the children and, while calling them to attention, gently drew that of Elly by placing a hand on her shoulder. It was considerate, easy and made Spencer’s insides melt. Very few people bothered to treat Elly with such kindness. If they didn’t ignore her, they tended to either raise their voice, which was pointless because the girl was completely deaf, or treat her like she was some kind of retarded invalid, which made Spencer fume. Her daughter was a beautiful, wonderful child with an incredible mind and the overactive imagination of every other four-year-old on the planet. Even still, she knew her daughter noticed the change in other people. She had begun to see her isolation, and the gross lack of acceptance by some people around her. Spencer couldn’t help but warm to Ashley who, with one gesture, had done exactly the right thing.

As Ashley gathered the children around, Spencer sat back on the floor. Her daughter, once again enthralled by the curly-haired brunette, didn’t crowd close to her mother this time, but tiptoed up with the other children. Ashley smiled.

“Today we’re going to talk about rhythm -” And so she went on. Pulling over a xylophone, she neatly ran a hammer across the notes, gaining “oohs” and “aahs” from her adoring pupils.

Spencer watched as she involved everyone in the music, letting them play the drums or feel the beat of the metronome. She watched as each and every time, she involved Elly, letting the girl feel the beat where the others could hear. Each time a different vibration ran through her little hands, her face lit up like a Christmas tree, and Spencer’s heart nearly broke. By the end of the class, she was holding back tears. She knelt down to greet Elly who flew at her, so excited that her hands were a flurry of activity as she signed her incredible experiences to Spencer, in child-like ignorance of the fact that her mother had been standing there the whole time. Spencer, grinning from ear to ear, watched and listened intently, signing back appropriately until her daughter got so caught up she lost her words and just dissolved into excited four-year-old giggles. Spencer wrapped her in a huge hug, and sent her off to clean up the toys before they went.

Turning to face the musician, she caught the grin on the other girl’s face.

“Thank you so much,” Spencer said, voice overflowing with gratitude. “That meant more to her than anything has in a long time.” She choked up on the last word.

“It’s nothing.” Ashley looked down, blushing. “No-one needs to miss out on anything just because they’re a little short in some areas. You should see me dance. Doesn’t stop me. Does stop traffic sometimes,” she mused. Spencer laughed prettily, and missed the glint that shone momentarily in the musician’s eye. “Have you been down to the community centre?” she asked.

“No,” said Spencer, looking interested. “Why?”

“They have some neat classes down there. I teach music to kids on a Wednesday afternoon after school. There’s a great art class down the hall. You should check it out.”

“I might do that.” Spencer glanced at her watch, and gave a sad sigh. “We gotta shoot. Maybe we’ll see you around.” She glanced at the brunette hopefully.

“Yeah, that would be nice.” The softness in Ashley’s voice made Spence quiver. Gathering Elly, she left before she could melt into a puddle on the playroom floor.

* * * * *

Chapter Three

The sky outside was darkening with clouds as the evening swept in. Spencer stood at the kitchen window, dinner bubbling on the stove behind her, mind elsewhere. Mind, in fact, stuck in the playroom at Callaghan Memorial and on one very, very cute brunette. She thought she heard the front door open and snapped out of it. What was she thinking? Turning to greet the intruder, she found the door firmly shut and Elly still on the floor watching cartoons with the subtitles on. Taking a moment to watch her, Spencer smiled. Every day her daughter was reading more and more quickly and it made Spence so proud. She was definitely one smart kid. Of course she had to think that, though: wasn’t every mother proud?

Not mine, she thought ruefully.

Sighing, she turned back to her washing up, glancing at the clock on the way. It was getting close to seven and she knew Gray would be late. Again. She pulled dinner off the stove before it was completely over-cooked and served up a portion for her daughter. Thinking about it for a second, she served herself up a portion, knowing that she’d end up eating alone otherwise. Gray would just eat his in front of the television whenever he got home. She supposed it was understandable; he worked ridiculous hours.

Elly and Spencer had eaten, made it through bath-time – which was always fun – and were cuddled up on the young girl’s bed reading a good-night story when the front door finally opened and shut. Spencer glanced up briefly and then, another sigh dying in her throat, finished the story. Tucking her daughter into bed, she played the tickle game, and then kissed her lightly on the forehead, leaving the door a crack open as she left.

Tonight, she didn’t want to go down that corridor. Tonight, she didn’t want to see Gray and she couldn’t really explain why. Things had been strained for a while but Spencer knew that was her fault as much as Gray’s. She had to make more time for him and make him make more time for his family. But tonight she was tired on the inside. Swallowing, she moved quietly towards the living room. Her husband was already on the couch, bowl of food in his hands, fork moving automaton-like from dish to mouth. His eyes were trained on the television. She noted that he’d turned the subtitles off, even though it meant Elly had to come find her the next day to get them turned back on. Heavy in heart, Spencer went and sat on the couch next to her husband.

“Eh-oh.” With his mouth full, Gray sounded like a Teletubby. He didn’t look like one, even six years into their marriage. He was as fit as the day she met him, tall and handsome. He had a few stray grey hairs. She found them amusing, grey on Gray, but they were only at his temple. If he was going prematurely grey, he didn’t mind and neither did she. It made him look austere. Stretching his legs out on the coffee table, she took his now-empty bowl and washed it, staring out the window and wondering why she felt so empty. Going back to the couch, she stared at Gray, trying to attract his attention. After ten minutes, she gave up and just interrupted him.

“I took Elly to the hospital today.”

“Mmm,” he said, sounding non-committal, his eyes trained on the television. A few seconds later, a confused look appeared on his face. “I thought she went last week. Dr Burns said she was fine.”

“Yeah, this was for something else. A music class. There’s this music therapist, really nice. She suggested we go along. It was amazing. She brought drums and other rhythm instruments so that Elly could feel the vibrations. She got totally involved, Gray, it was awesome.” It was at this point that Spencer realised that her husband wasn’t listening to a word she was saying. “Gray?”

“Huh?” He looked at her, eyes red with fatigue. “That’s nice, hon.”

“Yeah,” said Spencer softly. Watching him for a moment more, his vision now back to the square box, she bit her lip. Then she went to bed and lay, staring at the curtain-covered window until she felt him fumble into bed. When she finally heard him snore, she closed her eyes and wept.

* * * * *

Chapter Four

Deep inside, Spencer knew that she shouldn’t be pursuing this. Over and over she told herself that it was for Elly. She was just checking out this art class for her daughter and that was it. It was a lie, but it was a lie that she chose to believe in. Otherwise, what the hell was she here for? To stare doe-eyed at some musician who, if she was even single, probably didn’t even notice shy, not very special Spencer.

Pushing open the doors to the community centre, she was lost, a corridor in front of her flooded with children and adults swimming everywhere. She glanced at the flier in her hand, trying to make sense of the directions. Looking up at the mass of people seemingly intent on their own path she sighed. She had never been good at this stuff.

“You look lost.” The familiar voice sent a familiar sensation coursing up Spencer’s spine. She turned to find the musician, guitar case in hand, grinning at her from the doorway. “What are you looking for?”

“The art class you recommended,” Spencer admitted, thankful of the presence of someone she knew. “It sounded like a good idea.”

“It’s a great class,” Ashley enthused. “Did you bring Elly?”

“No, just me. I thought I’d better check it out first.” The reply was an understanding nod. She continued, “If I could figure out where it was, though, that would help.”

Ashley chuckled, and then pushed off from the door frame. “C’mon, I’ll show you. It’s right next door to me. My class serenades them while they work.” The curly-haired girl negotiated a deft path through the swelling crowd and Spencer stuck close behind, afraid of losing her.

Half-way up the corridor, Ashley pushed open a door and ushered Spencer into a large airy room filled with the paraphernalia of any good art class. Easels stood around in no particular order. One wall was thick with pottery wheels and clay, another with collages and paper. It took a split-second for Spencer to come to the conclusion that Elly was going to be in seventh heaven here. Ashley, grinning at the look on Spencer’s face, tugged her on the elbow and took her over to meet the short, black-haired woman at the front of the classroom. As they approached, the woman looked up and a genuine warm smile lit her face at the sight of Ashley. Spencer felt her insides kick.

“Hey, Kym,” Ashley greeted jovially. “This is Spencer.”

“Hi, Spencer.” The black-haired girl stuck out a hand, which Spencer shook uncertainly.

“She’s looking to start her daughter in this class,” Ashley explained.

“Oh great!” exclaimed the petite art teacher, “How old is she?”

“She’s only four, but full of, well, four-year-old enthusiasm.” Spencer warmed to the topic.

“I get you,” Kym replied with a chuckle. “Our Wednesday class is from five- to ten-year-olds, but I take them a little younger if they’re mature. Think she’ll be able to hold her own?”

“Sure,” said Spencer. She wasn’t sure at all actually, but she was willing to give it a go for Elly. “There’s just one thing…” she stopped, not knowing how to go on.

“Elly’s deaf,” Ashley added bluntly, although the way she said it made it sound like it was no big deal. Spencer eyed her in suspicion. “But that shouldn’t be a problem, right?”

“No, should be okay. Can she lip read?” The black-haired girl didn’t seem too put off.

“A little,” Spencer added, stuttering. “She’s pretty good at getting what you mean. I can stay and sign if you like.”

“Might be a good idea for the first lesson, but we’ll get along fine.” Kym grinned. Spencer almost sighed with relief at the ease of this. “Bring her along next week.”

“I will,” said the blonde mother fervently. “She’ll be delighted.”

Facing away, she didn’t notice Ashley’s smile, or the soft wanting look in her eyes. The peace and quiet the three of them shared was suddenly shattered by a torrent of small children flooding into the class.

“That’s my cue to head across the hall,” Ashley said with a grin. “See you next week, Spencer?”

Heart beating a million miles per minute whenever the musician said her name, Spencer nodded. Her mouth was drying rapidly and she wasn’t sure she could speak. She watched the brunette leave and bid her farewells to the art teacher.

By the time she got home, she was buzzing on a high. Paying Mia, the high school next-door-neighbour who babysat Elly from time-to-time, she set about making dinner humming a happy tune. She was still on a high when Gray arrived home, surprising her by wrapping his arms around her from behind and stealing a piece of carrot.

“What’s got you so happy, sugar-bun?” It was his old nickname for her; he hadn’t used it in months.

“I’ve got a surprise for Elly,” she said, eager to share. “There’s this awesome art class down at the community centre. Wednesday nights. She’s going to love it. Gray, they have everything! You should see it! They’ve got pottery stuff and paint and -” she trailed off, the look on Gray’s face shattering her burst of happiness. “What?” she said, almost in a half-whisper.

“Is that such a good idea?” His voice was accusing.

“What do you mean?” she demanded.

“How the hell is she supposed to function in a class full of other people? She can’t hear, Spencer. You have to stop pushing her to do things she just can’t do. At some point you’re going to have to accept her limits. How is she going to hear the teacher? Or understand what she’s supposed to do? And when the other kids yell at her? What then??” Gray was getting more and more worked up with each question and the volume of his voice rose accordingly. Spencer took a step back unconsciously, on the defensive.

“Gray…”

“No, Spencer. She’s just not normal and you’re going to have to get used to that.” He stormed out of the kitchen. Moments later, she heard the shower running and let out the breath she had held captured in her lungs through the whole tirade. She ducked her head around the corner and was relieved to see Elly happily watching cartoons – subtitles on, of course – oblivious to her parents’ arguing.

He was wrong. She knew he was wrong. Elly was an intelligent, creative, amazing child. Sure, she was deaf, and had a few other health problems thrown in, but they’d all been resolved now. When she was born, Spencer had thought her daughter the most perfect creature she’d ever seen. Even Gray had been entranced. It had taken the doctors very little time to break that spell, coming in within the first day to tell them the news. Elly had a heart condition, a hole. It was small enough that they could wait to do something about it, but large enough that one day they would have to operate. Spencer could still feel the ice-cold blood running through her veins. She’d gathered the child close in her arms and held her, as though she could protect her from the damage already done. They’d weathered that storm. Gray had been stoic. They’d pass the operation bridge when they came to it, and for now, they’d just deal with what came. In the end, that meant that Spencer would deal with what came. She attended all the doctors visits, the check-ups, the emergency visits for constant illnesses. She’d worried through the night and she’d done all the research. Gray had slowly and surely extracted himself from the situation, bit-by-bit withdrawing. And when it had become painfully obvious that something else was wrong, he’d gone away almost completely. If the heart problems hadn’t been enough, finding out that Elly was deaf had been a blow from the side. Totally unexpected. And Gray had coped by basically ignoring it.

Spencer had rallied. Immediately she had started sign language classes, determined to bring her daughter up with a language of her own. She’d mastered it quickly, talking to the girl every day, and taking her to class. Elly had grown up fluent in sign, and Spencer was equally proficient. Only Gray remained unable to sign. His argument had been that she’d need to learn how to lip read anyway. Stunned at his refusal to learn, Spencer had let it be, assuming he’d eventually cave in or come to his senses. But he hadn’t; he’d just kept on refusing. And he kept running the same argument: Elly was going to have to function in the world and the world didn’t sign. She would need to learn to lip read and function on hearing terms, not on her own terms. Spencer disagreed with him fervently, but in the end had to just let it pass, like so many other things in her marriage.

Now Spencer was staring down at the kitchen bench, anger running through her veins like knives. There was no way that she was going to back down on this one: Elly was going to the art class. If Gray had a problem with that, he could just go jump. Fuming, she set about finishing dinner, and refused to talk to her husband for the rest of the evening.

* * * * *

Chapter Five

As predicted, Elly had loved the art class. Spencer stayed with her for the first lesson, occasionally translating into sign when there was a need. In fact, the need was so little that she and the teacher were fairly confident that El would be able to manage on her own the following week. She even made a friend, a small boy called James who finger-painted like Jackson Pollock.

After seeing the happiness on her daughter’s face, Spencer couldn’t help being on a high. Grinning from ear-to-ear with an equally ecstatic young ’un’s hand in hers, she made her way into the corridor, which was in its usual frenetic state. And yet, through all the hubbub, she immediately spotted Ashley’s curly brown head emerging from her room, a crowd of excited children all vying for her attention. Spencer could have sworn her heart sped up seconds before she actually spotted the girl and wondered if she had some kind of radar for the musician. As if she was feeling the same thing, Ashley’s head came up, her gaze connecting with Spencer’s and sending a jolt out of the blue straight into the blonde’s chest. Spencer returned the smile she received and tightened her hold on Elly. She felt a pull on her hand and looked down, breaking her line of sight with Ashley.

The crowds of children were pressing closer now and her daughter was looking scared. Spencer’s heart tugged a little and she swung her little girl up into her arms, protecting her from the seething mass that surrounded them. When she looked up, the musician was gone.

It was possible that Spencer had trodden on someone with her haste to exit the building. Her insides were writhing like a pit of snakes and she had no idea why.

Liar. She does that to you.

Unwilling to accept what that might mean, Spencer fled the scene. Tucking her daughter into the car seat, she drove home, forcing herself to do so as sedately as possible instead of mirroring the reckless folly that she felt stirring inside. Typically, Gray was nowhere to be seen when they got home. Spencer couldn’t have appreciated it more.

Making dinner, she tried everything she possibly could to rid her mind of all thoughts. Her anger with Gray was still humming purposefully below the surface and the rippling that her skin had experienced when she caught sight of Ashley was still palpable. She was startled out of her space when she heard a sharp knock on the kitchen counter in front of her. She looked down to find Elly staring at her, puzzled look on her face. Spencer realized she’d been leaning against the counter staring off into the distance for some time. Her daughter was holding a juice carton expectantly and had been patiently waiting for her mother to pour a cup.

Spencer signed an apology and poured the juice.

“What’s on TV?” she added with her hands, speaking at the same time, making her words echo around the empty room.

“Cartoons,” the reply came back, fingers flying. Spencer had spoken in sign since the day she’d started learning. Elly had picked it up fast. It was her first language, after all.

If only Gray had learnt… Spencer let the thought drop. Her anger was still bubbling away and she didn’t want to make it boil over. Watching her daughter toddle back to the living room, she picked up where she’d left off with dinner. Part of her hoped that Gray would be late tonight; she wasn’t sure she could handle dinner with him.

She got her wish. By the time Gray got home, she was in bed already, reading. Elly was long asleep, tucked in after a bath and reading time. Spencer could hear her husband walking around the kitchen, the beep of the microwave as he heated up the dinner she’d left in the fridge for him. It was only two days until the weekend. Maybe she could talk him into doing some family things with them. Turning off the bedside lamp and rolling over before Gray could come in and find her awake, she tried to go to sleep with that thought in her head.

She was grateful for her part-time job the next day. For starters, it gave Elly a chance to spend some time with other kids at daycare and, second, it meant she could take her mind off everything.

Like the highly disturbing dream you had all last night where a certain brunette was…

She desperately needed to take her mind off everything.

Getting home exhausted, she was surprised to find Gray waiting for her.

“You’re early,” she exclaimed.

“Yeah, put in so much overtime lately I thought I’d actually come home for once.” He grinned at her and she softened. Whatever anger she’d been feeling slipped into the ether. Spontaneously she threw herself into his arms, hoping to feel them close around her.

“Ugh.” He hugged her to him and she inhaled his aftershave. “What’s this about?” he asked with a chuckle. This was almost the Gray she remembered.

“Just miss you lately, that’s all. I was thinking we could spend some time together this weekend. You, me and Elly.” She pulled back, smiling. The smile drained from her face when she saw Gray’s expression.

“I can’t this weekend,” he said, his face flat and unapologetic.

“Why?” God, she didn’t even know his schedule anymore. “Do we have something on?”

“I have to work, babe.” He walked away, off to find some food.

“On the weekend?” Spencer couldn’t move. She could feel all the anger she’d let go absorb back in from the atmosphere. Any minute now she was going to explode. “Gray, we never see each other any more. Elly never sees you any more”. The last sentence was said with more accusatory anger than Spencer thought she had in her.

“Spence.” He sounded impatient. “This is an important project for us. We’ll do something, just not this weekend. Elly doesn’t care.”

Spencer stared at him. “I care, Gray. Does she even have a father?”

“How can you say that?” His anger sounded false to Spencer’s ears. She could feel bile rising in her throat and tears swimming in her vision. “Of course she does. What is with you lately?”

“With me?” she choked. “I’m -” She felt everything crack. “I’m going to my parents. Put Elly to bed on time.”

And with that, she walked out of the house.

The car didn’t leave the driveway. She wasn’t sure she could drive with the tears stinging her eyes. Besides, Spencer’s anger was making her shake so hard she couldn’t hold the wheel and she didn’t want to go anywhere near her parents at the moment. Her mother would just send her back anyway. Her mother loved Gray.

Steadying herself, she pulled her phone out of her pocket. Flipping through the numbers, she tried to remember where all her friends had gone. They were still there but, since Elly had been born, she’d become so wrapped up in her own life. Her fingers scrolled the buttons until a name caught her eye. She shouldn’t. She knew she shouldn’t. Making sure her voice was unshaken and she sounded calm she dialed the number.

“Hello?” the person on the other end answered.

“Ashley?” Spencer tried, not sounding nearly as calm as she’d hoped.

* * * * *

Next up: Chapters 6-10 [A]

17 Comments

  1. lesmiserables1998
    Posted 1 July 2008 at 12.47am | Permalink

    Oh, Clom! This is my fav!! Thanks so much for finally posting.

    [Am I invisible or something? I post all the old stuff – Dev]

  2. writeninred
    Posted 1 July 2008 at 2.16am | Permalink

    I kept starting this…getting distracted…restarting it…getting distracted…and so on and so on.

    Finally after like a bagillion and twenty-five years…I managed to read this whole thing…this part, anyway. This is good…how’d I miss it the first time? That makes me sad. I can’t wait ’til you post the rest and I can read it. :] That’d make me happy.

  3. smurfturkey
    Posted 1 July 2008 at 2.37am | Permalink

    YAY!My joy can not be contained!
    WOOHOOO
    AHHHILOVETHISFICAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

  4. hot 4 yo mama
    Posted 1 July 2008 at 2.49am | Permalink

    Probably one of the best things I’ve read in a longg time

  5. Posted 1 July 2008 at 3.09am | Permalink

    I love this story so much. It is one of my very favs. Thank you so much for posting it again!
    Olive Juice Clom.

    [Olive Juice? *contrives bewildered look* – C]
    [‘I love you’ – Dev]

  6. Melxgibs
    Posted 1 July 2008 at 6.23am | Permalink

    This is probably one of my favorite all time fics. Thank you for posting it again and im sure ill love it just as much this time around.

  7. Ros
    Posted 1 July 2008 at 8.33am | Permalink

    Hey! This was the first Clomle fic I read, and I loved it. I’m happy to see it here. :)

  8. Tegan21
    Posted 1 July 2008 at 9.39am | Permalink

    This is by far your best fic ever.. it deserves all the love it gets and so much more…

  9. lesmiserables1998
    Posted 1 July 2008 at 11.29am | Permalink

    My sincere apologies, Great Dev. As I remember, I asked you to post this during Clom’s initial posting of PT, and you promised you would. You are, indeed, a great promise-keeper. Thank you!!

    BTW— I TOTALLY remember Circles and Cirlces … any chance of getting that one day??

    [Yes, yes, there is. Eventually. When I’m not being so lazy – Dev]
    [In fact, completed version of Circles and Circles is now available – Dev]

  10. yeahbutno
    Posted 1 July 2008 at 3.50pm | Permalink

    HAPPY that is what this wee site just made me what with battered Spence (no not as in the Scottish cuisine!!!) being rescued and Devs IITF on here now and then THIS.

    Clom, this was the first fic I read over there and well I love it.

    Can’t wait to read it again cheers.

  11. .ashes.rising.
    Posted 1 July 2008 at 5.23pm | Permalink

    i like catching up on all the essential spashley stories that i’ve never gotten a chance to read. Thank you Dev, for posting greatness, and Sez for writing it. You both rock my socks off.

  12. Katie
    Posted 1 July 2008 at 7.23pm | Permalink

    JUst found this and it is awesome! Its a shame about Spencer and her hubby but if it aint working she needs to move on, easier said than done of course. Spencers daughter is so cute! Ashley seems so lovely, im glad she is doing so much work too. Thank you for this story it’s amazing

  13. lesmiserables1998
    Posted 1 July 2008 at 8.30pm | Permalink

    “Spencer bit her lip and frowned as she tried to manoeuvre her car into a space that was just large enough to take it.”

    I’ve read this story so many times that this opening line is like a classic to me. You know, like up there with the 100 most famous opening lines. Seriously.

    http://www.infoplease.com/ipea/A0934311.html

    [You can tell that’s an American list – I haven’t heard of a significant number of those authors and I, too, took English at university, although it was not what you colonials call my ‘major’. I would say, however, that Bulwer-Lytton’s ‘It was a dark and stormy night’ should have ranked higher, purely thanks to Snoopy’s use of it as the opening line to every one of his great works. My favourite is the Valentine’s Day version: ‘It was a dark and stormy night; suddenly, a kiss rang out!’ – Dev]

  14. lesmiserables1998
    Posted 1 July 2008 at 8.31pm | Permalink

    Oh, and I’m an English major … so, that’s saying a lot (I hope).

  15. lesmiserables1998
    Posted 1 July 2008 at 9.46pm | Permalink

    Lol, I agree. The list seems “obscure” at best to me, too. I’m sure you could find 100 different sites with different rankings. My focus, actually, was English lit, so I’d love to see a top 100 of that.

  16. Fort
    Posted 17 October 2010 at 12.21am | Permalink

    Felt like re-reading this and every time I do I always love so much of it. But, I particularly love this line:

    Spencer, grinning from ear to ear, watched and listened intently, signing back appropriately until her daughter got so caught up she lost her words and just dissolved into excited four-year-old giggles.

    The bit about Elly dissolving into giggles always makes me ‘aw’.

    Also throughout the whole fic love how Ashley and Elly fit so well together, how Ashley considers her and looks after her etc. So sweet.

  17. Fort
    Posted 10 September 2013 at 7.18pm | Permalink

    Just re-reading this fic again. Love that the last comment on was this mine and almost 3 years ago!

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