Best For Me: Chapters 41-45

Previously: Chapters 36-40 [A]

Chapter 41: The One where Peace Breaks Out
Chapter 42: The One on the Front Step
Chapter 43: The One with the Braxton-Hicks
Chapter 44: The One where Alexander Meets Everyone
Chapter 45: The One with Elly’s Jealousy

Rating for this set of chapters: A.

* * * * *

Chapter Forty-One

The last thing that Spencer was expecting on the following Monday morning was a phone call from Gray. She figured that the strange antics of the Friday night would have scared him away completely. Gray had always been very good at proving her wrong when she made assumptions, however, and this time was no exception.

So, he was coming around to dinner on Monday. Spencer should have been working, but her boss had called her from home the previous evening and told her not to come in. Somehow, she was being paid for the day anyway. Spencer suspected that it had been the look on her boss’s face when she had said goodnight on Friday which was making her nervous, more than anything. She couldn’t afford to lose her job. It was only a few weeks till she was on maternity leave anyway, but she needed to stick it out.

Still, it gave her all day Monday to do some planning. She was glad that Ashley would be home before Gray arrived because it would make things easier to explain. When she came through the door, Spencer was in the kitchen cutting up vegetables for the roast. Ashley waltzed into the kitchen and stole a piece of carrot from the chopping board.

“Hey!” Spencer playfully slapped her hand away. “Welcome home.”

“Thanks,” grinned the brunette, crunching on the stolen sliver of vegetable. “Dinner smells good. What is it?” She frowned and whiffed the air.

“Roast chicken with stuffing and trimmings.”

“Okay, you got culinary,” Ashley grinned. “Can I help? You can put your feet up.”

“Actually, I’ve taken it nice and easy today so I’m all good. And I’m nearly done. I just gotta put these in the oven.”

“Sweet.” Ashley swung her feet like a little kid and Spencer curbed her urge to ruffle those chestnut curls. Instead, she put the vegetables in the oven and leaned on her elbows across the breakfast bar.

“Gray’s coming to dinner.” Nothing like bluntness to get across a message you didn’t know how to bring up.

“Ah.” Ashley was clearly taken aback, but recovered with aplomb. “That’s cool. I’ll go out to dinner.”

“No, no, Ash, that’s not what I meant,” Spencer said quickly. “No, I want you to stay, I just didn’t want to blindside you with his presence.”

“Oh. Um. Okay. I don’t have to stay, you know.”

“I’d like you to. Please. This is your home while you stay with me and there is nothing I want you to leave for. Well, maybe if he starts doing some kind of drunken striptease, but then I’m leaving with you,” Spencer tried to lighten the mood. It got a giggle out of Ashley and she relaxed a fraction.

“Is Gray likely to do a drunken striptease?” Ashley bantered. “He seems like a bit of a tight ass.”

Spencer raised an eyebrow and opened her mouth in mock surprise. “Ashley Davies!” Then she burst out laughing. “He is a bit, isn’t he? He has his good points, you know. Sometimes, he’s actually a really nice guy.”

Ashley grinned. “Okay, I believe you. But I still don’t see you looking at him, swooning and saying ‘I must marry him!'”

“That’s because that never happened,” Spencer countered. “I just married him. It happened. I think I thought it was supposed to.”

“Did you love him?” Ashley asked, more serious now.

“I guess. In a way.” Spencer looked a bit distant. “Not in the way I should have. Which really wasn’t fair because I think he used to love me like that.” She sighed. “It’s over now anyway.”

And at that moment she was literally saved by the doorbell.

The appearance of Gray had a subtle effect on both girls. They changed within themselves and on the outside, too. Ashley for her part had promised herself to be better behaved. She couldn’t help feeling major amounts of jealousy whenever Spencer’s ex-husband appeared. No matter how hard she’d tried not to, she subconsciously thought of Elly and Spencer as family. And then Gray appeared and she was reminded that they were his family. It was irrational and, yet, it was how she felt.

Spencer knew she had to make nice with Gray. She suspected that she probably wouldn’t be too sad if he just ran off out of their lives; but, then, he had been a part of her life for so long that she would undoubtedly miss him. It was so complicated with Gray, but so much more complicated with Ashley in the mix. Nonetheless, he was Elly’s and the baby’s father. He needed to be there; Ashley was right about that.

“Gray!” Spencer said warmly while opening the door.

“Spencer,” he grinned. He leaned down, gave her a kiss on the cheek and presented her with a bunch of white roses. “These are for you.”

Spencer smiled and felt her cheeks flush. Then she noticed that he had another bunch of flowers behind him: beautiful wild flowers and three bird of paradise flowers. They were exquisite. She raised an eyebrow as he stepped across the threshold. He spied Ashley standing nervously by the table and smiled gallantly.

“Uh, these are for you,” he said to the brunette, a little awkwardly. “I had no right to say what I said the other night and you had every right to be mad. I would love to get to know you better and, uh, if you accept my apology, I’d really like to start out on a new footing.” He handed her the bouquet and shuffled nervously.

Ashley took the flowers and smelled them. “Thank you.” She stuck her hand out to Spencer’s ex-husband. “Friends?”

Shaking the outstretched hand, he smiled. “Friends.”

Elly and Mr Ruffles, always spectacular in their timing, chose to appear, giving Ashley some reprieve from Gray and vice-versa. Everyone knew it would be uncomfortable, no matter what they did, but Elly was the world’s greatest ice-breaker. She greeted Gray with a cheerful hug and kiss. It wasn’t lost on Spencer that her greeting for Ashley was just a little bit more vigorous or that it was actually lingual on both parts, as they signed to each other. The wince on Gray’s face showed her that he had also noticed.

Spencer busied herself putting food on the table if only to distract herself from the thousands of thoughts that threatened to penetrate her mind like so many angry bees. Having Ashley and Gray here at the same time was a difficult enough experience without having to analyse it in her mind at the same time.

Actually, dinner went rather smoothly. Gray was charming, back to the man that Spencer remembered from the start of their marriage. He didn’t talk about work once and he kept up such a witty banter with Ashley that Spencer was worried he might want to start dating her. At one point, the jokes go so appalling that she felt the need to clear the table and said so. Loudly. They’d just grinned at her. Still, it was nice seeing them get along.

Gray, unasked, spent the post-dinner time playing with Elly. The little girl was delighted at this unexpected pleasure and getting her to then go to bed was a little bit difficult. It took much persuading from Ashley, Spencer, Gray and Mr Ruffles before she consented. Even then, she only agreed on the basis that they all participated in her bed-time story and they all tucked her in. Spencer wondered if anyone else had noticed the sudden emergence of three parents. It couldn’t possibly have been lost on the other two.

Spencer emerged from doing the last of tucking Elly in to find Gray alone in the living room.

“Uh, Ashley said she was ducking out for a while. She’ll be back in an hour,” he said, looking unsure of himself.

“Oh. I wonder where she went,” Spencer mused. She knew full well that Ashley had just bailed. She didn’t blame the girl. “Coffee?”

“Uh, tea if you’ve got it.”

Spencer stared at him. Gray never drank tea. “Tea?”

“Yeah. I don’t wanna be up all night.”

Shrugging, she made them some tea and then sat on the couch. The smalltalk held them for some time before an uncomfortable silence took hold. Gray was the one to break it.

“Spencer, I’m sorry,” he began.

She remained silent. In her mind, he had a few things to be sorry for. Honestly, so did she, but who cuts in when someone else apologises?

“I… I’ve been an awful father of late and I haven’t been there for you when it counted.” He sighed. “And I know it’s not just since we separated. It’s been longer than that. I know that you probably don’t believe this, and I don’t expect you to until it happens, but it’s going to change. I’ve been working so hard lately, in Phoenix and here, to get this project done. But it’s taking second place. If you need me, I’ll be there, come hell or high water.”

“Gray, it’s okay,” she answered. And, surprisingly, it really was. She was fine with whatever he did. Spencer supposed that she had just got used to not having him around. She didn’t need him any more. “I don’t really need you, but you should be a father to these children.”

“And I will be. I have no commitments from a week before the birth. I couldn’t get out of that last Phoenix run but, once this baby is born, I’ll be around whenever you want me and whenever you need me. But I know… I know this is your life now. I get that. So, I won’t intrude when you don’t want me there.”

“Gray, you’re not an intrusion. We have to work out our lives together and separately. I think we can do that,” she said reasonably.

“I’m glad Ashley has been here for you,” he commented seriously. “I’m so glad someone has been. It doesn’t stop me from being angry at myself because it should have been me. But I care about you, Spencer, and I’m glad you’re not alone. She’s a great person.”

“She really is,” Spencer agreed calmly, while her brain was screaming ‘You have no idea!’ She thought that it was probably not the right time to tell Gray she’d cheated on him with Ashley. That would almost certainly destroy the truce they seemed to have achieved.

“I should get going,” he said, although he actually sounded disappointed by it.

“Okay.” Spencer looked at her watch. It was later than she thought. “I’ll call you. I’ll give you the date of my ante-natal visits and you can see which ones you can come to.”

“I’d love that. And, Spencer?” He waited for her to look at him.

“Yeah?”

“Thanks for not hating me.”

She smiled. “It’s no problem.” And it wasn’t. Spencer was amazed: she didn’t hate Gray. She still cared about him; she could feel that. But she seemed to have reached that strange nirvana where she cared but not enough to let it hurt her. Wow. Progress.

Now they just had to see if Gray would actually keep his side of the bargain. She wasn’t expecting anything. He’d let her down so much. But something told Spencer that he was serious this time and she usually trusted her instincts.

Only time would tell.

* * * * *

Chapter Forty-Two

Over the next two weeks, Spencer was stunned at Gray’s ability to actually keep his word. He was involved, excited and, yet, respectful. He called before he came round, took the answer ‘no’ with cheerful grace and spent time with Elly. He even phoned on the weekend to apologise for being in Phoenix, even though Spencer already knew he had to be there. He’d surprised her so much that she was sure she’d spent the two weeks wandering around with her mouth hanging open, catching flies.

The only problem was that she could tell that it was bothering Ashley, not that the brunette would ever say anything, but Spencer could see her slowly shuffling sideways to make room for Gray. It was upsetting both to Spencer and to Ashley but, even worse, Ashley’s distress was also further upsetting Spencer. So she was one big bundle of surprise and upset. And there wasn’t a lot she could do about it.

Ashley was genuine in her respect for Gray’s part in their lives. Spencer knew that and, in a way, it made the situation worse. They had spent the previous nine months finding comfortable orbits around each other and now there was another planet in the mix. No wonder it was throwing everyone off their paths. Nonetheless, Gray had every right to be there and it wasn’t his fault, exactly. Spencer could hardly tell him to fuck off just because he’d been a little absent previously. He was trying his best to make up for it and, as long as it lasted, Spencer felt honour-bound to give him a chance, even though she had already decided that this would be his last chance. After this, he couldn’t play games with their lives.

But that didn’t solve the issue of what to do about Ashley.

The brunette probably hadn’t noticed that Spencer and Elly preferred her company to Gray’s. She was too self-deprecating and, besides, she’d been shrinking into herself over the last week. Spencer was half-afraid she was going to end up back in the hole she’d so diligently dug herself out of a month or so back.

And so it was that she found Ashley sitting outside in the afternoon air of the autumn. Spencer would have herself a September baby, and Ashley… What would Ashley have? She’d have Spencer: she’d always have that. But how could the blonde convince her? Spencer was fearful that anything she might have to say on the subject would fall on deaf ears. Ashley was clearly not in the mood to listen at the moment. So Spencer kept silent.

She let herself slide down onto the steps next to the brunette, stretching out her legs and leaning back on her hands. Her stomach was huge now, an eight-month projection of a future that was just a little bit scary. The dense air of the evening was approaching fast. It smelt like wood fires and the crisp scent of leaves turning on the trees. The final waves of summer were turning into the delicious apple of autumn and, though the warmth lingered, there was a chill that froze out on the edges of sensation.

“Do you want to talk about it?” Spencer asked quietly.

“Talk about what?” Ashley replied. She was hugging her knees to her chest and inspecting the small grains of concrete that roughed beneath her.

“Whatever’s upsetting you.”

“I’m not upset.”

“Okay. Liar.” Spencer surprised herself with the bluntness of the response. She hadn’t intended to push Ashley on this one, but the silence she’d been wearing was now wearing thin.

Ashley looked up in surprise. “Wh-at?” she asked brokenly.

“I said liar,” Spencer reiterated, but she softened it with a smile. “Ash, talk to me. I’m not going to stop bugging you until you tell me what’s got you so distant.”

“I’m not distant!” the protest followed.

“Liar.”

“Spence!”

It would be easier, so much easier, if this had happened just after they’d visited Lisa’s grave. Then at least Spencer could have put it down to the incredible, overwhelming sensation of grief that had poured out of Ashley at the time, or the slow but palpable feel of her healing. But Ashley had coped. She’d cried, but she’d let Spencer hold her. She’d talked, roughly and warmly, of things inside and out. She’d even gone so far as to talk of the good times. There had been some difficult days following and Spencer had been there. And the brunette had pulled on through.

So now Spencer had to look at the glaringly obvious point that Ashley had been distant since Gray had reappeared. Well, she’d said it before and she’d say it again, this wasn’t going to be easy.

“Ashley, everything is going to be the same, you know, whatever happens.”

“I know,” the brunette shrugged. “We just keep moving forward.”

“Sounds better than moving backwards. Besides, if I don’t keep moving forward I over-balance. I’m a little middle-heavy at the moment.” That got a chuckle out of the musician.

“Yeah. Still sexy, though.”

Spencer looked brightly at her companion. Playfully nudging her with her shoulder, she replied “Really?”

“Yeah,” said Ashley with a grin. “Definitely.”

They managed five more minutes of companionable silence until Ashley broke. Spencer knew she would. “I don’t want to fuck this up, Spencer.”

“Fuck what up, Ash?” She used the other girl’s name deliberately.

“This. My friendship with you. Being a part of your life.” Ashley took a deep breath. “This is so important to me, you have no idea.”

“I think I do,” Spencer protested. “It’s pretty damn important to me too!” She stood up roughly, brushing the dirt off her hands and her jeans. Now was probably not the time to blurt out what had been worrying her all along. Now was not the right time to go on the attack and now was definitely not the time to declare all of those feelings that had been so deliberately left unsaid. Given all of that, Spencer proceeded to break each and every rule. “God, Ashley, do you think I’m playing around? Is this some kind of game for you? It doesn’t go all your way, there’s a slight bump in the road, and so you run away. Is this all about you proving to yourself you don’t have to fuck up every close relationship you have?”

“No! No, this is not what this is about. I’m just trying to figure out how to do this without anyone getting hurt!”

“I am not your redemption, Ashley.”

It was said, ducked out in a Freudian slip of Pollock proportions – big, messy and you think you might understand it better if you squint – and it could never be taken back.

“I never asked you to be.” The answer was too quiet, too poised to be anything good. “And I’m not your charity project.”

“I never said you were!” Spencer bit out. She turned, finding Ashley on her feet. Those dark eyes were intense, flashing with anger, sadness and a deep, deep sentiment that Spencer couldn’t name.

“So, what does this mean to you, then? Ever since I told you about Lisa, you’ve been walking on eggshells, Spencer. I don’t even know what you want from me, or what it is I am to you!”

“You’re everything, Ashley! Every fucking good thing I’ve ever wanted. I’m so in love with you, I can barely breathe.”

Oh hell. Oh hell, oh hell, oh hell. In a handbasket, with ribbons, sliding straight down the rocky path to the fiery lava pits that would consume their souls any second.

“I love you, too.” Ashley sat down, staring at her fingers as she flexed them, like she couldn’t quite believe they were real.

Spencer sat next to her, wearily leaning her head on the brunette’s shoulder and closing her eyes tightly against the hot, angry tears that were threatening to spill. “I hate this” she whispered.

“Loving me?”

“No. I hate that it changes nothing,” Spencer said bitterly.

“How can you say that?” Ashley lifted the blonde’s head up a fraction and wiped away the stray escapee tear from her cheek. “It changes everything.”

“It doesn’t change us,” Spencer whispered. “I can’t… I can’t be anything more than we are now. It’s too hard.”

Ashley pulled away. She didn’t look angry, a little sad perhaps, but not angry. Leaning forward on her elbows, the sharp edges jutting out into her knees, she nodded. She understood. “Your family.”

“My life,” Spencer spat with some disgust. “I’m due to give birth in three weeks to the baby of a man my lawyer is currently writing divorce papers to. He’s suddenly decided to become a decent father and start keeping his promises. And I have a four-year-old daughter who’s probably going to start having major problems with the green-eyed monster any minute now.”

“And I’m just another complication. I get it. Now would probably be a bad time to come out and tell everyone about this whole other life you want to have.”

Spencer put a hand on Ashley’s arm. “You don’t get it.” She looked her in the eyes, her blue irises boring deep into chocolate brown warmth. “I don’t care what anyone else thinks. I don’t give a damn what my parents think, or what Gray thinks, or what the world thinks. If they don’t like it, they can all take a flying jump. What I care about is you.” She took a deep breath. “I have never in my life given myself to someone completely. Never. And I could do nothing less for you. With you. And I don’t have anything to give right now.”

“You have you, Spencer. That’s all I want.”

“I don’t! I don’t have me! Everyone else has me. Right now, I can barely make my life function as it is. Ashley, I want more than anything to be with you. But I can’t give you half of me. Or some of me. It has to be everything or I can’t do it. And right now, I can’t give you that.”

“I understand.” Ashley leaned her head on Spencer’s blonde tresses, drinking in the sweet raspberry smell of her conditioner and letting her hand come to rest on the slender knee next to her. “If it happens, it happens. When it should. When it can. I won’t wait for it. I can’t wait for it because, if I do that, then all you are is my redemption. I can’t do that to you.”

“I understand.”

And everything and nothing changed.

* * * * *

Chapter Forty-Three

Spencer lay on the couch, her feet up on a pillow and her ankles looking just a bit swollen. She felt huge. She was pretty sure she was huge. And tired. And hot. A hand came out of nowhere and gently wiped her brow with a cool facecloth.

She smiled. “You’re way too good to me.”

“You looked warm,” Ash grinned, leaning on the back of the couch. “You okay?”

“Yup. Just about the size of a beached whale and unable to lie on anything but my back. Makes sleeping a bit difficult.” Spencer yawned, illustrating her sentence nicely.

“Aww. You should nap.”

“I’m trying, but it’s damned uncomfortable. Ugh.” She rolled slightly to one side but that didn’t help. Wincing, she put a hand on her swollen abdomen. Ashley was kneeling in front of her in a flash.

“What is it? Are you in labour? Do we need to go?” The brunette looked so troubled Spencer couldn’t help but let out a chuckle.

“Ash, calm down. It’s fine.”

“You’re not in labour?”

“No,” she grinned. “Braxton Hicks.”

“Bra-whooey?” Ashley looked thoroughly confused.

“Braxton-Hicks. They’re false contractions,” Spencer explained with a smile.

“But, but, how can you tell them from the real contractions?”

“I don’t know. You just can,” Spencer said. “They feel different. I promise, when the time comes, I’ll tell you. A whole week, remember?”

“I remember,” Ash smiled, seating herself on the floor next to Spencer and wiping the blonde’s brow carefully. “I also remember your doctor saying that you could be early.”

“Or late,” Spencer pointed out.

“Or late,” Ashley agreed. “Or, right on time. Speaking of time, when is Elly due back?”

“Gray was dropping her off around five, so not too long. He has to fly out to Phoenix tonight. Prepare for her to be extra clingy.”

Ashley raised an eyebrow. “She’ll miss him?”

“No. Well, maybe. I don’t know. They’ve spent a lot more time with each other lately but I get the feeling that she can take it or leave it. She never talks to me about Gray.” And that saddened Spencer. The blonde felt fingers squeeze her own in understanding. “But more that she’s been to his parents’ house and she hates it there.”

“Oh?” A look of surprise crossed the brunette’s face.

“They’re all kinds of pristine and perfect. It’s not exactly fun for a four-year-old. She’s not allowed to touch anything and they don’t have any games. She ends up sitting on the couch with Mr Ruffles. Plus, Gray’s parents don’t sign. Normally, I would go with them, but it’s not really appropriate today. If I wasn’t waddling, perhaps.”

“Oh, poor Elly!” Ashley exclaimed. “I wish I’d gone with her.”

“Oh, now, explaining that could have been amusingly awkward,” Spencer grinned.

The doorbell rang and Ashley got up to answer it. It would have taken the blonde a few hours to get up anyway. Gray came in with a giggling Elly and Mr Ruffles in his arms.

“Fluffin’ here is all ready. I hope you realise that Mom fed her more red Kool-Aid than I thought she could ever consume.” Gray smiled and put Elly down. She ran off, trailing Mr Ruffles in one hand, and disappeared into her room.

“Well, I’d tell you off but that would involve effort,” Spencer called out cheerfully from the couch.

Gray moved so that he was sitting down next to her knees and put a hand gently on her stomach. Spencer flinched slightly, an unconscious move. It was the first time that Gray had really touched her in eight months, since they’d parted. He withdrew his hand.

“Sorry.”

“It’s okay.” Spencer stretched a little. “He’s not kicking today. Or, she isn’t. Ugh, this pronoun thing is getting old.”

“One more week,” he chuckled.

Spencer looked up but Ashley had disappeared. The three of them had sort of found their way into an easy settling, but it still wasn’t comfortable for the brunette when Gray was around.

“You’re going to be okay, right?” Gray was staring towards the corridor where Ashley had disappeared. There were murmurings coming from Elly’s room and both parents instantly knew that was where the brunette had gone. “I’m glad Ashley’s here to look after you, or I’d worry.”

It was nice of Gray to be so obvious about it. Spencer knew he was just trying to do the right thing; either that, or he’d guessed a lot more than she’d given him credit for.

“She’s a champion. I’m fine, Gray. Go. Call me when you get back.”

“I will, I promise. I’m sorry, Spence. If I could get out of this one, I would.” He looked sad.

Spencer managed to get herself up on her elbows and reached out her hand to touch his cheek gently. “I know, Gray. You’ve been great the last few weeks. It’ll be fine. Go and we’ll see you on Monday, okay?”

He nodded. He also looked like he wanted to say something but whatever it was, he kept it inside. “I’ll see you Monday.” He rubbed a hand gently over one of hers and then left.

Spencer smiled when she heard Ashley’s footsteps emerge from the hallway. She knew that it wouldn’t be long after the door shut before the brunette came back out. She was a little surprised when Elly’s face suddenly appeared upside-down over the end of the couch, about three inches above her mother. After a slightly startled movement, Spencer grinned, and then pulled the little girl’s head down for a kiss.

“Hey, pumpkin,” she signed. “Whatcha up to?”

“Nothing,” Elly signed back. “Ashley was gonna play dolls with me but she said we should make sure you were okay first.”

“Well, I’m peachy so you go right ahead,” Spencer signed, voicing the words so that Ashley could hear them.

Spencer let them play and then she let Ashley fuss around her for the rest of the evening. She didn’t have the energy to complain and she enjoyed it. The tightenings in her stomach were becoming a little disarming. They weren’t quite what she was used to, but they felt much like the false ones she’d had all the way through.

It was nine when Ashley shook her awake. She’d fallen asleep on the couch sometime after dinner and the brunette hadn’t wanted to wake her.

“Spence, hon, you should probably go to bed,” Ashley said, gently shaking the pregnant girl’s shoulder.

“Mmm. In a sec. Gotta put Elly to bed,” was the mumbled reply.

Ashley chuckled softly. “It’s nine, hon. I put Elly to bed an hour ago.”

Spencer opened her eyes sleepily. “Really?”

“Yup.” Ashley gently brushed a lock of hair back off Spencer’s forehead. “All tucked up and fast asleep, just like you should be.”

Spencer smiled and then groaned. Ashley helped her up off the couch. She clutched her abdomen as she stood, and Ashley caught her by the elbow.

“It’s okay,” she said, trying to sound reassuring.

“Spencer, do you think maybe we should go to the hospital? Just in case?”

“No, no, I’m fine.” She swatted Ashley away. “Honest. I’m just tired and I need bed.” Putting her hand in the aching small of her back, she made her way to the bedroom. The curly-haired girl she loved followed her, looking worried. Spencer lay down on the bed, feeling the tightenings grow. It was okay for the moment.

She let Ashley help her out of her clothes, feeling pathetic, and slid between the sheets. Ashley moved towards the door.

“Ash?”

“Yeah?” She stopped moving.

“Can you stay with me tonight?” Spencer felt pathetic again, but she didn’t want to be alone.

“Of course. I’ll be right back.”

Spencer nodded. When the brunette reappeared she was wearing boxers and a white wife beater. Despite her aching body and ridiculously over-sized abdomen, Spencer still felt some stirrings deep inside. Damn, this girl was sexy. She shivered slightly when Ashley slid in the other side of the bed, bringing her arms around Spencer and spooning her gently.

“You okay?” the brunette asked.

“Super,” Spencer whispered.

There was some drifting off, a kind of half-sleep. She didn’t feel quite right and, by about midnight, she was pretty sure that she knew why. Nudging Ashley, she heard the brunette give a small mumble and roll over. Spencer smiled and winced again. She waited a few seconds and then got up, taking her time to haul herself out of bed.

She moved towards the kitchen and grabbed a glass of water. She was tired, but she couldn’t sleep. Slumping on the couch, she stared at the ceiling for an hour. She groaned as another twinge moved through her and then decided that she probably should do something about all of this.

Picking up the phone, she called her parents’ number. After a number of rings, the answer finally came.

“Hello?” croaked Arthur.

“Hey, Dad, sorry to wake you.”

“Spencer, hey, it’s fine. Is everything okay?”

“Uh, I think I might get Ashley to drive Elly over, if that’s okay.”

“Spencer, what’s wrong?”

Spencer smiled. “Uh, nothing’s wrong, Dad. But I think you might be a grandfather all over again, a week sooner than you thought.”

“Oh my God.”

Spencer couldn’t have put it better herself. She laughed later when she woke Ash up and told her the same thing, because there was the exact same response, only with some added Ashley pithiness.

“Oh my fucking God.”

* * * * *

Chapter Forty-Four

They were about to leave the house – Ashley with eyes that were frantic and hands that were not quite steady – when Arthur appeared at the front door.

“I thought it would be easier if I just came over,” he smiled. “That way, Elly doesn’t have to get out of bed.”

The little girl was looking sleepy in Ashley’s arms and Mr Ruffles didn’t exactly look too happy about being woken up, either. The brunette holding them grinned.

“A little late, but nothing that can’t be rectified immediately.”

She and Arthur both turned and started when Spencer gave a little gasp and put a hand on her abdomen. The blonde saw their moves and shooed them away.

“It’s nothing. Put Elly back to bed.” Ashley complied, while Arthur tried to help his daughter to a chair. She refused. “I feel better standing up. No, really, Dad. It’s fine.”

Ashley popped Elly back into bed and came out, shifting from one foot to the other and looking panicked as all hell.

“Uh, uh, we should go,” the brunette said hurriedly. Spencer smiled weakly.

“Yeah, we probably should,” she replied.

“Call me when things get moving,” Arthur grinned. He gave his only daughter a huge hug and a kiss. “Your mom said she’d meet you there later, okay?”

“Thanks, Dad,” Spencer said, and let Ashley help her out to the car. The brunette moved towards her own convertible, but Spencer stopped her. “We’d better take my car.”

“Huh? Why?” Ashley looked confused.

“My waters haven’t broken yet but I can’t promise you they won’t sometime soon. Trust me when I say you don’t want that all over your car seat. I don’t think even detailing will get that out.”

Ashley’s eyes bugged out at the thought. Not that she cared about her car seats, but the idea of Spencer’s waters breaking was something she hadn’t considered.

“Oh my God, what if that happens? Will we get there on time?” The brunette moved Spencer towards the SUV with more speed. Spencer couldn’t help but giggle.

“Ashley, don’t worry so much. I think we have a few hours before any baby is coming out of here. Let’s just drive to the hospital at a nice, safe, even pace.”

Ashley nodded, but Spencer couldn’t help keep smiling at the very, very worried look on the other girl’s face. She wondered how she was going to cope with the whole birth process. Oh, well, at the very least this was going to be one hell of an experience for the brunette. Spencer winced as another contraction began. The last thing her brain did before she concentrated on the pain was to throw up the thought that it would be an interesting experience for both of them.

Ashley drove as carefully as she could, while at the same time trying to get there as quickly as possible. She constantly glanced down at the blonde next to her. Spencer thought it was touching and mildly hilarious. Her contractions were still a good way apart. In a few hours, she might feel a little bit different but, right now, things were very bearable.

They made it to the hospital with ease and Spencer manoeuvred herself out of the car. It wasn’t a small feat. Ashley placed a tender hand under the blonde’s elbow and tried to guide her to the front door of the maternity unit. Spencer glanced down at the hand and burst out laughing.

“What?” Ashley asked defensively.

“Nothing. You’re sweet.” Spencer leaned over and kissed the other girl on the cheek. “But I’m not eighty and I’m not about to fall and break my hip, so you can hold my elbow a little less tightly.”

Ashley’s face burned with a new blush and Spencer just found it all the more adorable. Sliding her arm back, she laced her fingers with Ashley’s and squeezed. Not letting go, she walked into the hospital leading the brunette behind her.

The friendly woman at the reception desk smiled at Spencer and, after taking the relevant details, directed them to have a seat. If she took note of their linked hands, she said nothing, and moved off to call someone or do something. Spencer leaned her head back against the wall and tried to get more comfortable in the hospital chair. She should have known it would be futile, being that it was a chair owned by the hospital after all. Besides, her lower back was aching. Ashley’s hand was still tightly attached to her own, but the brunette was clearly wired. Her knee was bouncing up and down so hard that Spencer had the strange thought that if Ashley had had a nail under her heel, she probably could have hammered it through the floor in a few seconds. Strange thoughts, indeed.

After ten minutes, Spencer put her hand on Ashley’s knee gently. Ashley stopped bouncing and looked at the blonde guiltily.

“Sorry, I guess I’m just nervous. You’ve at least done this before.”

Spencer smiled. “Yeah, and I’m the one that’s doing it again.”

Ashley coloured again and Spencer considered the fact that the brunette really was adorable when she blushed. She made a mental note to make Ashley blush more often.

“How are you keeping so calm?” Ashley asked with interest.

“Well, there doesn’t seem to be a point in being too frantic about it. And in a few hours I’ll be in too much pain to be frantic. I guess I’m excited, though,” Spencer admitted with a small smile.

“Hey, tomorrow, you’ll have a newborn baby.”

“Yeah.” Spencer stopped for a second. “Oh my God.”

Ashley watched as Spencer’s face drew a little tighter and then suddenly the blonde’s knee started bouncing up and down in a perfect rhythm she could only have stolen off her friend.

Ashley laughed. “Hey, hey. Calm, remember?”

“This is your fault!” Spencer wailed. “Now I’m worried!”

Ashley unlaced her hand from Spencer’s and gently placed her arm around the pregnant woman’s shoulders.

“I’m here and I’m not going anywhere. And you know you’re excited. It’s all going perfectly so why be worried? Just be happy.”

Spencer looked into those intense, meaning-filled eyes and felt her soul melt a little. “Thank you.”

“What for?” Ashley’s forehead wrinkled and Spencer smoothed it out with a thumb.

“For sharing this with me. I wouldn’t have anyone else here.” She grinned. Then her eyes went wide and her mouth made an O. She clapped her hand over it. “Gray!”

“Oh, crap!” Ashley’s eyes widened in understanding. “I’ll call him.”

“Would you? I don’t want to go outside. It’s hard enough to get out of a chair as it is. I don’t think you’re supposed to use cells in a hospital.” Spencer looked pleadingly at her friend. Ashley and Gray were getting along quite well, but it was probably still a mean thing to ask.

“Sure. I’ll be right back.” Ashley took her arm from Spencer’s shoulders and squeezed the blonde’s hand. Noting down Gray’s number, she made her way outside.

Spencer leaned her head back against the wall and waited. She was getting a little nervous now. Butterflies were making their way into her stomach, although that might have been the labour. Or excitement. Or just the feeling of staring into Ashley’s eyes. No, it was probably the fact that she was in labour. And, with that thought, another contraction started to ripple its way out.

By the time it was over, Ashley had returned.

“That was quick,” Spencer commented.

“His phone’s turned off,” Ashley grimaced. “I’ll keep trying him.”

“Yeah,” Spencer sighed. “He’s in Phoenix anyway. I told him I could be early but he had to go.”

“He’ll be upset. He was so keen on being here.” Ashley sat back down and leaned forward on her elbows.

“I know. But I can’t really control when I go into labour.”

“Mrs Carlin?” Both girls heads flew up at the name being called from a door further down the corridor. A middle-aged woman in a nurse’s uniform was standing in an open door and looking towards them.

“Yes.” Spencer put her hand on the chair arm and then let Ashley help her to her feet.

“Come this way,” the woman smiled, and Spencer warmed to her a little. Following the nurse, they found their way into a private room. There was a large central bed, a double, and the room was painted a dusky pink. It didn’t look much like a hospital room, apart from the connections on the wall over the bed. And the smell. There was nothing you could do to a hospital room to make it smell like something else.

“Nice,” Ashley commented.

“I’ll let you two settle in. Your midwife will be here in a minute or two. The bell is on the cord if you need anything.” Pointing to a strange remote-control-looking thing attached the wall, the woman smiled again and left.

Spencer made her way to the bed and sat on the edge gingerly.

“This doesn’t look like a hospital room,” Ashley commented.

“Smells like one,” Spencer countered and the brunette grinned.

“Never mind. Hey, what’s on that remote thing?”

They both had a look. There was a fairly obvious symbol for the lights and they tried that out. Another one was clearly the nurse, and they left it well alone. Another two were just arrows. Spencer pushed one and the head of the bed went up. Ashley’s eyes flashed.

The bed kept them occupied for at least five minutes and their giggles were only cut off when Spencer had another contraction. Ashley rubbed the small of her friend’s back until the pain had subsided.

“They’re getting closer together,” she noted.

“And longer,” Spencer agreed. “But we’re a ways off yet.”

“Really?”

“Yup. Although second babies are quicker.” She swung her legs slowly onto the bed and lay back. Ashley used the remote to get the bed into a good position and then made sure Spencer was settled.

The midwife made her appearance before long. She was quite young, blonde and introduced herself as Peta. She looked pretty friendly and she was very gracious about Ashley being there. When she mistook them for a couple, neither girl corrected her. Ashley watched with curiosity as small discs were placed on Spencer’s abdomen, and a machine began to beep. It spewed out a small piece of paper with a craggy waveform on it. She raised an eyebrow.

“What the hell is that?”

Spencer laughed. “It’s a CTG.”

“Uh-huh,” Ashley nodded. “And what the heck is that?”

Peta grinned too. “It’s basically a measure of how Spencer and Bub are doing. We don’t have to leave it on the whole time, but it’s a good idea to watch it every now and then. Look, Spencer’s about to have a contraction.” She pointed to the slightly peaking waves and then they both looked at Spencer, who obliged them by having a contraction.

“Hey, cool, it’s a Spencer predictor!” Ashley exclaimed. Spencer elbowed her in the side and she let out an ‘oof’.

Ashley hadn’t realised that it really would take hours. She stopped jumping up every time Spencer had a contraction, which was a good thing given that they were getting more frequent and longer. She had to ask what the midwife meant when she said four, five and six until the other woman clarified that it meant centimetres. Then Ashley had to get clarification on that and looked so surprised when told it that she sat down again. That had made Spencer laugh, albeit briefly.

It was early morning when Dr Clark finally stuck her head around the door of the room and smiled.

“Hey, Spencer. Hi, Ashley.”

The dark-haired doctor made her way over and sat on the bed side next to Spencer. Ashley was curled up on the other side holding Spencer’s hand and had been stroking the blonde’s damp forehead gently.

Spencer smiled at her obstetrician and then grimaced. Dr Clark picked up Spencer’s other hand and, with Ashley, saw her through the next contraction. When it was over, the doctor pushed her glasses up her nose and wrinkled it at Spencer.

“I’d better see where we’re up to, okay?”

Spencer nodded and then took in another deep breath as a contraction hit. She gripped Ashley’s hand like a vice and the other girl bit her lip. Dr Clark watched the exchange as she stood up. “You okay there?” she asked the brunette teasingly. “Looks like not a lot of blood is getting into that hand!”

Ashley grinned. “I don’t mind.”

Spencer groaned. “If you two don’t mind, I’m trying to have a baby here. Less joking please!” The end of her sentence was cut off with a gasp as the pain overtook her again. She levered herself up on her elbows and tilted her head backwards groaning.

“Eight centimetres, Spencer, nearly there.” Spencer gave her a withering look and the doctor chuckled. “Do you want anything for the pain?” Spencer shook her head and bit her lip. “Okay, well, I’ll be back in half an hour or so. Peta will grab me if you need me. You’re doing a great job.” She directed the last comment to Ashley and then made herself scarce.

Spencer’s contractions were closer and closer; in fact, there wasn’t really any time between them. Ashley alternated between rubbing her back and just trying to be soothing. She’d given up on saying anything since Spencer had a tendency to bite her head off when she did. She wasn’t sure if she was grateful or not when Paula showed up. Spencer’s mother gave Ashley a smile and offered to take over. Ashley didn’t want to leave Spencer’s side but it was hard to say no to someone’s mother.

“I… want… her… here,” Spencer bit out between pants.

Paula began to protest. “Now, Spencer, let your friend go, honey. I’m here now.”

“I…. want… Ashley,” Spencer groaned. “I’m okay…. Mom.”

In a way, Ashley felt sorry for the woman. It must be hard to be not involved in your own daughter’s labour, but Spencer had made her feelings clear. They were the only coherent sentences that the blonde had uttered in a long time and therefore they were probably fairly important to her.

“Uh, Paula, would you mind trying Gray again for her?” Ashley ventured timidly. “I’ve left a few messages on his cell but I haven’t gotten through to him yet.”

Spencer nodded rapidly in agreement and then bit her lip. Paula silently took Spencer’s phone and left the room. As Spencer’s contraction subsided, she released her death grip on Ashley’s hand and smiled weakly.

“I feel bad, but I want you here,” she said.

“It’s okay. As much as I both like and am terrified of your mother, I’m not going anywhere,” Ashley grinned.

“Thank you for being here,” Spencer whispered. “And if you feel the need to faint when it starts getting messy, please sit down.”

“I’m not going to faint!” Ashley scoffed.

“Ash, I saw your face when my waters broke.” The recollection of the pale, white appearance that had crept across the brunette’s tanned face came to both girls.

“I won’t faint!” Ashley reiterated sternly.

“Good,” Spencer said, and then gripped her friend’s hand as another contraction took over.

And so it continued, right up to the point where Dr Clark announced, “Ten Centimetres! Ready for the fun part, Spencer?”

The fun part?

Spencer appreciated that Ashley clearly did her best not to faint during the ‘fun’ part. She didn’t appreciate it at the time because she was a little pre-occupied but later on she would muse over it. Mostly, the brunette just concentrated on holding Spencer’s hand, not that she had much choice, and trying to ride it out with her. She might have gone a little pale when the words ‘push’ were uttered, but that was possibly because her hand bones were being crushed at the time.

“Here we go, Spencer. There’s the head…”

Ashley stared at Dr Clarke in pure amazement and, sure enough, around twenty seconds later, she heard a plaintive cry. And she burst out crying. The rest of the baby followed quite quickly, as they had a tendency to be attached to the head.

Spencer collapsed back and listened to her newborn give its first cries. She could see tears rolling down her friend’s face and gently squeezed the hand that she had a hold of. She could see the cord being clamped and then a tiny, beautiful baby boy was placed in her arms.

Tears rolling down her face, she cradled her son gently, watching his face calm from his crying, and whispered, “Hey there.”

* * * * *

Chapter Forty-Five

Spencer cradled her son gently in her arms and watched as he slowly stopped his feeding, burped a little and then settled into an easy sleep. She couldn’t get enough of looking at him. She’d slept a little since he was born but, if she was being honest, she felt like she had better things to do and she was still flooded with adrenaline.

They’d moved her into a single room with a bassinet for her little boy. Her little boy. She really had to name him soon, because referring to him as ‘him’ was getting ridiculous. Oh, it was only late afternoon anyway. The little tyke would have a name soon enough.

Spencer let her attention drift away from her son and to the chair next to the bed. Ashley was curled up in it with Elly on her lap. They appeared to be playing a game with Mr Ruffles that involved him attempting to steal Elly’s nose.

There was still a lot of trepidation in Spencer about Elly’s response to her new baby brother. She’d been very gentle and she’d touched his little head with some awe, but Spencer could sense her daughter’s unease. And, now, staring at her playing with Ashley, she felt her heart give the same little jerk that it gave when she looked down at her little boy. Elly was clearly going to have some jealousy issues, but the important thing was that Spencer loved her just as much as ever and would go out of her way to make that clear. Starting now.

“Swap you,” she said softly to the brunette in the arm chair.

“Huh?” Ashley’s head shot up at Spencer’s words.

“I’ll swap you. I’ll take Elly and you can have Bub for a while.”

Ashley’s eyes opened wide and Spencer smiled. Up till that point, the brunette had held the baby for an entire minute and had looked panicked beyond belief the whole time, like she was about to drop him. Spencer had curbed her urge to ask if Ashley had ever held a baby before. She rather suspected the answer would be no. But there was no time like the present. Anyway, she wanted Elly hugs.

Shifting slightly, she passed the baby to Ashley who cradled him reverentially. Spencer meanwhile opened her arms to Elly who jumped into them. Lying back on her bed with her little girl in her arms, she watched Ashley watch her little boy.

“He needs a name,” the brunette murmured gently.

“He really does.” Spencer stretched and tickled Elly in the sides, getting a giggle and a squirm in response. She wrapped her arms around the little blonde thing in her arms and kissed her soundly on the top of her head. She felt Elly relax back into the hug and smiled. Spencer stretched her hands out and signed so Elly could see them. “What shall we call him?”

That brought silence to the room. As the three girls sat pondering the possibilities of a name and the nameless son lay sleeping in Ashley’s arms, a tall, sandy-haired man appeared at the door. It took a few minutes before Spencer looked up and grinned.

“Hey.”

“Hey,” Gray said with a smile. “I’m sorry. This was the honest-to-God first flight I could get back from Phoenix.”

“That’s okay,” Spencer smiled. “Want to meet your son?”

Ashley rose from the armchair and gently placed the sleeping baby in Gray’s arms. She sat on the bed with Spencer and Elly and the three girls watched as Gray, tears streaming down his face openly, cradled the little boy in his arms.

They all ended up settled on the bed, Gray still holding his son reverentially, and Spencer still cuddling Elly. It was the strangest feeling Spencer had ever had. It was like her family was finally together. All of them. And that included Ashley. She was going to have to work this out because if she left it too long, things were going to get even more complicated than they’d ever been. Looking at Gray with his baby boy, however, made her realise how carefully she was going to have to play the whole thing.

“Do we have a name yet?” Gray asked softly, as his as-yet-unnamed son bubbled softly in his sleep.

“We were just thinking about it,” Spencer confessed.

“Elly just signed something but I didn’t catch it,” Ashley interrupted.

Spencer watched Elly again. “She said ‘Alex’. I think it’s from a cartoon she likes,” Spencer laughed. “But personally, I like it.”

“Me, too,” said Gray. To Ashley’s surprise, he looked at her and asked, “What do you think Ashley? Alex?”

“It’s a good strong name. And he can always be Alexander the Great,” she joked.

“Alexander Arthur,” Gray murmured and then looked at Spencer. “I guess he has a name.”

A small tear escaped the corner of Spencer’s eye and she smiled, a wobbly, oh-hell-I’m-about-to-cry smile. “I guess he does.”

* * *

Spencer refused to stay in the hospital for long. She wanted to get home. More to the point, she wanted to be home with Elly, Ashley and Alex. There was still significant worry over Elly who was unusually clingy and not looking that happy with her baby brother. Spencer had hoped that naming him might ease the jealousy a little but that hope was a little premature. Deep inside, she knew that Elly was just going to have to adjust to her brother being around. For Elly, life had always revolved around Spencer. It had pretty much been the two of them. Even Ashley hadn’t really impacted on their relationship; she’d just fitted neatly in. Alex, on the other hand, was a huge new thing that was going to take Mommy away. Spencer could see her daughter getting ready for a fight.

Being at home didn’t make things easier. In fact, her daughter was becoming belligerent and rude, and was starting do downright disobey Spencer, three things she’d never done before. She was completely ignoring Gray and Spencer could tell that he had no idea what to do about it. The only person she was responding to was Ashley. Half of Spencer was eternally grateful for the fact her daughter was responding to someone, and the other half was aching inside. She knew that they just had to adjust, but when Elly had signed that she hated Spencer for the first time ever, Spencer had broken.

And now she was standing in the kitchen with tears streaming down her face. Ashley was putting Elly in her room. Alex was thankfully asleep. Two weeks old and he already had an easy rhythm going. Like Elly, he was a wonderful baby. That thought made Spencer cry all the more. She felt Ashley’s arms slip around her waist, pulling her into an embrace and stroking her hair gently. She hadn’t even heard the brunette enter the room.

“Shhh, it’s okay. You know she didn’t mean it. You’re her world, Spence. You know that.” Ashley crooned.

“I kn-ow,” Spencer hiccoughed. “I just never thought I’d he-ar her say that.”

The brunette chuckled. “You wait till she’s a teenager, you’ll never hear anything else.”

Spencer pulled back a little.. “Wa-s that sup-posed to ma-ke… make me feel better?” she asked with a smile.

“Aw, yeah. You know she loves you, babe. She’s just having a hard time sharing you.”

Spencer buried her head in the crook of Ashley’s shoulder and let the soothing continue. “I know that, I do. I just…”

“You’re just all emotional and you only gave birth two weeks ago and this is all so overwhelming?” Ashley filled in the gaps for her.

“Uh-huh,” Spencer nodded. “Also, slightly disturbed by your new-found psychic powers. And my nipples are cracked.”

Ashley laughed. “Okay, I so didn’t need to know that. And I’m not psychic. I can just see how hard this is for you.”

“It’s easier with you here. Thank you so much,” Spencer whispered.

And it was no lie. The brunette had been a champion. She seemed to have endless energy and Spencer was touched by the way that Ashley spent it all on them. Spencer knew she’d never be able to repay her friend. Then again, she knew that if she tried she’d be shot down pretty fast.

And so they carried on. Elly got a little less defiant. She was clearly curious about Alex, and Spencer took pains to include her in as much as possible. So long as Elly was gentle, she was allowed to help. Although she still scowled at her baby brother a lot, Spencer could see a partial thawing. Not that it stopped her throwing three tantrums in a fortnight which was a definite record.

It seemed like it was going to take a miracle to get the girl to calm down. Spencer was moaning about it to Ashley as they took a walk in the park. Finding a bench near the playground, Spencer ushered Elly off to play on the equipment while she fretted to the brunette. Alex lay asleep in his pram, apparently blissfully unaware of his impact on the world. Of course he was currently communicating by either crying or blowing small bubbles so he was a little hard to understand at the best of times.

“What if she hates him forever? What if she hates me forever?” Spencer grimaced.

“Don’t you think you’re being a little melodramatic?” Ashley smiled.

“Okay, maybe, but…”

“Spencer, all kids go through this jealous stage.”

“I didn’t!” the blonde protested.

“Well… neither did I, but that’s because my half-sister turned up when I was sixteen,” Ashley grinned.

“Yeah, well…”

“She’ll get over it Spence. I promise. Just give her time. Elly’s a good kid. It’s like her natural state of being, she’ll end up back there.”

“I hope so,” Spencer sighed. “I’m not sure I can handle her like this, along with the no sleep and the stress and the…”

“Hey, hey!” Ashley drew gentle circles on Spencer’s back soothingly. “Stop stressing. You’re doing a great job. And you have a lot to enjoy at the moment.”

“Yeah,” Spencer grinned, “I guess I do.”

They watched the kids play, Spencer’s inner monologue warming her with thoughts about just how much she had to be grateful for right now. She had Alex and Ashley and even Gray was becoming more of a friend than she’d ever hoped he’d be. And she would always have Elly, her first baby. Her only baby girl. She grinned. Looking up to catch a glimpse of her little girl, she found the familiar red coat and then shot to her feet.

“Oh my God!”

“Spence, what is it? Oh my God!”

Spencer ran over to the playground leaving Ashley with Alex. Grabbing Elly by the arm, she pulled her away from the boy she was standing over. If she hadn’t just seen it with her own eyes, she wouldn’t have believed it: Elly had just shoved the boy so hard he’d fallen over backwards. He was now looking up at her with a horrified look on his face and Elly’s own countenance was as irate as hell.

“Elly!” Spencer signed with shocked anger. “What are you doing!”

“He was mean!” Elly signed back.

“That’s no reason to push him over!” Spencer signed back furiously. “You never, ever use violence.”

Elly crossed her arms obstinately. She hadn’t looked at Spencer but kept her eyes glued to her victim, who was still cowering on the pine bark.

“What did he say?” Spencer knew she shouldn’t ask. It shouldn’t matter what the boy said. But she was curious, and it got the better of her. “Did he make fun of you being deaf?” It was the obvious choice. Elly had been teased plenty of times before over it. Mostly kids were curious, but some were just plain mean. Spencer had made sure that Elly understood that it was the other children who had the problem, not her, but she probably couldn’t fault the girl for getting upset from time to time. That didn’t excuse violence however.

She was surprised when Elly shook her head and glared at the boy again.

Gripping her daughter’s chin she brought it around until their gazes met. Then Spencer signed.

“What did you push him over for?” It was her most stern, no-nonsense gaze that she gave her daughter and it worked.

“He said… He…” Elly’s lips made a thin line and a frown appeared on her forehead. “He said Alex looked like a bald monkey!” she exclaimed. For a second, the little blonde girl looked like she was going to kick the boy while he was down, but then thought better of it.

Spencer stared at her, stunned. Shaking her head in disbelief she helped the boy to his feet, apologised to him, took Elly by the hand and walked back to Ashley. Despite herself, she couldn’t help the small smile that crept across her face.

It really was going to be okay after all.

* * * * *

Next up: The End [X]

14 Comments

  1. chaz
    Posted 4 April 2009 at 12.29am | Permalink

    i have just came across this story.. and have spent the last 3hours reading it..lol. and ive completely fell in love with it.. amazing.
    & elly just sounds like the cutest kid ever…xx

  2. ddDANGER
    Posted 5 May 2009 at 10.17pm | Permalink

    Hey clom :)
    I’m a new reader, I’ve just spent the last few days reading all of this on my blackberry and I think its freaking brilliant!

    I really loved that last part with Elly, it was adorable.

    The story’s great and you’re freaking amazingly talented. Gah – if only I had some!

  3. Posted 8 May 2009 at 7.22am | Permalink

    I’m in a bit of a funk so I’ve been rereading fics. Love this one also!

  4. Vulcan
    Posted 8 May 2009 at 7.36am | Permalink

    God, I love this fic. I’ve been slowly rereading it over the last couple of weeks for like the sixth time, lol. It is about time you posted more. =D

  5. ash&spence1987
    Posted 7 August 2009 at 10.01pm | Permalink

    okay i just spent the whole day reading this story and i loved it i hope that you can pms cant wait to read the ending

  6. kathryn
    Posted 11 October 2009 at 6.38pm | Permalink

    i really really love this story,
    will there be more?
    :D

  7. Puff
    Posted 29 November 2009 at 2.53am | Permalink

    I’ve just enjoyed re-reading this story, but would love the last few chapters to be posted. Any ETA on their arrival?Great stuff btw Sez :)

  8. MsBrittz
    Posted 2 June 2010 at 7.09pm | Permalink

    Love love love this fic. Its one of my faves :) when will the rest be posted?

  9. ria507
    Posted 24 July 2010 at 3.20am | Permalink

    Hi, I’ve been reading and enjoying this story for the last week and just realized the last 6 chapters were never posted :( Help! Chapter 46, where are you?

  10. Clom
    Posted 24 July 2010 at 3.29am | Permalink

    I shall remind the devje :) but it is available over at spashley.com if you can’t wait

  11. ria507
    Posted 24 July 2010 at 3.31am | Permalink

    Thank you, Thank you!!! :D

  12. pinkp
    Posted 29 November 2010 at 8.06pm | Permalink

    Wow. Good job I wasn’t working today cos I couldn’t stop reading that story. Loved it! And I love Spashley. And, for the record, I love you Dev and Clom! :-)

  13. dev0347
    Posted 29 November 2010 at 11.20pm | Permalink

    No-one reminded me about Chs 46 to 51!

    *gives Sezje a pointed glare*

    Hopefully, seeing that I’ve left this comment will remind me tomorrow.

  14. Clom
    Posted 30 November 2010 at 9.21am | Permalink

    I’ve been busy making babies come out!!

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