Nine Years Later. . . . . . .

"Mummy! Mummy!" my three-year-old daughter yelled as she came through the front door with the baby-sitter. "We did paintings today and this is mine!"

She shoved a large piece of paper in my face that was covered with a mixture of all the colours in the rainbow. I smiled and then saw how much of paint had gotten on her instead of the paper. I laughed and kissed her cheek, telling her to go upstairs and into the bathroom because she needed a bath badly considering how filthy she was. Megan, the baby-sitter, stood politely by the door waiting for me to pay her so she could leave. I knew how badly she wanted to go because she had told me earlier that her boyfriend was taking her away for the weekend.

"Thanks, Mrs. Mitchell. I'll see you on Monday," she said, gladly taking the money and leaving quickly. "Say good bye to Maddie for me!"

I smiled, nodded and waved before closing the door as soon as she was out of sight. Then I collapsed back into the kitchen chair and drained the last of my coffee from the mug. My other two daughters, Kimberley (9) and Leah (7) would be home within the next hour and I wanted Madison to be asleep before then otherwise we would have a very moody three-year-old to deal with. I hired Cleo (the sitter) three times a week to take Madison to kindy care so that I could have a little time to fix up the mess that she caused and have it all cleaned from top to bottom so that my husband wouldn't get on my case. I put my coffee mug into the sink and then climbed up the stairs to the bathroom where Madison was sitting on the floor surrounded by toys and half undressed. I laughed and helped her undo the buttons on her pants so that she could climb into the shower. I turned it on and waited for it to warm up before putting her in.

"So what did you do today apart from get filthy at kindy?" I asked her as I poured shampoo into my hand so I could wash her hair. "Anything really, really fun?"

"Yes. I played in the Mummy and Daddy corner, watched a video and got to dress up too," she said, shutting her eyes tight.

"Sounds fun. Do you want to go back next week?" I asked, soaping up her hair.

"No. I want to go to see Aunty Bree and Sophie and Mia. Can we go to their house?" she asked, making her eyes big and sooky.

"Oh, I'll think about it and see what Daddy says about going," I said and held her underneath the water to wash out the shampoo.

Once she was clean I turned off the shower and turned on the bath taps instead, deciding to let her have a quick bubble bath before making her have a nap. I gave her a few toys and then poured in a decent amount of bubble bath. Then while she played I brushed and tied up her hair so that it wasn't hanging down her neck. Madison began to sing and I started to tidy up the bathroom while I kept a close eye on her. I never trust Madison to sit alone in the bath because one day Kimberley decided to tell her that she could breathe under water and every time I turned my back she would try it. I gave her fifteen minutes in the bath before making her get out.

"Come on, Maddie. Time to get ready for your nap," I said holding out a big, fluffy, yellow towel for her to climb into.

All her life Madison had been small and still now, being three was only the size of a two year old so she sat perfectly on my hip and still can cuddle in your arms without being too heavy. I dressed her in a pair of pyjamas and then read her a story, before closing the curtains and kissing her on the head. Before long, she was sound asleep and I snuck downstairs just as the phone began to ring. I answered it quickly as I made a list of what to do next.

"He's back, Kaley," Bree's voice whispered in my ear. "I saw him in town the other day and he doesn't look very different at all."

"Who Bree?" I asked, wondering who on earth she could be talking about. "Who's back?"

"Zach," she whispered and my face fell as I nearly dropped the phone.

"What? No. He can't be. He hasn't been around here for nearly ten years," I stuttered, my heart beating quicker as we spoke. "It couldn't have been him."

"It was Kaley. I know it was. I saw him with my own eyes. I'm sorry to be the one to tell you but I thought that you had to know," she said and I knew that her head would be hanging low as she spoke.

"Yeah, of course. Thanks Bree. Maddie wants to come and see you next week. Is that alright?" I asked, trying to take my mind off of the subject that still made me sad.

"No! You can't!" she said quickly and I instantly knew she was hiding something.

"Why? What's wrong with visiting?" I asked and knew what it was as soon as she didn't answer. "He's staying with you isn't he? Bree, answer me. He is. I just know it."

"Alright, yes, he is here but you're not supposed to know. After all he is the twins godfather and is meant to be my friend," she answered. "I'm sorry, Kaley but I can't just shut him out because you did."

"So you're pretty much telling me that he's stayed with you before without you even telling me?" I countered, anger growing within me. "What do you think would happen if I suddenly turned up one day?"

"I told you now, didn't I? I told you now because he's started to not be so worried and has been going to town. Before he used to hide in my house and try not to remember all the good times that you and he had together here," she said and I could hear her voice grow stronger.

"Bree, I did what I did because I had to. He's stayed away because he knew it was right and now he's come back and I'm in the shit hole. What will my husband think? And my children?" I asked, starting to get hysterical.

"Calm down, Kaley. Robbie doesn't know who Zach is and your kids definitely don't. Just chill. It's not like you have to come and see him or anything," she said and I could tell that she was shaking her head. "Only thing is I'm canceling the barbecue that was meant to be this weekend. I don't want it to be awkward for you."

"But Bree. . .my kids desperately wanted to come to that and see you again. It's been too long. Don't cancel, I'll just send Robbie with the kids and pretend to be sick," I said as my thoughts whirled around in my head. "No, I can't do that. What if he sees Kimberley? Oh Bree, what do I do?"

"Nothing. No one knows about that but us. Robbie doesn't even suspect anything. Well I better go, the girls will be home soon and I still have to set up the guest room. If you want to come tomorrow, come. If not then I'll talk to you soon. Bye."

I said a quick bye and hung up the phone. He's back in town just when I don't need him to be. Just when I'm actually having a bit of trouble in my marriage with Robbie, Zach turns up and sets all of those old feelings a flutter again. My heart was pounding and my breath was coming in short gasps as the front door nearly swung off it's hinges as my other daughters came flying in. Kimberley came rushing towards me and flung her arms around my waist in a tight hug. I hugged her back, smiling and then kissed her hair before doing the same to Leah.

"Why are you so happy today, Kimi?" I asked as I organized them a little afternoon snack before they went off to do homework.

"No reason," she replied but the smile on her face told me otherwise along with Leah's giggle I knew something was up.

"Tell me. I promise that I won't say anything to anyone else," I said and gave them their sandwiches.

"There's nothing to tell Mum. Promise," she said and bit into her sandwich before I could ask her anything else.

Leah was bursting to say and I knew that if I asked her she would but I didn't want to cause any fights between the girls because it meant world war three would happen in my house. I shook my head and glanced up. There on the fridge was a list of the all the girls' chores and I noticed that not even one item on it had been ticked off and they had had a week to complete it. Both girls noticed where my eyes were and tried to eat their sandwiches in a hurry to get away from me before I could give them more jobs to do. I smiled and turned away like I didn't even notice. I flicked on the jug so I could have a coffee and then slowly turned back to them.

"If that list isn't finished by the end of tonight then we aren't going to see Aunty Bree on the weekend," I stated and then began to make my coffee without another word on the subject.


Guess what. . . the jobs were finished so now I'm sitting outside on Bree's deluxe patio watching my children run around and around her yard. The twins are now ten and have grown so much like their mother but they still have little bits and pieces so that you can tell that Cal has been part of bringing them up. They get along with nearly everyone and I'm not surprised. Bree has been like that for as long as I can remember. Robbie hung out with all the guys around the barbecue while I lounged around with Bree and a couple other women that had been invited. There had been no sign of Zach and I was glad. Finally after a couple of hours worrying I was beginning to relax and not fret so much.

"Bree! Who is that guy? Is he single, available?" one of the single women asked (I can't remember her name).

My heart jumped into my throat and I was afraid to turn around. My blood ran cold and from the look on Bree's face I didn't need to turn to find out who was standing not far behind us. None of the men had noticed that another had joined the party and luckily Robbie didn't look at me or he would have seen my obvious un-comfort. Just before I was about to turn Madison came running over to me, crying and screaming. Blood was trickling down her leg. My eyes grew wide and everything else was pushed from my mind. I scooped her up in my arms and went into the kitchen passing right past him and not even batting an eyelid. I cleaned up her knee and then held her for a while before going back and joining the party. She had fallen on the concrete path and it had cut her instantly. Secretly and silently I thanked the heavens for the distraction from what could have been. Taking a couple of deep breaths, I went back to where I had been sitting before without even looking around to see where he was. I chewed my bottom lip deep in thought and only snapped out of it when Cal tossed a beer my way. The look in his eye showed me how bad he was feeling for me but I knew I could trust him not to say a word. I uncapped the beer and took a long sip.

"Just like the good old days, huh?" a voice behind me said with a small laugh.

The voice made me feel warm all over like I'd just come out of a freezing cold swimming pool and slipped into the heated spa. But I refused to let it affect me anymore than that. I turned to face my worst fear and I gasped. He was just as perfect as I imagined and remembered. I rolled my eyes and smiled at him quickly.

"Nothing's like the old days anymore," I answered and turned back to the conversation I was having with one of the ladies.

"Really? Nothing?" he asked, stepping towards me and sitting down beside me. "Are you sure?"

"Nothing that I remember," I replied and tried to ignore the fact that he was sitting so close.

"You look really good, Kaley," he mumbled loud enough for only me to hear. "Really, really good."

"Zach. . ." I said, trying to stall while I figured out a way to get out of the situation before I lost it.

"Say it again," he said, not asking but telling.

"Say what?" I asked, confused as I glanced sideways at him.

"My name. No one has ever said it like you do," he mumbled and the look that took over his face made me want to cry.

I stood up quickly and didn't bother to say anything to excuse myself. I rushed inside to the bathroom and splashed cold water on my face. I knew that it was going to be like this but I didn't know that it would be this hard to refuse him. I hadn't believed that after so long I would seriously want to melt into his arms and never let him go again. I shook the thoughts from my head and splashed my face again with freezing cold water. Taking a deep breath, I turned and went to walk out of the bathroom but was confronted with the very guy that I had come in here to get away from.

"Sorry, I didn't know anyone was in here," he said and looked down as he stepped out of the way.

"Doesn't matter. I'm done anyway," I said and went to walk away but he grabbed my arm and pulled me back.

"Kaley, we can't hate each other. At least, I can't hate you. Please," he said and it was almost a plea.

"I don't know," I said and couldn't think of anything else as I stare up into his eyes that I had gotten lost in so many times before in my life.

I don't know how long we stood there but I couldn't tear myself away. He was just too intoxicating. Standing so close to him was too much as it was. The feel of his hand on my arm, skin on skin, felt as if it was burning but not in a bad way. I didn't even blink even though my eyes were starting to water madly. This was the guy that had stolen my heart so many years ago and he still had an affect on me. I couldn't believe that I had let myself get into this situation but my mind was blank, unable to think of anything but him. I stared up at his handsome face as his hair fell across his eyes like it had just the same all those years ago. I found myself licking my lips and slowly letting them open as he leant forward. But suddenly there was footsteps and I jumped back, banging my head on the wall behind me.

"Kaley, there you are. Come on, we have to go."

It was Robbie and he had a sleepy Madison in his arms that wanted her Mummy. Kimberley was cradling her wrist and Leah was covered from top to toe in grass stains and mud. I instantly knew that there had been a fight when I should have been there to prevent it. When Robbie glanced at Zach, he raised his eyes suggestively as I took Madison from him. I glanced over my shoulder and found that Zach's eyes were fixed on me or Robbie. Instead they were fixed on Kimberley, who was staring just as intently back at him. Then he glanced at me and I knew that the look in his eyes was trying to tell me something but Robbie slipped his left arm around my shoulders and kissed me on the cheek. I could tell instantly that he was obviously playing with the wedding ring on his hand while he stood close to me trying to give Zach the message. By the look on his face now, told me that he got the message and he just turned, went into the bathroom and closed the door behind him