Chapter 11

Kate threw her coat and bag down by Mark's full length window, kicked off her shoes and flopped on the sofa.

Mark came back from the kitchen area with a beer for her and slumped beside her.

"I'm surprised you wanted to come here," he said, "You've been avoiding me."

The accusation didn't shock Kate, it was true, "Well what did you expect? All that Nina stuff freaked me out."

"So what's changed?" Mark asked, "Have you suddenly decided she wasn't serious?"

Kate thought about that, sure she didn't want to be alone on New Years but why was she there?

"Maybe I'm just sick of being told what to do," she said, "No one else seems worried by her, she can fuck off."

Mark laughed, "That's more like it," he said, "I've never seen you bothered by any girl who didn't like you before."

Kate rolled her eyes, "Well no girl has threatened me before."

Mark shrugged, "Whatever she did," he told her, "There's no need to worry about it. Nina's a nice enough girl; I highly doubt she'd actually do anything to mess up the wedding. Although I still don't understand why she wants you to stay away from me, she seemed fine when I explained the situation."

Kate didn't bother to tell him that Nina obviously wasn't fine with being given the bush off, "What do you actually know about her though? Maybe she is crazy."

Mark shrugged again, taking a pull of his own beer, "Her dad's dying," he said, "She's meant to be getting some sort of massive payout when it happens, she told me that."

Kate was confused, how could anyone be thinking about money if their father was dying? "Maybe it's something to do with that then?" she asked, "Maybe she needs you to get the money."

"What use would I be?"

Kate rolled her eyes, "I have no idea. But she needs you for something or she wouldn't be that bothered if you two weren't serious."

Mark looked uneasy with that idea, "Well she's not getting anything out me," he said, "I've told her I want you."

Kate looked at him but he was staring at the wall, "Mark?" she asked, working up her nerve.


"If you're serious about wanting me back then why didn't you try to get in touch with me while I was away?"

Mark put his beer down and slumped further into his seat, "What would have been the point? If I'd have called you wouldn't have listened. I knew you'd be home at some point, I figured I could wait for you and I did."

"You haven't exactly been waiting though have you? If you meant that you wouldn't have been with Nina at all."

Mark rubbed a hand over his face, "What do you want me to say?" he asked her, "You've been gone over a year. People get lonely. I got lonely. Sometimes it's just nice to have someone there. I'm not saying being with Nina was smart, or the nicest thing to do but we both knew it wasn't about a relationship or love. She seemed lonely too."

"So you were using her?" Kate didn't feel as bad for Nina as she thought she should have done, but that made sense really.

Mark shook his head, "No more than she was using me. Still plans to if you're right about her."

Kate frowned. She didn't blame him really, for being with someone else. It did get lonely, thinking about what had once been. That was most of the reason she'd let Chase anywhere near her in the first place, to help her forget. Fact lot of good it had done.

"I never stopped loving you," Mark said, "Believe that if nothing else."

Kate found herself nodding, she'd never stopped loving him either but it just didn't seem enough.

"It still wouldn't work now though," she said, "If I did forgive you and we got back together. I'll still be living in America and you'll still be here, you'd still be lonely and I still wouldn't trust you." The truth of her words hit Kate hard, as though she hadn't realised it until she'd said it. She supposed she had been entertaining the thought of taking him back, if only in her head but she now realised how pointless that would be.

Mark nodded, "That's true. I don't deserve you to trust me, that'd take a lot more time than we've got here."

Kate nodded back, it was true. He'd have to prove himself to her every day for a long time for that to happen.

Kate played with the tab on her now near empty beer can thoughtfully. Trust was a funny thing, given so easily but so difficult to deserve. Kate was pretty sure Chase trusted her, obviously a mistake. Maybe she hadn't slept with Mark but that didn't make her betrayal any better. Danny was right, no one was perfect. Not even Kate and it suddenly seemed silly for her to hold everyone else to such high expectations.

"So where does that leave us?" she asked, feeling pretty okay about letting Mark know she was open to suggestions. It was too late to play little miss perfect, she was in too deep.

Mark smiled at her, "I have no clue, I hadn't thought much past getting you to talk to me again. Didn't think about the specifics."

Kate huffed a laugh, typical man, "Well I'm still here for another month or so, we don't have to think about this just yet. I'm not making you any promises here Mark."

He nodded and Kate knew he understood.

Kate was trying not to think about the fact that Chase would be around for a portion of that month, it crossed her mind that the smartest thing to do would be to tell him not to come. Possibly to end things all together, that was the only thing that would save the both a lot of hurt. But was she really ready to be alone again if things with Mark didn't work out.

It was pathetic she thought, to be so afraid of herself, to feel like she needed a man. She was probably setting the feminist movement back a good few decades all by herself. She seriously needed to get a grip.

Maybe the only way to figure out how she felt was to have both Mark and Chase with her. She couldn't seem to remember any specifics about Chase when she was with Mark, or the other way around.

It wasn't the nicest thing to do and someone would end up hurt but Kate couldn't see any other way. They were both good men, they'd understand.

Kate knew that didn't make her the nicest person in the world either, but what else could she do? She wasn't perfect. This was a real mess she hadn't asked to be put in the middle of.

If only she could get Mark out of her heart and Chase out of her head, things would have been a lot easier.

Mike rolled off Josh with a sigh and the sound of wet flesh. That had been….he had no idea what that had been.

"Are you okay?" he asked, when Josh still didn't move.

"Yeah," the other boy breathed, "I'm good."

Mike looked around and suddenly felt sadder than he should have done. He and Josh were sprawled across Josh's parents' bed. The Jefferson's were back in London for the New Year with some old friends and the boys had wasted no time in making full use of the empty house.

The only think dampening Mike's mood was the fact that he felt a bit weird being in their bed, but Josh had been right, his single would have been too small for what they'd just done.

Mike wasn't a virgin, he'd had sex with Lauren Ashby out of his form last year after a couple of months of half hearted dating and fumbles at house parties but nothing had prepared him for sex with Josh.

He supposed the main difference (aside from the obvious) was that he actually loved Josh, actually cared him and how he felt. Poor Lauren looked bewildered when he'd pulled his clothes back on and made for the door as soon as it was over. It hadn't been until Josh rolled into his English class three months later that he'd realised why it had all felt so wrong with her.

"Are you okay?" Josh asked, pushing himself up on to one elbow, looking worried.

Mike nodded, "I'm more than okay," he said, tugging Josh down on to his chest, "I was just thinking."

"About what?"

"Lauren Ashby," Mike said, grinning when he received the expected elbow in the ribs.

"Fucking charming that is," Josh exclaimed.

Mike shushed him, "I was thinking about how I finally know what the big deal about sex is," he said quietly, "And about the fact that I love your scrawny arse."

"Such a romantic," Josh rolled his eyes, "And I love you too."

Mike sighed, holding Josh closer and breathing him in, nothing had ever made him feel this content, "I'm going to tell them soon," he said suddenly. Only half surprising himself.

Josh, always his rock didn't even flinch, "You sure?"

He'd never been more sure of anything, "I'm not ashamed of you."

"That's never been the issue," Josh pointed out softly.

Mike kissed Josh's hair and looked resolutely at the ceiling, someone had got a bit carried away with the aertex there, "I'm not ashamed of myself either."

"Bout fucking time," Josh mumbled and Mike meant to smile but sleep caught up with him before he got the chance. Screw waiting for midnight.

Kate frowned as she came out of Mark's bathroom later that night. She'd felt sill trying to give Chase a quick call whilst hiding in the bathroom but she was having a nice chilled out time with Mark and working herself cheerfully towards getting really quite drunk. She hadn't seen the point in running the mood.

It hadn't really mattered in the end though because Chase hadn't picked up the phone, which was odd because she'd told him she'd be calling. She hoped he was okay.

"You're going to miss it!" Mark yelled and Kate hurried back to the sofa, sliding her phone on to the kitchen work top as she passed.

"There's still a minute left," she told him looking at the TV, watching all the people in London count down to midnight.

"The fireworks are you're favourite part, you'd have smacked me if I'd let you miss them."

That was true and Kate was glad he'd known that.

As the countdown came to a close and the fireworks started firing off on screen Mark leant over and pressed a soft kiss to the corner of Kate's mouth, "Happy New Year sweetheart," he said softly and kissed his cheek, returning his sentiment.

On queue fireworks could be heard going off outside the flat and Kate tore her eyes away from the impressive London display on the TV and Mark pulled her over to the large picture window, shoving one of the gauzy drapes out the way, "You can see the fireworks from the park from here," Mark whispered in her ear, moving behind her, arm around her waist.

Kate let herself be pulled back against his warmth, leaning her head back against his firm shoulder as she watched the dark sky light up with sparkle.

She'd loved fireworks for as long as she could remember, loved the colours, the noise and the way no one ever seemed to be able to look away from them. They were beautiful.

"So are you," Mark murmured, making Kate realise she'd spoken out loud.

Kate rolled her eyes a little but smiled despite herself. She slid her hand down to rest on top of Mark's on her belly, "I lied," she whispered, not sure why it seemed inappropriate to talk any louder.

"When?" but Mark was whispering too so he obviously felt the same way.

"When I said I didn't love you anymore," it seemed wrong to let him keep thinking she didn't now they were here like this; sharing this moment of peace while the sky exploded above them.

Mark buried his face in her neck and inhaled deeply, "You are so much more than I deserve," he said and Kate found herself shaking her head.

"That's not true. If I thought that was true I wouldn't even be here."

Mark didn't say anything else, just held her tight and watched the sky.

James buried his face in his hands as he listened to Abby on the phone. He was sitting on the kitchen table, feet on a chair. He knew Abby was talking to her doctor. A ridiculous thing to be doing on New Years Eve but Abby's doctor was her friend Zoey and the results were important, so important that Zoey had promised to call as soon as she had any news from the specialist who had been looking over Abby's blood work.

The pair of them had been worrying about this for over a week now, ever since Abby had first started feeling ill on Boxing Day and James' heart was in his throat as he waited for the news.

When Abby came back into the room her lip was trembling and she was nodding resolutely.

His girl was always so strong.

"Positive?" he asked.

"Positive," she confirmed, falling into his open arms, "Oh James, what are we going to do."

"We're going to get married," he told her, sure of that, "We'll take everything else as it comes."

Abby smiled through her tears, "I love you," she told him.

James nodded, blinking back tears of his own, that love had gotten them through before and it would just have to do it again. It was all they had.

Thanks again to everyone reviewing, it really keeps me going. Don't get too used to these daily updates though lol, I just seem to be on a bit of a roll at the moment, I'm sure it wont last! As ever, any errors are my own.

It's been brought to my attention that the summary for this story doesn't really encompass it anymore and I agree, but I've no clue what to do about it so if anyone's got any ideas fora better summary please email me or leavie it in a review or something. That would be a brilliant help.

Hope you enjoyed the chapter! Vicx.