AUTHORS NOTE: This is the second story in my Choices Series. I'm not saying you have to read the first story because it is a stand alone story but there maybe the odd reference made to the first story (His Private Challenge) so if you want to read it, go ahead. I do hope you enjoy this story!
She climbed off the train, her head immediately ducking against the cold rain. She was still holding her young son and it was too cold for him to be out. At two years old, he was too small to walk on his own without getting lost on the platform so she continued to hold him as she bobbed through the crowds of people. She made sure that she kept talking to her son so that he wasn't worried.
She didn't know how her ex-husband had found them or why he would have wanted to. She knew that he had been told that their son had died after their accident and she knew that he'd been convinced that letting her run would be the best option. She had known that he would attempt to look for her but she had never expected him to succeed and find her in the small village just at the borders. She had just grabbed her sleeping son from the cot, her handbag and their coats before leaving through the back door.
Thankfully her son didn't mind the trains so when he finally woke up to find himself cuddled up on his mother's lap, he didn't feel frightened. At two, she knew her son was rather perceptive and understood so much more than you would think an average child would. She'd stroked his cheek and promised that everything would be okay before digging through her handbag and bringing out a chocolate bar for him. He giggled with happiness and she was grateful that such a small thing would amuse him.
She showed her ticket at the window before moving outside, her hand pulling up her son's hood as she searched around for any signs of a B&B. "Cold. Mummy." The little boy murmured into her chest and she just stroked his head, her own body fighting the cold as she promised him warmth soon. She should have known that running away in the middle of winter was never a wise choice but she couldn't allow him to find them. That was never going to be allowed to happen.
She was so enamoured in talking to her son that she had just stepped out into the road, not seeing the limousine that was driving towards her. The breaks squealed to a halt and she flinched as it stopped a mere centimetre away from her legs. She heard her son start to cry and she just wavered lightly as if to faint.
"Easy now..." A soothing Scottish voice said as he took hold of her, his hand on the small of her back and the other on her elbow. He saw the child and saw that this woman needed help. "Come now, I'll take you both for something to eat." He drawled as he reached into the woman's coat and took out the small child, his heart racing as he saw how vulnerable he was.
"Please don't take him away from me..." She pleaded turning to look at him, reaching out for her son. The front of her coat was now open and she didn't even seem to notice that she was cold. The man just nodded.
"I'm not. You're coming with me too." He explained moving towards the back door, placing the young boy in the car and putting on his seatbelt before turning back to look at the mother. Even through the rain he could see the tears that spilled freely from her eyes and he didn't dare ask her what was wrong. He just moved over and held her.
It felt like the most natural thing to do.
They were taken to a large white town house and she found herself staring up at it in awe. "Where are we?" She asked thinking that this reminded her of the house where the mayor stayed in her home town.
"This is my home." The man explained as he held the child close to him and moved them up the front steps. "I'm going to put your son in one of my guests rooms. Would you like to accompany me?" He asked kindly. The child had immediately warmed to him whereas the mother had been anxious, unsure of what she was to expect from the stranger that was offering his help. He worried about what kind of trouble she had been in here to fear such kindness.
"Thank you." She said smiling weakly at the kind thought of the man understanding that she would want to watch him put her son to bed without asking any questions. They moved quietly up the stairs and he opened the first door, sensing the child was too tired to be trekked too far into the large house and she'd be able to remember where this room was too.
He moved back to the door once the boy was cuddled up in the bed and watched as she sat on the end and pressed a fingertip to the young boy's chest. "I'll take care of you. No one can hurt us anymore, I promise." She whispered to her son that had already fallen asleep before leaning over and pressing a kiss to his forehead, her hand smoothing away his ginger fringe. She stood up, pulled the covers snugly around him before turning to face the man. She smiled at him before moving towards the door. "Why did you help us?"
"Well I couldn't have you running to the papers and telling them that I was a heartless bastard." He teased as he shut the door behind them as they started to move down the stairs. He saw the confusion on her face and realised she didn't know he was. "I'm Chandler Child, the son of the hotel business man." He explained holding out his hand as they reached the bottom step.
"Oh God..." She whispered moving away from him. "You shouldn't have helped us. I should leave now." She attempted to make it back up the stairs but he took hold of her arm and shook his head.
"I nearly you ran over. You were frightened and clutching onto your son as if something bad was going to happen. Do you think my conscience would have been able to take it if I'd have just driven on? I don't care if you'd have gone to the papers about me driving away because normally I would have done but..." there had been something about her. Something about the way her grey eyes had stared into his car with fear as if expecting some monster to get out and attack them both for being in his way. He could see the vulnerability and deep down he realised he wanted to be the one to fix that.
"I should have been paying more attention. I was just so afraid." She explained before smiling at him slightly.
"So shall we try again?"
"How do you mean?" She asked as she looked at him, her eyebrow knitted across in confusion again.
"My name is Chandler."
"I'm Helen." She accepted the hand shake and smiled. "My son is called Hadlee."
"It's a beautiful name."
"He won't think so when he's older and getting picked on." She laughed and Chandler just smiled.
"I was talking about yours."
"Helen..." She was shook awake and she sat up, her hand running over her face as she looked at her surroundings. She'd apparently fallen asleep on the sofa while she'd been reading the copy of her latest book that she had been sent back from editors. They enjoyed it but they said there was something missing and she had a month to work on it. She mumbled something incoherent as she moved the pages over to the coffee table. "Excuse me?" He asked sitting down next to her, his cup of coffee smelling so tempting.
"What time is it?" She asked reaching over and stealing the cup before he could put it to his lips and took a decent sized gulp before handing it back over to him. Not surprised that he didn't complain. She had a habit of doing that to him when she was too lazy to make something for herself.
"It's nearly midnight." He softly said his hand resting on her hip as he looked at her. "What were you dreaming about? You looked quite stressed." He asked handing her one of his biscuits, watching in amazement as she slowly nibbled on it.
"The first time we met." She explained as she sat up fully, her hand running through her ginger hair which she was probably sure was a complete mess now. She had always been a fidgeting sleeper and she did it even more when she had naps.
"Oh that was a stressful time for the both of us." He chuckled swerving as she reached out to punch his shoulder. "I'm kidding. It was the best thing to happen to the both of us. You've made a name for yourself and I finally have a family to keep me grounded."
"Don't forget your whining girlfriend." She laughed as she stood up and moved over to her laptop to check her e-mails.
Ever since the evening when she had stepped in front of his limousine, she'd had a close friendship with the man sat beside her. He had helped her find a flat, he gave her a small job as a party planner and she found the spare time useful to work on writing the books that she wanted to write. She'd already had one published and Chandler was the one mentioned in the dedications, even if she used a pseudonym so that no one knew it was her.
"You always mention Sasha. I'm starting to think you have a crush on her." He commented dryly before laughing at the dead eye that she allowed herself to direct at him. He knew it wasn't likely because she literally did hate his girlfriend. "Are you nervous about your first day tomorrow?" She looked over at him and shrugged.
Tomorrow would be her first day back on stage after not being on it in the seven years she'd been away from home. At twenty-four, you'd think she'd be away from getting nervous about first days but she knew that she would need to go make friends. She knew that she'd have to face the bitchy actresses that had auditioned for role, failed and been given another one but she knew that she was also strong enough in her acting to do this.
"I'm sure it'll be fine. Are you still okay with picking up Hadlee from the school?"
Hadlee's stint at the private boarding school had ended as quick as it had begun because it turned out that some of the kids had been bullying him and Chandler had been disgusted that no action was being done. Chandler couldn't believe that the school he had thought best for his friend's son had been the worst thing for him. Helen had since been happy because it meant he was at the local school and he came home to her every night and she could spend the weekends with him.
"Of course and if anything comes up, I have Lindsey, Mikey, Guy and Elliot on standby. He'll be fine." He lied so that she wouldn't ask any more questions. He knew she was worried because she'd never had a job that took her away from her son for so long. She hadn't worked when he was a small child and she had started to gradually work during the hours he was at nursery and then when he was in bed because she knew that Chandler would be in. He stood up and moved over to where she was stood by the laptop and smiled. "Miss popular." He teased at the empty inbox before moving into the kitchen. "Have you eaten today?"
"Yes mother." He popped his head around the door and glared at her. "I had a sandwich at dinner and some chicken nuggets with Hadlee when he came in."
"You know that's not enough to get you through a day, Helen." She mock saluted him and moved into the kitchen.
"I know you only brought that up because you're hungry and you want me to cook you something."
"Did I ever tell you you're a genius?"
"I think you tell me as often as I tell you you're a jerk."
"Often then." He laughed as he sat down at the kitchen table and smiled over at her. "You know, tomorrow will be the fifth year anniversary of the day you stepped under my car?"
"You make it sound like I'm a suicidal maniac." She said turning the toast that she was making. "I was talking to Hadlee." She excused as she raided for the butter, her peanut butter and the jam. She looked over at him. "Do you think I'm stupid for going back to the stage, Chandler?"
"I think you're the bravest person I've ever had the pleasure to meet and I want tickets for every night." She smiled at him before turning back to look for the jars. She took a deep breath as she realised that his comments like that always made her fall slightly more in love with him.