Black Sheep

Chapter 1.

I can see why many people would think that being the youngest child would have its benefits, that you would procure some kind of favouritism by being the last-born.

I mean, sure, you probably have a marginally safer childhood because mom and dad learnt from their 'first time parent' mistakes. There is a minimal chance of you getting accidentally locked in the car and they know not to give you anything that may get stuck up your nose. There is more preparation in meeting teachers, organising tutors and enforcing chores and rules, and negotiating curfews so that those arguments are already over before they can begin.

So yeah, I can understand why people would think that.

But coming from an actual youngest child, there are some drawbacks in that you don't get a lot of 'firsts'.

Take my family for example:

At the age of seven my science experiment- the clichéd erupting volcano- won first place out of the whole class; My sister Violet, one half of the twins had succeeded in the same task, so it was a bit of a letdown.

When I was fifteen I was the Virgin Mary in our community Nativity play; the other twin Cerise (who prefers the name Cherry) had taken on that difficult role the year before. Let's just say with Cherry's track record Jesus' conception wouldn't have been so immaculate.

Six years ago, I had graduated from high school at the top of my class, was appointed Valedictorian and gained a full scholarship to the university of my choice; but my brother Jack had already done that four years previously.

Now there are some differences, like Jack studying engineering and me going down the path of Literature, but you see what I'm getting at? All the exciting life events, the sneaking out at two in the morning, lying about what happened to those earrings that you swapped for those awesome concert tickets and the secret place where you agreed to hide your friends weed, had all been done before. So I could never attempt them, let alone get away with them.

Youngest child isn't looking so good now is it?

I can't really complain though, as I was never really into the rebellious thing. I was- and still am- way happier curling up to read an Austen novel than sneaking out to get felt up by a guy called Austin. The craziest thing I had ever done was a year and a half ago when I lost my virginity, and I was trying really hard to forget about that because I couldn't, for the life of me, figure it out.

That particular event seemed to pop up in my mind a lot and as I was packing my suitcase in preparation to go back to the family home for Christmas, I found myself shaking my head to get rid of the memories; the stiff night air permeated by that ridiculous Mexican hat song, the deliciously hot breath on my neck and those dark green eyes that seemed to burn through me. I threw a few more books on top that hadn't fit into my other suitcase and pulled the lid down, squashing it as much as possible and pulling the zip inch by inch. I let out a satisfied sigh when it finally closed all the way and pushed it onto the ground.

I was lucky in the way that my university was only two hours away from my hometown; I'd like to think that that is purely based on coincidence and not some subtle brainwashing from my childhood, but one can never be sure.

I swung my handbag and shoulder bag over my shoulders before heaving both my suitcases off my bed and pulling the handles up into place. Sticking my head out the door to make sure I wouldn't get run over by the multitude of roommates, I wheeled them out, shutting my bedroom door closed. My scholarship money allowed me a small amount of funds towards accommodation, during the holidays I worked at a bookstore in my hometown and during the school semester I worked in a cafe on campus. My extremely savvy money skills allowed me to share a house close to campus with four other people and develop a healthy savings account; mama didn't raise no fool.

"Hey Indy, you leaving already?" My roommate Sam asked, striding down the hall and kindly taking one of the suitcases.

"Yeah, I figured I'd beat the traffic." I explained and followed him down the hall. Unfortunately I was not named after the archaeological hero who had a fear of snakes, my full name was Indigo. My mother and father had agreed that when they had children she would name the girls and he would name the boys. So that is how my parents- my mother fancying herself a bit of an artist- ended up with four children named Jack, Violet, Cerise and Indigo; I prefer and often request the use of Indy.

"There's going to be traffic anyway." Ivan's heavily accented voice interjected and he used his muscled arm to take the other suitcase from my hand, lifting it as we walked down the stairs.

I shrugged. "There always is, but at least I'll have some time to get myself prepared for my family"

"They're all going to be there this year aren't they?" Curtis asked, walking out of the kitchen and relieving me of the heavy shoulder bag. How he managed to support the weight and carry a protein shake in one hand and a six-inch sub in the other will continue to baffle me for many a year.

"Every, stinking one of them," I sighed and opened the front door. "My sister's are flying in from the city. They haven't been home for Christmas for the past two years so my parents have invited the whole family around. My Grandmother is staying with us and Jack and his wife Stef. It's going to be fucking nuts."

My final roommate, Joe, chuckled from underneath the hood of my car, tightening the caps and standing straight to close it. "That is why I stay right here for the holidays."

I walked carefully down the icy steps and beeped the back of my car open, allowing Sam, Ivan and Curtis to deposit my luggage neatly in the back. I have to admit, at first I was reluctant to live with four guys, but once we had established that it didn't matter how messy your own room got as long as the communal areas of the house were clean, it had been smooth sailing for the last couple of years. My car was always serviced, I had learnt the inner workings of football and I had my own private bathroom; what female university student can boast that?

Plus, I had learnt how to:

Speak a little Czech from Ivan.

Properly treat any small wound from, medical student, Sam.

Set up most electrical appliances with Joe.

And Curtis…well, Curtis kept things interesting.

After all my luggage had been rearranged by each of my roommates and I promised Joe I would keep the car in low gear on the snow, the boys lined up for my goodbyes and an early exchange of presents, with the strictest of instructions not to open them until Christmas. Joe was first with a new phone case that doubled as a Swiss Army Knife, I added to Sam's extensive collection of bath products with caffeinated shaving balms and I knew Ivan would be tickled with the homemade gin kit I had found on the Internet. Curtis was the most difficult person to buy for, ever, so I settled with a Visa gift card and looked forward to the random oddity he would invest in when I got home.

Each of the boys placed their gifts into the back of my car as I hopped in, except for Curtis who rounded the car to my window and leant in. In his hand he held a rectangular shaped package festively wrapped in white paper bearing red reindeers with a bright green bow tied delicately around it.

"You can open mine early, Indy." He smiled boyishly and thrust the gift under my nose.

"Whyyyyy?" I asked cautiously, slowly stretching my hand out to wrap around the parcel. One always had to be careful with 'gifts' from Curtis; they ranged from inappropriate to illegal to downright confusing.

"It's a vibrator." He returned nonchalantly.

"Curtis!" I jumped back from the box at the same moment he went to drop it in my hands, the innocently wrapped present fell into my lap with a soft thud and I froze. I don't know what I was expecting- maybe for it to explode or to start propelling around in the box- but the unmoving innocence of the sex toy in my lap was not it.

"I wasn't really sure which one to get since they're all different shapes and sizes." He mused, as the other guys bent over in varying levels of hysterics, before leaning in to stage whisper. "But don't worry, I stayed clear of the one called 'Gargantua'."

Joe dropped down into the snow as Ivan howled in delight, Sam merely stood next to the others shaking his head with a thoroughly amused grin.

"You should have stayed clear of all of them!" I stressed, caught between taking the- now not so innocent – box back into the house and just shoving it under the car seat. The fact that my car had now warmed up to a very pleasant heat and I had promised my mom I'd be there before lunch had me gingerly picking up the package and sliding it under my passenger seat.

"Well, you said that Lover boy and his family weren't going to be home this Christmas, so I didn't want you missing out on the festive spirit." It seemed so logical to him that within his warped sense of reality he felt the inclination to be a bit hurt by my rejection of his gift.

"It's the thought that counts." I countered slowly and stuck my keys into the ignition, trying to stop the amused grin spreading over my face because that would only encourage his behaviour more.

"I like to think so." He quipped and dropped a kiss on my head, returning to the other boys and waving me off as I reversed out of our driveway.

I finally allowed myself a small chuckle when I was out of sight of the house, realising that it was my own fault for allowing the boys to be privy to the events of two summers ago. My parents held a themed street party at the end of summer every year and I had grudgingly agreed to exit out of my comfortable and literature stocked bedroom to join in to the festivities; this particular theme being Fiesta with copious amounts of margaritas, sangria and tortilla chips dipped in various processed vegetables. It was there that the fates decided I would literally run into Dax Sanford.

The Sanford's had lived next door to us Townshend's for as long as I could remember and I had…feelings for Dax for almost as long. But, as is the Indy Townshend style, I had never ever acted upon those feelings. When we were playing together as kids with Jack and the girls I would maintain a distance of at least 6 feet between us at all times (Seriously, that's how I got really good at calculations). When we were teenagers and he had a school project with one of the twins I would conveniently be working on my own homework on a different floor of our house. And when I would come home from university during my undergrad studies, I'd find some reason or other to help my mother, or father, or random pedestrian on the street.

Because when your idea of a good time is reading Chaucer or Dickens, you don't develop particularly good social skills or particularly high self-esteem especially in relation to the town Golden Boy who was the prodigal son of a former local football star.

So it surprised me when he started up a conversation with me next to the sangria table. He asked about the focus of my course and particular books I'd been assigned in 'Twentieth Century Literature', some that he'd even read himself. And I just kept plying myself with alcohol, because it seemed the more I drank the more I could construct full sentences in our conversations and the more I felt comfortable asking him about his work (carpentry) and his hobbies (any sport). Then, with my liquid courage, when I asked him what he looked for in a girl and he responded that he liked a girl who could pull off a blue dress and I looked down to see myself wearing a dress of that exact colour, well my inebriated self thought it was the most hilarious fucking thing I had ever heard. So much so, that when my mom asked me to go turn on the fairy lights on the deck, I pulled Dax along so he could keep telling me such wonderfully hysterical things.

I pulled onto the highway and increased my speed, I could feel the heat rising in my cheeks as I tried to piece together that night for, perhaps, the millionth time.

With a bit of fumbling around at the lighting board at the side of my house, I had finally got the lights working and the cheers that resounded from the rest of the party in my backyard became muted when I felt a warm breath against my bare shoulders and a hot palm run a hand down my arm. Then, because sangria makes me turn into someone Nabokov would be proud to name a book after, I spun around and pulled his head down to mine, tasting the margarita he must have had before our interlude and feeling that same hot palm, that started it all, rest at the curve of my neck.

After that it all got a little blurry and my memory was still revealing particular moments like a sexy advent calendar, trying to prolong the enjoyment of the occasion. We ended up on the roof, how I'm not quite sure, but what followed was a dizzy combination of descriptive sensations that ended in a very satisfying way. The last thing I remembered from the fragmented evening was reaching the big bang and muffling the sounds in the crook of Dax's neck as he shifted our position and eventually reached his own conclusion. The next morning I awoke fully dressed, under the covers in my bed; the pleasant stiffness in my body and the pounding in my head the only things alluding to the activities of the night before.

After the obligatory freak out in the confines of my room- which only finished when I assured myself that being on the Pill for two years was probably enough time for it to be effective in my system- I had to pack and leave to get back in time to prepare for my classes. After a visit to the campus doctor and many round table discussions with my friend, Tash, and the boys, I came to terms with the fact that I didn't regret what we did- it was awesome- but my abrupt departure meant I was stuck in a weird post-sex limbo, asking a question that most philosophers ask about life; 'What does it all mean?'

After going through the events over and over in my brain for an hour and a half, I was grateful to see the exit to my hometown and even more so about the fact the Sanford's would be away for the holidays. I hadn't seen Dax since the Fiesta party; post-grad load and visiting my sisters in the city for Christmas meant that our paths didn't cross. If I was this conflicted by myself after a year and a half, what would it be like in close proximity to the man who was the cause?

I managed to distract myself for the last length of the trip with singing along to the top 40 and quickly changing stations whenever Mariah Carey's 'All I want for Christmas' came on; I enjoyed the song as much as the next person but not every hour of every day in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

The final strains of a Coldplay song belted out of my radio as I turned into my driveway, and stopped the car, looking up at my childhood home with a warm feeling of appreciation. The roof was covered with a fresh dusting of snow and the two and a bit storey house- that was almost a replica of it's neighbouring structures- would not have been out of place inside a festive snow globe. I couldn't help but grin at the wooden reindeers gracing our front yard- one with a slight dint in it's side when Dad accidentally 'tapped' it reversing into the garage- as the front door opened and my dad and brother exited the house.

"Diego!" they both chimed as they sloshed through the snow, Jack a little bit faster and more grounded than his older counterpart.

"Male family members." I greeted and ran past Jack, pushing him over into the snow as I was bundled up in my dad's warm embrace.

"Merry Christmas, Chicken." My dad muffled into my beanie-covered head and pulled away from me, giving me a once over. Jack recovered from my assault quite well, judging by the snowball that hit me in the ass.

"What's this?" My dad tugged on a long strand of blonde-brown hair and flicked it into my face. "I thought you said you'd never grow it past your shoulders." He accused me as Jack pushed himself up from the ground and made his way over to the boot of my car.

I shrugged. "It's cheaper than a scarf." I mused, placing a kiss on his forehead and trying to ignore the echo of a deep, smooth voice whispering against my lips how much he liked the feeling of my strands tangled between his fingers.

"Looks good, Indy." Jack responded as I moved over to help him with my luggage, allowing him to pull me into a warm hug after we shared a few pokes and play punches. Between the three of us we managed to take all my luggage into the house in only one trip, the benefit of having men in the family meaning I only carried my handbag and half of the presents from my roommates.

"I swear to God, if there are books in here, Indy." Jack grunted as he hefted the suitcase onto our porch.

They weren't just books; they were important resources.

"Would I do that to you?" I grinned back at him as we entered the house, the seasonal scent of cinnamon and ginger hitting my senses pleasantly. I placed my presents from the boys under the decoratively obese tree and caught sight of my mother placing a sprig of mistletoe atop the entrance to the kitchen. A quick look around the nearest entryways showed that no matter whether you were entering or exiting a room, there was a high chance you'd get lucky. Dad and Jack continued up the stairs on the journey to my bedroom as I waited for my mum to get down from the ladder.

When we Townshends do holiday celebrations it's all or nothing and the concentration that my mother was showing that artificial decoration could not be interrupted.

"Hi. Mom." I greeted when her feet hit the floor. She almost spun in a full circle at the sound of her youngest child's voice and her heels clicked across the floor until she stopped abruptly in front of me.

"Oh, baby, you're here! Merry Christmas, honey." She flung her arms around me and pulled me into her chest, the familiar warmth of my mother's hug and her sweet indescribable scent really made me feel like home. I lifted my head from where she had pulled it down against her bosom and grinned back at her.

"Merry Christmas, mom."

"You hungry?" she asked and turned back to stride into the kitchen, not waiting for my answer as she recited the huge amount of treats she had been slaving over for the last few weeks to cater for the next couple of days.

"No, I'm good." I stuck my hand into my handbag and pulled out my copy of Austen's 'Persuasion'. Stroking the copy reflexively, I wondered how many pleasantries I'd have to exchange with different family members before I could retreat safely to the family room. The large bay window, fireplace and worn-in couch created the perfect environment for getting involved with the romantic fancies of the 19th century gentry.

"How are the boys?" My mother gauged, the combination of my roommates earning themselves their own cumulative title. My parents had been cautious of my roommates when they first learnt of the living arrangements, but a few months and the quick discovery that their wacky personalities would only generate platonic feelings from me, had them feeling more comfortable about the situation. I think my mother was slightly disappointed at the lack of close male company I had accumulated over the time I had left home. Needless to say, the events that occurred on the fiesta night were only common knowledge among my close, non-related, circle.

"Good. They say hello." I smiled as I flicked my thumb across the pages of the book and looked furtively out through the hallway.

"And Tash?" I raised an eyebrow at her stunted questions and wondered what she was trying to build up to.

"She's fine as well." I returned slowly, hazarding a guess at the next question.

"You have a boyfriend?"

"Mooooommmm." I groaned and slumped against the door jam, softly tapping my head against the hard wood. It was the question that every single girl dreaded to hear from pretty much everyone, especially the girl who hadn't had any romantic contact for a year and a half; and hadn't wanted any for that matter.

My mom shrugged as she tinkered around the kitchen placing a casserole in the oven to warm for lunch before pulling a fresh loaf of sourdough from the pantry and beginning to slice it. "It's a reasonable question, I haven't seen you since we drove up for your birthday and those essays you're doing have kept you away every other holiday."

"Are Cherry and Vi here?" I interjected and pushed off the entryway, spinning my novel between my hands. I already knew the answer to my question; if Vi and Cherry were in the building I would have been privy to it.

If not by their critical overview of my appearance – "Indy you should really dye your hair darker like ours, the natural highlights you have don't allow the colour to come out in your cheeks."

Or my fashion sense – " Indy, I say this cause I love you, but you need to decide whether you're going to wear clothes that show off your curves or lose weight to be more like Vi." "It's called 'waifish', Cherry."

Or my life choices – "So what can you actually do with literature, like, are you going to teach or write or what?" "You should have done advertising like me, or PR like Vi."

I would have sensed their presence from the increased sound of heels on hardwood and their ability to turn any conversation around onto their favourite subject; themselves.

She raised an eyebrow at my abrupt change of subject but answered the question anyway. The only thing my mother loved more than probing into her children's lives, was relaying what she found. "They flew in yesterday. They're catching up with friends in town."

I nodded and slowly began to back out of the kitchen, hoping to drop my things upstairs in my room before taking up residence in the family room. "Well I'll unpack and then I'm going to-"

"Read in the family room?" my mother's amused voice followed me out into the lounge room and I smiled at the fact I was living up to my family's expectations.

"Yeah." I replied sheepishly.

"I'll let you know when they're here. Lunch will be ready in an hour." She finished and I heard her resume cutting up the bread as the sweet smell of lamb, red wine and garlic started to waft out of the kitchen.

"Thanks, mama." I called back and went to get rid of my baggage.

"Oh and Indy-" her loud voice halted me as I went to go up the stairs.


"The neighbours are coming over for a drink later this evening. So make sure you break out of your bubble long enough to get changed and prepare to socialise with actual human beings."

My heart stopped.

"Neighbours?" I called back and hoped that the distance between us masked the shake in my voice.

"The Clarkes."

I let out a huge sigh of relief and chuckled at my stupidity.

"The Sanford's are 'Skyping' Peter's brother tonight, but we'll catch up with them tomorrow."

My chuckle abruptly became caught in me throat and I swallowed the giant lump as I tried not to let on that that particular nugget of news had caused my heart to beat faster and my palms to slip against the leather of my handbag.

"I thought the, um, Sanfords were away for the holidays." I replied innocently. Praying that maybe I had misheard and it was just Dax that had gone away for Christmas or that maybe they had moved and another family with the exact last name had moved in; what a wonderful anecdote!

"Not anymore, they were going to visit Mary's parents but they went and booked a cruise at the last minute. I think Mary, Peter and Dax were relieved, to be honest, anyway we're having lunch at their house tomorrow." My mother's loud and overly informed voice echoed through our festively decorated halls. After a moment of frozen shock where I realised I hadn't responded to my mother, I called out a weak 'Ok' before making my way upstairs.

I bound up the stairs, running past the bedrooms and bathrooms and up another small staircase to my private little converted attic, nestled between my en suite and a separate study. I opened the door and slipped in, throwing my bag on the bed and closing the door behind me. I allowed myself to have a cursory glance of the room, taking in the strewn books and magazines, my walk in wardrobe and my comfy double bed that was pushed up against the wall. My old laptop rested on a small desk near the window, partially covered with forgotten drafts of past assignments. A flicker of movement through the window caught my eyes and when I tilted my head to look through the frosty panes, a familiar back and shaggy-haired head had me jumping over to hide at the foot of my bed.

He was staying in the guest room. Dax Sanford was staying in the room that was directly across from my own. All that was between us were two protruding roofs and a gap of about 12 inches. I leant against the foot of my bed and willed my heart to return to its spot in my chest as opposed to its new home in my throat. I tugged frantically at my jean pocket to retract my phone and shakily scrolled through the numbers, pushing myself up the wall as the nervous adrenaline caused me to get all jittery. I hazarded a glance over to Dax's room, before I straightened, to see him carrying his laptop over to an armchair near the window. He backed himself into the seat and shuffled it around so that his back was to my window.

As the phone continued to ring, I pushed off the wall and willed the shakes that had entered my body to leave promptly. This wasn't normal, was it? I mean, I knew tonnes of people who had had sex with a person they like (and people they didn't) and I never once remember them reacting in this way. I felt the hair standing up on the back of my neck at the very thought of seeing Dax again and I didn't know if it was a positive or negative reaction. It wasn't just the fact that I'd had a crush on him for so many years, or that we had…you know, it was all the unanswered questions. What did he think of me? What did he think of IT? Did he want to do it again? Does he usually have sex on rooftops? WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

Before I could philosophise myself into a coma, the call connected and Curtis's pleasant voice sounded over the phone.

"I need a rational female adult." I chewed nervously on my thumbnail and paced across the length of my room, an incredibly difficult act as I was also simultaneously trying to avoid the window where I could clearly see Dax lounging in his room.

There was a pause as Curtis contemplated my request."...Well you're not going to find one here."

"Put Tash on the phone!" I ground out.

There were some scuffling noises and a manly high-pitched yelp before the calm, soothing voice of my best friend, Ivan's girlfriend and honorary roommate, Tash, came across the line.


"Tash, I'm in trouble." I whimpered, seeing Dax go to open his window and immediately stopping my pacing to drop and roll onto the floor. I rolled to a stop on my back, crumpling a discarded magazine under me and clutching the phone to my ear.

"What's wrong?" she questioned.

"He's here." I breathed and pressed my free palm to my chest, willing the heavy beating of my heart to calm down. I felt an overwhelming desire to faint but stubbornly fought against it, I would not become a Mills and Boon heroine. A Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte or Louisa Mae Alcott creation, sure, even a more matured Judy Blume character, but no swooning would be occurring in my considerably messy bedroom, especially at the sight of an extremely good-looking, virginity-slaying, next-door neighbour.

"Who? Is there a stalker in the house? Is he calling you from inside the house? Get out now, Indy!" she yelled and I started to think Curtis definitely had a point about the lack of rational people in our house. The resounding questions and worried sounds that came through the phone had me visualising the crazy scene that Tash had no doubt created back home.

"No, it's Dax." I groaned and rolled onto my stomach, the comforting softness of my rug doing little to calm me.

"Dax?" her confusion was obvious until I heard a voice (most likely Ivan) say, quite excitedly.

"Is that the one she lost her virginity to on her roof?"

"Dax is the guy she's had a thing for since she started tying her own laces." Curtis attempted to correct his Slavic housemate.

"Yeah, they're the same person." Sam's bored voice piped up and I could just see him sitting in his armchair, reading some medical book and relaying very personal details about my life without even looking up from the pages.

"Tell them to shut up, Tash." I deadpanned, feeling the heat rising in my face.

"Shut up, guys."

"But yes it's him." I sighed and rolled onto my side, sliding up in a sitting position against my bed.

"And?" she probed, and I could just imagine her walking into the kitchen and sliding on one of the bar stools, making herself comfortable in an effort to give me some sisterly advice.

"And he's next door looking all good and stuff." I grumbled into my knees. Even though I'd only been privy to the back of him, his face was carved into my memory so much so that it was as familiar to me as my own. I could conjure up every expression from my mental bank and every one was a pleasing as the last. My favourite one was the fuzzy, up-close view of his nose touching mine and his eyes half-closed as he brushed his lips across my own.

"Wow, you're an English major right?" Tash's voice interrupted my musings and I felt my stomach drop in despair.

"I haven't seen him since that night, Tash, and I knew if I did it would be weird, but God…" I hazarded a quick look over into his bedroom and was met with a sweater-encased muscular back and the all too familiar messy dark hair, that was a satisfying combination of windswept and finger tussled.

"What?" Tash's voice interjected on my musings of men's hairstyles.

I lowered back down to the floor. "Well for lack of a better phrase, 'I've tapped that'." I don't know whether that was really the right term to use, considering Dax was an active member of the Fiesta night's activities. I'd go so far as to say he was the captain and I was the first mate if we wanted to get technical and metaphorical. But the simplicity of the term communicated my naivety with the whole situation loud and clear.

"Would you like to do it again?"

"Yes." I blurted out before I could control my tongue.



"What's the problem?" I swear I could hear her yawn and wondered what part of my personal crisis was so boring to her.

"I don't know if he fe-feels the same way?" I hoped that she ignored the stutter; I sure as hell was trying to.

"You could ask him." She offered.

"Don't be stupid." I sighed and leant my head back onto my mattress, staring up at the ceiling that still held the glow in the dark stars of my childhood. I started to count the random patterns in an effort to get my mind of the problem at hand. But looking at the inaccurate constellations on my ceiling, brought up images of highly accurate constellations that had caught my eye when I had thrown my head back while a very insistent mouth laved hot kisses across my neck. The tiles of the roof had made little patterned indents in my knees as I straddled a pair of strong, tanned thighs. I blinked rapidly as the suggestive images rolled easily into my head; there was no escape.

"Sorry to burst the bubble honey, but unless he climbs into your room and initiates a passionate affair one night, the only way you are going to find out is by asking." Tash finished, leaving no room for argument.

"Fine." I grunted.

"You're going to ask him if he feels the same way?"

"No, I'm going to go read a Jane Austen novel and wallow in self pity." I returned honestly before sighing. "I'm seeing him at lunch tomorrow, apparently. That'll give me time to try to figure this out." I highly doubted it but it was exactly what Tash wanted to hear and I didn't want to let her down, especially after all the time, effort and peanut MnM's she had invested in the Dax saga over the last eighteen months.

"There's my girl." She cooed.

After a few more encouraging words from Tash and a chorus of 'good luck' from the boys I hung up and threw my phone behind me up onto the bed. After a few minutes where I concentrated on my breathing and managed to reduce the rampaging butterflies in my stomach to a dull flutter, I crawled over to my window and slowly peeked my head over the sill to be met with an empty bedroom. The mixed feeling of relief and disappointment was uncomfortable and cause me to flop back down onto the floor like I was trying to fill in a chalk line of a corpse. It was no use, the nervous mixture of dread and curiosity wouldn't go away until I had a confrontation with Dax and I knew my lack of social skills and talent for misdirection would only prolong the waiting period.

I looked up at the ceiling and wondered if some divine being had planned for this to happen. It wouldn't surprise me if Mary Sanford's parent had been bewitched to take advantage of cut-price cruising just to fuck with me.

"I wasn't serious about being an Austen or Bronte heroine, you know?" I called out to whatever deity had decided to mess up my Christmas.

The real question was whether this was going to be a double-weddings and country-dances kind of story or a prolonged poverty, crazy pyromaniac wife locked up in an attic kind of story.

Well I was already living in the attic…

Hiya Kids,

This is a story that's been in my head for a while that became a collection of different scenes in one of my folders. There's not really going to a lot of adventure, crime fighting or supernatural elements in this story.

I'm concentrating on situational humour, family dynamics and, of course, romance.

Let me know what you think by Reviewing, Alerting, Favouriting etc.

Thank you kindly.