tagNovels and NovellasGoes Without Saying Pt. 04

Goes Without Saying Pt. 04


Chapter 18

David always felt good to be back looking after the children on his own, cooking their evening meal, and feeding Beth. It was fun to watch Beth crawling, and beginning to make sounds approaching the odd word. Evan asked for paper and crayons and spent time drawing or rather scribbling on the paper, telling David what his pictures were about, for which David was grateful.

He bathed both children together, and after drying and dressing Beth in her night clothes and putting her in her cot, did the same for Evan, giving him a picture book to look at while David sang Beth her nursery rhymes until she fell asleep. Evan was happily looking at the pictures, sitting on his bed when David returned, and so he read him the story to go with the pictures.

He had just returned downstairs when the phone rang. It was Siân.

"I phoned yesterday and Celia said you were away on business. I just wanted to thank you for putting up with me while I was being interviewed."

"You know you are always welcome sweetheart. How are Mam and Dad, Glynn?"

"All well, thanks for asking. Anyway, I'm looking forward to starting work and seeing you again."

"And I to seeing you."

There was a pause as if she were psyching herself up for something.

"Dai bach, don't cut off your friends. You need to get out a bit, have some good times with them. They're not against you really, no matter what you might think. Promise you'll meet them if you're invited?"

"Don't know about that, Siân. They conspired-"

"You don't know that, Dai. All you know is that Sally phoned Alex. What I saw was a group of people who were very uncomfortable and didn't know what to do. They were caught between Alex and you. Yes, Alex probably asked them to keep his relationship with Celia from you, but they could have seen it as saving you from being unhappy, or being worried she might leave you in the lurch.

"Give them a break fy cariad. We all need friends, and they've been good to you. Promise you'll not reject them? Please?"

David gave in. She was so good hearted, and when he thought of it, while they'd been uncomfortable when deceiving him about Alex and Celia, only Sally warned the couple about David's intentions, and perhaps even she wanted to save him from accidentally meeting Alex with Celia at the club and ruining David's own New Year fun.

He realised that Siân was a balanced woman, and he admired her for seeing the good in people.

"All right, Siân. I'll meet them if they ask. I promise."

"Good! See you soon!"

Washing up followed that call, and he wondered about what she'd said. What was she getting at? Was there a hidden agenda with Siân? He laughed to himself - what agenda could she possibly have? Was he simply becoming paranoid?

Eventually he gave up trying to fathom what was going on. He sank into his chair in the living room and reluctantly watched a documentary about the financial crisis, which was so depressing he needed the sitcom that followed it. He treated himself to a whisky, suddenly felt very tired, too tired to think, and went off to bed.

He woke at seven, and heard movement in the house. Celia had returned as usual very early. It reminded him again of how difficult it had always been to rouse her when they were living together. Then he thought how early she would have had to go to bed the night before, which in turn led to a picture of Alex and she in frenzied sexual congress, and that resulted in a feeling of annoyance. At least he thought it was annoyance, and pushed down the idea it might be jealousy.

For once the children were awake late, and when he was washed, shaven and dressed, he was in time to have breakfast with them, and it meant that Celia had to eat with them, since she was feeding Beth.

Nothing was said when he arrived and set about laying the table and making the tea, while Celia prepared the meal of cereal and toast. Evan's chatter saved the situation from being uncomfortable.

"Late tonight, as usual?" Celia asked, breaking the silence between the adults, though there was no rancour in her tone.

"I should imagine so," David replied. "I've not been in the office all week. When are you taking your time off this weekend?"

"Saturday morning to Sunday evening. Is that all right?"

"Yeah fine," David said without interest. He was damn sure he was not going to ask anything about her time off.

"Going to your parents?" she asked.

"No." His reply was short and he did not embellish it.

He left the table, tousling Evan's hair as he passed, assembled his papers, donned his coat and returned to say good bye to Evan and Beth, hugging and kissing them both.

"Bye," he said generally to the room.

"Bye Daddy," said Evan.

"Dadda," said Beth with her now two tooth grin and waving hands.

Nothing from Celia until he looked pointedly at her. "Good bye, David," she said flatly. He did not mind at all, his daughter just called him dadda!

"Bye, Celia. Have a good day," he said with a smile which mainly came from 'dadda'. He began to feel frustrated as he drove to work and nursed a sense of grievance yet again. Once again he resolved that it could not go on; her attitude was sapping his spirit, and though the children seemed as yet oblivious to the atmosphere, it would infect them in time.

The realisation came to him that whereas they used to do some shopping together, and even enjoy outings together, that had not happened for many weeks. He could not remember when they had any sort of joint family outing, no matter how prosaic.

It began to rain as he sat in the inevitable traffic queue. He began to feel more certain that in reality Celia's time was over. He was more than able to afford a nanny or a child minder for Beth, and Evan would be in nursery school in a few months. What was more, Siân would be local and would fill the gap caused by Celia's absence. Indeed initially Siân would be living in, and he could see no reason why she could not remain with him if she wanted to.

He decided then to go to Wales the following weekend and talk it through with his in-laws, and especially Siân.

Work was busy but well under control and at lunchtime he phoned the Prices and arranged to visit, at which they were understandably delighted. After all it was only two weeks since they had seen the children.

"Something's not perfect in your life David," Marissa said as he disconnected.

"Perceptive as always Mz Halton," David retorted with a grin.

"Things not going will with Miss Thompson." It was a statement not a question. "Little Miss Price complicating matters?"

"In times gone by, you would have been arrested as a witch!" He laughed. Then he became serious. "The atmosphere is decidedly uncomfortable, and I can't see it improving."

"You 'had the talk' with her yet?"

"Not had the chance, what with my trip to the smoke and all this extra financial aggravation."

"Going to?"

"Miss Halton, I'm beginning to feel persecuted. You're not the first to badger me about that."

"Mr Musgrave! As if your lowly PA would ever dream of persecuting you!"

They both laughed and the heart to heart was over. There was another call which Marissa took as was her wont.

"A Mr Threlfall?" she enquired.

He nodded and she forwarded the call.

"Bill!" exclaimed David. "Everything good with you?"

"Everything's fine," said Bill. "I've been seeing Susan. Neither of us can understand why we didn't hook up before, what with me being divorced and her breaking up with that abusive bastard she was with. I've learned my lesson, having been a bastard myself, and Susan knows it."

"That's really good news, Bill."

"Yes, but I'm phoning because we haven't seen hide nor hair of you since New Year's Eve. Can you get out for a pint or two this evening? The usual crew should be there."

"Alex?" David's tone was unmistakable.

"No." The reply was definite and conveyed the information that David was known not to be on speaking terms with Alex.

"Fine, usual pub?"

On Bill's affirmation, they disconnected.

Contrary to his expectations, he left the office on time and was home in time to eat the evening meal with the children, taking it on himself to feed Bethan. Again there was much talk with Evan about his day among other things, while there was no interaction between Celia and David.

At the end of the meal he played with the children while Celia washed the pots on her insistence. When she finished the washing up, she returned to take Bethan off for her bath.

"I'll be out tonight," he told her, "meeting the tribe at the pub."

"Fine," she said and left the room with the baby and no further comment.

He could hear her talking on the phone upstairs, and wondered if she was informing Alex of David's impending arrival with the group.

He saw to Evan when the bathroom was free and then read him his story before going into Beth's room to kiss her goodnight, passing Celia who was leaving the room. The silence between them was oppressive. Once again he realised that there would be no opportunity to sit her down for a showdown 'chat' that weekend.

After showering and changing, he left for the pub. When he arrived he found only four of the crowd, Bill with Susan, Tony with Sally, and a pint at his place waiting for him.

"No Ozzy?" David asked with a twinkle in his eyes. The others caught it and laughed.

"Whenever you and Ozzy are together in a pub, there's trouble!" muttered Tony with a grin. "As it happens he's at some sort of conference this weekend."

"So," David said after taking a draught of the bitter, "any news I need updating on?"

"Well," Sally said shyly, "Tony and I are increasing our family."

"You mean?" David began.

"Yes, I'm pregnant. So no alcohol for me."

"Congratulations!" David said with enthusiasm, leaning over to kiss Sally and shake Tony's hand.

"And you know about Bill and Susan," Sally said with a wicked smile. David nodded.

"I'm really glad Sue isn't one of the 'once a cheater always a cheater' adherents," Bill said rather self-consciously. "You all know how destroyed I was when Leanne divorced me and was so difficult about visitation. I won't be going down that road again, believe me!"

"Things better between Leanne and yourself?" asked Tony of Bill. "We quite miss her, you know. I think she still sees Vanessa, doesn't she?"

"Yes," Susan said, "and Vanessa has been a real peacemaker there. Leanne's OK with Bill going with me, and she's relaxed the visiting regime. He sees the kids during the week as well as every other weekend now."

"I think she's seeing Stuart Welsby," said Bill. "That's helped her mood. He's a good steady bloke."

"Jealous, Bill?" David asked.

"Not so much jealous as sad it had to end like that. I was a fool, I hurt her badly and there's no one to blame but me."

"Hey, David," Sally intervened to save Bill further embarrassment, "what about your love interest? Siân isn't it? You brought her on New Year's Eve?"

David tensed, and his face showed discomfort or annoyance at the memory; he felt both.

The rest of the group looked daggers at Sally, and Bill was shaking his head. Sally now coloured up, realising what she'd said and why David was unhappy. She always tried to help and sometimes it backfired on her. This was one occasion.

"Now you've brought it up, Sally, don't you think I need an explanation from you about New Year's Eve?"

There was an uncomfortable silence, and Bill made to speak but Sally preempted him.

"David I'm very sorry. I phoned Alex to tell him where you were going. We were all feeling uncomfortable about Alex asking us to help him avoid you."

"Because he's dating Celia," David said flatly.

"David, we don't understand what the problem is, but Alex kept saying it was better you didn't know," said Tony.

"You do understand, though, that it isn't very pleasant when everyone you know conspires to deceive you?" David said with some distaste. "Not one of my friends had enough loyalty to tell me what was going on."

"Well, you obviously know now," said Susan with some compassion, covering David's hand on the table with her own. "How are things?"

David had not intended to bring up the matter at all, but now his close friends, were uncomfortable and clearly concerned about his feelings.

"Siân worked it out: she's really astute," said David. "She had put together that Alex was avoiding me, and was never around when Celia had her days off - that was even before we arrived at the pub. The fact you were all so uncomfortable when we arrived cemented that idea.

"Of course Ozzy gave the game away completely, and when we were leaving, Siân saw you Sally phoning. Siân realised what you were doing when we saw Celia and Alex running out of the club getting on for two hours before New Year.

"So it was clear that the pair of them were deceiving me, why, I've no idea. When I asked Celia what she did on her days off, I got an earful of abuse. She yelled at me to keep my nose out of her private life. Alex has been avoiding me, so I told her to tell her boyfriend he was no longer welcome. It's the pointless deception I can't fathom and that's what I hate. It's a gross insult.

"So things have been very cold and formal at home since then, so much so that I'm worried the kiddies will pick up on it. After the last shouting match I'm not hopeful I'll get Celia to talk about it. I know it can't continue like this much longer. I have to protect the children."

David sat back, a picture of despair.

"David," came a hesitant word from Sally. "We're... I'm very sorry."

"It's OK, Sally," David assured her. "You were all put in a difficult situation. The problem lies elsewhere."

"So," Susan assayed, "If you don't mind me asking, where does Siân fit into this?"

"Yes, David," Sally added, now with more confidence. "Celia was complaining that you shouldn't be in a relationship with Siân - she was saying you were sleeping together and that was akin to incest!"

"You see?" said David now visibly annoyed again. "She's taking private matters from my own home and discussing it with you! She was yelling at me as well about Siân, telling me how disgusting I was. I tell you, it can't go on like this.

"The thing is, it's not remotely incest, Siân is not my blood relation, she's Gwen's sister, not mine. Anyway, she's landed a job at my company and she'll be living with me until she finds a place of her own. If Celia can't stand that, she knows what she has to do! It's not what I want, but I'll have to find a way to cope without her. Now can we change the subject? Talk about something else?"

The shock was profound, and silence followed. Tony got up and went for another round. Bill fell back on items on the evening news, and the tension dissipated.

As he walked home, David wondered wryly why he subjected himself to these pub evenings when he always seemed to be going home in a foul temper. At the heart of it all was Celia. Something had to give and soon. Otherwise...

He did not want to face putting it into words, but again he suspected his time with Celia was drawing to an end. He felt emptiness and foreboding at the thought. His mind wandered over the factors in his present situation.

At the heart of everything was Celia's relationship with Alex. Contrary to Alex's usual habits the relationship had been going on a long time. It stood to reason they would progress to wanting to live together.

It seemed that against all expectations Alex was settling down. David chided himself: everyone had a right to settle down eventually. However the conclusion was obvious: she would want to leave sooner or later to be with him.

David could not sort out his feelings about that. He was sad at the prospect, bereft even, in spite of the frosty situation he was in with her. She was cutting him off as a friend, and it brought a kind of loneliness and longing.

Now there was the complication of Siân. Celia clearly disliked her presence and hated Siân's relationship with David, and as a result, he could not see Celia staying if Siân moved in on a long term basis. He caught himself: there was no certainty Siân would want to stay very long, she needed her independence. He could end up with neither of them living with him.

He gave up. He needed to talk with Celia calmly and dispassionately and try to find out how things would go, now she was with Alex. He would also have a similar discussion with Siân. He realised he needed knowledge before he could plan a course of action. There was too much uncertainty. He realised that he had been prevaricating, not wanting to face Celia and the possible consequences.

As he entered the house he found the landing light was on but all other lights were out and there was no sign of life. He got himself a glass of milk and went to bed.


Chapter 19

As was his wont, David slept in on Saturday morning, since Celia was at home until mid morning. When he eventually emerged the children were playing and happy, and Celia's weekend bag was at the door.

"Everything's sorted," she said, coming down the stairs after him. "I'm off now."

"Celia, we need to..."

Without waiting for a reply, or saying goodbye, she had picked up her bag and left. He cursed inwardly, aware of little ears close by.

As always he enjoyed his time having the children to himself. Once they were in bed he phoned the Price's landline, to find that Siân was not at home but was visiting friends. He decided not to phone her mobile. He was in bed reading a chapter of his novel before settling to sleep, when she rang him back.

"You rang Dai? Is there a problem?"

"The usual one, love. I've had an interesting weekend so far and it's raised some thoughts, one of which is that I need to talk to you about them. It's too late now; shall I ring you tomorrow evening?"

"OK, Cariad," she replied cheerfully. "I'm wide awake, but you have the children in the morning and all day. I'm not going anywhere tomorrow night."

On Sunday it was cold but the sun shone from time to time, so he took the children to the park and let Evan play on the apparatus, while he pushed Bethan on a baby swing. He made a resolution to buy some things for the children to play on in the garden at home.

When evening came he fed the children and left them to play while he washed the pots. Then it was bed time and he began to wonder where Celia was. She was always back in time to help him put the children to bed. He shrugged and began the process by bathing Bethan and putting her to bed first, while Evan played in the living room. Then it was Evan's turn and he in turn was bathed and had his story.

As David returned downstairs he began to be concerned. Celia was never as late as that. By nine o'clock he began to worry. By nine thirty he phoned her mobile, but there was no reply. He left a message.

"Celia it's well after nine. Will you phone me as soon as you can to let me know if there's a problem."

By ten there had been no reply and David initially thought she would probably arrive very early the next morning as she often did mid-week, but it worried him that she had not replied to his voicemail.

He phoned her again.

"Celia, please let me know if you're going to be here tomorrow morning. If you're ill or unable to make it, I need to make arrangements with work."

By eleven thirty there had been no reply, and David began to be annoyed. He phoned Melissa at home.

"David?" she answered, clearly puzzled: David never phoned her at home, and certainly not so late.

"I apologise for ringing you so late," David said. "Celia has not returned from her weekend off-"

"As far as I can recall from our tête-à-tête on Friday," she interrupted, "you have no meetings until mid afternoon, so don't worry. I'll cover."

"Oh, Melissa, you're a star!"

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