tagNovels and NovellasGoes Without Saying Pt. 05

Goes Without Saying Pt. 05

byAlwaysraining©

Chapter 21

David hurried out of the house and into his car. It was not far to drive to Alex's place and it seemed no time before he was parking in the car park belonging to the flats. He sat for some moments, feeling fear. How would Celia react to him? Would she reject him out of hand? Only one way to find out. He sighed and left the car, climbing the stairs to Alex's flat.

He let himself in and went to the living area; no one there. He had passed the empty bathroom and kitchen on the way, so only the two bedrooms remained, the doors to both of which were closed.

He knocked on the first bedroom, Alex's. and peered in. Empty. He knocked on the second door and called out gently: "Celia?" as he opened it.

She was sitting up in bed, reading a book. She glanced up, saw him and he saw her frown, then look distressed.

For his part, David was taken aback. It had only been a few days, had he not noticed before she left? Her face looked thin, almost gaunt, and very pale. Her eyes were tired and dull. It stopped him dead.

"No!" she groaned, dropping the book on the quilt and closing her eyes. "I don't need this! How did you get in?" Then her eyes opened in surprise. "This is Alex's idea, isn't it? He's decided he can't cope with me any more.

"Well, I'm not surprised, it's ok, I've got my flat. Please David, go. I'm OK, I don't need any help from you. Have you left the children alone in the house?"

"Alex is there. He's staying until I get back. Siân's there as well. The children will be fine. But you, love, you don't look at all well."

"I'm fine," she almost sighed. "It's nothing to do with you anyway. Not any more." Then her voice took on a harder edge and she grimaced. "It's too late to be begging me to come back. You've got Siân now, and I heard what you said about me in the pub. You made your opinion of me clear enough when you told them you wanted to get rid of me. Well you have, so go home. I don't know what you came for anyway. Leave me alone."

She sank back and looked defeated and thoroughly miserable.

"Celia, sweetheart, you're so wrong about the pub," David said quietly. Ozzy told you and Alex that that's what I said. Ozzy arrived in the pub right at the end of Bill's account of what I'd said, and even Bill didn't get it right. Come to that, since when has Ozzy ever got anything right?"

"Celia smiled bleakly for the first time since David entered the bedroom though it was only a half smile, then she became serious. "So what did you tell them?"

"What I said, was that if the atmosphere were to carry on between us as it has been, I couldn't see much of a future for us because it would eventually upset the children. I said something like if you couldn't stand living with me any more, you'd have to leave, but it was not what I wanted. I said that because of the coldness between us and because I believed you and Alex were an item now, you'd probably be leaving anyway to live with him."

She roused and now looked puzzled. "Alex? Alex and me? Where d'you get that idea?"

"I know that's wrong now: Alex told me the truth. But Alex did begin avoiding me, didn't he? He was never available during your time off, was he? And on New Year's Eve-"

"Oh Hell!" she closed her eyes as if defeated. "Our friends, they tried to cover for us, and you saw what was going on."

"Siân did. We went to the club and saw you both leave in a hurry as we arrived - it was obvious you'd been tipped off and were avoiding us. We followed you and we saw you in his bedroom taking off your clothes. Can you see why I thought you two were in a relationship and were trying to keep it from me?"

She now gazed at him. "David you've got the wrong idea. I agree, not surprisingly. But-"

"I know, I did have the wrong idea, until tonight when Alex told me everything and I mean everything. How you've been feeling so much stress over all these weeks and months. I've been so stupid, so wrapped up in my own hurt."

"David it's not a year yet. No one would expect-"

"I know, but I wasn't seeing how it's been agony for you, living with me, so close and being ignored."

"I've always understood how much you've missed Gwen, been preoccupied."

"Celia, love, You said when you first arrived and I was trying to put you off, that you loved me."

There was a silence as she seemed to perk up, as if talk of her love for him energised her.

Then, almost as if it was forced from her she said quietly, "Still do. Never stopped. But I made you a promise-"

"Which you kept," David agreed seeking to reassure her. "You've been so strong, such a rock for me, but look where it's got you now. It's been too much for you - made you ill!"

"The children kept me going..."

"And Alex," added David. "Bless him, he's supported you all through."

"He's been wonderful," she agreed with a wistful smile, then became earnest. "But Davie, he's not... we're not..."

"I really do know that now! If only we'd talked earlier..."

"Davie, my promise. You had to come to me. You didn't."

The reproof was tempered by her affectionate use of his name. He smiled.

"I have now."

She had been staring at the wall, but now stared at him, surprised, her eyebrows questioning his meaning, wondering if perhaps... Then her expression clouded.

"What about Siân?" she said, then pensively, "I lost hope..." Then she looked horrified that she'd said too much.

"Oh yes, Siân," David had been standing the whole time, but now moved forward and perched at the end of her bed. "Look. You've been so lonely living with me and it's been very stressful for you, and Alex has told me you turned to him for comfort and on some rare occasions you slept together. True?"

She coloured. "Yes, but-"

"Well, I've been lonely too. Siân might not be a blood relation, so it's not incest, but there's nothing permanent there between us either. We went to bed together after talking for hours about Gwen. Siân wanted to comfort me. That's all. Once she's found a flat of her own, she'll be leaving."

"Pardon?"

"She'll be leaving when she gets a flat."

"No, what did you say before that?"

David smiled. He thought she would home in on that short statement. He repeated it.

"You said that you loved me but you would do nothing about it, you said I would have to come to you. Well, I've come now."

"I don't understand. What's changed?"

"You don't believe me? It was Siân who woke me up to something I've really known ever since you arrived to help me. Alex said that you told him you've always felt the same about me."

"He did?"

"Yes, he said you've been consistent all through. He said you knew after a couple of weeks that you'd made a mistake with Gary and have regretted it ever since, but worse, that you blame yourself for Gwen's death because you went with Gary, otherwise we might have married and Gwen would not have been pregnant with Beth, and therefore would not have died."

Celia's face showed her guilt and deep sorrow. David hastened on.

"Celia, my love, you have to stop thinking like that. Your decision to go with Gary was not the only free decision made on that matter."

He could see her wanting to reject his reasoning, and ploughed on.

"No, darling, listen. Gwen did not have to make the decision to marry me. I did not have to make the decision to marry her. We might not have decided to make love the night when Evan was conceived but watched TV instead, and thus a different child might have been conceived weeks or months later, which in turn would have meant that Beth would not have been conceived. A different second child might not have caused the problem that killed her."

"But that's what happened!"

"Yes, all those decisions did contribute, but yours was one among many. Come to that, I hear that you decided you wanted me that night when we first met and Gwen gave way and went with Alex. But Gwen and I got on famously that night and she could have made the decision to refuse your request. Gwen and I might have married years before as a result. You could say that if she'd been a bit more selfish, she'd be alive today.

"But she wasn't selfish."

"No but it was her free decision to be generous. She contributed decisions as well. More sombrely, she could have married someone else and suffered the same catastrophe. It might have been on the cards because of a weakness in her own system. In which case it really has nothing to do with you at all.

"What I'm saying is that there were lots and lots of other decisions apart from yours. Don't be selfish and hog all the blame. Celia, my darling, forgive yourself. You know, if there's life after death, Gwen will have forgiven any part you might have played in the matter. It never crossed my mind that you would have had anything to do with her early death. Sweetheart, let it go, please?"

She looked thoughtful. 'I never thought of it like that. I'll still feel I bear a little guilt, though."

There was a pause.

"You said something about Siân making you see something." There was a certain eagerness in her voice.

"Yes, Siân. She's made me realise... When I thought you and Alex were seeing each other, you know, when I thought you were going behind my back, meeting secretly, I felt terrible: it hurt so much that you were both deceiving me, but it took Siân to point out why I was so miserable. She kept on at me to talk to you, but somehow the opportunity never arose."

"David, what did she make you see? Get to the point!" She was urgent now.

"Alex had finished telling me everything and asked me how I felt about you. Siân came into the room and said something like, 'the great idiot's in love with her,' She said my jealousy when I thought you were with Alex showed it." He laughed. "She wondered if my vision was clearing enough to see it."

"And?" Now she was urgent, excited, avid to hear the words she so longed for.

"I had to agree. Celia my darling, I admit it: I am hopelessly in love with you. You said that I would have to come to you." David said with a smile. "Well, as I've already said, I'm here. I've come. I've come because I'm in love with you and I want you to come home to be with us."

She looked excited, then unsure. "David what about Gwen?"

"You remember when you were so upset the first time Siân came to my bed, you know, the time she left her knickers behind? Well, I think I told you that we talked about Gwen for ages before Siân took me to bed."

"Yes, but what's that got to do with-"

"Siân impressed on me that above all, Gwen's aim in her life was to make other people happy, so she would want me to move on and be happy. I think I realised and accepted for the first time since she died that it was true. Gwen will always be with me in one sense, but Siân assured me Gwen will be happy to share!" He laughed and Celia smiled.

"I feel the same way," she said reflectively. "She was always my best friend; after she married you she never let our friendship drop. She used to say she felt a little disloyal to you since you wouldn't have anything to do with me, but she was adamant that she would not let me go! I needed her so much at the time. She knew how much I loved you."

"So it will be a ménage à trois after a fashion!" said David. "We both love her and she loved both of us. I think that if I hadn't been so convinced you and Alex were an item, I would have realised sooner how I feel about you. I do love you, you know."

She sank back against her pillows, the picture of relief and happiness.

"I had a clue just now," she said smiling at him, "when you used all those lovely words to me: my love, darling, sweetheart. I so needed you to say it out loud and you did. Now I must make you a solemn promise: there will never be anyone else in my heart, apart of course from Gwen.

"I learned my lesson with Gary very quickly and I won't make the same mistake again. It's always been you my darling, ever since I came to my senses. As you said, after a fortnight with Gary I knew how selfish I'd been when I was with you, how immature. I've grown up. Now, would you please kiss me?"

He moved up the bed, leant forward and touched his lips to hers, parted, then touched again, parted then really kissed her, lips ranging against lips, a hint of tongue, nibbles at inner lips. It was a while before they parted, gazed at each other and smiled.

"You've no idea how much I've longed for that, just one little kiss from you." She whispered, as if it were a secret. "I used to remember how we loved to just kiss before I was so stupid. It was so intimate, so gentle, so selfless. I'd kissed a lot of men, but no one ever kissed me like you did.

"After Gary I used to ache for you and your kisses. When I came to you and the children it was painfully frustrating after I'd admitted my love for you when you never responded - I know it was for the best of reasons, you were so bereaved. Now I'm so happy!"

"Me too," he said gently, as he played with her hair, such an intimate gesture.

She sighed with pleasure and contentment, but then her face clouded. "David," she said hesitantly. "What now?"

David wondered what exactly she meant by the question, but gave her an answer. After all, she could always ask him a more direct question if what he said was not enough, or was not the answer she was looking for.

"Well," he said. "Immediately, if you feel up to it, I'd like you to come home." He paused. "This time for good."

"And?" There was half a smile.

"It won't be the same as before, will it?"

"How so?" Now she looked devious and her eyes sparkled.

"Everything's changed, hasn't it?" he essayed. "For instance, there's the matter of where you are going to sleep. I mean, you might be perfectly comfortable in your own room..."

"David Antony Musgrave stop playing about! I think you know where I'd feel most comfortable."

"So?"

"I need an invitation, David." Now her smile was broad, confident.

"Celia Thompson, would you like to join me in my bed - room?"

Now her smile was satisfied. "Permanently?" she asked, cocking her head to one side.

"Of course."

She relaxed. "Then I accept your invitation." She paused for thought, then, "But what about Siân?"

"You want her to join us?" he asked wickedly.

"I don't think so!" she exclaimed. "But won't she feel pushed out?"

"It's good of you to think of her, but since she's been pushing for us to get together, I think she'll rather expect you to take her place."

He paused and looked at her. "Are you feeling up to going home now?"

She started at that, and another smile lit up her face. David noticed a change in her. From dull and lifeless when he arrived, her eyes now sparkled and danced, and her face while still looking thin, had lost its pallor and somehow no longer looked so gaunt.

"Oh, David, I'd love to! I can't wait to see the children again!"

David couldn't resist his reply, "They'll be asleep!"

She looked at him. "You know, I don't think you ever joked with me since I arrived. I always loved you playing with words. Anyway, I didn't say 'I can't wait for the children to see me', I said I wanted to see them! I can see them if they are asleep."

"Touché," David conceded. "Shall we go then?"

She leapt out of bed and began to scurry around putting her stuff together and packing the case. David sat on the bed watching the woman before him who was eagerly intent on being ready as soon as possible to go home.

The word arrested him. Yes, where he lived with the children had been his home, never Celia's. She was an employee, and had her own place, her flat, but now he was sure Celia was joining the family, no longer as nanny and housekeeper. So as what? He needed to be clear in his mind about that.

All right, she would be sharing his bed, she would be bringing up the children with him, they would be making love. Making love? His mind flashed back to those years together when they shared a bedroom, made love, were a couple.Then another memory: the ring he had been about to offer her when she left him. Then he knew.

She zipped up the bag and turned to him. "Ready to go?" she asked.

"I am, but I don't think you are."

She looked puzzled until he nodded at her body, still in the nightdress.

"What am I like?" she grinned, then cackled with laughter. She unzipped the bag and took out a tee shirt and jeans, stripped off her nightdress, and put them on without underwear.

He had no time to be surprised by her heedless nudity as she changed in front of him. She was bringing back memories for him by the minute. He saw again the rather dippy blonde he used to live with, and was recapturing the fun and laughter of that time. He shook his head.

Then it came to him that under the light frothiness she seemed to have regained in her excitement, there was now a maturity which had been missing before. It was a maturity born of mistakes made and the years of suffering they brought, of devotion to the children as their nanny: that selfless dedication which cost her so much over those months before her suffering became too much for her.

He looked up and saw her staring at him with a worried frown. He smiled at her.

"I was just thinking how lucky I am having you back," he said, almost afraid she could read his thoughts. "That's all. Don't worry, I'm not going to change my mind, not now, not ever."

Relief crossed her face and she picked up her bag. "Shall we go now?" she asked with a grin, the grin he always had loved.

-

Chapter 22

There was no conversation during the short car journey, there was simply too much to talk about and emotions were too intense. Out of the blue he thought that this was a time when it did go better without saying anything! However, as they approached the house he could sense her tensing up.

He grabbed her bag as they exited the car, and was nearly at the front door when he noticed Celia still standing by the passenger door. His look at her was enough for she put a smile on her face, he could tell, and walked towards him.

He opened the door and stood aside to allow her to enter, but she stood apprehensively on the threshold as if afraid or unworthy to enter. Then Siân appeared at the living room door and a huge bright smile lit her face as she moved rapidly to Celia, who, as if Siân's smile were a permission, walked in, and the two women came together in an tight embrace.

David could not hear the words which passed between them as they hugged each other but it did not surprise him that both were now in tears. Alex came to the living room door and looked at the pair then at David. The two men shared a puzzled smile and a shrug of the shoulders.

"I so hoped he would bring you home," said Siân, now holding Celia by her arms. "I hope..."

"It's like a huge weight has been lifted off me," Celia said, sniffing a little. "I've loved him for so long, but I was never sure..."

"But you are now?" Siân proclaimed, rather than asked.

"He said so," Celia told her, "so it must be true."

The two laughed and Celia went to Alex and putting her arms round his neck. Kissed his lips long and hard. Alex's hands went to her waist but simply held her rather than pulling her closer as a lover would.

"Oh, Alex, my darling," she said breathlessly, "I'm so grateful; you've been so good to me over all these months. There aren't any words..."

"Goes without saying then," David said cheerfully, having walked over the threshold, and was standing grinning at the pair, who looked back initially in confused guilt but dissolved into smiles that David was not annoyed at her display of affection for his friend.

He felt a tremendous surge of affection for both of them and of relief that they were back in their tightest of friendships. That friendship circle was widened by the addition of Siân, who now hugged David and kissed him as Celia had kissed Alex.

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