Halo Ch. 02byMygypsy©
"Glad to see you're not being a stranger anymore," Brent said in reference to Janey's absence over the last few weekends.
Janey looked away from him not sure what to say; she noticed Brad watching her with a closed expression on his face and she looked down to avoid his gaze.
"Yeah, it's good to see you again. You can help me when this lot all gang up on me and make me do the dishes just because I'm the youngest!" Matty said in mock horror sensing her unease.
"What makes you think I'd help with the dishes?" Janey joked as she sent a relieved smile his way and gave a nervous laugh.
"Oh please!" Matty said clasping his hands together as if in prayer.
Janey laughed as she shook her head at him and then looked away.
Matty caught the way Ren was watching him and glanced at Janey then back at Ren.
'Is Ren jealous because I made Janey laugh?' Matty wondered but when he looked at Ren once more the older man looked away first.
Janey turned her head towards the hallway listening intently before glancing at Brad. "Nicky's waking up," she told him.
"I'll go get him," Brad said as he headed for the bedroom.
"How's it going 'Tanaya?" Brent asked as 'Tanaya came into the lounge room from the kitchen.
"Good thanks. I got the cakes I promised you pair on cooking." 'Tanaya said with a smile at Matty and Brent.
"I hope you made mine vanilla," Matty said with his usual friendly grin.
"Now you tell me!" 'Tanaya pretended to roll her eyes dramatically.
Catching sight of Brad returning to the room with Nicky, who was clearly not long awake, 'Tanaya sent Janey an uneasy glance before walking over to Brad to stroke Nicky's arm.
"Hallo Nicky, did you wake up?" 'Tanaya asked softly.
Nicky ignored her as he cuddled into his father's chest and yawned sleepily.
"How about a dry nappy Nicky?" Janey asked quietly as she reached for the nappy bag.
"Daddaddaddad," Nicky chanted and Janey had to smile.
"Looks like you're on nappy duty Daddy," Janey said to Brad.
Brad grimaced but moved to where he could lay Nicky on the lounge and change his nappy.
"We're in for some storms later," Brent said as he headed for the kitchen with Ren and Matty following him.
"Keep away from that oven!" 'Tanaya called after them.
* * * * *
Janey twirled her engagement ring on her finger restlessly, she glanced at her mother where she was peeling potatoes at the kitchen sink and sighed softly.
Nicky sat on the floor nearby playing with 'his' collection of old pots and pan lids.
"Mum, how did you know that Dad was the one for you?" Janey asked quietly.
"So that's what's been on your mind," Marina said as she paused to look at her daughter.
Janey met her mother's look for several seconds before looking away.
"There was never any doubt for me that your father was the man I wanted to marry. He has always made me feel special, as if I was the only woman in the world for him. He was seeing someone else when we first met but that ended rather quickly and he started courting me." Marina said with a smile, she glanced at Janey who was frowning as she worried the ring on her finger.
"You having doubts about Adam being the right one for you?" Marina asked gently.
"When we're together it's really good. Adam is so considerate of me and always makes sure I know he'll protect me no matter what, he makes me feels so safe and secure when he's around. Plus he's so good with Nicky and treats him as if he were his son. But sometimes when we're apart ... I ... it's hard to explain but sometimes I feel stronger without him." Janey said, her voice almost trailing away in her uncertainty as she shrugged unhappily.
"Maybe you're just not as ready to settle down as Adam is, especially if you're having doubts," Marina said quietly.
"Oh I'm ready as I'll ever be!" Janey rushed to say, "I've got a child, I need a steady relationship."
Marina reframed from telling Janey that just because she had a child she needed a man to stand by her.
"How did today go? Was Nicky's father happy to see him?" Marina asked to divert Janey's attention.
"Brad? Yes he was very happy to see Nicky. And we're going back tomorrow and on Wednesday afternoon. It's Brad's birthday and Ren invited us over for tea with them, so Nicky can be there on his father's birthday," Janey said with a wide smile.
Marina couldn't help but notice the animation that had come to her daughter's face as she spoke about being invited for the birthday celebration. Was it the invitation or the one who had asked her that had put the sparkle in her eyes?
"Have you decided on a present for Nicky's father?" Marina asked.
Janey smiled to herself as she remembered the suggestions that had been bandied about by Ren, Matty and Brent. Most had revolved around the fact that Ren was often disturbed of a night by noises from the bedroom Brad shared with 'Tanaya.
"I'm sure I can find something on Monday or Tuesday," Janey said as she glanced at Nicky who had stopped banging the saucepans and lids together.
"J'ink?" Nicky asked hopefully.
"You want a drink do you?" Janey asked as she picked up her son.
"J'ink!" Nicky confirmed.
"Dddddrink," Janey corrected gently as she retrieved Nicky's sippy cup from the fridge and added watered down juice.
Nicky took the cup eagerly and raised it to his mouth; he drank thirstily only stopping for a breath when he could drink no more.
"Ahhh!" Nicky let out a sigh of satisfaction as he took a deep breath.
"Oh wow! You did sound thirsty," Marina said with a laugh.
"Uncle Matty taught him that today," Janey said with a fond smile.
"You actually like Nicky's father's friends?" Marina asked curiously.
"Brad, Nicky's father is called Brad," Janey said and paused for a few seconds before smiling, "and yes, I do like his friends. They're actually pretty okay."