One Night Stand Ch. 03byParanormalQueen©
It had been a few months since the party. Since seeing Tarquin...no, Paddy. For the first two to three weeks, Ada had been careful every time she went out. Careful that their paths never crossed. Not that it was likely that they were going to see each other again after such a long time and an accidental meeting but....just to be sure.
Now she needed to go shopping for a Christmas tree for Pandora. It was relatively early, being October, and especially as she normally got her Christmas shopping done late November, but she wanted this Christmas to be marvellous for Pandora. She was nearly four and would probably start remembering stuff now. So a beautiful Christmas was necessary.
'Okay, a big tree or a small tree?' Ada asked Pandora as they walked round Harrods. She had thought about getting a real tree but was scared as to how to set it up. With a non-real one, she simply had to follow instructions and if she got a gorgeous one, she could reuse it over and over again.
'A big one, Mummy!' Pandora squealed excitedly. She was resplendent in a cute bobble hat over her unruly curls, a cute red coat and blue jeans tucked into chestnut coloured Uggs.
Ada rolled her eyes playfully, 'A big one? And Mummy's gonna log that home how?'
Pandora screwed her nose in confusion, 'Log?'
Ada ruffled her curls, what she could see of it, 'Log...like carry. Don't worry, I'm going to order one and get it delivered home. Let's go pick something glorious.'
Thirty minutes of walking around and glancing at different trees resulted in the appropriate choice. Pandora had especially adored the search as she had been the recipient of smiles and coos on how cute and adorable she was. Ada laughed as Pandora grinned shyly and waved to the person Ada had placed her order with. Once that was settled, they moved on to Fortnum and Mason for some gifts.
Ada laughed inwardly at herself as she realised that she had saved the better part of her salary for the whole year for this moment. Normally, she went to John Lewis for all her Christmas shopping, but this time, especially as it was to be the first Christmas Pandora was likely to remember, she had decided to save and splurge for this year and she was not going to look at her bank statement till the year was over.
As she walked round, glancing back every so often at Pandora who was slightly behind her gazing at the cakes and hampers in awe, she smiled quietly to herself. This was perfect. She and her daughter. Whoever said a single parent could not cope without help was very much mistaken. Especially when such a child caused said parent so much love and joy. And was so well-behaved...she could cry for what God had given her.
Ada whirled round and spotted...oh No! It was Tarquin.
Of all the days, especially after all her furtive outings these past months! She quickly pushed Pandora behind her, her heart pounding rapidly.
'He...Hey, Tarquin. Wow! I didn't expect to see you here!' Ada said, forcing a wide smile.
Tarquin looked a little surprised at her warm reception, especially after the way they ended things at the charity event.
'Well, it is a store. And I decided to do some shopping myself today, hence my presence. Can't always have my assistant doing everything, can I?' Tarquin joked.
Ada laughed loudly, a little too loudly, 'Wow. No assistant helping you? Shocking!'
Tarquin just smiled, there was something definitely off with this conversation. Ada was being a bit harried, like she was trying to...was there somebody hiding behind her?
'Ada, are you okay?' Tarquin asked.
Ada shook her head, almost gulping, 'Yes! Of course, why would you say that?'
'I dunno...it's just that...are you hiding someone behind you?' Tarquin asked, trying to see behind her back.
Ada turned around, pushing Pandora behind her as she did so.
'Why would you think that? And stop peeking behind me, it's a bit childish.' She retorted.
Tarquin stopped immediately. He understood now why she was acting weirdly. 'Look Ada, I'm sorry but I think I know why you're acting this way.'
'Why?' Ada asked breathlessly. Oh fuck, fuck, fuckity fuck fuck!
'Look, I don't...I understand if you're living a new life now. It's fine. I'm engaged as well. But you don't have to hide your...C. H. I. L. D just because you don't want to hurt my feelings. I hurt yours so clearly that night and I understand. Truly.'
Ada looked at him for a minute. Was he serious? Was he really that obtuse that he thought she was hiding her child from him just because she did not want to hurt his feelings?
She burst out laughing immediately and, inadvertently, released a now squirming Pandora.
Pandora poked her head from behind her mum and grinned, 'Game over, Mummy?'
Tarquin looked at the bobble hat and at a suddenly still Ada who seemed to be...holding her breath? Why?
His heart suddenly thudded as he looked back slowly at the little girl.
'Hello.' He said quietly.
The girl looked back up at him and smiled shyly.
He stumbled backwards.
Oh my God.
This was...his daughter.
He looked back up at Ada. Her face was etched with fear, every bone, every expression. All fear-filled.
Ada stared at him, his face was incredibly pale. Oh shit, she thought.
'I'm so sorry.' She whispered before grabbing Pandora's arm and rushing out of the store.
As she turned towards the taxi rank and quickened her steps, she felt someone grab her arm and whirl her round roughly.
She let out a gasp as she was turned round to face an angry Tarquin.
'Is that my daughter, Ada?' He asked softly.
Ada swallowed, then looked down at her daughter. Pandora was looking at Tarquin fearfully.
This gave her her courage back. She shrugged out of his grip and raised her chin.
'We will not do this here like a couple of...chavs. Can't you see you're scaring MY daughter?'
Tarquin immediately looked contrite and eased out of his unconsciously intimidating stance.
'I apologise.' He said tightly. But sincerely. He glanced at the little girl once more, then sighed loudly.
'I don't even think I need the answer from you. It's pretty obvious what she is to me. Are you free tomorrow?' He asked abruptly.
Ada nodded, then shook her head, 'No I'm not. I have work tomorrow. And I normally close really late. Especially during this...'
'You're going to have to make time, I'm afraid. I must have this discussion with you. Tomorrow. 7 p.m.?' He cut in.
Ada just sighed. She knew there was no way out of this. She deserved his barely restrained anger. She had kept his child away from him. But not from lack of contact. She had tried to contact him before.
She nodded. 'Fine.'
Tarquin nodded too. Then he stretched out his hand as if he wanted to touch Pandora but the little girl shied away from him and ducked behind her mother.
Tarquin clenched his jaw tightly. Then raised the same hand to his hair before dropping it.
'Tomorrow.' He repeated, then spun round and stalked off.
Ada nodded to his retreating back before sighing deeply.
'Who that, Mummy?' Pandora asked as she gripped her mother's hand tightly while they walked to a free taxi.
Ada smiled softly, although it did not reach her eyes. She helped her daughter into the taxi, realising as she did so that all she had achieved that day was get a tree and out her hidden daughter to her, now furious father.
She slid in beside her daughter and kissed her daughter's clad hair, whispering as she did so, 'That's your daughter, my darling.'
'Shit! How did she take it? No, wait. How did he take it?' Jemima asked as she poured some white wine into a glass and passed it to Ada.
Ada shrugged half-heartedly as she took the glass and plopped herself unto the sofa. Jemima sat down next to her staring expectantly, yet sympathetically.
It had been a trying night. Pandora had been so excited when she heard that she had a father. It had not occurred to Ada that Pandora would feel the effects of being father-less. Oh, she had known that sooner or later, kids at school, or the park or somewhere would question Pandora's status and make her wonder where her father was...but she had not thought it would be so soon. That she would be missing what she had never had.
Putting her to sleep had been more tiring than usual. Pandora had asked numerous questions about where her father had been, what he was doing, why he was not here now, if he loved her.... Ada shook her head as she pinched the bridge of her nose. She had raised her voice at her.
At her daughter for the very first time.
It had been when she asked Pandora to brush her teeth and Pandora had flung her toothbrush into the sink saying that she wanted her daddy to do it for her and not her mummy.
Ada had yelled that she either brushed her teeth and got into bed or no bed time stories.
Pandora had burst into noisy tears before shakily bearing her teeth for their night time cleaning.
Ada had nearly burst into tears herself as she gathered her child into her arms and covered her face with kisses.
Now she simply stared at Jemima absently as she went through all the events of the night.
'Ada? If you don't want to talk about it, it's okay...' Jemima started, rubbing Ada's shoulder comfortingly but Ada shook her head.
'No. It's okay. Pandora has just been...rather excited about having a father. She can't wait till they're properly introduced.' Ada said as she took a large gulp from her glass.
She squinted a bit as the drink went down her throat. 'As for him...well, let's just say he wasn't best pleased. And that's a gross understatement.'
Jemima scowled, 'Well, that's his fault then. You did go over to his didn't you? Well, you did your bit as far as I'm concerned!'
Ada nodded, 'I know. But he wasn't there. He'd travelled...God knows where. So he never knew.'
Jemima raised an eyebrow, 'Oh and he was never told, I expect? I mean, none of his rude minions told him that a lady came over to his several times asking for him? They must have surely, and he should have tried to find out who it was.'
Ada shrugged, 'Possibly. But how would I know if he tried? I mean, I'm gonna ask him that tomorrow, definitely. Or maybe they didn't even tell him. A man like Tarquin...I'm sure he's got fuck loads of girls going over to his asking for him.' She added bitterly.
Jemima quickly said, 'Don't torment yourself about that. Just don't...don't let him make you feel guilty. Because you aren't. You have raised this child as yours...regardless of all the stick you've got. You have suffered and there was no one here for you, apart from Linda and I. If he had really wanted to find you, he would have looked for you. It was three years, Ada. He had three sodding years, so don't you dare feel guilty, Ada.'
Ada smiled as her eyes welled up. Jemima was right. She should not feel guilty. She had nothing to feel guilty about.
She was going to face him bravely tomorrow and by God he was not going to have her child!
It was 5 p.m.
Ada stared at her watch for a full minute as she tried to calm herself. She had not been at her best at work today. She had barely given the weekly meeting the concentration it deserved that morning, and it was pure luck that had saved her from embarrassing herself when she had been questioned on the manuscript she was editing for her latest author.
She looked up as Linda glanced at her from her table. She had not told Linda about everything but Linda was aware that she had an important meeting that evening.
Linda looked at the clock and stared back at her.
'Don't you have to be somewhere?' She asked.
Ada looked at her with blank eyes. She could not make her legs function to get up. Then she remembered that she had to do this. Or Tarquin would take Pandora away from her. He had the means to do so.
She quickly stood up on slightly shaky legs.
'Yes. Yes I do.'
Linda, as if knowing this was a very serious matter walked over to her and gave her a quick, tight hug.
'Go on, hun. Get out of here. And remember, I'm here for you. So whenever you're ready, if you're ever ready...just know that I'm here, okay?' Linda whispered in her ear.
Ada nodded and squeezed her best work buddy back.
Then she picked up her bag and walked out of the office quickly.
An hour and thirty minutes later, she stared at herself in the mirror. She was going for the calm, yet firm look and had settled on a slightly below-the-knee black dress and moderately heeled nude shoes. Her hair was in a chignon and she lightly glossed her lips, yet gave herself smoky eyes. This was to ensure that she did not cry.
She smiled coldly at her reflection then went to Pandora's room.
'Okay, hunnybun. Now Mummy might not be back in time to give you a cuddle, but I'll definitely take you to school tomorrow instead of aunty Jam Jam okay?'
Pandora nodded back, her attention wavering between her pretty mummy and Holly who had her transfixed by the magical tale of Enid Blyton's Faraway Tree.
'Okay Mummy. Kiss kiss.' Pandora raised her arms to give her mummy a big cuddle and rubbed, giggling at the sticky kiss her mummy placed on her cheek.
Ada walked to the door and looked back at her daughter who was giving Holly her full attention as Holly read to her.
Holly looked up at Ada and gave her a quick thumbs up before turning back to Pandora.
Ada smiled softly then left the room and went out of the house to her car.
If Tarquin thought he was going to get her child he definitely had another thing coming.
Tarquin barely restrained himself from looking at his watch again. He was at the Cocoon restaurant on Regent Street and had been there since 6:45 p.m. It was now 7:10 and Ada was not there yet.
He still could not believe that he had a daughter. A daughter with Ada, and she had not told him. Did she hate him that much? He had never even done anything to her; it was the other way round. Yet, she kept his daughter away from him. Well that was not going to continue, no way. If she was bull-headed about this then he was going to contact his lawyers.
He looked up, his jaw ticking then gulped quickly as he saw her walk in.
God, he could not even stay angry with her. She was so beautiful. Her eyes caught his, and he saw the cold look she gave him before looking away as she walked towards him.
Fine, if she wanted to play hard-ball then that was okay by him.
He stood up as she got to him and pulled out a chair for her.
She smiled coolly and nodded at the waiter who magically appeared by their table.
Tarquin had to restrain himself from scowling at the eager to please waiter. Normally, the waiters here acted snooty, but it seemed this one was bowled over by Ada's stunning looks.
Ada smiled and shook her head as the waiter asked solicitously if she needed any drinks, 'Just water, thank you.' Was her soft murmur.
Tarquin asked for a bottle of Krug 1995 and the waiter nodded quickly before disappearing as quickly as he came.
Ada arched an eyebrow as she smoothed the napkin by her plate, her shaking fingers unnoticed by him, 'Vintage champagne? Didn't think we were celebrating anything.'
Tarquin replied just as coolly, 'I think the 'appearance' of my child calls for celebration, don't you think?'
Ada smiled grimly then asked, all pretence at a civilised conversation gone, 'What do you want? If you want to tell me that you're going to take MY child away from me, then you are sorely mistaken because that is NOT going to happen.'
Tarquin opened his mouth with a retort but the waiter appeared once more.
'And here you are sir, madam. A bottle of our finest Krug 1995. A splendid vintage, let me assure you. One that...'
'That will be all for now.' Tarquin cut in.
The waiter nodded politely, 'Of course, sir. If madam, or sir, requires anything else please inform me.'
Ada smiled gratefully at the waiter who smiled back before vanishing.
'You really don't have to be rude, you know. But I guess being used to a lot of servants removes every semblance of courtesy from some.' Ada stated with a blank face.
Tarquin narrowed his eyes at her, 'If I'm being rude, which let me tell you I never am, it's simply because of the deceit you've engaged in. Not telling me about my child? For three years? That's cold, even for the girl who wanted a quick tumble to forget a fiancée that I'm beginning to think had a lucky escape.'
Ada's hands which had been nervously kneading her napkin stilled at that statement. Her eyes which had been set on the table looked up at his then looked back down.
Tarquin saw her take a deep breath then hold it in, as if she was trying to prevent herself from doing something...maybe crying, then she let out her breath slowly.
Tarquin knew that he had gone too far with that statement immediately and said, 'Look I'm sorry, that was uncalled for but...'
Ada cut in quickly, 'It doesn't matter. Your opinion of me does not matter. You can say all you like, that is your prerogative. The reason I came here to talk to you was to come to an agreeable decision about Pan...my...our daughter, and I would appreciate it if we just...focused on that.'
Tarquin sighed. He had well and truly burnt any bridges that could be built between them now. Not like that was necessary anyway, he reminded himself, he had a fiancée did he not?
'Fine. We'll do that. But first I would like to know why I never knew anything about her.'
Ada smiled bitterly at that, 'That's something you're going to have to ask...let's see...your security people, your housekeeper...oh and that burly bodyguard slash chauffeur that you had. You see, I came round to yours a few times the moment I realised I was pregnant to tell you about it. Not because I needed your money, I was and still am quite comfortable with what I'm earning, but because I thought you should know as the father. But your...people succinctly told me that you were not around, and they did not know when you were coming back. Oh, and they also informed me, in not so polite words, to refrain from disturbing your place with my presence. I may have been pregnant, but I had my pride. I stopped immediately.'
Tarquin gritted his teeth so hard that his jaw hurt. His workers had said that? He did not think for a second that Ada was lying because he saw the way she was struggling to hold back tears as she blankly told him what had happened. How dare they? Heads were going to roll when he got back home, that was for sure.
'Look I'm so, so, very sorry about that. I promise you, on my life, that I had no idea that that happened. I swear to you. And I assure you that something is going to be done about their impudence...'
Ada laughed as she raised a hand to halt his utterances.
'It doesn't matter. Honestly, Tarquin it doesn't. I'm actually quite pleased about it all. It gave me the courage and strength to chin up and take care of my problem. Only it didn't turn out to be a problem, because the moment I stared into Pandora's beautiful eyes I knew that she was the best 'problem' anyone could ever wish for.'
Tarquin's heart thudded slightly as he heard the unspoken love Ada had for their daughter.
Ada continued, 'And this is why I'm asking...no I'm begging you. That you don't take my daughter away from me. She's the only family I've got left so please...don't take her from me.'
Tarquin looked shocked as a tear slid down Ada's beautiful cheek and he could not stop himself from reaching out to wipe it away.
'Please don't cry. Please, Ada. I'm not going to take her away from you. I promise. I didn't know your family was dead...I swear...'
Ada laughed at this, albeit bitterly, 'Dead? It would be preferable if they were dead. My father was barely speaking to me when he heard that I'd ended everything with Ol...my ex-fiancee. He believed that men made 'mistakes' and should be forgiven. After all, my mother always forgave him his little affairs. Why shouldn't I do the same? Then I told him I was pregnant with someone else's child. Not only was I having a child out of wedlock, but I was pregnant for a white man. I thought my father would kill me that day.' Ada looked away as she remembered the beating she had received. Something she thought would not occur ever again as it had been years since he had last hit her.