Read 31 Days of Autumn Online

Authors: C.J. Fallowfield

31 Days of Autumn (5 page)

‘No one could ever replace you, Brooke. You’re
the first, the original, and the best. But I do love Jenny, too. I spend a lot
of time with her, we have become really close.’

‘Because she’s around you all the time, like I
used to be. It’s not fair,’ she whined, with a petulant stamp of her foot. ‘I’m
missing so much. I bet Jonas doesn’t even remember me.’

‘No one could ever forget you, Brooke. Come on,
don’t let Jenny outdo you, get me out of this bed and we can both go and get
changed. I want to see Molly as much as you want to see the boys and I’m bloody
starving. Tell me Dan’s ordered the Cantonese already?’

‘Honestly, he may as well have hired the
restaurant to cook in for us, he’s ordered that much food. Treble portions for
him, double for you. It’s a wonder you aren’t both the size of elephants.’

‘Hello, look at me?!’ I giggled. ‘I can’t even
get out of my bloody bed, fat lot of use you are. Go and call Jenny for me.’

‘No way,’ she uttered. ‘The Brooke can do
anything Commando Girl can do. Ok, let me Hulk up.’ I burst out laughing as she
pulled a face of concentration and took on a Sumo wrestler stance, trying to
make herself look bigger.

‘Stop, you’ll make me pee my pants, too.’

‘Hey, you’ve squirted a baby out of that
vagina, you can be forgiven for a weak bladder. I have no excuse. How did you
get yours to spring back to full tightness so fast?’

‘Lots and lots of daily pelvic floor exercises.
Ones I’ll need to use right now if you don’t get my fat arse out of this bed.’

‘Ok, brace yourself,’ she warned, crossing her
hands over to take mine, then pulling with all her might as I did my best to
help her by using my thigh muscles. She screeched with joy as I rose up off the
bed, but let go of me too fast and we both screamed as I toppled over and
landed on top of her in a heap on the floor.

‘Shit, Ellie, are you ok? The baby?’ Brooke
gasped, as I tried to catch my breath while I palmed the floor on either side
of her shoulders.

‘I’m fine, I’m fine,’ I panted, getting over
the shock. ‘I can feel her moving, you cushioned the fall, but you woke her up
as well, that’s for sure.’

‘Thank God. I think I need help though, you’re
bloody heavy, woman,’ she grimaced, trying to roll me off her.

‘‘Ellie?’ yelled Dan, the sound of his feet
taking the stairs two at a time getting closer and closer.

‘O shit, he’s so going to smack me, isn’t he?’
Brooke groaned.

‘You never know, you might end up liking it, I
did,’ I laughed.

‘I’ll love it as much as he’d love my Quattro
Handson,’ she giggled, waving her fingers at me. ‘O crap.’

‘What?’

‘I don’t just need some clean knickers now. Do
you have any clothes that might fit me? All that pressure on top of my bladder
has caused a bit more than a leak,’ she moaned, her cheeks bright red. We both
burst out laughing, just as Dan stormed in and gave us a disapproving look.

‘Honestly. Five bloody minutes I leave you
alone,’ he huffed. ‘Ellie, are you ok?’

‘Is
Ellie
ok? I’m the one trapped
beneath her, I can hardly breathe.’ Brooke grimaced when she saw the look Dan
gave her. ‘Sorry, sorry, insensitive. She said she was fine, but get her up and
make sure.’

I managed to roll onto my back and held up my
hands for Dan to grab, offering him an apologetic smile to see how stressed he
looked. His eyes widened in horror as he looked down at us.

‘Fuck, Ellie, we need to get you to the
hospital, now. Your waters have broken all over Brooke.’

‘No, Ellie’s fine,’ she whispered, covering her
eyes with embarrassment. ‘That would all be me and my pitiful bladder control.’

‘Jesus Christ,’ he groaned, shaking his head as
I burst out laughing again. I’d really missed my best friend.

 

We ventured down when we were both changed and
Dan grimaced amidst the screams of excitement as I hugged Molly, and Brooke
grabbed both of the boys for cuddles and kisses.

‘Molly, I’ve missed you so much,’ I exclaimed,
wiping more tears from my eyes. These damn pregnancy hormones got me every
single time.

‘We’ve missed you, too. And the boys. I can’t
believe how much they’ve both grown in a few weeks. I hate that we’re missing
out on seeing them growing up every day.’

‘They miss you, too. Look at Oliver, he’s so
excited to be in Brooke’s arms.’

‘Why’s she in different clothes?’ Molly frowned
as she cocked her head, looking at Brooke. I pulled a face and giggled. ‘No!
Not again? She really needs to see a doctor, that’s not normal. I keep telling
her I’m worried about her, but she doesn’t listen.’

‘Well, we’ll work on her together this week, ok?’
I clasped her concerned face and kissed her forehead. She was right to be
worried. For someone Brooke’s age, who hadn’t had children, it wasn’t normal. I
frowned myself when I scanned Molly’s face, she was hiding something. ‘Is there
more that you’re not telling me?’

‘It’s nothing,’ she shrugged. ‘You have enough
on your plate with a baby due any moment.’

‘Molly,’ I warned. ‘She’s my best friend, I
need to know.’

‘She’s lost weight and she seems to be more tired
than normal. She has a nap when we get home every day. What if she has cancer
or something, Ellie? What if she’s left it too long to be seen?’ Molly’s eyes
filled with tears as she looked at me for answers, but I was more shocked that
there’d been a problem and no one had said a word.

‘O, Molly, how long have you been worrying
about this?’ I asked, taking both of her hands in mine.

‘It’s been more noticeable for about the last
two months,’ she sighed, looking over at Brooke again. She was on the floor playing
with Oliver, Jonas, and Jenny, totally oblivious that we were talking about her.

‘Why didn’t you say anything?’ I chastised.
Molly went red and looked at the floor.

‘I asked her not to, I didn’t want you to
worry,’ Dan stated. I gasped as I fixed him with my most disapproving stare. He
immediately held his hands up in the air in surrender. ‘I’m sorry, I knew you’d
worry and I didn’t want your blood pressure going up. I didn’t realise how bad
it was with Brooke. Molly, get her to a doctor straight away and if she needs
to see a specialist, I’ll pay to get her looked at immediately, ok?’

‘I’ve been trying, but she keeps telling me I’m
fussing over nothing,’ Molly sighed, wiping her eyes. ‘I can’t lose her, Ellie,
I just can’t.’

‘No one’s losing anyone,’ I said firmly,
pulling her into a tight hug, though inside I was feeling completely sick.
After the death of my parents, I wasn’t sure I was strong enough to lose
someone else that I loved. ‘We’ll ring up for an emergency appointment tomorrow
without telling her. James can take the three of us while Jenny looks after the
boys. She won’t know where we’re going until we get there, ok?’

‘Ok, thank you,’ Molly smiled as I released
her. She blew her nose and wiped her eyes, trying to compose herself.

‘What can I do?’ Dan asked, looking lost. He
was never comfortable with womanly talk.

‘Nothing, until we know what it is,’ I replied
with a shake of my head. ‘I understand you being stressed about me, but if you
ever keep anything like this from me again, I won’t be so forgiving. You’re
lucky we have company or I’d be raising my voice right now.’

‘I’m sorry,’ he grimaced.

‘Go and chase up the food, I’m starving. After
dinner, why don’t you go and work in the study and leave us to have a girls’
night, to take Molly’s mind off it?’ I suggested, doing my best to rein in my
anger. I was furious with him. This was my best friend who might be seriously
ill. He had no right to hide that from me.

‘You really don’t mind me working?’ he asked,
looking relieved.

‘Not at all, I know how behind you are. In fact,
I’ll insist on it, as I’m so angry at you, I’m liable to do something I
won’t
regret,’ I scowled.

‘It was my choice not to tell you, too,’ Molly
interjected. ‘Don’t blame Dan, he’s as worried about you as I am about Brooke.’

‘I get that, but as my
husband
, there
shouldn’t be any lies or deliberate concealment of facts between us. Especially
not after how we met, he should know better,’ I stated, throwing a poignant
look his way. He sighed and ran his hands over his face, knowing there was no
way he was going to win this argument.

‘Mummy,’ squealed Oliver, making us all jump
and look around. I soon forgot about my worry, and my anger, when I saw Brooke had
him pinned down to the floor, tickling him as he writhed and giggled his head
off. Jonas was clapping his hands with a big smile on his face as he sat
between Jenny’s legs, watching.

‘Ellie, they’re such handsome boys,’ Molly
advised, linking arms with mine. ‘Can you imagine how pretty your little girl
is going to be?’

‘If she looks anything like her mother, breath-taking,’
Dan murmured softly.

‘Don’t think flattery will get you off the hook,
Oliver Daniel Davenport,’ I replied, narrowing my eyes. ‘And where’s dinner? I
wasn’t lying when I said I was starving.’

‘Can’t wait for the cranky hormones to
subside,’ he muttered, disappearing to the kitchen with a shake of his head.

‘You and me both,’ I called. I waited until he
was distracted making his phone call at the kitchen island before I excused
myself and headed to the guest bedroom bathroom. I shut the door behind me, not
bothering with the lock as I held my stomach and winced. These cramping pains
had just come out of nowhere while I was talking to Molly, but I didn’t want to
worry him, so I’d said nothing. Then the shock of Molly being so upset about
Brooke maybe being ill overrode them. I couldn’t ignore them now though. I
grabbed the sink and pulled myself over to the toilet. I sat on the lowered seat,
closed my eyes, and practiced some deep breathing, and they slowed and stopped
just as fast as they’d come on. ‘What are you trying to tell me, Eva?’ I
whispered, placing one hand on my stomach. ‘Are you ready to come out to meet
your brothers? Please just hang on for a few more days.’

I smiled when I felt a small kick from her. Her
movements had slowed in the last few weeks, which I’d learned was usual as they
got too big to move freely in the womb. I hadn’t told Dan yet that I wanted to
call her Eva, after my mother. I wasn’t sure how he’d feel about that, whether
he’d find it weird. I immediately felt guilty. Here I was being angry with him
for hiding Molly’s concerns from me and I hadn’t even discussed the name I
wanted to call our daughter. I continued to breathe slowly in and out, trying
to calm myself back down and not think about our minor tensions, or the
possibility of Brooke being seriously ill. It had just been the two of us for
so long, until we found Dan and Molly. She was as good as a sister to me. I
loved Molly and Jenny, but the connection I had to Brooke was so much stronger.
I cursed myself when I felt tears rolling down my cheeks. What if she did have
cancer and it was too late to treat her? All because she’d been her stubborn
self and refused to see a doctor? I looked up when I heard a rap at the door,
but everything was blurred by the salt stinging my eyes.

‘Ellie, what’s going on? You’ve been gone ages.
Is everything ok?’ Dan called.

‘No, I need you,’ I sobbed. I didn’t care that
I was mad with him anymore. I just wanted him to hold me and tell me everything
was going to be ok, but I couldn’t seem to move, much as I wanted to. Seconds
later, he was crouching in front of me, wiping my tears away.

‘Do we need to get to the hospital?’

‘No. It’s Brooke, what if she’s really ill?’

‘Then I’ll pay for the best specialist money
can buy and we’ll make her better. I don’t care what it costs, ok? Please try
and calm down, crying isn’t going to help her and it’s not going to help you or
our daughter.’

‘Eva, I want to call her Eva,’ I sniffed,
attempting a smile.

 ‘Eva, like your mum?’

‘Yes, ok?’ I asked hesitantly.

‘Eva Davenport,’ he said slowly, testing the
name. ‘I love it.’

‘You’re not just saying that because I’m a
crying mess and you’re scared of my hormonal mood swings?’

‘I
am
scared of your hormonal mood
swings, but I’m man enough to stand my ground when I don’t agree with something.
I think it’s a beautiful name and the perfect way to honour your mum. Come on,
the food arrived soon after I rang them, it was already on the way. You’ll feel
better when you’ve had something to eat. You can relax with the girls for a
while, but I want you to have an early night and I won’t accept any arguments
on that front. My little girl needs you to stay as stress-free as possible.’ He
stood up and held out his hands. I took them and let him pull me up, grateful
my cramps seemed to have gone as fast as they came on. He turned me sideways
and pulled me against him, encouraging me to lean my head on his muscular chest
as he kissed the top of my head. ‘I’m sorry for keeping you in the dark, but
this is why. Look at the state you’ve got yourself in. I was just trying to
protect you.’

‘I know,’ I whispered. ‘I’m sorry I’m so
cranky.’

‘Don’t worry. I called John and asked him to
pull his mask and cape out of retirement for you when he comes to visit,’ he
chuckled, making me smile. He held my hips at the sink while I grabbed some
cotton wool out of the guest cabinet and used some hot water to remove my
streaked mascara. I soon smiled when he led me by the hand back into the open-plan
lounge kitchen and diner. Everyone was around the table, Jonas in his high
chair banging his spoon on his tray.

‘Mama,’ he cried, giving me a wide smile.

‘Hello, gorgeous,’ I smiled, kissing the top of
his head. Brooke frowned at me as she caught my eye. She always knew when I’d
been crying.

‘Ok?’ she mouthed.

‘I’m fine,’ I lied, swallowing hard to stop
myself from crying again. Molly was right, she had lost weight and looked paler
than normal. How had I not seen that until now?

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