Read 31 Days of Autumn Online

Authors: C.J. Fallowfield

31 Days of Autumn (6 page)


Day Four

Tuesday 8


‘Stuart,’ I called, holding down the intercom
button. ‘Can I see you in my office as soon as possible?’

‘Of course, Sir. On my way.’

I leaned back in my chair and covered my eyes,
taking a deep breath to let out some of the tension I was feeling. I hadn’t
wanted to leave Ellie this morning, but she’d insisted there was nothing I
could do for her, or for Brooke. She was going to have Brooke, Molly, and James
with her when she went out. Her caesarean was scheduled for Thursday, two weeks
before her due date, so nothing was likely to happen. Until Brooke had a
referral letter from the doctor, there was nothing I could do there either. I
felt fucking useless at the moment. Usually burying myself in work helped take
my mind off my problems, but so far today it wasn’t working. I quickly pulled
myself together as I heard the buzzer go to indicate someone was at my door. I
checked the feed on my computer to see it was Stuart and let him in.

‘Thanks, Stuart.’ I managed a smile when he
handed over a mug of coffee. I hadn’t even asked for one, but he knew me well.

‘I’ve dealt with your correspondence this
morning, you just need to sign these letters. I’ve re-scheduled nearly all of
your meetings that were due to take place in October, to make sure that you have
no additional distractions when Mrs. Davenport has your daughter. I’m afraid
that this means you’ll have a rather full diary for November and December.’ He
gave me an apologetic smile as I sipped on my coffee.

‘No apology necessary, Stuart. Important as
work is, my family is my priority right now. Thank you for taking care of that
for me. Did you encounter any problems?’

‘No, Sir. Everyone was more than understanding,
knowing that you’re about to become a father again.’

‘But?’ I prodded. I’d known him too long, he
was shielding me from something. He went red, broke my gaze, and coughed.
‘Stuart, spit it out.’

‘There’s the small matter of Mrs. Davenport’s
eternity ring, Sir.’

‘I thought it had been delivered and was in the
vault downstairs?’

‘It is. I’m sorry to bring this up, but the
invoice from Havershams …’ his voice trailed off as he rubbed his hand over his
mouth. I bolted upright in my seat.

‘Shit, haven’t I paid for it?’

‘No, Sir. It was delivered while you were on holiday
celebrating your anniversary.’

‘How much do I owe them? It’s not like them to
deliver without payment.’

‘They delivered because I paid for it, Sir. I
wanted to make sure you had it ready the moment Mrs. Davenport gave birth.’

‘You paid for it? Stuart, from memory the
budget I set to have it designed wasn’t cheap. I pay you well, but not that
well.’ I frowned as I waited for his response. I’d asked Havershams to design a
channel-set diamond eternity ring with three emeralds interspersed, one to
represent each of our three children. I’d insisted on top grade diamonds and
emeralds with as near to flawless clarity as possible.

‘You were more than generous giving me shares
in the company after my five years of service, Sir. I’ve made a lot of money on
them, especially in the last few years, so it was just a matter of accessing my

‘You should have reminded me sooner, Stuart,
that’s going above and beyond. If you can bring me the ring and the invoice
before I leave today, I’ll arrange an immediate transfer, including some extra
for any loss of interest you’ve incurred.’

‘Not necessary at all, Sir,’ he replied with a
shake of his head.

‘No arguments, my word is final. I truly
appreciate the gesture, Stuart, thank you.’

‘I have Parkers on standby with a
congratulations bouquet, balloon, and pink teddy bear. The moment you let me
know Miss Davenport has arrived safely, I’ll instruct delivery.’

‘Have I told you lately how much I value you?’
I smiled. I’d be so lost without him to organise my affairs.

‘It’s been a while, Sir,’ he smiled in response.

‘Then you’d better schedule a weekly reminder
for me,’ I winked, making him laugh.

‘How is the project coming along?’

‘Very good,’ I nodded. ‘I’ve pretty much
completed the software side of it, now we’re just working on the delivery
system. I should have a prototype ready within six months, which I’ll want to
test myself before we try a backup.’

‘I really don’t think Mrs. Davenport will be
pleased if she hears your plans for that,’ Stuart grimaced.

‘Maybe not, but the benefits could far outweigh
any irritation at being kept out of the loop.’ I rolled my shoulders, quickly
easing out the sudden tension in my muscles. If Ellie found out about this
project and what I had planned, she’d likely divorce me for not consulting her,
but it was too important to risk an argument and her putting her foot down.
Sometimes decisions needed to be made in a marriage without consulting the
other party.

‘I agree, but I wouldn’t like to be in your
shoes when she finds out. Will you ever tell her?’

‘Honestly, at this stage I’m thinking no. She’s
better off not knowing, but I don’t like keeping things from her. It got me
into a lot of hot water last time and nearly led to us never getting together.’

‘I don’t envy you, Sir. I’m not sure what I’d
do in your position either. I have no other business for you. What did you need
from me?’

I ran through my substantial list, grateful to
have Stuart to distract me from worrying about Ellie.



I gathered Oliver up in my arms and gave him a
big cuddle and kiss, then did the same to Jonas. I was shattered. I’d hardly
slept all night worrying about Brooke and I’d kept poor Dan awake too with my
tossing and turning. It was bad enough having a sleepless night normally, but
with my huge baby bump, I just couldn’t get comfortable at all. He’d been
reluctant to leave me to go to the office this morning, but I reminded him that
if I had any problems, there wasn’t anything he could do that my best friends
couldn’t. Knowing he wasn’t too far away was reassuring though.

‘I hope it goes ok,’ whispered Jenny as we had
a hug in Oliver’s bedroom, where they were all playing. I’d confided in her
when I’d asked her to look after the boys last night.

‘Thank you. I’m not sure how I’m going to
handle it if it’s bad news.’

‘You will, you’re stronger than you give
yourself credit for, Ellie. Don’t worry about these two, I’ll keep them
occupied. Just let me know if you’ll be coming back for lunch, as we’re having
pizza and I’ll need to order more.’

‘Pizza? Yum yum,’ Oliver grinned with a clap of
his hands.

‘Yum yum,’ chortled Jonas, copying his big
brother and making me laugh.

‘Be good boys for Jenny, Mummy will be back
later, ok?’

‘I look after Jo-Jo,’ Oliver announced, giving
him a cuddle and a wet kiss on the forehead. I smiled. They loved each other so
much. I really hoped that another baby, a girl no less, would be received just
as well. I headed downstairs to find Brooke and Molly in the lounge.

‘Ok, let’s go,’ I announced, checking my watch.
We’d managed to get an emergency appointment with Brooke’s doctor for ten
o’clock. It was only nine now, but we needed to get across the city.

‘Why do we have to go out shopping so early?’
Brooke moaned, getting up off the sofa and pulling up her jeans. They were
falling off her and it only served to heighten the anxiety I was already

‘Because we want to get it all done and have a
bite to eat for lunch, sweetie,’ Molly advised, reaching for her hand. I looked
away, Brooke always knew when I was lying.

‘It had better be a fancy lunch for dragging me
out of bed at this hour on my time off. I was fast asleep and I’d have loved a
lie in. I was hoping Oliver and Jonas would come and have cuddles in bed.’

‘They’ll have cuddles with you later, and
you’re welcome to have both of them in bed with you tomorrow, it gives me a few
extra precious minutes. Come on,’ I called over my shoulder as I headed for the
stairs. ‘Let’s move.’

‘Let’s move,’ Brooke laughed. ‘The rate you go
down the stairs, we could have another cup of coffee. You ought to put in a
fireman’s pole here, or a slide so you can whizz from the top of the house to
the bottom superfast.’

‘Brooke,’ scolded Molly, as I hung on to the
banister and took my time. ‘Don’t pressure her. After what she went through,
I’m amazed she can go on the stairs at all.’

‘I know, I was just being me, teasing. Sorry,

‘That’s ok,’ I called, not taking my focus off
my feet.

‘Well don’t,’ Molly warned behind me. ‘She has
enough on her plate.’

‘What’s got your knickers in a twist? You’re
really grumpy this morning. In fact, not just this morning, you’ve been like
this for ages. What’s going on?’

‘Nothing, I’m just tired, that’s all,’ Molly

‘Then let’s not go shopping, we can all chill
out. I mean, Ellie’s having Eva in a couple of days and what if the stress of
shopping makes her pop today? What if her waters break in some posh shop? Or
worse, what if baby Davenport ends up being delivered in some discount store?
You wouldn’t want to tell people “My baby was born in the 99 pence store,”
would you? I mean, you’d want it to be somewhere like Harrods. Oooo, in fact,
to make up for dragging me out at this ungodly hour, let’s go to Harrods and we
can have champagne and oysters, babe.’

‘Ellie’s pregnant, she can’t have either,’ Molly
reminded her.

‘O yeah,’ she sighed. ‘Where are we going to go

I gritted my teeth as I headed to the front
door and they argued over where to go for lunch. Brooke was likely to blow a
fuse when she discovered the real reason for our early departure. Luckily for
us, she fell asleep in the limo, so we didn’t get an endless stream of
questions as to why we were heading away from the shops and towards her house.
I squeezed Molly’s hand when I caught her gazing at Brooke with a sad
expression on her face.

‘It’ll be fine,’ I advised, trying my best
reassuring tone, when really I wasn’t totally convinced it would be fine myself.

‘You’re just saying that to be nice,’ Molly
said quietly, giving me a small, tight-lipped smile.

‘It will be, because it has to be,’ I muttered
stubbornly. ‘We’re not losing her, Molly. Whatever’s wrong, we’re going to fix
it. Dan will pay whatever he needs to if she needs any treatment. She’ll have
the best possible care and she’ll be fine.’

‘I really wish I believed that,’ she whispered,
tears starting to roll down her face. ‘She’s my best friend and the love of my
life, Ellie. I can’t lose her, I just can’t. Where would I ever find someone
like her again?’

‘She’s one of a kind, that’s for sure,’ I
nodded, battling tears myself as I put my arm around her. ‘They broke the mould
when they made Brooke. Please don’t cry, you know what I’m like at the moment
and I’m on the verge of sobbing as it is. If she wakes up to find us both in
tears, she’ll know something’s up and all hell is going to break loose. You
already know how mad she’s going to be that we’ve dragged her here without her
permission. Let’s not make it worse, ok?’

‘You’re right,’ Molly sniffed, pulling a tissue
from her bag and blowing her nose. ‘I’m sorry, you don’t need all this extra
worry right now either. You shouldn’t be having to deal with this.’

‘Hey, she’s my best friend, as are you. There’s
nowhere else I’d rather be right now.’

‘Thanks, Ellie,’ she nodded, resting her head
on my shoulder. ‘You’re the best.’

We didn’t talk for the rest of the journey, but
we held each other’s hands tightly all the way there. James pulled up on the
street outside the surgery and lowered the privacy screen.

‘We’re here, Mrs. Davenport. If I’m asked to
move on, then I’ll circle the block until you call to tell me that you’re
ready. Please wait inside until I come and get you, I don’t want you going
anywhere else.’

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