I waited outside the strip club for him, figuring I could trust him enough to keep to our agreement that I could go for a walk. I parked my car nearby, doing some window shopping as I walked. I ended up back at the mall, doing my best not to die of embarrassment as I bought myself a porn mag. I highly doubted that I’d ever use it for anything, but at the very least, it’d made a good birthday present for Caleb. I wish I was kidding.
Eventually gramps’ twenty minutes were up and there was still no sign of him, so I bravely ventured inside, ignoring all the half naked girls. I found him sat in a peep show booth, resisting the urge to call him a shady old perv.
"C'mon, old man, time's up" I said and he sulked, but didn’t stop watching.
"Ow" he sulked when I pinched his ear, dragging him out like he was some naughty kid.
I ignored his complaints, and he ended up sulking again.
"You're lucky you got twenty minutes" I said, driving him home.
"I didn't die though"
"Or did I? I dunno. I might be a ghost" he said and I rolled my eyes.
We got out of the car once we’d gotten back, and gramps flashed me a smile.
"Thanks for taking me out"
"Don't mention it. Really" I laughed, hugging back when he wrapped his arms around me.
He flashed me a smile which I returned, along with his shopping, just as Maxxie’s mom opened the front door.
"Hadley got me chocolate" gramps said happily, bouncing off inside as much as he could as his age.
I looked up at Maxxie’s mom, flashing her a smile that said “please don’t kill me”.
She tutted. "Did he use the puppy eyes on you?"
"A little" I said and she laughed. “Am I forgiven?”
"I s'pose so. Can't stay mad at you, can I?" she said and I smiled. "Him on the other hand..." she trailed off, laughing.
"Go easy on him" I chuckled.
"I will. Are you staying for dinner?"
"I'd love to, really, but we better be getting back. Sarah's coming round later" I said and she smiled.
"Okay then. You'll visit us more, won't you?"
"Sure" I smiled, earning myself a hug.
She rounded up the kids and we all said bye to everyone, returning all the hugs and whatnot before we finally managed to escape.
Sarah was sat at the dining table with Lewis when we got back. Lewis was doing his homework and Sarah was busy typing away on her phone. I kissed her cheek as the kids went to do their own homework.
"Hey" she said.
"Hey" I smiled. "Good day?"
"Mhm. You?" she asked and I nodded, glancing at the invite sitting in front of her.
She went back to texting and I rested my chin on her shoulder, seeing what she was texting. She was saying to a friend I hadn’t met how she hoped there was an invite for her that she hadn’t found yet.
"They both want it to just be family and a few friends" I said, kissing her cheek again.
"Even though I'm her brother's girlfriend?"
"I know. I'd ask her to make a couple more places, but they've had enough trouble getting everything organised as it is" I said and she was quiet. “Sorry”
I kissed her neck, sighing when she didn’t react.
"Look at it this way, while we're gone you'll have the place to yourself, you can go do whatever you want, whenever you want" I smiled.
"I can't even come with you?"
"I didn't think you'd want Lewis to miss school"
"He can stay here with his grandparents"
"Won't you be bored?"
"In Australia? Yes, Hadley, I'll be so bored" she scowled.
"Sure, if you can tolerate the drive into the city"
See, Ava was getting married in Royal National Park; on Wattamolla Beach, to be precise. She’d originally wanted to get married in Littoral rainforest, but changed her mind when she remembered her and Ryan had gone to Wattamolla for their first date. She’s a cheesy romantic, my sister. Anyway, Wattamolla’s nearly an hour’s drive from Sydney in good traffic, and Sarah didn’t exactly strike me as the outdoorsy type.
"Forget it" she said, getting up and pushing her chair back into me. "If you didn't want me there, you only had to say, Hadley" she said, storming upstairs.
"It's not that" I said, following her, but she ignored me. "We'll go some other time, I promise. All five of us"
"I mean it"
"I know, so drop it" she said and I sighed.
I hugged her from behind, cuddling her when she leant into me slightly. She leant her head on my shoulder and I kept cuddling her, hoping she wouldn’t sulk for too long.
“Why don’t you make it up to me?” she asked, turning round.
Her hands made their way to my hips and I let out a slight chuckle.
"The kids have the TV, we can have the bedroom"
"I thought you'd say that" I said, tilting my head as she trailed a finger down my neck. She kissed my neck and I let out a hum. "Shame I don't share my brother's thing about having his neck touched"
"Your brother?" she asked, sounding confused.
"Oh, uh, Cayden. He's, um..." I trailed off and she arched an eyebrow at me. “Dead”
"I'm sorry to hear that"
"It's alright, it was a few years ago"
We stood there in silence for a little while and I cleared my throat in an attempt to get things going again.
"Where were we?" I asked.
"I was touching your neck and then you brought up your brother, who you've never told me about before"
"Guess he never came up" I said and she nodded. "I'll tell you about him later, if you want"
I kissed her, leading her over to the bed as she kissed back. Wow, she really was angry.
The two of us sat on the couch, enjoying a glass of wine once the kids had gone to bed. Sarah was sat with her feet across my lap and I sipped at my wine, asking her if she wanted to know anything about Cayden.
"Put simply, he was a notorious slut and he's the reason my husband's dead" I said bluntly.
"He caught HIV and passed it on without knowing"
"But you escaped it, right?"
A look of slight relief flashed across her face. "How come your brother passed it onto your husband?"
"He cheated on me" I said and she arched an eyebrow slightly. “They went out before Maxxie met me”
"No excuse for him to cheat on you"
"They still cared about each other"
And don’t you dare say a word against them. The only people that had a right to say anything about it were the people that knew him. The people that were there.
"Sure. Why'd you marry him then?"
"Because I loved him. I still love him" I said, and Sarah was quiet. "But anyway, even though he was a huge slut, I wouldn't change him for the world" I said and she nodded slightly. "What about you? Any brothers or sisters?"
"What's his name?"
"Get on with him?"
"Not especially, but he's in jail so y'know, I don't have to see him"
"Jail? What for?"
"Robbery, I think. We all know there was other shady stuff he got up to though"
"What... What about Lewis' dad?" I asked cautiously, chewing my lip a little.
"Has a restraining order on him"
"Took a knife to Lewis. I could deal with him hurting me, but not Lewis. I give the kid a slap when he does something bad, but nothing like his dad"
"He didn't get hurt, did he?"
"No. I pushed the fucker down the stairs before he could do anything"
I didn’t exactly know what to say to that, and Sarah sighed.
"I guess my background isn't the best, huh? You won't think any less of me for it, right?"
“Of course not" I smiled. "Mine's probably not the best, either" I said, desperately trying to think of something. Sarah shot me a questioning look and... Yeah, I had nothing. "Uh... Well, I got stabbed once. And... I'm an immigrant, so that instantly makes me scum here" I said, laughing a little.
"You speak English, so not so much scum" she laughed. "How come you got stabbed?"
"I got date raped and kidnapped. I managed to call Maxxie and get help, which the guy who kidnapped me wasn't too happy about"
"I can imagine"
"So he stabbed me and left me to die while he watched TV or something"
"I'm glad you didn't die" she smiled and I laughed.
She kissed me, moving so her head was resting on my shoulder, her arms around my waist. I let out a hum, leaning my head on top of hers. See, gramps? I told you she was nice really.