Ella awoke when she heard crashing downstairs, at first she thought it was one of the kids getting a drink but then when there was more crashing she climbed out of bed and tiptoed down the stairs. The window was open and the slight breeze coming off the sea drifted into the room.
“Roman what the hell?” She gasped out seeing him collapsed on the sofa.
“Ella, Ella, Ella,” he murmured.
She paced quickly over to his side and put her hand over his mouth. “Shush, you do not want to wake the whole house…”
“Do you know that when you get mad you sound British?”
“Do you know what time it is?”
He lifted his arm and looked at the space where his watch normally before grimacing. “No,” he said mournfully, “Aside from it being too late.”
“You are drunk!”
He gave her a look, his little boy look and she swallowed back the comment she wanted to say.
“Ella can we talk?”
“About what Roman?” she asked him heading into the kitchen and getting him a bottle of water from the fridge. She took the top off for him suspecting that he wouldn’t be capable of doing it. Placing the bottle in his hands she made him sit up straight and take a drink.
“About us,” he murmured.
“There is no us Roman.”
“I know you are …” he carried on as though she hadn’t spoken, ”here with Miles but I need to know is there is a chance…”
“A chance for what?”
She heard that mournful note in his voice again and sighed.
“Maybe,” she whispered.
“What.. can I do?”
“Always got to be the action guy don’t you Roman?” She sighed again as she heard the note in his voice.
“No, I’m perso… perso… persecuted by my inaction. I shudda… done stuff not to hurt you… Lyndsey isn’t mine, I loved her from … “ he trailed off and gave her a sad look. “I hurt people,” he murmured.
“You didn’t hurt me,” she said quietly.
“But I wasn’t there when you had the twins and Mike,” he wiped at his face before peering at her, “I shudda helped you.”
“With nappies and night feeds?”
“Rubbing your feet and…” he groaned.
“So what would you have done differently Roman?”
“Don’t like you calling me that,” he said veering off topic.
Ella rubbed at the spot between her eyes, “What do you want me to call you?”
“Solider,” he muttered leaning his head back on the sofa and closing his eyes. “You were happy when you called me that.”
“That was a long time ago,” she whispered.
“Plurrrrreees….” He muttered looking like he was going to throw up or pass out or possibly both.
“Solider,” she said quietly.
His eyes shot open and he looked at her. “Thank you,” he said quickly. “I know I shuddn’t be here. I’m messing things up. I want you to be happy El, I need you to be happy.”
“I’m happy,” she said feeling his hand holding hers.
“I means it, if you are happy then I can cope with every sin.”
He shook his head looking adorable with a puzzled expression on his face. “Everything,” he enunciated clearly pouting at her.
“I’m happy,” she said again leaning forward and kissing him.
He stroked the side of her face and kissed her back.
“Wait, stop. I’m married,” he drew back. “I can’t… I mean… yeah.. so can… so so can… but can’t… sorry.”
“I’m confused; didn’t you come here to seduce me?” She pressed her lips together to stop herself giggling at him as he gave her that look again.
“You can’t not while I’m married and…” he stopped and closed his eyes leaning his head back on the sofa. She waited for him to finish the sentence, although she’d stopped expecting this conversation to make any kind of sense, only to hear him start snoring.
“Come on,” she poked him awake before she hefted him upright and struggling under his weight for a moment until he got some semblance of balance back she guided him up the stairs and into her bedroom. He collapsed full length on the bed leaving her to take off his trainers to make him more comfortable.
It sounded like he’d had a bad day and she couldn’t throw him out, she told herself even as she slipped into the bed beside him. She gave another of those really big sighs when he rolled over in the bed to put his arms around her.
“This is not leading to anything,” she muttered at his sleeping form before giving up and snuggling into his embrace. How many years had it been since she’d felt this safe and protected? She ignored how her heart was thudding or how much she’d missed him.
The next thing she heard was her alarm going off and she groaned before realising she was alone in the bed.
“I’m sorry,” Roman murmured from the other side of the room.
“What…er… morning,” she said drowsily.
“I’m sorry for bothering you last night,” he murmured again.
“Oh…” she blinked at him and then gasped as he opened the window and began to climb out of it.
“Roman?” Shooting off the bed she moved over to the window watching as he climbed out of it and began to go down the trellis.
“Mum, mum,” voices shouted at her from beyond the closed bedroom door. Torn between Roman and the kids she swore under her breath before striding over to the door and opening it up.
“Okay what is the panic?”
“My uniform…” distracted by the children she barely heard the muffled swearing coming from outside before seeing what Gabby wanted.
With the children sent off to school she made it back down to the kitchen and saw Miles standing near the sink drinking a coffee.
“That trellis,” he began quietly.
“Er…” she bit her lip as she moved to pour herself a second cup of coffee.
“Handy isn’t it?”
“I don’t know what you mean,” she lied feeling her face grow hot.
“If you are going to have overnight visitors maybe they should use the door,” he murmured with a bland look on his face.
She gave him a look before saying, “Don’t you have to be at school?”
“Do you expect that tone to work on me Mrs?”
“Go, go…” she gasped out laughing.
Miles chuckled putting his cup down and leaving the house by the door. She glanced at him before groaning and heading over to the sofa to sit down. Mike at boarding school. Kids at school. Housework was done. Damn this was going to be a long day she thought with a groan before sneaking back upstairs and heading back to bed. An hour’s nap and then she’d find something to do.