Liz Addison-Smith stowed the last of the empty suitcases away and looked around her bedroom. She was back in Australia, back in her home, the studio apartment she’d bought with the proceeds of her first royalty cheques, although back then it had been a run-down ex-factory building that she’d painstakingly had renovated to house her studio downstairs with and an apartment above.
There were still industrial aspects of the building that let people see the history of it, exposed metal beams, thick glass windows, and exposed brickwork. Her original plan was to build other apartments within the building in order to provide another income stream but then she’d met and married Christopher Smith and ended up moving to America.
“That the last of it?” Roman asked quietly from behind her as she stood looking around her bedroom.
“Yup,” Liz said quietly to her son. “The twins ok?”
“Mucking up the bedroom as we speak.”
“Going to manage to share a room with them?”
“Well it won’t be for long will it?” he asked her. “I’ll be back in boarding school.”
Liz sighed once more before moving with him over and into the small kitchen area. She looked around it before unpacking the groceries she’d had delivered.
“Are you actually going to cook?” Roman asked.
Liz grinned at him.
“You have noticed the tins haven’t you?” she pointed out leaving out two tins of soup on the top. Different flavours because her children could never agree on a compromise.
Roman opened the fridge and started stacking the food inside leaving out the bread. He looked over at his mother and sighed again.
“Okay, out with it kiddo.” She murmured as she tipped the contents of a tin into a saucepan.
“It’s about being home in Australia.” He said finally and she was struck by how American his accent sounded. Maybe being back at school here would cure that.
“Well is Chris going to keep causing trouble?”
Liz shook her head, her long dark hair falling around her face. She pinned it back behind her ears and looked over at Roman.
“Maybe.” She said honestly. “But it’s not your concern Roman, I need to sort him out. “
Roman nodded his head slowly.
“But Mum, you’ll be here alone. If he’s going to come after you…”
Liz stopped what she was doing and looked at her son. She sucked in a breath and let it slip slowly past her lips not sure if she was playing for time before she answered or if she was upset that her son, Roman, was so worried about her.
“He isn’t. He’s getting a good divorce settlement and that will keep him in the US. Plus, if does contact me in any way he’ll be in breach of a court order,” she stopped and sucked in one of those sharp breaths again as she thought of her brief marriage to Christopher Smith. He’d proved to be a liar and a cheat and at the end of the marriage, violent. He only wanted her for her money and didn’t want the large family she did. The final nail in the coffin that contained the remains of her marriage was when she’d discovered that he’d had a son with his first wife. The wife she hadn’t known he’d had, and had also seemed to have left in order to pursue her.
“The twins will miss him.”
“Well, I know. But he isn’t their father,” she began slowly, remembering dealing with the twins upset when Chris had shouted out that at them. He’d convinced them that he’d been the one to have the romance with their mother that resulted in their conception without her knowing and when she did find out the damage had been done. Chris hadn’t tried that trick on Roman knowing that her elder son, although only by a few months, had been fully aware of where he’d come from.
“I think they knew anyway.” He said slowly. “They…” he stopped and looked at her wondering why he’d agreed to broach this subject, oh yeah it was the blackmail over them finding a certain magazine under his bed before they left the US. “They…”
Liz turned to him and looked into his eyes, reading his expression.
“Yes?” she prompted gently.
“They want to find their real dad.” He bit out, his face going red.
Liz nodded hearing the words she’d always dreaded. Maybe that was why she’d let Chris assume that role in their lives.
“Well, I don’t know where he is.” She said quickly.
“But you know people who can find him,” Roman said slowly. “And well, he does have a unique name.”
She couldn’t help but smile at that.
“True, I’ll make a few calls and see what I can find out.” She said finally deciding that way she could put off searching for Gabby and Toby’s father for as long as possible.
Roman tilted his head to one side and looked at her. She recognised his expression as one she used and bit back a groan.
“I will.” She said.
“Yes, mother.” He said clearly not believing her. “But well, we took the liberty of calling Uncle Jacko earlier.”
Liz groaned and swore under her breath.
“I wish you hadn’t done that.” She said knowing that she couldn’t disguise the bitterness in her voice. She’d hoped to buy some time before having to make any overtures into finding Roman Harris.
“Well, I kinda wanted to meet him too. I am named after him too. They must have wanted you to get back with him.”
Liz shook her head and busied herself with heating the soup. She kept her back to her son as she tried to process what he was saying.
“It’s not simple.” She said finally. “If we find him he might not want to be a dad.”
“Is that why you didn’t tell him you were pregnant?” Roman asked quickly.
“Oh Roman, it’s complicated. I don’t even know if I understand it all myself and you want me to tell you, an eleven-year-old boy, what happened and then explain it to them.” She gestured towards the bedroom where the twins were no doubt hiding until Roman had finished talking to her. “And on top of that, I’m still reeling from getting a divorce. I never thought I would put my kids through that.”
She groaned at the tone he used, he called her Mother mostly when he was embarrassed, Ma when he was trying to soft-soap her and then Mum when he was trying to appeal to her logically.
“Mum, nothing.” She said quickly. “What did Jacko say?”
“Just that he could pass on a message for you if you wanted him too… “ Roman said finally. “So do you want to?”
Liz couldn’t answer him, she had the feeling that the ground was moving under her feet and she didn’t know what to do. Gabby and Toby should know their father. Roman should know the man he was named after but she had no idea if she could be in the same space as Roman Harris and not totally fall apart inside.