Broken silence, p.22

Broken Silence, page 22

 part  #2 of  Silence Series

 

Broken Silence


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  I nodded. “Yeah, we’ve got so much to do. The electricians are coming at one. The mirrors are being installed in the ballet room at two-thirty. There’s a huge delivery of football and rugby balls coming sometime in the morning, and I have to call some companies about vending machines and a cleaning service. Oh, and we really need to get those liability insurance forms signed. ”

  “You have a list, right?”

  “I have about a thousand lists. ”

  “Right, well don’t stress over it, we’ll get it all done. Jasper and Abby are picking up the art easels and stools next week, and apparently the company agreed to throw in a bunch of paintbrushes too. ”

  “Yeah? That’s great! How is the shack looking?”

  When word got out about what we were doing, the whole community got involved. An online sport shop donated football goalposts. An art and craft company donated the easels, stools, and now brushes.

  I’d had a load of gymnastics equipment donated to the centre, which would replace a lot of the used stuff from the old gym. Tables and chairs for the cafeteria were donated from a manufacturing company, and I’d already had a stack of job applications back. It was a little overwhelming, but I had a lot of support.

  Cole laughed. “It’ll look great when it’s done. Have faith!” We had a huge old summer house at the back of the surrounding gardens. It was right out of the way and overlooked the little stream that ran from one end to the other. Eventually, it would be for people who want to explore their artistic side. I thought they would probably want peace and quiet to draw and paint.

  At the minute though, it looked like a rundown old shed. It needed new glass in the doors and windows. Repair work to the roof and side. A new floor and clad walls inside. It was Cole, David, Miles and Jasper’s project. They promised me it would look brand new when they’d finished.

  “I have faith. I know it’ll look amazing. ” It better do anyway. I’d put everything into this and wanted it to work and change people’s lives so badly. If I hadn’t had gymnastics I honestly didn’t know what I would have been like.

  “It will. Your mum’s there now, feeding the decorators in the ballet room. ” Until we’d got the call that the mirrors were coming tomorrow we’d been decorating ourselves, but there was no way we’d get that gigantic room done in time.

  “Good. How’s it looking in there?”

  Cole shrugged. “Big and pink. ” It wasn’t pink-pink. It was an off-white pink that looked fresh. I wanted the whole building to be light and inviting.

  “I’m so tired. ” I yawned, covering my mouth with the back of my hand. “Can we just drop in quickly before we go home?”

  “You still want to go? I’m sure everyone will understand. They do have it all under control. ”

  “Five minutes. Just to make sure everything’s alright. ” Cole smirked and nodded. Yes, I was probably a nightmare, but I needed it to be right.

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  Cole really did only let me stay for five minutes. I had just about finished speaking to everyone when he grabbed my hand and pulled me back to the car. “You’re staying in for the rest of the day. I shall be at your service,” he said.

  “Hmm, that I can get on board with. ”

  “Oakley, no!” Cole said. “I’m serious, you’re gonna make yourself ill. Stay at home today. ” He pointed to the sofa. “Sit. I’ll make you some breakfast and call your mum. She can check in on the centre today. Everyone else will be there, and Ben promised to help with some of the deliveries. ”

  I groaned. Cole was going to work, and I thought I would have a day’s peace to get a few little things done at the centre. When he left, I would just go anyway. “Cole, I’m fine. I’m just a little tired. ”

  “Then sleep,” he replied, giving me a smug smile. “You’re not going out today. ”

  “You’re being ridiculous. ”

  “You’re being stubborn. Oakley, you’re doing too much and it’s making you ill. I like healthy Oakley. Please, for me, just stay in and relax today. ”

  I held my hands up and sank back into the sofa. “Fine. Today I’ll be lazy. ”

  He grinned. “Good. Now, toast or bagel?”

  “What if I want an omelette?”

  “I can undercook one and poison you if you’d like. ”

  “Bagel please. ”

  “Eat. Sleep. Watch crap on TV, just don’t leave this house,” he said, raising his eyebrow as he handed me breakfast.

  “Thank you. I’ll stay in and behave. ”

  It took about two minutes after I’d finished eating for me to plunge into boredom. I desperately wanted to go to the centre and check on things, but if I left the house Cole would probably have a heart attack, overprotective fool. I dialled Mum’s number and decided the only way I would be able to relax was to know everything was okay.

  “Hi love,” she greeted.

  “Hey, Mum. How are you?”

  “You mean, are you at the centre?”

  “Okay, yes, but you first. ”

  “I’m fine, just pulled up. Jasper and Miles are already here. Cole called me already. We better not see you here today. He’s right; you do need to take a break. Promise me you’ll relax and take care of yourself. ”

  “Yes. I promise. ”

  “Okay, good. I’d better go. I’ll give you a call in a bit, and I’ll send Jasper over with some lunch. ”

  “I can make myself food, Mum. ”

  “Jasper’s getting KFC for everyone. ”

  “Around one-ish?”

  Mum laughed. “Sure, honey, speak later. ”

  “Bye. ” I hung up the phone and switched the TV on. Daytime rubbish it is then. I chose a movie instead, but I just couldn’t get into the film. Sitting around and doing nothing when I had so much to do made me feel anxious. What if I didn’t get everything ready in time because I was lounging around on the sofa?

  The front doorbell rang, and I got up, eager to answer it and have something to do. Mia stood at the door with a box of Thornton’s chocolates. “Cole told me you’re on house arrest and I was to come over and make sure you didn’t leave. ”

  I narrowed my eyes and stepped aside so Mia could come in. “Of course he did. ” I was glad to see her though.

  “I’ll put the kettle on and we can catch up,” she called over her shoulder as she headed into the kitchen. “So, what’s going on? Besides the centre?”

  I shrugged and grabbed two mugs from the cupboard. “Not much really. ”

  “No ring yet?” Mia pouted, looking at my hand. She was obsessed with Cole proposing. It hadn’t been that long since we’d got back together, and we had already moved in together. I was happy how things were.

  “Not yet, but there’s no rush!”

  She sighed dramatically, her forehead creasing in a frown. “He needs to hurry up. I’ve seen a lovely dress for your wedding. ”

  “Buy that for someone else’s wedding. You’ll be wearing a bridesmaid’s dress at mine. ”

  “Really?” she squealed, her eyes widened in surprise and excitement. “Oh my God! You’re serious, right?”

  “Of course I am. You’re Cole’s sister! I want to have Leona too if that’s okay?”

  “If it’s okay?” she repeated, staring at me like I was stupid. “Oh, he needs to propose soon!”

  I held my hand up. “Okay, calm down. Let’s talk about you. ” Mia groaned and threw two tea bags into the mugs with a little too much force. It made me grin. “Date went well then!”

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  “You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?”

  I laughed. “Absolutely. It was that bad?”

  “God, you should have seen him, Oakley. He looked so nice at the gym, running on the treadmill, and he was so polite and interested in what I was saying. Turns out that he’s a twat. ”

  Reaching for the milk in the fridge, I laughed at her blun
tness. “What did he do?”

  “He spoke about cars the whole night. I couldn’t care less what engine his car has, or how many of those horse things it has! I was so bored that I texted Mum and made her call lying that Leona wouldn’t settle without me. I’m done with men. ”

  “Don’t give up. You’ll find someone. You know I could—”

  “No way,” she hissed. “You are not setting me up. ”

  “Fine, be stubborn. ”

  She glared at me. “I don’t want to talk about this any more. ”

  I carried the mugs to the table, and Mia brought the chocolates. “You’re annoyed because I’m right. ”

  “Change of subject. If your arsehole ex wanted your child for one extra day a week, would you let him?”

  “Chris wants another day?”

  She turned her nose up. “Yep. ” He already had Leona on Fridays and Saturdays, and every other Sunday, which was how it had been since she was born. “He wants a mid-week day too. I don’t really know what to do. Leona would love it, and I would be able to get more done. When it comes to Chris though, I just want to stick my tongue out and give him the finger. ” I laughed, almost spilling my tea. “I know I should be an adult about it. ”

  “You probably should. It’s horrible you have to sacrifice another day with her, but if it’s what’s best for her. ”

  Mia nodded. “Yeah. I’ll give him the extra day, but just until her bedtime. ” I couldn’t imagine how hard it must be to share your child with an ex, especially one that hurt you so much over and over again. “Tell me about your wedding again. ”

  “I’m not getting married yet. ”

  “Yet. ”

  “I’m so setting you up. ”

  She glared and grabbed a chocolate.

  Mia stayed with me for the whole day. We had a KFC lunch courtesy of Jasper, and chatted about everything. As much as I wanted to be at the centre, it was really nice to have a relaxing girly day. We made a plan of doing it one morning a week, on Leona’s new day with Chris.

  At five o’clock when Cole would be leaving off work, Mia left, handing over the baton. I curled up on the sofa. The energy seemed to drain from my body. I felt as if I could sleep for a week.

  “I love coming home to you every night,” Cole said, laying down beside me.

  I frowned and looked up, half asleep. “Hmm, I love you coming home to me every night. ” I pressed my lips against his and curled my fingers into his hair.

  He wrapped one arms around my back and the other under my legs, holding me bridal style. I gasped. “Cole!”

  “Shh,” he whispered and headed to the stairs.

  Epilogue

  Oakley

  Taking a deep breath, I stepped forward, closer to the red ribbon that stretched from one side of the double doors to the other. Everything was done, and it was time to officially open La Fuga.

  “I’d like to start by thanking every one of you for coming today and showing your support. Four months ago when I was just playing around with the idea I had no idea so many people would get behind me. Without the people and companies donating money, equipment and their own time, this would not have been possible. ”

  Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Mum crying. Already! I smiled. “I want this to be a place where everyone can come and do something they love. This centre is for you to come to and escape. So I’d like to declare La Fuga officially open. ” I cut through the tape, with a huge smile on my face. We did it!

  I stepped to the side as the crowd applauded and walked forwards. “Welcome! Come on in!” Children bounced around in excitement, running into the building. A sea of people streamed past me, giving their congratulations as they looked eagerly inside.

  “I can’t believe it’s really open,” I said, rushing into Cole’s arms as the final people made their way through the door.

  “Feels good, doesn’t it. ” I nodded against his neck. It felt incredible. “We should get inside and speak to people. Hanky panky later. ”

  The classes weren’t starting until tomorrow, but everyone was looking around today, and the over fifties painting club, as they called themselves, had brought along their supplies to use the shack now. I was hoping that younger people would use it too, once they saw it’s not just all about painting still-life outside. It was a quiet space for them to paint whatever they wanted.

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  Cole held the door open for me, and we were immediately greeted by Mia holding out two glasses of champagne. “Welcome to La Fuga,” she said in a fake Italian accent. I picked Italian because it was in Italy where Cole had given me hope for having a normal life. It was where he made sex about love and trust, and when I realised that I wasn’t too broken to be in a relationship.

  “Oakley,” Kerry shouted, bouncing her way over to me. “This is amazing! I want to work here! I love it You’ve done such a great job. ”

  Laughing, I gave her a one-armed hug, being careful not to spill my champagne. “Thank you. Wanna be a receptionist?” Lizzie was doing it until I found someone suitable, someone with experience, and someone that I trusted.

  “Are you being serious?”

  “Yes. Look, we’ll talk later. I really should mingle. ” I left a beaming Kerry gazing after me. “Who first?” I asked Cole.

  He shrugged. “Why not go to one of the bigger rooms, there will probably be more people we can get through at once. ”

  “Sounds like a plan. Gymnastics room?” Cole smirked and pulled on my hand, leading me there. Of course that was going to be where I wanted to go first. It was the room that meant the most to me.

  Cole was right. It was full. I could barely see through the crowd of people. Children were already playing on the equipment. I didn’t mind though, they were being supervised, and hopefully it would encourage them to sign up for classes. Plus we had the insurance!

  After spending the whole day talking to hundreds of people, giving interviews and having my picture taken, I was exhausted, and beyond ready to go home. I felt lightheaded and dizzy, even though I’d been eating canapés throughout the afternoon.

  Mum and Jenna had lists of people’s details and what they were interested in. Not all would follow through and come to classes, but I hoped a fair few would; the place had a buzz about it. David and Miles had been talking to people from local businesses and handing out a lot of leaflets for them to put in their shops.

  “Thank you all so much,” I said, once the centre was all locked up and we could leave. Mum, Miles, Jasper, and Abby all gave me hugs and got into one car, and then I said goodbye to Cole’s parents and Mia.

  “Take me home, please?” I asked Cole, leaning against him.

  “My pleasure. ” Cole smiled and leant in, kissing me deeply. I gripped his arms, and the whole world disappeared.

  I kicked my shoes off the second we were home. My feet hurt, and I just wanted to sleep. “I don’t feel good,” I muttered, pressing my face into one of the cushions.

  Cole sat beside me. “You’ve said that a lot recently. Are you okay?”

  I nodded. “Yeah, just tired from being so busy. ”

  “Let’s go to bed then. ” There were no arguments from me. I followed him upstairs and stripped off. Our bed was so inviting. I climbed under the cover and laid my head on Cole’s chest.

  “Night,” I whispered. My eyelids were so heavy I fell asleep before I could even hear his reply.

  I woke up early. The clock on my bedside table showed seven-thirty in the morning. I groaned. Jasper and Abby were opening the centre so Cole and I could go to Leona’s nursery school f?te for a few hours. I hated not being there the first morning it was open but family came first. We didn’t have to be at the nursery until ten, so I had hoped to sleep in until about nine.

  Groaning, I pressed my hand to my throbbing head. Cole stirred beside me. “You okay?”

  “Fine. ” I lied, then, “No. ” I
jumped up and rushed to the bathroom. Oh God, I was going to be sick. Cole ran in after me and dropped to his knees just as I threw up in the toilet.

  I stood up and flushed the toilet when I’d finished. My head was pounding, and I felt like I was going to faint. “Oakley, you don’t think you could be pregnant, do you?”

  My heart stopped. “No. I’m just run down. ” I’m on the pill.

  Cole frowned. “You’re going back to bed, and I’m going to get a test. We need to make sure. ” Please no. Nodding my head, I turned on the tap and rinsed my mouth with the ice cold water.

  Turning around, I stumbled out of the bathroom. Cole’s arm kept me upright. I felt so weak and fell back into bed. “You relax. I’ll get some water and then go to the shop. ”

  I mentally rolled my eyes and snuggled under the cover. Cole left the room, and I started to panic. Pregnant. I couldn’t have a child. What the hell was I going to do if I was?

  Perhaps it was just food poisoning? Although no one else was sick, and Cole and I ate the same things. My heart was in my throat as I waited. How could I protect a child when I couldn’t even protect myself?

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  I curled up and pulled the cover over my head, hiding from reality. Placing my hand over my flat stomach, I tried to feel a connection. Shouldn’t I just know if I was carrying another life inside me? Shit! No, no, no, no! I gulped as my eyes stung with tears.

  “Oakley,” Cole called softly. I pulled the cover down and looked up at him. “Hey, come on, let’s go and do it now, yeah?” I took the box from him and got out of bed. The sooner we knew the better. “It’ll be okay, whatever the result. ”

  Nodding, I walked out of the room to the bathroom. Would it? I read the instructions to make sure I would know what the result meant and sat down to pee on the stick.

  As soon as I finished I washed my hands and opened the door. A little person, half me and half Cole. The idea was perfect, but the reality? What if something happened to the child?

  Cole paced outside the bathroom, wearing a hole in the carpet. “I’m scared,” I admitted, gripping the stick in my hand. A little blue cross would change our whole lives forever. He opened his arms, and I eagerly stepped into them. “What if I’m pregnant?”

  “Then we’ll need to finally sort that second bedroom out. ” That was it? No freak outs, just we’ll need to decorate?! “Oakley, I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I want to get engaged, married, and have kids. I don’t care what order that comes in. ”

 
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