Monday, 18 August 2014

Rock 17

Half Way Gone ...

As I stand inside Raspberry Hill Airport with Mace,  I start to get very nervous.  We are watching the luggage rack going round while we wait for our cases to come into view.  Mace is rabbiting away happily and I'm starting to get a little irritated because I'm far from happy, but I can't let it show.

My life is now a full scale police operation and being torn to pieces.

While I have been at home I've been able to act normally, carrying on in our usual way and avoiding as much as possible from thinking about what is going on around me with Mace.  Now that we are hundreds of miles away from home and heading in the direction of Sugar Valley my life is quickly becoming a really bad reality.

It really hurt leaving home, it was almost heart wrenching.  It almost felt like I was walking out of the place for the very last time, and of course I am with Mace.  The next time that I set foot in the house that we live in, I will be alone.  Mace will no longer be a part of my life and everything is going to be very very different!!  

He just doesn't know it yet!!

I already know that it won't be Mango who is collecting us from the airport again like Mace thinks.  It is going to be Cinnamon, Bay's brother, who is now in control with his partner of the police operation which they are very excited about.  I seriously can't share their excitement!! 

The operation is being run from the Apple Hill station away from the beady eyes of my brother who is based at the Sugar Valley station, because unbeknown to him, it's not just Mace they have their eye set on taking down, Gravel Rock is also going down.  I feel very emotionally torn over both Mace and Gravel, it is killing me inside.  I feel like my life is being taken to pieces and torn apart all over again, like it was over twenty years ago.

I have had quite a few sneaky phone conversations with Cinnamon over the past few days while Mace has been out of the house.  He has had to fill me in with a rough outline on how they are going to be doing this, and what is going to happen from the time we arrive at Raspberry Hill Airport.  Luckily for us Mace knows nothing about Cinnamon and even less about his purple partner Elderberry Wine who will be posing as Cinnamon's girlfriend for the operation.

I find the situation of the 'fake' girlfriend quite amusing.  Elderberry, the name that I am to use when referring to her is actually commonly known throughout the family as Citrus and is in fact the new girlfriend of Prelude Orchid, Mango's brother in law.  I met the guy once during our three day stay ...  he seems quite a feisty character and all I can say is Cinnamon is a brave man!!  I wouldn't want to be caught by him with my arm around his girlfriend!!  But I guess Prelude must know and understand it's her job and all in the line of duty.

I take Mace's hand and paint a false smile on my face as we walk out through the airport main doors.  Even though inside I am actually screaming. 

Now the game begins.

"I don't see Mango anywhere, or his car on the car park."  Mace says as he is looking carefully around the car park like I am.  

While he is looking for Mango I am looking for a brown male and purple female neither of whom I've ever seen before.  At first I don't see them.  Mace puts his arms round me and suggests I ring Mango in case he's forgotten to pick us up.  He's very impatient, he hates waiting.

"I doubt he will have forgotten us seeing as I only spoke to him this morning!"  I laugh at him  "My guess is that he's been held up, you know what Mango is like constantly busy, I bet he won't be too far away!!"  I say as I hug him.

I spot a brown and purple couple who I straight away presume are Cinnamon and Elderberry, they are getting out of a brown car that is parked not too far away from us.  They start walking towards us together arm in arm, which I think is a little brave to say we are still out in the coded world.  With Mace colour is something that we have never had to worry about out in the coded world, we both look like pure brown berries even though we are mixed.   Well I am, even though he's lied to me and told me he's a mixed berry, it turns out Mace is actually a pure berry after all.  

I know Cinnamon would be able to spot both me and Mace quite easily from our police files and he has a very recent picture of Mace the one that I've sent him.  He quickly smiles at me, as they approach us, when he can see I've spotted them.

"Are you Granite Rock?"  

Cinnamon asks me as they stop in front of us.  Mace immediately cuts his eyes at Cinnamon and grabs for my hand like an over protective guard dog.  I watch both Cinnamon and Elderberry eying Mace cautiously.

"Yes I'm Granite Rock, for my sins."  I frown at him trying to make it look like I am as puzzled as Mace is about who this stranger is that knows my name.

"Hiya, I'm Cinnamon, Bayleaf's brother."  he smiles at me as he holds his hand out for me to shake.  "Mango sent me to pick you up to save you hanging around and having to wait, he has been held up in surgery."  he smiles at me then at Mace who is still semi glaring at him.

"Well I'd never have guessed you are Bay's brother!"  I laugh at him  "You are lucky, no green, like me no silver, we look like pure berries."  he smiles at me. 

"Yes, I am the lucky one, Bay, Fudge and Mint all got both colours!"  he smiles at me "This is my girlfriend Elderberry, but I won't say that too loudly out here in the coded world!!"   he laughs   "and you must be Mace, Bay has told me all about you."  he holds his hand out to Mace, who smiles and shakes his hand.  

Finding out Cinnamon is straight will have calmed his head down.  He is so predictable, I can already see Maces attitude has changed with him as he gives him a genuine smile and shakes his hand quite happily.  I look at him for a moment and wander how he keeps the game up of playing the paranoid, clingy, jealous, blatantly over possessive boyfriend - if he is even playing a game in that department, I'm not so sure it is actually an act, because I'm convinced his feeling for me are real. 

"Well Bay said Mace is cute, but not THAT cute!"  Elderberry says laughing as she holds her hand out to Mace.  "Well you definitely are a cutie!"  she grins at Mace.

"EL BEHAVE!!"  he laughs at her  "You'll have to ignore my girlfriend Mace, she's over the top and always embarrassing me, she's got a thing for cute gay men, she suffocates Bay all the time!  not that I think my brother is cute, but she does."  he starts laughs  "And Mace it looks like you might be in for some of the same treatment - sorry mate!!"  

We all start laughing, even Mace.  Inwardly I'm having hysterics because I know they are playing a very good game to try and get Mace right on side.

"See Cinnamon, here is a man who actually knows how to dress, unlike you who thinks he's old before his time, you and Granite look like a pair of frumpy Granddads!!"  she starts laughing and she pulls on my cardigan.  "Granite can use age as his excuse, but I got me a toy boy who thinks he's fifty already!!"

"I'm always carrying onto Gran about his Cardigans, he's got absolutely no fashion sense!"  Mace giggles, he's falling for Elderberry's patter!!  I've told them my cardigans and shoes among other things are two big sore points with Mace.

"I can see!!  Just look at those shoes Cinnamon, now that is what you call a pair of shoes, unlike those stupid things you insist on wearing!!"  she laughs as she points at Maces feet  "I see your boyfriend is just like mine Mace, no imagination in the shoe department!"  she frowns at my shoesIt's just a good job I know what game she is playing otherwise I could be feeling quite insulted by now.  She giggles as she links arm with Mace  "Granite I'm going to be borrowing your cute boyfriend, he needs to take me shopping so he can help me buy a whole new wardrobe for my frumpy boyfriend here!!" 

"Oh shopping!!  I can see my wallet is in trouble again!!  Shopping is Mace's favourite hobby!!"  I look at Cinnamon and roll my eyes, he is trying hard not to snigger.

"Come on Mace, let's leave the frumpy Grandads to talk football and gardening!!"  she starts giggling as she pulls Mace away from us. "You seriously need to tell me where you got those shoes from!"

Mace and Elderberry walk off towards the car arm in arm laughing and talking about fashion which is right up Maces street.  I had to fill them in as much as I could about the Mace that I live with everyday and the character he plays so that they can play him.  Of course I knew the labels would work!!  It made me wander what the 'real' Mace is actually like, exactly how much of the real person have I seen and which parts are the act - I guess that is something I am never going to know!! 

Me and Cinnamon hang back a little while the distance grows between us and them.  I start laughing under my breath when I think they are out of earshot because I can see that she has already reeled Mace right in.

"She's unbelievable!!"  I laugh at Cinnamon

"You know she couldn't really give two hoots about fashion and I don't usually dress like this either!!"  we both laugh for a moment  "El is very good at her job - she can play the best of them!!  She will have Mace eating out of the palm of her hand in no time and she'll keep him well occupied and distracted while we do what we have to do!!"   he smiles at me.  "Next stop coffee shop, I want his prints and spit!"  he says as he winks at me and we start heading towards the car.

Mace and Elderberry are well away in the back of the car during the journey to Sugar Valley, talking about fashion, spa treatments, working out and all kinds of stupid stuff that I would call 'girlie' stuff, they are giggling away like a right pair of girls.  Me and Cinnamon have already become the but of most of their jokes because of our hair and lack of fashion sense and especially our frumpy cardigans!  

Elderberry and Mace are getting on like a house on fire, she's sucked Mace right in - it looks like the player has already been out played!!

While they are acting like a pair of children in the back of the car, me and Cinnamon have a far more serious conversation in the front because he is really worried about Bayleaf.  He is worried about what Bay is doing to himself mentally and physically because of how he feels about Slate.  He thinks Bay is setting himself up for a mighty hard and long fall back to reality once Slate is back to his normal self.  Even though I don't know Slate at all yet, I guess I have to agree with Cinnamon.  Slate is straight and Bay is just setting himself up for a load of heartache, and I know exactly how that feels!!

We make our way straight to the hospital, grabbing a coffee for everyone including Bay on the way up to Slates room.  I already know that Mace's coffee cup is going to be used to collect his fingerprints and DNA and there is a forensic team all ready and waiting inside the hospital somewhere. 

I sit with Bay and Cinnamon in Slates room just chatting rubbish while we drink coffee.  Bay looks a little uncomfortable, I guess he must know what is going on here and he isn't feeling very comfortable with it.  He is sat there blatantly just staring at Slate most of the time and being very quiet.  He has really got it bad and I don't think he's even trying to hide it any more!

Mace and Elderberry still have their heads together and are still talking about all sorts of girlie rubbish which is kind of amusing me as he's hardly paid any attention to me at all, Mace does not even seem bothered about me sat next to Bay chatting like he normally would be.  All I am getting from him is the occasional glance and smile.

Cinnamon nudges me when he notices Mace put his empty coffee cup down on the desk behind Elderberry, he whispers for me to distract him.
I get up off my chair and walk up to Mace, putting my arm around him and pull him away from Elderberry and swing him round keeping his back to Cinnamon who has just walked over to her.

"Hey boyfriend, I'm starting to get a little jealous!!"  I pull a face at him  "If I didn't know you are totally gay I'd be getting a little worried about the time you are spending with your new best friend right now.  You have paid me absolutely no attention since we left the airport!!"  he starts laughing at me.

"You big baby!!"  he laughs as he kisses my face.

He goes to move away from me because I think he knows I tend not to like kissing him in a roomful of people.  I hold onto him and start kissing him properly to really distract him so they can do what they have to do.  I keep my eyes open and watch Cinnamon quickly knock his cup into a plastic bag using a pen, he doesn't even touch Maces cup.  The bag containing the cup goes swiftly into Elderberry's bag out of sight.   

I stop kissing Mace when I see them just standing there awkwardly watching us.

"I think you are finally going soft on me!!"  Mace grins at me.  "It's not like you to be jealous!"  he laughs 

"Yeah, I think I must be going soft!!"  I smile at him as I keep a hold of him  "I'm not used to you ignoring me - I don't like it!"  he starts grinning at me. 

"Right boys I am off to the ladies"  Elderberry says  "I won't be long honey."  she smiles at Cinnamon as she walks out of the room.  Cinnamon then collects all the remaining coffee cups up and throws them into a bin by the desk.

Elderberry had only been gone out of the room for a few minutes when my phone starts to ring.  Mango's number is flashing up on the screen - but it's not Mango who speaks to me, it's Elderberry.  I'm a little surprised that Mango would be in on this too but then I think about Coral.

"I'm Mango by the way."  she giggles  "Move away from Mace and just repeat out load what I tell you to say."  she says to me quietly.

"Just one tick Mango, I've got a machine beeping in my ear."  I say as I move over towards the door a little and away from Mace.  "That's better I can hear you properly now!"

Oh boy this is entertaining!!  Mace suddenly has that suspicious look of his written all over his face and is watching me like a hawk, as I start to repeat what Elderberry is telling me to say.

"Yes Mango"  I laugh into the phone  "Me and Mace have arrived back safely thanks!   We are actually in with Slate right now."  I pause to listen to my next line  "Yes, don't stress, I'm still fighting fit!"  I laugh into the phone  "We can get the extra tests done now out of the way if you like before I shoot off to Gravels, then you can fill me in on everything that's been happening with Slate while I've been away."  Another pause while I listen to what she is saying  "Yes Cinnamon is still here."

I take another pause and listen to Elderberry while I watch Mace.  He must now be satisfied that I am talking to Mango and he has stopped watching me and is just stood staring at Slate.  I am quite amused by my next line.

"Cinnamon Mango wants to know if you have time to show me the way to his office, he needs a quick word with you about your Dad's new medication anyway."  Cinnamon smiles at me. 

"Yes, but can he hang five, I need to wait for El to get back from the ladies, she'll have kittens if I just go wandering off without telling her where I am going!!  She's so clingy that woman!!"  I hear Mace start laughing.

"Okay Mango we'll be up as soon as Elderberry has finished powdering her nose!"  I laugh down the phone "but you know how long women take in the toilet, she's probably got her make up trowel out now as we speak!!" she swears at me then laughs a little because she didn't tell me to say that.

I know that performance was all to get me and Cinnamon away from Mace.  Mace quizzed me about the tests he'd heard me mention, I told him it's normal, I have to have regular testing to make sure I'm 100% fit in the run up to the transplant.

While Cinnamon is far from happy about leaving Bay in the same room as Mace, Elderberry is there to watch Bay as well as keep Mace amused to keep him there.  Mace didn't kick up a fuss when Cinnamon asked Mace if he'd stay and keep El company while we pop up to Mango's office.  Bay is now asleep with his head on the bed holding Slates hand.  I'm not sure if this is a set up or if he genuinely is asleep, because this isn't the first time I've seen him doing that.   Keeping Mace in Slates room is also a good place to keep Mace and Gravel apart for the time being seeing as though Gravel is not allowed to step foot in there.

I am a little surprised that we do actually make our way up to neurology but it's not Mango's office we go into.  I feel sick as I stand reading the name on the door - Dr Forrest Rock.  I'm very surprised and little amused that Forrest has ended up in neurology just like I have!!  

I suddenly realize this is going to kill any thought I might have of working in this hospital and this department.  I've already decided I will be selling my house after this is all over and moving back to Sugar Valley to be around Slate, he is going to need me and he will give me something to focus on.  Forrest working in the neurology department of this hospital is going to have me commuting to another town, probably Apple Hill or Sugar Falls.  It is going to be bad enough Forrest living in this town, there is no way I could work in the same department or even hospital that he does.  Then I remember Gravel telling me Forrest mentioned moving to Raspberry Hill permanently ... I guess I'm just going to have to see what he does, before I can decide where I will be. 

Cinnamon laughs at me and says this is now operation headquarters as I just stand rooted staring at the name plate on the door while I'm miles away in thought.   I guess he must know that I am married to Forrest.  When I walk into the office, after a playful shuve from Cinnamon to move me from where I'm rooted, I can see a police officer sitting in the corner of the room and Mango who is pacing around the room looking far from happy!!  

Just as I get inside the room I freeze again and nearly fall through the floor.  On the wall right in front of me is a photograph that I am very shocked to see there.  A very similar photograph to the one that I have folded up in my wallet.  A photograph that I still, even after these past four weeks, can not bring myself to get rid of.  The photographs are both of me and Forrest messing about in a photo booth together when we were on the beach in Sandy Shores.  

Why the hell would he still have that photograph hanging on the wall in his office after all this time if he hates me and has moved on??

"I'm not happy about this Cinnamon - I want my daughter OUT OF THAT HOUSE NOW AND AWAY FROM ALL THIS SHIT!!"  Mango distracts me as he sets about Cinnamon as soon as he walks through the door  "Don't you think I have enough problems with my two boys and everything else without my daughter being dragged into something that she shouldn't even be involved in!!"  he cuts his eyes at me. 

"Look Mango, don't stress!!  Granite is going to help us get the house bugged and Granite will be there to keep an eye on her.  We'll draw her out as much as possible, don't forget Citrus is about too and Prelude is in the loop.  Coral will be watched like a hawk!!  and I DOUBT very much that Gravel will let anything happen to her!!"

"It's not Gravel I'm worried about - it's Mace!!  But still Gravel must know what that man is and still he is letting him sleep under the same roof as she is!!"  he snaps  "I don't believe this is happening, seriously all I ask is for a quiet life!!  What the hell did we do to deserve all this shit!!??"  Cinnamon laughs at him as he puts his arm round him. 

"Don't worry, we will look after Coral I promise you!!  Don't you think I'm not worried about Coral too, you know she's like a sister to me!!  The MINUTE she looks like she might be in any danger she will be out of there!!  We can't just go in there and pull her out now without a good reason, especially not with Gravel, and we can't afford to make either Gravel or Mace the slightest bit suspicious."  he smiles at Mango who almost looks distraught.  "We have to carry on life as normal until they have fallen for our set up and we've got the evidence to take them both down, we could take Mace straight down now but we need to find out what they are up to and exactly how deep Gravel's involvement is and why he has planted a notorious hit man on Granite."  he smiles at Mango  "I'm sure that you will want Gravel away from Coral permanently if he is mixed up in all this anyway so you are going to have to trust me - we NEED to do it this way or Gravel could slither his way out of this completely, we don't have anything on him other than his association with a known wanted criminal!!"

"This is ridiculous!!"  Mango snaps as he looks straight at me.  "We shouldn't have to be going through this!!"  he looks in my direction  "You have always been trouble haven't you Granite!!"  he snaps at me!!  

I guess he will be blaming me and of course when you think about it, it is my fault.  I'm the idiot that got myself  involved and in too deep with booze, drugs, crime and the Brownies all those years ago.  I'm the idiot who has fallen for Maces crap.  I am the one who has brought this on everyone!

Cinnamon sits down at the desk.  I hadn't noticed that there were files all over the desk and he opens one up and shows me an old picture of Mace.  I just stare at it and start to feel very sick, I don't need a closer or second look to see that it is my Mace.  I nod my head.

"He still has that T-shirt in the back of the wardrobe."  I say miserably.  "It used to be his favourite, he lived in it when he first moved in." 

Cinnamon just smiles at me.  He would love nothing more than for it to be the Mace he is after, and I already know it is, inwardly I'm screaming because I really don't want it to be.

My life has been set in my mind for a while now, and even though I've had to resign myself to settling for second best, I've been comfortable with it, thinking that me and Mace had a future together.  Now that is all being torn away from me and I'm not even going to be left with second best anymore, I'm going to be left with nothing and that scares me.  I struggled being alone and I'm going to be alone again when this is all over!!  It's just a good job I don't love Mace or this would probably destroy me, even so, I know the separation is still going to be very painful for me and I really don't know how I'm going to cope without him in my life.  A very big reason why I won't be able to return to my life in Cherry Hill and living in the house where we've lived together for the past five years.  I will need to start afresh and concentrate on Slate if I'm ever going to get through all this without falling back into my addictions.

"We are going to be based here in this office, as Forrest is away, so that we can be right on top of the situation, and hopefully Gravel won't get suspicious if he sees me coming in and out of the hospital because he knows Bay is camped out in Slates room."  he smiles at me. 

How ironic is this - Forrest's office of all places!!  I can't help but keep staring at the photograph of us on the wall, wishing I could roll the time back twenty odd years and do something differently, something that would have changed all this!!

"Granite."  Cinnamon says distracting me away from the photograph 

He explained that he would be contacting me via Mango and Bay's phones to keep Gravel and Mace from becoming suspicious, especially Gravel who knows that he is in the force, we can't let him see us having any contact at all outside of Slates room.  Bay is in the loop but only because of the use of his phone, otherwise he will be kept well out of it.  Cinnamon will now fade completely into the background while El will be the active face, she will be out and about, basically sitting and working on Mace as much as possible. Mango has been pulled into this because they are using his department to hide out in, but also because he is close enough to all of us, to run between us without causing suspicion and of cause there is Coral.

"I don't get it, everyone knows you are in the force, so doesn't the same apply to El, especially Gravel doesn't he know who El is?"  I ask curiously

"No, she's one of our special agents, not even most of her family and friends are privy to what she actually does for a living.  I'm just very lucky to have been the one assigned to her because of the direction in which my career is going!  Gravel has not come into contact with her as yet, especially not in a work capacity we work on a totally different level to Gravel out in the coded world, while he's confined to Sugar Valley.  El only knows him through the family vaguely because of Coral and living here in Sugar Valley."  he laughs for a moment  "But I guess it won't be long before he finds out exactly who she is when we are arresting him and taking him down!!"

"The only thing that I'm not happy about, this is way too close to home for the both of us and the only thing which might trip us up is mine and El's false relationship situation, of course Prelude is in the loop and this all hinges on him not making any mistakes.  We've had to cause a scene, so as far as everyone is concerned El and Prelude have broken up, she has supposedly been sneaking around with me behind Preludes back and left him for me."  he smiles at me.

"Seriously this is a very big case for us, one which neither of us wanted to miss out on!! We both nearly lost out on it because of the family connection which is a hindrance in part but it does also work in our favour, we both know most parties involved around this case and the lay of the land so we can get stuck straight into the job in hand without all the red tape and briefings and we can get it wrapped up quickly which is all our powers that be want.  Mace Brownie off the street and behind bars as soon as possible, with the added bonus of clearing out another bent copper.  El is one of the best at what she does, we don't think we have anyone else up to handling Mace so they are having to take the risk using both of us on this case."   Cinnamon looks at me then  "The only thing you will have to be aware of - Me and El are not exactly flavour of the month within the family right now!  There is only Mango, Prelude and Bay who know the truth about our fake relationship and now you.  So don't be surprised if Coral or anyone else bend yours or Maces ear for spending time with Elderberry." 

"Like my daughter has got room to talk with her antics of late!"  Mango tuts which makes me and Cinnamon both laugh.

Cinnamon hands me half a dozen small flat things that look like buttons.   

"Bugging devices, we need you to plant them discreetly around Gravels house, one in every room.  Before you do just push the tiny button on the back to activate it, give it a minute then just speak the name of the room into it that you've planted it in so we know exactly where we are."  I stare down at the one he's pointing at in my hand, I'm amazed at how small they are these days.  "Any bits of conversation we can pick up will be a help, especially between Mace and Gravel, besides there being a safety element for both you and Coral."  he smiles at me then frowns  "Are you and Mace engaged by any chance?"  he asks me which I find strange.

"Hell no!!  I'm still married to Forrest."  I laugh at him  

"Good, because we need you to get engaged to Mace, but only for the purpose of this operation."  he smiles at me as he places a small square box in front of me  "The ring in that box is also a bugging device."

"Are you off your head?!"  I frown at him "He will never fall for that!!  I don't love Mace and Mace knows I don't.  He is not even officially my boyfriend and he knows I still love Forrest as well as still being married to him, so Mace is never going to wash me proposing to him!!"  I see Mango really frowning at me as he sits there with his mouth open like he's in shock.  I'm about to ask him what's wrong when Cinnamon stops me by carrying on talking.

"Yeah Bay did tell me about your 'unusual' relationship situation!!"  he laughs for a moment  "We need you to get that ring on his finger - I don't care what you have to do or how you do it - tell him you love him and are divorcing Forrest if you have to!!"  he smiles at me  "Besides it keeping him sweet and throwing him right off the scent, it will give El something to work on, after listening to their performance in the car - I recon Mace and El will be taking quite a few shopping trips and have your not happening wedding planned in no time!"  he laughs for a moment but I'm not finding it funny!!  "Mace will never suspect he's being bugged.  That ring is the best way to keep tabs on him 24/7"  he smiles at me again as I just sit there with my mouth open. 

"Granite we need to find out what he's up to and quickly and the only way we are going to do that is to have him bugged constantly!!  Rings are something people don't tend to take off very often."  

I open the box and stare at the ring, quite surprise that it isn't just a cheap ordinary engagement ring, it is actually something that Mace would like it is very O.T.T!!

"You told me he has expensive tastes, so we made it a good one, El picked it out herself!!  We'll get it back when we lock him up."  he laughs and says it all so flippantly, but this is my life he's playing with and taking to pieces, and it hurts.  "We need you to carry on as normal, don't change anything that might make him suspicious which includes your sex life ... unfortunately your privacy is going to be invaded Granite but there is nothing we can do about that ... if you avoid it because you know we are listening you might make him suspicious or create arguments that might hinder the operation!"

"OH GREAT!!"  I snap  "Well I hope whoever is going to be listening gets off on it because I doubt I will - you wanna hope the ear wigger doesn't put me off either or Mace will be getting suspicious!!"  everyone starts laughing including Mango  "Oh man this sucks!!" 

"I doubt you'll have to give us too many embarrassing performances to listen too, we hope to get this wrapped up within a week!!"  I start laughing at him

"Don't you be too sure on that - the way me and Mace have been going at it lately, unfortunately I doubt you'll be listening to much else!!"  he rolls his eyes at me and I start really laughing  "As well as Gravel and Coral who are at it morning noon and night ... your ear wiggers are going to need nerves of steel!!"  I hear Mango making a choking noise next to me.  I guess that is the last thing he would want to hear about his daughter, I never gave a thought to him being in the room or I would never have said that!

Cinnamon's phone starts to ring.  He answers it quickly and immediately starts grinning as he sits there listening.  The call is very quick.

"That was the forensic guy - Great news!!  It has just been confirmed that your Mace Wood is indeed Mace Brownie like we thought!!  So it's full steam ahead!!"  he says with a huge grin on his face.

I put my head in my hands, I really hoped that they were going to come back and tell me differently, that this had all been some big mistake!  Great news he says, it might be for him but it definitely isn't for me!!  I feel sick!!

"I seriously don't buy what you are telling me ... I don't believe your Mace Brownie is my Mace!!"  I've still got my head in my hands because it just doesn't make sense to me.  I've thought about this a lot since he told me the first time over the phone who they think Mace is, and I just don't see how it is even possible!!  Cinnamon asks me why  "You don't know him like I do, he just IS NOT the sort, especially not a hitman!  I've ran in that world remember and he is just not one of them!!  It takes a certain kind of person to be a hit man, my Mace just isn't it!!  You've seen him ... he's a girl!!"

"Granite forensics have just proved he is one and the same person!!  I've already told you Mace is a player, you have probably NEVER seen the real Mace Brownie - he is capable of playing a really good game Granite!!"

"I know you say that but I don't believe it - There is NO WAY - there are things you can't fake and my Mace is just too soft, he's over emotional and he doesn't have the stomach for it for a start!!  It is in his nature and things you just can't play act!!"  Cinnamon frowns at me  "You say he's straight and not gay in reality - That is crap!!  Trust me he is 100% gay I know I sleep with him!!  Mace is as gay as they come - he is girly gay and if you can't see it you are stupid!!  People don't tend to spot I'm gay straight away but with Mace it's glaringly obvious!   You just ask Bay how gay that guy is!!"

"Yeah I was very surprised when we met you at the airport, I was expecting him to be as hard as nails, like Prelude, Storm was gay and still as hard as nails but Mace does appear to be very camp!"  he laughs for a moment "Even Bay looks like he's got more fight in him and he's a bit on the girly side!"  he carries on laughing but he still wears the expression on his face like he thinks I'm just trying to make excuses because I don't want him to be The Mace Brownie.  So I sit cutting my eyes at him.  "So go on then, I'm curious, what else is causing you so much doubt?"

"I can see he's Fudge Brownies son, I'm not disputing that, but he sure as hell is nothing like his old man and it's the things he's supposed to have done that I can't believe!!"  I laugh for a moment just imagining what Fudge would think about how Mace has turned out, and it wouldn't be good!!  "Mace is the most squeamish person I know!!  You can't be a hit man if you are squeamish!!"  He's a wimp, you just try raising your hand to him and watch how he cowers!!  He's not a fighter, I punch he slaps, we have slapping sessions when we come to blows not punch ups, I punched him once and it traumatize him for a week!!  He's all mouth, he can dish it out verbally but that's as far as it ever goes.  I've only ever seen him go once and okay he did nearly strangle someone but it was just once and it traumatized him, after he was seriously shaking and he cried like a baby for the rest of the night after he realized what he'd nearly done and he wasn't right for weeks afterwards!!  We had been arguing really badly for days, I'd wound him to boiling point and I sat laughing with one of my mates, he flipped his lid because he thought we were laughing at him when we actually wasn't and my mate, who couldn't stand Mace anyway, took it too far and tripped him by pretending he was hitting on me, something that does send Mace off his rocker anyway!!  Other than that the worse thing I've ever known him do is throw a live lobster into a pan of boiling water - he can't even gut a fish without throwing up and crying, I have to do it!!  He buys stupid birds for us to eat with feathers and heads on them, he can't even bring himself to pluck and gut them, something else I have to do which annoys me because I don't know why he buys the damn things in the first place, it's not like they even taste nice!!"

Mango and Cinnamon are both just sat laughing at me.  I'm not really sure if they are buying any of this, and I know I'm now rambling but I'm just explaining to them what Mace is like and why I will never be able to believe he is even capable of being this big bad hit man that he is supposed to be!! 

"I've treated him really badly at times and pushed him far past the point of snapping and he doesn't - he just cries like a baby and slaps like a girl!!  He is a drama queen, he has tantrums and throws wobbles and screams the roof off the house like a girl, he's needy, clingy, possessive, if I bought him flowers it would make his day, if he could get away with it he's be carrying handbags and be wearing high heeled shoes  - that's not a hit man!!"  I smile at Cinnamon who starts sniggering  "I'm not joking, he wastes so much money at the spa on skin, hair and health treatments it's not funny he even has his nails manicured!!  He's scared stiff of needles, clowns and spiders for berry's sake and he can not watch blood and gore, he hates it and can't even be in the same room if it's on tv, he walks out.  He seriously passes out at the slightest sight of blood, he only has to cut his finger and he's in a tizzy and on the floor."  I laugh for a moment remembering what I did to him once  "I MADE him sit and watch The Saw movie once, I held his head so he had to watch - within three minutes he had thrown up all over the carpet and passed out.  He didn't fake it either, I'm a doctor - I checked his eyes and he was out cold!!  He is worse than a girl and not capable of fading anyone - unless you are going to tell me each of his hits lay next to a pile of his vomit?!"  Cinnamon laughs for a moment.  "I could go on but I think you get the picture, my Mace is everything that a hit man or hard criminal isn't!!"

"I can see why you might doubt it and I'll make a note of your concerns Granite but unfortunately I think you will find - your whole life together has just been a game!!"   

He sits and stares at me almost sympathetically for a moment, I guess he's thinking Mace has just play acted all this stuff and I'm just a right idiot in denial!!  I've watched him play act for years with his mates, but when he's at home and it's just us, I don't believe that has been an act!!

"Now we need to put all that to one side because we need to work out what Mace and Gravel are playing at!  In my book you don't plant a known hit man who might have cause for revenge on your brother!!"  I just sit there numb  "Granite can you think of ANYTHING that might make Gravel plant Mace in your lap?  Have you done anything that might make you their next hit?"

"No!  I seriously don't know what I've EVER done to my brother to deserve any of the shit he's done to me!!  Especially as I haven't seen or spoken to him for over twenty years!!!  Mace Brownie I can understand because of his Dad and Uncles, but not Gravel he's my brother for Berry's sake!"  I'm holding my head which is swimming and I'm virtually on the verge of tears, because I seriously can't believe any of this is actually happening.

"Hopefully because he has already been with you for five years Mace might just be using you as a means to lay low - but Gravel knows the history between you and the Brownies, Mace would be the very last person I'd send to my brothers if I was in his shoes - there has to be another motive or something else going on behind all this!!"  I just stare at him, I seriously don't know what to think anymore!!  "Keep thinking ... any tiny little thing it doesn't matter how stupid you think it might be.  I'll get El to distract Mace tomorrow afternoon so we can meet up here again after you've had a think.  In the mean time, we need to go back down to Slates room, you need to get those bugs planted and that ring on his finger so we can set the ball rolling!!"

"Hold on!!"  Mango says suddenly  "I need to say something, I can already see something not quite right here!"  he says frowning at me  "Granite have I heard you say you still love Forrest, you don't love Mace and he knows that?"  he's really frowning at me.

"Yes.  I still love Forrest and Mace has always known that."  I say and his eyes widen, actually they almost pop out of his head.

"Can I ask Granite what exactly is this 'unusual' relationship situation that Cinnamon mentioned a while ago that Bay also knows about?   I need you to explain it to me."  he is really frowning.

Explaining the situation to Mango of all people I found rather embarrassing.  Dr Mango Muffin in our world of neurology is like a god to most of us minions, I can't believe I'm having to sit here and explain this to him, especially knowing the stuffed shirt he is or always used to be.  Mates who shag is not really something that I should imagine he would approve of.  I explain how it started and what it is today - us trying to make it work and my reasons for doing it.  He asked my why if I still love Forrest did I not come home after leaving prison - so I told him the truth, that for the first ten years I couldn't because of the death threats, then after that I've just been too scared to because I couldn't and am not coping knowing he's moved on.

"And Gravel knows all this and how you feel?"  he frowns as I tell him he does. "And what has Gravel been telling you about Forrest?"  So I sit telling him everything that Gravel has told me about Forrest.  When I've finished telling him everything he just sits there frowning as he stares at the floor like he's trying to work something out in his head.   

"Gravel is a major Berry Hole!!"  he snaps suddenly "He has seriously been lying to both you and Forrest!"  he frowns at me  "He's been telling you both exactly the same lie ... it's almost like he's trying to make you fall out and keep you two apart on purpose!?"

"What do you mean?"  I ask him because he's now really confusing me.

"You and Forrest seriously need your damn heads banging together!!  Gravel knows the truth about how you both feel about each other, but has been telling you both the exact opposite and a pack of lies!!"  he starts laughing  "You are both as tapped as each other!!  You both still love each other - Forrest still wears his wedding ring just like I notice you are.  Gravel has played on Mace and almost destroyed Forrest all over again and this red guy that he's told you Forrest is madly in love with, doesn't exist!!"  he laughs almost hysterically for a moment  "Oh Berry!!  Granite,  Forrest hasn't moved on at all and I doubt he ever will!!  He has not had a single relationship since you left, anyone can tell you that!  He has been adamant that you would come back one day and still feel the same way he does and I've had to sit here and watch him for twenty years driving himself half crazy WAITING for you to come back!"

"WHAT!?"  I sit there stunned into silence for a while as the shock sets in.  "but I've seen the red guy with my own eyes!!"

"What you've seen is Dr Blush ... taking Forrest, his work mate, outside because he was falling to pieces and about to throw up all over my office floor!!   That was the day I had to take him to Meadows, the day Gravel told him all those lies about you.  Forrest didn't want to go, Gravel MADE him go and I unfortunately helped Gravel talk Forrest into it because at the time I thought Gravel was being genuine.  I believed the lies that I sat and heard him telling Forrest about you!  Forrest was in bit's and not capable of working anyway so I told him he should go away for a while and get his head together, so I drove him to Meadows."  he laughs  "In fact, while he was waiting outside for me with Dr Blush, Forrest said you ran out of the hospital grounds and he heard Gravel and Mace shouting after you.  Forrest tried to get to you because he says there is something you need to know, but Mace and Gravel stopped him.  Mace threatened him he told him he would fade him if he saw him anywhere near you again!"  Mango frowns  "Forrest thought it was just an idol threat ... but after what Cinnamon has told me about Mace ....!!"

I should have known!!  I knew Forrest could never hate me!!  I knew there is no way he could be with a red guy!!  I knew he wouldn't have said those things about me!!  Not even that photograph on his office wall has made me question what Gravel has been telling me!!  WHY did I listen to Gravel instead of trusting my own instincts!!  HELL!!  Mace knows exactly who Forrest is!!

"Granite ... do you have any idea why Gravel might be trying to keep you and Forrest apart?"  Cinnamon who has been sat there quietly listening suddenly asks me. 

"I don't have a clue!!  Spite - Jealousy, I don't know!!  Gravel plays these games and half the time there isn't even a reason behind them!"  

I've got my head in my hands, my mind is everywhere, all this time I've stayed away too scared to come back in case he's moved on and forgotten me, and all this time he's felt exactly like I have and even been waiting for me to come back. I can feel myself starting to cry, I feel like a prize idiot, especially sitting here with tears rolling down my face that I can't stop.  

 "Granite?"  Cinnamon is frowning at me

"I'm sorry, ignore me, I really can't think straight right now!!  I thought Forrest hated me!!"  I frown at Mango  "What does Forrest think I need to know?"  he just shrugs his shoulders.

Why has Gravel been lying to us?  Why is he trying to keep us apart?  Why has he done any of this?  Forrest still loves me and he hasn't moved on at all!!!  Hell!!

"If Forrest is trying to tell you something that Gravel doesn't want you to know, that could well be the reason for Gravel trying to keep you two apart ."  Cinnamon is now frowning at me  "This might not even be a revenge thing for Mace.  He might just be working for Gravel, and that might give us a reason for him planting Mace on you, his job might just be to sit on you and keep you away from Sugar Valley and Forrest - it would also tie in with giving Mace a good place to lie low, because as long as he keeps living the life with you and not getting into any police trouble to attract attention to himself - he could live that way forever and get away with it using the deceased identity."  Cinnamon is scribbling away while he is talking. "Granite how did you find out about Slate? and is he the only reason you are back here!"

"Yes Mango and Bay tracked me down and phoned me.  I decided to come back as a spur of the moment thing even before I knew I was compatible kidney wise and Gravel didn't even know they had found me until I turned up on his doorstep."  he asked me how Mace reacted to me coming back to Sugar Valley  "He wasn't happy because of Forrest being here, he doesn't trust me to keep away from him.  We had a row about it but only because I didn't plan to bring him with me at first - he told me I couldn't go if I didn't take him with me, you know just his normal clingy boyfriend stuff."

"You know I've always thought over the years that there is something a little off going on between Gravel and Forrest."  Mango says suddenly  "They are constantly fighting and they throw things at each other all the time that I don't understand, but any time I ask Forrest he clams up.  Hiding your existence from Slate, Slate doesn't have a clue about you, Forrest or the adopted family!  Which has put me in an awkward situation over the years especially as Gravel has threatened me on more than one occasion to keep my mouth shut about it!!"  Mango frowns at me  "Gravel has obviously been lying to Forrest for the past fifteen years, telling him he is searching for you, but I suspect he found you and kept it to himself.  He has also been telling Forrest he doesn't know where you are when obviously he has known where you have been for the past five years at least."  he frowns at me again  "They had a huge fight over finding you because of Slate needing a kidney, they had a serious punch up in my office, I had to get security to part them.  Forrest was adamant, almost hysterical and kept saying it is important we track you down for Slates sake.  Gravel was going ballistic at him, I've never seen him get so evil!!  He was acting like he didn't want Granite found or anywhere near Slate."  he frowns at Cinnamon  "I think you might be right Cinn, I get the feeling Forrest knows something the rest of us don't and that is the reason Gravel is trying to keep Granite and Forrest apart!!"  


"Mango I need Forrest's number."  I say to him 

"NO GRANITE!!!"  Cinnamon shouts suddenly  "You are to have NO CONTACT with Forrest until this is over and that goes for you too Mango!!  Granite if we are right about this then the last thing we need is you setting Mace or Gravel off if they find out you are in contact with Forrest you could be putting him in unnecessary danger!!"  Cinnamon snaps  "I need to talk to him to see if he does know anything and in light of what I've already heard, I think we might have to move him to a safe house out of harms way, if he does know something Forrest might actually be the only one in danger here!!  Mace is a hit man he knows exactly how to stop people talking instantly."   

Cinnamon has a troubled look on his face and my blood runs really cold as I suddenly become scared!!  Up until now I haven't been the slightest bit scared especially not for myself or of Mace, but now I am scared for Forrest, if any of this is right, he could well be Mace's next hit!!

"Can I ask something - How does Mace do his hits?"

"He doesn't have a pattern like most hit men, he doesn't leave tell tale signs like most do, that's why he's so slippery, he's unpredictable, guns, knives, his bare hands, he's used various methods, his first was strangling his cousin, the last of his hits we thought was a shooting, but now we are adding the real Mace Wood to his list, and he had his throat cut."

"Guns and knives!!  Shooting?!"  I laugh  "This is all a damn joke, it has to be ... the only thing I can believe is the strangling!"   Cinnamon frowns at me  "Mace is scared stiff of lethal weapons.  He won't even touch those stupid plastic guns at the fair.  I'm going to admit something here, I acquired myself a gun after I left prison, I kept it for self defense because I was waiting and expecting the Brownies or one of their runners to come for me.  I also used to sleep with a knife under my pillow."  Cinnamon rolls his eyes at me  "Even after they all faded inside and I thought the threat had gone, I couldn't get out of the habit.  When Mace moved in, I still had the gun and the knife, he made me get rid of them.  He found the gun by accident and got absolutely hysterical, he screamed the house down just for it being in the house.  I pointed the gun at him, he was terrified of it and flaked out on the carpet quicker than I could blink!!  And the knife!"  I start really laughing  "He really regretted the first time he crawled  into my bed in the middle of the night trying his luck, I was half asleep and I had the knife at his throat not realizing it was Mace - he shit himself, I thought he was going to have a nervous breakdown there and then!"   I start laughing   "I'm sorry but the more I think about it the more I am never buying that my Mace is a hit man or even a hard crimanal - you could pull a gun or knife on me and I wouldn't bat an eyelid, because I could use them, I'm not scared of them, he is terrified of them, he couldn't even run in that world, he'd be done over so easily he wouldn't last a minute because he's a scared wimp!!"  I laugh at the expression on his face  "The only way you are ever going to convince me is if he admits it to me and admits he's been putting on an impossible Oscar winning performance all these years or you tell me he's left his finger prints all over the scene of his crimes and a signed confession!!!"

Cinnamon just sits there really frowning at me for a moment and I wander whyThe room falls into silence while he starts flicking quickly through the files in front of him.  I get the feeling I've said something that has triggered him off thinking something.  He flicks through all the files before he looks up or speaks again, but he has a weird look on his face.

"Right, we really need to get you back to Mace incase he gets suspicious by your long absence!  We need to get you both taken to Gravels, so you can plant those bugs, and GET THAT RING ON HIS FINGER!"  he laughs for a moment  "I'll speak to Forrest and see if he can shed any light on all this and get him moved to a safe house."

I hardly slept a wink all night mainly because of what Mango had told me about Forrest and the lies that Gravel has been telling us both.  

I can't believe that Forrest still loves me and has been sat waiting for me to come back - it is like a great weight has suddenly been lifted away from me and the heavy pain that I've been carrying around for the last twenty years has suddenly gone.  But all this now brings guilt into play, I feel guilty about the last five years because of having Mace in my life.

I couldn't stay in bed, scared I'd wake Mace up.  I felt fidgety almost like I could crawl the walls with excitement, but also with frustration because I want to speak to Forrest but know that I can't.  It is a good thing that I don't have his phone number because I wouldn't have been able to stop myself from calling him.

My lack of sleep gave me a good chance to sneak about the house during the night and plant the bugging devices in every room like Cinnamon has asked me to.  I waited for the normal racket to start in Gravels bedroom then crept out of bed and downstairs laughing at how paper thin the walls are in this house.  

Finding a place to hide the damn things was the hardest part.  I worry about what might happen if Gravel finds one, even though it's Coral who does all the housework, and she is the more likely to find them, I still worry!!  Every room in the house now contains a bug except for our bedroom and Gravels bedroom.  I hold off planting the one in our room until after the ring is out of it's box.

Even after having hardly any sleep I still wake up and get up before Mace and find myself  in a really good mood, even though I have a few things troubling me.

I have to make this bogus engagement happen today.  This is a joke!!  How am I ever going to pull this off and Mace buy it - he has refused to wear the boyfriend label until I can tell him I love him - so how the hell am I going to make him say yes to me proposing to him?!  I stand watching him sleeping for a moment.  Somehow today I have to convince him that I love him then that I want to marry him.  I guess breakfast in bed is as good a place as any to start.
I sat at the kitchen table for a while just thinking because it is still too early to wake Mace up yet.  I have to keep the ring box in my pocket because Mace is a snooper and I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't find it before I get the chance to do anything with it.  My main worry about all this is he is seriously not going to buy that I suddenly love him and I have to do that before I can even do anything with the ring.  If he does find this box no doubt he's going to accuse me of buying it for someone else, probably Forrest!!  I really have to make sure he doesn't find that box!!

I am stood in the kitchen making waffles when Gravel walks in.

"I must still be asleep and dreaming - I swear I can see Granite Rock ACTUALLY cooking!!"  he says sarcastically as he stands watching me.  "Your bitch not up yet to do it for you?  I think I best had supervise I don't want you burning my house down!"

"I did live on my own for fifteen years before and without Mace you know - I can and do cook, Mace is just a lot better at it than I am, plus I work and he doesn't, it gives him something to do."  I snap at him.

If anyone is going to kill my good mood it is going to be him.  Just knowing he's stood behind me, knowing the lies he's been telling me and Forrest to keep us apart and knowing he's planted Mace on me, makes me want to to turn round and punch his head in!!

"Oh yeah ... how much do you earn cleaning bed pans anyway?  Peanuts I guess!"  he laughs sarcastically.  "Which makes me wander how you fund your bitches expensive tastes?!"  I think I already know he must know exactly what job I do, Mace has got to have told him, but I have to keep playing this stupid game with him just like I'm having to play it with Mace.

"Grow up Gravel, you are not a child anymore!!"  I scowl at him  "I wouldn't know how much bed pan cleaners earn these days as that isn't what I do at work!!"

"But you said ... "

"NO YOU presumed I was a bed pan cleaner!!"  I scowl at him  "You as usually are too quick to judge and too busy running me down to even ask what I actually do at work or what I've been doing with my life since I was released from prison.  A month on and you still haven't!!  But I bet you a months salary you've dived in trying to find my criminal record since I've been back!! You say Slate is self absorbed well I know where he gets that from - you!!"

"Say's you!!  Spoken to Mace about the M word yet?"  he smirks at me sarcastically  "Or are you still dodging telling him?"  he thinks he's being clever!!  I don't say anything and just ignore him  "No I didn't think so ... my big brother the person who taught me all that I know!!"

"Hey don't you dare lay your disgusting shit on me you berry hole!!  I would top myself if I thought I was anything like you!!  I might be a lot of ugly things but what you have done to your son ... everything I've ever done all together doesn't even scratch what you've done!!"  I point at him quite angrily  "You didn't get that from me!!  You make me sick!!  I really don't know how you even live with yourself!!"

"Not as sick as Mace will be when he finds out!!"  he laughs ignoring what I've said to carry on with his digging.  "Or is that what breakfast in bed is all about, sucking up so you can drop your latest bombshell!!"  

Oh I am going to be dropping a bombshell but not the kind he is expecting.  Suddenly I feel like wiping that smug smirk off his face.  I wander for a moment how Gravel will react to me proposing to his hit man.  I would love to find out. I take the ring box out of my pocket and thrust it at him.  Instantly regretting doing it, I hope him being in the force won't spot or realize exactly what that ring is.  His eyes nearly pop out of his head when he opens the box and sees the ring sitting there.

"Actually yes I have told him, know it all!!"  I snap at him "Mace knows I'm still married to Forrest, he also knows the minute we get back to Cherry Hill I'm going to see a solicitor to get the marriage annulled, we've even talked about adopting a couple of kids."

"Have you suddenly gone mad!!  I think I need to get Mango to check your head out!!"  he stares at me in shock then looks back down at the ring  "Please tell me this isn't what I think it is!!  Hell when Coral see's that ring she's be laying into me ... how much did that cost?!  It makes hers look like a plastic one out of a vending machine!!"  his eyes are still popping out of his head  "You don't love Mace so why would you want to marry him!?"   

I think for a minute before I say anything I'm going have to play the love game with Mace so I need to watch what I'm saying to Gravel in case he tells him. 

"How would you know how I feel about Mace, you don't sit down and talk to anyone for long enough to find anything out, if the topic of conversation isn't Gravel Rock, you are not interested!!"  I take the ring back off him.  "Actually seeing Forrest moved onto his red guy is exactly what I needed to see - it gave me closure.  I have had feelings for Mace for a long time and I've just been blocking them out and fighting them because of Forrest, well he's gone now and Mace is my future - it's what I want!!"

"Oh berry!!"  he starts sniggering  "You know ....."  he starts to say something but I'm not interested in listening to his smart digs and snide comments so I cut him straight off.


"Frankly I don't even give a shit what you say or think so just shut it!!   As soon as this transplant is done me and Mace will be going straight back to Cherry Hill to carry on with our life, which you won't be a part of!!  It's been better than great not having your selfish lying slimy face in my life for the past twenty years!!  I've been back for five minutes and I already can't stand the sight of you and can't wait to get back home!!"

"Good and I'm glad you are slinging your hook back to Cherry Hill!!  I haven't remotely missed you either!!  he snaps at me but I can see I've hurt his feeling by what I've just said, which puzzles me a little knowing what I know!!

"What about Slate - I hope you are planning to keep him out of your life too!!  He doesn't need you in his life!!"  he snaps, which I find very strange!   After what Mango said yesterday about him not wanting me found or anywhere near Slate, now this ... WHY does he seem so set on keeping me away from Slate?

"The boy doesn't even know I exist does he!?  I'm just his Uncle in name, I doubt he'll bother or miss me when I'm gone!  I've got half a mind not to even tell him who I am!!  Too many years have gone by probably for us to even connect as family thanks to you and if he's anything like you I doubt I'll like him very much anyway!!"  I snap back at him.  

I am testing him, I say that to him because I think it's what he wants to hear. Suddenly alarm bells start ringing in my head, as I watch a look of relief wash over Gravels face.  Why does he not want me around Slate?  I don't get it!!

"I'd love to be a fly on the wall when you pop the question to see Mace's reaction to this one!!"  he starts laughing suddenly changing the subject.  "I bet you a months wages he knocks you back!!"

"Jerk!!  You are on - he loves me why would he knock me back, it's what he wants!!"  I laugh at him even though I am not really so confident  "So get prepared to lose some money brother because I earn probably five times what you do in a month - I've just been promoted to the head neurosurgeon in Cherry Hill by the way, seeing as you still haven't bothered to ask!!"  I laugh at him as he just stands there with a blank look on his face.  Of course he already knows, Mace has been filling him in on my life for the last five years.

"Well bully for you!!"  he snaps sarcastically!!  This really winds me up.

"Don't forget Gravel - I've got something to tell Slate the minute he wakes up - the clock is ticking, you've got about 3 or 4 days to tell Coral about your fertility problems, because the minute Slate knows about the babies I will be telling both Slate and Coral about you firing blanks!!  Or should I just let Mango sort it out?!!"

"I'm warning you Granite ......"  he yells at me but doesn't get a chance to finish his sentence as Coral walks sleepily into the kitchen.

"Tick ... Tock ... Tick ... Tock ..."  I say as I walk slowly out of the kitchen laughing to myself. 

"Get lost Granite before I come and knock that smug smirk off your face!!"  I hear him shout after me.  "Or I could come and break all your fingers, now that would really mess your job up wouldn't it!!"  He starts laughing.  

He's an evil berry hole, I wouldn't put it past him to do it either!!  I hear Coral asking him if we ever stop bickering and being nasty to each other!  This makes me laugh as I walk up the stairs, because she has hardly seen anything yet!!

I stand outside the bedroom door with the tray.  I really am not looking forward to this!!  I take a very deep breath and walk in.  

Mace is still fast asleep.  

I put the tray down on the bedside table.

I stand staring at him for a while and just watch him sleeping.

I really don't know how I'm going to do this!!

Song ~ Half Way Gone - Lifehouse

Elderberry Wine ana Citrus - is actually the simself of Kelsey - thanks for the letting me berry and use your sim Kelsey :D


  1. This just keeps getting better and better! I think I have picked up on some of the hints in there and know what at least one twist will be. I am happy that he knows Forrest is still in love with him!

    1. Lol! Thanks! Yeah - I've kind of made two of the twists pretty clear I think lol but we will see :)

  2. Ugh finally, someone told Granite that Forrest still loves him. It was seriously starting to drive me crazy that Granite didn't put two and two together when he saw the picture in Forrest's office, and especially since he knows Mace and Gravel are doing something against him.
    I'm sad that Granite still believes Mace loves him. I mean I don't know for sure if underneath all the lies if Mace really does love him, but I think he would be better off going back to Forrest. People who have been put in other's lives to play them for as long as Mace has been in Granite's get really good at fooling them. I'm finding it hard to believe that Granite doesn't know this, considering he was in a crime world earlier, but then I think hmm maybe Granite is starting to have real feelings for Mace? Otherwise, if he truly didn't love him, why would he be hoping Mace does love him, now that he knows Forrest loves him still? I thought Granite would enjoy that it was a way for him to be rid of Mace once Mace gets taken down.