I leave Forrest's office and make my way slowly back to Gravel's house on foot, very nervous about the next twelve hours in front of me. I decide to walk so that I can clear my head ready for what is a head of me.
I text Atlas again to check to see if Forrest has turned up at my house yet and he just sends me one word back. No! I think he must be getting sick of me asking. I clear all the texts and call history out of my phone before I go into Gravel's house, just in case Mace goes snooping about in my phone.
I am not too happy that Cinnamon has left me with the responsibility of trying to make sure that Gravel and Mace are exactly where they want them to be, safely tucked up in their beds sound asleep, when they come calling in the early hours of tomorrow morning. They have a key to the house, so they won't even be making any noise getting in, it should just be a case of them creeping in and waking them both up unceremoniously, neither of them are going to know what has hit them.
Mace is going to be easy to keep in bed, it is Gravel that worries me. I have already heard him creeping around a lot, when he thinks everyone is asleep, in, out and around the house during the night. I can only imagine what he is getting up to!! It amuses me sometimes because I can not work out when my brother actually sleeps.
As soon as I open the front door I hear the yelling.
The loud shouting makes me stop dead in my tracks before I have even closed the door. I loiter in the open doorway listening to Mace and Gravel arguing and shouting at each other. Straight away I know what the argument is about, as I hear Gravel yelling at Mace, threatening him, saying if he is hiding her or knows where she is he is going to bury him. Gravel is hassling Mace trying to find out where Tarragon is, but of course Mace does not have the slightest clue about her whereabouts, and that his sister and daughter are in a safe house being watched over by the police.
I slam the front door shut in anger listening to the childish and vile names that Gravel is shouting at Mace. The shouting stops instantly and everything suddenly goes silent in the kitchen. The second I have done it, I regret doing it, because they now must know that I have heard the yelling. They have been very careless conducting their argument knowing that I can walk in any minute!! I wander where Coral is.
Gravel and Mace come strolling out of the kitchen together, both of them looking very shifty, especially Mace. I can not act now like I have not heard the yelling, so I have to ask about it, pretending all that I heard was the nasty name calling.
Gravel starts to make up this cock and bull story about him arguing with Coral and Mace had jumped in and had a go at him because of the way that he was talking to her, which started them off arguing. I have to start having a go at him over laying into Mace or he might think I don't care.
"Just leave him Gran, he is not worth it!!." Mace steps up to me and puts his arms around me "We need to find somewhere else to stay anyway, Coral doesn't want us staying here!"
I frown at Mace but it is Gravel who tells me, that is what he and Coral were arguing about. All this baby stuff and me taking Slates side. She thinks it would not have gone as far as it has if I was not involved and paying Slate's solicitors bills. She knows that without my money Slate could never have served those papers so she does not want me living here. She has told Gravel he has got to kick me out or she is leaving him. This makes me laugh for a moment, you can tell she is still a child in the head, threatening with the childish, I'll leave you line.
"Fine! If that is what she wants, tell her we will be gone by dinnertime tomorrow!! Mango and Bay have both said we can stay at theirs if we need to." I laugh at the look on his face. Little does he know we will all have a different roof over our heads come this time tomorrow!! "To be honest, I think we would be much better staying somewhere else anyway if this is the kind of shit that goes on while my back is turned - you bullying Mace!"
"You don't have to move out!! I will talk her round." he starts to look a little worried. "She will calm down, she's just a little worked up about all this baby stuff at the moment. I'm sorry I was having a go at Mace, I was just letting off steam because she wound me up having a go at me and he put himself in the firing line!!"
Yeah I guess the last thing he would want is me staying somewhere else where he can't keep an eye on me, just in case Forrest turns up and gets to me first. I tell him to forget it, not to do any begging on my behalf, I don't even like the girl anyway so I'm quite happy to leave. I even go as far as telling him that I don't think she is a patch on Amber and I don't know where his head is at and if he wants to let a child rule him then that's his look out. Gravel tries to protest but I tell him to just drop it, we are moving out, end of.
Gravel storms off into the kitchen and starts cooking himself something to eat. Neither me or Mace wanted anything because Mace has already eaten with El on their way back from the Spa and I had eaten with Cinnamon while we discussed the plans for in the morning.
I ask Mace where Coral is and he tells me that she has just popped to the corner shop for something and she should be back soon. I was a little worried when I realized that she wasn't in the house, I thought she might have stormed off out after their argument. That is, if there even was an argument.
I know that Mango wanted to pull Coral out of the house tonight, being pregnant he didn't like the idea of her being here while the raid was happening. I wasn't too happy with the idea either, they are more likely mine as well as Mango's Grandchildren that she is carrying. Cinnamon insisted, he thought that it might give Gravel an excuse to go out wandering around, possibly looking for Tarragon, if Coral is not here to keep him in the house. Of course I'm going to have to be the one who takes care of her in the morning, by getting her out of the house as quickly as I can and I'll probably have to be the one to explain to her what is going on.
I feel a little on edge as me and Mace sit talking and I can hear Gravel banging around in the kitchen. Maybe I should have just humoured him instead of being so blunt and harsh! I hope that his mood gets better or he is likely to storm off out and I really don't need that tonight. Cinnamon has told me that Sugar Valley station are now aware of what is happening and Gravel will not be called out on any more police business, especially not tonight, so there should be no reason for him to leave the house, I hope!!
Mace starts to kiss me and I am glad of the distraction, I push him back onto the couch and crawl over him. I hear the front door shut when Coral comes back into the house.
"You two are disgusting, you have a room upstairs, trying using it!!" she snaps. "It is no wander Slate now thinks he is gay if he has to keep watching you two slobbering all over each other!!" she laughs sarcastically "and I hear Bay is more than willing to suck face with him!"
I stop kissing Mace and turn my head to watch her as she goes into the kitchen to Gravel. I have to bite my tongue because I really wanted to say something to that remark that she made about Slate. I watch Gravel hand her a plate of food and they go to sit down at the table and I am relieved when I can hear them chatting away normally. Mace is kissing my neck while I've got my head turned in the direction of the kitchen.
"Lets go upstairs." he whispers in my ear as he starts to run his tongue around my ear. "I've got a problem I need you to sort out!"
I turn to look at him and laugh as I roll off him and pull him off the couch. He takes my hand and starts leading me up the stairs to our room. I think putting space between me, Gravel and Coral right now is probably a good idea, there is less likelihood of us coming to blows. Mace is pulling me quickly up the stairs like he can not get into the bedroom quick enough. I laugh when I remember he has been to the spa today. I ask him if he's been having those massages that do strange things to him again. He just giggles as he throws me onto the bed. I guess he has.
This is the last time. I guess we best had make the most of it.
I am lying on my side just staring at Mace who is lying next to me with his eyes closed and a huge smile on his face which is making me feel really guilty. I know he is really happy with 'us' right now, but I also know his heart is about to be broken, and I am the one who will be doing it to him!! I am fighting to stop the tears from rolling down my face that are stinging the backs of my eyes. The pain of our separation is already starting to get to me, even before it has happened, which is seriously starting to make me question the feelings that I have for him. I stare down at him as I run my thumb across his cheek. It is really hard to imagine that this is the last time we will be together like this and he will soon no longer be a part of my everyday life.
This time tomorrow we will both be alone, while I will be without him, he will be in a police or prison cell. I am scared for him and what he has got ahead of him, I wish I could protect him from it, but I know I can't. This situation needs to play through or he is never going to have the record set straight and he will never be a free man. Once he has served the time coming to him, he will be able to walk free and live the life he has always wanted, as himself without being used and bullied, especially by Gravel. I am also scared for myself because I have a nasty feeling I am not going to handle this situation and separation very well.
"Stop staring at me." he opens one eye to look at me, moaning about me breathing all over his face because it tickles. Tickling is one thing he hates. "Why are you staring at me like that anyway? Anyone would think that you love me!" he grins at me
"Isn't that why I'm marrying you?" I smirk at him
Mace pulls me towards him and starts kissing me. I feel really guilty for having to play this game with him, not that it is a hard game for me to play anymore. I would have been quite happy settling for second best. Lately I've even wandered, if our relationship had been like this from the start, if I could quite easily have fallen in love with him by now. If we had both removed our 'false fronts' from the beginning I think it could have been very different now. But Forrest was always going to be there in the middle. I like the new nice Mace and am really enjoying the physical side of it. The only part of our relationship at the moment that I don't like is the lies that I am having to tell him, the lies which are what are going to hurt him the most when this is all over, and I really don't want to hurt him. I have to keep telling myself the lies are there only because of the situation we are in and one day I hope he will understand that!!
Mace stops kissing me suddenly and pushes me away from him slightly.
"Talking about us getting married, have you done anything about sorting out your divorce from HIM yet?"
"No, not yet." he frowns at me and not in a nice way, the last thing I need is for him to start kicking off right now, so yet again I have to lie and tell him something that I know he wants to hear. "I have got to pop into the solicitors over the next few days to settle Slate's bill so I'll do it while I'm there!" I smile at him "Then we will know how long it is going to take and we can sort out setting a date."
I smile as I lie to him, to cover up how I am feeling. I have actually already payed the solicitors bill and never have any intention of divorcing Forrest, but the lie makes Mace happy and keeps him calm, so I have to tell it. Lying has never been one of my favourite things!
Mace lies there grinning at me for a moment then pounces on me, throwing me over onto my back and crawling over me. We are already completely naked and it takes him seconds to show me what his intentions are again. Like we haven't already been up here for the last four or five hours making plenty of noise for the ring ear wiggers to listen to.
I have given up even worrying about the ring listening to what we are getting up to, most of the time it doesn't bother me because I actually forget about it. Something else that I realize I am forgetting about, the creaking bed, I've started to get so lost in our ... 'love making' that it is taking place on the bed and not the floor like it has for the past five years.
I am seriously starting to worry about my self and just how much I've let my guard down and just how deep Mace has managed to worm his way into me.
Exhausted Mace crawls into my arms and virtually falls straight off to sleep, while there is just way too much buzzing around in my head for me to even think about sleeping. Even though I know I can relax a little, because I heard Gravel and Coral come up to bed a few hours ago and make their own noise. The house is now deadly quiet so I presume everyone is asleep except for me. Gravel and Mace are safely tucked up in their beds where I need them to be, but still I can't relax. I stare over at the clock on the bedside table and it has just gone midnight.
While the last six hours have flown by, I know the next six are really going to drag for me! At 6 am, in less than six hours time, this house will be crawling with police officers who will be raiding the place and carting both Gravel and Mace away. What Gravel has coming to him doesn't bother me anymore. After all the lives he has taken needlessly and all the lives he has played around with and ruined, he deserves everything that is coming to him. After everything he's done to me and Slate, I am not losing any sleep over his miserable future, he has brought it all onto himself.
Coral doesn't have the slightest idea about what is coming either. She more than most is going to have the shock of her life when she finds out exactly what Gravel is and what he has done. Both me and Coral will be leaving this house tomorrow, I am going to be moving into Bay's house temporarily while Mango will be taking Coral back home to his. Mango did say I could stay at his house, but there is just too much going on there with his family already. I will need space and Bay's house is more me. The last thing I need to be around is an hysterical woman, which is what I know all this is going to turn Coral into, especially when she finds out that Gravel has had another woman in Apple Hill all of this time.
I laugh thinking about Bay's house, and the arguments that me and Forrest had over that house. We lived there for a while after we first got married, and we had the chance to buy it, but he wanted a bigger place and I didn't see the point. Of course he won that argument and got his way like he always did with me. Ironic that I will be living under that roof again for a while until I have sorted the rest of my life out.
It is warm and we have the window wide open. I lie there listening to the sounds that are coming from off the street. The occasional car drives past, the trees are rustling in the cool breeze that is coming in through the window. I close my eyes and try to drift off to sleep listening to the sounds coming through the window.
I must have managed to drift off for a short time because I open my eyes suddenly as I jolt out of a bad dream. My mind is tormented with all this Gravel stuff because what I was dreaming was not nice. I just lie there again staring up at the ceiling, Mace soundly asleep in my arms, wandering where Forrest is right now.
What the hell is Forrest playing at?! He caught a flight out to Cherry Hill, I thought he was out there looking for me. He could easily have found me in the telephone directory just like Mango did, but I have text Atlas a dozen times and he says Forrest still hasn't showed up at my house yet. Maybe he got cold feet and changed his mind, all I can do is sit and wait for either Atlas to phone or for the police to pick him up at Cherry Hill airport trying to board a return flight home. What I would really love to do is jump on a plane and go looking for him, but I can't go attracting that much attention to myself with Gravel and Mace with everything that is going on in less that six hours time.
I think maybe, that is actually what I am going to do as soon as this is over. Jump on a plane and go and find him, he is out there believing lies and hurting needlessly, when he doesn't need to be!! I am not going to stop until I do find him!! Then I think about Slate. I can not go out looking for Forrest, tomorrow Slate is going to be destroyed when he has to be told the truth. I won't be able to leave Slate to deal with this alone.
I start to think about Slate and remember a conversation I had earlier with him about Amber. The poor kid gets really upset over his Mother. Firstly he thinks it is his fault that she faded and secondly he doesn't have a clue what she was like as a person and especially not what she looks like, that must be pretty hard for him. This makes me think about my own Mother for a moment. Gravel has selfishly not only hidden photographs he has refused to talk about Amber to Slate at all. All he seems to know is that he has her hair colouring, he thought he had her eyes too until we pointed it out to him that he actually has inherited my eye colouring which came from his Granddad Rock.
Why would Gravel even do that anyway? convince the boy he has Ambers orange eyes and why has Forrest stood there and let him?! Amber's eyes were far from the brown eyes that he has actually got. I know my brown is like a golden brown like my hair, both of which have sometimes been mistaken for orange, but seriously, Gravel knows those are my eyes and not Ambers. I have promised Slate that I will get him some photographs of her as soon as I catch up with Forrest.
This gets me thinking about Forrest and his photographs. He had an obsession with taking photographs. I laugh for a moment, 'Snap Happy Leafy' I used to call him. He used to take photographs of everything. We had a puppy that Forrest called Spot, I wasn't too impressed with Spot at first because Forrest used to baby that dog and let it sleep on our bed with us, which I didn't like. I was actually jealous of that damn dog because of the attention that Forrest used to give it. Spot even had his own photograph album of growing up photo's just like a child would. I think he spent more time photographing that dog doing stupid things than anything else. I laugh remembering how I got Spot drunk once. I thought Forrest was going to kick me out when he found his baby along side me unconscious on the living room carpet with his tongue hanging out!! I laugh at the memory picturing the look on his face when he realized the dog was as drunk as I was!! hell I was wrong back then and I haven't thought about that dog for years, I guess that Spot must have faded years ago.
I am now totally wide awake and just lie there thinking about the hoards of photographs that Forrest used to have, and I bet he still has. I bet he still sits thumbing through them and laughing or crying at the memories. I bet there are tonnes of photographs of Amber that Slate can look at sitting in that house right now. Forrest isn't home either, he is in Cherry Hill somewhere, I could quite easily go in there now and grab a few. I am sure he wouldn't mind.
I slide myself away from Mace, I move carefully trying not to wake him. As I slide off the side of the bed he mumbles and rolls over, I pull the bed clothes over him while I stand holding my breath, hoping he stays asleep. I hope he has knackered himself out and will now sleep soundly until the morning. He would not understand me going around to my old house, even if it is only for photographs, so it's best he does not know. I pick my phone up off the bedside table and glance at the time, it is 1am. Five hours to go. I get the feeling I am going to be awake at 6am and probably sat down stairs watching the clock when the police arrive, I'm not sure that I can even watch them carting him away.
I grab my clothes and tiptoe out of the room trying not to wake up Mace. Taking one last look at him sleeping peacefully before I close the door quietly and head to the bathroom to take a quick shower and get dressed.
I have quietly made my way down the stairs and the house is eerily quiet and in total darkness. I leave the lights off and tiptoe quietly so I don't attract attention to myself. As I am tiptoeing across the living room in the dark, heading for the front door, I am trying not to bump into anything. Suddenly the light flicks on which startles me and scares me half to death, making me freeze on the spot. Gravel is standing leaning up against the kitchen door frame with his arms crossed, frowning at me. Great!! I did not hear him come out of his bedroom and back downstairs. That is just how sneaky he is!
"What are you doing? Sneaking about behind Macey boys back are we?" he says sarcastically. "I'm surprised you have got the energy! You two have been at it all night!! What the hell have you been doing to Macey boy up there, killing him?"
It always really gets my back up every time he calls him Macey boy, which he is doing all the time lately. Hearing him say it reminds me of the first time that I heard him call Mace that, on the taped conversation that I listened to. While we are on this subject and I'm thinking about that conversation, it also reminds of something I heard them saying about a sexual encounter that they have had together. This makes me feel suddenly sick!! I would love to know what they have done and just how far they have gone and how many times, and especially when!! One question I will be asking Mace when this is all over!
"Jealous much?! I notice yours and Coral's noise lasted for all of five minutes!" I snap at him "Sex with men is a lot more satisfying obviously! Maybe you should try it with another man sometime!"
Gravel really cuts his eyes at me quite nastily for a moment, but he doesn't bite back like I wanted him to. I don't know why but I really wanted him to admit to me that he has been there with another man, but he didn't. He just asks me again, politely this time, what I am doing down here. So I tell him that I can not sleep and I came down to make myself a drink.
I follow him into the kitchen, what else can I do! I can not really tell him the truth about planning to sneak out and going to my old house, it will probably cause an argument especially when I tell him I'm going to get some photo's of Amber for Slate.
I find it a little strange that he stands just staring thoughtfully out of the kitchen window quietly. Gravel reminds me so much of our Father standing there like he is, that is exactly what Dad used to do when he had something playing on his mind. I ask Gravel what he is doing down here like a crooked sneak in the dark and he just says he is thinking.
Gravel looks like he is miserable and troubled, and I know he is because he didn't bite back when I called him a crooked sneak or had a dig about his sex life.
I make us both a drink, I had hoped he would just go off to bed but he said he wanted one when I asked. I sit down at the table and start drinking my coffee. Not exactly the best thing to be drinking when you already can not sleep, but I think now I need to keep my wits about me, with him lurking about down here when he is supposed to be in bed. It's a very good job that I decided to come downstairs because he could have walked out of the door and I would not have known. Gravel continues to stare out of the window silently like he is very deep in thought.
"Come out of the window before the neighbours realise you are perving like a dirty letch!!"
Again he doesn't bite back or crack a smile, he just moves away from the window, sits down silently and starts drinking his coffee. I just stare at him, he is in a really strange mood. Come to think about it he has been acting strangely all day. Earlier he looked really defeated just like he does now, and that sensible conversation that we had about Slate and the baby papers, it really was not normal. Then I remember what I heard him arguing with Mace about - Tarragon. I wander if that is what is bothering him, her sudden disappearance.
"What the hell is wrong with you, anyone would think you are love sick!!" I say to see how he will react and he just laughs quietly.
"Sick of it more like - why do women have to be so complicated, confusing and give you such a damn headache all the time?" he mumbles quietly
"Why do you think I stick to men!!" I laugh at him "So what has Coral done now?" he laughs quietly and shakes his head then starts drinking his coffee. He is not even complaining that I have only put one sugar in his cup instead of the three he usually has. I think I know what his problem is. "This isn't about Coral is it?!" he shakes his head but does not say anything. I am surprised he is actually admitting it to me. "Who?" He stays silent, he doesn't answer my question, but he doesn't really need to because I think I already know who. Now how do I get him to say it. "Who Gravel? Please tell me you haven't got more than one on the go!!"
Of course I already know he has, but I can't tell him that. Tarragon Brownie, Mace's sister who he has told Mace he has been knocking off for the past four years. She has gone awol on him, because the police have pulled her out from under his nose!! It obviously must be bothering him. He rolls his eyes at me then looks down sheepishly.
"You have, haven't you!!" I snap at him.
Surprisingly Gravel just nods his head again while he continues to look down like a naughty child. I didn't expect him to admit it. Hell it really must be bad and affecting him to make him act the way he has been behaving today. Especially if he is admitting it to me of all people who he knows will use the information spitefully given the chance, because that is how we have always been with each other!! We don't share secrets with each other like normal brothers would, because neither of us can be trusted to keep them a secret or not to use them spitefully when we get the chance.
"Who is it Gravel? It better not be Strawberry again!" I say to try and trick him into telling me. "Parsley is a really nice kid and I'm sick of you messing with peoples lives!!"
"NO! It is not Strawberry! SHE is nobody that you know so just drop it!! I think it is over anyway!" he mumbles "She has done one, so just forget it!"
"No I don't think I can forget it!! What the Hell is wrong with you Gravel!!?? Is there never going to be an end to your backstabbing games?! How long have you been seeing the other one?" he doesn't say anything as he starts drinking his coffee again. "Are you trying to outdo everything Dad did, because he had a string of god damn women all over the place! How he never knocked any of them up, I'll never know, but then I guess you don't have that worry do you!!" Gravel starts choking on his coffee. "HOW LONG Gravel?"
"Four years." he mumbles quietly, he can not even look at me. Of course I already knew this, but now he has admitted it too me I can have my say, just one of the many things I have wanted to get off my chest since I found out but couldn't. Why is he telling me the truth so freely?
"BERRY HOLE!!" I shout at him and he looks nervously towards the door and tells me to be quiet, obviously scared of Coral hearing me. I realize then that I still have to bite my tongue, I still can't afford to start an argument with him. "You are totally unbelievable - FOUR YEARS - so why the HELL did you start messing about with Coral and destroy Slates life? So are you going to tell me you love this one too?"
"No I don't love her, I used to think I did, but ... it's complicated. Just drop it Gran, I should not have said anything! Like I said, it is over she has done one!" he snaps at me
"If you don't love her, then what's the problem? forget her!!" he rolls his eyes at me "You told me you love Coral, so what about if Coral finds out about her? Hasn't it done you a favour this other woman doing one?!" he shakes his head miserably "I don't get it, why even tell me about her? Why have you been acting weirdly all day, her doing one is obviously bothering you!!"
"You are a doctor, tell me truthfully, what chance do I seriously actually have of making a baby naturally?" I frown at him through squinted eyes wandering why he should ask that. .
"Without looking at your medical files properly, which I've never done, I can't tell you exactly. I only know what I sat and heard them telling you those few times I went into the hospital with you and they were telling you basically not a cat in hells chance!!" I snap at him thinking he is just trying to steer the conversation away from the 'other woman'.
"Well can you look for me? Can you get me tested again without anyone finding out? It has been twenty years since I've been tested and I seriously need to know." he says which is kind of confusing me.
I remind him that the problem that he has is not one that it going to fix itself, he has got it for life and it is highly unlikely there will be any change. I also tell him that if this is about Corals babies then he is just going to have to wait like the rest of us, getting him tested is not going to tell him if they are his or not. I ask him if Coral is giving him a hard time over the baby papers, I'm wandering if she hasn't already realized what she has done and regretting it.
He shocks me by what he does tell me - this has absolutely nothing to do with Coral's babies at all.
He hesitates a little then he tells me that this is about the 'other woman' who's name he still doesn't tell me. He says that their relationship has been pretty casual for years and that's the way she wanted to keep it not him, because she's never wanted to move to Sugar Valley. He says they have been arguing quite badly recently because she is pregnant. She swears it is his baby and now suddenly she wants things to change, which includes her moving here to Sugar Valley because she says the baby is going to be mixed. He shit himself because of Coral, so he has told her the truth about his problems and been telling her it can not be his baby and accusing her of sleeping with someone else. He thought telling her he is not capable of fathering children would make her admit that she has been sleeping with somebody else, but she is adamant she hasn't and it is his baby. She has been livid with him for not believing her, swears she has not been sleeping around and thinks he is trying to wriggle out of his responsibilities. I really start laughing because I seriously can not believe that I am hearing him say this.
"It's not funny!!" he snaps at me "She's either really pissed with me or I think she might have found out about Coral or something because she has done one. She is not answering my calls and she has not been home for four days, nobody knows where she is. The school don't even know where Jas is either, and if they do they are refusing to tell me. I've checked the house and just their clothes and a few personal things have gone, things that tell me they are not coming back, Jas has taken her Dad's pictures and she doesn't normally when they go on vacation."
"Who is Jas?" I ask curiously to see what he says as he has mentioned her a few times now. I know he is talking about Jasmine, Mace's daughter. I wander why he is being so open with me and skating so close to the truth here!!
"Her niece, who she's got custody of - it's complicated. I think they have done one, they are pure berry's so they can go anywhere." he looks at me glumly "What if she is actually telling me the truth? What if it is my baby? ... I need to find her!!"
I sit laughing at him - well wouldn't that just be poetic justice if it was his baby!!! Finally he manages to achieve what eats him up so much and he's never going to see the kid growing up because he is going to be locked up. I almost hope that she is telling the truth and it is his baby, then he's going to get a taste of his own medicine - he is going to know exactly what he has done to me and how I am feeling over Slate right now!! Gravel sits frowning at me because he doesn't have a clue why I am sitting here laughing now almost hysterically!!
"I think that she has taken off because she is livid with me, she is very hot headed and hard to handle when she blows, she fights like a bloke!!" he rolls his eyes at me. "I'm scared that when she calms down, which she will, she is going to turn up here and cause all sorts of trouble especially when she finds out about Coral, and trust me when I say trouble, she knows how to dish it out!!"
I suddenly go cold and start to feel sick, wandering if Tarragon is a typical hard, callous, criminally minded Brownie who is keeping up the family tradition. It sounds like it!! If she is anything like her Father and Uncles, that is very worrying. I don't know why but I've always imagined she is as soft as Mace, probably because she is female. I actually wander how Mace turned out the way he is because even his Mother was as hard as nails, that was one woman who used to scare the hell out of me. I'm now worried for Coral, even if Gravel is locked up, it won't stop Tarragon from gunning for Coral when it all comes out. If she is a typical Brownie then she will, you don't upset a Brownie and get away with it!! They always get even. I seriously need to warn Cinnamon and El about this!!
"You make me sick!! After what you have just done to Slate, breaking up his relationship, when all along you have got this 'other woman'!! Like that wasn't enough, now you are telling me this ...!!"
I have to stop myself from saying anymore and what I really want to say. I nearly slipped up and said something about him bringing more Brownie trouble to our door which would have given the game away completely. I have to keep telling myself I have to keep calm, the last thing I need is to start an argument and have him storming off out of the house.
If I had just opened my mouth or he leaves the house in a mood and is not here when the police turn up it could mess it all up and give him the chance to go underground which I know is what is worrying Cinnamon the most.
I need to play this in a different way.
"I seriously don't know how you keep getting yourself into these messes!!" I laugh at him "Did Slate know about this other woman?"
Gravel shakes his head and says Slate doesn't know about the other woman, he didn't even realize that Gravel was sneaking out of the house at night because he's a really heavy sleeper. Slate got used to his coming and going at strange hours because he thought it was because of his job. Gravel starts to tell me things that probably he shouldn't. He tells me that nobody knows in Sugar Valley, they probably don't even know he's going out into the coded world and if they've seen him they probably think its for police business. He pulls a brown hat out of his pocket, brown contacts and tells me his jacket is reversible. I sit there laughing in disbelief. Then he tells me that only one person, his mate, who I presume is Turmeric or quite possibly Mace, knows about his double life, nobody in Apple Hill knows about Coral like nobody here knows about Tarragon.
He says her name and I have to sit there and try not to react in anyway. I can't help but think that this baby thing must have really warped his head because he is being very careless. I bet I could get him to admit to a lot of things right now but I can't even risk him being suspicious of me knowing anything. I need to stop this conversation, try and put his mind to rest and pack him off to bed and to sleep where he won't see what is coming to him at 6am!!!
"I guess I could take a look at your medical files, and get you tested again on the sly. We can see if anything has changed and if your chances have increased any." he smiles at me. "But don't hold your hopes up!! It is more likely that she is not telling the truth!!" I start laughing at him "Still the test isn't going to tell you for certain, so I guess you are just going to be waiting on another paternity test!" he rolls his eyes at me
"I know Corals babies are going to turn out to be Slates, but, with Tarragon it is different. The way she has been acting makes me believe she's telling me the truth and it really is my baby." he mumbles then looks at me strangely "I need to find her!!"
I tell him I will help him to sort this mess out tomorrow and we will start looking for her in the morning as well as sort out getting him tested again. He looks at me a little sheepishly and I think I know why. He is thinking that probably tomorrow he is going to regret telling me any of this especially when he has to tell me that Tarragon is a Brownie. He knows that is going to send me off my rocker at him, especially if he tells me that she is a typical Brownie and nothing like Mace!! But of course, tomorrow is not going to come for him to do anything about this.
I managed to pack him off to bed, playing on Coral, telling him that we don't need to make her suspicious right now. I tell him I will wash up the mugs then be up myself. I laugh in my head a little as he just gets up and strolls miserably off to bed slowly. I watch him until he disappears up the stairs. He is seriously getting himself worked up over it which is not like Gravel. Obviously this whole baby thing is the one thing that unhinges him and makes him weak and stupid.
I am a little curious as to why Cinnamon or El have not mentioned to me about Tarragon being pregnant, unless it is not noticeable. Wouldn't that just be ironic, the baby turning out to be his when he will be spending the rest of his life in prison!
I seriously don't get it! Why has he come clean to me, why has he basically asked me for help? It really doesn't make sense after everything that I know he has done and is capable of, why can't he sort this mess out in his normal way, he is more than capable. Why does he need to involve me? I am wandering if there is not a lot more to this that he just hasn't told me and I'm now worried he isn't leaving me with a whole other mess to clean up!!
I sit for a while at the kitchen table wandering if I should even risk leaving the house now. I start to think about what Slate is going to have to go through later on when this is all over. Me, Bay and Mango are going to have to sit down and tell him everything about Gravel before the news reaches him via someone gossiping. We don't doubt that the minute this story breaks it will be around town like wild fire. Gravel, the upstanding police officer, who is like a pillar of their community, it is going to be shocking news when the truth gets out!!
Slate is also going to have to be told the truth about me being his biological Father too, and I really don't know how he is going to take that news , especially having to find out that his whole life so far has been one big lie!! I think Slate having photographs of Amber might make his day a little easier. I really need to get them tonight!! I know that it wouldn't take long and I could be there and back in no time before anyone notices.
I go to walk straight out of the front door but stop myself. Gravel's room is on the front of the house and he might see me through the window.
I don't want him to see me going out of the house so I slip quietly out of the backdoor.