Their time in the pool was not all Caroline wanted it to be.
She helped Kim and Kayla swim about but Roman was quiet for a lad who had been so looking forward to it. He paddled on his own and watched and smiled at his sisters but ultimately, he did not join in that much. She did not need to ask why.
Caroline did not have to worry if he had overheard. She knew he had and, on the way back from the house he proved it.
"What did Uncle Victor mean when he said you were not a Brady anymore mama?"
Caroline felt as if she had been winded.
"Oh, it was just a load of silly talk," she tried to say jovially. That was no easy feat though.
"When are we going home though mama?"
Caroline knew this moment for what it was. She had put it off for so long and she knew if she continued to do so then they were going to carry on in this Groundhog Day routine which they had begun.
But the truth was she was not willing to do that anymore. It was too hard for all of them.
She put Kayla down in her play pen when they got back to the play room and pulled Kimmie as well as Roman on to her lap.
"Come and sit down with me darlings, I need to talk to you." For the first time in his life that he remembered, the last thing in the world which Roman wanted to do was sit next to his mother because he was sure if he did so then she was going to tell him something which he did not want to hear.
"I want you both to know that I love you very much. And Pop loves you very much," she said as she thought of Shawn for just a moment, before blocking it out of her mind for fear she was not going to be able to get through this, "But someone else who loves you very much is Uncle Victor." she said as she kissed their foreheads in turn. "Now Uncle Victor would be very sad if we went home. He has asked us to stay a bit longer and because I do not want him to be sad, I said we would. So - so for the next little while, we are going to live here."
Roman nodded. He had been afraid that was going to be the case.
"Is Pop not sad we are not at home?" asked Roman questioned. He was his father's son through and through thought Caroline.
"I am sure he is - but do you know what I think we should do is write to him. We can write lovely letters to Pop and then he will know we are ok."
"But Pop does still like us, doesn't he?"
Caroline's hearts broke. God Shawn would – would be heartbroken to know his best girl had had to ask that. And the reason she had had to do that was because of her mother.
She had no idea how she was ever going to make all of this up to the kids, but she knew there was going to come a day when she did because there had to.
"More than anything."
"We are going to see him again, aren't we?" Roman checked as he suddenly clung to his mother.
She paused for a moment, not sure how to respond – but she knew respond she must. "Of course – one day. It may not be for a while though…"
Roman felt sick, but for the first time in his life, he didn't tell his mama.
X x x
In a silken night gown, Caroline stood on the balcony of her room and breathed the free air.
She did not know if she was able to say if it had been a good day or not. In all the truth she thought not.
She had had a row with Victor which had put her in a bad mood for the kids and she knew she had not handled the situation well with them either. Her chat with Roman and Kimmie was not – not how she had planned it.
So, she knew she had to begin to move forward. In fact, she felt it was high time she tried to make things right. Though she had had no plan and she wasn't sure what would have made it right even then.
So when Kayla was settled, she left her in the room they had been sleeping in, and in her night dress and silk dressing gown made her way down to the room where Victor slept. She knocked and let herself in even though there was no call to go in. She had got there before he had turned in for the night.
And that pleased her.
She had not been in this room at all to date.
Now she was in there, she could see it was all Victor. Yet not entirely masculine and set up for two people.
There were two hooks on the back of the door and a makeup table in the far corner. Flowers were on the bedside table and she knew they were not for his benefit.
So, he had been waiting for her to go to him.
Wondering which night, it would be.
Quite asides from anything else it was a beautiful room and she saw there was a balcony which looked out over the gardens to reveal a rather stunning view.
Yes, this was the master.
She went over to the balcony and opened the doors. It was beautiful she thought as she wrapped her arms about herself.
What he wanted to give her was lovely.
She was so lost in her own thoughts that she did not notice when, at last, Victor came into the room. Ever since they had got there, he had been waiting for this moment… But he did not think it would be that night.
Yet it was.
She had caught him off his guard as he had come into the room, ready to turn in.
"Caroline my darling," he begun, but she signalled for him to stop.
"I have something to say," she begun. "I am not sorry for what I said earlier. I do not want help and the children do not need a nanny," she paused in the hope that it was all coming out right. "but you are right, I do need to talk to you about the children," and she knew she had to be more open.
Though she would never forget what he had said or done.
She had gone to him so many times and in that way she had chosen him again and again and now it was time to live with that choice.
"If the two of us are making a go of it – then let's make a go,"
No more half measures. If they were going to be together, if they were together, they were together.
"I am going to stop holding back on us – stop trying… well I do not know what. So can I move into this room with you?"
A look of almost wonder was on his face, "Yes – darling, of course you can."
"We need to start moving forward."
She summarized her thoughts.
"I do not want us to fight all the time. It is not good for any of them children," she said as he came and stood at her side.
The two of them were both in their night gowns and she felt it was easier to be close to him right then.
More so than it had been in a long time. She could feel his warmth and through everything that had gone on of late she was sure she had missed the warmth of a mans flesh.
"I do not want that either. And I agree, for the sake of the children we shouldn't."
He knew he was not yet a father to them all but in times that was what he wanted to be.
And she had to know that.
"No nanny's – not without your approval and say so. That was highhanded. I just – I just want to look after you."
And he wanted to do it in ways Shawn never would have been able to. If the fisher man had had his way, then the two of them would have been working till they dropped. But ever since he had met Caroline, he knew she had deserved more. And now thank god she had put him in the position where that was what he could give her. He did not think she knew or understood how grateful he was for that.
"I know you do – and may be my reaction should not have been what it was. But the two of us need to start working as a team."
She knew that deep down.
She had made her choice. If she had faced out Shawn and been willing to tell him the truth things may have been different but – she hadn't. The truth was she had not even given a chance to her proud Irish husband to forgive her…
Did she think Victor had gone about things the right way? No. And deep down she didn't know if she was ever going to be able to forgive him for what he had forced her in to and she did feel as if she had forced into it. He was not the gentlemen she had though she had fallen in love with that was for sure.
But she had done wrong.
Now they were all paying the price. And as much as she wanted him to shoulder all the blame – that could not be. She had done wrong as well.
Her mind drifted for just a while. She thought about Shawn and how he was going to be feeling right then.
Her heart caught in her throat for she thought it might die of love for her Irishman, but he was not hers any more. And she had to look to the future if she was going to be able to help to make any sort of life for her Victor and the children.
And she knew they had to come first now.
"We do," he said as he put his arm about her. It was a rare thing he had felt this close to her since they had left Salem. The truth of it was, he was a romantic and when they had made their run for it he had thought it was going to be all hearts and butterflies. It wasn't.
It was hard and it was endless with the children. He now knew she was always going to be on call to them and that was something which was never going to change. Now she had refused the help on a nanny for now that was even more the case.
Never mind, he thought as he ran his hand through her hair. The two of them were going to get there time together as they were right then. He was going to make sure of it.
He leant in to kiss her and she did not resist. He had been afraid she was going to begin to but if that was where they were heading then he was glad to see they had not got there yet.
His hand automatically covered her stomach.
The thought of the new life which was growing beneath his hand and the bond which it was going to create between them excited him. The future was going to come – and he was glad that it seemed at last, Caroline was willing for them to face it together.
X x x
"Roman, it's me… can I come in?"
Roman had, as far as his mother had been concerned, gone to bed a long time ago but when his little sister came into his room that night Kimberly found he was sitting up looking out of his window, sitting on the ledge.
He tapped the edge of the window ledge next to him for he was his father and his mother's son and he was never going to turn his little sister away when she needed him.
"What is it?" he asked the nearly four-year-old.
"When are we going home?" she wanted times and dates and her mother had not given her that. Maybe Roman could.
For as long as she could remember she had always looked to her big brother for protection. Her dad had said if he was not there, then it was Roman's job to look after her and so she was sure he was going to have the answers which she needed.
But when she asked she saw something which scared her almost more than anything else and that was the fact her big brother this time did not know the answer.
He shook his head.
"Mama hasn't said."
"But don't you think Pop is going to be missing us by now? Or – or –" she did not know if she was even willing to voice the other terrifying thought that was in her head right then. But she had to if she was ever going to banish it from her mind.
"Of course, he is going to be missing us, but we are only on holiday," said Roman, -"we are going to go home." he wished he felt as much confidence as he said those words with. Uncle Victor just wanted them to stay for a bit longer than they had thought they were going to at the start. That was all.
Her brother had jumped in before Kim could finish the thought – but finish it still, she must.
"You do not think it is just that he does not want us anymore - that Pop has given us and mama to Uncle Victor."
If Roman was telling the truth, he had begun to be scared of that was well. But when he thought of the way his pop had always greeted them...and the way he was in general with them. And he had not been the one who was different. That was his mama.
Roman may only be nearly six but he knew enough to know she was talking silly. And though he knew he should not be, he could not help but the mere thought that might have happened made him angry.
"Do not be so stupid Kimberly, of course he would not have done that," he said and then regretted his harsh tone as his sister's face fell.
"Oh Kimmie, I am sorry." He gave her the answer in the end which he had hoped his mother was going to give to him. "we are going to see Pop again – don't ask me when because I don't know but I promise you we will," he said to her, for if none of the adults were willing to make it happen he was damn sure that he was. His tone must have been better for Kim did not look as if she was so sad.
And hope sprung eternal.