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A huge thanks to everyone for your comments. Your guess is as good as mine on the direction, so we all wait and see!
As always, thanks to Kenjisato, editor extraordinaire! As before,
any ‘mistakes’ are mine. I tend to disregard a few edits, hopefully not spoiling the story.
Thanks, also, to Paolo for his unstinting support and ideas. Again, I may not adhere to them but…
This story is becoming a real rabbit hole for me, enjoyable, yes, but a rabbit hole nonetheless.
Again, thanks for all your comments. It may not show, but I take all of them on board.
Chrissie and I stirred at the same time. I could feel her slender arm around my waist. I groggily grasped her hand, just to be certain this was real. My life was full-on at this moment. Work, my newfound relationship with my sister, my parents, somewhat alienated, a
potential new partner in Emily, two kids. Anything else, God?
Tuesday. Already. Just three more days and I’d be back in London, with Chrissie. I lay in our bed, holding her hand, and tried to think back eighteen days to the life I knew.
I’d rather have this one, I thought.
I carefully turned over. I felt Chrissie move as I slid my arm over her back. My fingers went to her copper-red hair, moving it away from her face. I Iooked at her and smiled. It felt as my life was finally
beginning. Yes, I’d rather have this life.
My hand slid down to her slender waist, basking in her gentle curves, like the way her chemise accentuated her lithesome body.
My hand drifted below the hemline of her nightwear and rested on her panty-covered ass. This was all worth waking for.
I felt Chrissie stir, and she unconsciously swatted my hand away.
I laughed silently as she mumbled a sleepy, “No…”
I put my hand back.
Her eyes slowly opened. She looked at me with heavily lidded eyes.
“You’re creepy,” she muttered, and a little smile crossed her lips.
“And that’s why you love me,” I whispered.
“Hmmm,” she sighed, and brought a lazy hand to my body.
“Four days, darling…” I breathed.
“Mmmm,” was her coherent reply, her smile a bit wider.
I let her sleep and headed to the shower. I washed and shaved in relative peace. I threw on a robe and headed to the kitchen, putting the kettle on and started David and Chloe’s breakfast. I set the
table, poured the juices, and waited. Any time now, I thought. I played some soft music, not enough to wake anyone, but enough to take the edge off the silence.
Ten minutes later, a sleepy-eyed Chrissie walked into the kitchen.
“Morning, darling,” she mumbled, shuffling along in her thin robe and fluffy slippers. She looked adorable.
“Morning, sweetheart. How’re you feeling this morning?” I asked.
“Ughh,” was the only word she could come up with.
I made her a coffee, and let her wake.
“Tough day ahead?” I asked.
“Yes, I think so, unfortunately. My stomach hurts,” she moaned.
“What can I get you for it?”
“Nuthin’, I’ll sort it, thanks, though. Thanks for the coffee, Tom,” she weakly smiled. “Would you…sort the kids out, for me?”
“Betcha, darling. Go back to bed and I’ll sort them, okay?”
Chrissie stood and shuffled her way down the hall. She ran into David and Chloe as they made their way to the kitchen. I sat them down, fed and watered them both, David talking the whole time. There was no squabbling, so that was a plus.
I had some fruit, and went to finish readying myself.
Chrissie reappeared, showered and dressed. I gave her a loose hug and kissed her forehead. I didn’t think any more affection would be welcome.
I went back to our bedroom, and she had laid out a tie for me. I smiled.
“You going to be fine to work today?” I asked.
“I’m feeling better, thanks. The first day or so can be tough but I’m fine, thanks,” she groaned. “You look good today.”
“Just today?” I joked.
“Get out of here, all right? I’ll see you later. C’mere, gimme a hug,” she slurred.
We hugged and kissed. I hugged the kids, kissing them, too.
I arrived at the office a bit early. Nothing new there. Arthur called me in and I took a seat. He handed me the airline tickets. I pulled out my wallet to pay for Chrissie’s, but he motioned me to put it away.
“We’ve got this, Tom,” he said.
“Arthur. Really. I’d need to pay for my friend. It’s…it’s not fair,” I asked.
“Tom. We’ve got this. Thanks, though.”
“That’s very kind of you, Arthur. Thank you.”
“So, where are we at? Martin Russell?”
“I’ve set a meeting with you and Martin, Thursday, noon. He knows I won’t be here. Nick and I just about finished with the preliminary report. We should have it on your desk, mid-afternoon tomorrow. I’ve emailed the names, numbers and relevant
information of two new prospective clients. There’s some personal info wrapped in there, too. I’ve talked with them both, so they are expecting your kaçak iddaa call, at some point. I think today, Nick and I will crack on with Martin’s. He’s a big player, Arthur. I believe he could be good for the company,” I reported to him.
“So, last day tomorrow, eh? Again, Tom. We’re very pleased you’ll be back with us. Now, I’ve heard back from the board and from
Jeremy. We propose to have you here for the next six months. We’ll see how it works for you. If you are still intent on a return to
London, we’ll work with you on that. Sound good?” he asked.
“It sounds wonderful, Arthur. I can’t thank you enough for your support. It means a lot to me. Thanks,” and we shook hands.
Well, I thought. This part is falling into place.
I ordered lunch for Chrissie and Emily from a wonderful soup place downtown. I thought the Lemon Roasted Vegetable soup would soothe Chrissie, and the Chicken and Lime soup for Emily. Again, I asked for the order to be delivered to the front desk, twelve-ish, and have them ask for either Chrissie or Emily in Exhibitions.
Nick and I carried on, again, working well off each other. He was
interested in the work I was doing in London, so I gave him the abridged version.
I had a funny message, with photos, of course, from Chrissie and Emily. They were enjoying their lunch, which is all I could ask for.
The day was almost over and we took stock of what we needed to complete, which wasn’t much. I checked on my clients in London to see how their accounts were looking. It was nearing four, so Nick and I decided to call it a day. It was nice, and unusual, to be leaving so early so we grabbed the opportunity.
I headed home to relax. Chrissie wasn’t due for at least an hour, so I could spend time alone with David and Chloe. I pulled into the drive and walked through the door. The kids looked up, surprised, and ran to me. They dragged me, willingly, outside to play. Janet, of course, was there.
“Afternoon…Uncle Tom,” she smiled. I saw this mischievous glint in her eye.
“You’re pretty cheeky, Janet. Aren’t you,” I asked.
“Whatever do you mean…Uncle Tom?” she asked, confidently.
I smiled. “Any reason why you don’t want to call me, Tom?” I asked.
“I…I just prefer Uncle Tom. Does that offend you? Does Chrissie call you Uncle Tom or just…Tom?” she asked. I was walking on thin ice, here.
“Well, Chrissie calls me Tom. I am her brother, after all,” I said, trying to defuse what I thought was happening.
“I know you’re her brother. I…I think it’s wonderful. You know, I’ve seen such a change in her since you arrived. She’s, well, glowing now. She’s so much happier so, thank you. Really. Thank you. I think you two are wonderful,” she practically gushed.
“Well, thank you, Janet. That’s very nice of you to say…and notice.
Do you share your, well, insight with anyone?” I asked, trying to
find the right words.
“Why would I ever do that? It’s nobody’s business. It’s between Chrissie and you,” she said, then almost whispered, “I think it’s just wonderful.”
“Well, thank you, Janet. Chrissie can be a very private person so your, uh, discretion is appreciated,” I emphasized.
“Whatever Chrissie’s secrets are, they’re safe with me. No one will ever know how ‘happy’ she is, all right?” she replied, honestly.
“Thank you, Janet. I’ll let her know,” I said.
“If you want, then yes. Now, you have two children to play with so…go!” she laughed.
I headed out to the backyard and we messed about, laughing and giggling.
Chrissie walked through the door, perhaps an hour later. The kids ran to her and hugged her legs. I saw Janet talking with her, but thought nothing of it. She walked through the sliding doors and came to me, hugging me. She gave me a chaste kiss. I saw Janet, in the house, smiling at us.
Fuck! We have to be careful! I thought.
“How was lunch,” I asked. “I haven’t been there in years.”
“It was wonderful, Tom. So scrummy! You never cease to surprise me,” she sighed.
“Well, let’s hope I can sustain it then!” I laughed.
“What time did you get in? Everything okay?” she asked.
“Absolutely. Arthur gave me our plane tickets, Nick and I are
coming along with the proposal for Martin and…the board has
given me six months in Chicago…then it will be reviewed with a look to either staying here…or moving to London permanently.
I was surprised, but pleasantly so. We have our ‘out’ if it ever comes to that.”
Chrissie jumped up on me and kissed me, completely forgetting Janet was still here.
“Ohh, Tom! That’s…that’s wonderful! That’s better than you were expecting! They certainly rate you, eh?” she asked, her eyes shone
with such happiness.
“I’m so pleased for…us,” I said.
Chrissie slid off my body and turned around. Janet was standing there, almost wide-mouthed.
“Ohh, sorry, Janet. Tom just told me his move here has been
approved. He’s coming home. At last!” she shrieked.
Janet kaçak bahis walked to Chrissie and wrapped her arms around her. “I’m so happy for you…both, Chrissie,” she said genuinely, Janet’s eyes met mine and I smiled a ‘thanks’ to her.
I headed to the kitchen to see what we could come up with for
dinner. Chrissie paid Janet as she hugged the kids goodbye. Janet walked into the kitchen and hugged me; She would be staying for dinner tomorrow, with our parents.
“Congratulations, Tom,” she said.
“No. Thank you, Janet,” I replied.
For the first time, she didn’t use the title ‘Uncle’. Things were
Chrissie shushed me out of the kitchen, so I helped with the kid’s homework on the kitchen table, just so Chrissie could throw her two cents in.
“Have you thought about dinner tomorrow?” I asked Chrissie.
“I thought it might just be a takeout for us all. Saves time and any hassle. Any ideas?” she asked.
“Well, you both liked what you had for lunch today? I could show you the menu, and if you see what you like, I could order it in and have delivered to the office. A simple five-minute heat-up and we’re set. What do you think,” I asked.
“Hmm, any other ideas?” she giggled.
“How about…turkey? I think they do delivery. David, what do you think about turkey for dinner tomorrow? Sound good?” I asked him.
“Don’t you mean, Turkish, Uncle Tom?” he corrected me.
Chrissie and I just laughed. See, I knew he’d be the one to watch!
“Turkish sounds great, Tom. David, would you help Tom with the order? You know what he’s like!” she smiled.
Chrissie had a lovely vegetarian lasagne ready in no time. David and Chloe buttered up the garlic bread and we were set.
We had another, relaxed family meal. It took my breath away at times, realizing, finally, that this was going to be my life. With Chrissie, anything was possible.
But too much introspection would only do my head in, I thought. Just embrace it, Tom, I told myself.
After dinner, we sat with the kids, played a few games and let them watch TV. Chrissie and I sat on the couch and just absorbed it all. She lay her head on my shoulder and held hands, enjoying the
ambience of the house.
Bedtime loomed so we set off with Chrissie’s well-laid out routine.
I made my way to their bedrooms after they were settled, and read to each of them, Chrissie relaxing in the front room.
All tucked in and hugged, I turned their lights off and closed their
doors. The house was so quiet, all of the sudden. I smiled.
Chrissie had a single malt all ready for me. She smiled as she handed it to me. We sat together and caught up on our day. I had told her the highlights of mine, so it was her turn. Everything was on time for the new photography exhibition. She was getting
excited about it. Her vision was coming together and everyone was focused on seeing it through. Emily was dealing with David tonight. She hoped. Chrissie said she was in a good place so all bode well. We talked about London and I asked what she would like to see.
“Actually, Tom. I want you to show me your London. I want to have a real feel of how you’ve been living the last two years,” she gushed.
“Hmmm,” I laughed. “You do remember I was single?” I laughed.
She swatted my arm. “Now YOU behave, Tom,” she smiled.
“Would you like to meet the director of the V&A? We’re going there anyway. It might just be helpful? He knows about you already. Tenuously, sure, but I have mentioned you to him,” I said.
“That…that would be wonderful, Tom! Yes! Where else are you
going to take me,” she asked, suddenly all excited.
“Tea with the Queen,” I said, sardonically.
“We’ll take it a day at a time, okay? I need to spend a bit of time at work, but I need to wrap up the flat, arrange shipping, forward mail, etc, etc. It’ll be fairly full-on at times, but your help would be so
appreciated. Anyway, how have you felt today? Tummy okay?” I asked, concerned as she wasn’t too well this morning.
“I’m fine now. Everything has settled down, but yes, I’m fine. Thanks for asking, darling.”
“Ohh! Another thing!” I said. “I do think Janet knows of our
relationship. We had a little chat when I arrived. I asked why she called me ‘Uncle Tom’ all the time. She intimated, but didn’t exactly say, that she was aware of us. She seemed fairly cool about it though. She never said the word ‘together’ just that you seemed so much happier now that I’m here, and that’s she’s happy we’re
together. She did call me ‘Tom’ as she left tonight. That’s the first time. Now, you could interpret that any number of ways, but I’m fairly certain she has sussed us out. Is that good, or bad?” I asked.
“God, Tom, I don’t know. If she has, I have a feeling she’ll keep it to herself. I don’t want to open up to her and tell her. Let’s…let’s just let it lie, okay?”
“That sounds like a good idea. Now, speaking of a lie, have illegal bahis you heard from Jack? He’s been scarily quiet.”
“I haven’t heard a word, so far. Let’s not hold our breath though, darling. No news etc, etc.” she sighed. “Bed? I could use an early night, Tom.”
“C’mon. Let’s get you under some covers.” I said.
“Wonderful. Shower? I could use one tonight,” she asked. I only had to smile and she knew.
The house was safe, so we headed to our bedroom, and closed the door. I took Chrissie in my arms and held her, tenderly kissing her, her lips responding to mine.
“Let me strip you, Chrissie,” I whispered.
“Gently, Tom, okay. I’m still a bit fragile.”
“Aren’t I always?” I smiled.
“NO!” she huffed.
I helped her with her shower, by not being the pesky, sex-addled brother. I think she appreciated it.
We woke to the alarm. We made time for a few sweet words and a hug, but we had a busy day, so no slacking today. I went to the spare bathroom to shower and shave, giving Chrissie the luxury of alone time. In an hour, I was all set. I hugged everyone and left for the city.
I arrived in a whirlwind of activity. That was nothing new, but there seemed to be an extra ‘buzz’ about the place. I checked in with Nick. He just smiled and said we were good to go. He had arrived earlier and had a last look over the documents. He came into my office and we just re-checked everything and then set up a meeting with Arthur.
We finally saw Arthur around noon. He was impressed with what we had put together, and, after a long review, thought we were set. Nick left to work on another project. I asked Arthur if Nick was
sitting in on the meeting, or even taking the lead. He said he hadn’t decided yet. I eagerly suggested he let him go ahead. I had a lot of faith in him and felt he would do well. Arthur would consider this.
My day was pretty well sorted, so I went to see Arthur around two and said ‘goodbye’. We wished each other well and knew we’d be in touch over the coming weeks. The rest of the office wished me well and I was off.
I drove over to the Turkish restaurant on Diversey and collected our dinner, then headed to the lakefront for a last stroll. I messaged Chrissie to say I had dinner with me and that I’d be heading home in a bit.
She called me, which was unusual.
“Tom?” she asked.
“Yes, it’s me,” I said.
“Thanks for getting dinner. So, you’re a part-timer today, eh? Well done. I wanted to talk with you about Em. It’s all kicked off for her. She confronted David and he finally admitted to the affair. They were up all night, but he eventually told her that yes, he wanted a divorce. She said he looked relieved! He slept in the spare room, obviously. They’re going to discuss what happens next tonight. She’s been a wreck all day, Tom. I think work is the only thing that saved her today! Anyway, I’ll see you around five. Mom and dad should be over around then, too. See you soon, darling. Love you!” and we hung up.
Fuck, I thought. There’s too much heartache around here lately.
I was home soon after and saw the kids outside with Janet. She saw me and waved, a huge smile on her face. The kids came
running and hugged my legs, well, except for David.
“How was work, Tom?” Janet asked.
So, I thought. No more Uncle Tom, eh? That’s progress!
“It went well, thanks. I’m off for two and a bit weeks so all’s good. How have the kids been? You’re not too tired already, are you,” I joked.
“Nothing I can’t handle, Tom. We’ve set the table so we’re all set for Grammie and Gramps,” she chuckled.
“Hope you like Turkish?” I asked, hopefully.
“Love it!” she enthused. “Good call. Do you need a hand with
re-heating or anything?”
“Thanks, but I think we’ll wait ’til they get here. I’m going to change, you guys. I’ll be out in a minute,” and hugged the kids again.
I was in the backyard with the kids, playing some Twister game. Both the kids had me on this one. I looked up and saw mom and dad, smiling at us.
“Look who’s here,” I yelled to David and Chloe.
They both looked up, smiled and ran to their grandparents, huge hugs all around. I walked over and shook dad’s hand, our eyes tentatively looking at each other. Dad smiled and engulfed me in his arms.
“Hi, son! You’re busy, eh?” he smiled.
“They do keep me busy, but in a wonderful way,” I said, relaxing, now that the first encounter was over.
I went to mom, and she graciously hugged me. Of course, she had a little kiss on the cheek to solidify everything.
Janet called from the kitchen, “Drinks, anyone?”
We all smiled, so she knew.
She came out a few minutes later with juice for all of us.
The four of us sat at the patio table whilst the kids continued to pester their grandparents about all and sundry.
“Chrissie has the rota, so why don’t we wait for her. We’ll let her lead this meeting,” I laughed.
“Why am I not surprised, Tom?” mom sighed, with a smile. “How’s work been? Were you able to sort everything out, I mean, the
reason they brought you over here?” she asked.
“Actually, yes. I had that signed and delivered quicker than I
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