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wiypt-writes · 9 months ago
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Riding On
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Ch24: The Wheel Fell Off
Summary: There are some perks to having your own, personal mechanic…and Fliss isn’t the only one who notices.
Warnings: Bad language.
Pairing: Frank Adler x OFC Fliss Gallagher
A/N: So I gotta give a shout out to @sweater-daddiesdumbdork​  as she came up with a few gems of dialogue for this!
Disclaimer: This is a pure work of fiction and classified as 18+. Please respect this and do not read if you are underage. I do not own any characters in this series bar Fliss Gallagher and the other OCs. By reading beyond this point you understand and accept the terms of this disclaimer.
Riding On Masterlist // Main Masterlist
Chapter 23
And the wonder of it all is that you don’t realise how much I love you.
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July 2020
Frank looked around at the team assembled in his office for the daily Stand-Up and nodded. “Okay, so I’ve nothing else to add, anyone got any other business before I call it?”
“Are we far behind on the repair time KPI for the Dolphin Tour fleet?” Mick, the finance manager looked at Frank and he shook his head.
“No, a day or so. Tim says he’ll have made the time back by Friday so we’re good.” Frank replied. “I’m not concerned. It shouldn’t have an impact on the incentivisation payments”
Mick nodded and Frank waited for a second. When no one else spoke, he dismissed the team and turned to his computer, leaning over to check the rest of the meetings and tasks for the day. He was midway through a very complicated spreadsheet detailing incoming repairs and timescales when his phone rang.
“Hey, sweetheart.” He greeted Fliss, leaning back in his chair a little. “Everything okay?”
“Yes, well, no. I was in the menage harrowing the surface and the wheel fell off the Quad Bike.”
“What do you mean the wheel fell off?” Frank pulled a face, scratching at his temple.
“Well, you know how it had four wheels? Now it has three,” came the sarcastic response.
“Dickhead.” Frank shot back and Fliss’ laughter hit his ears.
“Well, what did you think I meant?”
“You know what, I’m sorry I asked.” He rolled his eyes. “I suppose that means you want me to come fix it?”
“Yeah but it can wait until later if you’re busy, we managed to get it out of the way. Dad’s here snagging the extension to the tack room so he had a look and he says the bolt has sheared off so he can’t put it back on without a spare and I don’t know if you have any lying about in your Man Cave.”
“I will do from when we changed the wheels last year.” Frank clicked into his calendar to double check his schedule and smiled. “I’ve got no meetings this afternoon so I’ll come home at lunch. I can do the stock inventory at home.”
“My hero.”
“You know, if you carry on being sarcastic you can shove it up your ass.”
“I wasn’t being sarcastic!” Fliss laughed. “You know I love the fact that you can fix all this shit for me.”
“No you love the fact I get filthy fixing all that shit for you.”
“Well yeah, that’s one upside to you being good with your hands.”
“One?” Frank grinned, leaning back in his chair. “So there’s more?”
“You know it Sailor. I gotta go babe, my next client is here but I’ll see you soon, and if you can’t don’t worry it’ll wait.”
“I’ll sort it. Love you, sweetheart.”
“You too.”
True to his word, Frank left the office at midday giving his team the instruction to call his cell if needed. Once home, he parked up, headed inside to change out of his office attire and pulled on a pair of worn, light jeans and a t-shirt. Once done, he grabbed his shades, went into his work shop and picked up his tool box along with a couple of spare bolts and wandered over to the yard. As he walked, he stopped for a moment to take in the building work and smiled. The extension to the office and tack room area was complete, giving Fliss a huge extra space to organise all her tack and equipment. The paint and plastering had been completed a few days before and the fittings had all been finalised yesterday which was what Bill was in there snagging, making sure it was all as they’d specified. The storage units and racks were all on order and due to arrive at some point tomorrow so Frank knew he’d most likely be busy fitting them in the evening, not that he minded. He loved being able to be involved and help out.
The diggers were in place, hollowing out the additional riding paddock at the bottom of the yard, this one slightly smaller than the current one, but would give more than enough additional space for people to ride, and the hedge along the bottom field had been cleared to lead out to the additional three acres of grassy space they had acquired, with a new gravel path to be laid as a walkway once the post and rail fencing was done. They’d also asked for trenches to be dug for water pipes to avoid the stable hands having to lug buckets and tanks up to the horses.
All in all, it was coming along really well and on schedule, the whole thing set to be completed by the beginning of August, well in time for their wedding, which was now just ten weeks away.
Frank made his way onto the main yard, Fliss waving at him from where she was teaching in the paddock and he waved back, wandering into the newly-constructed building as Bill was busy pointing to something on the wall.
“Yeah, that needs patching up.” He nodded as the guy besides him produced a packet of small stickers in the shape of yellow dots. He placed one on the area Bill was clearly not satisfied with and Frank looked around, noticing a number of them in various places in the room. Bill glanced over at him and smiled. “Hey, son.”
“How picky ya being, Bill?” Frank smirked and Bill let out a snort.
“Nah, the actual building and electrical fittings are all sound.” He gave a nod. “This is just cosmetic. The door frame is chipped, this plaster here is rough and there’s some patches where it’s too thin but other than that it’s good.”
“I’m glad you’re doing this as I wouldn’t have noticed any of that.” Frank mused, leaning in a little closer to examine what it was that Bill had spotted, and the older man shook his head.
“Well, I have over thirty years in the trade and my eyes are still pretty sharp.” Bill chuckled. “Anyway, what are you doing here? Don’t tell me she dragged you out of work to fix that Quad!”
“It’s no problem. Got nothing on this afternoon so I can work from home.”
“She’s got you wrapped round her little finger.” Bill shook his head and Frank arched an eyebrow.
“I could say the same for you.” He accused. “And with Mary too for that matter. And Verity. You’re a soft ass for your girls, Bill and you know it.”
Bill shrugged. “Guilty as charged. Some would argue I’m a soft ass for my boys too, all of you.”
Frank smiled back, his neck feeling a little warm as the sentiment of Bill’s words sunk in and he took a deep breath and jerked his head towards the door. “I best go do what I came to do before her majesty accuses me of slacking.”
Bill chuckled. “It’s in the barn,” he informed, waving him away and Frank emerged out into the hot, midday July sun and strode round to the rear of the yard. The Quad bike and offending wheel were indeed stored in the barn, which was slightly cooler than the outside and Frank dropped his tool bag to the floor before he knelt down to take a look. Bill had been right, the bolt had snapped but it was an easy fix.
Or so he thought.
Ten minutes later, after a lot of cursing, heaving and straining he’d finally managed to work the broken bolt loose. Standing up, he cracked his neck and back, tossing the broken item into his bag with a contemptuous glare as he wiped his sweaty forehead and reached for the wheel. Thankfully, that was easy and took him two minutes to fit, and once he was happy it was sorted he pushed the quadbike out to make sure it was on properly.
“Did you fix it?” A small voice asked him and Frank glanced up to see a little girl, who can’t have been much older than four, stood looking at him as she grinned, her dark pigtails poking out from underneath a cap.
“Sure did.” He smiled.
“It was funny when it fell off.” She giggled. “Fliss screamed and then she swore.”
Frank snorted. “Yeah, she has a potty mouth.”
“Alicia!” A woman spoke and Frank turned to glance up at a slim, dark haired lady, dressed in a pair of bright, beige jodhpurs and a tight, baby-blue polo shirt, both items of clothing looking like they’d never come into contact with a horse at all. “Don’t run off!”
“I just wanted to see if the wheel was back on.” The little girl protested and the woman rolled her eyes.
“I’m sorry.” She smiled, flashing off a set of perfect white teeth from behind a set of glossed lips. “She’s so nosey.”
“Kids for ya.” Frank smiled, shaking his head.
“Don’t I know it?” She laughed, a perfectly manicured hand flying to her chest as Frank straightened up, wiping his hands on the back of his loose fitting, slightly grubby jeans. At that point, Joanne came round the back of the barn and she smiled.
“You ready for your lesson, Leesh?” She looked at the little girl who gave a cheer. “Come on then, Fliss is waiting.”
“This is the best Phys-Ed ever!” The little girl grinned and shot off after Joanne.
“Phys Ed.” Her mom rolled her eyes. “Damned private tutor education. I swear, I could kill my ex-husband for suggesting this.”
“You don’t ride yourself then, I take it?” Frank asked and she shook her head.
“No, but when she decided she wanted to, I thought I should make an effort. I think it’s what they refer to in the business as possessing all the gear, but having no idea.”
Frank gave her a smile. “Yeah, well, when my girl decided she wanted to learn I wasn’t particularly keen either but, well, she’s hooked now.”
“Oh, your girl rides too?” The woman flicked her hair back over her shoulder and Frank studied her for a moment, her painted on eyebrows and heavily bronzed face arranged into a genuine look of interest. He realised then that she had absolutely no idea who he was. “Does she do that here?”
“Yeah, you could say that.” He chuckled.
“Huh.” The woman scanned him up and down a little, her eyes blatantly flicking to his left hand. “Maybe it isn’t such a bad thing coming here after all.”
Frank took a deep breath, recognising the flirting for what it was and he gave her a little smile. “Well, I better get on.” He jerked his thumb over his shoulder. “I’m sure Fliss has a list of a hundred other jobs for me to so.”
“So, are you like her mechanic or something?” The woman continued and Frank looked at her, his face remaining straight.
“Something.” He gave her another nod and moved to walk back onto the yard, trying not to laugh.
“Oh, well, we’re new here. We’ve not been here long. I’m Michelle.” She offered, following him.
“Nice to meet you, Michelle.” He looked back over his shoulder as she paused a few steps behind him.
“I err, I didn’t catch your name.”
“That’s because I didn’t give it to you.” He stopped, turning to look at her, a smirk flicking across his face. She bit her lip and grinned back.
“Are you gonna?”
At that Frank let out a bark of a laugh. “Frank. Frank Adler.”
“Nice to meet you, Frank.”
“You too.” He smiled politely, as he slid his aviators back down from the top of his head onto his eyes, before he realised they were dirty. Taking them off he pulled the bottom of his shirt up slightly to wipe at the lens and when he returned them to his face he caught Michelle’s focus was still on his waist line. Her eyes flicked up to his and she shrugged a little.
“Sorry.” She wrinkled her nose. “Can’t blame a girl for looking, huh?”
Frank blinked, glad his eyes were hidden, a little shocked at her forthcoming nature, before he let out a snort.
“Well I’ve done my fair share of looking in the past, not any more though. My fiancée would have my balls hung up on the wall.”
“Oh, erm, sorry, I didn’t, wow.” She blinked and ran her hand through her glossy hair. “That’s embarrassing.”
Frank shrugged. “I’ve been in far worse situations, believe me.” With that he turned, and as he began to walk along the side of the paddock he looked up to see Fliss was watching him over the fence, her hands on her hips. Her eyes were hidden behind her wrap-arounds but he could tell from her demeanour she wasn’t best pleased. With a groan he approached the white post and rail that ran round the ménage and leaned on it.
“Hey.”
“Hey.” Her tone was friendly enough, despite her frosty body language, as she walked over towards him. “You get it fixed?”
“Yeah, took me a while to get the bolt off but it’s all good.”
“Thanks.” She slid her hat up a little and wiped at her brow with the back of her arm. “Fuck, its warm today.”
“Well, take your clothes off.” Frank grinned. “It’ll help you cool down.”
“Pervert.” She snorted, before she nodded behind him. “I see you met Kim.”
“Kim?” Frank frowned. “She said her name was Michelle.”
“Yeah, but Joanne calls her Kim Kardashian.” Fliss wrinkled her nose. “On account of the botox and fake boobs.”
“You two are bitches.” Frank scoffed and Fliss shrugged, before he frowned. “Hang on, her boobs are fake?”
“Keep talking, Sailor.” Fliss slid her glasses down and glared at him over the rims and he let out a laugh.
“Baby, I’m joking.” He looked at her and she gave a hum as she pushed them back up her nose as he leaned over the fence a little. “Come ‘ere.”
Fliss stepped towards him and Frank dropped his head to press his lips to hers. “Love you, baby.” He ginned, flashing her his best cheeky grin.
“You can’t get round me that easy.” She shot back and Frank shrugged.
“Who says I’m trying to get round you?”
“I know you, Adler.” She scoffed, stepping back. “Look, I gotta get on so I’ll see you at home. You wanna pick Alex up tonight?”
“Sure, I’ll get him. Is Mary getting the bus home from Summer Camp?”
“Yeah, I told her one of us would pick her up but she insisted.” Fliss shrugged and Frank smiled.
“Okay, I’ll see you in a couple of hours then.”
“Yeah, love you.”
“You too.”
*****
It was gone five before Fliss had finished at the yard. She’d hardly had time to breathe, let alone think about what she’d seen that morning, but that said, it was there, nagging in the back of her brain. She bid Joanne a good night, before she headed down the little path to the house. She was hot, sticky, uncomfortable and ready for a cool shower and a very large glass of white wine. As she walked down the drive, she passed her newly acquired white Hyundai SUV and stopped as she caught her reflection in the tinted rear mirror.
“Oh, Jesus.” She mumbled, moving closer to take a better look. Her skin was the colour of a fucking beet, her hair was all over the place from where she’d removed her cap and tossed it on her desk, her polo shirt was full of all sorts of stains and she was pretty sure she could smell herself and her riding britches were hung a little low on her hips, her soft stomach visible beneath the tight cotton of her top.
And then, from nowhere, came the image of fucking Michelle and her fucking size two figure, with her fucking perfect tits, model smile, stupidly glossy hair, and impeccable eyebrows and straight nose…
Fliss hastily pulled her pony tail out, fluffed out her sweat-damp hair and retied it, before she smoothed down her top as best she could and headed into their yard and through to the utility room, Thor trotting behind her.
“Hey!” Frank greeted her from where he was led on the rug, building some form of tower out of a set of large, brightly coloured blocks as Alex sat next to him, his little hands curling round a few of the bricks. The baby looked round and made an excited noise at the sight of his momma, and shuffled a little onto his knees and hands, crawling towards her.
“Frank, I stink.” She held her hands up in warning and Frank hastily rose, quickly picking Alex up off the floor before he could get much further towards her.
“A little dirt won’t hurt him.” He shrugged.
“Yeah, but I look and feel like I’ve been rolling on the muck heap all day so I’m going straight for a shower.”
Frank chuckled as she gave Alex a quick kiss on the head, moving out of his way before he could grab hold of her. “Well, I think you wear the dirty, stable hand look well, Honey.”
“Sure.” She rolled her eyes. “I’ll be back down in ten, do you mind starting dinner? I was gonna do a quick chicken salad.”
“Course.” Frank nodded, looking at her for a moment and she simply smiled back.
She could feel Frank’s eyes burning into her back as she headed out of the family room into the hallway, trudging up the stairs. As soon as she was in their bedroom she stripped off her sticky, dirty clothes, tossed them onto the floor and climbed straight into the shower, turning it to an adequate temperature. Tipping her face up into the stream she let the lukewarm water cool her slightly, as she blinked back tears of frustration.
Michelle had at least had the good grace to look a little sheepish when she’d realised exactly who Frank was, but fuck, it had still pissed Fliss off to the point she’d wanted to smash her face straight into the floor. And more to the point, Fliss felt annoyed that it had riled her the way it had. It wasn’t exactly like it was an unusual occurrence, everywhere they went Frank seemed to attract female attention, he was gorgeous, but today had been on her home turf, somewhere she was Queen Bee, and to have someone else buzzing around her hive in such a way made her feel uneasy.
Real uneasy.
With a deep breath she washed her hair, sorted herself out and turned off the shower before she wrapped herself in a towel and headed back into the bedroom. As she was brushing out her hair, her phone went off and she picked it up, snorting at the message from Steve which showed a baby-grow with the words, “party at my crib, 3am, bring a bottle,” on the front. She sent him a quick response, pondering for a moment at just how fast Sian’s latest pregnancy seemed to have gone, she was approaching her sixth month now, and seemed to be glowing just as she had with the twins. Mary had been very happy when they’d announced they were expecting another boy, declaring proudly that made her Bill’s only granddaughter, something which, according to her, made her special.
And of course, none of them had corrected her, because it was the truth.
Tapping her nails lightly against the surface of the vanity unit, Fliss scrolled down to her message conversations and found the one to Bonnie, sending her a quick text to ask if she was free. She set about her quick face care routine, before she braided her damp hair, and then her phone began to ring.
“Hey!” Bonnie greeted her. “I’m driving so thought I’d call you…erm, I’m not doing anything in particular, why?”
“Well, I know Si’s outta town on business so I wondered if you fancied company for a few hours?” Fliss replied, keeping the details as sketchy as she could. “Me and a bottle of white? God knows I could do with one after today.”
“That bad huh?” Bonnie chuckled. “Sure why not. I’m not working tomorrow after all. Did I tell you I had many weeks off?”
“You might have mentioned it.” Fliss replied, laughing a little. “You teachers have an easy ride.”
“Fuck you.” Bonnie shot back and Fliss snorted.
“I’m joking, well I’ve no lessons until later tomorrow so I can have a few.” Fliss scratched at her temple. “What time works for you?”
“Well, I’m just on my way to have dinner at my mom’s so, I can pick you up on the way back?” Bonnie offered. “Be about seven ish?”
“Perfect.” Fliss smiled.
“Awesome. We can get down to some Hen Party planning!” Bonnie’s voice was laced with excitement. “I found this awesome villa in Miami that will accommodate everyone.”
“Can’t wait to see it.” Fliss smiled.
After a little more conversation, Fliss placed her phone back down and dressed in a pair of denim shorts, a khaki green boat necked short-sleeved top and shoved her feet into a pair of flip-flops. She took another look in the mirror, scowling once more at her reflection, before she rolled her eyes and headed downstairs.
She walked into the family room and smiled as she saw Mary was sat on a stool at the island whilst Alex was sat in his high chair, munching on a piece of cucumber. Frank was busy tossing things into a salad bowl, and he turned to smile at her as she greeted them all, dropping a kiss to Mary’s head, then Alex’s in turn.
“Feeling better?” Frank asked as she slid her arms round his waist, pressing her face into his t-shirt.
“Yeah, much. God, it was disgustingly hot out there today.”
“Yeah, that’s one thing I don’t miss about working on boats, the lack of air conditioning.” Frank chuckled as she stepped back and moved to the fridge, pulling out a bottle of wine.
“My face feels burnt, but I don’t know how that’s possible.” She shook her head, thanking Frank as he reached into the cupboard and pulled down a glass for her. “I had a cap and shades on.”
“It doesn’t look too red.” He looked at her and she took a large gulp of wine, giving a satisfied sigh.
“Been waiting for that all afternoon.” She closed her eyes, savouring the taste before she opened them again. “Oh, that reminds me, I’m going over to Bonnie’s later, just for a couple of hours. Hen Do planning, that okay?”
“Course it is.” Frank nodded. “You want me to drop you off?”
“No, she’s at her mum’s so she’s going to come get me. I can Uber back.”
“I’ll pick you up.” Frank looked at her. “We can take the kids and Thor down to the beach for a little flashlight walk on the way back.”
“Flashlight walk?” Mary suddenly spoke, excitement lacing her tone. “The last time we did that it was so cool, we saw all those hermit crabs and the dolphins!”
“Don’t be so nosey.” Frank looked at her and she shrugged.
“You weren’t exactly whispering.”
He rolled his eyes and turned to Fliss who chuckled. “Sure, sounds good. I won’t be long, just a few hours.”
Frank shrugged. “Doesn’t matter, not like Mary needs to be up early and Alex will probably sleep the entire time anyway if he’s in the carrier.”
She gave him a small nod before she set about helping Frank with their dinner. It wasn’t long before it was ready, and they decided to eat outside. Mary chatted away, filling them all in on what she’d done at Summer camp, Frank listening, but all the time keeping one eye on Fliss who seemed to be taking it all in, but wasn’t saying much.
They finished, cleared their dishes away and Mary headed upstairs for a little while, whilst Fliss took Alex for his bath before she brought him back down, ready for bed to give him his bottle which Frank had ready.
She passed him over as Frank made his way to the sofa, dropping down to feed their baby, and Fliss watched for a moment, before her phone beeped.
“Bonnie’s outside.” Fliss stuck it back in her pocket and turned to Frank as he gently shifted Alex so he was a little more comfortable, his small hands curled around the bottle as he drank his milk.
“She not coming in?”
“No point, we’re only going straight back out.”
“Right.” Frank nodded as glanced back down at Alex. “Are you okay?” He asked, looking up at her and Fliss nodded back, a little too quickly, the way she always did when she was trying to hide something and Frank took a deep breath. “Liss…”
“I’m fine.” She shook her head. “Just a little wiped after today, that’s all.”  Frank sighed and Fliss narrowed her eyes as she turned towards the kitchen. “Don’t sigh at me like that.”
“I’m not sighing at you like anything.” He replied as she pulled out a bottle of wine to take with her. “Just wish you’d tell me what the problem is.”
“I don’t have a problem.” Fliss rolled her eyes. “I’m just going to Bonnie’s for a few hours. Is my life that sad that whenever I socialise it always has to be because I have a problem?”
“I didn’t say that.” Frank replied, calmly.
“Good, because that’s not why I’m going.”
Knowing he was beat, and that if he pushed it any further they were going to end up in a full scale argument, Frank nodded. “Okay then. Have fun, call me when you’re done.”
Fliss blinked, almost as if she was waiting for him to push her again, before she simply shrugged and leaned over to gently run her finger down Alex’s chubby cheek. She then turned to Frank gave him a quick kiss.
“Love you.” He pressed his lips to hers a little deeper, before she stepped back and he was pleased to see her smiling.
“Love you too.”
Frank watched her go, taking a deep breath as he glanced back down at his son. A few minutes later, Mary bounded into the room and Frank looked up at her.
“Did you hear back from the vets, you know about Cleo?” She asked.
“Yup.” Frank grinned, “wanna read the email?”
“Dur!” She grinned and Frank pulled his phone out form his pocket, scrolling with one hand to the email that had arrived earlier that afternoon before he handed it to her.
“Dear Mr Adler,” Mary read, “I’m pleased to inform you that Sandybrook Cleopatra has passed her five-stage-vetting, bla bla bla,” she skipped on a few lines, “negative worm count, negative for equine influenza, rhino-erm, what’s that?”
“Pneumonitis” Frank read as she turned the screen to him. “I’ve got no idea, some disease, obviously.”
“And Streptococcus Equi, oh I know that one. That’s strangles.” Mary nodded.
“Whatever you say, Stack.” Frank smiled.
“As such, please see attached the completed and fully executed Export Health Certificate. Upon arrival in the USA, your animal will require a further three days quarantine which you must organise ….bla bla bla!” Mary grinned up at him as she handed him his phone back. “So that’s it?”
“Yup!” Frank nodded, as he glanced down at Alex who was now turning away from his bottle, signalling he was done. ”Everything’s done, Jo’s sorted the stuff with Department of Agriculture at this end, el ponio is being collected by the UK transporter tomorrow morning and will be on a flight later that evening.” He paused to rearrange Alex over his shoulder to burp him. “So, if all goes according to plan, she’ll be arriving here after her quarantine mid-afternoon on Fliss’ birthday.” He nodded, before he mumbled. “Thirteen thousand bucks lighter.”
“Thirteen thousand!” Mary spluttered. “Holy shit!”
“Hey, watch your mouth.” Frank looked at her sternly as Alex gave a loud burp. Frank turned his head to look at him. “Better out than in, Bean.”
“Sorry but, Dad, that’s a lot of money. I thought they did you a deal and knocked half off her price because it was Fliss?”
“They did.” He shrugged as he stood and carried Alex over to his pack and play. “She still cost me three. The rest is the cost of the vetting and the transport. But, Poppa B and Nanny V have said they only want half back and Uncle Steeb is chucking in a couple of hundred towards it, so it’s kind of like a joint present.”
“She’s worth it!” Mary grinned and Frank chuckled, heading to kitchen area.
“The horse or Fliss?”
“Mom, of course.” Mary scoffed, hopping up onto a stool at the breakfast bar.
“She sure is.” Frank agreed as he opened the fridge. “But I’ll be telling her that’s her birthday this year, birthday next year, Christmas and first wedding anniversary present all rolled into one.”
“First anniversary?” Mary looked at him. “You ain’t even married yet!”
“I know but now I don’t have to think about buying her anything for like twelve months.” He shrugged, smirking to himself as he leaned down for a bottle of beer, knowing he was talking utter shit. There was no way that was gonna fly, and he didn’t even want to try for the simple reason he loved buying Fliss stuff that made her smile. Still, it was fun trying to watch Mary decide if he was joking or not.
“What about Mother’s Day?” She asked after a moment.
“She aint my mom,” Frank looked at her, “as the eldest the responsibility for that falls to you.” He twisted the lid off the beer as Mary narrowed her eyes. “You want a beer?” He waved the bottle at Mary.
“Really?” Her eyes grew wide.
“No, just wanted to see how much crap I could tell you that you’d actually believe.” He smirked. Mary blinked, before she let out a low groan, realising she’d been had.
“You’re such an idiot.” She shook her head, and Frank watched, chuckling to himself as she bent down, picked Fred up and stalked to her Den, Thor hot on her tail.
*****
“So, I thought,” Bonnie grinned, turning the laptop to face Fliss as they sat at her kitchen table, “that this one sounds perfect. It sleeps up to twelve, has a pool, hot tub, is a short walk to the beach, not far from down-town and also literally a five minute walk to the hotel we stayed in, where we can get a really good deal on a Day-Spa package. And, we can also get someone in on the Saturday to do a grill and cocktails for us, if that’s what you wanna do.”
Fliss gave a small smile, and Bonnie frowned. “Or, not. Sorry, is it not what you wanted? I thought-“ Fliss sighed, her hand laying on Bonnie’s arm. “No, that…” she took a deep breath and smiled, “it sounds perfect, Bonnie. Honestly it does.”
“So, why are you making me feel like I’ve given you a dog turd on a plate and told you it’s your dinner?”
At that Fliss choked on the mouthful of wine she’d taken and looked at her best friend. “You know, for a teacher, you really have a way with words.”
Bonnie chuckled, as Fliss shook her head. “I’m sorry, it’s not you. I’m just feeling a little…actually, I don’t know what I’m feeling. Pissed off, maybe?”
“Why, what’s happened?” Bonnie looked at her.
“Just…oh, you know what, it’s nothing.” Fliss brushed it off, necking the remainder of the wine in her bottle. “Can I get a top up?”
“I’ll get it.” Bonnie nodded and stood up from the table. A moment or two later she returned, and held the bottle up. “You speak, and I’ll pour.”
Fliss blinked, realising she wasn’t going to get away with it, so she sat back and blurted everything out. How she’d felt seeing Frank with the bimbo at the yard, how she was feeling a little insecure over how she looked because she’d once upon a time been that groomed, perfect looking person. And the more she talked, the more tumbled out about how she felt sometimes that Frank was way out of her league before Bonnie shook her head and cut her off.
“Are you listening to yourself?” She scoffed. “Jesus Christ, I haven’t heard anyone talk this much shit since Simon told me he was gonna run a marathon.”
“Hey, you asked what was wrong.” Fliss looked at her, her temper flashing a little. “I’m just telling you!”
“Yeah, and I’m just telling you, you’re a fucking moron.” Bonnie shook her head. “Fliss, you’re beautiful. Honestly, like, if I have kids and end up with your figure after, I’ll be over the moon. But that aside, Frank loves YOU. Not the way you look, or the way your hair is styled, or the way your eyebrows are painted on, he loves you.”
“I know.” Fliss nodded, sniffing a little. “I know he does, and I know he’d never cheat on me, I get that. I just, oh I don’t know, I don’t know why I feel like this. I can’t explain it.”
Bonnie side eyed Fliss as she topped her glass up before she sat down at the table, taking a deep breath. “Do you think this has anything to do with your ex?”
Fliss frowned, shaking her head. “Why would you think that?”
“Well, you told me he used to put you down about how you looked, compared you to other women he, well, fucked behind your back.” Bonnie trailed off. “I don’t know, I was just thinking maybe that deep in your mind, you kinda still think you should have a face caked in make-up and boobs pushed up to your chin.”
Fliss gave a snort at Bonnie’s description before she shrugged. “I don’t feel like that, not really. I’ve never bothered about anything like that whilst I’ve been with Frank. But something about her just pissed me off, more so because she was doing it right there in my own back fucking yard.” Fliss took another slug of wine before she bit her lip. “Maybe you’re right, maybe it’s because she reminds me of that past life.” She tapped her nails against her glass. “But, I was fucking miserable, and now I’m not, so why would I even bother about some bimbo flirting with my man? It’s not like he did anything or was gonna.”
“So, basically, we’ve come to the conclusion that this woman is a tramp and you’re an idiot.” Bonnie nodded and despite herself, Fliss laughed.
“Yeah, sounds about right.”
“Hmm,” Bonnie sipped her wine. “Okay, I’m glad we got that sorted.” She took another sip before she gently reached out and squeezed Fliss hand. “You got nothing to worry about. Frank adores you, to be honest, me and Simon always say it’s kinda gross the way he’s always like looking at you with stupid doe eyes or touching you whenever he can.”
Fliss smiled, a fond look crossing her face as she knew what Bonnie was saying was true. Any chance Frank got he would touch or cuddle her, and it was never in a dominant way like it had been with John, it was because he simply wanted to, it was his love language. “Yeah, he’s touchy.”
Bonnie smiled and sat back as Fliss took a deep breath. “But you should talk to him, tell him how you feel.”
Fliss shrugged. “Maybe, like you said, I’m being an idiot.” She gave her friend another smile before she nodded back towards the laptop. “But, now for the fun stuff. Show me what you got planned for our weekend of debauchery in Miami, Maid Of Honor!”
**** It was a little before ten when Fliss called Frank to say she was ready for pick up if he still wanted to come get her, which was a dumb question, because of course he did. He packed the kids into the car, and drove the fifteen minutes or so to Bonnie’s and Fliss clambered into the passenger seat, her cheeks flushed a little from the wine. After giving him a quick kiss, she turned to smile at Mary who beamed at her, her head torch already in position, Thor’s flashing light up collar sitting pretty around his neck as he perched in the middle seat between her and Alex who was in the baby chair, fast asleep.
They drove down to the Public Access, the same stretch of beach they would be married on in a matter of weeks, and all climbed out, Frank gently settling Alex in the carrier that hung over his chest before he offered Fliss his hand and they headed onto the moonlit sand. They walked in silence for a while, the air finally cooled enough to be enjoyable, Mary running ahead of them, Thor gambolling in and out of the waves, giving a little bark of enjoyment as he chased the surf.
“He’s gonna be soaked when he gets back in the truck.” Frank groaned and Fliss laughed.
“Should have come in mine, he could have sat in the trunk.”
“He can ride home on the flatbed.”
“Don’t you dare.” Fliss nudged Frank with her elbow and he chuckled, his arm sliding round her shoulder as he pressed a kiss to her head.
“You gonna tell me what’s bothering you now?” Frank asked as they continued to stroll up the beach.
“Nothing.”
“Lissy.” Frank spoke sternly and stopped to face her. She let out a sigh, her hand reaching up to smooth over Alex’s hair as he lay slumped against his dad’s chest.
“I’m being an idiot, I know that. But seeing you before, at the yard I just…”
It was Frank’s turn to sigh as he shook his head. “Honey, I-“
“No, I know what you’re gonna say but, I just, well, she was there looking like a fucking model and then there was me, and I used to be that size, and I used to be that person, that looked half decent, you know? I can’t remember the last time I actually wore any form of make-up bar a bit of tinted moisturiser or mascara, or when I last straightened my hair, let alone painted on my damned eyebrows! And then she’s flirting with you flashing her perfect teeth, and her perfect fake boobs and her line free brow and plump lips, all full of fillers and botox and-“
“You want Botox?” Frank cut her off mid rant and Fliss let out a groan.
“No I don’t want fucking Botox, Frank!”
“Well shut up talking about it then!” He laughed. “Look, I don’t want that fake shit either. Do I look like the type of guy who wants someone who is just one step away from being a Malibu Barbie? Fuck that!”
“You look like the type of guy who should want a Malibu Barbie.” Fliss replied, somewhat sullenly. “You don’t see the looks you get every time we go out.”
Frank rolled his eyes. “Whatever. You know, girls like that are ten a penny down on the boardwalk. But you’re the one I took sailing.” “Thanks a backhanded compliment.” Fliss narrowed her eyes and Frank laughed, cupping her face in his hands.
“Look, Sweetheart, I love you.” He shrugged simply. “Because you’re beautiful, inside and out and because you’re my Lissy.” He pulled her face up to meet his, placing a soft kiss to her lips, his nose sliding against hers.
“I know, I’m sorry.” She sighed. “I wasn’t mad at you, just feeling a little low I suppose.”
“You know I get it too.” Frank smiled, dropping his hands to take hers. “You think I don’t notice the looks you get when we go out?”
“I don’t.”
“Yes, you do.” Frank assured her as he entwined their fingers together. “But I don’t care. Because I know you’re mine, and I’m yours. So please don’t think for a second I’d even think about anyone else that way.”
He dropped a soft, slow, deep kiss to her lips and when she pulled back, she smiled.
“Sorry, I know, I was being an idiot.”
“Yeah.” He nodded in agreement and she chuckled as he returned his arm to round her shoulders and they continued walking, the sound of the waves against the shore a perfect back drop to Mary’s excited shouts and Thor’s little barks.
“When you said you said you wouldn’t think about anyone…” She started and Frank was pleased to note her voice was full of mischief, his playful Lissy was back.
“Well,” he wrinkled his nose, shrugging a little, “maybe if Rihanna came knocking then I’d have to give it some serious consideration.”
“To be fair I’d give it some serious consideration, too.” Fliss mused and Frank arched a brow, teasingly as he looked down at her.
“Yeah?”
“Damned straight. I’d do her, she’s hot.” Fliss shrugged and Frank’s face split into a dirty grin as he stopped them both, using the arm round her shoulder to spin her into him as best he could with their son placed between them.
“Now there’s an image!” His voice was loaded with suggestiveness and Fliss laughed as his lips brushed hers.
“Pervert.” She whispered, her hand once more sweeping over the back of their sleeping baby’s head.
“Only for you.” He smiled, before he looked up, considering something. “And Rihanna.”
**** Chapter 25
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Text
Riding On Ch7: Home, Sweet Home!
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Summary: Frank and Fliss find their perfect family home, but there’s something bothering Mary.
Warnings: Bad Language words. Discussions about suicide. A little bit of angst.
Pairing: Frank Adler x Fliss Gallagher
A/N: This is a bit of an emotionally charged filler chapter…and we move time on a little through to June in the middle. And photos of the Adler house are included so you can visualise what I used for inspiration! Chapter Song: Kill For A Dream by Beady Eye
Series Masterlist //  WIYPT Masterlist
You’re giving it another try, staring at the deep blue sky, and you say to the driver just drive, coz you never felt so alive.
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April 2019
“Hey honey, you ok?” Frank juggled his phone, pinning it between his ear and his shoulder as he leaned over his computer in the office, scanning the database on the screen for a filter part they needed to order.
“No, I mean yes! I’ve just heard some awesome news!”
“Yeah?”
“Yeah, so you remember the guy that bought the house that backs onto the yard when Old Man River died…” “That wasn’t his name.” Frank chuckled “It was Mr Morris.”
“He called himself River, it was funny and suited him. Anyway, that’s not the point. You know the guy who bought it…guess what I found out before?”
Frank stopped what he was doing and straightened up. He didn’t like that dick, one bit. When Mr Morris had died at the start of the year, Fliss had been quite upset about the news as the old man had been very friendly to her, often popping in for a cup of tea a few afternoons a week for some company. Mr Morris’ son had sold the house without them even knowing it had gone on the market, which was a shame as it would have been perfect for them given the location. The guy who had bought it, Frank didn’t even know his name, nor did he care because he was a douchebag and a pervert to boot. The way he looked at Fliss made Frank want to punch his face in.
“What’s Douchey Mc Douchebag done now?”
“You’re so childish.” she scoffed “Anyway, I was only commenting to Joanne last night that we haven’t seen him for like a month and she went home and mentioned it to her dad who works with some other guy in the property development business and the long and short of it is he’s gone bankrupt Frank!”
Frank laughed loudly “Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy, babe!”
“I know right!” Fliss voice was gathering pace and pitch, the way it always did when she was excited. “So literally about half hour after she’s told me this, someone turns up and there’s a For Sale sign outside, the house is on the market!”
Ok now he was interested. Frank could picture the look of excitement on her face as she spoke to him and he felt the smile cross his face “No shit?”
“Yeah, I’ll send you the website to look at the photos but…oh God, it would be perfect! Some of it is really nice, some of it needs decorating but…” “Ok, well, why don’t you call the realtor? Arrange a viewing” he said “Hopefully you won’t puke halfway round this one.” “Ok, first off that wasn’t my fault. Bean objected to the smell. Who the fuck cooks eggs the day they know they have someone coming to view their house?” her indignant tone made Frank chuckle “And second off…”she paused “I already did. He said he can meet us at half 12.”
“Half 12? As in lunch time? Today?” Frank frowned.
“I know I just really don’t want to miss out on this one Frank, and you said you were gonna come up here for lunch and-”
“Ok, ok.” Frank sighed “I’ll shuffle some stuff around, work a little later tonight and take an extra half hour.”
“I love you.” she replied and he could hear the smile in her voice.
“Good job I love you too.” he said back gruffly “Because you’re a pain in my ass.”
He bid her goodbye and just as he was looking at the rota to make sure there were enough staff in to cope if he took a longer lunch, his phone beeped. He clicked through to the link Fliss had sent him and had a scan through the photos. To be fair the house didn’t look in too bad condition. It was deceptive from the outside, looked like a small farmhouse but they knew thanks to the extension Douchebag had put on the back it now formed an L shape and from the look of it, was pretty spacious. The kitchen was new, the main bathroom was new so the big work looked like it had been mostly done. The décor in some of the rooms was really old fashioned, especially the hallway you and the front reception room, but that was all cosmetic. What really grabbed him was the price. It was up for just over 320 thousand, which was a fucking steal considering the size, location, the garden and the garge/outhouse it came with.
“You ok Frank?”
He looked up and smiled as Alan, his boss walked in to the office. “Yeah, sorry, Fliss has found a house and managed to book a viewing for lunch time. Fucking 7th one in 2 weeks.”
Alan snorted “Keeping you on your toes I see?”
“Well I gotta say, this one’s looking pretty good. It’s the house that backs onto our Yard out in Pinellas Park.” Frank explained “It was sold not even 6 months ago to a developer and he’s apparently gone bankrupt so put it back on the market.”
“Huh.” Alan smiled “Sounds like it was meant to be. Take it you’re going then?”
“Yeah, Charlie and Gary are in all afternoon. I thought I could take an extra half hour, work it back tonight or…” “Frank, when was the last time you actually took a full hour for your lunch and didn’t cut it short by 10 or 15?” Alan looked at him.
Frank hesitated “Yeah, but that’s-”
“No buts.” Alan shook his head. “Do what you gotta do.”
“Thanks Alan.” Frank smiled, “I appreciate it.”
Alan waved away his gratitude before he dropped into the chair on the opposite side of Frank’s small desk and gestured for Frank to sit down.
“I wanted to talk to you in person.” Alan said, “Before the news gets out. I’m looking at retiring Frank, fully this time.”
“That’s good news, for you I mean.” Frank smiled, taking his seat. “You must be happy?”
“Kinda bitter sweet.” he shrugged “But I hit 70 this year and bout time I let it all go. Bill’s already chomping at the bit to book damned fishing trips so...it’ll be nice to step back. But I wanted to talk to you about something.”
“Shoot.”
“My son, James is going to be taking over, that won’t come as any surprise to you as you’ve seen him knocking around a bit and he likes you.”
“Good to know I’m not going to be out on my ass.” Frank smiled, breathing out a little.
“No, not a chance. I wouldn’t allow it.” Alan said “I’ll still be the owner, just stepping back from major decision making and day to day running. Anyway, the point is Frank, James needs a deputy. He is young and a little inexperienced. I’ve seen how quickly over the last year you’ve picked up rotas, staffing issues, dealt with the stock takes, haggled with the supply chain…I wondered if you’d consider it.”
Frank blinked “You wanna make me deputy manager?”
“In a word, yes. And I know you got your hands full at the moment and they’ll be even more full when that boy of yours arrives but the changes won’t come into effect until the end of the year so we got plenty of time to work out the details.”
“Wow, I err…” Frank shook his head “I don’t know what to say.” “I don’t need an answer now.” Alan said, “Take some time to consider it. Talk it over with Fliss.”
“I will, I’ll give it some thought.” “Ok, well, that’s all I dropped in for.” Alan said, standing up, groaning a little “Did you just hear my damned knees click?”
Frank laughed and shook his head “No, but to be honest mine click too so I wouldn’t worry about it.”
“Getting old sucks.” Alan said, shaking his head “I tell ya, the minute I can’t enjoy the simple things in life, put a bullet in my head.”
Frank snorted as Alan shot him a wink and left him to his thoughts.
******* Frank glanced down at the wooden boards beneath his feet in the entrance hall. They were solid old wood, oak he thought, and with a clean and polish would look stunning. He looked up and saw Fliss talking animatedly to the realtor, a young man called David as he nodded and gestured to his left. Fliss opened the door and looked at Frank who followed her into the first reception room. It smelt musty, and there was an old sofa and threadbare carpet in the room but it was light and had a nice, airey feeling to it thanks to the large windows at the front of the house.
“New carpet and a bit of paint…” Frank mused nodding, “Be good as new.”
She nodded eagerly, her eyes shining a she looked around and nodded at the fire place “Really, in Florida?”
“It gets cold, as you know.” he teased “Besides, we just fill it with some of your million candles or whatever…”
She nudged him and they turned around, David watching them.
“So, you’re obviously in the older part of the house that hasn’t really been touched apart from upstairs.” he explained, “But if you follow me I’ll show you the extension which is all new and, well, to be honest, I think it’s stunning.”
The three of them moved back into the hall and through a door at the end which led into a huge open plan kitchen and living area. The kitchen was gorgeous. Sleek white units, modern appliances, marble tops, a huge breakfast bar. Douchebag had clearly spent a fortune doing this up. The floor was a light grey and white laminate which David pointed out was heavy wearing.  To the left of the kitchen area was a huge space where Frank could clearly picture their sofas and TV, and then just off that was a door which led into another smaller reception room, freshly painted and carpeted.  He was just pondering how they could turn that into a play room when Fliss gave a gasp and nudged Frank pointing to the large bay window at the back which had been converted into a seating nook of sorts. They made their way over and saw that the view extended right over their garden highlighting a small pool area which was surrounded by a low set of railings with a gate that were all painted a glossy black. The pool itself was sparklingly clean and clearly brand new.
“Oh wow… “ Fliss mumbled, looking at the sand stone tiles that surrounded the area and the rest of the garden.
“Yeah the rear garden loops in an L round the house” David said. “There’s a larger fence around this area to keep it private and separate from the land at the front that runs flush to the yard area.”
Frank’s hands dropping to her hips as he nodded to the right “Could extend that little patio area for a table and chairs, maybe build a brick BBQ. Couple of sun-loungers for that bit at the back of the pool.”
She nodded eagerly before they headed back into the hallway they’d entered into where the realtor showed them the little room that was to the right as you came in the door which held a number of shelves and coat hooks and a toilet and sink basin. They then headed up stairs to find 4 bedrooms. The master extended down the entire side of the house overlooking the main yard area of Sandybrook. It needed some work, the plaster and paint was peeling away in some areas, but Frank wasn’t worried at that. It was an easy job. What he was pleased to see was that the rest of it was in good condition. There was a brand new en-suite attached to it, housing a toilet, a huge shower and his and hers sinks. The room also had built in wardrobes and huge ceiling to floor bi-folding doors which opened up onto a small balcony. Douchebag had clearly been focussing on the big jobs first before he got into the cosmetics, which Frank had to give him credit for.
The main bathroom was in between the wall of their en-suite and the next bedroom, both situated at the back of the house over the extension and overlooking the fields belonging to the yard. The plaster was fresh in that bedroom but hadn’t been painted, again, not an issue, because Frank knew a certain little miss would be no doubt picking a colour as soon a she spotted this room.
“Bet Mary chooses this one.” Frank said, voicing his thoughts and Fliss nodded, smiling
“I would if the Master didn’t have that en-suite.” she grinned “Look at that view!”
“Yeah, who’d have thought you could work from home in the equestrian business” he chuckled as they then headed to the next bedroom on the opposite side of the landing. This was also rather large, but like the main part of the master bedroom, was clearly one of the original two bedrooms the house had and it needed some updating.
The 4th bedroom was a smaller one up a narrow set of stairs hidden by door in the hallway. It opened up into an attic room which tucked into the roof of the house.
The realtor then led them back down and the out to the outbuildings. There was a huge garage with a half- finished apartment of sorts above it that had been used as storage but could be easily a guest suite if they so wanted,  and then the thing Frank had really loved was the workshop off the side of the garage, accessed by a small door. It was musty and full of crap but was somewhere for him to store all his tools and work on any side projects he decided to pick up.
All in all Frank was finding it pretty damned hard to pick faults in the place.
As they headed back to the main house and Frank asked David politely to give them a moment to look around alone and he nodded eagerly before Frank and Fliss headed back into the house.
“I’m getting good vibes Sailor.” Fliss said as she turned round, looking at the kitchen, once more heading over to the bay window seat, “really good vibes.” she spun back to him and he smiled at the look on her face. “I mean, ok, a few rooms need decorating and there’s some finishing off bits to do all over but it’s nothing that dad can’t help with and I’m sure-“
At that she stopped dead, and gave a little gasp as her hand flew to her bump.
“You ok?” Frank stepped forward.
“Yeah he’s…” she swallowed “Bean’s kicking, Frankie! Quick!”
He reached out with his hand and she took it, pressing it to the side of her bump. After a second or two he felt something wriggle a little under his palm and he looked at Fliss, his face cracking into an open mouthed smile as he felt his son move for the first time.
“Lissy…” he swallowed his eyes misting over. “That’s…oh my God!”
“You should feel it from my POV!” Fliss smiled her own eyes glassy too.
Frank didn’t want to take his hand away. Instead, he kept moving his palm, tracking their baby’s movements when eventually they stopped.
“I think that means BB likes the house.” Fliss looked at him.
Frank scoffed, shaking his head. “BB’s Momma likes the house.”
“Doesn’t his Daddy?” she asked, her hands sliding round his neck.
“Yeah, his Daddy does.” he replied honestly in a low voice as he looked around the large room. “In fact, I like it a lot.”
“You think Mary will?”
“Are you kidding?” Frank snorted “Soon as she sees that view and that pool, she’ll be packing to move in straight away.”
“Suppose there’s only one way to find out.” Fliss smiled.
So they did. They brought Mary back the next day after school. She had squealed at the window seat, yelled about the pool and as she had shot upstairs and headed into the bedroom Frank had predicted she would like, given a jump for joy as she realised from the upstairs she had a view over the tall picket fencing that shielded the private area of the garden.
“I can see Monty!” she gleefully pointed out before turning to Frank and looking at him then to Fliss, her hands on her hips “If you don’t buy this house you’re a pair of dumbasses.”
The same sentiment was echoed by Bill when he turned up fifteen minutes or so later and walked around with Frank whilst Fliss and Mary headed to feed the horses. He did exactly the same thing he had done when they had looked at the apartment, pointed out what they needed to do, how long it should take them to do, rough estimates of cost. Plus, he also reminded Frank they were in a great position. They could buy the place and then give his months’ notice on the apartment meaning they could stay where they were until it was finished.
So that was it. Decision made. The next morning they went in with a cheeky offer, some twenty thou below the asking price which was rejected instantly. Then they upped their offer by five…then an additional three to total eight, with the fact that they were cash buyers and not in a chain a huge bargaining chip.
It was later that evening, just after they had finished dinner when the realtor called back.
“Evening Mr Adler, ok so…I have spoken to the vendor. He says if you can up your offer by another two thousand then you’ve got a deal.” David spoke. At that, Frank let out a huge grin, as he looked out of the kitchen window at Mary and Fliss who were outside the apartment, both sat on a chair round the table. He and Fliss had both agreed they were prepared to go to the full asking price, in their mind it was worth it, but they were about to seal the deal here for ten thousand less.
“Ok, two thousand more.” Frank said, keeping his voice level “But the property comes off the market as we don’t want anyone else spotting it and offering him more before we exchange contracts.” he repeated word for word what Greg had instructed him to do when he had asked him to handle the conveyancing earlier that morning.
“Ok, so the offer on the table is Three-ten on the proviso he grants exclusivity…” David repeated. “Ok, leave it with me.”
Frank finished loading the dishwasher, and had just grabbed himself a beer when David called back not even five minutes later.
“Congratulations Mr Adler, you have a deal.”
He thanked him, and grinning ear to ear headed outside, jumping down the steps onto the lawn.
“What you looking so pleased about?” Fliss looked up at him suspiciously.
“David called… we’ve settled on three-ten plus exclusivity” he smiled
“What, you mean…” Fliss’ mouth fell open and Frank nodded.
“Yup, subject to contracts, the place is ours!”
Mary gave a loud cheer as Fliss jumped up and leapt at him as he smiled, wrapping her in his arms, swinging her up slightly.
“I can’t believe it…” she whispered. “Our own home!”
“I know” he beamed, setting her down as he gave her a quick peck. “I’ll call Greg in the morning. When I talked to him about it he said that with no loans involved it shouldn’t take too long. We could be looking a having the keys in a month.” His hands dropped to her hips, palms resting either side of where his son was growing “So plenty of time to do his nursery.” Fliss grinned and using the arms that were round his neck pulled his face down to hers and pressed a fierce kiss to his mouth. “God I love you.” she mumbled. “Love you too.” he grinned, kissing her again, ignoring Mary’s fake puking noises in the background.
*******
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******
June 2019
“Mr Adler?"
Frank stopped as he had been striding over the yard to collect Mary and turned to see Mrs McCarthy, her teacher walking towards him.
"Hi." He smiled, removing his sunglasses so he could look her in the eyes.
"I'm so sorry to bother you"
"No bother at all." He assured her "is everything OK?"
Mrs McCarthy glanced over to where Mary was stood talking to her friend, Rosie, and turned back to him
"Yes...nothing too drastic but I wanted to make you aware about a little incident in class this afternoon"
Frank looked at her, blinking "incident?"
"Maybe that's the wrong word." The older, blonde woman said "Look, as you know next week it's the end of year Gala, the fundraiser and we invite the parents to join us for activities.”
Frank nodded, wishing the woman would get to the damned point. He was hot, dirty and bothered after an afternoon of helping the team on a particularly awkward repair and wanted nothing more than to stand under a cold shower for an hour and flop down outside with a beer.
"Well, one of the girls asked Mary if she was bringing her mom and if they were making anything for the bake sale and Mary rather bluntly told the girl her mother was dead and then clammed up. She didn't speak a word for the rest of the afternoon."
Frank felt his chest tighten as he looked over at Mary who was now giggling with Rosie and sighed
"She didn't do anything wrong" Mrs McCarthy pressed "I was just a little worried."
"OK...thanks for letting me know, I'll make sure she's ok." Frank assured her.
The woman nodded and headed back across the yard as Frank gave a sharp whistle and slid his aviators back onto his face. Mary looked up and said goodbye to Rosie and came wandering over as Frank waved to Rosie's mom who tossed a hand in greeting in response.
"I'm not Thor" she said, fixing Frank with a stare.
"I know but I couldn't be bothered walking over." He said honestly as they climbed into the truck
"You have a good day?"
"It was OK." She shrugged. Frank eyed her for a second before she pulled the car away from the kerb and set off down the road.
"What's for dinner." Mary asked.
"Steak, baked potatoes and salad." He replies "Fliss' choice."
"Are you grilling?" Mary asked.
"Yup." He nodded
"Cool." Mary nodded "Can I go in the pool before?"
"Got any homework?" Frank countered with another question as he looked at her. Mary shook her head
“End of year next week and Uni didn't give me any summer work."
"Then yeah, of course you can.”
Frank didn't raise the so called incident, deciding to let her chill out a little bit at home first and digest how she felt. After 20 minutes or so of general chat Frank pulled up their driveway and stopped the truck next to Fliss' truck. As they hopped out Mary glanced across the garden over the smaller part of the fence where she could just see Fliss walking across the yard.
"Please can I go see Monty?" She looked at Frank and he nodded.
"I'll watch you." He agreed. With a grin she sprinted over the lawn, climbed over the fence and dropped over onto the other side. Thor gave a bark and Fliss turned round and smiled at her, before she waved at Frank. He waved back before he headed down the side of the house, through the gate in the larger fence before he unlocked the back door and stepped inside the cool air conditioned kitchen, kicking off his shoes and heading straight to the fridge for a beer. Draining half in one he stood, looking around and smiling. They’d finally unpacked the last box yesterday evening and Fliss was still in the process of moving things around their new home, positioning them where she wanted them.
True to Greg’s word, they’d had the keys to the house 4 and a half weeks after making the offer, and 2 weeks post that once the bedrooms and hall had been decorated with a lot of help from Bill, Verity and Roberta (who had been happy for them yet still cried her eyes out when they’d left the park, despite the fact they had assured her they would still come visit and she could also come stay with them too) they’d moved in. The only thing left to do was the reception room (which could wait, it was easy to just shut the door and pretend it didn’t exist) and Bean’s nursery, which he, Fliss and Mary had decided to do together as a project. Mary and Fliss had spent nights pouring over Pinterest for ideas and they’d finally settled on a scheme. Frank had picked up all the plastering supplies and the paint, the furniture was on order and should be arriving at any time that week now he thought about it…so hopefully that weekend they could get cracking. That might cheer Mary up now he thought about it.
Taking his beer with him, he picked up his boots and took them to the cloakroom/bathroom by the stairs. He trudged up the steps, shaking his head at Fred who was led at the top, his paws hanging over the edge of the step as he eyed Frank.
"You're gonna cause a fucking accident." He looked at the ginger cat who merely swished his tail in response. Frank headed into their bedroom, stripping off as he went, walking straight into the en-suite, turning on the shower, setting his beer down on the edge of the sink unit. He stepped in and under the stream of cool water, closing the screen behind him, his mind still on Mary and how he was going to bring up what her teacher has said. With a groan he opened the door, reached out of the cubicle for his beer, took another gulp before he set about washing the grime of the day away.
***** "Have you finished grooming him?" Fliss asked, standing in the doorway to Monty's stable. Mary glanced over from where she had been brushing through his white tail and nodded.
"Wanna take him to the paddock?" Fliss smiled. "Cap and Bronson are waiting for their little pal."
"Sure." Mary shrugged and Fliss frowned a little at her demeanour. She was quiet, which was unlike her when she was round the horses. She was normally full of excitement.
"You OK?" She asked and Mary nodded.
"Why wouldn't I be?"
"You seem quiet, that's all."
"No, I'm good." She shrugged, before she tossed her brush into the little grooming box she had, closing the lid and passing it to Fliss. Fliss placed the box into the larger wooden one outside the stable before Mary put Monty's halter on and led him out of his stall. Fliss allowed them to walk ahead, her hand on her bump as she followed them out of the yard and down the little path to the gate that led to the paddocks. They reached the one were Monty was going and undoing the gate, Mary led him in. The white pony stood patiently for her to take his halter off before he stuck his nose into the crook of her neck and shoulder. Fliss smiled as Mary gently stroked his neck and then to her utter horror she saw Mary’s shoulders begin to shake as the girl started to cry.
"Hey, Mary..." she soothed, stepping forward as the small girl turned to her, wrapping her arms around her as best she could, pressing her face into her bump "Oh baby what's wrong?"
Mary didn’t reply, instead she continued to sob and Fliss felt powerless to do anything other than wrap her arms around her, one hand resting on her head, the other between her shoulders.
“Something happened at School…” Mary whispered and Fliss gently tipped her head up to look at her. “Someone said something and…”
“Ok, how about we go back to the office and you can tell me all about it ok?”
Mary nodded, sniffing as her sobs died down. Fliss held out her hand and Mary took it and together they headed back down to the yard. Joanne looked at Mary who was hiccupping slightly with her sobs and frowned but Fliss shook her head.
“Can you feed the top barn for me and then you can go.” she said to Jo who nodded. “I’ll lock up.” “Sure, see you tomorrow. Bye Mary.” she smiled. Mary looked at her and gave a small wave before Fliss led her into the office. She grabbed them both an apple juice from the fridge and then Mary sat on the chair at the end of the desk, wiping her eyes with a tissue that Fliss handed her from the box.
“You ready to talk?”
Mary nodded, and then she stood up and walked over to Fliss who made room for her to clamber up onto her lap. It was a bit awkward but after a little shifting around they found a way she could sit unobstructed by Boston Bean and Mary lay her head against Fliss’ shoulder.
“It was about the gala.” she said gently “One of them asked me if my mom was coming and…”
“Oh sweetie.” Fliss sighed, rubbing her back. “I get that must have been hard.”
Mary shrugged “I told them she was dead.” she said matter of factly “I get that and I never knew my mom so I don’t miss her as a person…but then I started to think about why she died and I don’t understand.” “Understand what?”
“Why?” Mary looked at her. “Why would she do what she did when she had me? Why did she want to leave me behind?”
Fliss took a deep breath and cradled the girl as best she could, trying to think of a way to explain to which Mary could relate, and then it came to her, she could use her own experience here. There was no getting around the fact this was going to be a heave conversation, but Mary was a smart kid and deserved to be treated as such.
With another deep inhale, Fliss looked down at her, kissing her head before she opened rather bluntly "You know I tried to kill myself."
"You did?" Mary pulled back to look up at her "Why?"
"Because I saw it as my only way out." Fliss said gently, smoothing her hair back. "I was stuck in an awful situation. My ex-husband hurt me physically and mentally and I gave up. I wanted out."
Mary remained silent and looked at her.
"For someone to get to that point...they have to have hit rock bottom. Like there is nowhere to go. It's not their fault. And it doesn't mean they don't love the people they leave behind just that they're desperate to escape whatever pain they feel, be it in their head or their body or both."
"But I still don't understand." Mary shook her head.
"And you may never, not fully." Fliss said gently "And as horrible as it is that's something you are gonna have to live with but you have to remember that your mom was sick. And for whatever reason she saw this as her only escape. It wasn't Evelyn's fault, it wasn't Frank's fault and it certainly wasn't yours."
"But if she loved me like Frank says she did..."
"You think I don't love my mum? Or Bill? Or Steve?"
Mary blinked before she lay her head back against Fliss' shoulder. "Yeah"
"But I was still gonna leave them behind." Fliss sighed "I was desperate. And you wanna know the real stupid thing?"
"What?"
"When I got better I still went back. I went back to a real toxic environment and a man that abused me. Because I felt like it was what I deserved. And even though I left him way before I met you and Frank, it wasn't until me and Frank started dating that I really understood I wasn't to blame. I always thought I did something to make him hurt me but I didn't. Being with Frank, the way he treats me and loves me made me see that it was him with the problem, not me.”
"But that's different" Mary glanced up
"The trigger was, yes." Fliss nodded "But your mom, like me, was in a position so helpless, so unbelievably sad that she thought she was to blame and that the world, including you, would be better off without her even though she was so wrong."
**** Once showered and dried, Frank dressed in a pair of shorts and clean T-shirt before he headed back downstairs. There was no sign of Fliss or Mary but as he strode out into the garden he heard a car heading down the drive by the side of the house from the yard and correctly assumed it was Joanne leaving for the day. He opened the gate and just saw the tail of her car turn onto the main road as he headed into the garage for the charcoal to light the BBQ.
Once that was done, leaving the flames to die down he headed out across the lawn, vaulting over the small fence onto the yard. He headed round the barn and frowned as he couldn't see anyone. After a quick look round he spotted the door to Fliss' office was closed. He went to open it but stopped as he could hear the sound of voices. It was Mary and Fliss but he could tell from the pitch and stutters in Mary's that she was upset. He paused, hand hovering over the handle as he heard Fliss speaking to her softly. "Stack, you are so loved. Frank loves you, I love you, Nanny V, Poppa Bill, Uncle Steeby, Roberta, Evelyn...Thor, Fred and Monty..." she paused "You're such a special little girl and I know I'm not your mom but...I feel like I am."
"You do?"
"I'd do anything to keep you safe and happy. And so would Frank"
They both fell silent and Frank swallowed, the lump in his throat almost choking him.
"Don't ever feel like we don't" Fliss continued "and if I have to bake 200 fucking cookies for your Gala next week to prove it then I will."
Mary giggles "You know Bean can hear you swearing."
"Well I won't tell Frank if you don't"
"Do you think Frank feels like my dad?" Mary asked a moment later and at that point Frank really wanted to walk away. He couldn't listen to this, he didn't want to listen to this...but something kept him rooted to the spot.
"I know he does." Fliss replied.
"But he doesn't like it when people say it. I know that, I heard him talking to you. Bill’s not your real dad but you still say he is…."
“That’s slightly different sweetheart.” Fliss sighed "My real dad left my mom before I was born, so when he died…I didn’t even know him and I don’t care that I didn’t either. But your mom was Frank's sister. He wants to make sure you remember her, understand who she was. He could have easily just pretended to be your dad all this time, you would never have known any different but he didn't. Because he loves you and your mom too much. He's too honest and it’s important to him that you understand. But that doesn't mean he doesn't love you like he is your dad, or that you can't love him like he is."
Frank turned away from the door, looking up at the sky and taking a deep shuddering breath. Fuck, this was hard to hear. He knew Mary had been upset before but the thought that it ran this deep was killing me. Wiping at his face, his hands then dropped to his hips and he looked down at his sneakers before he turned to the door, reaching for the handle but once more pausing as he couldn’t face interrupting them, not whilst they were in the middle of a moment.
“I suppose that makes sense.” Mary continued  “And I do love him like he is. And I love you like you’re my mom too.”
“Well that’s all that matters.” Fliss replied “It may be unconventional but we’re a family, and that’s the main thing huh?”
“Yeah, you’re right. Thanks Lissy.” Mary spoke.
“You’re welcome Stack” Lissy’s voice was soft and there was a pause as Frank could picture the pair of them hugging.
“Hey, did you now I’m going to be doing all the money stuff for the bake stall?” Mary’s voice was suddenly up beat as she switched topic “Because I’m good at maths they said I could be in charge of payments and handing people their change and stuff.”
“Nice work kiddo.” Fliss smiled, “Tell you what, we’ll put Nanny V on the case, her baking is way better than mine. We can get her over one night next week whilst Pops is helping Frank with the plastering in the nursery.”
Ok, that was it, safe to enter without interrupting anything. Frank gave a little knock and then opened the door, fixing a smile on his face.
“Hope I haven’t interrupted any girl talk” he smiled and Mary jumped up and ran to him, giving him a hug. He looked at Fliss who wiped her eyes.
“Ok?” he mouthed at her and she nodded back, her lips moving silently as she replied.
“Tell you later.”
“BBQ is lit.” Frank said, looking down at Mary “You still wanna play in the pool?”
She nodded and grinned. “Yeah.”
“Sounds like a great idea.” Fliss grinned “Let’s lock up and head home…oh wait, we don’t need to head home because…” “We’re already there!” Mary grinned, and then she spun round to see Fred peering round the door. “Hey, look who came to visit!” “Bout time he earned his keep.” Frank grumbled “Go catch some mice.”
Fred stalked past him into the office, looked around, before he sauntered back out, clearly not interested.
“He’s a lover not a killer Frank.” Mary grinned, as Frank watched the cat walk off into the evening sun.
The three of them locked up before they headed back to the house and Mary shot upstairs to get changed.
“So, how much did you hear?” Fliss turned to Frank as he pulled a beer from the fridge along with a bottle of water, sliding it over to her.
“Enough.” he sighed “Her teacher collared me before. Said that one of the kids had asked about her mom in class and she’d gotten upset.”
“She asked me why Diane did what she did.” Fliss sighed, “Why she left her behind if she loved her so much.”
Frank swallowed. “What did you say?”
“I explained about why I tried to kill myself.” Fliss shrugged “Told her about the desperation I felt…but that didn’t mean that I didn’t love my family just that I saw it as my only way out. I know it was heavy and maybe not really the right thing to do but...”
She was cut off as Frank stepped forward, taking her face in his hands as he kissed her, hard. It took her a moment to catch up but once she did she melted into him, her mouth opening to grant him access as he ran his tongue along her bottom lip.
“Thank you.” he said gently as he pulled away, his hands still cupping her face.
“What for?” Fliss asked, reaching up to gently wrap her fingers around his wrists.
“For loving her as much as you do.” he said simply “for loving us both as much as you do.”
“Oh Sailor.” Fliss’ eyes brimmed with tears “How could I not?”
***** Frank didn’t sleep particularly well that night. Mary’s conversation with Fliss was running through his brain and every time he drifted off he would wake about an hour or so later, fresh worries and concerns running through his mind. In the end, at just before 5 am he gave up and climbed out of bed. He grabbed a T-shirt and a pair of sweats and putting them on he headed downstairs. He flipped on the TV in the hope the early morning new would distract him, but it didn’t.
It was clear to him that Mary was struggling with where she was going to fit in the family dynamic. He hadn’t really worried much up to that point, being convinced by Fliss that if they kept her involved with stuff to do with Bean she would be ok but this went much deeper than the fact they were expecting a baby.
He’d be lying if he said the thought of him claiming to be Mary’s Father had never entered his mind. It would have been a lot easier but out of loyalty and love to Diane he had wanted to make sure she knew about her mother, and understood the truth because in the end, a lie would always come round to bite you on the ass. It wasn’t that he had a problem with people assuming he was Mary’s father but…
God what a fucking mess.
“Hey…” a soft voice drew him from his thoughts and he looked up to see Fliss stood in the doorway, his T-shirt she was wearing now hardly covered the top of her thighs thanks to her Bean bump.
“Sorry beautiful, did I wake you?” he asked.
“No.” she shook her head, dropping down next to him. “I got up to pee and you were gone.”
“Couldn’t sleep.” he shrugged.
“What’s wrong handsome?”  she lay her head on his shoulder and he took a deep breath.
“Just thinking about Mary that’s all.” he shrugged. “She’s always asked questions about Diane but not like that.”
“She’s getting older Frank.” Fliss said, her hand reaching out for his as she began to play with his fingers “She’s bound to start thinking about things differently. She was ok last night after she talked to me, and then later you when you tucked her in. She doesn’t keep her feelings bottled up, and that’s good. It’s a testament to you that she feels like she can talk to us about things.”
“I know.” Frank looked down at her, kissing her head “I guess I just worry Lissy, worry about how she’s gonna feel when Bean is here and he’s calling us mom and dad and she doesn’t.”
“Frank.” Fliss sighed as she sat up straight. “Mary knows we love her. And what she calls us doesn’t change a damned thing. You’re worrying unduly now. We can’t do anything about that other than-“
“Yes, yes we could.” Frank looked at her. Fliss took a deep breath as his eyes locked onto hers, instantly understanding.
“I thought you said you’d never even consider adopting her?”
“I never thought I would.” he shrugged. “But it’s been playing on my mind after what mother said and then after last night…” “Why? What did Evelyn say?” Fliss asked.
“When she was here last, she told me that Diane’s memory wouldn’t suddenly fade if Mary called me dad…” he licked his lips “It was almost like she was giving me permission to do it…you know? Not that I need it or really give a shit what she thinks.” he paused, taking a deep breath “If I’m totally honest Diane isn’t the only reason I said I didn’t want to. I just never thought of myself as being dad material. I was such a screw up until I met you and I thought that by staying as her Uncle, it would give her that distance, you know?”
“Not dad material?” Fliss looked at him, shaking her head “Oh Frank, you idiot. You’ve done an amazing job with her…and you will do with Bean too.”
He smiled at her, sniffing slightly as she continued.
“But there is one person who’s opinion counts most here.” Fliss said gently “And that’s Mary. If you’re serious then you should ask her if it’s what she wants. Because after 9 years of calling you Frank…”
“I know.” Frank agreed, “And I agree, completely. It would have to be her decision. But at least if I ask her if she would like us to then-“
“Us?” Fliss looked at him, blinking. “You mean you want me to?”
“Of course I do.” Frank nodded, before he frowned slightly “But if that isn’t what you want, I understand. It’s a big-“ Fliss cut him off by pressing a kiss to his lips “Of course I do Frank. I love Mary like she is my own anyway so…” Frank beamed at her and wrapped his arms around her, kissing her head. “So, we’re agreed. We ask her?”
Fliss nodded and pulled back, her hand resting on his cheek. “We ask her.”
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morticious-delicious · a year ago
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Dear bababa-boomers:
If WE have to HEAR you yammering on, on your phones, in PUBLIC (sometimes on speaker to be twice as annoying), about:
Your medical procedure
the disgusting fucking fungus
your annoyance at your children 
your annoyance at your spouse (TO your spouse)
your annoyance at your second cousin who you haven’t spoken to in years but failed to welcome you with open arms when you flew out unexpectedly to visit
your annoyance at your best friend to your other friend who neither knows or cares about the first friend
whatever your probably insignificant problem is that you’re yelling at some poor CSR
Some gossip about your neighbor to someone who sounds bored as hell and like they’ve made umpteen excuses to get off the phone but you just keep on keepin on..
How you’re gonna have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at a party cause you don’t G. A. F. about no allergies
Your stocks
Your conservative opinions
How rich you think you’re making the company to a manager who sounds like he really just wants you off the phone
How important you are to an assistant who sounds like she just really wants to get you off the phone. 
How to get an underling to micromanage everyone for you cause you’re on vacay but GOD DAMMIT you can’t relax unless you’re terrorizing your employees. 
“Srsly make sure. Did you make sure? Watch her do it. Like, stand over her. You can take a minute to do that. Cause I told her and I don’t think she is. It’s not that important but its important that she learns to do as I say or ELSE...”
How you’re going to screw someone royally with an impending lawsuit cause you can afford an attorney and they can’t
Your annoyance at “kids these days”
At: 
Target
The grocery store
The train when half the people aboard are just trying to fucking sleep
Bus stops
Joanns Fabrics
Museums
Kids Birthday Parties 
Nail Salons 
The metrolink
the city bus
Historical monuments. 
on the hill behind my house
SRSLY DO YOU MIND? GO INSIDE FOR THAT
Then By GOD you can sit there as “kids” DO NOTHING BUT PLAY WITH THEIR PHONES  since
IT  HAS  NO  EFFECT  ON  YOU WHATSOEVER. 
Srsly, y’all say this yet: 
You don’t shut your phones off for anything 
literally I was in class where I am the youngest person there and EIGHT fucking phones went off during the lecture do you need me to show you the button to silence that shit?
You take calls in PUBLIC about things that make me long for the days of phone booths
and when we had a cord attached to the phone, that made it impossible to have a conversation in Target or anywhere but the hallway with the phone. 
Sincerely, 
A Gen X-er, her Millennial BF and Gen Z daughter, who are all quietly doing things on their phones out of sheer spite at this point. 
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canaryatlaw · 3 years ago
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okay, so today was pretty dang fun. I originally woke up at 8:30 am and went to the bathroom and I wasn’t gonna check my phone because I wanted to go back to sleep but I did, and of course I had like 6 messages from Jess trying to get me to wake up and get breakfast with her, so I sighed about my forfeiture of sleeping more and told her I’d meet her in 15. So we got there, I really wanted chocolate milk for some reason so I got that. I’ve been trying to diversify my ordering options by getting something different each time because I’m generally the type of person who orders the same thing every time I’m at a restaurant and I want to be somewhat more adventurous than that, so I’ve tried all their french toast options and most of their pancakes, but I have to say I liked the french toast better than the different types of pancakes (though the smores ones were quite good) so I may just go back to the french toast at this point instead of trying the rest of the pancakes. we’ll see. I did get the blueberry pancakes today, which always used to be my go to thing to make, and they were pretty good. I had a PT appointment at 12 so after we ate we parted ways and I hung out at my apartment for a while and got some stuff done. We were planning cosplays for the several upcoming cons we have so I was looking to see what I could find in stuff I already owned versus stuff I’ll have to get when we went shopping later, so I got some of that figured out. Went to PT, had to do an evaluation at the beginning, and then at the end of the session my PT guy was basically like so yeah I think you’re doing well and there’s not really much else we can do” so I was sent off with a home exercise program to do a few times a week to hopefully keep my back pain mostly manageable. Short of like, getting a breast reduction that’s really not much else I can do at this point though. And of course in a great twist of irony since I finished PT by the time I got home today my back was KILLING me, and has continued to do so all night, so that was obnoxious. So after PT I walked to Jess’ place and we head out on our multiple store tour, let me see if I can get them all in the correct order (don’t count on it though). We went to the smaller salvation army where there wasn’t much of anything. At some point after this I was like wow I’m really craving Olive Garden breadsticks right now so of course we went to Olive Garden, which was pretty nice, I didn’t really like the first thing I ordered though so our waitress just got me some plain cheese ravioli which I appreciated and made sure to give her a nice tip for. From there I think we went to the second thrift store that is significantly bigger than the other, and we found a navy blazer for me for a certain cosplay I’ll be doing soon, and looked at some other stuff, so I ended up buying that and a fake microphone prop from like a halloween costume that is going to come in handy in the near future if all goes well. We may have went there before Olive Garden, I don’t remember exactly. From there we went to Target which was like half-way successful trip, so we ended up having to go back to another Target later lol. We then drove across the street to where the petsmart is and looked at kitties because we decided I’m getting a cat and I’m naming it NICKZANO, just like that in all caps like his twitter name because I find it really fucking funny to give pets full ass names especially after celebrities. So we looked there and got some ideas. We ran over to Joann’s in the same parking lot where I looked for new supplies to make a death totem because I lost my other one somewhere in New York when I last did the cosplay, so we got some stuff from there. After that we went to Party City, which is where the real fun started. we were looking there for a few things and Jess managed to ask someone who worked there if they had any chickens and he pointed us to this giant bin of squeaking rubber chickens and we basically just lost our shit laughing at them because it was so fucking funny, and I was like we’re gonna get kicked out of the damn store if we don’t stop this lol, so we bought two, one for each of us. From there we were to the bigger salvation army, where we didn't find anything either. And then from there we went to a local costume shop that is super well stocked with things which provided us with a foot, inflatable guitars, and a little plastic cross. it was funny because we were asking the girl working there for all these random seemingly unrelated items and Jess was just like “okay so do you have like a cross to use to exorcise somebody?” and I’m just like 😂😂😂😂 the things this girl is gonna think we’re getting up to. So we paid and left there, then drove north and hit up the normal Target where I got some white sneakers I needed for an upcoming Sara outfit I’m doing. So we were pretty close to our apartments at that place so we called it a (very amusing) day and headed home. When I got home I did some random shit for a while before sitting down on the couch. I wasn’t feeling more GoT after all the craziness that was last episode, so I just brought up netflix to see what would come up and discovered yet another netflix original cooking competition show, which I always love, so I started watching that. It’s pretty kooky, but I think most of that is because it’s actually an Australian show, so they have different opinions on things and stuff I suppose. But it was pretty entertaining to watch, it was definitely modeled after the great british baking show except the two people who score the lowest in the first challenge have to do a finale challenge against each other recreating one of the main guy’s like absolutely ridiculously complex desserts, and they always just fail miserably, it’s really fucking funny, So I basically watched that until I decided to shower and get ready for bed, and here we are. I legit cannot keep my eyes open any longer so I’m going to end this here. Goodnight loves. Have a lovely Tuesday.
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malebodyswap45 · 4 years ago
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True Passion
A Trickster’s Week in College Special (2/7)
People would say that my life was amazing, but they just only see the cover of a very complex book. Of course, being the heir to a top oil company has a lot of advantages. At just 20 years old, I had the opportunity to seen most of the world, have eaten in some of the best restaurants and meet so many cool people. It was awesome that with a single call I could have almost anything that I wanted. Cars, Designer Clothes, the latest tech, I have all of that.
But as I mentioned, that was just one side of the coin. The truth is that I never felt that I had any real friend. I always felt that when people looked at me they just saw a stash of money and never the real Corey Beckerman. At a very young age, I learned that all was a game of appearance and that authenticity was a luxury that I would never be able to afford. It could sound weird that if I could choose someone to admire in all my business class it would be Stan, the star-wars fan that we fondly called Obi Wan. Maybe he was not the most popular guy in campus, I don´t even remember seeing him in any party, but what he had is that he didn’t give a shit of what other think of him. He always dressed up in that stupid shirts, was a passionate participant of every class even the boring ones. He was happy by just being himself, of doing what he wanted, and I must confess that I envy him.
I suppose that I could just be like him, free of presumptions, but it was never so simple. When I told my dad that I wanted to study an art degree he completely went mad. He told me that no son of his would have a such a lame profession that would make him the laughing stock of the corporate world. He menaced me to freeze my bank accounts and I feared so much to lose my lifestyle that I followed his orders. Soon I was enrolled in a business school and I hated every moment of it.
That day the teacher keeps talking and talking about some bullshit of corporate governance. I looked through the window and see in the garden some art students trying to paint the campus. I saw Joanne painting the face of Oliver in a playful manner, as their other classmates started to laugh, and the teacher tried to return the order to the session. It was a very different word from mine. Sure, there were some buffoons in my class such as Nate, but he ended most of the time being a dick rather than funny. I looked through the window one more time and I saw a girl in a Lolita costume looking to my direction. I was certain that she was looking to me and I felt a strange impulse to go to meet her.
I run out of the classroom, but as soon as I was going to catch her she started running. She made me a signal and I understood that she wanted that I followed her, so I comply. It seemed an absurd game as we traveled through all the campus and we passed  the same hallways several times. That’s until she entered a classroom and stopped. I looked inside and could see several easels aligned in a circular manner, some sketches of the human body hanging on the walls and several stains of paint in the floor. The girl in the weird costume approached me and put her finger in my mouth to ensure that I didn’t do a single sound.
I heard as the door opened and some of the art students entered the classroom. I stood there in the middle of the place and it seemed that all of them were unaware of my presence, as if I was some kind of ghost. I was there through all the session and it was so much fun to watch, it just felt real and I watch in amazement as each person expressed its creativity in such a unique and authentic way. As each one of the artists proudly ended their painting, the room started to get emptier, until there was one last man on the room, Oliver Malthus.
“So, what do you think” told me the girl
“What are you?” I asked her, feeling relieved that I could finally move.
“Jiji, they call me a trickster but that doesn’t matter. The real question is who you are?”
“Who I am? …. I am Corey Beckerman”
“No, that’s the name that you have jiji, that’s not really who you are”
“What do you mean?”
“I have seen you Corey Beckerman, you are suffering, you feel empty. You want to be an artist, but you are so scared that you are unable to follow your dreams. I can help you jiji”
“How can you do that?”
“Giving you a new beginning”
The girl looked at the man painting still oblivious of our presence. The girl pushed me to approach Oliver and I saw his face full of passion as he continued mixing the colors. I wave my hand in front of his face just to collaborate that he couldn’t see me. I hear the trickster told me to touch him and with one finger I touched his shoulder. Then everything went black.
When I awoke, the clock signaled that it was almost midnight. I looked at my hands and immediately started to freak. The trickster approached me and touch my forehead and I immediately relaxed. “Don’t worry Corey Beckerman, this is for the best jiji” She told me in a reassuring way. I sat there in the floor in silence, watching my hands in amusement as I moved my fingers several times. I already knew what had happened, I just didn’t wanted to accept that I was now inside Oliver’s body.
“What happened to real Oliver?” I asked the trickster.
“You are now the real Oliver jiji, the new Corey would not remember anything and probably he would just simple disappear”
And with that words she vanished leaving me alone in the room. The fist days in Oliver’s life were very hard, as I didn´t knew how to act. I had to cook my own food, wash my clothes and took the bus for the first time. But it was all worth it when I woke up in bed next to Joanne, when I felt the true friendship of my companions and when I was in front of a white canvas ready to create something completely new.  
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lostandbrokenshell · 2 years ago
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Darkest Before Dawn Part 4
Farcry 5 fanfic. Rated M for Mature language and sexual reference. No pairing or plans for smutt.
“For the last time daddy i didn’t leave your vehicle there I brought it back, man why you got to be hating like that? I bet you would be so unforgiving if i did forget but i didn’t, and your still unforgiving. Man its not like the peggies have it.” You watched this unfold from a distance with Sharky who had explained on the way there what a ‘downer’ Hurks dad is. Whos name is also Hurk.
“You can keep my son!” He hollered out out to you as Hurk walked towards you.
“Thanks, might rename him though.” You holler back he looked like he didn’t know how to respond.
“Man it needs to be a bad ass name like Blade or something.” Hurk said excitedly “Lets really think about it before we decide.”
“Sure thing buddy. But, uh im not calling you Blade. We will find something though!” You say as you get in you where letting Sharky drive.
“Where are we going? And uh, you should crack a window i get gassy in cars” Hurk said as he got in behind you.
“Sheriff and Dutch think we should make contact with the Whitetail militia to unite against the Peggies. Thanks for the heads up.” You say as you roll the window down.
“Well i think i heard on the radio that the peggies set up at the lodg that might get the Whitetails attention.” Hurk suggested. “Otherwise good luck finding them.”
You sigh deeply and nod “Alright lets go piss off a large group of peggies” you say. Sharky and Hurk give out loud hoots as you all sped off. Listening to the conversations between Sharky and Hurk where incredibly entertaining this was the kind of thing reality tv needed. Not the brightest but certainly whole hearted conversation. Something caught your eye on the side of the road. “Sharky stop.” The second the car stopped you got out and sprinted towards the trees. Slowing down when you got close to the line and bending low. “Its ok. Im not one of the bad people. I know i dont look like it right now but im a deputy.” You keep looking in the trees, trying to find the kids you thought you saw. Shit they might of ran off you think.
“The scary people might come back. They took our parents.” A small voice replied. You could hear Sharky and Hurk approach behind you.
“Its ok, i have my friends here to help.” You say softly trying to find the kids with your eyes, they where hiding well. Smart kids.
“But they are coming back now.” The voice whimpered you look out to the road a peggie truck was coming this way.
“Sharky, Hurk bring the kids to the Sheriff after i lure the peggies away. They won’t hurt me.” Sharky looked like he wanted to argue but the sound of the whimpering kid seemed to stop him. The Peggie truck was closer now and you ran towards the road the second the saw you they turned the truck towards you. The came close to hitting you to but stopped just short as they got out you put your hands up. “My name is Joanne, i would like to talk to my Brother Jacob.” You say as they got out they looked annoyed at the name drop. The driver went up to you and smashed you in the head with the stock of his gun. The world swirled around you as it went dark and you fell.
Your head hurt so bad, definitely a concussion at this point you think as you shift to hold your head. Slowly you open your eyes, you where on a couch Jacob was sitting across from you drinking coffee watching you. Pratt was standing behind him looking like a nervous wreck.
“You wanted to talk?” He asked.
“Don’t really know where to start really.” You say as you look at him and his scars. His face was calm and ready. “The last memory I have of you, that farm was on fire. John was holding me.”
He held your eye contact studying you “Do you want coffee?” he asked as you sat up and you nod “Peaches.” Instantly Pratt brought you a cup. He moved like a battered wife twichy and scared. “So you want to remember the old times?” He asked. You take a deep breath in but before you could respond Jacob did. “And here I thought you where giving your friends time to escape. Knowing my people would Have to bring you to me?”
You couldn’t really say you where surprised they must of seen Hurk or Sharky run into the bush, probably why he hit you so hard. “Oh no, there was that to of course. Not like we wherent going to get through this thing without talking. Originally when I moved here I thought lay low for a few weeks adjust to this all then go say hi.” You say as you sip your coffee. “But then it seems John shot me off a bridge my first day at work so its been down hill from there.” The coffee tasted terrible and you where not sure if its because Pratt makes terrible coffee or Jacob likes terrible coffee.
“Theres more going on than you understand.” Jacob said “Theres something coming and we’re getting ready for it. This needs to happen. The world is full of the weak, and they have no place in whats coming.”
“So its up to us? You guys, to decide? Whos worthy or who can make it?” You ask.
“When i was deployed me and my best friend Miller, got cut off from our squad we had to walk back to the base. We where optimistic at first that marine enthusiasm Hoorah. So we walked we had 200 kilometres to go, and we where going to do it. Its a funny thing when you run out of food and your body starts eating its self to survive. After a while Miller couldn’t make it anymore, he couldn’t walk he was to far gone. I couldn’t carry him, even if i left him i still wouldn’t of made it. Not with out food, not with out supplies. So, i took what i needed from Miller. He wasn’t going to make it, but I could. I eventually made it back to base told them how i made it back. They thought that it had long lasting effects on my health after a few months PTSD, they said. So i was discharged early.” Jacob studied your face for a reaction “It was survival of the fittest, I did what i had to. Most people wouldn’t be able to do that, they would lay down and accept death. I find out who can make it, and who cant.”
“I dont think that this is the way to go about your goal.” You say slightly stunned from his story. “Im not going to pretend to understand where you’re coming from. Because I don’t Jacob, i don’t understand any of this. I literally jumped into a fire and i have no gear. But im trying to navigate to the best i can but im very blind in this.” You stand up, Jacob stood up to “I think you’re doing what you have always done best, your protecting your family. Undoubtedly your great it, you always have been. But this is the wrong way to do it.”
Jacob gave you a crooked smile and reached into his pocket and pulled out a wood box. “Do you remember this?” He asked softly slowly you reach out for it and he hands it to you. “Only you, can make this world seem right” he sang softly as you open it and crank it to play. The tune rang softly in the room, Pratt looked terrified. “I kept it, it went through juvi, every deployment it was one of the few things i kept.”
“You use to sit in bed with me and play it.” You say softly you had completely forgotten “When i was scared, or couldn’t sleep. I use to love this song it made me feel safe.” Jacob put his hand on the side of your head and looked into your eyes.
“You have always been, always will be family.” He said before you could respond he had blown white dust in your face with his free hand instintly you felt your mind go bubbly. The world around you changed and the song was playing though every where.
Only you
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coffee-cake-otter · 4 years ago
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Questions for Cosplayers!
Taken from @ohicosplay​ (warning long)
1: How did you discover cosplaying? My good friend @mapagronpat once just sort of said, “Hey, there’s a convention coming up in Seattle. We should be the Kyoshi Warriors from ATLA.” So we did it. And it was great. I had been making costumes for Halloween every year, but that was when I started doing the cosplay-at-conventions thing.
2: What was your first cosplay? fem!Tenth Doctor, using a suit and coat bought on eBay
3: What are your next 3 cosplay plans? Pikari from Amanchu (since I’m not quite finished with her yet), Mark Watney from The Martian – Surface Suit, and Akko/Amanda from Little Witch Academia
4: Have you ever been in a cosplay contest? Nope
5: Do you prefer sewing, armor making, or wig working? Sewing definitely, but I really liked what armor I’ve made so far.
6: Do you prefer to do photoshoots at cons or at specific locations? I really like the spontaneity of con photoshoots because you’re all hyped up like “OMG someone wants to take my picture” but then it’s like “This tree will work, we’ll just have to photoshop out the people”
7: Is there a type of character you cosplay frequently? Girls with attitude I think suits them xD
8: Do you have any favorite cosplayers? My friends! :3 But also Theena Cosplay. She’s my armor senpai.
9: What's the most detailed cosplay you've ever done? Probably still the Kyoshi Warriors, but that was a group effort. On my own, maybe Raven (Teen Titans).
10: What are your top 3 craftsmanship tips? Iron your shit, take your time, orange face wash gets out everything. EVERYTHING.
11: What is your favorite cosplay you've done? I still really love Raven, but I think once I wear her Pikari will be fun too.
12: What is your worst cosplay "horror" story? The time we almost ran out of Kyoshi robe fabric! We were on the phone with two different Joann Fabrics at the same time trying to get it all before it went out of stock forever.
13: What's your funniest cosplay story? Our friend cosplays Okabe from Steins;Gate, and we found like three other Okabes at the con we were at and they ALL had Dk. Pepper bottles! They all opened them but one guy’s fizzed up and sprayed everywhere.
14: What's the best in-character interaction you've ever had? I think it was the same Okabes from Kumoricon. One walked up to my friend and was like “What timeline is this?!” and they sort of gibberished and gestured together and then stopped for a beat, then nodded at each other, and the other one walked away. It was perfect and I wish I had captured it on film.
15: Have you ever cosplayed with a family member? Nope
16: What is your favorite cosplay photo of yourself? I don’t want to link to my personal Facebook, but this one of me as Raven giving the camera horns (the rocker style horns) while I’m sitting up on something high.
17: What are your go-to stores for cosplay materials/full cosplays? Joanns and Amazon
18: Do you prefer to buy pre-styled wigs or style your own? I’ve styled my own, mostly since I haven’t done a character with SUPER crazy hair yet. And that includes a cube-shaped bun!
19: Have you ever had someone mistake you for a different character? I think so? Can’t remember who they mistook me for though.
20: List all the cosplays you've done. fem!Tenth Doctor, Haru – The Cat Returns, Ruka – Steins;Gate, Kyoshi Warriors/Suki – ATLA, yukata!Kyoko – Madoka Magica, Raven – Teen Titans, Nastasia – Super Paper Mario, Makoto – flying witch, Naru - Barakamon.
21: What's the biggest con you've cosplayed at? Emerald City Comic Con
22: Do you prefer cosplaying characters with props, or characters that you don't need to carry a prop around all day? I don’t remember having a problem with my parasol for Kyoko, but I like not having to carry stuff around.
23: Have you ever lost a cosplay piece at a con? Nope
24: Have you ever bought a cosplay piece at a con? Nope
25: Do you prefer to cosplay solo or in a group? I try to make groups when the show/game fits it but it’s easier to just go solo
26: If you had a chance to meet your all-time favorite cosplayer, what would you say to them? I’ve already met Theena from Theena Cosplay and Athena from Enayla Cosplay and I just said “Hey I love your stuff!” (I’ve also said, “Do you need the bathroom because I’m going to take a shower” to Athena because she changed in our hotel room
27: Have you ever done a cosplay panel? Yup, quite a few
28: Do you prefer to buy or make cosplays? I make my own because I don’t have THAT much to spend and I’d rather make it to fit me and to say that I made it myself.
29: If you could tell your past self anything about cosplay, what would you say? Even if you’re not part of a group, you can still have fun going solo.
30: What is your ultimate dream cosplay? omg I don’t even know… Abe Sapien? I’ll go with that. Anything with prosthetics that I can have handmade not out of latex.
31: What's the most difficult cosplay you've ever done? (Craftsmanship, wearing of, ect) Nastasia I think. From wearing PAX paint and blue makeup over a white shirt, to making weird triangle pants from scratch, and the pink cube bun, it is a pain to wear.
32: What's the most difficult character makeup you've done? Kyoshi Warriors are still up there, but we’ve gotten the routine down so it’s not that difficult. It’s still a lot though compared to one color Raven and Nastasia.
33: What, in your opinion, makes a cosplayer a "pro" cosplayer? It’s the up close and personal craftsmanship. Seeing that a costume is ironed, all their seams are nice and flat, trim is neat and tidy, shoes are made up nicely. I also love extra detail, like trims or textures or nail polish that match. It means you thought more about the costume and the character rather than just simply recreating something.
34: What is your favorite part of cosplaying? Mutual fangirling/fanboying out to people’s cosplays and making new friends!
35: Make up your own question! No.
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wiypt-writes · 10 months ago
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Riding On
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CH7- Home, Sweet Home
Summary: Frank and Fliss find their perfect family home, but there’s something bothering Mary.
Warnings: Bad Language words. Discussions about suicide. A little bit of angst.
Pairing: Frank Adler x Fliss Gallagher
A/N: This is a bit of an emotionally charged filler chapter…and we move time on a little through to June in the middle. And photos of the Adler house are included at the bottom so you can visualise what I used for inspiration.
Disclaimer: This is a pure work of fiction and classified as 18+. Please respect this and do not read if you are underage. I do not own any characters in this series bar Fliss Gallagher and the other OCs. By reading beyond this point you understand and accept the terms of this disclaimer.
Riding On Masterlist // Main Masterlist
Chapter 6
You’re giving it another try, staring at the deep blue sky, and you say to the driver just drive, coz you never felt so alive.
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 April 2019
“Hey honey, you ok?” Frank juggled his phone, pinning it between his ear and his shoulder as he leaned over his computer in the office, scanning the database on the screen for a filter part they needed to order. 
“No, I mean yes! I’ve just heard some awesome news!”
“Yeah?”
“Yeah, so you remember the guy that bought the house that backs onto the yard when Old Man River died…” “That wasn’t his name.” Frank chuckled “It was Mr Morris.”
“He called himself River, it was funny and suited him. Anyway, that’s not the point. You know the guy who bought it…guess what I found out before?”
Frank stopped what he was doing and straightened up. He didn’t like that dick, one bit. When Mr Morris had died at the start of the year, Fliss had been quite upset about the news as the old man had been very friendly to her, often popping in for a cup of tea a few afternoons a week for some company. Mr Morris’ son had sold the house without them even knowing it had gone on the market, which was a shame as it would have been perfect for them given the location. The guy who had bought it, Frank didn’t even know his name, nor did he care because he was a dick and a pervert to boot. The way he looked at Fliss made Frank want to punch his face in.
“What’s Douchey Mc Douchebag done now?”
“You’re so childish.” she scoffed “Anyway, I was only commenting to Joanne last night that we haven’t seen him for like a month and she went home and mentioned it to her dad who works with some other guy in the property development business and the long and short of it is he’s gone bankrupt Frank!”
Frank laughed loudly “Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy, babe!”
“I know right!” Fliss voice was gathering pace and pitch, the way it always did when she was excited. “So literally about half hour after she’s told me this, someone turns up and there’s a For Sale sign outside, the house is on the market!”
Ok now he was interested. Frank could picture the look of excitement on her face as she spoke to him and he felt the smile cross his face “No shit?”
“Yeah, I’ll send you the website to look at the photos but…oh God, it would be perfect! Some of it is really nice, some of it needs decorating but…”
“Ok, well, why don’t you call the realtor? Arrange a viewing” he said “Hopefully you won’t puke halfway round this one.”
“Ok, first off that wasn’t my fault. Bean objected to the smell. Who the fuck cooks eggs the day they know they have someone coming to view their house?” her indignant tone made Frank chuckle “And second off…”she paused “I already did. He said he can meet us at half 12.”
“Half 12? As in lunch time? Today?” Frank frowned.
“I know I just really don’t want to miss out on this one Frank, and you said you were gonna come up here for lunch and-”
“Ok, ok.” Frank sighed “I’ll shuffle some stuff around, work a little later tonight and take an extra half hour.”
“I love you.” she replied and he could hear the smile in her voice.
“Good job I love you too.” he said back gruffly “Because you’re a pain in my ass.”
He bid her goodbye and just as he was looking at the rota to make sure there were enough staff in to cope if he took a longer lunch, his phone beeped. He clicked through to the link Fliss had sent him and had a scan through the photos. To be fair the house didn’t look in too bad condition. It was deceptive from the outside, looked like a small farmhouse but they knew thanks to the extension Douchebag had put on the back it now formed an L shape and from the look of it, was pretty spacious. The kitchen was new, the main bathroom was new so the big work looked like it had been mostly done. The décor in some of the rooms was really old fashioned, especially the hallway you and the front reception room, but that was all cosmetic. What really grabbed him was the price. It was up for just over 320 thousand, which was a fucking steal considering the size, location, the garden and the garage/outhouse it came with.
“You ok Frank?”
He looked up and smiled as Alan, his boss walked in to the office. “Yeah, sorry, Fliss has found a house and managed to book a viewing for lunch time. Fucking 7th one in 2 weeks.”
Alan snorted “Keeping you on your toes I see?”
“Well I gotta say, this one’s looking pretty good. It’s the house that backs onto our Yard out in Pinellas Park.” Frank explained “It was sold not even 6 months ago to a developer and he’s apparently gone bankrupt so put it back on the market.”
“Huh.” Alan smiled “Sounds like it was meant to be. Take it you’re going then?”
“Yeah, Charlie and Gary are in all afternoon. I thought I could take an extra half hour, work it back tonight or…”
“Frank, when was the last time you actually took a full hour for your lunch and didn’t cut it short by 10 or 15?” Alan looked at him.
Frank hesitated “Yeah, but that’s-”
“No buts.” Alan shook his head. “Do what you gotta do.”
“Thanks Alan.” Frank smiled, “I appreciate it.”
Alan waved away his gratitude before he dropped into the chair on the opposite side of Frank’s small desk and gestured for Frank to sit down.
“I wanted to talk to you in person, before the news gets out. I’m looking at retiring Frank, fully this time.”
“That’s good news, for you I mean.” Frank smiled, taking his seat. “You must be happy?”
“Kinda bitter sweet.” He shrugged “But I hit 70 this year and bout time I let it all go. Bill’s already chomping at the bit to book damned fishing trips so...it’ll be nice to step back. But I wanted to talk to you about something.”
“Shoot.”
“My son, James is going to be taking over, that won’t come as any surprise to you as you’ve seen him knocking around a bit and he likes you.”
“Good to know I’m not going to be out on my ass.” Frank smiled, breathing out a little.
“No, not a chance. I wouldn’t allow it.” Alan said “I’ll still be the owner, just stepping back from major decision making and day to day running. Anyway, the point is Frank, James needs a deputy. He is young and a little inexperienced. I’ve seen how quickly over the last year you’ve picked up rotas, staffing issues, dealt with the stock takes, haggled with the supply chain…I wondered if you’d consider it.”
Frank blinked “You wanna make me deputy manager?”
“In a word, yes. And I know you got your hands full at the moment and they’ll be even more full when that boy of yours arrives but the changes won’t come into effect until the end of the year so we got plenty of time to work out the details.”
“Wow, I err…” Frank shook his head “I don’t know what to say.”
“I don’t need an answer now.” Alan said, “Take some time to consider it. Talk it over with Fliss.”
“I will, I’ll give it some thought.”
“Ok, well, that’s all I dropped in for.” Alan said, standing up, groaning a little “Did you just hear my damned knees click?”
Frank laughed and shook his head “No, but to be honest mine click too so I wouldn’t worry about it.”
“Getting old sucks.” Alan said, shaking his head “I tell ya, the minute I can’t enjoy the simple things in life, put a bullet in my head.”
Frank snorted as Alan shot him a wink and left him to his thoughts.
******* Frank glanced down at the wooden boards beneath his feet in the entrance hall. They were solid old wood, oak he thought, and with a clean and polish would look stunning. He looked up and saw Fliss talking animatedly to the realtor, a young man called David as he nodded and gestured to his left. Fliss opened the door and looked at Frank who followed her into the first reception room. It smelt musty, and there was an old sofa and threadbare carpet in the room but it was light and had a nice, airey feeling to it thanks to the large windows at the front of the house.
“New carpet and a bit of paint…” Frank mused nodding, “Be good as new.”
She nodded eagerly, her eyes shining a she looked around and nodded at the fire place “Really, in Florida?”
“It gets cold, as you know.” he teased “Besides, we just fill it with some of your million candles or whatever…”
She nudged him and they turned around, David watching them.
“So, you’re obviously in the older part of the house that hasn’t really been touched apart from upstairs.” he explained, “But if you follow me I’ll show you the extension which is all new and, well, to be honest, I think it’s stunning.”
The three of them moved back into the hall and through a door at the end which led into a huge open plan kitchen and living area. The kitchen was gorgeous. Sleek white units, modern appliances, marble tops, a huge breakfast bar. Douchebag had clearly spent a fortune doing this up. The floor was a light grey and white laminate which David pointed out was heavy wearing.  To the left of the kitchen area was a huge space where Frank could clearly picture their sofas and TV, and then just off that was a door which led into another smaller reception room, freshly painted and carpeted.  He was just pondering how they could turn that into a play room when Fliss gave a gasp and nudged Frank pointing to the large bay window at the back which had been converted into a seating nook of sorts. They made their way over and saw that the view extended right over their garden highlighting a small pool area which was surrounded by a low set of railings with a gate that were all painted a glossy black. The pool itself was sparklingly clean and clearly brand new.
“Oh wow… “ Fliss mumbled, looking at the sand stone tiles that surrounded the area and the rest of the garden.
“Yeah the rear garden loops in an L round the house” David said. “There’s a larger fence around this area to keep it private and separate from the land at the front that runs flush to the yard area.”
Frank’s hands dropping to her hips as he nodded to the right “Could extend that little patio area for a table and chairs, maybe build a brick BBQ. Couple of sun-loungers for that bit at the back of the pool.”
She nodded eagerly before they headed back into the hallway they’d entered into where the realtor showed them the little room that was to the right as you came in the door which held a number of shelves and coat hooks and a toilet and sink basin. They then headed up stairs to find 4 bedrooms. The master extended down the entire side of the house overlooking the main yard area of Sandybrook. It needed some work, the plaster and paint was peeling away in some areas, but Frank wasn’t worried at that. It was an easy job. What he was pleased to see was that the rest of it was in good condition. There was a brand new en-suite attached to it, housing a toilet, a huge shower and his and hers sinks. The room also had built in wardrobes and huge ceiling to floor bi-folding doors which opened up onto a small balcony. Douchebag had clearly been focussing on the big jobs first before he got into the cosmetics, which Frank had to give him credit for.
The main bathroom was in between the wall of their en-suite and the next bedroom, both situated at the back of the house over the extension and overlooking the fields belonging to the yard. The plaster was fresh in that bedroom but hadn’t been painted, again, not an issue, because Frank knew a certain little miss would be no doubt picking a colour as soon a she spotted this room.
“Bet Mary chooses this one.” Frank said, voicing his thoughts and Fliss nodded, smiling
“I would if the Master didn’t have that en-suite.” she grinned “Look at that view!”
“Yeah, who’d have thought you could work from home in the equestrian business” he chuckled as they then headed to the next bedroom on the opposite side of the landing. This was also rather large, but like the main part of the master bedroom, was clearly one of the original two bedrooms the house had and it needed some updating.
The 4th bedroom was a smaller one up a narrow set of stairs hidden by door in the hallway. It opened up into an attic room which tucked into the roof of the house.
The realtor then led them back down and the out to the outbuildings. There was a huge garage with a half- finished apartment of sorts above it that had been used as storage but could be easily a guest suite if they so wanted,  and then the thing Frank had really loved was the workshop off the side of the garage, accessed by a small door. It was musty and full of crap but was somewhere for him to store all his tools and work on any side projects he decided to pick up.
All in all Frank was finding it pretty damned hard to pick faults in the place.
As they headed back to the main house and Frank asked David politely to give them a moment to look around alone and he nodded eagerly before Frank and Fliss headed back into the house.
“I’m getting good vibes Sailor.” Fliss said as she turned round, looking at the kitchen, once more heading over to the bay window seat, “really good vibes.” she spun back to him and he smiled at the look on her face. “I mean, ok, a few rooms need decorating and there’s some finishing off bits to do all over but it’s nothing that dad can’t help with and I’m sure-“
At that she stopped dead, and gave a little gasp as her hand flew to her bump.
“You ok?” Frank stepped forward.
“Yeah he’s…” she swallowed “Bean’s kicking, Frankie! Quick!”
He reached out with his hand and she took it, pressing it to the side of her bump. After a second or two he felt something wriggle a little under his palm and he looked at Fliss, his face cracking into an open mouthed smile as he felt his son move for the first time.
“Lissy…” he swallowed his eyes misting over. “That’s…oh my God!”
“You should feel it from my POV!” Fliss smiled her own eyes glassy too.
Frank didn’t want to take his hand away. Instead, he kept moving his palm, tracking their baby’s movements when eventually they stopped.
“I think that means BB likes the house.” Fliss looked at him.
Frank scoffed, shaking his head. “BB’s Momma likes the house.”
“Doesn’t his Daddy?” she asked, her hands sliding round his neck.
“Yeah, his Daddy does.” he replied honestly in a low voice as he looked around the large room. “In fact, I like it a lot.”
“You think Mary will?”
“Are you kidding?” Frank snorted “Soon as she sees that view and that pool, she’ll be packing to move in straight away.”
“Suppose there’s only one way to find out.” Fliss smiled.
So they did. They brought Mary back the next day after school. She had squealed at the window seat, yelled about the pool and as she had shot upstairs and headed into the bedroom Frank had predicted she would like, given a jump for joy as she realised from the upstairs she had a view over the tall picket fencing that shielded the private area of the garden.
“I can see Monty!” she gleefully pointed out before turning to Frank and looking at him then to Fliss, her hands on her hips “If you don’t buy this house you’re a pair of dumbasses.”
The same sentiment was echoed by Bill when he turned up fifteen minutes or so later and walked around with Frank whilst Fliss and Mary headed to feed the horses. He did exactly the same thing he had done when they had looked at the apartment, pointed out what they needed to do, how long it should take them to do, rough estimates of cost. Plus, he also reminded Frank they were in a great position. They could buy the place and then give his months’ notice on the apartment meaning they could stay where they were until it was finished.
So that was it. Decision made. The next morning they went in with a cheeky offer, some twenty thou below the asking price which was rejected instantly. Then they upped their offer by five…then an additional three to total eight, with the fact that they were cash buyers and not in a chain a huge bargaining chip.
It was later that evening, just after they had finished dinner when the realtor called back.
“Evening Mr Adler, ok so…I have spoken to the vendor. He says if you can up your offer by another two thousand then you’ve got a deal.” David spoke. At that, Frank let out a huge grin, as he looked out of the kitchen window at Mary and Fliss who were outside the apartment, both sat on a chair round the table. He and Fliss had both agreed they were prepared to go to the full asking price, in their mind it was worth it, but they were about to seal the deal here for ten thousand less.
 “Ok, two thousand more.” Frank said, keeping his voice level “But the property comes off the market as we don’t want anyone else spotting it and offering him more before we exchange contracts.” he repeated word for word what Greg had instructed him to do when he had asked him to handle the conveyancing earlier that morning.
“Ok, so the offer on the table is Three-ten on the proviso he grants exclusivity…” David repeated. “Ok, leave it with me.”
Frank finished loading the dishwasher, and had just grabbed himself a beer when David called back not even five minutes later.
“Congratulations Mr Adler, you have a deal.”
He thanked him, and grinning ear to ear headed outside, jumping down the steps onto the lawn.
“What you looking so pleased about?” Fliss looked up at him suspiciously.
“David called… we’ve settled on three-ten plus exclusivity” he smiled
“What, you mean…” Fliss’ mouth fell open and Frank nodded.
“Yup, subject to contracts, the place is ours!”
Mary gave a loud cheer as Fliss jumped up and leapt at him as he smiled, wrapping her in his arms, swinging her up slightly.
“I can’t believe it…” she whispered. “Our own home!”
“I know” he beamed, setting her down as he gave her a quick peck. “I’ll call Greg in the morning. When I talked to him about it he said that with no loans involved it shouldn’t take too long. We could be looking a having the keys in a month.” His hands dropped to her hips, palms resting either side of where his son was growing “So plenty of time to do his nursery.”
Fliss grinned and using the arms that were round his neck pulled his face down to hers and pressed a fierce kiss to his mouth. “God I love you.” she mumbled.
“Love you too.” he grinned, kissing her again, ignoring Mary’s fake puking noises in the background.
*****
June 2019
“Mr Adler?"
Frank stopped as he had been striding over the yard to collect Mary and turned to see Mrs McCarthy, her teacher walking towards him.
"Hi." He smiled, removing his sunglasses so he could look her in the eyes.
"I'm so sorry to bother you"
"No bother at all." He assured her "is everything OK?"
Mrs McCarthy glanced over to where Mary was stood talking to her friend, Rosie, and turned back to him
"Yes...nothing too drastic but I wanted to make you aware about a little incident in class this afternoon"
Frank looked at her, blinking "incident?"
"Maybe that's the wrong word." The older, blonde woman said "Look, as you know next week it's the end of year Gala, the fundraiser and we invite the parents to join us for activities.”
Frank nodded, wishing the woman would get to the damned point. He was hot, dirty and bothered after an afternoon of helping the team on a particularly awkward repair and wanted nothing more than to stand under a cold shower for an hour and flop down outside with a beer.
"Well, one of the girls asked Mary if she was bringing her mom and if they were making anything for the bake sale and Mary rather bluntly told the girl her mother was dead and then clammed up. She didn't speak a word for the rest of the afternoon."
Frank felt his chest tighten as he looked over at Mary who was now giggling with Rosie and sighed
"She didn't do anything wrong" Mrs McCarthy pressed "I was just a little worried."
"Thanks for letting me know, I'll talk to her later, make sure she's okay." Frank assured her.
The woman nodded and headed back across the yard as Frank gave a sharp whistle and slid his aviators back onto his face. Mary looked up and said goodbye to Rosie and came wandering over as Frank waved to Rosie's mom who tossed a hand in greeting in response.
"I'm not Thor" She fixed Frank with a stare.
"I know but I couldn't be bothered walking over." He replied honestly as they climbed into the truck
"You have a good day?"
"It was OK." She shrugged. Frank eyed her for a second before she pulled the car away from the kerb and set off down the road.
"What's for dinner?" Mary asked.
"Steak, baked potatoes and salad." He replies "Fliss' choice."
"Are you grilling?" Mary asked.
"Yup." He nodded
"Cool." Mary nodded "Can I go in the pool before?"
"Got any homework?" Frank countered with another question as he looked at her. Mary shook her head
“End of year next week and Uni didn't give me any summer work."
"Then yeah, of course you can.”
Frank didn't raise the so called incident, deciding to let her chill out a little bit at home first and digest how she felt. After 20 minutes or so of general chat Frank pulled up their driveway and stopped the truck next to Fliss' truck. As they hopped out Mary glanced across the garden over the smaller part of the fence where she could just see Fliss walking across the yard.
"Please can I go see Monty?" She looked at Frank and he nodded.
"I'll watch you." He agreed. With a grin she sprinted over the lawn, climbed over the fence and dropped over onto the other side. Thor gave a bark and Fliss turned round and smiled at her, before she waved at Frank. He waved back before he headed down the side of the house, through the gate in the larger fence before he unlocked the back door and stepped inside the cool air conditioned kitchen, kicking off his shoes and heading straight to the fridge for a beer. Draining half in one he stood, looking around and smiling. They’d finally unpacked the last box yesterday evening and Fliss was still in the process of moving things around their new home, positioning them where she wanted them.
True to Greg’s word, they’d had the keys to the house 4 and a half weeks after making the offer, and 2 weeks post that once the bedrooms and hall had been decorated with a lot of help from Bill, Verity and Roberta (who had been happy for them yet still cried her eyes out when they’d left the park, despite the fact they had assured her they would still come visit and she could also come stay with them too) they’d moved in. The only thing left to do was the reception room (which could wait, it was easy to just shut the door and pretend it didn’t exist) and Bean’s nursery, which he, Fliss and Mary had decided to do together as a project. Mary and Fliss had spent nights pouring over Pinterest for ideas and they’d finally settled on a scheme. Frank had picked up all the plastering supplies and the paint, the furniture was on order and should be arriving at any time that week now he thought about it…so hopefully that weekend they could get cracking. That might cheer Mary up now he thought about it.
Taking his beer with him, he picked up his boots and took them to the cloakroom/bathroom by the stairs. He trudged up the steps, shaking his head at Fred who was led at the top, his paws hanging over the edge of the step as he eyed Frank.
"You're gonna cause a fucking accident." He looked at the ginger cat who merely swished his tail in response. Frank headed into their bedroom, stripping off as he went, walking straight into the en-suite, turning on the shower, setting his beer down on the edge of the sink unit. He stepped in and under the stream of cool water, closing the screen behind him, his mind still on Mary and how he was going to bring up what her teacher has said. With a groan he opened the door, reached out of the cubicle for his beer, took another gulp before he set about washing the grime of the day away.
***** "Have you finished grooming him?" Fliss asked, standing in the doorway to Monty's stable. Mary glanced over from where she had been brushing through his white tail and nodded.
"Wanna take him to the paddock?" Fliss smiled. "Cap and Bronson are waiting for their little pal."
"Sure." Mary shrugged and Fliss frowned a little at her demeanour. She was quiet, which was unlike her when she was round the horses. She was normally full of excitement.
"You OK?" She asked and Mary nodded.
"Why wouldn't I be?"
"You seem quiet, that's all."
"No, I'm good." She shrugged, before she tossed her brush into the little grooming box she had, closing the lid and passing it to Fliss. Fliss placed the box into the larger wooden one outside the stable before Mary put Monty's halter on and led him out of his stall. Fliss allowed them to walk ahead, her hand on her bump as she followed them out of the yard and down the little path to the gate that led to the paddocks. They reached the one were Monty was going and undoing the gate, Mary led him in. The white pony stood patiently for her to take his halter off before he stuck his nose into the crook of her neck and shoulder. Fliss smiled as Mary gently stroked his neck and then to her utter horror she saw Mary’s shoulders begin to shake as the girl started to cry.
"Hey, Mary..." she soothed, stepping forward as the small girl turned to her, wrapping her arms around her as best she could, pressing her face into her bump "Oh baby what's wrong?"
Mary didn’t reply, instead she continued to sob and Fliss felt powerless to do anything other than wrap her arms around her, one hand resting on her head, the other between her shoulders.
“Something happened at School…” Mary whispered and Fliss gently tipped her head up to look at her. “Someone said something and…”
“Ok, how about we go back to the office and you can tell me all about it ok?”
Mary nodded, sniffing as her sobs died down. Fliss held out her hand and Mary took it and together they headed back down to the yard. Joanne looked at Mary who was hiccupping slightly with her sobs and frowned but Fliss shook her head.
“Can you feed the top barn for me and then you can go.” she said to Jo who nodded. “I’ll lock up.” “Sure, see you tomorrow. Bye Mary.” she smiled. Mary looked at her and gave a small wave before Fliss led her into the office. She grabbed them both an apple juice from the fridge and then Mary sat on the chair at the end of the desk, wiping her eyes with a tissue that Fliss handed her from the box.
“You ready to talk?”
Mary nodded, and then she stood up and walked over to Fliss who made room for her to clamber up onto her lap. It was a bit awkward but after a little shifting around they found a way she could sit unobstructed by Boston Bean and Mary lay her head against Fliss’ shoulder.
“It was about the gala.” she sniffed “One of them asked me if my mom was coming and…”
“Oh sweetie.” Fliss sighed, rubbing her back. “I get that must have been hard.”
Mary shrugged “I told them she was dead.” she said matter of factly “I get that and I never knew my mom so I don’t miss her as a person…but then I started to think about why she died and I don’t understand.” “Understand what?”
“Why?” Mary looked at her. “Why would she do what she did when she had me? Why did she want to leave me behind?”
Fliss took a deep breath and cradled the girl as best she could, trying to think of a way to explain to which Mary could relate, and then it came to her, she could use her own experience here. There was no getting around the fact this was going to be a heave conversation, but Mary was a smart kid and deserved to be treated as such.
With another deep inhale, Fliss looked down at her, kissing her head before she opened rather bluntly "You know I tried to kill myself."
"You did?" Mary pulled back to look up at her "Why?"
"Because I saw it as my only way out." Fliss gently smoothing Mary’s hair back. "I was stuck in an awful situation. My ex-husband hurt me physically and mentally and I gave up. I wanted out."
Mary remained silent and looked at her.
"For someone to get to that point...they have to have hit rock bottom. Like there is nowhere to go. It's not their fault. And it doesn't mean they don't love the people they leave behind just that they're desperate to escape whatever pain they feel, be it in their head or their body or both."
"But I still don't understand." Mary shook her head.
"And you may never, not fully." Fliss sighed gently "And as horrible as it is that's something you are gonna have to live with but you have to remember that your mom was sick. And for whatever reason she saw this as her only escape. It wasn't Evelyn's fault, it wasn't Frank's fault and it certainly wasn't yours."
"But if she loved me like Frank says she did..."
"You think I don't love my mum and dad? Or Steve? Charlie, Joel?"
Mary blinked before she lay her head back against Fliss' shoulder. "Of course you do.”
"But I was still gonna leave them behind. I was desperate. And you wanna know the real stupid thing?"
"What?"
"When I got better I still went back to John. I went back to a real toxic environment and a man that abused me. Because I felt like it was what I deserved. And even though I left him way before I met you and Frank, it wasn't until me and Frank started dating that I really understood I wasn't to blame. I always thought I did something to make him hurt me but I didn't. Being with Frank, the way he treats me and loves me made me see that it was him with the problem, not me.”
"But that's different" Mary glanced up
"The trigger was, yes." Fliss nodded "But your mom, like me, was in a position so helpless, so unbelievably sad that she thought she was to blame and that the world, including you, would be better off without her even though she was so wrong."
**** Once showered and dried, Frank dressed in a pair of shorts and clean T-shirt before he headed back downstairs. There was no sign of Fliss or Mary but as he strode out into the garden he heard a car heading down the drive by the side of the house from the yard and correctly assumed it was Joanne leaving for the day. He opened the gate and just saw the tail of her car turn onto the main road as he headed into the garage for the charcoal to light the BBQ.
Once that was done, leaving the flames to die down he headed out across the lawn, vaulting over the small fence onto the yard. He headed round the barn and frowned as he couldn't see anyone. After a quick look round he spotted the door to Fliss' office was closed. He went to open it but stopped as he could hear the sound of voices. It was Mary and Fliss but he could tell from the pitch and stutters in Mary's that she was upset. He paused, hand hovering over the handle as he heard Fliss speaking to her softly. "Stack, you are so loved. Frank loves you, I love you, Nanny V, Poppa Bill, Uncle Steeby, Roberta, Evelyn...Thor, Fred and Monty..." she paused "You're such a special little girl and I know I'm not your mom but, well, I feel like I am."
"You do?"
"I'd do anything to keep you safe and happy. And so would Frank"
They both fell silent and Frank swallowed, the lump in his throat almost choking him.
"Don't ever feel like we don't" Fliss continued "and if I have to bake 200 fucking cookies for your Gala next week to prove it then I will."
Mary giggles "You know Bean can hear you swearing."
"Well I won't tell Frank if you don't"
"Do you think Frank feels like my dad?" Mary asked a moment later and at that point Frank really wanted to walk away. He couldn't listen to this, he didn't want to listen to this...but something kept him rooted to the spot.
"I know he does." Fliss replied.
"But he doesn't like it when people say it. I know that, I heard him talking to you. Bill’s not your real dad but you still say he is…."
“That’s slightly different sweetheart.” Fliss sighed "My real dad left my mom before I was born, so when he died. I didn’t even know him and I don’t care that I didn’t either. But your mom was Frank's sister. He wants to make sure you remember her, understand who she was. He could have easily just pretended to be your dad all this time, you would never have known any different but he didn't. Because he loves you and your mom too much. He's too honest and it’s important to him that you understand. But that doesn't mean he doesn't love you like he is your dad, or that you can't love him like he is."
Frank turned away from the door, looking up at the sky and taking a deep shuddering breath. Fuck, this was hard to hear. He knew Mary had been upset before but the thought that it ran this deep was killing me. Wiping at his face, his hands then dropped to his hips and he looked down at his sneakers before he turned to the door, reaching for the handle but once more pausing as he couldn’t face interrupting them, not whilst they were in the middle of a moment.
“I suppose that makes sense.” Mary continued  “And I do love him like he is. And I love you like you’re my mom too.”
“Well that’s all that matters.” Fliss replied “It may be unconventional but we’re a family, and that’s the main thing huh?”
“Yeah, you’re right. Thanks Lissy.” Mary spoke.
“You’re welcome Stack” Fliss’s voice was soft and there was a pause as Frank could picture the pair of them hugging.
“Hey, did you now I’m going to be doing all the money stuff for the bake stall?” Mary’s voice was suddenly up beat as she switched topic “Because I’m good at maths they said I could be in charge of payments and handing people their change and stuff.”
“Nice work kiddo.” Fliss smiled, “Tell you what, we’ll put Nanny V on the case, her baking is way better than mine. We can get her over one night next week whilst Pops is helping Frank with the plastering in the nursery.”
Ok, that was it, safe to enter without interrupting anything. Frank gave a little knock and then opened the door, fixing a smile on his face.
“Hope I haven’t interrupted any girl talk” he smiled and Mary jumped up and ran to him, giving him a hug. He looked at Fliss who wiped her eyes.
“Ok?” he mouthed at her and she nodded back, her lips moving silently as she replied.
“Tell you later.”
“BBQ is lit.” Frank said, looking down at Mary “You still wanna play in the pool?”
She nodded and grinned. “Yeah.”
“Sounds like a great idea.” Fliss grinned “Let’s lock up and head home…oh wait, we don’t need to head home because…” “We’re already there!” Mary grinned, and then she spun round to see Fred peering round the door. “Hey, look who came to visit!” “Bout time he earned his keep.” Frank grumbled “Go catch some mice.”
Fred stalked past him into the office, looked around, before he sauntered back out, clearly not interested.
“He’s a lover not a killer Frank.” Mary grinned, as Frank watched the cat walk off into the evening sun.
The three of them locked up before they headed back to the house and Mary shot upstairs to get changed.
“So, how much did you hear?” Fliss turned to Frank as he pulled a beer from the fridge along with a bottle of water, sliding it over to her.
“Enough.” he sighed “Her teacher collared me before. Said that one of the kids had asked about her mom in class and she’d gotten upset.”
“She asked me why Diane did what she did.” Fliss sighed, “Why she left her behind if she loved her so much.”
Frank swallowed. “What did you say?”
“I explained about why I tried to kill myself.” Fliss shrugged “Told her about the desperation I felt…but that didn’t mean that I didn’t love my family just that I saw it as my only way out. I know it was heavy and maybe not really the right thing to do but...”
She was cut off as Frank stepped forward, taking her face in his hands as he kissed her, hard. It took her a moment to catch up but once she did she melted into him, her mouth opening to grant him access as he ran his tongue along her bottom lip.
“Thank you.” He said gently as he pulled away, his hands still cupping her face.
“What for?” Fliss asked, reaching up to gently wrap her fingers around his wrists.
“For loving her as much as you do.” he shrugged. “For loving us both as much as you do.”
“Oh, Sailor.” Fliss’ eyes brimmed with tears “How could I not?”
***** Frank didn’t sleep particularly well that night. Mary’s conversation with Fliss was running through his brain and every time he drifted off he would wake about an hour or so later, fresh worries and concerns running through his mind. In the end, at just before 5 am he gave up and climbed out of bed. He grabbed a T-shirt and a pair of sweats and putting them on he headed downstairs. He flipped on the TV in the hope the early morning new would distract him, but it didn’t.
It was clear to him that Mary was struggling with where she was going to fit in the family dynamic. He hadn’t really worried much up to that point, being convinced by Fliss that if they kept her involved with stuff to do with Bean she would be ok but this went much deeper than the fact they were expecting a baby.
He’d be lying if he said the thought of him claiming to be Mary’s Father had never entered his mind. It would have been a lot easier but out of loyalty and love to Diane he had wanted to make sure she knew about her mother, and understood the truth because in the end, a lie would always come round to bite you on the ass. It wasn’t that he had a problem with people assuming he was Mary’s father but…
God what a fucking mess.
“Hey…” a soft voice drew him from his thoughts and he looked up to see Fliss stood in the doorway, his T-shirt she was wearing now hardly covered the top of her thighs thanks to her Bean bump.
“Sorry beautiful, did I wake you?” he asked.
“No.” she shook her head, dropping down next to him. “I got up to pee and you were gone.”
“Couldn’t sleep.” he shrugged.
“What’s wrong handsome?”  she lay her head on his shoulder and he took a deep breath.
“Just thinking about Mary that’s all.” he shrugged. “She’s always asked questions about Diane but not like that.”
“She’s getting older Frank.” Fliss said, her hand reaching out for his as she began to play with his fingers “She’s bound to start thinking about things differently. She was ok last night after she talked to me, and then later you when you tucked her in. She doesn’t keep her feelings bottled up, and that’s good. It’s a testament to you that she feels like she can talk to us about things.”
“I know.” Frank looked down at her, kissing her head “I guess I just worry Lissy, worry about how she’s gonna feel when Bean is here and he’s calling us mom and dad and she doesn’t.”
“Frank.” Fliss sighed as she sat up straight. “Mary knows we love her. And what she calls us doesn’t change a damned thing. You’re worrying unduly now. We can’t do anything about that other than-“
“Yes, yes we could.” Frank looked at her. Fliss took a deep breath as his eyes locked onto hers, instantly understanding.
“I thought you said you’d never even consider adopting her?”
“I never thought I would.” he shrugged. “But it’s been playing on my mind after what mother said and then after last night…” “Why? What did Evelyn say?” Fliss asked.
“When she was here last, she told me that Diane’s memory wouldn’t suddenly fade if Mary called me dad…” he licked his lips “It was almost like she was giving me permission to do it…you know? Not that I need it or really give a shit what she thinks.” he paused, taking a deep breath “If I’m totally honest Diane isn’t the only reason I said I didn’t want to. I just never thought of myself as being dad material. I was such a screw up until I met you and I thought that by staying as her Uncle, it would give her that distance, you know?”
“Not dad material?” Fliss looked at him, shaking her head “Oh Frank, you idiot. You’ve done an amazing job with her…and you will do with Bean too.”
He smiled at her, sniffing slightly as she continued.
“But there is one person who’s opinion counts most here.” Fliss said gently “And that’s Mary. If you’re serious then you should ask her if it’s what she wants. Because after 9 years of calling you Frank…”
“I know.” Frank agreed, “And I agree, completely. It would have to be her decision. But at least if I ask her if she would like us to then-“
“Us?” Fliss looked at him, blinking. “You mean you want me to?”
“Of course I do.” Frank nodded, before he frowned slightly “But if that isn’t what you want, I understand. It’s a big-“ Fliss cut him off by pressing a kiss to his lips “Of course I do Frank. I love Mary like she is my own anyway so…” Frank beamed at her and wrapped his arms around her, kissing her head. “So, we’re agreed. We ask her?”
Fliss nodded and pulled back, her hand resting on his cheek. “We ask her.”
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Chapter 8
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squirrelgirl006 · 3 years ago
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Where to "go"
Just some interesting data I've collected over the course of being pregnant and being unable to walk past a bathroom without suddenly needing to pee. Needless to say, Ive sampled a lot of bathrooms.
Celebration Cinema: one of the better ones. Never too shabby, and always enough stalls that you never really have to wait.
Barnes and Noble: generally a safe bet if you are at the mall and have to go. Not as many stalls, so you might have to wait.
Macy's: also another usually safe bet. These bathrooms also typically have a separate sitting area/baby changing area.
JC Penny's: Um. I think it just depends on the day.... even in the same store I've had mixed experiences. Some days I've poked my head in and gone, "huh, ok, this seems legit." Other days I've just backed away slowly.
Burlington Coat Factory: I have been pleasantly surprised by these bathrooms. They have the best quality toilet paper out of any public restroom I've ever used.
Joann Fabrics: generally passable, but not always stocked w/ basic supplies (toilet paper, soap, etc.).
Hobby Lobby: about the same as Joanns.
Sam's Club: SOME of these are pretty nice, if you can actually FIND the restroom. They tend to be kind of hidden, which is really bad when you've just been kicked in the bladder. Really nifty baby changing stations.
Meijer: completely hit or miss. Some of them are well kept, clean, supplied, overall great. Some of them.... let's just say you'd probably be safer squatting in a trench in the middle of a warzone. And cleaner...
Saks 5th Avenue: DO NOT USE. At all. Under any circumstances. For such a high-end store, the bathrooms are run down, literally falling apart, and the toilet paper? You might as well wipe with razor blades. Apparently Saks 5th avenue not only believes their customers shit doesn't stink, but that their customer must never even have to shit at all.
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