“Of course he’ll believe me” Talia heard Ivy say. She had been looking for the other woman, it was time the two of them buried the hatches and made peace with one another. On her mission she had involuntarily walked in on yet a private conversation. Ivy didn’t have her phone on speaker though, so Talia couldn’t make out what the other person said. It was rude to eavesdrop, she knew, but she had to know what Ivy was up to.
“Yes I’m sure” Ivy said to the person on the phone. “I have him right where I want him”
Talia inched closer to the door, making sure she wasn’t seen or heard, this she had to hear.
“Of course I didn’t tell John, it would ruin everything” Who was John? There was a long pause, the other person had a lot to say.
“No, keep him out of the loop. It won’t be long before I have the ring on my finger, it will be smooth sailing from there” Talia almost felt sorry for Ivy, she had no clue what she was getting herself in on.
“Just stick to the plan. I have to go now” Ivy hung up the phone, and Talia hurried down the hall, hiding in one of the unoccupied bedrooms. She kept her ear to the door, listening for footsteps, not allowing herself to breath until she was sure Ivy had passed and there were a safe distance between them. Abigail was right to be skeptical of Ivy, the girl just wanted one thing. Money. It was easy to see that Shaun had grown tired of her, just looking for the right moment to send her packing. Ivy must have picked up on it as well, or was she just too naive? Talia wasn’t sure what to believe at this moment.
“What’s wrong dear?” Talia spun around, she hadn’t expected there to be someone else in the room with her. But there, standing by the window stood Grandma Rose, eyes focused on her and the scene displaying in the gardens below.
“I didn’t expect to run into someone here” Talia excused, trying to get control of her heartbeat.
“Neither did I” Grandma Rose waved her over to the window. “This room has the best view, and if you just crack the window open just a little” Grandma Rose showed her, and Talia could easily hear the voices underneath, Shaun and Ivy. She sounded wounded, and he panicked.
“I wonder what they are arguing about” Talia said, unconsciously leaning closer to hear what were said.
“Oh, the usual” Grandma Rose shrugged. “She’s an ungrateful girl, wanting more and more. Look at him, he’s miserable” Ivy had walked away in a huff, leaving Shaun sitting alone on a bench, head in his hands.
“I know” Talia felt bad. “I should go talk to him” She turned around, but stopped when she felt Grandma Roses hand on her wrist.
“This is our secret” Talia nodded and left the older lady to the window.
Talia found Shaun still sitting in the gardens, still sitting with his head in his hands.
“Hey” He sat down next to him, putting a hand on his knee.
“Hey” He replied, slowly lifting his head to look at her. His eyes had dark rings under them, and the stubs on his chin had to be at least three days old. He looked older and more tired and she’d ever seen him before.
“You look awful”
“I know” He rubbed his chin in his hand, grimacing. “It’s Ivy - she keeps me awake at night”
“Doesn’t she have her own room?”
“Which she refuse to sleep in”
“So, she sleeps with you?” There was a knot in her stomach, why had she asked that?
“No” Shaun laughed. “We spend half the night arguing before she goes back to her bedroom”
“Why don’t you ask her to leave?” Talia wanted to know.
“I don’t know” Shaun sighed. “Now that she’s first here my mom would have my head if I sent her packing”
“I don’t think so” Talia shrugged. “She’s not a good person Shaun, she’s only…” They were interrupted by Ivy.
“She’s only what?” She glared daggers at Talia, who just smiled back.
“A simple thief?” Talia suggested, it didn’t sit well with Ivy, but she could have sworn Shaun smiled for just a second. And she knew Grandma Rose was smiling from the floor above them.
“Excuse you?” Ivy was shocked, her mouth hanging half open, it wasn’t a very flattering look for her.
“You hear me. You’re only in it for the money” Talia said, and Shaun looked at her, eyebrow raised. This was not how she had planned for this conversation to go.
“Of course I’m not” Ivy crossed her arms over her chest, she sounded more like a tantrum throwing toddler than a woman trying to convince people otherwise.
“Then who is John?” Once again Ivys mouth fell. “A friend” She regained her composer, but too slow for either of them to believe her.
“I know John” Shaun looked at Ivy. “You should leave”
“What?!” There was no ending to the surprised Ivy were being handed today.
“You heard me. Pack your things, you’re no longer welcome here” He got to his feet, ready to walk away.
“I’m pregnant!” Ivy shouted, and the other two froze. Talia looked at Shaun, holding her breath, she already knew what he was going to say.
“It better not be mine” He didn’t even look at Ivy before he walked away. Ivy looked like she was about to break into tears, and Talia felt she had to say something, but what?
“He doesn’t mean that, does he?” Ivy asked with shaking voice, she was on the verge of crying. Talia almost felt bad for her, if it hadn’t been for the conversation she had overheard earlier she would have. But truth was, she didn’t believe Ivy, and she didn’t want to lie to her.
“He does. If you had known Shaun at all, you would have known he never wanted a family, to have kids” They had that conversation once, when Talia had been late one month. He had looked at her, told her straight up that he wanted nothing to do with a child, not then, not ever. They had been 19 at the time, and thought a lot could change in 6 years that was something that would never change. He had expected her to cry, to call him coldhearted, but she had breathed out in relief. They had disagreed on many things both before and after, but that was one of the things they had agreed on. And luckily enough it came the following day.
“You don’t know that for sure. You don’t know him the way I do” Ivy cried.
“No, I know him better”
“She’s joking, right?” Talia found Shaun in his bedroom, anxiously walking back and forth. Talia hadn’t seen him like this in years.
“I wouldn’t know” Talia answered, and Shaun stopped.
“How did you know about John?” He wanted to know.
“I overheard her on the phone”
“Who was she talking to?”
“I don’t know - unlike you she doesn’t put people on speaker” When she thought about it, the only person Talia had ever heard Shaun talk with over speaker was Ivy. She raised a brow at him, pieces falling together.
“You knew I was there. You knew I was listening to your conversation with Ivy” Of course he knew, she had never been able to hide from him. ‘I could always feel your presence’ He had said back then, and she wondered if it was still true.
“What did she say?” Shaun avoided her question, it was answer enough.
“That she would believe you, and it wouldn’t be long before you put a ring on her finger. And something about keeping someone, I’m guessing John, out of the loop because it would ruin everything” Talia had really tried to hear what the other person had said, but it had been impossible.
“So either she’s lying about being pregnant, or lying about who is the father” Shaun was suddenly in a better mood, even smiling.
“She’s gonna tell your mom” Talia warned. Ivy hadn’t said so, but that was what most women would do if she was pregnant and her boyfriend refused to acknowledge it. Not that it had happened to her, she had just seen enough movies.
“My mom is going to be infuriated” Shaun sighed. “She’s gonna insist I look after my offspring”
“Which you don’t want to do”
“I don’t want any offspring”
“Easy fix” Shaun looked at her, and she shrugged. “What? Have you never seen Cheaper by the dozen?”
“I should have broken up with her before I left London” Shaun laid down on his bed with a loud sigh.
“Why didn’t you?” Talia sat down next to him.
“Honestly? I don’t know. I guess I never got around to it. I was so busy I didn’t even…” He sat up.
“You didn’t even…?”
“Thank you” Shaun kissed her quickly on the cheeks before scrambling to his feet.
“You welcome?” He left her sitting on the bed, eyebrows raised, her right hand resting on the cheek he had just kissed her on.