Karis gives advice

“Are you going to sit there and mope all day?” Karis dips her hand into the Roses box, again.

“I’m not moping.”

“You’re not fooling anyone.”

It seems wise to change the conversation. I am not talking about how I feel. I look at the baby monitor. “I can’t hear Kay.”

“You have a knack of getting her to sleep. Hopefully she won’t wake up until teatime. I’m stuffed from dinner. Why did I have to cook all those extras? Roast turkey, potatoes and veg is enough for anyone.”

I laugh. “It’s not stopping you from eating your way through the chocolates.”

“Yeah, Mum. Leave some for us.” Kyle looks up from his phone.

Kellie is too engrossed in Christmas Top of the Pops to take any notice. Kendall is playing with his remote-control car in the kitchen. I can hear it hitting the chairs. If it wasn’t for these guys my life would be empty.

“What was that sigh for?”

I look up to find both Karis and Kyle staring at me.

“’E’s missing Els.”

“I’m not, Kyle.”

“Pull the other one,” he says. I’ve no idea where he gets all these sayings.

“I don’t get why you split up. It makes no sense if it makes you miserable.” Karis stretches out her long legs.

“For heaven’s sake, I’m not miserable.”

“Add snappiness to miserable. I’m fed up with you biting my head off.”

“Sorry.” Fuck. I can’t get rid of the image of El’s face when I just stared at the piece of paper with the date of the scan. I wanted to take it but there’s all these doubts. Flynn, the baby, my temper. What kind of father would I make? I’m too like my own.

“Earth to Grant. What is going on in your head? You mean the world to me, to us and I hate seeing you like this.”

“Like what?”

“Like you’ve lost tenner,” Kyle pipes up.

“Do you love her?”

Here we go. “Who?”

“Grant. Who do you think. How many other women have you dated, and the ones you screwed don’t count.”

“Karis. The children.”

“They’ve heard worse.”

“Yep, I ’ave.”

“Do you love Ellie?”

My gut twists. I can’t vocalise it.

“You do, even if you won’t admit it. I want you to be happy. She made you happy. I know something happened. If you told me what I might be able to help, god knows I have enough favours to return. Let me help you, Grant.”

“And how can you help me, Karis. It’s not like you have any successful relationships under your belt, is it.” Fuck. That’s nasty, even for me.

“Lay off me mum.”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that.”

“You did. She made you a nicer person, you know. I have no idea what went on but I doubt she did anything wrong. That leaves you. So what are you playing at? She’s the best thing that ever happened to you.”

“You’ve been bloody mean to ‘er. An’ she’s been in ‘ospital. You’re a cun—”

“That’s enough, Kyle. Remember everything Grant’s done for you, done for this family. Apologise to your uncle.”

“Sorry.”

Kyle does not look contrite. I deserve his anger. “She is, was the best thing that ever happened to me. It’s not enough, though. I’m not good enough for her. You know that. You’ve said it yourself.”

“I don’t remember ever saying that. Of course you’re good enough.”

“I don’t think so. Everything got chaotic, out of hand. I was, am a nightmare. I need calm. You know I can be volatile. What if I hurt her? I’m better on my own.” Fuck, I’m spilling my guts.

“You would never hurt her. You are not Dad. You’re a hundred times the man he was. Look at the arguments we’ve had. I’ve never been afraid of you. I know you would never hurt anyone you love. And you love her.”

My heart does that weird thumping that I hate. “I know, Karis, I know. But what if it isn’t enough. What if I fuc—fudge it up?”

“You might fudge,” she laughs, “fudge. Can’t believe you used that word. Look even if you do mess it up at least you will have tried. And just because you argue doesn’t mean it’s over. Christ, we know things are bad when I’m giving you relationship advice. I need another chocolate, or three. Want one?” She shakes the box under my nose.

I shake my head.

“Promise me you’ll at the very least try and talk to her. You belong together … I’m waiting, promise.”

I sigh. “Promise. You know what, I will have a chocolate. The won’t be any left in a minute,” I say as Karis unwraps another one and pops it in her mouth.

She grabs the box. “I’ll let you have one if you promise to see Ellie this week.”

“Okay, I promise.” I wrestle the box from her, half dreading seeing El and half not. I miss her.

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