Original story and characters belong to the writers etc. of Sunset Beach. Oh yes new characters and errors are all mine.

As in the soap operas modern day life is touched on, facts and fiction are mixed together. In case you are wondering this is just done for fun and feedback, comments are welcome.

Part of the story is told by emails between the sisters so answers and questions like time may pass in the gaps between the end and the beginning of chapters or mail. The emails are in blocks of bold type. Hopefully letters being read or remembered will be in italics.

Background summary: At the beginning of September 1999 Ben Evans went to Seattle because of his own misgivings, worries expressed by his estranged wife Maria, and pieces of conversations overheard by Sara Cummings about the Nanny, Tess Marin who looked after his son Benjy. On his return to Sunset Beach, he broke off the 'stop start' relationship with his Soulmate Meg Cummings and returned to his wife Maria and his son. He also supported the relationship and then the marriage of Tess to Tim Truman, who had been Meg's ex boyfriend.

Meg accepted Ben's action were the right ones so sold their Casita and bought an apartment. With her sister she concentrated on the new partnership in their shop Sunset Sisters and moved on with her life. With the marriage of Casey Mitchum to Sara their friendship strengthened.

As the months passed life settled down and dust covered old wounds until Meg found her father whom she loved and trusted above anyone else had betrayed her. Because of that betrayal she realised she would have to walk away from 'family' love in order to find her own future and happiness.

Walking away from love

Chapter 1

Mid morning - June 2000

Because there were only two customers browsing in Sunset Sisters Meg's mind kept drifting back to her evening with Peter 'wondering how could he have been so stupid, after all he knew on their first date two months ago sex was out of the question till the relationship was 'serious', … hang it, he insisted it was all right … he would wait till she was ready and 'serious', no one-nightstands for either of them.'

She shook her head, ran her hands though her long dark hair moving it away from her pretty face as she silently chastised herself. 'Wrong move Meg! You're own fault, should have stopped before it even started. … You're soo jinxed!' She had to smile and admit it had been a great meal and movie.

Though she lost her smile slightly as she remembered what happened after and silently huffed to herself. 'Come on … okay … so I offered him a drink in my apartment, but I've done that before and everything had been fine. Drink and talk nothing more… okay … yes a light goodbye kiss at the door. …Nothing more! So why had he taken the offer the wrong way and assumed it was an invitation into the bedroom last night. … Oh boy did he make a beeline for the bedroom. … Whoa HER bedroom … anyway wasn't it the girl who would slip into something simple not the man.'

The smile was back on her face as her mind taunted her gently, 'Come on … if it had been a tv story you would have had everything off before the first adverts started. …Yeah that's what it felt like as though he was scoring points – had a deadline to meet.'

She sighed, half consciously checking that the shop was still there; that her two customers were still browsing and not walking off with valuables. As they had not run off with the valuables or looked likely too her mind reminded her of what she'd been thinking of before her date started that evening. 'The advert of a special offer … a weekend away …to see a show and stay over ……Why did she? … To find out what they would be like together away from here … …hey! separate bedrooms though. …

The little niggle came back with the reason why the separate rooms … ... because he had not tried 'it' on the sofa … and he was … well … safe and slightly interesting. … … Hell! Okay normal then … … no sparkle … like she had with Ben. She hit back at that suggestion.… Hey! that is over finished, accepted … can find 'that' something from someone else. … He could have been the one … umm … … okay given time. … Yeah a long time … not like last night when sex was his only thought … nope no love. … So perhaps the film got to him? … Oh come on! ... it was not 'that' kind of film!"

Not realizing it she ran her fingers through her hair again and then fiddled with a piece of paper by the till as she remembered what she had done when she saw him leaning suggestively against the bedroom door frame. Jacket off, shirt half unbuttoned and hanging out with the dimmed light from candles coming from the bedroom. Quiet words like "Get dressed and out" … Oh no not her … lost temper big time and threw him out, … physically … okay so he might be taller than her but she was angry … no … pissed off big time. … … Knew where to hit and hard then threw him out into the corridor. … Grabbed his jacket and chucked it at him as he got up, … just did not retreat quickly enough so heard his angry words, recalling them now hurt as they had then.

"You're using me! …YOU will never be ready! … YOU just get your fix by watching YOUR ex-boyfriend strut around town! .... Didn't HE sleep with HIS WIFE AT YOUR CASTIA? ... COME ON! MEG! … She's expecting his baby for goodness sake! … Realize it is OVER between the TWO OF YOU. … HE DROPPED YOU SO MOVE ON!!!"

She shivered but her thoughts carried on in her own voice mental weighing things up. "Perhaps he was right you can't start again while Ben is around.' She hit back at herself silently 'No! HE is wrong I'M over Ben … I walked out on Ben and he made it plain in the letter he wanted Maria … I saw that at the Casita and The Deep. I don't get a fix on Ben. So HE had no right to assume I'm holding back because of Ben, I just want to make..."

A cough for attention broke into her thoughts.

'Oops!' Meg thought hoping she had not been talking out loud, looked at the goods then smiled at the customer and said meekly, "Sorry I was miles away."

The customer just smiled and handed over some money to her.

She checked it, "Yes that's the right money thank you." She rang it up then wrapped the things up and handed them over wishing her a happy day and served the other customer.

Then as the shop was empty she put some more things on the shelves and then settled back in the chair at the till and tried to concentrate on the papers in front of her. But her mind was being wayward and refused the invitation and flashed back to the morning last September at Surf Central when she knew she had been right to let Ben go.

'She had been in the kitchen when her sister called from the bottom of the stairs that Casey would be down for coffee in a second and she would bring the post in with her. Sara came in with the post and a puzzled expression on her face and as she handed her a bulky envelope said gently. "For you from Seattle, looks like Ben's writing, strange I thought he would ring rather than write."

Meg took the letter hesitantly, felt the shape of a key and bulkiness of papers and her heart raced, she needed to get away not read it here. Without a word she rushed out of the house till she came to the sand dunes and sat down, opened the letter and carefully tipped the key out on to her hand. She recognized it; it was his one to their Casita and knew it was bad news, not what she had secretly been hoping for. Her mind flashed back as it had then to the storm when they found the Casita, to the story he'd told behind the small figures they found there and then their passionate love that night. She felt her pleasure and hope as he reassured her that he would leave Maria so they would be together again.

Instead of carrying on remembering how it all fell apart her flashback jumped to their next visit to the Casita as they waited to find out if Benjy was his son and his reassurance that everything would be all right regardless of the results. Although she'd tried to believe him she knew she would never bond with Benjy in the way he had, mainly because Benjy was the constant reminder that he had loved and married Maria first.

Suddenly she found herself reliving the terrible drive back from the Casita to Sunset Beach after finding the evidence he had taken and slept with Maria there. Then she was pacing the sands under the South Pier trying to come to terms with it all and Casey finding her, and him eventually trying to convince her that Ben would not do such a thing and should be confronted with it.

But she couldn't because she knew that nothing could change the fact that fact Maria was his wife and Benjy was their son. And she would be the mistress who broke up the family, which would make what they had into a sordid love affair, like those of Tim and her chief bridesmaid and her sister and the congressmen. She knew that her and Ben's time together deserved more than that.

She shivered as her mind drew her onto the letter, hearing Ben's voice once again as she had that morning as she sat amongst the dunes and read it.

"Dear Meg.

It was lovely to hear your voice on the phone just now but I could hear the pain you are feeling and that makes me very sad. I realize I have to do this today, before I see you again.

I'm writing rather than phoning you so you can come to terms with things quietly in your own time. I am sorry I cannot be there to help you through the next few days but I know your family will be.

I want you to know that I have and will never regret or forget our love together. You gave me a reason to carry on living; it was love and will be forever, that is why I still think of you as my Soulmate but will never call you that again.

I now realize our love is killing us, the ups and downs have been my fault and I am sorry. I know nothing could stop the pain you felt when my brother hurt you or when Maria turned up and later Benjy. You tried to accept it all and make sense of our love. I am sorry I was not always there for you.

You have always believed in the family and family love, I know if we followed through with our love you would have lost the ones you love - your family and Casey, I do not want that. You were right to walk away from our love and us.

Last night when I saw you at Surf Central you made it plain you wanted to make a fresh start with or without Casey - I must and will honour that.

I for my part have a wife and son to get to know and try to love again. I want to do this, and I know it will take time.

We will see each other around Sunset Beach and things will be difficult. So I hope you will understand I am not really ignoring you only trying to break our ties.

All I ever wanted was for you to be happy.

Hopefully we can move on, we both have family ties in town so need to stay. To do this I must also break with Casey I do not want him to feel torn between us or take sides. As a close friend I hope you can help him understand that I am doing this for both your sakes and past friendship, which I have always valued. Maybe some time in the future we can become friends again if not then we can at least acknowledge each other without hurting everyone.

I do not know if you will go back to Liberty Corp. but I want you to know I have decided to stop working there although my financial position will stay, it would cause problems if I pulled out completely.

As Benjy will be at school I have decided to help Maria start a gallery, which was her dream all those years ago and let Roger become a full time evening manager this will free my evenings and allow you and your family to go there in peace, if we do meet there I will give you space.

To some these changes will seem as though I am running from you, I am not. I am just trying to give us both time and space to get used to our new lives. I hope that your parents will still be able to treat Benjy with the same care they always have. Although we have clashed I have always respected them and looked on them as an uncle and aunt for Benjy as I have no family and Maria has so few.

I enclose the spare key to the Casita, and a letter for Charles who has the deeds, which are in your name so you may do what you want with them. I will always remember the way we found it in the rainstorm and our times there, I am sorry they have to end this way. Charles also has the pearls for safekeeping they meant so much to me I want them to be with you, like our memories, for safekeeping.

So it seems I must finally bow to what everyone calls fate and do the right thing. I do it regretfully but I can live with it as long as you are happy and it is your wish. I love you and always will but our love is too destructive to carry on.

Take care and please forgive me when I only say good day to you. I know you have your family's love and understanding and some when you will find that quieter love you deserve.

Yours forever,

Ben

She felt stunned; tears ran down her face as she quietly cried among the sand dunes for the love she had finally lost.

"Meg what's wrong?" Broke into her thoughts, she looked up at the speaker and realized where she was and who it was.

Antonio held out a hankie which Meg took and wiped her tears.

"You were miles away... … about Ben?" he said gently.

Meg could only nod her head in agreement.

"Do you want to talk about it I'm not in a hurry?"

She smiled at his offer but guessed why he was there and asked. "How is Maria?" She found it strange how she could switch so easily back to the present.

Antonio smiled "I thought you should be one of the first to know - she is fine and they have a baby girl." With genuine concern he carried on. "Now talk to me while it's quiet as a friend or Priest it will go no further."

Meg knew she could trust him; her voice was a little shaky to begin with. "Thank you I know that … I've just broken up with Peter and what do I do I flash back to Ben's letter telling me he decided to stay with Maria I thought … No that is wrong … I am over that … accepted it and moved on. … I walked out on him he just confirmed it." She sighed, feeling better the words were out in the open and carried on ruefully. "Dad will have a field day when he finds out about Peter, he was so sure it would work and it might have but for last night when Peter tried it on and I chucked him out."

Antonio said gently understanding her meaning immediately. "Oh dear. … Hank thinks you're ready for more commitment. … Then there's old fashion idea of being left on the shelf if the younger daughter or sister is married first."

She gave a gentle laugh. "Yeah and I suppose he is still smarting from the fact I let Simon live with me in the new apartment I bought with the money from the Casita. … He assumed we were an item, though we never acted like one." She sighed "Gosh that was back in November; … it was not till April when his partner George turned up to make a fresh start that Dad realised …" She smiled as she carried on. "Everyone else knew so why shouldn't he. … After that he was on my back all the time. Sara's elopement with Casey made it worse, I think he wanted to prove to everyone in town that he, Hank Cummings could get at least one of his daughters properly married."

Antonio could not help smiling but his voice showed his concern. "Meg your love with Ben was something special. I must admit I did not think Ben would go back to Maria not after the way you two fought for each other. … I believe both of you lost something special when you decided go your different ways. … I respect you both for it and you need to give your heart time to heal completely. … You left him because you felt it was wrong to be with him, but Maria getting pregnant so soon did not help … must have felt like a slap in the face."

Meg sighed as she replied. "Yes and no. … Ben and I always took care when we slept together, we did not want complications. He explained in the letter he was going to work at his marriage and our love had been special. … It's just that every time anyone gets close to me I want that special feeling he gave me … the warmth and feeling of security … no one else can give it to me I do know that … but I thought Peter and I might find something but he rushed it."

Antonio shook his head in sympathy and said, "Perhaps you should move away just for a while so you don't have your father breathing down you neck all the time, and you will not see Ben." He saw her guard come up and carried on. "Oh I don't mean you're running away because you are not, you stayed and seen things through. The shop's good now … what about taking a shopping break for Sunset Sisters it might make it easier for your father to understand then if you see somewhere you like you could stay a little longer if not you have not lost anything. It will give your father sometime to think as well."

She thought for a moment and smiled liking the idea. "Not a bad thought, though Dad will want to keep track of me I swear he thinks I'm still in baby clothes." She ended with a slight giggle

Antonio laughed he was pleased she was starting to cheer up he valued their friendship which had grown in spite of the obvious difficulties and added. "By the way Gabi wanted to know if you could stand a girls night out this evening she's conned Ricardo and myself into looking after Benjy calling it a boys night in!"

She smiled. "Yes that sounds great. I'm glad you are all getting on so well in spite of Carmen's attempt to split them up. …You see we are an understanding lot round here really."

Antonio smiled. "Yes I know. Look there's Sara talk to her while it is quiet."

"Thank you, Antonio."

He put his hand on her shoulder then turned to leave her and as went out he said. "Sara everything all right?" Noticing the bounce in her walk.

"Yes thank you Father Antonio." Sara had always kept a distance in her friendship with Maria's brother, she noticed smudges around Meg's eyes and said "All right Sis?" and came over towards her full of concern.

"Yes better now. Antonio came to tell me Ben and Maria have a baby girl, but that was not why I was down. So what are you going to have?" she ended with a smile.

Sara stopped and said in mock disgust. "Oh Sis that's not fair! Can't keep anything from you can I!"

Meg shook her head still smiling went over and hugged her then Sara carried on. "I don't know what it is yet I go for a scan next week. That new doctor wants me to take things easy and does not like the idea of me flying something about blood pressure so Casey and I cannot go on our trip." She paused and spoke her thoughts. "I was wondering if you would like to use my ticket and we will just cancel Casey's ticket, ring the hotel and change it to a single room. You can visit the shop see if they have any more goods available, check out the workshop, which was closed when we were there and see if there are other places nearby even hire a car." She ended with a smile.

Meg listened in silence knowing how much Sara and Casey had been looking forward to returning to the special town having gone there on a buying trip and came back married. Faced her father's anger then eased it by having the marriage blessed in the Mission the following week. Later she'd quietly admitted they had planned the wedding to avoid their father's pressure and her pain of having to walk up the aisle as a bridesmaid. In their sisterly friendship she admitted she could not have been the bridesmaid it had been painful at Vanessa's wedding. So they promised a week away for their honeymoon but now her sister could not go and … …

Her sister's quiet "Penny for them." brought her back to now, she smiled saying. "Remembering your trip, I think you need help back here not me gadding off on a holiday leaving you to do all the work. And you have to give the new doctor a chance Sara."

Sara sighed dramatically. "There have been so many since Tyus left, … I'm seriously thinking of finding his e-mail address and asking him to return. … Anyway Emily or one of the other students can help and perhaps we should train someone to take over when I stop to have the baby. … Now that's out the way how did you're evening with Peter go." She eyed here sister "Oh! I seee … … another one down the drain then, … Dad's not going to be amused!" chuckling in sympathy.

"Nothing to do with him!" Meg exclaimed then added. "Funnily enough Antonio was suggesting the same thing ... a holiday calling it a buying trip … do you think you could manage? I mean I would hate anything to happen."

Sara gave a gentle sigh, put her hand on her sister's arm, sometimes she felt as though she was the older sister not Meg. "Mum can come over and sit in the shop; in fact we could use her as a stand in when the time comes give her break from Dad." She gave a cheeky smile.

Meg laughed "No she will want to be free to help with the baby … more likely give you break so you can be in the shop. … When are you going to tell Casey or does he know already?"

Sara smiled "He knows we went together. Now he's going round with a big fat smile on his face. As if he did all the hard work! … He'll have it wiped off his face later I can tell you!" She added darkly then laughed as Meg laughed.

A customer came in giving them a curious look Meg stopped and smiled. "Its okay just found out Sara's expecting a baby." The customer smiled and walked over to the pictures standing in the corner.

Meg said quietly "Can I tell Mum and Dad when I go over to the Shock Wave. Unless you want me to stay here and you tell them."

"No you can tell them now …I have a funny feeling they know … go on have a break and think about the trip it will do you good."

"Okay see you in a while, ring if you want me back early!" Meg grabbed her bag, smiled and walked out the shop.

oxoxo

On her walk over to the Shock Wave it seemed as though all the new and expectant mums had come out to do their shopping or go to the beach. She spotted Tess and Tim coming out of the baby shop and smiled thinking how the thought of fatherhood had changed Tim. Certainly his marriage to Tess seemed to be working well and pregnancy obviously suited her. She still could not get over how Ben had changed towards them first by sponsoring Tim for a college scheme and then a bonus to Tess, which enabled them to set up a flat as well as her job in the Art Gallery when Benjy went to school.

She realised it had been one of the things, which had stopped her father cursing Ben at every opportunity the other had been Benjy. She smiled remembering how the child had managed to win Hank's heart and he had become his unofficial uncle, allowing the Shock Wave to have parties for him and his friends. It was not unusual to find Ben or Maria there but if she was there and when Ben was her father would give them both the evil eye, would have gone ballistic given half the chance. But somehow Ben always managed to make sure there was enough space between them, as he promised it was just the casual 'hi' never anything more which was why she was so cross that anyone would think she still mooned over him. Keep her memories talk about them yes but not more.

She crossed the street and walked into the Shock Wave. There was only one seat unoccupied at the counter so as soon as her mother saw her she made sure it stayed free by putting out a cup and a plate of sandwiches on the counter for her.

"Thanks Mum!" Meg sat on the seat and looked around. "No Dad?"

Joan poured out the tea. "No he's getting some bits from the store room. Everything all right you look tired?"

"I'm fine, two things Maria's had a baby girl and I broke up with Peter last night though don't say anything to Dad yet."

"No of course not. Don't worry plenty of time. How do you know about Maria?"

"Antonio came over to tell me, they are both fine."

"I know how much it hurts you, but I'm glad nothing went wrong. Eat up, everything will come right just give it time."

Meg smiled, her mother always took the pressure off her, she started to eat the sandwiches and Hank came back laden down with boxes which Joan helped him with.

She waited till they were both together then said, "Dr. Peterson has confirmed Sara's expecting."

Joan smiled replied "Thought she looked peaky the other day everything all right?"

"Dr. Peterson told her they couldn't go on their trip something to do with blood pressure, know more when she has a scan next week. She suggested I go instead and look over a shop and the workshop they couldn't check out properly the first time. I'm worried she might be doing too much if I do."

Joan knew it would do her good and immediately said "No, I can go over. We've plenty of cover here and Debbie can work a shift over there she's very good and wants to do something more challenging. If you want someone to train to take Emily's or Sara's place later she would be ideal."

Meg smiled and decided she had to tell them now. "Good, then I think I'll take the break it's for a week but I might take another week and stop off, look at some others places on the way back."

"Fine as long as the plane lands first." Joan said with a smile Meg laughed.

It made no impression on Hank though and he asked with an edge. "Why the sudden rush Meg?"

She schooled her expression and stacked empty plate and cup as she answered. "No rush Dad it's not for a couple of weeks … I've never had the reason before, you know getting Sunset Sisters up and running has been hard work."

"Saw Peter this morning thought that might be the reason. He told me you still aren't over Ben."

Meg looked at her father "No Dad that's not the reason." She felt cross that Peter would go to him and carried on with an edge in her voice. "Did he give it to you word for word, action for action!!" There was a slight twitch of guilt from Hank and she felt her temper rising. "Well so now you get my side of the story. We went out for a film, a meal I asked him in for a drink after. .... We've done it before and no problem but for some reason Peter assumed sleeping with me was all part of the evening." She could not believe what just crossed her mind so she voiced it. "Hey! Did a big bird suggest something different this time?"

She expected a 'don't be daft' reply instead she saw the twitch of guilt again and knew she had hit home her anger boiled, she didn't care about the onlookers she let rip, her voice loud but not shouting every words was clear.

"For heaven's sake Dad! You know I still think sex is something special not for one night stands! … Like you've always told me!! Something to cherish!" She saw his expression and said a bit quieter but with a bite to it. "Has he been running to you about our other evenings out none of which included bed afterwards, … I hope you've enjoyed the trips Dad!!" She saw Hank wince and let rip again. "I hope it was not all your idea in the first place Dad!"

She got off the stool letting it clatter to the ground as she stormed out of the Shock Wave.

Hank picked the stool up and looked after her shaking his head muttering. "Ben's got a lot to answer for!"

Joan's quiet voice carried the same bite her daughter's had. "No Sweetheart you have!"

Hank spun round, his expression starting to show anger but it was stopped by his wife's cool expression, which spoke volumes as she carried on. "You've accepted everyone else's decisions but never Meg's. You've always wanted to be in control of her and keep her too close. We only came here because Meg was here."

Hank started to speak but Joan added quickly. "No do not lie. We knew the farm was failing but you still wanted Tim to have it so it would keep Meg close. Then we came out here to see how Meg was doing and stayed. We never visited Sara; we left her to fend for herself.

We could have set up back in Kansas with our friends but no you wanted to set up here ... Yes I know Sara was here as well … but what would you have done if Sara moved elsewhere … gone to live with her and left Meg?.... No I see not. … I'm not saying we made a mistake coming here we did not. … But we did get too close sometimes, never gave her the chance to stand on her own and fight for Ben on her own terms as she did before we arrived.

Now I think she may want to stand on her own again and we have to let her fly ... let her go then she may come back to us in time. … If she wants to go on this trip let her … we have friends who can help us with Sara."

Hank calmed down slightly thinking about Joan's words, but was not ready to accept them and pointed out. "We did let her go when she left Tim at the church … WE did not make the mess she got herself in BEN did. … She is always getting hurt. … Meg was just a stand in while Maria was away that's why I did not like it. … He's proved it by staying with her and starting a family as soon as he could!"

Customers settled down, some nearby delayed finishing their drinks and meals, the staff carried on as though nothing was happening; they all knew this was unusual.

Joan smiled at how stubborn and naive her husband could be and kept her voice soft but firm. "No Meg was never a stand in Hank. They loved each other and for some reason they agreed to let it die, and go their separate ways. Meg has never fully explained what happened … she may do one day … but I doubt it. The real truth! - We never got to know Ben or his background even when he saved your life in the earthquake it did not take you long to find fault with him again."

She ignored his look of indignation she was going to finish this now she'd started. "Come on, you were always quietly pleased when he failed your so-called high standards. Truth! - he tried to reach them and do what he thought was right without hurting anyone, and found he could not. … Someone always got hurt and I expect he was the one it hurt the most. So he did what everyone thought he ought to do and stayed with his wife and son. Granted it is working and they love each other and have a new baby, but it has not been easy for him.

Her voice was softer as she spoke but she hardened it when she wanted to make her point and Hank knew he could do anything but listen. "You have to admit you're attitude towards him has changed because he's left Meg. You've even accept Benjy as if he's a kind of grandchild. But will you let Meg go and do what she wants, NO! you still hope she will stay by your side like the child she used to be and you think she is.

Well Hank Cummings our daughter Meg is a very good daughter, she IS over 21 and can GO where she wants, SEES whom she wants not who you want … So give her your blessing and let her go!" She didn't storm away she stayed hoping her words would sink.

Hank shook his head and was hurt by her words; he always had the idea that she thought given free choice Ben would have stayed with Meg but she had never voiced her thoughts, and tried to defend himself. "Why all this concern about Meg, I've always let her make up her own mind. You know damn well she can be stubborn and we know where she gets that from." Looking straight at her.

Joan smiled and replied straight back. "Yes you! … It's because you could not resist bringing up her break up with Peter. She is hurting … She did not want it mentioned and it proves you've been stirring again …YOU knew something had happened before Meg said anything. … You did not learn with Tim did you! …. You had a hand in it and you've just made it worse, every time she goes out you are there watching to see how it's going, ready to jump in. You are not giving her any space. So … I hope she will enjoy the week's break and if she wants to extend it we will give it our blessing whether YOU like or not! Understand!" She met his glare.

Without looking away he said. "Yes ma'am!" Then trying to sound casual added. "You said they have a daughter everything all right?" and started to turn away to start serving again. He knew she was right he hadn't wanted Meg to go and he missed her. He also felt the staff and customers were watching them, they never rowed in public but today they had.

"Yes" Joan replied as she went back to putting things away pretty sure Meg would leave for good now she knew her father had been at it again. She also knew she would have to have a quiet word with her before she left and felt cross that things had suddenly got so bad. The sound of children's laughter and adults talking as they came in cut into her thoughts and brought the Shock Wave back to normality.

oxoxo

Joan rang the bell to Meg's apartment expecting Meg to answer and was surprised by a voice behind her.

"Mum can I help?" Sara asked.

Joan turned and smiled "I hoped to catch Meg. "

"She'll be here in a moment I've got a key. Casey's got some food and Meg's got the drink. … Its okay only fruit juices we are having a meal sort of combined celebration for us and hoping to get her to go on this trip. I've got some more details to help."

Joan smiled quickly realising that Meg might not have told Sara everything that had happened said. "Don't push her she's already made her mind up to go."

Sara exclaimed. "She said nothing to me this afternoon! … In fact I got little out of her." she gave a true sister grin and added. "No that's not true a clean and tidy stockroom because she hid herself in it … that's why I agreed to this … to get her to open up before she goes and sees Gabi."

Joan sighed and explained. "Big row with Hank in the Shock Wave I'm afraid. Let me help you."

"About Peter?"

"Yes."

"Okay enough said then." Sara knew better than to pry, she would bide her time drip, drip effect could work better sometimes than a frontal assault where her sister was concerned.

They went inside the apartment and put the bags by the chairs then made their way into the kitchen to get plates etc. in comfortable silence. When they returned Casey and Meg had arrived and were sorting things out.

Meg stopped and watched her Mum trying to gauge what was going to happen and got in first. "Hi Mum did not realize you were here everything all right?"

"Yes fine, Dad sends his love." They laughed and Joan carried on "No really. I had a few words with him after you'd gone and I think he sees his mistake about Peter. If you want an extended holiday that will be fine with us."

Meg ran her fingers through her long black hair pushing it away from her face, it was a habit she had when she was worried and exclaimed. "Hey! Why does everyone want to get rid of me all of a sudden? I find out my sister's pregnant and everyone one wants me gone."

Joan explained gently. "No love its just you need space. Something new, different then you can come back fresh…"

Meg butted in she was not angry just needed them to know how she felt. "Gee whiz Mum; I thought I was doing fine. … No that's wrong I know I am doing fine! … I have a great apartment I have a job I enjoy with my sister who is going to desert me for a baby." She smiled at her sister as she said it and carried on. "My family and friends around me … I am okay! … I don't moon over Ben like Dad thinks I do. … As for Peter he made a promise and broke it last night, that's fine I know where I stand and there are a lot of men out there Mum. I don't need Dad's help. … Yes I will accept this buying holiday and come back and be the same as I am now. … It's you lot who will not let me be!"

Casey and Sara clapped at the end of her speech and she gave a mocking bow feeling better not that she'd felt too bad before.

Joan saw her daughter meant every word of it she was fine and would be fine once she got over what had happened today, she went over and hugged Meg and said gently. "I understand … now go and enjoy you're evening."

She hugged Sara and Casey and left them to their meal, knowing she had some sorting out to do with Hank.

Oxoxox

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