Gail Robinson closed the door of number 22 for the last time, tears in her eyes she walked down the drive to her car, pausing for a moment she turned back and looked at the house; there were so many memories and not all of them bad but this time she was never coming back. She felt the powerful kick from the life growing within her and placed her hand on her stomach; her precious children growing inside of her unaware of the turmoil she was facing. The hardest decision she ever made was to leave but she didn't see how she could stay; she loved Paul, deep inside she knew she always would but she could not longer tolerate the fact that business would always come first with him; even today, when she really needed him, he walked out on her for a business meeting. Sighing heavily she placed her bags in the boot of the car and got into the driver's seat, closing her eyes she laid back against the head rest, part of her unsure as to whether this was the right thing to do. The street was empty but if she left it much longer she might not be able to escape unnoticed. She turned the key in the ignition and reversed the car out of the drive. There was no plan in her head; just the need to get as far away from Ramsay Street as she could.
Paul Robinson sat in his office alone; the meeting had dragged on and what should have been an hour turned out to be two; he needed to get back to Gail but just at the moment it felt as though he was the last person she wanted around; she didn't seem to understand that everything he did, he did it for her and the children; to give them the lives they deserved. He was deep in thought when his father walked in.
"Paul why are you still here?"
"My meeting just finished; I was just about to head out, how's Gail?"
"She's gone home; I hate to say it son, but I think you made a mistake today leaving her like that"
"I was a meeting that was arranged weeks ago, I didn't want to break it, besides I'm hardly her favourite person at the moment"
"Paul, Gloria just told us that Rob knew those parts were stolen"
"Apparently he thought he was doing me a favour; Gloria didn't want to tell Gail as she didn't want to destroy her image of her father"
"Dad she needs to know the truth; she's blames me for his death and I'm not sure how we're going to get past this…I don't want to lose her"
"You still shouldn't have argued with him like that; causing him to leave the house like that"
"Dad…if he knew he was in the right he wouldn't have left"
"What's done is done; but right now you need to talk to Gail and you need to go home now…"
The conversation was interrupted by the ring of the telephone. Paul went to answer it.
"Paul leave it…it's time you went home!"
"It might be important"
"More important than your wife?"
Paul sighed "No…of course not; but she's made it clear she doesn't want me around, I'm no use to her at the moment; I can't get through to her!"
"She's grieving; she's also pregnant, her hormones are over the place…but you can get through this"
"I hope so..come on let's get out of here!"
"Possibly the best idea you've come up with all day" Jim laughed.
Gail stopped her car in the centre of town; she seemed to havebeen driving around in circles for an hour and still hadn't managed to get that far away from Ramsay Street. She spotted a coffee bar on the opposite side of the road and decided she needed a break, walking in, she went and ordered herself a coffee and then found a corner booth out of the way; she needed to gather her thoughts. She felt confused, earlier she had it worked out that she was doing the right thing for both her and the babies but there was another part of her that was aching and begging her to turn around; in her heart she knew that she still loved Paul but she couldn't live with the what they had become; the most important thing in his life was the Robinson Corporation and her and the triplets seemed an afterthought. Her mind went back to the reason she started the IVF in the first place; to give Paul the child he wanted and now she was taking that from him; she stared at the untouched coffee in front of her, the tears streaming down her face…she felt alone and lost without the best friend she ever had. She finished her coffee and went back to the car; once again she felt the kicks of the babies inside her; she knew she had two choices…to follow her heart or her head.
Paul pulled into the drive of No 22, walking through the door he called Gail's name but received no answer; the house felt eerie, something wasn't quite right; suddenly he realised he hadn't seen her car in the drive, he walked into the kitchen and saw the letter on the table, picking it up he started to read. As he read a cold feeling ran through him, he ran upstairs and looked in her wardrobe, her clothes were gone, he went to the spare room and found that the baby clothes that she had brought were gone; she had left him and this time he didn't know where she was. He couldn't believe that she thought that he loved the business more than her; it wasn't true…he was building the business up to give her and their children the life they deserved…nothing was more important than her; she had taught him so much…given him back the ability to trust people. He needed to find her. Thinking back to earlier he realised that his father was right, he shouldn't have left Rob's wake…she needed him and he wasn't there for her. He felt sick, he couldn't let her walk out of his life, not now, and not ever…he needed to find her. Walking outside he hurried over to No 26.
"Paul what's wrong?" Jim said as his son rushed through the door.
"What time did Gail leave here?"
"About three hours ago" Helen replied "Why?"
"She's gone..her clothes, the babies' clothes, everything"
"She can't have gone far…"
"I need to find her…she left a note…she thinks I care about the business more than her, but it's not true"
"It certainly seemed like that at times Paul" Helen said
"That's not true….I was building the business for us, to give us the financial stability that we need, without her it means nothing"
"These past few months things seem to have changed between you two…almost as though you were withdrawing from her…I saw it this morning when you left after lunch…I shouldn't have let her go, the look on her face when you walked out the door…." Helen replied
"Come on…let's see if we can drive around and find her"
Helen watched them go, worried that this time Gail may be gone for good.
Gail drovie into the Lassiters Car Park, something was drawing her here, getting out of the car she slowly walked to the bridge, she thought back to a different time, the first time that Paul told her he loved her was on this bridge…that's all she ever wanted to hear, he told her afterwards how terrified he was that he would be rejected but she told him the truth was that she was only ever leaving because she was in love with him and knew he didn't feel the same or wouldn't admit it. The tears started to flow again, but this time she knew that Paul wouldn't come out of the Waterhole and tell her he loved her, she looked towards the office, she hadn't seen Paul's car in his parking space so she knew he had gone, was he back at home? What was he thinking? Did he care that she was gone? She looked inside her bag and found the spare key. She hadn't used it in months. She opened the door and walked inside; she felt tired and went to sit at Paul's desk, it was then that she noticed the picture of her and Paul sat on his desk, she picked it up and gently stroked his face; sighing she looked at the phone on the desk..looking at the phone she picked it up and dialled, not quite knowing what she would do if it was picked up, she waited.
"Where are you?"
"Right I'll be there in 15 minutes…don't move"
Gail sat back in the chair; she didn't think she could move if she wanted to, she picked up the photograph and held it close to her; once again she felt the babies kick…maybe they were trying to tell her not to leave. Fifteen minutes seemed to last a lifetime, she felt a sigh of relief when she heard Helen's voice in the hallway. Gail got out of the chair and walked to the door, the tears streaming down her face, the last thing she wanted to do was cry, Helen walked up to her and hugged her.
"Its okay" Helen said "I'm just glad you're okay"
"I tried to leave but I couldn't, but I don't think I can stay"
"Let me make some coffee and we can talk..go and sit down"
Gail went and sat back in the office, five minutes later Helen walked in and placed the coffee mugs on the desk.
"I don't understand…of all the places you could have gone…why here?"
Gail sighed "I don't know…I was just drawn here; I'm just so confused…earlier I had it all planned out…I was leaving Ramsay Street forever…."
"How can I leave and deprive Paul of the children I know that he wants, but how can I stay and play second best to the business. How many birthday parties is he going to miss because he has to be at the office? How much time are we going to spend together…just at the moment it's very little"
"Gail I know he loves you; he's going out of his mind with worry now; he's looking for you"
"Look at today; I needed him and he left me for a business meeting, okay…I know I pushed him away, told him I didn't want him around but I was angry and upset and I felt he was to blame for what happened but I needed him there today and he wasn't"
"And he's kicking himself that he didn't see that; he just thought that there were others around who you'd probably prefer to be with than him"
Gail fell silent and stared into her coffee cup, minutes past before she spoke "You asked me why I came here, for some reason I wanted to come to the bridge, the place where Paul declared he loved me and we ended the Marriage of Convenience, I had waited for so long to hear those words from him. Even in the office we had some good times, we were always competitive but we worked as a good team. Maybe that's been the problem, having to stop working has meant we aren't spending that much time together anymore"
"I also think Paul needs to spend a little less time at the office and little more time with you" Helen said
"Yeah but since he brought Rosemary out; he's been swamped, I suppose I know he's doing this for us and to give us security but sometimes I wish he had let this place go. He could have found another job somewhere else. Don't get me wrong I'm proud of what he's achieved I just wish his whole left didn't revolve around the Robinson Corporation. To be honest I can't see any room in his life for me and the children"
"He wants these children just as much as you do"
"Eighteen months ago when we started thinking about the IVF, I would have agreed with you but now I think it's just another burden for him, to stop him building his empire. I don't know I'm just confused"
"So where do you go from here?"
"I'm not sure…I don't think I could stay and watch our marriage dissolve into the business deal it started as; I want the man I love back but I feel I've lost him"
"You need to open the lines of communication; but I'm not here to tell you what to do. If you decide to walk out of here and leave then this conversation has never happened, I haven't seen you but on the other hand if you decide to stay then I will try and help however I can. I don't want you to go but at the end of the day the decision is yours and yours alone"
Paul and Jim seemed to be going around in circles; they'd been to Gloria's place and the hospital but there was no sign of Gail; she had a two hour start on them and both of them knew it.
"Dad..let's go back to Ramsey Street; we've been driving for over an hour now and haven't found her, once I get home, I'll ring around and see if someone has heard from her"
"We could try Lassiters"
"That's the last place she'd go to…let's just go home"
"Are you prepared to give up just like that?"
"Dad. Let's face it she's gone and there's nothing I can do about it; at the end of the day she's just like every other woman I've been involved with; they all leave me in the end"
"No Paul, Gail was different she loved you , she just didn't like what you became."
"Why didn't she understand that I love her, nothing has changed"
"You have neglected her recently"
"I wasn't building this business up for me; I was doing it for my family, why couldn't she understand that… nothing has changed I love her so much"
"You still want me to turn around and go home"
Paul remained silent for a while, he didn't want to give up but he knew that driving around all night would get them nowhere…he had to face it that she was gone and this time there was nothing he could do about it.
"Yes" he said finally.
Jim sighed "Okay"
Paul turned his face towards the window, he felt the tears beginning to form in his eyes, If only he had stayed this afternoon and not gone to the meeting, maybe Gail would still be here but his own carelessness had driven her away.
Meanwhile back at Lassiters Gail sat in silence trying to work out what her next step would be. She picked up the picture and stared at her husband. She thought back to the start of their marriage, the marriage of convenience, a business deal that was also supposed to protect them from ever falling in love with anyone else and getting hurt but they hadn't bargained on falling in love with each other. Finally she looked at Helen.
"Do you really think we can change things, that we can stop him being so obsessed with this place?"
"I think he's worked out how you're feeling at the moment and perhaps we can persuade him to put an assistant manager in the office or even two and I could talk to Rosemary and see if she'd consider coming back over here for a couple of weeks to look after things; I know the Daniel Corporation doesn't take up much of her time these days…and there's the possibility that he could work from home a few days a week and only go into the office when necessary especially for the next few months and don't forget that you two won't be alone looking after these children, there's a whole street that will help"
"That's what I love about Ramsay Street"
"It can get a bit overbearing at times"
"I think it's time to go home"
"Are you sure?"
"Yes providing your grandson hasn't changed the locks by now"
"Do you want me to drive back; we could get Jim and Paul to pick up your car later"
"No it's fine…you can follow me back to Ramsey Street, all my stuff is in the back of my car"
"You shouldn't have been carrying that you do know that"
"I'm sorry…I let everything get to me and just felt that I needed to leave"
"You sure this is what you want…do you still love Paul"
Turning off the lights. Gail locked the door and the two women headed to their cars.
"See you back at the house" Helen hugged Gail "Drive carefully"
Jim and Paul pulled up outside number 22 "Do you want me to come in?" Jim asked
"No it's fine..I just want to be on my own; guess I'll have to get used to it"
Jim watched him walk to the house, he knew Paul was barely holding it together and worried what this would do to him, as Paul closed the door behind him Jim drove back to his own drive. Inside the house Paul stared at the emptiness around him, he needed to make phone calls and see if anyone had heard from Gail; but he didn't know where to start. He sat down and closed his eyes, silently cursing himself, wishing he had done things differently. He hadn't realised how bad things had got, hadn't realised how neglected she had felt; he thought she knew that he loved her but obviously she didn't. Now it felt as though part of him had been ripped from him, he felt lost and alone. Looking at the chair opposite he saw the three bears that Gail's father had brought for the triplets; Gail must have forgotten them or had she left them to dig the knife in a little deeper; he didn't want to believe that, to feel that she hated him that much. Walking over he picked up the three bears and went and sat back on the sofa, without warning the tears came and for the first time in a long time he sobbed uncontrollably for what he had lost.
Meanwhile back outside, Gail pulled up near the kerb by number 22, Helen followed her. Both women got out of their cars.
"Are you okay?" Helen asked
Gail smiled "I think so; looks like Paul's home"
"Do you want me to go in with you?"
"No I need to do this on my own"
"Gail do me a favour, if you two can't work this out, please let us know you're leaving"
Gail hugged her "Don't worry I will"
"I bet you haven't eaten since lunchtime, I've got a casserole in the oven why don't I bring some over to you in an hour"
"Thanks..that will be good"
"I'll talk to you later"
Gail walked up the drive to the house; placing her hand on the handle she quietly pushed it opened, thankful that it wasn't locked.
Silently she walked in; the sight she saw tore at her heart, gently she walked over to Paul and knelt before him realising that in his grief he hadn't even notice her come in, she touched his hand and he looked up, his eyes red with crying, without a word she removed the bears from him and took him in her arms, trying to calm his sobs, stroking his back she spoke words of reassurance; hating to see him this way, her tears began to flow too. Gradually the sobs eased and she gently pulled away from him. Looking in his eyes she knew that she could never leave him and at this point in time she didn't want to, in a moment all her anger, hurt and pain seem to dissolve, they needed to find away through this
Paul broke the silence "I'm sorry…I didn't realise how you felt"
"Paul…we have to talk…we can't go on like this"