Chapter 1

I am slowly waking up, but I don't want to. This dream is so great, so perfect.

Yesterday's events clearly had an effect on me. I could practically feel the adrenaline pumping through my veins. I was desperate. I never thought the pure threat of losing James could seem like the end of the world. I've always had a miserable life, I've lived through a lot – but I am not sure if I could have survived the loss of my precious son.

And then seeing Louisa's angst. The professional in me knew that Aunt Ruth probably was right, she must have had the better judgement according to her education and experience.

But I had put James into this danger, I had caused Louisa's panic, and I had to do everything to prove to her that I was willing to solve the problem, calm that madwoman down, and I had to do so following Louisa's guidance.

Even if that meant standing there near the cliff tops like a complete fool. The cliff top was a proper place to be, as I felt like I was at the edge of an abyss.

When Louisa ordered me to pretend to be in love with that mad woman, I didn't know what to do. I'm not good at declaring my love. But I saw Louisa's pleading eyes, and I knew what I wanted to tell her. So I kept saying what was coming into my mind. My mind racing.

It is really strange how much can change in just a few weeks. I've never felt so good in my entire life than at the time when Louisa and James were staying with me. For the first time I understood the concept of family and suddenly, it made sense.

Aunt Ruth thought I was just doing the decent thing in staying with Louisa, as in fact Edith had suspected when she warned me that I shouldn't feel I had to rescue Louisa when she turned up pregnant.

They both made one colossal mistake – I didn't need to run after Louisa to rescue her, but to let her rescue me. Or maybe James did that. I don't know. He seems to be quite a clever little fellow.

I love him.

There's something about my bloody insecurity that has always prevented me from telling Louisa what I feel about her. I don't want to embarrass her. Or maybe I'm just afraid of her reaction. I can never tell what Louisa will do next, what she thinks or feels.

She gave me a bit of hope the day before yesterday, when she expressed her hope that I would come down for weekend-visits. So maybe she did still want to see me.

I'm not good with words, but when I had to fight for my son, it felt so right to let her know what I felt. I didn't even care that that moron Penhale could be overhearing us.

Bloody Penhale! Why did he have to come back to look for his stupid police radio.

When Louisa had asked me to repeat to her, for the third time, that I actually do love her, I dared to prove it to her more openly. When my lips met hers, it felt…liberating.

But I don't want to take advantage of her. Studies have shown that the sexual side of a relationship is statistically more important to men than to women, I don't want her to feel obliged to follow my needs.

I want to be there for her, she doesn't have to reward me for it. Having given me James is reward enough.

I was baffled myself at how natural it seemed to do the things I did for Louisa and James. I've always hated my daily routine to be interrupted. I like order. I like to be organised. Usually. The last weeks have been anything but. I learned how to hold a baby, how to change a baby, how to feed and burp a baby. The only reward I got was to stroke James' tummy, or have him squeezing my fingers. But, my, it was worth it.

I realised that Louisa was still a bit confused and stressed about the new baby situation. I tried to take some of the everyday life tasks off her. I really enjoyed keeping an eye on her – when she had mistaken the milk for her tea cup, when she almost let the milk boil. Gosh, I even jumped around like a madman, in my pyjamas, holding a crying baby! If anyone had told me that I would ever do such a thing, I would have snarled at him. I lost a glass tumbler and almost my coffee machine.

But I didn't regret one single moment. Looking back, Louisa didn't give me much encouragement or reward. Only after I had put together James' cot she did make a positive comment, but I don't expect that from her. Honestly I don't. If I can just see her, knowing that she will be home, feeling her warmth next to me at night, having her sitting opposite me during meals. I would happily spend my life that way. If I got nothing more out of life for the rest of my days but being around to make life easier for her, my life would be well lived, my time well spent. I guess I'm just besotted with that woman.

My cold, analytical nature would never have thought that such an intense infatuation could be possible, but life has taught me a lesson – my life means nothing to me anymore if I can't be around my son and her.

And finally, I could admit as much to her. I suppose that'll mean Portwenn for the rest of my life. Portwenn and Louisa. And James. When Louisa took my hand and we were strolling back, hand in hand, to my car yesterday, I felt like a teenager. Except that I never have felt this way before, especially not as a teenager. But the whole world was absolutely right, all of a sudden.

I was devastated when she moved out a few days ago. Even more so than last year, when she had declared that she never wanted to see me again after that fateful concert. Then, I only had my dreams to give me an illusion of what we might have.

Now I know what it is like to be with Louisa – in the physical as well as the social sense. Now I know it is bloody wonderful to have Louisa. And I don't just mean in that way, but in any way.

It felt so right living with Louisa since James was born. I never touched her in an unseemly manner, mind you, but just knowing that she was there. Seeing James first thing in the morning. Sharing the care for that little, precious bundle. Having something that joins us together. Not having to eat alone. It was all so new, so family-like – so right.

That made it even more horrifying when that infatuated crazy woman put everything at risk. I should have spotted that she had lost her marbles – the unspeakable yellow jumper was a strong indicator.

But so much happened that day that I had filed the jumper away as not particularly important. If I hadn't been that blind a few months ago, yesterday's events could have been avoided.

But then, Louisa probably wouldn't have agreed to move back to my place. We're living here as a family again.

My family.

I told Louisa that I won't be like my father, and I really suppose that's true. I can't imagine my father feeling for me what I feel for James. He couldn't have treated me the way he did if he had. I couldn't treat James the way I was treated. And James won't become just another one jinxed with the Ellingham curse.

However, there is one Herculean task ahead of me. Louisa told me yesterday, following my pleading – yes, I did actually beg her to take me back, and I am not ashamed that I did – that we have to talk things through properly this time.

I hate talking.

I always say the wrong things, I know that, and I don't really know what to say at all. What she wants to hear. How to improve things.

Louisa put it bluntly that she is not prepared to live with me in the same way we lived together before. She insists that we have to make some changes. That means probably she expects me to change.

I suppose I will have to try, because I know now for certain that I will not be able to leave Louisa and our wonderful son behind. I simply don't want to live without them anymore. Although I'm petrified of what Louisa might demand of me, I'll have to consider it seriously. I can't afford to muck it up again.

Luckily, Louisa was worn out yesterday after all this turmoil, so she didn't feel like talking at all. Thankfully, she agreed to stay at my place tonight. I suppose she didn't really fancy being alone, now that her awful mother is gone.

And I really wanted to have James around. I couldn't stand the thought of not knowing what he was doing. After all, it had been so close that I might have lost the one great good my life had offered me just after a few weeks. That would have been typical for me.

No, I could not let James sleep away from me.

During the night, I could hear him whimper, wailing and gurgling a couple of times – and it was the sweetest music to my ear. I didn't mind getting up during the night to feed him and soothe him. He deserves a home he can feel safe in. He deserves better than what I have given him so far.

What is it this morning? My body feels so absolutely content. I feel relaxed and tense all at the same time. Dare I say I feel almost …happy?

I can't shake this dream of mine, although my mind is already awake enough to sum up yesterday's events. This dream captivates me – I can't shake it. And I really don't want to.

The warmth of Louisa's body and her sweet smell on the cushions next to mine set my mind racing, just as her voice on the answering machine had, when she called me because of Peter Cronk's injury all these years ago.

My dirty mind makes me imagine her nimble fingers following the lines of my face, my jaw, my cheekbone, circling the area around my ear. I feel her lips softly touching my cheek, then my neck – finally I feel her lips on mine like the touch of a butterfly.

It sets my heart racing. It also provokes another reaction, which I try to suppress sternly.

I have to wake up. Quickly! I have to pull myself away from this hallucination. But it is so sweet. It is exactly what I need right now.

Just a moment more. Just relish the touch of her hands and lips just a minute longer, even if I just imagine it.

I feel her hands running over the top of my pyjamas, and she slides her hands between the button tab and her fingernail is slightly scratching the sensitive skin on my chest. I remember this manipulation from our short engagement. It makes me quite hot and suddenly I hear a moan escaping my lips.

Blimey! Did I really do that, or is it part of my dream? I have to wake up. Open your eyes, man! You can't lie next to her groaning and grunting!

With much effort I manage to open my eyelid a bit. It flutters, then it shuts down again. But I still feel the fingernails scraping over my skin. I'm still not completely out of it.

I throw my eyes open.

To be continued…