Author's Note: Thanks so much for the AWESOME response to last chapter! I hope the response to this chapter will be the same :)
Intense foreshadowing ahead.
Chapter title comes from Lego House by Ed Sheeran. Give it a listen if you like.
As usual, I don't own or have anything to do with Skins
Chapter 24: Lego House
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
It was absolutely fucking freezing in the old apartment, which was slowly becoming the new studio for the magazine Em, Katie, Effy, Stacey and I were starting. The place was only slightly set up, but nonetheless we were pushing forward and doing a photo shoot today with Gina and Jenna to accompany an article (written by me, though Emily provided all the information) on older women, beauty, and aging gracefully. Our old kitchen was still a kitchen, but it was now used mostly as a place for us to eat lunch and snacks at work. Katie and Effy's old bedroom was now the studio for both photo shoots on a grand scale as well as product photography. The old office was still an office that was now expanding into the living room, since we now needed five desks. The living room and office were lined with bookcases, filled to the brim with old magazines, beauty books, art books, and fashion books. Stacey, Em, and Katie ended up having quite an impressive collection of such books, especially when we combined all their collections and realized we'd filled up ten bookcases. We had one couch in the living room, which was pushed off to the side of the room since the desks monopolized a lot of the room. We were planning on turning the master bedroom into a kid-friendly space for when Effy and I had the babies.
However, today, I was not very fond of our studio because Emily had forgotten to top up the electric key and we had no heating. Effy and I were huddled up in blankets, typing away furiously at our computers as we combined and edited our articles together – Effy and I were collaboratively writing a piece on pregnancy and fashion. I, of course, had no idea what Effy was talking about throughout most of the piece, but I tried my best to make her ideas fit together more coherently. After all, the only thing I knew about fashionable maternity clothes was that TopShop's maternity line was my new best friend.
Emily, Stacey, and Katie were in the office, preparing their hair and makeup kits for Gina and Jenna. While Emily and Katie were doing makeup, Stacey was going to be doing both Gina and Jenna's hair.
My mum was first to arrive, ripping through the studio as though she were some kind of frazzled tornado. She was always in a rush, though she never actually showed up late.
"Did I really beat Jenna here?" My mum asked Emily as she sat down in the makeup chair. Emily smiled and nodded. "Wow. That's impressive. For me, I mean..."
Emily smiled again and my mum tried to keep talking to her, but eventually Emily had to tell her to be quiet and stay still unless she wanted her eyeshadow to look lopsided. Thankfully, my mother complied.
Jenna showed up an hour late, also tearing through the studio as though she were a frazzled tornado, shouting apologies regarding her lateness. Effy looked as though she was about to completely give up on our article and start smashing her head against the keyboard, and I felt much the same way. We were getting distracted every two minutes and hadn't managed to get anything done as soon as my mum came into the studio.
"Katie," Effy whined. "Can't you shut the door to the office? Naoms and I can't focus on the article."
Katie quickly complied and shut the door.
"Fucking finally," I muttered. Effy and I put the last touches on the article and were finished within 30 minutes. We had already told the others that we had absolutely no intention of staying to watch the shoot since we had no clue what Katie, Em and Stacey were really planning for the shoot. Instead, we planned on going home and building our cribs.
"Let's get out of here," Effy said as she shut down her computer and grabbed our jackets. She tossed mine at me with a smile, folded up the blankets we'd been using and put them away. I shut down my own computer and put on my jacket, scarf, hat and mittens.
We had already decided to build my crib first, since it seemed slightly more complicated than Katie and Effy's crib. My crib came with seven pages of instructions, while Katie and Effy's only came with two.
"Jeez, Naoms, this is like building the Mars Rover," Effy said, handing me a screwdriver and a corresponding screw. She tilted the instructions page and frowned. Libby was sitting next to Effy and also eying the instructions skeptically. "You sure this is even meant to be a crib? 'Cause right now, it looks more like a torture device."
I shrugged and sighed as I tried my best to make sense of where each screw was meant to go, and how exactly this crib was meant to come together. Libby barked gently at Effy, demanding her attention. Effy smiled and scratched Libby behind the ears.
"You know, we could have put this off longer," I said. "Ems and I aren't even going to be using this crib right away with Elouise."
Effy stared at me, seemingly confused and angry all at the same time.
"What." Effy said it as a statement, rather than an actual question.
"Well, we're going to try co-sleeping for the first little while, since I'll be breastfeeding and it'll just be easier that way," I replied. I had finally figured out where the screw was meant to go and smiled proudly to myself. "We're going to get a bassinet, or maybe a crib that can attach to the edge of our bed."
"Co-sleeping? Do you plan on never having sex in your own bed ever again? If you co-sleep, Elouise will never want to sleep in her own room."
"But it'll only be a few months, and besides, Anna says you can't have sex for at least 4 weeks after giving birth and that most people wait even longer than that," I replied, distinctly remembering the conversation our midwife and Emily had regarding when exactly we could start having sex after the birth.
"Naoms, you're putting your marriage on a one-way path to lesbian bed death."
""Lesbian bed death is a myth." I replied as I finally managed to build the back part of the crib. "And what are you and Katie going to do then? Just put the baby in his own nursery right away?"
Effy shrugged. "We haven't really decided yet, but I mean, I thought that was what we were going to do. Isn't that what parents normally do?"
"I slept in my mum's room until I was twelve, but that was mostly because we couldn't afford a two bedroom place when I was growing up," I replied. Effy handed me a few more screws for the front part of the crib. "But I also know that I slept in the same bed as my mum until I was one. She's a big believer in co-sleeping, says it lowers rates of sudden infant death syndrome and helps the baby and the mother sleep."
Effy shrugged and helped me screw in the final screws of the crib. We pushed the crib into the spot where it was supposed to be. We both agreed it was time to take a well deserved break, so I made us tea and brought out a new pack of Oreos.
"Heard from Cook at all?" Effy asked while we sipped our tea and stuffed our faces.
"Nope. Better that way. Ems and I have decided that we don't need him to be in Elouise's life after all. It's kind of a huge relief, to be honest. No more worrying about what kind of role Cook will have in her life or whether he'll abandon her at some point or whether Em will feel left out. Em reminded me that she's Elouise's other parent, not Cook. That really helped me sort things out."
Effy nodded and smiled. "I think you're finally getting the hang of this whole marriage and family thing, Naoms. Don't let anything fuck it up now."
I smiled at her. "I won't. Tomorrow is our two year anniversary of the day we met in Paris, and I'm not sure if Em remembers or not, but I'm planning on cooking her a very lovely and intimate meal and just properly celebrating, you know? I think we deserve it, after the past few months we've been through together."
Effy nodded solemnly. "Do you know when John Foster is meant to be released?"
"Well, he's supposed to be in the slammer for a year, but he's up for probation just after Christmas. I think the trial is actually on New Year's Eve."
Effy nodded. "Heard from Natalie at all about whether she's coming over for Christmas and New Year's?"
I shrugged. "I left her a message a few days ago, but she hasn't gotten back to me yet. And even if she can make it, I can't help but worry about whether Nat and my mum will get along."
Effy sighed. "I suppose you can only hope for the best. Gina doesn't seem like the type to hold a grudge, and Nat doesn't seem the type either."
I sighed. "I know, but you haven't really seen Gina in full-on protective mother mode. She might take one look at Nat and see everything that I deserved and didn't get. And as for Nat...I'm not so sure about her. There's just something about her that's making me keep my guard up a bit. It's not like she's keeping something from me...at least, not intentionally. But there's something in me that's telling me something's up and I just can't figure out what it is. But she's my half-sister and her mum's dead and now her dad's dead and she's single and has nobody to spend the holidays with, so I felt sort of...obligated to invite her, I suppose."
Effy grimaced. "You shouldn't have to deal with people based on obligation, Naoms. Even if she is your half-sister, you're not obligated to anyone other than Emily and that baby inside you."
"I suppose so," I replied, taking my last sip of tea. I'd been so distracted telling Effy about all of my problems that I hadn't even managed to eat a single Oreo before Effy ate the entire box.
Effy caught the look of disappointment on my face and looked down at the empty box in front of her.
"Woah...when did that happen?"
And I just nodded at Effy in a way that said 'Don't worry. I understand.'
We then went over to Effy and Katie's house and built their crib in less than half an hour. Effy started cooking dinner and I went home to take a nap.
As soon as I walked in the house, the phone was ringing. I ran (more like waddled) to the kitchen to answer it.
"Hello?" I said, pretty breathless from the seven feet I'd just ran across.
"Naoms? It's Nat. I'm just returning your call from the other day," Nat said cheerily. "I think it's so sweet of you to invite me for Christmas and New Years', but I'm not going to be able to make it to Christmas. My friends and I are going skiing in France and we're actually leaving tomorrow and not coming back until the 29th. But I'd absolutely love to spend New Year's with you!"
I rolled my eyes. "Sounds great, Nat! Well, have a happy Christmas and a lovely skiing vacation and I will see you on New Year's."
"Thanks! Happy Christmas to you too!"
And with that, our painfully awkward (on my end it felt painfully awkward) conversation was over.
As soon as Emily came home, the first words out of my mouth were "Nat's coming for New Year's Eve but not Christmas because she's going skiing in France."
On the words "skiing" and "France" I made myself sound like a posh twat.
"And this is bad because...?" Emily replied as she hung up her jacket and took off her snow covered boots.
"I don't know, I'm just getting a bad vibe from all of this, Em," I replied as Emily walked into the living room and sat next to me on the couch.
"Oh, darling, don't be so silly. She's just your half-sister, and I'm sure there's no reason for you to be getting all worked up about this," Emily said as she cuddled me into her side and kissed me. "Don't be so silly."
I sighed against her. "I suppose you're right. I'm probably just hormonal or something."
Em leaned into me and kissed me again. "Don't worry about it, Naoms. Everything will be fine, love."
I wished I could believe her, but the nagging feeling of doubt persisted.
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