Chapter Fifteen

"What's this all about?" Ruby asked curiously when Charlie and Joey sat her down before school. "Is something wrong? You guys haven't been very happy the last couple of days…"

She had been worried about the couple breaking up so soon after they'd got back together.

"There's going to be a new addition to our family," Charlie told her.

"I know," Ruby said. "Joey's baby."

"There's another one," Charlie told her, feeling awkward.

"You're having twins?" Ruby asked Joey, eyes wide.

Her jaw hung open for several moments before Charlie found her words again.

"No," she said. "I'm pregnant too."

Ruby's mouth hung open again. She stared in disbelief at the woman she thought was her sister.

"What do you mean, you're pregnant?" she asked slowly.

"I'm nine weeks," Charlie said. "I didn't realise until very recently but that night…"

She trailed off and looked at Joey.

"Wow, you were busy," Ruby remarked sourly.

Charlie was heartbroken at the disgust on her face. She never wanted her precious daughter to think badly of her.

"So, just to clarify, Hugo's the Dad, right?" Ruby barked.

Charlie nodded. She was relieved when Joey gently touched her hand. Ruby aimed her gaze at Joey.

"And you're okay with this?" she asked.

"Not thrilled," Joey admitted. "But we've talked a lot and…"

"And you're so vulnerable that you've got no choice but to stay with her," Ruby snapped.

Both women were stunned by the venom in her voice.

"We love each other," Joey insisted. "And I can't say it was easy to hear the consequences of Charlie's betrayal but we've worked through it. We want to be a family."

"Don't you have any self respect?" Ruby asked more quietly.

"It's really not about that," Joey told her, still holding Charlie's hand.

She could feel her trembling.

"Then what is it about?" Ruby asked, feeling bad but justified for being hard on Charlie. "How could you even begin to think about raising the product of an affair?"

"How could I even begin to think about raising the product of rape?" Joey countered.

Ruby swallowed anxiously.

"We have to deal with facts here, Rubes," Joey said gently. "Neither of us like the fact that Robbo forced a pregnancy on me. And neither of us like the fact that Charlie got pregnant by sleeping with Hugo behind my back. But the fact is that we're both pregnant and we have to deal with it."

Ruby nodded and watched the way the girls held onto each other.

"And when it comes to dealing with feelings, Charlie and I love each other," Joey continued. "We want to be together. And that means we have to accept the situation we're in and try to make the best of it."

"Well, you're a better person than me," Ruby admitted. "I don't think I could… I mean, either situation, I…"

She sighed heavily. Charlie took the risk of touching her arm and was relieved when she didn't pull away.

"So I get an extra niece or nephew, hey?" the teenager said brightly, trying to sound positive and enthusiastic about it all. "We might need a bigger house."

Charlie and Joey both laughed softly, agreeing with her.

"We thought about that," the police officer said, taking the lead. "And we're going to start looking for somewhere big enough for the five of us."

"I'll miss Leah and VJ," Ruby admitted.

"We will too," Charlie said. "But we'll still see them all time. And it's not like we want to move out. But with the best will in the world, this place just isn't going to be big enough. It's not like a soap opera where rooms magically attach themselves to houses to accommodate random people!"

All three of them chuckled.

"So, we're okay, yeah?" Joey asked. "You're happy?"

"As happy as you two are, I guess," Ruby said uncertainly. "I mean, on the one hand, I think – yay! Babies! And I love both of them instantly because they're yours. But the situation… I think that'll be pretty tricky."

Both women nodded.

"But I think we can get through it all so long as we're together," Ruby decided.

It was exactly what they needed to hear.

The next job was likely to be harder. While there was no way that Robbo would or should ever know that his violence had resulted in a pregnancy, Charlie's night with Hugo had been consensual and he was going to become a father.

"Are you sure you don't mind coming with me?" Charlie asked when she pulled up outside the home that her one night stand shared with his girlfriend, Martha and brother, Xavier, who also happened to be Ruby's boyfriend.

"Are you sure you don't mind me coming?" Joey countered.

Charlie smiled and sighed all at the same time. She leant over and kissed her.

"So long as you're really willing to be a parent to this child, then I want you involved in every part of this," she said.

Joey smiled against her lips.

"Then let's go for it," she decided.

They climbed out of the car, locked up and knocked on Hugo's door. He answered quickly, obviously very surprised to see them.

"Um… what…?" he faltered.

Martha appeared behind him and reminded him of his manners, prompting him to invite them in. The foursome sat rather awkwardly in the lounge. Joey couldn't help but recall the night she had come to return Hugo's lost phone, the night she had realised that he and Charlie had spent the night together – thanks to a missing earring. She couldn't help but wonder where the bedroom was, where Hugo and Charlie had been together. But she forced herself to shake it out of her. Now wasn't the time.

"We um… have some news," Charlie began awkwardly.

Hugo and Martha both looked concerned.

"Is this a police thing or…?" Martha asked, looking at Joey.

She had no idea what could be so important in their personal lives that they both had to come round.

"I'm pregnant," Charlie blurted out.

Hugo looked momentarily relieved for some reason and then alarm reached his face. Martha when straight to horror.

"What?" Hugo managed.

"I'm pregnant," Charlie repeated. "And you're the father."

Hugo just stared at her.

"We only did it once," he protested.

"Once is all it takes," Joey put in quietly.

"Are you… are you sure?" Hugo asked.

"Very sure," Charlie told him.

"What are you going to do?"

"We're keeping it," Charlie said, reaching for Joey's hand.

She had no idea how she would do this without her. She was relieved to have her by her side.

"And what do want from me?" Hugo asked guardedly.

"Nothing really," Charlie said. "You can be involved if you want and if not, that's fine. Joey and I are making a go of things, we're looking for a place together with Ruby and the babies."

"Babies?" Hugo asked in panic.

"Joey," Martha said quietly, nodding to the young woman's swelling belly.

"You're…?" Hugo struggled.

"Well, I'm not just fat," Joey snapped.

There was no way on earth she would ever like this man.

"Sorry," Hugo said. "I just thought you were…"

"I am," Joey said. "The pregnancy was not consensual."

He looked rather stricken and apologised again.

"So, that's it, really," Charlie said awkwardly, when silence fell between them all. "Now you know. Let us know if you want to be involved or not."

She stood. Joey followed suit.

"Wait," Martha said. "Of course he wants to be involved. It's his child. Right, Hugo?"

He looked uncertain. She looked furious.

"How can you abandon your baby?" Martha demanded.

Charlie winced inwardly, recalling the day she had fled from Ruby's cot, not returning for a whole year. Joey squeezed her hand.

"Look, I just need some time to get my head around this, okay?" Hugo snapped. "It's not exactly how I was expecting my day to turn out."

"We'll leave it with you then," Joey decided, leading Charlie towards the door.

She didn't want to be in the same room as the guy for any longer than she had to.

Outside, the couple headed to the car and sighed heavily with relief. They held hands again.

"Well, I'm glad that's out of the way," Charlie admitted.

"Me too," Joey said. "Is it wrong to want him not to want to be involved?"

"No," Charlie said. "I understand. It would be a lot easier for us if he wasn't."

"But we can't deny our child a right to their father," Joey added. "Not in your case anyway. In my case, I'd do anything I possibly could to protect her from Robbo."

Charlie nodded, thoroughly agreeing with her.

"Thank you for giving me this chance, Joey," she said. "I don't know what I'd do without you."

Joey leant across and kissed her softly.

"You'll never have to find out," she promised.

Next time… Angelo returns while Joey has a problem with her pregnancy…