Chapter 3

On the way home, they get stuck in traffic; there's been an accident on the A20. The result is that they are late getting back. Inevitably, Jane is waiting outside the house when they pull up. She doesn't look happy.

"You're late," she barks as Harry gets out of the car. Her mood darkens even more when she sees Ruth. "I see you've brought your little trollop along again."

Although seething at Jane's attitude, Ruth manages to ignore the remarks and begins to get the children out of the car. Harry however does not let it go. "Let me make one thing clear; if you want to continue seeing Catherine and Graham, you will treat Ruth with respect. Anymore talk like that and you'll be out on your ear; understand?"

Jane gulps; Harry's tone telling her he means business. She is about to reply when Catherine gets out of the car, distracting her. "Hello sweetheart," she coos.

"Hi Mummy," greets Catherine monosyllabically. "Guess what?"

"What?"

"I'm getting a cousin; Auntie Lyn's having a baby!" Catherine is practically bursting with excitement and it irritates Jane that she's more interested in a new baby than seeing her mother.

"Well that's…nice," she says, ushering her daughter towards the front door. Harry lets them in, and Catherine heads straight to the living room and gets out her colouring box; not even bothering to take her coat off. Jane follows and Harry waits for Ruth and Graham. Graham has fallen asleep on the journey home, so she has to carry him in. She places him on the sofa but he doesn't wake.

The tension in the room is palpable so Ruth excuses herself to make some drinks. "Would you like one?" she asks Jane, reminding herself that she must be polite for the sake of the children.

"Tea, 1 sugar." Jane replies without even looking at her. Ruth and Harry share a look before she goes to the kitchen

"Catherine, would you like to see what I've brought you," Jane asks.

"Mmm-hmm," she replies non-committedly.

"Well come over here then," Jane commands.

With a sigh, Catherine puts her crayon down and approaches her mother. Jane hands her a plastic bag and Catherine opens it to find a cuddly toy and some books. She eyes the books warily; they're a little young for her and she already has one of them upstairs.

Harry can see that she isn't impressed but is determined that they will make a good impression. "What do we say, Catey?"

"Oh yeh. Thank you."

"Do you want to get your things for your Mum?" Harry prompts.

Catherine retrieves her gift from the bookshelf in the corner of the room and hands it to her mother. "Here you go."

Jane smiles as she receives the box of chocolates and shop-bought card. Opening it she reads the message and can see that Catherine has written her own name but an adult has written Graham's. "Thank you; it's beautiful."

"Would you like to put it on the mantelpiece with Ruth's cards until you go home?" Catherine asks with child-like innocence.

It's only then that Jane notices the collection of cards on display. The two from Catherine and Graham have been joined by a third; from Harry which states, 'To the One I Love, on Mother's Day.' Inside he's written, 'Thank you for helping me raise my children. All my love, Harry.'

Harry watches Jane as her eyes take in the handmade cards Ruth has received as well as the photo frame and bear that accompany them. He can tell she is jealous; and he feels no remorse whatsoever. In his mind, she deserves to feel that way.

"I think I'll keep it in my bag," Jane tells Catherine. "That way I won't forget it."

"Okay," Catherine shrugs. "Daddy? Can I have a biscuit?"

He looks at his watch. "Go on then," he says. "Why don't you ask Ruth to put a selection out on a plate and bring them in?" he suggests.

Catherine does as her father says and skips out of the room. As soon as she is out of earshot Jane turns on Harry. "Well, that was quite a spectacle," she spits. "Make you feel big did it, trying to embarrass me like that? Tell me, what did you have to bribe the children with to ensure that they treated your little whore better than me? Hmm? Or maybe you didn't give them a choice? Did you force them, Harry? Did you order them around like you order your team?"

Harry fights to keep his temper. "Excuse me, but it was nothing to do with me," he tell her through gritted teeth. "Catherine made the card at school and addressed it to Ruth without even consulting me. Graham then wanted to make one for her too. When I reminded Catherine that you would require a card too, it was her idea to buy one from the shop. As for the presents; I gave the nanny money and she took them both shopping. She informs me that the presents were the children's choices too and I have no reason to think that she would lie." Jane opens her mouth to protest but Harry doesn't let her start. "And I told you less than 15 minutes ago that if you want to go on seeing the children you will not call Ruth and you will treat her with the respect she deserves. I'm seeing no evidence of that."

"You wouldn't dare stop me from seeing them…you won't risk the court finding out?"

Using his years of tradecraft, Harry looks her straight in the eye and calls her bluff. "Try me!"

At that point Ruth and Catherine return and Ruth places Jane's drink in front of her, to which, under Harry's glare, she utters a reluctant thanks.

Catherine picks up a picture and returns to her drawing. Desperately trying to find a way to bond with her daughter, Jane asks her what she's drawing.

"It's a picture for the new baby. Look there she is with Auntie Lyn and Uncle Ben," Catherine points.

"And who are these people?"

"That's me and Graham, Daddy and Ruth."

Jane looks awfully put-out that she doesn't seem to feature and Harry has to turn away in order to hide the smirk that is fighting to appear. Ruth, with a mildly straighter face, excuses them both; they have dinner to make.

Leaving Jane in the living room with Catherine and a still sleeping Graham, they retreat to the kitchen where they begin to prepare the food. They have been working for about ten minutes when all hell begins to break loose…Graham has woken up.


A/N: I know, that's an awful place to leave it. Probably just one more chapter to go which is half written, but I've got a busy weekend so bear with me. :)