Conspiracy Theory

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After Val and Zacky had managed to resolve the tortured romantic drama among the under-five crowd they hadn't made another attempt at persuading me to try and sort things out with Brian. It was a relief. I was steadfast in my refusal and it felt like every word I spoke about him was being forced past a giant orange lodged in my throat.

The sun was shining and the air was balmy, it really was a gorgeous day at the beach. Once again I reflected on the way I'd been shafted by nature when it came to the weather for wallowing in my misery.

Still some things had made the trip to the beach worthwhile. I sniffed the salt air and watched on in appreciation as the boys, directed by Harper, made a commendable effort at burying Zack in a pile of sand.

Harper, once she was certain he was immobilised, sidled up to Zacky and took a good long look at his tattoos. Zacky, who was well aware of Harper's fascination with Brian and Brian's irrational terror that Harper was going to find a way to murder him in his sleep, watched her warily.

She examined his arms intently before sniffing scornfully. "Where is my pwetty?" she asked Zacky expectantly. Zacky raised a questioning eyebrow at me. Harper's tiny and very grimy hand went to Zacky's face to bring his attention back to her. "Pwetty Uncle Bwian. Where is he?"

Zacky smirked at me as he answered her, "You'll need to discuss that with Aunty Steph, she and Uncle Brian aren't really speaking at the moment."

Zacky turned a laugh into a cough and Val's eyes went wide as Harper rounded on me ablaze with righteous anger, "You need to behave yourself Aunty Steph. Play nice and don't be mean to people."

"Ahhh..." I faltered.

Harper turned back to her minions with a flounce before turning, raising a stern finger and glaring in my direction, "You need to apologise or Mommy will punish you."

Zacky and Val burst out laughing. I chose to sulk behind my sunglasses and shoot them all, including Harper, the occasional dark look.

To my chagrin when we left the beach instead of driving Harper and I home Val drove, heedless to my protests, to her house. I was getting really fucking sick of the pressure to get back together with Brian. Everyone seemed oblivious to just how upset I really was. "Val!" I snapped, my temper rising.

Val rolled her eyes, "Relax he's not here." What? Was she a psychic? How did she know that from our spot parked in the driveway? I frowned at her. Seriously, if she was a psychic I wanted some help with the lotto numbers, maybe the Christmas Day weather forecast, details on the finer plot points of the next Star Wars movie.

"No-one's here Steph. Do you see any cars?" There was a silent 'you stupid idiot' that I heard loud and clear. Of course it may have been the way she actually mouthed the words 'you stupid idiot' but just neglected to speak them aloud that drove her point home.

I gave an embarrassed giggle. "Oh... No, I don't ."

Val undid her seatbelt and opened her car door. "This wasn't an ambush Steph. I just remembered that I have some pictures of things I like for the house that I want you to give Cathy. I wasn't going to force you to come in." I could feel how disappointed in me Val was and it made me want to curl up into myself.

"I'm sorry Val," I whispered not even sure what I was sorry for. For thinking that she'd force me to see the guy who'd crushed me? For getting involved with Brian in the first place?

She shrugged. "It is what it is, but Steph I'm not going to let you pull a Michelle on me."

I glanced at her in surprise as she continued. "My sister is so busy trying to separate her life from Brian's that she's cutting off all her friends, including me. How do you think that makes me feel?"

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