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Just Friends?

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Just Friends?

Chapter One

“C’mon, c’mon, c’mon,” Chloe begged as she kept pressing the button to bring the hotel lift to the reception level at Lassiters Hotel, “Oh c’mon, c’mon, c’mon.”

Chloe didn’t dare look back to see if Elly had indeed followed her to the hotel. If she did, Chloe wanted to disappear to another part of the hotel until Elly had walked down to Chloe’s office, realized she wasn’t there and left.

But this lift was making it impossible. What are the chances that both lifts had been stuck nearly on the top floors when Chloe was desperate to make a confusing exit? Most people left a building to exit an anticipated awkward conversation, they don’t get in a lift to stay in the building and expect it to take them away from it.

Yet, here Chloe was, desperate to avoid talking to Elly as she didn’t know what to say.

Three minutes earlier, Chloe had been on her lunch break, entering the Waterhole to grab something to eat. She had nearly turned around when she had spotted her brother having lunch with his wife, Elly, at one of the tables. Mark didn’t even see that she was in the pub as his chair was facing the opposite direction.

As Chloe had walked to the bar, she could feel Elly eyes on her. They seemed to track her every move. Or was it only in Chloe’s imagination that she wanted Elly’s eyes on her? As Chloe had stared at the menu, even though she knew what she wanted to order, she couldn’t help but glance at Elly.

How could Chloe resist?

Elly was still the woman she loved even though Elly had married Chloe’s eldest brother and was pregnant with his child. They had spent one night of passion together when Mark had nearly left Elly at the altar. Chloe had somewhat come to terms with the fact that Elly had only used her for comfort and to feel loved and Chloe would never get to experience that again.

Chloe was a mix of disappointment and slightly hopeful when she glanced at Elly. Her ex-BFF wasn’t staring at Chloe or tracking her every move, not at that moment at least, but she was looking like she was bored of Mark’s ramblings. Elly couldn’t look less interested in her husband if she tried and from what Chloe could tell from behind Mark, he seemed like he had no idea.

Chloe shrugged at the thought that Mark always seemed to have a blind spot when it came to his now-wife. He had no clue that his own little sister had been in love with his then-fiancé for months and for Mark, as a cop, he still didn’t seem to spot the look of boredom on Elly’s face.

But Chloe watched as that look of boredom on Elly’s face twisted and changed. Mark didn’t seem to notice as he was too busy in his own conversation about something to Elly without realizing Elly wasn’t even listening to him let alone looking at him.

Elly’s face contorted from boredom to stunned confusion and disbelief in a matter of seconds.

Mark wasn’t the reason that Elly’s facial structure changed.

Kyle was the reason.

Or was Chloe getting her hopes up that she along with Kyle could possibly be the reason?

At first, Chloe didn’t even see her housemate approach her. Despite trying to avoid it, Chloe only had eyes for Elly. But something changed in Elly’s eyes and it made Chloe look up to see Kyle walking over to her with a big smile on his face. Then she noticed Amy and Gary sitting together off to the side of the bar and she knew Kyle was going to make a move on her as he was determined to prove to his ex-girlfriend Amy that he was moving on.

But Chloe wasn’t expecting Kyle to wrap his arms around her waist and pull her into a deep and passionate kiss.

Chloe didn’t have time to prepare to have his lips melding against hers roughly as he ran his tongue against her lips, sliding it against her own.

Most of all, Chloe didn’t have time to prepare Elly for this revelation that she was in a casual ongoing fling with her new housemate.

How could Chloe prepare Elly for it?

The former best friends hadn’t spoken in over two months. Since finding out his fiancé had slept with his sister two nights before their wedding when Mark had abandoned Elly in a moment of grief and seeing them over a week later talking about Elly’s pregnancy, Chloe assumed that Mark had issued Elly with an ultimatum to stay away from her or else his marriage to Elly would be over.

Unbeknownst to Chloe, Mark hadn’t exactly verbally ordered his now-wife an ultimatum to stay away from Chloe. But he did make it clear that even to this day he couldn’t touch Elly without feeling sick from the thought of Chloe been intimate with her and Elly having her hands all over his sister. Elly took that to mean that she needed to stay away from her sister-in-law if she had any hope of saving her marriage even though if Mark knew the truth of her deceptions their marriage would be beyond repair.

Even though Chloe had fallen into the kiss and allowed Kyle to deepen it she knew that he was only doing it to make Amy jealous. His ex-girlfriend Amy was engaged to marry his father, Gary. Chloe had fooled around with Kyle, making out with him several times out by the pool at the house they lived in with Aaron, David and Leo, whilst indulging in some sexy times together in secret. With the exception of one other public display of affection several weeks earlier, their fling was mostly kept from prying eyes.

Especially since Paul, Kyle’s boss, wanted Kyle to break up his daughter, Amy, from Gary and didn’t want to see Kyle distracted by a flirty single Chloe.

As Chloe stood there in the pub, making out with Kyle, she couldn’t help but keep one eye open glancing over at Elly. There was still a part of Chloe that wanted to see Elly jealous at the realization she was moving on from her feelings for her. After all, Elly had spent considerable time acting jealous of Chloe’s one-night stand with a water polo player and then Chloe’s entire relationship with Mel.

As Chloe watched Elly’s face contort with stunned confusion and disbelief, she saw that Elly was completely unprepared to be confronted with the reality of seeing her making out with someone new. But Chloe couldn’t be certain what she was witnessing from Elly was jealously.

Realizing that it was cruel and unfair of her to be making out with Kyle passionately while she had her eye on Elly to try and spot any indication of jealousy, and it was also unfair to herself that Kyle was trying to make Amy jealous, Chloe broke away from the kiss.

Chloe pressed her lips gently back against Kyle’s, hoping he wouldn’t take it as rejection as she told him that she wasn’t able to stay for lunch and needed to head back to work.

Kyle let Chloe walk away from him but not before reaching out for her hand and kissing her fingertips softly, telling her in a rather louder than normal voice that they’d continue their make out session at home that night. Kyle was trying to make Amy jealous, but he had no idea that it was instead Elly who was reacting to the news that he and Chloe were in some kind of relationship.

Mark still had zero clue that Chloe was even in the pub let alone what Elly had just witnessed or that she was reacting to it because he was still deep in his own ramblings to Elly.

As Chloe left the bar, she heard three things before she reached the door.

Elly scraping the legs of her chair against the venue floor as she hurriedly rushed to get out of her chair, Elly mumbling “Morning sickness” to Mark and Mark offering to help her.

Chloe imagined that Elly had waived him off, not because Mark shouldn’t follow her into the women’s bathroom just to hold her hair back if she needed to throw up but because Chloe had the very real feeling that Elly was rushing off to follow her.

So here Chloe stood in the hotel lobby, pleading with the hotel lift to take her away from a potential awkward conversation with her sister-in-law over her passionate kiss with her new fling.

Finally, the doors opened and Chloe was thrilled beyond belief that she wasn’t held back by a departing hotel guest trying to struggle to get their suitcase out of the lift.

Chloe pressed the button to one of the floors without even looking, not caring which floor she landed on, before pressing the button to force the lift doors to close. She kept hitting the button like it would make the doors close quicker, “C’mon, c’mon, c’mon.”

Chloe closed her eyes when she heard Elly yell out, “Hold the doors!”

Chloe willed the lift doors to close before Elly reached them, even though she felt such a sense of relief knowing that she was right and Elly had followed her from the Waterhole.

Chloe sighed as the doors closed but an arm shot out in front of them, halting them. The doors opened back up and Elly stood there in front of the lift.

“Can we talk?” Elly asked Chloe, not waiting for an answer as she stepped into the lift.

“I’m in a bit of a rush,” Chloe made excuses but then noticed that the floor she had chosen was the second-top floor just below the penthouse.

Realizing that meant been in Elly’s company for longer than she’d hoped if she had only chosen the next floor up, Chloe sighed.

Elly stepped forwards, her back to Chloe and before Chloe could do anything, Elly pressed the floor button for every single floor of the hotel between the reception level and the second-top floor.

Elly glanced back at Chloe, “Looks like you either have some time now before you get to the floor you want or you can prove you’re avoiding me by getting out at the next floor.”

Chloe rolled her eyes, “Elly, I’m working, I don’t have time for games.”

Elly turned around to stand next to Chloe, “Last I checked, you work in the office on the reception level and don’t have a whole lot to do with visiting the floors of the hotel. I really want us to talk about what just happene--”

Elly was cut off as the lift suddenly went dark. Instead of moving upwards it shut down and stayed in its place on the reception level, stopped in its tracks.

Oh, you have got to be kidding me! Chloe thought as she realized she was now trapped in the lift with Elly and it had shut down.

I hope I didn’t do that by attempting to force the lift the stop at every floor but I’m happy to have even more of a chance to talk to Chloe, Elly thought.

Chapter Text

Just Friends?

Chapter Two

“So, can we talk now?” Elly asked Chloe as she stood at the back of the darkened lift.

Chloe was standing at the panel, speaking to someone at the hotel desk via the emergency call button, “How long exactly until the repair guy can get here and get us out of this thing?”

“The repair guy will be here soon,” the voice responded, “Chloe, I take it by ‘us’ you aren’t alone. Is there a hotel guest with you?”

Chloe couldn’t help but glare at Elly, “No…just…a friend. Keep us in the loop when we’ll be out of here as soon as you know. I’m feeling claustrophobic in here.”

As Chloe moved away from the panel, Elly stared at her former friend, “I didn’t know you had claustrophobia.”

Chloe was annoyed by their situation, “I don’t, I just want to be out of here.”

Elly sat down on the floor of the lift, her back to the wall, “Looks like we’ve got some time to kill…can we talk?”

Chloe sighed, “Aren’t you worried about Mark finding out you got stuck in a lift with me?”

Elly pulled out her phone, thankful that she had thought to grab her handbag when she had dashed away from Mark at the Waterhole, hoping he would just think she didn’t have time to rummage through it for her anti-nausea tablets until she was in the bathroom.

Elly typed out a text to Mark, “Not feeling well, morning sickness got to me and I just had to get away from the Waterhole as all the food was making me nauseas. Sorry I didn’t say goodbye, enjoy your shift at the station this afternoon and evening. I might not be up when you come home. X”

Elly felt the need to show Chloe the message before she hit send but she immediately regretted doing so when Chloe reacted to it but she still forced her finger to hit the send button.

Chloe uttered, “Wow, lying to your husband, great work Elly. I’m sure Mark will understand if he finds out we were trapped in here. I’ll probably get the blame for orchestrating it like it’s within my powers to break down a lift whilst you’re in here with me. Plus, it’s a lift in a hotel, Mark will probably think I was trying to take you up to one of the rooms to convince you to cheat on him again with me. Just the kind of accusation I need…”

Elly froze at Chloe’s comment about lying to Mark. She was concerned by the later comments that Mark could accuse them of cheating on him again because Chloe had a point about it been a hotel lift and where else would they be going but to a hotel room together?

But it was the comment about lying that affected Elly the most. She knew Chloe didn’t mean any harm by it and relatively speaking lying and not telling Mark that she was with Chloe was the smallest lie she had told her husband since they got married.

Elly had spent several hours of passion with Chloe two nights before her wedding to Mark when Mark had called it off. That one Mark knew about, as Elly had broken down and revealed it moments after their wedding vowels had been exchanged.

If Mark had thought that was bad and he would never need to offer his wife forgiveness again, he had no idea of the level of deception Elly had been living with.

Days after the wedding disaster, Elly had thought she was pregnant with Mark’s child; told him she was carrying his child in the hopes of getting him to forgive her infidelity with Chloe and they could continue life as a married couple expecting a (hopefully) healthy baby.

But Elly’s world had crumbled when the doctor at the hospital had revealed the home pregnancy test she had taken was incorrect, she wasn’t pregnant. The baby was the only reason why Mark had taken her back and the only thing stopping him from filing annulment paperwork.

Elly initially hoped Mark would get her pregnant quickly and she would just have to fiddle around with the dates of conception but he couldn’t have sex with her. He didn’t want to. He couldn’t touch her, too put off by the thoughts that Elly had let his sister touch her body so intimately and cheat on him with her. Then Mark had commented he might never be able to touch her again.

Elly’s reaction to that comment was dramatic, it wasn’t entirely Mark’s fault. Elly had control of her future and instead of waiting for Mark to be ready to talk to her about their intimacy issues since he had learned Elly had slept with Chloe, Elly had chosen to get dressed up, went out on the town partying, gotten drunk and slept with a random man.

A random man who turned out to be the younger brother of her psychotic ex-boyfriend.

Now Elly was pregnant to her one-night stand, lying to Mark that the baby is his and stumbling through her married life trying to find a way to conceal the fact that the conception date of her baby was 6 weeks later than Mark believed and knowing that they hadn’t had sex since a week or so before the wedding it was impossible that the baby was his.

Elly’s friend, Leo, was her confidant and knew all about her second cheating scandal and baby-daddy drama but he had lost patience with her keeping Mark in the dark and was refusing to support her decisions anymore.

Elly had now found herself been blackmailed by the baby-daddy, Shaun, into getting his brother, Finn, a non-custodial jail sentence and a house to live in with Elly’s aunt, uncle and sister, all victims of Finn’s crimes.

Then when Shaun returned to Switzerland, effectively cutting off any chance of been a father to the child Elly was carrying in trade for his brother’s freedom, Elly thought she was free.

Then Mark had booked her an ultrasound appointment for them both to attend, she had nearly been caught by him cancelling it, revealed to her doctor she wasn’t pregnant to her husband, convinced her doctor to keep up the lie to Mark for the sake of the baby, was given a copy of Sonya’s ultrasound of Mark’s unborn baby who had passed away, not corrected Mark when he saw the photo in a photo frame and assumed it was their baby, she had removed the photo from its frame, cut off the hospital details from the actual image because the size of the baby in the ultrasound was a better match to what Mark believed than her actual baby, had her medical records read by her most troublesome student, the doctors’ son, and had been blackmailed by him to keep her secret.

And if you think that was the end of it, Elly had been attacked by an unknown assailant and though refusing to let her brother-in-law, David, or any other doctor see her except the one who knew her secret, managed to escape a miscarriage scare and the truth from been revealed to Mark. Then of all people to work out the truth that Shaun was the father of her baby when he managed to get a copy of her real ultrasound that was taken just before the attack, it was Finn, Elly's psychotic ex, Shaun's older brother and uncle to her unborn baby.

Elly’s life was a mess and of all the people in her world that needed to know the truth, only Leo did and he wasn’t the support to her that he once was. Her lies had spiraled even more than he could cope with. If Mark knew the truth, Elly didn’t know how she could ever keep their marriage—

“Earth to Elly,” Chloe interrupted Elly’s thoughts, “I thought you were the one who wanted to talk.”

Elly took a deep breath and noticed that Chloe was now sitting next to her on the floor of the broken-down lift. She had been completely preoccupied by her thoughts, “What?”

“I guess it’s not that bad a lie to Mark,” Chloe commented, “I do wonder where we would be if you had have lied to Mark about our night together. Urgh when are going to get out of here? Maybe I am claustrophobic and never knew until now.”

Elly’s thoughts were immediately distracted by the idea of where her life would be if she hadn’t told Mark about her passionate encounter with his sister. Would she and Mark be happily married? Would she still be pregnant? If she was, it would be his child, because he wouldn’t have told her he might never be able to touch her again.

Attempting to snap herself out of her thoughts knowing she couldn’t take back the past otherwise Elly would then need to consider if she would’ve even let her steamy liaison with Chloe happen. If she knew what she did now, would Elly have resisted the comfort and love Chloe offered to her? Would Elly know what it felt like to have Chloe’s hands all over her body? Would Elly have enjoyed the sensation of Chloe--?

“Seriously, Elly, are you here or on another planet?” Chloe interrupted.

“You’re right, we need to get out of here,” Elly responded, glad that the lift only had a small amount of light coming through from a backup light and that her blushing cheeks were invisible to Chloe.

Elly had spent considerable time doing everything possible to ignore thinking about the passion she had shared that night nearly three months ago with Chloe. Been stuck in this lift was making everything come back to Elly and she was beginning to wonder if this is why she had been avoiding Chloe since she thought she was pregnant the first time. That she thought she could turn any feelings she did have for Chloe off and they would never come back to her.

Elly was distracted for a brief moment when she saw that Mark had replied to her text.

"Thanks for letting me know. I got distracted by Gary hassling me over Finn again and nearly forgot I was waiting for you. Sleep well tonight. X."

Elly shook her head at the thought that of course Mark had forgotten about her with a simple distraction then focused on the situation she had found herself with Chloe and asked, "Can we MacGyver out of here?”

Even in the dark, Elly could see Chloe’s eyebrow raise.

“MacGyver…the…guy from that TV show who can find a way to get out of any situation using--” Elly felt the need to explain.

“I know who MacGyver is, Elly,” Chloe responded, “You think that stuff works in real life? That we can lift the door in the roof of this elevator and somehow get to another floor by the ladder in the shaft and open the doors from the inside of the shaft?”

Elly shrugged, “If you don’t want to talk to me about what happened at the Waterhole, let’s give it a go. Can you give me a leg up?”

Chloe watched as Elly stood up, “I don’t know, Elly, you’re pregnant and if I drop you--”

“I trust you,” Elly whispered, then in her regular volume, “Besides I shouldn’t be trying to lift anything…what with been pregnant and all.”

“So, you want me to lift you up to escape and then how do I get up there to escape if you can’t lift me to be up there with you?” Chloe pointed out.

“Let’s just get me up there and we’ll work it out,” Elly answered, holding out her hand to Chloe.

Chloe took Elly’s hand and Elly helped her stand up.

Both women blushed at the contact of their hands but hid it discreetly.

Chloe positioned herself under the door in the roof to the lift and lent down to cup her hands down for Elly to step into them so Chloe could push her up to the door.

Working silently, Chloe gave Elly a leg up but soon found that due to the length of Elly’s legs, Elly’s hips were next to Chloe’s face. Elly’s shirt had ridden up and Chloe got a good view of Elly’s tanned torso so close that Chloe could feel the heat radiating from Elly’s body.

“Urgh, Elly, I don’t think this is a good idea,” Chloe blurted out.

“Why?” Elly asked, struggling to balance herself with one of her hands on Chloe’s shoulders and the other trying to reach up to the door, oblivious as to what was bothering her ex-best friend, even though she could feel Chloe’s warm breath against her torso but was trying to ignore how it was making her feel.

Not feeling comfortable holding Elly the way she was and Elly seemingly ignoring the situation they were in, Chloe felt herself losing grip of Elly’s shoes.

Eventually Chloe felt Elly’s shoes fall from her hands, clambering to stop Elly from falling, Chloe’s arms found themselves grabbing hold of Elly’s hips as she fell down. Elly’s arms reached out to grab hold of Chloe’s shoulders to steady her balance, having been dropped half a meter straight down.

Chloe and Elly froze in their embrace with one another.

God help me, I still want to kiss her, Chloe thought.

Wow…I almost want Chloe to kiss me…almost…in a friend kind of way…right? Elly thought.

Chapter Text

Just Friends?

Chapter Three

Holding Elly in her arms after she had fallen into them, Chloe immediately let go the second she felt that Elly was steady enough on her feet.

Chloe instantly sat back down on the floor of the lift, “Well, that didn’t work. Guess we wait here for the professionals to rescue us.”

Elly breathed deeply, trying to forget the fact she thought about Chloe kissing her again, and soon joined Chloe with her back against the lift wall and sitting on the ground next to her, “Can we talk?”

“About what?” Chloe asked innocently.

Elly rolled her eyes at Chloe pretending not to know, “You and Kyle? I didn’t know you were dating him…”

“I’m not dating Kyle,” Chloe responded, “I don’t date people, remember. It’s just a harmless fling.”

“Does Kyle know that?” Elly asked, scolding herself for sounding like a disappointed ex.

Chloe scoffed, “Well and truly. Kyle’s completely in love with Amy still—Damn it, I forgot you and Amy are really close friends. Don’t tell Amy that, please”

Elly’s lips curled into a smile knowing that this was a tiny way to win back a small piece of Chloe’s trust, “I won’t tell Amy…but doesn’t this mean Kyle is using you?”

Chloe shrugged not wanting to admit that she was using Kyle too as that would mean telling Elly she was still in love with her, “It’s just a fling, a bit of fun. I don’t do commitment. You know that. I like making out with him.”

“Have you and Kyle taken things further than making out?” Elly asked before she could stop herself.

“Elly, that’s really not your business,” Chloe insisted, “Seriously, why do we need to talk about this? I had enough of your jealousy when I was dating Mel.”

“It’s not jealousy,” Elly asserted.

Chloe shook her head, “Keep telling yourself that. What happens between Kyle and I…it’s my decision and has nothing to do with you.”

Elly cocked her head to the side, “Is that why you were looking at me whilst you had Kyle’s tongue down your throat? Because I seemed to have a lot to do with it then.”

Chloe blushed at been caught out, then lied, “Sometimes I kiss with my eyes open and you just happened to be in my line of sight.”

“You didn’t kiss with your eyes open when you were kissing me during our night together,” Elly admitted, then struggling not to let her mind wander to thoughts of that night, “Fine, if that’s what you want me to believe.”

Chloe scoffed, “Would you like to tell me about what you were thinking when I was kissing Kyle? Your facial expressions…gave a lot away…confusion and disbelief at the realization I might be moving on come to mind…maybe a hint of jealousy.”

Elly swallowed hard, not wanting to remember the feelings that had washed over her the moment she saw Kyle kissing Chloe.

Chloe sighed, knowing Elly was never going to admit a single ounce of jealousy, “I didn’t think so. I don’t want to talk about watching you whilst kissing Kyle and you don’t want to talk about watching me kiss Kyle. Look all you really need to know is that I’m attempting to move on, you clearly have. You’re happily married with a baby on the way.”

“Happy? What’s that?” Elly whispered.

Chloe stared at Elly in the darkness until Elly elaborated, although not by much knowing that Chloe was still Mark’s sibling and she couldn’t risk her going to Mark, “My life has gotten…complicated…since our friendship…ended.”

“Are there any complications with the baby?” Chloe automatically asked, the concern obvious in her tone.

Regardless of their situation with Mark and Chloe not talking to one another since he learnt she had cheated with his fiancé, Chloe immediately reacted like a soon-to-be-Aunt. It broke Elly’s heart at the thought that Chloe wouldn’t be related to this baby by blood.

“My baby is healthy I believe,” Elly answered vaguely, specifically not calling it Mark’s baby for fear of giving out any clues that may allude to the fact Mark wasn’t the father even though calling it ‘my baby’ was a clue in itself.

“Good, any complications with the baby is the last thing you and Mark need,” Chloe whispered, then still curious, “So if the complications aren’t related to the baby…how are things with you and Mark?”

Elly sighed, thinking of the fact that Mark wouldn’t still be married to her if she wasn’t pregnant let alone the day that he eventually learns she was pregnant with another man’s baby, “Mark’s more concerned about the baby…I sometimes wonder if he even knows I’m a person and not just an incubator for my baby.”

“You did look a little bored at lunch with the way he was talking to you and not paying any attention to you,” Chloe confessed.

Elly nodded, disappointed that Chloe could see that but her own husband could not, “I don’t even know what Mark was talking about…I guess that means I wasn’t paying attention to him either. Mark’s just…he’s working all the time now. He’s doing late shifts and night shifts…anything that gets him a pay bump…I should appreciate the fact that he’s doing all this so he can provide for…the baby and give the baby the best life he can afford.”

Elly was afraid that Chloe could possibly work out that there was a reason she wasn’t referring to the baby as ‘our baby’ when talking about herself and Mark. But calling it ‘the baby’ or ‘my baby’ seemed more comfortable as she never wanted to outright lie to Chloe even though she was deceiving her too by not revealing the baby’s paternity.

Chloe ran her tongue over her bottom lip, “You want Mark to devote his time with you before the baby comes…to strengthen your marriage…not ignoring you to be at work all the time for a couple of hundred extra dollars.”

Elly paused for a moment, knowing deep down that Chloe seemed to know exactly what she deserved from a relationship with a partner and wondered for a few seconds what she would say if Chloe was to point out that she would do better at treating her the way she deserved than Mark, “That’d be nice.”

“Maybe you need to have a conversation with Mark and tell him that,” Chloe suggested, struggling not to just admit that she would treat Elly so much better if she was ever given the chance.

“Maybe,” Elly whispered, even though she knew she couldn’t. She was lying to her husband about the fact the baby she was carrying wasn’t his, she had zero right to convince him to treat her better.

“Is everything okay, Elly? You seem…deeply troubled…if you don’t mind me saying,” Chloe confessed.

Elly ran her hand through her hair, wondering how it was that Chloe was the only person in her world that seemed to be picking up on how extremely vulnerable she was after the deceptions she was trying to cover up. Then she remembered that Chloe was her best-friend and used to know her better than she knew herself.

“My life is complicated,” Elly repeated, then before Chloe could question her more over what the complications were, Elly revealed, “I’ve missed this.”

“This?” Chloe asked in confusion.

Elly looked deep into Chloe’s eyes, “This. You and I…I miss it…our friendship.”

Chloe couldn’t resist smiling as her eyes locked with Elly’s, “I miss it, too. It’s been nearly three months since I lost my best friend…I understand why I lost you…as my best friend…but it’s been really hard to deal with as I didn’t have my best friend around to help me cope with that. Does that even make any sense?”

Elly smiled, “Yes, it makes perfect sense because that’s exactly how I feel…I guess I’ve just been a bit preoccupied by my life to realize just how much losing our friendship has meant to me.”

“That’s understandable, you’ve had a lot to deal with,” Chloe replied.

“More than you can imagine,” Elly confessed, then taking a chance, “Do you think it’s possible…that we can get that back…that we can put what happened between us past us…and be…just friends again?”

‘Just friends’…? Is that even possible? Chloe thought to herself.

‘Just friends’…? That’s entirely possible…right? Elly thought to herself.

Chapter Text

Just Friends?

Chapter Four

Elly sat there in the lift, impatiently waiting for Chloe’s answer to her request for them to be friends again, “Well…do you think--?”

Elly was interrupted by the lift coming back to life, the lights flicked back on and the lift doors opened to the hotel reception.

Chloe’s boss, Terese, rushed past the repair man to the lift entrance, “Chloe, are you okay…? Elly…what are you doing here?”

Chloe swallowed hard, then looking at the repair man as she got to her feet, “You work quickly and quietly…didn’t even know you were here fixing the lift yet. I’m fine, thanks, Terese.”

Elly stood up, addressing Terese, “I had to ask Chlo something but Chlo was trying to get rid of me because she didn’t want Mark to see us together and she thought going upstairs instead of back to her office would get me off her trail. I caught up to her and I chased after her into the lift. This was entirely my fault for us been here. We weren’t going up to a hotel room or anything.”

Terese raised her eyebrow as Elly blushed deeply at her last comment, “That thought never would’ve occurred to me…uh…does Mark know you were trapped in the lift, Elly? I understand if you’d prefer me not to mention this to him because of how it could look…like you said...hotel rooms are where the lift leads to...it’s our fault that the lift broke down so it’s the least I can do.”

Elly shook her head, “Mark’s at the station and I didn’t want to worry him…he’d be worried about the baby. He finishes late so I’ll just fill him in tomorrow, you don’t need to lie on my behalf, Terese. Anyway, I should probably…get out of this lift…and take the stairs next time.”

Terese frowned at Elly’s comment about Mark seemingly only been concerned by the baby and not Elly too but didn’t feel it was her place to try and reassure Elly that Mark would be concerned for her wellbeing too.

Terese moved out of their way and both Elly and Chloe exited the lift but instead of taking off, Elly stood back waiting, explaining, “I’m still waiting for Chloe to answer a question.”

“I should get back to work,” Chloe decided, running her hand through her hair.

“Work? Chlo, you just spent half an hour locked in a broken lift, go home for the rest of the day. I’ll see you tomorrow,” Terese ordered.

Chloe opened her mouth to argue, but Terese pointed to the exit of the hotel, “Take the afternoon off…and answer Elly’s question.”

Chloe rolled her eyes, “Yes, boss.”

Taking Terese’s instructions, Chloe held onto her handbag as she exited the hotel with Elly trailing beside her.

Chloe and Elly had walked for nearly five minutes, heading back to Ramsay Street, before Chloe finally broke the silence, “Elly, are you really going to tell Mark tomorrow morning about getting trapped in the hotel lift with me?”

Elly nodded, “Yes, of course. I know he’s going to call me on the fact that I sent that text telling him I left the Waterhole without saying goodbye to him because I was feeling so sick. I guess I might have to tell him I ran into you on the way out of the Waterhole and despite feeling the morning sickness I needed to talk to you anyway.”

Chloe smiled, “I’m glad you’re not intending on lying to Mark about this.”

Elly bit her lip, thinking about all the lies she had already told Mark.

“What if Mark…does take it the wrong way…you and I in a hotel lift…and he thinks we were…?” Chloe trailed off not able to bring herself to suggest the idea of Elly cheating with her on Mark again because she knew it was never going to happen again.

“It’s a risk…but if I come forward before he finds out otherwise then he should believe it was an innocent reason that we wound up where we did,” Elly believed then even though she could feel her heart racing as she posited, “Mark probably wouldn’t even think anyone would want a pregnant woman…he sure doesn’t…and he knows how you and commitment can’t be said in the same sentence.”

Chloe chewed on the inside of her mouth feeling bad for Elly that Mark was clearly not treating Elly like she was the love of his life and then had to fight the urge to even think about if there could ever be a reason in the world that she wouldn’t want Elly, including Elly been pregnant, if she was ever given a reason to think that Elly could ever return her feelings.

Realizing she had put Chloe in an awkward position to contemplate even the idea that been pregnant was the first of many reasons that Chloe would never want her again, Elly changed the subject, “Have you thought about what I asked…can we be friends again?”

Chloe slowed down the pace she was walking at, “I would like to be friends again…do you think it will be possible to get our friendship back on track?”

Elly smiled, “Yeah, I do. It’s important to me.”

“Then it’s important to me too,” Chloe agreed, “Will you be telling Mark…that you want us to be friends again? Or am I going to be a secret of yours?”

“I’ll tell Mark tomorrow morning too,” Elly decided, “You’re not a secret, Chloe.”

Chloe was surprised, “What if Mark doesn’t want the pair of us spending time together? He has a reason to think it’s a bad idea.”

“What reason would that be?” Elly asked before she could stop herself, still wanting to know how Chloe felt about her after months of silence between them.

Chloe bit her lip but didn’t answer, too afraid to tell Elly she was still in love with her.

Elly saw that Chloe wasn’t going to answer her, “If Mark has an issue with this…it’s not my problem. I might be married to him but I’m still my own person who can make her own decisions. I want us to be friends again because I’ve missed you and have really struggled without a best friend. Mark will need to understand that.”

“Yeah but Mark hasn’t spoken to me since he kicked me out of his house…I really don’t see him wanting me to be anywhere near you,” Chloe reminded Elly with concern.

Elly ran her tongue over her lower lip, “Yeah…but you’re with Kyle now…right?”

“Ah…right…yeah…I mean yes I am…in a casual fling kind of way,” Chloe hesitated before confirming, not really sure that Elly really understood that Kyle and her were most definitely casual despite claiming it several times and hardly worth mentioning to Mark as an excuse as to why he should let her spend time with Elly again.

“See so once Mark knows that you’re off the market there is no other reason why we can’t spend time together like we used to,” Elly insisted.

“I guess we’ll just have to wait and see,” Chloe decided as the pair reached Ramsay Street, “I should let you get home. Text me tomorrow after you’ve spoken to Mark…or don’t I’ll get the hint that we can’t be friends.”

“Why do we have to wait until tomorrow?” Elly couldn’t help but hide the disappointment in her tone, “You have the afternoon off, so do I…Mark won’t be home until close to midnight…why don’t we hang out for the rest of the day together?”

Chloe hemmed and hawed for a moment, “Because you had to point out Mark won’t be home until midnight. I don’t want to do anything behind his back. Talk to him tomorrow and then we can see where we stand.”

Elly reached out and ran her hand against Chloe’s shoulder, shocked to find herself getting an electric shock from the contact of Chloe, “It seems completely redundant that the two of us will just go to each of our homes and probably both just sit next to each of our pools separately. Please Chlo, I want to spend time with you…I want to be just friends with you and I need us to hang out together like we used to.”

Chloe had trouble not reacting to the electric shock she got from Elly’s hand on her shoulder and she quickly relented, “Okay…we can hang out for a couple of hours…watch some TV…sit by the pool…just talk and catch each other up on our lives…I’m not going to be staying for dinner or anything like that.”

“Right…you have sex plans with Kyle this evening,” Elly remembered as she struggled not to listen to her heart tell her she was jealous.

“No, because I don’t want to risk Mark coming home early to check on you and the baby during his dinner break and finding us together,” Chloe explained, then realized, “I totally forgot Kyle wanted to spend time together this evening…whatever…he was only trying to make Amy jealous…doesn’t mean I’ll actually be hooking up with him.”

“Good,” Elly whispered, glad that Chloe didn’t seem overly invested in Kyle, “Shall we go to my place?”

“Lead the way, my friend,” Chloe ordered.

Elly grinned happily and linked arms with Chloe as they walked over to her place with her friend.

‘My friend’…see that feels completely normal and like we can get things back on track, Chloe thought.

‘My friend’…something about that feels completely wrong but I know we can get things back on track…and maybe I can try to work out why the word ‘friend’ feels wrong, Elly thought.

Chapter Text

Just Friends?

Chapter Five

Chloe felt like turning around when Elly led the pair of them into Mark's place. She hadn't been there since he had thrown her out three months ago and she had packed up her things quickly.

Standing in the entrance way, Chloe decided, "You know...I don't really think Mark is going to be happy with me spending time here with you...I should probably just leave you to your afternoon and maybe we can hang out after you've spoken to him."

Elly turned back to Chloe as she placed her handbag down on the kitchen table, "This is my house too now, Chlo, and I want you to be here."

Chloe relented quickly when Elly went to sit down on the couch and gestured for her to join her. However, she made a point of ignoring Elly's request to sit down on the couch next to her and instead sat down on the single seat sofa away from Elly.

Chloe almost glared at the couch as it bought back memories of the last time she was seated on it and Elly had kissed her even though it wasn't like it was the couches fault that her life had become complicated for her family after that night.

Chloe curled up her legs underneath her on the seat and sat back comfortably, "How come you have the day off work anyway? I thought you only went back to teaching a couple weeks ago."

Elly sighed, feeling the isolation of Chloe sitting away from her even though she understood why, "I had to ask Susan to make a huge exception for me to get the day off. Mark is working the entirety of the weekend after working the past few too. He's been bugging me since I went back to work that he wanted to spend some quality time together as a couple. Then yesterday evening he pulled his shift forwards a handful of hours to extend the shift he was rostered on for when a colleague needed the afternoon off but he didn't even tell me until late this morning so I felt it was too late to tell Susan I could work this afternoon. I thought we could at least spend a nice time together in the morning before lunch at the Waterhole."

"But?" Chloe pushed Elly to continue.

Elly rolled her eyes, "Mark's version of quality time together as a couple was putting together a list of all the things he needs to do before...the baby arrives...didn't even need me there...had to force his hand to take me out to lunch before his shifts started...should've just gone to work anyway without telling Susan as soon as I heard he'd shuffled his shift around to spend more time at work...away from me."

Chloe chewed on her lip, the feeling that Elly clearly thought Mark didn't care about her was obvious. It wasn't Chloe's place to point it out to her brother and she didn't understand why Elly couldn't talk to Mark about the way he was treating her, "Mark can have a bit of a one track mind and he's always been a bit OCD with lists...I'm sure if you say something he'll realize he needs to be there for you too."

Elly started fiddling with her cuticles, nervously thinking about the fact that Chloe would never treat her the way Mark was and wondering if she had made a mistake by insisting that he was the only person for her and refusing to acknowledge there could ever be anyone else.

Whilst Elly's brain was thinking about how Chloe would treat her, it wasn't connecting her thoughts to her mouth as before she knew it, she'd blurted out, "How come you ended up with Kyle?"

Chloe raised her eyebrow, getting the sense that it wasn't a question that was really on Elly's mind and yet in some way Elly was desperate to know about her fling with Kyle, "Proximity of living together was a factor. We just kept flirting with one another and ended up making out with one another at Aaron's Easter party. Kyle's a--"

"Easter?" Elly suddenly cut in, "Sorry I...I didn't realize you and Kyle were...for that long...I...I guess I really wasn't part of your life for longer than I realized."

Chloe blushed, "Yeah well I guess it has been a while that I've been casually seeing Kyle and we didn't want to make a big deal about it. As much as he wants to make Amy jealous, I didn't want him to use me to that extent."

"But you are letting Kyle use you to an extent?" Elly pointed out.

"Yes and no," Chloe answered, "I'm using him too so I'm hardly innocent in this. Besides I didn't want to flaunt it in front of you--everybody. Aaron is not happy with the situation. He feels like Kyle and I hooking up even casually will get super awkward when it does end and as the house owner with David, he doesn't want to be stuck in the same situation like at Mark's where we all can't live together."

"So, it will definitely end...you and Kyle?" Elly caught on and immediately needed to know.

Chloe shrugged, "At some point yeah...we're not a forever kind of deal."

"Do you ever see yourself been a forever kind of deal with anyone?" Elly asked curiously.

Chloe immediately felt uncomfortable. She thought she had made it quite clear to Elly months earlier that Elly was the only person she could see a future with and she did not want to reestablish those feelings to Elly when they were trying to reestablish their friendship.

Chloe sighed, "How about we change the subject? Aside from Mark treating you like an incubator for the baby, how is the pregnancy going? You're over three and a half months, nearly four months, hey, that's exciting to make it past the first trimester. I know you told me about your miscarriage years ago and that must be such a relief to know you've made it past that first hurdle."

Elly froze, completely unsure how to lie to Chloe and keep her secret at the same time. Whilst Chloe meant well with the positive vibes deep down Elly was panicking because she was only nearly 9 weeks pregnant and had not yet made it to her first trimester, and she was becoming increasingly worried as each day passed if she would, especially after her recent attack.

Elly lied, "Things are...going well. It's been a lot to take in and I'm not really sure I'm doing everything right for my baby but the most recent scan was good. Mark's...he's Mark you know...he's so into reading all these books on pregnancy and raising children. It's...it's a lot of stress on me...to wonder if I can ever live up to been a good parent. Especially when I didn’t have the greatest examples growing up."

"Are you kidding? Elly, you are going to be an amazing parent! This kid will be so lucky to have you," Chloe reassured.

"I guess we'll see," Elly replied trying to sound as upbeat as possible, "So what would you like to do? Watch a movie?"

Then Elly's tone changed to be a lot happier with the thought, "We could go out to the pool and get some sun? You know if you don't want to go home and come back in case anyone spots you, I can probably find you a bikini of mine you can borrow."

Chloe breathed deeply at the mere thought of seeing Elly in a bikini even though she’d witnessed the sight numerous times before. Then immediately decided that was not going to help her fully move past her feelings for Elly. As much as part of her didn't want to move past them, Elly did not return her feelings and was pregnant and married to Mark. As far as Chloe was concerned, she didn't stand a chance of ever been with Elly again.

"Let's just go with a movie, maybe we can sneak in two before I should go home," Chloe decided, then she saw Elly pat her hand against the couch, indicating for Chloe to shift over to the couch next to her.

"You stay seated, Elly, I'll get the movie," Chloe ignored Elly's silent request to sit on the couch with her, got up and walked over to the cupboard Mark kept his DVD collection, in alphabetical order of course.

After a couple minutes debating which movie, Chloe eventually popped one in the DVD player and returned to her seat instead of the couch.

As the pair sat in silence watching the movie, Elly was feeling increasingly lonely. She was happy that she had her best friend back in her life but things between them had shifted so deeply she wondered if they would ever get it back. As the time wore on, Chloe was more intrigued in watching the movie and had not even noticed that Elly had completely forgotten about the movie and was more intrigued by watching Chloe.

Every single movement, every single reaction to the movie, every single breath of air in Chloe's lungs was nervously and secretly watched by Elly.

Chloe was completely oblivious to having Elly's eyes on her despite it only been a few hours earlier at the Waterhole and Lassiters where she could feel Elly tracking her movements. Elly's face was facing the TV but the corner of her eyes were both all over Chloe.

Elly didn't know what had come over her but it was like all of a sudden Chloe was the only thing on her mind. Had she missed her best friend this much that she needed to watch every single movement to believe the pair were finally getting their friendship back on track?

Or was there something more to the feelings overcoming Elly and telling her to keep her eyes on her friend?

In between the two movies, Chloe had gotten up, changed over the DVD's to play the second one and then awkwardly fiddled around in the kitchen for ten minutes making the pair some snacks to eat. Elly's eyes didn't leave Chloe's body and yet Chloe still had no idea.

When Chloe returned to the living room and handed over some snacks to Elly, Elly silently appreciated the fact that every snack was healthy and it was clear to her that Chloe had taken her pregnancy into account when preparing the food. Something Mark would never do, even as obsessed over the pregnancy as he was.

Elly had once more tried to silently get Chloe to join her on the couch but Chloe had once again resisted.

Two hours later, Elly thought if someone asked her to describe Chloe's face, she could provide that person with every single intricate detail and yet Chloe was none the wiser, completely oblivious to it as her heart was determined not to get hurt again.

After the second movie ended, Chloe looked at her watch, deciding it was well and truly time for her to head home in case Mark stopped by the house during a break in his shifts, "Thanks for a nice afternoon, Elly. I'm going to head home. Give me a call tomorrow sometime to let me know what Mark has to say about us hanging out. Or don't if he throws a hissy fit, I'll get the hint."

Elly went to stand up but Chloe stopped her, "Stay there and relax, Elly, in less than half a year you are gonna be run off your feet, exhausted so take every chance you can to sit back and relax."

Elly ignored Chloe and stood up to walk her out anyway. Before she opened the front door, Elly couldn't resist pulling Chloe into a hug. Chloe resisted at first but soon wrapped her arms around Elly's waist while Elly's arms wrapped around Chloe's shoulders and she found her hand digging into Chloe's hair to pull her in closer.

Why does she still do this to me? Chloe thought.

What is she doing to me? Elly thought.

Chapter Text

Just Friends?

Chapter Six

The next morning, Elly was in the kitchen getting ready for work when Mark entered.

“Good morning, how is the love of my life today?” Mark asked happily and as Elly started to answer, pleased with his statement she soon rolled her eyes as Mark lent down and pressed his hand on Elly’s stomach, clearly talking about the baby and not her.

“And how are you this morning, Elly? Anymore morning sickness?” Mark finally addressed his wife.

Elly shook her head, “No, I’m feeling a lot better.”

Mark nodded as he started preparing his own breakfast, “You’re up early, heading to the school early this morning?”

Elly shook her head, “No, I actually got up early as I needed to talk to you before I left for work. I wanted to talk to you last night but I was asleep by the time you got home.”

Mark continued sorting out his breakfast and didn’t respond to Elly just letting her continue talking.

Elly sighed before telling her husband, “After I left the Waterhole yesterday from feeling sick…the morning sickness didn’t last long...must have been a momentary thing where it felt awful and then subsided…I should've gone back to the Waterhole to you but I...I bumped into Chloe.”

Mark’s attention was suddenly peaked but he still didn’t respond.

“So…it’s kind of a funny story…okay it’s not so funny but…I bumped into Chloe, she brushed me off, took off back to the hotel and I…I dunno I missed her…I mean I missed my best friend…I chased after her just to check in and see how she’s been doing…we haven’t spoken in months. Anyway…she tried to get rid of me by taking the lift up to one of the floors instead of hiding out in her office. But I followed her into the elevator in the hotel…and the lift broke down and Chloe and I were…kinda…no I mean we were trapped in the lift together for…like half an hour or so,” Elly rambled.

"Trapped in a hotel lift with my sister who you--?" Mark started to question.

"Mark, it was not like that," Elly interrupted and repeating her side of the story, "Chloe was the one who was trying to avoid me. I followed her into the lift. I missed my best friend and I wanted to see how she was doing after months of not talking to her. How were either of us to know the lift was going to break down? That was out of our control. Terese was embarrassed for the situation her workplace caused us."

"Right...I guess it's not like you planned to be trapped with Chloe like that...of all the people in the world," Mark shook his head, "Did Chloe make a move on you?"

"Grow up, Mark, we were trapped in a lift and Chloe was dealing with a bit of claustrophobia issues, the last thing in the world on her mind was making moves on me," Elly said with frustration, then using Chloe's fling with Kyle to her advantage, "Chloe's moved on from me, she's with Kyle now."

Mark shrugged, "Sounds about right that Chloe has moved on quickly and wouldn't be holding a torch for you, she never has been one to keep her attention focused on one person for long enough to actually make a relationship work. Is it actually serious between her and Kyle or another of her casual flings?"

"I think it might actually be serious between them," Elly lied, "I don't think they would label themselves as in an exclusive relationship but Chloe likes him and he's available."

"Unlike you," Mark replied happily.

Elly hesitated for a few seconds before responding, "Right."

"Sounds like you two had a decent chat whilst you were trapped together," Mark pointed out.

Elly twisted her hands together nervously, "We did...after the lift was repaired...Terese gave Chloe the afternoon off work and since I...had the afternoon off too..."

"You spent more time with her?" Mark realized.

"Yeah, we just hung out here for a few hours, watched one movie," Elly lied instead of revealing it was two movies and then continued, "We just talked about stuff going on in our lives. Don't worry, Chloe kept her distance from me, sat as far away from me in the living room as she could and would barely even look at me...but it was nice."

"So, there's nothing going on between you two?" Mark wanted to know.

Elly shook her head, "Nothing but friendship. We're just friends. Chloe's moved on and has zero reasons in the world to want a pregnant woman...and I'm with you."

"Okay, I'm not thrilled you didn't let me know whilst it was happening but I trust nothing happened between you two that I need to know about," Mark decided, then gently smirking, "Chloe wanting any kind of commitment from a pregnant woman...that'll never happen even if I wasn't in the picture."

Ignoring Mark's comment, Elly told him, "Spending time with Chloe yesterday...it really made me see how much I've missed my best friend. I've been quite stressed out by this pregnancy as you know and...I wasn't stressed yesterday. Even been trapped in a confined space...it was good to spend time with Chloe. I want to get my friendship back on track with Chloe... Before...everything...she was my best friend and I'm really missing that right now."

"Is that all it is...friendship between you?" Mark asked.

"I'm not interested in Chloe that way, Mark, this is purely just friendship," Elly insisted, trying to ignore her heart racing at the thought that it was only friendship between her and Chloe.

"Are you asking for my permission to spend time with Chloe...as friends...or telling me you will be spending more time with her?" Mark inquired.

"Mark I am letting you know that I want to keep spending time with Chloe and get our friendship back on track, she's my best friend and I could really use a best friend right now. I'm not hiding this from you or going behind your back, I'm been honest about what I want and I'd like you to be able to respect that," Elly insisted, stopping short of offering never to see Chloe again if Mark wasn't receptive to the idea because even the thought of that destroyed her.

Mark nodded then suggested, "Why don't you invite Chloe over here for dinner with us tomorrow evening and you two can watch a movie after we've all had dinner? I'll be off work by 6pm and I was planning on spending the evening sitting here at the dining table going over all our finances to work out where we stand and what we need to start putting away for all the baby supplies we need to start buying. I know how much finance stuff bores you so you can leave me to that and hang out with Chloe here."

Elly chewed on her lip, "Are you telling me you only want me spending time with Chloe when you are here and can keep your eyes on us?"

"That wasn't my intention but now that you've asked it like that...yes I would prefer for at least the next couple times you hang out with Chloe that I'm here. I'm not saying I'm going to be watching your every move but I just want to be here and be here for you. If you can simply give me a chance to get used to it...then I'm sure in a week or two I can trust Chloe doesn't have feelings for you anymore and leave you two in peace. Does that sound fair?" Mark offered.

Elly shrugged, "It sounds like you’re been a parent who won't let their teenage kid be alone with their friends."

Mark pursed his lips, "My sister took advantage of you and seduced you two nights before our wedding."

"And I took advantage of Chloe knowing how she felt about me after you abandoned me and called off the wedding," Elly reminded Mark, "What I did to Chloe was way worse as I made her think I could return her feelings. You need to stop blaming Chloe for what happened that night. I was more to blame."

Mark ran his tongue over his teeth, "Fine but as you can understand I need a bit of time to trust what is between you is over. You both cheated on me and slept with one another. I know we are still working our way through forgiving it and I'm still not past my intimacy issues. I understand you've been under a small amount of stress and I agree that having your best friend in your life might help with that. I'm not saying I need too much but I do need a week or so to get used to the two of you spending time with one another. Yes, I would like to be in the house when she is over here and I would prefer it if you didn't go over to her place until I am comfortable with you hanging out with her again."

Elly folded her arms in front of her, unsure of what to make of Mark's demands.

Mark insisted, "Look I'm playing ball here and giving you and Chloe a chance to sort your friendship out despite the fact you two slept together. If you want to invite Chloe over tomorrow night you can do that...or you can spend the evening with me going over our finances. It's your choice."

"I'll invite Chloe over then if she isn't busy with Kyle tomorrow evening," Elly decided, feeling the need to remind Mark that Chloe had moved on and may not even be available.

"Good, I'm glad we have that sorted," Mark announced then deciding to make things perfectly clear to his wife, "Just so we are clear on this...I'm not ready for you and Chloe to spend every single day together like you used to. I'm okay if you see her a couple of times a week and that's all. I'd prefer the pair of you to spend time here at my place than over at Chloe's. I'm okay with inviting Chloe back into my home if you need to rekindle your friendship...but I am never going to forgive Chloe for what she did. You can get your friendship back on track but aside from her spending time with you...I want absolutely nothing to do with her. Chloe is not my sister anymore after the way she betrayed me and I don't want you trying to use this as a way to get my sibling relationship with Chloe back, got it?"

"Loud and clear," Elly answered trying not to glower at Mark for calling it 'his' home like she was nothing more than a tenant co-habituating with him even though they were becoming less and less like a couple every day, "Anyway I should get to work. I'll see you this evening."

Mark lent forward and pressed his lips against Elly's cheek, "Thank you for been honest with me."

As Elly turned around and left the house, she let out a deep sigh, wondering how Mark would feel if he knew about all the lies she had told him and the truth she was keeping from him. Why was it that when it came to Chloe, she could be honest with Mark but not when it came to her baby?

Several hours later, Chloe was busy at work in Terese's office and she was surprised to see Elly knocking on the office door.

"Hey, Chlo. Terese said you were down here and I could see you if that's alright," Elly greeted.

"Yeah, of course. I'm surprised to see you, I wasn't expecting to see you today," Chloe replied.

Elly couldn't help but blush gently, "Yeah I thought the surprise might be better. Terese was definitely surprised to see me asking after you and I may have mentioned we hung out just a little yesterday arvo after the whole...lift incident."

"It's good to see you," Chloe whispered.

Elly held up a small paper bag from Harold's, "I...ah...bought you some lunch."

Chloe reached out and accepted the offer, "Thanks. I've been a bit busy today and haven't even thought about lunch. Still looking out for me. Do you want to stay for a little while or are you back at work today?"

Elly shook her head, "I'd love to but yeah I've only got a couple minutes before I have to head back to the school."

"Well I'm glad to see Susan hasn't kept up that rule that teachers don't leave school grounds during lunch breaks like Jane did," Chloe smiled, "So I...ah...I thought you were going to give me a call after you spoke to Mark. I take it things went pretty bad and you're here to officially tell me in person we can never see each other again."

Elly felt a sharp pain at the prospect of never seeing Chloe again, "No it went...okay I guess. Do you have any plans to hook up with Kyle tomorrow evening?"

Chloe shrugged, "Casual flings don’t have plans involved. That’s the good thing about it been casual. It’s there when you want it but no hard feelings when you don’t."

"Okay," Elly felt stung by the reminder Kyle was just a guy Chloe slept with when she felt the need to, "Ah well...Mark wanted me to invite you over to have dinner with us tomorrow evening and hang out with me to watch a movie or something. Would you like to?"

Chloe smiled softly, "That'd be nice."

Elly held her hands together nervously, "I told Mark about me wanting to get our friendship back on track and he's supportive...to an extent."

"Okay," Chloe replied unsure what Elly meant.

"Mark is okay with us spending time together but for the time being...like the next week or two...he would prefer to be around the house when we're...hanging out...and doesn't want me going over to your place...yet. It's just until he can see that the only thing between us is friendship and that you've moved on with Kyle," Elly explained.

"I haven't moved on with Kyle, it's a fling, Elly," Chloe frowned.

Elly ran her hand through her hair, "I know I just...the thing is I may have given Mark the impression you and Kyle were a little bit more serious. I said there was no way you would label what you have with Kyle as exclusive but--"

"Elly," Chloe groaned.

"I know I shouldn't have but I said it without thinking and I just really really want us to be friends again and Mark was really caught on the fact that you've moved on and I thought it would help convince him that he has nothing to worry about if we spend time together," Elly admitted.

"Okay, I get it," Chloe accepted Elly's reasoning despite wondering if Elly herself thought there was something to worry about by spending time with her, "Is there anything else I should know?"

Elly pursed her lips, "I told Mark you came over yesterday and we watched one movie as I suddenly felt like he would worry about us spending more than a couple hours together. Mark is comfortable with us seeing each other a couple times a week but he doesn't want it to go back to the way it was before when we used to spend all our time together. Mark will be home by 6pm tomorrow so you can come over anytime afterwards. Mark will be doing his finances so he'll be there but not spending time with us or watching over us like a hawk. And...Mark has no plans to forgive you for sleeping with me, he can stand you been in his house but has no intention of fixing your relationship with him."

"Right," Chloe replied sadly, "I guess I have to accept that. Would you like me to bring anything tomorrow evening?"

Elly grinned at Chloe's acceptance to spend the following evening with her...and Mark, "Just your beaut--duh, gorge--duh I mean...just yourself." 

Chloe blushed at the near flattery Elly came close to giving her but didn't want to make a big deal of it and embarrass Elly, "I'll see you tomorrow evening, Elly."

Elly smiled again, "Great, I'm looking forward to it. Moving forwards and been just friends with you again."

"Just friends," Chloe repeated as she waved goodbye to Elly as she left the office.

'Just friends'...it sounds like that is all we'll ever be and I accept that, Chloe thought.

'Just friends'...it sounds like that is all we'll ever be and I don't know why I can't seem to accept that, Elly thought.

Chapter Text

Just Friends?

Chapter Seven

The following evening, Elly nervously rushed to the front door when she heard Chloe knocking. Elly smiled as her eyes landed on Chloe. Elly swallowed deeply as she felt the need to wrap her arms around Chloe in a hug but with Mark been in the dining room, she settled for reaching out her hand and squeezing Chloe's shoulder.

"Thanks for coming," Elly greeted.

"Thanks for having me over," Chloe responded entering her former home.

As Elly closed the front door, Chloe spotted Mark at the dining table, "Mark. Good to see you."

"Chloe," Mark bristled not looking up at his sister.

Elly reached out her hand to Chloe's arm once more to reassure her Mark was okay with her been at his home and whispered, "I'm happy to have you here."

"Makes one of you," Chloe whispered back.

Not sure what the two women were whispering about left Mark feeling uncomfortable that this could be the beginning of re-sparking what was between them that night he cancelled the wedding.

Mark tried to make a small effort with Chloe but veered into showing little respect for Elly and insulting Chloe instead, "Not going to hide it, I'm not thrilled you and Elly are back in each other's lives, Chloe. The only reason I'm allowing this is because Elly has had a bit of a stressful time recently and I refuse to allow our baby to be stressed. This is for our baby, not Elly and not you. Elly needs a friend right now, not someone who will sleep with her for the hell of it and not think about the consequences, so if you think for one second you have a shot at--"

"Grow up, Mark," Chloe interrupted, "Elly and I are just friends. I'm worried about the baby been stressed out too so if you think I would ever do anything to Elly that would stress her out more you're an idiot."

Mark rolled his eyes, realizing he had crossed a line but not wanting to apologize, "Right, whatever. You two spend time together, I'll be sitting here getting some important work done."

Elly pursed her lips at her husband's attitude, "Right. So, what are we all doing for dinner before Chloe and I watch a movie?"

Chloe watched as Elly stared at Mark as he ignored her, instead focusing on the laptop in front of him at the dining table.

"Mark," Elly addressed him, "You asked me to invite Chloe over to have dinner with us, what are we doing for dinner?"

Mark glanced up at the pair briefly, "Oh I had an early lunch break and was starving for my dinner before I left the station so I already ate and don't need anything."

Chloe watched as Elly stood there deflated that she had clearly thought she wasn't going to have to organise dinner for herself and her guest. She could see that half the dining table was covered in Elly's school work and she had clearly been marking assignments before Chloe had arrived.

Chloe backed Elly up, "Mark, Elly did tell me you wanted the three of us to have dinner together. You didn't think about that or you know think about bringing your wife home some dinner instead of thinking about yourself?"

"Elly's a big girl, Chlo, she can manage to make herself, or well the two of you, dinner. I don't need to think about every meal Elly eats. As long as the meal is healthy for the baby of course," Mark glossed over without realizing how little care he was showing.

Elly silently mouthed her apology to Chloe feeling responsible for messing up their plans for the evening already and working on her schoolwork instead of realizing she should've prepared them dinner.

Before Chloe could reassure Elly she had nothing to apologise for and it was becoming clear to her that Mark was showing how separate his affection was for their baby and Elly, Elly slunk into the kitchen. Chloe soon followed her.

Elly opened the fridge and glanced inside to work out what she could make Chloe and herself for dinner.

Before Elly could make any decisions with Chloe on what to have for dinner, Mark interrupted her, "Elly, do you have your bank statements I asked you for?"

Elly let the fridge door close as she turned around to Mark, "What bank statements?"

Mark glanced over at Elly, "I told you I'd be working on our finances this evening so we can piece together how much money we need to set aside each pay for all the baby supplies we will need to buy. I asked you to print off your bank statements."

"No, you didn't ask me to get my bank statements," Elly claimed, "All you said was you would work on the finances, you didn't ask me for any info."

Realizing that she didn't want to get in the middle of what was about to turn into a couple's squabble, Chloe left the kitchen and sat down on the single seat in the living room. Even though she could still hear Mark and Elly's argument, Chloe tried to ignore it, pulled out her phone, uploaded the UberEats app and began looking for dinner options to order for her and Elly.

"Well what did you expect me to be able to work out our financial situation with only my bank statements? Maybe I didn't specifically ask you to print your statements but use some intuition, Elly, I need to work out where in both our budgets we can cut back and save for our baby," Mark replied with annoyance.

Elly sighed, "I can print my most recent statement off next time I'm at work. Why don't you concentrate on your finances tonight and we can sit down together another night to go through mine and make a plan together?"

"Just give me your online banking details and password, I can access your recent statements and work it out for myself," Mark insisted, "If I get done with the baby budget quickly I can start setting up a joint account, shift your money into it along with mine and cancel our existing accounts."

Elly hesitated, feeling embarrassed knowing Chloe could still hear them, "We haven't really discussed that yet, Mark."

"Discussed what?" Mark asked.

Elly chewed on her lip, "Combining finances and shutting down my accounts."

"We're married, Elly, what did you think would happen?" Mark made the presumption, "Now can you give me your online access details or not?"

Elly paused but eventually stated, "Okay, yes we do need a joint account now that some of our expenses need to be covered by the both of us instead of me constantly transferring money into your account when you ask but I don't want to just cancel all my accounts and I'd like to have at least one left to myself for discretionary spending. You are more than welcome to have the same."

"Fine, if you must, but it'll still need to be in the budget how much of your pay goes into your own account for discretionary spending every pay cycle as we're both going to have to cut back our spending to save for our little one," Mark insisted, "So...access details?"

Elly ran her fingers nervously across her other wrist, "Can I just get you the bank statements another day? It doesn't all have to be sorted tonight...and I...well I mean online access gives the ability to download my bank statements from years ago that I don't feel comfortable with you looking at and even though I'm sure you wouldn't but you'd also be able to transfer money out of my accounts...like you said to a joint account and I would much prefer to sit down and do that all myself. I know I don't like dealing with finances but you don't need to do everything for me."

Realizing he wasn't going to get any help from Elly with his plans to sort out their finances that evening, Mark gruffed, "Fine, whatever. I've got some more statements in my bedroom that I need to get. Don't do anything with Chloe that you know you shouldn't while I'm not here for two minutes. And seriously, Elly, take your schoolwork and spread it out on another table, you knew I'd be working here tonight. I don't like my space been taken over."

With that, Mark stormed away from Elly.

Elly slowly walked into the living room and sat down on the couch. 

When Chloe glanced up at Elly with concern, Elly ran her hand through her hair and admitted, "I am so sorry you had to hear all that. That was...completely humiliating."

"Don't worry about it, I know what Mark is like," Chloe reassured.

"Yeah but all the talk of combining our finances, restricting my discretionary spend to a level he approves, and wanting to close my accounts just because we're married...I am so humiliated right now," Elly revealed.

Elly started to wonder how it was that she let her husband treat her that way as her mind couldn't help but wander to thinking about how Chloe would tackle the issue of finances as a couple. Not specifically with herself but just if Chloe was in a relationship deep enough to come to that point.

"You have nothing to be embarrassed about," Chloe reassured, "Nobody should be forced to combine finances and cancel their accounts without an actual discussion about it. You would be completely entitled to keep your finances separate and keep your discretionary spending to whatever level you felt comfortable if you and I wer--never mind. Say how about we forget the last ten minutes and get on with our evening?"

Elly blushed, not able to hide the fact that Chloe literally just answered her unasked question about how Chloe would treat the issue of finances in a couple. As Chloe stared back down at her phone, Elly found herself gazing deeply at Chloe at the almost suggestion by her friend that Chloe was thinking about it from the point of view of them been together.

Elly's deep gaze with Chloe was broken when she remembered she was supposed to be organising dinner for them, "Right, let me just check the fridge to see what I can scrounge up for us to eat tonight before we decide on a movie." 

Chloe glanced back up at Elly, "Oh don't worry about that I'm ordering us some food to be delivered here...if I can ever decide what to order you that is. My phone is too small for this. I keep looking at all the different restaurant menus and then flicking over to google to check the recipes online to see if they are suitable for pregnant women. I can't decide between the two I think are best for you."

"Okay, what are the options?" Elly asked in complete amazement that Chloe was going to so much effort to make sure the meal she picked was suitable for her when Mark didn't even care if she had dinner or not.

Chloe went to hand Elly her phone to look at it but instead Elly stood up and came over to the seat Chloe was sat in and lent down to gently hover over Chloe's shoulder, gesturing it would be easier for Chloe to show her on the phone the meal options.

Chloe breathed deeply at having Elly so close to her again, then almost felt her heart beat out of her chest when Elly reached her hand out so her hand curled around Chloe's and they held the phone in front of them together.

Showing Elly on her phone, Chloe explained, "This one is healthier and definitely safe for pregnant women but the restaurant is half an hour drive away so the uber driver probably won't get here for like an hour. Let me just click to the other one...okay... Whereas this other one is only 10 minutes away; I can't be sure if it is suitable because it depends what ingredients they use as there's a couple different recipes they could be using. You know what? I should call the restaurant before I place the order and discuss with them what ingredients they use and see if they can change them if they aren't the right ones. Or maybe I should skip the UberEats part and just drive down there and discuss it with them in person. Sometimes these things can get lost in translation over the phone and I really want to make sure they understand to cook the meal properly for you."

Elly gently rested her free hand on Chloe's shoulder, completely in awe at the level of care and respect Chloe was showing her, leaving her wondering why it was that she couldn't return Chloe's feelings for her when she had the chance, "I can't believe you would go to this much trouble for me."

Chloe frowned, "You think this is trouble? Elly, this is the simplest thing I can offer to do for you, it is zero trouble at all."

Elly found herself lost in Chloe's eyes for a moment, "As much as I would love to watch you go into that restaurant and tell them how to cook their food for me, I think we should just go for the first option. I don't mind waiting longer if it's the right choice."

Chloe exhaled gently, trying to ignore even the idea running through her mind that sometimes waiting longer for what you truly desire was the right thing to do as there was no way Elly intended her comment to be about anything except their dinner, "Okay, I'll place the order."

Elly smiled down at Chloe, her mind stuck on the idea that maybe it was possible that she wasn't just talking about dinner when she had uttered the comment about waiting longer for the right choice, "Thanks, Chlo."

Mark came strolling back into the front of the house, not happy to see his wife draped over his sister, "Back up there a little bit, Chlo. You're getting a bit too close to Elly."

Both women raised their eyebrows at him considering it was Elly that was hovering over Chloe's shoulder and had her hands curled around Chloe's hand with the phone and on her shoulder. 

"Sure thing, Mark, I'll just back up further into this chair I'm sitting in," Chloe told her brother sarcastically.

Elly didn't let her hands drop from Chloe, "Mark, Chloe was just showing me the dinner options on her phone that she has gone to a hell of a lot of trouble to order for me. How about you back off if you think we're doing something wrong?"

Mark rolled his eyes at the pair and went back to the dining table to work in peace. 

"Thanks for sticking up for me," Chloe whispered.

"Anytime," Elly whispered back, squeezing Chloe's shoulder, before reluctantly removing her hands from Chloe and taking her seat back on the couch.

Having ordered their food, Chloe got up and sorted out the movie for the pair to watch.

Much like the afternoon two days ago, the pair sat apart from one another in the living room with Chloe easily transfixed by the movie and Elly easily transfixed by Chloe though trying to hide it. 

Only this time, Mark was seated at the dining table and couldn't help but keep an eager eye over the pair. He was pleased they weren't seated together on the couch but was annoyed when their dinner arrived and Chloe insisted on organizing it all as Elly stayed seated on the couch. Just watching Chloe hand Elly a plate of food and the smile on Elly's face as their hands seemed to touch. He felt better when they went back to their respective places across the room to eat their food.

Though as they delved back into their movie watching Mark couldn't help but wonder if he was imagining it or not that Elly kept glancing over at Chloe and was spending considerable time looking at his little sister.

Ugh Mark, I can feel your eyes on me. Why are you making me feel like I'm doing something wrong? Chloe thought.

Ugh Mark, I can feel your eyes on me. Why are you making me feel like I want to do something wrong? Elly thought.

Chapter Text

Just Friends?

Chapter Eight

Despite their friendship been observed under Mark's watchful eye for the past week Chloe and Elly had managed to get together three more times since their first evening together with him where they had had dinner and watched a movie. Their three other evenings had gone very similarly, still seated away from one another, having dinner and watching a movie or TV show together, with Mark hanging out in the dining room or kitchen, mainly cleaning or doing some activity that 'required' him to be there.

But as each evening came closer to the end, they began extending their conversations after the movie or TV show ended. They were back to rebuilding their friendship. Though they hadn't specifically made a point of telling each other, there were off limit topics of conversation they both avoided talking about - their night together, Elly's marriage, Elly's pregnancy and Chloe's fling with Kyle.

Other than that, the pair talked about anything and everything and their evenings together were beginning to draw out longer and longer as they continued enjoying each other's company much to Mark's slight disdain.

Now a week later, Chloe and Elly were both separately at work on their lunch breaks enjoying texting one another.

Elly: How's your day been? Can you come over this evening? x

Chloe: It's been good. You? We got together last night, isn't it against Mark's 'rules' not to spend two nights in row hanging out? 😊

Elly: Bit tiring, teenagers are driving me crazy and I could use a pick me up with an evening with you

Chloe: I’d love to help with that but I have plans with Kyle tonight

Elly: Didn’t you say casual flings don’t have plans?

Chloe: Touché

Elly: Does that mean you can push back your evening with Kyle and spend time with me instead?

Chloe: Maybe…what about Mark?

Elly: Mark’s working tonight so I have the place to myself

Chloe: Same, all the boys are out tonight except Kyle's due home 'round 7 to 8pm

Elly: What time do you finish work? Could we hang out at your place for a little while until Kyle comes home? An hour or two with you would make my day. You don't have to cancel your night with Kyle for me

Chloe pursed her lips at the thought that she would gladly cancel her night with Kyle for Elly

Chloe: 5pm. When would you be here? Why do I get the feeling you want to break Mark's rules on purpose?

Elly: I could be there around 4pm but I can wait 'til 5pm for you. I'm all for breaking Mark's rules because they are BS and I want to spend time with my friend when and where I want and I'm tired of him watching us

Elly licked her lips as she wanted to add 'I want you all to myself' but deleted it unsure of the reaction Chloe would have to it and if she would assume she was flirting with her which she obviously wasn't...right?

Chloe: Spare key to the house is in the letterbox. Why don't you come to mine after work and I'll meet you there? Let's break Mark's rules together

Elly: Can't wait! See you after 5pm. Off to wrangle my next class, wish me luck

Chloe: Good luck

Early that evening, Chloe arrived home from work, not surprised to find the front door unlocked and expecting to find Elly hanging out on her couch. Instead Elly didn't seem to be in the house. Chloe threw her handbag onto the couch and wandered around the house to find her. Once in the kitchen, Chloe spotted Elly outside swimming in the pool. 

Chloe walked outside to greet her friend, "Hey, Elly."

Elly turned around in the pool to face Chloe, "Oh hi! Sorry I completely lost track of time! I was only going to have a quick dip in the pool and then get changed before you came home. I did not mean for you to see me here like this."

Chloe couldn't resist licking her lips as she was unable to look away from Elly in a bikini, "It's all good. Some weird weather we're having. Start of winter and it's warm enough out here to need to spend time cooling off in the pool. We can stay out here if you'd like."

"I'd like that," Elly agreed as she swam closer to where Chloe was standing.

As Elly got there, she found that Chloe had taken off her shoes and was sitting down on the edge of the pool, dipping her legs into the water. Elly stood there in the water watching her friend.

Chloe smiled down at Elly, "Good thing Mark isn't here, he'd blow a gasket at seeing us hanging out in the pool especially as you're at my place instead of at home."

Elly shrugged, "What Mark doesn't know won't hurt him. Besides his place doesn't feel like home to me yet...I feel like something's missing to make it feel like home but I don't know what."

"You'll figure it out," Chloe reassured, then narrowed her eyes as she glanced at Elly closer, "Is that my bikini?"

Elly blushed deeply, "Yeah...I'm sorry when I came over, I got a bit bored hanging out in your living room as there was nothing on TV. I came out here and the bikini set and towel were drying on the clothes line with the rest of your clothes. I didn't feel like going home for my own so I just got changed in your bathroom. I only intended to have a quick swim before you even came home and was going to put them in your washing machine after I changed back into my clothes. I'm sorry. This is really weird and crossing a line isn't it?"

Chloe bit her lip, "No, not at all. You look a hell of a lot better than I do in that particular bikini."

Elly continued blushing at Chloe's compliment and felt reassured that Chloe didn't have an issue with sharing her clothes with her. Benefits of a best friend, right?

Shivering from a sudden cold shift in the air, and feeling awkward at standing there in the pool staring up at Chloe, Elly decided to get out of the pool. Pulling herself out of the pool, Elly's cheeks were completely flushed as she glanced at Chloe and saw her friend nearly salivating at the vision of her in the bikini.

Months ago, even the thought of Chloe been attracted to her would've sent Elly running but now after months of Mark not even entertaining the thought of having sex with her left her feeling pleasantly comfortable with the idea of Chloe clearly unable to hide her attraction to her.

It had to do with her own sexual frustration, right? It wasn't about Chloe still possibly wanting her, right? Elly would feel this comfort if anyone showed her they appreciated the vision of her in a bikini, right?

Elly's lips curled into a gentle smile as she grabbed the towel, stood next to Chloe, dried herself off with the towel, threw the towel back on one of the sun seats then sat down next to Chloe, putting her own legs in the pool. Through all, Chloe avoided looking at Elly but Elly watched the way Chloe found it nearly impossible to resist looking up at her. Elly convinced herself that it was perfectly fine for Chloe to still show signs that she hadn't completely moved on from her feelings for her, as long as Mark didn't find out.

Sitting there next to one another by the pool, Elly comfortably flaunting the fact she was still wearing Chloe's bikini, Elly nudged her friend, "I'm really glad you found yourself living here at Aaron and David's place. I know I probably didn't show it but I was really worried when I saw you at the Waterhole and knew Mark had thrown you out of his place."

Chloe finally looked over at Elly, "Yeah I'm so thankful Aaron and David were able to buy this place. I'm so proud of them for how stable their relationship is and taking this step together. Living with 4 guys can be a pain at times but they all tend to show me a lot of respect. Sharing a bathroom with Leo and Kyle is not for the faint hearted. Leo's got his life together now and takes forever in the shower."

Elly raised her eyes, nudging her shoulder against Chloe's playfully, "This coming from the woman who hogs the shower every morning?"

"Exactly," Chloe exclaimed, "So you know if I'm complaining then it means something. It's really good to be living here but it's not quite the same as living with you...ah and all the guys back at Mark's. There's a lot less cleaning that gets done in this place without Mark been around."

Elly smiled, not afraid to admit, "I miss living with you, too. Mark's place is so empty and a bit lonely if I'm honest. Like I said, something's missing and it just doesn't feel like home."

Chloe glanced down at Elly's torso, before staring off into the distance, "I bet once baby Brennan appears in your life, you'll realize that's exactly what is missing from your life at Mark's."

Elly took a deep breath, her heart aching at the thought of Chloe hating her for lying to Mark when the baby wasn't his, "Maybe that's it...but I still feel like it's something else. I can't put my finger on it."

"You'll figure it out," Chloe reassured.

Needing to change the subject, Elly cleared her throat, "What's going on with you and Kyle? Still hooking up in secret around your housemates?"

Chloe shrugged, "I think it's coming to its eventual end soon. It was exciting at first, hiding it from everyone but it's clear Kyle's not over Amy and I'm getting tired of been someone's second choice."

Elly sighed gently, feeling bad for Chloe, knowing she was part of that reason, "I'm sure you'll find someone who will put you first soon. Someone who won't be vindictive and vicious like Mel I mean."

Chloe couldn't help but laugh at been reminded by Mel and the lengths her ex went to to keep her, "I hope you're right. Anyway, I think it won't be long before I end things with Kyle...might even do it tonight."

"Really?" Elly asked, struggling to contain her excitement at Chloe been single again.

"Well I'm definitely thinking I'm just gonna head to bed early after you leave and leave Kyle a post-it telling him I have a migraine and needed an early night. I'm really not in the mood to hook up with him tonight," Chloe decided.

Elly chewed on her lip, before reaching out her arm and placing it around Chloe's shoulders, "You do whatever you feel you need to, Chlo. If that means not sharing a bed with Kyle this evening and ending things with Kyle because he's not good enough for you, end it."

Chloe reached up her hand and entangled it with Elly's as it hung over her shoulder, "You think Kyle's not good enough for me?"

Elly smiled at Chloe entangling their hands, "Yeah I do think he's not good enough for you. He's in love with Amy. I think the only people who can't see that are Amy and Gary. You deserve better, Chlo."

Chloe stared down at the water swirling gently in the pool, wishing with hope that Elly would utter the words that she deserved to be with Elly, still struggling to accept that was never going to happen.

"So, you aren't gonna sleep with Kyle, tonight?" Elly asked gently.

Ignoring the desperate need to ask Elly why her friend appeared to be curiously needing to know if she'd be having sex with Kyle later that evening, Chloe changed the subject, "We should get inside. It's getting dark and a little chilly all of a sudden. I don't want you or baby Brennan getting sick. Mark might find out about our little rule breaking if you do."

Elly sighed, trying to work out in her head why she was so invested in needing to know that Chloe wouldn't be enjoying sexy times with Kyle the moment she went back home to Mark's, "Thanks for breaking the rules with me. I know it doesn't sound like much but this time with you really does make my day. I'm really glad I came over to your place today and that we're friends again."

"Me too," Chloe agreed, "C'mon, let's get you inside."

Elly reluctantly let go of Chloe's hand, unwrapped her arm from around Chloe's shoulders and stood up alongside Chloe, "Any chance you'd be up to keep breaking Mark's rules until Mark finally relents and accepts we're friends again?"

As they walked back into the house, Chloe smiled, "I'm up to it. You go get changed back into your clothes, we've still got a bit of time to kill before Kyle is due home and I have a tub of ice cream in the freezer we can dig into if you want? Who says ice cream can't be dinner?"

Elly grinned back at Chloe, "Be still my heart if it's cookies and cream ice cream flavour."

"It's a good thing we both share the same taste in ice cream," Chloe admitted.

A few minutes later, Elly and Chloe were each standing on opposite sides of the kitchen island, leaning over the bench top with a spoon each, digging into a small tub of ice cream together.

"Are you sure you don't want to get changed back into your clothes?" Chloe asked, trying hard to look anywhere else but at Elly's cleavage in her bikini as Elly was lent forwards against the kitchen island opposite Chloe.

Elly shrugged, trying to be casual even though she knew exactly why Chloe wanted her out of her bikini and into a shirt that would cover her body, unable to hide to herself that it made her feel good that Chloe was still attracted to her, "I'll get changed after the ice cream in a couple minutes. It's so good and I don't want to stop eating. I am eating for two, remember? Eating is important for me."

Chloe smirked, hating herself that she still wasn't over Elly and that maybe her brother was right that they shouldn't spend time alone together, "So I see...has Mark taken the hint that he needs to make sure you eat healthy food...I ask as we're both digging into ice cream?"

Elly shook her head, "Ice cream is dairy so we're eating one of the healthy food groups. Mark would never even think about doing what you did with the dinner ordering last week. He's gungho about always making me a ginger tea to the point that I can't stand ginger tea any more but with the shifts he's working he's too exhausted to think about making sure I'm eating well enough. Say, do you have plans on the weekend? Do you want to come over to mine and spend some more time together...? Maybe Mark will let us branch out and go to the Waterhole for a drink without him hanging off us...? Chloe?"

"What?" Chloe suddenly blinked as she realized Elly had caught her looking at her cleavage for a few seconds, "Oh...weekend? Right, yes, sure, sounds good. Saturday okay?"

Elly chewed on her lip, still trying to hide how good it felt to have Chloe caught up staring at her body, "Saturday would be goo--"

"Hey, Chloe, you home yet?" Kyle yelled out from the entrance of the house.

Elly shook her head at the interruption, having enjoyed her time with Chloe.

"Duh, yeah, in here, Kyle," Chloe blushed wondering why Kyle was home early and if Elly was going to be weirded out seeing him around her.

Chloe's question was almost instantly answered when Kyle entered the room shirtless, with his t-shirt in his hand, and his hands on his belt buckle attempting to undo it. Elly pulled up her nose at the sight of Kyle. Kyle was equally as surprised to find a bikini-clad Elly leaning across from Chloe at the kitchen island.

"Oh...duh...hi Elly," Kyle greeted, "Sorry I thought Chloe was alone as we were supposed to have the house to ourselves."

"Yeah...we...were just catching up...I'm heading home soon," Elly told Kyle, hating the fact that if she hadn't been there Chloe would probably spend the night having sex with Kyle but felt better that Chloe had decided to end things with Kyle.

"Right," Kyle nodded, then looking at Chloe, "I had another fight with Amy today about my dad. I'll be in your bed whenever you're ready to make me feel better about it."

Without another word, Kyle exited the kitchen.

Elly ran her hand through her hair, "And here I thought Kyle would be subtle about using you for his needs? I guess I should leave you to break it off with him. Although it might be easier if he wasn't naked in your bed."

Chloe stared after Kyle, suddenly feeling her frustration at been close to Elly that evening and yet unable to ever have her feelings and attraction returned, "You right to get changed and let yourself out?"

"Sure," Elly said, feeling hurt that Chloe was no longer looking at her.

Chloe dropped her ice cream spoon, walked to the kitchen entrance then turned back to Elly and nodded her head towards where Kyle had gone, "I'm gonna..."

Elly was surprised, "What happened to breaking it off because Kyle's not good enough for you?"

Chloe shrugged, letting her frustration of her feelings of unrequited love for Elly overrule what was the right thing to do, "I'll do that tomorrow...for now...why turn down a sure thing? I've got a bit of frustration I need to work out and Kyle is a good use for that. Like I said...we're using each other. I'll see you Saturday."

With that, Chloe left the kitchen. Elly stood there almost aghast that Chloe wasn't hiding the fact she was abandoning her to take Kyle to bed instead of breaking it off with him. Elly almost felt her heart drop at the thought that Chloe was still showing signs that she hadn't moved on from her but then could turn around and prove that maybe she was over her by sleeping with Kyle almost in front of her.

Elly was annoyed by the fact she hadn't had a chance to ask what was the frustration Chloe needed to work out. Would that answer the question of whether or not Chloe was over her?

As Chloe made her way to her bedroom to be with Kyle, Elly continued standing alone in the kitchen as she ran her hand across her jaw struggling to deal with the feelings overwhelming her unsure what it meant that she didn't want her friend to be in bed with someone else.

Great way of handling this situation, Chlo. You're frustrated that it's not Elly in your bed and you don't want it to be Kyle but couldn't resist seeing if Elly would express some jealousy by all but jumping Kyle in front of Elly, Chloe thought.

Great way of not attempting to stop this situation, Elly. You're frustrated that it's Kyle in Chloe's bed and you don't want to think about the thought that there is just the tiniest of tiniest part of you that wishes it was you in Chloe's bed and you can't stand that you could possibly be jealous over Chloe all but jumping Kyle in front of you...Elly thought.

Chapter Text

Just Friends?

Chapter Nine

Two weeks later, Mark and Elly were in the kitchen at their house. Elly was lent over the kitchen sink trying not to vomit up her breakfast as Mark stood beside her holding her hair back.

“You feeling okay now, Elly, or do you still need to throw up? I really didn’t think morning sickness lasted this long in pregnancy,” Mark told his wife gently.

Not wanting Mark to realize there was a reason why she was still suffering the symptoms of morning sickness as her pregnancy wasn’t as far along as what Mark believed, and wanting to avoid addressing his comment, Elly gave in and threw up in the kitchen sink.

Mark recoiled a little bit but still stood beside her, “Are you sure you’re going to be okay to go to work today? I really wish I could stay here with you this morning to make you feel better but I have my first performance review with my boss since I returned to the force and there is no way I can get out of that. It’d be a pretty bad impression.”

Elly held her hand in front of her mouth, trying to hold down the rest of her breakfast, “No, it’s okay I have the morning off work.”

“You do? Are you planning on staying home…?” Mark asked curiously.

Elly held her head over the sink, not looking at Mark as she knew he was about to go off at her, “I’ve got an appointment at the hospital with Dr Dietrich, she might do another ultrasound.”

“What?” Mark exclaimed in surprise, “What time is your appointment? I’ve got my performance review at 9am.”

“Uh…same time, sorry,” Elly half-heartedly apologised.

Mark’s shoulders dropped in disappointment, “Are you kidding me, Elly? I told you about this review last week, I can’t miss it. Why’d you make the appointment at the same time? I don’t want to miss another chance to see our baby. At this rate I’m never gonna see our baby until he or she is born as I keep missing all your appointments as they keep clashing with work.”

Elly shrugged, knowing full well she had taken Mark’s info on his review when he told her and lined up her appointment in the vicinity of the similar time frame so he wouldn’t be able to make her 3 month ultrasound, “Sorry, I must not have been listening when you told me about your review.”

“How come the doctor’s doing another ultrasound? I didn’t think one would be due at 4 ½ months, isn't it closer to 5 to 6 months that they do the next one,” Mark become curious.

Elly continued avoiding Mark’s eyes, “I’m not sure if she will do an ultrasound, it’s just another check-up. I told you that due to my previous miscarriage there would be a few extra appointments and ultrasounds as the doctor wants to be on the cautious side.”

Mark still slunk back from Elly, bitterly disappointed by the timing.

Elly finally stood back up and glanced at him, “Look I’m sure you won’t miss much at all. I’m sure it’s not all that important. We’ll get a photo of the baby if she does an ultrasound,” then lying, “Maybe we can try and make the next appointment together.”

Mark sighed, “Okay. If the doctor does give you an ultrasound, is there any chance you can get your phone out and video the monitor for me and maybe get the doctor to give me a quick update on the video? I’d suggest facetiming me but…performance review…can’t interrupt that to answer.”

“I’ll see what I can do,” Elly non-promised, then suddenly threw her head back into the kitchen sink, throwing up more contents of her breakfast.

Mark immediately went back to holding her hair back, “Elly, I don’t think you should drive to this appointment, you’re so not in the right space to be driving this sick. Maybe I'm overthinking it that moving my review will give a really bad impression that I can't be capable of taking on any upcoming promotion and I can push back my rev--”

“Don’t be ridiculous, you can’t push it back as it’s important. It will give a terrible impression that you can't be capable of taking on more responsibilities at the station if you skip out on your performance review. Besides you’ll finally get an idea on if you can ever apply to be a detective again or what it will take to get a promotion down the line and we need this...for…our…family,” Elly insisted, desperate for her husband not to come anywhere near her appointment at the hospital, fearful that he would learn the truth that this was the end of her first trimester when he thought it had been 6 weeks ago, “I’ll be fine, I’ll get a cab or uber then go straight to work after the appointment.”

“Ah I don’t think so, Elly, you’re throwing up and we can’t afford the $150-$200 cleaning fee when you throw up in the uber or taxi,” Mark complained, “But I can’t let you drive there alone and I can’t take you as you're right that I can't miss this review. I’ve got to get to the station in a few minutes.”

“Then go, I’ll figure it out and get there without driving or taking a taxi or uber,” Elly insisted.

Mark chewed on his lip, then pulled out his phone, “Eh…I’ll just call Chloe, see if she’s left for work and if she can drop you off at the hospital on the way.”

Elly frowned at the idea of Mark asking his sister to help her because he was still very bitter about their renewed friendship, “Are you actually asking Chloe to help you?”

Mark scoffed, “I wouldn’t call this ‘help’, Elly. I’d call this a small slice of ‘payback.’ Chloe seduced you right before our wedding, I think the least she owes me is cleaning up your vomit from her car. Don’t hold back, babe.”

Elly rolled her eyes at her husband’s petulance.

Mark spoke with authority as Chloe answered her phone, “Chloe? Mark. Have you left for work yet? Good. Need a favour. It’s gonna involve washing up Elly’s vomit from your car so don’t get too excited.”

Five minutes later, Chloe knocked on the front door. Mark answered it and gruffed out a ‘hello.’

Elly was still at the sink and Chloe observed her with concern.

“Everything okay?” Chloe asked.

Mark sighed, “No, I need you to drive Elly to the hospital. I’ve got a performance review in…like fifteen minutes that’ll probably go for an hour or so but Elly’s gone and booked her doctors’ appointment at the same time. She’s suffering morning sickness and I don’t want her throwing up in a taxi or uber as we just can’t wear the cleaning fee…so you up for taking Elly to the hospital and cleaning up her vomit from your car? Little slice of payback for trying to get her to fall in love with you before the wedding.”

“I’m not gonna vomit,” Elly claimed then lent back against the kitchen sink, trying desperately not to throw up in front of Chloe.

“Ah…sure,” Chloe agreed, more concerned with feeling terrible for the way Elly was suffering from morning sickness than Mark’s continual bitterness of her feelings for Elly.

Elly finally stood up, “See I’m feeling better, I’ll go get my things.”

As Elly left the kitchen to get her handbag from her bedroom, she felt terrible for her friend having to hear her take a detour to the bathroom to throw up once more.

Whilst they heard Elly throwing up again, Mark pulled Chloe aside, “Look I do actually need a non-cleaning up Elly’s vomit favour from you…after you drop Elly off at the hospital and go to work…I need you to give her a call after the appointment and make sure that she doesn’t come home. I need Elly at work today. If that means taking some time off and picking her up from the hospital and taking her to the school will you do that for me? I can bring her home when she finishes work.”

Chloe looked at Mark, surprised after all this time of ignoring her and been bitter at her he might actually need something from her, “How come you don’t want Elly at home today?”

“Just do this for me, Chlo, I’m not telling you why,” Mark stated as he walked back to the kitchen to grab his coffee tumbler, “I’m sorry I’m just in a foul mood right now. I can’t believe I’m missing another doctor’s appointment at the hospital because Elly’s clashed it with my performance review that I cannot get out of if I ever have a chance of making a good impression that I can be up for the next promotion that comes along. I feel like I’m never going to see my little one in the flesh on the monitor.”

Chloe frowned gently, “What do you mean it’s another appointment you’ve missed? I thought you guys already went to the 3-month ultrasound together weeks and weeks ago.”

Mark shook his head, then got distracted staring at the ultrasound picture on his fridge, “The appointments with Elly’s doctor just keep clashing with my work. I wasn't even at the appointment where Elly got the good news that the pregnancy was confirmed via the blood test. Elly even went in for the 3-month ultrasound alone. I nearly made it there and skipped out on work for it but the woman before Elly didn’t turn up and Elly went in early. They even had an issue with printing the ultrasound photo and Elly picked it up the following day without me. Just my luck. Isn't it ridiculous that the whole time she's been pregnant the only time I've been at the hospital to talk to the doctor about Elly's pregnancy is due to Elly been attacked and I had to wait outside whilst they did the ultrasound to make sure our baby had a heartbeat and was okay? I can’t wait for my chance to finally see my little one on the monitor properly one day soon. For now, all I have is this adorable photo here to keep me knowing what’s important.”

Chloe looked on at Mark as he got lost in staring at the ultrasound photo.

Mark suddenly looked back at Chloe reminded by the fact that Chloe nearly tore his family apart and he might not have had his happy family if he hadn’t of forgiven Elly for sleeping with his little sister, “Anyway, I gotta go. Text me if there’s any chance of Elly coming home after the appointment.”

“Okay,” Chloe replied, feeling like Mark’s politeness at asking her for a favour was over and his hatred at her had resumed as he brushed her off again. As she stared at the ultrasound, realizing that her brother was still furious for nearly tearing his family apart even though none of them knew Elly was pregnant when the two women had slept with one another.

As soon as Mark had taken off, Elly returned from the bathroom, “You ready to go, Chlo? I promise I’ve vomited up my entire breakfast now, there’s no damage that I’ll do to your car. Mark was been a tool suggesting cleaning up my vomit was a bit of payback.”

“Sure thing,” Chloe agreed, only half-listening to Elly, still glancing at the ultrasound, wondering why her brother who had for years longed for a child of his own would ever even consider missing a single doctor’s appointment and yet he had missed them all.

“You sure?” Elly asked, seeing her friend was distracted.

Chloe broke her gaze and looked up at Elly, “Right, yes, let’s go. I’ll drop you off at the hospital and then head off to work. Mark can pick you up from the high school when you finish work if you can get your way there. Hopefully by then you’ll be feeling a lot better and won’t be risking a cleaning fee by taking a taxi. Or if you really need, I can ask Terese for an early lunch break to help you get to the school.”

Elly nodded silently, then led Chloe out of the house.

Why do I have a terrible feeling that Elly might be trying to hide something? Chloe thought.

Please tell me that this terrible feeling I have inside me doesn’t mean I haven’t made it through my first trimester and there’s something wrong with my baby, Elly thought.

Chapter Text

Just Friends?

Chapter Ten

In Chloe’s car as they headed to the hospital, Elly began breathing deeply and grasped her hands together tightly.

Chloe narrowed her eyes at Elly’s movements, “Everything okay, Elly?”

“Mmm hmm,” Elly mumbled as she stared out the window, gritting her teeth together nervously.

“You look really nervous, are you sure nothing’s bothering you?” Chloe asked again, “Are you nervous about seeing the doctor?”

“Something like that,” Elly answered vaguely, and then desperate to change the subject to get her mind off her nervousness over her 3-month ultrasound, “You finally ended things with Kyle, right?”

Chloe was surprised, “Yeah…Elly I ended it with Kyle the morning after you came over to my place two weeks ago and I ended up hooking up with him again. We’ve seen each other six times since then and you’ve asked me every single time if it’s over between Kyle and I. You gonna keep asking me about it?”

Elly bit her lip, struggling to deal with her feelings if Chloe was to get back together with Kyle and why that was, “Sorry…I just…I dunno I guess as it was casual with Kyle…I keep thinking…you’ll casually get back together with him even though he isn’t good enough for you.”

“It’s over between Kyle and I,” Chloe confirmed, “It was wrong of me to hook up with Kyle that night. Besides after the situation escalated when Gary learnt of Kyle’s feelings for Amy…the three of them have their own love triangle to deal with. I don’t want any part of that by making it a rectangle. I’ve had my fill of love triangles or rectangles for the rest of my life. I am never doing that again.”

Elly continued chewing on her lip, “Why was it wrong to hook up with Kyle that night?”

Chloe raised her eyebrows, feeling unsure how to avoid telling Elly it was because of her, “Because I knew I was going to end it with him and shouldn’t have let him use me for one final night. Besides the sex was terrible that night as I was too distracted thinking about...how to end it with him. Anyway, enough about Kyle and I since there is no longer a Kyle and I…how excited are you right now at another chance for an ultrasound to see your little one?”

Elly paused at the thought that the last thing in the world she was feeling was ‘excited,’ but forced out a quite reply, “Yeah.”

Chloe didn’t reply, she could tell there was something off about Elly but couldn’t work out what it could possibly be. As she drove them to the hospital, Chloe kept a close eye on her friend, unable to shake the feeling that Elly was deeply troubled.

Elly felt sick to her stomach, she felt like her world was caving in around her as she was overly nervous about her doctor’s appointment. Since the moment she realized she was pregnant, despite the fact she was pregnant to Shaun, she had waited for this day. She had already suffered the heartbreak of a miscarriage years ago and was terrified this baby would have the same fate. Especially as there was sure to be karma surrounding her to pay her back for cheating on Mark a second time and pretending this baby she was pregnant with was his.

Everything about her nerves of finding out that her baby had made it through the first trimester and was healthy came to the surface for Elly all at once. Elly had planned for this appointment so she would be alone again, she had made every effort to make sure the appointment almost clashed with an important meeting Mark couldn’t get out of. She knew deep down she was likely to have this meltdown that she was having been so desperate for her baby to make it through the first three months.

But Elly hadn’t been able to let anyone in to her turmoil. Because nobody was supposed to know that today was the end of her first trimester. Everyone around her, except for Leo and Finn, thought she had made it through to this stage 6 long weeks ago, and she couldn’t rely on either Leo nor Finn to help her with her situation.

Elly knew she couldn’t rely on anyone to be there for her for this appointment as they might get an insight into what she was going through. She hadn’t counted on anyone been around. Least of all, Chloe.

As Chloe pulled her car into the car park, before she could even turn the ignition off, Elly released her seat belt, opened the passenger seat door and threw up once more onto the car park pavement.

Chloe got out of the car and ran around to Elly’s side of the car. Elly had bought her legs out of the car, not standing in the vomit and had her head in her hands when Chloe came around.

Avoiding the vomit on the pavement, Chloe knelt down in front of Elly, “What is going on, Elly? I have never seen you this nervous.”

Elly placed one of her hands on her stomach, rubbing it gently, “I’m fine, I just need some air before I go in for my appointment.”

“Do you want to go for a quick walk?” Chloe offered.

“Yes, I need to,” Elly answered, “You should head to work, I’ll be fine, you can’t be late.”

Chloe placed her hand on Elly’s knee, squeezing it, “Let me message Terese and let her know I’ll be a bit late. She’ll understand if I tell her I’m just dropping you off here and that Mark asked for my help. She knows Mark hasn’t spoken to me properly in months, she’ll know what it’ll mean to me for him to ask me to do this for him. It’s not like I’m lying to Terese, I am dropping you off at the hospital for your appointment…it just so happens I’m pretending to be picking you up now when we’re already here and you need a bit of extra time before you see the doctor.”

Elly took a deep breath, “Thanks, Chloe.”

Several minutes later, the pair were walking slowly around the park opposite the hospital. Chloe had just received a text back from Terese letting her know it wouldn’t be any trouble been late into work and that she was glad to hear Mark needed Chloe’s help.

Elly was breathing deeply when Chloe finally asked her friend, “What time is your appointment?”

“10.15am,” Elly answered honestly without thinking twice.

Chloe frowned, “That’s ages away, geez we got here early. Did you know you were gonna need a time out to go for a walk to calm your nerves when we left the house?”

Elly shrugged, “Yeah…I knew I needed some time to prepare for this appointment. I’m so nervous, Chlo, I need this appointment to go well and get some good news. It’s so important to me that I get past this stage, you have no idea how worried I am that something’s going to go wrong.”

Chloe went to reassure Elly that nothing would be wrong with her baby, but then she thought back, “Wait Mark said your appointment clashed directly with his performance review except his review should be over by 10am. He should be here for you to calm your nerves and remind you your baby is perfectly healthy. I’m gonna call him and leave him a message and hope he gets it as soon as his review is finished and he can rush over here in time for your appo--”

“No, Chloe, you can’t,” Elly panicked, yanking Chloe’s arm closer to her to stop her friend from taking her phone out of her pocket.

“What? Why?” Chloe asked, completely confused.

Elly’s heart started beating heavily as she realized her error in telling Chloe the appointment time, but felt backed into a corner as to why she had to go to this appointment alone, “Mark can’t be at this appointment.”

Chloe’s confusion deepened, “Mark is devastated that he’s missing this appointment, he should be here for you.”

“Mark can’t be at this appointment, Chlo,” Elly repeated, “Please I’m begging you with everything I have right now…do not call him.”

Chloe frowned gently, “Mark told me when you were in the bathroom that you’ve clashed every doctor’s appointment you’ve had with his work and he cannot wait to finally get a chance to meet your baby on the monitor at one of your ultrasounds…why can’t I call Mark and tell him that he can make it in time to this appointment, Elly?”

Elly felt short of breath as all her lies were catching up to her but she was still steadfast in refusing to answer Chloe, begging softly, “You can’t call him.”

Chloe stared at Elly with realization starting to form that her friend was indeed hiding something from her brother, “Mark has wanted a family and child of his own for almost as long as I’ve known him, he would never miss a single appointment or a single moment to see your baby, unless you were making him miss them on purpose.”

Elly stared at Chloe guiltily, unable to beg Chloe once more not to call Mark, and instead begged Chloe, “Please do not ask me why Mark can’t be at this appointment. I can’t lie to you, Chloe, and I can’t live with myself if you hate me.”

Chloe’s eyes narrowed, wondering how there could be ever be a reason that Elly could think she could hate her, “Elly…I am going to ask you this once…and you need to be honest with me.”

Elly hesitated but then nodded, knowing she couldn’t lie to Chloe.

Chloe took a deep breath, “Are you still pregnant with Mark’s baby?"

"Yes and no," Elly whispered vaguely.

"Did you lose the baby and you're too afraid to tell Mark you suffered another miscarriage because he won’t be able to handle the grief after losing Caitlyn and Sonya?” Chloe asked with concern.

Elly stood there silently, staring deeply into Chloe’s eyes, “Mark cannot be at any of my doctor appointments…Chloe…I am pregnant, I haven’t lost the baby…but…it is so much worse than you can possibly imagine.”

Chloe’s eyes remained locked with Elly’s, wondering what Elly could possibly mean.

After a minute, Elly finally came forward with the truth, “It’s not Mark’s baby.”

…What? Chloe thought.

Please Chloe, don’t hate me for this, Elly thought.

Chapter Text

Just Friends?

Chapter Eleven

Chloe stared at Elly for what felt like eternity for both of them after Elly had confessed the baby she was carrying wasn’t Mark’s, “What?”

Feeling her legs suddenly give way, Elly was surprised when Chloe noticed and caught her before she fell to the ground. Chloe placed her arm around Elly’s waist and helped carry her towards a bench at the edge of the park. As they sat down, Elly put her head in her hands, wanting to take back all the mistakes that have now caught up to her.

Chloe reached out and took Elly’s hands away from her face and held them in her hands as she needed answers from Elly, “What do you mean it’s not Mark’s baby?”

“I cheated again…after I cheated with you,” Elly whispered.

Chloe went to drop Elly’s hands but Elly held onto them tightly, not allowing Chloe to lose her grip, “I knew you were in pain right after the wedding. I walked away from you at the Waterhole when you just wanted to talk to me about Mark but my feelings were hurt and you were clearly about to drink yourself into a bender but I had no idea… But there’s still a chance that it’s Mark’s, right? I mean if it was right after the wedding and you’re more than four months along…”

Elly felt tears prickling against her eyes, “The baby isn’t Mark’s. I didn’t cheat directly after the wedding whilst on one of those benders…it was another bender over two weeks after the wedding.”

“How far along in your pregnancy are you?” Chloe needed to know, even though she was trying to do the math in her head.

“Three months…today is the end of my first trimester…it’s why I’m so nervous about this appointment…I needed this baby to make it through to this stage…I’ve been terrified of losing it,” Elly admitted.

"We all thought you were much further along than that...what are we talking a 6-week difference?" Chloe questioned then realized, "Mark doesn't know the baby isn't his, does he?"

Elly shook her head, "I can't tell him...he'll leave me..."

"Are you absolutely positive that the baby can't be Mark's? I mean if Mark thinks your baby is 18 weeks along, maybe you just got your dates incorrect and you'll find out at your ultrasound this morning that you are further along than 3 months. Okay you cheated with another guy a couple weeks after the wedding but it doesn't rule it out completely from been Mark's. Before Mark took off to Silverton you two were in a relatively good space in the relationship department and Mark forgave you for cheating with me pretty quickly so it's not impossible that the baby isn't Mark's," Chloe tried to rationalize.

"It's not Mark's...the timing of...it can't be Mark's," Elly replied, unable to admit the full truth that the last time she'd had sex with Mark was a week before the wedding and he still couldn't touch her romantically after learning she'd had sex with Chloe two nights before the wedding when he'd called it off.

"But that doesn't make sense, you found out you were pregnant days after the wedding and if you cheated on Mark again more than two weeks after the wedding...God, Elly, did you try and trap Mark into staying married to you...?" Chloe looked horrified.

Elly entangled her fingers with Chloe's tighter, "No, it wasn't like that. A few days after the wedding, I took the home pregnancy test and it was positive which is when I told Mark and Fay and Amy and Leo and you overheard me talking to Fay. But the home pregnancy test was false...I'd taken some sedatives on my wedding night...to cope with the...fact I wasn't spending my wedding night with Mark. When the doctor got the results from my blood test...she told me I wasn't pregnant."

"Why didn't you tell Mark?" Chloe asked quietly.

"Because the baby was the only reason why he wasn't going to a lawyer to draw up annulment papers. He tried to give me his wedding ring back, Chlo. Mark didn't want anything to do with me when he learned we had slept together," Elly replied, "I wanted to tell him but I wanted to wait a few weeks to see if we could save our marriage first."

"You were going to wait weeks to tell my brother you were never pregnant...please do not tell me you were going to fake a miscarriage to hide the fact you weren't pregnant," Chloe demanded quietly.

"I don't really know what I was going to do. Leo is the one who suggested that I might need to tell Mark I had miscarried but first he told me to immediately go home and jump Mark into bed to get me pregnant anyway. That way I wouldn't have to tell Mark I was never pregnant and if the dates didn't line up exactly well it wouldn't have been too much harm as I would've still been pregnant to him. It didn't work, Mark was still vulnerable from learning I'd had sex with you and he didn't want me," Elly explained.

"Leo is a twat for thinking that would solve your problem. Forcing a pregnancy on Mark just because he already thought you were pregnant. Mark would still have accused you of making up the pregnancy to begin with to trap him into staying with you once he worked out the dates were off," Chloe said aggressively.

Elly ran her tongue over her lip, thinking just how much Leo had tried to help her over the first couple months of her pregnancy but all his ideas were terrible, "I know that but I was such a mess, Chlo, barely hanging on to my marriage. Things didn't get any easier for Mark and I. I was drinking a lot to dull the pain of knowing Mark was going to leave me and seeing you at Dipi and Shane's pool party...I needed an escape from the choices I had made. Mark kept thinking I was suffering morning sickness instead of been hungover. I swear your brother has no sense of smell as I had to have been drowning in alcohol. Then one day Mark said some things to me that made me think he was ending it between us...I didn't take it well and instead of waiting to talk about it with him when he got home from work...I went out, got completely trashed...and I woke up in a hotel room with a guy I'd met that evening at the bar."

Chloe shook her head at the image of Elly having drunken sex with a stranger, "And he's the father and Mark doesn't know. Mark thinks this baby is his, Elly, why haven't you told him? Mark leaving you for cheating again and getting pregnant to a stranger is no excuse for what you're doing to him."

"I know it's not," Elly claimed, then admitted, "There's more..."

"Do I want to hear it?" Chloe asked.

"No, but you hate me anyway for what I've already told you so I may as well tell you the rest so there is no more secrets between us," Elly decided, "The stranger I met at the bar and slept with at his hotel room...I didn't know it at the time because I'd never met him prior...the father is Shaun, Finn's younger brother."

Chloe finally loosened Elly's grip on her right hand and bought it up to the bridge of her nose in disbelief.

"Finn's serving a non-custodial sentence and living with my family because Shaun blackmailed me into staying quiet about the baby been his," Elly continued confessing, "Somehow he had found out I was pregnant but I told him I'd fallen pregnant after my night with him because I didn't want him to know. I told him to keep our night together a secret as I was married. But Mark spotted us having that intense conversation...when I left...Mark ran his mouth telling Shaun how far along my pregnancy was as a way to tell Shaun to stop stressing me out about the trial because he thought Shaun was trying to pressure me to change my victim impact statement..."

"You did change your statement, didn't you?" Chloe realized.

"I kept Finn out of jail and he is living with Bea, Susan and Karl, all victims of his crimes, to keep Mark from finding out the truth," Elly felt tears trickling down her face, "I'm the reason Finn is still here in Erinsborough."

Chloe scratched her eyebrow, still unable to fathom everything Elly had told her, "Does anybody else besides Shaun know the baby isn't Mark's?"

Elly nodded, "Leo, Dr. Dietrich, one of my school kids, Dean, who happens to be Dr. Dietrich's son...and Finn. After I was attacked...I refused to let David examine my baby as he came close to learning the truth. Dr. Dietrich took control of the situation not allowing Mark to find out how far along the baby is."

Chloe didn't know how to respond.

"Leo has been trying to get me to tell Mark for months and no longer wants anything to do with me. Dean found my medical file at his mum's office with my 7-week scan image that confirms for me that Mark isn’t the father. There was a note in my file that my husband is not to be told any details surrounding the pregnancy. Little twerp has been blackmailing me for good grades and to buy him alcohol. I came so close to falling for his trap with the alcohol. I bought the bottle. I went to leave it in his locker. Dipi saw me with the alcohol and I had to resort to telling her and Mark I've been tempted into drinking despite the pregnancy. Mark was so supportive in getting me help," Elly breathed guiltily then continued.

"Finn saw Shaun and I arguing before Shaun went back to Switzerland and then he saw Dean giving me a hard time. Finn got his hands on my scan from Dean. Then after a phone call from Shaun to catch up with his brother, Finn mentioned my attack and Shaun was overly worried about the ordeal. He got Finn to check in on me and then Shaun must not have heard back from Finn and I don’t know how but he got a hold of my number. It just so happened when Shaun called me, Finn was with me and he saw the same international number that belongs to Shaun come up on my phone. With all those little clues and then the main ones that I had done a 360 on my victim impact statement at the trial and convinced Susan to take him into their care, he confronted me about Shaun been the father. He took care of Dean and his blackmailing for me...I don't know what he did...but Finn assured me he didn't do anything wrong and really is trying to be a better person. So far, he hasn't tried to blow up my secret," Elly admitted.

"Is there anything else I need to know?" Chloe finally asked.

Elly chewed on her lip, not able to bring herself to confess the ultrasound on Mark's fridge was of Caitlyn and that she had cut into the image to remove Sonya and Caitlyn's details from it, "I didn't mean for any of this to happen...one thing led to another and then I was been blackmailed by Shaun and Dean...and...I just wanted to keep Mark...I didn't want to raise this baby alone."

Chloe closed her eyes as she thought for a moment, "Elly, you need to tell Mark the truth. You will not be alone in this. You'll have Bea, Susan, Karl, Amy...and Leo will come around once he knows you've told Mark...they'll help support you."

Elly threw her arms around Chloe's shoulders and buried the side of her face against Chloe's neck, "I need you to support me too...please tell me I haven't destroyed us."

"You need to concentrate on Mark, not on me," Chloe insisted, holding Elly closely, then relenting as Elly burst into tears, "I'll be here for you...I will support you but after I help Mark deal with this first. I need to be there for Mark first until he can cope with what he's gonna lose. You need to be prepared not to rely on me until I feel that Mark will be okay."

"I can't tell Mark this baby isn't his...the way he looked at me when I told him I'd slept with you...it'll be so much worse," Elly claimed.

"You can't keep this a secret much longer, Elly. As much as I cannot believe that this has happened...I'm glad that you came clean with me but you need to do the same with Mark," Chloe insisted.

Elly didn't respond and instead continued sobbing further against Chloe's neck.

A little while later, as Elly continued clinging to Chloe and sobbing uncontrollably, Chloe had managed to take her phone from her pocket. She texted Terese to let her know that dropping Elly off at the hospital had taken a small turn when Elly had had a 'minor meltdown' and wanted to stay until Elly went in for her appointment. Chloe was incredibly thankful Terese was such an understanding boss.

Nearly an hour later, Chloe finally looked down at Elly. Elly had stopped crying but her face was a mess of tear-splotched stains. Chloe breathed deeply at the thought that Elly still looked beautiful, then wondered how she could possibly still be in love with a woman who was going to rip her brother's heart to shreds having lied to him that the baby she was carrying wasn’t his.

"Elly, your appointment is in a few minutes. You need to clean yourself up and go see the doctor now," Chloe whispered, "I've really got to get myself to work now too."

Elly nodded then opened her eyes to stare up at her friend, "Will you come with me?"

"Sure, I'll walk you over to the hospital before I have to head off. Text me as soon as the appointment has finished and let me know how it went," Chloe offered, then biting her lip, "We'll catch up tonight somewhere without Mark and we'll discuss the best way to approach you telling him the truth."

Elly continued staring at Chloe, "I mean...will you come with me to the appointment? Be there with me when the doctor does the ultrasound. Please, Chlo, after all the mistakes I've made I am terrified I've done something wrong to this baby and I won't be able to handle it on my own."

"I really don't think that's my place...we're just friends...remember," Chloe whispered.

"I need you," Elly pleaded softly.

"Okay," Chloe decided, unsure if the decision was betraying her brother, now she knew the truth or if she was been selfish in her desire to support Elly due to her feelings for her.

'I need you'...I've longed to hear those words from Elly...under difference circumstances, Chloe thought.

'I need you'...why do I feel like for a long time I've wanted to utter those words to Chloe...? Under different circumstances, Elly thought.

Chapter Text

Just Friends?

Chapter Twelve

Chloe glanced up at Elly as she came back to sit next to her in the waiting room after going to the bathroom to clean up after her meltdown in the park, "Feeling better?"

Elly nodded, "A little, yeah. Did you call Terese?"

"Yeah, I feel like I'm wearing out her patience with me having gone from I'll be a little bit late, to an hour late, to I need the morning off work," Chloe admitted, then realized Elly didn't need any more guilt weighing down on her, "But it's fine. Really. I'll make up the time another day next week and Terese understands how worried you might be about your appointment without Mark here. She's a mother too."

"Thanks," Elly whispered, pulling her hands into tight fists, nervous about her impending ultrasound.

Chloe chewed on her lip, "Didn't you say your little twerp of a student who was blackmailing you was the doctor's son? Have you confronted her over it yet?"

Elly shrugged, "I didn't see the point. Yes, her son is risking her medical license having accessed my file and stealing my prior ultrasound but Finn has talked him down. What good would it do? She'll lose her job. I'll be without the one doctor who knows my secret and then have to tell another doctor what I've done."

Chloe paused and was about to question the fact that once Mark knew the truth, all Elly had to do was tell the new doctor that the father wasn't in the picture seeing as though Shaun had gone back home to Switzerland, but was interrupted by a doctor asking for Elly.

Chloe felt awkward standing up with Elly as the doctor had likely expected her to be alone, knowing Mark couldn't be there, and her awkwardness peaked further when Elly slipped her hand into hers, holding her hand as they walked into the doctor's office.

Once inside the office, Chloe dropped Elly's hand, unsure what to make of the gesture.

As Elly sat down in one of the seats next to the doctor's desk, Chloe hung back by the office door once Dr. Dietrich closed the door, "I'll just hang here and distract myself with my phone, don't mind me just here for a little moral support."

"Chloe, sit down next to me," Elly requested, smiling as Chloe eventually moved to sit next to her.

"This is Chloe...my..." Elly paused in her introduction, unable to settle on the right word to describe what Chloe was to her.

"Sister-in-law," Chloe finished, unsure why Elly couldn't find the word to describe their relationship.

"Dr. Dietrich," the doctor, greeted in introduction.

Elly smiled shyly at Chloe before explaining, "Chloe knows everything about the...uh...baby-daddy situation so you don't need to hide anything from her and you can just run this appointment like you normally would for a 3-month checkup."

"I'm still...adjusting to the news," Chloe non-explained, "But seriously, just ignore me and pretend I'm not here, it's not really meant to be my place to be here."

"I'm glad you've opened up to...a friend, Elly," Dr. Dietrich replied, feeling like even she couldn't place the relationship between the two women. She'd seen the pair together for 30 seconds but there was something about the way they looked at one another. If she hadn't seen Mark at the hospital after Elly had been attacked, she may have guessed that Elly didn't have a husband and the whole baby-daddy lie was a smoke screen and was instead trying to conceal that she was raising a baby with another woman. Shaking her head at the thought, Dr. Dietrich continued, "How have you been feeling the last few weeks?"

"Pretty good," Elly answered, not really giving the question much thought.

"You threw up quite a few times this morning," Chloe reminded Elly, then realized she had been the one to decide she wasn't really part of the appointment, "Not that you should listen to me, just ignore me. Moral support shutting up now."

Elly smiled at the fact Chloe couldn't keep quiet, "Chloe's right, I was suffering morning sickness this morning. Mark wasn't too happy that I'm still suffering the symptoms but I didn't know how to tell him that it's still normal at this stage ‘cause he thinks..."

"How are your stress levels?" Dr. Dietrich asked.

"On a scale of 1 to 10...probably an 11," Elly answered, "I thought I was doing a bit better a few weeks ago as I was distracting myself by focusing on my friendship with Chloe ‘cause that’s really important to me but aside from that the rest of my life is one big stress ball. I know there's a solution to my problem by telling Mark the truth but I'm not sure the stress from the outcome of that will be any better for the baby."

"Are you still eating healthily and staying away from foods not recommended for pregnant women?" Dr. Dietrich questioned.

"Yes, whenever she is around during a meal, Chloe is making sure I eat properly," Elly replied, feeling weirdly comfortable talking more about Chloe looking after her eating habits than Mark.

"Except that small tub of ice cream we shared two weeks ago but went with the excuse that it was dairy," Chloe added, then made a gesture that she was locking her mouth shut and throwing away a key with her fingers.

"Okay, let's get to the ultrasound," Dr. Dietrich said as she pointed to the table for Elly to lay down on.

As Elly stood up, Chloe pulled out her phone and begun to distract herself with it.

Elly laid down on the table, immediately feeling lonely without Chloe next to her. She tried to get comfortable but it wasn't working. She laid her head back against the table's pillow and lifted up her shirt to expose her torso. 

Taking a deep breath, Elly glanced over at Chloe who was already immersed in something on her phone, "Chloe?"

Chloe didn't look up at Elly, "Moral support over here, you'll be fine."

"Chloe?" Elly repeated once more, then when Chloe finally looked over at her, tilted her head next to her.

Still not getting the message, Chloe held her thumb up, "Doing great, Elly."

Elly finally extended her hand out to Chloe, "Chloe, I need my moral support next to me. Can you please come over here?"

Chloe blinked a few times, not been prepared to be involved in the ultrasound and feeling like she was taking Mark's place. Eventually she walked over and stood next to Elly. Before she could move a muscle, Elly had reached out for Chloe’s hand and entangled their fingers together, pulling Chloe closer to the table so she was hovering above Elly.

“You good?” Dr. Dietrich asked Elly.

Elly smiled up at Chloe before nodding and looking at the monitor, “Yep, I’m good.”

Chloe stood there silently as Elly shivered as the ultrasound jelly was squirted onto her torso. As the doctor began the ultrasound and the images began to appear on the monitor, Chloe found herself staring at Elly instead of the monitor. She didn’t need to watch an image of something she could barely make out when she had Elly right there next to her.

After a few minutes, Chloe didn’t need to listen to the doctor tell Elly that her baby was perfectly healthy and was exactly the size she would expect for a 12-week pregnancy. She could see the relief written all over Elly’s face and Elly squeezed her hand tightly. Chloe lent down to Elly’s level and entangled their hands further.

Elly stared over at Chloe, “How amazing is this?”

Chloe smiled back at her, “You’re amazing,” then finally looking at the monitor to see the baby’s image, “Wow. That’s…”

“Amazing, right?” Elly finished for Chloe.

Chloe grinned gently as she watched the image of Elly’s baby, “I’m not sure amazing sums it up. Amazing falls short. Incredible and perfect more like it.”

Elly watched as Chloe’s face softened and relaxed as she continued staring at the baby’s image. Without thinking about it, Elly bought their entangled hands to her lips, pressing a kiss to Chloe’s hand before resting her head gently against Chloe’s, enjoying every second of been close to her. Chloe was completely lost in the image on the monitor, all thoughts that this baby wouldn’t be related to her went out the window as it didn’t matter because this was still Elly’s baby.

Dr. Dietrich took the photo images, allowing the friends to have their moment in peace, not the least surprised that they were acting more like a couple than most couples who came to see her.

As she shifted over to the printer to print the ultrasound image for Elly, Dr. Dietrich handed her patient some paper towels to wash the gel off her torso. Elly wiped her torso down with her free hand and then as she stared over at Chloe, she took their entangled hands and gently placed them on her torso.

Chloe smiled at Elly’s action, getting lost in the moment and genuinely feeling like she belonged there with Elly. As Chloe softly held her hand against her skin where the baby was, Elly felt the moment between them was perfect. Unable to resist, Elly lent over and pressed her lips to Chloe’s cheek before nuzzling against Chloe’s neck.

As Chloe lent into the embrace and continued holding their hands against Elly’s torso, it took strength from Elly not to give in to the unexpected desire to kiss Chloe’s lips. This moment was everything Elly had wanted from the appointment to know that her baby was healthy and having Chloe there with her made Elly understand just how much Chloe meant to her.

Clearing her throat, Dr. Dietrich held up the ultrasound photo, “Would you like to take this image home or leave it with me again?”

Elly reached out and took the image, then stared up at Chloe who was already staring at it with amazement, “Will you keep this photo safe for me, Chloe?”

Chloe raised her eyebrows, knowing why Elly couldn’t take it home and was in awe that Elly could trust her with this prized possession, “Are you serious? You want me to take this photo home and keep it safe for you? I’d be honoured to keep it safe for you until you can take it back.”

As Dr. Dietrich turned back to the computer to leave them to their moment alone, Elly knew that this perfect moment was about to end and she would go back to resuming her friendship with Chloe but she didn't want to. Elly bought her lips against Chloe’s cheek once more, this time catching the corner of Chloe’s lips. As Elly pulled back, she saw Chloe turn her face to her.

Overcome with all the emotions that she was dealing with, Elly pressed her lips to Chloe's for a brief second, before leaning up and kissing Chloe's forehead then leaning her head against Chloe's as they both returned their gazes to the photo Elly was holding in her hands.

...That can't mean what I want it to mean, Elly's confused and overcome with emotion, Mark can never find out I let his wife kiss me, Chloe thought.

...I think I'm falling for her...how do I tell Chloe that? Elly thought.

Chapter Text

Just Friends?

Chapter Thirteen

Five minutes later, Chloe and Elly were walking down the hospital hallway having left the ultrasound appointment. Elly blushed as she glanced at Chloe, knowing she needed to be the one who bought up the kiss she had shared with Chloe during the appointment. She was so nervous.

How could she possibly explain to Chloe that it wasn't just been overcome with emotion and needing the emotional support a partner provided without Mark been there? That in that moment she genuinely had feelings for Chloe? That she didn't have a clue how to deal with these feelings? That she had spent months trying to keep her marriage to Mark from falling apart and now she had to deal with how her feelings for Chloe could affect all three of them? That she didn't even know if Chloe would want to be with her seeing as though she was pregnant? Would Chloe even want to settle down and be a family with her and the baby?

Elly held no judgments for the way Chloe lives her life but does Chloe still needing flings from Kyle or anyone else mean a life with Elly and the baby will never be an option? Or would this kiss just lead to breaking up her marriage to Mark and her friendship with Chloe and she would be left alone?

Trying to process everything at once, Elly tried to relax as she watched on as Chloe held onto the ultrasound image between the pair of them and the two of them stared at it in awe of what they'd just experienced, as they walked through the hospital hallways.

As they entered down another hallway nearing the hospital exit, Elly knew she needed to address the kiss she had given Chloe, "Hey, Chlo, about the..."

Chloe continued staring at the image she was holding in front of them, "It's okay, Elly, I get it."

"You do?" Elly asked.

Chloe immediately made the presumption, "You don't need to explain it to me. It was all the emotion going on and you just needed some comfort after been so worried that the baby wouldn't be healthy. I won't tell Mark about what happened, it's the last thing you need to---David!"

Elly's thoughts of trying to interrupt Chloe to explain that Chloe had the wrong idea over why she had kissed her were thrown out the window when the pair bumped into their brother-in-law.

Immediately realizing David should not view the ultrasound image she was holding, Chloe threw her free hand around David's neck and pulled him into a hug, surprising him. Chloe held the image in her other hand behind her back, waving it gently for Elly to take from her with the expectation that Elly would either slide it into one of their handbags out of David's view.

Instead, Chloe shivered as she felt Elly subtly slide her hand and the image into the back pocket of her pants. Chloe blinked a few times as she wondered if Elly held her hand against her backside for longer than she imagined.

With the image safe from David's gaze, Chloe pulled out of the hug, "David, how are you?"

David eyed Chloe suspiciously, "What's with the hug, Chlo? I did see you this morning before you left for work...or I thought you were heading to work."

Chloe shrugged, coming up with the excuse, "I just missed you. Feels like it's been days since I've seen you. Yeah, I meant to go to work but plans changed. I’m heading there now."

"Hey, David," Elly greeted, hoping David would ignore Chloe's over infectious greeting.

"Elly, you here for another check-up? How did it go...? I wouldn't have thought you'd be back so soon as your next ultrasound wouldn't be until 20 weeks. Did you get an early ultrasound at 18 weeks?" David asked inquisitively.

Elly swallowed hard, hurt by the reminder to Chloe how badly her lies had spiraled out of control to all their friends and family, "No, just a regular check-up. Everything's going well with my baby."

"Glad to hear it...no Mark here to support you?" David wondered curiously.

Elly shook her head, "No, the police station is holding their annual performance reviews today and he wasn't able to get out of it without making a bad impression. Mark wants to show that he is capable and willing for the next promotion that comes along. He's been a bit worried that his performance at work since he started back nearly 6 months ago hasn't been up to scratch and it'll be a relief for him to hear it from his boss how he's tracking and what he needs to do to take on more responsibility."

David nodded, "That makes sense...uh...it's good to see you still had someone there to support you."

Chloe waved her hand away, "I didn't really do anything."

"No, you did. I couldn't have gotten through it without you, Chlo," Elly told her earnestly.

As the pair glanced at each other nervously, David felt like he was missing something that was going on between them, "Uh...glad everything's going well with the pregnancy. Mark will be thrilled by the news. Anyway, I should get going and leave you both to get to work."

"Sure, thanks David," Elly replied as their brother-in-law left them alone in the hallway.

Unable to stop herself, Elly reached back into Chloe's back pocket to retrieve the image, "Thanks, for keeping this from David. That would've required some explaining."

Chloe shrugged, "Yeah well I figured Mark is the only person you need to concentrate on telling next. Everyone else can wait until after that."

"Right," Elly whispered, unsure how she was ever going to tell her husband she wasn't carrying his child, had been pretending to for months and on top of all that it was possible that she was developing feelings for his sister.

Chloe turned to face Elly, then stared down at the ultrasound image, holding it between the two of them before finally resisting standing there all day long staring at it and carefully placed it in her handbag, "Your baby is perfect, Elly, and I know that Mark is not going to take this well but please believe that you will have support around you to deal with...the fallout. We'll get together tonight and sit down to discuss how you need to approach Mark to tell him the baby isn't his...wait...where did Mark get the ultrasound photo that's on your fridge?"

Elly took a sharp breath in knowing all the lies she had explained to Chloe paled in comparison to what she'd done with the ultrasound she'd given Mark.

Chloe stared at Elly waiting for an answer, getting impatient, "Mark told me there was a problem with the printer and you picked up the image the next day. After your 7-week scan, did you use the photo frame, get an image of a 3-month ultrasound online and organize for it to be printed on photo paper?"

Elly felt her heart racing as she knew Chloe was going to be terribly disappointed in her. She reached out her hand and stroked Chloe's cheek gently, "Please don't hate me. I never meant to fall into this lie, I didn't correct Mark when I had the chance and I did something so horrible."

Chloe fell into the touch but remained firm, "Elly, what did you do?"

"I didn't know what I was meant to do. I hadn’t even had the ultrasound that day as I ran away from the doctor when Mark showed up and I bought some time lying that the doctor's printer didn't work but I knew I still had to come up with proof that a 3-month ultrasound had been done...an ultrasound image fell into my lap and when Mark picked it up on the dining table...he just assumed it was our baby...I didn't correct him," Elly whispered softly.

"Whose ultrasound is that photo of?" Chloe demanded, her voice now rising.

Elly glanced at the floor, "Dipi dropped off a box for me to give to Mark...it was a box of items belonging to Sonya that she wanted Mark to have because it...the items were..."

Chloe knocked Elly's hand from her face, "Caitlyn? That ultrasound on your fridge is of Caitlyn?"

Elly swallowed hard at losing the contact she had with Chloe, "I took the photo out of the box and it was sitting next to it on the dining table when Mark came home and he immediately assumed it was ours...I couldn't correct him when he wrapped his arms around me...I know that it’s no excuse and what I've done is--"

"Elly, what you have done is let Mark think for more than a month that he's looking at your baby when instead he is staring at one of the only photos he will ever have of his dead unborn child! That is so completely heartless! How many times has he simply stood at the fridge and just stared at the photo not knowing it's Caitlyn?" Chloe argued.

"Please, Chlo, I didn't mean..." Elly tried pleading, knowing it was pointless and that she had destroyed the trust she had managed to build with Chloe by revealing that the baby wasn't Mark's.

Chloe swatted Elly's hand away when she reached out to take hers, "I may have been travelling the world when Mark and Sonya lost Caitlyn but that does not mean that I don't know how much my brother was broken over Caitlyn passing away. This is going to destroy him when he finds out you've been pretending the photo of your baby is Caitlyn. How could you not correct him when he assumed it was your baby?"

"I was desperate," Elly whispered, bringing her head up and forcing herself to look into Chloe's eyes.

"How does he not know it's somebody else's image? Your ultrasound you've given me has all the details printed at the top of it. Has Mark just not taken it out of the frame?" Chloe wondered.

"I cut the details off Caitlyn's photo. Once I knew there was no way of turning back and explaining to him--" Elly tried explaining.

Chloe was shocked, "You cut up Caitlyn's photo to save your own ass?"

"Chloe, please, lower your voice," Elly whispered.

"Mark only has one or two photos of Caitlyn and he's never going to have any others. Only he did, he was given Sonya's photo because it should belong to him and you cut it up and destroyed something that he will never get back," Chloe stated firmly, "Elly, you told me you fell into this lie and didn't correct Mark when you had a chance with the ultrasound image you gave him but...cutting up that photo...that...I do not even have words...to describe how heartless you were to do that."

Elly forced her hand around Chloe's, "Please, Chlo, I know how wrong it was and how devastated Mark will be."

Chloe tried to remove her hand from Elly's grip but wasn't able to, "I am not lying for you...Mark needs to know everything...the whole lot...you cheating, the baby been Shaun's, what you did to Caitlyn's ultrasound...all of it."

"I can't tell him, I need more time," Elly pleaded.

"No," Chloe decided, "Now. I am going to drive you to the police station right now so you can take Mark aside and tell Mark everything. I thought I could give you a few days to deal with the best way to tell Mark but I am not letting my brother take another look at that image without him knowing the truth. You are telling him now."

"I can't," Elly refused.

Chloe sighed, "Then I will...Mark already hates me...what have I got to lose?"

"Me," Elly answered.

Chloe shook her head, "I am not going to allow you to use my feelings for you to weasel your way out of this. Lying to Mark about cheating again and the baby's father are two things but actively destroying a photo of Caitlyn to hide your secret...no. Mark will be told the truth now. You or me?"

Elly held onto Chloe's hand tighter, knowing Chloe wasn't messing around Chloe knew all the lies she had been concealing and if Mark didn't believe her, Chloe had the proof of Elly's ultrasound in her handbag having been given it to keep it safe.

Elly wrapped her free arm loosely around Chloe's shoulders, pressing her forehead to Chloe's, "Just give me some time. A day or two to wrap my head around how to break it to him. I will tell Mark. If you are there holding my hand and supporting the both of us, I'll tell him."

Chloe felt herself getting sucked into the embrace Elly held her in, "No more time, Elly. You've been lying about this for months. Mark needs to know the truth now before it does any more damage to him. I can't be there for you. Mark is gonna need me and Aaron to support him through this. You crossed a line and I am not letting you do it again by lying to him. Either I take you to him now or I am going to tell him now."

"I can't tell him," Elly whispered, pressing her lips against Chloe's forehead.

Chloe forced herself to step out of their embrace, "Then I will...find your own way to the school...do not go home to your place as Mark is not going to want you to be there, once he learns what you've done. I'll call you when I've told him."

Before Elly could attempt to stop Chloe from doing the right thing and telling Mark the truth, Chloe had walked away from her and out of the hospital.

Twenty minutes ago, I was terrified of Mark finding out Elly kissed me after the ultrasound...now I'm horrified to have to tell him his wife has been lying to him about everything since the wedding and posing his dead daughters' photo as her own...how the hell is Mark going to survive this? Chloe thought.

Twenty minutes ago, I was slightly worried of Mark finding out I kissed Chloe again after the ultrasound...now I'm horrified that he is going to learn everything I've been lying about since the wedding. How the hell am I going to get Chloe's forgiveness for what I've done? Elly thought.

 

Chapter Text

Just Friends?

Chapter Fourteen

Chloe approached the Lassiters Hotel nervously. Entering the reception area, she was glad to find Terese was at the front desk.

Terese greeted her, “Chloe, glad to see you’re here. I need to get your help with--”

Chloe cleared her throat and she found that she didn’t need to say too much else.

Terese nodded knowingly, “You need the afternoon off work, don’t you?”

Chloe nodded, “I am so sorry. I thought I owed it to you to come down here in person instead of texting or calling you again.”

“Is everything okay Chloe? I know you were at the hospital with Elly,” Terese asked curiously.

“I need to talk to Mark about something…it’s important…I wouldn’t ask for the afternoon off if it wasn’t,” Chloe explained vaguely, then seeing the concern on Terese’s face, “Elly’s baby is healthy. It’s not like that…ah…kinda…”

“Okay,” Terese agreed, “I’ll see you first thing Monday morning.”

“You will,” Chloe confirmed.

“Enjoy your weekend, Chloe,” Terese replied happily.

Having sorted out her work arrangements, which to be honest Chloe had only done in person as the hotel was in the same complex as the police station, Chloe headed over to the police station to see her brother.

A few minutes later, Chloe left the station, a little confused to learn that Mark wasn't there after his performance review. She'd learnt he had the rest of the day off work and instead was rostered on to work the night shift from 10pm. Remembering that Mark had asked her to keep Elly away from their house and at work, Chloe headed over to Ramsay Street to find him.

Chloe took a deep breath before knocking on the front door of Mark's house. Whilst she had tried practicing in her head how she was going to tell him the truth that the baby Elly was carrying wasn't his and that Elly had destroyed Sonya's photo of Caitlyn, there really wasn't any way possible of knowing how this conversation was going to go down.

Though she still had Elly's ultrasound from that morning in her handbag as complete proof that Elly was only 3-months pregnant, Chloe was determined not to show Mark Elly's ultrasound. As Elly had been so insistent that it was a 'timing' issue that she knew Mark wasn't the father she hoped he would understand the baby couldn't be his if he learnt that Elly was not 18 weeks pregnant.

Chloe also hoped that Mark would believe her and she wouldn't need to resort to telling him that despite knowing that Elly's baby wasn't her neice or nephew related by blood, Chloe had still attended Elly's ultrasound.

Not to mention how Mark would feel if he learnt that Chloe had taken his place by Elly's side at the appointment, held her hand, placed her hand on Elly's belly over the baby, had Elly nuzzle into the close embrace they shared and last but not least because it was the most important detail, Elly had kissed her.

Whilst the kiss was chaste and Chloe was positive it had only happened because Elly needed the comfort of a partner with her and it had nothing to do with Elly having feelings for her, the kiss was just another betrayal for Mark to have to deal with if Chloe was to give him the ultrasound. 

Chloe had made the decision not to call Aaron yet to tell him to wait on standby as Mark was going to need their support through one of the toughest times he would ever go through.

Deciding she could no longer put off the inevitable, Chloe knocked on the front door.

Chloe was surprised with the way Mark opened the door and greeted her.

"CHLOE!" Mark bellowed with the largest grin on his face, "How are ya, sis? Come in, come in. It's good to see you!"

"Duh...hi," Chloe greeted her eldest brother.

"Don't just stand there, Elliot, get in here," Mark replied happily as Chloe still stood there at the front door, "How are, ya, Chloe?"

Chloe entered the house, feeling a weird sense she could not even describe at Mark calling her by her childhood nickname, "I'm...okay. You?"

Mark closed the front door behind Chloe and gestured once more for her to come further inside the house, "Never been happier. Come in, I'll make you a cup of coffee--no scratch that I still have a box of those favourite teabags of yours in the pantry that I never could bring myself to throw out, I'll make you a cuppa."

Chloe stared at Mark with complete stunned silence as her brother went to the kitchen and put the kettle on. He then moved around the kitchen, grabbing teabags, cups, milk and teaspoons.

Chloe raised her eyebrow at her brother's actions because he wasn't just walking around the house normally, "Mark...are you...dancing?"

Indeed Mark was dancing. He was moon walking around the kitchen, tapping his feet to invisible music that must have been playing in his head and bopping his head along to a beat.

This was decidedly not Mark.

Mark couldn't dance for one thing but here he was not caring about that and letting whatever rhythm was going through him and expressing it with his feet and bopping his head around like he was in a musical.

Chloe couldn't say anything as her brother bopped around the kitchen, making them both a cup of tea, and then planted the two cups in front of them. As they stood there in the kitchen, waiting for their teas to cool down a bit. Mark still didn't stop, he was still bopping his head around and tapping his feet.

As Chloe opened her mouth to question what had gotten into her brother, Mark grinned at her, bopping his head to a rhythm Chloe couldn't hear, "I'm glad you’re here, Chloe. You know what, I've been a complete jackass to you these past four months and I need to apologise for everything I've said and done to you. I'm sorry, Chloe."

Chloe stared at Mark with bewilderment.

Mark tapped his feet in a dancing motion, "I made mistakes by nearly cancelling the wedding and abandoning Elly. At the end of the day, all that really happened was the pair of us fell in love with the same woman. We both have bloody good taste in women. And men for you, too. I really can't fault you for falling in love with Elly. I'm done been mad about you and Elly sleeping together. You had your fleeting experience with her and that's okay. Elly needed you and you were there for her and gave her what she needed in that moment. She needed to feel loved and you provided her with that. I can't blame you for that. We're all going to be a family now and it's time we start putting the past behind us and focus on the future. I don't want my child growing up feeling anything but love from everyone in our family."

Feeling like Mark had completely lost the plot at this point, Chloe asked him, "Mark, did you go to your performance review and come out with a personality transplant?"

"It kinda feels like that doesn't it?" Mark grinned, before he moon walked over to the fridge to put the milk back and then found himself staring at the ultrasound photo.

Chloe took a sip of tea, feeling so guilty now that she knew the baby in the photo was Caitlyn.

The smile on Mark's face widened as he turned back to his sister, "I'm so happy right now."

Chloe tried to hide her guilt, "About that...ah...um...how come your home? I thought you'd be at work."

Mark shrugged, and then weirdly turned his arms into a dance movement, "Sorry 'bout that, I lied to you and Elly that I was working today. I'm working the night shift tonight instead. You'll never believe why I organized the day off whilst Elly is at work. Ah bugger it! I was going to show Elly first because it's a surprise but I really want you to see it."

As Chloe put down her tea cup, she nearly choked on her tea as she suddenly noticed two guys, dressed in workmen's gear, walking from the back of the house into the kitchen, "Who are you?"

"We're going for a lunch break, Mark, we'll be back in half hour," one of the guys non-explained.

Mark jogged over to the front door to let the guys out of the house, then turned back to Chloe, "Follow me."

Chloe hesitated for a moment but then gave in when she watched on as Mark resumed his moon walking from the entrance to the back of the house and followed him.

Mark gestured happily to Chloe as he stood outside the closed door to the room that was previously Aaron and David's bedroom, "C'mon, Chlo, get over here."

"Okay," Chloe agreed then knowing she couldn't put off the entire reason she was there, "Mark, I did actually come here because I have to talk to you about something that is really important. Once I've seen whatever it is here, can we sit down and have a chat?"

Mark smiled, "Absolutely, Chloe. I'm here for whatever you need but for now forget about whatever it is you want to chat about and check this out!"

Chloe's face immediately dropped as Mark opened the bedroom door, "It's..."

"Baby Brennan's nursery!" Mark exclaimed unable to hide his excitement.

"Wow...it's..." Chloe couldn't finish her thoughts as she stared around the room.

"I know, right?" Mark grinned from ear to ear, "How great is it?"

Chloe couldn't speak, the guilt of knowing there was no 'Baby Brennan' as the baby wasn't Mark's cut her deeply.

"The guys and I have only been working on the room for a few hours and already it's transforming," Mark started explaining, then pointing around the room, "We've cleared out all the furniture Aaron and David left behind, the bed etc. When Elly was at work yesterday, I went to the shops to pick up the baby's crib and all the other items that I had ordered and left them all in here thinking Elly wouldn't have reason to check the room. I'm putting the crib together whilst the guys I hired are helping by building some one-of-a-kind cabinetries that will be built into the walls. They'll come back in a few days to actually install the cabinetry into the walls. We're painting the room with a fresh coat of paint when they get back from lunch. I was really unsure about painting the room a neutral colour without speaking to Elly first about it because you know we're not going to find out the gender until our baby is born...but what the hell if she's not happy with the colour, we'll repaint it. No big deal. I've even gone out and bought a chair for Elly or I to sit in to spend time with our baby. Chlo, I've even started buying baby toys and books for us to read our baby to sleep to."

"Wow," was all Chloe could utter.

"I know there's so much more for us to buy, especially for Elly to help with breastfeeding etc but I wanted to surprise her and get the nursery at least partially set up for her today to surprise her nice and early before the baby arrives. The paint won't be dry by the time I pick Elly up from work and not everything will be in place properly but I'm putting it together with the guys' help to look as done as it possibly can be within half a day," Mark stated beyond ecstatically, "Geez, Chlo, be a little bit excited! I've never seen you this star struck before."

"Sorry, I'm just...stunned...it's amazing Mark...your...baby will love it," Chloe stammered out, the guilt of all of Elly's secrets weighing down on her like a tonne of bricks.

How could Chloe possibly tell Mark the truth about everything now and destroy him even more knowing he had made such an effort to build an entire baby's nursery for a child that wasn't his?

After everything they had been through the past five months, Mark had finally forgiven her for sleeping with Elly.

Could Chloe possibly tear her family apart once more even though she knew there was no possible way Elly could get through the term of her pregnancy without Mark learning the truth?

Mark grinned down at his little sister, "What about Elly? Do you reckon she'll be absolutely stoked by the baby's nursery?"

Chloe bit her tongue at the thought of how much guilt Elly was going to feel, "She'll...love it. It's great, Mark. Elly's lucky to have you. You'll be a great...father...to this baby."

Mark couldn't wipe the smile off his face, "I'm just so happy! My wife is having a baby! You and I are going to fix things between us! My life is finally perfect! As long as the baby is born happy and healthy in 4 1/2 months’ time...nothing is standing in my way of ruining this for me."

Chloe clasped her hands together, not believing that Mark couldn't be further from the truth as every word he said was like a stab to the heart.

Mark gazed around the room again, "Alright we'd better get out of here before I stand here gushing about every little thing I bought for the baby. Let's get back to our tea."

Chloe sighed gently as she walked behind Mark back to the kitchen and watched on as continued bopping his head along to a beat.

As soon as they entered the kitchen and picked up their tea cups, Mark looked at Chloe, "Enough about me and the baby nursery. What did you come here to talk to me about?"

Chloe paused, struggling to speak for a moment, unsure what to say before blurting out, "Elly had a tiny meltdown before the appointment with the doctor and I went into the appointment with her. I feel really guilty because I took your place."

Mark shrugged, "That's okay. I'm glad Elly wasn't alone. Why the guilt, Chloe?"

Chloe tilted her head, "Because everything...I was in there for...you should've been. I feel like I stole your moments."

"Did the doctor do another ultrasound? Please tell me there's a new photo and Elly filmed the doctor performing the ultrasound on her phone for me," Mark asked giddily.

Chloe shook her head, lying as convincingly as she could, "No...there was no ultrasound. I was just...answering some of the doctor’s questions that you should've answered. Um...the doctor did do a few small checks on Elly's heart rate, blood pressure, and on Elly's belly but no ultrasound and well while Elly was lying on the table, she asked me to...she took my hand and I was standing there next to her through it all. After the checks...and the doctor was recording some results...I...uh...placed my hand on Elly's belly over the baby and...I got caught up in the moment...and kissed Elly on the cheek. I think the doctor probably thinks we were acting like a couple...my fault...of course. I shouldn't have let myself get that close to Elly like that. I should not have stolen those moments with her that belonged to you. I am so sorry, Mark."

Mark reached out and unexpectedly pulled Chloe into a hug, "You have nothing to be sorry for. I'm glad you were there for Elly when she needed it. I know what you had with Elly is over. I'll get my moments with Elly and the baby at the next ultrasound. Thanks for telling me, you're the best, Chlo."

A few minutes later, Chloe had walked back to her house, glad none of the boys were home. The guilt of been unable to tell Mark the truth about the baby and the ultrasound on his fridge nearly destroyed her especially because she knew he was going to find out sooner or later.

Mark was going to utterly destroyed by the revelations but after learning that he was working on building a nursery for Elly's baby, she needed more time to work out how to break the news to him.

Should she call Aaron? Should the two of them approach Mark together? Should she call her mum and tell her to get a flight back to town in the next day or two, inform Fay and Aaron of the truth, and then the three of them sit down with Mark to tell him the truth? Should she give Elly the chance to come forward? Should she be there with the pair of them? Should she inform Fay and Aaron, round up the entire family along with Elly for the four of them to have the conversation with Mark so he would have the support of his family there for him and it would hopefully limit the fallout on Elly not been alone with him when the truth was revealed?

Chloe's head was spinning.

Even though she didn't think Elly would answer, seeing as though she was at school, Chloe called her.

Elly was in the classroom with her year 12 students, completely in a daze. Every lesson plan she'd done for her classes that afternoon went out the window after the events of the morning. Instead she'd gotten all her students to spend their class reading chapters of the literature books they were studying rather than making them do that in their own time.

Elly's head was spinning.

Had Chloe found Mark? Did he know the truth that the baby wasn't his? Did he hate her for using and destroying Caitlyn's ultrasound to further her lies to him? Did she really kiss Chloe after the ultrasound? With the mess of her life surrounding her and about to come crashing down, was now the best time to be dealing with the fact that she was falling for Chloe?

Elly's phone rang. It was on silent but she spotted it on the desk and saw Chloe's name on the screen. Even though she knew she shouldn't, she grabbed her phone and stood up to exit the class to take the call.

"Uh Mrs. B, pretty sure answering your phone during class is not setting a good example," Dean called out, happy to call out his teacher for breaking rules.

"It's none of your business, Dean, get back to your reading," Elly couldn't stop snapping at her pain of a student.

As soon as she was out of the classroom and had shut the door behind her, Elly answered the phone, "Chloe?"

"I couldn't tell Mark," Chloe whispered.

Elly breathed a sigh of relief, "Thank you."

Chloe sighed, "Don't thank me yet, Mark still needs to know the truth. Uh...Mark swapped his shifts and is working from 10pm all night. Can I come over to discuss with you how we're going to tell him?"

"Of course," Elly agreed, "Thank you for giving me a chance to tell him properly. I'll see you tonight. I'll text you when Mark has left."

"Good," Chloe replied, chewing on her lip, "Elly...before you go...Mark is gonna have a surprise for you when he picks you up from work and takes you home...I can't tell you what...it's not right for me to...but I..."

"Go on, Chloe," Elly encouraged.

"Prepare yourself to feel a world of guilt, okay...it's one of the reasons why I couldn't tell him," Chloe admitted.

Elly nodded, "Thanks for letting me know what you can, I understand. Thanks, Chloe, for everything. I mean that."

"See you tonight, Elly," Chloe whispered as she hung up the phone.

After everything I don't know how Mark will cope when he learns the truth, Chloe thought.

After everything Chloe's still looking out for me...I really am falling for her, Elly thought.

Chapter Text

Just Friends?

Chapter Fifteen

Within a minute of Elly texting Chloe to let her know that Mark had left for work, Chloe was on her front door step. She barely needed to knock on the front door when Elly opened it. Elly stepped forward and wrapped her arms around Chloe, sinking into the younger woman.

“Thank you for not telling him,” Elly whispered.

Chloe held onto Elly tightly, “Mark is still going to find out…it’s just a small delay…okay? It’s why I’m here now so we can discuss the best way to approach telling him.”

“I know,” Elly replied, “Thank you for coming over.”

Elly reluctantly pulled out of the hug, but as she shifted past Chloe briefly to close the door behind them then back in front of Chloe, she took Chloe’s hand in hers, and gently led her into the living room.

As Chloe reached the couch in the living room, she let go of Elly’s hand. Sighing from exhaustion of everything that they had been through that day, Chloe didn’t really think about it when she laid down on the couch. She laid there on her right side, her back against the back of the couch.

Before Chloe could shift positions or stop Elly, the brunette laid down on the couch joining Chloe. Elly laid down on her back, right next to Chloe, staring up at her friend. Chloe shivered at the contact between them, their skin grazing against one another. Lying on her side, hovering over Elly, as they were squished onto the couch together. Even though there really wasn’t enough room for the two of them and Chloe hadn’t expected Elly to lie down on the couch on her back like she had, Chloe grinned quietly at the closeness they were sharing.

Elly smiled back up at Chloe, more than happy to see that Chloe didn’t seem to have an issue with her invading her personal space as she had found a way to cuddle up next to her friend without actually cuddling her.

Elly felt glad that before Chloe had arrived, she had changed into a lite dress that didn’t quite come down to her knees. Chloe had also changed out of her work pants and was wearing a knee-length skirt. Their bare legs grazed against each other’s comfortingly.

Elly bit her lip as her gaze focused on Chloe's lips and she almost didn't hear what Chloe was saying to her.

"How did you take it...? Mark...building the...uh...nursery?" Chloe asked softly, "...Elly?"

Elly blinked several times, "Yeah...that was...tough. Thanks for warning me. It was the right call not to ruin the surprise but just preparing me to...I really did feel a whole lot of guilt. I almost couldn't bare it...I came close to breaking and telling Mark."

"So did I," Chloe whispered, "Mark forgave me...for sleeping with you before the wedding. He wants your baby to grow up feeling nothing but love in our family...he wants me and him to put his bitterness behind us and focus on the future. Question…when you saw Mark after he brought you home…was he dancing?"

Elly frowned in confusion to which Chloe shook her head and whispered to Elly, “Forget I asked that.”

Elly nodded, "Mark told me he’d forgiven you. Chlo, I know you've wanted Mark's forgiveness for so long...that must have been so hard for you to hear knowing now what you know about my baby."

Chloe felt tears prickling at the back of her eyes but she refused to let them out, "He was so happy...I couldn't destroy that."

Elly reached up with her hand and glided her fingertips across Chloe's jawline, trying everything possible to think about Mark and not about her desire to trace her fingertips against Chloe's lips, "Do we have to tell Mark? Can't we just...let him raise this baby? Even if he doesn't love me the way I want him to...he'll love my baby."

Chloe shifted her face, sinking into Elly's touch, "Elly I know you've created this horrible situation but we can't allow Mark to be in the dark for this forever. If he knows the truth and he decides that he is prepared to forgive you and raise this baby with you despite him not been the biological father...then there is still a chance for the two of you."

Elly shivered at the thought. By this point she had nearly completely accepted that Mark and her would be over once he learnt the truth. She knew deep down she was slowly falling for Chloe. Every moment she spent with the blonde was another moment she wasn't with Mark and another moment that she saw just how much Chloe loved her in the way she had always desired to be loved by someone. It had just taken her the entire year so far to shift her perspective and use the word 'someone' instead of 'a man.'

How could she allow things to get even more complicated if it turned out Mark would still want to raise this baby with her? That Mark could possibly in some realm of possibility forgive her for all her lies? That Mark could want to continue their marriage? Yet Elly was the one that was beginning to accept that she didn't love Mark the way she thought she did and even if in the remote possibility he did forgive her she would still leave him because she was falling for Chloe?

Elly shook her head, beginning to accept that her growing feelings for Chloe were beginning to outweigh the need to save her marriage, "There is no chance for Mark and I."

Chloe eyed Elly, wanting her friend to elaborate why she was now certain that her marriage to Mark did not have any chance of been repaired once Mark knew the truth, as despite Mark been devastated not to be the biological father, he could still see this as his one chance to be a parent anyway.

Instead Chloe asked quietly, "How would you like to tell Mark about your baby?"

Elly shrugged, "Do I really have to? Even if my marriage will be over, Mark would be a fantastic father. I could still find a way to...co-parent my child with him even though we wouldn't be a couple...he never has to know."

Chloe ran her tongue across her lips, confused by Elly's assertion that her marriage to Mark would end even without Mark finding out the baby wasn't his, but again she addressed the most pressing issue, "Elly there is a 6-week difference in your pregnancy. You can't expect Mark to not notice for the rest of your pregnancy that you're not as far along as he thinks. If it was a week or two it wouldn't matter but...6-weeks?"

Elly stayed silent, knowing Chloe was right but didn't want to admit it. She found herself lost in the vision of Chloe again as she was lying over her.

"I know this will be the most difficult conversation of your life," Chloe stated quietly, "But you can't just expect Mark not to notice anything is wrong for another 4 1/2 months as he thinks you're halfway through your pregnancy. That he won't get suspicious if you continue clashing every single appointment? That he doesn't already have your due date circled on his calendar and has already pre-booked his paternity leave against the expected date of arrival? How do you plan to explain when the pregnancy goes way past your due date? Do you just hope your baby comes out into this world early? That Mark wouldn't think something was wrong if there were any complications that come with a premature birth but he doesn't know it's premature? I know that I sound like...I'm not on your side but I just don't see how Mark would never have to know."

Elly continued staring into Chloe's eyes, desperately struggling not to just end this conversation by pulling Chloe into a kiss, before a thought struck her, "I could leave town."

"What?" Chloe was shocked and heartbroken at the mere thought.

Elly placed her hand against Chloe's cheek, holding it softly against her fingertips, "We wouldn't have to never see each other again. I couldn't cope with that, Chlo. I just mean closer to the due date like in the last 2-3 months of my pregnancy I could leave town...until the baby is born. Come up with an excuse that Mark will have to accept? Like my mum has broken her leg or is terribly ill and I have to go and take care of her for the duration of my pregnancy? My mum has done a lot of bad things in her life, if I tell her the truth, she'll back me up with whatever lie about her needing to be cared for. Susan has the school and Finn to take care of. Bea can't just dump her apprenticeship. I'll be on maternity leave anyway."

As Chloe went to deny Elly that her idea would never work, Elly continued.

"You could come with me, we could spend a couple months together...away from Mark and everyone," Elly then cleared her throat unable to commit to revealing she was falling for Chloe, "...As friends. I mean my mum has downsized to a 2-bedroom apartment and we would have to share a room but...or if you can't up and leave your job...your life here...you could come visit me on weekends and we could...hide away from the world together. Then once I've had the baby, I can return and Mark never has to know."

Even though the thought of running away with Elly, even just on weekends, sharing a room with the woman she loved, probably even a bed, drove Chloe insanely hopeful that one day Elly could end up returning her feelings, she wasn't about to let it happen.

Chloe placed her own hand against Elly's cheek, surprised by how flushed it was, "Elly, stop. I love yo...I like you trying everything possible not to destroy Mark's life but your plan will never work. Yes, Susan and Bea might not be in a position to drop everything but do you really think that they, along with Mark, wouldn't want to go visit you and your mum for nearly 3 months especially when they will all think you’ve got just over a month to go before you give birth? Even if you conspired with Liz for her to go overseas when this so called 'illness' strikes her down and you had to move overseas to 'care' for her as you think if you're overseas there's less chance of anyone else following you. That they'll just accept all your excuses? That if you do simply go to your mum's that they would not find it the least bit strange that I disappear every single weekend for 3 months?”

Chloe took a breath before continuing with her rationalization, “I know you're capable of a lot of things but you also have to know you can't just give birth and be back in Erinsborough the next day with a newborn claiming to Mark you gave birth at least 4 weeks ago. That he wouldn't move heaven and earth to be with you anywhere in the world around your due date rather than accept he can't meet his child for possibly a month or longer? What about the birth certificate? Are you going to have that forged or just never show him and spend your entire life filling out your child's paperwork with a fake date of birth until he or she needs a passport or driver’s license and you just hope Mark or your child won't notice? Elly..."

Elly sighed softly, enjoying the feeling of Chloe's hand against her cheek and the thoughts that were still running through her mind about running away with Chloe and hiding out with her, preferably in the same bed for months on end, knowing that it would eventually lead them back into one another's arms, "I know...it's a silly idea...I'm just an idiot for putting myself in this position in the first place."

Chloe stroked Elly's cheek gently, "You're not an idiot, Elly. Yes, it's a bad situation. Yes, Mark is going to be destroyed by this. And yes, I'm still distraught that you destroyed Caitlyn's photo...but I am here for you. Every step of the way...if you want me."

"I want you, Chloe," Elly admitted without hesitation, knowing she meant it the way Chloe hadn't intended her to mean it.

Chloe completely blew past Elly's assertion of wanting her, not thinking anything of Elly meaning it the way she really wanted her too, "Then we need to decide how and when to tell Mark."

Elly found her eyes focusing on Chloe's lips as they moved, forming words, but the only movement she felt the desire for was for them to be moving to her lips. As serious as the matter was discussing how to tell Mark the truth, Elly's mind was elsewhere, wishing there was some way possible she could reveal to Chloe that she wanted her friend to kiss her.

Not noticing Elly's distraction, Chloe persisted, "Before I came over here...I did have some thoughts about how Mark should find out. I was thinking it might be for the best that you don't tell Mark alone. He is going to need support. I want to be by your side...if you want me to be...but I think he's still not going to let me be the support he needs when he knows I already knew before he did. I think we should tell Aaron first and possibly even get my mum to fly in, tell her with Aaron, and then the four of us sit down and break the news to Mark. That way Mark has his whole family surrounding him. If he doesn't want me supporting him then he'll at least have Aaron and our mum."

Elly nodded but stayed quiet, still enjoying the presence of been so close to Chloe, her mind swirling with thoughts of her sister-in-law.

"Would you want to tell your family at the same time as you tell Mark? That way you only have to explain yourself once to everyone who matters to you? Or I can go with you and we can tell your family together...if you want me," Chloe offered, "...Elly?"

"I want you, Chloe," Elly repeated, then blinked several times, "I mean...you would do that for me? Come with me to tell my family?"

"Of course," Chloe whispered, Elly's words of wanting her now ringing in her ear since it was the second time she'd heard it but shook her head at the mere thought Elly wanted her in any other way than friendship, "So...Elly...how do you want to do this?"

Elly licked her lips at the desperate need to just break down and answer - 'you kiss me, I kiss you back, we go from there. That's how we do this.'

Chloe's eyes narrowed, "Elly, how do you want to tell Mark the truth?"

Elly sighed, snapping out of her thoughts of wanting to kiss Chloe, "I think Aaron needs to be there. We should tell him first. I'm not so sure about flying Fay in for this...I feel like that might be making too much of a deal out of it. Even though I know the reality is that this is gonna destroy Mark. As hard as it will be to tell my family separately...saying everything twice...I don't want Mark finding out in front of an entire group of people. He needs the space to deal with his reaction without everyone staring at him. But I need you there with me both times...when I tell Mark and my family."

"I will be," Chloe promised, "When do you want to tell Mark and your family?"

"Never," Elly whispered.

"Elly," Chloe gritted her teeth at Elly's resistance.

"Can you give me a few days to come to terms with telling Mark? I need to prepare for the fact that Mark is going to kick me out of his house when he knows the truth. I'm not sure I can return to the Kennedy's...they could take the news badly too. Besides, Finn has taken my bedroom there so there isn't space for me, and as much as he does seem to have changed...I don't want to live with him," Elly decided, then taking a chance, "Can I stay with you?"

Chloe raised her eyebrow, "As long as Aaron doesn't have an issue with it depending how he feels about you ruining Mark's life...sure...for a couple days at least. Until you figure out your actual plans for what you want to do. I can sleep on the couch."

"I don't mind sharing a bed with you," Elly whispered, "For a day or two..."

Chloe's heart raced at the thought, but couldn't allow herself to get that close to Elly once more when Elly didn't return her feelings, "I'll take the couch."

Elly relented, knowing Chloe was still under the impression they were just friends and couldn't allow herself to be that close to Elly without knowing Elly was falling for her, "Couch it is." 

Chloe smiled, "Sounds like we've got everything sorted. I should--"

"Can you stay here a little while longer, Chlo?" Elly asked, desperate not to be apart from Chloe whilst Mark was away for the evening and they had the chance to continue lying next to one another like they were, "Just to...ah...lie here together...for a little while before you go home."

Chloe nodded, "Okay...for a little while."

Elly smiled, "Thanks, Chloe. I'm so glad I have...a friend...like you in my life."

I am so concerned with this plan of telling Mark he isn't the father of Elly's baby. It's the only thing I can focus on...been there for Mark and supporting him through this trauma... Chloe thought.

How did this happen? That right at this moment I'm really not as concerned as I should be with the idea of telling Mark he isn't the father of my baby. Instead I am so much more focused in needing to tell Chloe that I am desperately falling for her...and all I want in this world is for her to lean down and kiss me... Elly thought.

Chapter Text

Just Friends?

Chapter Sixteen

Chloe blinked her eyes open, confused by where she was at first. Yawning, Chloe quickly realized that she had accidentally fallen asleep on Elly’s couch with Elly lying next to her. Chloe glanced over at the clock on the wall to see it was close to midnight so she hadn’t napped alongside Elly for too long but she still felt a bit guilty for falling asleep next to her sister-in-law.

Chloe yawned again as her eyes settled on Elly to see they were still in the same positions on the couch. Elly was lying on her back on the couch next to her. Chloe was on her side and she had her back against the back of the couch confined between the couch and Elly. She suddenly realized she’d fallen asleep with her hand gently resting on Elly’s torso over Elly’s tiny baby bump.

Unsure if she should move her hand away, Chloe took a sharp breath as she felt Elly shift against her. Thinking her friend was awake and it had only been her that had fallen asleep on the couch, Chloe blushed, hoping Elly wouldn’t have an issue with her falling asleep next to her resting gently on her tiny baby bump.

"Mmm that feels so good," Elly murmured.

Chloe stared down at Elly trying to work out what Elly was talking about. Did Elly like the fact Chloe was curled up around her? Napping against her? Had her hand resting gently across her tiny baby bump?

Chloe frowned when she saw that Elly's eyes were closed, her breathing was soft and slow, but Chloe could sense there was something going on as despite Elly's eyes been closed it was like Chloe could see them shift from side to side. Not awake, seemingly in the deepest of sleeps and yet murmuring softly.

"Elly, are you awake?" Chloe asked softly.

"Kiss me, babe," Elly whispered back.

"Huh? Elly, are you awake?" Chloe repeated.

Elly didn't answer but Chloe watched on as a smile curled upon Elly's lips.

"Mmm so good," Elly muttered.

Chloe breathed deeply, "Elly? Are you...asleep and dreaming...and doing some dream talking? Why am I even asking you like you're awake and gonna answer me?"

"Kiss me, again," Elly whispered.

Chloe blushed at the temptation, "You really do dream talk don't you...? Like you're in your own little world," then sighing sadly, "Wanting Mark to kiss you. I wish I didn't know that. Would it be selfish of me to wake you up to pull you from your dream of Mark?"

Elly raised her hand, sliding it across her chest, completely asleep and not having a clue her dream was been revealed little by little to Chloe, "Undress me. I want you so much."

Chloe nearly choked at Elly's words but found herself unable to talk back to Elly. What good would it do; Elly was deeply asleep? Chloe's thoughts began spinning around in her head.

Oh, please no! Do not tell me Elly's having a sex dream!

Elly's chest rose gently off the couch for a few seconds, "Mmm...let me make love to you."

No! No! No! I don't want to hear this! Ewww! It's my brother! I need to get up and get out of here! I cannot listen to this! Or watch it right in front of me! Argh! 

"Please babe, it's been so long, will you let me make love to you?" Elly continued murmuring in her sleep, her dream completely taking over her.

I thought watching Elly say her wedding vows to Mark was the worst possible thing to experience but this is so much worse! I don't want to hear about Elly sex dreaming about Mark! How do I get out of here? Do I wake Elly? I'm squished in between the couch and a sex dreaming Elly lying on her back next to me! Do I try and get out from this couch without waking Elly and just leave her here?

Elly pursed her lips, "Mmm I want to kiss your soft silky white skin all over, it's so beautiful."

Urgh this is horrible...this is...wait...Mark's skin is tanned and rough...? I never met Shaun...does he have...soft silky white skin...? Somehow, I doubt that… I thought Elly didn't remember her night with him.

As if answering Chloe's unasked question, Elly's dream talking revealed her desires, "You're so beautiful, Chlo."

Chloe's eyes nearly bulged out of her sockets.

Wait...WHAT?

"Mmm I need you," Elly murmured, "It feels so good to be with you, Chloe. To have my fingers inside you...making love to you...is it the right pace or do you want...?"

WAIT...WHAT!?! Is this really happening?

Elly's face lit up in a smile, "Mmm thought you'd like that...I was so right. Tell me what you need, Chlo. I'm not sure I have the hang of it..."

OMG! This is happening! Elly is dreaming...about me! But how? Why? This is a serious dream! She's...so bloody nervous and unsure of herself. Is Elly dreaming about the night we did spend together? She has to be. It's not like she has any romantic feelings for me now. We've been getting closer the last few weeks, things with Mark are really strained or they are about to be...we're lying here having fallen asleep together...this is totally normal for Elly to suddenly be thinking about our night together...

Elly's hand grasped the edge of her dress at her chest, "I need you to tell me..."

Against her better judgment, Chloe whispered, "You're doing fine, Elly, keep going."

OMG! Now I'm encouraging this and making her dream and dream-talk more about our night together 4 months ago. God Elly has the same look on her face that she did that night. She was so quiet that night, she didn't know how to ask if what she was doing was right or if I liked what she was doing to me. I could see it in her eyes that night. Every question she wanted to ask but couldn't verbalize it because she wasn't sure how to comprehend that she was actually making love to me. If only Elly would open her eyes, would I see the same look in them? Is Elly dreaming of that night but not afraid to tell me all the things she wanted to say to me when she had the chance?

"Can I taste you?" Elly whispered, as she suddenly slipped her hand inside her dress and began stroking at her own breast.

No bra...! This is...I always wondered if Elly ever thought about our night together...I guess this proves she does. Or at least tonight she is. Maybe because she's with me and feels safe to dream about it. I can't imagine Mark listening in to this side of Elly and not turfing her out on the street.

"Please Chloe, can I taste you?" Elly asked once more.

"Yes, babe," Chloe answered softly, then tried to hide her own smile from forming as she continued watching the grin on Elly's face as the brunette continued stroking her own nipple.

This is completely ridiculous! You are talking to Elly like she can hear you when she is clearly locked up in this dream of hers thinking about nothing but your night together 4 months ago. She's laying here next to you feeling herself up...well it could be worse...at least she's not actually feeling me up.

Is this cheating? Is Elly cheating on Mark again with me by having this deeply desired sex dream about me? It can't be physical cheating as we're not touching each other. Okay I'm lying next to her and our legs are grazing one another but we're not actually taking part in the actions of having sex. Is it emotional cheating? No, it can't be. Elly doesn't have feelings for me. She is just confused and for one night she is thinking about how I made her feel four months ago...

"Mmm you taste so good, Chloe," Elly muttered as her hand continued kneading her breast, "Will you make love to me, Chloe? Please tell me we still have a chance together...does my pregnancy turn you off from me?"

Say...WHAT!

"I need to hear you say it, Chloe. That you still want me. That the baby doesn't change things, please Chlo, I've waited so long to accept I'm falling for you," Elly sleep-talked her deepest confession.

OMG is THIS really happening!?

This isn't Elly from 4 months ago. She didn't even know she was pregnant when we...wait no... Shaun was after...there was no pregnancy that night. This is Elly right now dreaming and sleep talking a sex dream about me...now in the present!

"Tell me I haven't missed my chance to be with you, that you can still accept me and make love to me, Chloe," Elly requested gently.

Chloe paused. She knew Elly was dreaming and dream-Chloe might answer affirmative to dream-Elly and dream-Chloe-&-Elly would enjoy the passion between them despite the complications of Elly's pregnancy. But could real life Chloe accept it?

This question was huge for Chloe as she laid there thinking about it.

Okay Dream Chloe definitely answered yes as Elly looks in all sorts of pleasure. Oh boy where is Elly dragging her hand to having released her breast from its grasp? Oh wow...this isn't awkward for me.

Chloe swallowed hard as she watched silently as Elly's hand slid down her own body. Elly bought her left leg up, bending it at the knee, placing it back down between Chloe's two legs before sliding her hand into her own panties and dipping her fingers in between her legs.

Okay...then...enacting what Dream Chloe must be doing to her...how in the world did I manage to find myself in this situation? The woman that I have loved for months is lying next to me...dreaming and dream-talking about the pair of us making love to one another...and now she's touching herself right in front of me? Why couldn't I have just slept through all this? Then I wouldn't know that...deep...deep...down...maybe...just maybe Elly does harbour some form of attraction for me...okay maybe some serious attraction for me 'cause Dream Chloe must be giving her all kinds of pleasure.

"You're so good to me...Chlo," Elly mumbled, "Mmm...that's it, babe."

This is pure torture. Now that I know that Elly does want me and she's right here in front of me like this...I want to make love to her so badly. I can't because she's sleeping and that would be beyond wrong with zero consent if I was to...but the temptation...couldn't I just wake her up? Wake her up, tell her I'm still madly in love with her and then the two of us can be together right here...not in Elly's dream land...

That would be cheating...Elly has already cheated on Mark twice...you swore you would never get involved in a love triangle again. If Elly truly does harbour feelings for me...she has to leave Mark first. As much as it will destroy my brother losing Elly to me...I love her...and if she leaves Mark because...deep down...she does want to be with me...how can I turn Elly down?

Elly's hips bucked up from the couch, completely unaware of her actions and her dream-talking as Chloe laid there beside her, "I'm coming! God, Chloe! Yes! I want you to...yes, babe, go down on me...I need your tongue inside me."

Chloe breathed heavily at the thought of enacting the actions Elly was telling her she was enjoying.

The question still remains...do I have a reason to turn Elly down...? Dream Chloe has no issues with Elly been pregnant...but do I? Am I ready for that responsibility? To settle down with Elly and her baby as a family? To be a parent with Elly by my side?

I'm a free spirit. I've never been in a real serious relationship before.

Yes, Elly has been the only person that I have ever envisioned a future with but the idea of a child in our lives so soon...I didn't envision that.

I have a terminal diagnosis with maybe 20 years left before I can't take care of myself. Does that mean Elly will go from raising her baby to adulthood and then she'll be forced to do a similar thing for me instead of enjoying the rest of her formative years? Can I do that to a child? Let her or him fall in love with me then just watch as I dissipate into a person that I'm terrified of becoming?

When Mark finds out the baby isn't his...chances are high that Elly will be staring down the barrel of single motherhood...she has already told me she can't do that alone. What if I am just a second choice? What if she only wants to be with me because she can see the writing on the wall that Mark will leave her and she'd rather just stick with whomever will have her? A lot of people are going to be affected by Elly's lies, not just Mark.

Just because Elly right now is...going through some serious stage of realizing she might indeed be attracted to me it doesn't mean I'm the one she truly wants to be with and raise her baby with.

"Mmm Chloe, right there," Elly moaned heavily, still gliding her fingers between her legs, enjoying the source of pleasure she was providing herself.

Chloe sighed as she watched as Elly finally removed her fingers from between her legs, readjusted her panties before gliding her hand back to her chest to resume kneading her own breast.

Chloe's head was still spinning in circles with all her thoughts caving in around her.

I just need some time to process that Elly might be attracted to me and that if she is and that if she leaves Mark or he leaves her that she truly wants to be with me then I have the biggest decision of my life to make on if I want to settle down with Elly and--

What was that?

Chloe jerked her head as she heard a car door slam shut from what sounded like the driveway of Mark's house.

Oh no!

Chloe's ears pricked up as she waited to hear if Mark's shuffling feet would do as they always would when he arrived home be it at any time of day on a weekday even close to midnight and walk down the driveway to check the mail box before he would come up the stairs to enter the house.

Oh, hell that is Mark! 

What is he doing home? He was supposed to be at the station all night long! 

Argh we've got about 60 seconds until Mark walks through that front door.

Completely oblivious to Chloe's panic, Elly continued moaning softly, "Keep going, Chloe, I'm so close. I love you so much Chloe!"

LOVE!?! 

OMG there is no time to even deal with that revelation!

Oh, holy mother! I have to get out of here! Mark can't find me here resting next to his wife when I'm not even supposed to be here... Wait, I can't just leave! How the hell will Mark react if he comes home and finds his wife feeling herself up whilst having a very obvious sex dream about ME! What if she drops the 'love' word again in front of him? I have to wake Elly up NOW! Chloe thought.

Chloe, Chloe, CHLOE! was the only thing on Elly's mind as she slept.

Chapter Text

Just Friends?

Chapter Seventeen

“Elly, Elly, ELLY!” Chloe shouted at her friend, shaking her shoulders trying desperately to rouse her from her sleep before Elly’s husband caught the pair lying on the couch together and Elly groping her own breast whilst doing some dream talking about a sexual fantasy she was engaged in with Chloe.

As Chloe shook her by the shoulders with a little more force this time, Elly finally blinked her eyes open in confusion, “Huh? What? Do what?”

Chloe wanted to breathe a sigh of relief but there wasn’t time, “Mark’s home early! He’ll be walking through that front door in about 45 seconds. I gotta run and get out of here so he doesn’t find us together. You…need to compose yourself.”

“Huh?” Elly sputtered as she glanced down and noticed her body was glistening with sweat, she was completely flushed and she had her right hand fondling her left breast. Pulling her hand from her breast she felt that her fingers were wet from more than just sweat.

Chloe didn’t say another word to explain the position Elly had found herself in, as she pushed herself up from the couch and managed to hover above Elly as she crawled over her and landed on her feet on the floor.

“Wait, Chlo--” Elly started to say as the pair then heard the loud footsteps of Mark ascending the wooden stairs outside that led to the front door.

Before Chloe could react, Elly reached for her hand, stood up from the couch. Still holding Chloe’s hand, Elly led the two of them out of the living room. Chloe thought Elly was taking her to the laundry so she could escape out the back door of the house.

Instead, without giving Chloe a reason, Elly dragged Chloe into the main bathroom in the house. Closing the door behind them, flicking the lights on, Elly grazed past Chloe and lent over the blonde as she reached her hand past the shower curtain of the bath / shower combo to switch the water on making the impression she was in the shower. Before shifting back to stand in front of Chloe.

As much as Elly didn’t want Mark to catch her with Chloe on the couch nor in the bathroom like they were now, she felt the need to ask Chloe why she had woken up in the state she had been in and she didn’t want to wait until the following day.

Elly had no memory of her dream that Chloe had witnessed and overheard by way of Elly’s dream-talking.

“Elly, what are we--?” Chloe demanded in a whispered tone.

Elly bought her hand up to hush Chloe, then shrugged with uncertainty as she whispered back, “I’m sorry…I panicked. I didn’t want you to leave without--”

The women were cut off by the front door opening, even over the sound of the water running in the shower. Chloe frowned, knowing it was nearly midnight and that Mark should’ve assumed Elly was asleep in bed, making the effort not to be so loud entering the house and yet he wasn’t.

“Elly, are you awake?” Mark yelled out, registering the sound of the shower water running in the main bathroom.

“Ah…yeah I’m in here,” Elly yelled back, then turning back to Chloe, she couldn’t resist whispering, “What happened back there…before you woke me?”

Chloe frowned, then realized that most people don’t remember their dreams, “Uh…you were…just dreaming.”

“How come your in the shower, Elly?” came Mark’s voice, yelling out from the kitchen.

“I wasn’t feeling sleepy. I thought a shower would relax me,” Elly yelled back, then addressing Chloe again in a whispered tone, “Must have been some dream. I mumble in my sleep sometimes. Do you know what I was dreaming about?”

“Ah…” Chloe stumbled.

If Elly didn’t remember her dream, she couldn’t possibly tell Elly the truth. That Elly had enjoyed a sexual fantasy dream about her whilst Elly had enacted some sexual touching on her own body whilst Chloe had watched on feeling trapped by her position on the couch next to Elly and also completely stunned into been unable to move at the realization Elly was fantasizing about her. And then admitted she loved her.

It wasn’t like Elly to be lying that she couldn’t remember her dream to see if Chloe would lie to her.

The confusion about her dream, having woken up covered in sweat and fondling herself, was clear to see on Elly’s face. She had no idea what she’d been dreaming about and yet at the same time it wasn't hard to work out precisely what she had been dreaming about.

“What are you doing in the bathroom instead of our ensuite?” Mark asked, once more yelling out.

“Ah…I…um…I was originally gonna have a bath in here to relax…but then I got bored waiting for the water to fill up the bath and decided to just shower instead,” Elly yelled to her husband, then narrowing her eyes at Chloe, as it dawned on her pretty quickly that she must have experienced a sexual dream, “Who was I dreaming about…in that way?”

Elly watched as Chloe stammered, unable to open her mouth properly, then needing to distract Mark again, yelled out, “Are you home for a break already? I thought you were working all night long.”

Elly’s eyes immediately locked with Chloe, waiting for her answer, and she gestured for Chloe to talk.

Chloe found herself unable to tell Elly the truth, fearing Elly wouldn’t believe her, and decided instead to change the subject.

“Mark,” Chloe paused for a single second before continuing to whisper, “He didn’t answer your question.”

However, the way Chloe phrased her sentence, and that one second pause, she didn’t realize that it made Elly believe she was answering her question first before then reminding Elly that Mark had indeed not answered her instead of trying to change the subject to get out of answering Elly’s question.

“Mark? You still there?” Elly yelled out, trying desperately to process what she thought was Chloe telling her about her dream.

“I’m peeing, Elly. I’ll answer you when I’m done,” came Mark’s voice from the next-door toilet, alerting the pair not to whisper to one another again.

Elly and Chloe both recoiled with an ‘eww’ face at the knowledge Mark was peeing.

As Elly stood there with Chloe silently, she stared at her friend, wondering if Chloe had been sleeping through most of her dream. Then all of a sudden, she stood up straight, whispering as quietly as she could, “If Mark’s in the toilet…he’s not gonna go to the kitchen or ensuite to wash his hands…”

Chloe’s eyes widened as she realized Elly was suggesting Mark would come to the bathroom to wash his hands. The bathroom the pair were hiding in together.

As Chloe was about to suggest they lock the door, she was stunned when instead Elly placed her hands on her shoulders and unceremoniously shoved the pair of them into the bath / shower, holding onto Chloe tightly so she didn’t trip lifting her legs into the bath as she was pushed backwards into it.

Pulling the shower curtain back behind them, to hide them from Mark’s view, Elly and Chloe immediately found themselves standing close together under the streaming water from the shower.

It immediately hit Elly that when she’d turned the shower on, she’d used the handle for the cold water. Whilst a cold shower was exactly what she needed as she felt the after effects of her dream, Chloe stood there in front of Elly, shivering at having been effectively been dumped into a cold shower without any notice.

As the water drowned their hair, their clothes and the rest of their bodies, Elly stepped immediately to Chloe, now finding herself with zero space between the pair. Elly began running her hands up and down Chloe’s upper arms, attempting to warm her up.

Realizing quickly that was not going to work, and Chloe was freezing cold, Elly ducked around Chloe, her body grazing against Chloe’s as she turned the hot water handle to start warm water gushing out of the shower head before she switched to turning the cold water down and returning to stand under the water with Chloe.

Chloe bit her lip over the thought that in this time for them to hide in the shower, huddled together, under the water gushing over the pair of them, Elly could’ve easily just locked the door.

Then another thought came to Chloe, as she whispered to Elly, who was standing close enough to her that she could feel Elly’s breath on her, or she would if it wasn’t for the water streaming over them, “What if Mark wants to join you in the shower?”

Elly reacted by rolling her eyes, knowing Mark still had issues with wanting her sexually but couldn’t tell Chloe that, “Trust me, he won’t.”

At that moment, Mark stepped into the bathroom, none the wiser that his wife wasn’t alone in the shower, and went to the basin, then answered Elly’s earlier question, “I couldn’t finish my shift as I was exhausted and had to come home to sleep. I was so excited about beginning to build the nursery and spent all day on it after my performance review. Then after I showed it to you, I had a complete brain fade. I should’ve been spending the early evening sleeping in preparation for my shift and I showed up at the station completely exhausted having not slept a wink all day. Such a rookie error. After doing so well in my review as well. Not a good look. I got sent home to sleep tonight and have to make it up with a shift at the station in the morning.”

Elly was only half-listening to her husband, as she was more concerned by the feeling that Mark might notice her shadow in the shower curtain was larger than normal seeing as though he didn’t know Chloe was with her. Elly innocently, under the guise of them needing to huddle closer together, wrapped her arms around Chloe’s shoulders, enjoying the sensations she felt when Chloe held her by the hips, and she stared down at the woman in front of her.

Their lips were only a centimeter apart and Elly found herself back to wanting to feel Chloe’s lips against hers despite the fact her husband was less than a meter away from her and the only thing separating them was a flimsy shower curtain.

“Elly?” Mark called out, unsure why his wife hadn’t answered him.

“Uh…yeah okay, sorry to hear about that. I should be done in here soon,” Elly uttered out to him, “Are you going to bed immediately?”

Chloe felt relieved that Elly was clearly trying to hurry Mark out of the bathroom so she could find a way to disappear into the night and she could deal with what had happened not just that evening but the entire day alone. Although she wasn’t looking forward to running across the street in soaked clothes and what excuse she could possibly make up if any of the boys were awake as to why she was drenched from head to toe when there was no rain in sight in the sky.

As Mark dried his hands on the hand towel, he looked around the bathroom, “Yeah in a minute…hey Elly…how come you don’t have your pajamas in here to change into? I see the laundry basket in here has some dirty clothes but no clean ones. God, I hope those dirty clothes haven’t been left over from before Chloe moved out. I thought Aaron and David cleaned out this bathroom before they moved to their own place. And why did you not put the bath mat down on the floor before getting into the shower, Elly, urgh, there’s water all over the floor. I hope you’re gonna clean that up before you come to bed.”

Elly rolled her eyes at the fact Mark had finally cottoned on to these tiny details, when he had been completely oblivious to so many things in her life, most noticeably now that she wasn’t alone in the shower, “Ah…I’ll clean up the water on the floor, don’t worry about it. I thought I was home alone, Mark. Even if you were here. I can walk around your house in a towel or less, can’t I?”

Mark sighed, “Elly…you know I’m still not ready…”

Chloe frowned up at Elly, confused by what Mark meant.

“I’ll get changed in the ensuite when I’m done,” Elly replied vaguely not wanting to explain to Chloe about Mark’s intimacy issues with her and that they extended to not even wanting to see her naked body yet.

“I’ll probably be asleep anyway the moment my head hits the pillow,” Mark responded, “Goodnight, Elly.”

“Night,” Elly replied back.

Chloe and Elly stayed under the shower for two minutes after Mark had left. They used the unspoken excuse of, what if Mark came back? But as it was also unspoken, they simply enjoyed holding onto one another in the shower as the water continued pouring over them. Been so close to one another that one small move and they could be kissing one another deeply.

Both of them resisted the urge and eventually they pulled apart from one another and Elly turned the water off. As they reluctantly removed themselves from the shower, Elly nearly slipped on the water that was puddled across the bathroom floor but Chloe caught her and stopped her from falling.

Once Elly was steady on her feet, Chloe reached up and grabbed the bath mat, placing it to the floor, using her feet to kick it around the area to dry out the water soaked there before Elly and her both stood on the mat.

Chloe and Elly resumed shivering at the cool air in the bathroom, their fully clothed bodies completely drenched in water. Elly reached for the single towel on the rack. Instead of checking the bathroom cabinet if there were any others, she wrapped the towel around Chloe as the pair both used it to dry the blonde’s body and then dried Chloe’s hair.

When they felt that Chloe was dry enough as they could possibly get her, Chloe went to wrap the towel around Elly to return the favour, Elly took it quickly to dry her hair, and then handed it back to Chloe.

“I hate to ask for another favour, Chlo,” Elly whispered, biting her lip, “But I can’t just leave my wet clothes here in the laundry basket and Mark might find them in the washing machine in the morning as I can’t exactly put a load of washing on at this hour. Can you take them with you, throw them in your wash and I’ll get them from you when they’re ready? The boys at your place are less likely to ask questions seeing as though they aren’t as OCD on chores as Mark.”

Chloe shrugged, “Okay, I guess.”

Feeling brave and unable to deny she wanted to end their evening with Chloe staring at her body, Elly immediately pulled the strings of her dress apart and pulled the dress down from her body.

Chloe’s jaw dropped at the image of Elly leaning down to remove the dress, not quite struggling with the drenched dress clinging to her body, seeing Elly’s half-naked body. Reacting slower than she should’ve, by the time Elly stepped out of the dress and stood back up, Chloe held the towel in front of Elly’s body and glanced sideways, trying to avoid looking at Elly in her undressed state.

Elly blushed at the way Chloe was struggling not to look at her as she stood there half-naked. Handing Chloe her dress, Elly deliberately ignored taking one side of the towel from Chloe when Chloe’s hand left the towel to take the dress, but Chloe immediately reacted to pull the towel back up before it fell too much. She still got a decent glimpse of Elly’s breasts before she turned her eyes away again, swallowing hard.

Elly licked her lips gently at the way Chloe was trying not to look at her body, as she then slipped out of her panties and placed them on top of the dress in Chloe’s hands, “Those too if you wouldn’t mind.”

“Mmm hmm,” Chloe uttered, struggling to deal with the fact that there was now only a towel she was still holding up that was separating her from a naked Elly.

Eventually deciding to relieve Chloe from the torture she was enduring, Elly took the towel and wrapped it around her body, then shrugged as Chloe’s eyes finally returned to her, “It’s not like you haven’t seen it before.”

“Mmm hmm,” Chloe repeated through gritted teeth, barely holding it together after the events of that evening, as she turned away from Elly and wrung out the dress and panties over the bath to try and squeeze the water from them.

A few minutes later, Elly, wrapped up in her towel, and Chloe still wearing her quite drenched clothes, holding Elly’s dampened dress and panties, snuck back into the living room. Chloe quickly shuffled to grab her handbag; happy Mark hadn’t noticed it. Elly as quietly as possible, opened the front door and let Chloe out.

Placing her hand on Chloe’s shoulder as she walked through the door, Elly whispered, “Thanks for tonight. I’m sorry I got you wet…duh…I mean drenched by the shower. See you tomorrow?”

Chloe blushed at Elly’s words, but ignored addressing it because Elly was not wrong, “Yes, tomorrow.”

Closing the door behind Chloe, the two women stood on opposite sides of the door, staring at it.

How am I ever meant to recover from everything that happened tonight? Elly was fantasizing about me! Elly might want to be with me after all…and I’m struggling to answer the question on if her pregnancy changes whether or not a relationship between us could work. Then to top it off…drenched, wet and naked Elly…Oh boy! Chloe thought.

I’m going to throw up! Did that really happen? Did Chloe catch me mid-sexual fantasy? Is the way Chloe answering my question as to whom I was fantasizing about what I think it means? I don’t understand. I kissed Chloe just this morning after the ultrasound! I spent almost the entire time with her on the couch fantasizing about kissing Chloe again! I am well and truly falling for Chloe! And then I get hot and heavy having a sexual dream…about Mark!? C’mon! I haven’t thought about Mark that way in months. It makes me sick to think Chloe must have heard me talking about Mark during it and she has no idea that she’s the one I should’ve been fantasizing about! Why couldn’t I have been dreaming about making love to Chloe? Elly thought.

Chapter Text

Just Friends?

Chapter Eighteen

The next morning, Chloe was hanging outside by the pool at her place. She was seated on the edge of the pool with her legs dangling in the water as her mind was spinning from everything that had happened the previous day.

From Elly telling her that the baby she is carrying does not belong to her husband and Chloe’s brother, Mark, to standing by Elly during her ultrasound and Elly kissing her gently, to firmly siding with Mark and needing to tell him the truth about the baby’s paternity when she learned Elly had ruined Caitlyn’s ultrasound, to been unable to tell Mark the truth herself, to cuddling up to Elly on the couch at Elly and Mark’s in the guise that that is what friends do, to the roller-coaster ride of emotions she experienced when she awoke to Elly in the midst of a sexual fantasy about her, to hiding out with Elly in the shower and learning Elly didn’t remember her dream, to finally Elly having no shame in undressing in front of her and showing off her body.

Chloe was so confused by how to handle Elly’s dream. Elly had no memory of it and due to Elly’s apparent habit of mumbling in her sleep, a trait Chloe didn’t know about until she was lying there next to Elly, listening to her friend enjoy the dream of the pair of them engaging in a love making session.

Chloe didn’t know how to tell her friend that it was her that Elly was dreaming about. Elly had always denied having feelings for Chloe and never once accepted that she was attracted to her. Even after their passionate night together months ago when Elly’s wedding to Mark had been called off, Elly had firmly told Chloe that it didn’t mean anything to her and they would never ever be together.

Would Elly completely freak out at the knowledge that she had fantasized about Chloe and that Chloe had heard the entire dream playing out in front of her?

Too afraid of pushing Elly away further, Chloe decided for now that she wouldn’t bring it up to Elly unless Elly discussed it first. If Elly did harbour feelings for her, then she needed Elly to come to terms with them in her own way. Preferably in a way that she wouldn’t forget.

Chloe’s thoughts were interrupted when Elly surprised her by approaching the pool, “Hey, Chloe.”

Chloe looked up at Elly as the brunette came over to her, sat down next to her, removed her shoes before sinking her feet into the pool, “Morning, Elly. What are you doing here?”

Elly chewed on her lip, “I came over as I needed to see you. Kyle let me in. Is he not happy we’re friends or just in a bad mood in general?”

Chloe shrugged, “Kyle’s in a bad mood over the whole Amy and Gary situation. It’s not you. Does Mark know you’re here?”

Elly shook her head, “Mark’s already gone to work for the morning. I needed some time to myself to think about things and figured you could…help with that.”

Chloe nodded silently, not quite sure how Elly needed time to herself but also couldn’t be apart from her. Was she now reading into every little thing Elly did differently with the knowledge that at least for a few moments Elly had wanted to be with her?

“We’re best friends,” Elly stated then switched it to a question to show she was unsure, “I mean we are best friends, right? In the way that we can tell each other anything?”

Chloe smiled over at Elly, wondering where she was going with this, “Of course.”

Elly bit her lip as she focused on the way Chloe’s lips curled into the smile, “Last night when we were on the couch…the dream I was having when you woke me…I need to apologize to you.”

“You do?” Chloe asked, unsure why Elly would want to apologize for it, then fearing Elly had remembered her dream and was trying to let her down easy again not to get her hopes up she really did have feelings for her nor feel any attraction to her.

“I put you in a really awkward position, Chlo. I really hope you didn’t see and hear as much as you could’ve,” Elly blushed.

Chloe shrugged before lying, unsure how Elly would react to the truth that she had seen and heard Elly’s entire experience, “I fell asleep too…it wasn’t much before Mark came home.”

Elly sighed, “I just feel so embarrassed that I was…you know…dreaming about…that.”

“Don’t be, it’s perfectly normal,” Chloe reassured.

“I just don’t know what would come over me to…lose control like that,” Elly replied, still feeling confused by the experience when she didn’t even remember it, and wouldn’t have even known it had happened if she hadn’t woken up in post-sex dream sweat and fondling herself, before she admitted, “I mean I have been…”

Chloe waited patiently for Elly to continue, then reminded her, “We’re best friends and you can tell me anything, Elly.”

‘Even if I don’t want to hear it,’ Chloe wanted to add.

Elly stared down at the water in the pool in front of her, “Okay…see I think that dream I had last night happened because I’m…incredibly unbelievably…sexually frustrated…and that was my body’s way of dealing with it.”

“Uh huh,” Chloe responded before regrouping, “Why are you…sexually frustrated? Is Mark already not wanting to…because of the baby…you’re barely showing? There should be a lot longer into your pregnancy before you might not want to…I mean not that that matters once Mark learns the truth about the baby.”

Chloe sat there internally shaking her head at talking to Elly about Mark not wanting to be with Elly because she was pregnant. Whilst she was hoping she was wrong and wanted Elly to respond that it was because she had feelings for her but as Elly was married to Mark and pregnant with a baby, her and Elly couldn’t be together.

“I know this is a bit awkward as it’s your brother,” Elly started before swallowing her pride and admitting, “It’s not that Mark doesn’t want me because of the baby. He doesn’t want me…at all. When I told you Mark can’t be the father…it’s because…Mark and I haven’t had sex since before we got married.”

Chloe sat back, trying not to look as shocked as she felt.

Elly clung her hands together, “Mark’s…he’s been too vulnerable to…he…we have had intimacy issues since he learnt you and I…he hasn’t been comfortable to be with me knowing…I let you…with me…and that I…with you.”

“Oh,” Chloe acknowledged, “I had no idea. I mean I guess I just assumed that it had been a while since your marriage got back on track and figured there weren’t any lingering issues as Mark forgave you for sleeping with me. I didn’t think our…experience…would leave Mark unable to…I’m sorry.”

“You don’t have to be sorry,” Elly insisted, “This is an issue Mark and I have both been dealing with. Truth is Mark is never going to forgive me for cheating on him with you and the only reason he is with me is because of the baby…it’s why I’m so scared to tell him the baby isn’t his…the baby is the only reason my marriage is clinging by a thread. Chlo, so there are absolutely no more secrets between us…”

Chloe swallowed hard looking over at Elly, feeling the need to ask Elly, ‘you mean besides the fact you had a sexual fantasy dream about me last night and I need you to remember it on your own terms because I don’t know how to tell you that I now know you might have feelings for me?’

“Mark’s...mine and Mark’s intimacy issues is what drove me to end up in bed with Shaun,” Elly confessed, “Mark…he told me he might never be able to touch me again…like ever for the rest of our lives. I took that rejection really badly. Mark then left for work and instead of waiting home to talk to him about it…I went out, got trashed and before I knew it, I’d cheated on Mark again with a perfect stranger…who ended up been Shaun. I have a really bad habit of not been able to handle rejection.”

“I see,” Chloe whispered, “Thanks for telling me all this. I guess it fills in a few things as to how your marriage hasn’t coped like I thought it has and why you found yourself in bed with Shaun. Also, answers how you know the baby cannot be Mark’s.”

Elly hesitated before eventually saying, “I’m just so confused over what came over me last night. I mean I get it because I’m so sexually frustrated and I really thought I was capable of waiting for Mark to get past our issues but I haven’t thought about Mark…that way in so long. Why now? Why would I have a dream like that one about Mark?”

Chloe paused in surprise, “A dream about…Mark…? Right, well…I…”

Chloe wanted the world to swallow her whole. Of course, Elly assumed her dream was about Mark. She was married to him, and even though their marriage was likely to be over soon once Mark learnt the baby-daddy truth, what reason could Elly possibly have to think she had dreamed about anyone else other than Mark?

Elly threw her hands up, “I don’t get it. I know my marriage is gonna be over. I know Mark is only still with me because of the baby. I know I’m little by little falling out of love with him every day as it’s probably my heart trying to protect me from the pain of him leaving me soon enough. I’m not saying that I don’t love, Mark, I do. I just…do not understand why I was fantasizing about Mark when I should’ve been—”

Chloe sat there holding her hands together, struggling to deal with the idea that Elly truly felt that it had been Mark she was dreaming about. She wanted to correct Elly, tell her truth but she was afraid of blowing up their friendship if Elly couldn’t accept it.

Elly turned to Chloe, “Is it weird that I was surprised when you told me that it was Mark I was fantasizing about?”

Chloe frowned but tried to hide it, “When I…told you?”

“Last night in the bathroom, I asked you who I was dreaming about and you said Mark,” Elly responded.

Chloe now clenched her fists together, trying to work out how much longer she could keep quiet, “Right…I don’t remember answering your question…”

Elly shrugged, “Well why else would I think it was Mark I was dreaming about in that way?”

“Uh…because he’s your husband,” Chloe answered, biting her lip.

“I only thought it was about Mark because I thought that’s what you were saying when I asked you who I was dreaming about. There is no other reason that explains why I’d be dreaming about Mark,” Elly ran her hand through her hair, “Chloe, if you're now telling me that you weren't answering my question when I asked you about my dream last night...if I wasn’t fantasizing about Mark, who was I fantasizing about?”

Chloe’s entire body constricted as she struggled not to answer Elly in fear of how Elly would react.

Elly glanced at Chloe, seeing the blonde biting her tongue, “Chloe, who was I dreaming about?”

Before she could stop herself, Chloe blurted out, “Me.”

Oh God, I’ve gone and blown this whole ‘just friends’ thing apart! Elly is never gonna want to spend any time with me now she knows it was me her subconscious was dreaming about! It’s over. Just because dream Elly wanted to be with me it does not mean that Elly truly harbours feelings for me. That even if she did, she would ever come to terms with them and accept them. One dream does not mean that Elly wants me enough to choose to leave Mark and be in a relationship with me, Chloe thought.

Really?! I was fantasizing about Chloe? That makes me so happy! I knew I was falling for her. I have my confidence restored that I didn’t nearly ruin any chance of being with Chloe by dreaming about Mark in that way right in front of her…but why didn’t Chloe want to tell me I was dreaming about her? What if just when I’ve come to accept, I have feelings for her, and feel like I’m in a place where I need to make a decision on if I can choose to leave Mark and be in a relationship with Chloe…Chloe doesn’t want me anymore? Elly thought.

Chapter Text

Just Friends?

Chapter Nineteen

Elly sat back to reflect on Chloe’s answer that she had fantasized about her the previous evening but she didn’t do so in silence as Chloe rattled out the entirety of the truth and tried to explain herself.

“I know you’re gonna freak out about this, you’re gonna deny that it ever happened and you’re probably just going to accuse me of lying to you but you were fantasizing about me. I heard the entire dream because you sure do mumble in your sleep. Very descriptively might I add. When it became clear you were having a sexual fantasy at first, I thought you were talking about Mark because well duh you’re married to him. I didn’t want to stay and listen to that because 1) that’s my brother you were asking to undress you and asking if you could make love to and 2) you’re the woman I love and I don’t ever want to hear you talk about anyone else that way even though I know you’re married to Mark,” Chloe word-vomited.

Without taking a breath, Chloe continued, “Then just as I was trying to work out how to get myself off the couch without waking you, mid-dream, you pleaded with the dream partner to kiss their soft silky white skin and I was all ‘Mark’s skin in tanned and tough.’ Then you mumbled out ‘you’re beautiful, Chlo,’ and I was all ‘Wait WHAT?’ So, I was all ‘well, obviously Elly is simply dreaming about the night we spent together 4 months ago because there is zero chance that she has feelings for me now’ and then dream you started mumbling about the pregnancy and asking me if you been pregnant meant I don’t want to be with you anymore. And that made me go all ‘SAY WHAT?’ I was then struggling to process that it wasn’t you from 4 months ago that was dreaming about us been together but this was present you fantasizing about the pair of us making love to one another. And there may have been an ‘I love you’ declaration in there from you but I was a little too shocked to deal with that.”

“I’m sorry that I laid there listening in and watching you as you…you know. I really wanted to leave you alone to your dream because I felt like I was completely intruding on a very private moment but I felt like I was trapped between you and the couch and my head was completely spinning and not working when your dream began to divulge that it was me you were dreaming about. I couldn’t seem to leave as I was afraid of waking you, mid-fantasy, even though I ended up doing so when Mark came home,” Chloe blurted out.

Chloe continued once more, “This is why I had to wake you up before he came inside the house. I mean as long as I disappeared from lying next to you, it’s not like he would have any issue with you fondling yourself and having sexy dreams about him. It might’ve solved your intimacy issues with him. But if he found you doing that whilst mumbling my name then yeah, he would’ve had a big problem with it and accused you of cheating with me again. That’s exactly what happened last night after you fell asleep and this is the moment that you freak out, deny it ever happened and accuse me of lying…so…let me have it.”

Elly pursed her lips at Chloe’s entire speech, now understanding why Chloe had been resistant to tell her the truth, thinking that she wouldn’t believe her, wouldn’t want to accept it or would turn her down again.

Elly responded to Chloe’s speech with acceptance, “Huh.”

Chloe stared at Elly imploringly.

Elly let a small smile creep onto her face, “That makes so much more sense to me that I was dreaming about you.”

Chloe blinked about a dozen times.

Elly licked her lips as images of her been with Chloe now clouded her mind.

Chloe finally exploded, “How does that make so much more sense? Why aren’t you freaking out, denying it happened or telling me I’m lying?”

Elly gently reached out her hand, cupping Chloe under her jaw, unafraid to reveal the truth, “Because I am falling for you.”

Chloe’s jaw dropped.

Elly stroked her index finger against Chloe’s skin, “I think deep down I fell for you a really long time ago, Chlo, but I’ve already done the freaking out and denying it stuff. These past few weeks, having you back in my life, I’ve been falling for you a little bit more each day. Everything that I’ve been feeling for you…it must have culminated in my dream last night.”

Chloe continued sitting there stunned by Elly’s revelation.

“After I kissed you at the doctors, I finally admitted it to myself that I was falling for you. When we were talking on the couch yesterday…I spent the entire time just wanting to lean up and kiss you or you to lean down and kiss me. That’s why I didn’t understand how that dream I had was about Mark…all of yesterday was about me accepting the fact that I am falling for you. So why would I start dreaming about Mark when you were the only person on my mind that I wanted to be with?” Elly admitted.

“Is this really happening?” Chloe asked with disbelief.

Elly breathed deeply, “Yes. Chloe…if I did leave Mark…would you want to be in a relationship with me?”

“Yes,” Chloe whispered without hesitation.

“I know I’m falling for you but with everything else going on and the number of mistakes I have been making since the wedding…now might not be the exact right moment to act on it. I need some time to decide what it is that I want and if this…you and me…if I can work out in my head how to make this work before I jump in with both feet because leaving Mark to be with you…it’s complicated. I don’t want to hurt you again. Okay?” Elly decided.

“Okay,” Chloe whispered, unsure what else she was meant to say. She didn’t want to push Elly too fast too quickly. She knew their situation was complicated and as much as she wanted to, they couldn’t just jump into a relationship.

Almost immediately ignoring her own decision, Elly lent forwards and bought her lips to Chloe’s, kissing her gently before slowly deepening the kiss.

Both women pulled apart from the kiss with shy smiles on their face and Elly whispered, “That helps with the decision making.”

Elly reluctantly stood up, leaving Chloe sitting by the pool. When Elly exited the pool gate she turned back to Chloe, looking over at her, “Chloe…I’m not expecting you to answer this with a promise because I know how huge this is but…it’s…it’s important and I need to know. Even though you said you do still want to be with me…does my pregnancy change things for you? About wanting to be with me?”

Chloe stared up at Elly, “I want to be with you, Elly, and I accept that you’re pregnant. I…I just don’t know how much of a responsibility you would want from me…or how much responsibility I would even want to take on…in regards to you been a mum to this baby. If you’re asking me on the spot right now, no it doesn’t change things but it would be something we would need to discuss properly before we…if we begin a relationship. Is that okay?”

Elly nodded, “Absolutely. Thanks, Chloe.”

Elly left the house to go for a walk to think about how much she had fallen for Chloe and how she was meant to comprehend the prospect of leaving her husband for his sister whilst she was also pregnant with another man’s baby.

Chloe continued sitting by the pool, herself contemplating the idea of been in a relationship with Elly if Elly left Mark and though she didn’t want to assume a relationship between them was inevitable, how would she deal with Elly been a mum by the end of the year? Was she really ready to settle down with a girlfriend and her child? Would Elly expect her to help her raise her child with her? Was she ready for that level of responsibility and commitment?

A few hours later, Elly found herself pacing around the lake down by the Lassiters complex. Her head was spinning. She knew she had feelings for Chloe and wanted to be with her but it couldn’t possibly just be that simple, could it? She was married, to Chloe’s eldest brother, no less. Pregnant with another man’s baby and she was dreading telling Mark he wasn’t the father because of how badly it would break him when the only thing he wanted in the world was to raise a child. Yes, he would leave her and that would leave her free to be with Chloe.

But could Elly actually do that? Break Mark’s heart two-fold by taking a baby away from him that he desperately wanted to raise and then leave him for his sister?

Elly soon found herself standing on the bridge with the love-locks and with a bit of hesitation picked out hers and Mark’s love-lock that was hanging from it.

Pulling out her phone, Elly made a call, “Leo, it’s Elly. I know we’re not really talking to one another at the moment but I could use a huge favour. Can you meet me down by the lake at the love-lock bridge?”

“Okay…that doesn’t sound like much of a favour,” Leo replied with confusion.

Elly paused for a moment, “Could you go buy a pair of bolt cutters and bring them with you?”

Now it was Leo’s turn to pause, “Bolt cutters?”

“Yeah…I need to remove mine and Mark’s love lock from the bridge because it no longer symbolizes what I want,” Elly decided, “So, it’s either ruining Sonya’s wedding gift with bolt cutters…or I need your assistance trying to dig around the lake for the key I threw in here. You game to help me, Leo?”

Leo was completely confused by Elly's request but agreed anyway, "Sure, I'll see you soon."

A couple hours later, Elly was pacing the entryway of Mark's house. Chloe was seated on the couch unsure why Elly had called her to come over and then told her they needed to wait for Mark to return home before she explained.

Mark finally arrived home, "Hey, Elly, I got your text," then noticing Chloe sitting on his couch, "Uh...what's up?"

Elly gestured for Mark to sit down on the couch next to Chloe as she shifted to now be pacing in front of the pair. 

Elly cleared her throat before addressing the siblings, “I’ve been doing some thinking about what I want and I’ve come to a decision.”

Mark paused grimly as Elly placed her wedding rings and their unlocked love-lock that Sonya had given them on the coffee table in front of him.

A minute later

Elly stared down at the siblings as they sat next to one another on the couch, "So...that is what I want...can the three of us make this work?"

Mark sat there in stunned silence and when he glanced over at Chloe she was sitting there just as stunned as what he was.

Mark found belief that Chloe had no idea Elly had made the decision she had made.

Mark and Chloe both yelped out to Elly, "You want the three of us to...what?"

I did not see that coming...how the hell does Elly think this is ever going to work? Why does she want to do that to Mark and then she expects me to…? I am so confused right now as to what Elly wants, Chloe thought.

I know I've thrown Chloe for a loop but this way Mark gets what he wants and Chloe and I get what we want...right? Elly thought.

Chapter Text

Just Friends?

Chapter Twenty

As Elly placed her wedding rings and unlocked love-lock on the table in front of Mark, she watched as his face stared at her grimly.

Deciding to be direct, Elly looked at her husband, "Mark, we shouldn't be together as a couple anymore. I can’t be with you anymore and you don’t want to be with me. I want us to end our relationship."

Mark blinked several times, not sure how to respond.

Elly breathed deeply before announcing, “I need to leave you, Mark, but I don’t see the need for me to move out of your house…and I want Chloe to move back in here with us. I want the three of us to live together. Here.”

Elly stared down at the siblings as they sat next to one another on the couch, "So...that is what I want...can the three of us make this work?"

Mark sat there in stunned silence and when he glanced over at Chloe she was sitting there just as stunned as what he was.

Mark found belief that Chloe had no idea Elly had made the decision she had made.

Mark and Chloe both yelped out to Elly, "You want the three of us to...what?"

"I want to end our relationship, Mark, and I'd like the three of us to live together here," Elly repeated her decision.

"What? Why are you ending things between us?" Mark spluttered out in shock. His initial reaction had been to ignore Elly wanting to end things between them because he was so shocked by it but he now needed to focus on that instead of why Elly would want Chloe to move in with them.

"We're not a good match, Mark. We never were. We've spent almost an entire relationship and marriage just trying to make it work because that seems easier than accepting that all I ever wanted was to be loved by someone...anyone...instead of actually finding someone that I could fall in love with completely. I don’t have that with you. And you, Mark, you don't love me anywhere near as much as you love Kate, as you loved Paige...and maybe your feelings for me are stronger than those you had for Steph. Let's be real, I deserve better than been third or fourth choice and you deserve someone who will love you the way Kate or Paige loved you and I don’t love you like that," Elly confessed.

"So, you're leaving me and ending our marriage?" Mark questioned.

Whilst still shocked at Elly's decision, Mark found he was not completely opposed to it since Elly was right in saying he didn't love her the way she deserved and she really wasn't his first choice.

Chloe waved her hand up gingerly, "Uh...why I am here? This should be a conversation without me."

"Because you will be part of this conversation," Elly told her without explanation, then turning back to Mark, "I'm not...leaving you per say...and whether you want to officially end our marriage that'll be your call. We can stay married on paperwork if you prefer...but we won't be in a relationship."

"I don't understand. Why would we stay married on paperwork but not be in a relationship if you are leaving me?" Mark asked in confusion.

"Well I just know that marriage is a touchy subject for you since you've been engaged so many times and our wedding was a complete disaster. I thought it might be better to let the dust settle and then in a month or two we can officially end our marriage," Elly non-explained.

Mark shook his head, "Just like that you're leaving me. You're not even going to try to fight for our marriage. Elly, I know I may not love you the same way I did Kate or Paige but we're having a child together. You can't just leave me and take my child away from me."

Elly quietly replied, "I'm not."

Chloe's eyes widened as she realized Elly was preparing to tear Mark's heart to shreds with the truth that the baby, she was carrying wasn't his but then she paused in confusion over Elly's earlier assertion that she wanted the three of them to live together. Chloe didn't understand why the three of them would need to live together once Elly left Mark and told him he wasn't the father of her baby. Mark would kick Elly to the curb and would have no hesitation ending their marriage officially.

Glancing nervously at Chloe, Elly then looked back over at Mark before telling him, "I'm not taking this child away from you...I'm gonna move out of your bedroom, I'll be moving into Chloe's old room and I want Chloe to move back in here with us. Maybe not immediately but in the next few weeks or so."

"Why do you need your best friend to move in here with us? Where is Chloe going to sleep if we have two bedrooms taken and the baby has the nursery as the third bedroom...?" Mark started to ask before it dawned on him.

Elly then looked over at Chloe, again been completely direct, “I want to be with Chloe.”

Chloe glanced up at Elly with surprise that Elly wanted to leave Mark and be with her.

Mark couldn’t bear to look at his sister, fearful he would find absolute joy on her face whilst he felt his heart break just a little at the knowledge Elly was leaving him.

Eventually, Mark glared angrily at Chloe, "Seriously?! You're stealing my wife from me! I knew I should not have trusted your BS of we're 'just friends'!"

Not even having a moment to deal with the fact that Elly didn't tell Mark he wasn't the baby's father, Chloe put her hands up in defense, "Don't look at me, I don't know what's going on here. I'm not stealing your wife. Elly and I are just friends."

"Don't put this on Chloe," Elly stated firmly, "I wanted to talk to the both of you about this. Chloe didn't know this was happening. You're right, Mark, Chloe and I are not 'just friends'...we'll never be 'just friends.'"

"We aren't?" Chloe squeaked out.

Elly stared at Chloe lovingly, "No, we aren't. We both know it. I meant what I said, Chloe. I want to be with you. I don't mean in a 'just friends' way."

"I want that, too," Chloe whispered, unable to deny the woman she loved.

Elly stared between the two siblings as she decided, “I want to be able to explore all the feelings that I’m having for Chloe. I don’t want you to hold me back, Mark, as what Chloe and I have could be amazing if we let it be. I don’t want to hold you back from finding someone who can truly love you too, Mark.”

Mark shook his head as Elly’s words cut into him and he realized Elly was definitely dumping him to be with his sister.

Chloe could barely find a moment to react to Elly’s announcement.

"Unbelievable," Mark said angrily, "Leaving me is one thing but to leave me for my sister? Without giving me a chance to come to terms with it? You just want to move Chloe in here to live with you so you two can live happily ever after in my home?"

"I told you that Chloe doesn't need to move in here immediately but yes in the next few weeks I would like her to. It's why I'm giving you the option to keep our marriage on paper until things have settled down between the three of us and then we can file for annulment," Elly claimed.

"What is this? You want an open marriage? Is that what you want?" Mark demanded.

Elly explained, "It's not an open marriage, Mark. I'm not suggesting that we stay together whilst you let me explore my feelings for Chloe. We're ending our relationship because we don't love each other and because I want to be free to work on a relationship with Chloe. Yes, this might sound sudden to you but it really isn't...I've spent this entire year trying to come to terms with how I feel about Chloe."

Grasping at straws, not wanting his marriage to end so suddenly as he feared this been another of his long-list of failed relationships even though he knew Elly and he didn't belong together, Mark offered, "Why don't we let this be an open marriage? You and I can stay together and if you need to explore another side to yourself then I can come to terms with it and Chloe and you can--"

"Chloe is not just another side of me that I want to explore in secret, Mark. She's not a phase or an experiment that if you think by allowing me to...I don't know...get it out of my system that I'll get over it soon and come running back to you," Elly began rising her voice, and she couldn't hide the look of disgust on her face at the suggestion of an open marriage, "I'm not about to go tell all our friends and family right now that I'm leaving you, Mark, for Chloe. In a couple weeks yes, I want to be able to tell people you and I are over and I've moved on with Chloe. I want a little bit of time to explore what Chloe and I have between us before everyone else finds out so I'd appreciate it if we can keep this between the three of us."

Mark sniggered, "I give it 2 weeks. A month, tops, before you and Chloe will be over."

Chloe stayed silent at Mark's brutal assessment that a relationship between her and Elly would never work but was gently encouraged by Elly's assurance.

"Well you'll be wrong then," Elly insisted, "Mark, I know this has...come out of nowhere for you but like I said it really hasn't for me and if you were honest with yourself about just how much you haven't paid attention to my life then you would've seen the signs all year long that I was falling for Chloe."

Mark chewed on his lip, unable to accept he'd been completely oblivious, "What signs? I know Chloe has been in love with you for some time but aside from your night together when I cancelled the wedding, I haven't seen any signs that you have feelings for my little sister."

Elly clasped her hands together, "I wasn't as freaked out when Chloe first kissed me as I could've been. A few days after I proposed to you, I wrote my vows for the wedding and read them to Chloe. By the time I was at the altar with you I changed them because the vows I read to Chloe didn't have the same meaning reciting them to you. Those vows were meant for Chloe, I just didn't want to see it until now. When I found out Chloe had feelings for me, Chloe asked me for space so she could move on from them. I wouldn't let her. I didn't want to be away from her. She tried to get out of going to our wedding because she didn't want to watch me marry someone else. We both convinced her to attend but I knew deep down how much I couldn't not have her there"

Elly continued, "Don't get me started on how jealous I was when Mel came into the picture. I can't believe I didn't recognize what I was feeling was jealously. I didn't want Mel anywhere near Chloe and pretended it was because I wanted my friend to find someone better for her instead of realizing I didn't want anyone else to be with her because I'm that someone better. Immediately after Chloe and I were together, I tried to shut down how I felt about her. I let anything that was happening distract me from dealing with it. The wedding, the baby, trying to make our tattered marriage work, getting back into teaching. I ignored Chloe for two full months and it didn't make me forget her. The last month of getting my friendship back on track...it's been the best month of my life in a long time. And after everything that happened yesterday--"

Elly immediately saw Chloe's eyes grow wide in fear that she was going to admit to some things that were better kept to themselves, and she took Chloe's silent request into account, "After Chloe came with me to the doctors' appointment...I spent the entire day thinking about kissing her and realized that I want to be with her, Mark. I need to be with Chloe."

"Hope you like been Elly's second choice," Mark snapped at Chloe.

"Chloe's not my second choice, Mark, she's my only choice. I'm falling for her and the only choice in the matter is that I choose to accept that," Elly revealed, then snapped back at Mark, "Don't talk to me about not been someone’s first choice, I'm your 3rd or 4th choice, remember."

Mark shrugged his shoulders in defeat, "Fine, so you two want to explore your "feelings," what about the baby?"

Chloe kept staring at Elly, expecting the brunette to come forward with the truth but was still confused by Elly's request already that she still live at Mark's in her old room.

Ignoring the immediate glares that Chloe began giving Elly, "Nothing changes. I'll still live here with you and the pair of us will co-parent the child but we won't be in a relationship as I'll be with Chloe. If we're still under the same roof, we can still be involved in the baby every step of the way. I know you only love the baby anyway, Mark, and if it wasn't for the baby you never would've taken me back after I cheated on you with Chloe. I'm not gonna keep you from raising this child."

"Elly!" Chloe screeched through gritted teeth, disbelieving that Elly was continuing to keep up the lie that the baby was Mark's even though she was strategically not referring to the baby as Mark's. Yet Chloe couldn't bring herself to tell him the truth either as she sat there next to Mark.

"I don't like the sound of that," Mark decided, "I want my child to grow up with a happy family surrounding them. I'm not prepared for a third parent to be involved."

Chloe put up her hands, "Hey, I am still trying to wrap my head around this. Nobody should be calling me a third parent anytime soon."

"This baby will grow up with a happy family surrounding them, Mark. I'll be happy with Chloe and you have a chance to finally let go of everything holding you back to find someone you love like Kate," Elly decided, "This baby will have loving parents surrounding them no matter what."

"Elly, can we have a moment alone to talk about this?" Chloe asked, knowing full well she was ready to grill Elly for springing her decision on her without talking to her first like she had asked and also because Elly couldn't hide behind her lie of the baby's paternity forever.

"No," Elly answered, though her tone showed how sorry she was to reject Chloe's request.

"No?" Chloe was stunned by Elly's resistance to talk to her about her concerns when she was seemingly making decisions for not just her but on behalf of all three of them without thinking about it.

"I mean not right now, we can talk alone later," Elly relented, "Right now the only thing that matters to me is making a relationship with you work, Chloe. I want us to be together."

Chloe ran her hand through her hair, "Yeah but I need some time to work out how this is going to work between us seeing as though you're pregnant. I'd like us to go and talk about this alone first before we make any decisions like the three of us living together."

Mark rolled his eyes, "Why do you get a private conversation with Elly over this arrangement? I just had my marriage ended in front of you instead of Elly doing so privately. If Chloe is going to be part of raising my child if she's in a relationship with you, Elly, then I want a say in that."

Elly ignored Mark and told Chloe, "We will talk about this. I'm not trying to make decisions without you, Chlo."

Chloe shook her head, "It kinda seems like it to me."

"Welcome to the world of been with Elly, Chloe, enjoy the ride of having Elly decide things for you," Mark snarked.

Elly got lost in Chloe's eyes, "We will work on this together and we will talk about everything...just for now...I want to relish the feeling of knowing that you're the person I want to be with. Can we both do that first at least for right now before we let all the complications of this situation stop us before we've even had a chance to enjoy these feelings that we both have for one another?"

Chloe ran her tongue over her lips, "I really want that too but I think it's more important that we discuss it first before we jump into anything. This situation is complicated, Elly...you know how much it's complicated."

"Yes, it's complicated," Elly agreed, and then completely side-swiping the issue of Mark not been the baby's father as she was still refusing to deal with that, she asked Chloe, "Can we talk about everything over dinner tonight? We can go out together for a meal?" 

"Okay, that sounds good," Chloe agreed, "What do you want to do until then? Start moving your stuff out of Mark’s room and start setting up in my old room?"

Elly licked her lips as she knew what she wanted, even though she had promised Chloe they would talk before jumping into anything, "Mark, you want to get out of here for the rest of the afternoon and go for a walk or something to deal with all this?"

Mark sighed, "I could do with some time alone to come to terms with this and decide if we should just annul the marriage immediately. What are you planning on doing?"

Elly reached out, took Chloe's arm in her hand, pulling Chloe up from the couch, "We'll be in Chloe's old room jumping into the start of the two of us been in a relationship because I've taken all year to accept how badly I need to be with her and I'd rather not wait any longer."

Chloe was surprised, "Elly, you just said we could talk about everything first before we--"

"I changed my mind, Chlo. I need to show you how badly I need to be with you first and make up for the way I treated you for most of this year. We'll talk after, I promise. Until then...you, me, bedroom, now," Elly decided for the pair of them, her need to be with Chloe overwhelming the need to sit down and talk to Chloe first.

Chloe bit her lip, unable to deny to herself that she wanted to jump straight into a relationship with Elly after she had longed for Elly to want to be with her for so long. Deciding that she could at least try to get Elly to talk to her once they were alone and away from Mark, Chloe agreed, "Let's go."

Clasping Chloe's hand, Elly led Chloe away from the living room to Chloe's former bedroom.

Mark shook his head in dismay at their display, wondering how his marriage had crumbled and his wife had fallen for Chloe in such a short amount of time, before realizing he wasn't going to be able to come between them and left the house.

Okay, as soon as we're alone, maybe I can get Elly to talk about all this and work out why it is that Elly is still refusing to tell Mark the truth about her baby's paternity and decide how this relationship is going to work between the pair of us with a baby on the way. If not...it doesn't hurt to give in to all my desires for her first, right? Chloe thought.

Okay, as soon as we're alone, Chloe and I are finally going to be together. We can talk about all the other stuff afterwards, Elly thought.

Chapter Text

Just Friends?

Chapter Twenty-One

Elly and Chloe crashed into Chloe's former bedroom. As soon as Elly had led Chloe into the room, she closed the door behind them and pushed Chloe up against the door. Wrapping her arms around Chloe's neck, Elly bought her lips to Chloe's. Chloe's hands held Elly by the hips as she fell into their embrace. The kiss was gentle at first but Elly quickly deepened it, running her tongue against the edge of Chloe's lips, seeking entrance to her mouth.

Chloe moaned at the feeling of Elly exploring her mouth as her tongue fought with Elly's for control over their kiss.

Elly lifted one of her hands to dig into Chloe's hair to pull the blonde closer to her.

When Elly broke their kiss and shifted her lips to trail kisses along Chloe's jawline, Chloe took a chance to try to get Elly to talk to her first.

"Elly, is there any chance we can slow this down just a bit to talk?" Chloe asked.

Elly bought her lips back to Chloe's, silencing the blonde for a moment, before going back to trailing kisses across her jaw, answering in between kisses, "Talk after...I need...to be with you...now."

Chloe squeezed Elly's hips, "Not even for a few minutes."

Elly pressed her forehead to Chloe's, pressing their lips together softly, "Can you just wait until after we've made love to one another to grill me over continuing to lie to Mark about the baby?"

Chloe moaned at Elly's words that she intended them to make love to one another, having wanted to hear them for so long, "That can wait until after, we are going to discuss that, Elly. I'd kinda like to talk about us first before we get into bed with one another."

Elly grinded her hips against Chloe's, teasingly asking, "So I can still make love to you right here before we have to have this talk because we're not actually in our bed yet?"

Chloe pressed her lips to Elly's, feeling elated that Elly was already calling it 'our bed', even though she wasn’t sure about the idea of moving back into the house as it was way too soon, "Elly, stop teasing, we do need to talk about this."

Elly held Chloe gently in her arms, "I know we do and I'm not ignoring this conversation. I want to be with you and I want us to start a relationship, here and now. I know that my pregnancy complicates things for us. We have 6 months to work this out between us before the baby comes. Not that I'm suggesting that we won't have our relationship figured out by the time I give birth. I just...I feel like I've wasted so much time denying I want to be with you...can we just leave the beginning of this talk until later tonight and spend the afternoon in one another's arms?"

Chloe chewed on the inside of her lip, a voice in the back of her head trying to tell her not to let Elly get her way all the time.

Elly pressed their lips together once more, "I mean as long as you aren't completely against the idea of been in a relationship with me now that I'm pregnant...what's the harm in reveling in one another for a few hours before we talk about what it'll mean for us as a couple?"

Chloe stared into Elly's eyes.

Elly swallowed hard, "You're not...are you...against been with me...or would you want to wait until next year after I've had the baby and we can...try again?"

Chloe claimed Elly's lips softly, "I'm not against it, Elly...I just want to make sure I'm clear in where I belong in your life."

"You belong with me," Elly reassured, "Now can we please talk about all the rest later tonight over dinner and for now can we please attempt to make up for all the lost time I caused us?"

Chloe moaned as Elly immediately kissed her deeply once more, unable to deny Elly and herself any longer, "Yes, please."

The pair stood there against the bedroom door kissing passionately for several minutes. Elly wasn’t shy in grinding her hips against Chloe’s. Elly soon felt her desire for Chloe increase and the brunette clasped her hand behind Chloe’s neck, gently prying the pair of them off the door and towards the bed as they continued melding their lips together.

As the couple shifted to the bed, Elly and Chloe both kicked off their shoes and Chloe was surprised when Elly didn’t hesitate to undo her own dress, slipping out of it quickly and kicking it away from her. 

Elly pressed Chloe down to be seated on the edge of the bed and then standing over her pressed her body against Chloe’s, gently grinding her pelvis into Chloe’s. Elly didn’t hesitate to bring her hands to Chloe’s blouse, almost tearing at the garment to remove it from Chloe’s body, but eventually her fingers worked their way down it, undoing all the buttons, and tossing the garment to the floor.

Elly brought their lips together once more as she slid her hands down Chloe’s body to her waist, slipping them inside the edging of Chloe’s skirt. With Chloe’s subtle assistance of lifting her hips from the bed, Elly was soon dragging the skirt down Chloe’s legs.

As their tongues continued melding against one another’s, Chloe moaned heavily as she felt Elly drag her hand up her thigh until she was cupping her mound through her panties. Elly moaned as she felt Chloe’s wetness seeping through them at her touch.

Feeling the need for some control, Chloe reached behind her own back, unhooking her bra, removing it and then did the same to Elly’s bra. Both women moaned loudly as Chloe pressed her chest to Elly’s and Elly groaned once more when Chloe’s hand began stroking at her breasts.

Chloe then moaned as Elly broke their lip-lock before removing her hand from between Chloe’s clothed legs. Chloe was forced to let go of Elly’s breasts as Elly took a small step back to bend down and remove her own panties. Elly blushed heavily as she flung them across the room and stood there in front of the blonde completely naked.

Elly quickly moved to drag Chloe’s panties from her body, licking her lips as Chloe bucked her hips off the bed to allow Elly to drag them down her long legs. Chloe’s panties were flung in a similar direction as Elly’s.

The pair groaned deeply as Elly didn’t hesitate to sink her naked body against Chloe’s. With Chloe still seated on the edge of the bed, Elly settled against her, pressing their lips together in another deep kiss, as Chloe resumed stroking her fingers and rubbing them against Elly’s nipples.

Elly reached down to Chloe’s thighs, spreading them apart, with one leg on either side of her hips as she pressed her pelvis into Chloe’s, smiling at the moan that Chloe elicited. Chloe’s moan intensified as Elly dragged her right hand up Chloe’s thigh and settled it between her legs.

Breaking apart from their kiss, pressing her forehead to Chloe’s, staring deeply the blonde’s eyes, Elly asked, “You would tell me if you didn’t want us to jump into this relationship even though I know you want to talk about what a relationship between us looks like and I want to leave the talking until later?”

Chloe nodded, blushing as she felt her wetness seeping against Elly’s hand as Elly held it against her opening, “Of course. We’ve waited so long to be together. You’re right, I don’t want to wait any longer either. The talking can wait.”

“Are you sure?” Elly whispered, repeating Chloe’s question of consent before they first slept together four months ago.

Chloe nodded again, “Yes, please, Elly, I need you.”

Elly smiled, happy that she was getting the chance to prove to Chloe that she wanted to make up for all the months they’d spent apart if she had only been honest with her feeling’s months ago, “I need you, too, Chlo.”

Without waiting any longer, Elly slipped her index and middle fingers inside Chloe’s center. She felt Chloe contract at the feeling before she bucked her hips.

Chloe tried biting her lip, but couldn’t hold back the moan that left her lips.

Elly bought her lips back to Chloe, swallowing the moans that Chloe was eliciting, as she began gliding her fingers in and out of Chloe. Even though it was the second time she was making love to Chloe, Elly was a little nervous as to the pace she should be stroking her fingers into Chloe but as Chloe’s hips continued to buck every time her fingers came close to gliding out, Elly soon found a rhythm that Chloe seemed to enjoy.

Still needing to be sure, Elly gently whispered, “Is it the right pace or do you want…?”

Chloe buried her hand in Elly’s hair, as she continued bucking her hips to Elly’s touch, then licked her lips at Elly’s comment, “You’re doing great, Elly, keep going. I’m getting close…you know dream Elly asked me the same thing last night on the couch. You’re a lot alike.”

Elly blushed, wishing she had memories of her dream, “What else did dream me say?”

Chloe smiled, her voice course with emotion as she continued bucking her hips to Elly’s fingers,  “Dream you didn’t need much encouragement. You mentioned me liking something that you were doing and you were proud to be right that I’d like it.”

Elly licked her own lips, as she gently curled her fingers inside of Chloe’s center to begin stroking against her clit, “Something like this?”

Chloe groaned heavily at the sensations rushing through her, “God, Elly, that’s it.”

A few minutes later, Elly felt her own wetness seeping from her legs as she enjoyed the feeling of Chloe’s opening contracting around her fingers and Chloe’s orgasm ripped through her. Chloe yelled out Elly’s name loudly, and buried her face into the crux of Elly’s neck. Feeling Chloe relax after her climax, Elly gently slipped her fingers out of the blonde.

The two women stared at one another for a moment before Elly bit her lip at the feeling of pressing her hips against Chloe’s and feeling the wetness that was still between Chloe’s legs. Elly licked her lips before gliding her lips and tongue down Chloe’s upper body, kissing every inch of skin in her trail as she knelt down between Chloe’s legs.

Chloe held her hand in Elly’s hair, shuffling herself closer to the edge of the bed and closer to Elly’s lips.

Before Elly could ask, Chloe whispered, “Yes, I need you to taste me, Elly. Please taste me, you know it’ll be good.”

Elly blushed shyly as she looked Chloe in the eyes, “If I didn’t want you so much, Chlo, I’d think it’s unfair that dream me clearly said a few things to you and you know what I’m thinking before I can say it.”

Chloe blushed right back at Elly, stroking her hand through Elly’s hair reassuringly, “I can keep the other things dream you said a secret. But nothing dream you said or did even comes close to comparing to the real thing of making love to you, okay?”

“I hope you’re still saying that after I taste you,” Elly whispered, relieved that Chloe was lessoning the pressure on her that her experience so far was more enjoyable than her fantasy.

Elly softly pressed her lips to Chloe’s folds, kissing her gently between the legs. The taste of Chloe’s wetness, sent reminders through Elly about their first time together, and what it had felt like to go down on a woman for the first time.

Elly flicked her tongue inside Chloe’s folds, enjoying the sensation of the blonde once more bucking her hips, needing more from Elly. Elly licked at the juices, before falling into the motion of gliding her tongue deep inside Chloe then stroking it back out. Her tongue lapped at the wetness surrounding her mouth.

Encouraged by Chloe’s groans of pleasure, Elly used her tongue to seek to find Chloe’s clit. She stroked her tongue against it gently before taking it in her lips. Chloe’s hips continued bucking into Elly’s mouth and Elly could feel how close Chloe was to experiencing another orgasm. Elly felt Chloe’s hand digging into her hair as she held Elly between her legs and Elly reached out to hold her hands around Chloe’s hips as she continued stroking Chloe’s clit until she brought the woman back to pleasure.

Chloe arched her back, moaning heavily as her orgasm tore through her entire body. Elly held Chloe to her until the blonde relaxed once more. Elly removed her lips from Chloe’s clit and gently slipped her tongue from Chloe. Encouraged by the juices that had flowed from Chloe, Elly continued kneeling between her legs, using her tongue to lap up all the juices. The taste of Chloe kept Elly going back for more as she wanted to lick the woman dry.

It was one of the things Elly hadn’t been brave enough to do their first time. She’d loved the taste of Chloe in her mouth but was too shy to show just how much and instead had missed out on enjoying drowning herself in all of Chloe’s juices that were on offer to her after she had performed oral sex on the woman.

As Elly continued nestling between Chloe’s legs, licking her tongue against the folds, to taste the remaining wetness flowing from them, Chloe moaned, “God, Elly, I’m gonna come again if you keep doing that and then you’ll never remove your tongue from me.”

Elly took a final stroke of her tongue up and down Chloe’s folds, before removing it, and smiling up at Chloe, “You promise?”

Chloe blushed at the surety that was written on Elly’s face that she wasn’t scared by the thought of going down on her again, “I want that so badly but you know what else I want even more? To make love to you and pleasure you the way you’ve done to me.”

Elly bit her lip at the thought before slowly rising to her feet, and pressing her body back to Chloe’s, “Okay, you convinced me. I’ll get back to having my tongue inside you after you’ve pleasured me.”

Chloe groaned, in equal part to Elly’s body against hers and to the thought of Elly genuinely already promising to go down on her again. Elly soon lifted her hips and brought herself up so she was straddling Chloe’s waist with her hips, wrapping her legs around Chloe’s lower back.

Chloe didn’t hesitate to drag her own hand down Elly’s body, as it came to rest between Elly’s legs.

Elly stared down at the woman she was straddling, “Please Chlo, make love to me. I need you so badly. I want your fingers inside me bringing me to orgasm and then I want your tongue working its magic to bring me to the ultimate pleasure once more. I want you, Chlo, all of you. It’s always been you, Chlo.”

Chloe blushed softly at Elly’s confidence in asking her what she wanted and not been ashamed to need her as badly as she did. Their first night together, Elly had been shy, which was understandable seeing as though she had never been with a woman before, and hadn’t been able to ask for what she wanted. Chloe had just had to use the clues Elly’s body was giving her and the smile on Elly’s face as she had orgasmed left Chloe confident Elly had never experienced pleasure like she had that night.

Chloe licked her lips as she glided her index finger inside Elly.

Elly immediately rose her body above Chloe’s hips, then begged, “Another…not just one finger, Chloe.”

Chloe instantly complied, adding her middle finger inside Elly, enjoying the look on Elly’s face as she smiled at the sensation, “Is that good?”

Elly lent down, pressing her lips to Chloe’s, “Better than good, baby, it feels so right.”

Chloe continued gliding her fingers in and out of Elly, rapidly increasing the pace. Elly’s hips were straddled above Chloe’s and she kept lowering them every time Chloe’s fingers came close to leaving her center, her body pleading with Chloe not to let her fingers leave.

Chloe stroked her fingers deep inside Elly, relishing the feelings and emotions Elly was displaying. Elly groaned deeply as Chloe found her way to Elly’s clit and rubbed her fingers against it bringing Elly close to pleasure before resuming her stroking in and out of Elly.

“God, Chlo, don’t tease me,” Elly pleaded, “I need to release all this pleasure you’re giving me.”

Chloe relented and immediately took Elly’s clit in between her fingers, rubbing against the nub until she felt Elly’s body contract and Elly’s entire body shook as her orgasm took hold of the brunette.

Not giving Elly a moment to recover, Chloe rolled Elly onto her back on top of the bed, then worked her way down Elly’s body as she kissed her skin gently before nestling between Elly’s legs.

As Elly lifted her leg to bend it at the knee and spread her legs wider for Chloe, she groaned passionately as Chloe immediately brought her lips to her opening, kissing her folds gently.

Elly bucked at the contact, still trying to come down from her first orgasm and now readying herself for the pleasure Chloe was providing again.

Chloe didn’t hesitate in gliding her tongue deep inside of Elly, unable to hide her own joy at Elly enjoying all the sensations she was giving her. Chloe took her time stroking her tongue in and out of Elly until Elly begun pleading with her to bring over the edge.

Chloe ran her tongue against Elly’s clit until Elly’s entire body lifted up from the bed as she orgasmed deeply. Chloe slipped her tongue out of Elly, moaning herself as she heard Elly groan at the loss of her tongue inside her. Chloe made short work of lapping up all the juices soaking between Elly’s legs.

As Chloe glanced up at Elly from her position between her legs, she watched Elly smile down at her.

Elly shivered at the cold air in the room and quickly lent up on her forearms before tilting her head at Chloe and then leading the pair of them to pull the doona cover down from the bed and they quietly got under the covers.

Chloe blushed as Elly immediately reached out holding her close as she hovered over her. Chloe smiled up at Elly as the pair wrapped their arms around one another and Elly lent down to bring their lips together.

Elly smiled as she held Chloe close to her, “I’m so glad I choose you, Chloe. You make me so happy and feel so loved.”

“Same,” Chloe whispered, barely able to form words for the feelings Elly invoked in her.

“We’re gonna make this work,” Elly promised, “You are too important to me not to make this work.”

Chloe nodded then yawned before she could address whether or not the pair could make their relationship work.

Elly bit her lip, “Chlo, don’t tell me you’re gonna fall asleep on me. I promised you a round two with my tongue.”

Chloe blushed at Elly’s directness, feeling like she still needed time to accept that Elly had accepted her feelings for her, “Mmm I won’t fall asleep…just give me a couple minutes to lie here in your arms first so I can enjoy this moment.”

Elly grinned down at Chloe, “We can both enjoy this moment together.”

The pair held each other gently as they stared deeply into one another’s eyes.

Mmm that was so good. I love this woman. This will be the start of something amazing. Now I just have to get Elly to tell Mark the truth about the baby and we can deal with the ramifications of Mark's reaction together and then we can start our future together, Chloe thought.

Mmm that was so good. I love this woman. This will be the start of something amazing. Now I just have to find a way for the pair of us to hide the truth about the baby from Mark. Chloe and I will have a future together and Mark can still have his dream of raising a child alongside me...hopefully alongside Chloe and I, Elly thought.

Chapter Text

Just Friends?

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chloe leaned over and kissed Elly softly, "How do you feel about getting up and going to get something to eat?"

Elly held onto Chloe as the pair laid together, naked and entangled in the bed sheets, "I'd feel better about spending the rest of the weekend lying here in your arms than wanting to get up for anything."

Chloe pouted as she entangled her hand with Elly's, "I'm hungry."

Elly took their entangled hands to underneath Chloe's chin, holding it gently as she kissed her, "Sounds like you could do with a sandwich, Chlo."

Off Chloe's questioning look, Elly answered, "Mel left me that hint that you crave sandwiches after a big night."

Chloe nodded, "Hmm...sounds like the most useful thing she did whilst she was in town...telling you my cravings after...a big night."

"Pretty much," Elly agreed, "Do you want me to get up and make you a sandwich?"

Chloe glanced at the watch on her wrist, "Hmm it's still late afternoon and Harold's is still open for another hour or two. Can we get up and go get a proper meal?"

"And have that conversation I've been putting off after dinner you mean?" Elly added.

"Yes, please," Chloe replied.

"Okay," Elly agreed before asking, "When we finish dinner at Harold's and our talk...can we come back here? Enjoy our first full night together in one another's arms?"

Chloe kissed Elly lightly, "You read my mind, babe."

Reluctantly, the pair got out of bed and got dressed. Chloe took her time as Elly, went to the bedroom she had up until now shared with Mark to get them both a jacket each to wear seeing as though it was nearing evening. Elly came back into Chloe's old bedroom with a pile of clothes that she had pulled from her closet and a handful of necessity items so she didn't have to go back for a set of clothes the following morning whilst Mark was there. She placed them on the top of the chest of drawers.

“I’ll move the rest of my stuff out of Mark’s room in the morning once he's up,” Elly decided.

Chloe smiled over at Elly.

Elly moved over to Chloe and kissed her gently, "We can make this work, right?"

Chloe held Elly softly, not quite feeling that she could promise Elly they could, even though she had long dreamed to be in a relationship with Elly, "We'll talk about how we can try to make this work once we've had some food. We should get going."

Elly was disappointed by Chloe's resistance to confirm their relationship will work but nodded and linked arms with Chloe as they left the house.

When the women arrived at Harold's cafe, they ordered dinner for each of them. Elly smiled quietly as Chloe ordered a sandwich along with a side salad, knowing that she was right about Chloe's cravings.

As Chloe sat down in one of the booths, she quickly wondered if Elly would show her any signs of affections whilst in public even though Elly had already told her and Mark that she wanted to wait a few weeks before telling their friends and family about them. However, she needn't have worried as Elly sat next to her in the booth, close enough that their legs were grazing one another's and Elly subtly placed her hand on her own left thigh but extended her little and ring fingers so they were resting on Chloe's thigh. It was just enough to show she was comfortable been with her but subtle enough that people wouldn't notice they were a couple.

Distracting themselves with pointless conversation until their meals arrived, the pair soon dug into the food, knowing that they needed to have their more serious conversation after their dinners.

Having eaten their meals, Elly called over the waitress to their table to order them each a cup of tea, and handed over her card to pay for them as opposed to getting up to order at the counter as she didn't want to leave Chloe's side.

"I thought we might go for a walk down by the lake to talk. A bit more privacy and all that," Chloe told Elly.

Now that she no longer needed her hand for eating her dinner, Elly placed her hand back on her thigh, with her fingers against Chloe's too, "I'm comfy here with you. Hope you're okay with me ordering you a tea without asking. I just feel conscious of people who sit in cafes far longer than they should without ordering something. This way we can cosy up here to talk."

Chloe nodded as the waitress returned with their drinks and Elly's card. Chloe watched on as Elly persisted with pouring her own tea, adding milk and stirring it with the one hand, refusing to lift her left hand from their thighs.

Elly looked over at Chloe, "What do you want to talk about first? Our relationship or my decision not to tell Mark about the baby?"

Chloe smiled shyly at Elly's confidence when she said 'relationship' like she wasn't ashamed of it but opted to discuss the baby-daddy issue first, "Elly, you have got to tell Mark the truth. Why did you tell him that as part of leaving him so you could be with me that you would still live in his house and raise the baby with him? I know it will be hard to tell him but...you could have a fresh start without this secret weighing down on you."

Elly gently ran her little and ring fingers against Chloe's thigh, "Mark doesn't have to know. Chlo, he would make a great father, we both know that."

"Yes, true, but he's not biologically this baby's father," Chloe pointed out, "I am all for supporting Mark if he decides the baby's paternity does not matter and he still wants to raise this child with you in a living-under-the-same-roof co-parenting kind of way but he has a right to know the truth so he can make that decision. Didn't you agree with me 2 nights ago that keeping a 6-week difference in your pregnancy conception would be impossible to keep from Mark for the full term of your pregnancy?"

Elly shrugged, unable to admit she was back in denial about the reality of her situation and how there was no way to avoid having to reveal to Mark the horrible things she had done, "Yes, but things have changed in those 2 days, Chlo. I want to be with you. I've left Mark. Now instead of focusing solely on the baby, Mark should be able to focus more on himself and once he has fully accepted our marriage is over, he might even find the right person for himself. He might not even notice--"

Chloe raised her eyebrows, "What? Your pregnancy going 6-weeks past your due date?"

Elly replied nonchalantly, "It could happen." 

"Elly, you need to tell Mark," Chloe told her sternly, "Look I know I went off at you the other day and went to tell him myself but I'm not going to do that. He needs to find out the truth from you, that's the only way this can go down."

Elly bit her lip, still not budging, "I'm not ready to tell Mark. Telling him I want to leave him for you was one thing…and that was more important to me that I told him right away instead of just leading him on whilst my heart belongs with you. I just don't want to take this away from him. If you and I are together, we can focus on our relationship more. Mark could have a little less involvement with the pregnancy if I tell him I'd prefer you to be at my appointments and I don't want to be crowded by both of you around me but once the baby comes; he can have all the involvement that he wants."

"Elly, you are bordering on been in denial over this situation," Chloe accused, trying to soften the blow with her calming tone, "Why are you insisting on playing it this way? That Mark won't find out the truth, that you and I can just move in together to live with Mark and the three of us can raise this baby as one big happy family?"

"Because I don't want to tell him the truth, Chlo," Elly admitted, "My biggest fear right now aside from me not been able to make our relationship work is raising this baby alone. I would never ask you to be a parent if that is not what you want. Mark wants a baby...let's just let him have this one. With all the stress I have been under, the baby could come early."

"The baby could very well not be premature," Chloe reasoned.

Elly sighed, then non-committed, "Okay...I'll take some more time to work out...when...I need to tell Mark about the baby," then changing the subject with a smile curling on her lips, "I want to focus on us first and getting our relationship on track."

Chloe smiled shyly back at Elly, "How do you want this relationship to work?"

Elly continued gently stroking her fingers against Chloe's thigh, "I'm all in with you, Chloe. There is no hesitation or denial about how I feel about you. I want us to have a loving and healthy relationship. I meant what I said about you moving in to live with me at Mark's. It doesn't have to be tonight but, in a few weeks, once everything has settled down and I'm ready to come out to everybody about my love for you...I want you to move in then."

"I don't think I'm ready to move in with you that quickly," Chloe decided, still thrown by Elly's insistence that she would be living with Mark in a few weeks’ time, when surely by that stage Mark would know the truth about Shaun been the baby's father, "But I like what you said about no denial, wanting to tell everybody in a few weeks and about us having a loving and healthy relationship. Do you really mean that?" 

When Chloe shifted her right hand onto her thigh, Elly immediately linked several of their fingers together subtly, "I do, I really am comfortable with acknowledging my feelings for you. Okay, maybe the moving in with me is a bit quick but would you be opposed to spending the night with me a few nights a week or me referring to you as my girlfriend at least between ourselves and Mark until we tell our friends and family?"

Chloe smiled at the contact Elly was providing, "I'd like that."

Elly smiled back at Chloe, hesitating before finally asking, "How do you feel about been in a relationship with me being pregnant? Really? If this is going to work, I need you to be honest about this."

Chloe linked their little fingers a little tighter, "Like I said, I'm not against it. I'm still in love with you but if I'm honest...I don't think I ever imagined myself been a parent."

Elly nodded in understanding, "I would never ask you to be if that is not something you are ready for. Would you prefer not to get involved with me whilst I'm pregnant until next year after the baby is born?"

Chloe raised her eyebrow, "I'm pretty sure you'll be busy next year raising your little one."

"If you wait for me I'll still make time to work on our relationship next year alongside been a first time mum," Elly claimed, "Okay, I know that won't end up been true because my baby will take up all my time but I would like to think I could still find a way to make you and I a priority."

"You're sweet for thinking that way," Chloe said shyly, "Just because I never imagined been a parent doesn't mean we can’t come to a way of making this work between us...I mean I never imagined falling in love with you when I first met you."

"Even though you hit on me within minutes of meeting me?" Elly teased.

Chloe tilted her head, "You got me there."

Elly smiled, then sighed, "Can you imagine one day been a part of my baby's life?"

"Yes," Chloe answered.

"If you're not ready to be a parent, I would never force that on you...but what type of commitment and responsibility would you be comfortable providing?" Elly asked.

Chloe thought about it, "I'm not really sure, you know. I guess until four to five hours ago I never really thought it could be a reality you and I...in a relationship so I haven't given it the most extensive processing as to what I can give you."

"Would you be comfortable coming with me for the rest of my doctor's appointments as my girlfriend?" Elly started with the easiest request, and when Chloe nodded in agreement, "Will I be able to lean on you for emotional support during my pregnancy in case it all gets a bit much or I have mood swings or terrible food cravings and I need you to help me deal with it all?" 

Chloe replied, "Of course."

Elly ran her tongue over her teeth, "Would you be at all comfortable attending birthing classes and all that as my partner?"

"I think I could manage that," Chloe agreed, "Good thing I won't need to be fighting Mark for that role as by that stage he won't be involved in your pregnancy. Even though the three of us turning up for a birthing class, that would be pretty funny."

"Right..." Elly blinked several times, "Um...and even though it's a long way off...would you be willing to be there with me when I give birth?"

Chloe thought about that for a few seconds, "Unless I get caught up in some crazy Erinsborough drama and get trapped and am unable to physically get there to be by your side, you can count on me to be there."

Elly smiled quietly at the thought of Chloe been there for her, praying no Erinsborough drama crisis would be sprung upon them, "And when the baby does arrive...?"

Chloe chewed on the inside of her lip, "Can I have time to think about that? The level of responsibility I'll feel comfortable with once the baby has been born? I'm...a bit torn in the middle right at this moment...between been there completely for you as your partner and not been so hands on with your child versus helping you raise your child and been...a responsible influence on an actual human being...you know...is that okay that I can't answer that just yet?"

Elly nodded, ignoring her temptation to kiss Chloe on the lips whilst they sat there in the cafe, "It's okay, Chloe. This is a really big decision and could affect the rest of your life. Take your time...we've got plenty of time...okay well, no, we've got around exactly 6 months before the baby is--" 

"Exactly 6 months before the baby is what?" Mark interrupted the pair, having entered the cafe without them noticing.

…born! Elly can’t say that! Mark needs to know but he can’t just find out like this by a slip of the tongue, Chloe thought.

…born! I can’t say that! Mark doesn’t need to know and even if he did, he can’t just find out like this by a slip of the tongue, Elly thought.

Chapter Text

Just Friends?

Chapter Twenty-Three

Elly's eyes widened at Chloe, as Chloe fumbled out an excuse that wouldn't give Mark reason to think anything was suspicious when Elly was talking about her due date, "6 months before...the baby's first Christmas...I was just talking to Elly about how...milestones like Christmas and such will be an amazingly different experience this year or well...next year I mean but the first big one will be Christmas this year...to have a baby in the family at all these...occasions."

"Right, I'd hardly call Christmas exactly 6 months from now but whatever," Mark shrugged, then indicating for the pair to move up the booth a bit, "Shove up a little so I can sit down next to Elly."

Elly glanced at Mark, "Ah there's two perfectly good seats on the other side of this table, Mark."

Mark sighed as he sat down next to Elly, forcing the two women to move further along the booth, "Yeah, well I had a think about our...situation...and I feel comfortable sitting next to you talking about it so I don't have to look either of you in the eyes, okay?"

Elly used the opportunity to place her hand on top of Chloe's under the table and there was no room between the two women as they moved together further along the bench.

Mark screwed up his face as he realized he had just given the pair a chance to get even closer to one another, "Elly, you're right. Our marriage is over. We don't love each other the way a married couple should."

Elly nodded, "I'm glad you can see that."

"I can see what you mean about not rushing out to get our marriage annulled. It's not the best look so we can...just leave the official annulment paperwork side of our marriage for a few weeks," Mark decided, "I'm nowhere near comfortable...seeing the pair of you together so soon...if I asked the two of you to not start your relationship until our marriage officially ends, would you?"

“No,” came Elly’s answer for the pair of them.

Mark pursed his lips, “If I asked the two of you to not have sex with one another in my house until our marriage officially ends, would you?”

Elly scoffed, “Definitely not. Little bit late for that one anyway…Chloe and I…had an enjoyable afternoon and we’ll be spending the night together.”

Mark cringed, even though he wasn’t naïve to think Elly and Chloe ran off to Chloe’s old room to just talk but hearing Elly confirm she had already bedded his sister so soon after dumping him hurt, “Your wedding ring has barely left your hand, Elly. You couldn't even wait for me to come to terms with you leaving me for my sister?”

Elly squeezed Chloe’s hand under the table as she continued staring at Mark, “I know I didn’t wait…at all really…but I know what I want now and I don’t want to waste any time. I'm with Chloe and I'm not going to shy away from that. I'd suggest you go out tonight, have a few drinks at the Waterhole or Back Lane Bar and find yourself a nice woman to help get over me with but we both know that's not who you are. Would it make you feel more comfortable if in the next day or two we start telling people that we've split up but will continue living together for the sake of the baby? That way in a few weeks’ time when I do tell people I'm with Chloe, it won't appear like I jumped from your bed to her bed overnight.”

"Even though that's exactly what you did? You didn't even wait overnight, Elly, you waited less than 5 minutes between telling me our marriage was over and getting it on with Chloe," Mark snarked.

Chloe ran her tongue over her teeth, feeling more and more worried that Elly was in complete denial over telling Mark the truth about the baby's paternity and wondered how long Elly would push this lie for before coming forward.

"I'm not going to apologize for how I feel about Chloe. I love her, Mark," Elly declared, "I will apologize for marrying you even though I knew my heart wasn't 100% in it. And between the three of us only I will apologize for not waiting until our marriage is over before being with Chloe but I don’t regret it not even for a second. I had to be with her. She completes me."

Chloe continued sitting there listening to the pair. Her heart skipped a beat when Elly declared her love for her and she was pleased that Elly didn’t regret their afternoon in one another’s arms. She too couldn't apologize to Mark for not waiting to be with Elly either. She'd waited more than half a year for Elly to want to be with her. Why should she feel bad about spending the afternoon wrapped up in Elly's arms? Especially when Elly was prepared to take the lead for their encounter and was not shying away from enjoying their attraction to one another.

But there was still a part of Chloe that was so unsure as to why Elly was insisting that including Mark into their lives when he wasn't the baby's father and they had the opportunity to be free of all the complications despite tearing Mark's heart out and Mark hating the pair of them. As far as she was concerned, Mark had taken the news that Elly and her were a couple a lot better than she predicted he would. Not that she had had time to predict it with Elly ending things with Mark that afternoon before immediately declaring she wanted to be with her.

Chloe wondered if Elly was too afraid to take Mark from her baby's life because she wasn't yet prepared to be all-in on co-parenting her baby with her. It crossed Chloe’s mind that Elly might expect more commitment and responsibility from her before she would break the truth to Mark. Chloe felt the heavy pressure on her that Elly might need more from her then she might be prepared to give if Mark was ever to be told the truth about the baby’s paternity. Chloe wondered if that was even remotely fair on her if Elly could possibly do that to her and wondered when she was going to have a chance to think about her decision over whether she would be prepared to raise Elly’s child with her.

Mark shook his head at Elly, "Can the two of you just keep the PDA between the pair of you confined to your room until I've had a couple weeks to come to terms to your relationship?"

"Fine," Elly agreed, "Just don't ask Chloe not to spend the night with me when I want her to come over and be with me. I’m not going to not spend nights wrapped up in Chloe’s arms so if I’m forced to because you don’t want us to be together in your house, Mark, I’ll go to Chloe’s and spend the nights there with her. But we both know Chloe has four housemates and that is a huge risk of Chloe and I been caught together and it appearing like I’m cheating on you if we don’t announce our separation or that I have left you to be with Chloe."

Chloe swallowed hard at the thought that Elly was seemingly making all the decisions about their relationship for her without even asking her opinion.

"Whatever...spend your nights hooking up with one another without a care in the world for me in the room down the hallway. As long as you don't divulge that you're already sharing a bed with Chloe, we can start telling our families that we're no longer together," Mark agreed, "Chloe, you okay with that?"

Chloe raised her eyebrows at the fact at least Mark wanted her opinion, "Uh, sure...I'm not ready for people to know about Elly and I for a few weeks like we've all agreed. I'd rather people not think I'm a sleaze for jumping straight into bed with my sister-in-law within minutes of Elly's rings been off her finger. I'm not ashamed of my actions but I don't want anyone judging me over it."

Of all of the aspects of their arrangement, Chloe was most accepting of that one. As much as she was head over heels in love with Elly, she didn't want people judging her for apparently stealing her brother's wife without giving them a chance to end things officially.

As the three of them sat there in the booth, they all suddenly glanced up when the cafe door opened and Aaron and David walked into the cafe.

The couple frowned as they spotted the three, sitting next to one another on the bench of the booth. Greeting one another, Aaron and David quickly sat down in the two seats on the opposite side of the table.

Chloe removed her hand from Elly's under the table and bought it on top of the table, but felt Elly's hand shift to resting on her thigh under the table.

Feeling the awkwardness of the situation of his siblings both sitting in the booth with Elly between them, Aaron quickly addressed the matter with curiosity, "What's up with the three of you sitting here together?"

Before either sibling could address the question, Elly answered confidently, "My marriage to Mark is over. We've split up and I'm moving into Chloe's old room at Mark's place so I’m not taking the baby away from Mark. We’re just making an adjustment in our family because Mark and I don’t belong together. And there's more..."

Chloe stared at Elly as Elly suddenly reached out and took Chloe's hand in her own on the table, "What happened to listening to me when I said I'm not ready to tell people just yet?"

Elly smiled, genuinely misreading the situation that Chloe would mind when it came to her brother and brother-in-law, proudly telling the guys, "Chloe and I are together. I've left Mark for Chloe. We're in a relationship and want to spend our future together."

Aaron's jaw dropped, as he immediately looked over at his older brother. Mark looked at Chloe and Elly, rolling his eyes at the pair, not entirely heartbroken by Elly's declaration but more annoyed that Elly could not hold back in declaring her feelings for his little sister even though they had literally all just decided not to divulge Elly and Chloe’s relationship this quickly.

Aaron then glanced sideways at David, as the pair were both shocked by the revelation.

Why is Elly making all the decisions about our relationship? When I specifically tell her twice that I'm not ready for people to know about us this early into our relationship and she goes ahead and ignores me by telling Aaron and David? Aaron, who as much as I love him, is a judgey little prat... Aaron, who is now staring at me like I've ruined Mark's life and he's gonna blame me for this. Elly, who is still lying to Mark about the paternity of her baby and acting like it's never going to be an issue for any of us. I love Elly but am I wrong in thinking that Elly is slightly manipulating me to find a way to get what she wants? Chloe thought.

There I said it! I'm not ashamed to admit to our family that I'm with Chloe. Chloe should be proud of me for not denying the feelings I have for her. This is so much more comfortable not hiding in denial over my love for Chloe. She feels it too, right? Aaron's clearly thrown by this but if I can make him see how much Chloe means to me, he'll come around. I know it's still not the right thing to lie to Mark about the paternity of my baby but I can find a way to make this work. Mark can be a father, something he has always wanted, I'll co-parent my baby with him, and also get to enjoy my life with Chloe. This way Chloe gets what she wants...me and her together as a couple without the need to change her life completely to be a mum to my child…if raising this baby with me isn’t what she wants from her life, Elly thought.

Chapter Text

Just Friends?

Chapter Twenty-Four   

Aaron and David were still seated there, opposite Mark, Elly, and Chloe, staring at the threesome.

Aaron glared at Chloe, "What are you doing? Breaking up a family."

Chloe shook her head, "Here we go...I told you not to tell them, yet, Elly, because I knew it would look like it's all my fault."

Elly squeezed Chloe's hand, trying not to be dissuaded that Chloe thought she had made the wrong decision to out them as a couple, "Aaron, this is not Chloe breaking up a family. I'm the one who has decided to leave Mark because I don't love him the way I should as his wife. Mark and I are not in love with one another. I have feelings for Chloe and I want to be with her. I've fallen for her and I'm not going to run from that. Chloe means everything to me, Aaron, and I cannot refuse to acknowledge that any longer."

"So, it's you breaking up a family and allowing Chloe to be part of that, Elly?" Aaron accused.

"I'm not breaking up a family," Elly lied to all 3 men, whilst Chloe knew the truth, "Mark and I will be co-parents but we won't be in a relationship. We're still living together but I'm moving into Chloe's old room and...I'm still hoping that one day soon...Chloe will move in there with me. It's an adjustment but there really hasn't been a whole lot that will change."

"When did all this happen?" David piped up, still feeling a bit lost with this change in their family dynamics.

"Early this afternoon," Elly answered, "I told Mark and Chloe at the same time that I was leaving Mark because I want to be with Chloe."

Chloe sighed as Aaron kept glaring at her, "You heard, Elly. I didn't know she wanted to be with me until after she had told Mark she was leaving him."

Not thinking about it, Elly revealed, "To be fair, I did tell you this morning I was falling for you and I kissed you to help with my decision over who I wanted to be with."

Mark lent forward to look over at Chloe, "You let my wife kiss you and knew Elly was developing feelings for you this morning?"

Chloe sunk back, feeling the judgment from all three men on her, still unsure if she was happy with Elly ignoring her request not to tell anyone about them so soon. She sighed at the thought that at least Elly hadn't completely dropped her in it by revealing she had had a sexual fantasy dream about her whilst she was watching on or that Elly had stood in front of her naked the previous evening.

Mark shook his head, "You know what? I don't really care. You and Elly can enjoy whatever it is between you. If Elly has found someone who loves her as much as I loved Kate and that person isn't me then whatever. All I care about right now is been a father to my child."

Chloe tried to loosen her grip on Elly's hand as she was still deeply uncomfortable with Mark been in the dark but Elly held it firmly.

Elly replied to Mark, "Which is why I've made the decision that I have so all three of us can be happy instead of you and I forcing a marriage that has not worked since we said our vows."

"So, this is really happening? You two are ending your marriage and now you're...wanting to be with Chloe?" Aaron asked, still thrown by this change.

"We're gonna hold off on the actual paperwork side of ending our marriage because there's no real rush to do that but yes it's over between Elly and I," Mark admitted.

Elly followed up with, "I'm not wanting to be with Chloe. We're already together."

Chloe smiled softly at Elly's assertion, wondering if she should be feeling prouder that Elly wasn't hiding her feelings for her as she continued to declare them every time she was seemingly challenged.

David stared at Elly as she continued holding Chloe's hand, "And you're comfortable for people to know about this?"

Elly paused for a few seconds, "I may have jumped the gun a little bit and told the two of you everything a little bit sooner than the three of us had decided on. Mark and I had decided that we wanted to tell our friends and family that the pair of us have ended our marriage and I'll be moving into the spare bedroom. But I was meant to wait a few weeks before telling you that Chloe and I are together. I figured you were family and you two can keep that side of it to yourselves until we've given it a bit of time for the dust to settle on my marriage breakup before telling people I'm now with Chloe. We just didn't want people to think Chloe and I had been cheating on Mark again before I'd broken it off with him."

Mark rolled his eyes at Elly, sprouting the truth to his sibling and sibling-in-law, "Or people knowing that you ended things with me, took your rings off your finger and five minutes later those fingers were all over my sister when you were in bed with her?"

"Five minutes?!" Aaron scolded Chloe, "I know you've had feelings for Elly for months but you seriously couldn't wait for Elly and Mark to sign annulment or divorce papers before taking Elly to bed again, Chloe?"

"Not that it's any of your business, Aaron, but I'm the one who took Chloe to bed that quickly. Stop judging Chloe, like she's done something wrong," Elly insisted, "I'm the one who left my husband for Chloe and I'm the one who didn't want to wait for the ink to dry on my annulment before enjoying the happiness that Chloe gives me. It was a lot of happiness and I am glad that I allowed myself to feel that with Chloe this afternoon. It might seem rushed to all of you…but it really wasn’t. This has been building for a long time. It felt so good to be in her arms and I do not regret a moment of our afternoon in bed together."

Aaron sighed at Elly’s oversharing, then half-heartedly apologized, "Sorry, Chlo. If you want to keep it a secret that you and Elly are a couple for a few weeks...that'll be fine. David and I won't tell anyone."

Chloe and Elly both nodded at Aaron, confirming that's what they wanted.

Mark pushed himself up from the booth, standing up, "You two enjoy your so-called happiness. I'm going to go to the Waterhole to drown my sorrows over the end of my marriage."

Aaron went to stand up to join his brother, but Mark held up his palm, "It's fine, Aaron. Really, I just need a drink or two on my own to come to terms with my marriage ending today. I’ll be over it by the morning."

“How late do you plan on been before you make it home, Mark?” Elly asked, not subtly.

Mark shook his head, “Later than the pair of you to still be going at it.”

“So, tomorrow night then?” Elly quipped back.

Mark breathed deeply, not realizing that the women clearly had more stamina with one another then he did with Elly. Mark wanted to snap back at his soon-to-be-ex-wife that they were yet to be at the stage of teasing one another but instead refrained, “I’ll be home late. Try not to still be going at it all night long if you wouldn’t mind. I really do not want to hear that.”

“We’ll try but no promises,” Elly replied non-committedly.

 Aaron watched on with sadness as Mark left the café, then turned his attention to the new couple, “This is really what you both want?”

“It is,” Elly looked at Chloe lovingly, “I want to be with Chloe. I know I may not have gone about it the right way but I don’t want to waste another moment without her.”

Chloe looked up at Elly, still wondering how she had found herself in this situation, “What she said.”

David nodded, “Well when you do decide to tell people about your relationship, you’ll have our support.”

Aaron sighed as his husband nudged him, “Right…yeah…me too. I’ll be there for Mark for a little bit but in a few weeks when you two come out…you’ll have my support too.”

“Thanks,” Chloe whispered.

Elly smiled, “You know what, I’m gonna go grab us some desert to enjoy back at home tonight.”

Before Chloe could say anything Elly quickly pecked her lips to Chloe’s cheek, squeezed her hand before slipping her hand out of Chloe’s and jumped up to head to the counter.

Chloe blushed at Aaron and David, “Elly’s not exactly having any issues attempting to hide this.”

Aaron stared at his little sister, “Is this really what you want, Chlo?”

Chloe hesitated for a moment, “I love her, Aaron.”

“So, what are you concerned about?” David asked, feeling less pressure than his husband would to ask the question.

Chloe chewed on her lip, “I’m not even sure I know what to think. Elly’s completely accepted her feelings for me and she’s actually proud to tell the two of you plus Mark about her feelings for me…and a few things she should’ve kept to ourselves. I really wasn’t ready for her to tell anyone yet that we’re together and I was not expecting her to dish on our afternoon together. I’m aware that maybe I jumped into things with Elly a little bit too quickly but it felt right to be with her. I should be proud that she’s confident to tell you guys that she’s with me and not in some form of denial…”

“But?” Aaron urged Chloe to continue.

Chloe shrugged, “I feel like this isn’t as perfect as it feels.”

“Is it because of Elly’s pregnancy?” David asked quietly.

Chloe shook her head, “No, we’ve spoken about it and whilst I’m not sure I’m ready to be a parent to Elly’s baby and I still need to figure out exactly what level of responsibility and commitment I’m ready for when it comes to being part of the child’s life…the non-perfectness…it’s more like…Elly’s making all these decisions about our relationship for me and…I’m kinda letting her get her way every time…is that weird?”

Aaron pursed his lips, “You have wanted to be with Elly for months now, Chloe. Now that it’s actually happening, you can’t just go with it and let Elly decide everything because you’re afraid that she’ll change her mind and go back to Mark. A partnership is about making it work for the both of you.”

“What do you suggest I do?” Chloe asked.

“Talk to Elly,” both Aaron and David answered.

Chloe tilted her head, pleased that the guys appeared to be over their initial shock at her relationship with Elly and really would support the pair, “Thanks for the suggestion.”

Upon returning to the table, Elly smiled at Chloe, “Chlo…do you want to get out of here to…uh…have desert with me at home and we can enjoy having the house to ourselves for most of the evening?”

Chloe blushed at Elly’s assertiveness, but decided to take Aaron and David’s advice, “Yes, but I’d like to go for a walk first down by the lake, okay? Is that desert going to last a walk first or should we come back for it?”

Elly nodded, “Okay, sure, let’s go for a walk. It’s just a couple slices of cake we can feed to each in bed when we get back home,” before she winked at Aaron and David, “Don’t expect your sister home tonight and you might soon be losing her as a housemate.”

Chloe breathed deeply, noticing Aaron nod at her now acknowledging what she meant by Elly making decisions for her, “Elly, I did tell you it is way too early for me to move in with you.”

Elly shrugged nonchalantly, not seeing it as Chloe rejecting her, “Right, sorry forgot. But you did promise to spend several nights a week over at mine.”

Chloe nodded, trying to get used to Elly’s directness, “Yeah…a few nights a week…as long as I don’t arise anyone else’s suspicions. Anyway, let’s go for our walk, and then we’ll go back to yours.”

“Great, gotta take advantage of having the house to ourselves. Not that I’m going to revolve our love life around when Mark isn’t home. If he had his way, he’d stay home permanently to spite us. Mark is just going to have to get used to us been together and sharing a bed with one another,” Elly overshared.

Aaron and David coughed softly. Chloe chewed on her lip at the awkwardness that Elly didn’t even seem to know existed.

Chloe stood up from the booth and was surprised when Elly reached out her free hand to her to take. Chloe took it feeling Elly squeeze her hand. The pair said their goodbyes to Aaron and David, Elly untangled her hand from Chloe’s but linked her arm with Chloe’s as they left the café.

David glanced at Aaron, “You doing okay with all this?”

Aaron sighed, “I’m sure Mark will be okay. I’m worried about Chloe jumping into a relationship with Elly so soon after Elly’s left Mark and I don’t know how the three of them are going to deal with the impending baby joining their lives.”

David placed his hand on Aaron’s shoulder, “I’m sure they’ll find their way through this.”

As Elly walked with Chloe down towards the lake, she looked over at her, smiling brightly, “Can you believe how much has changed in less than 2 days? That it was only yesterday morning that we were at my ultrasound, I was kissing you there, then everything that happened last night whilst we were on the couch and in the bathroom and now, we’re together?”

“Quite the last couple days,” Chloe agreed.

Elly grinned happily at Chloe, “Can we go home now and take advantage of having our place to ourselves?”

“Your place, Elly, it’s not ‘our’ place, I don’t live there,” Chloe corrected.

“Not yet, anyway, we could be really happy there together, Chlo,” Elly tried to convince her.

“Elly, I’m not ready to move in,” Chloe stated, “We’ll go back to your place in a little while but I want to continue on our walk first because I brought you down here so we could talk.”

Elly frowned, “Oh okay. What do you want to talk about?”

Chloe looked over at Elly nervously before answering, “About the fact you’re making all the decisions in this relationship and I need us to be equal partners if our relationship is going to work otherwise it's over.”

That feels better simply getting that off my chest. I just need to remind Elly that I love her and tell her calmly that this relationship won’t work if she keeps making me feel like I have no say in how this relationship will work, Chloe thought.

Okay…I’ve been in this relationship with Chloe for less than 6 hours…I thought she’d be proud that I’m not hiding how I feel about her…what have I done wrong that I’m making her feel this way? Elly thought.

Chapter Text

Just Friends?

Chapter Twenty-Five

Elly immediately reached out and pulled Chloe into a hug, wrapping her arms around Chloe’s upper body, “Are you breaking up with me?”

Chloe sunk into the hug, “What? Why would you think that? I said if we don't change things then it will be over, I didn't say it was already over.”

Elly pressed her lips to the top of Chloe’s head, “Okay that's a little reassuring but people breaking up...that’s what always happens when someone tells their partner they ‘need to talk’ and you don’t sound happy by the way I’m treating you. What have I done wrong, baby?”

Chloe released her grip on Elly and stared deeply into her eyes, “I’m not breaking up with you. Elly, you’re not doing things wrong…you’re just taking decisions away from me and I need you to stop doing that.”

Elly nodded, “Okay, what decisions?”

Chloe stepped out of Elly’s embrace, linked her arm through Elly’s elbow and gestured for the pair of them to keep walking around the lake, “Like moving in with you. I know you want me to but I’m just not ready. Can you please stop calling it ‘our place’ or ‘home’? It makes me feel a little awkward when I know it’s highly unlikely you’ll be living there once Mark learns the truth about the baby.”

Elly nodded, side-stepping the issue of not wanting Mark to learn the truth, “Okay, can we go back to my place to spend the night in my bed once we’ve finished this talk?”

Chloe half-smiled at Elly making progress, “Yes, we can go back to your place once we’ve sorted a few things out. Like…why did you tell Aaron and David about us so soon when we, along with Mark, agreed that you and Mark would only tell family and friends that you and Mark have ended things? That we were going to hold back from telling people you and I are in a relationship yet?”

Elly pouted, “I thought you’d be proud of me that I don’t want to hide our relationship and I guess I thought Aaron and David are really important to you so you wouldn't mind.”

“A big part of me is proud of you,” Chloe admitted, “But even before you told them, when you took my hand, I turned to you and reminded you I wasn’t ready for them to know and you still went ahead and did it. Why?"

"Because I've lied about a lot of things over the past few months and I didn't want to lie about this. I wanted your family to know. I guess I got caught up in the moment and I was too busy trying not to lie about our relationship that I wasn't listening to you," Elly explained, "Why didn't you want Aaron and David to know?"

"Because it looks bad that we started this literally minutes after you ended it with Mark and I love my brother but Aaron is a judgmental prat," Chloe answered, "I'm not saying I regret this afternoon or our decision to be in a relationship, I don't. All I'm saying is it's not the best look not just for me but for you too. I know deep down things were simmering between us for weeks even though I tried to ignore it because I didn't think I would even stand a chance with you and it wasn't really like this all happened overnight. The only thing that did happen that instantly was you accepting you have feelings for me and wanting to act of them instead of denying to yourself that you wanted to be with me.”

Chloe continued, “You literally ended your marriage to Mark and five minutes later we were in bed with one another. I know both of us were trying to make up for lost time if you hadn't gone ahead and married Mark and whilst Mark was displeased with our decision to jump into bed together, it's not like he made any effort to stop it from happening. Our family and friends are not going to see it that way. They are going to see it exactly like Aaron did and that we moved on together far too quickly. You really should've listened to me when I told you I wasn't ready for Aaron or David to know. I can't have you making decisions like this for me."

"Okay, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to," Elly apologized, "I get it. Aaron really was a bit pushy over the issue and judgmental to you thinking me leaving Mark was all your fault. I see the point that other people are likely to see it the same way that we got together far too quickly even though things have been simmering between us...well not just the last month, more like since before Christmas but I was too afraid to accept it. I can make excuses in my head that I just want to get past this messy stage of people needing to find out Mark and I are over, that I'm with you now and waiting around for people to know that you make me really happy but you're right I should've listened to you."

"I get that but can you please contain yourself from telling anyone else for at least the next few weeks? I mean you were the first one to suggest that we keep it to ourselves until the dust on the end of your marriage settles. Mark and I agreed to that and yet you were the one who broke it at the first chance. You can't just make decisions with us, be it decisions with me or with Mark and then immediately go back on them without speaking to us first because you think it's okay," Chloe decided.

"Understood, I'll talk to you first," Elly promised, "Is there anything else we need to discuss before we can go home--back to my place and spend the evening together?"

Chloe raised her eyebrow at Elly.

"Right, me continuing to lie to Mark about the baby," Elly answered her own question.

"Are you continuing this lie because you don't want to be a single mother and you'd rather hang on to Mark if I decide I'm not ready to be this child's second parent?" Chloe asked honestly.

Elly was surprised, “Of course not. It’s not about the level of support you can provide me and my child with. Whatever you decide, I’ll respect. I just…I can’t take this away from Mark…he wants this baby more than anything. I know it’s not the right thing to do to keep lying to him…I just can’t bring myself to tell him.”

“Mark is going to find out sooner or later, Elly, and you need to be the one to tell him,” Chloe reminded her, "Do you want Mark to find out another way because the longer you leave it the higher the chance of Mark finding out?"

"I know," Elly whispered, "But Finn, Leo and my doctor have all assured me they won't tell Mark. What other way can he find out other than by us?"

Chloe sighed at Elly's resistance, "Have you thought about the possibility of Shaun coming back if he wants to be a part of the baby's life?"

Elly closed her eyes for a moment, terrified of the thought, "Shaun and I agreed that he wouldn't be part of the baby's life if I helped Finn."

"Yes, but Shaun's still a loose cannon in this, Elly," Chloe pointed out, "You said Finn figured it out after speaking to Shaun and he was overly concerned about you and the baby after your attack. What if Shaun changes his mind? Is that how you want Mark to learn the truth? From the biological father?"

Elly breathed deeply, "Of course I don't want Mark to find out that way. Shaun's young and there's a good chance he'll be able to father a child later in his life when he's ready. Nothing about him made me think that he wanted to be in this baby's life."

"If Shaun does return...before or after you tell Mark the truth...and Shaun does want to be in the baby's life. What would that mean for us?" Chloe asked curiously.

"If that was to happen...absolutely nothing between us would change," Elly reassured, "I don't want my one-night-stand in my baby's life. I mean…I know that he does have rights…as the father…and if it came down to it, I probably wouldn’t spend my entire energy on fighting Shaun to get him out of my baby’s life because of the stress that will cause me and the baby. But I don’t want my baby shipped between two different houses their whole life, living two different lives with two parents. Let alone the fact that Shaun lives in Switzerland…if he tried to take my baby overseas as part of his custody time then I would fight him with everything I have."

“Is that why you don’t want to tell Mark? You’re happy to co-parent with him because you can live together in the same house rather than letting your child grow up moving between different houses?” Chloe questioned.

"It's not like that. I just...can't break Mark like this. He wants this baby so badly...so much so that he's on board to co-parent with me whilst I'm in a relationship with you. Yes...there is a part of me that doesn't think I'll cope as a single parent. I'm not avoiding telling Mark because of our living arrangements or because you might not be ready to be this baby's parent with me...I can't really explain it myself why I can't tell him...I think I just need more time," Elly non-explained.

Chloe nodded, "As long as you're not completely in denial that Mark needs to know the truth and that you will tell him when the right moment comes up...I can give you more time."

“I'm not...I know Mark needs to find out from me…I will…soon,” Elly half-promised before changing the subject, “I want to focus on us first. I need things to be strong between us before Mark learns the truth. Yes, that’s selfish of me when I know Mark is going to need your support too. But you and this baby are the most important things to me now and I want us settled into whatever this relationship is going to be first. I get that there are things I need to work on. I get that you don’t want me taking decisions away from you. I see that now. I will work on making sure I don’t keep doing that. Is there any other thing that I’m doing or any other lingering issue you want to discuss?”

Chloe chewed on her lip before addressing Elly, “Are you only with me because of your sexual frustration over Mark’s intimacy issues and he wasn’t giving you the needs you need met?”

Elly stopped in her tracks, pulling Chloe into her arms in a hug, “I love you, Chloe. That is the reason why I’m with you. Yes, Mark and I had issues. Yes, you have fulfilled those needs for me that Mark wasn’t able to but I would never in a million years only be with you because I was sexually frustrated and you're available to fulfill those needs. You have to believe me.”

Chloe pulled out of the hug, staring down at the ground.

Elly ran her tongue over her teeth, but stated calmly, "This is because we haven't discussed what happened between us that night before the wedding and what I said to you the night of the wedding after I married Mark...that's why you're doubting the reason why I'm with you now after all this time."

"You used me," Chloe spat out before she could stop herself, "I didn't mean...I meant..."

Elly nodded in understanding, "Maybe we should've discussed this a long time ago when we got back in touch and rekindled our friendship. We kinda just avoided it, didn't we?"

Chloe nodded back at Elly, and then gestured for them to keep walking.

Elly remained in pace with Chloe, "You were right...I did use you that night."

Chloe remained silent.

Elly crossed her arms in front of her, resisting the urge to wrap her arm around Chloe's waist, "Talk to me, Chlo. Let me in to whatever you're feeling. We can't make a relationship work if we don't address this."

"You used me," Chloe repeated, "You knew how I felt about you and you were just upset Mark had called off the wedding. You didn't have feelings for me and you just wanted to use me because I was there and was able to make you feel what you were missing from Mark. You made me feel like what we had between us was real that night and that it meant something..."

"You're right, I did use you that night," Elly replied softly, waiting for Chloe to continue before she apologized.

"What you said to me when I went to see after you got married...that really hurt. You said you don't feel that way about me and we'd never be together. I should've seen it coming, you would barely talk to me. Just because you looked at me during your vows and told Mark that we slept together after he had originally called off the wedding...I shouldn't have even thought for a second that our night did mean anything to you. I nearly lost everything after it all went down and I know you did too but you didn't even care Mark had thrown me out of the house...you didn't care about anyone else but yourself," Chloe claimed, then sighed, "Obviously I'm still not over it...I thought I was."

Elly nodded, then repeated at first, "You're right. I used you and acted like you didn't even matter to me. I know there's nothing I can say or do that will ever make up for it. I am sorry for the things I said and did that night and when I finally spoke to you about it after the wedding. I do need you to know...I did feel that it meant something been with you that night...it wasn't just in your head, Chlo. It meant something...I just...I ignored it. I pretended it didn't mean something because I was so confused over what it meant for me...and then Mark returned...and I married him knowing he'd never make me feel the way you did that night...and then I told Mark about us...and I was struggling to keep my marriage together...then everything that happened with thinking I was pregnant but I wasn't...and then all the rest of the baby-drama...I pushed everything I felt for you that night behind all of that. Even though I knew I didn't love Mark the way I should have...the way it feels to have you love me. My head was still stuck in that vision of my perfect future that I always dreamed about with a perfect husband, 3 kids, juggling my teaching job, white picket fence...and I couldn't find a way to allow myself to change that vision...not without giving myself more time to which I've done now over the past month since we reconnected."

Chloe relented, "I get it...changing that vision of what you want your future to look like...I should have given you more time to come to terms with our night together. Even though Mark cancelled the wedding without even talking to you about it I knew that if Aaron could convince Mark to return home then there was not enough time for you to deal with changing that vision and choosing me but I still pushed you a little too much to come to the conclusion that you needed to understand Mark isn't good enough for you. I'm glad that we spoke about this and let me get it off my chest. We hurt each other but it's in the past and that's where I want to leave it. We can move forward from it and focus on what we have between us now."

Elly pursed her lips, glad that by talking about their previous night together they were able to move past it, before addressing, "When you talk about changing the vision of your future...you're not talking about you coming to terms with your sexuality are you? You're talking about your Huntington's?"

Chloe ran her tongue over her teeth, part of her was glad that Elly could read her so well, "Yes."

"You know whatever your future holds because of the Huntington's or anything else for that matter, I'm not leaving your side. I'll be with you no matter what," Elly reassured.

“Are you sure? It’s a lot to ask of you,” Chloe pointed out.

“Without question,” Elly confirmed, “And not that I’m comparing them or to make you think for even one second that this is the only reason why I won’t leave your side when your Huntington’s takes hold but…it’s a lot to ask of you to still be with me when I’m pregnant to practically a stranger…or well the half-brother to a guy that kidnapped me and did terrible things to me and my family.”

Chloe nodded, “I guess it is a lot to ask but in a way it’s not because I get to be with you. Are you absolutely positive that you’re prepared to be in this relationship knowing that when the Huntington’s does take over…I am going to need a world of help and won’t be the person you care about?”

“Yes,” Elly answered simply with assurance.

Chloe paused before asking, “And do you really think that involving me in your child’s life in whatever capacity I choose is really the best decision for your child knowing that he or she will end up losing me too?”

“Yes, it is the right decision because you are amazing and this child will be lucky to have you in his or her life for as long as they can. You should have zero doubt about that or my decision to stand by you no matter what,” Elly reassured, before glancing down at Chloe, “Now is there anything else we need to talk about or can we head back to my place and spend the evening together?”

Chloe smiled up at Elly, “I think we’re good. Let’s get out of here and head back to your place.”

Elly linked their arms together as the pair headed back to Elly and Mark’s house.

Okay, I think that was a good conversation to have and we’re making progress on how our relationship is going to work…except for the fact that Elly might be in complete denial over the fact that she needs to tell Mark the baby isn’t his…how am I going to definitely convince Elly that she needs to come clean to Mark soon so he doesn’t end up raising a baby that isn’t his? Chloe thought.

Okay, I think that was a good conversation to have and we’re making progress on how our relationship is going to work…except for the fact that I am in complete denial over the fact that I need to tell Mark the baby isn’t his…how am I going to find a way to convince Chloe that I’m not sure that I want to come clean to Mark and we should just let him have what he wants by raising this baby with me…I hope with Chloe and I? Elly thought.

Chapter Text

Just Friends?

Chapter Twenty-Six

Two and a half weeks later

“Good morning,” Chloe greeted Mark as she entered the kitchen of his place as he was seated at the dining table eating breakfast.

“Morning,” Mark replied pleasantly, but he still couldn’t help but feel weird that his sister was constantly at his place with his soon-to-be-ex-wife, “Hey, Chlo, has Elly said anything about booking in her five-month ultrasound cause she’s a little overdue for that and I want to make sure I’m there this time?”

Chloe turned away from Mark, turning the kettle on, still disbelieving that Elly had still yet to tell Mark she wasn’t pregnant with his baby nor was she five-months pregnant and was only just over three-and-a-half months pregnant, “Uh…not sure, Mark.”

Elly then entered the kitchen, greeting Mark with a stock-standard, “Morning,” before she walked up behind Chloe and wrapped her arms around Chloe’s waist.

“Morning,” Mark grunted, then in annoyance to Elly’s displays of affections to Chloe, “Uh…our PDA rule, remember?”

Elly ignored Mark, holding her hands to Chloe’s waist as she lent down to press her lips against Chloe’s shoulder before reaching her hand gently to Chloe’s jaw and leaning around to press their lips together gently.

“PDA rule!” Mark stated again, his voice slightly rising, “You keep this confined to your room, Elly, as I’m not ready for you two to be so…couplely around me.”

Elly was tempted to deepen the kiss to explore Chloe’s mouth with her tongue but resisted and pulled back from their kiss, still holding onto Chloe’s waist from behind, “Sorry…forgot. How long exactly is it going to be until I can kiss my girlfriend in any other room than my bedroom or when I’m in the shower with Chloe?”

“Ugh,” Mark replied, willing his mind not to go to thoughts of Elly in the shower with his little sister, “I dunno…a few weeks.”

Elly looked down at Chloe, “You know this is a little weird, Mark, trying to keep me from kissing Chloe here like this. She’s my girlfriend and I need to be able to kiss her whenever we’re around one another at home…my home. Besides it’s not like you don’t know Chloe and I are actively engaged with one another in bed every night.”

“Elly,” Chloe whispered, her simple word reminding Elly not to make decisions for her by oversharing with Mark to get her way.

“Sorry, baby, I shouldn’t have said that to Mark,” Elly whispered into Chloe’s ear.

Mark screwed up his face, pleading that he could think of anything else but the women been with one another even though he knew the pair of them were together every night, “It’s still weird for me, Elly. I know we’ve told our family and friends that we’ve split but I’m still not sure about been okay with the pair of you dating one another when you’re having my baby soon.”

Elly rolled her eyes as she kept her gaze on Chloe as the blonde poured them both a cup coffee, “I’ll meet you back in my room in a couple minutes. You don’t have to leave for work too quickly, do you babe?”

Chloe nodded, “I got about twenty minutes to kill before I need to be back at my place to change into my work clothes and head to the hotel.”

Chloe left Elly with her coffee and headed back to her old room that Elly was now permanently residing in, wondering how many times Mark was going to bring up the baby before Elly told him the truth.

Elly lent against the kitchen benchtop, looking over at Mark, “Mark, I know you are still getting used to this but I really need you to stop been so…urgh…about Chloe been here in the mornings. I’m with Chloe now, I’m in a healthy and very loving relationship with her. I want Chloe to feel welcome here with me.”

Mark sighed at the thought, even though he didn’t miss Elly been in a relationship with him, “Whatever. Have you booked your 5-month ultrasound yet? My roster is on the fridge next to our baby’s photo, please can you take a look at it before you make the appointment this time?”

Elly reached up and took the roster from the fridge, hesitating as she stared at the image that was of Caitlyn knowing Mark still didn’t know, “Uh…sorry I’ve been a bit distracted with Chloe and work and…well Chloe. I’ll look into it and let you know when Dr. Dietrich can fit me in. I can’t guarantee I can avoid clashing with everything…there’s only so much time that the doctor might be available for to book in for the next appointment.”

“Can you try at least? I’d like to see my child on the monitor this time, not that I don’t appreciate the image,” Mark requested.

Elly nodded nonchalantly before revealing, “I need Chloe there with me at the appointment, Mark.”

Mark shook his head in frustration, “Let me guess you’ll check with Chloe if she can make the appointment before you book it.”

“Chloe’s my girlfriend, Mark, I need her standing next to me, holding my hand, placing her hand on my belly to feel the baby, letting me cuddle up to her and kiss her like last ti—like how I dreamed about the next ultrasound happening since Chloe and I got together,” Elly nearly slipped up.

“And if you do manage to squeeze me into the appointment time slot, where will I be in all this you-and-Chloe-loved-up-not-parents-to-be?” Mark asked.

“Standing in front of the monitor staring at absolutely nothing else but the baby because that’s all you care about, Mark,” Elly responded even though she couldn’t bear the thought of Mark been there at the appointment as it was a huge risk to him learning the truth.

“I do care about you, Elly…just clearly not as much as Chloe does,” Mark admitted, “Does Chloe really need to be at the appointment?”

“Yes, Mark, I need her there. I won’t go in for the appointment without her,” Elly decided, “I need you to get used to this, Mark. Chloe and this baby are everything to me.”

Mark sighed as he continued eating his breakfast, “This baby is everything to me too.”

Elly took a swig of her coffee, silently hating herself for lying to Mark, “I…ah…I signed up for some birthing classes at the community center to start in a fortnight.”

“That’s great,” Mark replied with enthusiasm then his face dropped as he watched Elly’s face respond without needing words, “Oh…you mean you signed up to attend with Chloe? Seriously? I want to be there at those classes Elly.”

“I’m sorry but I just don’t see the three of us navigating the classes like that in front of so many other couples. I’m not sure I’m ready to tell a bunch of complete strangers why I have two people there crowding me, trying to be the one to sit behind me and wrap their arms around me. I’d feel a lot more comfortable going to the classes with my partner than my soon-to-be-ex-husband…no offence,” Elly explained.

“But you’re happy enough to explain to a bunch of strangers you’re in a same-sex relationship whilst been pregnant?” Mark argued.

“What’s there to explain about that? It’s perfectly normal, the other people in the class don’t need to know the details on how I fell pregnant or how long Chloe and I have been together in our relationship,” Elly pointed out, “I know your disappointed but this is what I want…to bond with Chloe like this and make her feel like she’s part of this entire experience before the baby comes.”

“You’re not even out as a couple with Chloe yet, do you really think Chloe will want to go to these classes…as you’re partner?” Mark asked.

“The classes begin in a fortnight…I intend on telling everyone about Chloe and I by then,” Elly revealed.

“Of course, you do,” Mark sighed, “Wait…if you and Chloe attend all the birthing classes together…are you intending on allowing Chloe to be with us when you give birth? That’s my role, Elly.”

Elly chewed on the inside of her lip, “I already asked Chloe to be there holding my hand and helping me during the birth…barring any dramatic Erinsborough craziness…Chloe will be there when I give birth.”

“C’mon,” Mark felt frustrated, “Does this mean I won’t get to be there?”

Elly shook her head, unable to tell Mark the truth, “Don’t be ridiculous to think you won’t be there…you will be…just more an off to the side not standing next to me supporting me like a loving partner kind of way and definitely not anywhere near between my legs when the baby comes out. I swear to God if you want to be one of those guys that films the birth you can just eff off out of the hospital, get as far away from me as possible and I might tell you once the baby has arrived or make you sweat it a few extra hours. Got it?”

“Got it,” Mark agreed, “Well then…I’m glad you’ve decided on a hospital birth at any rate. We haven’t really discussed any of that…probably because I’ve missed all your appointments with Dr. Dietrich.”

Elly took another sip of her coffee, trying to hide her guilty face.

Mark took a few bites of his breakfast, “Elly, have you sat down with Chloe and discussed exactly what her role is going to be in our child’s life…?”

Elly chewed on her lip, “Not really…Chloe said she needed time to think about it…I didn’t want to push her on the issue until she had decided.”

“Okay well I’m not inclined in forcing Chloe to decide either but she’s going to need to decide soon…especially if in only a couple weeks’ time you intend on telling people you’re a couple and attending birthing classes with her that will really put her in the position of been in a relationship with a woman who’s going to be a mum within four months,” Mark pointed out, trying to be as calm and helpful as he could.

“I know…I just don’t want to pressure her about it…we’re still very much in the honeymoon stage of our relationship,” Elly stated, even though she had tried hard not to think about the fact that Chloe had yet to broach the topic with her and she wondered if it was all too much for Chloe to deal with especially if she put any pressure on Chloe to give her an answer.

“Alright…well when you do…and you can’t leave it forever Elly, I know you don’t like confrontation and telling people how it is,” Mark started, not noticing Elly looking away from him because he couldn’t be more accurate, “When you know what Chloe wants for her role in our baby’s life…I would like it if the three of us could all sit down and have a discussion about all of this. What all of our roles will be in the baby’s life? Discuss the birth plan you have. Decide on how long you intend to go on maternity leave for. Will the three of us dedicate our work schedules around always having one of us at home with the baby? Work out how this living arrangement will work not just in the immediate future but…if you and Chloe do last together…will you two move out? Will you move far away? How will that affect the time I need to spend with my child? Will the two of you stay living with me for a few years until our child is in school? Does Chloe still dream of travelling the world? Or just travelling overseas to work abroad for a year or so at another Lassiters hotel? Does raising a child with us stop that or would she expect you and the baby to go with her? Or would you let me raise the baby for a small part of that time and you go visit her? All of it…one big decision-making conversation.”

“Right…okay,” Elly uttered, her mind absolutely spinning with confusion over every word Mark said, praying that all this wasn’t too much for Chloe when it was already starting to be too much for her. Elly wondered if Mark knew more than her and Chloe did still want to travel the world or work overseas for a year but hadn’t told her yet.

Mark glanced over at Elly, realizing he had overwhelmed her, “I’m not saying we need to figure it all out today…but if Chloe is going to be either a huge part in your life or a huge part of both yours and our baby’s life…then the three of us need to work out how this is gonna work for all of us but most importantly for the baby.”

“Right…okay,” Elly repeated, before gesturing, “I’m gonna…go get ready for work…and see Chloe before she leaves back to her place.”

Mark nodded, then went back to eating his breakfast as Elly left the room.

Elly entered her bedroom greeting her girlfriend just as Chloe was sitting on the edge of her bed, putting on her shoes. Chloe watched as Elly walked to her chest of drawers for some panties and bra, then went to her cupboard on the opposite side of the bed to pull out a pair of work pants, blouse and sweater that would cling to her in all the right places.

Chloe licked her lips at the sight of Elly as her girlfriend removed her dressing gown, revealing her naked body and got changed into her work clothes.

As Elly pulled the sweater over her head, she slipped on a pair of shoes and then went over to Chloe’s side of the bed. Elly walked up to Chloe, lent down and pressed their lips together. Chloe held one hand to Elly’s hips as she maneuvered her legs on either side of Elly’s hips and pulled at Elly’s neck gently to bring her further down to deepen their kiss.

Elly wrapped her arms around Chloe’s neck as she stood there in her girlfriend’s embrace, “Liked the view of me getting changed?”

“I always like the view every morning,” Chloe whispered, “And the one at night.”

“Mmm I missed out on seeing you get changed this morning…stupid Mark,” Elly pouted.

“Everything go okay with Mark?” Chloe asked, knowing full well it’s not like Elly had actually finally taken the time to tell Mark the truth.

Elly lent back down to kiss Chloe softly, “Yeah…Mark just…we had a small conversation about some things with the baby…he…ah…Mark wants us to sit down and have a real conversation about this arrangement with the three of us…when you’re ready.”

“Okay,” Chloe agreed, knowing Elly was trying hard not to pressure her for an answer she hadn’t yet figured out.

Elly added, “I told him about the birthing classes I signed us up for and he wasn’t thrilled. He wanted to be there for them but I had to tell him the truth that I…I want my partner there with me…not my-soon-to-be-ex-husband and my partner…who is also his sister. I need to be comfortable in these classes and having the both of you crowding me and Mark taking over like the control freak we know he is…I need you to be the one there for me…but before we do…the classes start in a fortnight and I want us to come out as a couple before that.”

“You do?” Chloe asked in surprise.

Elly pressed her lips to Chloe’s again, “Absolutely, I am in this for the long haul, Chlo, and that begins with telling everyone I’m in love with you in a week or two. I mean we could do it today but I still think…”

“In a fortnight will be fine,” Chloe finished for Elly, knowing it had only been two-and-a-bit weeks since the news broke to everyone they knew that Elly and Mark had split up.

Elly lent down once more, deepening the kiss this time, “Mmm…do you have to go back to yours before work…we could spend a few extra minutes here together?”

Chloe resisted, “I have to go home to get changed for work…I can’t very well wear yesterday’s clothes to work again. Then people will know I didn’t spend last night in my bed.”

“Have Kyle or Leo worked it out yet that you’re not at home at night?” Elly asked.

Chloe shook her head, “I don’t think so. Leo’s busy dealing with Roxy and the Back Lane Bar. He normally gets home in the early hours of the morning and sleeps ‘til lunchtime. Kyle is just…in his own world dealing with the Amy and Gary stuff too. If he has noticed he hasn’t said anything.”

Elly squeezed her hands to the back of Chloe’s neck, “So Chlo…you know how when we got together and you agreed to spend a few nights a week here at mine…? Except…that kind of went out the window and we’ve spent every single night together here in this bed…”

“I didn’t hear you complaining every night we got into bed together, you are quite…totally in love with me and you very happily made love to me for hours on end every night,” Chloe teased.

“Believe me, I wasn’t complaining and that wasn’t where I was going with this,” Elly replied, “I was thinking with you spending every night here then maybe--”

“I’m not ready to move in, Elly,” Chloe stated quietly.

“Maybe I could give you some space in my wardrobe and one of the drawers in the dresser so you can leave some work clothes here and some of your things in the bathroom so you don’t need to rush from here in yesterday’s clothes back home to get changed before work every morning,” Elly finished, before whispering, “I know you’re not ready to move in, Chlo.”

Chloe blushed at her incorrect presumption but was glad Elly didn’t make a big deal about it, “That’d be nice. We gonna run this past Mark first?”

“Nope, this is my bedroom now and if I want to make room for you in my life which I do, that’s not up to Mark to decide,” Elly answered, “So Chlo, how long ‘til you’ve got to go back to yours?”

Chloe glanced at her watch, “In about five minutes, working early today. You heading out in about ten minutes to get to school on time?”

“Mmm hmm,” Elly replied, before kissing Chloe softly, “Any chance you want to be a few minutes late today?”

“You do have your ways of convincing me,” Chloe revealed.

“Yes, I do,” Elly smiled as she pressed her body against Chloe’s and began kissing her deeply.

Chloe pulled Elly closer to her as they kissed passionately until Elly broke their kiss uttering, “Ow!”

“Sorry, what’d I do?” Chloe asked rapidly.

“No, not you,” Elly pulled back then clutched her stomach, “Ow!”

Chloe sat up holding Elly gently, “What’s wrong?”

“I don’t know. I have this sharp pain in my stomach that’s—ow! It’s getting worse!” Elly began panicking, “It’s—ow! There must be something wrong with the baby!”

Oh, please don’t let this happen. The last thing in the world I want is for Elly to lose the baby, Chloe thought.

Oh, please don’t let this happen. Please don’t let this be karma for cheating on Mark and that I lose the baby before I even know for sure how committed Chloe could be to my child. I want Chloe to raise this child with me so badly, Elly thought.

Chapter Text

Just Friends?

Chapter Twenty-Seven

“Ow! Ow!” Elly grimaced as she clutched at her stomach in pain.

Chloe gently let go of Elly, pulled her legs from around Elly’s hips and stood up from the bed, motioning for Elly to sit down on the bed in her place. When she did, Chloe reached out and held Elly’s face in her hand, “Do you want me to take you to the hospital or shall I see if David or Karl can come over here to see you?”

“Hospital. Dr. Dietrich is there, she can help,” Elly replied, trying not to panic as the pain continued.

For a brief second, Chloe wanted to shake her head as once again Elly was ignoring the support around her in her family for fear of Mark finding out that the baby she was carrying wasn’t his. Instead she responded, “Okay, I’ll just grab my handbag and I’ll drive you to the hospital straight away.”

“We can’t,” Elly grunted in pain, “Mark…he’s still in the kitchen. He can’t see me like this. He can’t know anything’s wrong with the baby or they’ll be no way of stopping him from taking me to the hospital and he’ll find out at the hospital.”

Chloe knelt down in front of Elly, “Elly, you are in all kinds of pain and you need to see a doctor. We can’t wait here because you’re afraid of Mark coming with us to the hospital. Please Elly let me take you to the hospital now.”

“Get rid of him, Chlo,” Elly begged, then off Chloe’s questioning look, “Get Mark out of the house. I don’t know how just get him away from here long enough for us to get to your car so we can get to the hospital without him knowing. Mark cannot find out like this!”

Chloe ran her hand through her hair. She wanted to argue with Elly but she could see how much pain Elly was in even though she was trying to hide it. She knew Elly was already panicking over the thought that something bad was happening to the baby and the last thing Elly needed to deal with was more stress. Having Mark take Elly to the hospital and refuse to leave her side whilst Elly underwent a checkup or ultrasound knowing at any minute it could be revealed to him that it wasn’t his child, was not the type of stress Elly needed to be inflicted with no matter how terrible it was that Mark didn’t know the truth.

“Okay, okay, I’ll get rid of him,” Chloe agreed, “But can you stand and be ready to leave as soon as we get the chance?”

Elly nodded and allowed Chloe to help stand her up. Chloe held Elly’s hand for a few seconds, reassuring, “Elly, you are not going to lose this baby, okay?”

“I hope not,” Elly whispered back, the uncertainty all over her.

Chloe left the bedroom, rushing down the hall as she thought of the only thing, she could think of to get Mark out of the house for long enough for Elly and her to leave for the hospital, “MARK!”

Mark dropped his spoon into his cereal bowl at the unexpected yelling, “What? What’s wrong?”

Chloe entered the kitchen from the back of the house, “There was someone outside Elly’s bedroom window, watching us as we were getting changed.”

Mark blinked a few times before reacting, “Who was it? Are they still outside?”

Chloe gritted her teeth, “No, it looked like he backed off and he jumped the fence when we spotted him…I thought it might have been Finn…”

“Finn?” Mark spluttered.

“I don’t know, tall, dark hair, fair-skinned, it could have been Finn,” Chloe lied, “I mean I wouldn’t put my life on it that it was Finn but I can’t think of anyone else in this street that would do something so creepy and it seems so random for a perfect stranger to choose Elly’s bedroom window when the pair of us were getting changed.”

“Okay, stay here and lock the doors, I’ll go outside and check it out,” Mark decided.

“Ah, the guy jumped the fence, Mark. Can’t you just…go over to the Kennedy’s to see if Finn is there and has an alibi to rule him out of this? I know you’ve been wanting to catch him out doing something dirty and spying on your nearly-ex-wife…and…me in her bedroom getting changed and making out a little bit could get around town if it was him,” Chloe continued lying.

“Right, good point, stay here, I’ll be back in a few minutes,” Mark insisted, immediately taking Chloe’s word for it and taking off out of the house.

As soon as the front door slammed shut and she heard Mark’s footsteps pounding down the wooden stairs outside, Elly entered from the hallway, “I kinda hope for Finn’s sake he is at the Kennedy’s and has an alibi for this cause you kinda just dropped him right in it, Chlo…good work getting rid of Mark. Let’s go.”

Chloe sighed as she hoped Elly was right and Mark would find Finn at home at the Kennedy’s with clearly no involvement in the made-up story of a guy spying on the pair of them, “Okay…yeah let’s get you to hospital.”

By the time Chloe had helped Elly down the stairs, they opted to get into Elly’s car. Since Chloe didn’t want to waste time walking Elly across the street to her car which was parked in Aaron and David’s driveway, she had taken Elly’s car keys and settled into the car she wasn’t used to driving.

Mark casually walked into the Kennedy’s after knocking on their opened front door and spotting Karl at the dining table eating breakfast, “Hey, Karl, sorry to barge in, is Finn home?”

“Uh yeah,” came Finn’s response from the kitchen as he was busy making his own breakfast.

“Where were you a minute ago?” Mark demanded.

Finn frowned, “Ah…over by the fridge getting the milk out for my tea…why do you need to know where I was?”

“What’s going on, Mark?” Karl asked before affirming, “I’ve been here and Finn hasn’t left the house this morning.”

By this stage, Elly’s sister, Bea, had joined the three men in the main room of the house, “Mark, what are you doing here?”

Mark continued staring at Finn, “So you weren’t at my house a minute ago in my backyard spying through the bedroom windows?”

“No,” Finn stated matter of factly, “Why would you even ask me that or think that?”

Karl, Bea and Finn all looked at Mark with curiosity, as he fumbled about with confusion, “I’m sorry. It’s just…Chloe said there was someone outside Elly’s bedroom window staring into the room spying on Elly getting changed and the guy looked a little bit like you but he jumped the fence and ran off. I wanted to make sure you didn’t…you weren’t doing anything creepy like that. It wasn’t much of a lead…it was probably…someone else.”

“Ah okay,” Finn replied, not sure how to take Mark’s claims of thinking it was him or if this was another of Mark’s attempts to bring him down.

“What was Chloe doing in Elly’s bedroom this early…and when she was getting changed?” Bea asked curiously.

Mark paused then tried to get out of the mess he had no idea how he had found himself in, respecting that Elly wouldn’t want her family to find out about her and Chloe from him, “Did I say Chloe? Sorry, I didn’t get much sleep last night. Elly told me that a guy was spying on her from her bedroom window. Those two spend so much time together lately…it’s easy to get them confused.”

Bea stared at Mark suspiciously, “O…kay…ah…how are things between you and Elly?”

Karl perked up, “Yes, are the two of you getting on and adjusting to not been together but living together because of the baby?”

Mark pursed his lips, “It’s good…we made the right decision to end things between us because we’re not perfect together. The living together in separate rooms is…good. We’re adjusting. We’ve…still got to sit down and have a proper discussion about how the thr—two of us will raise the baby… You know what, apologies for the interruption to your morning and sorry for kinda accusing you of…I don’t really know what, Finn. I’m gonna go and see if Elly can give me some more information as to why she thought it was you outside her bedroom window five minutes ago.”

Without waiting for a response, Mark ducked out of the house.

As Chloe reversed the car out of the driveway, Elly ducked her head as she spotted Mark walking back out of the Kennedy’s with an obvious confused look on his face. Chloe wanted to ignore him as they drove right past him but instead gave him a little wave leaving him even more confused as to why the pair of them were taking off.

"Well that was in no way awkward," Chloe said quietly before turning to Elly, "Are you feeling any better or is the pain still bad?"

"Bad," Elly groaned, "I'm supposed to be at work soon. Where's your phone? If I call Susan from it and put it on speaker can you tell her...I don't know, try not to panic her as I don't want Mark to know yet...just tell her you're taking me to the doctors as I'm not feeling well and not to tell anyone else yet. I'll call her back once the doctor has seen me."

Chloe wanted to sigh and point out that Elly was now dragging her further into her web of lies to Mark but not wanting to distress Elly any further than what she was already dealing with, did as she was asked and called Susan to alert her Elly wouldn't be able to make it to work that day as she was taking her to the doctors without revealing more info as to why. Chloe then made a quick call to Terese to explain the same reason as to why she wouldn't be at work.

A few minutes later, Chloe and Elly arrived at the hospital, with Chloe holding her arm around Elly's waist. As the couple approached the main desk outside of Dr. Dietrich's office to ask for the doctor, David spotted them and walked up to them.

"Hi girls. Elly are you here for a checkup?" David asked politely.

"We're here to see Dr. Dietrich, can you call her for us?" Elly replied quickly, trying to hide the pain she's in.

"I'm sorry, Dr. Dietrich is on leave this week. She's gone to Sydney to her ex's to sort out some schooling issues with their son," David informed them.

"She's what?" Elly asked with serious concern.

"Sorry the hospital should've called to rearrange your appointment," David replied.

"Yeah, this isn't for an appointment," Chloe finally stepped in to say, "Can you take a look at Elly?"

"No, it's fine, it's nothing serious. You don't need to check me or the baby over," Elly tried to claim, "I should just go home and rest--"

"Nothing serious, Elly, what the hell?" Chloe replied, her voice rising, "David, please check her out, she's experiencing pain in her stomach."

David nodded, "Sure, of course, I've got a meeting with Finn soon but that can wait while I make sure you and your baby are okay. Let's get you into one of the exam rooms."

Elly immediately hesitated.

"Ah...Karl should be starting work very soon if you'd feel more comfortable having another doctor check you over," David offered, not sure if he should be offended that Elly didn't want him to check her over.

"Any other doctors available?" Elly quickly asked.

Chloe shook her head in disbelief that Elly could be so scared of the pain she was in and what it could mean for her baby and yet was still trying desperately to keep her secret, "Elly, let David check you and the baby over."

"But--" Elly started to say.

Chloe immediately interrupted knowing her girlfriend was terrified of David learning the baby was 6 weeks younger than everyone all thought, reassuring her calmly, "We will deal with that together okay. It'll be fine."

Elly reluctantly agreed, still much to David's surprise, "Okay, okay."

Chloe helped to lead Elly into one of the examination rooms and as he was entering the room behind them, David called over to one of the nurses, "Can you get me the file from Dr. Dietrich's office on Elly...Conway...it might be Brennan but Medicare probably still have it as Conway?"

As Elly laid down on the exam room table, with Chloe standing next to her, holding onto her gently, "What? Why do you need my file?"

David closed the door behind him, "Because if you're experiencing pain in your stomach, I need to do an ultrasound and see if it's connected to the placenta rupture you had after that guy framing Finn knocked you to the ground a couple months back."

"That seems extreme to have to do an ultrasound, can't you just check me over and then I could come back for an ultrasound when Dr. Dietrich is back next week?" Elly asked quickly.

"Enough, Elly, stop lying, you are doing this baby more harm than good. I know you are worried but you've always put this baby first so can you please do that this time?" Chloe pleaded with Elly.

Before Elly could answer, David asked, "Do you want me to call Mark and get him to come down here to support you? I know you probably think he can't handle it if there is--"

"No!" Elly shouted at David, "Do not call Mark! He doesn't need any involvement in this!"

David stared at Elly in complete confusion as the brunette was clearly in pain.

"Elly, would you just tell David so he can do the ultrasound to make sure your baby is fine?" Chloe begged.

"I can't," Elly whispered.

Chloe ran her hand against Elly's lower back supportively, but she was done with her disbelief that Elly could possibly continue this lie to a doctor even though it was their brother-in-law, "David, Elly is only 3 and 1/2 months pregnant, the baby isn't Mark's. Can you please do the ultrasound and we can deal with this secret after we know the baby is okay?"

David stared at the women in stunned silence.

Elly probably hates me right now...did I just throw our relationship away because Elly is still clearly in denial over telling Mark the truth? Now David knows...maybe I can get his help to convince Elly to come forward and deal with this secret, Chloe thought.

Chloe probably hates me right now...am I about to throw our relationship away because I am still completely in denial over telling Mark the truth and Chloe is done trying to convince me to come forward and deal with this secret? Elly thought.

Chapter Text

Just Friends?

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Chloe stood there next to Elly, holding her hand and running her other hand over Elly's lower back, "The baby will be fine."

"You don't know that," Elly whispered back.

"It's perfectly normal for David to get a second opinion before he comes back here to tell you what's happening," Chloe reassured, "Be glad that second opinion isn't coming from Karl as that's the last thing you need to have another member of this family knowing the truth."

Elly sighed, "David didn't say a word to me the whole ultrasound. Something's wrong I know it."

"Or David was a little bit in shock when I told him the baby wasn't Mark's and he was too focused on trying to move past his shock and give you the ultrasound," Chloe posited.

Elly squeezed Chloe's hand, "Thank you for telling David."

Chloe was surprised, "You're thanking me? I thought you'd hate me for telling David the baby isn't Mark's."

"I thought you'd hate me for been unable to tell David myself," Elly admitted before saying, "I don't hate you for telling David. I put you in a really awkward position and you did the right thing for the sake of the baby. I don't know what's wrong with me Chlo, I just can't seem to bring myself to admit to what I've done. I'm so ashamed of myself and everything I did after the wedding up until when we got back in touch. I just keep making it worse the longer I keep lying to Mark and everyone."

Before Chloe could reassure Elly, they would find a way to help her, David reentered the exam room. 

"Is the baby okay?" Elly immediately asked.

"Yes and no," David answered, "There's no immediate danger or issues with the baby but the pain you were feeling was in the same place it was where you got knocked down. It looks like the placenta rupture hasn't healed completely and it's teared again just a minuscule amount but enough for you to feel it. It's not serious right this moment but you're risking aggravating the issue back to what it was a couple months ago. I'd say it's not quite a physical issue this time but with the amount of stress you are putting yourself through...it's not getting the rest it needs to heal. The stress is...and the reasons why you didn't want me to perform the ultrasound...is now starting to make a little bit of sense now that I know..."

"David, I can explain," Elly offered.

"It's probably better if you don't," David immediately told her, "I already know too much and kind of wished I didn't."

Elly stared away from David, "Are you going to tell Mark...or Aaron?"

David chewed on his lip, "No. Patient confidentially means I can't. I'm already on a warning for Aaron reading Finn's file from my office. I'm not about to risk it again even though..."

"Does that confidentially extend to Elly because I was the one who told you and I'm not the patient?" Chloe asked.

"Yes, Chloe, it has to do with Elly and her pregnancy so it's confidential. I can see Dr. Dietrich made notes in Elly's file that her husband isn't to learn any details surrounding the pregnancy," David confirmed.

"What if I had told you outside of the hospital? Would it still be confidential?" Chloe questioned.

"Yes, Chloe," David repeated, trying to hide his frustration of the situation he had been put in, "It's confidential and I can't tell Mark or Aaron."

"What do you want me to do now?" Elly asked.

"I'm admitting you to the hospital for one night of rest and to try and relieve your stress for at least one night and so we can monitor your blood pressure regularly to see if anything changes or if the pain in your stomach continues," David told the brunette, "One night isn't going to solve this. You need to make sure you get a lot more rest and find a way to limit your stress levels over the rest of your pregnancy."

"Okay," Elly admitted.

“How do you want me to explain your absence tonight to Mark? He’s…been messaging me a few times asking if I sent him on a wild goose chase this morning for no reason but I haven’t gotten back to him yet,” Chloe revealed, not elaborating for David’s sake.

Elly smiled up at Chloe, “Can we just tell him we’re hanging out at your place tonight and then tomorrow we can tell him I ended up staying late and crashing at your place for a change?”

“Okay,” Chloe answered, then glanced over at David to see him look uncomfortable at the lies the pair were spinning to Mark.

Fifteen minutes later, Elly was settling into her hospital room.

Chloe smiled pleasantly at the nurse assisting Elly but stood back until the nurse left and Elly immediately reached out her hand to Chloe.

"Thank you for been here with me," Elly whispered as she drew Chloe over to her and wrapped her arm around Chloe's waist, "Do you reckon there's any chance you can stop by my place and get some things for me that I'll need before I get discharged tomorrow? Or is that too awkward if Mark's there and trying to keep my hospital stay from him?"

"I'll sort it out," Chloe promised, "You just rest and try to start this whole de-stressing thing."

David entered the hospital room, "All settled in, Elly?"

"Yes, all good," Elly answered.

"Great, the nurses will be in and out checking your blood pressure regularly," David told her before asking, "Hey, Chlo, are you able to help me with some of the paperwork for Elly so we can let her rest?"

"Sure, no problems," Chloe responded, before kissing Elly's forehead and following David out of the room.

As the pair walked down the hallway, David turned to Chloe when there was nobody around, "The baby isn't Mark's? Chloe, what is going on? What has Elly done?"

"I thought you didn't want Elly to explain because you didn't want to know anymore than that," Chloe replied quietly, a little bit taken aback by David's shocked yet calming tone of voice.

"Doctor me didn't want to know anything more than what was needed to help my patient, but the me that is brother-in-law to Mark, wants to know what is going on," David explained. Even though there was no one around them, the pair still spoke softly to one another, "You're not seriously going to tell me Elly cheated on Mark again?"

Chloe reluctantly nodded, "It's complicated, David."

"So I am right that Elly cheated on Mark again after he took her back," David realized.

"I'm not going to try and even begin to justify what Elly did but she was having a really hard time trying to get Mark to trust her again after her and I...and she truly thought she was pregnant when she told him the first time. Then she found out it was a false positive and she tried to tell him but she just knew he only took her back because of the baby and instead they wound up in a conversation where he said some hurtful things to her that after what happened between her and I, he'd never be able to touch her again for the rest of her life...not that I'm making it out to be Mark's fault at all but he did play a small role in her state of mind that night. Elly just...got drunk and had a one night stand," Chloe explained.

David shook his head, "And Elly got pregnant to her one night stand?"

"Yes," Chloe whispered.

"Is there really zero chance of this baby been Mark's?" David asked.

"Unless the baby was severely underdeveloped at her two previous ultrasounds and Elly would end up loosing the baby because it's not developing...there's zero chance that it's Mark's," Chloe answered, "Mark believes Elly's pregnancy is further along."

"Yeah, we all did," David sighed, "Elly didn't tell Mark she was never pregnant the first time...does Mark not know this baby isn't his?"

Chloe looked down at the ground unable to face her brother-in-law.

"So you know everything then and you're helping Elly hide it," David determined.

"I'm not proud of it," Chloe replied softly.

"Chlo, Elly cannot hide this kind of thing from Mark. I know the doctor in me wants Elly to find a way to not have so much stress in her life but...Mark is my brother-in-law, he needs to know the truth," David decided.

Chloe ran her hand through her hair, "You think I don't know that? David, Mark is my brother, it is hurting me seeing him so invested and happy in looking forward to raising this baby. Even now that he and Elly have split and Elly and I are together that hasn't changed Mark's need for this baby."

"Then why won't Elly tell him the truth before Mark ends up raising a baby that he doesn't know biologically isn't his...? Please tell me you and Elly are not planning on letting that happen," David told her with frustration.

Chloe sighed, not used to seeing this side to David who was usually so cool, calm and collected, "Believe me, David, when I tell you that I've known about this for three weeks and I want Mark to know the truth. I literally do not know why Elly won't tell Mark the truth. It's like she's in complete denial over the fact she cheated on Mark for a second time and with--and no matter what there is nothing I've been able to do or say to Elly that will convince her to sit down with Mark and tell him."

David chewed on his lip at Chloe's slip up, "Was this not a one night stand with a random guy...do you know who the father is?"

"Yes," Chloe nodded, "Technically...I never met him."

David motioned for Chloe to tell him, his curiosity getting the better of him.

"It's Shaun Watkins," Chloe gave in.

"Finn's brother," David said in surprise.

"Yes," Chloe whispered, "Shaun and Finn both know that Shaun is the father. Shaun made a deal with Elly to leave her to raise the baby with Mark if she helped change her statement in Finn's court case to get him released."

David put his hands on his hips, "Well I guess things are starting to make more sense. Chloe you cannot allow this to happen. Mark needs to know the truth."

"I know, David," Chloe agreed, "I got on my high horse when I first found out and went to tell him myself when Elly refused...I couldn't do it. Mark needs to find out from Elly but like I said she is in some form of denial and she can't bring herself to tell him because she knows how badly this will break him to loose another baby."

"How bad is this denial Elly's in?" David asked, finally showing some genuine concern for Elly.

Chloe lent against the hallway wall, "Pretty bad, David. I can't get through to her. At first she agreed with me that it would be impossible to hide a difference of 6 weeks in her conception date from Mark especially since he would be completely aware that it rules him out of been the baby's father. I thought at first if I just gave her a couple extra days she'd come clean but she didn't. Then Elly and I...became Elly and I...and she asked for a little bit of extra time because she wanted the pair of us to be settled into our relationship before she told Mark. It's been two and a half weeks and..."

"Elly still hasn't told Mark," David concluded.

"I...haven't decided yet how...involved I want to be with Elly's baby...I mean whether or not I'm ready and committed to...co-parenting the baby with Elly," Chloe admitted, "Elly always said she doesn't want to be a single parent and I'm terrified she's..."

"Waiting for you to give her the answer before she either comes clean to Mark if you are prepared to be a parent to this child or finds a way to keep this secret from him enabling Mark to be a parent to a child that isn't his," David realized.

"I don't know...I could be completely wrong about it...but whatever the reason Elly is refusing to open up to Mark and...I don't want to be the person who goes behind her back to tell Mark the truth myself as then Elly will never trust me again...and she needs to have at least one person she trusts with everything after what she's done. This denial that she's in, David, it's getting worse," Chloe admitted.

David nodded, "Elly nearly refused to allow me to check on her and the baby even though she was in severe pain."

"Yeah," Chloe agreed, "Mark was at home when she started experiencing the pain and she made me send Mark on a wild goose chase after Finn for something Finn didn't do...okay the Finn part I came up with myself on the fly because I know Mark still wants to catch Finn doing something dodgy. Anyway it was just to get Mark out of the house long enough for us to get her in the car so I could drive Elly here. You saw her nearly freak out when she found out Dr. Dietrich was in Sydney and the thought that another doctor would have to examine her and would end up discovering her secret. Elly hesitated...she hesitated in getting her baby checked out because of this secret, David. I don't think she actually would've refused completely if I hadn't been there to tell her to get into the exam room and have the ultrasound...but just for a moment Elly put this secret above getting help for her and this baby."

"Elly's pretty deep in this secret and not wanting Mark to learn the truth, isn't she?" David accepted.

"I don't know how I'm supposed to convince Elly to break out of her denial. I've tried what I can...and aside from me telling her I'm on board to raise her baby with her before I've even decided if I am...just to see if that'll break her down into telling Mark if she thinks all she needs is someone to help her raise this baby with her...I'm out of ideas," Chloe admitted.

"Chloe if you're not ready to be a parent then you can't tell Elly you are ready just to see if that really is the reason Elly is holding back from telling Mark the truth. If you are ready...you should be able to tell Elly in your own time...it shouldn't have anything to do with the possibility that Elly won't tell Mark the truth until you make your decision. It sounds like someone else needs to talk to Elly," David concluded.

"Would you talk to her now that you know everything there is to know?" Chloe asked.

David crossed his arms in front of his chest, "Chlo...I was more thinking that Elly needs to sit down and talk to a professional about all the lies she's spinning and what this is doing to her."

Chloe sighed, "A therapist...? Great. How am I going to broach that with Elly and make her see it's for the best?"

"I wish I could talk to her for you, Chloe," David replied, "But you and Elly have both put me in a very awkward position. I'm part of this family and now because I'm duty-bound by my job I can't tell Mark or Aaron that Elly is lying to Mark about who the father of her baby is."

"I know," Chloe gritted out, "I've been dealing with this for weeks and I can barely stand it anymore. Every time Mark mentions the baby, I want to throw up at the thought of how he is going to react to the news."

David stood firmly, "If I can help you find a way to get Elly to talk to a therapist, then you need to be able to promise me that Elly will tell Mark the truth soon, Chloe. Yes, I brought you out here to ask more questions as to the news that this isn't Mark's baby and maybe I should've left it alone. But I didn't and know I'm caught directly in the middle of this like you are. Elly cannot continue this pregnancy to full term without telling Mark he isn't the father because as much as I cannot break patient confidentially, I don't think I'm capable of lying to my husband about this when it directly affects his family--"

Aaron appeared behind David around the corner of the hallway, "Okay, that is not the kind of thing I want to hear out of my husband's mouth...what are you incapable of lying to me about, David? Chloe, what are you trying to get David to lie about?"

Chloe swallowed hard, wondering how her and David could get out of this mess.

Elly laid alone in her hospital bed, with her hand over her baby bump, still worried that something was wrong with her baby as she wondered what was taking Chloe so long to get back to her.

You have the worst timing ever, Aaron. I brought David into this mess and now I have to find a way to get him out of it. Elly, why can't you just find a way to stop all these lies and tell Mark the truth like I want? Chloe thought.

C'mon, Chloe, come back to me. Why do I keep making these mistakes and spinning these lies? I nearly put this secret ahead of my baby's health...if Chloe hadn't been here...what is so wrong with me to do such a thing? Why can't you just find a way to stop all these lies and tell Mark the truth like Chloe wants...like Mark deserves? Elly thought.

Chapter Text

Just Friends?

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Chloe pursed her lips at Aaron as she scrambled to find an excuse as to why she would be getting David to lie to his husband, knowing they couldn't tell him the truth that Elly was in hospital as that would arise suspicions as to why Mark didn't know she was there. For fear that the truth that Elly wasn't carrying Mark's baby and David was now in on the secret, would be revealed to even more people instead of Mark.

"Aaron...I didn't pay rent last week and I missed another payment last month...David wanted to speak to me alone about it without making it a big deal in front of Leo or Kyle...or you. He didn't want to embarrass you by asking me about when I'm gonna pay up the extra rent I owe because...it's important to you two as a family to make sure your housemates are paying their share of the rent so you two won't be in the hole for your mortgage repayments..." Chloe claimed on the fly, internally shaking her head if this now meant she might have to stump up more money she didn’t owe to rent a room at her brothers’ home that she barely lived at.

Aaron eyed Chloe with suspicion, "David asked you to come all the way to the hospital to discuss you not paying rent...when you're supposed to be at work today...? What did you walk here? Cause when I left the house your car was still in the driveway. I know because it took me five minutes to get my car out from the front of yours so I could get out. If you're not going to drive to work, at least tell us so we can rearrange the order the cars are parked. Is it my imagination or weren't you wearing that same outfit yesterday when you came home to get changed for work? Did you not have time this morning to come back to ours to get changed after spending the night at Elly's?"

Chloe wanted to sigh heavily but instead held it together to continue lying to her brother, "Valid points, all of them. Yes, David thought this was serious enough to get me to come here to discuss it…I have been very…absent from the house of late. Yes, I walked here…I’m starting work late today and wanted the exercise. I’ll go home to get changed before I go to the hotel. Anything else I can answer for you?"

“No, it’s fine,” Aaron answered before turning to David, “I don’t like it when you lie to me, Boo Boo. Why couldn’t you come to me to discuss Chloe been behind on her rent? You and I are about honesty. Especially since I made the mistake of going through Finn’s medical files. Don’t lie to me, David.”

Chloe grimaced at David without Aaron seeing her, understanding just how much pressure Elly and she had now put him under and he would be forced to continue lying to his family just like Chloe was lying to hers.

“I’ve learnt my lesson,” David lied, “It won’t happen again.”

Before any of them could say anything further, Bea and Finn walked over to them.

“Bea…Finn…what are you guys doing here?” Chloe asked hesitantly, struggling to keep it together with so many people crowding around her when she needed to keep it a secret that Elly was in hospital.

“I’m here for my appointment with David,” Finn answered.

“I needed some air so I came with Finn for a walk before work and I’ll hang out here for a bit until David and Finn have finished,” Bea replied, “What are you guys doing here?”

“That’s a good question that I haven’t even told David yet,” Aaron pointed out, “David, can we do dinner at home tonight together? We haven’t spent a whole lot of time together recently and I wanted to make sure we don’t forget to spend time with one another. I’ll get everything set up, you just gotta turn up, Boo Boo.”

“Sure, sounds good,” David agreed.

“How about you, Chloe?” Bea questioned.

“Oh, I just came here to talk to David about some…housemate stuff he needed to talk to me about,” Chloe responded.

Feeling the need to get back to Elly and away from everyone for fear of them learning Elly was in hospital and thus Mark either been alerted to the situation or someone pointing out it wouldn’t be right to keep him away if something was happening with the baby, Chloe announced, “I’m gonna head off. See you guys all later.”

Before anyone could respond, Chloe left the group and headed back down the hallway towards Elly’s room. Glancing behind her to ensure Aaron, Bea or Finn weren’t trailing behind her or if there was anyone else, they knew around, Chloe then quickly slipped into Elly’s hospital room.

Elly smiled brightly as soon as she saw Chloe re-enter the room, “Hey baby, I was wondering where you’d gotten to. Did David get you to fill out a mountain of paperwork?”

Chloe went over to Elly, pulled over the chair next to the hospital bed and repositioned it right next to Elly’s bed. Sitting down in the chair, Chloe couldn’t help but smile when Elly reached out for her hand and then lent over to kiss her softly.

“I missed you,” Elly whispered.

“I missed you, too,” Chloe replied as she sat there as close to Elly as she could get without lying down with her in the hospital bed.

Elly pressed their lips together again, before nuzzling her face against Chloe’s neck, “Did everything go okay with David?”

Chloe entangled her hand with Elly’s, “Yeah…I told David everything, Elly.”

Elly nodded, “I thought David didn’t want to know.”

Chloe tilted her head, “I guess curiosity got the better of him as he is part of our family and this affects him too. He needs to lie to his husband and Mark now about this until you come clean to Mark about the baby’s paternity…do you get that at all? How we’ve gone and put David square in the middle of these lies we’re spinning?”

Elly pulled her face back from Chloe’s neck but brought her free hand up to glide it against Chloe’s jaw, “Maybe we shouldn’t have told David the truth.”

Chloe pursed her lips but still sunk into Elly’s embrace, “You needed David’s help, Elly, to ensure nothing had happened to your baby. You need to eliminate the stress from your life if you are to heal from this rupture.”

Elly sighed, “I know.”

“Elly, I needed help too, okay,” Chloe admitted, “This secret that I’m keeping from Mark…these lies that you are spinning to everyone because of it…you’re drawing me into this web of lies, Elly, and I don’t know how much longer I can keep doing this for.”

Elly nodded but didn’t address Chloe’s concerns, too afraid that she wouldn’t have the answer Chloe wanted to hear, “Does David know everything…everything?”

Chloe stared at Elly, “David knows how far along in your pregnancy you really are to what Mark believes. He knows you had a false positive test but couldn’t bring yourself to tell Mark for fear that the baby was the only reason why he took you back. He knows you cheated on Mark again and had a one-night stand after you and Mark had your tiff about Mark not wanting to ever touch you again. He knows Shaun is the father, that Shaun and Finn both know about it. And he knows that Shaun blackmailed you into setting Finn free.”

"Okay...but David doesn't know about Caitlin's ultrasound photo or any of the other blackmail with Dr. Dietrich's son?" Elly asked.

Chloe shook her head, "I just gave David the basics...okay maybe a few things more than the basics. He wants to help us, Elly, but he can't lie to Aaron for the duration of your pregnancy. Please can we just call Mark and either get him to come here or tell him at home tomorrow after you get discharged?"

"I don't want Mark to find out like this," Elly whispered.

Chloe untangled their hands but reached out and placed her palm against Elly's upper back, rubbing it supportively, "How do you want Mark to find out Elly? You cannot keep avoiding this. I gave you time after I found out what you did to Caitlin's ultrasound. Then we got together as a couple and I gave you more time because you wanted to focus on us and making sure we were in a good place. But this is it, Elly. You're in hospital overnight because of all the stress you've been under hasn't quite healed your rupture. I know telling Mark won't be a walk in the park and will probably end up causing you more stress but after Mark's reaction we can go back to concentrating on keeping your stress levels down and focus on you raising this baby."

Elly stared at Chloe, feeling comforted by her girlfriend despite knowing Chloe was not happy with their situation, "Mark wants this baby so badly, Chlo. I just can't take it away from him even though I'll be honest and say that...raising this baby with Mark...it's not exactly the ideal way I would like to raise this baby."

Chloe breathed deeply, "Elly, are you in complete denial that Mark needs to find out that the baby isn't his?"

Elly lent her head against Chloe's arm, unable to look at the blonde as she hesitantly nodded.

Chloe tipped her head to the side, "Okay at least you’re not in denial that you are...in denial. I spoke to David about your reluctance to tell Mark the truth and the lies that you've gotten yourself caught in...this web that you can't untangle yourself from...David thinks you need to sit down and see a therapist."

Elly still refused to look Chloe in the eyes but didn't remove herself from Chloe's embrace, "Okay."

Chloe was surprised, "Really? I thought you might not agree to it because you would think talking to a professional about your problems is...I dunno...just not something you would ever do."

"Will you come with me?" Elly asked, lifting her head and staring into Chloe's eyes.

Chloe shook her head gently, "I think it would be best if you spoke to the therapist on your own, Elly. These are your issues that you need to resolve so you can tell Mark the truth. The denial that you are in revolves entirely on you been unable to tell Mark you cheated on him again and you're pregnant with Shaun's baby. It's not about me or our relationship which you have completely accepted. I'm more than happy to go with you to the appointment but you need to be the one who sits down with the therapist and has the discussion on your own with her or him, okay?"

Elly nodded, "Okay."

Chloe smiled back at her girlfriend, "Aaron and David are having dinner together tonight but seeing as though you'll be here all night long, I might spend the night back at home...for like the first time in weeks. I'll try and let the boys enjoy their meal first before I head home. I'll see if David can give us some details for a therapist tonight and we'll book something in once you've been discharged in the morning. Are you sure you don't want me to let Mark know you're in hospital overnight? You'll probably be on bed rest for the rest of the week so it might be hard to keep this from him. The ultrasound is over so I don't think we're risking much by telling him you're here and the baby will be okay as long as we keep your stress levels down."

Elly shook her head, "I don't want to worry Mark about the baby. Can you call Suse for me and let her know the doctor said everything's fine but I'll need to rest for the week and won't be at work? Don't tell her I'm staying here overnight and can you maybe tell her Mark is really fragile over the idea of anything happening to the baby so we're not keeping him in the loop on this...that all he'll know is I've come down with a bad cold that has nothing to do with the baby and need bed rest to recover?"

Chloe chewed on her lip.

"I know...it's another one of my lies I'm drawing you into..." Elly admitted, "Maybe after I speak to the therapist in a few days’ time, I can find a way to stop all the lying and start telling Mark and everyone the truth."

Chloe closed her eyes before reopening them and giving in, "Okay...but this is the last lie I tell for you okay?"

Elly continued stroking her fingers against Chloe's jawline, "You are so perfect. I don't deserve you."

Chloe blushed, "Is there anything else you need me to do for you besides dropping by your place and getting a few things for you that you'll need?"

Elly ran her fingertips against Chloe's lips, "I just need you to stay here with me and be with me like this...keep comforting me for as long as you can today. I'm going to miss not been in your arms tonight."

Chloe smiled brightly, "Of course I'll stay here as long as I can. I'll head back to Mark's to grab your stuff in the early evening and just tell him you're staying at mine tonight and you wanted me to get a few things. I'll miss having you in my arms tonight too."

"We'll have the rest of our lives to spend our nights in one another's arms to make up for missing this one," Elly promised.

The couple continued staring into one another's eyes, happily in their own little world.

Further down one of the hospital hallways, Finn exited David's office to Bea waiting for him.

"That was really quick," Bea said as Finn shook David's hand and David headed off.

Finn waited until David was out of earshot, "Yeah I guess I didn't have a whole lot to say this morning. I still don't have any memories coming back and the questions David asks are pretty easy for me to answer since I'm not lying to him or anyone for that matter about my feelings. But if I'm honest...David was really distracted the whole time. I'm not even sure why and he wouldn't talk to me about it. It's probably nothing important. You right to walk home with me or can I drop you off at the garage on the way home?"

Bea nodded, "Yeah we can go past the garage. There weren't many bookings for today as of late yesterday but I'll still be needed there for most of the day."

"Great," Finn replied, as the pair began walking down the hospital hallway, "Bea...I just wanted to thank you for supporting me the last few months. I really couldn't have gotten throu--Elly Conway?"

"What? Where?" Bea asked as Finn stopped in his tracks, weirdly worried by Finn's tone of voice.

Finn pointed to the hospital whiteboard that was hung on the wall opposite the reception desk that had a list of patients, their room number and reason for their hospital admittance.

Bea frowned as she read the board, "Elly Conway, room 207, placenta re-rupture. Well I hope David and Chloe didn't know about this because why wouldn't they tell me?"

Finn shrugged his shoulders, "I'm sure it's nothing serious otherwise Elly would have called you, right?"

"You're right. Mark's probably with her and maybe they didn't want to panic us. I'm going to go find her and see what's going on," Bea decided, "You right to wait for me outside her room before we head off to the garage?"

"Of course," Finn agreed as he followed Bea down the hallway to Elly's hospital room.

Arriving at the room, Bea looked in the window of the door, "Oh...Elly's with Chloe not Mark...why wouldn't Chloe tell me Elly was in hospital? I only saw her fifteen minutes ago... Huh...Elly and Chloe look awfully cosy together...guess they really are back to been best friends. Stay here I'm gonna see what's up."

Even as Bea was talking, Finn had taken out his phone from his pocket and was only half-listening to his housemate.

As Bea left him on his own, Finn started typing a text message:

'Shaun, just thought you should know Elly is back in hospital with a re-occurrence of the rupture from last time. I don't know any further details but I'll let you know if I find out anything. I'm sure it's nothing serious. I miss you, bro.'

Finn watched as the three little bubbles popped up under his message and he awaited Shaun's reply...

Bea opened the hospital room door and was surprised to find Elly leaning closely to Chloe as Chloe sat there next to Elly with her hand supporting Elly's back. Elly was talking softly to Chloe and the pair were staring at one another with Elly smiling deeply at Chloe. Neither woman acknowledged the sound of the door opening.

Bea managed to hear Elly say to Chloe, "--make me so happy, Chloe. I love you."

"I love you, too," Chloe whispered back, and before Bea could react, she watched as Elly lent up and bought her lips to Chloe's, kissing her gently.

"Ah--" Bea reacted as Chloe pulled back from Elly immediately at the sound, "...hi..." is all Bea could manage to utter in surprise at her sister declaring her love for her soon-to-be-ex-sister-in-law before kissing her.

Bea! Well...I wasn't expecting anyone to find out about us today...I guess I'm about to know for sure that Elly isn't in denial of her feelings for me when it comes to her family...mine was easy for her...this could go a different way...and also crap Elly didn't want anyone knowing she's in hospital, Chloe thought.

Bea! Well...I wasn't expecting anyone to find out about us today...damn it I really wanted to be the one to tell Bea about Chloe. I didn't want to have my sister walk in on me kissing Chloe...please be okay with this Bea...this is going to be easy to explain to Bea that I'm in love with Chloe as all she wants is for me to be happy...and also crap I was hoping no one else would find out I'm in hospital. I guess my web of lies isn't quite over yet, Elly thought.

Chapter Text

Just Friends?

Chapter Thirty

'Finn, thanks for letting me know. I know it's been a few weeks since you told me Elly split from Mark. Is there definitely no chance they'll reconcile?'

Finn looked at Shaun's reply to his message before answering him.

'I'd say no chance. They both seem to have come to terms with the end of their marriage. Elly appears convinced that she still wants Mark to be the father as they are still living in the same house. If that changes, I'll let you know.'

'Thanks, I still need time to think about what I should do.'

Finn smiled at Shaun's reply, hoping there would still be a chance that Shaun would want to be part of the baby's life as long as Mark found out the truth first that the baby wasn't his and Elly wouldn't have him around to raise the child with her.

Bea stood in the hospital room staring at Elly lying in the bed, cuddling up to Chloe who was sitting next to her, "Uh...what's going on?"

Chloe hesitated for a moment before saying, “I should let the two of you talk to one another…alone.”

Elly refused to allow Chloe to let her go from their embrace, “No, you shouldn’t, Chlo. Stay here with me exactly as you are.”

“Are you sure?” Chloe whispered as she glanced up at Bea.

“Absolutely, anything Bea and I discuss…you can be here for,” Elly decided, before she turned back to Bea, choosing instead to address her been in hospital, thinking Bea could see for herself what was going on with her and Chloe, "How did you know I was here in hospital?"

Bea was almost thrown by the immediate reminder that she'd found Elly in hospital as she was so surprised to see her sister kissing Chloe, "I came with Finn for one of his appointments with David. Finn saw your name on the patient list on the whiteboard where doctors keep track of all their hospital patients. It said you re-ruptured your placenta. Why didn't you tell me?" 

Elly then rested her head against Chloe's arm, "It's nothing serious, Bea, I'm just in hospital for one night. It's a very minor tear. It'll heal soon and I'll be fine."

"Why didn't either of you tell me? Chloe, I just spoke to you out in the hallway. Did David know too?" Bea asked rapidly.

Elly bought her free hand to entangle it with Chloe's, "Yes, David knows I'm here, he admitted me after doing an ultrasound. Don't blame Chloe, Bea. I asked her and David not to tell anyone because I didn't want anyone worried about me or the baby. We're both fine."

"Why wouldn't you want anyone to know you're in hospital suffering the same condition from a couple months ago? Where the hell is Mark? Why isn't he here supporting you?" Bea questioned rationally.

Elly sighed as she looked up at Chloe for support before glancing back at Bea, "Because this isn't as serious as last time and all I need is a few days rest and work on not living with as much stress for the remainder of my pregnancy. I'll be fine, the baby will be fine. I'm not involving Mark in knowing about this because he's far too fragile to deal with it if he thinks I could possibly loose the baby. I don't need his support...or lack of it because I'll be too busy supporting him from this hospital bed if he finds out I had another slight tear in my placenta. I really need you to keep my hospital stay from Mark, Bea, he won't cope with it...and I won't cope trying to get him to cope. Besides I have all the support I have right here from Chloe."

Bea blinked as she watched her older sister smile up at Chloe as she continued leaning into Chloe's embrace and Chloe couldn't hide the smile from curling upon her lips as she ran her hand against Elly's back to soothe Elly.

"Um...okay...I won't tell Mark you're here if you think it's for the best," Bea hesitantly agreed before she pointed between the two women, "So... What's going on...here?"

"How much did you see or hear when you came in here?" Elly asked simply.

"Uh...you're happy...the 'I love you's' and...the kiss," Bea answered.

Elly smiled, "Yeah that pretty much sums it up."

"That's all you’re going to say...'that sums it up'?" Bea was flummoxed.

Elly gave in, motioning for Bea to sit down on the edge of the bed next to her and Chloe, and when her younger sister did, Elly told her, "I'm with Chloe now, she's my girlfriend...I left Mark to be with her."

Bea was taken aback, "You left Mark for Chloe?"

Elly nodded unable to resist snuggling into Chloe's embrace even more, "Yes. I love Chloe, Bea. I know it took me a really long time to figure that out but I do and Chloe makes me really happy."

Bea couldn't help but look at Chloe as Elly was talking and the way Chloe seemed to brighten up at all of Elly's words, "Does Mark...like know about you two?"

"Of course, Mark knows I'm in a relationship with Chloe. I kinda told him and Chloe together that I was leaving Mark for Chloe. It's one of the reasons Mark and I split and why I moved into Chloe's old bedroom at his place," Elly replied.

"Only 'one of the reasons' you and Mark split?" Bea queried.

"Mark and I weren't in love with one another, Bea. Sure, there was a 'love' between us but it was nothing compared to what I've been feeling since I got together with Chloe a few weeks ago," Elly admitted.

"Didn't you only split from Mark a few weeks ago?" Bea pointed out.

Elly continued clinging to Chloe, "Yeah...Chloe and I kinda officially happened...pretty much the minute after I left Mark to be with her. Mark was pissy at us for jumping into bed together that quickly but he calmed down and knows we didn't mean to hurt him. He's completely over it now. I mean he doesn't like Chloe and I been all 'in love with one another' when we're at his place but he's accepted Chloe and I are together and will be for as long as humanly possible."

Bea raised her eyebrows, "You two jumped into bed together a minute after you left Mark?"

Elly and Chloe both blushed but Chloe continued to let Elly carry the conversation with her sister, "And every night since...sorry...that was an overshare. Yes, maybe we should've slowed things down at first but my relationship with Chloe has been building since she first kissed me before Christmas...I didn't want to wait any longer. It wasn't the best reflection to end my marriage to Mark by immediately being with Chloe. It's why Chloe and I haven't come out as a couple yet. It has nothing to do with me not wanting to tell people about us...I'm so in love with you, Chloe...”

Elly got lost in Chloe’s eyes for a moment before continuing, “But we...and Mark agreed to keep our relationship between the three of us...okay Aaron and David know too because I blurted it out to them...because we didn't want people to think we were cheating on Mark or that I literally jumped into Chloe's...no my bed in Chloe's old room at Mark's…with Chloe the second I removed my wedding band from my finger. I probably need to revise this whole coming out speech so everyone else I tell doesn't get to hear that detail that we actually want to keep to ourselves..."

"I thought all that was between you was one night together when Mark cancelled the wedding," Bea assumed.

"That is what I wanted to believe at the time...that it didn't mean as much to me as it really did...and then the wedding and the baby...happened...and I was too focused on everything else except how I truly felt about Chloe. I never should have gone ahead with the wedding. I should’ve stopped it and taken a step back to realize why that night with Chloe happened. I was too in my head about needing to present to everyone in my life that I had a perfect life with a guy that would be a good husband instead of someone who loves me," Elly confessed, "My feelings for Chloe are real, Bea, I'm not in denial anymore," Elly heard Chloe cough softly at her remark, "I'm not in denial about my feelings for Chloe. I'm in love with her and she loves me too, don't you, baby?"

Chloe finally spoke up, "Of course. I always have."

Bea nodded, still staring at the way the pair were holding one another, “I can see that. I guess I’m still surprised but…as long as you’re happy, Elly, I’m happy to support the pair of you.”

Elly reluctantly let go of Chloe’s hand and took Bea’s hand in hers, “I really am happy, Bea. Thank you.”

Bea squeezed Elly’s hand, “So if you two are in a relationship and, Elly, you’re still living at Mark’s for the sake of the baby…how is that all going to work? I mean the three of you…and the baby? Are you kinda like a thruple or something?”

“Ah not like that…I mean Mark had the horrible idea at first when I told him I was leaving him for Chloe that him and I could stay together and have an open marriage. He wanted to allow me to date Chloe on the side without people knowing and he’d be okay accepting I’d be with Chloe every night. But I’d still be married to him and then he and I could raise the baby together and Chloe gets to live her life without responsibility but would get to enjoy been with me. Safe to say I nixed that idea, because Chloe means so much more to me…but we’re…the three of us are still trying to navigate this whole…baby raising that we’ll all be involved with…or not so involved with…” Elly explained then trailed off slowly.

Chloe cleared her throat, “I’m still…trying to decide my place in all this…I know my place is with Elly as my partner and I’m going to be there to support her every step of the way with her pregnancy…just when the baby comes…aside from still doing everything to support my girlfriend…I gotta work out my place on how involved I want to be raising the baby with Elly…ah…and Mark.”

“Okay, you got plenty of time to work that stuff out between you,” Bea smiled. She could sense that maybe Chloe not been prepared to help Elly raise the baby with her might be a sore subject for Elly if her sister truly wanted to raise the baby with her girlfriend. Bea changed the subject, “So…will the pair of you be…telling people about your…coupleness soon?”

Elly grinned back at Chloe, glad to have the subject of Chloe raising the baby with her off the table for now, terrified Chloe would one day tell her she wasn’t ready to, “Chloe and I are going to be attending some birthing classes as a couple in a fortnight and I want us to be out before then so yes it’ll be very soon. I really was planning on telling you about this Bea. You, Susan and Karl. I do plan on telling Susan and Karl in the next week or so. Probably after I’m all healed from this incident. Chloe and I will sit down with them and tell them. Then everyone in both our families will know and it’ll be free reign on everyone else to find out themselves. Bea, I do want you to know that I didn’t want to hide it from you.”

Bea smiled at her older sister, still getting used to seeing Elly so happy when she had never looked this way before, “I get it, I’m just glad you’ve found someone who loves you the way you deserve.”

“I have,” Elly confirmed as she lent up and kissed Chloe gently before resting her forehead against Chloe’s, feeling comfortable to be embracing her girlfriend in front of Bea, “I’m glad I’ve found her too.”

A few minutes later, Bea left the couple alone to re-join Finn out in the hallway before heading off to work. Bea grinned at him as they began walking towards the hospital’s exit.

“What’s up with you, Bea? You look happy, is everything okay with Elly?” Finn asked curiously.

“Yeah, everything’s fine. It’s just a one-night stay and she needs to rest up but her and the baby will be fine,” Bea announced, “Finn, not that you have much to do with Mark, can you just make sure not to mention this hospital stay to him? Apparently, he’s overly fragile at the prospect of anything going wrong in this pregnancy and Elly can’t deal with the stress of needing to support him because he won’t be capable of supporting her through this.”

“Sure, no problems,” Finn agreed, wondering what that would mean for Mark if he did learn the truth about the baby, wishing he could talk to Bea about it, “Is that all? You look really overly happy about…something.”

Bea smiled up at Finn, “Yeah…Elly’s happy…like really happy…happier than I’ve ever seen her before in her life…happy.”

Finn smiled back at Bea, “Really? Does that mean Elly’s doing okay after her marriage breakdown?”

Bea nodded, “Turns out Elly didn’t really go through any kind of breakdown after her marriage ended. They’ve still got some stuff to work out with raising the baby together. But ending their marriage was what was right for them because Elly doesn’t love Mark when she’s in l--”

“When Elly’s…?” Finn couldn’t resist pressing, hoping for any information that might help his brother decide to come forward and be a part of the baby’s life.

Bea hesitated before gently explaining, “I can’t go into the details because it’s not my place to say but…Elly’s moved on. She’s in love with a previous…flame of hers, she has been for a while and realizes now she shouldn’t have gone ahead with the wedding because she’s had these feelings for a long time. The only concern…I mean Elly didn’t say it to me…I got the sense that Elly wants to raise this baby with her new partner…and is concerned where that leaves Mark in the equation… Elly can’t exactly keep the father from raising their child together even if she has moved on and is happily in love with a partner who could help her raise this child.”

Finn was stunned by this revelation, feeling like he had jumped the gun by contacting Shaun. He wondered if he should message Shaun back to let him know Elly already had all the support, she might need to raise this baby even if Mark learnt that Shaun was the father and wouldn’t be part of the baby’s life. Finn was far too curious to find out if Shaun did want to have a place in the baby’s life and instead decided he would leave the new information until he heard back from Shaun about what he wanted to do.

Finn replied, trying to hide his worry that he knew more about Elly’s pregnancy than Bea did, “No, Elly can’t keep the father from been a part of the child’s life… I’m really happy for Elly, that she’s found someone who loves her. Everybody deserves to find that.”

“Yeah, we do,” Bea agreed as she led Finn out of the hospital.

Back in Elly’s hospital room, Elly was still curled up to Chloe, whispering in her ear, “Do you think that went okay…? That Bea supports us?”

Chloe pressed her lips to Elly’s forehead, “Sweetie, that went amazing. Bea was very supportive. I’m so proud of you for coming out to your little sister. It’s a huge step forward for us.”

Elly smiled deeply at her girlfriend, “I can only hope Susan and Karl have the same reaction and then there is nothing holding us back from happily spending our lives together.”

Chloe nodded, kissing Elly deeply.

Nothing but your denial to tell Mark that it’s not his baby and that is truly stopping us from the life we could possibly have together, Chloe thought.

Okay so there is that little ‘nothing’ been my denial to tell Mark I’m not carrying his baby and if I could just find a way past this then I can tell Chloe that the only thing in the world I want is for her to raise this baby with me…that will be how I want to happily spend our lives together, Elly thought.  

Chapter Text

Just Friends?

Chapter Thirty-One

One week later

Elly and Chloe sat together outside of a therapist’s office.

“You doing okay with this?” Chloe asked, knowing Elly was nervous.

Elly shrugged, “I don’t know…I’m not sure this will really help me. Are you sure I have to go in there to talk to the therapist alone? I’d feel more comfortable with you there for me.”

Chloe smiled at Elly with reassurance, “You’ll do fine talking to her yourself, Elly. I’ll be out here the whole time waiting for your appointment to end.”

Elly reached out and placed her hand on Chloe’s knee, “Thanks for skipping out on your time at work to be here. Terese is probably getting pretty sick of how much time you’re missing at work due to my pregnancy and issues. I’m sure she would understand a little bit more if she knew you were my partner.”

“It’s absolutely fine, Elly,” Chloe told her, “Terese is probably happy that I’ve mellowed from my crazy hair-brained schemes or helping Paul with another one of his crazy ideas. I’ll be able to make up the time I’m missing. Don’t worry about my work, concentrate on yourself and talking to the therapist about how to help you break out of your cycle of lies.”

“Are you sure David thinks this lady will be able to help me?” Elly asked, not able to concentrate on herself for a minute.

“David wouldn’t have recommended her if he didn’t think she could help you,” Chloe pointed out.

“David still hasn’t told Aaron, right? How has David been coping with lying to Aaron?” Elly asked quickly.

“Your secret is safe from Aaron. But David’s not happy that he has to keep lying to Aaron about your pregnancy, Elly. He’s been in a bit of a bad mood about it when he’s at home with Aaron but he can’t tell him why he’s in the bad mood. I think it’s really starting to affect them as a couple, Elly. I’m sorry, I’m not trying to put this on you but we really need you to sort everything out so you can tell Mark th--” Chloe was saying as she was interrupted.

“Elly Conway?” a woman asked as she opened her office door and walked towards the pair.

Elly sighed as she stood up, shaking the woman’s hand politely, “That’s me.”

“Sara Matthews,” the therapist introduced herself, “You ready?”

Elly looked between Chloe and Sara, feeling the need to introduce Chloe as to who she was to her, “This is my girlfriend, Chloe.”

Sara smiled at Chloe, “Nice to meet you, too. You ready, Elly?”

Elly hesitated, glancing down at Chloe, “Can you please come with me, Chloe?”

Chloe looked up at Elly, “Elly I--”

“Please, Chloe,” Elly pleaded, “I really need your support. I just need you there for me, sitting next to me, you don’t have to have any further involvement in the appointment.”

Chloe looked at Sara, slightly hoping the therapist would turn down the idea of Chloe joining the session but instead Sara nodded at the pair, “That’ll be perfectly fine.”

Chloe wanted to sigh and refuse, knowing Elly was the one who truly needed help, but gave in to Elly’s request to join her.

A few minutes later, Elly and Chloe were seated on the therapist’s couch. Sara sat opposite the couple.

Sara held an old-fashioned note pad in front of her, set to make notes with her pen, “Would you like to tell me what brings you here today, Elly?”

Elly shrugged as she glanced at Chloe sitting next to her.

“Dr. Tanaka gave me a call when he recommended that you get in touch with me. He told me you’ve been having some issues with lying to the people that care about you…normally I’d ask if you thought that was true…but you might not tell me the truth. How does that make you feel?” Sara asked.

Elly shrugged once more.

“Are the lies you are telling hurting the people that care about you?” Sara asked.

Elly nodded but didn’t answer.

“Would you be willing to tell me a little bit about how that makes you feel that you’re hurting people?” Sara asked.

Elly shook her head.

“What type of lies have you been telling the people that care about you? Are they the type that hurt you more than them?” Sara asked, still remaining patient with Elly.

Elly returned to shrugging.

Chloe finally shook her own head, “For God’s sake, Elly, say something.”

Elly glanced at Chloe but ignored her.

“It seems like Chloe is trying to help you,” Sara pointed out, “Have any of your lies affected your girlfriend?”

Elly nodded, again refusing to talk.

More than half an hour later, Chloe was beyond frustrated at Elly. They had sat there together on the couch for that long as Sara continued in the therapist’s way of asking question after question, with very few statements been made and no opinions given. Whilst Elly had broken her silence a little while back, in the whole time they’d been in the room, Elly had said no more than one dozen words to the therapist.

Chloe ran her hand through her hair, as Sara was asking Elly about when the cycle of her lies began but Elly gave her another one of her shrugs that Chloe was getting sick of seeing.

“Elly, we are here to help you,” Chloe snapped, “We can’t do that if you won’t help yourself.”

Elly chewed on her lip, “I can’t.”

Chloe reached out and took Elly’s hand in her own, “Elly I have tried been patient but we have been sitting here for half an hour and you’ve said next to nothing. Do you even want help at this point?”

Elly sighed unable to work out what was wrong with her and why she’d all but frozen once she had stepped into the office and couldn’t find her voice to talk to the therapist when Sara was gently probing her about her tendencies to lie to the people who care about her.

Sara lent forward, “Are any of these lies about your relationship with Chloe?”

Elly stared off into the distance.

Chloe finally spoke up and answered, “No, our relationship is just about the one thing Elly hasn’t lied about. We’re not exactly out as a couple to everyone in our circle of community but that’s more to do with the reasons why Elly is lying about the rest of the stuff. Elly has told people about us when she needed to but she won’t tell them the rest of the stuff that she’s lying about.”

Realizing that Chloe definitely needed to talk about what was weighing down on her and thinking maybe Elly listening to Chloe talk about the issues could be a way to bring Elly into the conversation, Sara turned her attention to Chloe, “How has Elly’s lies affected you?”

Chloe pursed her lips, “I try to keep my relationship with Elly separate to all the lies Elly has been spinning but I keep getting dragged into them. It’s affecting me because it concerns my eldest brother mostly.”

“How so?” Sara asked.

Chloe looked at Elly, “Can I tell her?”

Elly nodded but other than that ignored Chloe airing her concerns.

“Elly is pregnant and my brother, Mark, believes he is the father of her baby when he isn’t,” Chloe explained calmly, “Mark and Elly were married…okay…still are technically. Elly cheated on Mark when they were going through a hard time right after they got married and is now in denial that Mark needs to know he isn’t the father. My brother has come to terms with the end of their marriage and Elly’s decision to be with me but he is making plans about the baby’s impending birth and been a father to this child. He is completely unaware that Elly isn’t as far along in her pregnancy as he believes.”

Sara nodded, showing no judgments, “You would like Elly to admit to cheating on Mark and tell him he isn’t the father?”

Chloe chewed on her lip, unsure how to take Elly’s apparent case of ignoring what she was saying in airing her concerns, “Yes, of course. It’s hurting him. It’s hurting Elly. It’s hurting me. It’s hurting people around us. I know it won’t be easy for Elly to break out of her cycle of lies and tell him the truth but Mark will work this out eventually when the baby is way overdue. The truth needs to come from Elly. I can’t be the one to tell Mark. I need for Elly to own her mistakes and come clean to my brother so he can deal with loosing this child in his own way.”

Sara turned her attention back to Elly, “How does that make you feel, Elly?”

“Not good,” Elly answered quietly.

Chloe tried hard not to roll her eyes at her girlfriend’s constant avoidance to her issues, but turned to Elly anyway, “I want to support you, Elly, but you are making this very difficult for me. I know you don’t want to admit to cheating on Mark again but he needs to know the truth.”

Sara picked up on Chloe’s word ‘again,’ “Is lying to Mark part of the reason why you are no longer together?”

Elly ran her tongue over her lower lip, “No, I shouldn’t have married him. I’m in love with Chloe. That’s why I left Mark.”

Chloe shook her head, “Like I said, the relationship Elly and I share with one another seems to be the one thing that Elly has never been able to lie about. Elly was engaged to Mark, her and I were best friends, I fell in love with her, I was honest with her about it, and whilst she kept my feelings for her from Mark, that has been the only time that Elly has kept what was going on between us a secret. We cheated on Mark a few nights before the wedding, he took off, abandoned Elly, texted her to tell her he couldn’t marry her. A few days later, Mark returned and they got married. Elly told Mark about us within minutes of been announced husband and wife. Long story less long, Elly did have feelings for me but was dealing with trying to fix her marriage because she thought that’s what was expected of her to be married to a great guy, she fell pregnant after cheating on Mark again in a drunken haze, she left Mark to be with me when she realized she did have feelings for me nearly a month ago, and it’s been more than four months since she fell pregnant and she still hasn’t told him the truth.”

“Why do you want Mark to believe this baby is his?” Sara asked Elly.

Elly shrugged for what Chloe felt was for the hundredth time since they sat down in the room.

“Has your tendency for lying to get out of situations or hiding the truth from people been something that was brought about recently with your previous relationship to Mark or with the pregnancy, or have you always found yourself lying your way through things?” Sara asked Elly.

“Not sure,” Elly answered briefly.

“Elly’s mum wasn’t the most stable person in the world. I think that had an effect on Elly that she needed to find someone stable who will love her unconditionally which I do. Her mum would lie about things and though I don’t know Elly’s mum well enough I can see the pattern of what Elly probably dealt with growing up,” Chloe revealed, “But it’s no excuse in this situation anymore, Elly. Mark is planning his entire future around this baby. He doesn’t hold our relationship or the way we got together when you left him for me against us. Everything for Mark is about this baby…I get you don’t want to take it away from him, Elly, but what is it going to take for you to actually break out all these issues and tell Mark the truth?”

Elly looked at her watch, “I think we’re done here, time’s up for the session.”

Chloe sighed in frustration at Elly’s complete and utter lack of progress.

Sara felt for Chloe and wondered if Elly could see how much the blonde was hurting by what Elly was doing, “Very well. Next time I think it might help if I just see Elly here.”

“That’s what I wanted to begin with,” Chloe revealed.

Elly nodded, “Sure.”

Sara put her notebook down, “Elly, before you make another appointment to see me…if that’s what you want…I’d like you to do something for me. Take some time to yourself and start talking out loud about the secrets you’ve been keeping. Get comfortable saying them out loud instead of keeping them trapped in your mind. Maybe that will help you to feel more comfortable admitting to yourself what you’ve done and make it easier for you to admit them to other people when the time comes.”

“Sure,” Elly repeated, standing up, taking Chloe’s hand in her own and leading them out of the office.

A few minutes later, Chloe and Elly were walking back to Chloe’s car so Chloe could drop Elly off at home before heading to work.

Chloe pursed her lips, “Well that was…”

Elly shrugged again, “It was good.”

“Good? You think that was…good?” Chloe asked in confusion, “Elly, you barely said two words in there. You had an opportunity to open up to someone who will not judge you and you didn’t take it.”

“I don’t think one session is gonna solve my problems, Chlo, you had to have known that,” Elly explained, “I’ll take Sara’s advice on talking out loud about the lies I’ve been telling. I’d prefer to do that with you than alone though.”

Chloe squeezed Elly’s hand, “You mean like practicing your speech to Mark with me?”

“I dunno…maybe,” Elly said without commitment, “Are you going to come over to mine tonight after work?”

“Ah…sure,” Chloe agreed, wondering if Elly would ever make progress and come to terms with her lies.

Elly smiled at Chloe, trying hard to put her useless therapy session behind her, “I’m glad you moved some of your stuff into my room at Mark’s so you don’t constantly have to go between mine and your place every morning. The place finally feels like home now.”

“It does?” Chloe seemed surprised.

As they reached Chloe’s car in the car park, Elly stood next to Chloe by the passenger door, looking down at Chloe, “Before I admitted my feelings for you…back when we were ‘just friends’ I told you something was missing from Mark’s that would make it feel like home. You thought it was baby. It wasn’t, it was you. Every time you spend time with me there…even though we don’t live together yet…it feels like home to me, Chloe. You make it feel like home.”

Chloe blushed at Elly’s assertion, “Wherever we are together will always be home.”

Elly grinned happily, leaning down and kissing Chloe softly, surprising Chloe as they were out in public, “C’mon, let’s get out of here. The sooner you get to work, the sooner you and I will be curled up in my bed tonight.”

Chloe opened the door to her car for Elly, letting Elly get in before closing it and walking to her side of the car. Before she opened her door, Chloe couldn’t help but breathe heavily for a brief moment, unable to work out how Elly could be so honest with her about their relationship and yet could work so hard to refuse to come to terms with telling Mark the truth about her baby.

That therapy session did not help Elly one bit…what is it going to take to break Elly down and see what she’s doing to us? Chloe thought.

That therapy session didn’t really help me did it? Is there anything in the world that will get me to come to terms with the choices I’ve made and tell Mark the truth? Elly thought.

Chapter Text

Just Friends?

Chapter Thirty-Two

Later that evening, Chloe walked into Mark and Elly’s house. Mark was on the couch with a beer and watching Doctor Who.

“Hey, Mark,” Chloe greeted, “Elly home?”

Mark turned around to glance at Chloe, “Yep, Elly’s already in bed, resting from her cold she came down with a few days ago. Hey, Chlo, are you sure Elly’s just got a cold as she doesn’t seem to have many symptoms of a cold, she’s just resting a lot? You’d tell me if it was something related to the baby, right?”

Chloe nodded gently, “Of course. It’s just a cold, Mark. Elly’s run down and needs to rest.”

Mark shrugged, “Okay…make sure you let her sleep tonight again like the last few nights, would you? If she's feeling better, don’t spend all night…keeping Elly up…with your constant sex romps that go to the early hours of the morning. That's about the only good thing about Elly having a cold, it's halted you two and your love life that I'm really sick of hearing every night. We might have to get a builder in here to renovate some sound proof walls one day if you decide to move in.”

Chloe rolled her eyes, ignoring Mark’s comments, “I’ll see you in the morning, Mark.”

Chloe immediately left Mark alone and walked down the hallway towards her former bedroom. Chloe knocked quietly on the door before entering the room.

Elly was lying in bed on the far side of the bed. Even though she was covered by the doona, Chloe knew her girlfriend was naked as that’s the way she slept. Elly was lying away from the door but turned her head to look up at Chloe, “Hey, you.”

Chloe smiled brightly at her, “Hey, Elly. Sorry I got caught up at work and then Terese insisted on getting me dinner at the Waterhole to make up for it even though I was the one that started work late this morning. How are you feeling after talking to the therapist now? Do you think it has actually helped now that you’ve had a few hours to take in what happened?”

Elly shook her head, but bit her lip as she watched her girlfriend stand next to her side of the bed and the blonde begun stripping herself of her clothes, “Feeling fine, just trying to spend as much time resting. I’m kinda over resting at this point. I want to get back to doing normal things. I don’t think the therapist helped at all to be honest. I mean I know my problems are to do with lying but she hardly gave me any advice to break that cycle. The whole talking out loud to myself and saying my lies to myself didn’t really do much good. I did try it but I couldn’t work out how that was meant to help me. Maybe I should try it with you sometime tomorrow but I don’t think I’m going to bother seeing her again. I need to figure this whole lying thing out on my own or with your help.”

Chloe sighed but stayed silent, frustrated that David’s suggestion of a therapist had done little to change Elly’s views on lying and the web of lies she had spun to keep Mark from finding out Shaun was the father of her baby. As Chloe dragged her pants off her legs and her blouse from her chest, she wondered what it would take for Elly to finally break and tell Mark the truth.

Elly couldn’t resist licking her lips at the sight of Chloe undoing her bra and sliding her panties from her hips, “Ah…thanks for coming with me to see the therapist. I know you weren’t expecting to and probably think it didn’t help but it did, Chlo. I’ve been lying here thinking about telling the truth--”

“You have?” Chloe interrupted as her hand reached out for the corner of the doona.

“I want to sit down with Susan and Karl in the next day or two and tell them all about us. Now that Bea knows…and possibly Finn knowing how close he and Bea seem to be getting lately…I just want to tell the rest of my family the truth,” Elly decided.

Chloe breathed deeply, knowing that wasn’t what she hoped Elly wanted to be honest about even though of course a part of her wanted Elly’s family to know they were a couple. Chloe pulled back her side of the doona, slipping under the sheets, pulling the doona back over her body and shuffling across the bed until she was spooning Elly from behind.

Chloe pressed her lips to Elly’s shoulder as she wrapped her right arm around Elly’s tummy, smiling as she could feel the baby-bump. Even though it still wasn’t obvious that it was there when Elly was covered in clothes, it was present when Elly was naked. Chloe softly held her hand against the baby-bump.

“That’s good that you want to tell Susan and Karl about us,” Chloe whispered, before trying one more time, “Are you sure the therapist didn’t help you see you need to break out of your cycle of lies and be honest with Mark?”

Elly reluctantly turned around onto her other side, so she was facing Chloe. The only reluctance to looking deeply into the blonde’s eyes came from the feeling of having Chloe’s hand on her baby-bump as it made her feel comforted and protected by her girlfriend. But she needn’t have worried, as once she rolled over, Chloe still held her hand on the bump even though it was easier resting it there when she was spooning Elly.

Elly pressed her lips to Chloe’s, “My web of lies and Mark is the last thing on my mind right now, Chlo. I need to feel my girlfriend’s body against me. It’s been a week, baby, I need you.”

Chloe ignored her frustration at Elly still been unable to break out of her pattern of lies, unable to resist deepening the kiss, “Are you sure you don’t need another day or two to recover from the rupture again?”

Elly shook her head, as she rolled on top of Chloe, “I’m all healed, Chlo. I went back to see David after we went to the therapist and you went to work. He gave me the good news. I mean yes there is still a risk of another rupture if I don’t sort out my stress levels but there is nothing you can do to hurt me, sweetie. As long as you love me, there is nothing in the world that you could do that would ever make me feel even the slightest bit of pain.”

Chloe smiled up at Elly as Elly lifted her upper body up, sitting up, and began grinding her pelvis against Chloe’s. Chloe lifted herself up from the bed too, sitting underneath her girlfriend, placing her hand around Elly’s neck and bringing their lips together in a passionate kiss. Chloe reached her right hand down between Elly’s legs feeling the wetness gleaning between them.

Elly’s hands held Chloe’s shoulders as she hovered above Chloe. Elly began grinding her opening against Chloe’s hand, pleading with her girlfriend, “Please, Chloe, make love to me.”

Chloe slipped her index and middle fingers inside of Elly’s center, coating them in Elly’s wetness and making Elly groan heavily as her walls contracted around Chloe’s fingers.

Chloe worked her fingers in and out of Elly’s wetness in time with Elly’s grinding her hips against them, desperate for more contact when Chloe’s fingers came close to slipping out of her. Chloe continued teasing her girlfriend as she made love to her. Chloe pressed their lips together, deepening a kiss with Elly and exploring her mouth with her tongue.

As Chloe ran her finger against Elly’s clit, using her thumb too, Elly moaned loudly, her sounds pleading with Chloe to bring her to pleasure. Chloe rubbed Elly’s clit quickly, more than happy to bring Elly to orgasm.

Elly collapsed against Chloe as her orgasm washed over her, “God, Chlo, I love you so much.”

“I know, baby, I love you too,” Chloe whispered.

Elly let herself come down from her orgasm over the next couple minutes, not wanting to admit that she wasn’t fully back to strength. She licked her own lips as she quietly watched Chloe bring her hand up, and licked some of Elly’s juices from her own fingers. It amazed Elly how much that turned her on that Chloe couldn’t resist tasting her wetness, not able to waste all of it by just wiping her fingers clean on the sheets.

Elly soon made her move to shuffle her hips a little bit so she could slip her own hand in between Chloe’s legs. Elly lifted her hips to allow Chloe to spread her legs slightly before seating herself back against Chloe’s pelvis. Chloe nodded gently at Elly, before pressing her lips to Elly’s.

Elly slid her two fingers deep inside Chloe, enjoying the sensation as Chloe squirmed below her. Chloe managed to buck her hips against Elly’s hand and also allowed Elly to thrust her hips in time with the movements.

“Elly, please,” Chloe begged, already feeling Elly’s fingers against her clit stroking it rapidly.

A few minutes later, Elly smiled as Chloe orgasmed and she held the blonde in her free arm as her body shook from the sensations. Elly reluctantly glided her fingers out of Chloe, wishing nothing more than to keep making love to her. Elly brought her fingers to her mouth, slipping them inside to taste the wetness that was still flowing between Chloe’s legs, before leaning forwards and kissing Chloe deeply. Their tongues tangling with the others and the taste of each other still on their lips.

Elly groaned gently as Chloe held her hands to her hips, holding her gently.

“Are you tired, sweetie?” Chloe asked.

Elly reluctantly nodded, wishing she had more stamina to continue their passion as she loved having her face in between Chloe’s legs and slipping her tongue inside Chloe’s folds but realized that will have to wait for the next evening the way she was feeling, “I’m sorry, baby, I want to keep going--”

Chloe pressed her lips to Elly’s, calming her, “It’s okay, Elly, here let’s just fall asleep in each other’s arms.”

Elly smiled at Chloe, “The perfect end to every night with you.”

Chloe blushed at the way Elly always made her feel perfect before helping Elly to slide off of her hips and lie back down under the covers. Chloe and Elly resumed their position before they had made love with Chloe spooning Elly from behind and holding her hand with gentle protection against Elly’s baby bump.

Elly soon fell asleep in Chloe’s embrace but Chloe laid there unable to sleep.

An hour later, Elly roused from her sleep, “Mmm Chloe.”

As her eyes blinked open and she took in her surroundings, Elly sat up, worried when she realized Chloe wasn’t in bed with her, “Chloe?”

Despite her tiredness, and realizing Chloe was probably just in the bathroom or the kitchen, Elly needed to know where her girlfriend was. Elly got out of bed, wrapped her silky dressing gown around her naked body and left her bedroom.

As Elly entered the living room, Mark was still on the couch watching his Doctor Who, and Elly immediately asked him, “Have you seen Chloe?”

Mark glanced away from the television up at his soon-to-be-ex-wife, “Yeah, Chloe came past here ten minutes or so ago and headed back to her place for the night. Did you two have a fight?”

“No,” Elly answered, surprised by Mark’s question, “Chloe was meant to stay the night with me.”

Mark shrugged, “At least Chloe listened to me when I asked her to let you get some sleep and not allow your sex romping to go all night long like it normally does.”

Elly pulled a face of disgust at Mark, “First of all, what Chloe and I do in bed is called love making, not sex romping, Mark. Second of all, don’t ever tell Chloe or I about what we can and can’t do in bed together. It’s none of your business what I do with my body. If you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go get changed and head over to Chloe’s to find out why she left.”

“Isn’t it a bit cold and wet out there for you to go wandering across the street this late at night?” Mark pointed out.

Elly rolled her eyes as she walked away from Mark, “Third of all, don’t ever tell Chloe or I what to do when it concerns the relationship we have together. It’s only just past 9 o’clock, Mark, it’s not late at all.”

A few minutes later, Elly was on the front door step of Aaron and David’s house. As she raised her hand to knock on the door she was surprised when Aaron opened it and nearly bundled into her as he was leaving the house.

“Jeez, Elly, you frightened me,” Aaron gasped, “You here to see Chloe already?”

“Yeah, of course,” Elly answered, “Where are you off to?”

“To the Waterhole, we’re out of wine and Chloe needs a drink. You know I really thought I didn’t need to give you the disclaimer of if you hurt Chloe after the way you hurt Mark, you’ll be really sorry for messing with my family again. Did you two have a fight?” Aaron asked.

Elly frowned, “Why do people keep asking me that? No, everything was fine an hour ago when we fell asleep. What makes you think I could ever hurt Chloe?”

Aaron shrugged, “Well whatever it is, Chloe wanted to speak to David alone hence why I’m on wine-duty. Chloe’s sitting on the couch close to crying on his shoulder, Elly, so get in there and fix whatever it is you’ve done before it’s too late.”

Elly nodded, unable to work out what had gone wrong since she fell asleep, then suddenly worried if her bad habit of mumbling in her sleep had gotten her into trouble without realizing it. Elly left Aaron to his trip down to the Waterhole and she immediately headed inside the house.

As Elly walked down the hallway from the entryway, headed towards the living room area of the house she suddenly paused at the end of the hallway as she overheard David talking to Chloe, “Aaron’s not here anymore Chlo, we’ve got the house to ourselves. Talk to me, Chlo, what’s going on?”

Elly chewed on her lip at the thought that because she’d turned up as Aaron was leaving, David and Chloe didn’t know she was there. She glanced around the wall of the hallway, wondering how she should announce herself to Chloe and David, then frowned as to why she felt frozen there unable to announce her presence when she saw Chloe sitting on the couch with David who had his arm wrapped around her supportively.

“I can’t do this anymore, David,” Chloe told him.

“This has been really hard on you, hasn’t it?” David pointed out.

Elly watched on as Chloe threw up her hand in frustration, “It’s like Elly has no idea what this is doing to me…I dunno…maybe it’s because I’m too afraid to be honest with her.”

Elly blinked at the thought that Chloe wasn’t been honest with her. Even though she knew it was wrong to stand there listening in to Chloe's private conversation, Elly couldn’t help but stay silent where she was unable to move to go in and reassure Chloe, she would do whatever she needed to make things right with her for whatever she had done.

“Well, be honest with me,” David told Chloe.

Chloe breathed deeply, “I can’t do it anymore, David. Elly and all her lies about this baby…the way that it’s going to hurt Mark but she’s stringing him along anyway…for reasons I don’t understand. She is so tangled in all these lies and there is no end in sight of when she’s going to stop lying to everybody. She’s completely oblivious that she’s treating me like I’m just going to keep lying for her for as long as she possibly can. I can’t keep lying for Elly and I can’t keep quiet anymore and just sit back and watch Mark plan his entire life around this baby that isn’t even his.”

“What are you saying, Chloe?” David asked quietly.

Chloe lent her head against David’s shoulder, “I think I’m saying I’m done. I love Elly, you know I do, David. I know Elly loves me too, I feel it in everything she does...everything that doesn’t have a lie attached to it. But I’ve spent a month now being with her and these lies are endless…I have done everything I can think possible to get her to break and realize what’s she’s doing is hurting people. It’s hurting me…every day. I can’t do this anymore…I need to break up with Elly.”

Elly lent back against the hallway wall, absolutely crushed by Chloe’s decision to break up with her.

I don’t want to do this…but I cannot live with Elly and her lies anymore. The lies, drawing me into her web of secrets and hiding everything about this baby…it’s hurting me more than I’ll ever be able to tell Elly. If Elly cannot tell Mark he isn’t the father to her baby…I cannot allow myself to be with her anymore…I have to end it…no matter how much it’s going to break my heart, Chloe thought.

“As long as you love me, there is nothing in the world that you could do that would ever make me feel even the slightest bit of pain”…I was wrong, Elly thought.

Chapter Text

Just Friends?

Chapter Thirty-Three

Elly continued standing in the hallway of Aaron and David’s house. Chloe and David were just around the corner in the other room, sitting on the couch with David consoling Chloe. Her heart had broken when she had overheard Chloe telling David she intended on breaking up with her because of her lies. She wanted to rush into the living room and sweep Chloe off her feet to convince her not to end things but instead she couldn’t move. Elly stayed there in the hallway, unknown to Chloe or David, as she listened to her girlfriend breaking down.

“You want to end your relationship with Elly?” David asked.

Chloe shook her head, “I don’t want to, David. But I’m running out of ideas on what else I can possibly do to make Elly come forward and tell Mark the truth.”

“How did the therapy session go?” David queried.

Chloe shrugged, “That was the most useless hour of my life. Elly got me to join her for the session. We were there for nearly an hour and Elly barely said more than fifty words the entire time. She just shut down, David. She just kept shrugging and nodding and shaking her head when answering Sara’s questions about her tendencies to lie to the people who care about her.”

David sighed, “Did Elly address any of the concerns we have about the way she’s lying to Mark about the paternity of her baby?”

“No, we didn’t even come close to that. Sara was really good discussing and asking questions in general about Elly’s issues when it comes to lying to the people in her life,” Chloe explained, “But it didn’t affect Elly at all. She just shut down and wouldn’t talk about anything. I was the one that began telling Sara why I’m so concerned about Elly. Then when we left Elly acted like the session was good even though it didn’t help her and everything was perfectly fine between us. When I went over her place this evening, I thought maybe she’d had time to reassess how she acted in the session but she didn’t have a clue. She’s still acting like everything is perfect. Elly has no idea that I left her in bed because the truth is, I can’t keep hiding how much this is hurting me.”

Elly swallowed deeply from the hallway as she continued listening to her girlfriend breaking down. She lent around the corner of the wall, watching Chloe from where she was hiding. Seeing Chloe breaking down was worse than just hearing about the pain she was causing her but Elly couldn’t take her eyes off of her.

“You need to sit down with Elly and tell her how much you’re hurting, Chloe,” David advised.

“How can I?” Chloe asked, not knowing she already was, “I don’t even want to admit it to myself how much this is hurting me, David. Every single time Elly lies about this baby to Mark or anyone for that matter it makes me question how long it’ll be before she starts lying to me about something huge. If she can do it so easily with Mark, then what reason could she possibly give me to assure me she won’t lie to me in the future. She cheated on Mark twice within the space of 3 weeks and I know I was part of the first cheating scandal and nor would I ever think bad about the night I did spend with her when Mark cancelled the wedding. I do not want to be the type of person who would ever judge Elly for the things she has done but it does make me wonder if she’ll ever cheat on me.”

David shook his head, “I’ve seen the way Elly is around you, Chloe. It’s very different to how she was when she was dating Mark or anyone else for that matter. She can’t wipe the smile off her face, Chlo, you make her happy. Yes, in the past Elly has made mistakes and she’s not perfect but you’ve got to know she wouldn’t hurt you like that.”

Chloe ran her hand through her hair, “Okay, Elly may not cheat on me, David. But she is hurting me and it’s like she doesn’t have a clue. Or she’s so trapped up in her web of lies that she doesn’t even care. When Elly and I are alone together, she’s the most perfect woman I’ve ever met and she makes me so happy, David. But the moment we’re not alone everything else between us just feels like lies. I never know what she’s going to say to Mark or the rest of her family. When it comes to talking about the baby, that is. She came out to Bea last week and when I was with her this evening Elly mentioned she wants to tell Susan and Karl about us in the next couple days. She kissed me in public this morning. It didn’t matter that there was no one around that knew us, she still kissed me in front of strangers. She’s so honest about how she feels about me. Why can’t she be honest about this baby? Why can’t she see what this is doing to me?”

David didn’t say anything, he simply squeezed his hand against her shoulder, continuing to console her.

Elly closed her eyes briefly as she watched his actions, wanting nothing more than to be the one holding onto Chloe during her moment of need.

Chloe felt tears prickling her eyes, “I’ve tried hiding how I feel about all this from Elly, maybe I’ve gotten so good at it or maybe she really doesn’t know me as well I think she does. You know I’ve cried myself to sleep in Elly’s arms several times over the past couple weeks? I don’t think she’s even noticed. I left her in bed tonight before it happened again because I can’t keep hiding how much this is affecting me.”

Elly lent her forehead against the hallway wall, feeling tears welling up in her eyes but she couldn’t wipe them away, and continued listening to Chloe’s pain that she was unknowingly inflicting on her girlfriend.

“Chloe if it is affecting you this much and you haven’t been able to show Elly then I truly believe it is time that you sit down with Elly and tell her you’re crying yourself to sleep. It might help her come to terms with what she’s doing,” David suggested.

“I’m not sure I know the words to tell her how much it’s hurting me,” Chloe admitted, before reaching for her handbag that was on the coffee table and gently removed the ultrasound photo from her purse.

Chloe showed it to David, still cradling it in her fingers, “Elly gave me this at her 3-month ultrasound. She knew she couldn’t take it home in case Mark found it and didn’t want to leave it with the doctor. She asked me to keep it safe here at my place for her until she could take it back. I couldn’t just leave it here in my room. I’ve had it on me everywhere I go the whole time. Whenever I’m not with Elly or it’s really quiet at work, I can stare at this photo for hours on end just wondering if I’ll ever have to give it back to Elly…because as long as Mark doesn’t know the truth, I get to keep this for Elly. I get to struggle to hold back tears every time I look at this photo.”

Elly tried to hold back her own tears that began streaming down her cheeks at Chloe’s honesty.

David gave Chloe a supportive smile as the blonde stared down at the photo in her hands.

“As much as a small part of me wants to keep this photo forever and continue spending hours away from Elly staring at it, I know I need to give it back to Elly once she finally tells Mark the truth. I want Elly to come clean about her lies so I can give it back to her. I want to be able to tell her how much it hurts to cry myself to sleep in her arms or spend hours staring at this photo of her baby wondering when Elly is going to stop lying to everyone…to prove to me that this baby will be the only thing she lies about,” Chloe revealed, “But Elly doesn’t seem capable of understanding what I’m going though. All she seems to care about is making sure Mark doesn’t learn the truth about the baby. I don’t understand why. I know Mark will be devastated and this will break him but she can’t keep this secret forever.”

Elly breathed deeply, every word from Chloe was tearing at her heart, as she continued crying silently without anyone knowing she was there.

“There has to be a reason why Elly doesn’t want Mark to know and it has to be more than her cheating on him again since she broke down pretty quickly to tell him about what happened with you before the wedding,” David reasoned quietly.

“Elly doesn’t want to be a single parent, David. If she tells Mark he’s not the father, he won’t be raising the baby with her. She’s so scared of that happening. She has no idea how capable she is and how much love she can give this baby. This baby is so lucky to have her be his or her mum and she doesn’t have a clue,” Chloe cried.

Elly’s tears flowed down her cheeks without stopping as she continued breaking down at the pain she was causing Chloe, knowing there was a way to put her girlfriend’s feelings ahead of her fears.

“Elly’s not alone, she has you, Chloe,” David tried to reassure.

Chloe tried to wipe away the tears that fell down her cheeks, “What if the reason that she hasn’t told Mark the truth about the baby is because she knows he’ll want nothing to do with her but she doesn’t want me to be involved in raising this baby with her?”

Elly tried to choke back more tears at the mere thought that Chloe could think that.

“Elly hasn’t asked me to raise this baby with her, David. She’s asked me what role I would like to have in the baby’s life but she hasn’t asked me if I would consider raising the baby as a parent with her. What if she doesn’t want me to? What if she thinks all I am to her is a support to her and she refuses to tell Mark that the baby isn’t his so she can find a way to raise this baby with Mark because she doesn’t think I could ever be capable of raising this baby with her?” Chloe continued sobbing.

David held Chloe close to him but was unable to reassure her.

“This is why I have to break up with Elly, David. If Elly and I are in a relationship then I’m going to be in her child’s life. Until she finds a way to tell Mark the truth…I’m never going to be able to believe that Elly thinks of me as nothing more than someone on the side she enjoys going to bed with but doesn’t want me to be any part of her child’s life,” Chloe struggled to sob out before leaning her face into David’s shoulder and cried heavily against him.

Elly watched on, finally trying to wipe the tears from her face but her cheeks were drowning in them, seeing her girlfriend so broken and upset because she genuinely thought Elly was refusing to tell Mark the truth because she didn’t want Chloe involved in raising her baby with her.

As hard as it was for Elly not to rush into the room and tell Chloe she was so far off the mark to think that she didn’t want her involved in her child’s life, she realized she couldn’t just tell Chloe how sorry she was that she was hurting her girlfriend so much.

Elly needed to show Chloe that she could make up for all the pain she had caused her.

Elly fled Aaron and David’s house, even in her rush to leave the house, she made sure to open and close the front door behind her as quietly as possible, as she didn’t want Chloe to know she had overheard her entire talk with David.

Elly stood out the front of Aaron and David’s house, allowed herself to cry out the rest of the tears she possibly could, before she took several minutes to compose herself, wiping away all the tears on her cheeks, and walked back to Mark’s knowing what she needed to do.

Back inside the house, David allowed Chloe to continue sobbing against him. He didn’t feel like it was the most comfortable thing in the world to be consoling the woman who was clearly devastated. But in the absence of her brothers, as they couldn’t know why Chloe was crying, he was happy to stand in their place.

“Chloe, do you want to be a part of Elly’s child’s life?” David asked softly.

Chloe nodded into David’s shoulder, “Yes.”

“Do you want to raise this baby with Elly?” David questioned.

Chloe pulled back from David, trying to find a way to compose herself before whispering, “Yes…I want to be this child’s mum.”

David smiled gently at Chloe, knowing she was scared by telling him that.

“I knew the second I saw this baby on the monitor at Elly’s ultrasound that I wanted to be his or her mum. I spent most of the appointment focusing on supporting Elly. I didn’t see the need to actually look at that little blob that I couldn’t make heads or tails of but Elly finally got me to look at the image on the monitor…and I fell head over heels in love with this baby and I knew I wanted to be his or her mum. I felt so stupid at the time knowing that’s how I felt about the baby instantly. I tried not to make a big deal out of it but failed miserably and when Elly couldn’t find the words for how perfect the baby was I could. Elly had just told me Mark wasn’t the father an hour earlier and I had no clue Elly was developing feelings for me…but that didn’t matter…I knew if I was given the chance…I wanted to be this baby’s mum,” Chloe admitted.

David couldn’t help but smile brighter at Chloe.

“I know I might not seem like…mum material…I don’t live a very responsible life, in the past if I didn’t like my life, I would just drop everything and travel to another place in the world. Being with Elly has grounded me. For the first time, I’ve been able to see a future in front of me, not just the next day or the next week. I can see the next few years ahead of me and I want to spend them with Elly and helping her raise this baby as a second parent to him or her. I want my whole life to be about them. As much as I don’t want to take this away from Mark…I can’t help how strongly I feel about this…if Elly would just give me a chance…we could be amazing parents together,” Chloe told David confidently.

“It sounds to me like you need to be sitting down with Elly and telling her everything you’ve told me tonight,” David suggested, “I think you and Elly would make amazing parents, too.”

“But what if Elly doesn’t want me to be a parent to her child? What if that’s why she won’t tell Mark the truth?” Chloe went back to worrying.

“What if Elly does want you to be a parent to her child? What if she’s waiting for you to tell her so she can then tell Mark the truth?” David countered, “I know that might not seem like the best thing for Elly to be doing if that's what this is about for her, it might mean the both of you do want the same thing. If you're at the point that you're thinking about breaking up with Elly then I think at the very least she deserves to hear everything you have told me tonight. Maybe it'll change things and Elly will tell Mark the truth. If it doesn't...then at least you know you're making the right decision for yourself.”

Chloe breathed deeply before staring at David, "Thank you. I don't know what I'd do without you, David. Aaron is the luckiest guy around to have you."

David blushed, "What are you going to do now?"

"Compose myself, hopefully before Aaron comes back, go back to Elly's. If she's awake I'll talk to her. If not, I'll leave it to the morning and talk to her then. She needs her sleep. Tell Aaron when he gets back that you helped me sort my head out and for you two to enjoy that bottle of wine he went out to get," Chloe decided, before leaning forward and hugging David.

"Have a bit of faith, Chlo, once Elly knows how much this is hurting you, I'm sure she'll do the right thing," David reassured.

A few minutes later, Chloe walked back to Mark and Elly's house. Entering the front door, Chloe was surprised to see Elly sitting on the couch with Mark standing up over her.

Chloe was shocked speechless when she heard what Elly was telling Mark.

"You're not the father of this baby."

...did that seriously just happen? Chloe thought.

...I'm gonna own my mistakes and make this right with Chloe, she needs to know how important she is to me, Elly thought.

Chapter Text

Just Friends?

Chapter Thirty-Four

Chloe stood there in the entrance to Mark's house, wondering if she was imagining that Elly had just told Mark he wasn't the father of her child.

Chloe immediately looked over at Mark, who was standing there, hovering over Elly, blinking his eyes in confusion and Chloe knew that she wasn't imagining it.

Chloe wondered if she should turn around and leave her girlfriend and her brother to have this conversation on their own. Elly glanced over to her, not only acknowledging she was there but the look in her eyes told Chloe she needed her support.

Mark was still blinking wildly as Chloe silently walked over to Elly. Sitting down behind her on the couch, Chloe placed her hand on Elly's shoulder for support and Elly reached up to entangle their fingers. She sat there like that in silence, not wanting to interrupt Mark from having the reaction he was about to have until she felt it would be her place.

"You're not the father of this baby, Mark," Elly repeated, thinking Mark needed her to say it again for it to sink in.

"What?" Mark spluttered out.

Elly remained as calm as she could, preparing for the worst, but feeling grateful that she had Chloe's silent support next to her, "I cheated on you again, Mark...after Chloe."

"But I..." Mark uttered, still not able to form a sentence.

"I was in a really bad place. We had barely talked for nearly two weeks after the wedding and then...then we were trying to fix things between us but you went and made that comment about how you might never be able to touch me ever again," Elly started explaining.

"What does that have anything to do with this?" Mark finally managed to get out.

"Because that was the night I...I thought you and I were..." Elly trailed off before adding, "I went out and I got drunk that night..."

"And you slept with someone?" Mark finished for Elly.

Elly nodded, "I didn't know what I was doing."

Mark shook his head, "No, but...you were pregnant then...you...yes I said I'd never touch you again but we were working on things for the sake of the baby..."

"I got it wrong," Elly admitted, "I thought I was pregnant when I first told you after the wedding but when I got the blood test...the hospital told me I wasn't...I wanted to tell you, Mark. I was waiting for the right moment to tell you...I was trying to give our marriage a chance to survive after what happened with Chloe. I knew you only took me back because of the baby but I was hoping..."

"So instead of telling me you were never pregnant, when I made one bad comment to you, you got drunk, slept with some stranger and got yourself pregnant to him?" Mark demanded to know. His voice was still calm from the absolute disbelief of what was happening.

Elly nodded again, "Yes...except..."

Mark closed his eyes for a moment, trying hard to work out how he was supposed to react to what Elly was telling him, knowing his sister was there, silently supporting Elly, "Was it a stranger you hooked up with? Do you know who the father is?"

Elly breathed deeply, "It's Shaun Watkins."

"Finn's brother?" Mark asked, shocked by Elly's further admission.

"Yes," Elly answered, "I didn't know who he was that night...he was a stranger...but then I saw him at Finn's trial...and I knew what I'd done. That's why I left the courtroom and didn't give evidence the first time."

"Does Shaun know?" Mark demanded.

"Yes. Shaun agreed to return to Switzerland and leave the pair of us to raise this baby...if I changed my victim impact statement and convinced my family to take Finn into their home," Elly revealed.

"So, the father knows but I didn't deserve to know!" Mark suddenly shouted at Elly.

Chloe sat there behind Elly, still not interrupting Mark's overdue outburst, squeezing Elly's shoulder tightly to remind her she wasn't alone.

"I wanted to tell you..." Elly claimed.

Mark took a breath, "Is Shaun the only person who knows he is the father...? Besides Chloe...judging by the way she's not shocked by any of this...obviously!"

Elly held tightly onto Chloe's hand, waiting for Mark to react further that his sister knew before him, but when he didn't, she confessed immediately the list of people that knew the baby wasn't Mark's, "Leo, Dr. Dietrich, her son who's a student of mine and got his hands on my medical records and blackmailed me for better grades and alcohol...um...Finn...and David found out just last week."

"Finn knew before I did?" Mark re-confirmed, feeling most hurt by the fact Shaun's brother and Elly's former tormentor knew before he did.

"I didn't tell Finn. He figured it out on his own when I was attacked at the school and when Finn casually mentioned it to Shaun, he was edgy that something had happened to the baby. Then later that day I was at the Waterhole and Finn saw me there whilst an international phone number...Shaun's number I guess...came up on my phone...I have no clue how Shaun tracked down my number. I have not spoken to him since I told him to hold his end of our deal and leave," Elly explained.

Mark ran his hand through his hair, "So Shaun could leave and you could what...trick me into raising this baby with you?"

"No," Elly shook her head, "I was going to tell you...I wasn't going to trick you...I don't know what I was trying to do...I just...I didn't want to hurt you."

"Well you did!" Mark yelled, before focusing on Chloe, "How long, Chlo?"

"About a month, Elly told me right before that appointment at Dr. Dietrich that you asked me to drop her off to," Chloe answered simply, not bothering to even try and justify that she had spent the entire time trying to convince Elly to tell her brother the truth. That didn't matter because she had still betrayed her brother by keeping this from him.

But Elly didn't see it that way, more than capable of trying to justify Chloe not telling him, "Mark, Chloe has tried literally everything for the past month to get me to tell you. I have been in complete and utter denial that you needed to know the truth. That I cheated on you again…that this baby I’m carrying isn’t yours. Chloe has been trying to help me break out of it. I was in therapy today about the lies I've been spinning to you and it still didn't help me."

Chloe raised her eyebrow, unable to stop wondering what had finally helped her girlfriend.

Elly continued, "Chloe could not be the one to tell you this, I had to be the one. I had to take full responsibility for what I did."

Mark sighed deeply, "Why did you tell Chloe then and not me? We could’ve attempted to work through this…we could’ve…still had another child together…after you…"

"I was never going to lose this baby on purpose just to try again with you, Mark. I told Chloe everything because that appointment she took me to was my 3-month ultrasound and I needed support as I thought I was going to lose the baby as karma. I was so scared for this baby’s future," Elly answered.

Elly then elaborated further wanting to be as honest as she could with Mark, "I asked Chloe to join me for the ultrasound. I was struggling to deal with my feelings for Chloe as they were developing by that stage...enough for me to acknowledge them to myself for the first time…I allowed the pair of us to cuddle one another after the ultrasound whilst I was still lying on the table. I placed her hand over my belly because I wanted her to feel close to me…I wanted Chloe to feel close to the baby. I wanted the three of us to be close because I was starting to realize Chloe is my family…she’s my home. I kissed Chloe on the lips after the ultrasound...it felt right...between us. We didn’t tell you because…I was lying about the baby…we didn’t want you to know we had kissed again…until I had made my decision to be with Chloe."

Mark ignored Elly's further admission of kissing his sister when they were still a couple back then, "What happened to that ultrasound photo?"

"I gave it to Chloe; she's kept it safe for me on her the whole time. I knew she would protect it with her life for me," Elly replied.

"We have a 3-month ultrasound on our fridge that I've been staring at for months...you weren't even 3-months pregnant when you gave it to me...where did it come from?" Mark demanded, his voice slowing rising with every word.

Chloe held her hand tighter against Elly's shoulder knowing Mark was going to lose his cool when he learnt what Elly had done and she didn't want Elly to lie her way out of this one.

Elly held her nerve as she felt a tear slide down her cheek and whispered, "It's Caitlyn."

Mark turned away from Elly, unable to stand looking at the brunette after her latest admission tore his heart apart. He glanced at the photo on the fridge and placed his two hands behind his head as he closed his eyes and struggled not to let the anger out at Elly that was building in him.

“Dipi dropped off that box of…Caitlyn’s things…the ultrasound was in there. I only took it out to look at it and I thought you would think it was really special to have another photo of Caitlyn. I didn’t intentionally…seek to use it when I didn’t have an ultrasound to show you…because I couldn’t use my real one. It was just lying next to the box when you came home and you assumed…it was ours…I didn’t correct you,” Elly explained.

Mark opened his eyes to stare at the photo he had believed was his child with Elly.

Elly breathed deeply, knowing her next admission might tip Mark over the edge, “I did…I thought you might look…closer at the photo…take it out of its frame. Sonya’s details were on it…”

“Were?” Mark repeated.

Chloe ran her hand around Elly’s shoulder supportively.

“I cut Sonya’s details off the photo…I was so scared you were going to find out it wasn’t our baby and I was going to lose you as a parent to this baby…I was in a state of panic…maybe that’s when my denial to tell you the truth about the baby was triggered,” Elly admitted.

Mark gritted his teeth, “You cut up my daughter’s ultrasound…the baby I lost that Sonya was carrying for me…I don’t even have words.”

As he glared angrily down at Elly, Mark gently pulled his hands from the back of his head. He found his index finger in his right hand running against his left hand where his wedding ring used to be. If he was still with Elly, he would've removed it there and then. He would’ve told his wife that he only took her back because of the baby. That he had lied to her when he took her back and told her he loved her.

“I know,” Elly whispered, “There is nothing I could ever say to you that would make up for what I did.”

“Your attack…at the school…when you got knocked down…I thought you were losing the baby. I was so scared…you were trying to keep me away from the doctor checking on the baby…I told you it wasn’t your fault…the baby been hurt…but you were too busy keeping your secrets from me,” Mark spat out with anger.

“I was,” Elly agreed.

Mark felt his heart beating out of his chest as everything hit him at once, “I’m losing another child right now.”

Elly nodded quietly, before placing her right hand behind her on Chloe’s knee, thankful for Chloe’s support, wondering how she could’ve had this conversation without her.

Mark broke his glare at Elly as he took a step back and stared around the house.

Pointing towards the hallway, Mark told Elly, “That’s where the baby bouncer was going to go.”

Mark then shifted to point to the kitchen cabinets, “That’s where all the baby bottles were going to go.”

Mark pointed to exactly where he was standing, “The baby play mat was going to go right here.”

Elly looked away from Mark, regaining his gaze when he shouted at her, “I built a nursery for our baby!”

Mark’s breathing struggled for a moment as he realized, his voice quieter but firm, “I built a nursey for our baby…and you were busy that day having an ultrasound you didn’t want to tell me about because I wasn’t meant to find out your pregnancy wasn’t as far along as what you led me to believe…you were kissing my little sister and realizing she was your family and your home.”

Elly was unable to resist glancing back at Chloe for a second, needing to feel her support more than ever.

Mark’s gaze reached Chloe too, “You came over that day, Chlo…with some bogus excuse that you felt bad about been at the appointment, that you had gotten close to her…kissed my wife on the cheek…you failed to mention it was more like my wife wanted to have her tongue down your throat and you wanted to let her. You didn’t come over here to tell me any of that…you came over to tell me the baby wasn’t mine…”

“Yes, I did,” Chloe told him, “When I saw the nursery you’d built…I couldn’t do it. You were so happy Mark. I’d been the reason for causing you so much pain before and whilst I was scared to do that to you all over again…I realized the truth needed to come from Elly. Not from me.”

Mark resumed placing his two hands behind his head, his frustration, confusion and pain boiling over for him as he stared down at the two women, “So after everything you’ve put me through…Elly…you left me for my own sister, I’ve allowed you to stay living in my house, I’ve put up with the pair of you screwing one another for hours on end most nights for the last month…all so I can raise this baby with you…this baby isn’t mine…it’s Shaun’s…”

“Yes,” Elly whispered, “I never meant to hurt you, Mark.”

“I can’t even look at you. You disgust me, Elly,” Mark yelled at her, “You made me think I was finally going to have a family…you made me believe…”

Elly nodded, “I’ll grab some of my things and stay at Chloe’s tonight. I’ll come back in the morning to pack up all my stuff. I’ll tell my family and our friends what I did to you so you don’t have to. I’ll wear what I did and own up to it.”

“So that’s it…? You’re just gonna flee to my little sister’s bed and then you’re going to be a single mum to this baby?” Mark questioned harshly.

Elly squeezed Chloe’s knee, wanting nothing more than to tell Mark she wanted to raise the baby with her girlfriend but was too afraid of been rejected, “I’ll have my family around me to help support me and help me raise this baby. This baby will grow up with a lot of love in its life.”

“Every child deserves a chance of been raised by two parents if it’s possible,” Mark told Elly firmly.

Elly agreed, “Yes, and this child will have a chan--”

“Don’t tell anyone!” Mark suddenly lowered his hands from the back of his head as he yelled at his ex and then to Elly and Chloe’s confusion, “Our friends and family don’t need to know this baby isn’t mine…”

“What?” Elly asked in confusion.

“I’ll raise this baby with you anyway,” Mark suddenly blurted out.

“Wait what?” both Elly and Chloe stared at Mark in disbelief.

“Nobody else needs to know the baby isn’t mine,” Mark claimed, his anger at Elly and desperation for a chance to still raise a baby etched in his tone as he repeated, “I’ll raise this baby with you anyway.”

I never saw that coming…but I want to be this baby’s second parent…I want to be this baby’s mum, Chloe thought.

I never saw that coming….but I want Chloe to be this baby’s second parent…I want Chloe to be this baby’s mum, Elly thought.

Chapter Text

Just Friends?

Chapter Thirty-Five

Elly dropped her hand from Chloe's knee, shifting on the couch to face Mark again, "You want...to raise this baby? I just told you you're not the father..."

"Doesn't matter," Mark decided rashly, "This baby deserves two parents. I want to be a father. Shaun's not in the picture...no one else needs to know."

Elly replaced her hand against Chloe's knee, trying to show she hadn't lost her support, "Chloe is in the picture, Mark."

Mark ran his hand through his hair, "We keep the same arrangement we planned...we live together in this house and raise this baby as co-parents who are not in a relationship and you get to be with Chloe on the side."

It was now Elly's turn to blink wildly at Mark's decision, "Okay...Mark...do you not get that Chloe is more to me than...someone on the side that I sleep with every night? She's my family and my home. I love her."

"Yeah, whatever," Mark dismissed, "Just because you're in love with Chloe that still doesn't have to change things. Chloe doesn't want kids. I do. I can get past this not been my child. I can raise this baby with you. I can love this baby like it's my own."

Chloe bit her tongue, desperate to correct Mark that she did want to be a parent to this child, but couldn't do so as her brother was imploding. Chloe needed Mark to work out what he wanted and even though he was claiming to still want to raise this baby, she thought given a bit of space, a night to sleep on it, Mark might not feel the same way. Mark was spiraling from the loss of this baby that wasn't his and if this was his way of dealing with it in the immediate aftermath of been told the truth, Chloe couldn't tell her brother how it was that he was meant to react.

Elly pursed her lips, "Mark, Chloe and I still need to sit down and discuss...her role in my baby's life. Mark, I know you're desperate to be a father but..."

"Okay, fine, if Chloe wants to help the two of us raise this baby and is going to be sharing a bed with you every night, then she can play her part and help us. This baby is going to uproot all our lives and we need all the support we can get," Mark decided impetuously.

Elly took a deep breath, "Mark, I think you need to take some time to think about this. You're in shock now that you know you're not the biological father...you need to take some to--"

"I am not losing another child, Elly. You are not taking this away from me," Mark told her darkly, "We stick to our plan and the three of us have a place in this baby's life. You two can be all coupley at your remaining ultrasounds, I can actually attend them now I know the baby is younger than I thought, you two can go to your birthing classes and I can be there when you deliver the baby. Nobody else needs to know. If you want to tell Leo, Dr. Dietrich, David and Finn that I know the truth and have accepted it, we can keep this from getting out."

Chloe stared at her brother with sympathy, knowing he was acting irrationally to avoid feeling the true pain he was in, "Mark, Elly is right, you need to take a step back and think about this. You do not need to be making any decisions tonight after what Elly has told you."

"Mark, there is a difference of 6-weeks in my pregnancy," Elly told him honestly, "I was completely naive in my denial that you needed to know the truth but as Chloe pointed out to me...numerous times...I can't hide a difference of 6-weeks in the timing of when I give birth way after my due date."

"Who's going to be paying attention in your life that closely to know your exact due date? I know you're close to your family but it's not like you've confirmed to them your due date, right, especially since you’ve been trying to hide the details of your pregnancy?" Mark was clutching at straws.

"No, but according to them I fell pregnant before the wedding...and the wedding date...that's not exactly something they are going to forget due to how the day unfolded," Elly tried to explain rationally.

"Then we tell your family only the truth...Aaron too," Mark suggested, "Or closer to the due date...the three of us go to Adelaide to stay with my mum. Claim the three of us need to bond as a family. We'll pretend you gave birth when everyone was expecting you to and return once you have had the child. Our mum will help us keep this a secret."

Elly stared at Mark, completely unnerved that her need to tell Chloe she wanted the two of them to raise the baby together was coming apart at the seams by Mark unwilling to let this baby go, "Mark...that's not really going to work. Believe me, when I was in complete and utter denial over needing to tell you the truth that the baby isn't yours...the night I told Chloe the truth that Shaun is the father before she was with me for the ultrasound...I suggested the same thing to Chloe. That she and I could run away to my mum's, live with her for a couple months under the guise that Liz was sick and needed me to care for her...lie to you about the baby been born...until it truly had. Chloe made me see sense that it'll never work...the birth of this child can't be kept a secret for 6-weeks."

Mark blinked wildly, "You...were going to run away, pretend you've given birth to my baby and then return when you had to trick me into raising this baby with you?"

Elly sighed, "Mark, you just suggested a very similar plan to keep people from knowing the truth. When I was talking to Chloe about running away...it wasn't just a crazy plan to keep you not knowing about the baby's paternity...it...it had more to do with the fact I was falling in love with Chloe. I wanted to run away with her under the guise of keeping the baby secret from you. I wanted to spend time with Chloe on our own. I wanted...to go hideaway at my mum's 2-bedroom apartment with Chloe. I wanted to share a bed with Chloe...I wanted to hold her close every night as we slept. I was married to you but the only thing I wanted was to run away with your sister without anyone knowing until I was ready to accept, I was falling in love with her. Which I ended up doing a lot sooner than I first thought possible."

Mark rolled his eyes at Elly, still feeling so blinded by the way they had first slept together and once more when Elly had left their marriage for Chloe.

Elly blushed as she glanced at Chloe, "I needed you to know."

Chloe blushed back at Elly, before addressing Mark, "Mark, none of us can run away from Erinsborough. Not to keep this baby's birth a secret. If I had of known the real reason Elly wanted to run away with me...I probably wouldn't have turned her down...but that's not the point. The baby's birth can't be a secret. You're a cop, Mark. You know there's official documents, certificate of birth, hospital records etc that will uncover the truth if anyone was to look into why the three of us disappeared so close to Elly's due date."

Mark nodded, "Okay, no running away. We'll deal with any questions over the due date as they come up. I want to still raise this baby...I need to. This child deserves to have two parents in his or her life."

Elly looked over at Chloe, squeezing Chloe's knee before turning back to Mark, "Why don't we all sleep on it...take a few days to...think about...everything? We can keep the baby's paternity between us...and we can...in a few days...sit down and talk about how we all feel."

"Okay," Mark agreed immediately, "We can do this...we can find a way to all raise this baby together...in a way that we are all comfortable with. Elly and I can be parents and Chloe you can...be Elly's partner supporting her and if you want to chip in for the occasional middle of the night, trying to settle the baby back to sleep...we can make this work."

Elly and Chloe both hesitated, each not wanting to agree to Mark's suggestion, each knowing that they were desperate to raise the baby themselves as a couple, but not knowing that the other wanted the same thing.

"Now...is there anything else you've been keeping from me?" Mark asked, praying the two women wouldn't have any further secrets that would rip his heart out any further.

Elly stared into Chloe's eyes, feeling the pull to how strongly she felt for the blonde, wondering how Mark would react if she told him, she wanted Chloe to raise the child with her.

Elly addressed another matter instead, "I don't have a cold, Mark. I was in hospital last week because the stress I've been under keeping this secret from you...it caused another very minor tear in my placenta. David admitted me after Chloe told him the truth that you're not the father and my pregnancy isn't as advanced as he thought it was. I was trying not to worry you that I was going to lose this baby...I made Chloe and David lie to you about it."

"Is the baby okay?" Mark asked worriedly.

"I got the all clear this morning from David. I just got to focus on not having any more stress in my life," Elly reassured him, "Bea and Finn spotted Chloe and I in the hospital room...I told Bea not to tell you and I assume she asked Finn to keep it a secret too. Bea she ah...Bea walked into the hospital room when I was kissing Chloe...I told my sister I left you for Chloe. She supports my decision to be in a relationship with Chloe because she could see how much I love her."

Mark nodded, breathing deeply at the thought that Elly's love for Chloe was a visual fact that couldn't be hidden when people saw them together, "Anything else?"

"No," Elly answered.

Mark nodded once more, gritting his teeth, "You tore my heart to shreds tonight, Elly. I wanted this baby so badly...you lied to me that you were pregnant with my child for over 5-months...I'm not capable of forgiving you for that yet...but I will not blame this child for what you decided to do. I've been in love with this baby from the moment you told me you were pregnant...even though the baby didn't exist then. I'm not giving up on this baby because of DNA. I love this child and that won't change. The three of us...we'll make this work."

Elly nodded awkwardly, then running her hand against Chloe's knee, "We should...go to bed. We'll see you in the morning, Mark."

Mark stood there awkwardly as the couple stood up from the couch and walked away from him. He continued blinking his eyes, still in complete disbelief that Elly had lied to him for so many months and wasn't carrying his child. He had longed to be a father and was determined not to give that up even though it was clear Elly did have Chloe's support.

Would things have been different without Chloe been around? Would he have yelled and screamed at Elly more than he had? Would he have run away from Elly? Would he have thrown things at her or around the house? Would he have kicked her out of his house? Wanted to smash Elly's teapot collection when he packed up her stuff to get her out of his life as soon as possible? Gotten annulment papers drawn up in less than 48 hours of learning her horrible shame?

Is knowing Elly might not be a single parent with Chloe around the only reason why he felt determined not to let this baby go?

Or if Elly had told him the truth months ago…before her 3-month ultrasound with Chloe would he instead have made the decision to have nothing to do with Elly and her baby...? Before Elly had been given Caitlyn's ultrasound photo? When she was in hospital after the attack at the school? When she first found herself pregnant to her one-night-stand?

Five and a half months was a long time that Mark had been planning for this baby, loving this child, even though now he knew the truth that Elly was only four months pregnant. Had he not spent that length of time, devoting his thoughts to been a father, Mark's reaction might have been different and he might have turned away from raising this child. He was determined to fight through his anger at the situation Elly had placed him in and be a good father to this child.

Elly and Chloe walked back to Elly's room in silence. Closing the door behind them, they found themselves seated on the edge of the bed next to one another.

Elly turned to Chloe and took her hand in her own, "What the hell just happened?"

"I have no idea," Chloe answered in shock.

"Mark...he..." Elly struggled to convey her thoughts to her girlfriend.

"Mark still wants to raise this baby with you," Chloe re-affirmed, "I thought for sure he would..."

"I've spent more than four months dreading telling him I'm not pregnant with his child...five months dreading since I first learnt I wasn't pregnant in the first place...I had pictured a thousand different ways of Mark throwing me out of his life...not once did I..." Elly was in shock.

"Me either," Chloe confirmed.

Elly re-affirmed, "I broke his heart but he still wants to raise this baby with me...how did this happen?"

Chloe squeezed Elly's hand, repeating, "I have no idea...I guess we need to sleep on this revelation too...and deal with it again in the morning...maybe once Mark has had a chance to think about it...he'll change his mind."

"Maybe," Elly replied.

A few minutes later, the couple were lying in bed together. Chloe and Elly were on their sides, facing one another, with their arms wrapped around each other's hips and their legs were entangled.

Elly stared into Chloe's eyes, "Chlo...I want Mark to change his mind."

"You do?" Chloe asked.

Elly nodded gently, "If he doesn't...if Mark wants to raise this baby with me...I'll...I'll have to break his heart all over again."

Chloe ran her fingertips against Elly's hip, "Why?"

Elly lent up and held her hand to Chloe's cheek, "Because I don't want to raise this baby with Mark...in any kind of co-parenting way."

Chloe continued staring at Elly.

Elly bit her lip before admitting, "I want to raise this baby with you."

You do? I want the same thing...how am I going to deal with destroying Mark by taking this away from him? He'll never forgive me...I have to do what is right for me, Elly and our baby, even if it'll hurt him...I just called the baby 'ours' and it feels so right, Chloe thought.

Please Chlo, tell me you want the same thing too. I know I need to talk to you about how much pain I've put you through and tell you I overheard what you said to David but this is so important to me to discuss with you first. I know this will officially destroy Mark by taking this away from him. He'll never forgive me...I have to do what is right for us and our baby, even if it'll hurt him...I just called the baby 'ours' and it feels so right, Elly thought.

Chapter Text

Just Friends?

Chapter Thirty-Six

Chloe blinked at Elly, not quite believing that Elly had actually asked her to raise her baby with her, "You want to raise your baby with me?"

"Yes," Elly answered simply, praying Chloe wasn't too freaked out at the prospect.

Chloe found herself sitting up gently and shifting backwards so she was leaning against the pillows on the bed. Elly hesitated for a moment before shuffling herself so she curled up to Chloe's side, lent her head on Chloe's shoulder and rested her arm around Chloe's torso, feeling at least a little bit confident that Chloe wasn't rejecting her embrace as she awaited Chloe's answer.

"I want to raise this baby with you, Chloe," Elly repeated as she stared into Chloe's eyes, "Are you freaking out that I want this? That I want us to be the parents of this baby."

Chloe shook her head, "No, I just...I'm surprised. I never thought you would ask me too. I genuinely thought you didn't want me involved in this child's life."

"Yeah I know...I know you thought that. I'm so sorry I ever let you think for a second that I would not want you raising this child with me," Elly apologized, then off Chloe's questioning look, "I overheard you with David tonight."

"What?" Chloe was again surprised.

“I woke up and you weren’t in bed, I went looking for you because I was worried. Mark said you’d taken off back home and he acted like we’d had a fight. I went over there to find out what I’d done to make you run off,” Elly began explaining.

Chloe was confused, “When were you at my place…I didn’t see you?”

“I know, I was there when Aaron was leaving to go to the Waterhole for your wine…he let me in and I headed inside to see you. That’s when I heard you talking to David,” Elly told her.

“Um…okay…why didn’t you come in and see me?” Chloe asked.

“Because I heard you talking to David…I was in the hallway…I didn’t mean to spy on your conversation or watch the way David consoled you. I wanted to be the one to help you. But I got caught up in listening to how much pain you were in,” Elly revealed, “I know it was wrong of me to hide there, listening to everything you were saying. I froze. Your pain was real and I couldn’t stop feeling it.”

“How much did you hear?” Chloe asked.

Elly ran her hand in circles against Chloe’s torso, “Enough to break my heart in two…I didn’t know how much pain I was causing you. How could I not know, Chlo? You’re my life, how could I be completely oblivious that you were hurting so much? That you were crying yourself to sleep? Baby, I am so sorry.”

“I don’t really know what to say…it’s not okay and it’s not quite I forgive you…but I can say that it helped to talk about how much pain I’ve been in with David,” Chloe replied.

“I wish I’d given you the opportunity to come to me and tell me,” Elly whispered back, “I’ve been the most selfish person to not even realize what this was doing to you. What I was doing to you. I could’ve stopped it. Months ago, even before I told you the truth, I had more opportunities than you’ll ever know, to have told Mark the truth. If I did that you would not have been in any of the pain you are in.”

Chloe ran her fingertips against Elly’s hand, “If you did that…would we be lying here like this as we are? Or would you be back at the Kennedy’s after Mark kicked you out presuming that he wouldn’t have the interest that he does in still wanting to raise your baby? Would I still be Aaron and David’s but moving from one hook up to another with Kyle or some other guy just to escape the feeling of not been loved by you?”

Elly smiled gently, “When you put it that way…I guess it’s cliché that things always happen for a reason.”

“Exactly, it may not feel like it quite this second but give me a little bit of time and I’ll be over this pain that I’ve been in. I already feel myself been healed just by been here like this with you,” Chloe affirmed.

“I’m still so sorry for what I put you through,” Elly apologized, “I can’t believe I had no idea. I’m glad you had someone in David to turn to. I should never have kept up this lie.”

“Why did you?” Chloe asked quietly.

Elly squeezed herself closer to Chloe, “I’m honestly not sure but it has nothing to do with me not wanting to tell Mark until you had made your decision on what role you want to play in this baby’s life. Or that I don’t want you to be any part of the baby’s life and that to me all you’re for is someone for me to go to bed with.”

Chloe blushed, “You heard that part of my talk with David too?”

Elly nodded, “Yeah, you broke my heart even more when you said that, that you could even think that. It’s what convinced me I needed to stop hurting you, put you ahead of my fears and tell Mark the truth. You were right that I don’t want to be a single parent and maybe that does have a lot to do with me wanting to keep Mark hanging around to raise this baby. I don’t want to turn into my mum and raise this baby the way I was raised. Mark always grounded me, at least I thought he did. I knew he’d be a good father. But not to this baby. You ground me more than Mark ever did and make me believe I can do anything.”

“I do?” Chloe asked for reassurance.

Elly nuzzled her face against Chloe’s neck, “You do, Chlo. You made me see what’s important and I need to put you first ahead of any of my fears about raising this baby or telling Mark and other people what I’ve done.”

Chloe fell further into Elly’s embrace, “According to Mark…you might not need to tell anyone else…how do you feel about that?”

Elly reached out and entangled Chloe’s hand in her own on Chloe’s stomach, “I need to be able to tell other people now that I’ve gotten over my issues and told Mark. My family, specifically. I don’t feel good about this, Chlo. Continuing to lie to everyone…Mark wanting to raise this baby with me…I don’t want to raise this baby with him.”

“I can’t imagine you raising this baby with him either,” Chloe admitted.

Elly glanced up into Chloe’s eyes, “We kind of skirted around it and didn’t discuss what I told you…I want to raise this baby with you Chloe…do you have any interest at all wanting to be a parent to this child?”

“How much of my conversation with David did you overhear?” Chloe asked quietly.

Elly frowned at Chloe not answering her question, “I don’t know, enough to make me see I’ve been a horrible girlfriend who has put you through so much pain and anguish than I should’ve. Enough to make me tell Mark the truth because I don’t ever want you to break up with me and I don’t ever want to hurt you to the point of you crying yourself to sleep or feel like you can’t come to me if I’m not treating you right.”

Chloe chewed on her lip for a moment, “So you didn’t…hear the part where I was talking to David…about the baby?”

Elly shook her head, holding onto Chloe tighter, fearing rejection, “You spoke to David about the baby…? What did you say?”

Chloe could sense Elly’s fears and fighting her own fears that she could possibly be half the parent Mark could possibly be to this baby, she gently raised their entangled hands, settling them both against Elly’s torso, “David asked me if I wanted to raise this baby with you…and I told him that I do.”

Elly broke into a smile, “You do?”

Chloe returned Elly’s smile, “Yeah…I want to be this baby’s mum…if you want me too.”

Elly lent up and pressed their lips together deeply, unable to wipe the smile from her face as they broke apart, “Yes, a thousand times yes, I want you to be this baby’s mum.”

Chloe grinned shyly, “Yeah?”

Elly begin gently circling their fingertips against her torso, repeating and giving Chloe assurance, “Yes, Chloe, I want you to be a parent to my child, I would love you to be his or her mum.”

Chloe kissed Elly again gently, “We’re going to make great parents, aren’t we?”

Elly nuzzled her face against Chloe’s neck, “We’re going to be the best parents together, this baby is going to be so lucky to have us. You make me so happy, Chloe, and you are going to give this baby the most amazing experience of been his or her mum. We both will.”

As the pair couldn’t stop smiling at one another, Chloe continued tracing her fingers against where the baby was, “Do you think…I mean it might be way too soon but…should we move in together…like get our own place together to begin our…our family together?”

Elly nodded, “I would love that. If the pair of us will be this baby’s mums’ then I can’t live here anymore…and you can’t move in here. That’s unfair to Mark to be witnessing us raising this baby every day. I know we’ve only been together for a month and it’s really quick but I don’t see the point of me moving back to the Kennedy’s for a few months and I’m sure Aaron and David don’t need a fourth housemate to contend with especially one who’s got a baby on the way. I’m sure they wouldn’t mind a couple nights, a week maybe, until we find a place. The longer we leave something like finding a place together, the harder it will to get our stuff moved in and buy all the furniture and things we’ll need when it gets much further along in my pregnancy.”

Chloe entangled her free hand in Elly’s hair, stroking it gently, “We’ll need some time ourselves to set up the nursery…something we can build and work on together. I don’t want to leave things like that to the last minute. We’ll need to baby proof the place we decide on renting. Buy a whole heap of baby clothes and accessories that I probably don’t even know half of what we need. I want us to be as prepared for this baby as we can be.”

“You really are going to be the most amazing mum,” Elly commented.

Chloe blushed, “I’m going to try to be an amazing mum to our baby and a supportive partner to you. I might not be able to do those midnight wake ups where the baby is screaming to be fed but I can do what I can to handle any other things bubs will need, changing, burping, been cuddled until he or she falls asleep.”

“You are the most amazing woman in the world to take this on for me. I’m four months pregnant and you’re willing to be an incredible mum to this baby. I love you so much, Chloe,” Elly still couldn’t quite believe it.

“I’m taking this on because I already love our baby, Elly,” Chloe declared, “I knew I loved this child and wanted to be this baby’s mum the second I saw him or her on the monitor at your ultrasound. It was instant for me…I fell in love and I can’t wait to be a mum.”

“I kinda wish I’d known back then that that’s how you felt so instantly,” Elly replied, “I can’t wait for you to be a mum either…and for the first time since I learnt I was pregnant…I can’t wait either to be a mum.”

Chloe grinned at Elly, then sighed softly, “How am I going to take this away from Mark? He wants this baby so much, he’s willing to look past paternity.”

“So are you, technically,” Elly whispered, “I know this is just another thing that is going to hurt him…but Mark doesn’t have a choice in this decision. This is our baby; he’s not the father and I don’t want him to be a parent to our child. If Mark wants to be the best Uncle in the world to our child, I’m more than happy for him to be in our lives that way. But nothing more.”

Chloe thought about Elly’s suggestion, “Would it be far too much for us to maybe suggest…he’ll be the first person we call when we need help…before Susan, Karl, Bea or Aaron? Or is that opening up the door way too wide for him to think he’s going to have a huge influence on bringing up our baby?”

Elly chewed on her lip, “Maybe not the first person we call when we need help but the first person we call if we need a babysitter? I really want to…set some boundaries with him as we can’t shut him out of the child’s life forever…he will be an Uncle after all.”

“I think that’s the right decision,” Chloe agreed, “Mark won’t be happy about this. When do you want to tell him, we’re raising our baby together?”

Elly smiled at Chloe’s constant reminder he or she was ‘our baby,’ “We told him to sleep on his decision and we’d all talk about it in a few days. I don’t want to wait a few days but we should at least let him sleep on it. He might change his mind once he’s had a chance to think it over…that might end up saving him some pain. If he did change his mind, I’ll move out and we can tell him once we’ve found a place of our own that we’ll be raising the child as parents.”

“Okay,” Chloe agreed happily, before hesitating, “If…Mark doesn’t change his mind?”

“Then we’ll tell him tomorrow evening, give him some time to let it all sink in but not enough that he gets strung along for longer than I’ve already strung him along for,” Elly decided.

Chloe nodded, pressing her lips to Elly’s forehead, “Let’s fall asleep ourselves, tomorrow might have a bit more heartbreak in it if we have to tell Mark he won’t be raising this baby.”

Elly held onto Chloe tightly, “Mmm I’m already feeling like this is going to be the best nights’ sleep in months.”

The pair closed their eyes, gently falling asleep in one another’s arms.

Please Mark…save yourself some pain and change your mind that you want to raise this baby…as much as it will be incredibly painful to tell you I’m going to be this baby’s mum…it’s what is going to happen…and you need to accept it, Mark, Chloe thought.

Please Mark…save yourself some pain and change your mind that you want to raise this baby…as much as it will be incredibly painful to tell you Chloe and I are going to be this baby’s mums…it’s what is going to happen…and you need to accept it, Mark, Elly thought.

Chapter Text

Just Friends?

Chapter Thirty-Seven

The following morning, Elly and Chloe were in the kitchen cooking breakfast. Chloe was cooking it, whilst Elly had her arms wrapped around Chloe’s hips, snuggling up to her with her chin planted on Chloe’s shoulder.

Mark entered the kitchen with a pleasant but slightly forced, “Morning ladies.”

Elly glanced at him but didn’t show him much attention, “Morning, Mark. No witty comment that Chloe and I should keep our hands off one another?”

Mark went to the fridge and took out a bottle of water, “No, I think I’m past that now and used to you two been all…you two.”

“That’s good,” Chloe spoke up quietly.

Mark broke open the bottle of water and took a sip, “So I was thinking about our situation last night and I think we need to make a change.”

“You do?” Elly and Chloe both asked, looking over at Mark with interest.

“Yes, and I’m going to stop by Toadie’s office this morning, I already texted him to see if he was working,” Mark half-answered and then off the women’s questioning looks, “To draw up the annulment papers and officially end…this.”

Elly sighed in disappointment as Mark pointed between the two of them, unable to hide for a split second that she wanted him to change his mind about raising the baby.

Mark frowned, “Elly, you almost look disappointed. I thought you’d be a lot happier to know we’ll be officially un-married soon and what you’re doing with Chloe every night wouldn’t be looked at by some people as an affair.”

“No, it’s not that,” Elly began then backtracking as she was unable to explain she wanted him to change his mind about raising the baby, “I mean…I guess I’m no good at hiding it from you. I’m allowed to be disappointed just a little. It’s no reflection on how I feel about Chloe by been disappointed to sign annulment papers with you, Mark. So…ah…annulling the marriage is the way to go? We don’t have to go through a divorce or anything?”

Mark shrugged, “I’ll discuss it all with Toadie. I’m hoping we can avoid going down the divorce route and annulling the marriage seems appropriate since we never…ah…you know…”

“Consummated the marriage,” Elly finished for him bluntly, “It’s cool, Chloe knows.”

Chloe didn’t react and continued prepping breakfast as Mark stumbled about in embarrassment, at the thought that his sister might think he was a failure as a man to his wife, for been unable to make love to her once he found out she had cheated on him.

“Right,” Mark replied awkwardly, “Um…but if we want to avoid the prospect of divorce…I looked into it a little and with an annulment we can’t just say ‘irreconcilable differences.’ Especially since we’re still going to be raising this baby together—”

Elly brought her lips to Chloe’s neck, her lips covering a huge sigh at the knowledge Mark was still intending on raising the baby with her.

Mark continued without noticing, “It’s possible we might need to tell Toadie that you left me for…ah someone else. I’ll try to keep Chloe’s name out of it but I--”

Elly waved her hand at Mark, dismissing the need for more lies, “Just tell Toadie the truth, Mark, that I’m with Chloe now.”

“Really?” Chloe asked quickly.

Elly pressed her lips to Chloe’s shoulder before turning back to Mark, “As long as Toadie can keep it to himself for a day or two, go for it, I’m not interested in hiding this anymore. In fact, I thought I’d give Susan a call and see if she and Karl would be free for lunch or dinner today if Chloe and I were to go over to their place.”

Chloe looked up, with a little bit of surprise, “You want to tell them about us…today?”

Elly squeezed Chloe’s hips, “Absolutely,” then back to Mark, “You right to ask Toadie to keep it quiet until Susan and Karl find out later today?”

Mark nodded, “Sure,” then feeling uncomfortable at the couple reaching the point of coming out to Elly’s family, especially Susan who had been their marriage celebrant and was now set to find out her niece had dumped him for her best friend and his sister, Chloe, “I’m going to get ready to go down to Toadie’s office. I’ll see you both later today…hopefully with some paperwork to sign.”

Elly and Chloe both waved him off as Mark left them alone in the kitchen.

Elly exhaled loudly once Mark was out of earshot.

“I know,” Chloe whispered into Elly’s ear, “Looks like we’ve got an awkward conversation to have later today.”

“The one where we tell Mark we’re raising our baby as parents? Not the one where we tell Susan and Karl about us?” Elly needed to clarify.

“Yes, the one with Mark, I’m sure the one with Susan and Karl won’t be awkward at all. Not even for one moment, all they want is for you to be happy,” Chloe reassured.

Elly smiled as she continued holding onto Chloe, pressing her lips to Chloe’s neck, “I am happy with you and I hope they’ll be able to see it…the way I feel about you. No awkward moments will occur…unless Karl decides to break into a song…you’re just going to have to get used to Uncle Karl doing that. You’re part of my family now.”

Chloe laughed gently at Elly reminding her about her Uncle’s quirks before blushing shyly at Elly’s assurance at her place in Elly’s life, “Same. You’d better give Susan a call and see when they are free today.”

“After breakfast,” Elly decided, “I don’t want to leave your side whilst you’re making us breakfast.”

Several hours later, Elly knocked on Susan and Karl’s front door before immediately opening the door, letting herself and Chloe, who was trailing behind her, into her former house. Elly wished she could be holding Chloe’s hand but thought better of it as one way of coming out to her family.

“Hello?” Elly enquired before spotting her Aunt and Uncle in the kitchen, “Hey, how are you, guys?”

Susan walked over to give Elly a hug, then smiled happily at Chloe, “We’re good, we’ve been so busy I feel like we haven’t spent much time with you recently. It’s good to see you too, Chloe. I’m glad you and Elly sorted out your friendship.”

Chloe ignored the comment, understanding that it was easy to make the mistake that they were ‘just friends,’ “Hi Susan, Karl.”

Susan ushered the pair to sit down at the table and she joined them sitting opposite them.

Karl mumbled to himself about doing everything on his own as he poured out 4 cups of tea and shifted between the kitchen and the dining table bringing over some biscuits Susan had baked and then the teas two at a time.

Susan ignored Karl’s mumbling as she addressed the two women instead, “Sorry, we could only do afternoon tea. Karl’s working tonight and we had Yashvi over for lunch with Bea and Finn before they were all going to the Waterhole to watch a football match. The girls are trying to jog Finn’s memory on the sport and to see if he had a team he might’ve vaguely supported when he was a teenager before the memory loss.”

“No problems,” Chloe replied quietly, still unsure how Elly’s family were going to react to their news.

“I did tell you; they wouldn’t have minded if you two had have joined us all for lunch,” Susan reminded Elly.

As Karl set the last teas in front of Elly and himself, he sat himself down opposite his niece.

“It’s all good, Chloe and I wanted to talk to the pair of you alone and we didn’t want to interrupt the lunch you guys had planned,” Elly told her relatives whom she often looked at as surrogate parents.

“Oh yes, about what?” both Susan and Karl asked at the same time, smiling quietly at one another at asking the exact same question.

Elly looked at Chloe gently before turning back to her Aunt and Uncle, “I’m not going to draw this out or beat around the bush or anything like that. I…we…well we’re here to talk about Chloe and I.”

“Okay, what about you and Chloe?” Susan asked, not really sure what her niece had brought them together to tell her and Karl.

Elly smiled shyly at her girlfriend “When I told you both last month that my marriage to Mark was over, I didn’t tell you one of the main reasons why. I didn’t just leave Mark and end my marriage to him because I don’t love him. I left Mark for Chloe because she’s the one that I love.”

Susan and Karl noticeably looked at one another before Susan responded, “You and Chloe are together now? A couple?”

“Yes,” Elly answered simply, taking Chloe’s hand in her own on the table, squeezing it gently.

“How long has this been going on for?” Karl asked, afraid of finding out his niece had been cheating on her husband with his sister and was reminded of the time that he cheated on Susan and how long it had taken for him to win her back.

“Does Mark know you’re a couple?” Susan asked quickly, her mind also going to the prospect of Elly cheating on her husband and what that had done to her marriage.

“I told Mark that I was leaving him for Chloe before the two of us got together, so yes, Mark knows about us. It’s been going on for a little while but I didn’t cheat on Mark again,” Elly answered, knowing what her Aunt and Uncle were worried about, “Mark accepted our marriage ended because he and I weren’t in love with one another. Mark hasn’t been…thrilled to see us happy together, he’s been pretty impetuous about it actually with wanting us to hide away in my room but he seemed like he finally might have turned a corner just this morning. I wouldn’t say he’s happy about me finding love with his sister but he’s come to terms with it in his own way.”

“Right…well I can understand Mark’s attitude and needing time to come to terms with it,” Susan replied quietly.

Elly sighed at her family’s lack of support, but felt glad when Chloe entangled their fingers gently, “I know my relationship with Chloe has probably come out of nowhere for you but it’s actually been building for a really long time. I’ve spent most of this year running away from my feelings for Chloe but I couldn’t run forever. I know I made a mistake marrying Mark, I should’ve stopped the wedding from going ahead. I was so focused on wanting to have this perfect life with a great guy that people expected of me that I didn’t stop to realize why I was trying to live my life based on other people’s opinions on what they deem as perfect. I need to live my life the way that it’s perfect for me and that’s being with Chloe.”

Susan glanced at Karl once more, still unsure how to react to the news.

Elly tried again, “I’ve made mistakes along the way but it’s led me here and I’m happy now with Chloe. I really thought I’d have your support with this.”

“Of course, you have our support,” Susan told Elly, “I’m sorry if it seems like we don’t support the both of you being together, I guess we’re just surprised and didn’t see this coming. If you’re happy that’s all we ever wanted for you, Elly.”

“I am happy, Suse, happier than I’ve ever been,” Elly reaffirmed, squeezing Chloe’s hand, “And I thought it was about time that I told you two that Chloe is the reason for that.”

Having been quiet for the last few minutes, allowing Elly to come out to her family using her own words, Chloe finally added, “Elly makes me happy too.”

“Then we support you,” Karl said simply.

“Really?” Elly asked needing reassurance.

“Yes, really,” both Susan and Karl replied, before Susan added, “We just want you to be happy and it appears like you really have found that. You can’t seem to wipe that smile off your face.”

Elly blushed, “I guess it really is obvious sometimes. I think I’ve had this smile on my face since I realized that my feelings for Chloe were way stronger than just friendship and that I wanted to be with her.”

“You have had that smile on your lips for a good long while now,” Chloe whispered.

And I plan on keeping that smile on your face for the rest of our lives together, Chloe thought.

And I have no doubt that I’m going to have this smile on my face for the rest of our lives together, Elly thought.

Chapter Text

Just Friends?

Chapter Thirty-Eight

Elly and Chloe continued sitting with Susan and Karl, having just come out to Elly’s family as a couple. Whilst their support had come around slowly, mostly due to surprise which was understandable, Elly was thrilled that her family hadn’t taken the news badly.

“So besides Mark, is there anyone else who knows about you two?” Susan asked.

Elly nodded as she grinned happily at Chloe, “Yes, Bea sort of caught us together last week and Aaron and David have known almost as long as Mark has. I guess I wouldn’t be surprised if I found out that Bea had told Finn as those two seem to be getting closer these days and he was with Bea when she spotted us. But I don’t know for sure.”

“I spend most of my time with Elly at her place and Leo and Kyle have seemed oblivious to where and whom I spend all my time with but again they haven’t said anything to me if they have figured it out,” Chloe added.

“How has Mark been handling you moving on so quickly?” Karl asked curiously.

Elly shrugged, “At first Mark didn’t see it coming but he had to have been blind with the amount of time I was spending with Chloe and drifting away from him. But he accepted it pretty quickly, he knows he’ll never love me the way he loves Kate or Paige. He deserves to be with someone who he can love like that and I deserve the same thing. I’ve found that with Chloe and Mark now has a chance to get back out there and find it too.”

Chloe blushed shyly at Elly, “I think I’m still getting used to you accepting us.”

“I took too long to accept my feelings for you and I plan on making it up to you every day we spend together,” Elly promised.

“So now that you’ve told us about your relationship, does that mean you’ll be telling everyone else about you or will you take your time?” Susan questioned.

Elly nodded, “As far as I’m concerned once we told you, I’m more than comfortable for everyone else to know I’m in a relationship with Chloe. I’m not going to hide this or how I feel about Chloe. The only reason we didn’t tell you when we first got together was pretty much out of respect for Mark. I’m not ashamed of being with Chloe. We just didn’t want people to think that I had cheated on Mark again. If I’m honest, I did cheat on Mark emotionally for a few weeks as I was falling for Chloe whilst I was still married to him…and we did share one kiss I instigated. A part of me wishes Chloe and I had of gotten together in different circumstances but I can’t change the past and I don’t want to change my future from been anything else except sharing it with Chloe.”

“I was so blind to Elly developing feelings for me, I was so busy trying to keep our friendship platonic, not even her kissing me registered that she wanted more than friendship,” Chloe admitted.

“Regardless of the mistakes along the way, we’re together and we’re incredibly happy being with one another,” Elly smiled gently at Chloe, “Though my marriage to Mark ended a while ago, it should be over officially hopefully in a matter of hours if not days. Mark was meeting Toadie this morning to start the paperwork on annulling my marriage to him. He hadn’t returned by the time we came over here so I suspect it might be slightly more complicated than we wanted it to be. We’re hoping it won’t have to turn into a divorce but whatever it takes for me to officially end my marriage so I can be free to be with Chloe without worry that people will think that I’ve been cheating on Mark with her.”

“Annulling your marriage is a big step,” Susan pointed out.

Elly squeezed Chloe’s hand, “Not when it’s the only thing standing in my way to spending my life with Chloe.”

Karl took a sip of his tea, “Maybe I’m jumping ahead but how does your pregnancy affect your new relationship?”

“It doesn’t affect our relationship,” Chloe answered gently, “I’m supportive of Elly’s choices and we…Elly been pregnant…it’s actually brought us closer together.”

“It has brought us closer,” Elly confirmed, “Chloe is the most supportive and patient partner I’ve ever had.”

“When you told us; you had split with Mark, you discussed how you would still live in the same house so you and Mark can both raise your child together. How does Mark feel about you been with Chloe but planning to raise the child with him?” Susan asked.

Elly hesitated for a moment, “It’s funny you should bring that up…that’s actually something we’ve been dealing with at the moment…and we could maybe use your advice.”

Chloe chewed on her lip, knowing Elly wasn’t going to tell her Aunt or Uncle that the baby wasn’t Mark’s but was prepared to own up to the fact the couple wanted to raise the baby together instead of with Mark, “Are you sure?”

“Yes,” Elly replied, smiling at Chloe, before turning back to Susan and Karl, “Originally when I began dating Chloe that was our plan for me to stay living with Mark and raise the baby with him as co-parents…but a few things have changed since then and…Chloe and I want to get our own place and we want to raise the baby as a couple. We want to be this baby’s parents. We just don’t know how to break this to Mark.”

“That’s a pretty big decision to make,” Susan told them without been able to offer much in the way of advice.

“Are you both sure you’re not rushing into this decision? You haven’t been together very long and raising a child together is going to change things for you,” Karl pointed out.

Elly ran her thumb across Chloe’s palm, “We’re not rushing into anything, it’s what we both want. Believe me, it took a long time for us to come clean to one another that we both want to raise this child together and be his or her parents. We’re not naïve to think that this baby won’t change things. Yes, there’s a part of us that want to move in together now rather than in a few months’ time because it’ll be easier for us to physically do so now before I’m heavily pregnant but the truth is, we all but live together now at Mark’s so it really won’t be a big change.”

“How much of Mark’s involvement in raising your baby are you wanting to cut him off from?” Karl asked, his voice calm but firm.

“We don’t want to cut him off from been in this child’s life,” Chloe answered, even though she knew their decision would make more sense if people were aware that Mark wasn’t the baby’s father, “We just…want to raise this child together as a couple in a loving and strong relationship. We don’t want to be living in Mark’s house and have him take over everything like the control freak that he is.”

“Mark wants this baby and to be a father…more than you’ll ever know,” Elly told her Aunt and Uncle, “This baby was the only reason why he took me back. That’s not the kind of environment I want to raise this baby in. That he or she is the only reason why I’m co-parenting with Mark instead of my partner who will be the most amazing mum.”

Susan watched as Chloe blushed at Elly’s compliment, “Well I agree that you need to do what’s right for the baby and raising the child in the environment that is best for the two of you will be a great opportunity for this child. I’m not sure Mark is going to see it this way.”

“We’re not planning on moving far away,” Elly justified, “And Mark can come over and help us whenever he chooses…we just don’t know how to tell him we’re going to be the child’s parents…the child’s primary parents. The baby can grow up with three parents who don’t all live together. We want the child to grow up with us and Mark can have an involvement in the child’s life…just not as much as he probably wants. I know this probably won’t make sense to you but there are reasons why this is what we want and why we are going to be doing the right thing for our child that I don’t want to go into detail about.”

Karl and Susan glanced at each other with concern.

“It’s nothing that Mark has done wrong, and maybe one day we can give you our reasons why but we haven’t made this decision lightly. We want to raise this child together as a couple and we could use your help on how to approach Mark about this,” Elly tried to explain as vaguely as possible, “I guess because I know that you’ve been through custody issues with Izzy over Holly, Karl.”

Karl nodded, “Yes, I have and that wasn’t an easy decision to let Izzy raise Holly in the UK knowing I wouldn’t be part of her everyday life. But I can visit her whenever I want and I speak to her on the phone all the time. I know I made the right decision to stay here with my family whilst still been a part of Holly’s life. I suspect Mark will want a lot more involvement in your child’s life.”

Elly shrugged, “Yes, Mark will want to be involved every step of the way and we don’t want to hurt him or take this away from him but—you know this is just not making any sense to you why we’ve made the decision to raise our baby together as a couple,” then glancing at Chloe, “I should just tell them.”

Chloe blinked in surprise, “Are you sure, Elly?”

“I can’t keep running from the mistakes that I’ve made, I need to own up to them even if Mark refuses to let me tell people. If we are going to be this child’s mums then this baby deserves me to be honest rather than lying to him or her for their entire life just because it’s what Mark wants,” Elly insisted, then shaking her head at herself, "I can't believe I just literally realized that we would be lying to our child their whole life for Mark's benefit. I can't do that."

“Okay,” Chloe whispered gently, proud of her girlfriend’s decision.

Before Elly could say anything further, they were interrupted by a knock on the front door.

Karl stood up to answer it, turning to Elly as he walked away from the table to tell her, “Whatever mistakes you’ve made, Elly, we’ll support you, but at the end of the day you need to let Mark help you and Chloe raise your baby. The father needs to be in the child’s life.”

Opening the front door, Karl was surprised, “Uh…hi…we didn’t know you were coming back to town.”

“Yeah, I wanted it to be a surprise. Can I come in?” Karl shifted out of the way to let the visitor into the house, “It’s good to see you again, Karl, Susan…Elly. I wasn’t expecting to find you here.”

Elly went pale white the moment she recognized who it was.

Chloe frowned at her girlfriend, “Elly, what’s wrong?”

Elly didn’t know how to tell Chloe and was relieved when Susan half-answered for her despite been unaware of the situation.

“Shaun, what are you doing back in Erinsborough?” Susan asked the new arrival.

Shaun…seriously! This is Shaun! Elly’s baby-daddy! What the hell is he doing back here? Something tells me the awkward conversation we were planning on having with Mark this evening to tell him we’re raising our child together is going to have to wait. How am I going to be able to support Elly from freaking out about Shaun been back here when he knows full well, he is the father of her child? Chloe thought.

Shaun…What the hell is he doing back here? Why now? I have finally gotten my life together and everything was going to be perfect once I told Mark I’m raising this child with Chloe…this child does not need another parent involved in his or her life. I’m never going to forgive myself for the mistakes I’ve made if Shaun has returned for this child, Elly thought.

Chapter Text

Just Friends?

Chapter Thirty-Nine

Elly refused to allow herself to throw up at the mere sight of Shaun been back in town but she desperately wanted to. If it hadn’t been for Chloe holding her hand tightly on the dining table at Susan and Karl’s place, she probably would’ve.

Shaun cleared his throat as he took his eyes away from Elly, the mother of his child, as he addressed Susan’s question of why he was back in town, “I wanted to see how Finn has been doing and make sure this arrangement of my brother living here is still working for all of you. I feel really bad that I took off so soon after his trial. I should’ve stuck around. I should’ve been here for…Finn.”

Not handling the situation of Shaun been back in town, Elly, stood up from the table, “We’re going to go.”

Susan glanced at Elly with worry, “Elly, is everything alright? You sounded like you and Chloe were going to tell Karl and I something really important.”

“Everything’s fine,” Elly gritted out unhappily, as Chloe joined Elly in standing up.

Shaun took a step back, unsure how to take Elly’s clear rebuttal of him been there, “If I’ve interrupted something I can come back later. I wanted to catch up with Finn first, anyway.”

“It’s fine, we can continue our conversation another time, it wasn’t that important,” Elly dismissed her Aunt and Uncle, as she held Chloe’s hand non-discreetly and stormed out of the house as quickly as she could.

Shaun swallowed hard at Elly’s complete subtle meltdown at his arrival, wondering if he had made the mistake of making his return a surprise but he was desperate to talk to the woman carrying his child.

As Elly and Chloe stormed past him, Shaun apologized to Susan and Karl, “I’m sorry, I clearly interrupted something important.”

“You weren’t to know,” Susan replied quickly.

Shaun stared after Elly walking down the Kennedy’s footpath, before turning back to the couple that had put everything on the line by taking in his older brother, “Is Finn here or do you know where I can track him down?”

“Finn’s down at the Waterhole, watching a footy match with Bea and a friend of hers, Vashvi,” Karl answered.

“Great, I’ll go track him down, and I might stop by here later on if that’s okay,” Shaun replied, and without waiting for an answer left Karl and Susan on their own, closing the front door behind him.

As they strolled across the court back to Elly’s place, Chloe squeezed Elly’s hand, “Babe, talk to me, tell me what’s going on and how you’re feeling.”

Elly shook her head, “You don’t want to know what I’m feeling, seeing that guy again. What the hell was he thinking, showing up here unannounced?”

Before Chloe could respond, the pair turned around to footsteps racing up to them.

“Go away, Shaun, you shouldn’t have come back,” Elly dismissed her baby-daddy quickly, continuing to walk away from him with Chloe by her side.

Shaun raced around in front of the two women, “Elly, we just need to talk for one minute.”

“No, we don’t,” Elly grimaced, trying to walk past him but was thrown when Shaun stood in her way, “We have nothing to say to one another, Shaun. We had a deal and you should not have come back here.”

“Elly, I want to apologize for that. I should not have ever made that deal with you. I’m here to make things right, we need to talk alone for a minute,” Shaun insisted.

Chloe stepped in front of Elly, still holding onto Elly’s hand in front of Shaun, “You heard her, Shaun. Elly told you to go away and that you have nothing to say to one another.”

“Who are you?” Shaun asked incredulously.

“None of your business, Shaun, now leave us alone,” Elly told him, not wanting to drag her girlfriend further into the mess she had created before she had fallen in love with the blonde.

“Elly, I’m not going anywhere, we need to talk, whether that’s now, later today, next week, next month, five months from now when you…I’m not going home until you give me a chance to explain,” Shaun told her.

“You are not going to be anywhere near me five months from now, when I have the baby,” Elly replied through gritted teeth.

Shaun sighed, then noticed Chloe looking at Elly with sympathy, “I’m guessing your friend knows about the baby then.”

“My ‘friend’ and I have absolutely nothing to say to you about the baby or about any other matter,” Elly responded, her voice rising in anger at Shaun blindsiding her with his return.

Shaun still stood firm in front of the two women, “Look I’m sorry for showing up unannounced. I’ve been really worried about you. Finn told me about your marriage to Mark breaking up and that you were in hospital again last week. I needed to know the baby was okay.”

“Bloody Finn should’ve kept his mouth shut about my personal life,” Elly said with frustration, then feeling guilty at the look of concern on Shaun’s face, “The baby is fine, that’s all you need to know, now get away from me, we have nothing more to say to one another.”

“Elly, please just give me a chance to fix things,” Shaun pleaded, “I made the wrong call when I was last here. I know you’ve split up from Mark but you’re still planning on raising the baby with him. Is that really the right thing to do by the baby? I mean that can’t exactly last forever, raising the baby with a guy that you’re no longer married to who also isn't the biological father. I’m not saying that a child needs two parents to be together but is that really going to work? Raising this child with your ex-husband? When Mark learns the truth, you might end up being a single parent. I don’t want that.”

Elly groaned in frustration, “I don’t care what you want or what you think of how this child will be raised. All you need to know is that this baby is going to be very loved. Now get out of my way.”

Elly finally pushed past Shaun, regrettably dropping Chloe’s hand in the process as Chloe stood in front of Shaun to stop him from pursuing the brunette. Just as Chloe turned to retake Elly’s hand and join her girlfriend back on her walk to Elly’s place, both women sighed as they spotted Mark running up the street, at the end of one of his usual neighbourhood runs. The second Mark spotted Shaun in the middle of the street with the two women, he stormed over to them all.

“I can’t deal with any of this,” Elly told Chloe, silently apologizing, before turning around and fleeing the middle of the street, heading back to her place, away from Shaun.

Chloe went to follow Elly to console her girlfriend over the shock of Shaun’s invasion in their lives but stopped when Mark ran over to Shaun to confront the man. Mark immediately grabbed Shaun by the shirt, two fists clinging to the material under Shaun’s neck.

“Woah, Mark, what are you doing?” Chloe demanded of her brother.

“You took everything from me!” Mark yelled at Shaun, “Everything! My wife…my child!!!”

Shaun swallowed deeply in surprise at the knowledge that Mark knew he was the baby’s father, “I’m sorry, okay, I didn’t know Elly was married. If I did, it never would’ve happened.”

“You think that makes things right, one apology?” Mark demanded, still grappling with Shaun even though he wasn’t fighting back, “What, you didn’t see the rings on Elly’s fingers? You didn’t think that was a clue? I lost everything because of you! My wife! My child! Everything!”

Chloe tried to step in between the two guys, “Mark, you haven’t lost everything. But if you don’t let this A-hole go, you’re gonna end up losing your career too, Mark. I heard how quickly Shaun wanted to lay charges on Ned for getting hit by him. You think your career won’t be over if you do the same. Think about what else you’re going to risk over this.”

“You’re right, Mark, I can’t apologize for what I did. I don’t know how I was blind to seeing that Elly was married that night, I was in a bad way with everything that was happening with Finn and my mum,” Shaun tried explaining, “It’s no excuse but I’m here to make things right. I tried to do that when I left. Elly wanted to raise the child with you, I gave her the chance to do so.”

“I will be raising this child with Elly as co-parents,” Mark gruffed out, not letting his grip on Shaun loosen, “You are not going to change that. So, get back on your fancy first class flight and go back to Switzerland where you belong.”

“Mark, would you let him go?” Chloe begged, worried further about how Mark was going to react when her and Elly had a chance to explain to him their decision to raise the baby as a couple.

Shaun was surprised, his confusion over the situation deepening, “You still want to raise this baby? Even though you’re not the father.”

“DNA isn’t everything, a father is someone who supports their child and stands by them no matter what. They do not trade their future for that of someone else and they do not force a family to take in a known criminal in exchange for your baby to be raised in a loving home,” Mark told Shaun angrily.

“Mark, let him go, I need to go and check on Elly and I don’t want to leave you here in case you do something stupid that’ll end your career,” Chloe pleaded once more, “Shaun, I don’t know you, but you need to listen to Elly and leave her alone. You made a mistake by trading this baby for Finn’s freedom and you have zero chance of trying to make amends for it. Go and see Finn for a quick moment and then take Mark’s advice and get back on a flight home.”

Shaun shook his head, “I know that’s what you both want but I have a right to be here. Elly can’t just make me disappear because she’s not ready to face up to all this. I have rights and whilst I messed up badly by trading this child for Finn’s freedom, that doesn’t mean I’m going anywhere. I meant what I said, Blondie, I’m going to be here for as long as it takes until Elly is willing to give me a chance to explain. If that means that I sit down with both Mark and Elly to discuss how my child is going to be raised, then that’s what I’ll do.”

“You have zero say in how this child will be raised,” Chloe yelled at Shaun at the same time that Mark shouted at him, “You think I want to raise this child with Elly and you?”

“I’m not going anywhere,” Shaun stated firmly.

“Mark, please let him go, I need to go see Elly and make sure she’s okay,” Chloe told her brother once more.

“No,” Mark replied, gripping Shaun’s shirt tighter in his fists.

Just as Chloe tried again to step in between Shaun and Mark, she breathed a small sigh of relief with a mix of more stress as she spotted Aaron and David driving into the street. Aaron’s immediate look of concern for Mark engaged with a tangle with Finn’s brother left him worried as David pulled their car into their driveway.

Whilst Chloe was happy to have Aaron’s support to try and drag Mark away from Shaun before he did something that would risk his career on the force, she was majorly concerned by how Aaron would react if one of the men revealed the truth about the baby’s paternity.

Aaron rushed over to his two siblings and Shaun, whilst David hung back a little, watching Mark’s outburst unfold, aware that it appeared obvious that Mark knew the truth that Shaun was the baby’s father, and he was afraid of how Aaron would react to the news that his husband had kept the secret from him and Mark.

“What’s going on here?” Aaron demanded.

“Aaron just get Mark to let Shaun go, Elly ran off and I need to go and check with her to make sure she’s okay,” Chloe non-explained, before turning away from the men and rushing over to Elly’s place to check on her girlfriend. Her concern for Elly greater than her fear that Aaron might soon learn the truth.

Mark ignored his younger brother as Aaron tried to separate him from Shaun, “You took everything from me! I am not going to let you stay here and destroy my life further, you hear me! Go back to where you belong or I will let you take the last thing I have and destroy my career by punching you in the face. It’s the least you deserve after what you did!”

Aaron once more tried to intervene, “Mark, stop this, whatever Shaun did--”

Mark eventually gave up, unclenching his fists from Shaun’s shirt but not before shoving the younger man in the chest, pushing him back into the concrete, and storming off away from the street.

“What did Shaun do?” Aaron asked, as Mark walked away from him and Shaun got to his feet.

“You don’t want to know, Aaron,” Mark yelled back at his brother as he exited the street in a huff.

Aaron stared over at Shaun as the guy slunk away without a word. Aaron turned back to David, “What is going on with my family?”

David shrugged, raising his shoulders, in his best attempt at pretending not to know.

Chloe rushed back into Elly’s place, worried that she had left Elly alone for too long, even though a part of her needed to make sure her brother didn’t do anything stupid. She didn’t hesitate to walk into Elly’s bedroom, finding her girlfriend curled up on the bed, crying.

Chloe didn’t say anything as she crawled onto the bed and cuddled up to Elly immediately. Elly clung to the blonde as she continued crying.

“I’m here, Elly,” Chloe reassured, “It’ll be…okay.”

“Why is Shaun back here?” Elly cried into Chloe’s neck, “When are all the mistakes that I made before I fell in love with you going to stop us from the future we want to have together?”

Chloe pressed her lips to Elly’s forehead, “Shaun is not going to stop us from raising our baby together, Elly. We are going to have that future together. I promise you.”

I don’t know how we are going to convince Shaun to return home and leave this child behind…but I am not going to let Elly’s one-night-stand come between Elly and I raising our child together, Chloe thought.

I thought all my mistakes were behind me. I thought the only thing standing in the way of our baby, Chloe and I spending our lives together was one awkward conversation with Mark to tell him I’m not raising the baby with him… Now we might have to contend with Shaun…I don’t want another parent for my child in the picture…I know Shaun has rights…but I can’t ever imagine letting another one of my mistakes ruin the future I want with Chloe and our child, Elly thought.

Chapter Text

Just Friends?

Chapter Forty

Several hours later, Elly was curled up in Chloe’s arms on the couch at her place. The TV was on, playing some movie that neither woman was paying attention to. Chloe continued holding onto Elly, every few minutes pressing her lips to Elly’s shoulder, neck or cheek, whilst gently running her fingertips against Elly’s baby-bump.

Elly couldn’t help but smile up at Chloe.

Chloe’s eyes brightened, “There you go, I knew I could make you smile again, beautiful.”

Elly brought her lips to Chloe’s, “No matter how bad things get, you always make me smile.”

“We’ll get through this,” Chloe reassured.

Elly entangled her hand with Chloe’s over her baby-bump, “How? I never want to doubt you, Chlo, but now instead of one awkward conversation with Mark to tell him we will be raising our baby together without him…I might be forced into a conversation with Shaun that I don’t want to have.”

Chloe nuzzled her face against Elly’s neck, “I know, baby. I don’t want you anywhere near Shaun. I’ve known him for a couple hours and I can’t stand the bloody sight of him or the idea of him causing you and our child any kind of pain. You do not have to speak to him again.”

Elly sighed, “Shaun has rights…and even though Karl thought he was talking about Mark when he said it ‘the father needs to be in the child’s life…’”

“I thought you didn’t want that,” Chloe whispered.

“I don’t want Shaun in our child’s life. It was different when it was Mark that we wanted not to play a role in parenting our child because he’s not the father. Shaun is…and he’s loaded…what if he fights me--us for custody?” Elly asked, trying to keep herself from falling apart.

Chloe held Elly tightly, “I won’t let him."

"This is all my fault," Elly whispered.

"Do not blame yourself for this," Chloe insisted, "If it wasn't for Shaun, we wouldn't have this amazing child we're going to have. He might be a tool but he gave us one good thing we are never going to give up."

"That's true," Elly mused quietly, "It's still my fault, I should never have told Shaun he was the father. Finn would be in jail and wouldn't be living with my family. Shaun would've left town after the trial like he did but he wouldn't have a reason to come back until Finn was released years from now. If I didn't tell him, Shaun wouldn't know and he wouldn't be back here wanting to speak to me about it."

Chloe pressed her lips to Elly's cheek, "You can't change what you've done, we just have to deal with this moving forward if Shaun refuses to leave us be without at least one conversation. We may have to sit down with Shaun and find out exactly what he wants before it comes to even the suggestion of a custody battle. You don’t even need to be there; I’ll meet with Shaun for you and tell him that he doesn’t have a place in the child’s life. Not after trading this child for Finn’s freedom, and if he wants to take that argument to a custody battle and try and explain it away that he was doing the right thing for the child and not himself and Finn, he can bring it because you and I are not giving up. We’ll be raising the child together.”

Elly half-smiled up at Chloe, her confidence making her feel stronger, “You’d do that for me? Talk to Shaun?”

“I’d do anything in the world for you and our child,” Chloe promised, “Now, how about we forget all about Shaun, at least for this evening, and concentrate on how and when we are going to tell Mark first that we’re planning to--?”

The couple were interrupted by Mark returning home, “Evening, ladies.”

Chloe glanced up at her eldest brother as he strolled into the house, headed for the kitchen, “When did you get so stealthy arriving home? You’re normally so loud I can hear you from the end of the driveway.”

Mark ignored Chloe’s comment; he was in a bit of a huff but nowhere near as angry as the last time she had seen him.

“Mark, you calmed down since…earlier with Shaun?” Chloe broached hesitantly.

Mark grabbed a bottle of water from the fridge and joined the couple in the living room, sitting down on the single seat sofa, opposite them, “Not really. I’m still pissed off at the guy for coming back here. What was he thinking? Did you know he was returning?”

“Of course not, we were as surprised as you, more so, probably,” Elly answered quietly, “Apparently Finn has been sprouting his mouth about our marriage breakdown and my recent hospital stay. Shaun did have reason to worry about the baby but he could’ve called first. Or asked Finn to check in. Shaun must’ve thought I was single…and I'd be alone raising the baby...that I’d need him back. He doesn’t know I have Chloe in my life.”

Chloe smiled down at Elly.

Mark felt a tad uncomfortable watching the couple and their closeness, especially when he noticed their hands gently rubbing against Elly’s baby-bump. He knew it was silly to think he might ever get a chance to touch Elly that way again, knowing that she wasn’t carrying his child, she had no reason to ever let him feel her stomach when the baby started kicking. He was jealous at how comfortable his sister was with a pregnant girlfriend when it was something, he had longed for most of his adult life.

“Well, Shaun knows you still have me in your life. I told him DNA doesn’t change things and I’m still raising this baby with you,” Mark told Elly as he took a swig of water and didn’t see the look of worry on both women’s faces.

"How did it go with Toadie and the annulment paperwork this morning?" Elly asked, changing the subject, still not sure how to address telling Mark he won't be raising the baby with her.

"It's complicated," Mark non-answered.

"Complicated we divorce or complicated we can still get an annulment?" Elly asked, trying not to roll her eyes at Mark's lack of information.

"Depends how you feel about signing a legal document that states you committed fraud when you married me," Mark answered calmly.

"I never--okay yeah I did lie to you about the baby and that could be taken as fraud," Elly realized quickly, "But I thought you didn't want that secret getting out?"

Mark shook his head, "Not fraud about the baby's paternity. I told Toadie you're in a relationship with Chloe now like you asked. Toadie's an honest guy for a lawyer and he's not one to suggest this lightly knowing it's hardly the truth. But he's also our friend and doesn't want to see us go through a messy divorce and asset evaluation so we come out of our marriage with the same assets and financial position we entered into the marriage with. I'm going to lie that being a traditional guy that I am, I've taken issue with you defrauding me over your sexuality and that you should've told me you were bisexual, Elly, before you married me, and you're going to further the lie by stating you cheated on me physically with Chloe before we split up."

Chloe raised her eyebrow at Mark, "'Traditional guy'? You're a very open-minded guy, Mark, with a gay brother and bisexual sister?"

Mark shrugged, "Doesn't mean I didn't have a right to know there was an inkling on Elly been as straight as a bended pipe."

Elly nearly scoffed at Mark's suggestion, "And Toadie thinks he can pull that off? That my sexuality is a case of fraud that you didn't accept unless I'd told you before I married you that it kinda turns out that I am bisexual and that I cheated on you with Chloe again, after we were married?"

"It's not ideal but it seems to be the only way around it without telling everyone what you really defrauded me over," Mark told her, "Toadie will draw up the paperwork on Monday and we can go down to his office and sign them. Or take the paperwork away to look over and have it back to him by close of business. We'll know within a week or so if it'll go through."

"Right," Elly replied, before glancing up at Chloe, "How do you feel about this, Chlo?"

Mark chewed on his lip that Elly needed to hear Chloe's opinion on how they tackled the legal side of his marriage ending with Elly.

Chloe shrugged, "Doesn't sound ideal to lie that we physically started our relationship with one another before we did...and that document will float around in some official office for years but if that's the only way to avoid a drawn out divorce...who am I to argue with a couple technicalities that'll see you be all mine?"

"All yours forever," Elly whispered into Chloe's ear before kissing her lightly.

Mark rolled his eyes at the couple, knowing Elly was trying not to let him hear those words, so he interrupted their kissing, "You two had sex with each other in the lift when you were trapped in it a couple months back...so we're...on the same page on when it started with the cheating part of this annulment claim."

Elly thought back to that day that re-started everything with Chloe from them trying to reclaim their friendship to her inevitably falling in love with Chloe, she winked at Chloe, whispering still not soft enough for Mark not to hear, "I bet it was great sex."

Chloe winked back at Elly.

Mark shifted uncomfortably in his chair, "That's basically what Toadie is going to get you to agree to on the annulment paperwork. It's not going to go into detail on the where, when or how the cheating happened but you need to admit to a start point when you started sleeping with Chloe when we were still married and that you kept it from me for more than two months before you came clean and told me you were leaving me for Chloe. The four of us can keep the details to ourselves so it's not like our families need to think you two were cheating on me when you didn't."

Elly sighed, looking back at Mark, "I was cheating on you emotionally with Chloe, Mark. Just because it wasn't physical, I wanted it to be. Even back as far as when we got trapped in the lift, I didn't want to admit to myself that I did put myself in the position where I could've kissed Chloe. And if I had of been brave enough to kiss her then...I don't think I would've been able to stop myself from having sex with her then and there. I likely would've continued sleeping with her until I came to terms with wanting to be in a relationship with her and ending things with you. Our little lies on the annulment paperwork are hardly stretching the truth very far. I resisted all the urges to start things with Chloe until I had split from you because Chloe deserves so much more than been an affair but every time I was with Chloe from the moment I chased her into that lift...I was cheating emotionally and it got stronger every minute I spent with her over the weeks. Chloe and I were inevitable...I just took my time accepting that."

Chloe nodded down at Elly, "As much as I wanted to think I could be a better sister to you, Mark, given any opportunity...I don't think I ever could've resisted Elly's advances had she been brave enough before she actually was. I probably would've been sad enough to accept been tangled in an affair with Elly for as long as she wanted me to. I'm sorry, Mark, I know that's not what you want to hear about your wife and sister."

Mark sighed, "I guess Elly said it best when she said you two were...inevitable," then wanting to get off the topic of Elly and Chloe confessing they would've cheated on him again had they had the chance, "What do you two plan on doing...now that Shaun's back?"

"Nothing," Elly dismissed.

Chloe squeezed Elly tightly, "If Shaun refuses to leave, I'm going to talk to him, tell him to leave. He won't be having any role in this child's future. He gave that up the moment he traded this child for Finn's freedom. I'm not putting Elly through any more unnecessary stress by talking to him, so I'll do it. He saw us together, holding hands at Susan and Karl's and when we left their place after he showed up unannounced. I'm sure it won't take Shaun been a genius to realize I'm Elly's partner and this baby will grow up...in a loving family."

Mark sighed at the thought that Chloe was beginning to get more involved with Elly's pregnancy than he thought she was capable of, then asked, "Susan and Karl take your news well?"

Elly nodded, a smile returning to her face as she lent up and kissed Chloe once more, "They're happy I'm happy. Even Shaun returning can't quite get rid of this smile on my face."

"Glad to hear it," Mark replied awkwardly, "I'm going to...have a shower...early night."

"Night," both women whispered as Mark left them alone.

Elly sighed as she stared into Chloe's eyes, "I should've told Mark tonight...that we're raising our baby."

"We will," Chloe promised, making Elly smile that she never intended on Elly having that conversation with Mark alone, "I know we had vaguely made the plan to tonight but that was before Shaun turned up. Why don't we tell him tomorrow?" 

Elly hesitated, "How about Monday evening? After the annulment papers have been submitted so he can't change his mind about the type of fraud he wants to claim I committed?"

"Tuesday night," Chloe countered, reminding Elly, "We have your first birthing class at the community center, Monday evening."

Elly's eyes lit up, "Oooh that's right. I can't believe I forgot. What would I do without you?"

Chloe smiled brightly at Elly, "Crash and burn, my girl, crash and burn."

"You've never said anything truer," Elly grinned, kissing Chloe quietly.

“I love you,” Chloe whispered.

“Except maybe that,” Elly conceded, “I love you, too.”

Three more nights...then Elly and I will get to start properly planning our future with our baby...I can't wait, Chloe thought.

Three more nights...then after an awkward conversation with Mark...hopefully not one conversation with Shaun...awkward or not...then Chloe and I will get to start planning our future with our baby...I can't wait, Elly thought.

Chapter Text

Just Friends?

Chapter Forty-One

A few days later, Elly and Chloe were holding hands as they walked towards the community center for Elly’s first birthing class.

“How did your day back at school go today? Students give you lots of love and attention after they missed you? Or were they enjoying torturing the relief teacher last week whilst you were on sick leave?” Chloe asked.

Elly smiled, “It was good, I eased back into it with some good classes today. I’m glad to be back at work, I missed it. Not as much as I missed you, today.”

Chloe couldn’t help but blush, her heart still fluttered whenever Elly expressed her feelings for her, “Same.”

“I love this,” Elly replied quietly, “Telling you about my day. It doesn’t feel like a chore by telling you what my day was like. I want to do this every day with you and when we get back home to my place, I can elaborate a little bit more about my classes and what I did all day…if that’s not boring for you.”

“I’d love that, every day, and I can tell you all the thrilling tales of the Lassiters Hotel,” Chloe started before changing subject, “So, I had kind of a crazy idea today. Tell me if it’s the weirdest idea you’ve ever heard and I will just never mention it again.”

“What’s your idea? I wanna hear it, I’m sure it’ll be great,” Elly reassured.

Chloe smiled shyly, “Okay, so we want to get our own place to rent and start setting up to raise our little family. We’d prefer a place close to Ramsay Street so we can stay near family for their support, right?”

“Yes, please, I don’t want to wait around for weeks to find a little place for us. We’re telling Mark tomorrow evening after work that he won’t be raising our baby with us. Whilst I can probably crash at your place for a night or two, depending how much Aaron hates me for taking this baby from Mark, I will probably end up back at the Kennedy’s until we find a place together,” Elly happily told Chloe.

“I kinda had this idea about…maybe we could move in…next door to my place together,” Chloe suggested hesitantly.

Elly frowned, “Uh next door to your place is Toadie’s and that place is packed to the brim with Rebecchi’s in case you haven’t noticed.”

“On the other side of my place,” Chloe pointed out.

“Oh, you mean Miss Grundy’s old place on the corner?” Elly realized.

Chloe nodded, “I saw Mrs. Punt at the complex today. I didn’t speak to her but it just reminded me that…Miss Grundy’s…or well I guess now it’s Mrs. Punt’s place…anyway it’s just sitting there…not been used. Mrs. Punt hasn’t moved in and I thought maybe we could ask her…if she’d consider renting it to us…I mean that’s if you can deal with the idea that…well…”

“Miss Grundy died in the house, Chloe,” Elly remembered.

Chloe shook her head, “Yeah, you’re right, way too crazy of an idea. We don’t want to live in a house and raise our baby in a place where the previous owner…died there.”

Elly squeezed Chloe’s hand, “I didn’t rule it out, Chlo. I mean okay, it’s a bit weird, but this is Ramsay Street. Can any of us be sure that other people haven’t died in our current houses? You probably can't rule that out for any existing house anywhere. We can just make sure to rearrange the living room…ooh maybe I can ask Dipi to do one of her cleansings or something. She’d be up for that, right?”

Chloe smiled, “Are you actually saying yes to my crazy idea?”

“I’m saying it’s not crazy, talk to Mrs. Punt the next time you see her to see if she’d be willing for a soon-to-be-family to be her tenants, that she’s not going to screw us with charging too much rent or bond and we can have a very real talk about moving in to the house on the corner,” Elly decided, “Aside from the…Miss Grundy…aspect, it makes perfect sense. It’s on the corner of Ramsay Street, easy to move to, easy to rely on our family for help with the move and then of course with the baby.”

Chloe smiled then chewed on her lip, "How do you think Mark will cope...if we're living that close to him raising the baby in front of him?"

Elly shrugged, "It'll hurt but not as bad as having us living under his roof doing it. Mark's not my concern anymore, only you and this baby are."

"How did you go at Toadie's today after work...signing the annulment papers?" Chloe asked gently.

Elly squeezed Chloe's hand, "It went well, I think. Mark and I signed the paperwork Toadie drew up. I read through it a little. I hated signing the part where I admitted to engaging in our relationship two months before I left Mark because it's not the truth but it had to be done to avoid a divorce. I may not have read every word in the document. I got a little distracted daydreaming."

"About what?" Chloe asked with a wink.

Elly side-eyed Chloe, "Mark's little suggestion that we had started our relationship when we got trapped in the lift and what that would've been like."

"Tell me more," Chloe whispered curiously.

Elly blushed, "You, me, in that lift, kissing, not bothering to remove our clothes as we had our hands inside each other's pants...you know...rushed but very passionate need for one another."

Chloe smirked, "I do love the way you think. We could've started things there that day...but in some ways I'm glad we didn't. We did things right...okay five minutes after you split from Mark but most importantly it was after. Mmm I can't wait until we have our own place. No need for any rushed love making but it will be very passionate. Or I guess once the baby is born it will end up been very rushed because we’ll be too tired."

Elly licked her lips, "Our first night when we get our own place...you, me, every single room in the house."

Chloe grinned at the thought, "You promise?"

Elly nodded, "Absolutely...except if we do move into Miss Grundy's old house maybe not the living room."

"That seems appropriate to skip the living room," Chloe agreed, then as they approached the community center, "Okay, guess we better get back to pure thoughts now. You ready for this?"

"Right, pure thoughts. I'm looking forward to this class. Mostly to spend time alone with you around other couples and having your arms around me and our baby," Elly replied, "I love it when you hold your hand over the baby."

"I love it too. I can't wait for our baby to start kicking, I won't be able to stop touching you and having my hand on your bump every chance I get, warning you now," Chloe confessed.

"Good to know, I can't wait either," Elly decided as the couple entered the community center.

Elly and Chloe approached the lady at the front of the room who had just finished talking to another couple. Elly smiled shyly at the other couples that were mingling around the room, chatting to one another before the class began, hoping no one would be closed minded to her been there with Chloe.

"Hello," the woman greeted the pair, "You must be my newbie, Elly."

Elly struck out her hand to shake the lady’s hand, "Yes, that's me, Elly Conway. This is my girlfriend, Chloe."

Chloe couldn't help but feel her heart skip a beat every time Elly was confident about them been a couple, "Nice to meet you."

The woman handed Elly a clipboard and pen, "Would you mind writing down all your details so we can get you two started with these classes? Then you two can go mingle with the other couples, get to know them and we'll get started in about ten minutes. We run these classes on the first and third Monday of every month so sometimes it's every three weeks instead of every fortnight. Couples are in varying stages of pregnancy, from halfway through their term to nearly 8 months. We prefer to mix it up a little so you can see what to expect in the coming months. You'll probably get in around 8 classes before you have your baby so hopefully you will be fully confidant by that stage."

"Great," Elly replied, busy filling out the info the class instructor needed from her.

The lady smiled as she looked at the pair, "Tell me about you two. I like to get to know people. How far along in your pregnancy are you? How long have you been together? Is this your first baby? Oh, and do not even worry for one single second that any of the other couples are not happy with same-sex couples been here. I'd have kicked them out of my class if they did."

Chloe smiled back at her, "Uh...Elly's nearly four and a half months pregnant. We've been together...it feels like forever, and yes, first child so we're a little nervous. Thanks for the reassurance on the other couples."

"Great," the lady responded as Elly handed her back the clipboard, then went over to the desk at the front of the room, "We'll get started soon, go mingle."

Chloe turned to Elly, "Was that weird that I didn't answer how long we've been together?"

Elly shrugged, "Not at all. It's our first class. I'd like to think we could get through to at least our fourth class before all the couples and the instructor hear the sordid tale of me getting pregnant to a one-night-stand before the much better tale of us falling in love with one another after I was pregnant and you been the most amazing support and mum-to-be."

"Mum-to-be-who?" came Mark's voice behind the couple.

Chloe and Elly turned around in surprise.

"Mark, what the hell are you doing here?" both women asked him.

Mark shrugged, "I thought you could use support. With the three of us here, there's nothing that we won't miss, we'll be completely prepared for your pregnancy and giving birth to the baby."

Elly closed her eyes for a second, breathing deeply, "Mark, I know you mean well but this class is about more than that. It's for Chloe and I to connect as a couple before the baby arrives."

Mark nodded, "I know and you two can sit on your yoga mat with your arms wrapped around each other...probably missing half of the things the instructor tells you because you'll be distracted by one another. I'm not getting in the way of that. I brought my own yoga mat to sit beside you. I'll just be listening to the instructor about what we're to expect over the next four and a bit months. You won't even know I'm there."

Chloe took Elly's hand, "Mark...you should've told us you were planning on joining us...because we would've told you not to bother. I'm not trying to be harsh but this is something we want to take part in alone as a couple. I'm not going to be too distracted by Elly to not be listening to every word the instructor gives us. I know how important this is to be prepared for the rest of Elly's pregnancy and birth."

Before Mark could argue his point of been there with the couple, Elly's jaw dropped, "Oh you have got to be kidding me!"

"Hello all...this is...a cosy little group for this class," came Shaun's reply as he walked over to the three of them.

"Shaun, what the hell are you doing here?" Elly, Chloe and Mark all half-screeched at Finn's younger brother.

Are you freaking kidding me? How did Shaun know about this class? Why are these two bozos ruining something that was going to be so special for Elly and I as a couple with our baby? Chloe thought.

Oh c’mon! Shaun! What could possibly make Shaun think I would want him here at my birthing class? How did he even know I would be here? Why are these two knuckleheads ruining something that was going to be so special for Chloe and I as a couple with our baby? Elly thought.

Chapter Text

Just Friends?

Chapter Forty-Two

Elly, Chloe and Mark all stared at Shaun in shock that he had somehow found out about the birthing class and thought turning up was a good decision.

"I was at the Kennedy's for dinner last night, Bea mentioned Elly would be beginning these birthing classes this week, I saw the flyers for it up on the noticeboard outside the center this morning. I thought I would drop by and offer my help," Shaun explained, "To be honest, I was expecting you on your own, Elly, and was hoping you might give me a chance to talk to you after the class. I've been trying to get a hold of you since you left me in the street Saturday afternoon."

Elly rolled her eyes, "Like I told you then, Shaun, we have nothing to talk about."

"Shaun, you need to leave, now," Chloe told him, protectively taking a step forward so she was standing in front of Elly but not dropping her hand, “Leave Elly alone. The stress you are forcing on Elly is not good for her or the baby. Do you want to be responsible for anything happening to her because of stress? Leave. Now!”

Elly nodded her approval of Chloe’s request and then gave the exact same look at Mark without him noticing.

Shaun raised his eyebrow then looked up at Mark, not afraid to get a dig in after Mark had shoved him around the other day, "Looks like neither of us are entirely welcome here. How come Elly doesn't want you here, Mark? Looks to me like she's mighty comfortable with Blondie been here for the class, who I still don't even know who you are or why you're always sticking up for Elly?"

Mark blinked awkwardly, "Elly, do you not want me here?"

Elly sighed, "I don't want either of you guys here, this was supposed to be something special Chloe and I could do together and you're both ruining it."

"Sorry, I didn't mean to intrude," Shaun apologized immediately, "I was just hoping to show you that you have my support and maybe you'd be willing to talk to me."

"Right...yeah...sorry, too. You told me you and Chloe were doing these classes and I didn't listen that you didn’t want me involved," Mark added.

Before Elly could say anything further the instructor walked over to the foursome, "Who do we have here? I didn't think we had anyone else joining us."

"Mark, here for moral support," Mark answered.

"Shaun, here for moral support and to learn everything I can about Elly's pregnancy," Shaun responded, "I want to be prepared for everything to come."

The instructor glanced around at the unusual group of four people there for one pregnancy, "Right...so does that mean...?"

"I'm the baby-daddy, he shouldn't be here," both Mark and Shaun told her, pointing at the other, then shaking their heads at both calling themselves the 'baby-daddy.'

The instructor narrowed her eyes in complete confusion, "Two...baby-daddy's...?"

Elly breathed deeply, terribly embarrassed by the insinuation that she didn't know who the father of her baby was and that she had clearly slept with both of the men in a similar time frame despite Chloe claiming that her and she had been together for what felt like 'forever.'

Elly squeezed Chloe's hand, "You know what...we're going to go. These two have just put me off this class tonight. Chloe and I will attend the class in two weeks and start there...sans two losers who think they have any say in my pregnancy. Sorry for wasting your time this evening. Let's go, babe."

Chloe didn't hesitate in walking out of the community center with Elly, still holding her hand.

The instructor pulled a face at Mark and Shaun after Elly and Chloe's exit, "I like her! Elly's got a good head on her shoulders to put herself and her baby first instead of putting up with you two been immature. Whatever your situation...sort it out, boys. I don't want to see either of you back here in two weeks. Leave the girls alone, they clearly have a good thing going and don't need either of you involved in this class. I'd wager a guess that they probably don't need either of you even in their lives."

As the instructor walked away from them to the other couples to begin the class, Mark and Shaun both rolled their eyes at her from been told off.

"Tell me, Mark, who is Chloe?" Shaun finally asked.

Mark folded his arms across his chest, annoyed that he was partly responsible for Elly not taking part in the class that evening, "Chloe's...my little sister...and Elly's...partner."

Shaun blinked several times in surprise, "Dude, your wife left you for your--"

"Don't say it!" Mark growled out.

Shaun shrugged, "Yeah but I mean Elly left you for--"

"Say it and I'll wipe that grin off your face with my fist," Mark threatened.

"Tough break, Mark," Shaun settled on saying to Mark before both men awkwardly left the community center.

As Chloe and Elly walked away from the community center, Chloe glanced at Elly sadly, "I'm sorry tonight didn't go anywhere near as planned. You made the right call to leave the class. You would've been too stressed and annoyed to stay." 

"Thanks, Chlo. I'm sorry I left too. I really wanted the class to bring us closer together. At least I know I'll have your arms around me and baby-bump tonight in bed. That'll get me through the next two weeks until the next opportunity for us to take the class. By that stage, with any luck, we will be living in our own place, beginning to set it up as a family home, Mark will have come to terms with the fact he will be nothing more than an Uncle to our baby and Shaun will be back in Switzerland where he belongs," Elly replied. 

"I like the sound of all of that. Do you want to go for dinner at the Waterhole?" Chloe suggested.

Elly smiled shyly, "Are you asking me out on our first date? Casual yoga-type clothes wouldn't usually scream dinner-date to me but with you it feels right. We can get all dressed up next time."

Chloe tilted her head, "You know I had not even realized I hadn't taken you on a date yet. Look at us, talking about moving in together, christening every room with love, we have a baby on the way and I have not even taken you on a date. Where are my manners?"

Elly ran her thumb across Chloe's fingers, "We've been a bit preoccupied the last few months to actually even attempt to go on a first date so I am more than happy to start here with you tonight."

Chloe licked her lips, "It's not really a first date, though? We already know we're in love and know just about everything there is to know about one another. They'll be no awkward getting to know you questions, no awkward first kiss and I don't want to sound cocky but I know I'm getting lucky with my girl tonight. I don't need to worry about whether that's on the table or not."

"Okay so not a first date but a date with my love. You always know how to make my day better whenever anything goes wrong," Elly smiled.

"And I always will," Chloe promised.

Half an hour later, Chloe and Elly were sitting next to one another on one of the benches in the Waterhole. Their arms were entangled in the middle of them, Elly lent her head and rested it against Chloe's head comfortably as Chloe held her right hand across them on Elly's baby-bump, looking every bit adorably together as a couple.

"What did you think of that entree, good right? Such a good taste in my mouth," Chloe asked as she stared at the empty plate of food they had shared and gently stroked circle patterns around Elly's baby-bump as they waited for the rest of the meal to be served.

Elly smiled wickedly at Chloe with a glint in her eyes, "It wasn't the best tasting thing I've ever had in my mouth when I've had you in my mouth but it's right up there for food."

Chloe blushed deeply, "Touché. You have a dirty mind, Miss Conway, I like it."

"I know, that's why I like to tease you," Elly admitted, "I can't wait for our mains to be served. Then we get to go home to my place and I get to taste and eat you all up for my dessert. The best thing my tongue will ever enjoy."

Chloe blushed even deeper, "Oh my God, Elly, stop it. I'm going bright red here. You are clearly in a mood and I love it but how do you expect me to function enough to eat dinner?"

"Okay, I'll stop, just long enough for us to enjoy the rest of our meal," Elly pouted, before licking her lips, "I don’t think I can wait until we get back to mine. Any chance we could pit stop in one of the bathroom stalls after dinner so I can have a little taste?"

Chloe side-eyed Elly, "I never took you for the anywhere in public type. Maybe there are more things I need to learn about you...but yes after dinner we can go to the bathroom...and as long as it's empty you can have a little taste test of dessert."

"You're the best, Chlo. I'm sorry, I'm not normally like this. Maybe my hormones are out of whack or something but all I want is you tonight," Elly admitted.

"Tonight, and every night," Chloe smirked, "Do you think this will be our last night at Mark's considering we're going to sit down with him tomorrow and tell him he won't be raising our baby?"

Elly's eyes glinted again, "Last night at Mark's means we can have the loudest most obnoxious love making session we've ever had...serves him right for ruining the birthing class we should still be at right now. Sorry, I'm clearly still pissed at our evening been ruined by those knuckleheads and that frustration has clearly grown into a need to want to be in bed with you tasting every inch of you right now."

"Don't apologize, I want that too and we'll be back at yours for our final night there soon enough where your tongue can work it's magic on me, baby," Chloe told Elly, even though she couldn't stop blushing.

"And what magic it'll be," Elly promised before sighing gently, "I think maybe I'm overcompensating and wanting to feel very not straight right now. I'm turning back to terrible habits of feeling like I need to use sex to forget about my problems. I thought I was long past that now that I'm with you. I was really embarrassed when the guys both told the class instructor, they were the baby-daddies. I saw the look she gave me. The one that said 'you have a girlfriend and you slept with two guys who are both claiming to be the father...you must sleep around too much.' It's not her fault, I'm sure she didn't mean it to come across like that...maybe it's more of a reflection of what I was feeling myself been at that class with 2 guys I've had sex with and the 1 girl I make love to."

Chloe pressed her lips to Elly's forehead, "You can feel very not straight in bed with me tonight, I have no issues helping you with that. I'm sorry the guys made you feel like the instructor was judging you like that. Maybe when we go back in a fortnight, we can just explain the situation a little to her. I know you were hoping not to have to explain things at least for a little while but it might help. Don't ever be ashamed of your past, Elly, I'm not."

"Thanks," Elly whispered, "My past led me to you and my mistakes led us to this amazing gift of a child we're going to spend our lives with."

"The same goes for my past and my mistakes. If I didn't make them, I wouldn't be sitting here next to you, rubbing my hand over your perfect baby-bump," Chloe reassured, "I'm just sorry the class was ruined by those two knuckleheads. I was really looking forward to the class bringing us closer together as soon-to-be-parents...speaking of knucklehead...great he's spotted us."

"Elly, Chloe, do you mind if I sit and join you so we can talk?" Shaun asked as he approached the women tentatively.

Seriously dude! You ruined our birthing class and now you’re going to ruin our date! Shaun you are the worst! I do not want Elly under this kind of stress. I need to protect her and our baby, Chloe thought.

I don’t even have words right now…okay I do…Shaun, stop ruining my night with Chloe and our baby! I don’t want to talk to you, I don’t want you near the baby, I don’t want the stress of trying to get you to leave town and leave Chloe and I to raise our baby, Elly thought.

Chapter Text

Just Friends?

Chapter Forty-Three

Elly and Chloe glared up at Shaun standing there opposite them as they were cuddled up to one another at the Waterhole.

“Can I join you for a few minutes?” Shaun repeated his request to talk to them.

"I'd rather be in the bathroom with you right about now," Elly whispered into Chloe's ear.

Shaun continued standing on the other side of the table, "I need to apologize to you both for turning up at the class unannounced tonight. That wasn't cool."

"Neither was turning up unannounced in Erinsborough but that didn't stop you," Elly pointed out.

"Point taken," Shaun conceded, "I took the info Bea mentioned about the class, found out when it was and I showed up wanting to show you that I can be there for you when...maybe you don't need me for support. I didn't realize you had a Chloe in your life and now that I do...I realize that class was about you two as a couple and I ruined that for you. I'm very sorry."

"Mark told you I'm with Elly or did you finally figure that one out yourself?" Chloe asked, almost shaking her head at engaging with Shaun.

"Yes, he told me you're Elly's partner. I'm sorry I didn't realize earlier and I'm sorry I put the kibosh on the class for you tonight. You two had every right to be there and enjoy those moments with one another without Mark or I around," Shaun apologized once more, "Would you mind if I join you? Just for a few minutes...I really would like to talk to you, Elly...I mean to both of you...about this situation."

Elly glanced at Chloe before gritting her teeth, "You’re not planning on leaving Erinsborough until we have this talk are you, Shaun?”

Shaun shook his head, “I’m not leaving…and if my visa expires, I’ll return to Switzerland, apply for another one at the airport and be on the next flight back as soon as it's approved. I’ll keep doing that until you have this conversation with me.”

“You ruined my birthing class that was going to be really special for Chloe and I and now you’re ruining my date with my girlfriend. Why should I let you ruin it even more, Shaun?” Elly asked.

Shaun looked at the couple, “Of course you’re on a date…I am so blind. Can I spring for your dessert to make up for this?”

Elly avoided Shaun’s eyes, “We have dessert covered.”

“Maybe we can try this again another evening when I’m not interrupting your date,” Shaun sighed in acceptance.

Elly groaned with frustration, before looking at Chloe with apologies, “Shaun…you’ve already blown the mood Chloe and I were in before you turned up…and you’re clearly not going away anytime soon…five minutes or by the time our dinners are served, whichever comes first."

Chloe pressed her lips to Elly’s forehead, to show Elly had her support in her decision, even though truthfully, she wanted to tell Shaun to go jump.

Shaun nodded and immediately sat down, "Thank you. You look really happy, Elly."

“I am really happy, Shaun. Chloe makes me really happy. This baby and Chloe make me really happy,” Elly agreed.

The waitress came over to the table, removing the empty plate from the table and told the couple their dinners would be served soon.

“A lot has changed since I was last in Erinsborough,” Shaun commented, “If I had of realized you had Chloe in your life…I might’ve called first instead of turning up. I took the information Finn gave me about your marriage breaking up and even though he told me you were still planning on raising the baby with Mark I didn’t think that would work out in the end. I assumed you would need help raising the child.”

“You seem to take the information people give you and make assumptions quite a bit,” Chloe pointed out, trying to hold back the aggressive tone that was begging to come out.

Elly breathed deeply, “I don’t need any help raising this child, Shaun. This child will grow up in a loving home with parents who will spend every day supporting him or her to become a wonderful person.”

Shaun nodded, “Mark certainly has a lot to live up to if he’s prepared to put aside any hurt and anger he’s feeling to raise this child that isn’t his with you, Elly. I was really surprised when I found out Mark knew I was the baby’s father and was still prepared to raise this baby with you.”

Chloe seethed in frustration, unable to hold back this time, “Mark’s not the child’s second parent, Shaun, and neither are you.”

Elly placed her hand over Chloe’s as Chloe continued gliding her fingertips across Elly’s baby-bump.

Shaun suddenly noticed their action, “Oh…oh you mean…the child will grow up with you two and you’ll be the parents?”

The waitress returned to the table with Chloe and Elly’s mains, asked Shaun if he wanted to order anything but he shook his head.

When the waitress left, Shaun was about to take his cue and leave like Elly had originally asked him too, but stayed when Chloe lent into Elly, telling her quietly, “I didn’t mean for Shaun to find out.”

Shaun kept sitting there, “Sorry, again I made the assumption from what Mark said that Mark and Elly would be raising the child together…I think you’re right about me and making assumptions about things.”

Chloe chewed on her lip as she looked back at Shaun, “I’m going to be the baby’s mum. I’m raising this baby with Elly. You’re not taking this away from me…I mean from us. If you think for even one minuscule second that you can fight us for custody and take this child away from two mothers who will love this child ‘til the end of the world then you have another thing coming.”

“You really don’t want to mess with Chlo,” Elly advised, smiling proudly at her girlfriend for standing up for them.

Shaun put his hands up in defense, “I never said anything about a custody battle or taking this child away from either of you. I think it’s incredible what you two want to do…you haven’t even been together very long.”

Chloe and Elly both sighed gently as they unwrapped their hands from each other and begun eating their dinner, realizing they weren’t going to be able to ask Shaun to leave or they’d just end up coming back to this conversation with him at another time. The longer they drew this out, the harder it was going to be on them and their baby.

“No, we haven’t been together long but we have a past that you weren’t exactly privy to the last time you were here,” Elly pointed out, “This isn’t a relationship out of need for a partner to help me raise this baby. Chloe and I are the real deal. I never should’ve married Mark, I did so even though I knew deep down I had feelings for Chloe. I was just running scared.”

“I really gotta stop making assumptions and just ask questions,” Shaun realized, “You’re sure raising the child together as a couple is what you both want?”

“Yes,” both women answered immediately in between the mouthfuls of food they were eating.

“How does Mark fit in to all this? He still wants to raise the baby and he was with the pair of you at the class this evening,” Shaun wanted to know.

Elly stared at Chloe, hating that they were opening up to Shaun but unable to avoid it knowing she needed to know exactly what Shaun wanted from her and the baby, “Mark won’t be raising the baby with Chloe and I…we just haven’t had a moment to tell him that.”

“I won’t say anything to Mark, it’s not my place to have that conversation with him,” Shaun promised.

Chloe nodded, praying they could trust Shaun, “Mark surprised both Elly and I when he decided he still wanted to raise the baby with Elly after Elly finally came clean to him. Neither of us were prepared for that reaction.”

“I bet, I was surprised too,” Shaun admitted, “You mentioned Mark wanting to raise the baby with Elly, what does he think your place in all this is, Chloe?”

Chloe scoffed, “A piece on the side for Elly to sleep with every night cause apparently that’s all I’m good for and that I have no interest in raising a child with my girlfriend.”

“Ouch,” Shaun whispered.

“It took Chloe and I time to actually have the conversation with one another about raising the baby,” Elly explained, “But after Mark decided he still wanted to raise a child with me that wasn’t his…I told Chloe I wanted Mark to change his mind because I want to raise the child with her and Chloe told me she wants to be this child’s mum. We’ll be raising the child together as a couple. We’re planning on sitting down with Mark tomorrow and telling him he won’t be a parent to this child. Chloe and I will be getting our own place to rent hopefully in the next couple weeks and we’ll start setting it up as a family home.”

“That sounds nice,” Shaun mused, “Do you need my help with any of that? Finding a place, the rental bond, moving your stuff into the house?”

“We don’t need your money, Shaun,” Chloe told him protectively, feeling annoyed that he had the audacity to suggest she couldn't come up with a rental bond for a place to set up for the family she was creating with Elly, “I’m quite capable of taking care of Elly and the baby financially even when Elly is on unpaid maternity leave as she hasn’t held her role long enough to qualify for paid leave. I’m not just here for emotional and physical support. I’m here for every single thing Elly and our child need from me.”

“Shaun, we might not be your level of rich ever but Chloe and I both have decent paying jobs. Even if we didn’t, we would find a way to make it work. We love each other and our child, that’s enough for us to do whatever we need to for our family,” Elly asserted.

“I didn’t mean any offence, I’m sure you can handle moving into your own place and raising the child as a couple,” Shaun apologized.

Elly sighed heavily, finally asking the question that had been weighing on her and Chloe’s minds since Shaun returned, “What do you want, Shaun?”

Shaun thought for a moment silently, allowing the women to continue eating their meals, before he finally answered, “I want to be in the child’s life. If you want to raise the child as a couple and be his or her parents…I won’t stand in your way. But I want the child to know me, know that I am their father and have a relationship with me. The responsibilities I have back in Switzerland with my mum’s business…I don’t think I’m ready to give all that up to move back to Australia and be part of every single day of my child’s life. I want to visit whenever I can, of course, and once the child is old enough be able to speak to the child on the phone every few days.”

Elly glanced nervously at Chloe with Chloe returning her gaze.

“It’s very clear to me that this child will be very lucky to have the pair of you raising him or her and that you will be quite capable been loving parents. I’m not sure if ‘parent’ is the word to describe me but I do want to play a role in been in the child’s life,” Shaun decided.

Elly chewed on her lip, “So when decisions need to be made about our child,” Elly pointed her finger between herself and Chloe making it clear she didn’t mean Shaun’s child, “are you going to let us make them or intervene?”

“As far as I’m concerned this is your child,” Shaun agreed, pointing his own finger between Elly and Chloe, “And whilst if the decisions will affect your child’s life, I would hope that you would respect me enough to pick up the phone to ask my opinion, I’ll back your decision. Every one.”

“Good, I’m glad,” Chloe whispered.

Elly still wasn’t sure, “Okay…here’s two…will you back my decision to have Chloe listed on the child’s birth certificate instead of you and how do you feel about Chloe and I deciding on a name for the child together?”

Chloe blinked in surprise, staring at Elly in wonder, “Really? You want me on the birth certificate and to help you name the baby?”

Elly placed her arm around Chloe’s shoulders, “Yes, you can’t get any more official than that, Chlo. Never doubt for a second that you are going to be anything less than our baby’s mum.”

Shaun smiled quietly at their interaction, “I don’t need my name on a piece of paper to be a part of this child’s life. It would be right to have both your names on it and it would also be right that you both choose the baby’s name. You’re the parents, always and forever.”

“Thank you,” Elly told him.

“Would I be out of bounds by telling you I do still want to support the child financially and pay child support or if you won’t accept that then I can set up a trust in the child’s name that I will put money into for the child to access when he or she is 25?” Shaun asked politely.

Elly sighed gently, “I suppose child support wouldn’t be the end of the world. I don’t exactly want to return to work the moment the baby is born and I don’t want to put Chloe through any unnecessary stress of thinking she has to provide for a family on her own even though I know you will, baby,” Elly turned to Chloe sweetly before returning to Shaun, ”No ridiculous amounts of money or to think your money buys you more time with mine and Chloe’s child.”

“I can live with that,” Shaun decided.

“Is there anything else you want from us, Shaun?” Chloe asked, having finished her dinner and replaced her hand on Elly’s baby-bump protectively.

Shaun nodded, “If it wouldn’t make you both uncomfortable…I’d like to come back for the baby’s birth. I don’t need to be in the delivery room or anything, that is completely for you two to enjoy as a couple and as the child’s parents. But I’d like to be at the hospital in the waiting room and be the first person told when the baby has been born.”

“I suppose that would be okay,” Elly relented.

“When is your next ultrasound?” Shaun asked.

Elly placed her hand over Chloe’s again, “3 to 4 weeks’ time. Chloe will be coming with me. We can…we can…send you a copy of the image…if you’d like.”

Shaun smiled graciously, “I’d love that. Will the pair of you be finding out the sex of the baby?”

Elly glanced over at Chloe, “We actually haven’t discussed that yet whether or not we want to find out or let it be a surprise. We’ll let you know our decision.”

Shaun grinned, “I’ll back you with every decision. Whatever you decide…if you want to keep it a secret until you give birth or if you two find out the baby’s sex…I think at the end of the day either all three of us don’t know or all three of us do know. There’s no point in keeping secrets when the three of us are a having a child together.”

“I’m sorry, what the hell did I just hear?” Bea screeched from behind Shaun.

Elly, Chloe and Shaun glanced up at Bea in shock as Elly’s little sister and Finn had entered the bar and made their way over to their table without them even noticing.

“Elly, what the hell does Shaun mean when he said ‘the three of you are having a child together’?” Bea glared at her sister in shock.

Bea…Finn…crap! This secret is getting out now…I hope Elly doesn’t have a meltdown explaining to her sister that Shaun is the bio dad to our baby…so much for Mark been the next person to be told Elly and I will be raising our baby, Chloe thought.

Bea…Finn…crap! I knew once I told Mark that he won’t be raising this baby that I would have no choice but to come forward and tell my family that Shaun is the bio dad, I went ahead with Shaun’s deal to maneuver Finn into their house, and that I’m raising this child with Chloe…I just really thought I wouldn’t be caught out and have to explain it to my family tonight…my night with Chloe and I bonding as a couple is officially done, Elly thought.

Chapter Text

Just Friends?

Chapter Forty-Four

“Beeeaaa,” Elly drew out her sister’s name awkwardly at the knowledge that Bea had overheard Shaun mention that he, Chloe and she were having a child together.

Bea stood there staring at her sister waiting for an answer.

Shaun cleared his throat and glanced at his brother, “Finn, maybe we should give the girl’s a moment?”

“Yeah, I don’t think so,” Chloe told him, “Your part of this, Shaun, you’re not going to run away and leave Elly and I to explain what you’ve done.”

Elly took a deep breath, holding onto Chloe’s hand tightly, “Bea…I can explain.”

“Yeah, I’m waiting,” Bea said folding her arms across her chest, “What the hell does Shaun have to do with this child?”

Elly glanced at Chloe, needing to see the support in her eyes and finding it immediately, allowing her to turn back to her little sister, “Are Susan and Karl at home?”

Bea nodded, “Yes.”

“Why don’t all of us head to their place and I’ll explain everything?” Elly suggested and then off Bea’s look, “I need to tell you, Susan and Karl about this…I don’t think I can say the words twice…please Bea.”

Bea relented, “Okay, we’ll go to Susan and Karl’s and you can explain what Shaun has to do with any of this.”

Shaun awkwardly stood up and along with Finn began to lead Bea out of the bar, “We’ll just give the girls a minute to pay for their meals and join us outside. Unless you wouldn’t mind me sorting out the bill--”

“No!” both women disagreed immediately.

A few minutes later, Chloe placed her arm around Elly’s waist as the couple left the bar, “Are you sure you’re ready to tell your family?”

“I have to…I knew it was going to happen, I just wanted to wait until Mark knew we’re raising the baby together,” Elly admitted, before leaning over and pressing her lips to Chloe’s cheek, “This was not the way I planned our date ending but as long as I have your arm wrapped around me, I feel like I can do anything in the world.”

Chloe squeezed Elly tighter, enjoying the closeness despite knowing they were all going to be dropping a bombshell on Elly’s family in a matter of moments, “You can do anything in the world, Elly.”

Bea smiled quietly as the couple approached herself, Finn and Shaun outside before the five of them awkwardly walked to Ramsay Street in silence.

Fifteen minutes later, Elly and Chloe were seated on one of Susan and Karl’s couches, Chloe’s arm still wrapped around Elly’s waist supportively. Susan, Karl and Bea were on the other couch. Finn and Shaun were quietly wandering about in the kitchen making tea for everyone.

“What do you have to tell us, Elly?” Bea demanded.

Elly pursed her lips, “I know this probably won’t make much difference to you, Bea, but I really didn’t want to lie to you about this. I was trying to protect my baby. Susan, Karl…this is what Chloe and I were about to tell you the other day we were here before…Shaun arrived.”

Chloe pressed her lips to Elly’s shoulder before smiling proudly at Elly to encourage her to tell her family the truth.

Elly smiled shyly at Chloe’s actions, “Bea, the other day when I came over here to tell Karl and Susan that I’m dating Chloe…I also told them that Chloe and I will be raising the child as his or her parents…and that we needed advice on how to tell Mark that he wouldn’t be raising this child with me. There are reasons why we’ve made the decision that we have but we still haven’t had a chance to explain it to Mark yet…I was hoping to explain everything to you after Chloe and I had the conversation with Mark because you deserve to know what’s been going on with me since I got married.”

“Okay,” Bea replied quietly waiting for Elly to tell her more.

Elly took a deep breath, “Mark’s not the father of this child.”

Bea, Susan and Karl all sat there in silent shock.

“I cheated on Mark again,” Elly admitted, “I knew he had only taken me back because of the baby…I hadn’t had the courage to tell Mark that the blood test I got at the hospital…I wasn’t pregnant to him like I thought I was. It was a false positive due to some meds I had taken after the wedding. I was hoping to wait a couple weeks to see if our marriage would survive me not being pregnant before I told him. But one day when Mark and I were in a really bad place, he said some hurtful things…not that that’s an excuse…it was also the day I saw Chloe at the pool party…and just seeing her there after I’d hurt her so badly…it sent me spinning into a drunken spiral. I had a one-night stand.”

Karl lent back on the couch, trying to hide his disappointment but failing miserably. Susan shook her head at the thought that her niece could lie to them about something so important for so long.

Bea ran her hand through her hair, “Elly, what were you thinking? And what does any of this have to do with…oh my God!?”

Shaun walked over to the family, “Elly and I didn’t know each other that night. I had no clue who she was, that she was married or the mess I was about to cause.”

“You?” Susan looked up at Shaun and then back at Elly in shock, “Shaun is the father of this baby?”

Elly nodded, “Yes. I didn’t mean for any of this to happen…and I didn’t mean to lie to you all about it for this long. I was in complete denial that Shaun is the father of my child. I didn’t want Mark to learn the truth let alone anyone else find out what I’d shamefully done to him. I was trying to find a way that Mark would still get what he wanted by been a father to this child. Chloe helped me to see how badly this lie was affecting us.”

Karl glanced away from Elly, “You know I’ve been in Mark’s shoes…Izzy tricked me into thinking I was going to be a father before Holly…I know what Mark has been through. Your family, Elly, but I can’t help but feel a little bit ashamed of you for thinking you could trick Mark into raising this baby with you.”

Chloe went to open her mouth to defend Elly but Elly stopped her, “Karl’s right, Chlo. I did want to trick Mark into raising this baby with me…until you came back into my life and worked with me to break out of my denial that I could trick Mark into being a father to a child that isn’t his. It was a shameful thing to do. Karl has every right to feel that way about me…my whole family have the right to feel that way.”

“Are you going to tell Mark?” Bea asked with a hint of anger in her tone.

“Mark already knows he isn’t the father of the baby,” Chloe whispered.

Elly held Chloe’s hand, “I told Mark the truth last week. I know that it was way overdue me telling him and that I did the worst thing in the world for making him believe he was going to be a father for five and a half months…I’m only just nearly at four and a half months now into my pregnancy.”

“I don’t understand, Mark hasn’t lost the plot at you in anger and he hasn’t kicked you out of his house, but he knows Shaun is the father of this baby?” Susan was confused.

“That’s the reaction I anticipated…I spent more than four months terrified of how Mark was going to react to the news this baby isn’t his…more than five months afraid my entire life would be over if he realized it turned out I wasn’t pregnant to him like I thought I was. Chloe made me see that my entire life wouldn't be over, it's just shifted into what I really want my life to be,” Elly explained, “But Mark he…he’s so desperate to be a dad…he stunned Chloe and I when he told us that he’d decided that the three of us could still live together in his house because he’s still going to raise this baby with me.”

“Mark still wants to raise this baby with you?” Bea asked in surprise.

Chloe squeezed her hand against Elly’s waist, “That’s what Mark wants…but it’s not what either of us wants…and it’s not what is going to happen.”

Karl nodded gently, “This is what you meant when you said you had ‘reasons’ why Mark won’t be raising the baby with you, Elly, and that he hadn’t done anything wrong…he’s not the father and if you think it’s in the best interests that he isn’t the child’s father…he doesn’t really have a say.”

Elly nodded back at her Uncle, “Chloe and I will be raising this baby together as a couple. We’re going to be this child’s parents. Chloe will be this child’s mum alongside me. We want to get our own place and be a family. We just need to…break it to Mark that…all he’ll ever be to this child is an Uncle…”

Bea glared up at Shaun, “And where do you fit in to all this? With the baby been raised by Elly and Chloe?”

Shaun placed his hands in his pockets, “That’s what Elly, Chloe and I were discussing when you found us at the Waterhole. I came back to town because I couldn’t just ignore the fact, I left a child behind. Elly didn’t know I was coming back here.”

Susan tilted her head to the side, “That explains why you two ran out of here when Shaun showed up. Elly, you looked like you were going to throw up the cookies I’d baked for you.”

“I very nearly did. I was in shock to see Shaun back,” Elly confessed.

“Wait, backup there,” Bea threw her hands up, “Shaun, you knew you were this baby’s father before you came back here?”

“Yes,” Shaun admitted, “Elly told me she was pregnant to me over the Easter weekend before she went back in for Finn’s trial when I found out she was pregnant and confronted her. But she wanted to raise the child with Mark so I left. I realize now I made a mistake doing that. So, when Finn told me Mark and Elly had ended their marriage, I came back to see how I could help with raising the baby. I didn’t know Elly had a Chloe in her life.”

“And now that you do know Elly has Chloe and they want to raise the baby as a couple?” Bea pushed for more information.

Shaun smiled graciously, “Chloe and Elly will be this child’s parents. I won’t be coming in between their plans to raise their child together. They are going to make amazing parents and their child is going to be incredibly lucky to have them. Elly and Chloe have agreed that I can still have a place in their child’s life but I will be returning to live in Switzerland. He or she will know who I am and I will visit as often as I can. I’ll be able to call every few days once their child is old enough to talk to me and I will provide child support. I’m comfortable for Elly and Chloe to make all decisions when raising their child but we’ve agreed that they can call me for my opinion should they feel the need to. I’ll return for their child’s birth but I won’t be interrupting their moments together as a couple when Elly gives birth. I can wait to be told their child has been born in the waiting room like everyone else here. Elly has offered to send me a photo of the baby’s next ultrasound that she’ll be attending with Chloe.”

“’Their child’?” Bea repeated.

“Yes, that’s right, this child will be Elly and Chloe’s. They will be the parents,” Shaun reassured.

“Thank you,” both Elly and Chloe whispered to Shaun.

Finn finally came over to everyone, handing out cups of tea.

Bea looked up at him realizing, “You’ve been very quiet about this. You’re going to be an Uncle…biologically at any rate…but not with Chloe raising this baby with Elly.”

Finn looked over at Elly, “I’ve known for a while now, Bea. It wasn’t my place to say anything. Elly needed to come to terms with it in her own time,” and then off Bea’s look of shock, “Elly didn’t tell me, I figured it out on my own. Elly was been blackmailed with her real ultrasound that she couldn’t show Mark because then he’d know the baby wasn’t his. Shaun was cagey when I mentioned Elly and the baby got attacked at the school…I saw that Shaun was trying to call Elly…I figured it out. I think the only thing I didn’t figure out was that Elly and Chloe are a couple…until I saw them earlier at the Waterhole looking…well exactly as they are now.”

Elly looked up at Finn, “I guess we assumed Bea might have let that one slip after she found us together in the hospital the other week.”

Finn smiled at Bea, “No, she managed to keep that one to herself. I get it…I probably wouldn’t have messaged Shaun to convince him to come back had I known…but it sounds like everything has worked itself out and this child will be very loved with the pair of you.”

Elly sighed, but felt reassured when she felt Chloe kiss her shoulder gently, and turned to her family, “There’s something else I need to tell the three of you…I betrayed all three of you in trying to keep my secrets from Mark. Finn’s living here with you because…Shaun agreed that he would leave town and let me raise the child with Mark…if I changed my statement at the trial and convinced you to take Finn in to live here.”

“Elly!” Bea screeched in shock.

Karl shook his head in disgust.

“Elly, explain yourself!” Susan shouted.

“I’m sorry,” Elly whispered, “I didn’t mean to drag you into this. I was out of control back then. I was desperate for Mark not to find out how far along I was in my pregnancy and I was in denial still thinking that I could save my marriage to him by getting him to raise this baby with me.”

“It’s my fault,” Shaun stepped forward, “I saw a way to keep my brother out of jail and I took advantage of the state Elly was in at the time. I knew she wasn’t thinking clearly and was desperate to keep Mark. I traded this baby for Finn’s freedom…to be honest, Chloe and Elly shouldn’t let me have any kind of relationship with their child after I did that…but I’m grateful they haven’t let my error in judgment that I should’ve put the baby ahead of my brother in the way of me having a chance to get to know their child.”

Bea shook her head at her sister, “I can’t believe you would do all this.”

Elly nodded, glancing away from Bea, “I’m ashamed of myself, Bea.”

“I’m not,” Chloe whispered, squeezing Elly gently, before speaking up to the entire room, “Elly’s not the only person in this room to ever make mistakes. So, have all of you. The cheating and the lying were bad but nothing else Elly did was a mistake. We wouldn’t have this child in our lives by the end of the year if it wasn’t for what happened. I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my life so far and I’ll probably continue to make them. I would love to tell you all that I’m going to be the perfect partner to Elly and the best mum on the planet to our child but that’s not realistic. I’m gonna stuff things up at times but I already know I’m going to have Elly’s forgiveness because of how much we love each other. You guys need to forgive Elly for her mistakes. She needs you.”

Bea, Susan and Karl all looked at one another, before Susan finally spoke up for all of them, “Well said. We forgive you, Elly, and you have all our support.”

Elly smiled shyly at her family, grateful for them, but mostly for Chloe. Elly lent over and pressed her lips to Chloe’s cheek, before whispering in her ear, “I love you so much. As long as you are loyal to me and our child, you never have to worry that any mistakes you do make will not earn my forgiveness.”

“I always will be,” Chloe whispered back to Elly.

Karl glanced at the pair, “When do you plan on telling Mark you and Chloe will be finding your own place and raising the child together?”

Elly lent her head against Chloe’s, “Tomorrow night. We wanted to wait for us to sign the annulment papers which we did this afternoon.”

“Is there anything stopping you from telling Mark tonight?” Karl asked politely, “It just seems this is something Mark should know as soon as possible.”

Elly stared at Chloe for a moment, before conceding, “Karl’s right…we should go over to Mark’s now and tell him.”

“Are you sure?” Chloe asked.

“No, but we need to do this…I’ve strung Mark along for months now…he deserves the truth and we can’t keep dragging this out,” Elly answered.

Elly then turned to her family, “I’ll crash at Chloe’s tonight…but I might need a place to stay for a while until Chloe and I have found our own place…I don’t think Aaron is going to be very happy to have me stay with Chloe once he learns this baby isn’t Mark’s and that I’m going to take away Mark’s chance of been a father.”

Susan nodded, “You can stay here as long as you like and Chloe is welcome over whenever she wants until the pair of you sort out a place of your own.”

“Thank you,” Elly told her Aunt, before turning to Chloe, “You ready for this?”

Chloe shrugged, “No but yes.”

Elly reluctantly disentangled herself from Chloe, standing up and taking Chloe’s hand to help her up, “Me too but if we want to be mum’s, our child needs us to do this.”

“Okay, lead the way,” Chloe agreed as the pair left the Kennedy’s house, smiling back at Elly’s family for their support.

Please Mark…do not have a panic attack over this…please just understand I am not trying to hurt you by taking this child away from you, Chloe thought.

Please Mark…please understand that we are making the right decision for our child and this is what Chloe and I both want for our future together, Elly thought.

Chapter Text

Just Friends?

Chapter Forty-Five

Elly took a deep breath as she held onto Chloe’s hand tightly as she entered her house. Or Mark’s place. It didn’t feel like her home anymore; it never really did. The only time it did feel like home was the moments she fell asleep in Chloe’s arms and woke up in them the next day. She no longer needed to live there at Mark's to fall asleep like that with Chloe. She could have that feeling anywhere else as long as she was with Chloe.

Chloe smiled over at her reassuringly as they closed the door behind them.

Mark was in the kitchen prepping dinner, when he glanced over at the couple, “Hey ladies, there’s my soon-to-be-ex-wife and lil sis. I was wondering where the pair of you got to after walking out of the class earlier.”

Chloe rolled her eyes at Mark, unable to resist jabbing at him, “What, no apology for ruining the birthing class Elly and I were supposed to attend this evening?”

Mark shrugged, “There’ll be other opportunities for you both.”

Elly shook her head at Mark’s petulance, muttering under her breath to Chloe, “At least Shaun was man enough to apologize,” before speaking up to Mark, “Uh…Mark would you mind…putting on hold chopping up your veggies and come sit down with us in the living room for a few minutes? We…need to talk to you about something.”

“Sure, okay,” Mark agreed.

Chloe and Elly both sat down on the couch, Elly closer to Mark with Chloe sitting beside her with her hand on Elly’s knee.

Mark sat down in the single sofa seat, blinking as he stared at the couple, “This feels oddly familiar…last time you two were like this you told me the baby wasn’t mine and the time before that when it was Chloe and I on the couch, and Elly, you were telling me you were leaving me for my sister. This couch gives me bad vibes…you two…like…you two never had sex on this couch, right?”

Chloe raised her eyebrow, “Nearly…once…the first time Elly and I…when you ran away…but we didn’t and moved to my…room. Why am I telling you this?”

Mark shook his head, “I hate this couch! I need to buy a new one!”

“We need to talk to you about something,” Elly repeated, hoping to move the conversation along even though part of her was dreading it.

Chloe held her hand on top of Elly’s knee.

“Sounds serious,” Mark contemplated.

Elly glanced back at Chloe before returning Mark’s gaze, “It is…and I’m sorry we didn’t come to you earlier with this.”

Mark stared at the couple, waiting for more because he had no idea what this was about.

Elly placed her hand over Chloe’s, “Chloe and I will be moving out of your place. We need to find a place of our own to live in as a couple…and family.”

Mark blinked several times, “Oh…well I mean that’s…I thought things were going great between the three of us living here. It’s because of me, isn’t it? I’ve made too many comments and snide remarks about you two sharing a bed together and screwing each other every night. I’ve made you two hide what you have alone in your room like it’s something to be shameful of. I’ll stop, I’ll take you two more seriously as a couple. It’s clear that you do have something between you that might be real. You don’t need to hide away any more. This is your home too and you should feel comfortable here together.”

“Mark, it’s not about you or the way you treat us,” Chloe told him, “Even though you have been pretty disrespectful about our relationship. I get you needed time after Elly left you for me and we moved on together very quickly that probably made you feel like we had little respect for you. But you still don’t get it…you’re still saying what Elly and I have ‘might’ be real. It is real, Mark, and that’s one of the reasons why we’re beginning to look at finding our own place together.”

“Okay…if that’s one of the reasons…what are the others?” Mark asked calmly.

Elly entangled her hand with Chloe’s over her knee, “Mark…Chloe and I are going to find our own place because we’re going to be a family.”

Mark stared at them in confusion, “Are you two engaged? That is way too quick, Christ, Elly we signed our annulment papers not five hours ago. You can’t seriously be wanting to marry my little sister that quickly.”

Elly cleared her throat, nervously glancing over her shoulder at Chloe to see she had the same look on her face, “We’re not getting married…I mean yes maybe one day I would love to…we haven’t had the marriage talk and having it right at this moment is not when Chloe and I are gonna have the marriage talk…wow…engaged…Chloe and I…that…married to Chloe…wow. I can’t believe I’ve never even taken a moment to imagine…Chloe and I…married. Wow. Do you want to…one day…? That’s not me asking…that’s…this is the wrong moment to even be…wow.”

Chloe pressed her lips to Elly’s shoulder gently, to calm her girlfriend down, “One day, yes, but this isn’t the right moment to be talking about this, baby. Can you regain your focus?”

Elly blushed heavily at been so thrown by Mark’s suggestion that the couple might be engaged and thoughts of being married to Chloe, before she looked back at Mark, “Not engaged…possibly will be in the future one day…right regaining focus…Chloe and I will be a family…with our baby.”

“How do you mean?” Mark stared at them blankly.

Elly ran her tongue over her lower lip, realizing she needed to spell it out to Mark, and held her free hand against her baby-bump, “Chloe and I will be raising this child together as a couple.”

“Yeah, I know, with me, remember?” Mark shrugged his shoulders.

Chloe squeezed Elly’s hand, “No, Mark. We’re trying to tell you here that Elly and I will be raising the child together. We’re going to be the child’s parents.”

Mark narrowed his eyes, “Chloe are you trying to say that you want a little bit more involvement in raising the baby with Elly and I than just the occasional post-midnight settling the baby back to sleep? You girls don’t need to move out for Chloe to have more involvement.”

Chloe felt Elly turn around to her and smiled encouragingly at her, allowing her to finally admit to her brother, “Mark...it's not just a little bit more involvement I want...I'm going to be this child's mum.”

"I don't understand," Mark replied quietly.

"Mark, Chloe and I are a couple and we are going to be raising this child together. Chloe and I are both going to be this child's parents. You won't be raising this child with us," Elly told him as clearly as possible.

"But I'm willing to...I'm...I've set aside my feelings over the child not been mine and I'm...I'm going to be the child's father," Mark told them, his voice getting quieter.

"I know you were willing to do that and a part of me will always love you for that...but it's not what I want. I want to raise the child with Chloe and she wants the same thing. We want to be the child's mum's and to do that...we can't have another parent in the picture. We need to go on this journey ourselves as a couple," Elly explained.

"But...I...I was going to be the Dad," Mark told them in confusion, the news not setting in yet.

"The child doesn't need a Dad, Mark, he or she is going to have Chloe and I," Elly replied, "And I am sorry but this child isn't yours...so you don't get a say in how I decide to raise my child. This is my decision, Mark. Chloe wants to be this child's mum and I want her to be."

"Why are you doing this to me?" Mark whispered.

Elly begun calmly, "Mark, I didn't want to hurt you but this is what I feel is best for--"

"Not you, Chloe," Mark swallowed hard, "Why are you doing this to me, Chloe? I'm your brother. You're taking this away from me! I want to be a father; I can be a father to this child. You don't want this; you've never wanted kids."

Chloe sighed heavily at Mark single handedly blaming her, "Mark, just because I've never expressed the desire to be a parent the way you have doesn't mean that I don't want to be a parent. I've known for a while now I want to be this child's mum and I would love to step aside and let you live your dream but I can't do that. You can still be a father, you're not infertile, you can find a partner to share your own parenting journey with. It's not going to be with mine and Elly's child."

"How long have you known you wanted to take this from me?" Mark demanded.

Chloe felt reassured by Elly entangling their fingers gently, "Mark, I'm not taking this from you, the baby isn't yours, you don't--"

"How long?" Mark repeated.

"Since the second I saw the baby on the monitor at Elly's 3-month ultrasound. I fell in love with the child and I knew I wanted to be his or her mum even though I wasn't with Elly and I didn't know she was developing feelings for me then," Chloe answered honestly.

"Elly kissed you at that ultrasound," Mark remembered Elly admitting to him, his anger at his sister boiling, "I asked you to drive my wife to the hospital so she didn't puke all over a taxi. Instead of leaving it at that, you attended that ultrasound and my wife fell in love with you in that moment and you fell in love with her baby! I trusted you! That was the moment that I let you back into my life, Chloe! After what you did with Elly before the wedding, I let you back into my life, I trusted you and you betrayed me!"

"I'm not going to apologize if that's what you want, Mark," Chloe stated firmly, "I'm not betraying you. This child is not yours, Mark. I want to raise this child with Elly. She wants to raise this child with me. Hell, even Shaun is comfortable with this and wants Elly and I to raise our child together. He's given us encouragement that we will be amazing Mum's."

"You spoke to Shaun about raising this child with each other before you spoke to me?" Mark seethed.

"Shaun is still going to have a place in this child's life but he will be returning to Switzerland and Chloe and I will be the child's parents," Elly advised, "Mark, you can still have a place in this child's life. Chloe is going to be a Mum; you're going to be Uncle Mark. This child is going to love you and look up to his or her Uncle Mark with--"

"I don't want to be Uncle Mark, I want to be this child's father," Mark told them angrily.

"It's not going to happen," both Elly and Chloe said at the same time together, before Chloe added, "I'll say this again. This child doesn't need a father, Mark, he or she will have two parents in Elly and I."

"Yeah it'll have two parents until Chloe's Huntington's kicks in and she can't be there for you and she dies on you!" Mark spat out.

"What did you just say?!" Elly yelled at her soon-to-be-ex-husband.

"You heard me. Chloe's gonna bite the dust in her forties or maybe earlier and then you'll be on your own raising this child. Trust you, Elly, to choose wanting to let your child go through that instead of been raised by a perfectly healthy guy who wants this child," Mark blurted out furiously.

Behind her, Elly heard Chloe burst into tears but she was too angry at Mark to let him get away with trying to use Chloe's diagnosis against them to convince her to raise the child with him and didn't turn around to console her girlfriend.

"You have no right to talk about Chloe's diagnosis like that!" Elly yelled back at him, "You disgust me to think that you're suggesting that the only reason I should choose to raise this child with you is because you might live longer than her.  You could walk out of here and get hit by a car for all I care, there is no guarantees that you'll live longer. And if you think that that is a good enough reason not to raise a child with Chloe you never knew the first thing about me."

"You'll regret this decision when you're struggling raising a child and dealing with Chloe not been able to function as a human being before she carks it," Mark declared.

"I know what my future with Chloe will look like, Mark, I'm not naive! Ten to twenty years with Chloe and our child will be all the happiness in my life that I need and it will be a million times better than putting up with your despicable oafishness for maybe 50 years with you. Me and this child deserve so much better than you and if you think resorting to telling me Chloe's going to die on me and that makes it not worth loving her or raising a child with her, you don't ever deserve to feel the joy of becoming a parent. You are a bitter and twisted man," Elly firmly stated, holding onto Chloe's hand, hoping she was still providing some comfort even though she was too busy telling Mark off to be consoling her tears.

"Get out of my house," Mark whispered at the couple, unable to come to terms with turning his anger on his sister so terribly.

Elly almost rolled her eyes, "Gladly. I wasn't planning on staying here tonight anyway. Chloe, come with me, we'll just get a few things before we--"

"Leave. NOW!" Mark yelled at the pair, "I'll pack up your crap tomorrow and you can collect it when I'm not home."

"Fine," Elly agreed, "I don't want to be anywhere near you. You had a chance to be a decent human being about this, Mark, instead you've just proven I am never going to regret this decision to raise my child with Chloe."

Without anything further said, Elly stood up, urged Chloe to join her and ushered Chloe out of Mark's house.

As soon as the front door closed behind them, Mark stood up, went over to the kitchen and threw everything on the kitchen bench top to the floor. He was fuming at himself for losing control of his emotions as the prospect of losing a child he wanted to raise to the point of been so horribly cruel to his sister and yet he couldn’t bring himself to find a way to chase after Chloe to apologize.

As soon as the front door closed behind her, Elly enveloped Chloe in an overdue hug as Chloe's tears continued streaking down her face.

"Don't you dare listen to Mark, for one second, Chloe. He is a pig to think that I would change my mind and want to raise this child with him because we might not get a lifetime together. Whatever time we get will be filled with more love and happiness then Mark will ever be capable of experiencing," Elly assured her girlfriend.

Chloe nodded against Elly's shoulder.

"C'mon, let's get away from this place and go back to yours. I'll hold you all night long until your tears are gone," Elly promised, "We'll talk to Aaron and David in the morning before work. Aaron is going to have a field day over the news that the baby isn't Mark's and that you and I will be raising this child together but he is gonna go off his nut about what Mark has just done. Aaron can go yell at Mark for us for been an absolute man-child thinking your diagnosis would ever make me not want to raise our child with you."

Chloe nodded once more, curling herself into Elly's side.

Elly pressed her lips to Chloe's forehead, "You believe me, right? That I could never think that way about you? I need to hear you say it, Chlo."

Chloe sunk herself into Elly's embrace, muffling out a reply, "I believe you."

Elly wrapped her arm around Chloe’s waist and Chloe followed suit, allowing her girlfriend to walk them back to her place for the evening.

I can’t believe Mark just broke me like that…I’m glad I have Elly to help me deal with all this, Chloe thought.

The nerve of Mark to break his sister like that…I know he’s hurting but that is no excuse…I need to help Chloe deal with all this, Elly thought.

Chapter Text

Just Friends?

Chapter Forty-Six

The next morning at just before 5 am, Aaron was awoken by a phone call. David yawned as he rolled over and heard his husband muttering on the phone. Aaron soon hung up and looked at David, sighing heavily, “That was the alarm company, the alarm at the gym went off, they think someone broke-in. I’ll have to go down there and check it out.”

David groaned, “Doesn’t the personal trainer open the gym at 5 am, they’ll be there soon. Shoot them a text to give them the heads up and ask him to call if there is actually a problem at the gym.”

Aaron kissed his husband, “It’s my gym, Boo Boo, and that means it’s my responsibility even when I don’t want to get up and leave this bed. I’ll call you at a decent hour to let you know what happened. Or with any luck I’ll be home in half an hour with no news to report.”

A few minutes later, Aaron crept out into the hallway but nearly had a heart attack when he bumped into Elly.

“Jesus bloody Christ, Elly, you were not who I was expecting to find out here,” Aaron whispered.

“Sorry, didn’t mean to scare you, I was just going to the bathroom,” Elly whispered back and oversharing, “This baby makes me pee all the time.”

“I didn’t even know you were here tonight,” Aaron pointed out, “I heard Chloe come home and she was crying in her room but to be honest…I was just too damn exhausted to be a really good brother and knock on her door to see what was going on. Thought I’d leave it until this morning.”

“We had a rough night,” Elly non-explained, “We thought it was better that we crashed here. I know it’s…kind of a first that I…spent the night here instead of Chloe always been with me.”

Aaron nodded as he noticed Chloe’s silky dressing gown, “Sharing my sister’s bed and her clothes…I see.”

Elly blushed, “I kinda didn’t have any other clothes with me and I couldn’t…get any from…home.”

“Is everything okay? Chloe’s crying? You’re crashing here,” Aaron asked.

“Not really,” Elly shook her head, “Would you and David be able to meet Chloe and I at Harold’s for breakfast? There’s a few things we need to…catch you guys up about.”

Aaron nodded, “Okay, what time?”

“Is 7 am too early? I have to be at the school by 8 am for home room before classes,” Elly suggested, “I mean I guess we could all do lunch but it’s a little bit urgent…not wake you up in the middle of the night urgent…but…Chloe and I really need to sit down with you guys.”

“Yeah, okay, I’ll text David. If you don’t hear him up after 6 am feel free to wake him up and tell him I sent him a message about it,” Aaron agreed.

“Thanks,” Elly whispered, then as Aaron walked past her, she whispered back to him, “Where are you going at this hour?”

Aaron sighed, “The gym might’ve been broken into. I’ve got to check it out.”

Elly nodded, “Sorry to hear that. Let us know if you need any help.”

With that, Aaron left the house, and Elly decided to get a glass of water and headed to the kitchen. As she opened the fridge, she was startled by Kyle who had been sitting on one of the bar stools at the kitchen bench.

“Top of the morning to you, Elly,” Kyle greeted.

“Jesus bloody Christ, Kyle,” Elly nearly panicked, “What are you doing out here and sitting in the dark?”

Kyle shrugged, “Couldn’t sleep, got up to make some breakfast but didn’t want to wake anyone so just thought I’d hang out here myself for a bit. Got a lot on my mind to think about.”

“Amy?” Elly asked, as she pulled out a container of water and closed the fridge.

Elly was relieved when Kyle pointed to the cupboard where she would find a glass so she didn’t have to rummage through every cupboard in the kitchen looking for one.

“Yeah, things with Amy and my Dad are still weird,” Kyle admitted, “Don’t know if I should pack it in and move away, head back to Europe for a bit. So…ah what brings you to the Brenarka’s at before 5 am in the morning?”

Elly poured herself a glass of water. She felt weird in Kyle’s presence. The last time she’d really been around him, Elly had been enjoying lapping up Chloe’s attention as Chloe was unable to resist checking her out, until Kyle had interrupted them and Chloe had immediately chased after him to her bed to go have sex with him. She didn’t judge Chloe for needing a distraction from her, she had still been with Mark at the time and was only just starting to acknowledge that she was actually attracted to Chloe, but it still felt weird to spend time with Kyle, knowing he was the last guy Chloe had been having sex with before she began her relationship with her.

“Uh…had a…few issues with Mark…and I didn’t want to bother my family over them. Chloe offered to let me crash with her for tonight. She’s a good friend,” Elly answered, then almost cursed at herself for using the word ‘friend.’

Elly had never once felt any need to hide her relationship with Chloe from those around them, only keeping things quiet from her family and friends out of respect to Mark for their marriage ending and not wanting it to appear that she and Chloe had been cheating on Mark, and yet she felt weird enough around the last guy Chloe had slept with to admit to him Chloe was her girlfriend. She didn’t know why, it’s not like Chloe was this weird around Mark or Shaun.

Kyle looked Elly up and down, even in the darkness, there was pieces of light from the moon streaming into the kitchen and he knew Elly was wearing Chloe’s dressing gown, “Right…do you normally sleep naked in your friend’s bed?”

In the darkness, Elly blushed deeply, hoping Kyle couldn't see.

Kyle took pity on Elly for stating the obvious so bluntly, “Chloe’s gown is a little bit small on you and I can see your…um…you don’t seem to be wearing anything else. And I mean…normally Chloe’s clothes would easily fit you, Elly, but I guess that particular gown is a little tighter than some of her other ones and you’re starting to…fill out a bit…just a bit…not like in another few months when you’ll really start to... Filling out in a good way! Pregnancy, it suits you! I’m sorry, we don’t know each other very well and I feel like I just called you…unable to fit into Chloe’s clothes.”

Elly wrapped the dressing gown a little tighter to her body, quickly realizing there wasn’t much dressing gown that wasn’t already wrapped around her body, “I’ll take it the way you meant it that pregnancy suits me. I feel like it does in a way…and yes…I’m sleeping naked in Chloe’s bed…she’s my girlfriend.”

Kyle lent forwards, “You know I had actually figured that one out.”

“Oh,” Elly blushed once more and took a sip of water before returning the container to the fridge.

“Chloe’s kind of a force of nature in this household and it feels a little empty when she's not around. She's spent…oh I dunno...the better part of the last month or so coming home early in the morning. It wasn't hard to figure out she's been sleeping elsewhere...and you were kinda the obvious choice,” Kyle told her, "I didn't want to bring it up with Chloe until she was ready to talk about it."

"We weren't trying to hide our relationship from you guys because I'm ashamed to be in love with Chloe. It's just I kinda...dumped Mark and five seconds later I told him I was doing so because I wanted to be with Chloe...he kinda needed time to adjust to it...and I didn't want people to think Chloe and I had cheated on Mark again. Chloe and I also needed time to...come to terms with beginning a relationship whilst I'm pregnant. Which we have well and truly done now. Though in retrospect, Mark didn't deserve to make Chloe and I hide away in my room at his place just so he could deal with me dating his sister," Elly admitted.

"I'm glad you aren’t ashamed of your feelings for Chloe," Kyle replied.

Elly took another sip of water, "I'm sorry if this is weird for you...or well...it kinda is for me since I know you and Chloe kinda had a...thing."

"You don't need to feel weird around me, Elly," Kyle insisted, "My thing with Chloe never should've happened. It was obvious we were in love with other people and I got a brutal reminder of that the last time I slept with Chloe."

"How do you mean?" Elly frowned.

"Chloe didn't tell you about our...our disaster of a time the last time I slept with her...right after that time I walked in here and you were wearing your bathers and Chloe was staring at your boobs and you were enjoying her staring at your boobs?" Kyle asked.

Elly shook her head then remembered, "Chloe might've mentioned the sex was...terrible...no offence. And that whatever you two had was clearly not going to happen again."

"No offence taken," Kyle decided, "I wouldn't have labeled it terrible but it wasn't my manliest moment in my life to be in bed with a girl and she calls me 'Elly'."

Elly nearly choked on her water, "Chloe called you 'Elly' in the middle of...?"

Kyle closed his eyes, trying not to show his embarrassment, "I've never dated a bisexual woman before...that I know of...so that was a new experience. She rolled off me before we could finish, mumbled something about been sorry because she'd been thinking about your boobs and well you while we were...and that was the end of Chyle."

"Chyle?" Elly raised her eyebrow.

"Don't tell Chloe I told you any of this. I just thought you should know Chloe never stopped thinking about you...even when she was with me," Kyle revealed, "To make matters worse...I kinda didn't tell Chloe but I was thinking about Amy when I was with her. Chloe and I should never have gotten it on. But it sounds like Chloe finally got what she always wanted with you. I'm happy for you both."

"Thanks," Elly whispered back, "I know Amy's a good friend of mine and she does care about Gary a lot...but I hope you get what you want one day soon. I'm gonna...head back to bed. I might see you around here a bit more now."

Kyle nodded as Elly walked back to Chloe's room.

Aaron arrived at the gym he co-owned with Paul Robinson and immediately saw that the personal trainer was already there. Aaron went up to him, "Hey, I got a call from the alarm company over a suspected break-in. Is everything okay?"

The personal trainer shrugged, "Well it's not a 'suspected break-in' but I don't think there's any need to call the cops...since it was a cop that broke in and one that you know really well."

"Huh?" Aaron asked, before his eyes settled on Mark, at the back of the gym, smashing the life out of a punching bag.

"Your brother broke in this morning with his spare key for the place but he didn't realize you had changed the alarm code," the personal trainer explained.

"Right," Aaron replied then noticed two punching bags on the floor, "What's with the punching bags that have been torn from the roof?"

The personal trainer sighed, "Your brother is working his way to destroying a third one as we speak. We had two regulars turn up at 5 am and Mark scared them off with been an absolute twat wanting to get into a fight with them. I've kept my distance from him and was about to call you. Whatever is going on with your brother...you might want to figure it out before he scares away more of our paying customers."

"I see," Aaron sighed, wondering why his older brother was so consumed with rage and what he was supposed to do to help.

Back at Chloe's, Elly entered her girlfriend's room. Placing the glass of water on the bedside table, she removed Chloe's dressing gown and snuggled back into bed with the blonde.

Chloe immediately spooned Elly from behind, burying her face against Elly's neck and wrapping her arm around Elly's waist, holding her hand against Elly's baby-bump, mumbling tiredly, "Missed you."

Elly fell into Chloe's embrace, "Sorry about that. I had to go--"

"Pee, I know, this baby takes you away from me two to three times a night to pee, stubborn little thing, it's a good thing I'm completely in love with him or her already," Chloe whispered.

Elly entangled her hand with Chloe's, "I always thought I didn't wake you."

"I always notice when you're not with me," Chloe replied, pressing her lips to Elly's shoulder blade.

"I bumped into Aaron; he was a little shocked to see me wandering around his house at this hour in your dressing gown. I asked if he and David can meet us at Harold's at 7 am for breakfast so we can talk to them about...the baby not been Mark's, our decision to raise the baby as a couple and...what Mark said to you last night," Elly told her quietly.

"7 am, so early, that means less time in bed with you, I don't like that," Chloe pouted.

"I know but we have a lot to explain to Aaron and David too I guess even though he knows most of it. I've got to be at the school by 8 am. I wanted to talk to Aaron and David first before Mark had a chance to. We weren't in a position to last night as you were so upset," Elly explained, "Hey Chlo...I don't suppose I can borrow some clothes from you for work today...it's kinda humiliating that all my clothes are at Mark's and he wouldn't let me take anything of mine with me last night."

Chloe nodded her head against Elly's neck, "We'll find you something to wear. We can't have you going to school in the same outfit as yesterday or naked, now can we? I'm sure plenty of my blouses will be baggy enough that they cover baby-bump...not so sure about the pants or skirt though. It's okay, I'm sure there will be something in my closet that you can borrow until you can pick up your things from Mark."

Elly smiled, "You're always looking out for me and doing so much for me."

"You do the same for me," Chloe whispered, yawning against Elly's neck.

Elly snuggled further into Chloe's embrace, "You know, after spending this night here with you, I really wish I'd spent more nights here instead of insisting we only stay at mine. How come you never told me how comfy your bed is?"

"You never asked," Chloe smiled.

"When we find our own place, we're keeping this mattress, it's amazing. I feel like I've had the best nights' sleep in it despite needing to get up every few hours," Elly decided.

"Okay by me," Chloe agreed, stroking her hand against Elly's torso protectively.

"I know we should be sleeping for another hour or so until we get up but are you doing okay...after what Mark said to you...? Aaron knows you were crying when we got here, he just didn't know you were curled up in a ball crying on my shoulder most of the night," Elly hesitantly bought up.

Chloe closed her eyes, trying to forget that her eldest brother had tried to use her diagnosis as a reason why Elly should choose not to raise a baby with her, "Mark's a wanker."

"But you believe me, right? That your Huntington's could ever be a reason for me to not love you or not want to raise our baby together?" Elly needed to reassure the blonde, "No matter what life throws at us or when your illness does start to show signs, I am never letting you go."

Chloe kissed Elly's shoulder once more, "I believe you. I'm never letting you go either. Now can we snooze for one more hour together before we have to get up for our breakfast with the boys?"

"Absolutely," Elly told her girlfriend.

A few hours from now, everyone in our families here in Erinsborough will know this baby isn't Mark's and I'm going to be a mum to this child. I suppose it's probably time I called my mum to tell her all the news later today. Mark's a wanker but I finally feel like everything is falling into place for Elly, the baby and I, Chloe thought.

In a few hours, Aaron and David will know the truth about everything. Mark's a wanker but even he can't stop Chloe and I from moving in together and raising this child together for the rest of our lives. Huh...I just realized I should probably call my mum and tell her I'm in love with Chloe, pregnant to a guy who isn't my ex-husband and will be raising the baby with Chloe...maybe I'll wait until Chloe and I have moved in together. Besides that, I finally feel like everything is falling into place for Chloe, the baby and I, Elly thought.

Chapter Text

Just Friends?

Chapter Forty-Seven

"Oi, what's going on, Mark?" Aaron yelled at his brother as he approached him at the back of the gym.

"Get lost, Aaron," Mark shouted back, throwing furious punches at a punching bag.

"I'm not just going to 'get lost' when you've broken into my gym at an ungodly hour to destroy my equipment and scare away my customers. What's going on with you, Mark?" Aaron yelled back, standing next to the punching bag, Mark was hitting.

Mark glanced at Aaron, lost his concentration and his next punch nearly swiped Aaron instead of the punching bag.

Aaron ducked out of the way, "What the hell are you throwing punches at me for? I'm trying to help you!"

Mark took another swing at the punching bag, feeling his hand cramp up in the boxing glove he was wearing.

"Mark, if you take another swing at this bag and tear it from the roof, I'll be damn well calling your colleagues to report that you broke into my gym. Now tell me what is going on with you so I can help you!" Aaron shouted.

Mark sighed in frustration, "She's taking the baby away from me! She's taking my place and won't let me raise the child!"

"What? Elly can't do that!" Aaron insisted.

Mark shook his head, "Not Elly. Chloe! She's taking the baby away from me, she's taking my place to raise the baby with Elly. They won't let me raise the child!"

"What are you talking about? Chloe wouldn't do that!" Aaron was surprised.

"Yeah well she is. Chloe's turned Elly against me and now they want to raise the child together as a couple. They're taking it all away from me," Mark told Aaron, knowing he was slightly twisting the truth, "Chloe's decided out of nowhere that she wants to be a mum and now I don't get to be a dad. She's taken everything from me! My wife and now this child!"

"Let me talk to Chloe about all this," Aaron decided, "You must have it wrong."

"I don't Aaron! Elly and Chloe are moving out of my place so they can go find their own disgusting love nest and raise the baby together. They told me last night that I won't be raising the baby. Apparently since Chloe will be the child's mum, I get the honour of being 'Uncle Mark.' Uncle Goddamn Mark! Can you believe that? I kicked both of them out of the house before Elly could even get her stuff! I couldn't stand been in the same house as them!" Mark yelled.

Aaron gritted his jaw, "That explains why when I bumped into Elly this morning on the way out of the house to come here, she stayed at my place last night with Chloe and mentioned an issue with her clothes which is why she was wearing Chloe's dressing gown."

Mark rolled his eyes, "Of course my soon-to-be-ex-wife is prancing around in Chloe's clothes. Probably naked in bed screwing one another as we speak. It's all Chloe's fault. I should never have trusted them in the same room together. I knew Chloe still wanted to screw my wife. Now, Elly gets everything and gets to leave me with nothing. I'm losing another baby."

Aaron frowned at the thought, "But I don't understand. Even if Chloe and Elly make the decision to get their own place and Chloe wants to be involved in helping Elly to raise her baby...they can't just cut you out of this child's life and make you 'Uncle Mark'. You have rights, you're the--"

"The baby's not mine!" Mark blurted out angrily.

Aaron blinked in shock, "What!?"

Mark gave the punching bag another swing, before repeating then elaborating, "The baby's not mine! Elly cheated on me again after Chloe. When we were having issues after the wedding and I was struggling to forgive her...my wife went out, got drunk and slept with Shaun Watkins!"

Aaron couldn't hide his shock, "Finn's brother is the father of her child? Hang on, back up, Elly and you got back together after the wedding and everything with Chloe because she was pregnant. Are you telling me that Elly lied about being pregnant to try and keep you married to her?"

"Elly did think she was pregnant but it turns out she got it wrong and the hospital told her that...but she didn't know how to break the news to me. She knew I'd only taken her back for the baby and without one...she tried to get me to sleep with her so I'd get her pregnant not knowing she wasn't already...I didn't know that at the time. When I told her I wasn't ready, she got drunk, screwed Shaun for a one-night-stand having never met him before or knowing he was Finn's brother...and now I have absolutely no say in Chloe taking this child away from me!" Mark raised his voice loudly in anger, before quietly repeating, "I'm losing another baby."

"Mark, I'm sorry," Aaron felt bad for his brother, "I had no idea. Is that what they told you last night? That you're not the father and that they've chosen to raise the baby themselves--no but you went off at Shaun the other day. You yelled at him for taking everything from you. That's what you meant, isn't it? The baby? Because it's not yours."

Mark lent his head against the punching bag, glad Aaron was holding onto it firmly, "Elly and Chloe told me last week the baby isn't mine. Elly lied to me for more than five months to make me think I was going to be a Dad but she's not even five months pregnant. Chloe knew for more than a month that the baby isn't mine! She couldn't bring herself to break my happiness and it had to be Elly who finally came forward with the truth."

"I'm sorry, Mark. I can't believe Chloe wouldn't tell you the truth for that long, she had to have known that this was going to hurt you. Are you sure that Chloe had known the baby was Shaun's for that long? I bizarrely get Elly wanting to lie to you to entice you to raise the baby with her knowing it's what you always wanted but not Chloe. She knows right from wrong," Aaron insisted.

"Chloe definitely knew for that long," Mark confirmed before admitting, "I asked Chloe to drop Elly off at a doctor’s appointment that it turns out Elly clashed on purpose with my work so I couldn't attend because it was her 3-month ultrasound and I thought she was further along. Instead of doing what I asked and leaving Elly at the hospital, Elly came clean to Chloe that Shaun's the father, and then they went to the ultrasound together. That appointment changed everything. Elly kissed Chloe during the ultrasound and realized she had feelings for Chloe. Then Chloe went and fell in love with Elly's baby and realized she wanted to be the baby's Mum."

Aaron sighed heavily, feeling Mark's pain, "I can't believe Chloe wouldn't tell you."

"You want to know the worst part of all this?" Mark asked, "I had a 3-month ultrasound on my fridge for months...it wasn't even the baby Elly is carrying. Elly was given some of Caitlyn's things from Sonya to give to me. That ultrasound Elly gave me to make me believe she was further along in her pregnancy...it was Caitlyn. I had a photo of my dead daughter on my fridge and Chloe couldn't tell me that."

Aaron closed his eyes in frustration for Mark's plight, "Why didn't you kick them out then when they told you the baby isn't yours? Why didn't you tell me? If I'd have known you were dealing with this, I could've helped you," Aaron replied in support to his brothers' crisis.

Mark finally began pulling at the boxing gloves, removing them from his hands, "Because I still wanted to raise the baby. I want to be a Dad, Aaron, that badly that I was prepared to keep this lie up that the baby is mine. I told them both I would raise this child with Elly anyway and she could have Chloe on the side for their little bedroom activities where they screw each other senseless every night whilst calling it 'love'."

"Mark, I know you're hurting and you probably don't want to hear it...but I don't think Elly and Chloe are just sleeping together every night for no reason. I know I haven't seen them together very much...but I do believe they are the real deal and they do love each other," Aaron replied, "You deciding to raise the baby anyway...that must have taken a lot of strength from you."

"It was going to work, Elly and I raising this baby even without being in a relationship with each other. This way all of us got what we wanted. I got to be a Dad, Chloe got Elly, and Elly got Chloe as well as a parent to raise her child with. But that wasn't enough. Chloe had to fall in love with this baby and convince Elly to take it all away from me," Mark told Aaron, his emotions taking over him.

"I wish I'd known earlier," Aaron whispered, "I could've helped you. I feel so left in the dark...Elly, Chloe and you didn't let me in so I could help you all."

Mark finally tore the boxing gloves off his hands, blurting out without thinking, "You can add your husband to that list!"

Aaron ran his hand through his hair, "David knew Elly's child wasn't yours?"

"Doctor, patient, confidentially," Mark answered.

"Yeah but this is different this is...my family, our family," Aaron spluttered out, even though he knew deep down David had found himself in a tough position and his career would've been at risk if he had broken protocol by revealing the true paternity of Elly's baby to him.

Mark felt tears burning his eyes, "Aaron, they're taking this all away from me. I still wanted this child but Chloe...she's...she's taking it all away from me."

Aaron reached out and pulled Mark into a hug, with Mark eventually collapsing against his brother in tears, crying over the baby he was losing but unprepared to tell Aaron how terribly he had treated their sister their previous night.

Aaron held onto Mark, telling his older brother, "Let me talk to Chloe about all this. We'll see what we can do. Maybe once they see how much pain you’re in and how much you want to be a Dad to Elly's baby...I doubt they'll change their minds because them deciding to raise the child together as a couple, that takes strength, Mark...but maybe the three of you can work out a way to be more than 'Uncle Mark.' I'll see what they say. I'm on your side, Mark, I want to see what's best for both my siblings."

Aaron stayed with Mark as he broke down in his arms.

Several hours later, Chloe and Elly with sitting at Harold's with David, waiting for Aaron to arrive for breakfast. The couple were snuggled up against one another on the booth as David sat in one of the chairs on the opposite side of the table. Aaron was late so they had all gone ahead and ordered their meals and drinks.

Elly smiled over at David, "So, what do you think, David? Do Chloe's clothes suit me? I feel so weird wearing your clothes, Chlo, and yet not weird at the same time."

"Well, you still have your own bra on at least as you couldn't share that with one of mine as mine would look ridiculous on your boobs," Chloe pointed out, "But I like that every other article of clothing your wearing is mine. Great choice of panties if I do say so myself."

David blushed at the oversharing, "I think you look fine, today, Elly. Students won't even notice. So, tell me again why you didn't go home for your own clothes?"

Elly sighed, "That's part of the reason Chloe and I need to talk to you and Aaron, whenever he gets here."

David hesitated before asking, "Are you going to tell Aaron about the baby...that it's not...Mark's?"

Elly and Chloe both nodded, as Elly responded, "Yes, that is definitely on the agenda. Along with a couple other things. We told Mark the truth last week that Shaun's the father."

"Last week?" David wasn't sure if he was surprised, "I kind of guessed when we saw Mark attacking Shaun on the street the other day...but I thought maybe if you had then...you would've stayed at our place earlier than just last night."

"Yeah...we'll explain more when Aaron gets here," Chloe replied, checking her watch, "Aaron's 20 minutes late and Elly has to get to work in another 15-20 minutes. Where is he?"

Elly shrugged, "It's okay, baby, we can try and catch him over our lunch breaks or else maybe later tonight. I was just hoping we could tell him everything that happened last night before Mark gets a chance to tell him."

The waitress brought over their meals and drinks.

As all three dug into their breakfast, Chloe looked at Elly, "Maybe we should've just told Aaron everything last night."

"Baby, your asshat of a brother made you fall apart in tears, he was so cruel to you last night. You wouldn't have been able to talk to Aaron properly," Elly told her.

David frowned, "Mark was the reason Chloe was crying herself to sleep last night?"

"Yes," Elly answered before Chloe could dispute it to try and protect Mark, "I'd rather wait until Aaron gets here to explain…hey David, what do you think my chances are that Aaron will let me crash at your place with Chloe for a bit until we...sort a few things out?"

David shrugged, "If you're asking how Aaron's going to react to finding out you lied to Mark about the baby been his and willing to put it behind him if you need a place to stay...? It's hard to say...I'm really not sure how he's going to take all this and...there he is now. Finally."

David smiled at Aaron as soon as he spotted him, “Hey, bubs, do you want me to order you--?”

“Don’t ‘hey, bubs’ me, Boo Boo!” Aaron told him grumpily before turning on the girls, “What the hell have you two done to Mark? You’ve absolutely destroyed him and broken him with your lies and taking this child away from him! What the hell is wrong with you both?”

Oh, for crap’s sake Aaron…should’ve known Mark would manage to seek out Aaron before we did to give his side of the story of how we’re mistreating him and taking this child from him. Let me guess, you won’t even give Elly and I a chance to explain, Chloe thought.

So...that'll be a 'no' to the crashing at Aaron and David's with Chloe until we can get our own place...sigh. Really, Aaron? Really, Mark? I know I’ve done a lot of things wrong and I’ve hurt Mark but has he just pulled the ‘sympathy card’ in getting Aaron on his side without giving Chloe and I a chance to explain? What is the odds Mark has owned up to how despicably cruel he was to Chloe last night? Elly thought.

Chapter Text

Just Friends?

Chapter Forty-Eight

David frowned up at his husband, "What do you mean, 'Don't 'hey, bubs' me'? What did I do?"

Aaron half-glared at David, even though he understood David's reasons for keeping Elly's lies from him, "Doctor, patient, confidentially."

David nodded in agreement, "Right, I did do that. I'm sorry."

"Look I get it okay; you couldn't tell me about Elly's pregnancy but this affected my--our family. At the very least you could've hinted to me to go talk to Elly and Mark and that Mark is going to need me," Aaron sighed before immediately turning back to Chloe and Elly, "What the hell have you done to Mark?"

Elly breathed deeply, "You've already spoken to Mark...? We were hoping to explain everything to you first...hence the early morning breakfast."

"Mark broke into my gym this morning, he's an absolute wreck! I can barely stand to look at you both for what you did to him!" Aaron raged, his tone quiet as he knew they were in public and he wasn't sure Mark was ready for the baby-daddy scandal to get out.

Before Chloe or Elly could speak up, David reached out to Aaron, "Aaron, I know you're upset and you've heard Mark's side to all this but don't you think you could put that to the side for a couple minutes and let the girls explain?"

When Aaron went to disagree with David, he tried again, "Mark sent Chloe home to ours in tears last night. Elly couldn't even go back to Mark's to get her clothes; she's literally wearing Chloe's clothes to work today. Did Mark tell you why? "

Aaron pursed his lips, then shook his head, "Not about the tears but he told me he kicked the girls out of his house last night."

"Then maybe you could give Chloe and Elly a few minutes to explain to us why that happened before you get angry at them for hurting Mark," David suggested, "They did try to come to us this morning to talk to us because they clearly weren't in the space to talk last night."

"Fine," Aaron relented, shifting to sit down at the table, "What do you two have to say for yourselves because as far as I'm concerned you've both destroyed Mark?"

Chloe snuggled against Elly's side, "How much did Mark tell you?"

"All of it as far as I'm concerned," Aaron replied gruffly, "Elly had a one night stand, the baby isn't Mark's, Finn's brother Shaun is the father, Chloe knew that Mark wasn't the father for more than a month and hid this secret for Elly instead of telling Mark he wasn't going to be a Dad, Mark was willing to still raise this baby with you, Elly, but you two are taking this from him so you can shack up together and raise the baby yourselves."

David raised his eyebrows, "Mark still wanted to raise this baby knowing it isn't his and you two finally talked and decided that you are going to raise the baby yourselves?"

Aaron tilted his head to his husband, "Guess you've missed out on a lot and yet you still knew more than I thought you did."

Elly took Chloe's hand in her own, "We really wanted to explain everything to you ourselves this morning."

"Then explain it to me because I sure as hell don't understand how you could do this to my family," Aaron offered.

Elly glanced at Chloe, appreciating the silent support Chloe was providing her with, "I'm not going to shy away from this. I have made some huge mistakes the last few months since I married Mark and there is zero way that I'll ever be able to justify why I've done the things I've done. I know you’ve heard what I’ve done from Mark but I would like to tell you in my own words. I will explain what I can to you but at the end of the day the only thing that matters is that Chloe and I are doing the right thing by our child."

"Go on," Aaron replied reluctantly.

"I cheated on Mark again after he took me back and it was a horrible thing to do to him," Elly admitted, even though both boys already knew, "Yes, in my head I had my reasons as to why I went out and got drunk that night and put myself in the position to have a one-night-stand. I knew I wasn't pregnant like I thought I was. I knew Mark only took me back for the baby so I was struggling to come to terms with telling him that the blood test revealed I wasn't pregnant. Mark said some awful things about not ever being able to touch me again and I genuinely thought that meant we didn't have a future and I turned to alcohol to deal with the rejection instead of talking to Mark. Amidst all that I was struggling to pretend what happened with Chloe before the wedding didn't mean anything. If I had just allowed myself to feel what I was feeling for her, none of this would've happened. I wouldn't be pregnant; Mark wouldn't be a wreck and he wouldn't have absolutely torn Chloe to shreds last night."

Chloe smiled at Elly, "Things could've been a lot different if Elly wasn't so scared of her feelings for me and even though Mark is really hurting right now, I wouldn't change anything about the way Elly and I found our way back to one another."

"Thanks, Chlo," Elly whispered in her ear, "Me either."

"That still doesn't explain lying to Mark for half your pregnancy term and making him think for nearly half a year that he was going to be a father," Aaron accused.

"I know," Elly agreed, "I'm never going to be able to justify why I lied to Mark for so long. Yes, he was...he still is desperate to be a father and there was a part of me that didn't want to tell him because I didn't want to take that from him. Yes, there was a part of me that was terrified I'd end up as a single mum because I genuinely was scared that even though I was with Chloe that she wouldn't want the level of responsibility that came with me being pregnant. The main problem with me not telling Mark the truth sooner is that I was in complete denial of the fact."

"How do you mean?" Aaron asked.

"I was so ashamed of myself and what I'd done. That this baby is Finn's brother's and therefore shares a line of Finn's DNA. I mean I know Finn has changed since his amnesia and he was traumatized when he was kidnapped overseas but at his core; he has the ability to be a horrible human being. I've seen what he's capable of. I was so afraid of having to look my friends and family in the eyes and tell them what I've now been telling them the last few days. That I cheated on Mark twice, that I lied to him for months that the baby was his, that it got so bad that I...that I used an ultrasound of Caitlyn that Dipi gave me to give to Mark on behalf of Sonya...even though I knew what I'd done I was in complete denial that I was going to have to tell Mark the truth over what I'd done and that I was going to hurt him badly," Elly admitted.

Chloe took a sip of her tea before squeezing Elly's hand, "Elly's denial was pretty bad. I tried for a month to break her out of it."

"So, you did know Mark wasn't the father for that long and you didn't tell him?" Aaron shook his head in disgust.

"It wasn't Chloe's place to tell Mark," Elly supported her girlfriend over Aaron's questioning, "It was before Chloe and I got together and Mark probably would've thought she was trying to break up his marriage. I made these mistakes, not Chloe, I had to be the one to tell Mark the truth when I was ready. Chloe tried everything to get me to see sense, David can attest that I was horribly in denial over lying to everyone."

David nodded at Aaron, "Elly came to the hospital two weeks ago in severe pain and nearly refused to let me check on her or the baby putting them both at risk because she didn't want me to know the baby was younger than we all thought it was. Chloe was the one who came forward and told me the truth."

"I was that desperate to keep my secrets I probably would've lost the baby if it wasn't for Chloe," Elly admitted quietly.

Aaron looked on with a bit of sympathy finally, "So what convinced you to change your mind and tell Mark?"

Elly glanced at Chloe before addressing Aaron, "I finally saw how much I was hurting Chloe and I couldn't do that to her any more. She's more important to me than the stress I was causing both of us and the baby...and I am sorry to say this about your brother but she's more important to me than Mark's pain that he's now in because of what I've done."

Aaron tapped his fingers against the cafe table, "And what's with your decision to move out of Mark's and raise the baby on your own with Chloe? You know Mark is willing to still raise this child with you...why can't you let him? It would mean the world to him."

"It would mean the world to Chloe and I to raise this child together," Elly answered simply before sighing, "I know Mark wants this but it's not what we want. We can't just share this child with him and let him raise this child with us. We're not under any delusion that raising a child isn't going to be a struggle and I'm sure there will be days that Chloe and I will want to pack it all in, drop the child at Mark's for a few days and have time to ourselves to be a couple. But we're not going to do that. We’re going to be the best parents we can be."

“And is that really what you want, Chlo?” Aaron asked curiously.

“Yes, it is, I want to be this child’s mum, Aaron. I know this might surprise you and that Mark clearly wants to be a parent too but I can’t just let him raise this child because it’s what he wants. It won’t work like that. Elly and I want to go on this journey ourselves as a couple. Surely you understand it, you and David want children. Can you imagine having a third party whom you don’t want to live with been involved in every aspect of raising your child?” Chloe pointed out.

Aaron glanced at David, seeing the same look in his eyes, “I guess not…but speaking of third parties…where does Shaun fit into all this?”

“We avoided Shaun for a while the moment we saw he was back as we were afraid, he could force a custody battle onto us,” Elly admitted, continuing, “But it turns out we had nothing to worry about. Once Shaun learnt that I’m with Chloe and that the pair of us want to raise the child together…Shaun gave us his blessing. He’ll return home to Switzerland but he’ll still have a relationship with the baby when he visits Australia and the child will know who he is but Chloe and I will be the baby’s parents. This is what we want, Aaron.”

“Okay,” Aaron finally whispered his acceptance, “What was all this mess about Mark making Chloe cry last night?”

Chloe buried her face against Elly’s shoulder, unable to answer her brother’s question.

Elly pressed her lips to the top of Chloe’s head before turning back to Aaron and David, “We went to Mark’s last night to tell him our decision to move out and raise this baby as a couple, that he wouldn’t be raising this child with us. We knew it was going to hurt him and he’d need some time to deal with losing this child that he wants…but he got mean, Aaron, and started blaming Chloe for taking this child away from him, that it was all her fault.”

“It’s a little understandable, that reaction,” Aaron tried saying.

Elly tried not to roll her eyes at Aaron before telling him, “Mark told us I shouldn’t let Chloe raise this child with me because of her Huntington’s and that she’s gonna die on me.”

Aaron sat back in his seat in shock, “Mark said what?”

Elly held Chloe close to her, “Mark told us I should choose him over Chloe to raise this child with because he’s a healthy guy who will outlive Chloe, that I won’t cope dealing with Chloe’s illness on top of a child and that this child won’t end up with two parents because Chloe’s going to cark it on me.”

Aaron folded his arms in front of his chest, “Mark brought up Chloe’s Huntington’s and said she shouldn’t have an opportunity to raise this child with you because she might not live to see this child’s entire childhood?”

“Basically, that’s exactly what he said. Chloe doesn’t deserve to raise a child because one day she won’t be able to function as a human being,” Elly told Aaron quietly, “And then he kicked us out of the house, told me he’d pack my things and I could get them when he’s not there.”

Aaron stood up from the chair he was seated in.

“Where are you going?” David asked quickly.

Aaron walked away from the table, “To go punch Mark in the face, nobody has the right to tell Chloe she can’t be a parent just because of her Huntington’s.”

As Aaron breezed out of Harold’s, Chloe cleared her throat, “That went well…now my brothers are going to end up in a punch up, just what I need.”

Elly squeezed her arm around Chloe’s shoulder, “I didn’t even get a chance to ask Aaron if I could stay with you until we find our own place,” then off Chloe’s look, “What? I care about Aaron defending your honour…I just don’t care for Mark anymore after he insisted, I shouldn’t raise our baby with you.”

Chloe shook her head but then smiled over at Elly, “Aaron and Mark will work things out. I guess it is important that we figure out where you’ll be living, until we can find our own place.”

David smiled at the couple, “I’m sure Aaron won’t have an issue with you staying with us for a week or so until you two sort things out.”

Chloe and Elly smiled brightly at him, both replying, “Thanks, David.”

A little while later, Aaron walked up the stairs to Mark’s place, opening the security door he knocked on the front door. As soon as Mark opened the front door, Aaron threw his fist against Mark’s jaw, knocking him to the ground.

“Ow, what was that for?” Mark groaned in surprise.

“You told Chloe she shouldn’t be a parent because one day she’s not going to be a person and she’ll cark it. What the hell is wrong with you?” Aaron yelled at him.

“I was upset, I just lost a child,” Mark tried to justify as he laid there on the floor, figuring if he got up it would encourage Aaron to hit him again.

“The child isn’t yours, Mark, you haven’t lost anything except any respect we ever held for you. That was vile telling Chloe and Elly that they shouldn’t be raising a child together because Chloe won’t be a person and she will die. I hope when David and I have kids, you won’t find a reason for us not to,” Aaron shouted.

Mark grunted as his jaw started throbbing, “I didn’t mean for it to come out like that.”

“Has it ever occurred to you that maybe your single and childless because of the way you treat women?” Aaron pointed out, before ordering, “Get up and start packing Elly and Chloe’s belongings if you haven’t already. I’ll be back by lunchtime to pick it up for them.”

“Aaron, I…” Mark tried to call out to his younger brother but Aaron began taking off down the stairs away from his house, not wanting to stick around for any more excuses from him.

A few hours later, Chloe returned home from Lassiters and smiled when she entered her room to find Elly sitting in her bed under the covers with her laptop in front of her taping away at it. There were numerous boxes stacked up against the wall of Chloe’s bedroom, which Chloe instantly realized was all of Elly’s belongings.

“Hey, baby,” Chloe greeted, immediately putting her handbag on the bedside table and curling into the bed with Elly, “Marking assignments online or responding to student emails?”

Elly lent over to kiss Chloe gently, “Work stuff can wait until after dinner. As soon as I got here…well…I bumped into Leo and finally told him about us, he took it quite well and is happy for us…I think I forgot to tell you I told Kyle too this morning so both know now and are comfortable for me staying here with you for a while… Anyway, back to what I was trying to say, when I got here I saw that Aaron had collected my stuff from Mark’s and instead of looking to unpack a single item, I curled up in your comfy bed and started looking up places in the area we could look at renting if we don’t end up talking to Mrs. Punt about renting Miss. Grundy’s old place on the corner.”

Chloe placed her chin over Elly’s shoulder comfortably looking down at the laptop as Elly shifted it so it was now in front of both of them, teasingly telling Elly, “You’ve been living here a few hours and already you want to get out.”

Elly blushed, then pecked Chloe on the lips, “No, I just want us to have a place of our own that we can do whatever we like in and we can set it up as a family home. It won’t be our forever home; we can work towards that for our future but it’ll be our first place together. And I guess I don’t want to inconvenience all the boys for all that long by having to have a pregnant woman who gets up 3 times every night for the bathroom but mostly it’s because I want us to have a place together.”

“The boys will not have any issues with you being here and your tendency to get up in the middle of the night. As much as I want you to unpack all your boxes and make this your home…I can’t wait for us to have our own place together too,” Chloe confessed.

Elly shuffled around on the mattress, “I told you we’re taking this bed with us, didn’t I?”

Chloe smiled, “Yes, you did and yes, we will. Once we’ve looked through these places we could look at, we should make a list of all the furniture and appliances we’ll need to get for our place.”

“Great idea, Chlo,” Elly grinned, leaning over and bringing their lips together once more, “You and I are going to have the best life together in whatever new place we find and our baby is going to love this home as much as we will.”

“Couldn’t have said it better myself,” Chloe agreed, leaning back into Elly, cuddling into her side as they looked through the options for places, they could rent in Erinsborough.

Let’s put everything with Mark behind us and move forward as a family, Chloe thought.

This day started with a little bit of promise, nearly threw it all in at breakfast with Mark been a wanker and nearly turning Aaron against us but none of that matters anymore. Chloe and I will find our own place and we’ll be a family very soon, Elly thought.

Chapter Text

Just Friends?

Chapter Forty-Nine

Two weeks later

Elly wrapped her arms around Chloe’s waist, “Are you sure about this?”

Chloe stared up at Elly, “Only if you are, Elly.”

“Then we’re sure,” Elly decided, smiling as she held Chloe in her arms, “We’re moving in together.”

Chloe chewed her lip as she stared into Elly’s eyes, “Are you sure you’re comfortable with this place been a two-story home? I don’t want you to have any issues moving around the house when you’re--”

“Heavily pregnant and waddling around the house like a beach ball in a few months’ time?” Elly giggled, “I’ll be fine going up and down a set of stairs. If I’m not, I’ll have you to help me shuffle about the house and if that’s still not enough I’ll just set up camp on our new couch in the living room. You know I made sure that couch we chose was comfy for a reason.”

“I can’t wait for you to be heavily pregnant and waddling around the house like a Goddess, not a beach ball,” Chloe giggled as she used the key that they’d been given to open the front door, “What about the fact this is Miss. Grundy’s house? Are you sure you’re going to be comfortable living here? And about the house still been furnished with most of Miss. Grundy’s furniture and appliances? Are you sure none of this is too weird for you?”

Elly pressed her lips to Chloe’s shoulder, “None of this is too weird for me, this is going to be our home. Yes, probably not our forever home but we can transform this place into a family home for us over the next few months. Aaron and David had their place come to them mostly furnished. Yes, I’m sure our taste in furniture is way different to Miss. Grundy’s but this way we can start shifting things slowly over time as we have the money to pay for it rather than shelling out thousands for stuff now. It’ll mean making use of junk collection and we might need to pay for a skip bin to throw heavy stuff out but we’ll sort it out. Besides we came over here last weekend with Mrs. Punt and we went through with her that we’re going to replace the couch and coffee table in the living room, all the kitchen utensils and then the bedroom set in the master bedroom. She arranged to clear all that as well as Miss. Grundy’s personal items in the house for us so we’re starting off with a partial clean slate of our own things.”

“Right, our new living room set will be delivered later this morning, Aaron, David and Kyle are going to help us shift our bed and bedroom furniture out of their place over to here in an hour, they’ll help us shift all our boxes of clothes and belongings for us to start hanging up and displaying here and all we need to do is go shopping for kitchen stuff once all that arrives,” Chloe confirmed, “So, we’re sure?”

“Yes, we’re sure this is the right place for us and we’re sure we’re comfortable with living here. Can we please get inside so we can share our first kiss in our own place?” Elly pleaded.

“When you put it like that,” Chloe smiled at the encouragement, pushing the front door open and walking inside, glad to have Elly follow after her, still holding onto her.

As soon as they were comfortably inside the entryway, Elly immediately kicked the front door behind her closed, gently nudged Chloe to turn around and face her, before sinking into a deep and passionate kiss with her girlfriend.

“Mmm first kiss with my girl in our first place together,” Elly smiled as they eventually broke the kiss.

“Mmm a taste of things to come because we’re going to have a lot of firsts together here in this house,” Chloe promised.

“C’mon, let’s go check this place out and make sure Mrs. Punt has organized for the furnishings that we wanted cleared to be out of here,” Elly suggested, “I still can’t believe Mrs. Punt, who wanted to sue everyone over the smallest issues she’s had at Lassiters was actually comfortable with having a same-sex couple with a baby on the way move in and rent her sister’s former home.”

Chloe smiled up at Elly once more, “I think Mrs. Punt took pity on me when I explained me and my pregnant girlfriend were living in a house with 4 adult males who are typical adult males and that I just wanted to give my girl a home we could call our own before our baby arrives and we’re forced to raise our child with a bunch of guys who know nothing about babies.”

“You always know how to make people feel pity for you, that pouty face you can make, it gets me every time you pull it for me,” Elly admitted.

Chloe immediately pouted, “Can we please stop talking and start checking this place out?”

Elly kissed Chloe quickly, “Like I said, that pouty face gets me every time. Yes, let’s check out every detail of our new home.”

Later that afternoon, Elly called out to Chloe from the kitchen, “Chloe, I’m back and I’ve got lunch for us.”

Chloe skipped down the stairs of the house from the upstairs bedroom she had been busy most of the day setting up.

Aaron, David, Kyle and herself had spent several hours shifting her old bedroom furniture out of their house next door, dragging each piece separately onto the roof of Aaron’s car and then driving them literally 20 meters around the corner to their new house and then struggling as a team to get each piece of furniture up the stairs into their master bedroom. It had taken about 4 or 5 trips with the car and a lot of patience from all of them to lift the heavy items into the new house and up the stairs. Once all the furniture had been sorted, the boys had all taken off to leave Chloe to unpack all of hers and Elly’s clothes and their bathroom gear to set about having their walk-in-wardrobe, chest of drawers and ensuite all organized to their liking.

Elly had spent her morning and afternoon in the downstairs rooms, having the easier job of directing the movers who came in with their new couch and coffee table, before heading to the shops to buy up as many kitchen utensils and kitchen appliances as she thought they could possibly need and returning home to start setting up the kitchen.

“What is all this?” Chloe broke into a smile as she left the stairs and entered the kitchen.

Elly smiled back at Chloe, “A picnic in the middle of our kitchen for lunch. It’s late in the afternoon, we kinda skipped lunch earlier in favour of continuing to get our place set up so I wanted to make sure we have a good meal together. I got Dipi to make us an entire hamper of the best late afternoon lunch we can have.”

“I’ll say,” Chloe grinned down at Elly, who was lying on a picnic blanket against a bunch of pillows that Chloe wasn’t even sure where they had come from, with a hamper displayed in front of Elly and some empty plates and drinks set out.

Chloe immediately laid down on the blanket, against the pillows on her side of the blanket, opposite Elly, leaning forward and kissing Elly deeply, “I love you for doing this, first meal in our place done right.”

Elly sunk into Chloe’s embrace, kissing her deeper once more before reluctantly pulling away, “More of that after, first we enjoy all this food, then we get lost in one another’s eyes and kiss for hours.”

“I like the sound of that,” Chloe agreed.

A little while later, Chloe and Elly had finished eating their meal, and Chloe had shifted the plates, glasses and picnic hamper off the picnic blanket, curling up amongst the pillows into Elly’s side, “I just want to leave the rest of the moving all our things in until tomorrow so I can kiss you for hours.”

Elly smiled down as she held Chloe in her arms, “We have Aaron, David, Bea, Susan and Karl coming over for dinner here tomorrow evening to celebrate with a little housewarming party but until then we can do what we want. We don’t need to have this place set up perfectly for them to enjoy a meal with us tomorrow evening. I think we can leave the rest of the move until tomorrow and spend the rest of today kissing for hours…hopefully a little bit more than kissing, Chlo. I’m still hungry to ravage every inch of my girl.”

Chloe winked at Elly seductively, “Do you want to head upstairs to our bed?”

Elly lent down and brought her lips to Chloe’s, “No, I want to be with you right here. We can go to our bed later on.”

Chloe smiled as she deepened the kiss passionately, gently curling herself further into Elly’s side. Chloe quickly sat up, breaking the kiss, but Elly didn’t lose the smile from her lips as Chloe shifted to remove their clothes from their bodies. Elly laid there on the picnic blanket in the middle of the kitchen floor, helping Chloe to undress them both.

When they were both de-clothed, Chloe settled her body next to Elly’s, “You’re so beautiful.”

“Only half as beautiful as you, Chlo,” Elly blushed as she stared deeply into Chloe’s eyes and pressed her body against her girlfriends.

Chloe reached out and entangled Elly’s right hand in her own, gently dragging them down the middle of their bodies, “Together?”

Elly kissed Chloe passionately before nodding, “It’s my favourite way of making love to you, Chlo.”

Chloe smiled at the newfound knowledge that Elly had provided, “Me too.”

Both women continued kissing, their tongues tangling with one another’s, as they both dragged their hands in between the others’ legs. They broke their kiss gently for a moment, opening their eyes to stare into the others as they soon extended their index and middle fingers and slipping them inside the other woman.

Chloe and Elly moaned at the contact, with Elly throwing her head back for a few seconds before bringing it back and pressing her forehead against Chloe’s. They kissed each other gently as they laid there making love to one another. Their fingers worked into a gentle rhythm as they thrust deeply inside one another. 

Chloe groaned heavily as Elly quickly picked up the pace with her fingers and curled them upwards toward her clit. Chloe returned the favour, enjoying the sensation of Elly relaxing at the feeling and the wetness that was seeping between her legs for Chloe. Chloe smiled at the feeling of her own juices drowning Elly’s hand between her legs.

Five minutes later, both women let out moans of pleasure as they reached climax together at the same time. They orgasmed against one another, sinking their bodies against the others as they both came down from their pleasure.

After a minute of enjoying the moment together, Chloe and Elly reluctantly slipped their fingers out of one another, blushing at the other as they both licked their girlfriends’ juices from their own fingers. Their fingers cleaned, the couple kissed one another, moaning at the mixture of taste that swirled between their tongues.

Before Elly could assert her need to taste more of Chloe, the blonde rolled over on top of Elly. Elly quickly forgot all about her own need wanting desperately for Chloe to pleasure her once more. Her desperation wasn’t lost on Chloe but the blonde refused to give in too easily.

Chloe dragged her body slowly down Elly’s body, pressing her lips in gentle kisses down every patch of available skin she could find, spending precious minutes licking her tongue against Elly’s breasts and nipples.

“Please Chlo,” Elly pleaded with the blonde, “I need you.”

Chloe quickly gave in, dragging her mouth away from Elly’s breasts but then immediately got distracted when she found her face above Elly’s baby-bump. Chloe happily hovered above Elly’s baby-bump, spending delicate minutes kissing her lips against every inch of the skin. Chloe couldn’t wait for the baby to keep growing inside Elly and knew the day Elly finally felt the baby kick, she would feel a little more confidant at the thought of resting her head on Elly’s chest and talking to the baby. But until then she grinned as she kissed and licked her tongue against Elly’s torso, paying all the love and attention to it as she could.

Elly finally reached out her hand, running it through Chloe’s hair, “Baby, I love that you’re loving on my pregnant body and it helps me feel so confidant and beautiful that you won’t fall out of love with me as I start getting much bigger…but God, Chlo, I need you between my legs so bad, baby.”

“Sorry, baby, your mum always likes to get her way,” Chloe whispered.

“Are you talking to our baby, Chlo?” Elly asked in surprise.

“Maybe,” Chloe blushed, feeling embarrassed.

Elly smiled and ran her hand across Chloe’s jaw, “You should do that more often, I want our child to know the sound of your voice and feel the comfort you provide by been close to us,” and then when Chloe opened her mouth, “Maybe another time when we’re not busy getting busy.”

“Told you your mum always likes to get her way, baby,” Chloe whispered with a teasing grumble, “Although I can’t really hide it, I like allowing your mum to get her way.”

Elly smiled in acknowledgement as Chloe pressed her lips to her baby-bump one final time before nestling in between her legs as she spread them wide for her girlfriend to have all the access she desired.

Chloe didn’t hesitate to lean into Elly’s center, licking her tongue against the opening, eliciting a moan of pleasure from the brunette. Chloe smiled as Elly’s wetness soaked over her tongue and her face was drowning in the flavour of Elly’s juices. Chloe licked her tongue deep inside of Elly’s center, feeling Elly clenching gently at the feeling before relaxing into the sensations Chloe was providing her with.

Elly keep her hand messed in Chloe’s hair, guiding Chloe to where she needed her tongue to be, even though she knew that her girlfriend literally knew her inside and out by now and quickly found her tongue licking and sucking on Elly’s clit. Chloe sucked on the numb for several minutes until Elly’s back lifted gently off the ground and she groaned out her pleasurable climax.

Chloe removed her tongue from Elly’s center, licking her tongue up and down her opening to taste all of Elly’s juices that had flowed from her before finally kissing her between the legs and shifting her body back up Elly’s coming to rest above her girlfriend.

Elly kissed Chloe passionately before silently rolling Chloe onto her back and gently making her own way down Chloe’s body, happily spending time fondling Chloe’s breasts and taking the nipples in her mouth. Elly soon distracted herself for several minutes by kissing her lips all across Chloe’s torso, every inch of skin.

When Chloe bent her legs at the knees, spreading her legs in a clear sign to Elly, groaning heavily, the brunette smiled up at the blonde, “See how you like it, just returning the favour, baby,” Elly then licked her lips as she stared at Chloe’s torso, “Or maybe I’m imagining a future where we’ll have a sibling for our baby and you’ll be the one who will…”

Chloe’s eyed widened in surprise to Elly’s suggestion.

Elly kissed Chloe’s torso once more, seeing the look on Chloe’s face, “Breath, Chlo, you’re turning colours. It was just an idea in the heat of our passion. We’ve still got four months until our baby is due and a long journey ahead of us as brand new parents. It is nothing we need to even discuss for a couple of years and anything you decide, I’ll always love you, no matter what.”

Chloe smiled back down at Elly, “Thank God…I never really thought about it before…but it doesn’t mean I can’t start thinking about it…now can you please stop teasing me and…there’s my girl.”

Elly ducked her head down in between Chloe’s legs, ignoring the wetness that laid before her that was waiting to be lapped up by her tongue. Instead, she sunk her tongue deep inside of Chloe’s opening, immediately licking her tongue in and out in a rhythm that Elly knew by now gave Chloe as much pleasure as she could handle.

Elly soon took Chloe’s clit in her lips, rubbing her tongue against it gently, feeling Chloe bucking her hips against her and arching her back. Elly held her hands against Chloe’s hips as Chloe eventually orgasmed, screaming her pleasure loudly. Elly smiled to herself at the sensations she was able to provide her love, slipping her tongue out of Chloe’s center, then spending as long as she could get away with nestled in between Chloe’s legs licking up and tasting all Chloe had to offer her, unable to resist licking Chloe dry.

Elly eventually scaled back up Chloe’s body, kissing her skin softly, dragging her tongue against it gently in places until she settled back on top of Chloe’s body. Chloe wrapped her arms around Elly’s waist, smiling happily up at her girlfriend, as they kissed gently.

“You’re so perfect to me,” Chloe whispered, “Do you want to go upstairs and continue this passion in our bed?”

Elly pecked her lips against Chloe’s, “Not yet, baby. A little bit later.”

Chloe pouted but Elly smiled wickedly at her, telling her, “Your pouting won’t get you anywhere this time, Chlo. There’s no need for you to pout, we’ll be continuing our passion, we’re just going to work our way slowly to the bed.”

Chloe bit her lip at the glint in Elly’s eyes, “We are, are we?”

Elly held Chloe below her, enjoying the glistening sensation of their bodies intertwining, “I made you a promise when we were first talking about getting our own place together and I hope you didn’t tire yourself out today with all the moving because I need you to have some stamina left for the rest of today…maybe even into tomorrow morning.”

Chloe blushed as she remembered, “You promised me…you…me…every single room?”

Elly grinned even more, “Hence why the very late lunch and the leaving the rest of the moving until tomorrow sometime…and also knocking back my family’s request to come over for lunch tomorrow and making it dinner…we might need a few hours to recover tomorrow arvo.”

“Sounds like you’ve thought this through, I love it when you make plans,” Chloe smiled, pressing their lips together gently, “So, you’re been serious…every room?”

Elly kissed Chloe once more, “Absolutely…we have our own place to enjoy our love without abandon…and I’ll admit a part of me wants to get in all the passion I can with you while I still can before I become a waddling beac--”

“Goddess!” Chloe interrupted proudly.

Elly blushed deeper at Chloe’s confidence in her, “Okay…before I become a waddling…Goddess…not to mention once the baby is born…it’ll probably be a few months before we can…get back into the swing of things. Let’s face it once the baby is here; we are never going to have this opportunity of…you…me…every room so I want to take full advantage today, tonight, the early hours of tomorrow…even until lunch time tomorrow if we need to.”

 “You had me at ‘absolutely’,” Chloe agreed, “I guess we’ve ticked off the kitchen from our list of every room.”

“Yeah we did, so glad we started here, Chlo,” Elly realized, “Hey, how many rooms does this house actually have…I kinda didn’t think to do the math on how many times we’re gonna…in a row?”

Chloe reached up one of her hands and stroked Elly’s cheek gently, “Let’s see…besides the kitchen, we have…the dining room, we've skipping the living room out of respect for Miss. Grundy, the laundry, does the entryway slash hallway count as a room? Then upstairs we have three bedrooms, although one has been set up as an office, we have the ensuite, the walk-in wardrobe in our room, that’s a room on its own right? The second bathroom, the linen closet which might require some maneuvering to squeeze into but I think we can manage. Did I forget anything?”

“The garage, baby, I think we deserve a round of love in the back seat of your car that’s in the garage,” Elly grinned, “And yes the entryway slash hallway, the walk-in wardrobe and the linen closet all count.”

“Okay, the garage too…as well as the other three…that makes…oh my God, Elly, that’s 11 more rooms for us to make love in!” Chloe exclaimed, “I’m not sure we have the stamina for an even dozen love making sessions. There’s no shame in us taking our time over the next few nights to make love to one another in all the rooms of this house.”

“I know, but I think we can at least give it a red hot crack, Chlo,” Elly decided, before encouraging Chloe with the biggest smile on her face, “If you need any more encouragement to try a perfect lucky dozen sessions with me until lunch tomorrow…as you were listing all the rooms…I was thinking more along the lines of…dining room table, on top of the washing machine, against the front door, the back seat of your car, the guest bed, the office room desk, our shower, the floor of our wardrobe, the bath in the second bathroom, the linen closet whatever maneuvering we can manage before we finally make love to one another in our bed where we can fall asleep from exhaustion when we finally get there.”

Chloe bit her lip at the thoughts swirling around her mind at Elly’s suggestions, “Were you thinking of making love on top or under the dining room table?”

Elly giggled at Chloe’s question, “Definitely on top of the table, Chlo.”

Chloe eyed the table that was in her eyesight across from the kitchen, “Dinner tomorrow…with our families…we can have that outside under the patio at the table outside, right?”

Elly nodded, “Aww my girl doesn’t want to make love to me on the dining table and then be serving food to our family on it the next night with them been oblivious as to the memories you’ll be thinking of when we’re sitting there?”

“Exactly, I don’t want our families to have any thoughts of our naked activities whilst we’re having dinner with them,” Chloe replied.

“Okay, we’ll have dinner set up under the patio tomorrow night for the family if that’ll make my girl more comfortable,” Elly agreed, “Now how about we leave thinking about our family dinner until tomorrow and we make ourselves very comfortable on top of the dining room table for round two?”

Chloe grinned happily, “Round two of twelve, you are going to exhaust me all night long, Elly, and I cannot wait.”

“Me either,” Elly smiled, pecking their lips together before they stood up, wrapping their arms around one another, bringing their lips together, kissing deeply as they shuffled their way out of the kitchen.

Elly, you are going to be the death of me…and I wouldn’t have you any other way, Chloe thought.

Chloe, I am going to enjoy every minute with you as we explore one another across this house…and every minute that we spend living here from now until the day we finally find our ‘forever home,’ Elly thought.

Chapter Text

Just Friends

Chapter Fifty

Six months later

Elly yawned as she entered her bedroom. Her yawn transformed into the biggest smile on her face as she found Chloe lying on her back asleep in their bed, their son sleeping peacefully on Chloe’s chest as she held him to her.

Unable to resist, Elly took her phone and took a photo of the pair. Elly then shifted herself and got back into bed under the covers, leaning over Chloe and their son, Elly pressed her lips against Chloe’s forehead and holding her phone above the three of them she took another photo.

Settling back into bed, next to her family, Elly loaded the photo of the three of them on her phone and sent the image to Shaun along with the message:

‘This is my whole world right now. Thank you for letting us have this. P.S. check out Chloe’s hand. We’re engaged!’

Shaun immediately messaged back:

‘You’re welcome. You three look perfect together. Congratulations! I’m happy for you. I’m always here for you three if you ever need anything.’

Putting her phone back on her bedside table, Elly settled back against Chloe, accidentally waking the blonde.

“I’m awake, didn’t fall asleep,” Chloe mumbled, barely able to open her eyes.

“Yes, you did, baby,” Elly told her.

Chloe yawned, “Not really…I was…dozing. You needed a shower and I…was totally wide awake looking out for our little man.”

Elly lent down and kissed Chloe on the cheek, “You’re fibbing. You fell asleep. He’s perfectly fine, sleeping on your chest. Our boy loves falling asleep on you.”

Chloe finally opened her eyes, staring at the baby she held against her chest, sleeping soundly, then looked up at Elly, “I’m so tired.”

“I know, baby, me too,” Elly whispered, curling her body against Chloe’s side.

“I’m so tired,” Chloe repeated, “I didn’t know it was possible to ever be this tired that I can’t even wait for you to shower before falling back asleep with our son.”

“He’s sleeping soundly now against you. Do you want to try and fall back asleep yourself or do you want me to take him and get him settled into his cot?” Elly asked.

“I’m so tired,” Chloe said once more, whilst her words could be taken in annoyance her tone of voice was an entirely different matter. Chloe was completely in awe and in love with being a parent to their child. Chloe closed her eyes, “What’s the time?”

Elly looked back at her phone, glad the bright screen displayed it, “Just after 8 am.”

Chloe nearly burst into tears, “I’m so tired. Now I’m going to be late to work…again. Terese is so going to fire me soon. You don’t even want to know how many times I’ve fallen asleep at the hotel the past month and Terese or Paul have caught me. I think I fell asleep in the middle of a client meeting with Terese and an investor the other day. So embarrassing.”

Elly snuggled closer into Chloe’s body and placed her hand over their son’s tiny hand on Chloe’s chest, “Baby, it’s Saturday, you don’t have work today.”

“Are you sure? It feels like Monday,” Chloe moaned softly.

“You say that every morning but not every morning is a Monday, baby,” Elly told her.

“I’m so tired,” Chloe went back to saying, “I never realized how much I could hate Mondays. Are you sure it’s Saturday?”

Elly pressed her lips to Chloe’s cheek, “Yes, Chlo, it’s Saturday. Two whole days that you don’t have to go to work and we can just lie here with our baby boy and try and catch up on some sleep. Right now, while he’s sleeping peacefully on you at any rate.”

Chloe looked like she was about to burst into tears of happiness at not been forced to get up and go to work.

Elly nuzzled her face against Chloe’s neck, staring lovingly at their son as he laid there against Chloe’s chest, “Baby, I still think you need to talk to Terese about taking some more time off. You had two weeks off after I gave birth. Terese gets it, she’s a mum, she knows how tiring it is raising a newborn. I'm surprised she hasn't insisted on it if you're falling asleep at work.”

Chloe gently shook her head, “Terese has offered, hun. I’ve got no leave left. I used it all up and those two weeks were the best of my life.”

“If you asked, Terese, she wouldn’t have an issue with giving you more time to be home with us,” Elly told her, “I’d love you to be home more but not half as much as Jake would.”

Chloe stared down at the newborn lying on her chest, “Jake loves his Mama Chloe…and I want nothing more than to spend every day with the pair of you but I can’t take unpaid leave…we can’t afford it. So, I will just have to keep working and when weekends come up out of nowhere I will appreciate them so much to try and catch up on my sleep," and when Elly looked like she was about to argue with her, Chloe stopped her, "I'm doing what I have to, Elly, to keep my family safe with a roof over their heads. I gotta do what I can to protect my family."

"Fine," Elly pretended to grumble but honestly, she was so proud of everything Chloe did for their family, "Let's just see how you feel on Monday morning after two days of trying to rest and the pair of us managing our baby boy."

"Are you sure it's not Monday? I'm so tired," Chloe needed reassurance.

"Chlo, baby, do you not remember you were at work yesterday?" Elly asked.

Chloe shook her head, "I don't remember anything before you asking me to look after Jake while you went for a shower half an hour ago. The last six weeks are a complete blur mixed up all together. I'm so tired."

Elly lent down and captured Chloe's lips gently, "But you remember last night, right? Our first night where we had three entire hours without Jake because Aaron and David babysat him for us? You cannot tell me you forgot last night."

Chloe scrunched up her face, "Please don't tell me we tried having the S.E.X. again or I mean you tried with me because you're still not gonna be ready for a couple months but you want to with me and I fell asleep halfway through like last time."

Elly giggled as she stared at Chloe's adorableness, "You can say the word 'sex,' Chloe. You don't have to spell the word out. We are not going to traumatize Jake by saying the word 'sex' in front of him because babe he is not going to remember this at all. We can wait until he's a teenager and then traumatize him that his mum's have a sex life. And what are you talking about falling asleep halfway through last time when we tried a few nights ago? I didn't even get your bra off and you nodded off. You fell asleep before we even started, Chlo, and I still love you for attempting to indulge in me wanting you but I've come to terms with the fact it's not going to happen for a few months. You're worth waiting for."

"Good to hear it, so what happened last night?" Chloe mumbled, struggling to keep her eyes open as she began stroking her hand against Jake's back, then opened her eyes in surprise, "Elly, where did this ring come from?"

"Oh my God, you don't remember!" Elly feigned shock but at this stage was aware enough that her fiancé was struggling to remember even the most important things.

"I remember," Chloe fibbed, then admitted, "Okay I don't...please tell me you saw me asleep with Jake and you thought it would be really nifty to put this ring on my finger and make me think I forgot you proposed to me? Please don't tell me that I'm so tired that I forgot you proposed to me."

Elly kissed Chloe once more, "I proposed to you, last night, silly. I should've known you'd forget and I maybe could've waited a few more weeks until we're used to this not sleeping and raising a newborn but I didn't want to wait any longer and dinner last night with you on our first few hours without Jake was too good of an opportunity not to propose."

"I'm so sorry I forgot," Chloe apologized, nearly bursting into tears, "I'm the worst fiancé ever."

Elly smiled down at Chloe, "It's okay and you know why, Chloe, because you just called yourself my fiancé and that is all that matters in the world right now. Maybe after a rest, you'll remember last night clearer. Ooh actually, you got some great photos on your phone that you posted on social media after we both called our mum's and told them the news. Here let me get them and show you so can remember our night yesterday."

Elly shuffled and lent over Chloe, to reach for Chloe's phone on her bedside table.

Chloe finally let out a giggle, as she started feeling a bit more awake, "Oh look, Elly's boobs near my face. Is this what foreplay used to be? I forget, it's been so long."

Elly smiled gleefully at Chloe's playfulness, taking her time to get the phone once she realized Chloe was enjoying the view, before eventually taking the phone and returning to snuggling back against Chloe's side, "You know, I didn't think it was possible for anyone to love my boobs more than you, but you gotta step up your game, Chlo, because Jake has you beat."

Chloe ran her hand up and down Jake's back, "Oh yeah I know. I had this discussion with him and told him how great his mum's boobs were and to take care of them for me."

Elly shook her head at Chloe's teasing, grinning as she watched Jake clinging to Chloe's chest through her pajamas, "Jake loves your boobs too, remember. He's always clinging to them. He loves you and the comfort you give him."

Chloe rolled her eyes, "Yeah but he's smart enough to realize only your boobs give him the milk that he wants so he'll always love yours more. Alright, where are these photos we took last night? I want to remember you asking me to be your wife...I'm still embarrassed I forgot."

Elly pressed her lips to Chloe's forehead as she unlocked Chloe's phone, "It's scary how much I know about you that you didn't even need to tell me you changed your pin on your phone from my birthday to Jake's birthday after he was born. Okay...here's your post on Insta. Check out how happy we are! You're holding up the ring on your finger and captioned it, 'I said YES! #ChellyWedding'"

"It's starting to come back to me," Chloe whispered as she looked at the phone Elly was holding.

Elly switched apps before placing the phone back before Chloe's eyes, "And you just blew up Facebook with your post and all these dozen photos of our date and proposal last night."

Elly scrolled through the album of photos that had been taken of the pair of them.

"Aww I do remember it now, you got down on one knee and it was perfect," Chloe uttered before Elly scrolled to a photo that was taken by a bystander of Elly proposing on bended knee that they had managed to get him to send to them.

Elly kissed Chloe gently, "Of course it was perfect, I was asking you to spend your life with me."

"How did our mum's take the news...? I'm a little fuzzy on those details," Chloe admitted, as Jake finally stirred in her arms and she rocked him gently trying to settle him back to sleep.

"Fay was thrilled. I’m so glad she accepted our relationship after everything I did to Mark. Liz was shocked, she’s still not used to the idea that you won my heart, pretty much what you would've expected," Elly answered, "My God, how many people do you have on Facebook, Chlo, look at all these notifications."

"We'll have to scroll through them properly and reply at some stage this weekend," Chloe replied as she yawned, "Wait, who posts an angry face reaction to an engagement announcement?"

As soon as the question had left her lips, Chloe and Elly both looked at each other, "Mark."

Elly rolled her eyes, "I did suggest you block him as he's been angry face reacting to every single one of your posts for six months now."

Chloe sighed, "Yeah I know but he's still my brother and cutting him off seems harsh. Just let him deal with his anger behind a screen. I'm sure once we get out of the house a bit more with Jake and he starts seeing us with him, Mark will get over his--"

"Woah, what is this?" Elly suddenly interrupted, "Comment by Mel Lohan. I thought you blocked her."

Chloe blinked, "I thought she was in jail. What does it say?"

"It says 'what the eff?' That sounds about right. Last time we saw her I was still insisting there was nothing between us and she told you that you were deluded to think you’d ever be with me. Hate her for saying that to you," Elly replied.

Chloe glanced at the phone, "I don't think that looks like the profile I blocked. A mutual friend must've shared my post and she must've seen it."

Elly shook her head, "She just posted again on another photo...oh look at this, she's posted on Jake's birth announcement you made when he was born. 'Jake Conway-Brennan...your son...seriously what the eff?!'"

Chloe shrugged, "I can't be bothered dealing with that right now. I'll change my settings and block her again later. I can't believe she's out of jail...or has been given social media privileges from jail. Whatever. I'm not worried. Mel won’t come back to Erinsborough, not after everything she did, even if she has served her time. No one can ruin our happiness."

Elly closed the apps on the phone before placing the phone back on Chloe's bedside table, enjoying rolling on top of Chloe for another view of her cleavage as she did so. Elly then settled back down next to Chloe, wrapping her right arm around Chloe's shoulder, nuzzling her face into the crook of Chloe's neck, and reaching out her left hand, placing it over Jake's tiny hand on Chloe's chest.

"I'm so tired," Chloe said once more.

Elly snuggled closer to the pair, "I know, baby, me too. We were supposed to have lunch with Aaron, David, and Bea at the Waterhole but I'm gonna to cancel on them."

"We were? You will? As much as I want to see them...I'm not getting out of this bed today...I'm so tired," Chloe replied, yawning loudly.

"I'm not getting out of this bed either," Elly agreed, "I have everything I'll ever need right here in my arms."

"Mmm," Chloe mumbled as she closed her eyes.

"Do you want me to settle Jake into his cot for you to actually get some sleep and I'll watch over him or do you want to fall asleep with him on your chest and I'll lie here watching the pair of you sleeping?" Elly asked quietly.

"I'm comfy here, I like it when our son falls asleep on me. Are you sure you don't need sleep too?" Chloe whispered, yawning once more.

Elly pressed her lips to Chloe's forehead, "Jake will sleep for another hour or so before he needs to be fed. I can stay here and watch the pair of you until he gets restless for milk. You sleep for the next hour solidly."

"Thank you, fiancé," Chloe agreed, before opening her eyes gently, staring up at Elly, "I'm not sure you're ever going to realize how happy you've made me."

"About half as happy as you've made me and Jake," Elly countered, "I love you, and I can't wait to marry you sometime later this year. Hey, Chlo, just in case you don't quite remember the most important part of last night..."

"Yeah," Chloe mumbled, opening her eyes and trying to stay awake long enough to hear what Elly wanted to say.

Elly smiled down at the blonde, "Chloe Brennan, will--?"

"Yes," Chloe answered immediately.

Elly giggled, "Will you--?"

"Yes," Chloe repeated.

"Oh my God, will you let me finish, so you can actually remember it this time," Elly laughed.

"Mmm kay," Chloe whispered.

Elly pressed her lips to Chloe's forehead once more before asking, "Chloe Brennan, will you marry me?"

"Yes," Chloe answered, smiling up at Elly.

Elly lent down and kissed Chloe softly before reaching down and kissing their son on the back of his head, "You're going to make us happy for the rest of our lives. I'm so grateful you let me back into your life and I fell in love with you so deeply. I was crazy to think that all we would ever be was 'just friends'."

"I love you, Elly," Chloe grinned, "You're right...except that it was both of us who were crazy to think we could've missed out on all of this because we wanted to be 'just friends'."

Not 'just friends,' never going to be 'just friends,' always going to be the love of my life and the mother of my son, I love you Elly Conway, Chloe thought.

Not 'just friends,' never going to be 'just friends,' always going to be the love of my life and the mother of my son, I love you, Chloe Brennan, Elly thought.

The End