Tyler comes through the front door as Mark & I are prepping dinner, & shuts it rather forcibly.
“What's with the foul mood?” Mark asks.
“How is it that the Willis women can forgive us one minute & then go back to hating us?” Tyler asks.
Mark looks at me confused. Then it hits.
“Piper,” I reply.
Tyler nods as he sits down at the bench. “I thought we’d put it behind us.”
“What happened?” I ask.
“Mavi came to the garage.”
I raise my eyebrow, noting a similar reaction from Mark.
“She was trying to talk me into basically cheating on Piper. But I set her straight. I told her that I love Piper, & that I choose her over Mavi.”
“Did Piper see this?” I ask.
“No, it was this morning when Pipes was at school,” he replies. “But…” He sighs. “Pipes found me this afternoon outside Harold's when I got a coffee, & we talked on the way back to the garage. It was going well, we were happy, &… I wondered if I should tell her about Mavi.”
“Oh god, you did!”
“She picked that I was thinking about something. And I figured that I should be honest with her. Mavi's gone for good this time, &… I thought she should know that we don't have to worry about her,” he says. “I thought she'd appreciate the honesty rather than hiding it from her.”
“Yeah, but… Telling her your ex visited you at work while she was at school?” Mark asks.
“What Mark’s trying to say is… Look at it from Piper’s point of view,” I say. “She's feeling insecure ever since she saw Mavi kissing you. Yes, you made up, but… She finds out you saw Mavi again? That's going to hurt her, Ty. I get that you were being honest with her, & that's good of you. But… It's a very sensitive topic. She feels threatened.”
“What do I do to fix it, Erin?”
He looks so defeated.
“Give her time to calm down,” I reply. “Work things out tomorrow.”
I nod. “I know you want to work it out right now, but… I’ve had experience handling this. Not gonna go into details, but… You just need to give her space & then talk to her tomorrow. She needs time to see things clearer.”
“I’ll leave you two it,” Mum says.
I look up to see her head back in to our house, Erin standing near the table.
“Tyler told you,” I say, slumping back in my chair.
“Yeah, but… Not here to discuss my lovesick baby brother,” She replies, sitting down next to me. “Remember a couple of months ago, when I had that week from hell thanks to Eddie? We agreed to be there for each other. Our little sisterhood with Paige.”
“Well… I know what it's like for you right now. Having a relationship threatened by an ex-girlfriend. And I thought you could use some advice.”
I narrow my eyes. “I thought you weren't here to talk about your brother?”
She smiles. “I'm not. I'm gonna tell you about my idiot boyfriend from my university days.”
I raise an eyebrow. “The use of ‘idiot’ gives a hint things didn't go well.”
She nods. “When we started dating, he hadn't been out of a relationship for long. Which, in hindsight, should have been a warning sign,” she says. “Things were going well for us… & then his ex came back into his life. They… Eventually got back together. And I spent the rest of the year watching their PDAs every single day because he was in most of my lectures.”
“Sounds like a jerk.”
“Yeeeah,” she replies. “I’d use stronger language, but… Yeah.”
I smile. “But… How does that help me?”
“I don't want you to make the same mistake with Tyler,” She says. “I had the chance to be with my uni boyfriend. He chose me over his ex. But I let his ex get under my skin, & that caused things to self-destruct. I see that you're on the edge of that right now.”
“What do you want me to do?”
“Telling him how you feel would be a good start,” She replies. “I know that you're feeling insecure right now. But he chose you. He was trying to tell you that Mavi is gone. She understands that he’s with you. That there's no chance that he's going to leave you for her.” She leans forward. “I know how you feel right now. When your first love starts to get shaky, & instead of standing tall & with him, you run away because it's easier to hide away than face it. But you’ve been through so much since you started dating my brother, & I know that having Mavi back is crushing you. You have nothing to worry about. So just let him in.”
“I… I'm not sure.”
“Sleep on it,” She replies. “A new day always helps.”
I smile. “Thank you.”
She smiles. “Always happy to help you.”
She stands & turns to go. I stand & stop her. I hug her. She's taken off guard but hugs back.
“How did it go?” Mark asks as I walk in the front door.
I nod. “Good.”
He nods. “That's good,” he replies. “Mopey has retreated to his bedroom.”
I tilt my head as I cross to him. “Don't call him that.”
“It's true. He's acting like a toddler.”
“His relationship is crumbling, give him a break,” I reply. “You were like that too when you were his age.”
He scrunches up his face. “Don't remind me of that time.”
“Well, be more sympathetic to our baby brother,” I reply. “Just be there for him tonight. Until he can talk to Piper & work things out.”
He nods, before draping an arm around my shoulders. “You're a good sister.”
“Learnt from you.”
He smiles slightly. “You seem to have the knack of talking them through this,” he says. “You're gonna be amazing when Felicity needs relationship advice.”
I scoff. “No I won't.”
"Yeah you will," he replies, before kissing my temple.
“You’ll be good at it too.”
“Oh god! I’m actually dreading the day my daughter starts dating.”
I smirk. “Between you & Paige, the boys will be keeping their distance.”
“Oh, they better!”
I stifle my laughter.
“But you’ll be there, being the best auntie ever to give her advice.”
“Yeah, like how to get her parents to stop being so fiercely protective of her & let her live her life.”
“Don't push your luck.”
I shrug. “Just telling the truth,” I reply. “You're also going to be a good role model for Felicity when she's older. It's really good that she has you, Az & Ty. She needs as many male role models in her life as she can, given her father isn't in the picture.”
He frowns. “Things that bad between you & Zack?”
“Haven't talked to him since Felicity was kidnapped.”
“That sort of betrayal isn't easy to forgive & forget,” I reply. “Even though he was scared & threatened. That doesn’t justify risking our daughter’s life like that.”
He nods. “Can't imagine being put in that position.”
“Exactly why I’m glad that we have you.”
“What about Jay?” He asks. “Do you see him as a good role model for Felicity?”
“Yeah,” I reply. “Felicity adores him.” I look a little awkward. “She now calls him ‘dadda’.”
He raises an eyebrow. “And?” He asks. “What do you think of that?”
I shrug. “I don't know,” I reply. “I don't want to let her get in the habit of calling him that.”
He frowns. “Why not?”
“Because I’m…” I sigh. “I’m scared that things won't work out with Jay, &… I don't want Felicity adjusting to him. I don't want her calling him ‘dadda’. Because what if he isn't around anymore? How do I explain to her that yet another father figure has left?”
“Don't be so scared, Aer,” he says. What if Jay is who you're meant to be with? Kids have this weird ability of sensing things. What if Felicity calling him that is a sign?”
I hesitate- do I have a response????
He smiles reassuringly. “When you're torn like this, & you don't know whether to listen to your heart or your mind,” he says. “And trust me, I made the wrong choice several times with Paige… You should follow your heart. No matter how great the risk is. You gotta have faith in your relationship. Have faith in your heart.”
I smile, fighting back tears.
“Come here,” he softly says, pulling me in for a hug.
The next day
I stop on my driveway, seeing Tyler heading down the stairs for his car. I dump my bag & cross my front lawn & stop on top of the dividing wall. He falters when he sees me standing there.
“Hey,” I say, smiling.
“Hey,” he replies. “Don't you have school?”
I nod. “I think we should talk.”
“Don't be late.”
“Oh, come on! I'm trying to make up with you!”
“Yeah, & I don't want it to make you late for school.”
“Well I have a study period first thing, so it's not a bother,” I reply, as I lower myself down onto his driveway. “So let's talk.”
“Just get it over & done with, then.”
I look confused. “What?”
“You're gonna dump me, right?”
“No,” I reply. “Do you want me to?”
“No,” he replies. He sighs. “It feels like you were.”
I place my hands on his cheeks. “I don't want to dump you, you fool,” I reply. “I love you too much to lose you. Yes, I hate that Mavi got between us, but I’m angrier at myself than I am at you.”
He sighs, leaning forward & resting his forehead on mine as he closes his eyes.
“I'm sorry,” I whisper.
He kisses me, pulling my hips closer to crash my body into his.
“I’ll drive you to school,” he says.
I smile. “I’d love that.”
He smiles. “Good. Go get your bag.”
I grumble. “I don't wanna leave your embrace.”
"You can be in it again tonight.”
I smile. “I’m holding you to that.”
He kisses me again, & then I go & grab my bag. He pulls his van up outside mine & I climb in. He waits until I have my seatbelt on before he pulls off.
“Maybe you should be a couple’s therapist not a PR manager,” Jay says.
I frown, looking up from my work on the table outside The Waterhole. He’s standing beside me, one hand on the table the other on the back of my chair. He nods off towards the courtyard, & I look. Tyler & Piper are sitting at a table outside Harold's, looking very much loved up. I smile, happy to see that they’ve worked things out.
“Just cause I gave my baby brother & his girlfriend advice, doesn’t mean I should do it professionally,” I reply. “I just got them to see things from the other’s point of view.”
“Well, whatever you said to them, it worked,” he replies.
“I also spoke from experience, told Piper about something similar that happened to me.”
“You’re full of mysteries,” he says softly.
I look at him. “Maybe I am.”
He smiles before leaning down & kisses me. He sits down beside me. “What are you doing?”
“Trying to work.”
“Not really,” I reply. “I’m scoping out what The Waterhole’s rivals are doing so we can come up with different ideas to draw people here. It’s a big game of who can stand out the most.”
“Sounds thrilling,” he sarcastically replies.
“Mmm,” I reply. “But the fact that we’re connected to Lassiters is a good thing. We can use that as an edge. Not just for reeling in customers, but also budget wise. Bigger budget means we can go more out. But I’m not going to let that get the better of us. Each event will be carefully kept within a budget.”
“Wow, you really do know your stuff.”
I smile. “My ex-boss was training me up to basically take over from him.”
“And you thank him by quitting.”
“Mmm yeah,” I reply. “That wasn’t where I intended on going with it. But thanks to Eddie, my plans changed suddenly & all that hard work felt like a waste.”
“Maybe you’ll go back there one day.”
“Maybe,” I reply. “I haven’t thought of that.”
He smiles. “In the meantime… I have you.”
I smile. “Yeah you do.”
He leans in to kiss me, our noses brushing when my mobile beeps with a text. I turn to get it & he sighs.
“Really?” He asks, as I see that it’s from Paige.
“Erin?” He asks, hand coming to rest on my back.
“Uh… I need… I need to go.”
“Everything okay?” He asks, concerned.
“Not exactly,” I reply, showing him my mobile.
He frowns. “Firebird,” he says. He then looks at me. “As in… the code word for…”
I nod as I gather up my things into one pile. “Exactly why I need to go home. Find out what’s going on.”
“Here, lemme help,” he replies, taking the pile from me.
“Thanks,” I say with a smile.
I grab my handbag & we head for the carpark. I see Tyler & Piper are still sitting at their table & divert to them. Piper sees me coming, & points me out to Tyler.
“Hey sis,” he says. He then frowns when he sees my expression. “Everything okay?”
“I just got a text from Paige. She used our code word & I wanna go check on her,” I reply. “But I was wondering if you two would come too. I need to be able to leave Felicity with someone if we need to get Paige to the hospital.”
“We’ll come,” Piper says.
“No worries,” She replies as they get up.
The four of us head to the carpark.
“Shouldn’t we tell Mark?” Tyler asks.
I shake my head. “I wanna find out what’s going on first,” I reply. “I don’t want to pull him from work if it’s just a false alarm.”
“Paige?” I call out as I walk in the front door. Jay & I were the first ones home. He’d encouraged me to get inside while he collected my things off the backseat.
“Over here!” She calls from the laundry.
I hurry over, finding her bracing herself on the doorframe- her left hand clinging to the wood, her right on her bump. She looks terrified & in a lot of pain.
“Okay, take some deep breaths for me, okay?” I say, placing my hand on her back. “Let’s do the breathing together, okay?”
She nods. I guide her through the breathing technique she’d learnt.
“What’s happened?” I ask her, once she seems calmer.
“I was doing some washing while Felicity has her afternoon nap,” She says. “And there’s this pain all of a sudden & I don’t know what it is.”
“Have you felt it before?” I ask. “Maybe just a little, over the last few days?”
“There’s been some discomfort over the last couple of days,” She replies. “But I thought it was just cramping given how far through I am. But…” She groans. “Not like this.”
“It may be contractions,” I reply.
“What?! No! No, no, no! It’s too soon for that!”
“Hey, stay calm, Paige,” I reply. “It could just be a false labour. It happens.”
“Everything okay?” Jay asks.
I look over my shoulder, seeing him place my files on the kitchen bench.
“We need to get her to the hospital,” I reply.
He nods. “Tyler & Piper are outside.”
“Good,” I reply. “Help me get her into your car.”
We help her slowly towards the front door. We’re halfway there when Tyler & Piper enter. Both look shocked.
“Felicity’s sleeping, so stay here & look after her,” I tell them as they step aside so we can leave. “Tyler, I need you to call the hospital. Talk to Karl, let him know we’re coming in. If he wants more details, he can call my mobile.”
“Got it,” Tyler says, pulling his mobile out of his pocket.
Jay pushes the security door open with his foot, leading us out. We start making our way down the stairs.
“What about… what about Mark?” Paige asks.
“Let’s focus on getting you there & get a better understanding of what’s going on,” I reply. “Then I’ll get hold of him, okay?”
She nods, before crying out with pain. We get her in the backseat, Jay staying with her while I go round & climb in the other side, ignoring my seatbelt. Jay gets in, starts the engine & we’re off.
We’re halfway to the hospital when my mobile rings. “Hey, Karl.”
“Hey Erin,” Karl replies. “Can you give me more information on the situation?”
“She’s getting pains that I suspect may be contractions,” I reply. “They’re not very close together at the moment, but they’re very intense.”
“How far apart?”
“I’m not sure, but it’s not the final stage, not yet.”
“Okay, well I’m here waiting for you.”
“We’ll be there soon.”
“Good,” he replies. “And Erin?”
“I recommend you call Mark, let him know what’s going on if you haven’t yet,” Karl says. “There’s a good chance that she’s gone into premature labour, & you’ll need as much time as you can to get hold of him.”
“Okay, I’ll do that,” I reply. “Any tips on what to do with Paige till we get there?”
“Just keep her breathing as calmly as possible.”
“Will do,” I reply. “Thanks Karl.”
“You’re welcome. Call me if you need anything else.”
“Will do. See you soon.”
I hang up, turning my attention back to Paige. “Paige, hey. Focus on your breathing, okay?”
She nods, but then shakes her head. “I feel sick.”
She leans forward & throws up- & I watch it land on the floor.
“It’s okay,” I reply, handing her a tissue.
She wipes her mouth. I then hand her a bottle of water so she can get the taste from her mouth. I then speed dial Mark, putting my mobile to my ear & listen to it ring.
“Hi, you’ve reached Mark Brennan,” His voice comes & I huff in annoyance at the voicemail message. “I can’t come to the phone at the moment, so leave a message & I’ll get back to you.”
“Mark, it’s Erin,” I say into it. “You need to call me back as soon as you get this, okay? It’s important.”
Paige screams out in pain just as I’m hanging up. Hopefully that will give him an extra incentive to call me back.
Karl & a nurse are waiting at the door to the hospital when we get there. Jay pulls up & I climb out as Karl opens the back door on Paige’s side. Together we help her out & into the wheelchair that the Nurse has. I shut the door & Jay pulls off to go park. We head inside.
“I think they’re getting closer,” I tell Karl.
He nods. “Doctor Brooke is waiting, she’ll be able to tell us what’s going on,” he replies. “Have you managed to get in contact with Mark yet?”
I shake my head. “His mobile keeps ringing out to voicemail,” I reply. “I’ve sent a text, but he hasn’t replied yet.”
I get my mobile out again & call Mark. But it just rings out again.
“OH COME ON MARK!” I shout into it. “Call me back!!! What good is it that you’re a cop & I can’t get hold of you in a damn emergency?!”
“What?!” Paige asks. “Premature labour?!”
She’s in a hospital bed, Jay & I with her, Karl & Dr Brooke, her obstetrician.
“I’m afraid that’s the situation,” Dr Brooke says. “Twins tend to hold a higher risk of premature labour.”
“But… but I’m only 31 nearly 32 weeks!”
Dr Brooke nods. “It happens, Paige. But you need to relax.”
“Everything will be okay, Paige,” Karl adds. “There’s a really good percentage of survival with prematures from 32 weeks.”
“How far through the labour is she?” I ask.
“She’ll be ready to push in a little over an hour at the earliest,” Dr Brooke replies.
“I need Mark,” Paige whimpers.
“I’ll get back on to calling him,” I reply.
I head out of the room into the corridor, getting my mobile out as I shut the door. I give his mobile another call, but when it rings out to voicemail I hang up. I then dial the station number.
“If you’re gonna ignore my calls, I’m gonna get answers from the station,” I mutter.
“Good afternoon, Erinsborough Police Sub-Station, Constable Holland speaking,” a male voice comes through my phone.
“Hi, can I please speak to Constable Mark Brennan please?”
“Who may I say is calling?”
“His sister,” I reply. “Tell him it’s an emergency & he has to talk to me.”
“Okay, ma’am,” he says. “Please hold.”
I’m put on hold & I pace nervously. It takes a long minute on hold before it picks up again.
“Aer, what’s going on?” Mark asks.
“Oh my god, finally!” I reply. “Haven’t you seen my billion calls & texts?”
“I’m swamped with paperwork,” he replies. “I haven’t had a chance to respond.”
“Well you need to put it aside.”
“I can’t, Aer,” he sighs, & I can sense he’s pinching the bridge of his nose.
“Yeah, well I’m standing in the corridor outside Paige’s hospital room,” I reply. “Does that trump your paperwork yet?”
“What?!” He says. “Oh my god, is she okay?”
“Not really, no,” I reply.
“What’s going on?”
“She’s gone in to premature labour,” I reply. “And she wants you here. And I mean that, Mark. You need to be here already. So please leave your paperwork.”
“Okay, yeah I’m on my way.”