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Confidant

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Robert backed off the moment Rebecca’s lips touched his. “What the hell is your problem?” Robert asked, his voice probably lighter than it should be. He simply couldn’t believe that she kept coming back for more, no matter how many times he said no. The shock made him forget to put the anger in his voice.

“Come on, Robert,” she said with a smile.

“I’m engaged,” Robert said, holding up his left hand in illustration, the ring still new.

“You’ve slept with me when you were engaged last time,” she reminded him. “A ring’s never stopped you.”

“The difference is, this time I’m in love,” Robert said. “Stop trying it on with me, my answer won’t change.”

“What’s so special about Aaron?” Rebecca asked, face screwed up with disdain. “What hold has he got over you?”

“You know… I could tell you what’s so special about him. Why he’s so amazing and why I want to marry him. But there’s no way you deserve to hear it.”

“Robert…”

“Leave,” he said. “Leave or I’ll make you,” he threatened when she showed no signs of moving.

Rebecca huffed and left the pub, Robert collapsing onto the sofa, Diane coming in within seconds.

“Robert…”

“Right, so I’m guessing you heard all that,” Robert said, rubbing his hand over his face in agitation. He didn’t need a lecture.

“Only bits,” Diane said. “You’ve just got engaged, and you're kissing random women? At home?” Diane questioned. “Do you want another failed marriage?”

“Give me some credit,” Robert said, hurt that that would be Diane’s first reaction. “She kissed me, not the other way around. She can’t seem to take no for an answer.” Diane looked at Robert and saw he was being sincere, so she let it go.

“By the way, I loved finding out about your engagement in the pub with everyone else,” Diane chastised with raised eyebrows.

“Yeah,” Robert said, relaxing slightly. “Sorry about that. What with hospitals and Aaron being…” he shook his head, wanting to avoid thinking about that very near miss. “Things happened quickly. I‘d barely left the hospital before it was all over the village.”

“It’s all right,” Diane said. “I understand. You love him?”

“Yeah,” Robert said gently, his face softening when he thought of Aaron. “I need him in my future.”

“I’m so proud of you,” Diane said, smiling at him. Robert rolled his eyes but couldn’t deny the warm feeling in his chest. “What are we going to do about Andy?”

Robert sighed heavily. “I’m working on it,” he said. “That’s the only reason I keep seeing Rebecca, I’m trying to get something on that family.”

“How are you?” Diane asked. “I mean, you’ve had a busy few weeks, your feet have barely touched the ground.”

“I’m okay,” Robert said. Then gave her more, knowing what she was really asking. “The crash was bad, and not knowing if Aaron would…” he closed his eyes, swallowing against the images that flooded his mind. He’d not really allowed himself too much time to think about it.

“What happened in the car?” Diane asked, sensing when to push. Robert liked to pretend nothing could touch him, but Diane had known him too long. She knew that had effected him more than he‘d let on. “You can talk to me.”

“I was fine,” Robert said.

“Robert…” she started, hating that he was hiding it.

“No, I was fine,” Robert repeated, wanting to stress that. “I knew I could get out, I knew the crash wouldn’t be fatal for me. Aaron wasn’t fine, that was the problem. And he was completely panicking, especially when he realised he was trapped underneath the steering column.” Robert didn’t go on. Diane reached across and gripped his hand tightly. Robert let her for a moment before pulling away.

“You know what he said to me?” Robert said. “When the water level was rising and I still couldn’t get him free? He told me to save myself and leave him.”

“Oh, Robert,” Diane said, shaking her head. “But you didn’t?”

“I couldn’t have left him there,” Robert said. “If I hadn’t managed to get him out, I’d have stayed with him.”

“Robert…”

“It wasn’t a conscious choice,” Robert continued quietly, as if marvelling it over to himself. “I didn’t even think about it. People always call me selfish, but I’ve never been that sure, or that terrified in my life.”

“Have you spoken about it since it happened?” Diane asked, already guessing the answer.

“No,” he said. “Aaron had it worse, he very nearly died. Twice over, once in the water and once when he flat lined in hospital. I was there both times and… I can’t lose him. I could get through a lot that life throws at me, but if I ever lost him…”

“He’s all right now, isn’t he?” Diane said, trying to reassure him.

“Yeah,” Robert said. “Pushing it too much like usual. Doesn’t want to be on bed rest so he’s up at the scrap yard.”

“He shouldn’t be…”

“Adam’s keeping an eye on him,” Robert interrupted. “He will not be doing anything too physical.” Diane heard the seriousness in his voice and laughed under her breath. Robert narrowed his eyes at her in question.

“Nothing, pet,” she said, still with amusement. “Just… I can’t wait to see the two of you married, if you’re already keeping tabs on him.” Robert let himself smile at that. Married. That was the good thing to focus on that had come out of the last month. Both he and Aaron had engagement rings and they had a wedding to plan. They were happy, he needed to concentrate on that.