Chapter Twelve: Flashback
Sian's News

"Roads are slick tonight."

Sian pulled her wrap more tightly around her against the chill wind as she watched her husband unlock the car.

"Rob, it's getting late and it's freezing - are we gonna head home or are you still set on calling by your Mom's? Because if I'm honest, I'm kinda beat."

"Then we'll go home." Robin pulled open the driver's side, climbing across to release the stiff lock on the passenger door and shoving it open. "There. Get in, Sian. We can always drop by Mom's place tomorrow morning - she'll likely be in bed anyhow, since it's gone eleven and you know what she is. She's not gonna thank us droppin' in at this hour - I just didn't realise we would be out as late as we have been."

"Work overran." Sian stifled a shiver, coming to get in the car with a grateful grin. "I'm sorry about that, but Alan had noone to cover the shift."

"Well, he had you." Robin leant over to kiss his wife gently on the forehead. "For which I'm sure he was grateful."

He strapped himself in, casting a glance at the traffic then putting the car in gear. "Though I'm honestly not sure that I'm happy with you working in the bar...especially when it's late and dark and there are...unpleasant people around."

"You mean Calvin?" Sian pursed her lips. "He's no threat to you, Robin. I have no time for him, drunk or sober. If he comes into the bar, I get someone else to serve him...and if he speaks to me I keep it to small talk and then I make an excuse to go do something else. He's not going to abduct me or anything crazy like that. Honestly, I think he's just a sad alcoholic and that's the end of it. Words is all he is. Nothing more."

"Perhaps, but I don't like him harassing you. I never have." Robin shrugged his shoulders. A smile played around the corners of Sian's mouth.

"I can't believe we've been married nearly a year and you're still jealous of his attentions toward me." She teased. "Robin Sheppard, when are you going to realise that it's you I've pledged my life to, not some drunk with too much lip? I love you. If you don't know that by now, you never will."

"I know it." Robin assured her. "It's not that. I don't think you'd go off with him - or anyone else. Not for one moment. I'm more worried that he'll try something else. Or cause trouble in the bar one night. I don't want you hurt, Sian. That's the bottom line."

"And you should know that growing up in the Mulhavy family means I can take care of my own." Sian reassured him. "My Dad wouldn't have had it any other day. We learnt it almost as soon as we learnt to walk and talk. I'm a big girl. I can more than protect myself against a drunk gropin' me. Do you think I'd sit back and just let him?"

"No I don't." Robin admitted, amusement crossing his own expression. "I'm sorry. I guess it's something of the alpha male complex. You're my woman...I don't like it."

"Well, you don't need to worry." Sian told him softly. "Besides, there's something else I wanted to talk to you about tonight, Rob. Something far more worthwhile than Calvin Reynolds and his capacity for alcohol. Something...special."

"Hrm?" Robin negotiated a bank of parked cars, casting her a fleeting glance. Sian's cheeks were pink with excitement.

"Listen to me." She instructed. "An' for God's sake, focus on the road while I tell you! I don't want to be meeting the hedgerow and this road's tight."

"I'm a better driver than that." Robin bantered back. "So what is it? I can take it, Sian - what's so special?"

"Well..." Sian paused, then, "You know that I've been a bit, well, funny lately? Off my food and the like?"

"Yeah...I know. So...?"

"So I dropped by Dr Sheridan's office before work this afternoon." Sian said softly. "An' he did some tests, checked me over and such. Guess what he said, Rob!"

"What did he say?"

"Can you guess?"

"Sian, tell me, okay?" Robin laughed. "I'm not good at guessing games."

"Rob, I'm pregnant." Sian's eyes glowed as she related her news. "Isn't it fabulous? Finally, we're gonna have the family that we keep talking about having. So you gotta stop worrying about Calvin, you got me? We're gonna be Mama and Papa! Isn't it exciting?"

"For real?" Robin's eyes widened and it was with some effort that he kept his attention on his steering. "I mean, definitely?"

"Doctor's pretty sure." Sian nodded. "He said it all adds up. He took some further tests but yeah, he thinks so...and so do I, Rob. I didn't tell you before, but Mary Jane got a pregnancy test and I, well, did it while you were at work yesterday. It came up the same way...but I didn't want to say anything to you until I'd seen the doctor. I didn't want to get your hopes up and all...I know it's something we've both been wanting for a while."

"It is." Robin grinned. "Did he give you any idea how far gone you are?"

"He thinks about eight or nine weeks." Sian responded. "Just goin' by what I told him. But I knew you'd be excited!"

"So Mary Jane knows - did you tell your family yet?"

"I wanted to tell you first." Sian shook her head. "I'll tell them tomorrow...Mary Jane swore she'd keep it quiet till you knew."

She giggled. "Sometimes I think your sister is more like one of my own, I swear."

"I wish I could kiss you and congratulate you." Robin said. "But it'll haveta wait till we get home...okay? So take it as done?"

"I already did." Sian pulled her wrap more snugly around her. "I think...Robin! That car!"

"I see him." Robin's expression darkened and he put his foot to the brake, slowing his vehicle as a red mustang wheeled out of the darkness, straying across the road in a weaving, uneven pattern. "Someone's been hitting the whisky too hard tonight."

"Pull over!" Sian's eyes became big. "Pull over, Rob, and let him past!"

"I'm gonna." Robin nodded grimly, turning his wheel hard to the right and pulling up onto the pavement as the car sped past them. As it did so, Robin cursed.

"Reynolds." He muttered. "Who the hell let him keep his license?"

"Well, he's gone now." Sian's face was white but she spoke bravely. "Let's just get home, doubt the sheriff will pick him up if he carries on like that."

"No doubt." Robin agreed, putting his car in gear and pulling back onto the main road towards the turning for their road. As he did so, however, the red mustang came bombing back out of the blackness, the horn sounding frantically as Calvin steered his car wildly across the road. Robin let out an exclamation, putting his foot on the accelerator pedal as he tried to bring the car back onto the pavement but the other vehicle was moving too fast.

With a terrible, grinding crunch, the mustang swung up behind Robin's car, ramming it firmly off the road and into the solid brick wall that flanked someone's drive. As dust, smoke and pain began to dull Robin's senses, he was vaguely aware of screams and people hurrying towards the scene.

Then, in an instant, everything was black.
Prologue: Flashback: Carrowville, Arkansas
Chapter One: Memory
Chapter Two: Spies and Secrets
Chapter Three: Jack
Chapter Four: Flashback: The Hartlin Bar, Carrowville
Chapter Five: Margot's Plan
Chapter Six: Confidences
Chapter Seven:Flashback: The Wedding Reception
Chapter Eight: Fallout
Chapter Nine: Advice
Chapter Ten: A Friend In Need
Chapter Eleven: Logan
Chapter Twelve: Flashback: Sian's News
Chapter Thirteen: Ambush
Chapter Fourteen: Reconciliation
Chapter Fifteen: Flashback: Farewell
Chapter Sixteen: The Curse

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