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The end of the story for now! Thank you for reading and for all the feedback.
Thanks to radlas1984 for editing support – this story probably wouldn’t have happened, and certainly wouldn’t be as good, without your early ideas.
Any character featuring in a sexual situation in this story is over the age of 18.
The following weeks are a nightmare. Simmering tensions within the house, frosty exchanges with Mum and deathly careful ones with Dad. I don’t even allow Joanie to talk to me. It even gets in between me and Ted, owing to another 40% of the household knowing what we’ve been up to. Mum seems to interpose herself any time we might be able to spend time together when in the public spaces of the house, and while she doesn’t go quite as far as to check up on us in our bedrooms, her level of attention is keenly heightened.
Not, I suppose, that we necessarily have to let this get in our way, but a sense of propriety seems to have finally prevailed. While there’s any chance of further stoking the fire, we feel obligated to cool it.
It’s clear that our only option is to run away and given that the secret we tried to stage manage away is now out, there isn’t much more to do than to just get the fuck out of here. We try to coordinate our next moves by phone, unable to sit down and discuss it in person – and let’s be honest, after quite a few days of denying ourselves access to each other’s bodies, we would not be prioritising our future life admin if we did find ourselves alone in the same room. The prior prospects for places to live that Ted was investigating are all too far out of reach – looking at six weeks to two months before they are attainable. It’s too long, so Teddy’s working on his secret project. He still won’t say what it is, not wanting to disappoint me if it doesn’t work out, so he keeps it to himself. What I can do, however, is try to establish our cover story for wherever we end up.
We need people not to be able to find us easily, so I begin the paperwork process to change our names. I decide, rather whimsically, that we’ll adopt the surname Melrose – which was Dad’s mum’s maiden name. Our granny on that side was a cheeky soul who was always playing pranks, and the idea of using her name to conceal our identities feels quite apt. I’m not sure she’d approve of anything else about the situation, having been a pretty conservative lady in other respects, but fortunately she’ll never know.
It’s surprisingly straightforward to change our names, and it’s all dealt with within a week. The process of changing driving licenses and bank accounts will take longer but will have to happen when we move anyway. Also, pretty easy is changing our phone numbers. Email addresses are significantly more complicated and will definitely take a load of time to sort out, because of all the other things they get used to access. I register new accounts, but the next steps will be much more laborious, and I start making a list of all the things that are going to need switching over.
It feels strange, to be contemplating the complete nuking of your social and personal life. My considerations about who if anybody should remain in the loop about our lives lead me to some baldly uncomfortable places. Charlie gets to know – that’s obvious. He’s been there for me through all this and he doesn’t care. But is there anyone else? Nobody else makes the cut. Inevitably Jess, if she finds out, will despise me for encouraging her to make a fool of herself in the way that I did… and anybody else who knows either of us as Claire or Ted Henshaw will immediately represent a threat to our new anonymity.
It’s sobering to reflect on just what we are having to sacrifice in order to seize this life with each other. I try to speak to Teddy about it, and he insists that he understands the price we are paying and doesn’t mind. For me, the price is paid not just for the two of us, but the three of us.
Otherwise, I try to pack our most important things, as discreetly as possible. Neither of us wants to provoke a scene when we depart, so I try to keep things in a state of readiness without also betraying our intention to anyone who happens to see inside either bedroom.
Finally, I obtain a third phone with a new number and don’t include it in any of the other changes. I write a letter, which feels unspeakably painful, and slip it away into a hidden corner, planning to leave it somewhere that only Mum could find it.
After several more days of working independently on our tasks, Teddy comes home, manages to sneak himself away from Mum’s watchful eyes, and ambushes me in my bedroom. As predicted, I find it almost impossible to keep my hands off him, but he eventually manages to make me with a piece of astonishingly good news.
“I’ve found us a place. It’s ours. We can move in next Wednesday.”
“Oh, Teddy, what? How?!”
“It’s an estate I worked on a while ago. Big old place. Still all held by one landowner, some earl fella. The Factor offered me a deal: live in one of the estate cottages taksim üniversiteli escort almost for free in exchange for a free retainer for up to seven days’ work per month on the estate buildings. It’s not a great deal for me, but it means our cash up front is massively reduced, and our reliance on my work being busy as well.”
“That’s a smart idea baby, so you lose out on… what, up to a few hundred a month in exchange for the cashflow benefit of paying negligible rent?”
“Exactly. And it’s a beautiful place, and they won’t be requiring references or background checks: it’s already ours.”
“I love you, Teddy. This sounds like exactly what we need.”
“I called him up to ask if the offer from a couple of years ago was still on the table. He said only if I asked really nicely, but that there’s a newly renovated cottage that one of the long-term tenants is moving into, meaning their older place – which is still really nice – is now free. I told him my wife is expecting and we really need our own place as soon as possible, and he was thrilled to offer it to us. I’ll save him an absolute fortune in contractor costs, and I’ll get to know all the issues that keep coming up around the estate so it will be more efficient in the long run.”
“Where is it? Will you have to start your own business again?”
“It’s over into Norfolk, a little further from the coast than I hoped, but it’s peaceful and most importantly it’s far away from here. I probably will have to start over again, I can’t risk word about me getting onto the grapevine among my old clients, but with the stability of the cottage that should make it a lot easier.”
“Maybe I can help you? Could I help you run the office side of things? Invoicing and bookkeeping and so on.”
He grins at me, ruefully but grateful, nonetheless. “Aye Pips that would be a help. That stuff takes me so long, you have no idea.”
I’m relieved to have something relating to our financial outlook that I actually can help with. I don’t think my prospects of getting a job are very good in the current and likely future environment, and while Ted will still be doing all of the practical work, I might be able to speed some things along that otherwise slow him down. It feels like a nominal, but still valuable contribution.
“So… Wednesday. We’re really about to leave.”
“It’s worth it. To make a space for our family. To make a space for you. I’ve never wanted anything as much as I want this.”
We embrace, calm but excited, my head resting on his shoulder, and revel in the sensation of being close again for the first time in more than a week.
On Tuesday night, I make my final preparations. I leave the letter on my dresser, pack the last of my things away, and set a ferociously early alarm. I know that Teddy’s things are all ready, because I sorted most of them earlier in the day. He’s been to the cottage and unloaded all of his tools into a shed, leaving his entire van empty for our things.
I stand in the bathroom, looking at my blonde hair for the last time. This dye job I’m about to do isn’t going to last very long, in fact it should wash out in a week or so, but it will buy me enough time to get it done properly. We figured that changing my hair colour to as natural a red as we can manage will be enough of a change that people won’t immediately look at us and think ‘siblings.’ The similarity of our face shapes is already disguised enough by his beard, so it’s only our matching eyes that will remain.
Swallowing with resolve, I start to apply the gloopy dye, immediately glad of it being temporary, but gladder of the cursory disguise it will afford as we move into our new home in the morning.
I’m so sorry that we have to leave like this.
You’re right. What Teddy and I have done is something that you and nobody else can never be expected to accept. But it is real, and neither of us can give it up. We are going to a place where nobody knows us, and nobody will be able to find us.
I’m sorry to leave you here with Dad and Joanie. I don’t think that we can be much help to any of you right now. I think you need to hold Dad to account for what he did and how he’s treated you. But I understand if you don’t think I can be the one to say this.
Who knows? Maybe time will soften things.
The phone number below will be the only way you can contact us. I think things are going to hurt for a long time, but perhaps not for ever.
Claire & Ted
The cottage is a beautiful little lime white house, long and narrow, with a dark slate roof. It’s on top of what qualifies as a hill in East Anglia – a small hillock of at most fifteen feet height. It’s sheltered from its surroundings on three sides by a thick pine forest, managed for timber by the estate, but not likely to be felled in at least a decade. On the fourth side, a small paved road runs along the river and links our corner of the estate with a small tophane escort village to the South and with the main centre of estate business and tenants to the Northeast. The cottage has a garden, somewhat overgrown, but spacious and further protected by a solid South-facing wall which obviously gets a lot of sun as demonstrated by the plants that are enthusiastically growing twice as tall there as in the rest of the space.
Inside, we have a central kitchen with a solid dark wood table, slightly dated but perfectly functional kitchen cabinets and hob. The only stove is a wood burner, but with an oven space that looks like it has seen plenty of use. To one side of the kitchen is our bedroom, bright and clear, with a huge bed and a simple wardrobe in one corner. The flagstone, identical to those in the kitchen have been softened with a very soft rug that spreads almost from wall to wall. A large window looks out at the trees, facing Southeast, so will get beautiful morning sun.
Teddy’s taking my hand to show me the other end of the house, where presumably the kids’ room will be, and a living room… but I stand my ground. He looks at me, a little puzzled.
“Edward Melrose, you cannot show your new, pregnant wife her marital bed and expect her to just wander out of the room. *Especially* when you’ve not laid a hand on her in over two weeks.” Not even waiting for a response, I sit down on the edge of the bed. I start to undress, and realise something. “Actually Teddy, I have something to show you…”
My brother… lover… husband stands transfixed. Observing me unclothed for the first time in a while, he sees the swelling of my belly. At fourteen weeks, it’s still subtle, modest, and easy enough to conceal with certain clothes, but naked, it’s unmistakable.
I lean back, shifting my weight fully onto the bed, and open my legs for him. As usual, he does not require asking twice.
I absolutely loved being pregnant. I’ve since learned that many women find it really difficult or unpleasant, but for me it was a joy end to end: energised by the life growing inside me, completely suffused with gentle hormones keeping me in a state of near bliss the whole time. I never once suffered morning sickness, and the worst symptom I got was some pretty bad heartburn in the last two months as my body frantically tried to make room for the baby’s growth. Inevitably I suffered some back pain, as well as discomfort in my hips as my pelvis prepared itself, and in the final weeks I could do little more than sit on the sofa or in bed due to my ungainly size. Nevertheless, it was a magical time, and my Teddy loved it too. He desired me non-stop and even harder than usual as soon as I started to show. We made love so often that the exercise was almost as good for keeping my weight gain under control as the running that I couldn’t keep doing. My doctor didn’t have a problem with it, but after about the fourth month I found my balance was all off and I couldn’t get into the groove, and that was when my belly was about a third of the size it ended up.
It was so blissful that before the first pregnancy was even over, I’d decided I wanted another as soon as possible. I’d promised Teddy two, but at that time I think I could imagine many more. Rowan, our daughter, was born in late February about a month after Teddy’s birthday, and the massive life adjustment of caring for a newborn meant that the next half year went by in a complete blur. Teddy had his work around the estate, with just a few bigger jobs further afield, but it meant that he was almost always within easy reach of home, and he was absolutely amazing with taking the pressure off me in terms of cooking, laundry, housework and being a doting father to the little one. It meant I didn’t have to do much else but nurse her and sleep. She was a very hungry baby, and my boobs continued to swell in order to meet her needs. We started her on expressed milk from the bottle at about five months, but she strongly preferred the tit, so after a few weeks of trying to shift, I just lapsed back to feeding her exclusively from myself.
That brief hiatus from constant breastfeeding, however, was enough for my cycle to begin again. We’d not had all that much time to make love since the baby had arrived, but one or two romantic interludes after that short bottle-phase proved to be fateful, and my rather irrational late pregnancy wish for another – which I had forgotten in the haze of being a new mum – was granted.
As it turns out, this was very much a mixed blessing. My second pregnancy went as smoothly as the first, and to begin with it was a double dose of bliss to have my daughter at my chest while my belly grew with her sibling, but as Rowan passed her first birthday and gradually grew into a toddler, I began to realise that children at that age are the literal devil incarnate. Knowing that I was two thirds of the way through producing another that would be in a similar phase before long was a shocking dose of reality for topkapı escort me, and I began to despair a little for my sanity in the coming 2, 3, or 18 years.
Fortunately, Teddy has a magical touch and the child that was incandescent with self-centred anger would at least calm down when he played with her. This enabled me to focus on the last few months of the pregnancy and more particularly on the newborn phase of caring for her sibling, Victor, when he arrived in the spring. Another large – and hungry! – baby, I breastfed both for a short while, but due to Victor getting priority, there was often very little milk left for Rowan and she began to lose interest, naturally weaning herself in a way that was uncharacteristically easy for her.
I had definitely had enough of babies for a while. Possibly for a lifetime. My hormones-addled brain had been proven to make unwise decisions, so no matter what I was thinking the second time around, I had made Teddy vow to ensure I went on some proper contraception – and early – after Victor was born. I’d become rather suspicious of artificial hormones in the couple of years since that fateful May lockdown and elected to get a copper IUD which proved to be an ideal choice for me. Oddly something that had never been recommended in all my years of speaking to doctors about my birth control – I guess the Big Pharma kickbacks are much more lucrative if its selling a product that needs replenishing every month instead of one small thing that lasts five years.
So, with my rampant fertility finally under control and my two little beasts to look after, life settled into a fairly steady rhythm for the next five or six years. Fortunately, my antipathy that had developed in their toddler years was melted by the charming little people they then became, and I was able to forgive myself for the resentment I had felt. I’d tortured myself throughout that phase with self-judgment about being a terrible mother, that I’d made awful mistakes. It was a horrible feeling, and no matter how much Teddy reassured me I couldn’t shake off the guilt. But as they grew, and became first tolerable and then delightful, the self-loathing passed, and I was able simply to reconcile myself to the fact that children really are awful at that age.
I finally stopped breastfeeding when Victor passed 24 months, meaning that I’d been nursing to some extent constantly for more than three years. My tits had been going all out on milk production for so long that when it finally dried up, they rather disappointingly began to sag almost immediately. My once perky chest now looked thoroughly well-used, sitting flatter and lower against my torso than before the pregnancies. They were still bigger than when it all began – requiring a D cup compared to my initial C – but had shrunk back from their peak where they had been considerably larger. Teddy still loved them, but I missed how they had been.
I didn’t gain all that much weight during either pregnancy, but the shape of my body changed. My thighs and bum got fatter and my belly got some killer stretch marks. My vagina of course was quite ruined by delivering two very large babies in such quick succession, but I worked on my kegels diligently and was able to strengthen it back to a semblance of its former tightness. It was lucky that Teddy is so big that I never had to achieve the impossible for it to be a snug fit.
It was almost a shock when my period finally returned. My menstrual cycle had been suspended by the pregnancies and all the breastfeeding, so that it was well over two years after my final pill-affected period just before the lockdown. It had been so long, and with so much other change in my life, that although it was a return to normal, it felt like I was a teenager again and having to come to terms with it once more. Fortunately, my cycle was now completely natural, and I would never interfere with it again by taking hormonal contraception, so some of the strangeness that had previously accompanied my menstrual experience never returned. The IUD made the flow a bit heavier, but nothing unmanageable, and it never caused any changes elsewhere in my body.
Teddy never once seemed put off by any of this. The transition of my body from young woman to young mother has never ceased to enchant him, and his enthusiasm for each stage of change helped to wipe away the lingering stain of my own negative body image that had persisted irrationally for so many years. Reflected in his eyes I truly believed that I was sexier than ever; feminine and powerful for the creation of our two young ones. We bonded so tightly in our experience of parenthood… I had thought we were emotionally intense before, but this was truly something else.
Of course, our sex life suffered for a long while: being tired more often than not and having the parallel demands of caring for infants around 15 months apart meant that we couldn’t often find the time, at least for a few years. But the experience that we were going through enriched every moment that we *could* spend together. The only point of tension was that he would often ask me if I was sure I didn’t want any more. The semi-permanence of my IUD was a blessing in those moments as my resolve was frequently weak and had it been something I could remove myself, or a pill I could simply choose not to take, I likely would have ended up pregnant again.
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