Going Alone

With Daisy Gone, Hollie And Ethan Are On Their Own Again.

Summer, Year 4
Hollie sat down by the fountain and sighed. It was a beautiful day; the sun was shining, birds sang in the trees and the air was clean and pure. The sun was warm on her skin as she watched Jenna stagger across the grass. She’d brought her daughter to Wood Valley Family Park, mostly to get out of the house for a bit and think.
Daisy had sent her a text after the wedding was complete and Hollie knew in her gut that her sister was making a big mistake. Ethan couldn’t see what the problem was and they’d argued about it the night before. Sighing again, Hollie gazed absently into the distance. With another baby due in the winter, they had to make plans. Ethan had finished his first year but with two more still to do, they needed to work something out with their jobs. Both of them working full time with a baby and toddler wasn’t going to work out. And if the baby turned out to be a boy, they’d need to think about moving house sometime next year.
Life was turning out to be such a mess.

She heard a violinist on the bandstand. To her surprise, it was Ryan.
“I didn’t know you played the violin,” Hollie said, laughing.
Ryan looked up. “Hollie! Good god, I haven’t seen you for a long time!” He smiled. He’d been at University with Hollie briefly and he’d liked her a lot. She was funny and lively but today she looked tired and strained. “How are you?”
Hollie shrugged. “Not bad. Just a bit stressed. My sister’s just married Gerald Davies, remember him?”
“Remember him? Jesus, you’d need amnesia to forget Gerald.” Ryan wrinkled his nose. “He’s married your sister?”
Nodding, Hollie sighed. “That’s not the half of it. You play beautifully, by the way.”
“Oh, thank you. I’ve always been interested in classical music but my father-” Ryan stopped and frowned. “Never mind. It was lovely seeing you, Hollie. Take care!”
“Thanks, you too.” Hollie gave him a last smile and stepped off the bandstand. She’d spotted a couple of her friends on the other side of the park.

“Well look who’s here! We don’t see you out very much these days,” Andrea remarked cheerfully as she waved to Hollie.
“Hi guys!” Hollie hugged Andrea and Ellie and sat herself down on the cushions in front of the puppet theatre. “How are you both?”
“Can’t complain,” Andrea said, grinning. “Jared and I are moving into our new place on Friday!”
“That’s come round quick!” Hollie remarked. “I thought that was ages away.”
“Nope. We’ve got a gorgeous place in Evergreen Harbour. Riccardo, Jared’s brother, is coming with us. He’s living with us in the holidays.”
Hollie smiled. It was always lovely to see Andrea. The life and soul of any gathering, Andrea had such a sunny disposition and it was impossible to be angry with her for long. “And how are you doing, Ellie?”
Ellie shrugged. “Can’t complain. How’s your sister?”
Hollie gulped.

“Ellie, I don’t quite know how to say this but…” Hollie took a deep breath. “I had a text from Daisy. She…she and Gerald got married the other day.”
Ellie’s face dropped. “What?!”
“I know.” Hollie shook her head. “They eloped to Sulani, apparently. They didn’t want us to know.”
“What the hell is Gerald playing at?” Andrea wondered aloud. “He’s not the marrying type, surely?”
“No, he’s not.” Ellie replied flatly. “He has to be up to something.”
“But what? And why involve Daisy?” Hollie asked.
Ellie buried her head in her hands. She was furious with Gerald for putting poor, sweet Hollie through this anguish. Daisy was sweet too; Ellie knew she didn’t deserve Gerald.
Nobody could answer Hollie.

“Hollie! I haven’t seen you out for a while!”
Hollie looked round to see Cristina heading towards her. She jumped up to see her friend. “Cristina! It’s been ages, how are you?”
“Not bad. Uncomfortable but otherwise fine. What about you? Did you tell Ethan about the baby?”
“I did!” Hollie smiled. “It’ll be a strain but we should be okay.”
Privately, Hollie wondered if Cristina really was okay. She seemed stressed. It was no secret that Cristina didn’t like children and wasn’t thrilled about having a baby so she assumed it must be that.

The afternoon passed quickly and soon it was time to leave. Hollie scooped up her daughter and set off for home. It had been lovely to catch up with friends and Hollie decided she did need to see more of them, especially while she was off for the summer. She particularly wanted to make time for Cristina.

The doorbell rang. It was early evening and Ethan frowned at the door. He’d finished off some work he’d brought back with him and had been looking forward to a quiet evening with Hollie. His wife was upstairs putting Jenna to bed, so Ethan hauled himself up and answered the door.
“Daisy! We weren’t expecting to see you!” He exclaimed as he hugged his sister-in-law. “We never did congratulate you!”
“Oh don’t worry,” Daisy replied. “I didn’t expect Hollie to, really.”
“She’s being stupid.” Ethan said, hotly. “It’s none of her business. Really it isn’t. She had no right to go on at you like that.”
Daisy shrugged. She wondered if Ethan and Hollie had been having words about her new marriage but decided against asking. Ethan told her Hollie was upstairs, so she crept tentatively up the stairs to see her sister.

“Hollie?” She whispered as she saw her sister in the doorway of the bedroom.
“Daisy?” Hollie looked surprised. “I thought you were in the city?”
“I wanted to see you. To apologise for sneaking out and not telling you I was leaving, really.”
Hollie noted that Daisy didn’t apologise for completely leaving her in the lurch. With the new baby on the way, Hollie really needed her sister’s help, now more than ever. It felt very unfair but she said nothing. Instead, she pulled her sister into a hug and hoped that everything would turn out okay.

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