The Little stranger chapter 16

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War Child
Dec 2, 2003
‘Just two more days to get in’ Gemma found herself repeating happily in her head. thinking of Jake’s sister’s imminent arrival with her family, and how it would make it so much easier for her. She was finding she really needed the distraction, the more time she had spent alone at the Villa with Jake.

Not that he had been paying her any great particular attention, more than usual, much to her surprise. When he suggested taking Ellie a drive in the car to visit some tourist attraction, and Gemma mentioned she would prefer to stay behind and let them have time together, he offered no objection or tried to change her mind to come along with them, and let her get on with it.

But of course, they were still together for a lot of other things at meal times and ‘then the visits to the beach which had become a regular occurrence in the early evenings when it still bright, but a little cooler. Ellie loved playing in the sand and being down at the water feeling the waves splashing on her feet.

Gemma would stay on the beach sitting with Ellie on a blanket, helping her build sandcastles and showing her pretty shells, whilst Jake would take a swim in the sea. It was when he re-joined them, just sitting in his swimming shorts, Gemma was finding it hard to ignore his toned muscular physique, and the affect it had on her insides, especially when he was sitting right next to her. She had known Jake for most of her life, all those years ago she had never felt particularly so aware of him in that way before, even though he had laid next to her on her bed some nights, back then he had always been hugging, and her put his arms round her, after all that’s what friends did. So, why was this happening now?

She blamed it on the idyllic surroundings, and that she must be getting too much sun, with just the intimacy of just the three of them together on the beach, it was playing tricks with her mind, and making her aware of things, she shouldn’t really be thinking about.
She was doing her best not to show it, and found she only allowed to let herself stare at him when his back was to her, maybe whilst he walked down into the sea for his swim, then chiding herself for gawking at him, whilst idly thinking about running her hands over his torso, that sent a heat through her body, which was totally improper.

Even when she sat watching Jake play with Ellie on the beach, he would take her down to the water’s edge lifting her up swinging her round, Ellie squealing with delight, him laughing in return, and kissing her, whilst the sun setting in the sky behind them the happy silhouettes of father and daughter interacting turned Gemma’s heart to mush and a sense of happiness and contentment filled her, that she had never felt before, wishing it could go on forever.

But she knew that was not going to happen, the sensible reality would kick in, and she knew needed to get a grip, and banish such thoughts and ideas from her mind, which was why she couldn’t wait for Fiona to finally arrive.

She found they had some unexpected company the following day.

When she returned from getting some supplies in the shop, she had left Jake alone as he had some phone calls to make and had taken Ellie with her in the car. It was only as she drove up to the Villa, she noticed there was another shiny dark blue Mercedes parked in the driveway.

Jake had not mentioned anyone was calling, so Gemma was naturally curious as she carried the shopping bag and Ellie in her arms into the house. She could hear Jakes voice sounding animated as he spoke, then she heard a female voice laughing and replying.

Strolling into the lounge area, Gemma found Jake standing with his hands in the pockets of his jeans, sitting in the chair in just facing him was a leggy blonde-haired female.

Aware of her presence, they now looked round in Gemma’s direction as she stood at the doorway

“Oh Gem, this is Tanya, a friend, you might know her through seeing her face on some fashion magazine covers, or on some tv shows, because she works as a model, and we have shared in the same charity work through the years, she has just flew in for a few days, and found out I was staying here, so she popped in to say hi” Jake explained happily
Tanya smiled warmly nodding in an acknowledging greeting, “I take it you are Gemma? nice to meet you at last, Jake has been telling me all about you, and how you have been great helping him adjust to fatherhood” her accent now gave away that she most likely hailed from America. and on closer inspection, Gemma had not doubt that Tanya was a model, even in casual clothes, with her slender figure and poise, she somehow still managed to look stunning, without trying too hard.

Gemma smiled, now recovering from being taken off-guard by the new arrival and turned her attention to Jake when she spoke “It’s nice to meet you too, though I have to say its remiss of Jake that he never mentioned you to me before, that you were friends”

“Oh, didn’t I?” Jake looked wide eyed in surprise, “I thought I had; but perhaps not” he frowned as he tried to recollect

“No, I am sure I would have remembered” Gemma replied pointedly.

“Oh, it doesn’t matter.” Tanya laughed dismissively, “I know what Jake is like at times, he would forget his head if it wasn’t screwed on to his neck” she mused.

“True, you do know him well then,” Gemma agreed with a grin, whilst Jake just stood smiling somewhat sheepishly, but then decided it was better to get the attention of himself, going over and taking Ellie out of Gemma’s.

“And this of course, is my precious daughter” he proclaimed proudly

“Oh, let me see her,” Tanya demanded, opening her arms up wanting to take Ellie and hold her, Jake happily obliged,

“She is just so adorable, even more, in real life, than in the pictures you send me” Tanya then gushed as she jiggled Ellie on her knee. and smiled up at Jake. Then looking back at Ellie her smile faded a little “And she is so like her poor mother. God rest her soul”

“Yeah,” Jake’s expression also became more sombre.

From this, Gemma assumed Tanya had also known Caroline. Suddenly she felt a like the intruder for some reason, “Well excuse me, I am just going to put this stuff away in the kitchen, so, I will let you both catch up” she said, indicating to the bags in her hands and made a quick escape to the kitchen

As she unpacked the things from the bags, Gemma tried to shake of the feeling, she was a little irked that this Tanya seem to know a lot more about her, than she knew about Tanya. Jake had obviously talked to her about Gemma and Ellie, he even sent her photos of Ellie over the phone, but why hadn't Jake mentioned Tanya to her, until now?

She told herself it didn’t matter, and she shouldn’t care. He probably had a lot of friends, men and women, he talked to, that he had not mentioned to her. And why should he? She reasoned. She didn’t own him, she never had, and visa-versa, she had not been particularly happy when he had tried to probe into her personal life in the past.

But maybe that was it, Tanya showing up unexpectedly, had just reminded her of how little she and Jake really knew about each other now, highlighted that gap in their relationship over the years that they would never get back.

Realising she couldn’t hide in the kitchen for much longer, Gemma reluctantly returned to the lounge, after hearing Ellie wailing, seeming upset about something. Jake had her in his arms trying to comfort her, and almost looked relieved to see Gemma, “she tried to climb on the chair and bumped her head, falling back” he explained in concern.

“Not for the first time,” Gemma replied with a slight exasperated sigh, “she’s a little daredevil”

Hearing Gemma’s voice, Ellie turned her tear-stained face, in her direction, reaching out with her chubby hand “Gem, Gem” she demanded with another wail

Gemma obligingly took her in her arms checking her head at the back with a gentle rub, “my, my; you might get another bump to add to that one you got in the front, from the other day” she chastised, whilst giving her a comforting kiss and cuddle, soothing her, so that Ellie finally stopped crying.

Tanya who had been sitting witnessing the little scene, now stood up, “I can see why Jake needs you around” she smiled, “But I have to get going, I only dropped in to say hi, and it's been great seeing you all, let’s not leave it so long the next time” she turned to Jake giving him a quick hug.

“I won’t” he promised,” giving her a peck on the cheek, then seeing her out to the door.
When he returned Gemma was putting a calmer Ellie back down on the floor who was now rubbing her eyes, “She’s probably getting tired, I will put her down for a nap soon” she told Jake.

“Ok,” he replied a little distractedly, hr had other things on his mind he wanted to say. “Look Gem, I am sorry I never mentioned Tanya before, that we were friends, I hope you didn’t feel awkward” he then apologised.

“No, it’s ok,” she assured him, “Its none of my business who your friends are anyway, so you don’t have to go into a big long explanation to me” she then added with a little laugh. And he got the hint she had no desire to discuss it any further, so he let it drop, even if he wasn’t sure that she was being entirely honest.

Nothing more was mentioned about Tanya’s unexpected visit, as they were too busy making preparations for the arrival of Fiona and her family the next day. Gemma was looking after Ellie, whilst Jake went to pick his sister up at the airport. A few hours later they arrived and suddenly the Villa became noisy and alive, with Fiona and her husband Deke and their three kids in tow.

Ellie was delighted to have the younger company of her cousins, who fussed over her, they hadn't seen her in a while

“Well, we finally made it” Fiona greeted Gemma a hug.

“It's good to see you,” Gemma found herself replying honestly, hugging her back.

“I hope my brother is looking after you, and not making you work too hard, looking after his daughter” Fiona then remarked.

“Oh, you wouldn’t know him now,” Gemma replied blithely, “he spends far more time with her than I do, so I have to say, I have been getting it pretty easy”

“Good,” Fiona smiled, “Now I have landed on you with my kids, you are going to love it” she chuckled.

“The more, the merrier” Gemma insisted happily.

Jake was bemused by the fact, now Gemma was surrounded with more kids and the chaos of his family around, she seemed completely in her comfort zone. He, on the other hand had really preferred it when it had just been himself with Ellie and Gemma. It gave her the chance to drop into the background, preferring to spend more time with the kids than with the adults, even though they tried to include her in everything over the next few days more as a friend, rather than just Ellie’s Nanny,

They were all gathered out in the patio that afternoon, Gemma was relaxed on the sun lounger with Ellie beside her safely in her playpen chewing on some toys, Fiona and her husband Deke were making the most of the Jacuzzi, and sipping their drinks enjoying the sun, whilst Jake was at the pool swimming and messing about with his older niece and nephew,

Brad and Jayla, who were jumping in the pool splashing and ducking each other under the water. The youngest was having a nap in his pram just beside the patio doors, though how he slept through all the noise, was a marvel.

Jayla had climbed out of the pool after ducking her brother, and he clamoured out after her chasing her around till he caught her and trying to pull her over to throw her into the swimming pool, Jayla resisted trying to wriggle free then shouted for Gemma to help her before her brother got her in the pool again.

“C’mon,” Jake joined in challengingly from the pool, “aren’t you going to come to the help of your fellow female, it’s a bit uneven here, two against one” he taunted.

“Help me Gemma, please!” Jayla squealed whilst laughing at the same time, as her brother got her nearer to the pool,

“Ok,” Gemma was a little reluctant to join in the fun, but on the other hand she decided it wasn’t fair two males against one female. So, she went over to rescue Jayla, managing to grab her arm, and pull her free. Then they both turned to push Brad into the water, laughing at his shout of protest.

Brad came up splashing, “This means war” he spluttered,

“I agree,” Jake grinned, and before Gemma realised what was happening, Jake had deftly jumped out of the pool, to grab her round the waist, picking her up of her feet before running with her in his arms diving into the pool ignoring Gemma’s squeal of indignation that she was still fully clothed in skirt and top

“What do you think you are doing?” she gasped, as they both came up for air, Jake still had his arms round her holding her, but she managed to turn to face him looking wet and indignant

“I thought you needed cooling down” he grinned,

She thumped him lightly on the shoulder, “I am still in my clothes you idiot” she then pointed out, trying to sound annoyed, but failing. Brad swam over beside them splashing them even more, “Payback!” he shouted laughing, but then found himself being ducked again by his sister who had sneaked up behind him.

Gemma now tried to wriggle free from Jake’s hold, but he playfully pulled her closer that their noses were almost touching, as were their lips. Now staring at her mouth, Jake found he had to resist the greatest temptation to kiss it, and forced his eyes up to her face, which didn’t help as their gazes locked momentarily and the rest of the world seem to melt away.

Gemma felt her heart pounding in her ears as she was caught up in the intensity in Jakes blue eyes, feeling herself being drawn to him by a force, that were beyond her. Her lips almost brushed against his, but then a squeal from Jayla right next to them, broke the moment, bringing her back to her surroundings and reality. she managed to look away and move to put putting a bigger gap between them, feeling the heat envelope her whole body despite being in the water.

Neither of them caught up in that moment had not noticed that Fiona had climbed out of the Jacuzzi to go and answer a knock on the door

But now they had her attention as she came back out to the patio to declare cheerfully, ”It looks like we’ve got more company”

Then just behind her, Tanya appeared. looking her elegant and stunning as usual and beaming as she waved to them all “Hi everyone”

Jake forced himself to smile as he wiped the dripping water from his face, whilst inwardly thinking less graciously, ‘Great timing Tanya”
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