My name is not Paul, but you can call me that, anyway it's the name I use when writing about my daughter and lover, Ruth (also not her real name). We both now live in a small village just outside of the Medway towns in Kent, and have settled, since Ruth's arrival out of the blue on my doorstep, into a careful life of domestic bliss.
The reason we're careful of course is that Ruth is still only just fifteen and my daughter. Most people take a very dim view of the kind of activities we indulge in, in the privacy of our bedroom, despite the fact it was Ruth, not I who initiated intimacy. The law however is the law and so we keep up appearances almost religiously.
Not that it has stopped Ruth from telling at least one friend, Lauren, who stayed with us for a short while, nor I suspect has it fooled my Mum, though in her case she hasn't directly spoken to us about it and appears happy that at last I have a good (young) woman in my life rather than a succession of temporary 'friends with benefits' women.
Ruth herself is very happy with the situation she finds herself in. She's doing very well at school, has a lot of friends of both sexes and also keeps in touch constantly with her 'old' friends in the Newcastle area. Which is where she lived prior to being abandoned with prejudice by the man she thought was her father after the death through cancer of her Mum Ali. She misses her brother and sister terribly though and constantly looks for news of them from her Newcastle friends as she believes that whatever her ex-father thinks of her, the brother and sister are still family.
It was half-term and Ruth was helping me out in the office of my small engineering company by sorting out the books for me. Why she finds this fascinating and interesting I don't know, I find it boring and tedious but can do it. Ruth however does it with panache and no little skill in tax avoidance which has maximised the company's profits over the last eight months and looks to be heading towards giving the workforce a very nice annual bonus at the end of the tax year.
It was then that her phone went 'bing' telling her that she had a message.
"Yes!" she cried.
"Yes?" I replied.
"Lauren's passed a message onto Billy and Kitty and they want to meet me if I can get to Newcastle at the weekend," Ruth said triumphantly.
"You can't go on your own," I said.
"I know, but please Dad, please," she said intensely.
"Let me check my diary," I said.
A quick scan of the diary and my order books told me I could spare all of Friday afternoon after a business meeting with a tax auditor.
"We can travel Friday afternoon and stay till Sunday afternoon," I said. "Will that be enough?"
"Yes Dad, thank you," said a beaming Ruth.
I spent the rest of the day briefing the senior engineer at the company as well as booking Ruth and I into a twin bed hotel room within walking distance of the Millennium Bridge and the centres of Gateshead and Newcastle.
"Would have loved to make it a double Ruth, but appearances etc... , " I told her after we got home.
"At least we get to share a room," Ruth giggled. "The staff will just think you're saving money."
"That's what I hope," I replied. "Any more details from Lauren?"
"Yes, Billy and Kitty can meet me at The Sage, it's a huge performing arts place on the banks of the river," Ruth said.
"I'll be there to make sure it's just them, but will stay in the background Ruth," I replied.
"I doubt my ex-Dad would do anything other than drag them off, Dad," Ruth replied.
"Doubting is not knowing, angel," I replied.
"True," said Ruth with a sunny smile. "Thank you for caring, Dad."
"I would be lost if anything happened to you, Ruth," I replied.
"As would I if the circumstances were reversed, Dad," said Ruth as we kissed tenderly.
More kisses followed and became more and more passionate as hands wandered and caresses caused sighs of pleasure from us both.
I lifted my beautiful daughter up and carried her upstairs to our bed and laid her gently on it. I then planted more kisses upon her lips and face as I unbuttoned her blouse and slid it away from her shoulders to reveal a small uplift bra which encased Ruth's small but very sensitive breasts.
Ruth had not been idle either and swiftly undid the top button of my trousers and drew the zip down so she could fondle my now aching cock in her small hand.
I slipped her blouse off Ruth and unclasped her bra and stooped to suckle upon an already hardened nipple.
"Ooh! That's so nice," moaned Ruth.
With a free hand I also caressed her smooth skinned tummy and gradually descended downwards to undo her own trousers.
Ruth then reached across to drag my T-shirt off before running her fingertips all over my upper body as I went back to pampering her nipples.
After a short while I started to plant soft kisses down her tummy past her navel and took the opportunity to remove her pants and underwear, leaving her as nature intended and an absolutely gorgeous sight to me.
"So beautiful, you still take my breath away, my love," I sighed.
"You love me, you're biased," she giggled. "I just know I'd look better with bigger boobs."
"You're you, what's not to love?" I chuckled in return.
My tongue snaked into the valley between Ruth's nether lips and found the source of her pleasure, swirling around it and driving her to gasp out in sheer bliss from my ministrations.
"Oh that's so goooooooooooooood!" she moaned as the first of a series of small orgasms bubbled up from her depths.
I slid a finger into her tight channel and the intensity of the orgasms increased as I knew they would as Ruth simply loved being made love to.
"Take me Dad ... Please!" she gasped eventually.
I slid out of my trousers and underwear and moved up between her thighs before planting the tip of my cock at her entrance. One powerful thrust and I entered sheer heaven as again I found myself in the hottest, smoothest pussy I could ever imagine.
"Yesssss!" hissed Ruth.
I began, as I always did, with powerful slow thrusts, driving Ruth wild with the feelings they invoked within her. Yet I soon picked up the pace as my own needs gradually came to the fore and I felt the first orgasm within me bubble up in my balls. Yet still I held the pace, carefully looking for the sign I knew was to come. Ruth's gasps and moans increased in intensity and her own pelvic movements became quicker and harder in response to my own until at last she began to orgasm under me as I at last unleashed a flood of my own cum into her.
"Oh God, that just keeps getting better and better," I gasped.
"Doesn't it just," gasped Ruth in return.
We made love several more times that night before exhaustion overtook us, knowing that on the road as it were, we'd have to be quite careful.
It was Friday and I had my business meeting with the representative of the Inland Revenue. Ruth was also in attendance.
At one time the auditor they used could intimidate me quite thoroughly into paying more tax than I legally needed to. These days though, with Ruth's help, we had him thoroughly cowed and intimidated in return, as his attempts to frequently audit us had finally gotten him a reprimand from his superiors and us a massive rebate in the way of recompense.
He finally slunk off after not being able to find any reason to carry on with his scrutiny of the accounts and Ruth and I got into my Landrover to begin the long journey north.
"Dad, would you mind if Lauren meets with us at The Sage?" asked Ruth.
"Don't see why not?" I mused tentatively.
"Yes, please don't think that I don't want you there, but Lauren wants a favour," Ruth replied.
"What kind of favour?" I asked.
"She'd like you to meet her Mum and keep her occupied for a while, whilst she nips home to finally persuade Tony to see her as a woman, not his daughter," Ruth said wryly.
"Keep her occupied?" I asked.
"Um yes... , " Ruth trailed off.
"Suppose something goes wrong at The Sage?" I said.
"Oh sorry, I meant you meet Lauren and her Mum there, make sure it's OK then 'persuade' Emma to go somewhere with you ... perhaps our hotel room?" Ruth said with a wink.
"Ruth!" I muttered.
"I don't mind, neither does Lauren," Ruth giggled at my shock.
"Stop pimping me out," I chuckled, having gotten over the shock.
"You love it really," giggled Ruth. "Besides I know Emma fancies you."
"It's been four months now, why hasn't Lauren managed to 'have' Tony yet?" I asked.
"Emma got promoted, it's a day job and she leaves after Tony and is home before him, so Lauren missed out," Ruth said.
"I'm not sure at all about this," I said. "For one thing, even if Emma fancies me, she might not be amenable to being seduced. For another, there may well be consequences further down the line if she were to take said seduction as a sign of a long term relationship, buggering up Lauren's chances with Tony long term too."
"I know, but I trust your judgement, Dad," said Ruth, with total insincerity.
"Don't play that game, young lady," I said. "I'm not saying no, but I do need to think this through properly."
"Emma's nice. She'd make a nice Mum for me," said Ruth.
"Paul I love you, but in about three years' time I'll be off to Uni and I don't know what that will bring," Ruth said.
"Yes," I sighed. "I know, but was waiting for a better time than a car journey to Newcastle."
"I want children too one day and they can't be yours," Ruth added sadly.
"That too," I said.
"We can still have great sex though as and when we can," she added with a grin.
"Complicated," I said.
"But not insurmountable," Ruth replied.
"I sometimes wonder just who's the adult in this relationship," I said with a grin. "Where did you get that word from?"
"A joint ownership tax returns form critique," said Ruth.
"Dear Lord, she's not only more mature than me, but smarter too," I chuckled.
"I'll still do your returns even if I'm at Uni," Ruth giggled.
"I'll hold you to that," I replied.
"Good," said Ruth.
"That said, I'm going to enjoy life, love and a gorgeous daughter for as long as I can," I said. "But you're right; sooner or later changes will come."
"That's why I think you should cultivate Emma," said Ruth. "That way you might get to have Lauren occasionally too."
"Asking for trouble," I replied.
"But not insurmountable," giggled Ruth.
"Again with the big words," I snorted, trying not to laugh out loud.
"I wasn't going to mention it, but I don't think Tony will treat Lauren well, he's already tried it on, on facebook with me and a few of our mutual friends," Ruth said.
"Ah... , " I replied.
"Don't tell Lauren. It's something she'll have to find out for herself," said Ruth.
"Ok, but why do I have the feeling I'm being manipulated big time?" I chuckled.
"Because you are, Dad," laughed Ruth.
The Landrover ate up the miles heading north as the built in auto-cruise feature made the journey very easy. Six hours after setting off we made it to our hotel and checked in for the night, finding it was within walking distance of The Sage.
The room had two single beds, though they were very large single beds and was seriously luxurious. Ruth wandered about entranced at all the features available.
"Wow, how the other half live," I heard her murmur.
"Well, it is five stars," I replied.
"And tax deductible too, as a business expense," said Ruth.
"Really?" I asked.
"Oh, yes indeedy," Ruth grinned.
"There's something decidedly odd about someone who finds tax and corporate law fascinating," I chuckled.
"You love me really, Dad," giggled Ruth.
"Yes, yes I do, my lovely gir." I said as I drew her close and kissed her.
The following morning, feeling tired but very relaxed having been helped by Ruth to 'christen' the suite we were staying in including the bath and shower, we set off on foot for The Sage centre.
After paying for a set of day tickets we wandered around taking in the place which was very, very large and had several events going on and a lot of musicians doing their thing.
"Lauren!" yelled Ruth as she spotted her friend.
The two girls ran up to each other and hugged and went straight into chatterbox mode. I spotted Lauren's Mum, Emma, following her daughter and went to greet her in return.
"Hi, we didn't really get introduced the last time we met, but I'm Paul, Ruth's Dad," I said politely.
"Hi Paul, I'm Emma, Lauren's Mum, though like you I suspect we're only saying what we both know the other knows," Emma said with a very brief smile almost like a flash-bulb going off, gone before you almost knew it was there.
"Yes, but it never hurts to be polite," I chuckled.
"True," said Emma. "So, we're here to make sure Ruth manages to see her brother and sister?"
"That's the plan," I replied. "Just to make sure it goes without a hitch, though Ruth doubts the guy who she thought was her dad will do anything rash ... assuming he finds out what's going on."
"I have met Joe, her Mum's husband," he's stern and a bit mouthy with meaningless threats, but not violent, though he has links with some of the gang families in the Newcastle area," Emma replied.
"Still I just want to make sure," I replied.
Emma just nodded and turned to look at Ruth and Lauren, whilst I looked at Emma. She was quite short, looked very similar to Lauren without the puppy fat, and considerably more mature, shoulder length dark brown hair, hazel eyes, about five foot tall, nice figure too, very much in proportion. I'd put her age as slightly older than my thirty-five, perhaps, but probably under forty. In short, she was well worth a second glance, although she did appear to be a tad stressed and didn't smile very often, just the occasional brilliant flash which transformed her features totally, from ordinary to extraordinarily beautiful.
Having finished with Ruth, Lauren bounded up to me to give me a hug and a kiss on the cheek.
"Hi Pau." she said, beaming at me.
"Hi Lauren," I replied. "How's one of my favourite young ladies?"
"I'm OK," she replied to me, and then turned to Emma. "Isn't he gorgeous Mum?"
"No need to answer that," I said to Emma with an embarrassed look.
"Thanks," Emma replied with another of those brilliant short smiles.
We waited and made small talk for the next twenty minutes until Ruth stood and pointed.
"There they are!" she whispered and burst into tears on the spot.
I moved to give her a hug whilst Emma and Lauren went to collect them.
"Thanks Dad," Ruth sniffled when I gave her a hanky to blow her nose.
I could see the family resemblance between Ruth and her brother and sister immediately and idly wondered at just what it was about Ruth that had set her mother's husband against her. Ruth stepped forward and just caught them up in a group hug, tears still flowing down her cheeks.
"Oh I missed you so much!" she sobbed.
Tears were also flowing from Billy and Kitty who looked to be twelve and thirteen respectively.
"We missed you too, Ruth, but didn't know what had happened to you until after you'd gone," said Kitty. "Dad wouldn't tell us and got very angry when we asked grandma and granddad."
"It's OK. I found my real Dad and he took me in," said Ruth. "But I never forgot you."
Billy and Kitty gave me a quick glance then went back to their half-sister I suppose is the correct term.
"I'll leave you to your reunion, Ruth," I said. "I've got my phone and I think you'll be OK here, but don't wander out of here, please."
"Yes Dad," said Ruth. "Where are you going?"
"I'm going for a walk along the river," I replied. "I met your Mum in a floating nightclub not far from here, it's gone now, but I feel very nostalgic."
"Would you like some company Paul?" asked Emma.
"I'd be delighted," I replied.
"Can I stay with Ruth?" asked Lauren.
"Yes dear, but don't make a nuisance of yourself," replied Emma.
We bade our farewells and left The Sage and headed towards the Millennium Bridge, rather than the Tyne Bridge, where I'd initially intended to go. The view up the river was spectacular and I could indeed see where I'd met Ali, Ruth's Mum.
"Miss her?" asked Emma.
"I never really got to know her, but there was a connection that I've never felt with anyone, well, not till I met Ruth," I replied.
"Love at first sight?" asked Emma.
"Perhaps," I replied. "Tell me a little about yourself Emma, Ruth said you'd just gotten promoted, but neither of the girls have really mentioned you I'm afraid."
"Well, I'm a clinical support manager for one of the local NHS Trusts," said Emma. "Lived in Gateshead on the south side of the river all my life."
"So, what happened with Lauren's father. If that's not being too nosy?" I asked.
"He was a soldier, there was an accident," Emma said sadly.
"I'm so sorry," I said.
"It was a while ago," Emma said.
"Well, you have Tony now," I said.
"Yes... , " said Emma who didn't look too happy at all.
"Do you like your new job?" I asked trying to change the subject.
"Not really, I've always felt my first calling or vocation was to help with the sick," said Emma.
"So why put in for it?" I asked, somewhat mystified.
Emma turned to face me, tears in her eyes, looking so distressed that I just reached out and cuddled her in.
"I'm sorry," I said, as her chest heaved with silent sobs.
"Not your fault," she sobbed and the story just poured out.
After the death of Lauren's dad, Emma had tried to bring up her young daughter as best she could. She had a little bit of compensation from the Ministry of Defence and the local Council took care of her rent and tax, giving her enough to live comfortably. She'd met Tony a few years later and, being lonely, fell for him big time as he was quite a charming man. At first everything had gone well, she'd returned to work and he had a decent job too and they'd bought the house from the council. Tony however was keeping secrets from her. He was a gambler and had racked up massive debts and they'd nearly lost the home when he'd secretly re-mortgaged it to pay off some of the debts. Emma had found out and nearly left him, but he'd begged her to stay. Emma had relented as she still had feelings for him, though had been forced to take on extra work and promotions to just keep their heads above water. Tony had been no real help as he just kept his job going and merely promised to stop gambling, but Emma now knew he'd lied to her and he was still spending money on bookies and slot machines. She hadn't confronted him yet, but was having difficulty keeping it in and had only managed so far for Lauren's sake, who adored her 'dad'.
Talking to me had just burst the dam as it were...
"Oh God, I shouldn't be burdening you with my problems... , " she sniffled as I handed over another hanky.
"Sometimes it's far easier to tell someone who hasn't got an interest as such and can talk without being biased," I replied. "But it does sound as if your marriage is over, forgiveness can only take you so far."
"If he hadn't just gone back to spending money we don't really have! I think we'd have struggled through, even become closer." Emma said. "But it's like all I'm there for is to feed his habit, I suspect he's even looking to get out and leave us with all the debt. He spends a lot of time on the internet just chatting and won't let me see what he's up to."
I had my own suspicions as to what he was up to via Ruth, but I wasn't going to mention them.
"Oh God, I need to tidy up my face. I look a right hag now," Emma murmured.
"You look OK to me," I said with a smile as I realised that yes, she really did.
"You're too kind, Paul, but I really do need to deal with this," said Emma.
"Well, if you want to use my room at the hotel... , you can use the full range of facilities there," I replied.
"Thank you Paul, I appreciate that," said Emma. "Just hope no one sees me."
"If they do, they do," I replied and she nodded.
Back at the room Emma was able to wash and re-apply her makeup back to what she considered acceptable.
"Thank you Paul, you're a gentleman," she said.
"My pleasure, truly," I replied.
I could tell by Emma's body language and stance that she was perhaps expecting me to make a move on her. I was certainly tempted. I had similar feelings for Ruth and had had them for Ali, Ruth's Mum. We just faced each other and I was moving slowly to kiss her when my phone went off and broke the moment.
"Hello?" I responded, recognising Ruth's number.
"Dad, can you get back here quick? There's a problem."
"Sure, not with Billy and Kitty?"
"No, it's Lauren. She wants us to head to her house. Dad, there are people there and it's looking like it's been sold!"
"Why hasn't Lauren phoned Emma?"
"Couldn't get through..."
"OK, I'll sort it. Bye."
"Emma is your phone off?" I asked
A quick check showed it was and I explained the problem to a white faced and shocked Emma.
"Oh my God, all of our stuff is there ... everything!" she gasped as we got to the car and I drove to The Sage where Ruth, Lauren, Billy and Kitty were waiting outside.
One of the advantages of the Landrover is that with a bit of effort it's a good seven-seater and we got everyone into the vehicle easily. I followed both Emma and Lauren's directions until we arrived at where they lived to see a house stripped bare and a notice of seizure of assets pinned to the door along with clearly changed locks.
Both Emma and Lauren were in tears and so I read the notice and rang a phone number on it.
For all it was the weekend the phone was answered almost immediately and I explained where I was and asked what was going on. Seemed that Tony had taken out yet another mortgage, drew out the money and ran. He'd hidden the default notices and waited until he knew the seizure was going to happen before doing a runner. Emma checked her online banking on her phone only to find all her accounts had been cleared, including her new pay which had come through just that Friday.
"Can the ladies retrieve and personal items?" I asked.
"Only if they pay an indemnity," came the reply.
"How much?" I asked.
"£500 for two suitcases and then it's just clothing, medicines and pictures," the voice said.
"My laptop and camera have a load of photos on them," sobbed Emma.
"How much for the laptop and camera?" I asked.
"£1000," said the voice.
"Ok, I'm good for that, £1500?" I replied.
"Yes," the voice gave me an address and I told the two distressed women what was going to happen.
"I'll pay you back Paul, I promise," Emma said.
"We'll sort that later. Now, let's go get some of your personal items back then sort out where you can stay," I replied.
I used my seldom used sat-nav to get to the address and led Emma and Lauren in.
It was all sterile and polite, though terribly soul destroying. Emma explained that she knew nothing of the debts, but the guy had the paperwork, he did politely suggest that Emma get a lawyer.
Two sad young women were led into the storage area to pick up clothing and other personal effects whilst I paid the indemnity via card.
Once back at the car I apologised to Billy and Kitty, but was assured it was OK. Ruth was hugging Lauren who was in tears over her dad and Emma appeared to have gone into shock.
I drove back to the hotel and told Ruth to take them all up to the room whilst I went to reception and tried to sort something for Emma and Lauren, neither of whom had anywhere local to go save into a homeless hostel, as both grandparents lived abroad.
The price I was offered on two month's full board occupancy was ridiculous until I asked what their best offer was, then the price, after checking through the books, came down massively, though it was still pretty steep. Still it was five star and I figured they'd appreciate something nice for a change.
I took the documents and door passes up to the room and handed them over to Emma.
"It's for a couple of months till you get back on your feet," I said.
"You don't have to do this Paul!" exclaimed Emma.
"For the sake of my lovely friend, Lauren, yes I do," I replied. "The week she spent with us was enough to confirm, as Ruth said, that she was a good person."
Lauren came up and hugged me and I wrapped my arms around her. I was joined by Emma and then Ruth.
"If you want, you can always make a new start down south with us," I said. "We have room to put you up till you get on your feet, haven't we, Ruth?" I added.
"Oh yes Dad!" she said with a beaming smile.
"I ... I ... I don't know," said a still tearful Emma.
"Think about it," I replied.
"Why don't you, Lauren, Billy and Kitty go and have a look at the new rooms?" I said to Ruth. "Oh and stay out of the autobar!" I added with a wink.
"Yes Dad, come on, let's go," said Ruth enthusiastically.
I made Emma a cup of coffee whilst she tried to phone a few places to see where she stood, though made little headway due to the fact that it was the weekend. Eventually I phoned Gavin my solicitor and let Emma explain things to him, telling him it was on my tab.
They talked for about half an hour before Emma handed the phone back to me.
"I need to phone the police Paul. Would it be all right if they came here?" she asked.
"Yes, of course," I replied.
I checked my watch, amazed that it was only just after noon. It felt like we'd packed enough events for a lifetime into the day so far.
Emma was on her own phone to the police to report Tony's disappearance with the family silver as it were as well as suspected fraud and forgery. She gave them my room number as a place where an interview could be held. She then had a phone call from Gavin to tell her he'd been in touch with a friend of his who lived near Newcastle and was prepared to take on her case as part of a legal aid package and told her he'd be in touch soon.
After that Emma just stood, her shoulders shaking with stress, tears streaming down her face and appeared lost.
I moved up to her and gently cuddled her in, feeling her own arms go around me as more and more tears fell.
"I can't thank you enough Paul," she sobbed. "I don't know what we'd have done if you hadn't have been here."
"Something would have worked out, you have other friends and work colleagues," I replied.
"Yes, but you've given us somewhere to keep us together whilst things start to get sorted," she said.
"A friend of Ruth's is a friend of mine. She thinks you're a lovely Mum for Lauren," I said.
"She adored Tony. I don't know how she'll cope... , " Emma sniffled.
"Neither do I, but Ruth will help there. I also meant it when I invited you both down to stay in a couple of months when Lauren's summer holidays start," I replied.
"I don't know," she sighed. "I also don't know how we'll ever repay you."
"Not worried about that, just more worried that you and Lauren will be OK," I replied.
"I'm sorry Paul. It's just Tony's actions have put me in a very awkward position with you," She said.
"I'm not asking for anything back Emma, except just friendship," I said.
"You don't understand Paul ... I saw you when we dropped off and picked up Lauren and a shiver went right through me. I don't believe in love at first sight, but you had such an effect on me that I even found myself checking you out... , " Emma admitted.
"I noticed," I chuckled. "So did Ruth come to that."
"Oh God, was I that obvious?" Emma moaned in embarrassment.
"Just a tad," I replied.
"It's why I accompanied you on the walk. I kind of hoped that you'd make a pass at me. But because you were interested in me as a person, not as someone to bonk, that I think I fell for you at that moment," Emma said. "But now I owe you so much that I don't dare get close in case you think I'm gold-digging to try and write off the debt."
"Emma, it's OK," I replied. "There have been four women in my life that have made an impression on me to the extent that my feelings have become engaged full time. Ali, was one, Ruth another, then there is Lauren and now you."
"You like me that much?" Emma asked in surprise.
"From the first time I ever saw you smile," I said. "It sets off an amazing transformation from lovely to stunning."
Emma was now blushing furiously, though the tears at least were drying.
"I'll have to think about it Paul, but if my conscience can square it, I'd like to get to know you an awful lot better," she murmured as she hugged me even tighter.
We both started as a knock came at the door and we broke apart as I went to open it.
"Good afternoon sir, I'm Detective Sergeant Smith and my companion is Detective Constable Abbot," he added, indicating a youngish lady accompanying him. "We were invited here to investigate a possible case of theft."
I left them with Emma giving her my phone number and telling her to use room service to provide her with drinks and lunch whilst I sought out Ruth and the others to take them for lunch in the hotel restaurant.
Ruth and her brother and sister had clearly been comforting Lauren who looked all red cheeked and puffy eyed. Upon seeing me she threw herself into my arms and began to sob all over again, whilst I held her gently and told her things would get better. It took a few minutes to calm her and get her looking OK enough to go down to lunch but we managed. I made sure everyone had more than enough to eat and the conversation drifted along, mostly to do with the events of the morning.
"I am glad one thing went to plan," I said to Ruth indicating Kitty and Billy.
"Yes Dad, thanks," said Ruth.
"Thank you for bringing Ruth up to see us," Kitty said as her brother nodded.
"You're her family, it was the right thing to do. I know she missed you both terribly," I said.
"We missed her too, but Dad won't talk about it other than to say she's not his daughter or our sister anymore," Billy said.
"I can't help you there, but hopefully you'll be able to keep in touch with Ruth a lot more easily now," I said.
"He blames you for planting Ruth with us," said Kitty.
"Of that, yes, I'm partly to blame. Ruth is my daughter. However, I didn't, until eight months ago, know I had a daughter. Your father should also remember that by blaming Ruth and me, he's also blaming your Mum too," I said.
They both sat silently taking it in before Kitty nodded.
"Did you love our Mum?" she asked.
"I didn't know her long enough to say for sure, but I think, yes, I would have loved her with all my heart. She made such an impression on me," I said and then gave a quick history of our meeting and the unintended consequences. "I hoped for a long time she would get in touch, but I had no means of getting in touch with her, which was a mistake on my part. That said, if she had, you wouldn't have come into the world so be thankful she didn't."
Both Billy and Kitty nodded at this and both looked a lot more comfortable.
"Anyway I'll let you and Ruth get in a lot more catch up time," I said. "Don't wander too far, but have fun."
"Thanks, Dad," said Ruth.
"If you do get gifts," I warned. "Make sure they are explainable. I doubt Billy and Kitty here want to answer awkward questions."
"Yes Dad," she answered, before leading them out of the restaurant, leaving me alone with Lauren.
"What will happen to us Paul?" she asked in a small voice as she snuggled into me.
"I don't know, depends on your Mum and the police, the rest is out of your hands," I replied.
"Will she get the blame?" Lauren asked fearfully. "Or some of it?"
"Gavin, my solicitor, thinks not and has given her good advice as well as giving one of his colleagues a note to get in touch." I said.
"Will they catch Tony?" Lauren asked.
"Sooner or later probably," I replied.
"Oh God, I went home to see if I could get him to have sex with me!" she sobbed. "Instead I found the house being emptied by strangers."
"It's OK to still have feelings for him," I said.
"I hate him! I know what I was doing was wrong, but I didn't want to hurt Mum, not like what he's done!" she stated.
"Well whatever happens," I said. "I've told your Mum there's a place for you and her with us."
"Thank you Paul," she said and kissed my cheek. "Could be very interesting too," she added with a giggle.
"Too many secrets," I said. "People could get hurt ... again. Some of us could end up in prison."
"Just have to be careful then," she giggled.
"We'll see," I said.
Lauren's phone then went off with a text from her Mum, seems the police had finished with her for now and she wanted to see Lauren.
I escorted Lauren up to her room where Emma was waiting and collected my keycard off her letting them know that if they wanted anything, to just ask.
After that I sat in my own room and caught up with the news and wondered what else to do as I was getting bored. Fortunately after half an hour the room phone rang and it was Emma asking me if I'd like to accompany her and Lauren on a walk for some fresh air.
"I'd love to," I replied. "Be along in a minute."
We set off back to the Millennium Bridge and crossed over it to the Newcastle side of the river to have a look at the redeveloped Quayside area which was pretty impressive. I hadn't seen that much of Newcastle on my last visit but could see that it was a lively and pretty impressive city which the locals called 'The Toon' for some reason or another. Fortunately I had two lovely native guides both of whom were determined not to let what had happened to them get them down. Emma had explained to me as we walked what the police intended and that Gavin's friend had been in touch too.
"Unfortunately it looks like Tony forged some of my signatures," she said. "But doesn't look like he made a good job of it, the police will know more over the coming weeks, but I might have to declare myself bankrupt to get the various debt people off our necks."
"If you need funds, don't hesitate to ask," I said.
"I can't do that Paul, you've already done so much," Emma replied.
"Yes you can, I insist," I replied.
"It's costing you a fortune though," she said.
"Only a small one," I chuckled. "Besides Ruth tells me a lot of it is tax deductible, and she'd know."
"Ruth knows tax law?" Emma asked bemusedly.
"Yes, she finds it fascinating," I replied. "No, I haven't a clue why, so don't ask, but she's transformed my company's business model to a very efficiently run one."
"She's always been brilliant at maths," said Lauren.
"So her teachers keep telling me, though she much prefers accountancy style maths, rather than algebraic," I replied.
"Good schools down where you live?" Emma asked.
"A lot of grammars," I replied. "They push the kids hard, but it's worth it."
"Jobs?" she asked.
"Nursing? Yes, always needing skilled nurses and there are a lot of teaching hospitals in London with very good leading edge state of the profession reputations," I told her.
"God, it's tempting," she said. "I love living here, but I do feel the need to get away, for a while at least."
"Me too," said Lauren giving me a sly wink.
"Think about it," I said. "There's no pressure and I won't expect any 'extras' either if that's what you think."
"I believe you," said Emma. "I don't have a lot of trust left in people, but you've restored it a lot, Paul."
"Just glad I was in the right place at the right time," I said.
"I'm kind of glad you were too," said Emma. "I don't know how I'd have coped if I'd been at home when it happened."
"Why did you go home Lauren?" she asked.
"I went for the camera to take a picture of Ruth, Billy and Kitty," Lauren lied, quite convincingly.
"Oh, right," said Emma.
I kept quiet about the fact that Ruth had her own camera with her. I was only relieved that Lauren hadn't ended up getting really hurt or abused.
We did run into Ruth, Billy and Kitty again and Lauren went off with them telling us both to 'have fun.'
"I know what fun she means," said Emma. "She likes you a lot and wants you for her Dad."
"Much too early for that sort of thinking," I said. "But I do like her a lot, since she visited."
"She's always been a daddy's girl," said Emma. "What Tony did won't have shaken that."
"I suspect it hasn't sunk in yet, but hopefully you'll both bounce back quickly," I replied as we found ourselves heading back across the bridge and towards the hotel again.
"Would you like a coffee?" Emma asked.
"Yes, we can get one at the restaurant," I replied.
"Was thinking more of making you one in my room as I don't feel the need to be around people so much at the moment," Emma responded.
"OK," I said and we headed into the hotel and up to Emma and Lauren's room, for a couple of months at least.
Emma brought the coffees to a small table and two comfortable chairs in her room and we just sat and gazed out at the view of the river which was quite lovely. Glancing to the side I noticed Emma's chin trembling and tears beginning to flow down her cheeks.
I reached over and cuddled her in as best I could as the sobs became vocal.
"It'll all be OK, eventually," I murmured.
"I just wish I'd gone with my instincts and left when I realised just what a gambler he was," she sobbed. "I only stayed because of Lauren."
"We all make mistakes," I said.
"Yes, but this one has ruined us," Emma replied.
"Not quite, you've got a second chance and you're not too old to start again," I replied.
"What man would have us now with all the baggage we have?" she sobbed.
"This one," I said after a pause.
"You can't mean that Paul, it's just sympathy talking," she said.
"Not at all, it's the memory of that incredible smile," I said gently. "There are a lot of lovely women around who will never understand why someone like you will capture men's hearts, it's the smile, we'd do anything to see you smile."
"I ... I ... don't understand," she stuttered slightly as she looked me in the eye to see if I was being serious.