Well, Robin and Annabelle have had a lot to say to each other, and for those who may have been wondering what happened in “Alone” (don’t worry, the rest of us are still blushing) they have at last had some time to be alone and to be intimate. Enough said. Let’s move on with the story.
These are the previous parts of Annabelle’s story:
“Hi Annabelle, how are you doing? Are you here to see Ralph?”
Annabelle immediately swung around and whispered to Robin, “This is her, the one Chris and I told you about.”
Robin raised both of his eye-brows and a smirk appeared across her face. “I won’t say a word Belle.”
Annabelle greeted Jenna and asked how she was. Jenna began to answer, but trailed off when she was distracted by the tall attractive man standing. Annabelle decided not to hang around to continue a conversation with Jenna and explained her eagerness to see Ralph.
Robin didn’t say a word to Jenna. He didn’t need to. A huge wink was enough. As he followed Annabelle he turned around to look at Jenna who was staring after them. Robin couldn’t resist gesturing with his hands either side of Annabelle’s behind. She was completely oblivious to what he was doing.
As soon as they had disappeared into the bay where Ralph Crabbe was resting, Jenna pulled out her phone and called Amber. “Hey Ammy, you won’t believe who has just turned up here at the hospital! That English guy Monty! And guess who the hot blonde is!”
“Annabelle!” Ralph was delighted to see Annabelle as she walked towards his bed.
“How are you doing Ralph? I have missed you!” Annabelle lent forward and kissed Ralph on the cheek.
“Well I am all the better for seeing you. Is it just me Annabelle, or is your smile bigger today?”
Annabelle’s eyes blinked and a huge grin appeared on her face, “She whispered to Ralph, I think you might be right.”
“Aaaah here he is!”
“Good to see you again Mr Crabbe.”
“Ralph, Ralph please. Great to see you. No wonder Annabelle is looking so happy.”
Robin shot a glance towards Annabelle whose face had crimsoned with a blush. After the four hours they had spent together in bed that morning, there were reasons enough for Annabelle to be smiling. She did look incredibly pretty when she was happy.
Robin asked several questions about Ralph’s injuries and if he had any idea when he was going to have surgery on his hip. Ralph relished telling him about the hospital food, and how many of the Blackwood rambling group had visited him during his stay in hospital. “Arnold was here all afternoon yesterday with a chess set. Len and Phillipa are coming tomorrow Annie.”
“That’s lovely Ralph. I have a confession. I forgot to bring the tangerines you asked for. So I will drop them off at Len’s this evening and ask them to bring them tomorrow.”
“I am sure you have been very busy with this young man. Tomorrow would be perfect, I still have a couple of kiwi fruits and some grapes left. I just had a craving for tangerines. The nurses have telling me that citrus fruit and leafy green vegetables are good for me.”
Robin excused himself to go and find the gents, leaving Ralph and Annabelle chatting together. As Robin passed the nurses’ station, he was beckoned by Jenna.
“Monty, can I have a word with you?”
“Yes of course, is it Gillian?”
“It’s Jenna. I just thought I’d give you a friendly warning about the hot blonde who you’ve hooked up.”
“Oh really.” Robin could not resist encouraging Jenna.
“You ought to know that she is already involved with another man.”
“You don’t say. Why she seems such a nice girl. Another man you say?” He felt laughter building in his chest but knew to suppress it.
“Well, two actually. She is currently having an affair with a local carpenter. It’s no big secret. They’re quite open about it. Making out in the middle of town where everyone can see them. But she actually has a fiance.”
“My! She didn’t mention any of this. She has a fiance does she?”
“Yes, he’s not around at the moment. Annabelle is not very open about him. We believe he is in prison, which would explain she’s a bit embarrassed about him.”
“That’s quite a revelation!” Robin shook his head feigning shock, “I would never have imagined that such a sweet girl would be hiding so much. She hasn’t mentioned this to me. You just never know who you can trust these days. I sure appreciate you giving me a friendly warning. What else do you know?”
“Well, Annabelle is a very secretive girl. As I say she is already involved with at least two other men. But there could be more.”
“Oh so she strings lots of men along does she?”
“It’s hard to say.”
“Sure. Well, I am much obliged for what you have told me. Oh you don’t happen to know the name of that local carpenter do you, just in case I bump into him. I don’t want to have any trouble while I am here.”
“Chris, Chris Ward. He and Annie have been having an affair for a few months now, at least. They were kind of quiet about it at first, but as I said, they seem to have gone public now. Can’t keep their hands off each other.”
As Robin was walking back to the bay where Ralph and Annie were chatting, he kept thinking in his head “Stupid cow. Cruel little viper. That is just pure jealousy and it’s worst. That woman is purely jealous of Belle. That’s what jealousy does. What a an absolute troll! I have to get Annabelle away from here.” He gazed at Annabelle as he was walking towards her. Her sultry expression, communicating her need for Robin’s attention as soon as she noticed him, made him ponder, “Does Belle realize what jealousy did to her though?“
Robin and Annabelle ended up playing charades with Ralph, which worked pretty well considering there were only the three of them playing. Annabelle loved games. She gave away her childlike love of playing games so easily as she always threw herself into every game enthusiastically. Sometimes the ten year age gap was very manifest between them, But Robin had no doubt that she had always adored him, and as she had said the day before, she needed him. He hadn’t thought of all the ways she may have needed him. He was content that two people normally do remain in a relationship because somehow all sorts of needs are filled in each other. He could easily list off the top of his head how much he had come to need Annabelle to feel a sense of purpose.
Ralph was talking about how much he missed his wife Barbara. He was telling Robin how wonderful Annabelle had been when she had moved in and had started to care for Barbara. Ralph described the love of his life, saying he only wished he had asked her sooner. That was his only regret, his delaying asking her out. He’d gone every Thursday for pancakes at the diner where she worked for two years before he plucked up the courage. “Don’t waste a minute you two!” Ralph had advised them.
As they were leaving the ward, Robin reached to take Annabelle’s hand. She turned to him and whispered that they should wait until they had left the ward. Robin realized that Annabelle had seen Jenna was sitting at the nurses’ station watching the two of them walk along the corridor.
Right then Robin felt indignant that Annabelle should feel intimidated by this thoughtless creature. He stopped walking and stood in the middle of the corridor. He held his head contemplating how unfair it was that Annabelle be subjected to cruel rumours. At first Annabelle didn’t notice, but as soon as she did, she turned to look at Robin wondering why he was staring at Jenna. His eyes glanced back to Annabelle and with his hand he beckoned for her to return. Annabelle quietly walked over to him feeling anxious.
“What is it Robin?”
Robin raised his voice, “I thought you should know Belle, that I happened to cross paths with a certain member of staff earlier this week,” he then turned to Jenna, “and you seem very well acquainted with Miss Annabelle Riley.”
Jenna’s face looked triumphant. It was clear she was expecting Robin to say something as a result of the conversation they’s had earlier. “I know Annabelle of course.”
“Well, what you may not know is that for the past four years, this beautiful woman has been the love of my life. She has been the best companion I could ever ask for, wholly loyal to me. She is the woman I hope to marry.” Not waiting for either Jenna or Annabelle to utter a word, Robin turned back to Annabelle and kissed her passionately.
Jenna’s face dropped. “Well, I hope you two live happily ever after on the pig farm.”
Robin laughed. While holding Annabelle towards him, he admitted, “I don’t actually work with pigs, not the four-legged variety anyway. I work with people who can afford to pay for one night in a hotel the same amount your average family pays each month to rent a house. And speaking of hospitality, our good friend Chris Ward is hosting me this week. He thinks Annabelle is the best girl in Blackwood too, but he’s a great guy, a genuine one, who actually cares about Annabelle. He knows she and I have something very special and he, like many of the other folk in this town are giving me a great welcome to Blackwood.”
Jenna feigned a smile. “Well, isn’t that dandy. You’ll excuse me, I have work to do.” with that she turned and her shoes clicked rapidly down the corridor behind the nurses station.
“Robin?” wondered Annabelle.
“I’ll explain later Belle. Let’s get out of here.” Robin’s fingers reached for Annabelle’s hands and now she let him take her hand and entwine their fingers together.
“Yeah come on, let’s go and find one, I’m starving!”
“But I thought we were going to pick up Chinese?”
“Is that because pigs are too cute and pink for you to eat them?”
“You’re hilarious you know.”
“Annabelle, look at me.” when Annabelle obeyed, Robin teased her, “you love me!”
She poked her tongue out at him. Robin was quick enough to catch it with the tip of his. He kissed her repeatedly as they were walking out of the hospital and back out onto the main road to catch the bus back towards the town center. Annabelle offered no objection to Robin kissing her in public. After placing an order to take-away in the Chinese restaurant they found a corner were they continued their hungry kissing, stroking each other’s hair. Annabelle had lost all care about what anyone in Blackwood might think.
Robin and Annabelle had brought back a huge amount of food from the Chinese Take-Away for themselves and Chris. All three of them were hungry. Chris after a long day of physical work. Robin and Annabelle because they had both skipped breakfast and lunch and because they’s had their own kind of work out.
It didn’t escape Chris’ attention that there was something different about Annabelle and Robin. Neither of them seemed to want to show any discretion that they were had clearly warmed to each other since the last time Chris had seen the two of them together.
Chris could tell he was becoming more and more provoked. He thought about making some excuse to go and do some work in another room, but then they would be alone and he was sure that would only give them license to be more tactile with each other.
All Chris could do was sit there while Robin and Annabelle were tickling each other and laughing and kissing. It was pretty obvious they were reconciled. Chris recalled Annabelle being so devastated just a few days earlier. At the time he had tried to help Annabelle calm down. But now he wished that he taken the opportunity to cast more doubt on Robin.
Annabelle noticed that Chris seemed to be glaring at her. She drew away from Robin who had been cradling her on his lap, and she swung her legs back round and placed her feet on the floor.
“We went to up to the hospital to see Ralph today Chris. He asked how you were and told us to send his regards to you.”
“I ought to go up there and see him. I have to finish a job I’ve been working on this week up in Mapleton.”
“You’ve been working up in Mapleton. That’s a long way.”
“Yeah, well Mrs J’s sister Gloria has been telling all of her friends about me. I keep getting calls from folk up there. It’s not worth driving an hour for little jobs, but this has been a whole week’s work. Great pay.” explained Chris, “Is Ralph doing ok?”
Robin laughed, “He seems to be pretty on the ball. He understands Belle’s charades much better than I do. They seem to have their own language.”
Annabelle grinned, “Ralph has been my best friend here in Blackwood.”
Robin squeezed Annabelle’s leg, “Really? I thought Jenna was?”
The mention of Jenna caused Chris to react. “So Rob, are you planning on running in to Jenna again this week? You and her must be good pals by now.”
Robin and Annabelle looked at each other and seemed to be suppressing their laughter. Robin replied to Chris, “Maybe you should ask Jenna that Chris? Don’t expect her to say anything pleasant about me though.”
“So you’re not planning on spending yet another evening down at the bar where Jenna likes to hang out.” challenged Chris.
Robin glanced at Annabelle again, but her attention was now firmly fixed on the rug in front of them. He stared at Chris and replied, “I want to spend every moment I can with Belle.”
“Oh so you won’t be turning in here after 1am any more then?”
Robin made light of Chris’ remark, “Sorry about that Chris. It must be a bit of jet lag.”
“Right sure, I’m guessing that hanging out at bars and drinking liquor is the European way to deal with jet lag?”
“You don’t have long to put up with me. Only one more day here and then it’s sayonara.” Robin waved his hand in the air and grinned.
“And how does that leave Annie?” demanded Chris.
“Look Chris, that’s between my Annabelle and me.”
“You just expect her to trust you?” Chris’s face had reddened.
“You have a problem with that?” Robin glared sternly at Chris.
Chris rose to his feet and yelled, “I have a problem with you lying to Annie!”
“Wow! Ok Chris, don’t hold back. You think I’m lying to Annie?”
“I’m not blind.”
“Annabelle. Stop!” Robin seized Annabelle’s arms and she let go of her hands immediately.
Flushed with emotional her voice cracked, “I didn’t do anything.”
Robin turned Annabelle’s hands over. He pointed to some bright red scratches that had freshly appeared on the back if her hands and wrists. Furious with Chris and horrified at the thought of Annabelle’s reaction to what she was hearing, he threw his arms around her and held her tightly to his chest. Her heartbeat seemed to be racing. Robin kissed her head and stroked her back, waiting for her to settle down.
Chris turned away and took a few steps towards the back of the room. His heart was racing too. He knew he had lost his cool. He hadn’t intended to say so much.
With his eyes fixed on Annabelle, Robin addressed Chris, “I think we need to talk Chris. You and I need to clear a few things up. Annabelle and I will leave you in peace for now. But maybe tomorrow the three of us can talk about what’s really going on here.”
Robin helped Annabelle to her feet and moments later they had departed leaving Chris almost as annoyed with himself as he was with Robin.
You can read the next part in Annabelle’s story here:
Kim, the creator of Writer Side of Life has given us some great writing prompts. Several of them appealed to me, but I have only chosen one to work on for now, because I am still playing catch up with blogging, after my trip to Australia:
I chose a prompt under the ROMANCE section: 3. Who is she waiting for?