TRAINING THE COUGAR *warning explicit content*

**Love Story with explicit content **
Shy thirty-something, Fifty Shades obsessive and One Direction fan Alexa, was hiding a traumatic secret from her past. As a result, she'd put up personal barriers and kept friends, colleagues and men at arm's length. Then one summer, Jake Martin appeared all too briefly in her life. He was handsome, clever, kind...and only eighteen! Nothing happened during that Summer, but now five years on, fate had ensured their paths crossed again. Could this traumatised Cougar put the past behind her and could Jake be the one who finally teaches her how to love?


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21. CHAPTER TWENTY


Alexa stared into space. Jake's Uncle Tony had just got off the phone with an update. Apparently they were due back before sunset, around 7:30pm. Tony and his son Rafa had gone down to the jetty to meet them off the boat and when 8pm had come round with no sign of the boat, they'd tried ringing them and been unable to get through. They waited another half an hour, and nightfall had happened by then, so they had alerted the Salvamento Maritimo - the Spanish search and rescue - who had deployed a helicopter - but the search had been called off after a couple of hours as it had been too dark to locate them. So they were despatching a helicopter and patrol boat at first light tomorrow. Alexa looked at her watch. It was 11pm. Midnight in Spain.

What time would first light be? 4am, 5am? That was six hours away at the earliest...

"Let's not worry until there is something to worry about, dear." Krystal's cool voice broke through her dark thoughts. "Joe has been sailing since he wasn't much older than Jacob and Jake has been going with him since he was about ten. Both of them are really experienced and Joe knows the sea's around the bay really well. They wouldn't have sailed too far off course. Not with a young child on board."

Alexa nodded.

So where the hell were they then, and why hadn't they got in touch?

"Oh God Krystal, you are going to think I'm the most ignorant person...Would you like something to drink? Tea, coffee, wine...Have you eaten?"

Krystal managed a weak smile. "It's okay dear. We're both a bit stunned. Actually, I would love a glass of red wine." Her smile finally touched her eyes for the first time since Alexa had known her. "I'd love it even more if you joined me."

Alexa tried to return her smile. "I'm not much of a wine drinker, but I think tonight, I'll make an exception."

 

She returned a few moments later shakily carrying a tray with the glasses of wine and a platter with some salami, ham, cheese, crackers and olives.

"Oh Alexa, this looks nice, dear. Thank you."

Thank you for sounding so surprised that I'm capable of rattling up a few nibbles...

She nodded and took a large gulp of wine as she sat down. She suddenly realised she hadn't spoken to her since the news about Jacob had surfaced.

"So...what do you think about Jacob?"

Krystal managed a small smile. "I have to admit, it was a terrible shock at first. For Manuela to do that to Jake, when he was still a boy...and for him to have kept it a secret all these years. It may never have come to light if circumstances had been different. Did you know about it?"

Oh shit...

"Umm...Yeah...he told me he'd had an Au-Pair who'd jumped him when he was fifteen, then disappeared that night. We were talking about our first times...and it came out. We sort of have an unwritten rule not to keep secrets from each other."

Krystal arched her eyebrows. "Well, I suppose that's commendable, dear. Secret's can destroy a relationship."

Alexa nodded. "As I'm sure you know, Jake wears his heart on his sleeve. I'd like to think I'm the same. I'd never lie to him and I'm pretty certain he'd never lie to me."

Krystal nodded. "I have to admit I'm really quite excited now. He seems a sweet little boy and the absolute image of Jake at that age. I can't wait to meet him..." her voice trailed off on a choke.

Alexa automatically reached out and squeezed her hand. It was just instinctive.

"They'll be okay," she heard herself whisper without much conviction.

Oh Jake, where are you? Please be okay.

PLEASE...

 

"Krystal, please stay the night. I think it's best that we're together to wait for any news. The spare room is all ready and at your disposal."

It was now almost midnight. They had both kept trying Jake and Joe's phones to no avail and Krystal had given Tony strict instructions to ring the house the minute he heard anything. Alexa had never met Tony, but she imagined him shrinking at Krystal's sharp tone. Even speaking in Spanish, she was intimidating.

"Thank you, dear. Do you have a pyjama or something I could change into?"

"Of course! Do you want to come up and I'll pull some things out for you to try?"

She nodded and stood up.

 

Alexa fished in her drawers for her newest pyjama's. She only wore them when Jake was on nights, although she had reverted to wearing them the whole time he had been away, in a vain attempt to pretend he was only at work...

Damn! The best one's I have are bright pink with little white bunnies on! Oh well...it is only for her to wear to bed.

As she went to leave the room, she spotted one of her onesie's hung on the back of the door. Maybe she'd prefer that?

She knocked on the spare room door and entered. Krystal was sat on the bed, gazing at a photo frame in her hands.

Oh shit! I'd forgotten about the photo's..

"They look so happy..." Krystal whispered."...And so well. They've caught the sun..."

"They're like a set of Russian dolls," Alexa whispered back.

Krystal snorted and smiled. "You're right!" She stood up and placed the photo back on the dresser. "You've done a great job on the room. I love the little touches of Jake's old trophies... and that's one of his football shirts isn't it?"

"His first Valencia shirt," Alexa said wistfully. "Joe brought them up for me. He put up the wallpaper and helped me assemble the furniture before he left for Spain. I Skyped the boys to show them. I thought if Jacob saw the room, he might feel more comfortable about coming over."

"What a lovely idea. I'm sure he was delighted."

"Oh he was!" Alexa smiled remembering the little boy's delight and Jake's amazement. Tears pricked the back of her eyes.

Oh please be okay little man, so you can come and play in your room...

"Are they the pyjama's?" Krystal asked gently.

Alexa swallowed past the lump in her throat. "Er...yes, sorry, the best ones I have are these bright pink ones...or you could wear my navy onesie if you prefer."

"A onesie?" Krystal looked at her as if she had grown two heads.

"Its very comfy. Anyway, I'll give you some privacy. I'll go and put the kettle on."

Alexa turned and left the room as Krystal held up the onesie and stared at it in wonder.

 

"What do you think?"

Alexa turned from where she was making the tea and gaped at Krystal.

SHE'D CHOSEN THE ONESIE!

"Wow! It looks better on you than it does on me!"

Krystal managed a small smile. "I did try the pyjamas and I will probably wear them to bed, but this is so soft...I've seen them in the shops and never thought about getting one."

"That's from Next. I'm always in them at home. I'm trying to convert Jake to wearing them..."

"...But he's waiting for Ralph Lauren, or Giorgio Armani to bring out a range?"

Alexa laughed. Her first proper laugh all day. She stopped almost immediately.

Shit...

"It's okay to laugh, dear." Krystal began softly. "I'm sure Jake would howl with laughter if he could see me now!"

Alexa nodded. She was so right, but it just didn't feel appropriate to laugh when there was so much to worry about...

 

"Feel free to go up whenever you want, Krystal. I'm too restless to sleep at the mo. I'll probably just crash on the sofa. If I hear anything I'll wake you."

It was now 11:30pm and still no word. They had made small talk and watched some television, but the heavy atmosphere in the room was palpable.

Krystal shook her head. "I feel the same. I'd never get off to sleep if I went up now. I'll wait up a bit longer, if that's okay?"

"Of course."

Krystal looked at her. "I believe you don't have any immediate family?" She asked softly.

"No, I'm an only child. My mum died suddenly of a heart attack two years ago. My father was inconsolable; he was already in quite poor health. He pretty much died of a broken heart three months later."

"That's so very sad. I'm sorry."

Alexa shrugged. "Thanks. It was a difficult time. I have some distant relatives in Ireland, but we don't really keep in touch."

"You must have been quite lonely - before you got together with Jake."

"Umm..."

Where's she going with this? It was him who pursued me...

"I got used to it. I'm actually quite happy in my own company."

Let's bring this back to you, shall we...

"You must feel the same, having spent so much time apart from Joe?"

Krystal's eyes widened and her shoulders twitched. "Yes, well...It was a long time ago. We've both moved on."

Alexa took a deep breath. "I don't think either of you have," she said quietly.

"I BEG YOUR PARDON?"

FUUUUUUCCCCCCKKKKKKKK! I've upset Maleficent!

Krystal glared at her, ice-blue eyes starting to glow. Alexa sighed.

Here goes nothing...

"Krystal, I'm sorry if I'm speaking out of turn...and ordinarily, I would never interfere in something like this. But with what's happening tonight...with this uncertainty of how things will develop..." She paused and closed her eyes. "Joe still loves you. He as much as told me so. " She opened her eyes and looked directly at her. "And I bet deep down, you still have feelings for him too."

"I DON'T THINK I HAVE EVER BEEN SO OFFENDED IN MY LIFE! HOW DARE YOU THINK YOU KNOW WHAT I FEEL?"

Krystal exclaimed furiously.

Oh Christ. I am in so much trouble...Oh holy fuck...I can't stop talking...

"Krystal, you are a mother...you now have a grandchild...If there is the remotest flicker still left inside you for Joe, then surely it's worth giving it a second chance? If nothing else, has tonight not proved that life is too short? What if you never saw that lovely man ever again..."

SHIT! For fuck's sake, stop talking, Alexa!

Krystal continued to glare angrily at her. Then slowly her features settled.

"Did he really say that?"

It was whispered so quietly that Alexa wasn't sure she'd heard her properly.

"I-I think if you met him halfway...he'd get back with you in a heartbeat. And how wonderful would it be for Jake to have his parents back together again? For Jacob to have a set of grandparents he can spend time with? You can finally all be together as a family."

Oh holy fuck.

 I'M DEAD...

Out of Krystal's ice-blue eyes, tears had begun to fall silently down her cheeks. Alexa leapt up, grabbed her some tissues out of the box and handed them to her.

"I'm...I'm sorry Krystal. It wasn't my intention to upset you. Especially not tonight when we're already so highly strung...But I just had to tell you. I doubt Joe ever would and I can't see YOU making the first move."

Krystal took the tissues and dabbed at her eyes. She gestured to Alexa to sit back down.

Oh well, if she goes for my throat, at least I'll fall back on the sofa...

The silence stretched between them for what felt like an eternity.

"I'm a silly, stubborn, woman aren't I?" Krystal finally croaked.

Jesus - have I got a reprieve?

"When it comes to matters of the heart, yeah."

Krystal snorted, then focused her eyes bang on Alexa's fearful emerald ones.

"No one has ever spoken to me like that before. I'm not used to being challenged or have someone stand up to me. I'm used to getting my own way, voicing my opinion and everyone bowing down to it."

"And how's that working out for you?"

At least when I die, my Turrets will be cured...

Suddenly Krystal threw her head back and laughed, startling Alexa. She reached over and grabbed both of her hands, startling her even more.

"Oh my dear, dear, Alexa. I can finally see just why Jake was so insistent that you were the only woman for him. I'm so sorry for the way I have reacted to you. I can see now that Jake's right when he says no one has a bigger heart...or a funnier mouth."

Alexa gaped at her.

Is the Ice-Queen Melting?

"I-I do understand why you reacted the way you did, Krystal. I honestly do. I know in the same position, I would have done the same. Why would I trust a woman so much older than my son, with no professional career, who can't even have children...when my son is so handsome, so talented and who the world revolves around? I am nothing in comparison to how wonderful he is."

"That's the way you see yourself?" Krystal asked in surprise.

"Yes! Why wouldn't I? Even my boss and work colleagues call me a walking disaster! Jake is...perfect. In every way. And for some mad reason, he loves ME. And I love him. Totally. Unconditionally. Truly, madly, deeply and everything in between. He is my life, Krystal. And now he has a son that I will love and care for as if he was mine. He will be loved and adored and will want for nothing." Alexa's voice began to tremble as her throat closed and tears welled in her eyes. "They just HAVE to come back," she said in a hoarse whisper.

Krystal nodded, fresh tears threatening her eyes.  She squeezed her hands. "They will. We just have to stay positive, Alexa. We have to believe they will find their way back to us."

 

It was now 1:45am. They had talked and talked and talked. A combination of fear, stress and brandy loosening their tongues.

"He's loved you from the very first day he met you," Krystal recalled, tucking her feet elegantly under her on the sofa. "I remember it as if it was yesterday. He came home raving about this lovely woman who'd been helping him. It was the happiest I'd seen him in ages. Our relationship since he'd come back to Tynsley was...strained. I wasn't in favour of him leaving Boarding School to come to a Sixth Form here. I didn't see the point. He'd been there for twelve years, why leave with two years to go? I didn't understand his decision at the time."

"He told me he wanted some form of regular home life before he went to Uni. Otherwise, it would have just been like going straight from boarding at one school, to another."

Krystal sighed. "It was so selfish of me. Of course he deserved to have a home life. God knows he'd hardly had one. But Joe and I thought we'd made the best decision for him at the time. As far as I was concerned he had a great life - he was at a top school, achieving well, he was academic, sporty, plus he split his time between Cheshire, London and Valencia. I couldn't understand what he felt was missing in his life."

"Love? Attention?"

Shit! Brandy and Turrets is a deadly combination...

Krystal nodded sadly, seemingly accepting Alexa's frankness. "I can see that now. But we were both so driven. Me more than Joe. I wasn't very close to my parents. They were obscenely wealthy. We had servants, holiday homes, the works. I was sent away to Boarding School myself from a young age, then I went to finishing school in France and then straight to Uni. I had never even spoken a man my own age before starting University, never mind a brilliant, sexy, Spanish man! It was lust at first sight!"

Alexa giggled and took another sip of brandy. "I can imagine what Joe must have been like in his early twenties. You only have to look at Jake. But I bet he fell for you immediately too. You're a beautiful woman, Krystal. You must have been stunning at eighteen."

She smiled warmly at her. "Thank you. I had no idea that I was. No one had ever said I was pretty or clever, or talented. I was determined to prove to everyone just what I was capable of. That's where my drive came from. I was adamant nothing would stand in the way of achieving my goals. That was until I met six feet of tanned, muscular male, with a Spanish accent that drove me crazy! I was very lucky to pass my exams. He was one hell of a distraction!"

"Oh God, I know what that's like. Jake's exactly the same. I only have to look at him and I lose my train of thought, especially if he isn't wearing much..." Alexa's voice trailed off as images of Jake over the past seven months, suddenly played out in her mind - the first time she'd seen him topless, touching his bare skin, the dry humping, the wonderful, wonderful weekend in Liverpool when she'd lost her virginity, the antique bath tub at Joe's house, him dressed as Christian Grey and then fucking her wearing that damned sexy mask, the endless kissing...making love on this very couch barely three weeks ago, as they covered each other in spray-cream...

"Alexa? Are you okay? You're moaning."

Alexa's eyes sprang open.

Shit! I must have drifted off...

"It's late, dear. Maybe we should try and get some sleep."

"Okay...do you want to go upstairs, or should I just get us the pillows and duvets and we sleep here on the couch? You can sleep on the extension and I can sleep horizontally across the other seats? It's quite comfortable. Jake and I have often slept on it."

Krystal nodded. "Yes, I think I'd prefer to sleep down here with you, if you don't mind. Do you want a hand with the duvets?"

Alexa rose slightly unsteadily off the couch. "No it's fine, I'll just chuck them down the stairs" she gently squeezed her shoulder. "Thank you Krystal."

"What for?" Krystal asked in surprise.

"For the chat. I really enjoyed it. It's a shame it had to come under such circumstances."

Krystal nodded solemnly. "I know. I enjoyed it too. I hope that whatever happens Alexa, we can now be friends."

Alexa smiled warmly. "I'd really like that. Back in a mo."

She wearily climbed the stairs to the bedrooms.

Please come back, Jake. You won't believe your eyes...

 

The warm shower water washes over me. God I love this shower, there's so much space. I rest my hands on the tiles under the shower head and let the water cascade all over me. Oh that feels so good. Suddenly two tanned hands cup my breasts, fondling them lovingly. I lean back against the warm wall of pure, male muscle. "You're here," I moan. "Of course I'm here," he whispers against my ear. "Where else would I be?" "Don't ever leave me again, Jake. I couldn't bear it." "I'm always with you, sweetheart. Don't ever forget that." His voice caresses me and I turn in his arms. I reach out to hold him, but he's disappeared in the steam. "Jake? Jake? Where are you? JAKE!"

Alexa bolted upright dragging in deep breaths of air to calm her racing heart and shallow breaths. Where was she? What time was it? Where's Jake...As she got her bearings, she caught sight of Krystal sleeping horizontally at her feet, on the sofa extension.

Oh God...He's really not here. I'm still trapped in this fucking nightmare.

She checked her watch. It was 5:20am, 6:20am in Spain. The helicopter and patrol boat would have been deployed by now. They would be searching for them. She checked her iPhone. Nothing. She tried both their mobiles again. Still she couldn't connect to either one. She would have to wait for Krystal to wake before they tried Tony again as she didn't speak Spanish and they didn't speak English. She should really see about enrolling in a Spanish night class. Jake would be delighted if she learnt to speak some Spanish.

I swear if he does come back, I'm never letting him out of my sight! I will accompany him to work if I have to!

Oh God, please let them all be okay. Please let them be found safe and well. Our Father, who art in heaven...

 

The next thing she knew she was being gently shaken. Her eyes sprang open.

"I've made you some tea, Alexa. It's 7am. I' going to try the landline again, is that okay?" She asked softly.

"Oh thank you. Yes please. I woke up at 5:20am. If I knew how to speak Spanish I would have rang them myself!"

Krystal smiled weakly. She looked immaculate, but the lines around her eyes revealed the agony within. She grabbed the phone and began to dial. Alexa sat up and rubbed her eyes. She immediately grabbed her iPhone and tried both numbers again. Still no luck. Krystal in the meantime was talking animatedly in Spanish to Jake's Aunty Maria. She nodded, sighed and said her goodbye's before ringing off.

"Still no news," she began sadly, rubbing her forehead. "Maria's in the house with her sister-in-law. Tony, Rafa, Joe's other brother Sergio and his boys Jorge and Luis, have all gone to the jetty to wait for news. The Helicopter and Patrol boat were deployed around 4:30am their time. There's nothing any of us can do but wait."

Alexa nodded dejectedly and sighed. "Would you like a shower or a bath Krystal? Please use the house as if it was your own. There are fresh towels, I can find you a new toothbrush...whatever you need."

Krystal nodded. "Thank you Alexa. A nice warm shower would be most welcome. The sofa is comfortable, but I was so restless I tossed and turned constantly. I know you were the same. I could feel you moving. And moaning...Do you often moan in your sleep?"

"Only when I dream about Jake. I dreamt we were in the shower. He whispered he'd always be with me..." A sob escaped her lips.

Oh fuck, now I'm crying in front of Krystal. Just Jacob left to go, then I will have cried in front of all Jake's immediate family.

Krystal knelt down in between her knees and hugged her, taking her by surprise. The last woman to hold her like this had been her dear mother. She wrapped her arms around her, held on tightly and sobbed uncontrollably. She could feel Krystal's shoulders shaking and she knew she was crying too. They stayed there for an indefinite amount of time, until Alexa finally pulled back.

"I'm sorry," she croaked. "You're already stiff and I've made you kneel for so long." She sniffed.

"I-It's okay, I barely realised." She brushed back Alexa's hair from her forehead. "Feel any better?"

Alexa took a deep breath. "I do actually. I think I needed that. I'd held it back for too long."

Krystal nodded and with Alexa's help got up gracefully and stretched. "Yes, I feel like some tension has been released myself. Think I'll go and have that shower now."

"Good. I'll stay here by the phones. Take your time. And please just borrow anything you want from the wardrobes in our bedroom. Fresh underwear, t-shirts, etc are in the dresser. If you open the bathroom cabinet, there's a couple of new toothbrushes. If you can't find anything just let me know."

"Thank you. I won't be long, then we can swap. I'll make us some breakfast when you go up. We need to keep our strength up."

 

"Is my arse meant to be in this position?" Alexa asked looking across at Krystal.

It was now 9:45am and after having breakfast, Krystal had started practicing her Yoga. Intrigued, Alexa had asked her to show her some basic moves. Having mastered some of the basic stretches, Krystal was now showing her the Downward Facing Dog.

Krystal smiled. "You're nearly there. Just try and straighten your spine a little more. Picture the way a dog bows when he stretches. That's what you're aiming for."

Alexa looked at her. How did she look so elegant, whilst she looked like a baby Giraffe at a watering hole? She lowered her head, pushed back on her heels and landed in a heap.

"OWW! SHIT!" She exclaimed. "Oh God, sorry Krystal," she said blushing.

Krystal had her head bowed, but Alexa noticed a tremble in her shoulders that worked it's way through her.

"Oh God, it's no good." Krystal breathed.

OH MY GOD! WAS SHE...GIGGLING?

"Are you laughing at me, Ms Edwards?" Alexa asked, feigning annoyance.

Krystal gracefully straightened up out of the pose.

"I'm sorry, I'm not laughing at you. You're just naturally funny, Alexa. Has anyone ever told you that?"

Alexa smirked. "Yes, your sonnon many occasions. I am a constant source of amusement to him! Did he tell you that I fell at his feet, the first moment I saw him?"

Krystal gulped down some water. "Are you serious?"

"Oh God, yes. My boss Sue announced that as it was only me who knew anything about football, I'd be the one helping him with the coaching. Now, technically, he'd be doing all the work. All that was needed was a child-carer to help look after the children - take them to the loo, patch them up if they fell down etc. Any one of us could have done it, so I was a little pissed  Sue picked me - the Supervisor - to do something so menial and not one of the other, lower level staff. I was not impressed and certainly not looking forward to babysitting some spotty, gangly, sports student!"

Krystal laughed. "But instead of the spotty, gangly, sports student..."

"I got someone who looked like he'd just stepped out of a boyband! I was bent over marking out the pitch with cones, when he came up behind me asking if I was Alexa. I looked over my shoulder, took one look at him and was so shocked, I lost my balance and ended up on my hands and knees at his feet! He told Joe, it was my arse that first caught his eye!"

"And that's why he calls you Dyspraxic?"

"Oh that, and a hundred and one other disasters, I manage to do to myself. I would love to be more graceful and elegant like you and Jake."

Krystal smiled wistfully. "Yes, despite Jake seemingly cloning the whole of Joe's gene pool, I am thankful he managed to inherit my grace if not my looks! I have never met anyone as accident prone as Joe! I only got out all the family crystal when I moved in on my own, because I knew it would be safe!"

Alexa laughed, remembering Joe's comment about how Krystal kept her house like a show-home. It made sense now.

"Actually, Alexa, next time I come round, I will bring you some of my spare crystal vases. I notice you seem to have flowers in tumblers!"

Alexa blushed. "Oh Krystal that would be lovely. I only seem to have a couple of vases. Since we moved in together, Jake always gets me a bunch of flowers on a Friday so I can enjoy them over the weekend. But I got that many bouquet's last Friday from the parents, I soon ran out of space. The last thing I wanted was to lose any of them, so I had to improvise!"

"It must have been quite a wrench to leave. You were obviously very highly thought of," she said softly.

"Yeah...It's been a pretty emotional few days. The only thing that kept me going was the thought that Jake would be back soon with Jacob and Joe..." she trailed off.

Krystal sprang to her feet and held out her hand. "Come on, you've had enough of a rest! I want you to master the Downward Facing Dog, then I can show you how to do the Salutation To The Dawn. It's something you can practice every morning and really gets you all stretched and relaxed for the day ahead!"

Groaning, Alexa reluctantly put her hand in hers.

 

Alexa desperately tried not to constantly check her watch, but it was impossible. It was now 12:10pm, 1:10pm in Spain and still no news. The Salvamento Maritimo had been searching for them for over eight hours. A terrible feeling of dread, was slowly creeping over Alexa. She tried to stay positive, but each minute, each dreadful stretching hour, just impounded her feelings. Krystal had been an absolute marvel. How she stayed so strong was incredible. She'd even persuaded her to make them a risotto for lunch as apparently Jake had raved to her about it, but she suspected it was more Krystal's backhanded way of keeping her busy.

"It smells wonderful." Krystal said brightly coming into the kitchen. "Can I lay the table?"

Alexa nodded. "Please. Cutlery drawer is the first one down by the sink. It'll be ready in five minutes."

Krystal smiled at her and busied herself around the kitchen, grabbing cutlery, napkins and glasses. Alexa served up the risotto and placed the plates down on the table. Krystal took a spoonful and swallowed.

"Wow! Alexa, this is seriously good! Where did you learn to cook?"

"My mum loved cooking. I pretty much learnt at her side."

"Aww, that must have been nice. I would have loved to have had that kind of upbringing...That kind of bond."

Alexa nodded. "And you will have. You will have your second chance, Krystal."

"Oh God, I hope so," she whispered, blue eyes full of hope.

Suddenly Alexa's iPhone rang. Jumping she fished it out of her pocket.

"Goddamned unknown number! If this is bloody PPI again... Hello?" She snapped angrily.

"Alexa?" A faint voice asked.

"Yes? Look who is this, I'm waiting for an important call." She said irately.

"It's me, sweetheart."

WHAT????????????????????????

"Jake?" She breathed. "OH GOD, JAKE IS THAT REALLY YOU?" She was shouting now.

Krystal dropped her spoon with a clang on her plate.

"Yes, sweetheart. It's me. We're okay."

"Oh Jake!" She sobbed. Krystal lurched towards her and grabbed the phone. She put it on speaker.

"JAKE! DARLING! IT'S MUM! Are you okay? How are Jacob and Joe?"

"Hi mum! Oh I'm so glad you're there too. We're all okay - wind-chapped, sunburnt and dehydrated, but all things considered, not too bad. Jacob's fared the best. We kept him under the canopy and made sure we kept him well hydrated. He just thinks he's had some amazing adventure!" He coughed, then mumbled something in Spanish off the phone. "Look, we have to go, the ambulance has arrived to take us to hospital to get us checked out, just as a precaution. I'll ring you again later when I've charged my phone. Bloody thing died on me yesterday afternoon. Please don't worry. We're all going to be fine. I can't imagine what we've put you through. I'm so sorry. I love you both so, so much." He coughed again.

"OH JAKE! I LOVE YOU TOO!" Alexa shrieked between sobs. Krystal squeezed her shoulders.

"I suppose there's no point in me telling you not to cry, sweetheart." He croaked.

"She's fine darling. She does seems to cry all the time, though! I don't think I have ever met anyone quite so emotional. She even set me off!"

"You cried?" Jake said in astonishment. "Jesus Alexa, I leave my Mum with you for a few hours..." They could hear the smile in his voice and they both looked at each other and beamed.

"Oh darling...I'm so happy you're all okay. Ring off and go and get sorted out. Call us when you are back at Tony's. Give Jacob a big kiss from us." Krystal said, tears beginning to prick her eyes.

Alexa nudged her and gave her a hard stare.

"Oh and Joe too. We love you darling."

"I love you both too. Papa and Jacob send their love. Look after each other. Speak to you later." He hung up.

Flinging their arms around each other, the two women cried in blessed relief.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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