Twisting the key in the lock, Carter and I are back home. It's been a hell of an evening. It started off brilliantly before Carter had to catch up on some work calls, in which he had to leave the table for quite a bit. I know he's been missing a lot of meetings recently to help me with the kids but I don't think there was any need to walk out on our first proper meal together in what seems like forever.
"I'll be upstairs." He grunts, leaving me to deal with the babysitting money. Typical.
I make my way into the living room, purse in hand, but when I enter Ava is curled up on the sofa, fast asleep. I nudge her gently as her eyes widen and she realises where she is.
"Oh, I'm so sorry!" she exclaims, jumping up from the sofa and brushing herself off.
"It's fine, darling, you seem very tired. Not used to staying up this late?"
"I guess not." She laughs timidly.
Rummaging around in my purse, I eventually hand her a crumpled £20 note. She takes it kindly, thanking me.
"Was Ben good?"
"Oh yeah, he was up to bed early at 8 in fact. Said he had a bit of a headache."
"Aw, poor baby." I say, hoping Ava will follow me as I walk back to the kitchen.
I watch her, smiling slightly, as she packs the money into her tiny shoulder bag and slips on her shoes. "Thank you."
"No problem dear," I pat her shoulder, "Would you like to borrow a coat? It's quite nippy out there, isn't it?"
"Thanks, but no thanks. I'm just down the road so it won't be a long walk."
"Ah I didn't realise. Well, thanks for looking after Ben. We'll have you again."
She smiles, slipping through the door, and when she's gone I feel as though I can finally breath. Sometimes having visitors I feel like I have to play happy all the time, when all I really want to do is go lie on a bed and cry. Especially now that my husband seems to be more interested in work than me. I thought we'd sorted this out.
Swallowing down the tears, I make my way upstairs before tucking myself into bed next to Carter. For once I'm not bothered to go and check to see if Leah is home. She might as well enjoy herself whilst she can.