‘And we’ll need to get the baby registered for Wetherby as soon as it’s born,’ Gemma went on, oblivious. ‘The waiting list is miles long.’
‘What? Is the waiting list so long we’ve got to register the baby for school before it’s even in bloody utero?’ Dominic demanded. ‘That’s ridiculous.’
‘That’s what we have to do if our baby’s to have a proper education.’
‘Poor little mite. Not even conceived yet, and the wheels are already in motion.’
‘Are you saying I’m wrong to want our baby to have a proper education?’
‘No. I’m just saying that you barely got through the local comprehensive, Gems, and I ‒’ he paused ‘‒ well, I’m not exactly a Man Booker prize candidate, am I?’
‘Maybe not,’ she agreed, ‘but you’re a famous rock singer, with lots of fans and hit records to your credit.’
‘And lots of dosh, too,’ he added with a satisfied smirk. ‘Don’t forget that.’
‘But we don’t know if little Rafaella or Dylan or Phoebe will have your artistic talents, do we? So we need to make sure they receive an excellent education.’
‘I had an excellent education,’ Dom pointed out, ‘and it didn’t do me much good.’
‘That’s because you didn’t apply yourself. And you wanted more out of life than being the next Locksley heir.’
‘True,’ he agreed, and sat up. ‘Well – at least the old man’ll be happy to know he’ll soon have a little heir-in-waiting in the old bun-warmer. He’s always banging on at me and Liam, wanting to know when we plan to produce a grandchild.’
Gemma leant forward and brushed her lips against his. ‘We can get started on making a baby tonight, if you like,’ she murmured, and smiled seductively.
‘How about sooner, babes, like...on the plane?’
Gemma giggled. ‘And tell our little girl or boy that they were conceived in an airplane loo? No!’
‘Why not? We can christen the kid...Lufthansa. Or Ryanair. Or if it’s a girl, EasyJet.’
Gemma slapped his hand away from her thigh. ‘I want our baby to be conceived in romantic surroundings, Dom, in a canopy bed piled with blankets, with a roaring fire in the fireplace, and snow coming down outside... not inside an airline loo, balanced atop a stainless-steel sink with a faucet up my arse.’
‘Every detail can’t always be perfect, you know,’ he grumbled. ‘What’ll you do ‒ post a picture to FacePage before we do the deed? I can see it now: ‘Look, everyone ‒ here’s the bed where Dom and I are about to conceive little Lufthansa’? Or maybe you can add a new relationship status – ‘currently being roundly shagged’?’
‘Oh, do shut up,’ Gemma said crossly as she picked up her mobile and thumbed through her text messages. ‘I’m not that bad.’
‘No. You’re worse. You’re obsessed with social media. The only way I can get your attention lately is to send you a bloody text message.’
But Gemma didn’t hear him. She was too busy posting a status update to FacePage to notice.
Thank God they haven’t cancelled the flight, the woman thought as she shoved her laptop into the already crowded overhead bin and squeezed into the last remaining seat in economy class. Otherwise I wouldn’t get to Scotland until after Christmas.
She glanced out the window. Snow fell steadily and had just begun to cover the Tarmac. Another hour of this and all flights out of Heathrow would be cancelled.
A family came down the aisle and sat across from her. The mother settled into a seat with her little girl beside her, and her husband sat just in front with their son. The girl had ginger hair and was perhaps nine or ten, complaining about the injustice of being denied a promised sweet. Her brother ignored her and played a game on his father’s mobile phone.
The woman reached for her iPod and earphones. Thank God for noise-blocking technology. She had far too much work to be doing to sit here and listen to children complaining and video games beeping and parents shushing their little darlings for two-plus hours.
Still, as she busied herself drafting a few notes on her mobile before the flight attendant asked them to shut off all electronic devices, her glance strayed once again to the girl and her brother. They were cute kids, she thought. For a moment – just for a moment – she allowed herself to imagine having a little ginger-haired girl, or a tow-headed little boy, of her own...
She pressed her lips together and turned her thoughts back to the matter at hand. Work. She had plenty to be doing, she reminded herself firmly, and a deadline to meet. She forced her attention back to her mobile screen.
Thwack! Thwack! Thwack! The little girl just behind her was kicking the back of her seat in time as she sang a (very loud) CBeebies song.
She let out a long, aggrieved sigh.
Bloody deadlines. Bloody economy. Bloody children.
‘What d’you mean, you don’t have a hire car?’
Dominic Heath, his face inches away from the man’s standing behind the hire counter, spoke in a deceptively calm voice despite the dangerous glint in his eyes.
The hire agent’s smile was apologetic. ‘I’m sorry, Mr Heath, but we haven’t a car reserved for you.’
‘Well, get me another one.’
‘Regrettably, we have no other cars available at this time. They’ve all been hired out.’
‘That can’t be,’ Dominic ground out. ‘My agent, Max Morecombe, arranged for a car – along with a driver ‒ for my fiancée and me two weeks ago.’
With a nod and a nervous smile at the rock star and his glowering girlfriend, the agent tapped once again at the keys of his computer. ‘I’m very sorry, sir,’ he said a moment later, ‘but I see no reservation under ‘Dominic Heath.’ Did he perhaps arrange it under another name?’
‘Try Rupert Locksley.’
More tapping, more frowning, and another regretful shake of the hire agent’s head followed. ‘Nothing, I’m afraid.’
‘Try “Dr Feckle”. Or “Mr Clyde”.’
The agent looked at him oddly, but nodded and tapped. ‘Erm...no luck with either. Sorry.’
‘Right, then. Get me another car,’ Dominic demanded.
‘As I just explained, sir, there are no other cars—’
‘So what the fuck am I supposed to do in the meantime?’ the rock star raged. ‘Sleep in this poxy airport lounge all night? Get me a bloody CAR!’
Natalie, alerted by Dominic’s raised voice as she waited with Rhys to get their hire car, glanced over.
‘Oh, dear,’ she murmured, and touched Rhys’s sleeve. ‘Dom and Gemma seem to be having a problem.’
He followed her glance. ‘Yes,’ he agreed, his expression dour. ‘And I’ve no doubt Dominic is the problem. He always is.’
‘You’re probably right,’ Natalie agreed. ‘Just the same, I think I’ll go over and see if I can help.’
Rhys shrugged. ‘Suit yourself. Although I wouldn’t bother.’