'The thing is Mum, I've two bits of news and -' my daughter Isla hesitated.
It was our usual Friday lunch - this time at my place.
My heart raced. This news could be anything - a job promotion, an engagement, a house move. I really hoped for the second.
A year ago, thirty two year- old Isla had moved out to live with her partner, Dylan in his two bed semi- detached.
He was a successful estate agent. Besides being good- looking, trim and presentable, he was a truly decent guy – considerate, caring, generous and loving.
Isla and I both worked part- time in admin, and as we were both free on Fridays, she popped round to indulge in some quality 'Mum and daughter' time.
She fiddled with her fingers. 'I'll give you the most difficult news first. Dad and Chloe are expecting a baby.'
'Oh.' Well - that was a bolt from the blue!
'Surely they hadn't planned to start a family?' I asked, aghast.
My laid- back ex husband, Ed was the same age as me - fifty- five.
His partner, twenty five year- old Chloe, was a glamour puss online 'influencer' (whatever that was!).
'No, they hadn't, but Dad says it's like an extra special gift,' Isla said.
I nodded. Yes, I thought, he'd be over the moon...
I'd first met Chloe when Ed had collected the last of his possessions from the marital home.
In high heels, she'd click- clacked around the house, following Ed around like a sheep, flicking her hair extensions back and constantly calling his name.
I sensed she was sending out a silent message - 'He's mine now.'
Ed was clearly uncomfortable, as it was a sad time for me... yet I managed to keep out of their way and stay level- headed.
Chloe favoured pink and blue hair, vampy nails and false, long eyelashes. A fake tan and a tiny skirt finished the look.
I expect he was drawn to her youth, and Chloe was drawn to Ed's kind nature ('And bank balance' Isla had added sourly). Ed was a director of his own nationwide haulage company.
He'd met Chloe at a works do, in a pub while celebrating a colleague's birthday.
I was now divorced. However, I'd adjusted and I was content, tootling along on my own. I had my job in admin, a close circle of friends and family to keep me busy.
'How do you feel about it?' I asked.
Like me, she hadn't exactly warmed to Chloe, but we'd all reached the polite 'We can be civil to each other' stage.
She shrugged. 'If Dad's happy, then so am I. But I can't help thinking that -'
'He's too old to start again with nappy changes and night feeds,' I finished.
She nodded. 'I'll bounce your question back. How do you feel about it, Mum?'
'A bit mixed up, to be honest, love. As you know, we tried for a second child, but it never happened.'
That's when the strain began to affect our marriage. The endless 'What shall we do now?' debate had worn us down. I'd favoured fostering - maybe even adoption – but busy businessman Ed wasn't keen.
He was a good dad though, I thought.
Due to our emotional distance. he'd over- compensated on love, attention and affection with our daughter.
I guess I'd followed suit. Well, I thought, it had been easy to place our energy onto our only child rather than ourselves, hadn't it?
Despite the bond between us, over the decades, Ed and I had drifted apart.
The affection ceased. We stopped sharing our meals and our news, and we stopped being friends.
Towards the end, we were simply chanting 'Morning' and 'Goodnight' to each other.
However, Isla and Ed still had a strong, loving relationship - which often put Chloe's nose of joint.
I changed the subject.'What's the other news?'
She smiled shyly. 'I'm expecting a baby, too.'
I jumped up, squealed in delight and hugged her tight. How amazing. My very first grandchild!
'It's odd isn't it, Dad becoming a Dad again and a Grandad at exactly the same time,' Isla remarked.
A month on, but this time on a Friday, we were in town and had chosen a nice cafe for lunch. It acted as a break from baby clothes shopping, too.
'It's also odd that there'll be thirty three years between you and your future half- sibling,'
I commented, as I peeled off my jacket.
Isla nodded. 'Excuse me Mum, I just need the loo.'
She trotted off. Then, through the cafe window across the street, I spotted someone I recognised. I felt my insides turn.
I noticed that they'd made an effort with their appearance. They greeted someone I didn't recognise, so I quickly whipped out my mobile and took a few secret snaps.
The pair kissed each other passionately, held hands and strolled away, beaming.
When Isla returned, for the moment, I decided to keep my counsel.
We ordered lunch and chatted about baby names.
At home, I brooded about what I'd witnessed.
Was it my place to interfere in a close family relationship?
On the other hand, was it my place to keep their cheating secret from their partner?
I knew how secrets could humiliate, hurt and destroy.
It had taken Ed a while to fess up to me... I blinked back tears.
Back to the current situation – it was certainly very tricky. You don't kiss a relative, a friend or a colleague like that, full on the mouth!
I could confide in a friend, yet I knew what type of advice they'd dish out. Tell the innocent party - before it goes any further down the line. Hmm...
I made a decision. With my mind made up, I needed to meet the innocent party alone.
For the meeting, I chose the pub Ed and I visited in our courting days.
Back then, it'd been a no- frills country pub with faded Victorian style pictures and squashy, chintzy sofas.
Now it was a snazzy gastro bar, with modern lamps, splashy artwork and shiny mirrors everywhere.
'Ah, this takes me back, Tess.' Ed smiled when we met.
We ordered our drinks and then found a table. My heart hammered.
'Have you told Chloe you're seeing me this evening?' I began.
'Yes. I said we had family stuff to talk about. She was going to a friend's, anyway. These girly baby chats are endless!' he grinned.
Girly baby chats, eh? I mused. Well, it was a pretty convincing reason to get out of the house.
I took a deep breath and brought out my mobile.
'Ed, I have something to show you...'
Ed was very upset when they split, yet later he'd confessed he'd seen it coming.
'She was always out,' he said. 'It was either girly chats or discussions about her career with what's-his-name.'
The chap I'd seen Chloe with had apparently been instrumental in launching her as an influencer, and acted as a kind of manager, clinching deals with cosmetic companies – only now it'd change to baby products.
The baby was his, of course.
'The time line didn't add up,' Ed told us sadly. This Friday, he'd joined Isla and I.
'I'm so sorry, Dad,' Isla whispered.
He nodded, and clutched both our hands.
Over the next few months, Ed and I found ourselves becoming friends again.
We often meet - to reflect on our shared history and look forward to the future. I guessed I'd never really stopped loving him.
Ed admitted that the whole Chloe affair was down to a silly mid- life crisis. He still loved me. Could I ever forgive him? I didn't know - could I?
'Are you and dad getting back together?' Isla asked.
I smiled. 'Only time will tell.'