Mateo looked tired. Katie had been told not to bother him. She’d been told he’d fired one of the other waitresses for asking how Sergio was. Rumour had it he was in rehab for a six week stay.
She took the coffee pot to the booth where Mateo sat working on the staff rotas. ‘Top up?’
He stared at her, startled. ‘Oh. Yes,’ he said, pushing his cup towards her. ‘Thank you.’
Katie poured the coffee. ‘Is Sergio… is he…’
‘He’s going to be OK,’ Mateo said. ‘He’s going to be OK.’ He smiled. ‘If only he’d stuck with you. You’d have kept him out of trouble.’
‘I don’t know about that.’
‘I do. You’re a good girl.’ He looked at her. ‘You know, I need an assistant manager.’
Mateo nodded. ‘Could you do it?’
‘I suppose so. Would it mean more money?’
‘A tough negotiator,’ Mateo laughed. ‘Yes, it would mean more money.’ He pointed a warning finger. ‘Not a lot more.’
‘A little more is fine,’ Katie smiled. Just enough to cover what Sergio owes me, she thought, or at least she thought she’d thought it, until she saw the look on Mateo’s face and realised she’d said it aloud.
‘What does he owe you?’
‘Nothing,’ she said, red-faced. ‘Nothing.’
Holly was on a podium on the shop floor, dressing a dummy, when she saw the older couple come in and approach Angel. She guessed, looking at them, and how like Angel they were, that they were her parents. And she could tell, from her body language, that Angel wasn’t in the least bit pleased to see them.
She kept one eye on their conversation as she wrangled the dummy into a pair of trousers. She saw Angel get angry, and then upset. She saw her try to walk away from her mother, and her mother follow, hectoring her.
She hopped down from the podium, and crossed the shop floor to where they were. ‘Angel,’ she said. ’Are you busy?’
‘No,’ Angel shook her head. She looked glad of the interruption. ‘No, I’m not.’
Angel’s mother’s entire demeanour changed when Holly approached. She smiled, open and pleasant. ‘Hello. I’m Mary. Angel’s Mum.’
‘She’s just going,’ Angel said.
Holly nodded. ‘When you’re ready, I need some help in the stock room.’
‘Thanks for liking my post,’ Jemma shouted in Aidan’s ear. They were in a bar, crowded for a Monday night. Aidan had persuaded John that they needed a night out, but John had complained—about how he had to be up early in the morning, about how busy the bar was—until Aidan had had enough and said it was time to go. He’d spotted Jemma as they were on their way out.
‘You’re welcome,’ Aidan shouted back, though he’d hesitated before liking Jemma’s post—an image of a cloudy sunset, with a cryptic caption about sadness and healing. He’d felt, by tapping the little heart, that he was being disloyal to Holly. Who, he noticed, Jemma hadn’t mentioned.
‘Holly had her twelve week scan,’ Aidan shouted.
‘Yes. All’s well. All’s perfect, actually.’
‘That’s brilliant.’ Jemma didn’t sound particularly interested.
‘She’s been asking after you.’ Aidan felt John tug his hand.
‘Has she? And what did you tell her?’
‘I didn’t tell her anything,’ Aidan replied. ‘Like you told me to.’ He felt a tug on his hand again, and told Jemma they had to go. He let John lead him out and into a taxi.
‘You’re going to wake the twins,’ Erin said.
‘You should have thought of that before you asked for a divorce,’ Andy shouted. Erin almost laughed. They had been fighting all weekend, hissing barbs and shouting insults on very little sleep, and she was close to delirium with tiredness.
The fight had stemmed from Erin’s suggestion that Andy go and stay with his parents. They were around the corner, so he’d be close enough to see the twins and get to work easily. But Andy was insisting that Erin be the one to go.
‘I’m not going,’ Andy shouted. ’It’s my flat.’
‘It’s our flat,’ Erin shouted back. ‘And it’s the twins’ home. I’m not taking them away from it.’
‘Who said anything about taking the twins away?’
‘Do you think I would leave them? With you?’
‘They’re my children!’
Erin might have said something she regretted, were it not for a knock on the door. ‘Who’s that?’ Andy shouted, as if Erin should know. The knock came again.
‘Hello,’ a voice called. Alistair’s voice. ‘Anybody home?’
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