Andy was gone. Alistair’s interruption had taken the heat out of the fight, and he’d left, with a hastily packed bag, soon after. Erin had checked on the twins, crawled into bed, and slept for a solid eight hours.
She woke to the knowledge that she had a new set of problems: telling Archie and Annie, finding a lawyer, agreeing custody and separating assets. Despite that she felt calm, and content, as she took the twins to nursery, and walked to the bus stop.
On the bus she found herself thinking about James. You were right, she thought, it’s not too late for me. But it was too late to tell him he was right, and that made her sad. She didn’t want to be sad. So she thought about Alistair instead.
‘We’re working late,’ he’d said when Erin opened the door, ‘and we’re desperate for a cup of tea, but the water’s off. Would you mind if I filled the kettle?’
‘No, of course not,’ Erin had said, and led him to the kitchen. She’d heard Andy banging about in their bedroom as Alistair ran the water.
She’d shown Alistair out, and just before she closed the door, he’d whispered, ‘Are you alright?’
‘Yes,’ Erin had said. ‘I’m alright.’
‘Alright,’ Alistair had nodded. ‘You let me know if that changes.’
Mateo looked at the books. As far as he could tell, money was no longer going missing. And it had stopped going missing when Sergio went to rehab. Would he do that? Mateo wondered. Would he steal from me? He’d pulled a fast one getting Mateo to give him rent money while he was staying rent-free at Maeve’s flat, hadn’t he? But was he a thief? I wouldn’t put it past him.
The possibility that he had raised a son who would steal from his father—and grandfather—brought tears to Mateo’s eyes. He didn’t want it to be true. He wanted someone to tell him it wasn’t true.
He rang the phone that sat behind the restaurant’s bar. ‘Send Katie to my office,’ he told the waitress who answered.
‘Come on, why not? A bit of fresh air would do you good.’ John wanted Aidan to go for a walk in the Pentlands, but Aidan could think of any number of things he’d rather do than climb a windy hill. And he had plans.
‘I’m meeting Holly. We’re going to look at buggies for the baby.’
‘God, Aidan,’ John said, flopping onto the couch. ‘You promised me having this baby wouldn’t change our lives.’
‘It hasn’t. It won’t.’ Aidan joined him on the couch. ‘I would rather go shopping for anything than go for a walk in the Pentlands.’ He put his hand on John’s knee. ‘We have different interests, and that’s fine,’ he said, trying to convince himself as much as John, who made a doubting noise. ‘I’m sure when I’m your age, I’ll want to go hillwalking,’ he teased.
‘What do you mean, my age?’
‘I mean, twelve years is a significant age gap. We have to try and meet in the middle. Do something we both enjoy,’ Aidan said, and kissed him.
‘I didn’t know they were going to come in,’ Angel said. ‘Sorry.’
‘Don’t apologise to me,’ Holly smiled. ‘I’m not your boss.’ They were eating lunch together in the staff room. ‘That’s the downside of working in a shop, people always know where to find you.’ She leaned across the table and whispered, ‘I’ll show you some good places to hide.’ She’d thought Angel would smile, but she didn’t.
‘I feel like there’s no hiding from her.’
Holly nodded. ‘I feel that way about my mum sometimes. Mostly because she’s staying in my spare room.’ Still Angel didn’t smile. ‘Mothers and daughters,’ Holly said. ‘It’s not always easy, is it? But I bet you wouldn’t want to be without her.’
Katie knocked on Mateo’s open door. He looked up from the books and beckoned her in. He sat back in his chair. ‘How much does he owe you?’
Mateo shook his head. ‘How much?’
Katie hesitated. She didn’t want to get Sergio into any more trouble than he was already in. But she did need the money she’d lent him. ‘Three hundred pounds,’ she said. Mateo opened a drawer, pulled out a pile of cash, counted out three hundred pounds, and handed it to her. ‘Thank you,’ she said.
‘Is there anything you want to tell me, Katie?’
‘Are you sure? Nothing about Sergio you think I should know?’
Katie could see he was worried. She could see he wanted her to tell him the truth. But she couldn’t do it. ‘No,’ she said. There’s nothing.’
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