Erin watched at the window. She couldn’t stop fidgeting. Andy had taken the twins for the weekend, and was due to bring them back any minute. It was the longest stretch of time she’d been away from them since they were born.
When she saw them, Andy leading them by the hand, she rushed out of the flat and down three flights of stairs to meet them.
She opened the door just as Andy was putting his key in the lock. She dropped to her knees and pulled the twins into a cuddle. ‘Hello! Hello! How are you?’
‘They’re fine,’ Andy said. ‘Why wouldn’t they be fine?’
‘I worry,’ Erin said. ‘Don’t I?’ she said to Archie and Annie, kissing their faces. ‘Mummy worries.’
‘They’re safer with me than with their drunk mother.’
Erin stood up. ‘Go and wait for Mummy at the bottom of the stairs,’ she said, ushering the twins inside. ‘We agreed we would be polite,’ she told Andy. ‘For their sake.’
‘You agreed not to drink. For their sake.’
‘I haven’t had a drink in nearly two months.’
‘We’ll see how long that lasts,’ Andy scoffed.
‘So you had another guy back here on Friday night?’
There was something about Victoria’s tone on the word ‘another’ that raised Angel’s hackles. They had come into the kitchen to make breakfast at the same time, and Victoria had made Angel a cup of coffee. Angel had felt obliged to stay and chat, though she’d taken to steering clear of Victoria. She didn’t like her judgemental attitude. ‘Yeah,’ she said, ‘I had a good night.’
Victoria didn’t need to know that she’d thrown Fraser out after he choked her. ‘I don’t like that,’ she’d told him. ‘And even if I did, that’s the kind of thing you ask to do.’ Fraser had acted as if she was making a big deal out of nothing, and slunk off into the night.
Angel had spent the rest of the weekend moping about in the same grey mood that always dogged her after spending time with her parents. Fraser had just been a way not to feel those feelings. It struck her that she needed better coping mechanisms.
‘I don’t like starting my day with coffee,’ she said, emptying her cup into the sink, as Victoria topped up hers from the pot. ‘People use it as a crutch.’
Aidan stretched out his long legs on the picnic blanket and stared up at the Castle, a distant look in his eye. Holly was concerned. They had started to meet for lunch regularly, and usually Aidan would talk and talk and talk. His silence today was notable. And he hadn’t touched his sandwich. ‘Is something wrong?’
He sighed, and shifted position. ‘Yes.’
‘Is it something I can help with?’
Aidan sighed again, and rolled onto his front. ‘No. I’ve made my bed.’
Holly smiled. He was being dramatic. And he wanted Holly to play her part. ‘What’s wrong? You can tell me,’ she implored.
Aidan let out his loudest sigh yet. ‘I’m bored.’
‘Yes. Of John.’
‘Yeah,’ Aidan nodded. ‘Do you know we’ve only had sex once in the last fortnight?’
‘Wow,’ Holly said. She couldn’t remember how long it’d been since she’d had sex.
‘Yeah, and he’s just…’ Aidan sighed again. ‘He’s great, but he’s just so boring.’
‘So what are you going to do?’
‘I don’t know. I mean, we’ve only been living together for three months. I can’t move out.’ He looked at Holly. ‘Can I?’
‘Could you spell that?’ Mateo had drafted Daniella in to take minutes at the management meeting, since Katie had the day off. Abramo was absent too: Maeve had asked that they move the meeting from Friday to Monday, and the old man played bowls on Mondays.
‘T-H-A-T,’ Maeve said, smirking.
Daniella glared at Mateo. ‘I-N-T-E-R-I-O-R,’ he spelled. ‘But you don’t have to write that down.’
‘She does have to write that down,’ Maeve said. ‘And you have to listen. I’m a shareholder.’
‘We don’t need to refurbish,’ Mateo said. ‘We’ve only just repainted after the water damage.’
‘But profits are down, Mateo. And look at the place. It’s tired.’ Mateo was glad Abramo wasn’t there to hear how Maeve was talking about his restaurant. ‘It could be so much better. New menus, new interiors… even a new name.’
‘A new name? This restaurant has been Abramo’s since 1981.’
‘And how is that working out for you, darling?’
Daniella turned pink. ‘Am I supposed to write ‘darling’ in the minutes?’
‘Sorry, Daniella,’ Maeve said. ‘Force of habit.’
Maeve wasn’t sorry, and that was as clear to Daniella as it was to Mateo. She threw down her notepad and stormed out.
‘Daniella,’ Mateo shouted. Maeve suppressed a smile. ‘Daniella, wait.’
More To Read:
Corinne Litchfield, writer of fiction, nonfiction and poetry, publishes The Girl from Galax. A fiddle-playing waitress, plagued with guilt over her role in her mother’s death, hits the road, but her grief refuses to be left behind. From the Blue Ridge Mountains to Venice Beach, the journey to healing her heart is worth the trip. Subscribe now!
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