‘I’m sorry,’ Maeve purred. ‘I was unkind. Has Daniella forgiven you?’
‘No,’ Mateo said into the phone. He could feel Maeve smile.
‘Please tell her again that I’m sorry.’
‘No,’ Mateo said. ‘I won’t. Because that would make things worse, as well you know.’ Maeve chuckled. They day they’d taken Sergio to rehab, she had gripped Mateo’s hand all the way to her flat. He’d parked the car and walked her to her door. On her doorstep, she’d folded into his arms, and they’d held each other. Now she was tormenting him again. Business as usual.
‘We should talk more about the refurbishment idea.’
’No, Maeve, we shouldn’t.’
‘We should! You know the restaurant needs it.’
‘No, I don’t.’
‘Please, Mateo,’ Maeve said. ‘Please. The show’s finished filming until September. I need a project. I need something to stop me worrying about…’
‘Sergio,’ Mateo sighed. He was at the bar, perched on a stool. He looked at the restaurant, seeing, with Maeve’s eyes, how dated it looked, how tatty it was in places. ‘Fine,’ he said. ‘But I’m not spending a penny. You can pay for it from your own ample pocket.’
‘I’ve been ghosted before,’ Tayo laughed. ‘But not like that. Not when I’ve gone out to buy condoms.’
Angel smiled. She’d told him how her parents had turned up out of the blue, how she’d told them, when he’d rung her buzzer, that it was a delivery driver buzzing the wrong flat. That it happened all the time. She was glad Tayo could see the funny side.
She hadn’t been planning on seeing him a second time, but Victoria’s ‘another guy?’ comment had made her want to see if there might be something between them. Something that might go somewhere.
They’d met for a walk around the Meadows. Tayo had been standoffish at first, but he’d warmed up. ‘Next time just introduce me to your mum,’ he joked. ‘I’m a presentable young man. I know how to make small talk.’
‘There won’t be a next time,’ Angel shook her head.
‘I don’t see my mum very often. We don’t get on. I mean, I basically hate her.’
‘You hate your mum?’
‘Yeah,’ Angel laughed. ‘But everybody hates their mum, don’t they?’
‘I don’t hate my mum. I love my mum.’
They stopped walking and looked at each other. They both knew they were going nowhere.
Aidan heard John’s voice as soon as he opened the door. ‘Hello?’ he called. John didn’t respond, but Aidan could still hear him. He kicked off his shoes and padded down the hall to the kitchen.
‘So you fry the cabbage with the bacon,’ John said. He was on the phone. ‘And then what?’ He was making notes. Aidan assumed he was talking to his mammy. ‘He’s just walked in,’ John said. ‘Will I put you on?’ He covered the phone. ‘It’s your mammy,’ he said.
‘My mammy? Why are you phoning my mammy? Don’t you have your own mammy you can phone?’
‘My mammy’s colcannon isn’t as good as your mammy’s. Here,’ John said, offering his phone. ‘She wants to talk to you.’
Aidan took the phone. ‘Hi, Mammy.’
‘How are you? How’s the baby? Is she well?’
‘He or she is well, thank you. And I’m fine.’
‘Good, good. John’s making my colcannon.’
‘So I gather.’
‘He’s a good boy. He’s a keeper, is that what people say?’
‘Yes, Mammy,’ Aidan said. ‘That’s what people say.’
‘Up there,’ Robbie said. ‘On the left.’ They were in the restaurant’s larder, and Katie was reaching for the tinned artichokes Robbie had asked her to get. He’d said that one of his kitchen porters had called in sick, that he needed help, but Katie suspected he’d wanted to get her alone. She was torn between being pleased about that, and frightened.
She grabbed the artichokes. When she turned around, Robbie was right in front of her. She handed him the tin.
He took it and, grinning, put it on the nearest shelf. He leaned in, close enough to kiss her, and raised an eyebrow, asking for permission.
‘What are you doing?’ Katie stammered.
‘What do you want me to do?’
‘I… I don’t… what about Sergio?’
‘What about him?’
‘He’s your cousin. Don’t you think it would be weird…’
‘No,’ Robbie interrupted. ‘I don’t. He didn’t like you, you know. He was using you. Taking what he could get.’ Katie gasped. It was what she’d suspected, and it was hard to hear. ‘He’s an idiot,’ Robbie whispered. He was so close now she could feel his breath on her face. ‘So I don’t think you should worry about Sergio.’ He kissed her, and she didn’t stop him.
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